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.
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.
Apple announced today that it is launching a new video app called Clips in April. The app lets users combine video, photos, music, and more and then share their creations with Messages, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks.
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.
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.
The first game review I ever wrote on MacStories was for a delightful puzzle game called A Good Snowman is Hard to Build. The team behind Snowman is back with a new game called Cosmic Express that brings toy-like charm to this challenging puzzle game through playful animation, bright colors, and sound design that perfectly complements the artwork.
Every so often the mashup of familiar game styles results in something unexpected and delightful, which is precisely what Vienna-based Miro Straka and kunabi brother have created with Euclidean Lands. The game has been compared favorably to Monument Valley and Square Enix’s Hitman GO from a design and gameplay perspective. The comparison is apt but doesn’t capture the uniqueness of Euclidean Lands.
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.