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Lookmark Now Tracks App Updates

Lookmark is a bookmarking and monitoring service for iTunes content. It’s an excellent way to save apps, movies, books, and other media for later. Users who purchase a subscription can also use Lookmark to track price changes for apps, which is useful for bargain hunters. Today, Lookmark released an update that pushes the app further into the realm of app monitoring that started with price tracking. Now, users can also track when iOS and macOS apps are updated on the App Store and Mac App Store.

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Focos: Powerful Depth Image Controls in a Fun Package

The iPhone's camera has long been one of its most important features. Every year when new models are introduced, it's a sure bet that camera improvements are part of the package. Last year that remained true, but it also proved an even more special year for the iPhone's camera setup. The introduction of dual rear-facing cameras with Portrait mode was something different – pictures no longer just looked a little better than on older iPhone models, they looked almost professional-quality.

This year, whether you picked up a new iPhone or not, Portrait mode is a better feature than before. Part of this is due to software improvements in iOS 11, but another key benefit is that third-party developers now have access to the depth information in Portrait photos. For the first time, Portrait images taken with the iPhone can be edited and enhanced in unique ways, and Focos is a new app that takes full advantage of that opportunity.

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RAW Power for iOS Review

Earlier this year, I reviewed RAW Power for macOS and was impressed by its power and flexibility. Yesterday, Gentlemen Coders released a no-compromises version of RAW Power for iOS that matches the macOS version’s features and adds the ability to manage your photo library and make Depth Effect edits to Portrait mode photographs. There are a few rough edges here and there, but by and large, the app delivers on its promise of desktop-class, non-destructive photo editing on iOS devices.

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Playground AR: A Physics Sandbox for Freeform Play

One of childhood's simple joys for many of us was getting our creative juices flowing by playing with building blocks. It's one of those tactile, imaginative outlets that adulthood features far less of. Blocks also brought the added benefit of getting to destroy the work you'd built – a task similarly delightful to the actual building.

Recently my wife and I were babysitting twin 1-year-old boys, owners of a big bucket full of colorful, cardboard bricks. All throughout the night I enjoyed building small towers with the bricks, and the boys would have a blast knocking those towers down. Even when they were on the other side of the room distracted by something else, if they saw me stack three or more bricks together, they'd quickly come running to play demolition crew.

Playground AR is a new app from developer Marc Sureda that uses ARKit to bring the joys of childhood play to all ages – and with no mess to clean up either. The app provides a variety of toys that let you both build and destroy, with a physics system backing it all up to make the experience a delight.

There are three main modes in Playground AR: one is for placing objects in your playground, another lets you better survey and capture photos of what you've built, and the last is for picking up and moving existing objects. Objects you can place of course include blocks of varying shapes and sizes, but there are also lots of other fun, interesting toys to experiment with – trucks, helicopters, dice, spinning widgets, and more.

The physics engine is what makes Playground truly shine. Stacking blocks too high, for example, will cause your creation to topple over if the stack isn't well-balanced. Dominos can be strung together in an elaborate setup then knocked down by a rolling ball. Magnetized blocks will stick together even if gravity or another object forces them to fall. Balloons can be attached to objects, and depending on an object's weight and the number of balloons, the object will eventually be sent flying into the stratosphere. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite physics demonstration: placing bombs and TNT containers in your playground to blow everything up. It's brilliant.

If you want to spend some time goofing around in an AR sandbox, building and destroying in all kinds of creative ways, you can pickup Playground AR on the App Store for $1.99.


SongShift 3.0 and Switching Between Apple Music and Spotify

For the better part of this year, I’ve been using both Spotify and Apple Music. In my opinion, each service does a few things exceptionally well, but, unfortunately, I can’t have all of them in a single music app.

Spotify’s discovery tools for both old and new songs are simply unparalleled in the industry: Discover Weekly continues to surprise me on a weekly basis just like mixtapes used to do. Spotify is everywhere (including my Amazon Echo); I like how it organizes releases on artist pages; and, it’s got a richer selection of user-generated playlists. Apple Music, on the other hand, looks much better than Spotify (I love Apple’s focus on album artworks and large photography), features built-in lyrics, is deeply integrated with the Apple ecosystem, and I’m a fan of the social feed launched with iOS 11. In short: Spotify is superior when it comes to discovery for music aficionados and integration with third-party hardware, but Apple Music is nicer and easier to use for iOS users. I can’t choose because I happen to have a foot in both camps.

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iPhone Reborn: Initial Thoughts on the iPhone X

This is not just another iPhone.

Spend enough time with an iPhone X, and every prior iPhone will feel surprisingly foreign. The radically new display and Face ID are not mere features of this new device – they are foundational pieces of a new iPhone experience that, once lived with, you'll never want to go back from.

While Federico is hard at work on his full review of the iPhone X, I wanted to share my early impressions of the device after a few days of use.

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Overcast 4.0 Brings UI Optimizations for iOS 11 and iPhone X, Drag and Drop, and New Advanced Settings

The combination of iOS 11 and iPhone X is pushing developers to reconsider many of their interaction paradigms and interface affordances that predated the Super Retina display and drag and drop. In a span of two months, iOS 11 made custom implementations of multiple item selection and reordering effectively obsolete, while the iPhone X now requires apps to embrace its display and novel status bar design.

Overcast 4.0 is a good example of how Apple's biggest releases of the year impacted apps that needed a lot of work to be updated for the iPhone X and iOS 11. Released today on the App Store, Overcast 4.0 bears no groundbreaking additions to the experience; instead, developer Marco Arment focused on design refinements and simplifying the app's navigation, modernizing Overcast's appearance and flow while bringing smaller enhancements to the listening and browsing experience.

There are some notable changes in this version – drag and drop is present, albeit in a limited fashion – but Overcast 4.0 is primarily aimed at foundational improvements and laying the groundwork for the future. Despite this "Snow Leopard approach", however, heavy Overcast users should still find the many optimizations as well as the "by popular demand" tweaks more than welcome.

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Apollo: A Powerful, Modern Reddit Client for iOS

Reddit is one of those spaces on the Internet that I’ve historically stayed mostly away from. Due to my role at MacStories, however, and a thriving Apple subreddit, I’ve been there more in the past year than all prior years combined. During that time I’ve tried all the best iOS Reddit clients in an attempt to find one that’s right for me. For one reason or another, none have stuck; today, however, that changes, with the release of Apollo.

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