When Procrastination is Productive & Ghost integrating with ActivityPub

Automattic, Texts, and Beeper join forces to build world's best inbox, Reflect launches its iOS app, how to start small rituals, and a lot more in this week's issue of Creativerly.

When Procrastination is Productive & Ghost integrating with ActivityPub

My name is Philipp and you are reading Creativerly, the weekly digest about creativity and productivity-boosting tools and resources, combined with useful insights, articles, and findings from the fields of design and tech. The newsletter built for the creative community.

Hey and welcome to Creativerly 271 👋

Since using Readwise and their reading app, Reader, I feel like I entered a new level of digital reading. I started collecting highlights with the Readwise app while reading books, which are getting resurfaced on a regular basis so I can read through them again, but at the same time, it feels super easy and streamlined to get them into my note-taking system and take notes on what I have read.

As soon as I save an article or blog post to read at a later point with Readwise Reader, I get an AI-powered summary about the content of the articles. While I do not rely on them to the full extent, it is a nice way to quickly filter and decide on what to read next. Readwise Reader offers a lovely reading experience, a beautiful interface, and the possibility to take highlights too (among loads of other features which would make up its own deep dive post) which get automatically synced to Readwise, therefore resurfaced and streamlining my note-taking practice. It almost feels like I started reading more on my iPhone because of Readwise Reader, especially since it gives me the possibility to gather all my digital reading practices in a single, calm, and distraction-free space.

This week's post is also about gathering in a single place. Automattic acquired Texts last year, and recently they also bought Texts competitor, Beeper, combining and merging both teams on the mission to build the world's best inbox that gives users the possibility to gather all their chats in a single app.

Enjoy reading.

Pushing the boundaries of messaging – Texts, Beeper, and Automattic

It does not matter how many newsletters I am subscribed to, how many blogs and online magazines I read everyday, how many feeds I have within my RSS reader, or how often I check my social network timelines, there is still the chance I miss relevant-to-me tech news, like Automattic acquiring Texts, the app that gathers all your chats in a single inbox, last year. However, I did stumble across the news just recently, reporting about Automattic‘s newest acquisition, Beeper, another app (and a Texts competitor) that aggregates all your chats in a single inbox.

Although, I managed to convince most of my family and friends to switch to secure messaging with Signal, there are still quite some conversations I have scattered across iMessage, Telegram, WhatsApp, and even Instagram and LinkedIn. In order to have a healthier relationship with my phone, I decided to turn off most of my notifications, which ultimately led to the urge of checking all those apps on a regular basis in order to not miss any conversation. But then, I stumbled across Texts, an app that gives you the possibility to bring all your chats into one single inbox. The app created quite some buzz, and people were giving it all to skip the waitlist and get one of the prestigious invite codes. I did try my best to get an invite code too, as Texts sounded like an app that I was in desperate need for. After a couple of years of waiting, I did not succeed.

Luckily, I stumbled across another app called Beeper, which had the same goal as Texts, giving you a single inbox to stay on top of all your chats scattered across different apps. I immediately signed up to their waitlist, and to my surprise I did not have to wait years to get access to the app. After using Beeper for over a year, I had mixed feelings. An app that is in beta has bugs, sure, but Beeper at some point became unusable, mainly because their bridges for the different chat networks hardly ever worked. As of recently, the bridges became more stable and reliable, however while using Beeper for over a year, I found myself going back to the nattive chat apps multiple times, not because I wanted, but because Beeper kind of forced me to, as their app did simply not work. Besides that, I was not a huge fan of their UI design, so I kept eying with Texts, although at some point it felt impossible to get access to their app.

Which means, I stuck with Beeper. The overall idea to use a single app that gathers all my chats resonated with me, the execution on that idea was ok enough to keep using it.

Messaging has always been a complete mess. Since there was no interoperable format or platform, you always had to decide which kind of messaging app you are going to use, and since not everyone I am communicating with is using the same platform, I ended up with almost every single chat app on my phone and devices. Texts and Beeper saw an opportunity in building the world's best inbox and the single messaging app you need. As of now, they are joining forces on that mission, since Automattic first acquired Texts for $50m in October 2024, and in April 2024 Matt Mullenweg, Automattic's CEO, announced the acquisition of Beeper. This is the first time I am experiencing something like that, a company that acquires two companies who were competitors to each other, to join forces and work collaboratively on their mission instead of competitively. Automattic with is products WordPress.com, Tumblr, Pocket Casts, Day One, Simplenote, among others, has been mainly focusing on publishing and commerce. However, with the acquisition of Texts and Beeper, the company adds messaging as a third pillar.

I was excited finding out that Automattic acquired Beeper, and I was surprised when I found out that they acquired Texts already last year, that clearly passed my bubble. Finding out about those news led to me checking out Texts again, especially since I was not 100% satisfied with Beeper and I had tried to get access to Texts for a while. Once I landed on their website, I suddenly realized that Texts opened up their waitlist, people were able to download the app straightaway and use it for free for up to 10 accounts (which is more than enough for me). So, I downloaded the app and connected my chat networks. The UI of Texts immediately attracted me, it looks way more polished and intentional compared to Beeper. Nevertheless, just like Beeper, the app I experienced was full of bugs. I was not able to connect Signal at all after various tries, WhatsApp chats that I archived within Texts suddenly reappeared, notifications kept popping up although I marked them as read, names and profile images on Signal do sync on the macOS app but not on iOS, and sometimes I did not get a notification at all once I received a message. This was a bit of a bummer. I was hoping that Texts is more stable, more reliable, especially since I became such a fan of their design. However, overall it has been a quite frustrating experience.

I hope that things become better as both teams will now work on building the world's best inbox. In a blog post by Automattic, they wrote that Texts will merge with Beeper, and in another sentence they stated that Texts and Beeper will merge under the Beeper brand. At this point, it is unclear what will happen with the Texts app. I hope that they will keep most of its UI instead of Beeper's. Eric Migicovsky, Beeper's CEO, will be Automattic's head of messaging, going forward, and the team's first job will be to prepare the app for the 450.000 people on the Beeper waitlist, according to a recent report by The Verge. Matt Mullenweg pointed out in the same report, that Texts decided on the better security model, which relies on on-device encryption rather than storing a copy of all your messages in the cloud, compared to Beeper which actually requires to store and de-encrypt some of your messages. Anyway, Beeper rolled out some secruity upgrades that changed the way the app handles security and prevents Beeper itself from seeing unencrypted messages from Signal, WhatsApp, and other encrypted apps. There are definitely some discrepancies between Texts and Beeper. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the merging will happen, and how Texts', Beeper's, and Automattic's vision of world's best inbox will look and feel like.

Where will this take us?

Read the whole post here

Pushing the boundaries of messaging – Texts, Beeper, and Automattic
How Automattic brought together the teams of messaging apps Texts and Beeper to join in on the unified mission to build world’s best inbox.

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Fresh Updates & News

Ghost is federating over ActivityPub

Ghost*, the open-source solution to build and set up a publication, just announced that it will adopt ActivityPub in 2024. ActivityPub is a protocol that allows people across different platforms to follow, like, and reply to one another, the protocol Mastodon is using and Threads planning to integrate with. Open networks, such as ActivityPub, grow larger as they do not depend on the success of a company.

What does this mean for Ghost? Once Ghost adopted ActivityPub, publishers who are using Ghost will be able to follow, like, and interact with one another in the same way you would normally do on a social network, but the twist, you will do it on your website. Ghost will implement an ActivityPub feed directly into Ghost which allows you to follow people, publications, and topics from around the web. Besides that, people will eb able to subscribe to your Ghost site using ActivityPub. As soon as you publish, your posts will appear in other people's feeds, but not only in Ghost, people will see it in Mastodon and pretty much everywhere else were ActivityPub is active.

As of now, people can sign up to receive early access to Ghost's ActivityPub integration, but in general the focus of the whole team currently relies on getting it done and make it available to everyone.

Proton Mail

If you are a paid Proton Mail* user, you will now receive alerts giving you information whether you personal information has been posted on the dark web. With the most recent update, Proton Mail introduced its new Dark Web Monitoring feature, which will keep them informed of breakes or leaks that may have affected users. As of now, Dark Web Monitoring is only available for paid users.

Reflect launches iOS app

Reflect's iOS app has been out of beta for quite some time, but remained in TestFlight. The reason for that is that TestFlight allows quicker update iteration cycles. However, as of recently, Reflect announced that its iOS app is now live in the app store, accessible to everyone. If you have the TestFlight version installed, Reflect reccomends uninstalling the old app and downloading the new one from the App Store to ensure receiving future updates.

Studio by WordPress

WordPress introduced Studio by WordPress.com, which is their new, free, and open source local WordPress development environment. With WordPress Studio you can say goodbye to manual tool configuration, slow site setup, and clucnky local development workflows. Studio provides you with the fastest and simples way to build WordPress sites locally.

Mental Wealth

How to Start Small Rituals That Make Every Day Feel Special – “Changing up your daily routine is easier said than done. It’s also worth it—at least according to Michael I. Norton, author of our April SELF Well-Read Book Club pick, The Ritual Effect. In the book, Norton—a psychologist and Harvard Business School professor—compiles more than a decade of research to explain why human beings practice rituals, whether that looks like centuries-old traditions or personal daily habits. Piecing together anecdotes, scientific studies, and historical accounts, Norton shows that adopting rituals is both a universal human tendency and a deeply personal process. So how can someone figure out which rituals will work for them? How can rituals enhance our relationships? And how can they grow and evolve with us in uncertain times?”

When Procrastination is Productive – “I recently had an email exchange with a reader who, in his words, claimed to struggle with a lack of commitment. He wanted to study machine learning, but he couldn’t get past the first few modules of the course he’s taking. After a few emails back and forth, however, I discovered the reason he “wasn’t able to commit” was simply that his full-time job and family responsibilities kept getting in the way.”

Studies Show Self-Compassion is the Motivator You’re Missing – “Pushing ourselves and holding ourselves accountable are how we achieve success. Unfortunately, many of us mistake harsh self-criticism and self-castigation for “pushing ourselves.” And that has the opposite of the desired effect.”

Sometimes, a Button Just Wants to Look Like a Button – “How much was really lost in the great calamity that was iOS 7? For a UI designer like myself, quite a lot. I wandered around aimlessly for some time before finding my footing again. There was something so tangible with using real world metaphors for digital interfaces.”

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I am a huge fan of apps, I love using them for all kinds of purposes, I love to try them out, and it is always a great feeling when I am discovering a new app that helps me get stuff done. While feature-rich apps have a lot to offer, I get most excited about tiny, lightweight, almost single-purpose apps which do one thing simply perfectly. Therefore, I recently kicked off a new content series at Creativerly: Tiny macOS utility apps I love.

❯ Quick Bits

Till next time! 👋‌‌‌‌

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