Philips has released an update to Hue, the companion app for its line of smart lightbulbs. The user interface will be familiar to existing users, but the update introduces a refreshed design that looks better than the prior version and surfaces features that used to be harder to find. Philips has added a bunch of new built-in lighting scenes too.
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Despite Apple's message that the iPad Pro can be a viable PC replacement because, among other features, it natively supports a dedicated external keyboard, its software still isn't fully optimized for keyboard control. This isn't surprising at all: iOS was designed with multitouch in mind; as long as the iPad shares a common foundation with the iPhone, it'll always be first and foremost a touch computer. The iPad Pro line, however, is nearing its third anniversary, and its external keyboard integration still feels like an afterthought that's hard to reconcile with the company's marketing.
Take multitasking for example: after three years, Split View, one of the iPad's marquee exclusive features, still can't be controlled from an external keyboard. If you buy an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard and assume that you're going to be able to assign an app to a side of the Split View, or maybe resize it, or perhaps change the keyboard's focus from one side to another...well, do not assume. As much as Apple argued against vertical touch screen surfaces in laptops years ago, the iPad Pro ended up in this very situation: if you want to take advantage of all the great features iOS 11 offers to pro users, you will have to take your hands off the Smart Keyboard and touch the screen. There are dozens of similar instances elsewhere in iOS. For the most part, the iPad treats external keyboards as inferior, bolt-on input devices.
It's with this context that I want to cover Things 3.6, a major update to the task manager's iPad version that gives us a glimpse into what Apple could do with external keyboard control on iPad if only they understood its potential.
I've been able to play around with Things 3.6 on my iPad Pro for the past couple of weeks. This isn't another "keyboard-centric" update that only adds a handful of shortcuts to trigger specific commands. Instead, the developers at Cultured Code have focused on an all-encompassing keyboard control framework for the whole app, from task lists to popovers and multiple selections. With version 3.6, Things has the best implementation of external keyboard support I've ever seen in an iPad app.
Ulysses 13 launched today for iOS and Mac, and it's all about putting more writing tools in your arsenal. It takes existing features of the app and makes them all better, leaving the app no more cluttered, but notably more useful. Improvements are in three areas: deadlines and daily writing goals, colored keywords, and syntax highlighting for code blocks.
Zach Gage has earned a reputation by taking time-tested but tired classic games and reinventing them for mobile. Past hits from Gage like Flip Flop Solitaire, Really Bad Chess, and Typeshift zero in on what is fun about classic games and add a twist that breathes new life them. Pocket Run Pool is no different.
I enjoy taking lots of photos. Over the years, I’ve dabbled with DSLRs, but more often than not these days, I use my iPhone because it’s always nearby.
I’ve historically used Apple’s built-in Camera app. It has the advantage of being available from the Lock screen, which is a big plus because it lowers the barrier to getting up and running with the camera. Later, I would go back and pick out the best shots, edit them a little in the Photos app, and share a few.
Over the past couple of weeks though, I’ve been moving between Apple’s Camera app and Obscura 2, which was released today by developer Ben McCarthy. I’ve used manual camera apps in the past, but always wound up going back to Apple’s option in the end.
Obscura has been different. I’ve found myself going back to it repeatedly because I enjoy the way it approaches taking pictures and editing them so much. I don’t expect I’ll stop using Apple’s Camera app altogether; it’s just too convenient. However, when I leave the house with the intention of finding something interesting to photograph this summer, I’m going to use Obscura.
One of the things I like most about photography is that it’s a creative outlet that’s just for me. Sure, I share some of the pictures I take, but it’s entirely for fun.
One of the issues I’ve always had with pro camera apps is that many take the fun out of photography for me. They have intimidating UIs that throw lots of photography jargon and controls at you in a way that sends me looking for a manual. It feels too much like work.
Obscura doesn’t dispense with camera-speak entirely, but it succeeds by presenting the complexities of manual camera features in a simple, thoughtful UI. Instead of sending me looking for support pages, I found myself experimenting with Obscura’s controls, learning what each does by doing, which has been an enjoyable, organic process.
AgileBits has released 1Password 7 for Mac, a significant update that is free to subscribers but also available as a standalone download. I’ve used 1Password since I started using a Mac. The app has always been the best way to store passwords for websites, and for years, that’s primarily how I’ve thought of it.
There’s been more to 1Password than just password storage for a while now though, and what sets this update apart is the depth of those other features and the ease with which they can be incorporated in your everyday computing life. That’s important because it doesn’t take much friction for someone to get lazy about security.
1Password 7 is a comprehensive update that touches every corner of the app. The app will still be familiar to long-time users, but features like Watchtower and Vaults have been extended with new capabilities that are worth exploring if you haven’t in a while. 1Password also works better than ever with app logins. There are dozens of other changes big and small that along with a design refresh that make 1Password 7 an excellent update.
MacPaw has released a brand new iPhone app that takes the ideas from Gemini 2, the company’s duplicate file finder on the Mac, and applies them to your iOS photo library. Gemini Photos uses an algorithm to analyze your photos that suggests the ones you should consider deleting. With photo files getting bigger with each improvement of the iPhone’s camera and features like Live Photos and burst mode, a utility like Gemini Photos can save significant amounts of space on your iPhone.
Castro has long been one of the premier podcast clients on iOS, and its excellent version 2 – with an innovative triage system and delight-inducing design touches – helped solidify it as such. Those strengths in 2.0, however, were mitigated in part by the absence of a few key features that competing podcast apps tout. That changes with Castro 3.
If you're unfamiliar with the app, Castro's centerpiece feature is a triage system involving an inbox and queue. The premise is that, with the rising popularity of podcasting, there are more great podcasts available than ever before. If you subscribe to lots of shows, the standard episode management tools found in competing apps likely aren't sufficient. With Castro, by default new episodes of shows land in your inbox, and can then be sorted to the top or bottom of your queue and downloaded, or archived if they're not of interest to you. It's an elegant solution to the problem of podcast overload, and, thanks to customization options that allow you to make certain shows populate the top or bottom of the queue automatically, it's a system that works for you, tailored to your listening preferences.
Castro's triage system clicked with me the first time I tried it, and I used the app daily for nearly a year. Eventually though, I became more selective about the portions of podcasts I listened to, and Castro's lack of chapter support sent me elsewhere. I've seen comments from other prospective Castro users who were similarly turned off from the app due to one missing feature – and often, this feature was different for different people.
If an absent feature ever kept you from sticking with Castro 2, that almost certainly won't be a problem anymore. Castro 3 addresses nearly all of those "one missing feature" requests in a single release. Trim Silence is Castro's take on Overcast's Smart Speed; full chapter support is now present, as is a new Apple Watch app; the player screen has been fully redesigned; Mix to Mono improves stereo mixes that are hard to hear; and finally, there are excellent new per-podcast controls in a variety of areas. Perhaps the only thing still missing is an iPad app.
Castro 3 is everything Castro already was, but better. It's the app that Castro fans have always wanted.
Tapbots has released Tweetbot 3 for Mac, which overhauls the app’s design, provides greater flexibility to manage multiple columns and navigate different parts of Twitter, and includes a dark mode. For the first time since it was introduced in 2012, Tapbots has also made version 3.0 a separate paid app, which means that existing and new users alike will have to pay $9.99 for the update.