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Captionista: Simple, Flexible Video Subtitling for the iPhone and iPad

One of the tradeoffs I see a lot in the apps we cover is between simplicity and flexibility. Simplicity has its virtues, but often apps designed to make things as easy as possible for users end up being inflexible, resulting in cookie-cutter output. The flip side is that maximum flexibility can get out of hand fast, leading to a steep learning curve. Striking the right balance is hard, but the apps that do are always among my favorites because they work so well for a wide audience. That’s exactly how I feel about Captionista, an iPhone and iPad app for adding text to video. It’s simple to understand but includes the kind of depth that epitomizes what it means to do one thing well.

I don’t work with video a lot, and when I do, my needs are pretty simple. Often, I want to demonstrate something with a screen recording, which isn’t always easy to follow without some sort of explanation. That’s where Captionista comes in.

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Safari Extension Noir Adds Theming and Deeper Keyboard Shortcut Support

Last year, we awarded Noir Best New App of 2021 as part of the MacStories Selects Awards. Jeffrey Kuiken’s Safari extension for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, which can apply a custom dark mode to websites that don’t offer their own, is a fantastic example of an app that implements a new technology – the native Safari extensions introduced with iOS and iPadOS 15 and earlier on the Mac – in a way that is simple to use but also provides advanced customization for users who want that. Noir immediately became a MacStories favorite on launch, and it remains an app that I rely on every day.

The latest update to Noir takes the app’s original concept a step further with new theming options, theme sharing, and extensive keyboard shortcut support. It’s an excellent update that anyone who likes to tweak the colors used in their apps will appreciate. Let’s take a closer look.

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HiRise 3: Twelve South’s Space-Saving, Three-in-One Charging Solution

Source: Twelve South.

Source: Twelve South.

Not long ago, Twelve South introduced a new 3-in-1 charger for the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods Pro called the HiRise 3. I’ve used a Belkin 3-in-1 charger on my desk for a few years and love it, but it takes up quite a bit of space. So, when Twelve South recently offered to send me the HiRise 3 to test, I jumped at the chance to check out its more compact design. After using the HiRise 3 for the past few weeks, I’m happy with it overall and think it’s a great choice for most users, but it comes with a couple of limitations that you’ll want to consider before buying one yourself.

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Pixelmator 2.7 Introduces a New Design, A Faster Editing Engine, and Limited Support for Pixelmator Pro Files

Before there was Pixelmator Pro on the Mac or Pixelmator Photo on the iPhone and iPad, there was just plain Pixelmator, the layer-based image editor that started on the Mac, added iPad support in 2014, and then made its way to the iPhone a year later. It’s been a long, successful story, but Pixelmator was supplanted by Pixelmator Pro on the Mac, and although it has remained available ever since on the iPad and iPhone, its development slowed significantly with the introduction of Pixelmator Photo. Still, Pixelmator survived, at least in part, because it’s a simple touch and layer-based editor, which has had few competitors on the iPhone and iPad until recently.

Today’s update to version 2.7 is a modest but important update that sets Pixelmator up for the future. The first thing you’ll notice is that the design has been updated, making it feel more at home with other apps on the iPhone and iPad. Day-to-day, though, the biggest change is a new Metal-based editing engine that results in better performance than ever before. Pixelmator was already fast enough for the basic image compositing I do, but for more complex operations with lots of layers and machine learning tasks, the transition to Metal will make a bigger difference.

Editing an image in Pixelmator.

Editing an image in Pixelmator.

Pixelmator has also added initial support for Pixelmator Pro’s file format. In my limited testing, I’ve found that images touched up in Pixelmator Pro work fine in Pixelmator. However, Pixelmator doesn’t support all of Pro’s tools such as Effects. When I opened an image that had a small area blurred out with a Gaussian Blur effect, I got a warning that proceeding would merge changes into my image. When I clicked through, the effect was applied to the entire image instead of a small part of it. Fortunately, though, Pixelmator makes a copy of your original file, so you can always roll back to your original image.

Notwithstanding Pixelmator 2.7’s limited support for Pro’s file format, it’s good to see the app get a substantial update to its design and editing engine. There are other options for layer-based image editing, but most are overkill for a lot of people. Pixelmator has always struck a nice balance by offering the power inherent in using layers without the complexity of an app like Photoshop.

Pixelmator 2.7 is available on the App Store as a free update for existing users and $4.99 for new users.


Pestle 1.2: The MacStories Review

One of the greatest strengths of the App Store is its abundance of choice. For every app category, there are always multiple excellent options from which to pick. That’s never been more true for the recipe app category. Paprika was my long-time personal favorite until Mela came along, but there are other great options like Grocery and Crouton too. Another app that belongs on that list is Pestle, an iPhone and iPad app by Will Bishop.

At its core, Pestle is a recipe manager, but it also integrates with Reminders to create shopping lists, offers a way to discover new dishes, and integrates meal planning, making it a well-rounded solution. The app also features a modern design that works well in the kitchen and some clever details like hands-free voice control for moving between recipe steps while cooking, making it worth a closer look.

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Warp: A Simple, Keyboard-Driven Mac Utility for Saving Window Setups

One of the cornerstone features coming to macOS Ventura this fall is Stage Manager, which lets you create sets of multiple apps, decluttering your desktop without a lot of fiddling. In my limited use so far, I’m optimistic about Stage Manager’s future as a way to manage apps, but it’s not for everyone, which is fine because there are so many other ways to manage windows on a Mac.

There are other utilities available for arranging windows on your desktop and saving those configurations. For window placement, I use Magnet. I love that the app can be driven entirely by keyboard shortcuts but is also always available in my Mac’s menu bar.

However, for some reason, utilities for saving the window configurations I create with Magnet have never stuck as part of my workflow. With Stage Manager on my mind recently, though, I thought I’d give a new app called Warp a try.

I like the way Warp previews layouts in its preferences.

I like the way Warp previews layouts in its preferences.

Warp is the creation of Mike Choi, who released Juice, a macOS Bluetooth device manager that I covered in 2019. I’ve only been using Warp for a few days, but it has already fit neatly into my Mac workflow because it’s a simple, keyboard-driven utility that scratches the same sort of itch as Magnet.

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iA Writer 6 Adds Cross-Document Linking, Metadata, and More

iA Writer has long been one of the premier text editors on Apple’s platforms. The app’s design is top-notch, and it offers a feature set that makes it among the best options for writing in Markdown. Best of all, the app’s features stay out of your way while you’re writing. They’re easy to access, but they aren’t a distraction. That’s as true of iA Writer 6 today as it was with previous versions.

However, the Markdown text editor market is changing rapidly, with tools for creating interlinked notes and documents in a variety of ways that have quickly become table stakes for text editors and note-taking apps alike. iA Writer 6, which is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, is a response to those changes that fits comfortably with the app’s existing feature set and design. The update doesn’t go as far as an app like Obsidian when it comes to internal links. Nor is it extensible with plugins. However, for many users, I suspect iA Writer’s impeccable design and thoughtful features will outweigh its lack of certain power-user features.

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WorldWideWeb: A Simple Web Server Utility for Mac, iPad, and iPhone

Early today The Iconfactory released their latest app, a simple web server utility called WorldWideWeb. Solidly developer-focused in scope, the app serves files from a local directory to an automatically generated URL, making these files available to any device on your local network. While there are sure to be more inventive use cases for such a utility, its general purpose is for testing simple websites built on the Web’s greatest primitive: HTML.

WorldWideWeb’s killer feature is simplicity. The app’s entire main interface consists of two tiny sections: in the first you select a folder, and in the second you start or stop the web server. When the server is activated, a URL is generated. The app uses Bonjour to make the address available to any device on the same Wi-Fi network as the host. Just copy and paste the URL or press the ‘Open in Browser’ button to view the website natively in a web browser.

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Grocery 3.0 Introduces App-Wide Redesign and New Inventory Features

It’s been fun to watch Grocery by Conrad Stoll evolve over the years. The app started as a relatively simple shopping list app on the iPhone but has transformed into something much deeper. Today, Grocery is available on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch and offers a comprehensive feature set that also covers meal planning, recipes, and inventory tracking. This week’s release of version 3.0 of Grocery takes the app’s formula further with a fresh, modern design, tighter integration between inventory management and shopping lists, and other new inventory features for better tracking of what you have on hand. It’s an excellent update that takes advantage of the latest features of Apple’s OSes to offer a broad-based approach to grocery shopping.

I’m going to focus this review on what’s new in Grocery 3.0, but you can read more about the app’s core features in my past reviews.

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