Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Mac App Store, which launched on January 6, 2011. The iOS App Store, which launched in 2008, was already huge success in 2011 – a success that continues today. The Mac App Store, announced at Apple's 'Back to the Mac' event in late 2010, offered the alluring promise of revitalising the Mac app market with easier access to customers, and, it was hoped, greater financial success for developers.
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Back when I owned a 2008 MacBook and the second-generation Apple TV, I remember occasionally using the Apple TV remote with my Mac. Back then most of Apple's laptop's (including mine) came with a built-in infrared (IR) receiver and the functions of the Apple TV remote automatically worked with iTunes and some other Mac apps. But since then, IR receivers have gone the way of the DVD drive and, chances are, your Mac doesn't have one. The Siri Remote for the Apple TV does still use IR for certain functions, but most of its communications are now done via Bluetooth 4.0.
SiriMote works by pairing the Siri Remote to any Mac that supports Bluetooth 4.0 and is running OS X El Capitan. To pair the Siri Remote you'll need to turn off your Apple TV, press the Menu and Volume Up buttons on the Siri Remote for a few seconds and pair it from OS X's Bluetooth settings, located in System Preferences. There's no doubt it is a bit fiddly to set up, but once it's set up, it works great. SiriMote works by translating buttons on the Siri Remote into buttons from a keyboard (specifically, the media keys). Because it is simply emulating the standard media keys, SiriMote works with iTunes, Keynote, QuickTime, VLC and other apps that work with the Mac media keys.
Unfortunately, for now at least, the touch surface of the Siri Remote can't be used by SiriMote. The only exception is that clicking the touch surface will emulate the Next Track media key, or Fast Forward if you hold it down. That means swiping and tapping won't do anything when connected to your Mac.
I doubt I'll use SiriMote regularly, but if I ever need to run a Keynote presentation from my MacBook Air, I know that I can turn my Siri Remote into one of those fancy "clickers" in less than a minute. As a free app, I can easily recommend SiriMote to any Siri Remote owner, you may not have a use for it today, but you never know what tomorrow might require.
Learn more and download SiriMote.
Daylite 6 was released today for both Mac and iOS, and it's a major upgrade for the business productivity app. Already boasting a complete set of tools for managing projects, clients, and tasks for an individual or workgroup, the new version adds a slew of new features that take the app even further.
One of the major highlights of this release is the announcement of "Daylite Cloud." Previously, centralizing a group's Daylite data required running a copy of Daylite Server. With Daylite Cloud, it's all handled seamlessly, allows offline access, is cheaper, and has no barrier to incorporating it into your company workflow.
The task management features of Daylite have also expanded. The constraints of the previous Pipeline/Activity Set features have been augmented by a "Task Lists" feature, allowing free-form creation of task lists that might not be assigned to a linear timeline, with complete control over ordering, a new entry interface, and additional fields for time, location, estimated time, and other details. There's also a new "Smart Filtering Bar" for viewing tasks by details such as assigned team member, category, or keyword.
The iOS version has new goodies as well, with features including Today Widgets, full filtering capabilities, and improved editing of Daylite entries. It also adds file linking tools which allow you to snap a photo and link it to one or more items in Daylite.
If you're a Mail.app user, also check out the Daylite Mail Assistant. It's not a new feature, but it's impressive. It allows you to link emails to Daylite items, schedule meetings, and share data without a chain of cc's and forwards, all from within Mail.
Following a two month public beta period, Beamer 3 was released earlier this month. Beamer, a favorite of the MacStories team, is a Mac app that allows you to easily stream video (in almost any format) to your Apple TV via AirPlay. In Beamer 3, streaming support has expanded beyond AirPlay and it can now stream to Google Chromecast.
The user interface has also been redesigned in Beamer 3, and now fits in better with OS X Yosemite and El Capitan. The new UI isn't just prettier, it's also more useful because it provides easier access to audio track and subtitle controls. Another new feature enables you to skip to the next video in your Beamer queue by double clicking the play button the Apple Remote. All of the new features are listed here.
Beamer 3 is available for $19.99 for new customers, and existing Beamer customers can "pay what you want" to upgrade to Beamer 3. Beamer 3 requires OS X Yosemite or El Capitan.
PDF Expert has been an indispensable app for my iPad for almost as long as I can remember (I'm fairly certain it was one of the first apps I bought when I got my iPad). It's a fantastic app on iOS because it enables me to not only read, annotate, and add comments to PDFs, but it also gives me a cloud-based 'Finder' of sorts – enabling me to browse my Dropbox and OneDrive files and sync them to my iPad.
Given my longstanding appreciation for Readdle's PDF Expert on iOS, I was pretty keen to try out the Mac version of PDF Expert, which launched late last week. But it must be said, I was sceptical of the value it would bring to the table, because unlike iOS, OS X has the Finder, and cloud services like Dropbox and OneDrive already sync files locally. But most significantly, Preview on the Mac is a fantastic Swiss Army knife for viewing documents and already does a pretty great job at viewing PDF documents, annotating them, adding comments, and even performing some basic page re-organization functions.
But despite my scepticism I was pleased to discover that for those of you who deal with PDFs regularly (myself included), you'll find value in what Readdle has developed in PDF Expert. Rather than a traditional, wide-ranging, review, I've decided to focus on three key features which make PDF Expert worth the money – features that ultimately convinced me to turn my free trial into a purchase.
Version 2 of Bartender is now available. If you have been running the El Capitan betas, you know that version 1 required you to temporarily disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) in order to install its system file. Version 2 does not need you to perform those steps. It is fully El Capitan-compatible right “out of the box.”
Other version 2 changes include:
- With Bartender 2 you can now keyboard navigate all menu items both in the menu bar and the Bartender Bar, simply arrow through them and press return to select.
- You can now search the Bartender Bar for menu items, allowing you quick access to a menu item without looking for it. Simply display the Bartender Bar and start typing, then press enter to select the menu item.
- A key part of Bartender 2 has been rewriting the internals to enable new features and to allow Bartender to work with System Integrity Protection in OS X El Capitan. As always we continue to improve Bartender’s performance and reduce energy usage.
- If you want a really clean look and privacy, Bartender’s own icon can also be hidden.
I'm not sure if that last one is new, but it’s new to me. With Bartender’s menu bar item hidden, you can still access the app using a keyboard shortcut. Then, just keep typing the name of the menu bar item you are looking for, or navigate with the arrows. That’s pretty cool.
This is a great update which brings some great new features. Dealing with SIP was a big hurdle, but I’m glad to have a fully armed and operational Bartender back on my Mac.
There's a free, four week trial available from the Bartender website. After that it’s $15 for new customers, or $7.50 to upgrade.
My advice? Just buy it now.
Beamer, a favorite Mac app of the MacStories team, is today launching a public beta of their third major release. For those unfamiliar with the app, Beamer is a Mac app that enables you to easily stream video (in almost any format) to your Apple TV via AirPlay.
The tentpole new feature of Beamer 3 is that it can now stream videos to Google Chromecast. Beamer 3 also has a redesigned interface that looks better on OS X Yosemite and has improved functionality, making it easier to access key options such as audio tracks and subtitles. You can also skip to the next video in your Beamer queue by double clicking the play button the Apple Remote. Beamer's developer also plans to implement further improvements during the beta period.
I'm a bit behind in mentioning it, but Watermarker 2 is out. This Mac app from developer (and former MacStories writer) Don Southard lets you quickly resize and add professional watermarks to batches of photos. It's a great-looking app that elegantly accomplishes its goal.
You can use custom text, import your own logo or image, and apply a customizable strike-through "X" over an image (all with adjustable transparency). You can also add pixelation to an image to obscure parts of it, and annotate images with additional shapes.
Watermarker 2 offers powerful batch photo manipulation features such as renaming groups of files based on patterns and resizing using pixel or percentage constraints.
You can save your watermark settings as presets, and apply them to batches in the future with a couple of clicks. There's even an Action Extension for sending images from other apps to Watermarker, and a Share Sheet for sending watermarked images to others.