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Albums for iPhone

In the increasing complexity of music streaming apps that put several layers of interface and navigation between the launch experience and listening to your favorite songs, Albums is a refreshingly simple music player that lets you search, bookmark, and play your favorite albums. Developed by Louie Mantia and Caleb Thorson, I was skeptical about the app’s premise when I saw its one screenshot and read its iTunes description, but there is something about it that resonates with me and that has been elegantly executed in this first release.

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Soundflake Review: A Music Player for SoundCloud

While my daily music listening needs are mostly fulfilled by Spotify1 and my personal library in iTunes Match2, I do follow a couple of artists on SoundCloud and I enjoy using the service to play a variety of mashups and records from independent creators that I can’t find anywhere else. I’m not a huge SoundCloud user, but I’ve always had an affinity for the website’s interface and the company’s focus.

Created by Stefan Kofler and Patrick Schneider, Soundflake is a new SoundCloud client for iPhone that wants to provide a better experience than the official app through a modern design, advanced features, and gesture controls that make managing playback and sharing a faster and more intuitive affair. After trying Soundflake for about a month, I don’t see why – as an occasional SoundCloud music listener – I would go back to using SoundCloud’s app for iPhone.

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iOS 8 Wishes

With iOS 7, Apple profoundly altered the foundations of their mobile operating system’s design and functionality, and I want to believe that iOS 8, likely due later this year, will allow them to keep building towards new heights of user enjoyment, design refinement, and exploration of features suitable for the post-PC era. The transition to iOS 7 hasn’t been perfectly smooth, but, less than two months away from WWDC, there’s clear, promising potential on the horizon: plenty of new iOS low-hanging fruit.

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My Must-Have iPhone Apps, 2013 Edition

Must-Have iPhone Apps 2013

Must-Have iPhone Apps 2013

For the past three years, I’ve been running a series called “My Must-Have Mac Apps” that, once a year, would list the apps that I found indispensable on my Mac. This year, considering the changes that I went through from a workflow perspective, I thought it would be appropriate to start focusing on iOS as well. The first installment was about the iPad; then, I covered the Mac; today, I’m going to conclude this year’s series with the iPhone.

Like many others, I don’t use the “phone” part of the iPhone much. The iPhone is my portable computer. And I have lots of apps on it.

My workflow has changed a lot over the years. I used to have a MacBook Pro and I later got an iMac and replaced the MacBook Pro with a MacBook Air. I thought that I’d always need the Air but then I was forced to work from an iPad and I didn’t like it. As I kept trying, I ended up liking my iPad setup so much that I turned it into a tool more versatile than my Mac and wrote a book on it. But the way I use my iPhone has never changed: the iPhone is the computer that’s always with me. If anything, the software that runs on it has evolved through the years, with apps getting more powerful, inter-connected, and, in some cases, “desktop class”. And then, earlier this year, iOS 7 happened.

As expected, iOS 7 provided a fantastic opportunity for developers to reimagine and redesign their apps to take advantage of Apple’s new OS features and design language. Three months into iOS 7, I think that the developer response has been remarkable, but the results are very much still in flux. For the apps that I use on a daily basis, I’ve seen a few major relaunches of apps rebuilt from the ground-up for iOS 7, apps that still have to be optimized for it, and a lot of “compatibility redesigns” that brought lighter color schemes and translucencies without substantially altering the way an app works or is structured for iOS 7. As Apple itself is still trying to fully understand their own new design language, I think it’s fair to assume that third-party developers will need more time to really “get” iOS 7.

As I thought about the apps I wanted to include in this year’s last installment of the Must-Have Apps series, I realized that there was a good mixture of software that was built before and after iOS 7. As usual, my goal was to mention apps that I consider must-haves for my daily workflow, and for this reason you’ll find a mix of brand new iOS 7 apps, minor iOS 7 design updates, and a few pre-iOS 7 apps too. When it comes to having the best tool for the job, I value utility over fashion, and I cherish an old app if it still is the best for me.

The list below includes my 50 top picks and is organized in four sections: Main, for apps that I use several times every day; News, for discovering links and staying on top of RSS; Entertainment, for media consumption; and Utilities, for single-purpose apps that I use often but not heavily every day. Each app is listed with its App Store link and, at the end of the article, you’ll find my iPhone app of the year.

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August 2012 In Review

August has been the lull between July’s Mountain Lion release and September’s inevitable iPhone announcement. But that’s not to say it was a quiet month - it certainly wasn’t. On the news front, we saw Apple and Amazon reacting to Mat Honan’s ‘epic hacking’, the first Mountain Lion update, internal promotions at Apple and of course - the verdict in the Apple v. Samsung trial. August also saw big Pixelmator, Things, Instagram, Drafts and Buzz Contacts app updates amongst a bunch of other updates and new release apps. Finally, in the stories department, we wrote up a bunch of how-to’s and I talked about the rise of third party services and fall of Google in iOS. Be sure to stay tuned this September, it’s going to be a big month.

You can review past ‘Month In Review’ posts here.

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