Feb 25, 2011 by Matt | Posted in Software & Scripts
If you’re a GMail user, you might like the idea of using a desktop client for your email, but can’t bear to give up the GMail way of doing things. That’s where the new Sparrow Mail app comes in.
It’s a GMail-specific mail client for OS X that captures the spirit of GMail pretty well, and keeps everything perfectly in sync. You can archive or delete messages, tag them, even manage multiple accounts from a Tweetie-style sidebar. (The application actually takes a lot of design cues from Tweetie/Twitter.)
It also works with Google Apps accounts, so you can use it for your domain email.
Sparrow is a very nice email client, and is available in the Mac App Store for a reasonable price. I’ve been using it out since the last week of the beta, and it has convinced me to stop using the GMail website for my day-to-day email reading in favor of Sparrow. It complements the iPhone email client nicely in my daily workflow.
Jan 26, 2011 by Matt | Posted in Software & Scripts
Back when I first started using Tweetie for Mac, I put together a modified version of the default bookmarklet available on the developer’s website. With a single click I could send the URL and page title of the current page in my web browser to Tweetie and hit send. Easy and efficient.
When Twitter for Mac came out, that bookmarklet stopped working, sadly. I managed to get it to send the URL after a little tinkering, but I couldn’t get it to work with the page title for some reason.
Fortunately, an enterprising Twitter user has written a new bookmarklet that works like my old one did. You can install it by going to this page and dragging it to your bookmarks bar.
If that wasn’t cool enough, it turns out you can select some text in any native Cocoa application, right-click it and select “Tweet” to send it over to the Twitter app. It won’t work with Firefox, though, as it’s Services-impaired.
Jan 7, 2011 by Matt | Posted in Featured, General
Apple just launched the Mac App Store yesterday, bringing with it a welcome surprise. The much-awaited Tweetie 2 for Mac is finally available, in the App Store, under the new name of Twitter for Mac. I’ll get to that in a little bit, though. Let’s take a quick look at this App Store that everyone has either been impatiently waiting for or relentlessly fear-mongering about.
There it is. The Mac App Store has launched with a good selection of applications, and their prices range from free to reasonably priced to, on occasion, absolutely bizarre. There are plenty of wonderful free apps, such as Evernote, TextWrangler, Caffeine, StuffIt Expander, and Twitter. There are hit games like Angry Birds and Bejeweled 3.
Here’s the strange thing: LEGO Harry Potter the Videogame (from the same folks who made the fun LEGO Star Wars games) is available in the App Store for a whopping $49.99. Meanwhile, you can get it for Windows XP for about $20 on a disc. They’re charging about twice as much for a fully digital version. I don’t quite follow that logic.
Continue reading →
Dec 13, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Internet
Envato has just opened up two new blogs in their AppStorm network. Adding to the existing Mac, iPhone and Web app blogs, the new Windows and Android sites deviate the most from the network’s current audience. Some readers have voiced concerns that the new sites betray the audience and make the network too generic. (Personally, I just say they should subscribe to the individual AppStorm blogs that interest them and leave the Windows one to the unenlightened.)
Also, the AppStorm main page has received a redesign. It’s simple, matches the rest of the site, and I like the icons along the top.
Dec 6, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Featured, Software & Scripts
One of the premier RSS reader apps for the iPhone and iPad is Reeder. It syncs fast, it has a great interface, and it uses Google Reader as a backend (which means you can keep it synchronized with all of your devices).
The much-anticipated Mac version of Reeder is now available in public beta. While some of its features are still being implemented, you can get a good look at what the final application will be like.
The interface looks amazing. I think some of the keyboard shortcuts could use some work, but overall its very usable. I like the narrow column of icons representing the individual feeds. One minor change that would be welcome would be for them to automatically sort by the number of unread items, which I have found makes going through large numbers of items easier in other readers.
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Oct 21, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Featured, General
Apple held their “Back to the Mac” keynote yesterday. Despite the online media saturation of all things Apple, some of you were probably unable to sit down and watch the live stream of the event. (You can watch a video of the keynote if you want to see the whole thing.) For the chronologically challenged, here is a quick recap of the keynote.
Apple announced FaceTime for Mac, a beta of which is now available for download. As with the iPod Touch, you initiate the call by choosing an email address from your contacts list.
A new iLife suite is available for purchase. iLife ’11 includes some improvements to the most popular applications in the bundle. iPhoto gets new full-screen modes, nifty social media integration and new slideshows. (iPhoto will now load photos from Facebook and Flickr, and will even import activity and comments for photos you share.) iMovie gains a function to easily make Hollywood-style movie trailers, advanced audio editing and facial recognition. Garageband adds tools for fixing timing issues in recorded instruments, new amp and “stompbox” effects, and improved instrument lessons.
Continue reading →
Oct 18, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Software & Scripts
Apple has been passing out media invitations for an October 20th “Back to the Mac” event. The invite, featuring a picture of a Lion hiding behind the Apple logo, implies that we will be seeing a new OS X release. After all, each release of OS X (from 10.0 to 10.6) has been nicknamed after a large feline.
The question is: what are the big features going to be? 10.6 was named Snow Leopard because it was mainly under-the-hood improvements, lacking many big flashy new features. A new cat entirely should mean we’ll be seeing some major changes.
The overly-popular tech blogs are all hyping-up their uncreative touchscreen angle, predicting everything from a smaller MacBook Air that exists in the space between a notebook an iPad to the unification of iOS and OS X.
I don’t particularly care for that rumor. I like mine better. There isn’t much evidence to support it, but it’s the perfect next step for Apple.
I think Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” will have built-in cloud syncing. Leveraging their new North Carolina datacenter, Apple will integrate Dropbox-like functionality into the Finder itself. They already have MobileMe, why not take it to the next step? Your data would be accessible on any device, and you would no longer have to worry about backing it up.
It makes perfect sense. Nobody ever backs up their data, so Apple does it for them. Everyone with an iPhone or iPad wants to be able to access and edit their files on it, so you make it easy for them.
The OS X interface is fine the way it is. It doesn’t need to be touch-enabled. It might be nice if app developers could build-in (non-touch) Mac interfaces so a universal app could run on OS X and the various iOS devices, but cloud syncing would probably be more beneficial to users overall.
Sep 29, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Monetization
This has been in the works for awhile, but Mac AppStorm is reporting that BuySellAds is finally putting ads in OS X applications. If you have a Cocoa application, you can use an API to inject ad zones into your application. The ad zones appear in the BuySellAds marketplace just like any website, but the ads will be pulled-into your program. Bodega and the Kiwi Twitter client are both using the ads.
This is something that I have been wanting to see for some time. We have already seen a few free internet-connected applications, such as Evernote and Tweetie for Mac, supported by Fusion Ads and The Deck. It’s cool to have BuySellAds, a less exclusive network, offer a similar option to developers.
My big question is: will this work for iPhone apps? Cocoa and CocoaTouch are similar frameworks, and it would be interesting to see BuySellAds as a potential competitor to iAd and AdMob. (iAd is simply perfect for the iPhone, though. Plain banners can’t quite compete in that regard…)
Sep 6, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Software & Scripts
iTunes 10’s interface is a significant step backwards from its predecessor. The monochrome sidebar makes it harder to pick items out, as you only have the shape of the icon to go by. The new album list view takes up too much horizontal space, while the one from iTunes 9 was fairly efficient with it. Elements like the checkmarks and the volume control just look bad.
The worst change, which completely breaks Apple’s set-in-stone UI convention, is the use of vertical close/minimize/maximize buttons. What were they thinking? If any other developer broke the Human Interface Guidelines like that, Steve Jobs would probably personally punch them in the face.
Astute iTunes users could point out the fact that when you used the “Mini Player” (Command+Shift+M) in iTunes 9, the same vertical buttons were used to save space. While that is true, it wasn’t for the main interface that you spend most of your time in. And such space-saving is only necessary in the Mini Player.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with further design ranting. You can restore the buttons to their rightful orientation by entering this command into the Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -boolean YES
Re-entering the command with NO instead of YES will reverse the change, should you take leave of your sanity in the future.
Jul 30, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Software & Scripts
I noticed something interesting recently. The new version of Apple’s Xcode development suite (which is used to build applications of iPhones and OS X) is starting remind me a little of Coda and Espresso. The latter two applications are one-window development environments for web developers.
Coda, which is similar to Espresso but was released first, combines a powerful text editor with FTP syncing, visual CSS editing and support for the SVN versioning system. This has proven to be popular among web designers looking to streamline their workflow.
Xcode 4 is taking the same one-window approach, bringing the previously separate Interface Builder application inside of Xcode. The UI is also looking a lot more streamlined. The boring Windows-style file tree pane on the left hand side has been redesigned to look more like the iTunes sidebar. (Which is another interface feature of Espresso and Coda.)
Xcode is already a great IDE, and a pleasure to work with. The changes should make it even better, and more in line with the “Mac-like” feel the great tools that other developers have been building for web designers.