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Posts in reviews

Create a Real-World Masterpiece with Paint Space AR

One of my all-time favorite tech demos is Tilt Brush, a VR painting experience where you can create art in 3D on the HTC Vive. Immediately, you begin seeing the potential of VR artistry, allowing artists to utilize tools not available in the real world. By creating free-floating structures with unique brushes, Tilt Brush was my first exposure to what the future of digital art could look like.

Paint Space AR is Tilt Brush for the AR world, enabling you to create interesting pieces of art right where you are. With AR, though, Paint Space has a unique advantage: instead of having to create something in a simulated space, you’re able to paint on objects right in front of you.

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1Writer Update Includes Open in Place and Drag and Drop Support

Before I moved to Ulysses for most of my writing, I used 1Writer. At first, it was how I accessed my large collection of NVAlt notes when I wasn’t at my Mac because its search is exceptionally fast. Over time though, it became my primary text editor because it syncs with iCloud and Dropbox, works with Markdown files, has excellent export options, is highly customizable, and supports URL schemes and JavaScript actions. I don’t use 1Writer as often these days, but it remains one of my favorite text editors, so I was glad to see it has been updated to take advantage of new iOS 11 features.

The latest version of 1Writer supports Open in Place via iOS 11’s new document browser. Tap the omnipresent plus button in the lower right-hand corner of 1Writer and choose ‘Open Other…’ to launch iOS 11’s document browser. 1Writer has tinted the navigation elements of the document browser, which helps remind users that they are still in 1Writer, which is a nice touch that not all apps bother to support. With Open in Place, 1Writer can edit the Markdown or plain-text files of any file provider. For example, that allows me to grab a draft from one of our MacStories GitHub repos via the Working Copy file provider to make edits to the original document without creating a local 1Writer copy of the file.

1Writer supports Open in Place.

1Writer supports Open in Place.

1Writer also supports two-way drag and drop. I can drag any document from 1Writer’s document browser and drop it into another compatible app that accepts text like iA Writer, Byword, or Notes. I was also able to attach a 1Writer file to a message using Apple Mail.

Dragging into 1Writer works too. 1Writer can handle text and URLs, so it disregards images included in something like a note from the Notes app, but will set up Markdown syntax for an image if you drag in just a photo. If you drag into an existing 1Writer document, the text and links are appended to the end of the document.

1Writer has also added support for smart punctuation, which, for example, replaces straight quotes with the curly variety, and is iPhone X-ready.

1Writer is one of the most versatile text editors available. The addition of Open in Place means the app can be used with a wider variety of apps than ever before and drag and drop eliminates the number of steps needed to get text into and out of 1Writer. If you’re looking for a text editor that is at the forefront of iOS 11 technologies, 1Writer is an excellent choice.

1Writer is available on the App Store.


Fantastical Gains Drag and Drop Support on iPad and iPhone

One of the most valuable advantages of digital calendars over physical ones is how much easier they are to manage. For example, the concept of a recurring event is easy for calendar apps to grasp, while adding the same event to a physical calendar can be both a time drain and a literal pain in your dominant hand. After recurring events, I’d guess that rescheduling is the next greatest pain point for physical calendar users. There’s erasing and re-writing involved when dealing with something physical, whereas with calendar apps you simply scroll the little date spinner to adjust a rescheduled event. Or if you’re using Fantastical, then thanks to the addition of drag and drop you can simply pick a task up and drop it on the new date.


On both iPhone and iPad, drag and drop in Fantastical empowers easy event rescheduling, and it also enables you to drag and drop reminders to set new due dates for them. The drag and drop support on iPad is more extensive, of course, allowing you to bring events and reminders out of Fantastical and into the app of your choice. Drag events into a Mail.app compose field and they’ll send as ICS files. Add them to a text editor and they’ll expand to include all attached information, such as location data, notes, and more. Similarly, reminders dropped elsewhere include their additional metadata as well. You can also drop text from other apps into Fantastical to create new events: simply hold the text over the day you want to create an event on, and drop. The text will be pre-filled in a new event creation dialogue, letting you add additional details then and there, or hit the Add button to complete it.

The pace of new apps adding support for drag and drop on iOS has been encouraging. There’s still plenty of work to be done by third-party developers, but we’re moving quickly toward the day when all of the main apps we use on a daily basis will be able to send and receive information in the most natural way possible.

Fantastical is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad.



Rescheduling Refined with Drag and Drop in Timepage

Your phone buzzes. It’s a message from a friend asking to reschedule your dinner in an hour for another day. You’ve already put on something nice, so it’s a little inconvenient – but it’s also going to be tedious to make the adjustment on your calendar.

Timepage’s recent update can’t change you back into comfortable clothes, but it can make rescheduling events much easier. As with most iOS 11 app updates, this comes through drag and drop and thankfully works on both iPhone and iPad.

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macOS High Sierra: The MacStories Review

Since Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was released in 2007, Apple has periodically paused to release updates to what is now known as macOS that are more a refinement of their predecessors than major upgrades. Apple signals each refinement release by picking a name that relates to the one immediately before it. In 2009, that meant Leopard was followed by Snow Leopard; in 2012, Mountain Lion followed Lion. It’s been a while, and Apple has moved from big cats to California landmarks and adopted the macOS moniker, but the company is back with another operating system update that predominantly focuses on under-the-hood features by following last year’s macOS 10.12 Sierra with macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

For a foundational release, High Sierra goes about as low as you can go by introducing an entirely new filesystem for the first time in almost twenty years. Apple File System, also known as APFS, is a modern filesystem developed by Apple to accommodate the needs of each of its platforms in ways that HFS+ couldn’t manage. If there’s a theme to each of the core technologies introduced with High Sierra, it’s laying the groundwork for the future across Apple’s product line. New video compression technology, Metal 2, and VR are all part of a new bedrock being laid to prepare for the future.

That’s not to say that there are no goodies in High Sierra though. Photos has received several new features, and although not individually as significant, changes to Mail, Notes, Safari, Siri, Spotlight, and other apps all add up to a solid collection of refinements that make the Mac more efficient than before. Even so, High Sierra won’t be remembered for revolutionary user-facing features. Instead, along with new iMac Pros and Mac Pros on the horizon, it shows that Apple still cares about the Mac, but is also taking a broader view, building the infrastructure for the next chapter in computing across all of its present and future products.

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Conduct AR: Desktop Micromanaging at its Finest

I never was the kid to play with toy trains, but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming engrossed in augmented reality ones thanks to Conduct AR.

An AR follow-up game to Northplay’s Conduct THIS, Conduct AR puts you in control of trains barreling down the tracks. As they make their routes, they’ll pick up passengers at stations for later drop off, but only if you can guide the trains there without crashing into obstacles along the way.

To do that, you’ll switch tracks, stop, and start the trains, carefully pointing your camera at them and tapping the screen at the same time. In AR, though, this can be tricky, as Conduct AR requires you to move around, peer into the level, and get close enough to where you can control the trains in a precise way.

Many AR apps are meant to be seen as a big picture experience, like a rocket ship landing in your backyard pool. That’s not Conduct AR. In order to play the game right, you have to survey the level and get a perfect understanding of how to play it. As you progress through the levels, so much is happening that you always have to be moving, checking tunnels, and guaranteeing your trains don’t crash.

Conduct AR’s performance is sufficient but occasionally shaky, sometimes in the literal sense; there were occasions where the tracking fell off and required an app restart. Still, those issues are relatively uncommon, and the game often runs well.

If you’re looking to dive into Conduct AR, I really recommend that you play it on a desktop or table – with a flat surface directly in front of you, it’s much easier to stand up, move around, but also play comfortably. You should also know that the game has run hot on my iPhone 7, but I’d expect this to get figured out on the iOS end as ARKit develops.

Once you become addicted to Conduct AR, you’ll be happy to see that there’s plenty of content to work through before you finish the game. For $3.99, it’s worth the experience alone, but having many levels makes it all that much sweeter. Those interested in the new AR experiences in iOS should pick up Conduct AR in the App Store here.


LookUp 4.0 Adds Object Recognition via Vision Framework, Plus Drag and Drop

LookUp is a beautifully designed dictionary app that we first reviewed earlier this year. With its effective use of bold headings and colorful graphics atop a white background, Lookup visually looks like a sister app to Apple’s new App Store – and considering how much I love the new App Store, that’s high praise. I won’t spend any time on the basics of the app though, as you can check out Jake’s original review for that. Instead, I want to focus on how LookUp harnesses the power of new iOS 11 technologies.

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