MacUpdate: App Reviews MacUpdate: App Reviews Fri, 01 Jul 2016 03:01:44 -0400 MacUpdate RSS 2.0 (http://www.macupdate.com) http://www.macupdate.com updates@macupdate.com.com (MacUpdate) MacUpdate MacUpdate Review of LensFlare Studio 5.1

LensFlare Studio is one of those rare apps that states its intentions up front and delivers unequivocally. You know what you're in for with LensFlare Studio by the time you're done reading the application's name, and after a couple minutes and a few clicks, a breathtaking finished product is at hand. LensFlare Studio takes a seemingly complex problem and offers a beautifully simple solution. The app's inviting interface presents several categories of preset effects that interact with your source image via layers, each of which have filters, effects, and parameters that can be tweaked to better suit your image. What you’re left with after tossing in a few effect layers and dragging the centers of the effects around to the desired locations is a stunningly polished, cinematic image. The simplicity of LensFlare Studio does not force you into sacrificing the quality of your end product. It seems like a one-trick pony of an application, but this deceptively powerful app will give you some surprising results to add fun and literal flare to your images!

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Tue, 19 Apr 2016 19:05:03 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/46605/lensflare-studio/5.1/1461107103 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/46605/lensflare-studio/5.1/1461107103

LensFlare Studio is one of those rare apps that states its intentions up front and delivers unequivocally. You know what you're in for with LensFlare Studio by the time you're done reading the application's name, and after a couple minutes and a few clicks, a breathtaking finished product is at hand. LensFlare Studio takes a seemingly complex problem and offers a beautifully simple solution. The app's inviting interface presents several categories of preset effects that interact with your source image via layers, each of which have filters, effects, and parameters that can be tweaked to better suit your image. What you’re left with after tossing in a few effect layers and dragging the centers of the effects around to the desired locations is a stunningly polished, cinematic image. The simplicity of LensFlare Studio does not force you into sacrificing the quality of your end product. It seems like a one-trick pony of an application, but this deceptively powerful app will give you some surprising results to add fun and literal flare to your images!

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of iShowU Instant 1.0.6

iShowU Instant is a remarkably capable application that gets you from on-screen action on your Mac or iOS device to full-fledged screen recording production in just a few quick steps. With a handful of unexpectedly useful features, iShowU Instant delivers an experience that far surpasses what you might expect from an app in its price range. Particularly useful is iShowU Instant's audio processing capabilities, which allow you to boost or fill out recorded audio whether it's coming from your Mac or from your microphone. You wouldn't think to focus on audio when producing a screen recording, but you end up with a strikingly professional polished product. Area selection is deceptively feature-packed as well, letting you select entire application windows and accommodating pixel perfect nudges when hand selecting a portion of your screen. And once the recording is complete, iShowU Instant's built-in editing features are as intuitive as iMovie with simple, straightforward options to round out your project with precision. Basic and Advanced recording modes give you varying degrees of control over your final product, including how your screen is captured and how the recording is shared. The app's trial mode leaves nothing to the imagination, so go ahead and give it a shot!

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Wed, 06 Apr 2016 08:39:19 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/56378/ishowu-instant/1.0.6/1459946359 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/56378/ishowu-instant/1.0.6/1459946359

iShowU Instant is a remarkably capable application that gets you from on-screen action on your Mac or iOS device to full-fledged screen recording production in just a few quick steps. With a handful of unexpectedly useful features, iShowU Instant delivers an experience that far surpasses what you might expect from an app in its price range. Particularly useful is iShowU Instant's audio processing capabilities, which allow you to boost or fill out recorded audio whether it's coming from your Mac or from your microphone. You wouldn't think to focus on audio when producing a screen recording, but you end up with a strikingly professional polished product. Area selection is deceptively feature-packed as well, letting you select entire application windows and accommodating pixel perfect nudges when hand selecting a portion of your screen. And once the recording is complete, iShowU Instant's built-in editing features are as intuitive as iMovie with simple, straightforward options to round out your project with precision. Basic and Advanced recording modes give you varying degrees of control over your final product, including how your screen is captured and how the recording is shared. The app's trial mode leaves nothing to the imagination, so go ahead and give it a shot!

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MacUpdate Review of Bevy 1.1.1

The developers at Apple are known for rolling existing 3rd-party software into OS X releases; every major release features some previously niche software solution integrated into the fabric of the OS. This typically spells the end of development for these 3rd party utilities as their developers are forced to work on new projects or pivot the progress of their apps. Bevy, however, is the rare example of a 3rd party developer remaining unfazed by Apple’s releases, going forward with resolve and conviction, improving on an experience in which Apple falls short. Launchpad has never quite convinced of its utility. The genesis of the feature was contained in its stark similarity to the iOS home screen with its rows of apps and folders, but it remained a fundamentally clunky experience, surpassed by Spotlight, the Dock, and many other application launching utilities. Bevy, on the other hand, offers a creative take on the same idea Launchpad failed to perfect: showing you all your apps in a digestible manner for quick viewing and launching. With its customizable triggers, Bevy can feel like a seamless part of the OS. But its unique way of inviting user engagement makes it something that’s not only useful, but fun to use. The initial presentation of all your apps at once feels overwhelming, but a minute or two with the app breaks down that fear, leaving the user empowered to find, open, organize, and remove apps as they wish. It’s quite the user experience — one that would make Apple jealous.

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Wed, 02 Mar 2016 05:49:08 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/31375/bevy/1.1.1/1456915748 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/31375/bevy/1.1.1/1456915748

The developers at Apple are known for rolling existing 3rd-party software into OS X releases; every major release features some previously niche software solution integrated into the fabric of the OS. This typically spells the end of development for these 3rd party utilities as their developers are forced to work on new projects or pivot the progress of their apps. Bevy, however, is the rare example of a 3rd party developer remaining unfazed by Apple’s releases, going forward with resolve and conviction, improving on an experience in which Apple falls short. Launchpad has never quite convinced of its utility. The genesis of the feature was contained in its stark similarity to the iOS home screen with its rows of apps and folders, but it remained a fundamentally clunky experience, surpassed by Spotlight, the Dock, and many other application launching utilities. Bevy, on the other hand, offers a creative take on the same idea Launchpad failed to perfect: showing you all your apps in a digestible manner for quick viewing and launching. With its customizable triggers, Bevy can feel like a seamless part of the OS. But its unique way of inviting user engagement makes it something that’s not only useful, but fun to use. The initial presentation of all your apps at once feels overwhelming, but a minute or two with the app breaks down that fear, leaving the user empowered to find, open, organize, and remove apps as they wish. It’s quite the user experience — one that would make Apple jealous.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of CloudMagic Email 7.12.46

CloudMagic Email is a beautiful hybrid application: at its core, it’s a full-fledged email application in the vein of Airmail, Mailbox, and many other 3rd party apps, but it comes in a package that is reminiscent of minimalist word processing apps like iA Writer, Byword, or Ulysses. Most mail applications focus on organization, labeling, and other general mailbox maintenance pursuits, while leaving the email composition step as a seeming afterthought, peripheral to the application. CloudMagic Email flips the script by putting serious thought into the way the application looks and feels when you’re actually composing an email. It does so to the extent that the application could legitimately stand in as a word processor for many users — no minor claim, given the wealth of word processing options available these days. But that’s not to say that CloudMagic Email skimps on mailbox management. A wealth of intuitive gestures and neat tricks make it as worthy an option as any of its direct competitors, meaning you’re not sacrificing quality for an attractive feature. Because it began as an iOS application, CloudMagic Email delivers a forward-thinking interface that is at once informed by the simplicity expected of an iOS app, and the greater range of freedom that is afforded by the Mac environment. This developmental decision-making comes through beautifully, as the iOS app is geared towards quick, simple replies while the Mac app is designed for longer form, thoughtful responses, and their respective interfaces and feature sets are geared towards these causes. It’s a new Mac app being robustly developed, so there’s much more to come, but as an initial offering, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better email client.

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Wed, 24 Feb 2016 09:20:29 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/56063/cloudmagic-email/7.12.46/1456323629 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/56063/cloudmagic-email/7.12.46/1456323629

CloudMagic Email is a beautiful hybrid application: at its core, it’s a full-fledged email application in the vein of Airmail, Mailbox, and many other 3rd party apps, but it comes in a package that is reminiscent of minimalist word processing apps like iA Writer, Byword, or Ulysses. Most mail applications focus on organization, labeling, and other general mailbox maintenance pursuits, while leaving the email composition step as a seeming afterthought, peripheral to the application. CloudMagic Email flips the script by putting serious thought into the way the application looks and feels when you’re actually composing an email. It does so to the extent that the application could legitimately stand in as a word processor for many users — no minor claim, given the wealth of word processing options available these days. But that’s not to say that CloudMagic Email skimps on mailbox management. A wealth of intuitive gestures and neat tricks make it as worthy an option as any of its direct competitors, meaning you’re not sacrificing quality for an attractive feature. Because it began as an iOS application, CloudMagic Email delivers a forward-thinking interface that is at once informed by the simplicity expected of an iOS app, and the greater range of freedom that is afforded by the Mac environment. This developmental decision-making comes through beautifully, as the iOS app is geared towards quick, simple replies while the Mac app is designed for longer form, thoughtful responses, and their respective interfaces and feature sets are geared towards these causes. It’s a new Mac app being robustly developed, so there’s much more to come, but as an initial offering, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better email client.

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MacUpdate Review of Divvy (Mac & Windows) 1.4.2

While window management on a Mac desktop has become an increasingly crowded field, Divvy’s visual, intuitive layout keeps it in the upper echelon of these utilities. As soon as the layout grid is called up, a click and drag of the mouse draws out the uniform portion of your screen that the app will be taking up. A live preview of the space taken up, in the form of a giant translucent blue rectangle, makes organization a breeze. Change the granularity of your grid to create even more precise layouts. Unlike many other layout tools, Divvy offers a perfect balance between immediate simplicity and precise specificity, particularly for users with high-resolution displays. The only downside is the limited use Divvy makes of keyboard shortcuts; with some additional honing in on the speed with which users can reorganize on-the-fly, Divvy could stand peerlessly atop this field. But until then, it’s still beyond capable and will quickly become a staple app on any user’s Mac.

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Tue, 16 Feb 2016 14:42:58 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52602/divvy-mac-windows/1.4.2/1455651778 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52602/divvy-mac-windows/1.4.2/1455651778

While window management on a Mac desktop has become an increasingly crowded field, Divvy’s visual, intuitive layout keeps it in the upper echelon of these utilities. As soon as the layout grid is called up, a click and drag of the mouse draws out the uniform portion of your screen that the app will be taking up. A live preview of the space taken up, in the form of a giant translucent blue rectangle, makes organization a breeze. Change the granularity of your grid to create even more precise layouts. Unlike many other layout tools, Divvy offers a perfect balance between immediate simplicity and precise specificity, particularly for users with high-resolution displays. The only downside is the limited use Divvy makes of keyboard shortcuts; with some additional honing in on the speed with which users can reorganize on-the-fly, Divvy could stand peerlessly atop this field. But until then, it’s still beyond capable and will quickly become a staple app on any user’s Mac.

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MacUpdate Review of Divvy 1.4.2

While window management on a Mac desktop has become an increasingly crowded field, Divvy’s visual, intuitive layout keeps it in the upper echelon of these utilities. As soon as the layout grid is called up, a click and drag of the mouse draws out the uniform portion of your screen that the app will be taking up. A live preview of the space taken up, in the form of a giant translucent blue rectangle, makes organization a breeze. Change the granularity of your grid to create even more precise layouts. Unlike many other layout tools, Divvy offers a perfect balance between immediate simplicity and precise specificity, particularly for users with high-resolution displays. The only downside is the limited use Divvy makes of keyboard shortcuts; with some additional honing in on the speed with which users can reorganize on-the-fly, Divvy could stand peerlessly atop this field. But until then, it’s still beyond capable and will quickly become a staple app on any user’s Mac.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 14:42:36 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33950/divvy/1.4.2/1455651756 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33950/divvy/1.4.2/1455651756

While window management on a Mac desktop has become an increasingly crowded field, Divvy’s visual, intuitive layout keeps it in the upper echelon of these utilities. As soon as the layout grid is called up, a click and drag of the mouse draws out the uniform portion of your screen that the app will be taking up. A live preview of the space taken up, in the form of a giant translucent blue rectangle, makes organization a breeze. Change the granularity of your grid to create even more precise layouts. Unlike many other layout tools, Divvy offers a perfect balance between immediate simplicity and precise specificity, particularly for users with high-resolution displays. The only downside is the limited use Divvy makes of keyboard shortcuts; with some additional honing in on the speed with which users can reorganize on-the-fly, Divvy could stand peerlessly atop this field. But until then, it’s still beyond capable and will quickly become a staple app on any user’s Mac.

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MacUpdate Review of Hider 2.2.4

We’ve arrived at a world in which the data we generate is as much a part of who we are as the things we do or the relationships we keep. Keenly aware of this fact, the developers of Hider have given us an easy-to-use, secure vault that integrates beautifully with OS X in both design and function, in order to deliver a way to keep personal, sensitive, or classified files or notes under lock and key. It’s as streamlined as can possibly be, leaving the user with minimal setup needed before using the app to its fullest extent. Files that a user would like to hide from view in Finder are dragged and dropped onto Hider, and Hide/Unhide toggle switches are immediately produced. As soon as the switch is set to Hide, the files disappear from where they just were, now housed within your encrypted vault. Toggle the switch to Unhide and they reappear in their original location. Create organized groups of files or notes to more easily navigate your hidden information. The menu item that comes with Hider is no afterthought; it does what any good menu item should do, which is reproduce the functionality of the full application in a shrunken package. View and launch recently hidden files without needing to open the full application. Don’t just protect your files with Hider – protect your self.

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Fri, 05 Feb 2016 12:19:44 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/30016/hider/2.2.4/1454692784 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/30016/hider/2.2.4/1454692784

We’ve arrived at a world in which the data we generate is as much a part of who we are as the things we do or the relationships we keep. Keenly aware of this fact, the developers of Hider have given us an easy-to-use, secure vault that integrates beautifully with OS X in both design and function, in order to deliver a way to keep personal, sensitive, or classified files or notes under lock and key. It’s as streamlined as can possibly be, leaving the user with minimal setup needed before using the app to its fullest extent. Files that a user would like to hide from view in Finder are dragged and dropped onto Hider, and Hide/Unhide toggle switches are immediately produced. As soon as the switch is set to Hide, the files disappear from where they just were, now housed within your encrypted vault. Toggle the switch to Unhide and they reappear in their original location. Create organized groups of files or notes to more easily navigate your hidden information. The menu item that comes with Hider is no afterthought; it does what any good menu item should do, which is reproduce the functionality of the full application in a shrunken package. View and launch recently hidden files without needing to open the full application. Don’t just protect your files with Hider – protect your self.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Unicorns 0.118

In the world of productive, inventive Mac apps, you can often sense when an app is born out of the need to hurdle some specific obstacles. Chat with a few developers and you’ll soon find that a difficult moment or odd situation led to a dreamt up solution, which turned into a weekend coding project, which turned into an app shared amongst a dev team, which turned into an app shared with Mac users all over. Unicorns feels like it fits this mold; it allows you to quickly share a live video feed of your iOS device with others with minimal effort and inventive, professional polish. The true genius of Unicorns lies in the stunning ease with which you go from nothing, to a unique URL with an active live stream that you can pass along to anyone at all. Plug your device into your Mac, initiate a broadcast following Twitter authentication, and click Stream to get a live view of your iDevice and a link to share – that’s all. Users that receive your link can visit the visit and comment on your stream straight away. The only discernible weakness in my testing with the app was the significant lag between what I was doing in live time and what was being displayed in the stream; this feels like the kind of gap that gets closed with continued development. But in idea and execution, Unicorns streams the dream effectively and with style.

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Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:56:15 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55981/unicorns/0.118/1453326975 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55981/unicorns/0.118/1453326975

In the world of productive, inventive Mac apps, you can often sense when an app is born out of the need to hurdle some specific obstacles. Chat with a few developers and you’ll soon find that a difficult moment or odd situation led to a dreamt up solution, which turned into a weekend coding project, which turned into an app shared amongst a dev team, which turned into an app shared with Mac users all over. Unicorns feels like it fits this mold; it allows you to quickly share a live video feed of your iOS device with others with minimal effort and inventive, professional polish. The true genius of Unicorns lies in the stunning ease with which you go from nothing, to a unique URL with an active live stream that you can pass along to anyone at all. Plug your device into your Mac, initiate a broadcast following Twitter authentication, and click Stream to get a live view of your iDevice and a link to share – that’s all. Users that receive your link can visit the visit and comment on your stream straight away. The only discernible weakness in my testing with the app was the significant lag between what I was doing in live time and what was being displayed in the stream; this feels like the kind of gap that gets closed with continued development. But in idea and execution, Unicorns streams the dream effectively and with style.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Marked 2.5.6

Marked is a Markdown application that transforms simply written documents into full-blown pieces of content ready for the web. Write your document in Markdown and Marked can format and convert it all into HTML. You can even create custom CSS templates to mimic the site and environment you’ll be posting on and get a true idea of what your writing will look like when it’s live. In a crowded field of writing aid applications, Marked sets itself apart by dialing in on the context of where your writing will be living and helping you across the finish line. Most writing applications focus on document creation, getting you to a great place with your writing. But when the time comes for exporting your work into its appropriate format, there are few writing apps that have been developed robustly for this point in the process. Marked unashamedly allows for you to write comfortable in your favorite writing app’s environment, using Marked instead as a finisher rather than a creator application. And with recent major updates, Marked can facilitate all things related to document completion, from proofing to document statistics, in a way that keeps you on target, seamlessly moving you from creation to completion in no time.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Wed, 20 Jan 2016 11:02:48 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/39341/marked/2.5.6/1453305768 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/39341/marked/2.5.6/1453305768

Marked is a Markdown application that transforms simply written documents into full-blown pieces of content ready for the web. Write your document in Markdown and Marked can format and convert it all into HTML. You can even create custom CSS templates to mimic the site and environment you’ll be posting on and get a true idea of what your writing will look like when it’s live. In a crowded field of writing aid applications, Marked sets itself apart by dialing in on the context of where your writing will be living and helping you across the finish line. Most writing applications focus on document creation, getting you to a great place with your writing. But when the time comes for exporting your work into its appropriate format, there are few writing apps that have been developed robustly for this point in the process. Marked unashamedly allows for you to write comfortable in your favorite writing app’s environment, using Marked instead as a finisher rather than a creator application. And with recent major updates, Marked can facilitate all things related to document completion, from proofing to document statistics, in a way that keeps you on target, seamlessly moving you from creation to completion in no time.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Vitamin-R 2.40

Vitamin-R is an all-in-one task management powerhouse. At first glance, it’s a simple time keeper, affording the user the ability to quickly and easily time their work session. You can extend your time block if the task isn’t over or enter a break period – easy and straightforward. The fuss-free time keeping interface is reason enough to give Vitamin-R a shot, but it’s what the app offers after the “time slice” is complete that makes it shine. The Now & Later board is the perfect space for capturing transient thoughts, and it’ll propel you through your task rather than bog you down with bells and whistles. Ingenious templates give you a place to comment on your in-progress task, linking one session to the next, encouraging reflection and improvement as you proceed through your time slices. The ‘Tools’ section of the app is a revelation, as it gives you an enhanced perspective of your ability to focus through a statistics view, as well as a running history of completed tasks in a log; these two sections of the app are tucked away just enough to sit out of sight of users that are trying to get work done with minimal friction, but at hand enough for the true power user to get great insight on their self and their work. And the noise machine is a delightful, unexpected addition, creating a soft bed of noise to drown out distractions and keep you on task. If given the opportunity, Vitamin-R will surprise you over and over again, making you increasingly productive with diminishing amounts of effort.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Wed, 13 Jan 2016 16:11:37 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33767/vitamin-r/2.40/1452719497 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33767/vitamin-r/2.40/1452719497

Vitamin-R is an all-in-one task management powerhouse. At first glance, it’s a simple time keeper, affording the user the ability to quickly and easily time their work session. You can extend your time block if the task isn’t over or enter a break period – easy and straightforward. The fuss-free time keeping interface is reason enough to give Vitamin-R a shot, but it’s what the app offers after the “time slice” is complete that makes it shine. The Now & Later board is the perfect space for capturing transient thoughts, and it’ll propel you through your task rather than bog you down with bells and whistles. Ingenious templates give you a place to comment on your in-progress task, linking one session to the next, encouraging reflection and improvement as you proceed through your time slices. The ‘Tools’ section of the app is a revelation, as it gives you an enhanced perspective of your ability to focus through a statistics view, as well as a running history of completed tasks in a log; these two sections of the app are tucked away just enough to sit out of sight of users that are trying to get work done with minimal friction, but at hand enough for the true power user to get great insight on their self and their work. And the noise machine is a delightful, unexpected addition, creating a soft bed of noise to drown out distractions and keep you on task. If given the opportunity, Vitamin-R will surprise you over and over again, making you increasingly productive with diminishing amounts of effort.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Endurance 1.0

Endurance explores some well-worn territory, but it does so in a way that feels new, refreshing, and truthfully useful. So many battery life extension applications are, at best, benign, and at worst, openly dishonest. Their inner workings are often hidden behind a veil, leaving you to wonder if anything is even happening at all. The screen dims and you get a notification that things are going great – but then your Mac dies and it doesn’t matter anymore. Endurance, on the other hand, does 5 things – only 5 things – and it does them all with complete transparency. And they actually work. The obvious step, which is to dim the screen several percentage points below what it was before low power mode began, clearly helps; a laptop’s screen draws the most power. But Endurance’s ability to monitor apps and processes that drain power at an unusual rate is its key feature, alerting you with tasteful notifications. It’s a helpful feature that doubles as an informative tool, letting you know what apps are regular offenders. Finally, Endurance’s ability to hide inactive apps is a bit undercooked but still very intriguing; it almost doubles as a productivity tool, encouraging focus to be spent entirely on active apps. Ultimately, Endurance is a refreshingly honest tool that lightens the load on your battery and will surely improve with time.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Wed, 13 Jan 2016 16:11:08 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55917/endurance/1.0/1452719468 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55917/endurance/1.0/1452719468

Endurance explores some well-worn territory, but it does so in a way that feels new, refreshing, and truthfully useful. So many battery life extension applications are, at best, benign, and at worst, openly dishonest. Their inner workings are often hidden behind a veil, leaving you to wonder if anything is even happening at all. The screen dims and you get a notification that things are going great – but then your Mac dies and it doesn’t matter anymore. Endurance, on the other hand, does 5 things – only 5 things – and it does them all with complete transparency. And they actually work. The obvious step, which is to dim the screen several percentage points below what it was before low power mode began, clearly helps; a laptop’s screen draws the most power. But Endurance’s ability to monitor apps and processes that drain power at an unusual rate is its key feature, alerting you with tasteful notifications. It’s a helpful feature that doubles as an informative tool, letting you know what apps are regular offenders. Finally, Endurance’s ability to hide inactive apps is a bit undercooked but still very intriguing; it almost doubles as a productivity tool, encouraging focus to be spent entirely on active apps. Ultimately, Endurance is a refreshingly honest tool that lightens the load on your battery and will surely improve with time.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of uBar 3.2.4

It isn’t wrong to love uBar. With an interface eerily reminiscent of the Windows start menu and conjoined active task tray, uBar mines some well-worn territory and comes up with something interesting and – most importantly – helpful. Mac OS X has cycled through a handful of application switching utilities, starting back with the generic ⌘-Tab switcher, then introducing Exposé’s All Windows view, and finally landing on the dynamic Mission Control interface. What ties these methods together is their invisibility: you don’t get a clean view of what other apps are open unless you call up one of these app switchers. The dock has long sought to fill this gap, but it takes multiple clicks to view active windows and an eagle’s eye to spot which apps are open and which are just lying dormant in the dock. uBar’s tasteful design looks just like if you mirrored the menu bar along the bottom of your Mac and filled it with application information. Each app icon displays a list of its active windows upon click or simply brings up the app, if it’s just a single window. With the introduction of Spotlight and the popularity of app launchers like Alfred and LaunchBar, there’s no need to launch apps from the dock, so uBar’s streamlined view of running applications feels more attuned to OS X’s current incarnation. In testing uBar, I tried to avoid using my regular dock altogether; I never missed it, and I doubt I’ll ever bring it back. uBar is a simple, familiar idea, executed with typical Mac streamlining and subtle flair. It’s always possible to improve on perfection.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Fri, 08 Jan 2016 11:52:50 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/32318/ubar/3.2.4/1452271970 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/32318/ubar/3.2.4/1452271970

It isn’t wrong to love uBar. With an interface eerily reminiscent of the Windows start menu and conjoined active task tray, uBar mines some well-worn territory and comes up with something interesting and – most importantly – helpful. Mac OS X has cycled through a handful of application switching utilities, starting back with the generic ⌘-Tab switcher, then introducing Exposé’s All Windows view, and finally landing on the dynamic Mission Control interface. What ties these methods together is their invisibility: you don’t get a clean view of what other apps are open unless you call up one of these app switchers. The dock has long sought to fill this gap, but it takes multiple clicks to view active windows and an eagle’s eye to spot which apps are open and which are just lying dormant in the dock. uBar’s tasteful design looks just like if you mirrored the menu bar along the bottom of your Mac and filled it with application information. Each app icon displays a list of its active windows upon click or simply brings up the app, if it’s just a single window. With the introduction of Spotlight and the popularity of app launchers like Alfred and LaunchBar, there’s no need to launch apps from the dock, so uBar’s streamlined view of running applications feels more attuned to OS X’s current incarnation. In testing uBar, I tried to avoid using my regular dock altogether; I never missed it, and I doubt I’ll ever bring it back. uBar is a simple, familiar idea, executed with typical Mac streamlining and subtle flair. It’s always possible to improve on perfection.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Orb 1.1b6

Orb is a simple radial contextual menu that appears slickly when a file or document is clicked and dragged in Finder, allowing you to then open the file in a particular app. In a crowded field of app launchers that pile features on top of features and ultimately complicate your user experience before improving it, Orb sets itself apart by keying in on an oft-repeated process and streamlining it with intuitive efficiency. Orb seems like a novelty app at first glance, but it almost immediately establishes itself as a key productivity app, especially for users who create and edit files consistently. And because it seems like a novelty app, Orb is one of those rare apps that is delightful and fun to use without sacrificing any of its serious usability. Different files call up different file-specific apps or actions to be launched or triggered, and you can even customize what gets called up if the suggestions do not already include what you are looking for. Perhaps Orb’s greatest asset is its active, responsive developer, who is dedicated to improving this promising new tool and helping users have the best possible experience with the app. Contextual menus have never been this exciting.

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Wed, 16 Dec 2015 10:51:43 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55721/orb/1.1b6/1450281103 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55721/orb/1.1b6/1450281103

Orb is a simple radial contextual menu that appears slickly when a file or document is clicked and dragged in Finder, allowing you to then open the file in a particular app. In a crowded field of app launchers that pile features on top of features and ultimately complicate your user experience before improving it, Orb sets itself apart by keying in on an oft-repeated process and streamlining it with intuitive efficiency. Orb seems like a novelty app at first glance, but it almost immediately establishes itself as a key productivity app, especially for users who create and edit files consistently. And because it seems like a novelty app, Orb is one of those rare apps that is delightful and fun to use without sacrificing any of its serious usability. Different files call up different file-specific apps or actions to be launched or triggered, and you can even customize what gets called up if the suggestions do not already include what you are looking for. Perhaps Orb’s greatest asset is its active, responsive developer, who is dedicated to improving this promising new tool and helping users have the best possible experience with the app. Contextual menus have never been this exciting.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Lucid 1.0.5

Athentech’s new consumer photo editing app, Lucid, pairs a slick, post-Yosemite interface with tasteful, natural image enhancement options to create a product that is as easy-to-use as it is helpful. Lots of photo editing apps offer a seemingly limitless suite of features that exist only to bulk up the app – most crazy filters are borderline useless, adding unnecessary muddiness to photos when simplicity would do. Luckily Lucid avoids this trap by focusing in on what it does well, getting you in and out of the app as soon as possible. Lucid is particularly useful for snapshots taken with a smartphone; since smartphones are generally unable to reproduce colors and scenes that are true to life without some tweaking on the camera – exposure adjustments, white balance, etc. – Lucid can seamlessly plug into your photo importing process. And with a very generous trial period, Lucid is able to give you 30 days of its uninhibited power, nearly assuring it becomes a go-to of yours. While Lucid has established itself as an iOS power player, it’s still a fledgling Mac app, so some of its growing pains show through; but if this is where the app’s beginning, it’ll be a delight to see where it ends up.

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Tue, 01 Dec 2015 16:15:27 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55694/lucid/1.0.5/1449004527 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55694/lucid/1.0.5/1449004527

Athentech’s new consumer photo editing app, Lucid, pairs a slick, post-Yosemite interface with tasteful, natural image enhancement options to create a product that is as easy-to-use as it is helpful. Lots of photo editing apps offer a seemingly limitless suite of features that exist only to bulk up the app – most crazy filters are borderline useless, adding unnecessary muddiness to photos when simplicity would do. Luckily Lucid avoids this trap by focusing in on what it does well, getting you in and out of the app as soon as possible. Lucid is particularly useful for snapshots taken with a smartphone; since smartphones are generally unable to reproduce colors and scenes that are true to life without some tweaking on the camera – exposure adjustments, white balance, etc. – Lucid can seamlessly plug into your photo importing process. And with a very generous trial period, Lucid is able to give you 30 days of its uninhibited power, nearly assuring it becomes a go-to of yours. While Lucid has established itself as an iOS power player, it’s still a fledgling Mac app, so some of its growing pains show through; but if this is where the app’s beginning, it’ll be a delight to see where it ends up.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of beaTunes 4.6.3

BeaTunes is approachable as a general music playback app while remaining a robust and novel DJ library management utility that is initially unassuming for the novice but still expansive and delightful for the veteran. Its interface has a distinctly Apple vibe with its familiar 3-pane setup making it easy to navigate, but it’s dotted tastefully with with helpful, colorful information throughout. The hallmark feature of beaTunes is its ability to analyze your music and display BPM, musical key, and ‘color’, which is analogous to the mood of the song. Songs of the same or similar color sound great together; very different colors will be more jarring when played back to back. These are the most basic bits of analysis that you can have performed on your music, but for the true audiophile that wants to emphasize the particulars, there is a world of granularity lying just under the surface. Your first launch of beaTunes will be the most time-intensive one as it scans your library and analyzes each track with an ear for a series of information. beaTunes is an all-in-one master of your library, able to edit and update metadata as easily as it offers a semantic breakdown of a song’s structure. For the perfectionist DJ, volume levels are at hand to avoid any jarring volume transitions, song key is at hand to ensure a harmonious set, and color is made obvious to keep the mood going in the right direction. And for a user just trying to make an action or event specific playlist, beaTunes is the perfect option as it takes all the guesswork out of playlist creation, offering up great suggestions and crucial information to give you variety that works beautifully and seamlessly. Whether you need an iTunes library helper or a full-featured DJ library utility, beaTunes is poised to help just about anyone.

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Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:11:21 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/22079/beatunes/4.6.3/1447863081 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/22079/beatunes/4.6.3/1447863081

BeaTunes is approachable as a general music playback app while remaining a robust and novel DJ library management utility that is initially unassuming for the novice but still expansive and delightful for the veteran. Its interface has a distinctly Apple vibe with its familiar 3-pane setup making it easy to navigate, but it’s dotted tastefully with with helpful, colorful information throughout. The hallmark feature of beaTunes is its ability to analyze your music and display BPM, musical key, and ‘color’, which is analogous to the mood of the song. Songs of the same or similar color sound great together; very different colors will be more jarring when played back to back. These are the most basic bits of analysis that you can have performed on your music, but for the true audiophile that wants to emphasize the particulars, there is a world of granularity lying just under the surface. Your first launch of beaTunes will be the most time-intensive one as it scans your library and analyzes each track with an ear for a series of information. beaTunes is an all-in-one master of your library, able to edit and update metadata as easily as it offers a semantic breakdown of a song’s structure. For the perfectionist DJ, volume levels are at hand to avoid any jarring volume transitions, song key is at hand to ensure a harmonious set, and color is made obvious to keep the mood going in the right direction. And for a user just trying to make an action or event specific playlist, beaTunes is the perfect option as it takes all the guesswork out of playlist creation, offering up great suggestions and crucial information to give you variety that works beautifully and seamlessly. Whether you need an iTunes library helper or a full-featured DJ library utility, beaTunes is poised to help just about anyone.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Seasonality Core 2.4.3

Seasonality Core is an information-packed weather monitoring application for diving deep into local and global weather conditions and patterns. The app grabs its weather information from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) nearest to your location. This does, of course, mean that you need to have an ICAO within reasonable distance of your vicinity, so users outside of North America may want to verify this within the app ahead of time. But as soon as your location is selected, you’re getting real-time information streamed into Seasonality Core, and there’s no shortage of weather data to explore. The most visually intriguing aspect of Seasonality Core is its “particle mode” view that features swirling wind movement vectors that are colored by temperature. It’s a fascinating view that is as interesting as it is informative; zoom out and you get a sense of global weather patterns. But as compelling as particle mode is, the information layout specific to your locale tops it in utility. Get multiple day forecasts and graphs that predict changes in everything from temperature to cloud cover to humidity. And for the real enthusiast, the ability to select and monitor cities from all over the world means you can get an intimate view of the conditions in places where loved ones live, or where you may one day move. Seasonality Core is a pleasant ride for the novice and a true powerhouse for the aficionado – give it a try!

Read more]]]]>]]>
Sun, 15 Nov 2015 12:14:43 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/17521/seasonality-core/2.4.3/1447607683 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/17521/seasonality-core/2.4.3/1447607683

Seasonality Core is an information-packed weather monitoring application for diving deep into local and global weather conditions and patterns. The app grabs its weather information from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) nearest to your location. This does, of course, mean that you need to have an ICAO within reasonable distance of your vicinity, so users outside of North America may want to verify this within the app ahead of time. But as soon as your location is selected, you’re getting real-time information streamed into Seasonality Core, and there’s no shortage of weather data to explore. The most visually intriguing aspect of Seasonality Core is its “particle mode” view that features swirling wind movement vectors that are colored by temperature. It’s a fascinating view that is as interesting as it is informative; zoom out and you get a sense of global weather patterns. But as compelling as particle mode is, the information layout specific to your locale tops it in utility. Get multiple day forecasts and graphs that predict changes in everything from temperature to cloud cover to humidity. And for the real enthusiast, the ability to select and monitor cities from all over the world means you can get an intimate view of the conditions in places where loved ones live, or where you may one day move. Seasonality Core is a pleasant ride for the novice and a true powerhouse for the aficionado – give it a try!

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of SongKong 3.24

SongKong is an automated tagger for your music collection. As music listeners gain access to what increasingly feels like every song ever, the notion of a collection of music begins to feel remote. When listening to music means logging into a streaming service and wandering around a limitless selection of music, the sentimental connection between the listener and the song is minimized. So while SongKong is just a music tagger and organizer – and a very powerful one, at that – it does more than just bring order to some files; it cares for things that really mean something on your Mac. And luckily, SongKong is up to the task of maintaining your music. Simply point the app at your music folder and go step-by-step through SongKong’s clear workflow to get your music cleaned up. Each section of SongKong’s workflow couldn’t be clearer; all of its tweaks are out on the table, and the user gets to treat their music collection exactly as they’d like. SongKong fills in the gaps that bubble up when music is imported from a multitude of sources. Users with vinyl collections will love SongKong for ripping their records to their Mac because SongKong can fill in the missing metadata in a snap. And by setting it up to continuously monitor particular folders, you can grow your collection without heaping cleanup work on yourself. Keep your music collection in pristine condition with SongKong.

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Tue, 10 Nov 2015 12:59:31 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/47057/songkong/3.24/1447178371 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/47057/songkong/3.24/1447178371

SongKong is an automated tagger for your music collection. As music listeners gain access to what increasingly feels like every song ever, the notion of a collection of music begins to feel remote. When listening to music means logging into a streaming service and wandering around a limitless selection of music, the sentimental connection between the listener and the song is minimized. So while SongKong is just a music tagger and organizer – and a very powerful one, at that – it does more than just bring order to some files; it cares for things that really mean something on your Mac. And luckily, SongKong is up to the task of maintaining your music. Simply point the app at your music folder and go step-by-step through SongKong’s clear workflow to get your music cleaned up. Each section of SongKong’s workflow couldn’t be clearer; all of its tweaks are out on the table, and the user gets to treat their music collection exactly as they’d like. SongKong fills in the gaps that bubble up when music is imported from a multitude of sources. Users with vinyl collections will love SongKong for ripping their records to their Mac because SongKong can fill in the missing metadata in a snap. And by setting it up to continuously monitor particular folders, you can grow your collection without heaping cleanup work on yourself. Keep your music collection in pristine condition with SongKong.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of SnapHack 1.0.16

Snap-Hack is a clever Snapchat workaround for your Mac that lets you download snaps you receive for offline viewing or safekeeping. As long as you don’t view them on your iOS device first, you can use Snap-Hack to load and save these snaps to your Mac. It’s an easy-to-use tool with an extremely narrow purpose, executed with due diligence; put simply, Snap-Hack does exactly what’s advertised. All you need is your Snapchat username and password to get into the app. Snapchat has brought silent feature upgrades and new easter eggs with nearly every update in recent memory, making the experience of using the iOS app something like a treasure hunt without a map. Snap-Hack, on the other hand, simply lays out all its features, clearly labeling the different sections of Snapchat from which you can save snaps. Users for whom you’ve saved multiple snaps over the course of many different days have all saved snaps in a list below their name; as a result, heavy use of Snap-Hack could lead to some long lists when expanding specific users. But there’s no room to complain here: Snap-Hack does something you can’t do with the Snapchat iOS app, allowing you to save snaps without sending a ‘screenshot taken’ notification. Alone, its ability to do something entirely unique is reason enough to give it a shot.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 17:35:14 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55626/snaphack/1.0.16/1447108514 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55626/snaphack/1.0.16/1447108514

Snap-Hack is a clever Snapchat workaround for your Mac that lets you download snaps you receive for offline viewing or safekeeping. As long as you don’t view them on your iOS device first, you can use Snap-Hack to load and save these snaps to your Mac. It’s an easy-to-use tool with an extremely narrow purpose, executed with due diligence; put simply, Snap-Hack does exactly what’s advertised. All you need is your Snapchat username and password to get into the app. Snapchat has brought silent feature upgrades and new easter eggs with nearly every update in recent memory, making the experience of using the iOS app something like a treasure hunt without a map. Snap-Hack, on the other hand, simply lays out all its features, clearly labeling the different sections of Snapchat from which you can save snaps. Users for whom you’ve saved multiple snaps over the course of many different days have all saved snaps in a list below their name; as a result, heavy use of Snap-Hack could lead to some long lists when expanding specific users. But there’s no room to complain here: Snap-Hack does something you can’t do with the Snapchat iOS app, allowing you to save snaps without sending a ‘screenshot taken’ notification. Alone, its ability to do something entirely unique is reason enough to give it a shot.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of HyperPlan 2.2.1

HyperPlan takes the familiar kanban project planning and management strategy and presents in a no-frills, highly customizable package. All the best aspects of real-life, sticky-note-on-whiteboard project planning are present in HyperPlan. Its emphasis on the visualization of the unfolding project makes HyperPlan a great alternative to many textual, list-based to-do apps. Its organic, immediately familiar interface – “if you have ever planned something by sticking notes to a wall, you pretty much know how to use HyperPlan already,” reads a sentence on the dev’s site – makes it a far more favorable choice than many extremely comprehensive project planning apps. Most project management apps require a particular level of mastery of the app itself before you can be completely effective with it. But with HyperPlan, this barrier of entry is nonexistent. It offers a completely intuitive user experience despite being endlessly configurable, meaning it can be seamlessly implemented as the primary method of planning in nearly any scenario. And since projects can be shared between users, all members of a team can see and contribute to the task board in an instant, democratizing the workflow and allowing re-prioritization of certain tasks to occur in a heartbeat. HyperPlan is by no means the flashiest app, and despite its endless options it still isn’t the most comprehensive, but in its simplicity and efficiency it may end up being the perfect option for anything you need to plan.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Fri, 06 Nov 2015 15:45:11 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53341/hyperplan/2.2.1/1446842711 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53341/hyperplan/2.2.1/1446842711

HyperPlan takes the familiar kanban project planning and management strategy and presents in a no-frills, highly customizable package. All the best aspects of real-life, sticky-note-on-whiteboard project planning are present in HyperPlan. Its emphasis on the visualization of the unfolding project makes HyperPlan a great alternative to many textual, list-based to-do apps. Its organic, immediately familiar interface – “if you have ever planned something by sticking notes to a wall, you pretty much know how to use HyperPlan already,” reads a sentence on the dev’s site – makes it a far more favorable choice than many extremely comprehensive project planning apps. Most project management apps require a particular level of mastery of the app itself before you can be completely effective with it. But with HyperPlan, this barrier of entry is nonexistent. It offers a completely intuitive user experience despite being endlessly configurable, meaning it can be seamlessly implemented as the primary method of planning in nearly any scenario. And since projects can be shared between users, all members of a team can see and contribute to the task board in an instant, democratizing the workflow and allowing re-prioritization of certain tasks to occur in a heartbeat. HyperPlan is by no means the flashiest app, and despite its endless options it still isn’t the most comprehensive, but in its simplicity and efficiency it may end up being the perfect option for anything you need to plan.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Helium 1.9

Helium is a translucent, floating browser window. Some great ideas are self-evident, requiring only a brief explanation for their impressive qualities to take hold and excite. But more often than not, it takes actually seeing something in action for it to dawn on you how incredibly revolutionary it can be for you. So when a coworker suggested Helium for Google Hangouts and I tried it out, in an instant, the app entirely justified its place on my Mac. In a few clicks and keystrokes, I was video chatting on a see-through window, free to fill my screen with the tabs and documents that I typically have to keep entirely or at least partially hidden away while participating in a conference, and free to click directly through the video chat, onto things that were still visible behind the window. A super simple interface emphasizes Helium’s no-nonsense approach: enter a URL, enable translucency, select opacity, and you’re on your way. In order to make any changes to your browser window you’ll need to switch applications back over to Helium since it doesn’t register clicks when the app isn’t at the front, but that’s part of the beauty of the app. It’s minimalist in all the best ways: no unsightly address or bookmark bar adorns the browser window. With such an emphasis on simultaneously streamlining the browser but keeping it fully-featured, Helium doesn’t sport the most fluid browsing experience, but the whole point is for a page to be loaded and then set aside, meaning the moment-to-moment browsing experience is almost entirely unimportant. Give it a try and you’ll love what you (can now always) see.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Mon, 02 Nov 2015 15:29:25 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53937/helium/1.9/1446496165 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53937/helium/1.9/1446496165

Helium is a translucent, floating browser window. Some great ideas are self-evident, requiring only a brief explanation for their impressive qualities to take hold and excite. But more often than not, it takes actually seeing something in action for it to dawn on you how incredibly revolutionary it can be for you. So when a coworker suggested Helium for Google Hangouts and I tried it out, in an instant, the app entirely justified its place on my Mac. In a few clicks and keystrokes, I was video chatting on a see-through window, free to fill my screen with the tabs and documents that I typically have to keep entirely or at least partially hidden away while participating in a conference, and free to click directly through the video chat, onto things that were still visible behind the window. A super simple interface emphasizes Helium’s no-nonsense approach: enter a URL, enable translucency, select opacity, and you’re on your way. In order to make any changes to your browser window you’ll need to switch applications back over to Helium since it doesn’t register clicks when the app isn’t at the front, but that’s part of the beauty of the app. It’s minimalist in all the best ways: no unsightly address or bookmark bar adorns the browser window. With such an emphasis on simultaneously streamlining the browser but keeping it fully-featured, Helium doesn’t sport the most fluid browsing experience, but the whole point is for a page to be loaded and then set aside, meaning the moment-to-moment browsing experience is almost entirely unimportant. Give it a try and you’ll love what you (can now always) see.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of PopKey 0.30.0

PopKey gives you direct access to a seemingly limitless supply of animated GIFs. It’s a menu bar application with a no-frills interface that first presents a curated list of the PopKey team’s favorite GIFs alongside some of the top trending GIFs. Drag-and-drop GIFs into a conversation or just click to copy the URL and paste wherever you’d like. It couldn’t be easier to find a perfect Beyoncé eye roll (https://m.popkey.co/faccb1/NvzGX.gif), laughing Obama (https://m.popkey.co/6a3e7c/O6Ll.gif), or maniacal Ron Burgundy in a glass case of emotion (https://m.popkey.co/9ed5f4/bgbZW.gif) for all your conversational needs. Why type out an entire paragraph with appropriate grammar when you could just send someone a GIF of Donald Trump doing the Hotline Bling dance (https://m.popkey.co/160d81/k08O5.gif)? Give it a week and PopKey will overtake the clock as your most frequently used menu bar application.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Mon, 02 Nov 2015 12:47:46 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55618/popkey/0.30.0/1446486466 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/55618/popkey/0.30.0/1446486466

PopKey gives you direct access to a seemingly limitless supply of animated GIFs. It’s a menu bar application with a no-frills interface that first presents a curated list of the PopKey team’s favorite GIFs alongside some of the top trending GIFs. Drag-and-drop GIFs into a conversation or just click to copy the URL and paste wherever you’d like. It couldn’t be easier to find a perfect Beyoncé eye roll (https://m.popkey.co/faccb1/NvzGX.gif), laughing Obama (https://m.popkey.co/6a3e7c/O6Ll.gif), or maniacal Ron Burgundy in a glass case of emotion (https://m.popkey.co/9ed5f4/bgbZW.gif) for all your conversational needs. Why type out an entire paragraph with appropriate grammar when you could just send someone a GIF of Donald Trump doing the Hotline Bling dance (https://m.popkey.co/160d81/k08O5.gif)? Give it a week and PopKey will overtake the clock as your most frequently used menu bar application.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of LaunchBar 6.7

LaunchBar is often grouped with most file launchers, but it’s really a full productivity suite shrunken down into a single-line search bar interface. While it’s true that the most common system-level actions can be completed through LaunchBar, the utility shines when you bend it to your will, performing actions that you wouldn’t expect from an app launcher. As soon as you replace Spotlight with LaunchBar as the default for ⌘-Space, your clipboard history is at your fingertips, along with a URL launcher, calculator, URL converter, file metadata viewer, and so much more.

LaunchBar truly shines when you take it a step beyond its conceivable limit. One of OS X’s great draws has always been its intuitive drag-and-drop fluidity, but LaunchBar folds that complexity into itself, letting you do it all – copy/move files across your file structure, open specific files in particular apps – from a single place, one common launch point that can send you anywhere you’d like. Extensive contextual menus unfold and direct you along your way as you navigate the expansive feature set that LaunchBar offers, meaning you’re simultaneously guided along the path you expect, and tempted to take a detour when you realize it can do something completely unexpected and new. It’s an app that reveals itself in new ways over time, easing you into its simplest features and blowing your mind if you give it a chance. When you get used to LaunchBar, any other computer without it feels like its missing the glue that holds everything together.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Thu, 29 Oct 2015 17:05:05 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/7354/launchbar/6.7/1446152705 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/7354/launchbar/6.7/1446152705

LaunchBar is often grouped with most file launchers, but it’s really a full productivity suite shrunken down into a single-line search bar interface. While it’s true that the most common system-level actions can be completed through LaunchBar, the utility shines when you bend it to your will, performing actions that you wouldn’t expect from an app launcher. As soon as you replace Spotlight with LaunchBar as the default for ⌘-Space, your clipboard history is at your fingertips, along with a URL launcher, calculator, URL converter, file metadata viewer, and so much more.

LaunchBar truly shines when you take it a step beyond its conceivable limit. One of OS X’s great draws has always been its intuitive drag-and-drop fluidity, but LaunchBar folds that complexity into itself, letting you do it all – copy/move files across your file structure, open specific files in particular apps – from a single place, one common launch point that can send you anywhere you’d like. Extensive contextual menus unfold and direct you along your way as you navigate the expansive feature set that LaunchBar offers, meaning you’re simultaneously guided along the path you expect, and tempted to take a detour when you realize it can do something completely unexpected and new. It’s an app that reveals itself in new ways over time, easing you into its simplest features and blowing your mind if you give it a chance. When you get used to LaunchBar, any other computer without it feels like its missing the glue that holds everything together.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of KeyCue 8.1

So few tasks on a Mac require actual point-and-click cursor behaviors, but for the uninitiated, navigating apps and OS X using only the keyboard is like learning a new language. Keyboard shortcuts can feel like secret codes, available only to true power users with enough time and knowhow to dance around their Mac without a mouse. KeyCue lifts the curtain on these shortcuts to reveal a world of efficiency and productivity that is literally right at your fingertips at all times. Trigger KeyCue from the menu bar or by holding the Command (⌘) key and a list of all available keyboard shortcuts is displayed; from this window, simply click the action or use the revealed keystrokes to have it performed. KeyCue’s list of shortcuts fades away as quickly as it appeared and you’re back to work in no time at all. KeyCue truly is an app that justifies its place on your Mac instantly. Within minutes of installing KeyCue, I was blown away by some of the things I had no idea I could do in apps that I thought I knew so well. By displaying both system-wide shortcuts *and* shortcuts that are specific to the app you are currently in side-by-side, KeyCue allows you to discover new shortcuts in oft-used apps and can introduce you to the functionality of a new app. Using KeyCue feels like a built-in guide for getting the most out of your Mac. And this is why KeyCue is such an essential utility: it’s perfect for new Mac users as it eases them into a world of productivity, but it’s even better for Mac veterans because it adds even more tools to their repertoire, revealing the easiest ways of using new apps, removing all guesswork.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Thu, 29 Oct 2015 17:00:45 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/14861/keycue/8.1/1446152445 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/14861/keycue/8.1/1446152445

So few tasks on a Mac require actual point-and-click cursor behaviors, but for the uninitiated, navigating apps and OS X using only the keyboard is like learning a new language. Keyboard shortcuts can feel like secret codes, available only to true power users with enough time and knowhow to dance around their Mac without a mouse. KeyCue lifts the curtain on these shortcuts to reveal a world of efficiency and productivity that is literally right at your fingertips at all times. Trigger KeyCue from the menu bar or by holding the Command (⌘) key and a list of all available keyboard shortcuts is displayed; from this window, simply click the action or use the revealed keystrokes to have it performed. KeyCue’s list of shortcuts fades away as quickly as it appeared and you’re back to work in no time at all. KeyCue truly is an app that justifies its place on your Mac instantly. Within minutes of installing KeyCue, I was blown away by some of the things I had no idea I could do in apps that I thought I knew so well. By displaying both system-wide shortcuts *and* shortcuts that are specific to the app you are currently in side-by-side, KeyCue allows you to discover new shortcuts in oft-used apps and can introduce you to the functionality of a new app. Using KeyCue feels like a built-in guide for getting the most out of your Mac. And this is why KeyCue is such an essential utility: it’s perfect for new Mac users as it eases them into a world of productivity, but it’s even better for Mac veterans because it adds even more tools to their repertoire, revealing the easiest ways of using new apps, removing all guesswork.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of EverMail 1.2.5

Evermail is a simple, richly-featured plugin for Mail that can convert any email into a note and sync it with your Evernote account. Evernote’s ubiquity has spawned a whole universe of unique software solutions that stand on the shoulders of the note-taking giant, filling in gaps or extending functionality. While Evernote’s flexibility has led to a vast array of novel products from countless developers, Evermail has its sight set on addressing a fairly straightforward, natural need – saving emails as notes – and does so with classic Apple-level polish.

It’s this attention to detail that sets Evermail apart and makes it truly worth the investment. Conventional wisdom suggests that one developer trying to connect another developer’s product to that of a third developer would result in some jagged edges and rough seams, but Evermail defies this expectation. Longtime Evernote users recall the days when it was free to forward emails to Evernote (this now requires a paid Evernote Premium account – Evermail gets around this!), but even then you were left with odd formatting, unwanted titles, and more, ultimately requiring a bit of clean-up duty when returning to the native Evernote app. Now, with the Evermail plugin, you get an immediate preview of your richly detailed note, complete with extensive abilities to edit both peripheral data and the contents of the note before it’s synced with Evernote. And with a panel within Mail’s preferences, a recognizable Evernote logo button slotted into Mail’s UI, and some intuitive keyboard shortcuts, there’s no better, cleaner way to get an email saved into Evernote than by using Evermail.

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Tue, 27 Oct 2015 11:43:04 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52189/evermail/1.2.5/1445960584 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52189/evermail/1.2.5/1445960584

Evermail is a simple, richly-featured plugin for Mail that can convert any email into a note and sync it with your Evernote account. Evernote’s ubiquity has spawned a whole universe of unique software solutions that stand on the shoulders of the note-taking giant, filling in gaps or extending functionality. While Evernote’s flexibility has led to a vast array of novel products from countless developers, Evermail has its sight set on addressing a fairly straightforward, natural need – saving emails as notes – and does so with classic Apple-level polish.

It’s this attention to detail that sets Evermail apart and makes it truly worth the investment. Conventional wisdom suggests that one developer trying to connect another developer’s product to that of a third developer would result in some jagged edges and rough seams, but Evermail defies this expectation. Longtime Evernote users recall the days when it was free to forward emails to Evernote (this now requires a paid Evernote Premium account – Evermail gets around this!), but even then you were left with odd formatting, unwanted titles, and more, ultimately requiring a bit of clean-up duty when returning to the native Evernote app. Now, with the Evermail plugin, you get an immediate preview of your richly detailed note, complete with extensive abilities to edit both peripheral data and the contents of the note before it’s synced with Evernote. And with a panel within Mail’s preferences, a recognizable Evernote logo button slotted into Mail’s UI, and some intuitive keyboard shortcuts, there’s no better, cleaner way to get an email saved into Evernote than by using Evermail.

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MacUpdate Review of HoudahGeo 5.0.5

HoudahGeo brings travel photos taken with non-GPS cameras together with GPS location data in order to swiftly and easily make these photos easier to track, organize, and share. With a large single-window interface, HoudahGeo hides none of its features. It occupies a very specific space in the world of photo software, so even with its entire feature set on display, the user experience remains streamlined and unambiguous. Users that are active in the Flickr community or like sharing their photos on Google Earth will find in HoudahGeo the fastest way to geotag photos and upload them onto one of those platforms thanks to native support within the app. Some apps dazzle with their novelty. But there’s something equally impressive about an app that simply states and then solves a problem with no fuss. HoudahGeo impresses as one of the latter. The wide array of location matching options makes it virtually impossible to close the app without achieving your goal of tagging your photos. No option is off the table, from the obvious – ability to choose locations on a map; to the professional – extensive support for GPS location data and devices; to the creative – ability to use an iPhone’s geotagged photo as a GPS reference point. The simple workflow guides you from loading photos, to processing them, to the final output stage with minimal friction, as accessible to complete novices as it is malleable to the savvy user. Go somewhere and take lots of photos!

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Fri, 23 Oct 2015 12:10:10 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/24549/houdahgeo/5.0.5/1445616610 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/24549/houdahgeo/5.0.5/1445616610

HoudahGeo brings travel photos taken with non-GPS cameras together with GPS location data in order to swiftly and easily make these photos easier to track, organize, and share. With a large single-window interface, HoudahGeo hides none of its features. It occupies a very specific space in the world of photo software, so even with its entire feature set on display, the user experience remains streamlined and unambiguous. Users that are active in the Flickr community or like sharing their photos on Google Earth will find in HoudahGeo the fastest way to geotag photos and upload them onto one of those platforms thanks to native support within the app. Some apps dazzle with their novelty. But there’s something equally impressive about an app that simply states and then solves a problem with no fuss. HoudahGeo impresses as one of the latter. The wide array of location matching options makes it virtually impossible to close the app without achieving your goal of tagging your photos. No option is off the table, from the obvious – ability to choose locations on a map; to the professional – extensive support for GPS location data and devices; to the creative – ability to use an iPhone’s geotagged photo as a GPS reference point. The simple workflow guides you from loading photos, to processing them, to the final output stage with minimal friction, as accessible to complete novices as it is malleable to the savvy user. Go somewhere and take lots of photos!

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Bleep 1.1.5

Some apps sell themselves on a promise. Bleep is a peer-to-peer messaging app that promises unparalleled security. It offers this security by eschewing cloud servers for storing and delivering messages in favor of a distributed hash table (DHT). This emphasis on security – as well as the method with which it's being achieved – is no surprise, as Bleep was developed by the team at BitTorrent, who famously disrupted the file-sharing paradigm by popularizing the peer-to-peer model using DHTs in particular. Bleep doesn't offer quite as polished of an experience as we've come to expect from our messaging clients, but it's an app with a clear direction, strong stance on privacy, and a talented dev team behind it. In the early- to mid-2000s, file-sharing security and ingenuity was high priority as user practices were outpacing the common infrastructure. As the tech world caught up with user practices, systems were put in place that could manage extensive user interactions efficiently, but with time, these systems grew so massive and encompassing that many users had to begin sacrificing control for convenience. Messaging has been engulfed by architecture that feels as seamlessly connected as ever before, but this too has come at the cost of control and security. So in a post-Snowden world, the devs at BitTorrent enter the scene with an intriguing, vulnerability-free promise that can resonate with an increasingly concerned public. At its most basic level, Bleep works, but it doesn't yet eclipse the smooth fluidity of some of the more popular messaging options available to many users. But, founded on the strength of a promise and a relentlessness to succeed, Bleep won't long remain at the back of the pack.

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Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:52:20 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54175/bleep/1.1.5/1445615540 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54175/bleep/1.1.5/1445615540

Some apps sell themselves on a promise. Bleep is a peer-to-peer messaging app that promises unparalleled security. It offers this security by eschewing cloud servers for storing and delivering messages in favor of a distributed hash table (DHT). This emphasis on security – as well as the method with which it's being achieved – is no surprise, as Bleep was developed by the team at BitTorrent, who famously disrupted the file-sharing paradigm by popularizing the peer-to-peer model using DHTs in particular. Bleep doesn't offer quite as polished of an experience as we've come to expect from our messaging clients, but it's an app with a clear direction, strong stance on privacy, and a talented dev team behind it. In the early- to mid-2000s, file-sharing security and ingenuity was high priority as user practices were outpacing the common infrastructure. As the tech world caught up with user practices, systems were put in place that could manage extensive user interactions efficiently, but with time, these systems grew so massive and encompassing that many users had to begin sacrificing control for convenience. Messaging has been engulfed by architecture that feels as seamlessly connected as ever before, but this too has come at the cost of control and security. So in a post-Snowden world, the devs at BitTorrent enter the scene with an intriguing, vulnerability-free promise that can resonate with an increasingly concerned public. At its most basic level, Bleep works, but it doesn't yet eclipse the smooth fluidity of some of the more popular messaging options available to many users. But, founded on the strength of a promise and a relentlessness to succeed, Bleep won't long remain at the back of the pack.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of SmartDown 1.0.4

SmartDown is an intriguing, thoughtful option in an increasingly crowded field of web-focused text editors for the Mac. It features full Markdown support to maximize speed and intuitiveness in text styling, as well as full MultiMarkdown support to offer a more robust, seemingly limitless text editing and production environment. You can quickly toggle between Markdown view and a live web preview to get an immediate read on how your text styling will look – even regular HTML markup is expressed within SmartDown, meaning web content creation can begin and end in this one streamlined app. The best apps allow themselves to be discovered over and over again through time, and SmartDown is no exception. On the surface, it’s an unassuming experience that requires minimal brain power – just focus on writing. But the more you ask of the app, the more it gives, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a real gap in functionality that you’d expect from an app in its class. While it emphasizes web content creation, SmartDown pays close attention to the needs of writers by offering detailed statistics and word goals, as well as an extremely effective outlining process, complete with collapsible headings. Critic Markup is a revelation, allowing to keep track of changes as your document evolves. All in all, it’s a streamlined environment that is relentlessly customizable and finely tuned to a wide variety of content creators.

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Thu, 22 Oct 2015 10:12:33 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53223/smartdown/1.0.4/1445523153 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53223/smartdown/1.0.4/1445523153

SmartDown is an intriguing, thoughtful option in an increasingly crowded field of web-focused text editors for the Mac. It features full Markdown support to maximize speed and intuitiveness in text styling, as well as full MultiMarkdown support to offer a more robust, seemingly limitless text editing and production environment. You can quickly toggle between Markdown view and a live web preview to get an immediate read on how your text styling will look – even regular HTML markup is expressed within SmartDown, meaning web content creation can begin and end in this one streamlined app. The best apps allow themselves to be discovered over and over again through time, and SmartDown is no exception. On the surface, it’s an unassuming experience that requires minimal brain power – just focus on writing. But the more you ask of the app, the more it gives, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a real gap in functionality that you’d expect from an app in its class. While it emphasizes web content creation, SmartDown pays close attention to the needs of writers by offering detailed statistics and word goals, as well as an extremely effective outlining process, complete with collapsible headings. Critic Markup is a revelation, allowing to keep track of changes as your document evolves. All in all, it’s a streamlined environment that is relentlessly customizable and finely tuned to a wide variety of content creators.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Persecond 1.0.6

Having used various platforms for editing and creating timelapses, it's become clear that Persecond is the way to go. It's an extremely easy application for getting your final product done quickly. The simple interface is welcoming to beginners but also flexible enough to engage experienced pro users. Its only downfall is that it could have more special effect options that are delivered with the same amount of ease that the app provides in its current setup. Overall, it's the easiest way to end your search for a great timelapse-making app.

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Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:38:04 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54986/persecond/1.0.6/1440524284 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54986/persecond/1.0.6/1440524284

Having used various platforms for editing and creating timelapses, it's become clear that Persecond is the way to go. It's an extremely easy application for getting your final product done quickly. The simple interface is welcoming to beginners but also flexible enough to engage experienced pro users. Its only downfall is that it could have more special effect options that are delivered with the same amount of ease that the app provides in its current setup. Overall, it's the easiest way to end your search for a great timelapse-making app.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Ghostnote 1.5.4

What do you do when you need to make a quick note? You might reflexively jot notes down in simple TextEdit files. You might have a neatly organized plethora of Evernote notebooks, or meticulously tagged scraps in SimpleNote. Maybe you have a monstrous list dating back years in your native OS Notes app. No matter what, your notes live somewhere – or, more specifically, somewhere *else*. No need to launch that app anymore. With Ghostnote, small notes haunt individual files, applications, links, documents – anything you look at on your Mac can have an accompanying note. Ghostnote follows you around, ready to keep information tucked away but immediately at-hand. It takes a moment to break the habit of launching your go-to note taking app, but when you do, Ghostnote feels like magic. It’s like you’ve unlocked a hidden feature in every app on your Mac. My favorite use has been keeping notes while using my web browser. My typical workflows have been shattered. Jotting down a quick thought while I’m viewing a Google doc no longer means launching TextEdit or sharing half-baked ideas in the document’s public comments with coworkers. For users who frequently visit the same websites – especially as part of your work routine – Ghostnote is a true revelation. There isn’t an overarching interface. You can’t search through all your notes. It won’t entirely replace your preferred note taking application, but it isn’t trying to. Ghostnote bridges a gap you didn’t know existed. There’s plenty to like about Ghostnote, but perhaps most impressive is Ghostnote’s developer: persistently active, responding to user feedback, incorporating requested and inventive features, and always looking forward to making improvements (“team notes” could be a gamechanger for many). Something tells me Ghostnote will be lurking in our midsts for a long time to come.

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Thu, 09 Jul 2015 10:31:23 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53592/ghostnote/1.5.4/1436452283 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53592/ghostnote/1.5.4/1436452283

What do you do when you need to make a quick note? You might reflexively jot notes down in simple TextEdit files. You might have a neatly organized plethora of Evernote notebooks, or meticulously tagged scraps in SimpleNote. Maybe you have a monstrous list dating back years in your native OS Notes app. No matter what, your notes live somewhere – or, more specifically, somewhere *else*. No need to launch that app anymore. With Ghostnote, small notes haunt individual files, applications, links, documents – anything you look at on your Mac can have an accompanying note. Ghostnote follows you around, ready to keep information tucked away but immediately at-hand. It takes a moment to break the habit of launching your go-to note taking app, but when you do, Ghostnote feels like magic. It’s like you’ve unlocked a hidden feature in every app on your Mac. My favorite use has been keeping notes while using my web browser. My typical workflows have been shattered. Jotting down a quick thought while I’m viewing a Google doc no longer means launching TextEdit or sharing half-baked ideas in the document’s public comments with coworkers. For users who frequently visit the same websites – especially as part of your work routine – Ghostnote is a true revelation. There isn’t an overarching interface. You can’t search through all your notes. It won’t entirely replace your preferred note taking application, but it isn’t trying to. Ghostnote bridges a gap you didn’t know existed. There’s plenty to like about Ghostnote, but perhaps most impressive is Ghostnote’s developer: persistently active, responding to user feedback, incorporating requested and inventive features, and always looking forward to making improvements (“team notes” could be a gamechanger for many). Something tells me Ghostnote will be lurking in our midsts for a long time to come.

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MacUpdate Review of Micro Snitch 1.2

Although I have never had the displeasure of discovering I've been spied on through my webcam, the days when I could scoff at such a notion are long gone. Marginally skilled hackers have long found ways to tap into our webcams, which is frustratingly frightening enough, but a proliferation of reports in recent years emphatically shows that even employers and schools have been found guilty of secretly accessing users' webcams. I wouldn't call myself an internet security paranoiac by any stretch – I'm actually among the least so in my group of friends and colleagues. My willful naivety has afforded me the luxury of never needing to *know why* users get spied on. It's a topic of conversation outside of which I can sit happily, minding my own business. I think the dev team at Objective Development – developers of Little Snitch and this wonderful new app – knows some of us are this way, which is why Micro Snitch indulges a different, more universal user interest: it doesn't let you *know why*, it just lets you *know*. And with a menu bar app and overall UI as unobtrusive as Micro Snitch boasts, alongside a comprehensive log that records info right inside your Console, you don't need to feel like a conspiracy theorist to be in the clear. Micro Snitch gets you covered for an almost negligible price: it costs no time to set up, it costs you barely any system resources to load and have running, and it costs you less than you'd spend on almost anything useful. Maybe you're not preoccupied with webcam security – with Micro Snitch, you'll never need to be.

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Mon, 15 Jun 2015 15:54:24 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52056/micro-snitch/1.2/1434398064 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52056/micro-snitch/1.2/1434398064

Although I have never had the displeasure of discovering I've been spied on through my webcam, the days when I could scoff at such a notion are long gone. Marginally skilled hackers have long found ways to tap into our webcams, which is frustratingly frightening enough, but a proliferation of reports in recent years emphatically shows that even employers and schools have been found guilty of secretly accessing users' webcams. I wouldn't call myself an internet security paranoiac by any stretch – I'm actually among the least so in my group of friends and colleagues. My willful naivety has afforded me the luxury of never needing to *know why* users get spied on. It's a topic of conversation outside of which I can sit happily, minding my own business. I think the dev team at Objective Development – developers of Little Snitch and this wonderful new app – knows some of us are this way, which is why Micro Snitch indulges a different, more universal user interest: it doesn't let you *know why*, it just lets you *know*. And with a menu bar app and overall UI as unobtrusive as Micro Snitch boasts, alongside a comprehensive log that records info right inside your Console, you don't need to feel like a conspiracy theorist to be in the clear. Micro Snitch gets you covered for an almost negligible price: it costs no time to set up, it costs you barely any system resources to load and have running, and it costs you less than you'd spend on almost anything useful. Maybe you're not preoccupied with webcam security – with Micro Snitch, you'll never need to be.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Squash 1.0.3

What a nice little app! It does exactly what it says it does: drag a photo onto the app and its filesize is reduced. There is no setup, there are no settings... it just works. I duplicated a 4.5 MB photo, dropped the copy into Squish, and it came out at 1.3 MB with no discernible differences in picture quality whatsoever to my (highly) untrained eye – I have no clue how it does what it does, but it does it well. A more refined eye or maybe someone with some image analysis utilities might be able to break down what actually is happening and why the filesize is so demonstrably reduced, but I can envision plenty of uses for an app that works this well with this little fuss.

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Fri, 12 Jun 2015 13:39:47 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54408/squash/1.0.3/1434130787 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54408/squash/1.0.3/1434130787

What a nice little app! It does exactly what it says it does: drag a photo onto the app and its filesize is reduced. There is no setup, there are no settings... it just works. I duplicated a 4.5 MB photo, dropped the copy into Squish, and it came out at 1.3 MB with no discernible differences in picture quality whatsoever to my (highly) untrained eye – I have no clue how it does what it does, but it does it well. A more refined eye or maybe someone with some image analysis utilities might be able to break down what actually is happening and why the filesize is so demonstrably reduced, but I can envision plenty of uses for an app that works this well with this little fuss.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Paragraphs 1.1.2

Hemingway’s whiskey and vermouth, Nabokov’s index cards, Austen’s ink recipe; these are the forefathers to setting up cloud syncing, organizing app sheets and notebooks, tweaking font sizes and styles. They can help precipitate creativity or weave disparate writing sessions together for a fleshed-out piece of work, but they don’t actually result in words on a page. Paragraphs eschews the hallmarks of the modern Mac text editor – formatting, organizing, syncing, fidgeting – and leaves you confronted only by yourself and the words you’ve not yet written. Simply launching the app puts you a click away from typing. After choosing your document, you can title your document, choose a light or dark theme, pick one of 4 fonts… and you’ve already run out of things to do, so you better start writing. It feels like a pocket-sized experience, complete with callbacks to what’s usually in your pocket. Highlight a sentence and you get a tasteful iOS-like popover centered above the selected text, used for performing the most basic formatting: bold, italics, underline, linking, strikethrough, and expected Markdown formatting (headings, quotations, typewriter text). A subtle word/character/read time counter adorns the bottom right corner of your document; the top left corner takes you back to the document chooser. You can export your text in one of three formats. The above paragraph encapsulates the entirety of Paragraphs’ feature set. Do you wish there was more? If so, you might be missing the point. There’s room for improvement, as is the case in any 1.0 release – shift-clicking should highlight text; the full-screen margins feel too large on a large monitor; the crudely rendered zoom animation into and out of a document slightly disappoints – but the developer has delivered a polished product whose modest but firm ideology seeps into every aspect of the app. You won’t *want* to replace your favorite writing app with Paragraphs, but you may just have to when you need words on a page.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Fri, 29 May 2015 14:20:11 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54318/paragraphs/1.1.2/1432923611 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54318/paragraphs/1.1.2/1432923611

Hemingway’s whiskey and vermouth, Nabokov’s index cards, Austen’s ink recipe; these are the forefathers to setting up cloud syncing, organizing app sheets and notebooks, tweaking font sizes and styles. They can help precipitate creativity or weave disparate writing sessions together for a fleshed-out piece of work, but they don’t actually result in words on a page. Paragraphs eschews the hallmarks of the modern Mac text editor – formatting, organizing, syncing, fidgeting – and leaves you confronted only by yourself and the words you’ve not yet written. Simply launching the app puts you a click away from typing. After choosing your document, you can title your document, choose a light or dark theme, pick one of 4 fonts… and you’ve already run out of things to do, so you better start writing. It feels like a pocket-sized experience, complete with callbacks to what’s usually in your pocket. Highlight a sentence and you get a tasteful iOS-like popover centered above the selected text, used for performing the most basic formatting: bold, italics, underline, linking, strikethrough, and expected Markdown formatting (headings, quotations, typewriter text). A subtle word/character/read time counter adorns the bottom right corner of your document; the top left corner takes you back to the document chooser. You can export your text in one of three formats. The above paragraph encapsulates the entirety of Paragraphs’ feature set. Do you wish there was more? If so, you might be missing the point. There’s room for improvement, as is the case in any 1.0 release – shift-clicking should highlight text; the full-screen margins feel too large on a large monitor; the crudely rendered zoom animation into and out of a document slightly disappoints – but the developer has delivered a polished product whose modest but firm ideology seeps into every aspect of the app. You won’t *want* to replace your favorite writing app with Paragraphs, but you may just have to when you need words on a page.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Haven 1.1

Haven puts you in an empty landscape punctuated by a leafless tree. A moment later your eyes adjust to the faintly falling snowflakes, and it’s no wonder why Haven’s developer calls it a ‘place to write’ rather than just a text editor. It pairs a minimalist approach to producing text with a full-bodied approach to coaxing creativity out of its users, resulting in a promising, delightfully confounding experience. Old Mac favorite OmmWriter feels like Haven’s spirit guide, as OmmWriter’s familiar UI overlay – as well as its way of generally making you feel engulfed by the app – was repurposed tastefully by Haven’s developer. From the column of unobtrusive on-screen menu icons you can parachute into one of eight different writing environments, each with an immersive background, looping ambient soundtrack, and subtly generated graphic effect, ranging from snowfall, to starlight, to swamp mist and more. The subtlety and raw quality of the app’s different keyboard click sounds, soundtracks, and other atmospheric strokes ranges from stunning – I loved the beautiful, clear Madeira – to particularly lacking at times (especially when you remember OmmWriter’s otherworldly purity), but an excellent baseline for quality has been established as these features continue to develop. Of course, Haven’s aggressive novelty doesn’t serve moments of pure content production, like when you’re banging out a pre-planned piece, but in truth, Haven doesn’t care about these moments. It cares more about those warm periods when you’ve swelled ripe with a wandering imagination and need a slight but sustained prick before releasing what’s within. A row of icons along the top of the app window displays each of Haven’s magic tricks. With a single click, Haven will sketch you a character, a situation, a localized myth, or do something more vaguely evocative, like display a floating word, or a quote from classic literature. If you’re willing to embrace randomness and follow a whim, then you have a perfect companion. In toying with Haven, I missed the smooth quality of apps like iA Writer or Byword that focus obsessively – necessarily – on the mechanics of typing out a piece of work. Haven would do well to incorporate the great strides other text editor apps have made. But when you want to let go of obsessive optimization, Haven will take you places, and you might even enjoy them.

Read more]]]]>]]>
Thu, 21 May 2015 14:40:15 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54234/haven/1.1/1432233615 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/54234/haven/1.1/1432233615

Haven puts you in an empty landscape punctuated by a leafless tree. A moment later your eyes adjust to the faintly falling snowflakes, and it’s no wonder why Haven’s developer calls it a ‘place to write’ rather than just a text editor. It pairs a minimalist approach to producing text with a full-bodied approach to coaxing creativity out of its users, resulting in a promising, delightfully confounding experience. Old Mac favorite OmmWriter feels like Haven’s spirit guide, as OmmWriter’s familiar UI overlay – as well as its way of generally making you feel engulfed by the app – was repurposed tastefully by Haven’s developer. From the column of unobtrusive on-screen menu icons you can parachute into one of eight different writing environments, each with an immersive background, looping ambient soundtrack, and subtly generated graphic effect, ranging from snowfall, to starlight, to swamp mist and more. The subtlety and raw quality of the app’s different keyboard click sounds, soundtracks, and other atmospheric strokes ranges from stunning – I loved the beautiful, clear Madeira – to particularly lacking at times (especially when you remember OmmWriter’s otherworldly purity), but an excellent baseline for quality has been established as these features continue to develop. Of course, Haven’s aggressive novelty doesn’t serve moments of pure content production, like when you’re banging out a pre-planned piece, but in truth, Haven doesn’t care about these moments. It cares more about those warm periods when you’ve swelled ripe with a wandering imagination and need a slight but sustained prick before releasing what’s within. A row of icons along the top of the app window displays each of Haven’s magic tricks. With a single click, Haven will sketch you a character, a situation, a localized myth, or do something more vaguely evocative, like display a floating word, or a quote from classic literature. If you’re willing to embrace randomness and follow a whim, then you have a perfect companion. In toying with Haven, I missed the smooth quality of apps like iA Writer or Byword that focus obsessively – necessarily – on the mechanics of typing out a piece of work. Haven would do well to incorporate the great strides other text editor apps have made. But when you want to let go of obsessive optimization, Haven will take you places, and you might even enjoy them.

Read more]]]]>]]>
MacUpdate Review of Airmail 3.0

Airmail is an endlessly customizable improvement over the conventional Mail.app. My identity can be tied back to my inbox. Reach me at one address and you'll get a different version of me than you might on another. We all maintain multiple selves; shifting seamlessly between them is a hallmark of professionalism and grace. Many of today's highest profile email clients try to reshape the way email infiltrates our lives, but Airmail instead returns to this fundamental idea of us being ourselves in different ways and allows this to blossom. Airmail, above anything, is aesthetically customizable. The obvious points on these grounds can be made: you can change the way Airmail looks and feels so easily that the application immediately becomes an extension of yourself after a couple minutes in the preferences. Beyond the superficial dressing up of the app is a slew of tweakable features that let even the tiniest interactions with Airmail feel exactly how you want, from customizable keyboard shortcuts, to unique message behaviors, to robust support for labels, aliases, and folders. And Airmail has seemingly limitless email account support, presenting your multiple inboxes in a comfortable, intuitive way rather than in an impenetrable list. Airmail users are guided towards a conventional approach to email rather than a complete redefinition of the nature of email, and this feels like a deliberate choice rather than a lack of ingenuity. By offering this amount of control over your email, the developers of Airmail put you in a position to make email exactly what you think it should be, rather than having you buy into a new ideology. Yet even this traditional approach is more than it appears: you can turn messages into to-dos that integrate with the Today widget in Notification Center, make them into memos, or just star them for later reference. Google "email thinkpieces" and it may seem like the greatest threat on our productivity, communication or even sanity is email, but Airmail doesn't buy that. It just wants to help you be yourself – whatever that means to you, at the moment.

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Fri, 08 May 2015 12:40:19 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/48173/airmail/3.0/1431103219 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/48173/airmail/3.0/1431103219

Airmail is an endlessly customizable improvement over the conventional Mail.app. My identity can be tied back to my inbox. Reach me at one address and you'll get a different version of me than you might on another. We all maintain multiple selves; shifting seamlessly between them is a hallmark of professionalism and grace. Many of today's highest profile email clients try to reshape the way email infiltrates our lives, but Airmail instead returns to this fundamental idea of us being ourselves in different ways and allows this to blossom. Airmail, above anything, is aesthetically customizable. The obvious points on these grounds can be made: you can change the way Airmail looks and feels so easily that the application immediately becomes an extension of yourself after a couple minutes in the preferences. Beyond the superficial dressing up of the app is a slew of tweakable features that let even the tiniest interactions with Airmail feel exactly how you want, from customizable keyboard shortcuts, to unique message behaviors, to robust support for labels, aliases, and folders. And Airmail has seemingly limitless email account support, presenting your multiple inboxes in a comfortable, intuitive way rather than in an impenetrable list. Airmail users are guided towards a conventional approach to email rather than a complete redefinition of the nature of email, and this feels like a deliberate choice rather than a lack of ingenuity. By offering this amount of control over your email, the developers of Airmail put you in a position to make email exactly what you think it should be, rather than having you buy into a new ideology. Yet even this traditional approach is more than it appears: you can turn messages into to-dos that integrate with the Today widget in Notification Center, make them into memos, or just star them for later reference. Google "email thinkpieces" and it may seem like the greatest threat on our productivity, communication or even sanity is email, but Airmail doesn't buy that. It just wants to help you be yourself – whatever that means to you, at the moment.

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MacUpdate Review of Astropad 1.4

Astropad turns your iPad into a graphics tablet. When the iPad was introduced many were intrigued by the device, but measured its worth by comparing it to the desktop experience. Luckily, innovative app developers used the iPad's increased processing power and larger input surface area to take mobile app development to dazzling heights, excising it from the entrenched role of desktop app development's little brother. The iPad became truly its own thing, and no one but Microsoft thinks tablets should replace laptops anymore. And it's precisely at this point in the iPad’s evolution that the developers of Astropad have returned boldly to the question of how best to pair an iPad with a Mac. Astropad is not ahead of its time, or behind its time – it is exactly on time. First, it offers easily the most hassle-free iOS-to-Mac bridge setup I've ever experienced, as though all the setup mistakes of prior devs were analyzed and corrected in Astropad. It mercifully skips additional setup for the app you're controlling. Instead, Astropad displays a cropped virtualization of your Mac's screen – just fit it to your design app's canvas – that responds to input from the iPad's touch display. The app refresh rate is high enough to eliminate any input lag; there are, however, brief artifacts surrounding the area you are manipulating. They will not affect your work, but it does serve as a reminder that we are in 2015, not 3015. Using the iPad app itself is an immediately comfortable experience. There is no interface learning curve: the interface fits whatever shortcuts work for your app, seeking to stay as out of the way as possible. Between the ability to customize keyboard interactions, smoothly manipulate the iPad UI, pair with some of the latest pressure-sensitive iPad styluses, and have the desktop app leave a minimal interface footprint, Astropad is one of the most thoroughly thought-through initial stable offerings I've encountered. If you already have an iPad, the price of the iPad app is a negligible investment when you consider what other immersive graphics tablets cost. If you don't, this might be the app that gets you investing in one. A Retina MacBook Pro and an iPad Air 2, the complete design hardware powerhouse. Who knew? Everyone all along, after all.

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Wed, 29 Apr 2015 12:21:21 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53952/astropad/1.4/1430324481 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53952/astropad/1.4/1430324481

Astropad turns your iPad into a graphics tablet. When the iPad was introduced many were intrigued by the device, but measured its worth by comparing it to the desktop experience. Luckily, innovative app developers used the iPad's increased processing power and larger input surface area to take mobile app development to dazzling heights, excising it from the entrenched role of desktop app development's little brother. The iPad became truly its own thing, and no one but Microsoft thinks tablets should replace laptops anymore. And it's precisely at this point in the iPad’s evolution that the developers of Astropad have returned boldly to the question of how best to pair an iPad with a Mac. Astropad is not ahead of its time, or behind its time – it is exactly on time. First, it offers easily the most hassle-free iOS-to-Mac bridge setup I've ever experienced, as though all the setup mistakes of prior devs were analyzed and corrected in Astropad. It mercifully skips additional setup for the app you're controlling. Instead, Astropad displays a cropped virtualization of your Mac's screen – just fit it to your design app's canvas – that responds to input from the iPad's touch display. The app refresh rate is high enough to eliminate any input lag; there are, however, brief artifacts surrounding the area you are manipulating. They will not affect your work, but it does serve as a reminder that we are in 2015, not 3015. Using the iPad app itself is an immediately comfortable experience. There is no interface learning curve: the interface fits whatever shortcuts work for your app, seeking to stay as out of the way as possible. Between the ability to customize keyboard interactions, smoothly manipulate the iPad UI, pair with some of the latest pressure-sensitive iPad styluses, and have the desktop app leave a minimal interface footprint, Astropad is one of the most thoroughly thought-through initial stable offerings I've encountered. If you already have an iPad, the price of the iPad app is a negligible investment when you consider what other immersive graphics tablets cost. If you don't, this might be the app that gets you investing in one. A Retina MacBook Pro and an iPad Air 2, the complete design hardware powerhouse. Who knew? Everyone all along, after all.

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MacUpdate Review of Noiseless CK 1.3.1

Macphun’s latest app offerings, Noiseless and Noiseless Pro, slot neatly into their long line of approachable photo editing utilities. Scrolling through the endless Camera Uploads folder in my Dropbox, I came across pockets of dim photo thumbnails from lowly lit nights out – concerts, birthdays, dinners. I made my first realization: I should take better photos. Most of these photos were riddled with coarse artifacts that turned flat surfaces into gravelly messes. Until I get a chance to do a better job, Macphun has offered up a tool that will turn grainy nights out into smoothed over memories. Noiseless Pro confidently leverages its ability to deliver clear results from the moment you launch the app. As soon as you load your first photo, you’re presented with a slider that you can drag back and forth to deliver a live before-and-after. It feels almost like a dare. After only a few seconds it was clear that my photos were improving, and running through some of the presets delivered quick inspiration; fine-grained adjustments are a click away, even though you won’t likely be disappointed with the presets. The initial interface pulls you in and makes you truly believe in the app, but I didn’t find it to be the most efficient way of using it. Yet, within minutes I had tweaked the app to my liking, and manipulating photos felt like an extension of my mind. The smooth transition from wondering what’s the point to getting exactly the point is made throughout the app. And with the quality of product output by the standalone app, using it as a plugin, as is offered by Noiseless Pro, in a full photo editing app gives an even faster track to smooth photos without looking pasty and over processed. Noiseless Pro offers a one-click rescue option for the photos I’ve taken that seemed like such great ideas at the time but were hopelessly poorly lit. Thanks, Macphun, for clearing up some cloudy memories.

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Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:55:06 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53884/noiseless-ck/1.3.1/1429912506 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53884/noiseless-ck/1.3.1/1429912506

Macphun’s latest app offerings, Noiseless and Noiseless Pro, slot neatly into their long line of approachable photo editing utilities. Scrolling through the endless Camera Uploads folder in my Dropbox, I came across pockets of dim photo thumbnails from lowly lit nights out – concerts, birthdays, dinners. I made my first realization: I should take better photos. Most of these photos were riddled with coarse artifacts that turned flat surfaces into gravelly messes. Until I get a chance to do a better job, Macphun has offered up a tool that will turn grainy nights out into smoothed over memories. Noiseless Pro confidently leverages its ability to deliver clear results from the moment you launch the app. As soon as you load your first photo, you’re presented with a slider that you can drag back and forth to deliver a live before-and-after. It feels almost like a dare. After only a few seconds it was clear that my photos were improving, and running through some of the presets delivered quick inspiration; fine-grained adjustments are a click away, even though you won’t likely be disappointed with the presets. The initial interface pulls you in and makes you truly believe in the app, but I didn’t find it to be the most efficient way of using it. Yet, within minutes I had tweaked the app to my liking, and manipulating photos felt like an extension of my mind. The smooth transition from wondering what’s the point to getting exactly the point is made throughout the app. And with the quality of product output by the standalone app, using it as a plugin, as is offered by Noiseless Pro, in a full photo editing app gives an even faster track to smooth photos without looking pasty and over processed. Noiseless Pro offers a one-click rescue option for the photos I’ve taken that seemed like such great ideas at the time but were hopelessly poorly lit. Thanks, Macphun, for clearing up some cloudy memories.

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MacUpdate Review of Scenery 1.0.2

Scenery is a wonderful tool for developers that are trying to showcase their work in its best possible light. Designing and developing a distinguished application is an endlessly challenging task – no app will replace the ingenuity demonstrated by the countless developers that have their work listed on MacUpdate, for example. But with help from the folks over at Unsigned Integer, distinguishing your hard work has become easier than you think. Scenery's premium device photography gives your apps context and sophistication through a mindlessly simple drag-and-drop interface. Drag a screenshot onto the app and previews of your screenshot on any number of popular devices, ranging from iOS to Mac to Android, are generated instantly. All you pay for in Scenery are template packages that range in price - at the time of this writing, the cheapest was $15 and the most expensive, $60. With a royalty-free license agreement, you buy a template package once and can use the photos with your screenshots in place to no end. For a serious developer, this feels like a no-brainer. Unless you are equipped to stage and light photos in as elegant a manner as Scenery has demonstrated, there is no reason not to use Scenery's compositions. And even if you could shoot these device photos yourself, Scenery eliminates the painstaking process of simulating device screens through tedious skewing adjustments in an image editor. There is no easier way to display your apps this nicely. The only drawback to the application is unfair to even point out – naturally, it's that, after seeing what they have to offer, you'll think of a device photo context a little better suited to what you're offering. And yet Unsigned Integer is hard at work preemptively addressing this issue, as they intend to continue to release new themes and set new discounts as they continue to develop Scenery. What Scenery offers is an afterthought for most developers. Sure, it won't disguise a poor app, so by all means, spend your time developing and refining your app. But as a pure value proposition, Scenery offers a truly remarkable return at an effectively negligible price, when all is considered.

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Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:03:40 -0400 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53791/scenery/1.0.2/1428897820 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/53791/scenery/1.0.2/1428897820

Scenery is a wonderful tool for developers that are trying to showcase their work in its best possible light. Designing and developing a distinguished application is an endlessly challenging task – no app will replace the ingenuity demonstrated by the countless developers that have their work listed on MacUpdate, for example. But with help from the folks over at Unsigned Integer, distinguishing your hard work has become easier than you think. Scenery's premium device photography gives your apps context and sophistication through a mindlessly simple drag-and-drop interface. Drag a screenshot onto the app and previews of your screenshot on any number of popular devices, ranging from iOS to Mac to Android, are generated instantly. All you pay for in Scenery are template packages that range in price - at the time of this writing, the cheapest was $15 and the most expensive, $60. With a royalty-free license agreement, you buy a template package once and can use the photos with your screenshots in place to no end. For a serious developer, this feels like a no-brainer. Unless you are equipped to stage and light photos in as elegant a manner as Scenery has demonstrated, there is no reason not to use Scenery's compositions. And even if you could shoot these device photos yourself, Scenery eliminates the painstaking process of simulating device screens through tedious skewing adjustments in an image editor. There is no easier way to display your apps this nicely. The only drawback to the application is unfair to even point out – naturally, it's that, after seeing what they have to offer, you'll think of a device photo context a little better suited to what you're offering. And yet Unsigned Integer is hard at work preemptively addressing this issue, as they intend to continue to release new themes and set new discounts as they continue to develop Scenery. What Scenery offers is an afterthought for most developers. Sure, it won't disguise a poor app, so by all means, spend your time developing and refining your app. But as a pure value proposition, Scenery offers a truly remarkable return at an effectively negligible price, when all is considered.

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MacUpdate Review of EditReady 1.4.1

EditReady is a professional-grade video transcoder that launches you from Production to Post Production as fast as possible. Literally. The proliferation of cameras shooting QuickTime movies means that more footage is being shot with greater ease, but it's not footage that feeds directly into the editing process, so it takes some prep work. This is where EditReady comes in. Its goal is to get your footage ready for the rest of the editing process as quickly as modern technology allows, and it has surprisingly met this goal. EditReady's interface is a wonderful case study in form closely following function. There is no dancing around the point: drop in your media, transcode, move on. This limits EditReady's place in your arsenal of video processing and editing tools – it likely won't have you dumping any of your current utilities altogether – but the fact that it does its job so effectively means that you will never have any reason *not* to use EditReady in your workflow. And with some additional useful features that allow users to screen footage, apply LUTs, edit metadata, and more, it'll fit in with your video toolset with incredible ease. EditReady was built with unprecedented attention to modern (i.e. 2011 Intel or later) Mac hardware, and the results are impossible to ignore. Fire up pretty much any media transcoder and give it a shot versus EditReady; the speed with which it transcodes (high) and the strain it places on your Mac (low) outclasses any other utility. Again, it's almost an unfair fight because EditReady was designed so carefully to address the specific use case of going from raw footage to edit-ready footage as soon as possible, but in the world of video production where time literally is money, you'll want EditReady fighting for you. There's a fascinating blog post on Divergent Media's website that details why its utility is so much faster than others' (they're all about that QuickSync): https://www.divergentmedia.com/blog/editreadyperformance/ Have a look for yourself! Does EditReady seem like an investment worth making for those in the video production field? Any other one-trick tools worth adding to your video editing arsenal?

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Thu, 08 Jan 2015 17:29:52 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52990/editready/1.4.1/1420756192 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/52990/editready/1.4.1/1420756192

EditReady is a professional-grade video transcoder that launches you from Production to Post Production as fast as possible. Literally. The proliferation of cameras shooting QuickTime movies means that more footage is being shot with greater ease, but it's not footage that feeds directly into the editing process, so it takes some prep work. This is where EditReady comes in. Its goal is to get your footage ready for the rest of the editing process as quickly as modern technology allows, and it has surprisingly met this goal. EditReady's interface is a wonderful case study in form closely following function. There is no dancing around the point: drop in your media, transcode, move on. This limits EditReady's place in your arsenal of video processing and editing tools – it likely won't have you dumping any of your current utilities altogether – but the fact that it does its job so effectively means that you will never have any reason *not* to use EditReady in your workflow. And with some additional useful features that allow users to screen footage, apply LUTs, edit metadata, and more, it'll fit in with your video toolset with incredible ease. EditReady was built with unprecedented attention to modern (i.e. 2011 Intel or later) Mac hardware, and the results are impossible to ignore. Fire up pretty much any media transcoder and give it a shot versus EditReady; the speed with which it transcodes (high) and the strain it places on your Mac (low) outclasses any other utility. Again, it's almost an unfair fight because EditReady was designed so carefully to address the specific use case of going from raw footage to edit-ready footage as soon as possible, but in the world of video production where time literally is money, you'll want EditReady fighting for you. There's a fascinating blog post on Divergent Media's website that details why its utility is so much faster than others' (they're all about that QuickSync): https://www.divergentmedia.com/blog/editreadyperformance/ Have a look for yourself! Does EditReady seem like an investment worth making for those in the video production field? Any other one-trick tools worth adding to your video editing arsenal?

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MacUpdate Review of Ortelius 1.9.8

Ortelius is a case study in making something that appears to require extreme skill – 'vector-based cartography' – accessible to the novice user.  My background in vector-based drawing is as limited as my background in cartography (hint: my Bézier curve game is WEAK). So the fact that I was able to go from app installation to genuine, confident mapmaking in under a minute is a testament to so many things the dev has done right.  The app is familiar; upon launch, you choose from a series of map templates in an interface that echoes iWork’s template gallery. The toolset is comfortably reduced to the bare essentials, lending the sense that everything you need is within easy reach. The templates are varied and wide-ranging, and they hint at the limitless possibilities the app offers. Choosing to go template-less brings to light the raw power and materials the app is built upon: it’s endlessly customizable, but not impossible for the novice to approach. The only identifiable drawbacks to the application lie in what it is not. Ortelius is not an out-and-out GIS, so users expecting such should be aware of this. However, the team at Mapdiva make no claims that it is; in fact, they are more than willing to identify and explain Ortelius’ abilities and limitations. This is particularly noteworthy considering some comments from years past claiming that the dev is unresponsive to messages and feedback. An active user forum featuring helpful dev responses, as well as an incredibly thorough set of documentation, suggest that Ortelius wouldn’t be a wasted investment. The demo is appreciated: anything you create comes with a heavy watermark, but none of the app’s features are significantly curbed. It installs and launches with MacUpdate Desktop like a charm, and at its price point, it’s difficult to imagine anything topping Ortelius feature-for-feature. But maybe that’s just because I don’t know – we’d love to hear from our more carto-vector-graphically inclined users! How does it stack up with any other utilities you’ve used? How could this app help solve a problem for you?

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Wed, 31 Dec 2014 11:15:50 -0500 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/32224/ortelius/1.9.8/1420042550 http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/32224/ortelius/1.9.8/1420042550

Ortelius is a case study in making something that appears to require extreme skill – 'vector-based cartography' – accessible to the novice user.  My background in vector-based drawing is as limited as my background in cartography (hint: my Bézier curve game is WEAK). So the fact that I was able to go from app installation to genuine, confident mapmaking in under a minute is a testament to so many things the dev has done right.  The app is familiar; upon launch, you choose from a series of map templates in an interface that echoes iWork’s template gallery. The toolset is comfortably reduced to the bare essentials, lending the sense that everything you need is within easy reach. The templates are varied and wide-ranging, and they hint at the limitless possibilities the app offers. Choosing to go template-less brings to light the raw power and materials the app is built upon: it’s endlessly customizable, but not impossible for the novice to approach. The only identifiable drawbacks to the application lie in what it is not. Ortelius is not an out-and-out GIS, so users expecting such should be aware of this. However, the team at Mapdiva make no claims that it is; in fact, they are more than willing to identify and explain Ortelius’ abilities and limitations. This is particularly noteworthy considering some comments from years past claiming that the dev is unresponsive to messages and feedback. An active user forum featuring helpful dev responses, as well as an incredibly thorough set of documentation, suggest that Ortelius wouldn’t be a wasted investment. The demo is appreciated: anything you create comes with a heavy watermark, but none of the app’s features are significantly curbed. It installs and launches with MacUpdate Desktop like a charm, and at its price point, it’s difficult to imagine anything topping Ortelius feature-for-feature. But maybe that’s just because I don’t know – we’d love to hear from our more carto-vector-graphically inclined users! How does it stack up with any other utilities you’ve used? How could this app help solve a problem for you?

Read more]]]]>]]>