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Since 2004, I’ve used Skype for free calls and instant messaging between friends, clients, and loved ones abroad. And because of brand loyalty, it took a while till I was convinced to try other communication apps, particularly mobile-based VoIP software like WhatsApp and Viber.

Between the two, I leaned towards Viber for its smooth user interface, the fact that it’s free to use with no ads lurking around, and how it works similarly to the way we’d call or SMS everyday. Unlike Skype’s mobile app, using Viber is like using a phone bumped with free calls and texts forever. And with over 200 million users and counting, it’s certainly becoming a strong contender against big names like Skype.

Well, that impression didn’t take long to seed as Viber announced its release of desktop versions (OS X and Windows) of the mobile app, both of which bring its best features to the desktop, along with video calling (still in beta) and call transfers from desktop to mobile. With this, Viber has taken another big step to becoming a potential alternative to Skype and many other desktop VoIP software. (more…)

Cloud storage is anything but a panacea for small SSDs. You might have 25Gb of iCloud storage, or 100Gb in Dropbox, but you’ll need that much space free on your Mac to take advantage of it. Run out of local storage, and cloud storage will stop working for you too. On a mobile device, sure, you can use Dropbox without it taking up tons of local space, but on your Mac or PC, it’s either store everything locally too, or resort to using cloud storage from your browser.

It’s the failure of cloud storage, one that’s surprisingly not talked about that much. Evernote, Dropbox, and iCloud — even your email if you use a native mail app — all take up local storage, something that can become quite an issue if you have a 11″ MacBook Air with a 64Gb SSD, or even the more spacious 128Gb SSD that’s rather standard across the board these days.

The freshly released ExpanDrive 3, though, is at least a partial solution to this problem. It lets you mount Dropbox and other online storage services, and treat them like an external HD. All the cloud storage goodness, without taking up extra local storage on your Mac.

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A few years ago we got the opportunity to review an awesome platforming-rhythm game called Bit.Trip Runner. We found it pretty amusing and gave it an almost perfect score: it’s a type of game we’re all familiar with, but it’s done in such a way that it feels very fresh and fun.

Now, from the creators of Bit.Trip Runner comes its successor: Runner 2. It has everything that we loved about the first game, but it builds on it and improves pretty much every aspect of it, graphics, mechanic, story, and much more.
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I sincerely believe that one of the reasons for the slow descent of information managers, or anything buckets, has been the absence of modernization. Opening an application of this sort is often a strike from the past. A visit to old design trends and a user experience that didn’t catch up with the evolution. We ended up with powerful applications with plenty of features, without a reasonable way to manage them.

Among them all, Together stood up on their previous versions, overcoming as one of the better thought-out information managers for the average user. Yet it held its share of issues. The new version is a wave of change that came out of nowhere to improve our data library organizations. This refreshing update covers several disabilities and lights up the path to the use of iCloud sync, a long expected getaway card from the Evernote servers.

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Unit conversion has always been a task I would delegate to the web, since Google handles it so well. Whenever I need to convert kilometers to miles, inches to feet, and Philippine peso to any other currency, I would simply type the units in the search bar and wait for the results to appear.

There’s tons of unit conversion apps out there (we even have a roundup of calculators and converters for the Mac), but it didn’t seem like a necessity to buy or download one. I then came across Converto, one of FLIPLAB’s newer and free Mac utilities, and decided to give it a test run.

Could Converto finally break the ice and stand as the best unit converter for the Mac? Read on to find out.

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You do a lot of searching. You can’t even try to front that you don’t, because we’re all searching all the time. Even simple calculations and unit conversions are getting done in a search engine. But you could be doing it better. The folks who made search utility Phlo knew that and wanted to make internet searching awesome.

Did they succeed? We’ll test this tiny searchbox app and find out! (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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It seems we’re always looking for ways to keep our hands on our keyboards and away from the mouse. From application launchers to apps that create extra productivity shortcuts, there’s a big market for tools that help us use our computers more efficiently.

Shortcat is just such an app, giving every element within an application window its own shortcut. I’ll take a look at Shortcat and see how good of a job it does at keeping my hands on my keyboard and me on task. (more…)

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…)

When I get into the flow of working I often lose track of time. I find that my best work often comes in these periods when time seems to almost disappear. Much of the time this poses no problem, but sometimes I need to be reminded of something no matter how engrossed I am in my work. There are also times when I start something that will take a long time to finish, but I want to be able to work on something else and still be reminded when it’s complete. Either way, I need something to remind me what’s going on.

For events that take place at a specific time, the calendar works well. A reminder for a meeting at 10 A.M. or to meet someone for dinner at 7 P.M. does the job simply. It doesn’t work as well for things that are less tied to the clock. When I start laundry I just want to be reminded to check on it in thirty minutes. When I start a backup I want to be reminded to check on the status in an hour.

Timebar is an app in the Mac App Store that provides a simple countdown timer in your menu bar. This lets you keep an eye on the timer while keeping it out of your way. Let’s see how well it works.

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