John Voorhees

411 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John Voorhees is the creator of Blink: Better Affiliate Links, an iTunes affiliate linking app for iOS from Squibner, and co-host with Robb Lewis of the podcast Ruminate.

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This week's sponsor

Setapp

The first subscription service for Mac apps


iTunes Adds Rent Once, Watch Anywhere Feature

In the aftermath of Apple’s announcements earlier today, it released an update to iTunes with a new feature described as rent once, watch anywhere. The release notes for iTunes 12.6, which is available as a free upgrade on the Mac App Store, say:

Now you can enjoy your iTunes movie rentals across your devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

With this new feature, you should be able to start a movie rental on an iOS device and finish it at home on an Apple TV for example, which is a welcome change to what was an overly inflexible system.

iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 are currently in beta but are expected to be released soon, at which time this new feature will be available to everyone who upgrades to those versions of the OSes.


Interact Scratchpad for Mac Takes the Pain Out of Adding Contacts

Last year, Agile Tortoise introduced Interact for iOS, a powerful app for managing contacts. One of the most popular features of that app is the scratchpad that parses contact information, making quick work of turning a block of text into a new contact. Agile Tortoise has ported that functionality to the Mac in the form of a menu bar app called Interact Scratchpad.

Adding information to contacts is tedious. Too often I find myself switching back and forth between a webpage and the Contacts app typing information into field after field or copying little bits of text and pasting them into those fields. Scratchpad does the monotonous part for you by automatically recognizing all kinds of contact information.

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Starting a Website With Setapp [Sponsor]

This week, MacStories is sponsored by MacPaw, makers of Setapp.

Setapp is a subscription service for Mac apps that is a great place to start if you’re launching a blog. There’s more to starting a website than having a good text editor, though Setapp has one of the very best of those in Ulysses. Tools to organize your thoughts, focus your efforts, publish your articles, and manage your business are just as critical. Setapp has some of the very best apps in each category for just $9.99 per month.

Writers will appreciate the inclusion of iThoughtsX in Setapp for developing story ideas. When it’s time to start writing, utilities like HazeOver, which obscures windows other than the one in which you are working, and Be Focused, for Pomodoro-style timed writing sprints, are great options to keep you focused. When you’re finished writing, Markdown users will appreciate having Marked to preview how posts will look before they are published.

Setapp also includes apps to help you create and maintain your site, like Rapid Weaver for site design and Blogo for publishing your posts. To keep your business and productivity on track, Setapp offers Taskpaper, a plain-text task manager that packs lots of power under the hood and Timing to automatically track your work.

Finding the tools that fit with your work style is time consuming and expensive. Setapp reduces the friction with a highly-curated library of excellent apps at an affordable monthly price.

Our thanks to MacPaw and Setapp for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Game Day: Mushroom 11

Chicago-based Untame released Mushroom 11 on iOS this week as part of Apple's Celebrating Indie Games promotion. Mushroom 11 started as a PC game, but its unique gameplay works especially well in a touch environment. You play as a green blob of goo in a post-apocalyptic world populated by mushrooms, glowing jellyfish-like creatures, and the ruins of the present world. To get around you erase behind the blob, which regenerates on the opposite side. It's a novel mechanic that forces you to approach the game's challenges in a different way. The result is perplexing and fun.

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Spark for macOS Adds Email Management Features

The hallmark feature of Readdle’s Spark email client for macOS is its Smart Inbox, which is designed to surface important email messages intelligently. That feature, along with a unified inbox and swipe gestures for common actions, goes a long way to simplifying email management. Nonetheless, email is one of those areas where personal preferences matter a lot. People are particular about how their email is organized, an area that was underserved by Spark. With version 1.2 for macOS, Readdle has begun to tackle email organization, which should make Spark a more attractive option for people who like Spark’s approach to email but want a little more control over how their messages are managed.

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Apple Promotes Sticker Packs with New Video

Apple released another installment in its iPhone 7 ‘practically magic’ video series today that celebrates stickers. The spot, called ‘Sticker Fight’ pulls sticker packs out of the Messages app and into the physical world. Set to a single by The Monks called ‘Boys are Boys and Girls are Choice,’ which has a fantastic 60s-style beat, the video features a sticker fight that breaks out across a city with people slapping stickers on each other and practically everything else in the landscape.

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