This week we get creative, making our own photo filters with Vibrance, writing stuff in the amazing Matcha text editor, and scheduling efficient days to fit it all in with Timeful. What are you waiting for? Check out the most interesting new iOS apps and updates in our weekly roundup.
Camu is a fantastic new camera app that combines all the essentials into one slick, superbly-designed and fun to use app. Plus, thanks to smart design and gestures, you can use it one handed. Swipe to change filters, swipe again to change their strength, tap to take split-screen (diptych) pictures, add captions and blur and share. A really nice photo app and – amazingly – it’s $Free
Matcha is so well designed you’ll want to write, just to use it. The text editor syncs with Dropbox and iCloud, and gives a great Markdown preview, but the point here is the details (and the beautiful, simple interface). You get full text search, right from a nav box at the top of the screen. And this means full – it digs into your entire Dropbox to search file names and paths, and inside local files’ contents. It has full (external) keyboard control, lots of (on-screen) keyboard tweaks, plus way more. It’s so well put together that it’s my new favorite text editor on iOS. $5
You know how some smart apps have a little 1Password icon next to the login field, to quickly take you to the 1Password iOS app to grab your details? In iOS 8, that button could pop open a 1Password window right there in the app, allow you to auto-fill passwords and even payment fields without leaving the app. You know, like you can already do in OS X. Want to know how this awesome feature works? Read the AgileBits blog post.
Somewhat inexplicably there are almost no decent blogging apps on the Mac – you’re forced to contend with your blogging service’s lame web interface instead. Blogo brings together a text editor, an image editor, offline mode and Evernote sync. It also looks fantastic, which is a boon if your job is to stare at a text editor all day long. $15
Contexts offers four ways to switch windows on your Mac. Hover over its mini Dock-like switcher at the side of your screen and click, or hit ⌘-Tab and access the keyboard-triggered popover. This floating popover lets you keep tabbing between windows, or get direct access by tapping a number key, or by search to narrow down your windows by title or app. It’s dead simple, and it acts on individual windows in apps, not just the whole app itself. $9 with free trial
Vibrance lets you create your own photo filters on-the-fly. Take or load up a photo from your camera roll and either choose a built-in filter or make your own. A slider runs from dark to light, and you can tweak the color of any tone along that slider, giving, say, bluish shadows, yellow highlights and a little purplish kick in the dark mid-tones. It’s simple and powerful, but the interface is a little clunky. Free with IAP
Timeful combines your calendars and reminders, and then helps you with your scheduling. It will suggest times for new tasks and appointments, and even help to schedule routine tasks like exercise or shopping. It’s location -aware, it syncs with your existing calendars and it even makes adding a new event easy, letting you pick between reminders of calendar entries as you go. $Free
Lytro’s new app lets you view its light-field camera photos on your iOS device. The Lytro is that weird camera that lets you adjust the focus of you picture after you take the shot. Previously you needed a desktop computer with a desktop browser to display these interactive photos, but now you have this Universal app. It’s basic, just like the camera, but it’ll let you view your own publicly-shared Lytros, along with anyone else’s. $Free
This plugin lets you upload your photos from Lightroom, straight to the “thinking person’s photo-sharing site,” 500px. Just drag the pictures you want to share to the new 500px publish service and they’ll be sent to your online portfolio. It can even read and write comments and lets you view your site stats from within Lightroom. $Free
Google is gunning hard at Apple’s iWork apps and Microsoft’s Office 365 suite. Docs, Sheets and Slides are not only completely free, but they have offline mode and the ability to convert and edit Microsoft Office files.
Studio Neat’s Slow Fast Slow is an iPhone video app that lets you shoot and edit short clips, then dicker with their speed. Record at up to 120 frames per second (when using an iPhone 5s) or 60 fps (everything else), then manipulate the playback speed by dragging the timeline (a literal line at the bottom of the screen) up and down, left and right. It also has pitch control (keeps the sound normal even as the picture changes) and can flip video and play it backward. As slick as you’d expect from Studio Neat, and just $2.
Prolost will whip you up your own set of vintage, retro-style photo-editing presets for Lightroom. It’s kind of a better version of Prolost’s own Plastic Bullet iOS app, where you can just keep tapping a button and cycle through almost infinite variations of filters. Only instead of infinite options, you set up 300 presets, specially generated for you when you order. I use the Prolost LR presets already, and find them excellent, so these should be worth a try. From $40
Draft Control will track changes for any app you write in. Run it alongside your text editor or word processor of choice and it saves versions and tracks changes. You can compare any two versions with a visual editor, and you can find them in a constantly updated timeline at the side of the main window. It’s free to try, and you can unlock it for just $20.
MacPhun’s Lost Photos does one thing: It connects to your email and dredges up all the photos that have slipped down the back of the virtual sofa. You probably have zillions of old, forgotten pictures in your Gmail or wherever, and Lost Photos will find them and show them to you, then let you share them straight from the app, via Twitter, Facebook or – in a fit of recursion – email. Free to try, $3 for unlimited photos.
Taxonomy makes moving files easy. The window has source folders on the left, target folders on the right and a giant file preview in the middle. Zip through your files and simply click a target folder to send files there. It’s great for wrangling a whole lot of files, sending them off to different places or doing routine filing operations. Get it on the Mac App Store for just $5.
Poof! With the wave of its software-update-generating wand, Drobo has added Time Machine support to its redundant multi-disk storage devices. Now you can specify how much of your storage you want to be given over to Time Machine, and your Drobo will make only that much available for your Mac’s incremental backups. Normally, Time Machine would totally take over the disk like a cancer, growing until it was completely full. The update is free.
EditReady claims to be the fastest video transcoder, like, ever. It will crunch your video into a different format in around half the time of rivals, and it does it with an ultrasimple, minimal interface. This interface belies the software's power, though, as you can do anything from editing a clip’s metadata to picking one of many pro-level destination formats, right from EditReady's main window. How much for this fast pro tool? Just $50.
Folia is an impressive collaboration app from the folks behind the iAnnotate PDF app. It comes on iOS, Mac, Windows and Android, and it’s a streamlined word processor that lets you mark up and annotate your documents. Better, these annotations live in the cloud, separate from but married to the document, so they persist even as you update the source files. You can also attach more documents to any section of your master file. To be honest, I can’t quite understand it yet, but it looks rad, and costs nothing.
Overcast (no, not that Overcast) is a beautiful B&W weather app for the iPhone. If you were to write the weather forecast in your favorite text editor, and then sprinkle it with some high-quality monochrome clip art to represent clouds, rain and sun, then you’d have Overcast. Except that unlike Overcast, your RTFD document wouldn’t offer hyperlocal forecasts from Forecast.io. Free.
One sad limitation of Instagram is you can’t post photos to the service from your Mac, only your iPhone. It’s by design, of course — Instagram wants to be a more spontaneous photo hosting service than the likes of Flickr — but it can make things annoying when you want to give a more polished shot the Instagram treatment.
Things are about to get a little easier. You still can’t post photos directly from your Mac, but you can make it easier to get them on your iPhone or iPad. Younity, a service that gives you access to your computer’s files through a personal cloud with no syncing necessary, has just added support for publishing Instagram files directly from the service.
It’s hard to know what to make of an app update that promises to “cut crash rates in half.” If you’re a glass-half-full kind of guy, you’re happy with the increased stability. If you’re a glass-half-empty guy, though, you wonder why the hell they can’t get around to fixing the other 50 percent of unexpected software crashes.
I’m sort of a glass-half-empty kind of guy, at least when it comes to Facebook. So when they announce that their latest update to the Facebook for iPhone and iPad app has “solved a long-term mobile debugging problem and reduced the crash rate for people using the Facebook for iOS app by more than 50%,” I wonder why the hell a multibillion dollar corporation can’t fix the other half.
Dream your way into space with the new IFTTT NASA channel, put notifications and widgets on your desktop with Übersicht and make the perfect cup of coffee with the latest AeroPress timer. This week we even have an app just for processing B&W photos.
Listary, my favorite iPhone list app, now syncs with Dropbox instead of Simplenote (which in turn means no easy nvALT syncing), adds smart lists, a URL scheme that lets you ad tasks from apps like Drafts, icon badges and sharing. It’s also free, with an in-app purchase to unlock advanced features. $Free
Now you can get an iPhone notification eery time an astronaut enters space. This radness is thanks to the new NASA IFTTT channel, which offers seven triggers that can feed their info into other IFFFT actions. Want to flash the Wi-Fi-controlled lights in your house every time the International Space Station passes overhead? No problem! And best of all it’s free – you just need an IFTTT account. $Free
Now Vox, the Mac app that streams music from internet radio along with pretty much any music format stored on your Mac (it integrates with your iTunes library too), now works with SoundCloud, which is the place all the cool kids publish their music these days. It supports SoundCloud queues and Collections, and grabs the highest-quality stream available. It’s free, with an in-app purchase to unlock the good stuff. $Free/$3
MediaFire, the service that forces you to click and load way too many web pages just to get an image from your email, has relaunched its iOS app as a photo-sharing, media-streaming powerhouse. v2.0 now auto-syncs your iPhone and iPad photos to its servers, along with improved streaming of audio and video. The service also adds a new pricing plan, starting at $25 per year for a terabyte of storage. Take that, Dropbox! $Free
JoliCloud’s Drive is both a front-end for the privacy-focussed Norwegian cloud storage service (which I use and love), as well as a place to combine all your other cloud accounts. You can access Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, MediaFire and more, plus the amazing cloud torrent service Put.io. You can also use it to view and edit photos, watch movies, edit photos, listen to music and even read ebooks. Now the web app is even better thanks to a new large-icon grid view for your files. How much? Amazingly, it’s $Free.
Tonality takes your boring old color photos and turns then into amazing B&W images. It works with most images, RAW and JPG included, and does most of what Adobe’s Lightroom does, only it’s focussed on monochrome images and doesn’t do anything for color. You can tweak the color channels to really play with the B&W result, and there’s even gimmicky a one-touch-HDR feature. But the best part is layers, letting you save yourself to a bigger app like photoshop. I like it quite a lot, but I miss Lightroom’s built-in cataloging features. Regular or Pro for $20/$60
You know how cool the TED talks are, where super-smart folks tell you about awesome things? Well Learnist is kind of like that, only instead of lectures it curates lessons, and now it comes on the iPad too. People like Gus Van Sant add lessons, along with qualified teachers concentrating on specific subjects. It’s also free to download and browse. $Free
If you don’t have an AeroPress then go out and buy one right now. Pick up a burr grinder while you’re at it, and some delicious, freshly-roasted beans. Got it? Good. Now you can enjoy the free AeroPress Timer app, new and improved and at version 2. The app provides a whole slew of recipes, with extra recipe packs for $2, available as in-app purchases. Choose a recipe, get your gear set, your water hot and your coffee ground, and hit Go. The timer will count you down to the perfect cup. $Free.
Vesper, the note-taking app developed in part by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, has been updated with a cool new feature that allows you to easily see the timestamp, character, or word count for a Vesper note… without adding a lot of on-screen clutter.
If you love playing XCOM on your Mac or your iPad, you’ll love this. Fantasy Flight Games in cooperation with 2K Games have announced that XCOM is coming to a game chest near you. Called XCOM: The Board Game, it’s basically RISK for alien hunters. But don’t think this is just analog: you’ll need your iPad or iPhone to play.
If I had to list the apps I couldn’t live without, Plex would be high up on the list. Think of it like a Netflix for your local video. A multimedia server client for Mac with a slick iOS app, Plex allows you to stream your local television shows and movies on demand to any device on your local WiFi network, or even away from home. It even works on the Apple TV.
Now, Plex for iOS version 3.5 is here, and it brings some cool new features to the already feature-packed app, including the ability to play movie trailers before your movie!