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CARROT Weather Adds New Data Sources, Including Netatmo Weather Stations

One of the nerdy features of CARROT Weather I love is its support for personal weather stations as a data source. Not long ago, Federico explained on AppStories that the weather station down the street from him had shut down, so he could no longer use it as a source in CARROT. I suggested he get a Netatmo Personal Weather Station and connect it to Weather Underground’s network of stations, but at about the same time Weather Underground ended its support for the Netatmo device, which left us both without a hyper-local weather source. It wasn’t a huge deal, but there’s something fun about knowing that the temperature you’re seeing in CARROT is the precise temperature outside your window and not some weather station that may be miles away from your home.

With today’s update, CARROT has stepped in with direct support for the Netatmo weather station as well as other new data sources. For the Netatmo device, all you need to do is sign in using the same login you use for Netatmo’s dedicated app, and as long as you’re within two miles of your home, CARROT will include the data collected by the Netatmo device.

Dark Sky is the default data source for CARROT, but users have three other options. The first is The Weather Channel, which provides the most extended-range forecast (data covering the next 360 hours and 15 days), is available worldwide, and can access personal weather stations connected to the Weather Underground network. CARROT has also added AccuWeather and Aeris Weather as data sources. The Aeris Weather option includes PWSweather.com personal weather station data. Users have the option of including Dark Sky's short-term precipitation in CARROT even if The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, or Aeris Weather is their data source.

Personal weather stations connected to the Weather Underground system and PWSweather.com can be selected from a map allowing you to pick one closest to where you live. Other than the personal weather station access through the Weather Channel’s API though, Weather Underground data, which was previously a data source option in CARROT, has been removed because IBM, which owns Weather Underground, has discontinued its API.

CARROT Weather’s update includes a host of other smaller additions too:

  • Air quality index and pollen data are available in the current weather view if you use The Weather Channel or AccuWeather as sources
  • There are six new secret locations to discover
  • The location screen has a new ‘Recent Searches’ section, from which you can add previous searches to your saved locations by tapping the star icon next to them.

I’m glad Brian Mueller has expanded the data source options for CARROT Weather. The best source varies depending on where you are, and with more sources, CARROT should be a better option for more users going forward. I especially like the personal weather station integration. Whether you have a weather sensor yourself or want to piggy-back on another publicly-available station nearby, they’re an excellent way to track hyper-local conditions.

CARROT Weather is available as a free update to existing users on the App Store.


Things 3.8 Brings Dark Modes to the iOS Task Manager

This fall when macOS Mojave introduced a systemwide dark mode feature, Things added support for the new mode in version 3.7. The iPhone and iPad versions of the app, however, were left out. A lack of feature parity across platforms is always unfortunate, but that was especially true this time around because our John Voorhees  highlighted Things as having his single favorite dark mode implementation.

There's good news though: we didn't have to wait long for Things’ dark mode to make its way to iOS. Launching today in version 3.8, Things has added two different dark modes on both iPhone and iPad, one of which is suited particularly well to OLED iPhones.

Accessible via a new Appearance screen in Things’ Settings, there are now options for Light, Dark, and Black modes for the task manager. The former is the default appearance of the app we’re all well acquainted with, while the latter two are brand new. Both alternate appearances employ blue as the app’s accent color, with the main difference being the background color. Dark mode uses a nice shade of gray, while Black mode employs an OLED-optimized true black.

Each of Things’ appearance options can be set manually, or there's an option to have the app switch modes automatically depending on your display's brightness. Once you activate this toggle, you'll see an option to choose between Dark and Black options for automatic switching, as well as a brightness threshold at which Things will change its appearance. The app’s use of display brightness to change modes should work well for users who have iOS’ Auto-Brightness feature activated, but I wish there was an automatic switching function for those who, like me, have that turned off.

Things 3.8 doesn't introduce any other new features, but adding two beautiful dark modes is enough to make this a noteworthy release. Cultured Code has a strong reputation for thoughtful design, and its dark modes are a standout example on iOS.

Things 3.8 is available on iPhone and iPad.


HomeRun 1.1 Enables Creating Custom Watch Complications

HomeRun is a simple Apple Watch utility for controlling HomeKit scenes from your wrist. Where Apple’s Home app for the Watch can be clunky to navigate, especially if you have more than a couple HomeKit devices set up, HomeRun makes controls easily accessible for all your scenes. And today, with version 1.1, HomeRun has introduced custom complication creation, making it possible to have different launcher complications for each of your configured scenes.

Inside the HomeRun app on iPhone, the Complications screen in version 1.1 appears largely the same at first glance, but once you start tapping around you'll discover that Watch complications are now fully customizable. Visit the detail view for a specific watch face and you'll be able to update any and all complications for that face with custom colors and icons to accompany your selected scenes. The Series 4 Watch's Infograph face, for example, presents options to customize both the corner slot and circle slot complications.

Creating custom complications works just like setting up scenes for the main Watch app itself, with the same set of colors and glyphs available in both places. That means the excellent assortment of glyph options for scenes are all accessible as complication icons as well.

When it launched last month, HomeRun enabled adding scenes as complications to your watch face, but you had to use the app's icon for each complication. Custom complications were a natural next step for the app, and I'm thankful we didn't have to wait long for them to arrive.

HomeRun 1.1 is available on the App Store.


Linea Sketch Adds Fill, Blend, ZipShape, and Versioning Features

I’m not much of an artist, but I like to take notes, doodle, and create freehand mind maps with the Apple Pencil. With a rich set of paper options and templates to choose from and tools that don’t require a manual to understand, Linea Sketch has become one of my go-to brainstorming tools.

With each update, the app has added functionality that makes it more powerful and flexible without increasing complexity. Version 2.5, which is out today, continues that trend with four new core features, support for Apple Pencil gestures, a new background paper, and other refinements.

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Sofa Review: A Simple Tool for Tracking Movies, TV Shows, Books, and Podcasts

We live in a time when media options are growing at a fast pace. It's a golden age for television, with great shows debuting all the time; the film industry is being transformed by the infusion of new competition from streaming giants like Netflix; podcasts are becoming more mainstream by the day; and despite books not being in a similar growth phase, new titles are still being written constantly. In this crowded media landscape, it's hard to keep track of all the great content waiting to be enjoyed.

In the past I've kept notes in Apple Notes containing lists of TV shows, movies, podcasts, and books to check out. Lately, however, I've been using an app called Sofa.

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My Skin Track UV: A Tiny Wearable to Track UV Exposure

Spending too long in the sun can damage your skin. By the time you have a painful sunburn, it’s too late; you’ve already overdone it. You can plan your day based on the UV forecast in a weather app, but forecasts are no guarantee of the actual conditions and can’t account for how long you’re exposed to harmful UV-A and UV-B rays.

The awkwardly-named My Skin Track UV sensor by La Roche-Posay is designed to pick up where forecasts leave off by measuring your actual exposure to harmful UV rays throughout the day without needing to be charged. It’s a remarkably small wearable sensor with a companion app that reports other environmental data too.

The My Skin Track UV sensor performed well in my testing, and I felt like it provided useful, actionable data about potentially harmful conditions that would be hard to judge without the device. The lack of charging and diminutive size makes the My Skin Track UV sensor easy to carry with you all day too. The trouble is, the My Skin Track UV is so small and light, and the clip is just slippery enough, that it’s easy to misplace or lose altogether, which I promptly did. Here’s what happened.

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Pocket Casts 7: A Host of Improvements Make the App Feel Brand New

It's been over two years since the last major version of Pocket Casts debuted. A lot has happened in the podcasting world since then, including Pocket Casts itself being acquired by a consortium of radio stations and podcast companies. The app has also faced strong competition from alternatives like Overcast and Castro. Pocket Casts remains one of the best third-party podcast clients on iOS, but it has started to show its age of late. Updates to the app over the last year have been fairly minor and unimpressive. In hindsight though, it's easy to understand why: the app's development team has been plugging away on a major new update that's officially launched today.

Pocket Casts 7 makes the podcast client feel modern again. It introduces a new design alongside important features like Siri shortcuts and AirPlay 2 support, Up Next syncing, episode search, Listening History, and a lot more. If you haven't given the app a try in a while, now is definitely the time to do so.

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HomeRun: Quickly Trigger HomeKit Scenes on Your Apple Watch

HomeRun is a simple, elegant utility for triggering HomeKit scenes from your Apple Watch. Through a combination of color and iconography, HomeRun developer Aaron Pearce, who is the creator of other excellent HomeKit apps like HomeCam and HomePass, creates an effective solution for accessing HomeKit scenes from your wrist. It’s a user-friendly approach that’s a fantastic alternative for HomeKit device users frustrated by Apple’s Home app.

Apple’s Home app is hard to use on the Apple Watch. First, when you open Home on the Watch, it’s not clear what you’re seeing. Home presents a series of card-like, monochrome scene and accessory buttons that you scroll through one or two at a time. Although the app doesn’t say so, these are the favorite scenes and accessories from the Home tab of the iOS app. That makes the list customizable, which is nice, but the app should do a better job identifying where the user is in relationship to the iOS app.

Second, although you can rearrange your Home favorites to reorder them on the Watch too, you can only see two scenes or one accessory at a time. Depending on how many favorites you have, that limits the Watch app’s utility because a long list of scenes and accessories requires a lot of swiping or scrolling with the Digital Crown.

HomeRun avoids this by eliminating text and relying on color and iconography to distinguish between scenes. The app is also limited to triggering scenes, reducing potential clutter further. The approach allows HomeRun to display up to 12 scenes on a single screen of a 44mm Apple Watch compared to the two scene buttons that Home can display. If you set up more than 12 scenes, they are accessible by scrolling.

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