Posts in reviews

Overcast Review

When I received the first beta of Marco Arment's new app, Overcast, back in May, I didn't think I could use an iPhone-only podcast client with no iPad version and no streaming support as my daily podcast listening solution. Overcast, available today on the App Store, is launching to high expectations and hype for what Arment, best known for creating Instapaper, founding The Magazine, and co-hosting the Accidental Tech Podcast, has been working on since his reveal in September 2013.

Two months after putting Overcast on my Home screen as a vote of confidence and using it to listen to podcasts every day, I don't want to go back to any other podcast app I've tried before. In spite of lacking iPad and OS X versions and some features from popular podcast apps, the listening experience in Overcast and its approach to podcast discovery have been so thoughtfully implemented and cleverly engineered, I find it to be a superior choice for my listening habits.

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Spillo Is a Versatile and Fast Pinboard Client for OS X

Developed by Damien DeVille, Spillo is a new Pinboard client released today for OS X and available on both the Mac App Store and Bananafish Software’s website. Unlike Shiori (a desktop app for Pinboard I covered before) and other minimal apps that try to facilitate the process of saving bookmarks to the service, Spillo wants to be a full client for management and discovery of links, and it’s reminiscent of powerful solutions for iOS such as Pushpin and Pinswift. I’ve been using Spillo for the past couple of weeks, and I think it has potential.

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Polymo Review

Polymo is a new camera app for the iPhone and iPod touch that launched earlier this month with a focus on letting you organize your photos with tags. The developers pitch it as a “better place for photos on iOS” thanks to the app's clean design, simple gestures, and elegant interface. Unfortunately, I don’t think Polymo is a replacement for the Camera Roll, but don’t dismiss it straight away; there are still appealing aspects of Polymo that may make it useful for you.

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Ultratext Lets You Create GIFs with Text and Selfies

Ultratext, available for free on the App Store, is a new and fun iPhone app to create animated GIFs from text and selfies, and share them with others through iMessage, Instagram, or other services. I discovered the app yesterday thanks to a tweet by Casey Newton, and I've been using it all day to send animated messages to my friends and family. The idea seems to resonate with normal people in my life and the app is indeed simple and enjoyable, hence it's worth a mention on the site.

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Simple Percentage Calculations with OffOf

I was recently looking for a simple percentage calculator for iPhone and I came across OffOf, an app developed by Daeo Corp. and available for free on the App Store.

As the name suggests, OffOf lets you calculate the percentage off an amount or the percentage of an amount. While this operation is possible with any calculator, OffOf has a visual interface with buttons to switch calculation types with a single tap. If you want to calculate how much a $50 t-shirt is going to cost you at “25% off”, select the Off button, tap percentage and enter a number, then tap Amount and the app will calculate it in real time. On the other hand, if you have to know how much the 20% of 135 corresponds to, you can choose the Of type and let the app calculate it for you with no additional manual operations.

My main concern with OffOf is that, in an effort to provide a colorful iOS 7 design (reminiscent of Numerical), it's hard to distinguish the selection state for the Percentage and Amount fields. The app uses a white highlight for numbers in those areas, but I find it hard to parse when compared to the light gray used for the non-selected state. It's a minor problem, but it confused me when I started using the app.

OffOf won't become a hit among calculator power users, but, for me, is solves a common problem, and it's free on the App Store.

Scanbot 2.0

I covered Scanbot in May, calling it a “fast and efficient scanner app for iOS 7” powered by a delightful UI, integration with cloud services, and a user-friendly experience:

Scanbot covers the basics of mobile scanners well: it's got color schemes for captured scans; it can save PDFs at 200 dpi and automatically send them to a variety of web services (including Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive); and, it can handle multiple pages per scan as well as editing features such as manual border cropping and annotations. Scanbot looks fairly obvious on the surface, as it doesn't reinvent the way a mobile scanner is supposed to work on iOS – the app's features can be found in other similar apps, while more advanced ones haven't been added to Scanbot yet.

Scanbot 2.0, released last week, doesn't add the advanced features that I mentioned in my original review, but it brings a native iPad version and support for QR code scanning, both of which are welcome additions.

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Here, Look Lets You Choose Photos You Want to Show to Your Friends

Here, Look is a simple iOS app developed by Paul Roub that solves a specific problem: you want to show some photos to your friends but you don't want them to scroll through all your photos in the Camera Roll.

We've all been there. You've just returned from a well-deserved vacation and you've taken many pictures with your iPhone, many of which you want to show to your friends...except those few ones that you like to keep private. Apple's Photos app doesn't have a built-in presentation mode for selected photos, so, unless you want to create a specific album for photos you want to show to your friends every time, you'll be forced to try your luck and hand over your phone with all your photos and the risk that swiping will eventually bring up that awkward selfie that you forgot to delete.

Here, Look lets you create an on-the-fly gallery of selected photos in three easy steps: select photos that you want to show; tap the Here, Look button; and, hand your phone to someone else. The developer says that the app is aimed at eliminating swipe panic, and the description is quite accurate. Once your device in your friends' hands, they can only swipe between the photos you've chosen and they won't have any kind of controls visible on screen. They can rotate and zoom, but they can't keep swiping to see all the photos in your library. When they're done looking at your photos, just take your device, triple-tap the screen, and you'll be back in photo selection mode.

Perhaps you have better friends than mine, and they're never tempted to take a look at your photos when they have a chance. For me, Here, Look provides a simple solution to a common problem that irks me every time I want to show some photos, and it's only $0.99 on the App Store.

Pythonista 1.5: Custom Interfaces, matplotlib, and No More “Open In”

Pythonista 1.5, the latest version of Ole Zorn's Python interpreter for iOS, has been released today on the App Store, bringing new modules, native integrations, UI refinements, and the removal of the Open In feature to comply with Apple's App Store guidelines. Pythonista 1.5 is another fantastic update to one of the most powerful and flexible iOS apps ever made, and it follows in the footsteps of Editorial 1.1, released last month.

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Launch Center Pro 2.3 Extends iOS Automation

Released today on the App Store, Launch Center Pro 2.3 is a major update to Contrast's app launcher and automation tool for iOS that further enhances integration with online services, improves how actions are built and triggered, and that refines several aspects of an app that's become a key piece of my workflow.

I've been covering Launch Center Pro since its humble Pro-less beginnings, and the app has changed dramatically over the years. What started as a simple launcher for apps graduated into a full-blown automation utility for URL schemes and native iOS features, which allowed us to create a complete guide to get started with the app on your iPhone and iPad.1

Launch Center Pro 2.3 brings important improvements that make the app an even better companion for common tasks and advanced workflows. The update is packed with features -- David Barnard wasn't joking when he said that it feels like a 3.0 release -- and I believe that Contrast did a great job in integrating them with the rest of the app.

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