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Mela: An Elegant and Innovative Recipe and Cooking App for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Silvio Rizzi, the developer of RSS client Reeder, has released a brand new recipe and cooking app called Mela for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, which has immediately become my favorite apps for planning and preparing meals. For me, the two essential aspects of an app like this are how it handles adding new recipes and whether it is easy to use while you’re cooking. Mela excels at both.

I’m going to focus primarily on the iPad experience for this review because the iPad strikes the best balance of portability combined with a large screen that works well when you’re in the kitchen cooking, but the app is also available on the iPhone and Mac. Although my overwhelming preference is to use Mela on an iPad, an equal amount of attention has gone into the design of the iPhone and Mac apps, accounting for the different screen sizes and making the most of each. That’s true on the iPad, too, where the experience differs depending on the size of the iPad you’re using.

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Things Adds Extensive Markdown Support and Search for Extended Notes Attached to Tasks

The intersection of tasks and notes poses an interesting problem. Often, a task requires notes for context and details that can’t be captured with a single line of text. Likewise, notes very often spawn tasks of their own. The difficulty is how to harmonize the two coherently.

If you’re a Club MacStories member, you know this is something that has bedeviled Federico’s annual iOS and iPadOS review for years. He solved the problem by combining Obsidian with Todoist’s web API linking the two apps together in a way that complements the way he writes.

Federico’s approach takes advantage of the web technologies underlying those apps. It’s a powerful solution, but it’s not a fully native approach technically or from a design standpoint. The technique is also less suited for someone who isn’t writing thousands of words most days, and instead, just needs to flesh out their tasks with context than the single line of text many apps offer. Fortunately, there are many alternative approaches to the task and note-taking conundrum, including a new one out today from Cultured Code, the maker of Things that I like a lot.

If you write in Markdown, Things is fully capable for a drafting a story like this one.

If you write in Markdown, Things is fully capable for a drafting a story like this one.

Instead of injecting tasks into notes, Things brings a full-featured note-taking solution into version 3.14 of Things. Adding a note to a task isn’t new to Things, but the latest update expands the feature significantly. Using Markdown syntax, you can now create headings, make text bold or italic, and add bulleted and numbered lists, links, code blocks, and highlight text. The formatting is rendered inline, providing a sense of structure and style to notes. For anyone unfamiliar with Markdown syntax, Cultured Code has also created a handy guide.

Things’ bulleted lists support multiple levels of indentation based on the number of spaces that precede the bullet. Everything is neatly lined up and orderly, although I do have one quibble. I’m used to using the tab key to indent and Shift + Tab to outdent bulleted lists, which is common to most text editors and note-taking apps. Unfortunately, because the tab key is used to move the focus between UI elements in Things, to increase the level of indentation, creating a nested list, you’ll need to back up, add a space, and then move back to where the text of your note goes. I do appreciate, however, how you can cut and paste a bulleted item from one spot to another in a list without winding up with a duplicated bullet at the beginning of the item that you have to delete.

Bulleted lists are easy to reorganize in Things.

Bulleted lists are easy to reorganize in Things.

Because notes attached to tasks can be full-blown documents now, Things has also added the ability to search inside a note. On the iPhone and iPad, tap the More button and select Find in Text. On the Mac, you’ll find the option in the Edit menu, or you can use the keyboard shortcut ⌘⇧F, which also works on iOS and iPadOS. Things offers the option to Find and Replace text too. Finally, Cultured Code has improved its sync engine, making the syncing of notes more efficient and faster, which should benefit anyone who uses it to take extended notes.


I wish every developer that offered notes functionality in their app would put as much care and attention into them as Cultured Code. Few apps provide formatting, let alone what is effectively a mini Markdown text editor just for notes. It’s the sort of flexibility that sets Things apart from other task managers. I expect the new notes functionality will be perfect for anyone who has felt constrained by the typical one-liner plain text notes found in most alternatives.

Things is is sold separately for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac for $9.99, $19.99, and $49.99 respectively.


Doppler for Mac Offers an Excellent Album and Artist-Focused Listening Experience for Your Owned Music Collection

I haven’t purchased much music in the past six years or so, but there was a time when it was a big part of my entertainment spending. I still have a huge collection of albums ripped from CDs I bought and later purchased online from the iTunes Store. That changed with the advent of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and later Apple Music. I still have those files frozen in time on the 2015 Mac mini I use as a Plex server. So, when Ed Wellbrook told me he was bringing Doppler, his excellent iPhone music player to the Mac, I figured it was time to dust of my old music collection and give it a try.

Doppler, which we’ve covered before here and in MacStories Weekly, including, most recently, Issues 252, 261, and 275, is a music player for people who buy their music. Apple’s Music app continues to maintain backward compatibility for users who own their music libraries, but Apple’s focus these days is squarely on streaming, not purchasing. That’s left apps like Doppler to fill the void offering features like the ability to add new music to your library from an iPhone, something that isn’t possible with Apple Music.

The minute you try Doppler, you can tell it’s made by someone who cares deeply about music and the experience of listening to it. The interface puts albums and artists front and center, focusing on album art and simple, intuitive controls to make listening to music on-the-go a pleasure.

Wellbrook has brought the same sensibility to a native Mac version of the app, which was released today. Doppler for Mac is a lot like what I’d imagine Apple’s Music app would be like if Music were split into separate apps for streaming and owned music. That’s not likely to ever happen, but fortunately, Doppler has you covered if you own your music.

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Sofa 3.0 Adds New Ways to Manage Your Media Lists Along With a New Business Model

Sofa 3.0, an app that I last reviewed in March, is out with loads of new ways to track, organize, and browse the media lists you create. The app also has a new subscription business model for its pro features.

Media recommendations come at us all from every angle, whether it’s friends and family or sources like reviews. You can save lists of books, movies, videogames, and other media you want to try in lots of ways. You could use an app like Apple’s Notes or Reminders, but they’re general-purpose apps that don’t address the specific needs related to media consumption. Plus, trying to track media in something like a task manager gets out of control and messy fast.

Another option is to turn to an app designed for a specific type of media, and there are many good options available on the App Store. The advantage Sofa has, is that it makes it just as easy to pick a book as a movie or something else when you’re deciding what media to try next. It’s a subtle but important distinction. With single-purpose apps, you need to decide what kind of media you want to consume and then turn to an app to pick something. Sofa dispenses with the first step allowing you to answer a broader question: “How do I want to spend my free time?” That a one-stop approach is one of Sofa’s greatest strengths and one that the app leans into hard with the latest excellent update.

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CARROT Weather 5.3 Adds Smart Layouts and a Fun Weather Reports Feature

My nighttime Smart Layout.

My nighttime Smart Layout.

Apple Design Award winner CARROT Weather offers an unprecedented amount of user control over its interface, something which Federico and I recently discussed at length on AppStories and interviewed developer Brian Mueller about last month. The customization options that were introduced in January with version 5 of the app allow users to define the look and layout of multiple weather tiles along with the date presented by each. Since that UI overhaul in January, Mueller has continued to extend the customization system, most recently adding a preview system and other refinements to make it easier to experiment with and create different layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

With version 5.3 that was released today, Mueller has added Smart Layouts, allowing users to create different layouts for nighttime and when it’s going to rain. I like these new options a lot for a couple of reasons. The first is practical: if it’s nighttime, you probably don’t care about the day’s high temperature because it likely happened hours ago. Likewise, if it’s going to rain, a graph of when the rain is going to start and when it will be most intense is far more important to you than on a beautiful, sunny day.

Picking Smart Layouts.

Picking Smart Layouts.

With Smart Layouts, you can adjust your weather layouts for each circumstance. For example, I created a Smart Layout for nighttime based on the Siren template that emphasizes the current conditions followed by the hourly and daily forecasts. When rain is in the forecast, I’ve got a layout that moves a precipitation graph and radar view to the spots just below the current conditions. The changes I made were relatively minor but have made CARROT Weather more relevant as conditions change.

I also enjoy Smart Layouts because they’re another outlet for trying new layout templates and experimenting with setup options. The process is fun and adds an extra touch of personalization and variety that I enjoy. Smart Layouts require a Premium Club subscription to CARROT Weather.

The other headline feature of CARROT Weather’s update is Weather Reports, which lets you create 30-second weather report videos and share them. Whether you’re flexing from the beach on vacation or just want to complain about how hot it is to your friends, Weather Reports are a ton of fun. Videos are recorded with the front-facing camera, and CARROT Weather lends a hand by providing an overlay to help frame yourself. Videos can be scripted randomly by CARROT or unscripted, and you can even pick a funny weatherperson name if you’d like. If you pick a scripted video, the words scroll up the screen as you record yourself teleprompter-style. Here’s one I did from my backyard yesterday afternoon:

Weather Reports are a blast to create and will undoubtedly show up in droves on social media networks before you finish reading this.

Today’s update also adds a variety of smaller updates, including new layout components and multiple formats for taking screenshots of weather conditions for sharing.

CARROT Weather 5.3 is available as a free update on the App Store.


Transloader 3: A Simple, Versatile Way to Remotely Manage Mac File Downloads from an iPhone or iPad

Matthias Gansrigler of Eternal Storms Software recently released Transloader 3, an app for remotely controlling Mac file downloads from an iPhone or iPad. Although the app has been around for a long time, version 3 might as well be a completely new app because it’s packed with new features, making it worth revisiting if you haven’t tried it in a while.

Transloader is one of those utilities that reduces the friction of working on multiple devices by solving a common problem that Apple’s OSes could handle better: cross-device downloads. There are a couple of scenarios where I run into this all the time. The first is with email. With no TestFlight for Mac yet, developers often send me links to a ZIP or DMG file of their apps to try. Going through email messages is one of those tasks that I often leave until late in the day when I’m away from my desk, using my iPad or iPhone. The second scenario is when I’m researching apps and find one or a related press kit I want to download to check out later.

In both cases, I could save the app or other files to iCloud Drive’s Downloads folder and revisit the materials the next time I’m at my Mac. However, with Transloader, I’ve got many more options thanks to its built-in automation tools as well as other features that make managing downloaded files easier.

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Kensington Releases Two-Piece StudioCaddy Charging Station and Organizer for Apple Devices

Today, Kensington released the StudioCaddy, a $179.99, two-piece charging station and device organizer for Apple devices. Kensington sent me a review unit, which I’ve been using for about a week, so I thought I’d share my first impressions.

The StudioCaddy has a unique two-piece design. One half features Qi charging stations for an iPhone and AirPods, plus USB-A and USB-C charging ports. The other half is a weighted stand with slots to hold a Mac laptop and iPad vertically. The two parts can be used separately or connected magnetically.

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Timery Comes to the Mac and Makes Time Tracking With Toggl Easier Than Ever

I don’t track my time because I enjoy starting and stopping timers; I do it because, over the long haul, it provides valuable insight into how I’m spending my time. As useful as it is to have data on how much a project or task takes or how much time a task consumes relative to other things I do, the act of tracking itself can be tedious, which is why it can be so easy to fall out of the habit of doing it.

The reason I’ve used Timery, the time tracking app for Toggl, on my iPhone and iPad since it was released, is because of developer Joe Hribar’s attention to making it as easy as possible to track your time without a lot of fuss. Features like saved timers, widgets, keyboard shortcuts, and Shortcuts actions for automating timers have made the app a delight to use since version 1.0.

In fact, the Timery experience has been so good that I used it even though it had no Mac app, which is something I rarely do with apps I use every day. However, with the release of version 1.2 of Timery today, I no longer need to use a different time tracking app on my Mac because Timery has been released as a Mac Catalyst app, complete with all the features Timery users already know and love from iPhone and iPad versions. Today’s update to Timery isn’t just a treat for Mac users, though. Version 1.2 also packs in a long list of new keyboard shortcuts and settings for all users, making this one of the biggest updates since the app was launched.

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HomeRun 2 Launches as a New App with Home Screen Widgets, an In-App Grid System, and an Updated Watch Complication Editor

I’ve long considered HomeRun by Aaron Pearce a must-have app if you’re into HomeKit automation. With version 2, which is available for the iPhone and iPad and is out today, HomeRun adds all-new ways to access HomeKit scenes with in-app grids and Home Screen widgets, along with an updated Apple Watch complication editor. Although the initial setup process can be a bit laborious, investing some time in a setup on multiple devices pays off, allowing you to trigger scenes in many more ways than is possible with the Home app.

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