We live in a time when media options are growing at a fast pace. It's a golden age for television, with great shows debuting all the time; the film industry is being transformed by the infusion of new competition from streaming giants like Netflix; podcasts are becoming more mainstream by the day; and despite books not being in a similar growth phase, new titles are still being written constantly. In this crowded media landscape, it's hard to keep track of all the great content waiting to be enjoyed.
In the past I've kept notes in Apple Notes containing lists of TV shows, movies, podcasts, and books to check out. Lately, however, I've been using an app called Sofa.
Spending too long in the sun can damage your skin. By the time you have a painful sunburn, it’s too late; you’ve already overdone it. You can plan your day based on the UV forecast in a weather app, but forecasts are no guarantee of the actual conditions and can’t account for how long you’re exposed to harmful UV-A and UV-B rays.
The awkwardly-named My Skin Track UV sensor by La Roche-Posay is designed to pick up where forecasts leave off by measuring your actual exposure to harmful UV rays throughout the day without needing to be charged. It’s a remarkably small wearable sensor with a companion app that reports other environmental data too.
The My Skin Track UV sensor performed well in my testing, and I felt like it provided useful, actionable data about potentially harmful conditions that would be hard to judge without the device. The lack of charging and diminutive size makes the My Skin Track UV sensor easy to carry with you all day too. The trouble is, the My Skin Track UV is so small and light, and the clip is just slippery enough, that it’s easy to misplace or lose altogether, which I promptly did. Here’s what happened.
It's been over two years since the last major version of Pocket Casts debuted. A lot has happened in the podcasting world since then, including Pocket Casts itself being acquired by a consortium of radio stations and podcast companies. The app has also faced strong competition from alternatives like Overcast and Castro. Pocket Casts remains one of the best third-party podcast clients on iOS, but it has started to show its age of late. Updates to the app over the last year have been fairly minor and unimpressive. In hindsight though, it's easy to understand why: the app's development team has been plugging away on a major new update that's officially launched today.
Pocket Casts 7 makes the podcast client feel modern again. It introduces a new design alongside important features like Siri shortcuts and AirPlay 2 support, Up Next syncing, episode search, Listening History, and a lot more. If you haven't given the app a try in a while, now is definitely the time to do so.
HomeRun is a simple, elegant utility for triggering HomeKit scenes from your Apple Watch. Through a combination of color and iconography, HomeRun developer Aaron Pearce, who is the creator of other excellent HomeKit apps like HomeCam and HomePass, creates an effective solution for accessing HomeKit scenes from your wrist. It’s a user-friendly approach that’s a fantastic alternative for HomeKit device users frustrated by Apple’s Home app.
Apple’s Home app is hard to use on the Apple Watch. First, when you open Home on the Watch, it’s not clear what you’re seeing. Home presents a series of card-like, monochrome scene and accessory buttons that you scroll through one or two at a time. Although the app doesn’t say so, these are the favorite scenes and accessories from the Home tab of the iOS app. That makes the list customizable, which is nice, but the app should do a better job identifying where the user is in relationship to the iOS app.
Second, although you can rearrange your Home favorites to reorder them on the Watch too, you can only see two scenes or one accessory at a time. Depending on how many favorites you have, that limits the Watch app’s utility because a long list of scenes and accessories requires a lot of swiping or scrolling with the Digital Crown.
HomeRun avoids this by eliminating text and relying on color and iconography to distinguish between scenes. The app is also limited to triggering scenes, reducing potential clutter further. The approach allows HomeRun to display up to 12 scenes on a single screen of a 44mm Apple Watch compared to the two scene buttons that Home can display. If you set up more than 12 scenes, they are accessible by scrolling.
Tweetbot 5 for iOS is out with a new look that more closely resembles the latest Mac version, which was redesigned in May. Tapbots has also added a handful of additional features, some of which mirror additions to the Mac version and others of which are unique to iOS.
With Game of Thrones on hiatus before its eighth and final season, fans can get their fix of their favorite characters and join in the intrigue with Reigns: Game of Thrones, which was developed by UK-based Nerial and published by Devolver Digital. The announcement of the game in August came as something of a surprise because it’s not often that a media company the size of HBO entrusts the characters and story behind one of its most popular shows to a small independent game studio. At the same time, however, the combination felt like a perfectly natural evolution of the Reigns series. Reigns: Game of Thrones, which was released today, doesn't disappoint.
Pixelmator Pro for the Mac was updated to version 1.2 today with a handful of enhancements centered around macOS Mojave.
The update includes light and dark modes, which can be set in Preferences to follow the mode picked in System Preferences or full-time light or dark mode. Dark mode closely resembles Pixelmator Pro’s existing UI, but its light mode is brand-new.
Pixelmator Pro 1.2 has also added a new auto-enhance feature for images that applies machine learning to automatically adjust white balance, exposure, hue and saturation, lightness, color balance, and selective color. Previously auto-enhancement was available individually for some of the categories in Pixelmator’s Adjust Colors tab. The new ML Enhance feature, which the Pixelmator team says was trained with millions of professional photos, adjusts all of the categories listed above at once. If you don’t like the results, the adjustments can be turned off on a per category basis or adjusted manually.
BestPhotos, a photo management app from Chicago-based Windy Software that we’ve covered on Club MacStories before, was updated today with new features for quickly and efficiently organizing your photos. I take thousands of pictures each year and sometimes it feels like I take even more screenshots. Sifting through to find the best shots and discard old screenshots, duplicates, and just plain bad photos takes a lot of tapping and time in Apple’s Photos app. BestPhotos is a better solution that streamlines the whole process.
Evgeny Cherpak’s iOS app, Remote Control for Mac, has been updated with Siri shortcut support, which opens up some interesting ways to control a Mac with shortcuts. I’ve been using the app’s new Siri shortcuts for about a week and, as I covered on AppStories today, the shortcuts I’ve created that incorporate Remote’s functionality are already ones that I use every day.