There are a lot of ways to manage how you interact with coworkers and people who are helping you with a project. Before the days of computers, you had to fax them a daily plan, call them up and discuss things, or even mail them a letter containing details. And if they lived next door, you could always walk over there. Now, however, things have been modernized and we have wonderful tools like Basecamp at our disposal. It was one of the best, until Kickoff 2.0 went into public beta.
Released in the first half of the month, the app is a completely revamped version of its collaboration predecessor. From the design to the features and way you do things, the app has been changed. We reviewed the original one back in 2011, but now design has become more important and developers are distinguishing their user interfaces from what Apple sets as a standard. The question you probably have is, what’s so different about this app that makes it worth upgrading?
Since it’s currently in public beta, Kickoff 2.0 is free to use. So, if you have a team of friends who you plan to work closely (yet far away from) with, it’s the perfect solution. Of course, the public beta will not last forever and eventually things will get priced. We’ll get to that later on though. For now, let’s discuss the process of signing up for a Kickoff account and starting your first project.
You can click the Register button once you open the app to create a new account, or the Log In one if you already have credentials from the previous version. In the Register option, the app will pull information from your contact card (with your permission) and help you sign up faster. All you have to insert is a password, which doesn’t even need to be confirmed. (This will end up being a problem if you hit the wrong key because resetting the password is never convenient.) When you’re finished, click the Register button and you’ll be whisked off to the main screen.
Now you can create a new team. Click the Team menu, click New Team, and type in the name of the team and your coworkers’ email. Not to worry: you don’t have to include coworkers at first if you don’t want to. Click Create and a new project screen will appear. You can then add tasks in the right pane and discuss the whole project in the left one. There’s also a button on the right of a project that’s shown when you hover. It will open a discussion for that particular project — useful for the little things.
Managing Tasks and Lists
Next you’ll want to manage some tasks, so right-click one to begin. A menu with an Edit button, Assign To and Move To buttons, and a Delete button will appear. (You can also select the task and press the delete key on your keyboard to remove it from the list.) Click the Edit button to change the name, or just click the title twice. Hover over the Assign To menu and select a name to give that person the task. The person will be notified if a comment is posted or the task is completed. If the task takes more than one person to be carried out, select the remaining participants as well. Lastly, the Move To menu allows you to move the task to another list.
Drag a task into the chat box to discuss it.
As for lists, they can be created by clicking the All Tasks button in the center of the top of the screen. The default lists are All Tasks and Completed Tasks, but you can add as many as you want to organize things. Once you’ve created a new list, drag a task down to it or use the Move To menu to change its position.
The User Interface
On to the section of beauty. This app really is nice to look at and a pleasure to use. The user interface as a whole feels thoroughly polished, especially for a beta. I have yet to see a graphical glitch or transition that I’m unhappy with. From adding a task to sending messages, this app’s transitions and little animations make it natural, and even the messaging is better than Apple’s iMessage service in terms of appearance. It shows most when you’re typing something: the little blue cursor has a subtle feel to it rather than the plain old black one you see in other apps. It’s the little things like this that make the user interface more alive than other apps out there.
Say you’ve uploaded a picture or video to Droplr and you want to show your team. Instead of them clicking the link and heading to a browser, it will load right in the chat pane. YouTube videos related to your discussion can also be shared with a simple paste — no extra formatting is required. This is extremely useful for those of you who share lots of links and don’t wish to bother with switching apps.
You can even embed Tweets. The full list of supported services will be available at launch, but the developer told me that some of them right now are Droplr, Twitter, CloudApp, Vimeo, and YouTube. I’m really looking forward to this unified integration. In fact, a built-in browser would help the experience all the more by keeping the user inside the one app and not constantly pressing CMD + Tab.
No More Monthly Plans
The best part about version 2.0 of Kickoff is that the developers are no longer going to be charging a monthly fee to use the service. Instead of competing with the likes of Basecamp in a monthly pricing structure, the developer has decided it’s better to charge a one-time fee. There’s no word on exactly how much that’ll be yet, but the app will be available in the Mac App Store to keep things modern and easier to find. Regardless of the cost, it’s sure to be much better in the long term than the previous version’s subscription.
A Beautiful Solution
Need to organize a protest? Maybe you need to rally with your neighbors to get something done. If anything, your significant other has been begging you to complete a project that requires more people than one. Whatever the case, this app is a great way to manage it. Right now, it’s free, and in the future it will be “affordable”, according to the developer. There’s also an iPhone app in the plans — it will be released at the same time as the Mac App Store one.
With its combination of apps and more features coming in the future, Kickoff 2.0 is going to have a fantastic launch. Right now, everything is very solid and usable, and in the future it’s likely this will be kept the same. It’s nice to see that the developer is keeping things simple, yet functional. There aren’t a lot of features and some of them don’t even matter to users, but overall this is a great desktop alternative to Basecamp. As for WunderKit, its user interface may be better, but it’s definitely not as user-friendly.