This week has been quite a busy one for app news so without further ado, here’s our roundup of the latest going-ons in the Mac software world.
More hints of upcoming features in latest Mountain Lion Developer Preview
The latest Developer Preview of Mountain Lion, which was released last Wednesday to registered Apple developers, is giving us all subtle hints at what we can expect come the official launch, which is expected to take place at the upcoming WWDC conference in a couple of weeks time. Although still a bit temperamental, this update enabled automatic app downloads (similar to iOS), whereby purchased items from the store are automatically downloaded on all your devices.
There was also a subtle hint towards possible voice dictation, similar to that on the iPhone and new iPad. Developers that tore apart the Safari resources file in the latest build found a keyboard shortcut to “Start Dictation”, which is enabled by pressing both Command keys simultaneously.
Although the feature is not enabled in the current Developer Preview (and no other evidence has been found supporting this claim), it is an unconfirmed rumour however Apple is always known for its surprises, so this may well be a new and upcoming feature for Mountain Lion.
Cobook released on the App Store
On Thursday, Cobook, a little free application that aims to improve contact management on your Mac, came out of beta status and hit the App Store. The app syncs with your existing Mac address book and sits in the menu bar for quick and easy access.
Cobook automatically updates your contacts from Twitter and Facebook and you can set tags, making it easier to manage your contacts. The app is free and available for immediate download from the App Store.
Dropzone sells 6,700 copies as part of “Two Dollar Tuesday”
As part of a new initiative entitled “Two Dollar Tuesday”, Dropzone dropped its retail price from $14 to a mere $2 and consequently shifted an incredible 6,700 downloads in one day, netting around $8,000 for its developers. The app, which is a simple and quick way of sharing and moving documents on your Mac and supports a wide range of third-party providers, such as TwitPic, ImageShack and Amazon S3, has attracted praise from a wide range of sources and currently holds a 4.5 star rating on the App Store.
The new Two Dollar Tuesday initiative, which was started up by Mike Dattalo, helps to propel less well-known Mac applications into the esteemed top 100 list. Before the sale, Dropzone wasn’t even in the top 100 productivity hours but within hours of the price drop, it had rocketed up to third position. Dattalo notes:
Customers prefer to purchase apps in the Mac App Store, because they can easily reinstall them if they switch computers, and they never have to worry about losing a license…the hardest problem independent developers have to tackle is obscurity – finding a way to get their apps noticed.
To find out more about the Two Dollar Tuesday project, as well as see which Mac apps are currently on offer, head over to their website.
“Editors Choice” and “App of the Week” appear in App Store
Apple have tweaked the App Store layout to now feature an “Editors Choice” and “App of the Week”, which aim to help Mac users discover new and previously unknown apps as well as net themselves a good bargain.
The change has been implemented across all of the App Store, including the one on iPhone and iPad and the first app graced with the title of “Editors Choice” on the Mac App Store was Cobook, which we looked at above. Apple will be refreshing the apps weekly so remember to check back often for some new material!
CleanMyDrive hits the Mac App Store
MacPaw, the developers of the popular utility CleanMyMac, which scans your Mac for any system junk and helps free up precious hard drive space, has released its little brother, CleanMyDrive. Although not as feature rich as its older sibling, this free utility sits in your menu bar and constantly monitors your disk space and how much storage junk files are taking up.
The app performs automated cleanups of any ‘junk’ files on any external drive connected to your Mac (for example, Thumbs.db, .DS_Store and so on) and also allows you to eject all your connected drives at once, instead of having to drag each one individually to the Trash. Contrary to its name, however, it won’t clean your entire drive – you’ll have to get CleanMyMac for that.
CleanMyDrive is available in the App Store and is currently free (limited time offer).
Developers vent their frustrating at sandboxing guidelines
A mere couple of days after we wrote about the upcoming sandboxing guidelines for apps submitted to the App Store, developers are already feeling the pinch of the strict rules imposed by Apple. Some are not clear about what the guidelines are, despite the fact new entitlements for sandboxing were built into OS X 10.7.3 and new APIs in Xcode 4.3, and many are unhappy with the changes.
The British magazine Macworld UK interviewed some developers (many of whom wished to remain anonymous) with their thoughts on the new guidelines and the general consensus of their comments ranging from reluctancy to sheer loathing. According to one developer, they (the developers) are, “all going into this blind” and that pre-sandboxing screening of new app submissions that conform to the guidelines has been “shockingly arbitrary”.
Probably one of the most shocking comments comes from a developer who states that Apple is resort to “cheats” that third-party developers “would never get away with”, especially seeing as most of its own applications are not sandboxed but will still be available via the App Store.
LEAP Motion allows you to control your Mac…’Minority Report’ style
Kinect: eat your heart out and move over. A new company called Leap Motion is planning on releasing a small USB peripheral for both Mac and Windows which will allow you to control your computer via hand and finger movements.
The new device, which isn’t expected to go on sale until January 2013, is priced at a mere $69 and boasts an accuracy 200 times more than any other device on the market, being able to detect your finger movements down to 1/100th of a millimetre. Users will also be able to create custom movements for their computer and the company is planning on releasing an SDK for developers, meaning that they can integrate the Leap into their own programs.