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Matthew Guay

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

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There’s opensource freeware software, the bundled apps that are essentially free with your Mac, dirt cheap apps on the App Store, and incredibly expensive apps like AutoCAD and Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps. And everything in between. You could spend nothing on software, ever, if you really wanted to, and use just what comes on your Mac and other free apps you could download. Or, today, you can spend a fairly small amount and get quite a few really good programs, with the wealth of apps on the App Store today.

On the other end, though, even as apps seem to be getting cheaper, there’s more in-app purchases and subscriptions that’ll eat up your money. You’ll find yourself paying to unlock that feature you really wanted, or subscribing to Office 365 so you can collaborate with people at work. Or, you’ll pay for an Evernote subscription after you find it so useful as a free app.

We’ve all got different budgets for software, and we’re wondering how much you usually spend. Think of all your software purchases and subscriptions, and let us know about how much you spend per month. I’d personally be somewhere in the $20-$50 range, but then, I buy a lot of software for testing and more. Where are you on this scale, and has that gone up or down over the years? We’d love to hear more about your app spending in the comments below.

iMessage is a great idea. It makes SMS and MMS a thing of the past, between iPhones at any rate, and is as fast and full-featured a one-to-one chat system as you could want. With the Messages app on the Mac and iPad as well, it’s the best of old-school chat and SMS, rolled into one.

At least, it’s supposed to be, theoretically. In real world usage, though, iMessage doesn’t always work perfect. It works best between iPhones, in my use at least, but can often get things messed up when syncing to the Mac. Then, Messages.app itself on OS X is a rather anemic messaging program, despite including support Jabber and other chat services that were traditionally included in iChat. It works for chatting, but if you need to dig deep into your chat archives to find a file someone sent you, you’re going to have a tough time.

That’s why the folks at Flexibits — the people behind my favorite calendar app, Fantastical — made Chatology. It’s the companion app for Messages.app that can make iMessage a power-user tool. (more…)

Adobe released their latest version of Creative Suite — what would have been Creative Suite 7 — earlier today. Only this time, Creative Suite is no more, superseded by Adobe’s new subscription offering, Creative Cloud.

Creative Cloud is a controversial release, since longtime Adobe customers want a way to buy a permanent license, or at least wish for more subscription options so they don’t have to get everything. But for now, Creative Cloud is what it is — and it’s a big upgrade to all of Adobe’s main apps.

Here’s how Creative Cloud will work for you, if you’ve already got a copy of Creative Suite and want to upgrade and get the latest features.

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When you put your photos online, you run the risk of someone stealing your work and claiming it as their own. Trying to protect your digital copyright can be quite a headache. The simplest way is to add a watermark to your images, but with most image editors you’ll have to do it individually, one image at a time. That’s why you need Visual Watermark, our sponsor this week.

Visual Watermark is an easy-to-use professional watermarking app that incluedes over 10 integrated composite watermarks, 250 built-in fonts, an interactive Watermark Designer, and more. You’ll be able to design unique watermarks, preview how they look on your pictures, add it to all your pictures at once, then save it for future use, all in a modern UI that makes it straightforward to use.

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Visual Watermark is designed to work great with your Mac. You can import iPhoto libraries directly, or drag-and-drop your own images into the app. Its photo editing algorithms are optimized for speed, so it’ll only take a few seconds to process all of your photos. Then, it makes it simple to publish your photos online, with automatic downsizing to the resolution you want when it adds the watermark to your images.

Get Your Copy of Visual Watermark Today!

Best of all, Visual Watermark won’t cost you much to use. You can get your own copy of Visual Watermark starting at $19.95, with a 30 day satisfaction gurantee. Get started today and see why thousands of photographers, designers and bloggers worldwide have chosen Visual Watermark.

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

We all expected to see iOS 7 at the WWDC keynote. That one was a given. The next version of OS X was also practically a given, but didn’t seem nearly as anticipated. New Macs were a nice extra, that both weren’t surprising to see but none of us would have been that surprised if they hadn’t been included. A new version of iWork and iLife were hoped for, but again, we’d almost given up hope that Apple would have time for anything besides iOS 7.

But practically no one was expecting that Apple would spend a serious amount of time during the keynote talking about web apps. And yet they did. Apple, the company that almost entirely makes software just for its own devices took the time to show us how great their new iWork for iCloud apps worked in Chrome on Windows 8. iWork has always been seen as a distant runner-up to Microsoft Office, the 900lb gorilla in the room whenever you talk about apps for word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets. The very fact that the iPad doesn’t have Office has been used as an advertisement point for Microsoft’s Surface ads. But we all thought the discussion was long-since beyond Office, and we’ve all learned to get along very well without it, thank you very much.

Apple isn’t in the business of leaving well enough alone, though, and they’re taking their own Office competitor directly to Microsoft’s homefront. If you’ve stuck with Office simply because others won’t be able to preview your files if you use iWork — or if you’ve stayed away since you occasionally need to edit from a PC — here’s why iWork for iCloud just might be the best thing to happen to iWork yet. It’s a bold foray into Microsoft’s territory, just as Microsoft launches its own Office apps on the iPhone. (more…)

Our giveaway is now closed, but keep your eyes peeled for our next giveaways!

OS X Mavericks has a number of great new features, from tabs in Finder to new apps to better notifications. It looks like it’s going to be quite the great 10th release of OS X, and we’re definitely looking forward to it. But one of its headline features is something that you can actually get today thanks to the app we’re giving away this week: AirParrot.

See, in Mountain Lion you can use AirPlay to push your desktop to your Apple TV if you have a recent Mac, and Mavericks extends that by letting you use your TV as a full second display. But if you’re serious about using your TV as an extra screen for your Mac, AirParrot offers all of that and more for any Mac running Snow Leopard or later, or PCs running XP or later.

AirParrot lets you stream your desktop to your Apple TV in full HD, as a copy of your desktop or as a full second screen. Or, you can use it to stream just one app to the TV, while you’re using the other apps on your Mac’s screen. It’s packed with all the features and settings you’d need, including options to overscan, hide the cursor, change the streaming quality, and more, unlike OS X’ default one-size-fits-all AirPlay.

All of that normally costs $9.99, but we’ve got 10 copies to giveaway to our readers this week. Just leave a comment below letting us know why you want to use AirParrot, and we’ll randomly pick 10 winners at the end of the week. Or, for an extra entry, you can share our giveaway on your favorite social networks and share the link to your social network post in a second comment below.

Hurry and get your entry in; we’re closing our giveaway on Wednesday, June 19th!

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

After the excitement of the opening keynote at the annual WWDC, Apple always have something extra special for the best developers on OS X and iOS: the Apple Design Awards. Given to recognize apps that “raise the bar in design, technology, and innovation”, the Apple Design Awards typically go to beloved indie apps that are beautiful and go far beyond what other apps have before, especially with their UI. Letterpress winning a Design Award wasn’t much of a surprise, seeing as the game is already featured in ads and posters at Apple Stores. It, along with other popular iOS-only games and apps, seemed a shoo-in for the award.

What was, perhaps, more of a surprise was Evernote winning a Design Award for their Mac and iOS apps. Evernote’s hardly a new app, and is likely the most recognizable name for the public of all the apps that got a Design Award. But its apps today are so much better than before — speedier, beautiful design, and plenty of useful integrations — that it really shouldn’t be surprising that Evernote finally won an Apple Design Award. It’s been quite the journey for the notebook that’s so much more than just a notebook, one that’s cumulated with quite the amazing past half-year of app releases.

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It’s been a big week for Apple fans. We’ve got betas of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, new iWork web apps and the promise of a new iWork and iLife this fall, the long-rumored iTunes Radio service, MacBook Airs with insanely long battery life … and best of all, a brand-new Mac Pro at long last. Cook, Ive, and the rest of the team have been hard at work cooking up the greatest-and-latest software and devices, and it seems they’ve done quite the good job.

iOS 7 is getting most of the headlines, but I was actually the most excited to see what’s new for the Mac with the next version of OS X. The name was quite the surprise, with Apple switching to location names in California rather than cat names. The feature lineup isn’t too bad, either, with a strong focus on decreasing power consumption, keeping ram free, and making networking simpler (both through AirDrop and with Windows networking). Finder got a long-needed overhaul, finally gaining tabs and tags, while Safari takes the lead again as the fastest and most integrated Mac browser.

But that’s not all. There’s brand new apps – Maps and iBooks – and Notifications have been simplified and improved. Best of all, there’s supposed to be unified notifications with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, so you won’t have all your devices ringing with notifications at the same time.

So, from all that, what are you the most excited about? Looking forward to discussing everyone’s favorite parts of the next version of OS X in the comments below!

Even if you’re a genius, it’s impossible to remember everything possible about all the programming languages and libraries you need to know to build a successful app. Instead, you likely end up Googling answers as you go along, or have to dig though several different documentation sets in different apps at the same time. There’s no reason to waste time like that.

Just in time for WWDC, we’ve got a must-have tool for all developers sponsoring us this week: Dash. It’ll make your life easier by keeping all of the documentation you need right at your fingertips. Dash supports 80+ API documentation sets, ranging from Cocoa and Android to HTML and CSS, so regardless of what language or framework you’re using, Dash has you covered.

Alongside the beautifully crafted documentation sets, you’re also able to store your own snippets of code, with snippet expansion and variable placeholders that bring unparalleled flexibility to your code snippets. This combination of documentation and snippets makes Dash the go-to app for all your programming resources needs.

Dash integrates with your favorite IDEs and apps, from Sublime Text and Xcode to Alfred and Vim, so that you can convenientely search for what you need from wherever you want. Regardless of what your current workflow is, it should be easy to integrate Dash into it.

You can also easily generate your own documentation sets for your own projects. Pre-made generation tools are available for Objective-C, Python, Ruby or Java, as well as instructions on how to generate documentation sets for anything you need. Documentation sets generated by popular tools like Doxygen or Appledoc are also supported, as well as all the documentation sets available at CocoaDocs.

Get Your Copy of Dash Today!

Dash usually costs $19.99, but just for WWDC it’s on sale for just $7.99 this week. You can download Dash for free from the App Store to try it out, then purchase the full version for $7.99 this week only as an in-app purchase. That’s a small price to pay for the time it’ll save you in developing your next hit app!

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

Slicereader 0.2 is now on the App Store, with a bookmarklet to make it easier to add websites to read, support for Markdown, HTML, and plain text, and more.

It’s been an amazing past few years for writers. With full-screen distraction free writing environment pioneered by WriteRoom, Markdown formatting from Gruber, focused writing from iA Writer, the exporting wonders of Marked, the brand-new hidden Markdown formatting of Ulysses III, and more, it’s amazing how far we’ve come from the cluttered days of drafting our work in Word.

Reading apps, unfortunately, haven’t gotten much attention at all. Yes, there’s a number of apps for reading articles later on your Mac, some of which are even very nice (I’m particularly fond of the new ReadKit). But, sadly, none of them are totally new. They’re not changing the way we read on the Mac, the way iA Writer and Folding Text and others have changed the way we write on the Mac.

This weekend, that’s just changed with the brand-new beta app Slicereader. Designed by Mutahhir Ali Hayat, a programmer at Hog Bay Software that works on FoldingText and Oak Outliner, Slicereader is the most innovative reading app on the Mac yet. It’ll change how you read longform text. Here’s why.

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