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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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iOS is the favored child at Apple these days. Most new features in Mavericks — and, indeed, in OS X Lion before — were features that came first on iOS, and even the Darwin Kernel version in iOS is always one version ahead of its OS X counterpart. The Mac still doesn’t have Siri, the iPhone’s iconic chatty assistant, but it does have a leg up on iOS in one Siri-like feature: Dictation.

Dictation has its roots in Mac OS Classic’s PlainTalk Speakable Items introduced in the days of System 7 in 1993. That core is the tried-and-true VoiceOver and Voice Commands in OS X, but it never was perfect for dictating text. Then iOS and Siri came along, and Apple brought iOS-style server-powered dictation to the Mac with Mountain Lion. It was far more accurate, but far more limited, and required you to be online for dictation to work.

In Mavericks, Dictation on the Mac has once again pulled ahead of its iOS counterpart, with continuous, offline dictation that works as good or better than the version in Mountain Lion. And there’s still the voice commands, now in a reworked settings pane, that together make the Mac the most accessible computer out-of-the-box.

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It’s been nearly 4 years since Steve Jobs originally announced and demoed iBooks on the original iPad, marking Apple’s first steps into the eBook market — ones that’s cost Apple a DoJ lawsuit. iBooks is a great iOS eBook app, one backed by an extensive library of titles and great support for DRM-free ePub and PDF eBooks. The only thing that’s kept many of us from switching to iBooks for our book purchases is that there’s no way to read iBooks books on a Mac.

That ends today. With OS X Mavericks’ release, iBooks for Mac is finally a reality. It’s a best-in-class eBook app, though surprisingly is far less integrated into OS X than we would have expected.

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Ever wanted to tweak a photo, but decided not to since it’d take too long? Or perhaps you decided to skip tweaking the picture since you can’t afford a copy of Photoshop. There’s now no excuse not to tweak your photos, though. Beautune, our sponsor this week, makes it insanely easy for anyone to touchup their photos in seconds.

Beautune is a powerful yet simple tool that lets you perfect your portraits in just a few clicks. You can automatically soften skin, brighten photos, remove imperfections, add digital foundation, and more in just a click. You can then remove wrinkles, reshape your face, whiten teeth and boost your lip color all with told that make these complex tasks incredibly simple. Just take a minute to watch this video, and you’ll be blown away by how simple it is to touchup photos in Beautune:

When you’ve got the people in your photos looking great, it’s time to focus on the rest of the picture. Beautune gives you a simple tool to blur the background so the people stand out best in photos, and then lets you add built-in filters, vignettes, and frames to turn your pictures into works of art. All of that, in a simple interface that anyone can use. It’s the photo tweaking tool you need.

Beautify Your Pictures with Beautune Today!

You’ll have to try Beautune for yourself to see how easy it makes photo touchups. You can download a free trial of Beautune from their site, then get your own copy of Beautune from the Mac App Store for just $14.99 for a limited time. That’s a steal for all the editing power it’ll give you in an app that’ll just take you seconds to learn.

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

It’s finally here. After Apple kicked off WWDC ’13 with OS X Mavericks and the brand-new Mac Pro, it’s been months since Apple did anything major for the Mac. iOS 7 and the new iPhones — plus brand new web apps and Logic Pro X, both for the Mac, we can’t forget — have taken up all of Apple’s public attention since then. But tomorrow, Apple’s promised that they “still have a lot to cover”, and we couldn’t be more excited.

There’s likely to be new iPads released, of course, and perhaps new covers (that suspicious word pops up in their invite), but at Mac.AppStorm we’re most excited about what tomorrow means for the Mac. We’re almost certain that OS X Mavericks will either be released tomorrow or very soon after — there’s almost no way it’ll be released later than this week, at this point. But then, back at WWDC, Apple promised a new iWork, and we’d sure love to see a redesigned and vastly improved iWork ’13 and perhaps a companion iLife ’13 to boot. Plus, the MacBook Pro Retina Display is due for a spec bump, as is the Mac Mini — and the new Mac Pro is still supposed to be coming out this year. And, there’s the ever tantalizing prospect of absolutely brand-new products from Apple, though somehow it doesn’t seem too likely we’ll see that tomorrow.

Ok, your turn: what are you looking forward to most tomorrow? Any predictions for Apple’s fall announcement this year?

And stay tuned this week: we’ve got a ton of OS X Mavericks content ready for your reading pleasure as soon as Apple releases the first non-cat-named version of OS X.

We’re used to syncing — so used to it, in fact, that it’s more strange when an app doesn’t sync on its own or over iCloud these days than anything. But for native apps, that’s typically where it ends. Even in new “cloud” offerings for the Mac, such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud, the only part of the app that’s online is the file and setting sync (and the fact you can download apps, but that’s anything but new). Web apps, even ones with native app counterparts, have the advantage of always running online, so they can often have nice extras like collaboration and options to add stuff via email and more.

The Omni Group is well known for their Mac and Web apps, but they also make a little free extra online service for their apps: the Omni Sync Server. It’s what powers OmniPresence, their new iCloud-like document sync service, and is also the default way to sync OmniFocus if you don’t choose to use your own server for syncing. And they’ve now taken that sync server and added something you’d expect from an online productivity app: Mail Drop.

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AirPlay is built into iOS and OS X these days, making it simple to mirror anything on any of your devices to your Apple TV. Oddly, though, there’s no built-in way to steam your iOS screen to a Mac using AirPlay, even though the 27” iMac might as well be a TV at that size.

As is so often the case, there’s an app for that. There’s AirServer, the tool that, once installed, lives in your Mac’s Preferences and makes it easy to stream from iOS to your Mac, and Reflector, which makes it look like you’ve actually got an iOS device on your Mac screen. Then, there’s the brand-new X-Mirage that aims to be the best tool both for AirPlay streaming and one-touch recording of anything on your iOS device screen.

Keep reading to see how it stacks up to the competition, and to get a chance to win one of 5 copies of X-Mirage.

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Tired of having your RSS feeds, longform articles, and bookmarks spread across different apps and services? ReadKit is the reading app you need. It’s the app to keep all of your reading in one place.

ReadKit is the perfect post-Google Reader RSS reader for the Mac, with built-in native RSS sync and full-featured support for all of the best new RSS reader services, including Feedly, Fever, NewsBlur, Feed Wrangler, and Feedbin. You can then add your reading later services — including Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability — and bookmarks from Pinboard and Delicious, and keep everything together in one app. It’s easy to find everything you want to read, with Smart Folders and search, and simple to make your reading experience just the way you want with 4 beautiful themes and the reading font and size of your choice.

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Want more than just reading? ReadKit’s got you covered, with rich integration with all of your favorite sharing and bookmarking services. It’s even got one-click Evernote saving, so you can build an archive of your favorite articles to easily find them later.

ReadKit is our AppStorm RSS and reading app of choice, one we gave a 10/10 rating in our most recent review. We’re pretty sure you’ll love it.

Get a Copy of ReadKit Today!

ReadKit is the RSS and reading later app you need. It’s just $6.99 on the Mac App Store, a steal for everything it offers. Go get your copy today, and start enjoying the best reading experience the Mac has to offer!

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

The App Store made buying software something normal people do again — but almost as quickly, it’s seemingly turned into a marketplace of free apps paid for by in-app purchases. Marco Arment of Instapaper fame has argued that “Paid-up-front iOS apps had a great run, but it’s over”, while Joe Cieplinski, the developer behind Teleprompt+, argues that “there is a whole world of untapped potential on the App Store for developers who can solve real problems for people who are happy to pay.” I’ve always sided with the latter argument that paid apps will never die, but it only takes a few minutes of browsing the App Store to see that freemium apps have seriously encroached on the domains previously held by paid apps.

Are paid apps dead, or not — and is this just about iOS, or is it the same on the Mac? To answer that, we’ve talked with Nik Fletcher, product manager at Realmac Software, about their team’s experiences with app pricing and sales on both the iOS and Mac App Store. Realmac has recently faced backlash on the iOS App Store over Clear+’s pricing, but at the same time decided not to run discounts on their pro Mac apps, so they have a unique perspective on both markets.

To them, there’s a bright future for carefully considered in-app purchases and paid pro software. Here’s the interview:

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We’ve closed our giveaway; congrats to our winners Emanuel and Eddy!

Bundles started out as a great way to get a ton of apps for a cheap price. Then, thanks to the Humble Bundles, paying what you want for a bundle got popular. Now, this week’s bundle from StackSocial lets you get a huge bundle of apps, design resources, and subscriptions for a cheaper price if you buy it early during the bundle promotion.

For $35 today — but $50 if you wait until the last day of the bundle — you can get a copy of xScope, Corel Painter Lite, CSS Hat, Pixa, skEdit, and more in the SuperStacked Mac Bundle. You’ll also get a set of Photoshop and iOS app design templates, two beautiful sets of thin vector icons great for modern designs, and the entire Growth Hacker Bundle with subscriptions to web apps like MOZ, Stride, HitTail, and more. That’s a lot of stuff to get for that price, especially if you’re planning on launching a new side-business where the design tools and web apps would come in handy.

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And, best of all, we’ve got two copies of the SuperStacked Mac bundle to giveaway to our readers. Just leave a comment below and let us know what you want most from this bundle to enter — and then share the post on your social networks and leave a new comment with a link to your social post for an extra entry in the giveaway. Best of all, if you really want the bundle, go ahead and buy it now — and if you win, you’ll get reimbursed in full for the bundle!

Hurry and get your entry in — we’re closing our giveaway on Friday, October 18th!

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

Flat design is all the rage these days, but back in 1984, flat was all there was. And back then, the Mac shipped with an acclaimed paint application: MacPaint. The legendary app showed the world that computers could, indeed, be the bicycle for the mind that Steve Jobs wanted so desperately.

Today’s TextEdit was the successor to Mac OS Classic’s SimpleEdit, but MacPaint never got a 21st century upgrade. That is, until now. Cloudpaint is a new web app that nearly perfectly replicates MacPaint in any modern browser — and it’s a ton of fun to play with. (more…)

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