I’ve long said that the best tools are the ones that do one thing well. There are some app categories that really benefit from this, but something I’ve been learning with all my photo-taking tools is that photography apps often benefit the most from it. I love my all-in-one kits like Photoshop and Aperture, but they’re not perfect. There’s certainly room for improvement in certain areas.

One of those areas, at least for me, lies within vignettes and focus points. I like to tinker with them, and they often cause really cool effects, but I never like to keep them — they never turn out well. For the longest time, I thought it was just me, but I’ve come to realize it’s also the tool. It should be no surprise to many that MacPhun, one of the kings of photography apps, has come up with an incredible solution for this problem called Focus 2. Read on to find out what makes this a must-have for photographers who love a little focus in their lives.

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I write in Markdown all the time, the easy-to-use writing syntax conceived of by John Gruber (of Daring Fireball fame). The nice thing about the syntax is that it doesn’t require any one specific app, so web writers can use it with whatever text editor they feel like — including default editors like TextEdit for Mac, which is much more powerful than most of us realize, I think.

That hasn’t stopped the flow of Markdown editors from arriving for Mac, though. Recently, I stumbled upon Lightpaper, which will be familiar to anybody who uses Android. Lightpaper Pro is well known on the Google Play Store, and I even reviewed it on Android.AppStorm. I went so far as to include it amongst the most noteworthy Markdown-equipped Android apps. The real question is: can lightning strike twice for developer Clockwork Engine with the Lightpaper Mac app? Read on to find out if this app is worth exploring, even in its beta state. (more…)

Reading is a topic that a lot of us get fired up about, mainly because we all do so much of it. It’s a field many of us are very experienced in. When people make decisions about buying a hardcore or a softcover book, they’re using their experience to make that choice. That’s why talking about the perfect reading experience is so tough — no two people have the same tastes.

That’s my word of warning as I enter into this: the following article, even more so than usual, is nothing more than my opinion. But let me be the one to tell you, and I hope you’ll agree, my opinion is certainly the most correct one. I’ll start by saying that the new iBooks for iOS 7 is terrible. Whereas before, choosing between iBooks and Kindle was tough, the decision just got a whole lot easier. Quite simply, I’m about to tell you why I prefer the Kindle experience over iBooks.

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I’ll say this about my iPhone: it’s a lot easier to connect with people with it than it is while using a Mac. My Mac doesn’t have anywhere near the messaging options: there’s no Whisper or Facebook Messenger available for Mac, and iMessage is often a lukewarm offering at best (although I am grateful it’s there). Google Hangouts is abysmally bad in Chrome and my iPhone — much worse than Gmail Chat ever was, in my opinion — so I’ve rarely used it.

But it’s hard to simply swear all these apps off — after all, some people might not have my number, and for them, Facebook or Hangouts is the easiest way to get in touch. That’s why I was glad to try out Flamingo, a Mac app built from the ground up for Google Hangouts, Facebook messaging, and even XMPP. Is it worth the purchase? Read on to find out.

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I think, if we were to do a random poll, we’d probably find that most of us hate keeping our computers running smoothly more than any other task. Looking for old files and keeping the trash cans empty are unenviable jobs, and as the owner of a small business, I’ve contemplated hiring an all-purpose secretary to handle email and computer maintenance — but that’s not really practical.

All joking aside, one of my favourite things about my Mac are the apps that are available that help make boring tasks like cleaning up my hard drive less dull. Oddly, one of my favourite apps of all time, DaisyDisk, made the task fun. Finding joy in mundane things like computer maintenance is one thing that only Macs can offer, and that’s why I was thrilled to give Disk Diag a shot. It’s a simple app on the Mac App Store meant to do one thing well: clean out your old files. Read on to compare it with some of the competition and see if it’s for you.

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Out of all the major free blogging websites, Tumblr is possibly the nicest. Its social aspect is fun, and it’s really easy to use and post with. Unlike WordPress, it doesn’t require a manual to understand how to use it. Unlike Blogger, it’s actually useful (and its built-in social network seems more active than Google Plus). For these reasons, and many more, Tumblr is what I use for a music blog that I host.

Because I really like the web interface for Tumblr, I have to admit I was a little skeptical of Tublme, a native Mac app for Tumblr that replaces the need to open your browser. After all, Tumblr’s interface is easy to use and notoriously simple (to the chagrin of many WordPress web developers, I’m sure). But my curiosity was also piqued. Could Tublme make Tumblr more Mac-like and feature-filled without sacrificing any of its flexibility? Read on to find out.

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I take a lot of pictures — not just professionally, but also for fun. That being said, I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “perfect” image editor. I’ve tried everything over the years, some of which I’ve reviewed here on Mac.AppStorm, but I have yet to run into one tool that can singlehandedly replace all the others.

But when MacPhun, the folks behind Snapheal, reached out to me, I was intrigued. Their newest app, Intensify Pro, looked like it could be a real game-changer, and I was eager to put it through its paces. Read on to find out if Intensify really brings anything new to the table.

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This probably isn’t the first mention of Capo 3 you’ve seen. It’s probably not the first review you’ve seen. But this might be the first review you’ve seen from a guitarist with over a decade of experience with the instrument. I wanted to take my time to make sure that Capo 3 was adequately tested and given a legitimate and fair review from a gigging musician.

Capo has been around for a couple years now, and it’s a well-known and critically-acclaimed tool for learning music. Capo 3 comes with some new features, including automatic beat and chord detection — huge promises that should make guitarists both excited and wary. After all, most of us will know that the promise of an app that can essentially tab a song for us is an intoxicating, and maybe impossible, dream. Read on to find out whether or not Capo 3 does what it claims.

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There are a lot of people out there who aren’t exactly satisfied by iTunes 11, the release that overhauled Apple’s flagship jukebox last year and was built on with this year’s iTunes Radio release. For a lot of people — myself included, occasionally — the app is overly complicated and doesn’t easily do what it needs to: Let me play my music.

With that in mind, Vox aims to create a simpler interface that’ makes navigating and playing your music easier. It’s a free app, but is it worth making it a real personal part of your life? Let’s take a look.

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For every Microsoft Word, there’s a Pages — a lightweight option that dispels with a couple of professional features, but still manages to find users because of what’s often described as a superior user interface and compelling ease-of-use. In the case of Photoshop, those options are Acorn and Pixelmator (with Pixelmator being my weapon of choice).

Apps like these aren’t necessarily matching Photoshop feature-for-feature, but they do capture enough of those tools at bargain-bin prices to make them valuable assets to anybody’s digital arsenal. When compared to Adobe Illustrator, iDraw is the Mac-exclusive beautiful-but-bargain-bin competition — especially compared to the often-despised steep subscription fee for Creative Cloud. Read on to find out if iDraw wows me in the same way Pixelmator and Pages do.

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