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Chirp 2.0 Offers a Remarkably Full-Featured Twitter Experience on Apple Watch

It’s time for Apple Watch apps to grow up, and Chirp for Twitter is leading the charge.

Chirp 2.0 debuted today, offering a full-featured Twitter experience on the Apple Watch. Chirp was already the prime Twitter client on watchOS, but with version 2 the app becomes something truly special: an iPhone-quality app on the Watch. Thanks to SwiftUI and other new developer tools Apple has built for watchOS, Chirp can do all the things you would expect from a full-featured iOS app, such as load your whole timeline, with liking and retweeting functionality, display videos and open links embedded in tweets, offer tweet composition, full user profiles, DMs, and much, much more.

Watch developer Will Bishop has been shipping impressive apps for a while, but Chirp 2.0 undoubtedly represents his best work yet.

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Loupedeck+ Review: Faster, More Natural Image and Video Editing with a Dedicated Control Panel

Source: Loupedeck

Source: Loupedeck

The Loupedeck+ is a hardware control panel for editing photos and video that transforms the software tools you’re accustomed to using with a mouse or trackpad into physical buttons, knobs, and dials. By eliminating the need to dive into menus and hunt for software, the Loupedeck+ changes the image editing process into something much closer to the feeling of editing on an iPad with the Apple Pencil. The seemingly endless series of swipes, drags, and clicks are replaced by something far more tactile and natural.

The result is a clear example of the benefit of using a dedicated tool for a particular task. Photo and video editing is often a high-volume, high-precision activity with lots of repetition, and depending on your job, tight deadlines. That makes any tool that can shave a little time off of editing each photo a win for professionals who often edit thousands of images in a week.

What I didn’t expect, though, is that the Loupedeck+ also makes editing more accessible for beginners like myself. As I’ll explain in more detail below, when Loupedeck sent me their device to test, I spent most of my time using it in Adobe Lightroom Classic, which I hadn’t used before. However, after a short time familiarizing myself with the Loupedeck+ layout, I found myself deep in the editing process with my eyes fixed on the images I was working on instead of darting back and forth hunting for the tools I wanted to use.

I may never enjoy the sort of time savings that a professional photographer could squeeze out of the Loupedeck+. However, simply knowing that I can dip in and out of Lightroom Classic for my editing needs with virtually no learning curve eliminates a significant hurdle that has slowed me down in the past. Although there are aspects of the Loupedeck+ that could be improved, it’s an incredibly powerful tool that fits into more workflows than I anticipated, which makes it an accessory worth considering for a wide range of users.

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Actions by Moleskine Adds Reminders Import, Shortcuts with Parameters, and Context Menus

Actions' new Reminders import feature.

Actions’ new Reminders import feature.

The new year approaches, and with it arrive dreams of being a more productive you – which of course involves choosing the perfect task management system for your needs.

In a timely move, Moleskine’s elegant task manager, Actions, was updated today with a new Reminders import feature, so you can instantly migrate any or all of your Reminders lists and tasks into Actions. The update also supports two new iOS 13 features: shortcuts featuring parameters and context menus.

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iOS Photo Metadata Utility Metapho Adds Deep Fusion and Night Mode Photo Detection

Metapho has been one of my favorite photo utilities on iOS for years. The marquee feature has always been its ability to strip metadata from images, which is handy when sharing photos online, for instance. Over time though, Metapho has grown to incorporate other functionality for inspecting and editing photo metadata that has made the app a must-have iOS utility. With its latest update, Metapho has added Deep Fusion and Night Mode photo detection, an intriguing addition that I haven’t seen any other app offer.

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Toolbox Pro Review: A Must-Have Companion Utility for Shortcuts Power Users

When I covered the updated Shortcuts app in my iOS and iPadOS 13 review earlier this year, I argued how, thanks to parameters, Shortcuts actions provided by third-party apps could become native features of the Shortcuts app.

With his debut app Toolbox Pro, released today on the App Store, developer Alex Hay has taken this idea to its logical conclusion: Toolbox Pro is a new kind of “headless” app – a utility whose sole purpose is to complement and extend Apple’s Shortcuts app with over 50 new actions, providing a native implementation of functionalities that Apple hasn’t brought to Shortcuts yet. After having used Toolbox Pro for the past couple of months, not only is the app a clever idea well suited for Shortcuts’ parameter framework, but it’s also a must-have for anyone who relies on Shortcuts on a daily basis.

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Game Day: NABOKI

NABOKI, a brand new puzzle game by Maciej Targoni, is a masterpiece of mobile game design. Targoni is the developer of klocki, which I previously reviewed, and several other games that feature a similar minimalist aesthetic that I love.

I started NABOKI for the first time on a recent early-morning flight to California. I couldn’t have picked a better game to make my uncomfortable surroundings melt into the background.

The game has no tutorial and virtually no UI. Instead, NABOKI relies on exploration and the player’s curiosity to propel it forward. Coupled with a soothing nature-inspired soundtrack, NABOKI creates a calming environment of thoughtful concentration that’s a great way to relax.

NABOKI opens with a single white cube with rounded edges and a red arrow-like character on one side. Swiping on the screen spins the cube in three dimensions. Tapping on the cube provided immediate audio feedback, playing one tone when I tapped a blank side of the cube and another when I tapped the side with the arrow, causing the cube to launch itself offscreen.

The early levels of the game introduce the basic concept of tapping the arrow side of cubes to clear them from the screen and rotating the puzzle to consider your options from all angles, as you would a Rubik’s cube. As the puzzles become more complex, featuring blocks of several contiguous cubes, you need to clear pieces in a particular order to clear a path for others, and often to expose the arrows you need to reach before they can be cleared.

After several more levels, NABOKI begins to introduce different behaviors to cubes. There are circles that rotate cubes, switches that shift cubes and blocks of cubes, unclearable blocks, and blocks with patterns that have to be matched to clear them, for instance. Each puzzle builds on the new types of blocks introduced, combining them in clever ways that amp up the difficulty gradually in a way that isn’t frustrating.

Each type of cube also provides different audio feedback, which I enjoy, but I’d like to see haptic feedback added to interactions. NABOKI is the kind of game that I’m far more likely to play on my iPhone, and I think haptic feedback would draw players into the game’s world even more quickly and deeply.

NABOKI should be played with headphones because the soundtrack is a fantastic synthesis of instrumentation and sounds from nature. The soundtrack reminds me a little of the Brain.fm music. It’s a wonderful complement to a puzzle game like NABOKI, that creates a relaxed, contemplative environment in which it’s easy to lose yourself.

The single dot in the top-left corner reveals navigation buttons to replay solved puzzles and a button to turn the soundtrack on and off. There’s no scoring, leaderboards, or other competitive aspect of NABOKI. It’s just you against the puzzles.

Crammed into a narrow seat with a tray that was too small to use my iPad Pro, and with no WiFi, NABOKI was the perfect way to pass a big chunk of my weekend flight. A few levels are also a great way to unwind after a long day. I highly recommend NABOKI to anyone who’s a fan of puzzle games.

NABOKI is available on the App Store for $0.99.


FoodNoms: A Privacy-Focused Food Tracker with Innovative New Ways to Log Meals

FoodNoms is a new privacy-oriented food tracking app that tackles the tedium of logging what you’ve eaten in innovative ways that make it one of the most promising apps in this category that I’ve seen in a long time.

Too often during the year, I find myself eating what’s easy, not what’s healthy. When I sense that happening, the first step I take is to open a food tracking app and log what I’ve been eating. The process imposes the discipline to help get me back on track with healthier eating habits. However, I don’t usually stick with food tracking long, mostly because I find the process tedious.

With FoodNoms, I’ve found it easier to stick with food tracking than ever before. The app’s database of foods seems a little limited compared to other apps I’ve used, and I’d like to see more ways to visualize trends over time added to the app. Still, those limitations are largely made up for by the ability to log portion accuracy and scan nutrition labels, along with the multitude of other ways to log meals. Add FoodNoms’ privacy focus, and I expect it’s going to win over a lot of people.

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Arcade Highlights: Sayonara Wild Hearts

How can I best describe Sayonara Wild Hearts? It’s an on-rails music-driven game, but that feels like an inadequate description. Yes it’s a game, but combining the gameplay with Sayonara Wild Hearts’ blend of immersive levels, gorgeous visuals, and incredible soundtrack, it feels more fitting to call it an experience.

Sayonara Wild Hearts was an Apple Arcade launch title, one of the few demoed on-stage at Apple’s September event. And as one of Arcade’s premiere titles, it’s a brilliant representation of what Apple’s new service represents: off-the-walls originality. Arcade aims to fund and promote a variety of creative titles, freeing developers from the restraints commonly associated with the App Store’s In-App Purchase-dominated gaming fare. Sayonara Wild Hearts offers an experience that’s so unique and, dare I say, trippy, that it clearly represents its makers’ unfiltered vision.

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1Blocker for Mac Introduces New Features and a Subscription-Based Business Model

I wish I didn’t feel like I needed an ad blocker, but so much of the Internet is junked up with intrusive, distracting advertising, that it’s virtually impossible to use some websites. I don’t have an issue with most advertising, but there’s a line that is crossed too often and ruins the reading experience of many sites. Where that line is varies subjectively by person, but that’s precisely why having a flexible ad blocker like 1Blocker is crucial.

The other reason to use 1Blocker is that content blockers like it manage more than just ads. Comments, share buttons, and social media badges are only a few of the many annoyances found on sites these days. Add to those, things like trackers and bitcoin mining code, and even if you don’t block a single ad, there is still plenty to block.

1Blocker has been one of my favorite utilities since it was introduced with iOS 9 and content blockers were new to iOS. The iOS version was followed by a Mac version the next year. 2018 saw the release of 1Blocker X on iOS, which split blocking rules into multiple categories to get around rule limits imposed by the OS. With the latest update to 1Blocker’s Mac app, that same functionality has been brought to the Mac along with a redesign of the app’s UI and a new subscription-based business model.

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