Hook Mac App Hit “Golden Master”—About Hook’s Past, Present and Future

Earlier this month, the latest CogSci Apps invention, Hook productivity app for macOS, exited “public beta” and became an official release. It is now at version 1.1.1. You can read the announcement on the Hook productivity blog.

The response to Hook has been quite favorable. Early adopters recognize it as a very original and useful Mac app which has a simple but powerful user interface. For example, Cult of Mac wrote:

This is such a fantastic, simple idea that it seems like it should be built into every computer.

This has helped spread the word about Hook, given that Cult of Mac gets 2.6 million page views per month and has 750k followers on Twitter. We’ve also received praise about Hook via email, on the forum, via Twitter etc.

So, let’s briefly look back at the history of Hook, summarize what it does, and look into its future.

Looking back on the history of Hook

I first publicly mooted the concept for the Hook app in an article for SharpBrains in 2010. I then specified many of the requirements for it in my first Cognitive Productivity book. On the one hand, I didn’t explicitly state that the book could be read as a functional specification. On the other hand, I did make it very clear that the book described users’ cognitive productivity requirements (from a cognitive science perspective) and problems with existing software. Software engineers could easily (have) read the book (and this website) as a collection of specifications for cognitive software.

Solves a previously unsolved problem

Thus, over years and years of R&D, my colleagues and I put a lot of thought into (a) understanding a very specific set of cognitive problems, and (b) designing a laser-focused, user-friendly user interface to solve it. (That’s what we do at CogSci Apps, compare another invention of ours, mySleepButton®.)

The Hook app solves what was one of the biggest unsolved problems in operating systems: the meta-access problem. That is the problem of rapidly navigating between a focal resource and ancillary material. The problem is described in my Cognitive Productivity books and on the Hook Productivity website.

Hook does not compete with or replace your existing services and apps. For example, web search engines still help you find information in the first place. Spotlight helps you find information on you Mac if you happen to remember meta information about it—and have the time to type a search query and examine search results. HoudahSpot and launchers (like LaunchBar and Alfred) still have their place—we ourselves use and love them.

Hook enables you to instantly re-access resources (files, web pages, email messages, tasks and more) that are pertinent to your focus. In fact, one of Hook’s slogans is

File less. Search Less. Access.

Thus, Hook is a new type of app that complements existing tools. Hook connects your existing apps, allowing you to get more out of them. For instance, with Hook you can immediately navigate between a draft document and an email containing feedback about the draft.

For more information, see the Hook app benefits page and the Hook productivity videos.

Looking towards the future of Hook

Hook is already super useful. However, we are not standing still. We at CogSci Apps are very excited about the product road map for Hook.

Before even announcing Hook, in 2018 I noted in the “Apply Knowledge” chapter of Cognitive Productivity with macOS®: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge that I was following John Gruber’s advice regarding releasing Mac apps. I wrote:

On August 23, 2016, after he and his business partners abandoned their iOS product, Vesper, John Gruber published some gems of advice for Mac and iOS developers, in a Daring Fireball post entitled Vesper, adieux. The advice can be summed up as follows:

  1. Design for iPhone first. Knowing the limits of iOS can help you avoid developing features on macOS that can’t be implemented on iOS.
  2. Implement for macOS first, which will generate revenue for developing the iPhone version.

We followed Gruber’s advice. So, yes, we are working on a version of Hook for iOS.

On the Hook productivity forum, we have tipped our hand on several other upcoming enhancements to Hook.

In addition, we have a huge amount of undisclosed innovations to deliver which, we believe, will continue to pleasantly surprise, inspire and benefit knowledge workers, students, creatives and others who need to use knowledge to be profoundly effective.

We are also working on additional videos, documentation and more.

Please feel free to let CogSci Apps know what features, functions and services you would like added to the Hook app.

Cognitive productivity training

And if your organization needs cognitive productivity training, get in touch with us at CogZest.

Document revision history

2019-08-01. A previous version of this article was published as “Hook Mac App Hit Golden Master — Now at Version 1.1.1! And Some Updates on My R&D CogZest”. I decided to move the final section of the previous version into a separate, future, blog post.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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