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As always every Saturday, our roundup of the hottest application and Apple news! Enjoy!

(Oh, and if you’ve been living in a cave since Tuesday, make sure you check out our full roundup of Apple’s announcement here)


Learn the Game of Math with DragonBox+

I teach high-school students in a one-room schoolhouse in the state of Vermont. I am not an English teacher, science teacher, home-economics teacher, or history teacher; instead, I am a generalist. I teach my students a little bit of everything, and for the really hard stuff, the students work with outside mentors. But of all the things I don’t teach, the one subject I really don’t teach is math. When it comes to math, my skills and knowledge simply don’t add up.

That’s why I wanted to play a game called DragonBox+. Advertised as a “revolutionary math game” for learning basic algebra, DragonBox (I hoped) would help me brush up my skills while also giving me a tool to use with my students. Of course, with high-school students (especially most of my students), any hint of “math” turns them off. If DragonBox does what it says it can do, then maybe my students can get tricked into learning algebra. That’s something I had to try.


It’s easy to get lost among all the new content that we are around everyday. Throughout the day I usually find through many different ways (Twitter, RSS and what not) tons of articles and blog posts that I would like to read, but can’t do so right then and there. That’s why apps like Instapaper, Pocket and Readability exist, so that you can save articles for later without getting them lost in the sea of content out there.

But having an account with each of these services can get pretty confusing, and even if you only use one of them, using it in your browser is not always convenient. Today we’re reviewing Words, an app that can help you access and keep those articles that you bookmark, directly in your Mac. It’s especially interesting now, as it’s the only way to read Instapaper offline on your Mac now that the former Read Later app has been turned into the new Pocket for Mac. And, we’ve got 8 free copies for our readers to try it out, so keep reading!

We’ve written before about the proliferation of apps that only do one thing, and do it very well. There’s something to be said for simplistic, minimalist tools that you bust out only when you need them, plow through the task, and close them again with blinding efficiency. One of the categories of apps that I find this to be the most true is graphics and design apps. Tools like Photoshop and Illustrator have ruled supreme as workhorse, Swiss Army Knife-style apps for some time, but innovative and well-designed apps are popping up all over that aim to replace single functions from these apps, and they often do it better than the larger programs.

Today we’re going to take a look at Spectrum, which is a beautifully designed app from developer Eigenlogik. Its designed to make it simple to create color palattes in a simple, beautiful interface. Put on your creative hat, and let’s dig in to find out more about how Spectrum works.


This post is part of a series that revisits some of our readers’ favorite articles from the past that still contain awesome and relevant information that you might find useful. This post was originally published on July 20th, 2011.

Over at iPad.AppStorm, Joel Bankhead wrote a fantastic article about what makes a great iPad app icon. It caught my attention, and really got me thinking about the differences between iOS and OS X app icons – Are the principles the same, or very different?

In this article, I’ll be having a look at what you should and should not do in order to make a wonderful OS X icon.


SimCity 2000 on Mountain Lion: A Look at GOG’s New Mac Games

Ever find yourself thinking of the games that you played years ago, perhaps on your first computer? They were simple by today’s standards, with low-res graphics and insanely low system requirements, but the captivated us and inspired many of us to learn to program. The GOG (Good Old Games) team has been working to bring back the magic of classic gaming to modern computers, rereleasing titles that were originally released 15 or more years ago.

After starting out supporting games on Windows, GOG just recently added Mac support to a number of their top games. Let’s take a look at how GOG games run on the Mac, and take one of my old favorites – SimCity 2000 – for a spin in Mountain Lion.


Album artwork is a big part of iTunes! For a lot of people, it helps make content easier to locate by adding an image to each artist and album. It’s also a half-developed feature, however. Apple could do a lot more with the album artwork from the iTunes Store. The developer of Bowtie had the same thoughts, so he introduced an app that put artwork on your desktop where you’ll see it often. Now you don’t have to open iTunes to see what’s playing; do a quick show-the-desktop gesture on your trackpad instead.

The Bowtie utility isn’t everything, though. Themes make it worth using: themes designed by individuals. There is a superfluity of different ways to view album artwork with Bowtie, from the pleasant default theme included with the app to minimal, yet interesting ones like Pixld. Since there are 15 pages in the app’s theme downloader and even more around the ‘net, it seemed like a good idea to gather up the most fetching for Mac.AppStorm readers. Keep reading for ten of the best Bowtie themes out there.

This morning, I woke up to a Reeder full of articles about Apple’s new announcements in yesterday’s keynote. Living in Asia makes it a bit tough to watch keynotes live, and Apple usually doesn’t even stream them live online. After reading through the articles and checking through, I didn’t really feel the need to watch the full keynote. I enjoy watching Apple’s product launches, but this one felt like one I could skip. Incidentally, it turned into a very exciting keynote for Mac users, with new iMacs and Mac Minis, but still, I could find what I needed to know from’s pages.

That said, I’ve watched tons of Apple keynotes over the years, especially while Jobs was still alive and doing his magic on stage. I’ve gone back and rewatched portions of old keynotes to see how Apple’s changed (ouch, the fonts in old keynotes hurts to look at), and listening to Jobs’ speeches from when he first came back to Apple gives a unique perspective on the company.

So how about you? Do you always watch Apple’s keynotes, or do you just pick choice ones to watch? Or have you never watched an keynote before (is that even possible)? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Explore the Solar System with Cosmographia

To say the universe is big would be a gross understatement, so the idea of creating an app that lets people explore outer space must be hugely intimidating. Solar System simulator Cosmographia tackles the subject on a limited scale, by focusing on just the stuff in our galaxy. It has 3D models and star maps, great visual effects, and everything is built from real scientific data.

Cosmographia is akin to a beginner’s guide to the Solar System, and insofar as that it’s an impressive app — well presented and pretty to look at, with no assumptions of prior knowledge. But it doesn’t go deep enough, and you’re likely to leave wanting more.


Just because Apple held an iOS-focused event yesterday — there was some Mac news, but most of the announcements were focused on a smaller Apple-branded tablet — doesn’t mean there are no Mac deals. In fact, there are quite a few this week, including Gemini, Trine and Trine 2, and BusyCal 2. Catch them all after the break. (more…)

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