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Matthew Guay

Writer. Former Tuts+, Mac and Web AppStorm Editor. Brainstormer-in-chief. @maguay | Techinch.com

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In the rush of new apps and upgrades on iOS 7’s launch day, the app that started it all got updated, too, with some features you won’t want to miss. In the 13 years since Apple bought out SoundJam and turned it into their music library app, iTunes has grown beyond anyone’s wildest dreams from 2001. It’s where we manage our Post PC devices, or — increasingly — just that old app we forget about in the age of streaming music services.

So Apple decided to make it about music again. iTunes 11 streamlined the aging music app’s interface, hid much of the complexity, and added a rather nice mini-player in last year’s upgrade. That still doesn’t help much if you don’t buy music or rip CDs these days.

Enter iTunes 11.1. It’s the iTunes — on your Mac, PC, and iOS — that finally makes sense in the post-download age. It’ll get you listening to — and likely buying — new music more than any iTunes before.

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Apple may have its hands full with iOS 7′s redesign (and the almost forgotten OS X Mavericks upgrade and new Macs like the brand-new Mac Pro), but it still found time in its schedule to give their stable of iCloud web apps a solid upgrade. They’ve been beta testing a new version of iCloud’s web apps for some time now, and today, the new apps are ready for you to try out.

There’s the iWork for iCloud apps that we’ve already looked at, but there’s also fully redesigned Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, and Notes apps as well — plus a new launchpad that includes the iOS 7 animated blue background. And the apps don’t just look nice, but they also work very nice.

If you’ve never gotten into using the iCloud apps online, here’s why you should start using them today — if for no other reason than to give your Mac some of the update love before Mavericks comes out.

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Some keys get used more just because they’re more common, but for keyboard fiends, there’s a whole different set of keys that get worn out. If you’ve ever worn out the ⌘, Ctrl, or alt keys on your keyboard, chances are you couldn’t get by with just a mouse.

If anything, keyboard shortcuts are one of the best things in OS X. There’s the usual suspects, like ⌘+C and ⌘+V for copy and paste, or ⌘+tab for switching between apps, but you get those everywhere. Then there’s the ones that make OS X especially nice for writing: Alt+left/right to jump between words and ⌘+left/right to jump to the beginning/end of a line, with the addition of holding shift down to select text. There’s even more obscure text editing shortcuts, like Ctrl+T to swap the two letters your curser’s currently between.

Then, there’s the even more powerful keyboard shortcuts: those like ⌘+space to open Spotlight search or the default Alt+space to start Alfred. Those — combined with app specific shortcuts, and those you can setup yourself from your Keyboard’s system preferences — are the most powerful tools to keep you from having to revert to your mouse or touchpad all day. They’ll get so ingrained in your muscle memory, a computer without them feels broken.

For me, Alt+space is that killer shortcut that I invoke over a hundred times a day to use Alfred. What’s your favorite keyboard shortcut?

We’ve just closed our giveaway, and for once we had a code to give to every entry. Congrats, and enjoy!

Phillips Hue lights are awesome. You can turn them off from your phone from the airport, have IFTTT change their color based on the weather automatically, or use the timer to have the lights gradually turn on when it’s time to wake up. It’s how all lightbulbs should work in the 21st century.

And yet, on your Mac, you’ll have to go online to control your Hue bulbs. Seems like it should be easier — and now it can be, thanks to Hue Menu for Mac. For $2.99, this little app will let you rename your lights, change your lights’ color and brightness, or turn them on or off from your menubar. It’s a simple way to make Hue work just like you want while you’re working from your Mac.

huemenu

And now, you’ve got the chance to control your Phillips Hue lights for free from your Mac menubar, since we’ve got 10 copies of Hue Menu to giveaway! Just leave a comment below and let us know how many Hue lights you have, and how you’re currently controlling them to enter the giveaway. Then, share the giveaway on your favorite social network and add a second comment with a link to your post for an extra entry.

Hurry and get your entry in — we’re closing our giveaway on Tuesday, September 24th!

Envato staff or those who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.

Want to make beautiful vector graphics from your Mac without having to spend a fortune — and without having to use an app that’s confusing and cluttered? Then you should give iDraw, our sponsor this week, a try.

iDraw is a feature-packed vector illustrations app that’s been on the Mac for years, but with its latest 2.3 upgrade it’s better than ever. In addition to its already great vector drawing tools, grid and alignment options, vector brushes, stylized text, and more, it now lets you import and export complete Photoshop files, including shape layers and layer styles. You’ll also find all new blend modes to use iDraw with your photos as well, and smart image masking to help you extract just what you want from an image. There’s even dimensioning tools to help you create scale diagrams in iDraw.

iDraw_mac

If you work from your Mac and iPad, iDraw is the graphics companion you’ve been waiting for. Your files will sync via iCloud between your devices automatically, so you can pick up what you’re working on wherever you are. Then, it’ll be easy to get started with iDraw thanks to their catalogue of detailed iDraw Tutorials for free. No more buying expensive books to learn how to use your graphics app — iDraw is easy to use, and has the tutorials you need included.

Switch to iDraw Today!

There’s a lot more to vector drawing than Adobe Illustrator in iDraw, all for less than the price of 1 month of Creative Cloud. So why not pick up a copy of iDraw for Mac from the App Store for just $24.99, and get a companion copy of iDraw for iPad for just $8.99. iDraw gives you the power of amazing desktop vector graphics with the portability of iPad creativity for an insanely powerful duo.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.

Email’s a tough thing to innovate, because — regardless of how much we complain about it — email is still the simplest way to send messages of any size to anyone on earth. It works. And so, we continue to use it with the apps we have, hoping that favorite apps like Sparrow will live to see another day.

Regardless of how the rest of our digital lives change, email seems destined to mostly stay the same. The best we can hope for, it seems, is tricks that make Mail.app a better email tool, and newer apps like Airmail that attempt to recapture Sparrow’s magic.

There’s one app, though, that’s trying a new approach to email: Unibox. Instead of being about your messages and reaching inbox zero, it’s about the people behind your messages. And now, it’s in public beta so everyone can try it out.

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I’m seldom an impulsive shopper, especially when it comes to real products – though apps often get me to drop a dollar or five without nearly as much thought. At $35, though, the Chromecast seemed tempting enough to be worth a shot. I write about web apps for a living, but have never owned a Chrome device, so this seemed like the perfect chance to give the Chrome device ecosystem a shot.

There’s a tiny twist, though: I’m an American living in Thailand, and the Chromecast was solidly a product aimed at the American market. But surely it could be the perfect cheap dongle to turn any TV into a smart TV with your smartphone as the controller, no?

After doubling my initial investment in postage and waiting several weeks, I finally had a Chromecast in the back of my LG 42″ LED non-smart TV in my living room in Bangkok. It was both magical and frustrating. Here’s why.

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We were all expecting iWork news on Tuesday. Apple’s Roger Rosner had taken a considerable amount of time at this year’s WWDC to showcase their new iWork web apps and then briefly mentioned that new versions of the native iWork apps would be coming this fall.

What we got instead, though, was the surprising claim that iWork is the best selling suite of mobile productivity applications (which, I suppose, isn’t actually that surprising since “mobile” wouldn’t include Microsoft Office on laptops) followed by the announcement that iWork and iLife apps would all be free with new iOS devices going forward. Combine that with the free online iWork apps in iCloud, and Microsoft Office has the stiffest competition it’s faced in well over a decade.

Google can boast businesses that have gone Google, but Apple has its best shot ever at convincing the rest of us that its beautiful documents, spreadsheets, and presentations apps are more than enough to leave Office Home & Student behind.

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We just closed our giveaway — congrats to our winners Marty and Mihir!

It’s Apple Special Announcement day, which likely means that you’re wanting to go buy some shiny new gadgets very soon. But hey, you’ve still got to have the apps you need to get your work done. So why not get the apps you need on the cheap with StackSocial’s Mac Bundle 3.0 — or perhaps win a free copy from AppStorm?

Just like with the popular Humble Bundles, the StackSocial Mac Bundle lets you pay what you want (starting at $1) for the first 3 apps in the bundle — Airy to download YouTube videos, My Living Desktop to bring your Mac’s background to life, and Compartments to catalogue everything in your house. Or, if you pay more than the average — or just over $13 right now — you can get all 10 of the apps in the bundle, including acclaimed apps like Camtasia 2, the $99 professional screencasting app, and CrossOver to run Windows apps on your Mac. That’s quite a steal.

StackSocial's Mac Bundle 3.0

But hey — you might be able to get the bundle 100% for free, since we’ve got 2 sets to giveaway. Just leave a comment below and let us know what app you want the most to enter the giveaway. Then, share the giveaway on your social networks and add a second comment below with a link to your shared post for an extra entry. If you’re one of our two lucky winners, you’ll get the full bundle for free — and if you go ahead and purchase the bundle today and still win, you’ll get your purchase refunded!

Hurry and get your entry in; we’re closing the giveaway on Friday, September 13.

Envato staff or those who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.

Ever since Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late ’90′s, Apple enthusiasts have anxiously waited for One More Thing announcements at the end of Apple’s keynotes. Jobs would save something special — sometimes something he really wanted to show off, and other times something small that couldn’t fit into the wider keynote — that he’d show off at the end, just as it would otherwise seem that the show was over.

It’s been several years now since we’ve seen a One More Thing announcement in an Apple keynote, since Steve Jobs passed on, but we can still hope against hope for something extra. The Mac Pro announcement at WWDC this summer felt like a One More Thing announcement, even though it was right in the middle of the presentation, because it was so unexpected. But what’s left to surprise us now?

After months without any solid Apple leaks, lately it seems that every possible thing Apple could have thought to announce has already been leaked. In a few hours, we’re expecting Apple to announce a new iPhone (or perhaps iPhones, if the rumors are right that we’ll see a 5S and a cheaper 5C released today). iOS 7 is also likely to be released, or at least have its launch date announced — and thanks to the long beta, most of us already know what it’s going to look and feel like. There’s OS X Mavericks and the Mac Pro, along with a much hoped for iWork refresh to release, but somehow it doesn’t seem that likely that they’ll be released today.

So what could be hidden in a One More Thing today? A TV? A Watch? A flying car? A clone of Steve Jobs? Let us know what you’ll be anxiously looking for in the comments below!

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