What’s new and what to look out for. The new version of My Shift Planner is coming out soon. Chris Pimlott, creator of My Shift Planner, talks to us about what to expect in the new update.

Version 4.0 is coming out

I’m really excited about it – we’re all really excited about it! It’s something we’ve been building towards for a long time. We have lots of really cool features we’ve wanted to add in, but we needed to do lots under the hood first to get the app ready. Now that it’s finally here, we can start offering our users even more functionality and more options than ever,  to help them plan their shift working lives.

“Users drive our updates …”

There’s one thing that drives us, here at My Shift Planner, and that’s user feedback. Every change we’ve made to the app has come directly from users. We have a really engaged community. Users ask us constantly for new features to help them. We’re only too happy to add them, but sometimes it takes quite a bit of work and preparation. We wouldn’t want to make one change to the app that mucks up a really useful feature that other users love. But we are committed to developing the app to make it simpler, quicker and more attuned to what our users want.

“Real User Testing …”

To help us do this, we’ve got a community of real users, our beta community, who are testing the new version for us. Our beta users are getting their new version this week. They will have a couple of weeks to get to grips with the app, test everything and see what they like and what they don’t like, and what they can break!  Then we’ll gather their views, make any tweaks we need to, and launch mid May. It will be a full international release on all formats and will really give our users some great new features to work with.

“Not change for change’s sake …”

There are lots of changes throughout the whole app. But first, we’ve done a lot of work under the hood to get the app ready for live sharing. That’s going to be a great new feature going forward.

The “under the hood” changes aren’t things that people will see, but they make the app run smoother and more intuitively, and allow data to be backed up and saved much more efficiently.

On top of that, we wanted to give the app a fresh look and feel, to keep it current and to make sure our users see the information they want to see. So we have pulled together the personal features and settings into one place.

We are trying to make the app all about the user. To do that, we’ve added the concept of a user profile. It makes the app feel like your personal tool, to help you plan your busy life. The personal profile has allowed us to bring in new features that are specific to individual users. You can customise your calendar and all the data in the app to how you want it to work, specifically geared to your particular shift work pattern and experience.

It’s the start of something that’s going to be a lot bigger very soon. We will be adding some new features on the back of this release that allow you to share your shift pattern with anyone you want (Live Sharing) and make the most of all the extras we’ve been adding in.

“Geared to you and your needs …”

We’ve been able to add in a full list of countries in now. Regardless of where you are in the world, we can now add country specific information, such as public holidays etc.

We have also more tightly integrated the My Shift Planner account, which is a cloud based service which allows you to do things like backup your data and save information from your device. If you lose your device, it will restore your shift pattern again without having to set it all up again. The added bonus of this is that it also allows you to use the Auto Sync facility, which is new in version 4.0.

“Automatically sync between your devices …”

Auto Sync is a two part system that backs up your data automatically. At the moment, if you haven’t done a backup for three months and lose your phone, you have lost the last three months of additions and changes you’ve made.

With the new Auto Sync feature enabled, you will be able to restore all your data, your calendar and everything you’ve added to the app, back to the point you last used My Shift Planner. That’s really powerful for our users, and something they have said they wanted.

Additionally, Auto Sync allows you to share across multiple devices. For example, quite a lot of people have many different devices they use in different situations: they may have an Android phone for work, an iPhone for home use and an iPad as well for browsing the web. With Auto Sync enabled, you can log into your device under the same My Shift Planner Account, and it will automatically copy the shift patterns and setting you’ve entered into each of your device, no matter what type of device it is.

If your partner isn’t a shift worker and doesn’t need My Shift Planner, they can use the feature as well, by downloading My Shift Planner and logging into your account and to see your shift pattern.

You can turn this feature off if you wish, but it is going to make life a lot easier for a great many of our users.

“A better look and feel …”

We have added a lot of more smaller improvements throughout the app. There is now a year view, under the main calendar screen you can change between month view and year view. So that you can see what shifts you are working for your entire year in one go.

The share by email and social media feature that is in the calendar at the moment works well with that feature. So if you are in year view and you share out it will share that year view so that you can send that to other people who need to know when you are on or off. This is very useful and, again, something our users wanted

We’ve also made changes as to how you can add information on an individual day basis. As well as adding notes to the day, you can now set the tag that’s shown on the calendar on a per day basis. At the moment it just shows the name or time of the shift. But with the new feature you can change what’s shown on that day, so if you want to add an appointment on that day you can change it easily. Which allows the users to be more flexible about how they use the app

“Give the people what they want …”

We listen to our users and a good example of that is that there is a new preview feature that we have added onto our calendar that people have requested.

We had lots of support calls from people who wanted a faster way of being able to see details about a specific day, without having to go into the edit screen.

We worked on a solution and now, if you tap and hold on a particular day on the calendar, it will show you a preview panel, which tells you the hours that you are working your shift and any other useful information that you need to see. Also, from there, you can directly jump in to change times notes or anything else. This is a great addition that really will make it easier to plan your days.

“Constant evolution …”

We are constantly evolving the product to make it work better, fixing issues and adding new functionality from our user’s feedback. I’m a developer, I’ve got a technical background, but there’s always a bit of magic about making something happen for users and knowing that it’s something they want and will make really good use of.

Chris Pimlott

Founder My Shift Planner

May 2017