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One of the things that I love about Mac is that there’s no shortage of small tools to make your life better. I have more lightweight apps than I do feature-packed programs. And I’m frequently surprised by the small apps I find that make my life better in ways I’d never thought of.

My most recent discovery on Mac is Intermission, a lightweight app that sits in your menubar and lets you remind, pause, fast forward, and skip back live audio. It’s been described as TiVo for Mac, and I had to give it a shot. Read on to find out how it works.

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Firing up iPhoto just to pull a few pictures off your iPhone is too much trouble. So is emailing a voice recording to yourself. Videos? Well, they’re big enough, you’ll likely have to sync with iPhoto to get them.

There’s a whole market of tools to help people get files off their iOS devices, and Macroplant — the people behind iExplorer — have just made a free Finder for your iPhone: iBrowse. It’s a simple app that lets you get pictures, videos, recordings, and books off any iPhone or iPad just as easily as you could copy a file off a flash drive.

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Minimalist writing apps have taken the App Store by storm, from the extreme of iA Writer’s entire lack of settings to full-featured writing environments like Ulysses III. It’s great to write without worrying on your final formatting, focusing instead on your actual words. Eventually, though, you’ll need to export your work to publish it on the web or in print. Your writing app likely includes a number of basic export tools, but for serious writers that want the best export options, Brett Terpstra’s Marked app is the best tool in town.

Today, it gets even better, with the just-released Marked 2. It’ll preview anything from a draft blog post in MarsEdit to a whole folder of Markdown documents, show you your overused phrases that’d be best cut out of your document, and give you the best exports with MultiMarkdown 4.2 support and the option to save in DOCX, paginated PDF, and much more.

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The demise of internet radio at the hands of podcasting has been greatly exaggerated. While it may no longer have the same level of popularity of podcasting, internet radio is still very much a thriving medium. If you’ve ever listened to a commercial radio station using your Mac or iPhone, you’ve listened to an internet radio stream.

While we may be entering the golden age of podcasts, internet radio is just as popular, if not more so, than ever before. Unlike podcasts, internet radio is better suited to a never-ending selection of songs from a track list or listening to live events, concerts and listening to a random selection of music based upon the station’s speciality.

Nicecast, by Rogue Amoeba, is a nifty solution that turns your Mac into a fully-fledge internet radio station, allowing you to stream audio over the internet directly or through the use of a compatible server.

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There are a few different camps when it comes to iTunes, and while I don’t mind the music-playing monster, I don’t mind finding a simpler way to get my tunes played, either. If it looks good, that’s even better, right?

I decided to try out Muzzy, because rather than acting as a separate music player, it works with iTunes to deliver my music to me. Its clean interface sets it apart as an early winner, and I’ll see if Muzzy has the features to take home the prize or if it falls short at the finish line. (more…)

Flash died in 2007, and everyone’s been catching up since then. It’d long since been the worst part of the web, responsible for buzzing fans and auto-playing audio, but it took the advent of modern touch devices to make it outdated for good. That didn’t mean animated websites were gone along with Flash, though — it only meant we’d need more creative solutions.

Into the void came Hype, the Mac app that made it easy to create web-ready animations with just HTML, CSS, and Javascript — but without any coding. It brought drag-and-drop simplicity back to online animations. And now, just over 2 years after it was introduced, Hype 2 is here and is better than ever. It’s the simplest way to make interactive and animated content for the web — indeed, it’s as simple as making a Keynote presentation.

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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…)

At AppStorm we pay very close attention to the App Store. We monitor the introduction of new apps in much the same way that a trader keeps their eyes glued to the markets. We know what’s going up, what’s going down, as well as what’s desperately in need of a bug-fixing update.

As a result, I’m able to inform you that the general trend among vector drawing apps is downsizing. Rather than competing with Adobe’s mighty Illustrator, apps such as iDraw, Artboard and Sketch offer something a little simpler, more compact and more reasonably priced. Happily, from the app buyer’s perspective, the growing number of apps in this niche is creating intense competition, which, in turn, is having a positive effect on quality. In fact, vector artists are spoilt for choice right now.

Yet somehow, still more contenders are finding the room to squeeze into the ring. One such app is Bluetail. It wants to undercut the undercutters, offering a stripped-back, no-nonsense workspace at a rock-bottom price. But does Bluetail fall on the side of value-for-money simplicity, or does it creep into ill-equipped incapability? Time to find out.
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I’ve been slowly putting together a website and a brand for the creative firm that I’m starting (it hasn’t launched, but if you’re curious, feel free to check it out). Branding is not an easy thing. It’s a large, multifaceted process that requires a lot of time, effort and yes, Photoshop skills.

That’s why I admire any company or app that tries to make certain parts of the task easier. I love playing around with text, but I don’t have weeks and weeks to make a great logo. And sometimes, I just need an easy way to experiment. That’s where Logoist comes in. The app makes it as easy as possible to put together a logo by eliminating a lot of the cumbersome heavy lifting Photoshop mandates. Let’s take a look and see if it’s worth your time and money.

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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…)

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