Tailboards App Spotlight: Making Job Sites Safer

How Utility and Construction Companies Use our Tailboards App to Improve Safety and Reporting

When utility and construction companies want to streamline job-site safety meetings and help employees identify, document, and mitigate hazards, the Tailboards app from Robots & Pencils is a trusted tool.

An Opportunity to Improve the Worker Experience and Safety

Many electrical engineers, meter inspectors, construction employees, and other field workers face hazardous work sites daily. To ensure job safety and quality, field workers typically review risks and safety procedures in routine on-site meetings with their supervisors. Many organizations call these meetings tailboard meetings. Alternatively, some teams call them toolbox or tailgate talks.

Either way, these meetings require workers to carry and review heavy binders full of complex safety documentation. There is always a lot of information to cover! Employees also go through long, multi-page paper forms and checklists related to the job. Whenever a process changes, team leaders have to create, print, and distribute new forms and binders. In the unfortunate case that an incident occurs, management must sort through and review all of this paperwork. Basically, all of this paperwork becomes a big hassle.

After learning about these meetings and the extreme paperwork from a client, our team realized that moving these paper-based processes digital would be a huge win for organizations. A digital transformation would make work altogether safer and more efficient.

A Digital Solution for Hazard Mitigation and Reporting

Using insight and guidance from our clients, Robots & Pencils created an iPad app that eliminates the burden of physical paperwork and gives workers access to digital documents and workflows. The app is ideal for use by distributed managers, safety engineers, and other employees in ever-changing job site conditions.

Users can leverage the Tailboards app to review:

  • Required tasks and procedures
  • Job-specific safety forms and documentation
  • Assessments of potential hazards and threats
  • Relevant hazard mitigation techniques 

Field workers can easily complete and submit the necessary forms, including recording and reporting changes to hazard conditions. Form entries and submissions are automatically stamped with GPS location, date, and time, ensuring that documentation is never altered after an issue arises. 

For managers in particular, the app provides visibility into what’s happening in the field and what works remains. It also is a source of valuable data for analysis, reporting, and auditing–data that would be much slower and more difficult to access if it was on paper. Another benefit is the ease of updating safety processes or forms. No longer do companies have to worry about outdated forms or printing and distributing new documents. Instead, forms are updated instantly in the app and automatically distributed to all employees.

Driving Organizational Efficiency and Safety

As of 2023, the Tailboards app has been a valued industry tool for 10 years, with hundreds of daily users. By eliminating paper at tailboard meetings, companies have increased employee safety and efficiency, including reducing lost-time incidents. 

By streamlining hundreds of paper forms and documents into one mobile app, these organizations reduced manual errors and avoid the burden of completing and managing paper forms. If an issue does arise, workers can communicate quickly with management from remote sites, including via options previously unavailable like saving and sending video, pictures, and text descriptions of hazards in real time. The app also allows organizations to decrease their environmental impact and spending by drastically cutting the amount of paper printed.

Interested in Using the Tailboards App at Your Organization?

Robots & Pencils can customize and scale the Tailboards app for your unique job site and safety needs. We also offer a complete range of digital transformation services, including product ideation and strategy, design, development, change management consulting, and more. Contact us today at hello@robotsandpencils.com to start the conversation!

WWDC 2023: What Matters for Users, Developers, & Businesses

By Andrew Erickson, iOS Robot, Robots & Pencils

What should users be excited about?

Hardware Announcements

A new Macbook Air is available with a larger 15″ display. If a larger screen size is important to you, this could be an attractive option. However, if you already have a Macbook Air 13″, it might not be worth upgrading at this time.

Mac Studio and Mac Pro are for power users and come with some serious performance updates. Processing intensive tasks like video editing can greatly benefit from this type of power. With its high price point though, it won’t fit into many people’s budgets or add the value needed to justify the cost.

iOS 17

iOS 17 will be available to users in Fall 2023 on devices that have the A12 or newer processor. Unfortunately, this means that devices like the iPhone X and 8 will not be able to update to iOS 17. Below are the major new features and benefits of iOS17.

  • NameDrop will allow you to easily exchange contact information using AirDrop.
  • Live voicemail will show you what someone is saying on your voicemail live, so that you can decide if it’s important enough to take the call right then.
  • Autocorrect and dictation will be more accurate.
  • A new Journal app will provide smart suggestions to help you journal about your day.
  • Check In will allow you to tell friends or family when you’re heading home and automatically notify them when you get there. If you’re delayed, you can adjust your expected arrival time. If you don’t reach your destination, your loved ones will get a notification allowing them to check on you.

iPadOS 17

iPad is getting a customizable lock screen and live activities, and the Health app is now available on iPad. PDFs editing, collaboration and autofill also got significant improvements.

macOS Sonoma

With macOS Sonoma, you’ll be able to add widgets anywhere on your desktop. Video conferencing will also now allow video overlay, so that the speaker’s video isn’t lost while presenting. In Safari, you’ll get increased privacy as well as profiles that can separate your work, home, and school experiences. Additionally, you can create a web app from any website to make your favorite sites easier to access!


Adaptive audio will allow you to stay present in your surroundings and adapt to them. Also, AirPlay is coming to select hotels in the near future, allowing you to play content from your devices easily on the TV in your hotel room.

watchOS 10

watchOS 10 got some UI improvements, better tracking for cycling and hiking, and a few updates to Health including mental and vision health.

tvOS 17

tvOS now features a redesigned control center and offers the option to use memories as the screensaver for your TV. Most significantly, you will be able to use FaceTime on AppleTV using Continuity Camera from your iPhone or iPad.

Apple Vision Pro

The big reveal at the end of the keynote was the introduction of a new piece of hardware: Apple Vision Pro. It’s Apple’s response to an AR/VR experience known as Spatial Computing. A lot of iPad and iPhone apps will be available on the headset as windows with little changes required from the developers of those apps. You will have full control of where these apps are located in your space.

The design is well thought out, addressing issues of competing devices that are heavy and uncomfortable due to having batteries integrated into the headset. By having a cable that connects to an external battery pack, Apple Vision Pro significantly reduces the weight of their headset. The device will also come without external controllers, relying on eye and hand tracking for interactions. Eye tracking is kept private from apps and is processed at a system level to keep your interactions private and secure.

The specs are also above and beyond any of the devices already out there. With 23 million pixels across two panels, you get more than 4k resolution per eye. The processor that powers the device is Apple’s familiar M2 chip alongside a new R1 chip allowing for real time processing.

This device is set to start at $3499 USD which is going to be a large barrier to becoming a device seen in every home. Still, Apple has always been focused on creating world class products and devices that truly change the world. Based on what I’ve seen today, the Vision Pro has the potential to change the world just as much as the iPhone has over the past 15 years.

What should developers be excited about?

Swift Macros make it easier than ever to add common functionality to your app without writing code that is often considered boilerplate or repeatable.

C++ interoperability is now supported in the latest SDK

SwiftUI updates include those that were most requested by developers like improved animations, animated SF Symbols, and an easier way to manage state using the @Observed macro.

A Swift implementation of CoreData was one of the biggest reveals and something that developers have long been waiting for. SwiftData makes it easy to write your model code without having to repeat your data structures in a separate model object.

A new API TipKit was introduced that allows you to highlight features in your app to your users at the right time.

AVCapture performance improvements will make using the camera easier in your apps.

Developers are getting access to some new APIs including HDR, video conferencing, ScreenCaptureKit and Continuity Camera.

Updates to tools like App Store and StoreKit will make it easier than ever to create a consistent and familiar interface for products and subscriptions.

Xcode is getting some great improvements as well, including code completion improvements that are more aware of the code you are writing and suggesting more accurate modifiers or functions.

Test reports in Xcode got a huge overhaul and now contain much more detail and in-depth insights into issues in your app and its tests. You can step through points in your test and even reference an accompanying video to see exactly what went wrong that caused the test to fail.

Updates to Xcode cloud will make workflows 2 times faster and link speeds 5 times faster.

How to bring apps to the new visionOS is one of the main questions developers might have this year. Here are some of the things to know:

  • Apps can be made available on visionOS using SwiftUI, RealityKit and/or ARKit. Existing iPad and iOS apps will be available to be seen as a window in visionOS, but you must take into account that the screen size of that virtual window containing your app can be adjusted by the user. This means your layout must be able to accommodate a dynamic range of screen sizes.
  • You can also craft 3D scenes in visionOS using volumes. You can use RealityKit to show entities in 3D space, and combine it with the power of ARKit to understand your physical surroundings.
  • RealityKit is adopting the MaterialX open standard for geometry shaders which makes it easier to write complex shaders.
  • Developers will be able to preview their visionOS experiences using Xcode simulator. That functionality is coming to Xcode sometime later this month.

This week, there will be a total of 175 sessions that developers can watch to dig into all things new this year. 40 of those sessions alone are related to the new visionOS!

What should companies be excited about?


Now is the time for first mover advantage with AR on Vision Pro. This is the high risk, high reward play. The safer approach is to wait and see if there’s teething problems with the new tech. The “Pro” tag on Vision Pro likely means that a more affordable non-pro version will come at some point. I’d recommend holding off on buying them for the office unless you have a compelling need for them until a more affordable version is available.

The 15” MacBook Air is a good option for employees in need of more screen space without the need for more processing. Think people who are working with presentations, zoom, word processing, and spreadsheets all of the time.

Mac Studio and Mac Pro got upgrades for those who need high performance. However, there are only a few use cases where employee workflows require this type of power. Intensive video processing is one example.


On the software side of things, lots of new developer APIs were announced and lots of existing APIs have been improved.

If your app does image processing, it might be worth checking out Apple’s new HDR API.

StoreKit and SKAdNetwork are getting updates. If your app uses either of those frameworks for ads or in-app purchases, you may want to look further into what new features those frameworks will include.

A new framework called TipKit was released that will allow you to add timely tips for your users, helping them to easily discover new features in your app.

The new features and updates announced Monday include much more than the ones covered here, and we are excited to dive in deeper into each topic over the next few months to get a better understanding of how they will help us build better apps!

If you’d like to talk about any of the news coming out of WWDC and how it impacts your business, reach out to the Robots & Pencils team at hello@robotsandpencils.com.

Introducing WheelUI: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

You know that mobile is important to your business. Maybe you’re considering an idea for a new app or mobile strategy. Or, perhaps your existing app needs a refresh. Either way, you have a limited budget you need to use effectively. As you look to optimize costs, deciding between cross-platform and native app development will be one of the early decisions you need to make. Robots & Pencils has a solution that can help.

Comparing Native and Cross-Platform Apps

If you’re unfamiliar or need a refresher, native app development uses first-party tools created and provided by Apple and Android. You build one app for Android and another for iOS, each using their own programming language. This allows you to ensure that each app meets UX standards specific to its platform and has access to all the features that an Android or iOS device offers.

On the other hand, cross-platform development uses third-party tools built as an added layer on top of the native tools. These tools let you build one app that works on both Android and iOS. The premise for using cross-platform is simple. Rather than developing one app for each platform as you do with native apps, you build once, deploy on multiple platforms, and save money. Sounds great, right? The issue is that native apps, not cross-platform apps, are widely acknowledged as providing the best user experience and greatest feature availability. Having a better user experience means having higher user adoption. Higher adoption equals more business value and more return on your investment, which obviously is what you want.

The other concern is that the preferred choice of cross-platform tools changes frequently, which can make it hard to maintain cross-platform apps and to find skilled cross-platform developers. Also, despite the promise of a single set of code, cross-platform tools often require the use of native code as well. As a result, cross-platform apps can have iOS and Android code in addition to the cross-platform tool. Ultimately, cross-platform apps may be cheaper to build at first, but they are expensive to maintain and less attractive to users.

So, how can a budget-sensitive company still provide the best possible user experience and utilize the full range of features on each platform to get the highest ROI? Enter WheelUI. Created by the mobile team at Robots & Pencils, WheelUI can help you build a native application on each platform for less total cost than cross-platform development.

WheelUI: How it Works

The majority of a mobile app is often a handful of commonly used screens and UI components, like a login view, menus, and a news feed, to name a few. This is where WheelUI comes in. WheelUI is an in-house R&P framework built to provide common UI (user interface) screens and components for our clients.

All WheelUI components are built using native code, with code written in Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android. Because WheelUI is native, the UX of each screen matches the platform. (Having screens that don’t line up with user expectations for iOS or Android is one of the common UX pitfalls of a cross-platform app.)

Additionally, each WheelUI screen has already had the Pencil touch, with our talented UX and UI experts leading the design of these UI components. All WheelUI screens are also easily configurable to your color palette, font, and other brand needs, so that your brand still shines through in your app.

The major benefit WheelUI offers clients is that each of these screens no longer needs to be designed or built anew. This means that you can get the UX and feature benefits of native code for a much lower cost. And by saving money on those common screens, clients can apply a larger portion of the budget to creating custom code and UI for the unique features that makes their app stand out.

WheelUI Time & Cost Savings

Depending on how many of the WheelUI app components you use, we estimate that up to 40% cost savings is possible compared to a full custom native project. (Think–you’re saving on design, development, project management, QA, everything. It adds up!)

Many businesses expect cross-platform development to cut costs in half since it (in theory) requires only one codebase instead of two. However, mobile project costs like design, QA, project management, and everything else are relatively equal between cross-platform and full custom native. Plus, because cross-platform apps are built on top of another software layer, oddities sometimes slow down development and increase total project cost. Based on our experience, we think cross-platform is more likely to save only around 20% from native development. Therefore, even when you add on custom development to a WheelUI project, you can still save money compared to a cross-platform project. You will have the budget to build that killer feature that elevates your app above the rest.

On top of cost savings, WheelUI also cuts your time to release. The WheelUI screens are built, thoroughly tested, and ready to go. All we need to do is load up your data. We estimate that using WheelUI could cut as much as 40% off your total project timeline.

WheelUI vs Cross-Platform: Talent Availability and Maintainability

Cross-platform tools have shown themselves to be widely adopted for short periods of time. As the desire to use a specific cross-platform tool wanes, companies with apps built in those platforms have to decide whether to keep supporting the tool or to rewrite their entire app. That’s a big risk to weigh if you’re considering cross-platform development.

Native code, used in WheelUI, has shown itself to last. At R&P, we’ve supported native apps for 10 plus years with no signs of support ending. By keeping WheelUI native, we’re looking out for the long-term viability of our clients. On top of maintainability, the ephemeral nature of cross-platform tools has led to a lack of talent availability in cross-platform tools. Many developers are uninterested in mastering a platform that could end up disappearing within a handful of years. Comparatively, native iOS and Android developers are readily available, so you’ll have a much easier time finding a developer who can work on your native app built with WheelUI.

Getting Started with WheelUI

WheelUI keeps all the strengths of native code, but offers it at less cost than cross-platform or a full custom development project. WheelUI lets you prioritize your app user experience to maximize the business value of your app while also saving money and time. At R&P, we’re already using WheelUI in our own products.

It’s said that cross-platform is built to release and native is built to maintain, but we believe that WheelUI can do both.

To learn more, and discuss your mobile strategy and pricing for app development with WheelUI, email us at hello@robotsandpencils.com.