As a photographer brought up in the digital age, the taking of photos, to my mind, has always been inextricably linked with computing. And my computing has always been done on a Mac, and Macs have always had iPhoto to keep pictures neatly organized. Okay, so iPhoto hasn’t been around for ever — it was introduced 11 years ago, alongside OSX 10.1 — but as a child of the OSX period, it’s hard for me to imagine what photo handling looked like, pre-iLife.
However, as the versions of OSX have rolled by, iPhoto has grown and grown, adding more features and a heavier CPU workload along the way. In some respects, this one-time light, nimble, agile photo library is now too large for its own good.
Which is where an app like Unbound ($9.99, beta release free) has an opportunity. It doesn’t edit, it doesn’t let you create cards or calendars, but it does claim to give you quick-time access to your photos. But does Unbound’s simplicity and speed outweigh iPhoto’s heavyweight functionality?
At the end of the week, creative people often wonder how much they actually accomplished. They tell their friends they only spent 40–50 hours on the computer working when, in reality, it’s more like 60–70 hours. Staring at a screen most of the day isn’t great for your eyes, so why not lessen the amount of time you spend using a computer? That’s not as easy as it sounds, because you first have to find out how much you are spending on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube each day.
There’s now a different type of time tracker available. It’s called RescueTime. Rather than requiring that you manually clock in and out, it monitors everything you do and sends you a report at an interval you choose. When I first heard about the service, I was cautious about the privacy implications and whether it even did a good job. After using it for nearly two months, I have a bit more to say about it. (more…)
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.
It would take a cold heart to write off the night sky as merely sparks of light in the blackness. Yes, gazing upwards on a clear evening provides a beautiful show, but it also offers a perspective of our location in the middle of everything. So, it seems bizarre that astronomy is often thought of as a niche hobby of knitwear-clothed nerds, but perhaps that perception can be attributed to the depth of mind-stored knowledge that has traditionally been required to fully appreciate the heavens.
It seems to me that this perception is due an update. Information about the stars has never been more accessible, thanks to technology and, in particular, apps. One of the first generation of standout iOS apps was GoSkyWatch, which utilized the iPad’s accelerometers and compass to allow users to pan around a virtual sky filled with information. But sometimes, you just want to digest information in the light, warm surroundings of your sitting room.
Hence, there seems to be a place for OSX apps like RedShift Astronomy. Packed with information, and brimming with 3D visualizations, this $18.99 offering should be a hit with anyone interested in exploring the universe. But does it do the magnificence of space true justice?
Private journals are a much better way of venting your frustration than Twitter. Studies have proven this. (Okay not really.) This explains Day One’s success. The thing is, there aren’t that many quality journaling options available on the Mac. I reviewed Capture 365 Journal — a nice-looking alternative — about a year ago and found it to be less than satisfactory compared to Day One. Is there no hope for a Day One stand-in? I think I’ve found one, actually.
Its name is Bits, developed by the people who brought you Numi. It lives up to its very short name, and I’d go so far as to call it the smallest journaling app available on the Mac. It’s very minimal in appearance, but the developers have given it a unique strength: blog integration. Could this tiny app be the basic digital journal we’ve always wanted? (more…)
Trey Ratcliff is one of the most respected people in professional photography today. He pioneered the use of HDR (high dynamic range) to capture scenes in a lifelike way; he also writes one of the most detailed and well-composed tutorials for HDR on the Internet. Ratcliff is also known for some other side projects, like Stuck On Earth, a previously iPad-only app for exploring the world through photographs.
Everyone likes getting a deal, and Craigslist is a great place to start. I always feel like I’m behind the eight ball, though, because everyone seems to be on top of the great listings before I even get there.
That’s why I tried out GreatApp for Craigslist, with its personalized searches and lots of filters. Its notifications should help me stay out in front of the newest listings. I’m going to see if this app is really a help to searching Craigslist or if I’d be better off sticking to the website. (more…)
Apple’s Notes app is fine if you’re quickly jotting things down, but after a while you may start to want something more powerful. That’s when services like Evernote and Simplenote. The former has had a native Mac app for a while now, but the latter has relied on third-party solutions like the newer Justnotes and Brett Terpstra’s fantastic nvALT.
But now there’s something new on the market. It’s an official app developed by Automattic, the team behind WordPress which now owns Simplenote itself as well. The free Simplenote for Mac promises to bring the whole experience to your computer without a Web browser, and kicks off an entire new wave of Simplenote apps across all their supported platforms. Is the long-awaited client everything we’ve dreamed of? (more…)
Delicious. No, I haven’t just finished a meal. I’m recalling a time, not so very long ago, when we all used bookmarking services to keep track of our favourite parts of the web. It seems strange, then, that most of us have moved on. It is undoubtedly the case that we still save plenty of bookmarks. Equally, the link capturing tools at our disposal have barely changed in the nine years since Delicious stepped onto Yahoo’s slippery, corporately-greased slope.
Of course, Delicious wasn’t the only option back then — there were native bookmark library apps available, too. With the advent of modern-day cloud syncing, the concept of keeping bookmarks somewhere other than in your browser seems weird. For folks who make a lot of bookmarks, however, the abysmal bookmark organization tools with which browsers are still lumbered is a problem which a third party app can solve.
So, it would appear that there’s still a place for apps like Pins — a native OS X bookmark manager priced at $14.99 in the App Store. It offers to attach tags and notes to your links, it provides cloud syncing, and it even captures page previews, but can Pins really provide a compelling, Utopian alternative to your browser’s in-built bookmarks manager?
Several weeks ago, tired of waiting for iBooks for the Mac, I put together a roundup of the best eBook apps for the Mac. I tested over a dozen apps, discovered more bugs and weird rendering than I ever had in one session, and came to the conclusion that Adobe Digital Editions was the best app for reading ePub eBooks on a Mac, non-native UI aside.
Then, in the comments, Igor let me know about Clearview, an eBook reading app I’d somehow missed. Clearview, it turned out, was the missing eBook reading app for the Mac that I’d managed to not discover. Here’s why it’s the best alternate to Apple’s iBooks on the Mac today.