Pastie for IPhone

As a software developer, I can let you in on a little secret: most of us will admit to having a lazy streak. I don't mean that in a bad way--it's just that a good developer likes to find the most efficient way to accomplish any given task.

In my case, this quest for "economy of effort," as I prefer to call it, spills out into other parts of my work and personal life. One example is my desire to find the most efficient ways to communicate with people. For instance, there are many times that I find I need to send short messages, such as "In a meeting, I'll call you later." The last thing I want to do is create that same message from scratch each time.

I've discovered several iPhone apps that provide ways to send "canned" messages like this. Manicwave Productions' app, Pastie, is the latest one I've found that lets you send brief messages from your iPhone or iPod touch quickly and efficiently. (A Wi-Fi connection is required for the iPod touch, obviously.)

It works like this: Compose some canned text, like "I'm running late. Will be there soon." and assign a default action to that text. There are three types of actions: Email, SMS and Copy. Email and SMS actions do exactly what you think, and you can assign an automatic recipient to each of them (though that's not required). The Copy action is also very useful; if there are canned phrases that you use in a variety of contexts, you can save each one as a Copy action, which you can then reuse in various applications. Just open Pastie and tap on a saved Copy item in order to copy that item's text to the clipboard. You can then paste that data into another iPhone app, such as Mail, SMS or Notepad.

You can assign Email and SMS actions to any individual contact on your device. The app also provides its own Favorites list to make this process easier. If you don't assign a default contact to an action, then the app lets you select a contact at the time you use it. I was really hoping I could assign a Group from my contacts list to an Email action, since I often want to send the same message to that entire group. However, the built-in Mail app can't even do that, so I can hardly criticize Pastie for falling short there.

If you double-tap on an action, the "action menu" pops up where you can choose an alternative action for that action, such as SMS-ing an Email action, or selecting an alternative recipient to your Email action.

Pastie has a couple of quirky behaviors. For example, when you use an SMS action, the text isn't immediately inserted into the SMS message; you must tap and hold on the message box, then choose the "paste" command. Hardly a deal breaker, but it still seems odd. Some of the app's features aren't entirely obvious, so I highly recommend spending a few minutes and going through the developer's included tutorial.

I'm still working with Pastie and have found it pretty useful thus far, so it has earned a coveted spot on my home screen. If you want to give it a try yourself, there's the free Pastie Lite, which limits you to three pasties and two contacts.

[Brian Beam is web developer and partner with BOLD Internet Solutions, living somewhere near Kansas City.]

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