The Top 10 Mac Apps to Watch in 2012

We recently went over the best apps of 2011 and it’s safe to say that last year was an amazing time to be a Mac user. Not only did our favorite apps see major updates, there was a nice influx of brand new apps that were simply too good to pass up.

Today we want to reverse things and start looking forward instead of reviewing what has already come. We’ll introduce you to ten apps that are going to make big waves in 2012. Interestingly enough, most of them happen to be geared towards designers and web developers so if you fit that description, you’ll definitely want to take a look! We’ll also look at an awesome new Google Reader app, what’s in store for Spotify and even get a glimpse of the gem that 6Wunderkinder has been keeping up its sleeve.

Apps to Watch

Caffeinated

Reeder made such a splash in 2011 that most other entrants into the RSS reader market were viewed as second rate clones. However, we’re finally starting to see some worthy rivals step forward and Caffeinated is at the top of that list. Developer Curtis Hard has been toiling away on this app since before the launch of Reeder for Mac and is almost ready to unleash his creation on the masses.

The Caffeinated interface is super slick and it’s got plenty of awesome features to boot. My favorite thing about this app is its extensibility. Curtis has extension and theming systems in place that will make it super easy for users to really make the app their own through varying the interfaces and adding on third party functionality.

Developer: Curtis Hard
Beta Download: Geeky Goodness

screenshot

Caffeinated

TextMate 2

TextMate is a tool that just about every web developer is familiar with. Dating all the way back to 2004, this text editor seems simple on the surface but actually packs a huge number of features and can be thanked for much of the progress made in web text editors to date.

Fans of this app have been waiting for a new version for a long time and it seems we’re finally approaching that day. TextMate 2 is a complete rewrite with tons of new features including split view and fullscreen modes. It’s still in alpha so I’m not sure how soon you can expect to see the official release, but for now TextMate 1 owners can enjoy the early alpha.

Developer: MacroMates
Alpha Download: MacroMates Blog

Coda 2

Panic is hands down one of my favorite Mac developers, these guys have been around for ages and they know better than anyone what makes a solid Mac application. Their flagship product Transmit has been the FTP standard for years and version four was a true delight.

Now they’ve turned their focus to the second major release of Coda, their awesome complete coding environment application. After major rival Espresso released a new version in 2011, Coda fans have been dying to see Panic’s response. In a recent blog post, Panic stated that they’re just about ready to start the private beta stage. They opened up some invites, which were quickly gobbled up so if you were hoping to get in now you’re out of luck.

The same blog post promises (in a round about way) a fresh design: “Coda might look a little different than you’re used to, but we think it’s for good reason.” Keep an eye out for more updates throughout 2012, this one is going to be good.

Developer: Panic
Private Beta: Closed (for now)

Mou

2011 brought more Markdown editors than you can shake a stick at. They’re all fullscreen and they all convert your Markdown to HTML, making it difficult to decide which truly has any sort of definable competitive advantage.

I tried them all and never really connected with anything until I happened upon Mou, a Markdown text editor aimed at web developers. Mou had exactly what I was looking for: a split screen view that showed your markdown text on the left and a live auto-updating preview on the right. Other bonuses include swappable themes, autocompletion, and custom CSS for the output (opening up some truly amazing possibilities). Mou is currently in an open beta and moving along quickly. Hopefully we’ll see version 1.0 soon.

Developer: Chen Luo
Beta: Download the free beta on the Mou site.

screenshot

Mou

Chocolat

Chocolat is an up and coming text editor that I first looked at back in December. It’s a really well done piece of software that I thoroughly enjoy using. It feels smaller and more lightweight than apps like Coda and Espresso and yet is far beyond a simple text editor.

Great features include split screen editing, live previews, auto-completion, and a project drawer to quickly get an overview and switch between your files. It also supports syntax highlighting for a ton of different languages, from HTML and PHP to AppleScript. You can preorder the app for the awesome price of $34 (Coda is $99) and/or try out the free alpha.

Developers: Alex Gordon and Jean-Nicolas Jolivet
Alpha: Free download available on the Chocolat website

screenshot

Chocolat

Gradient

Coding CSS gradients by hand is a pain. There are a few free online solutions that help you out, but none have the grace and finesse of Gradient for Mac. The UI is super slick and it makes creating CSS gradients a breeze, one might even call it fun.

The major limitation here, as just about every developer who tries the app points out, is that you can currently only create two color gradients. Given that designers’ tastes are so often much more complex, this really hurts the app’s usefulness to cost ratio. Fortunately, the developers are hard at work implementing multi step gradients so you can expect this app to get really awesome really fast later this year. CSS preprocessor fans will be happy to know that Sass support is coming soon as well.

Price: $5.99
Developer: Jumpzero

screenshot

Gradient

Sublime Text 2

Sublime Text is a rarity in that it’s a Windows app that’s actually good enough to catch our attention (though the icon is still far from the quality we’re used to on OS X). This web text editor has some really innovative features like multiple selections and a mini map that allows you to quickly jump to any part of the page. It’s a great app and more than a few Mac users have longed to see it cross platforms.

Fortunately, the developer has come to his senses and Sublime Text 2 will be available for OS X, Linux and Windows. It’s packed with plenty of new features including an awesome fullscreen distraction free mode. No word yet on an official release date but you can hop on the beta free.

Developer: Jon Skinner
Beta: Sublime Text Blog

screenshot

Sublime Text 1

Adobe CS6

Adobe is keeping on its frequent update schedule, designed by evil geniuses to keep your interest piqued and your checking account empty. Despite the fact that I know you’re currently yelling at your screen about having finally forked out the cash for CS5, it’s definitely the case that CS6 will be hitting sometime this year (and you don’t get a discount for upgrading from CS4 or earlier).

We don’t know too much at this point but AppleInsider has posted a glimpse of a brand new Lightroom-like dark interface for Photoshop and tells of some fancy new 3D options and even some new tools: the Perspective Crop Tool, 3D Material Eyedropper Tool and Remix Tool.

Developer: Adobe
Photoshop CS6 Sneak Peek: AppleInsider

Spotify

2011 was a big year for Spotify and its revolutionary radio format (listen to anything you want). It finally hit the U.S., a transition which has created a huge influx of new free users paid subscribers. Spotify is rocking the radio industry and we just can’t get enough.

Keep a close eye on Spotify though, the innovation is only just beginning. 2012 will be the year of Spotify apps, a new initiative that brings all kinds of added functionality to the Spotify player such as lyrics, Billboard charts and tighter Last.fm integration. These have only just taken off the ground so you can expect to see a lot of developments in this area this year.

Developer: Spotify
Spotify Apps Info: On the Spotify app website

screenshot

Spotify Apps

Wunderkit

Wunderlist took the world by storm in 2011. The award winning todo list application taught us that task management could be beautiful, functional, collaborative and synced across multiple platforms for the magical price of free. So how in the world can the people at 6Wunderkinder justify the investment?

The answer lies in their next product, a premium project management tool called Wunderkit (coming sometime in 2012). All the features you’ve wanted to see brought to Wunderlist are here: subtasks, reoccurring tasks, workspaces (multiple projects), and full team collaboration with the ability to “follow” workspaces and leave status updates. Be sure to check out the screenshots, they’re gorgeous.

Developer: 6Wunderkinder
Sneak Peek: 6Wunderkinder blog

screenshot

Wunderkit

Which Apps Will You Be Watching in 2012?

There you have it, this list represents the best of what we know is coming for Mac users in 2012. Whether you’re looking for a new text editor or a better way to manage your projects, it’s going to be an exciting year full of great developments.

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of the apps above. Also be sure to tell us about any other apps that you expect to have major updates this year. Are you currently using any alpha or beta releases? We want to know!


  • http://twitter.com/tylrmurphy Tyler

    I’m currently working on a music app called Sonora that will be in beta this week, and will definitely be out in 2012. http://getsonora.com

    • Grigori Gazarian (@barbudo)

      Looks pretty interesting. Any specific time frame on the beta availability?

    • http://YouMeUS.in l1nu5r

      Looks cool.. hopefully it can sync to iTunes/iPod

      was tracking this as well http://www.enqueueapp.com

    • http://twitter.com/tylrmurphy Tyler

      We’re hoping to get it out in the next 2 days. We cannot sync with iPods because Apple doesn’t provide APIs for it, but the app does sync with iTunes at startup almost instantly.

    • Paul Dunahoo

      Pretty cool app! I can’t get it to authorize with last.fm, but pretty cool! iTunes really bugs me, so this is a nice change of view.

      • http://www.desktopcurtain.co.uk Desktop Curtain

        http://www.desktopcurtain.co.uk

        Free mac applescript application to hide all you desktop icons. Good for beginner developers for a starting block in applescript.

  • umren

    You forgot Pixelmator, 2011 was a big year for it too

  • http://www.brunobernardino.com Bruno Bernardino

    Sublime Text 2 is Beta but stable for a long time. It’s been my default working tool for several months now (I used to use Espresso, but they just took too long to release an update, and now I can’t go back from Sublime Text, ’cause it’s so great!).

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  • B30

    I’m curious about Adobe CS6 (with dark interface)

  • Chris

    Am I the only one looking for a new version of iWork or do you guys just don’t believe in that anymore?

    • Jenn

      I am waiting patiently as well! :)

    • Darla B.

      Crossing my fingers for a major update!

  • Novi

    I think Wunderlist is highly overhyped. Gradient is a nice piece of software, i bought it straight away but didn’t even use it so far. Sublime Text 2 is just plain awesome.

  • http://scrawl.allendunahoo.com Paul Dunahoo

    Scrawl for Mac (recently featured by Apple) has some cool features coming this year, as well as an iOS app. It is a simple menubar text editor that has iCloud support.

    DISCLAIMER: it is my own app :)

    • http://twitter.com/antonio_383 Antoniogra7

      Even if you admit it, spam is still spam.

      Nice app, though.

  • http://www.amodoro.de Ringo

    Nice list. I myself am excited about CS6 :)

  • Chris Ruch

    I’m excited about Adobe Muse

    • Tim

      That app is just dumb. Every feature that I’ve seen in that was already in a product that Adobe bought years ago. A little thing called GoLive. They ceased development on it in favor of Dreamweaver when they purchased Macromedia. Now what? They are sorry about it? Ridiculous. They need to stop making all these programs that do the same things differently and concentrate on make one really nice one. Most of their apps are in such disarray. Palettes everywhere, key commands different in each app (Command-D for instance).
      What they need to do is REWRITE Photoshop from the ground up. No one cares about Muse (or Dreamweaver for that matter). Coders use Coda and TextMate and Eclipse and that’s about it.

    • Tim

      Not to mention it is using a subscription based pricing model. I wonder if the entire CS suite will do that?

  • http://YouMeUs.in l1nu5r

    If you like vi you might like this one as well http://www.vicoapp.com

  • Katrin

    Thanks for this overview. Very handsome.

  • Paulyboy

    As slick as Reeder looks I’ve still been using the non-Mac App Store version of NetNewsWire. But I’m keeping an eye on Caffeinated. This version of NetNewsWire has been updated for Lion (version 3.3) and works perfectly fine. Granted it’s look is a bit long in the tooth but I love being able to customize the toolbar so much. I have “MArk as Read”. “Mark All as Read”, “Next Article”, “Previous Article”, and “Send to Instapaper” buttons positioned right above the article portion of the 3 pane layout. This way I can go through all my unread articles very quickly without having to hardly move my mouse cursor or eyes from that part of the screen (in my particular case this is easier than keyboard navigation).

    If Caffeinated (or Reeder at some point) prove to be just as convenient I’ll gladly pony up the money for one of them.

  • http://www.pobox.com/~meta/ mathew

    I was really interested in Mou, until I discovered that it’s Lion-only.

    • Mou

      There’s also Snow Leopard version too! Ask them.

  • Liam

    #corrections:

    The description under the Sublime Text 2 image says “Sublime Text 1″ (should be a 2)

  • http://tridnguyen.com Tri

    Do you think Caffeinated will be a paid app when it comes out of beta? If so, any idea what the price range would be?

    • Curtis Hard

      Yes it will be a paid application, but I am not certain what the price will be, I have yet to consider that =)

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  • A.F

    SpeedTao

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  • http://stevehops.com Stevehops

    Scrivener. What Photoshop is to photos, Scrivener is to writing. It is more like a writing studio than a word processor. It gets everything right.

  • http://www.avioesavenda.org Avioes a Venda

    2011 was a big year for it too

  • http://middle8media.com Seth Hall

    Caffienated is sweet
    Textmate 2 has been replaced by…
    Sublime Text 2 is my editor of choice
    Coda 2…no thanks
    Mou…Yes Please
    Chocolat looks great but, Sublime Text 2 is too good to stop using

    Gradient Rules
    CS6….YES!!!
    Spotify (combined with Rdio) is the tops
    WunderKit……bring it

    • Lolla

      No wonder you’re using sublime text, your site is ugly, like sublime text icon. Stay on windows please.

      • Andy

        That is just flat out rude. Next time you want to criticize someones work, you better leave your own URL. I can’t say I completely understand the homepage design, but the other pages and portfolio work is well done and slick.

        You must be a complete amateur as any true web professional does not behave that way.

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  • http://facebook.com/forbenmedia Rick Yentzer

    I really want to like Sublime Text. But it lacks formatting and web preview. Sure I can open up the page in the browser my self but in my current app, bbedit, its a shortcut key away. bbedit has great formatting. It’s not the slickest app but it’s a workhorse. Curious to see how Coda 2 shapes up. I could care less about Textmate.

    • Mike

      You can set up a build system in Sublime that will open a file in a browser with a simple shortcut. I open HTML in Chrome and also have a build system for PHP scripts that shows any syntax errors in a pane at the bottom of the window. Google “Sublime Text 2 Build System” for more info. The power in Sublime is customizing it to fit your needs. You can really do some amazing stuff if you dig in and learn what it is capable of.

  • MeterestNZ

    I have been using Moneywell v2 Beta, now in Release candidate testing, and it is a great upgrade. In the last 12 months No Thirst Software have upgraded version 1 (1.7), released an iOS app and got Moneywell version 2, a major upgrade, almost out the door. Not bad for a small company.

    Their App is the most innovative of all the Accounting software out there, try it you will like it.

  • Luca Rosaldi

    I would really, really want to like Sublime Text 2, but it lacks the one feature that, for a single-screen designer like myself, is fundamental: split-screen preview.

    It has a whole lot of awesome features that really rock, few of which I hope to see in the next Coda – if they ever ship it.

    Also excited for Wunderkit as an alternative to Flow, and curious about Caffeinated, even if Reeder is fantastic.

    • biand

      Split screen view is supported in sublime text 2, i use it daily…

      • Luca Rosaldi

        When I said “preview” I meant the built-in page preview as in the browser. Last time I checked ST2 did not support previews, but I might be wrong…

    • http://www.coroflot.com/joshuajohnson Joshua Johnson

      It’s definitely there.

  • http://www.nico-oud.nl Nico Oud

    Love them all! Can’t wait to get Wunderkit!

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  • Oscar Alaniz

    iA Writer for iPhone!

  • http://sidesix.org Dan Avery

    I really want to like Sublime Text 2, especially for the easy of selecting multiple lines separately at the same time, but it lacks a web preview and validation in the browser. TextMate 2 currently has those, but doesn’t support zen coding; Chocolat is pretty much a clone of TextMate 2, but does have great support for Octopress; if the site is live and it’s a minor fix then Espresso 2 is the only way to rock.

    Shame there isn’t one with all those features.

    • Mike

      Web previews in the app can be sort of gimmicky in my opinion. I used to love Coda for that reason, but eventually found I needed to view my work in other browsers besides Webkit. The flexibility and power of a tool like Sublime far outweighs that fact that it doest have a built browser! You can set up a build system in Sublime Text to open your HTML in Chrome. You can also use a tool like LiveReload that will automatically refresh your browser when you save a file in Sublime. Sublime+Chrome+Spaces in Lion works great together! As a former TextMate user, I am still finding things I miss in Mate, however, I have slowly been finding ways to do them in Sublime.

      • Rick

        How do you set ST2 to open a file in Chrome?

  • Jack

    I am curious about all the text editors, but I’m most curious about Quicken for Mac.

  • Benjamin Minnich

    Adobe can blow me, seriously! They are the only company that charges a kings ransom for their propriety crap that is Creative Suite! Someone please create something to rival these blood sucking crap dealers!

  • I am

    Thank you for what you’ve got. This is the very best post I’ve read

  • Lo

    Pixelmator! 2011 was a sensational year for the Pixelmator team (Apple Best Design Award).

  • http://www.creativemms.com Tim Robbins

    There are some really awesome apps in here. I’m particularly waiting for TextMate 2 and will totally have to check out Gradient. We did a similar post with some expansions to some of these apps! Check it out and let us know what you think

    http://www.creativemms.com/9-apps-techies-will-love

  • Larry Novak

    Very nice apps! But I think there’s one app which also should be on this list. It’s called “Short Menu” and is the very best URL shortener for mac: http://bit.ly/Ju5Dv3

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