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Despite its recent acquisition by Yahoo!, Tumblr is still the cool kid of the blogging platforms, and I want to be cool, I really do. But I’ve had trouble integrating myself with the Tumblr community. Mostly it’s come down to the Tumblr dashboard, which I’ve never liked the look of and have always thought was more than a little convoluted.

If only there was a Mac app to create a better Tumblr experience. That’s where Milk comes in. I’m going to try out this feature-packed Tumblr client and see if it can create a better experience. (more…)

If you’ve been using the Mac before the App Store was around, and even before the iPhone was released, it’d be virtually impossible to not have heard of — or tried out — NetNewsWire. Developed by Brent Simmons, lately of Vesper fame, NetNewsWire was the original RSS reader app, all the way back in 2002 before most of us were blogging or had even heard of RSS. It was later bought out by NewsGator, as the Mac counterpart to their FeedDemon on Windows, and was designed to sync with NewsGator’s RSS synchronization service. Then Google Reader came along, and NetNewsWire and FeedDemon jumped ship to the search giant’s reader for sync, just like everyone else.

Google Reader’s impending death on July 1st spelled death for FeedDemon, and could have well done the same for NetNewsWire if it hadn’t been sold to Black Pixel in 2011. It took a while for any news to come out, other than that when NetNewsWire first sold to Black Pixel, Brent Simmons said “NetNewsWire’s best years are still to come.”

This week, at long last, we get to see what the future holds for the Mac’s most storied RSS reader app with the long awaited NetNewsWire 4 beta. And the future looks pretty good.

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I’ve been trying to find just the right RSS feed reader. I’m pretty low maintenace. I just want to put feed URLs in and get posts from my favorite sites out. If the app looks good and doesn’t take up too much space, that’s even better.

That’s why I was so excited to try out Favoriteer. It’s a slimmed down feed reader, and it looks to have just the features I want with none of the extra cruft that just gets in my way. Can Favoriteer stand up against all the other feed readers on the market? (more…)

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…)

It was a fateful Thursday late last July when Sparrow announced they’d been bought out by Google. The indie email app that’d taken the Mac by storm, Sparrow was a fast favorite of anyone who wanted a more modern email experience — one that was fast, minimalist, and integrated with cloud services. It hit all the right spots, soared in popularity, then nearly as quickly was taken from us. Sparrow still works, but it’s a zombie without much, if any, of a future.

The Sparrow-shaped gap on the App Store has yet to be filled. There’s tons of promises of new email apps, but few have made it onto the scene yet — at least on the Mac. There’s the old standby alternates like Outlook and Postbox, but they don’t replace the minimalist approach to email that Sparrow embraced. The iPhone can claim Mailbox, Triage, and numerous other new email apps, but on the Mac, most Sparrow fans have stuck with the aging app, while others have taken a look back at Apple’s admittedly nice Mail.app.

That’s changed this week, though, as Airmail was released to the App Store. We’d taken a look at it months back when it was still in beta, but now that it’s fully released, can it replace Sparrow for diehard fans?

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Google Reader’s demise has left those of us who rely on RSS feeds for our news scrambling for options. There’s tons of web services that we’ve covered on Web.AppStorm, but if you prefer using native Mac apps for your news reading, then that only helps you so much.

Reeder and other popular Google Reader apps for the Mac have promised to add support for other sync services, but another app showed them up: ReadKit. If you’re an Instapaper fan, you’ve likely tried it out after Pocket bought out the Read Later app and turned it into Pocket for Mac. Then ReadKit came along and made an app that was, if anything, nicer for reading web articles later on the Mac.

Today, they turned it up to 11 with ReadKit 2, by adding support for sync with Fever, NewsBlur, Delicious, Pinboard, and its own native RSS sync engine. ReadKit’s now your one app for all your online reading — RSS, read later, and bookmarks. (more…)

It’s old news now that Google Reader is being shut down on July 1st. It’s also old news that finding the perfect news reading apps for your Mac and iPhone is a bit harder than you’d think at first. There’s a ton of options, but if you just want an easy way to get your news fix and keep your read status and subscriptions synced between your devices, it’s not so simple.

Most of the best options today are new web apps, some of which sync with native iOS apps but few of which have native Mac apps. Stalwart Mac RSS apps like NetNewsWire and Reeder are working on their own syncing solutions which will hopefully come before the July 1st deadline.

But NewsBar, a simple Mac and iOS RSS reader, has its own native RSS engine and can keep your subscriptions, read state, and favorited articles synced between your Macs and iOS devices via iCloud. Today. We’ve looked at NewsBar before, but let’s take another look and see what a year — and iCloud sync — has brought to the equation.
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Long a favorite on iOS, Instacast is now in beta release on the Mac. More than just a complement to the version you’ve got on your iPhone or iPad, Instacast for Mac is a fully-functional podcast app built with usability in mind.

But will it be able to supplant iTunes as your go-to iTunes podcast app? We’ll see if the Mac app stands up to its iOS predecessor. (more…)

File syncing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive all have one thing in common: they provide a centrally hosted solution. Your files are stored not only on the devices you’re using but also on their servers. It’s an extremely useful feature as it means you can easily share files to other people without any complicated setup and you’ll always be able to access your files through a web browser. Whilst these services are extremely secure, there are those who are a little wary of having personal (or even confidential) information stored somewhere that they have no control over.

BitTorrent Sync is a new service that provides a decentralised file syncing solution with an emphasis on security and keeping your files off such servers. Is it a worthy alternative for the security conscious?

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A computer network exists to ease the transfer of data from one computer to another. Before networks became common in homes and offices, moving even a small file would require transferring the file to some temporary medium, often a floppy disk, taking that temporary storage to the other location, and then copying the file onto the new destination computer. It took more time and effort and moving a file to a computer in another building or location required someone to walk or drive the disk there. Now with the ubiquity of networks this task has become an almost transparent action. We routinely move files around our local networks with little more difficultt than moving files within on our computer.

This easy transfer still only holds in when the source and destination are two computers on a local network. Once you need to transfer a file over the Internet, that is to a computer somewhere else, things get more complicated. This is such a common need and over time several dedicated protocols such as FTP and SFTP arose for this task. Unlike the seemingly transparent transfers on the local network, transfers with these protocols require a specialized client such as Cyberduck or FileZilla to move files between the remote location and your local computer.

The ExpanDrive app seeks to bring the convenience of a local drive to remote storage normally accessed through FTP, SFTP, and on Amazon’s S3 service. It makes a FTP, SFTP, or Amazon S3 connection appear like a USB drive plugged into your computer and transfers to these remote systems as simple as moving a file to an external hard drive. Let’s look at how well it works. (more…)

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