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James Cull

Content Editor for AppStorm

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When the word “email” springs to mind, most people think of those Monday mornings spent gazing at an endless list of messages inside Microsoft Outlook, sifting through and sorting out the useful stuff from the spam, newsletters and other promotions that somehow always end up in our inboxes. Yep, it’s true — email really is an unnecessary evil.

We think we can live without it, yet we still check our inboxes several times a day, no matter where we are — and I’m no exception. I’m pretty much married to my iPhone — as we spend almost every second of the day together — and I feel lost and disconnected when I get that dreaded “circle of death”, the GPRS indicator, meaning I can hardly access anything online.

Yet I’m always a little sceptical when developers claim that they can reinvent email. Allow me to explain why.

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When it comes to editing photographs on OS X, Apple users are quite spoilt for choice. Those who just want to remove those ghastly devil eyes from their holiday snaps and turn them into a fancy scrapbook for the rest of the family to coo over can use iPhoto, part of the iLife package, which is bundled in with all new Macs. Photographers looking for a few more advanced features often turn to Apple’s offering, Aperture, or Adobe’s Lightroom — both offering a feature set that keeps most semi-professional and professional photographers happy.

You’ll notice my use of the word “often” in the above paragraph — this is because that for most, Aperture and Lightroom seem to be the de facto options. Funnily enough, there are other professional photographic programs out there for Mac users that offer a feature set that rivals both Aperture and Lightroom. To see whether this statement was true or not, I took a look at Capture One Pro, from Danish developers Phase One. What is interesting about these guys is that they are both a hardware and software manufacturer — the company sells camera bodies for professional use and lenses to match — much like Nikon does with its Capture NX 2 software.

Let’s see whether Capture One Pro lives up to the reputation of Aperture and Lightroom and, perhaps more importantly, if it is worth that €229 ($300) price-tag.

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Back at the end of June, I received a press release from Toronto-based developers Marketcircle, the team behind the acclaimed Mac business app Daylite (which I recently reviewed right here on Mac.AppStorm), stating that Billings would be discontinued and that Billings Pro would be offered in its place. It took me a while (and a couple of reads through the e-mail) to actually process what was going on and, more importantly, what it would mean for me seeing as I was a keen Billings user.

For those of you who don’t know, Billings is a great time-tracking and invoicing application aimed towards freelancers. Not only can you keep track of all your clients (and bill them for your services) but you’ve also got access to some pretty powerful reporting tools (these are especially useful when it comes to filling out your tax return) and the app will also keep track of all your unpaid invoices, reminding you when any are overdue.

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Way back in 2009, when Mac.AppStorm was in its infancy, we reviewed Daylite, a really easy way to manage your business using just one app — and it impressed us. We really loved the range of features, different business areas present within the app and the tight e-mail integration.

Since then, though, a lot has changed with Daylite so let’s take a look at the fourth version to see if it is still as good as we remember it to be.

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Japanese is notorious for being one of the hardest foreign languages to learn as an English speaker (alongside Arabic, Chinese and Korean). Not only it is radically different to English, with very little similarities to our own mother tongue, but the entirely different writing system can make it a real nightmare to learn. Yet the question, “how do I learn a foreign language?”, has, unfortunately, a multitude of different answers and there isn’t one simple way of learning a tongue from far-away lands. You could, of course, by just a textbook and learn it yourself, but in this day and age, with our modern technology, there must surely be a more effective and exciting way of learning some conversational Spanish before your trip to the Costa del Sol or, in this case, some Japanese before that big business trip to Japan.

Human Japanese, which has been featured on the front of the App Store, believes that it can help you learn Japanese in a new and intuitive way. At a mere $9.99, it’s certainly less expensive than the options out there (such as Rosetta Stone, which starts at $179 a level) but does a bargain price equate to quality?

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As any business owner will tell you, keeping track of your sales leads is one of the most important ways to sustain revenue. Yet this really is no easy task and requires an awful lot of maintenance and reporting, especially when the company is quite large. One company I worked for in Germany kept track of everything through a giant Excel spreadsheet, and keeping this up-to-date was an absolute nightmare, especially as only one person could view and edit it at any one moment in time (and yes, I did get shouted at quite a lot for not maintaining it!).

However Close.io, from developers Elastic Inc, believes it can change this. In short, it has a simple vision:

Never again should a great company fail because of a lack of sales.

Close.io may not be the cheapest offering on the market (plans start from $59 per user monthly) but if it helps a company keep track of all its sales targets, then I think this is a small price to pay for such a useful service. Let’s dive straight in and see what it has to offer.

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This year’s WWDC is probably the one of the most anticipated Apple events of all time, with the promise of new and (hopefully) completely revamped versions of both iOS and OS X. Mac.AppStorm and iPad.AppStorm are here to help you keep track of it, with 3 liveblogs for you to watch and participate in! Unfortunately, we won’t be covering it from San Francisco, but we will be providing quality news coverage and analysis both during the presentation and afterwards.

There are three ways you can follow the event:

  1. Our ScribbleLive blog, manned by Mark Myerson, which will automatically update, and you can provide your own thoughts and comments in the live stream.
  2. Our Twitter accounts, @macappstorm and @ipadappstorm (both manned by James Cull). All our tweets will be marked with the hashtag #appstormwwdc — please feel free to use this for thoughts and comments so we can see them.
  3. Our App.net accounts, @macappstorm and @ipadappstorm (both manned by Jordan Merrick). Again, please use the hashtag #appstormwwdc for any thoughts and comments.

We’ll start at 5:30 PM (GMT) so see you there!

For sole enterprises, keeping a good set of books is probably one of the most essential tasks. It helps keep all your paperwork in order and it makes it far easier when it comes to the end of the year and that massive tax bill is due. Unfortunately, though, Mac users are slightly neglected when it comes to this, and although OS X has slowly but surely clawed some of the market share away from Microsoft, when it comes to business-related apps, Windows rules the roost.

Not wanting to be outdone, Austrian-based developers Teischl, the team behind Employment:app (which we reviewed last year) have developed book’n’keep – a simple accounting software designed for sole enterprises. Unlike other accounting software, which can often run into the hundreds of dollars and require an extensive set of licences, book’n’keep is available on the App Store for a mere $29.99. Let’s take a look at it and see if it’s a worthwhile purchase for sole enterprises.

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Twitter has hit something of a boom recently. From a small tech startup in San Francisco a mere seven years ago, it has blossomed to one of the largest social networks globally and the tenth most visited site on the Net. The influence of Twitter can be seen everywhere — from TV shows with hashtags in the corner to big companies promoting their brands and products with @names and hashtags — and the words “retweet” and “follower” have entered the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary as proper English words.

The Mac certainly isn’t left out here and you’ll be glad to know that there’s plenty of choice when it comes to Twitter clients. In this roundup, I take a look at eight of the best and weigh up the pros and cons of each one. If you’re unsure about which Twitter client to use, or simply fancy switching to another one, then read on for my recommendations.

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I am a man of simple tastes, which is precisely why I love my Mac and the apps on it. I don’t want to have to read through lengthy tutorials and spend an hour of my time learning how to use an app before I can start playing around with it — to me, it should just be install the app, open it up and start using it. And it’s precisely this that drew me to Moneywiz.

I find that money management apps tend to overwhelm the user with their interface and countless features and aren’t really designed with the customer in mind. Moneywiz, however, defines simplicity, yet it does this without compromising on functionality and features. It is, in my mind, the slickest and most usable money management app on the App Store. Here’s why.

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