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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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MindNode for iPad and iPhone Adds Editable Outline Mode

First seen in the mind mapping app’s Mac version earlier this year, MindNode has added an editable outline mode to its iPad and iPhone versions. I was impressed with MindNode’s editable outline mode on the Mac, and I’m happy to report that the iPad and iPhone versions are every bit as good. The app’s editable outline takes advantage of the iPad and iPhone’s unique features to provide the same useful alternative perspective on your mind map that the Mac version offers.

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Lux Delivers an iPad Version of Halide That Addresses the Unique Challenges of iPad Photography

Students are finishing up the year here in the US, and nothing says graduation season like a relative gripping an iPad with two hands to snap photos of a graduate at a family gathering. It’s easy to poke fun at iPad photography, but those aren’t easy shots to get with Apple’s tablet. Both of your hands are occupied, and the viewfinder is huge and partially obscured by the app’s UI. If you’re at one of these events and see a relative struggling to take the perfect family portrait with their iPad, before you assume that they cut you out of the frame on purpose, show them Halide. The brand new iPad version of the app from the team at Lux makes taking iPad photos more natural and, of course, offers all the advanced features available in the iPhone version of the app.

I don’t take many photos with my iPad, and I doubt I ever will. The camera hardware isn’t as good as it is on the iPhone, and I don’t find myself in situations where I have my iPad but not my iPhone. However, once in a while, I’m using my iPad and want to capture a moment quickly without digging my iPhone out of my pocket. For those occasions, I’m going to use Halide because the app’s thoughtful design makes the experience far superior to other camera apps I’ve tried on the iPad.

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Photo Editor and Organizer Darkroom Adds New Clarity Tool

Photo editing and management app Darkroom has been updated with a new Clarity slider that I’ve been testing on the iPhone and iPad for a couple of weeks now.

The new slider in the app’s editing panel is deceptively simple. Move the slider to the right to make the details of an image pop or to the left to smooth out the details. If you look carefully, though, you’ll notice that the increase in contrast isn’t uniform across a photo. You can turn the Clarity of a portrait down to smooth a person’s skin, for instance, without affecting their hair or eyes.

Source: Darkroom.

Source: Darkroom.

As Jasper Hauser explains on the Darkroom blog, the Clarity slider is logarithmic, meaning that the effect intensifies more quickly as you approach the endpoints. Picking a point in the middle of the slider’s range produces a subtler effect.

The effect works well with landscapes like the photo of skyscrapers along the Chicago River at the beginning of this story. You can see that increasing Clarity brings out the details in the windows of each building, and turning Clarity down softens areas like the water.

Clarity can achieve a wide range of effects like this shot where it is turned down, smoothing details

Clarity can achieve a wide range of effects like this shot where it is turned down, smoothing details

In contrast, turning up Clarity increases a photo's details dramatically.

In contrast, turning up Clarity increases a photo’s details dramatically.

As Hauser explains, Clarity works by building a detail map of an image and then adjusting the contrast of its regions using an algorithm called a Fast Local Laplacian Filter. There’s a lot of math happening under the hood that Hauser links to if you’re interested in learning more behind what the Darkroom team has managed to incorporate into a simple slider interaction that’s yet another excellent addition to this Apple Design Award-winning app. To learn more about Darkroom’s features, be sure to check out our past coverage and interview on AppStories with Darkroom co-founder Majd Taby.

Darkroom’s latest update is available on the App Store.