App Watch: Homemade photo filters, self-scheduling calendar and more

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App Watch: Aug. 25, 2014

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

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

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

1Password iOS 8 Extension

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.

Blogo 2

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

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

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

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Timeful

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

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

500px for Lightroom

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

App Watch: iOS apps that are minimal, slo-mo, vintage and bespoke

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App Watch: Aug. 18, 2014

Movies, writing and photos. If you like any of these things, then you’re going to love this week’s App Watch. We have apps for slo-mo, retro, Drobo and to help you find that lost photo.

Slow Fast Slow

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 Bespoke Vintage Presets

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

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.

Lost Photos

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

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.

Drobo Time Machine

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.

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EditReady

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

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 weather

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.

Adobe outlines how to switch to Lightroom once Apple kills Aperture

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Now that Apple has ceased development of Aperture, it’s time to start looking for alternative photo management and editing solutions. The obvious choice is Lightroom, which Adobe has committed to continue work on heavily in the future.

Adobe is working on a migration tool to take all of your Aperture data and bring it to Lightroom, but until then, the company has outlined how to make the switch on your own.

Don’t wait for Handoff — these 5 apps sync seamlessly today

iOS 8’s Handoff feature looks totally rad. Imagine starting off a task on your Mac and then being able to continue where you left off on your iPhone or iPad without waiting. Just pick up the device and everything has already synced.

But wait! There’s no need to imagine this, because you can already do it right now, and you don’t even need iCloud. Handoff looks truly useful, and will blur the lines between our devices more than ever before, but let’s take a look at some apps that already work seamlessly between platforms.

Picturelife 3 should be your new super-awesome online photo library

The iPhone version is one of the best photo apps I've used. Screenshots Picturelife.
The iPhone version of Picturelife is one of the best photo apps I've used. Screenshot: Picturelife

Remember Picturelife? It was one of our top picks for online photo storage when Everpix bit it, and now it has been upgraded to version 3.0. The highlights are a new $15 per month unlimited plan, which is really truly unlimited and can be shared with up to three other family members, plus an all-new, redesigned iOS app.

Things in the online photo world are definitely heating up again. iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will bring exciting new features for photographers and a recent update to Adobe Creative Cloud gives shutterbugs even more options for editing and storage.

But Picturelife has some pretty cool tricks up its sleeve to make it a worthy competitor to the big guns. Here’s why it deserves a shot at becoming your new super-awesome online photo library.