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Posts in reviews

Vignette: Easily Update Your Contact Photos Without Sacrificing Privacy

I’m the type of person who tries to add a photo to each of my iPhone’s contact listings. I can’t stand having grey, initial-laden photo bubbles in Messages; while contact photos can be disabled in Messages’ settings, I’ve never done that because once photos are added, it gives the app so much extra beauty and utility. For years I’ve done the manual work of choosing contact photos from my own photo library or, more often, finding images for contacts online via social media, then adding them to my contacts from there.

Based on the times I’ve peeked at someone else’s Messages app, most people never bother to go through the trouble of manually configuring contact photos; I don’t blame them, because it’s a nuisance. However, a new app called Vignette, from developer Casey Liss, aims to eliminate the pain of adding contact images by sourcing the web and social media for you, and updating your contacts’ photos accordingly – all in a privacy-conscious way.

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CARROT Weather Enables Notifications for Storm Cells, Precipitation, Lightning Strikes, Government Alerts, and More

The latest update to CARROT Weather was released today, version 4.11, which is centered entirely around notifications. Though the types of notifications available depend on your subscription plan due to the different costs associated with each data source, in total there are a ton of options available to satisfy anyone’s needs. Whether you simply want to avoid getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, or finding yourself outdoors when a storm hits, or one of many other weather situations, CARROT Weather can now keep you informed with timely notifications for a variety of weather events.

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Fiery Feeds Adds iCloud Accounts, Three-Pane iPad View, New Customization Tools, and More

Fiery Feeds, the modern, flexible RSS client for iOS, was updated today with a variety of new features that take the app to new heights: enabling iCloud-based accounts for RSS and Read Later so you don’t need third-party services, adding a three-pane layout on iPad, offering new, configurable methods for navigation, and a lot more. There’s something for everyone, from users who may be new to RSS to Fiery Feeds veterans who will appreciate the additional power offered here.

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Perfect Tempo Brings Tempo Control to Apple Music Tracks


Nearly 11 years into the App Store, it isn’t often that an app surfaces that does something unexpected which no one else seems to be doing, but Perfect Tempo by developer Open Planet does precisely that. The app is a simple utility designed for musicians and dancers who want to slow down or speed up music without affecting its pitch and loop it as they learn a song. Other apps have similar functionality that I’ve covered before, but what makes Perfect Tempo unique is that it can slow down and speed up streamed Apple Music tracks, which other apps can’t do.

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Snapthread 2.0 Adds a Refined UI, an Improved iPad Experience, and New Tools

When I first covered Snapthread early last year, you could tell where it was headed. The app was conceived initially by developer Becky Hansmeyer as a way to combine Snapchat videos. By last January though, the app had evolved into a general-purpose solution for quickly and easily stitching together Live Photos, still photos, and short videos that could be shared on any social network or directly with friends and family. With version 2.0, which is out today, Hansmeyer has refined the existing user experience, added useful new functionality without complicating the app, and leveraged the iPad to create a more versatile video creation tool that works equally well for quickly sharing your creations on social networks as it does with small groups of friends and family.

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Kernel Review: Modern Movie Tracking

Most of the apps I cover for MacStories relate in some way to productivity, a theme that extends to the apps normally dominating my iPhone’s home screen. Writing and note-taking apps, task managers, communication apps, and tools like Shortcuts all help me get things done each day. However, sometimes what I want from my phone isn’t a productivity tool, but an app that specializes in something related less to work and more to fun. For example, a movie tracker. Kernel is a new app that does just that.

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HomeRun Launches Advanced Daily Routine Feature for Complications and Siri Face

HomeRun 1.2 was released today from developer Aaron Pearce, the latest evolution of the Apple Watch app for controlling HomeKit scenes from your wrist. Its last big update introduced the ability to create custom complications on the Watch, which was a fantastic addition because it enabled users to implement the complications that work best for them personally. Today’s update extends the theme of user customization and programmability, but takes it to a whole new level – exceeding anything I’ve seen from another Watch app before now.

Version 1.2 of HomeRun revolves around one main feature – daily routines – which takes a couple different forms. In each manifestation, however, daily routines equip users to program which actions the app surfaces on their wrist during the course of a normal day.

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Overcast Adds Simple Podcast Video Clip Sharing

Today, Marco Arment released an update to Overcast with a new podcast clip sharing feature. Arment explains why he created the new feature on Marco.org:

Podcast sharing has been limited to audio and links, but today’s social networks are more reliant on images and video, especially Instagram. Podcasts need video clips to be shared more easily today.

I’ve seen some video clips from tools specific to certain podcast networks or hosts, but they were never available to everyone, or for every show. So people mostly just haven’t shared podcast clips, understandably, because it has been too hard.

He’s right. I created a Final Cut Pro template project for making sharable video clips for AppStories, the show I do with Federico. I’ve shared those clips on Instagram and Twitter in the past, but even with a template, the process was more cumbersome and time-consuming than it was worth, so I’ve never shared them as consistently as I’d like.

With its new share feature, Overcast has dramatically simplified the process. When you find a clip you want to share, tap the share button and choose ‘Share Clip…’ – Overcast takes you to a new Share Clip screen that allows you to define the beginning and end of your clip with drag handles. One terrific touch is that as you drag the play head across the start or end of the clip, the double vertical lines that define the termination points of the clip animate, so you know precisely when you’ve lined up the play head properly for previewing your clip’s audio.

Video clips can be shared in portrait, landscape, or square formats.

Video clips can be shared in portrait, landscape, or square formats. (View full size)

Clips can be shared as portrait, landscape, or square videos and include no badging, Overcast badging, or Overcast and Apple Podcasts badging. Tapping ‘Next’ takes you to a preview of your video where you can see what it looks like before sharing it. When you’re satisfied with your creation, you’ve got two options. First, you can tap the share button and share the video clip to social networks or any other app that will accept an m4v video file. Second, you can tap the link button to share a URL to an overcast.fm page queued to the beginning of your clip, which is a feature that Overcast has had for quite a while.

Overcast's updated clip landing pages include links to Apple Podcasts, Castro, Pocket Casts, and the show's RSS feed.

Overcast’s updated clip landing pages include links to Apple Podcasts, Castro, Pocket Casts, and the show’s RSS feed. (View full size)

Although the link sharing feature of Overcast isn’t new, Arment has refreshed the landing pages for the links to include badges for Apple Podcasts, Castro, Pocket Casts, and the show’s RSS feed, so users can access the linked show from any of these other popular podcast players or the show’s RSS feed.

Expanding clip sharing to add video support is an excellent addition to Overcast. Whether you’re promoting your own show or want to share a snippet of your favorite show with friends, Overcast has made the process so simple that I expect we’ll begin seeing many more of these clips on Twitter, Instagram, and on other social networks very soon.

Overcast is available on the App Store as a free download.