I like Plex. I mostly listen to music on Rdio, but I like to keep Plex on my Mac mini for albums that aren’t available for streaming, movies, and TV shows. I’ve reviewed the Plex apps for iOS over the years, and the improvements Plex has made to the media server for OS X are impressive both visually (I use Plex/Web every day) and technically.
Last week, Plex released a public beta of Cloud Sync, a feature for PlexPass subscribers that, essentially, lets Plex users turn online storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive into Plex servers for those times when a primary Plex server is offline. In short: if your Mac is your Plex server but you can’t a) keep it always online or b) access it outside of your local network, now you can sync content to other sources and stream it with Plex clients even if your main server is unavailable. (more…)
Last month, I was discussing my schedule for this Fall’s check-ups with my oncologist. During our conversation, she asked me if I had a list of all the appointments and todos that I had saved for the next weeks because she couldn’t find the department’s calendar and she doesn’t save patients’ information in her personal one.
I know that my doctor has an iPhone, and I know that she uses Apple’s Calendar and Reminders apps to manage her own schedule, so I showed her the beta of Fantastical 2 that I had on my iPhone. “You can search for events and reminders that match a keyword or location and get a single list showing all results”. She was intrigued. “For my appointments here, I save them with the hospital’s name, so I can just look for that if I want to see them all at once”. At that point, I’m pretty sure she was sold on the app. “But you can’t buy it yet”, I added with a subtle smirk.
Fantastical 2 for iPhone, released today on the App Store and on sale at $2.99 for a limited time, is one of the best iOS 7 apps I’ve tried so far and the best calendar and reminder client for iPhone, period. It improves upon several aspects of the original app and it introduces powerful new features while sporting a complete redesign that makes the app feel at home on iOS 7 without compromising its identity.
Fantastical 2 is, for my workflow, better than Apple’s built-in apps, and it builds upon the solid foundation of the original Fantastical to offer new functionalities and more flexibility. (more…)
Tweetbot is, by far, the iPhone app that I use the most on a daily basis. It’s not just that I keep Twitter open essentially all day to check for news, talk to friends, or post GIFs: since I got the first beta of the original Tweetbot three years ago, the app has become so ingrained in my workflow that I wouldn’t be able to switch back to any other client that doesn’t have the same capabilities. What started as a moderately advanced take on Twitter clients by Tapbots has evolved with time into a powerful app that spans three platforms and that comes with dozens of unique features and a solid engine that, for me, has no equal. I don’t say it lightly: because of Tweetbot’s feature set, I have been able to reliably communicate with other people (via DM or Mentions), reference tweets for articles, or build complex workflows that have allowed me to be more efficient, faster, and generally happier with Twitter.
That’s why I take major changes to Tweetbot’s overall structure and design, such as Tweetbot 3 for iOS 7, very seriously. Tweetbot 3, released today as a new app sold at $2.99 on the App Store (launch sale), is many things at once: it’s Tapbots’ first foray into the iOS 7 design aesthetic, which marks a radical departure from the small studio’s former visual style; it’s a profound reimagination of Tweetbot’s looks, animations, and sounds, which had gone largely unchanged since 2011; and it’s a confirmation of Tweetbot’s existing feature set with changes aimed at further enhancing the app’s functionality and making room for future additions. It’s iPhone-only, with a new version for iPad coming next.
I have been using Tweetbot 3 every day on my iPhone 5 for the past couple of months. I think that I have a good understanding of the decisions behind the app’s redesign, feature changes, and complete embrace of iOS 7’s visual and hierarchical approach to building interfaces. With version 3.0, Tweetbot, the robotic toy for your Twitter stream, eschews its mechanical roots and graduates to a modern, fluid, and fun assistant that, in the process, is still Tweetbot. I wouldn’t be able to go back to the old Tweetbot now, but I also think that getting used to the new app will take some time. (more…)
My daily drive should ideally be a twenty five minute drive with light traffic and usual stop lights. It’s not. It’s a route filled with heavy traffic, other drivers doing dumb things, and constant stop-and-go rigamarole. Until you start quantifying it with hard data, how much time we really spend in our vehicles doesn’t sink in. Tired, coffee fueled, and addled by our daily commutes, it also isn’t immediately apparent how much we forgo basic considerations that benefit our vehicles and other drivers.
The Automatic Link, a white and silver dongle that plugs into the on-board diagnostics port of your vehicle, tries to make accessible driving data that’s otherwise reserved for black boxes. It turns any car into a smart car, which chimes when you commit various driving faults while gathering data during your commute.
What companies like Nest are doing for the home, Automatic is trying to do the for the car.
Phil Schiller took the stage today at Apple’s media event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to officially unveil the iPad mini with Retina Display — the long-rumored successor to last year’s iPad mini — and the iPad Air, Apple’s new full-size iPad that replaces the old 4th generation iPad. (more…)
Dropbox is my filesystem. Every file that I need to have available across devices and that doesn’t require the rich text and search capabilities of Evernote goes into my Dropbox account: screenshots that I share with coworkers; PDF copies of my receipts and invoices; articles written in Editorial are stored in Dropbox. Even my photo backup workflow relies on Dropbox as an archival system that’s always in the cloud, readily available and easily shareable. With the Packrat feature, a $39 yearly add-on, I get access to the full history of my deleted files and file revisions, which have saved me on several occasions in the past.
The official Dropbox app for iOS is good, but it’s not great for power users and it hasn’t been substantially enhanced for iOS 7 yet. That’s what Italian developers Matteo Lallone and Gianluca Divisi (together, Tapwings) want to fix with Boxie, a $1.99 third-party Dropbox client for iPhone packed with advanced features and navigation options. I’ve been testing Boxie for the past month, and I think that it’s off to a solid start. (more…)
I am not a weather nerd. I don’t commute to work and I don’t need to know the percentage of precipitation and humidity for the next three weeks. I spend most of my days in Viterbo and Rome, where the weather isn’t particularly crazy; I never get to try the fancy weather apps with Dark Sky integration and “radars” because those features don’t work here. You may argue that I’m forced to be a casual user of weather apps; I honestly believe that I don’t need to know everything about the weather to have a good day. I don’t travel much, and therefore I rarely need to plan my trips according to weather conditions. I enjoy simple weather apps like Today, Yahoo Weather, and even Apple’s built-in Weather app for iOS 7 because they display all the data I need without overwhelming me with terminology I don’t understand.
This is why I was curious to try Ryan Jones’ Weather Line when he emailed me a few weeks back. His pitch was simple: “I had this idea for a weather app, and I’m great at making charts”. Sure enough, I remembered Jones’ work on the iPad mini “price umbrella” chart from last year, and he seemed confident enough in his app to convince me to try it. Weather Line is available today at $2.99 on the App Store, it’s iPhone-only, and it is one of the nicest and most unique weather apps I’ve tried lately. (more…)
Less popular than Drafts but equally impressive in terms of functionality and inter-app communication, Greg Pierce’s Terminology, a dictionary and thesaurus app for iOS, is relaunching today for iOS 7 with a new Universal app that adds sync, configurable actions, and a redesign that matches iOS’ new general aesthetic. I have been testing Terminology 3 for the past few months, and this new version holds up to expectations by honoring Terminology’s tradition of simplicity and bringing powerful new features.
We first reviewed Terminology in 2010, when it was an iPad-only app that already showed how developer Greg Pierce wanted to focus on words and definitions rather than heavily custom graphics and fancy effects. A few months after the iPad version, Pierce released a standalone iPhone version, called Terminology Ph, that carried all the features of the tablet counterpart onto the smaller screen; a year after version 1.0, Terminology 2.0 was released, refining the user interface and adding new app integrations. Throughout 2011, 2012, and the better part of this year, Pierce maintained Terminology with compatibilty updates but otherwise focused on Drafts, which, as MacStories readers know, has contributed to redefining iOS automation and the idea of a “quick notepad” for iOS.
The new Terminology represents a break from the past, fully embracing iOS 7’s new design philosophy and offering customers an easier purchase experience with a Universal version. As a new app, you will have to buy Terminology again – something that is perfectly acceptable after three years of usage of the same app. (more…)
Launch Center Pro, developed by Contrast (née App Cubby), can be considered the app that spearheaded a small revolution among iOS power users. Initially envisioned as a Notification Center tool, following an Apple rejection in late 2011 the app was released as Launch Center; in the summer of 2012, App Cubby completely reworked the inner workings and design of Launch Center and turned it into Launch Center Pro, allowing users to create custom actions with personalized URL schemes and therefore kicking off a series of months that saw the apperance of several other apps focused on actions, URL schemes, and automated workflows. In looking back at the past year of iOS automation, I think that Launch Center Pro 1.0 was a major turning point in that it proved that many iOS users wanted to create actions and workflows to save time and be more productive.
In March 2013, App Cubby released Launch Center Pro 1.1, which focused on TextExpander integration in URL schemes, Action Composer tweaks, and deeper system integration with clipboard actions for text and more. The app’s library of supported third-party apps kept growing as more developers took the opportunity to address the interest sparked by Launch Center Pro to add URL schemes to their apps. I remember, however, that back then App Cubby’s David Barnard – the same developer behind the recently released and successful weather app Perfect Weather – started telling me about his plans for the future of Launch Center Pro and expanding to other supported services, apps, and devices.
With today’s Launch Center Pro 2.0 for iPhone, a free update for existing customers, Contrast wants to ask: in the era of Drafts actions and Control Center, can Launch Center Pro still have a spot on a user’s Home screen, and possibly in the dock? (more…)