One of the things I immediately missed when I moved to Mastodon was the ability to schedule posts. This isn’t something I do a lot. However, with a busy editorial calendar at MacStories, I’ve used a variety of services over the years, including Buffer, to allow me to set up draft posts in advance when we’ve got a big story or episode of AppStories coming up. Losing that convenience wasn’t the end of the world, but it introduced friction I hadn’t had to deal with in years.
That’s why I’m glad to see Buffer has added Mastodon support to its web and iOS apps today. I’ve been testing Buffer’s beta for the past day, and the best part of the update is that there’s not much to say about it because it’s so easy to use. If you’ve used Buffer before, the process is similar to any other scheduled post you’d create: draft the post, add any media and hashtags you want, and then schedule it. If you want, you can also use Buffer to cross-post to other services.
Managing posts for multiple accounts has always been the sort of thing that can disrupt my other work. It’s too easy for me to get distracted and wind up browsing my timeline after I post something from one of our company accounts. With Buffer’s new Mastodon integration, I’m looking forward to creating those posts as part of our production workflow and avoiding getting sucked into my timeline when I have more pressing tasks.
It’s been over two years since FoodNoms, the nutrition tracking app for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch by Ryan Ashcraft, debuted on the App Store, and I reviewed it. Over the past two years, the app has steadily improved, refining its database of foods, adding Home Screen widgets, and a lot more. With version 2 out today, FoodNoms has taken its biggest step forward since its launch with a long list of new features and a refreshed design.
At its core, FoodNoms lets you set goals, track what you eat, and monitor your progress toward your goals. There are a lot of apps that do something similar, but what sets FoodNoms apart is its design, ease of use, and emphasis on privacy.
Late yesterday, The Information reported that it had seen internal Twitter Slack communications confirming that the company had intentionally cut off third-party Twitter app access to its APIs. The shut-down, which happened Thursday night US time, hasn’t affected all apps and services that use the API but instead appears targeted at the most popular third-party Twitter clients, including Tweetbot by Tapbots and Twitterrific by The Iconfactory. More than two days later, there’s still no official explanation from Twitter about why it chose to cut off access to its APIs with no warning whatsoever.
To say that Twitter’s actions are disgraceful is an understatement. Whether or not they comply with Twitter’s API terms of service, the lack of any advanced notice or explanation to developers is unprofessional and an unrecoverable breach of trust between it and its developers and users.
Twitter’s actions also show a total lack of respect for the role that third-party apps have played in the development and success of the service from its earliest days. Twitter was founded in 2006, but it wasn’t until the iPhone launched about a year later that it really took off, thanks to the developers who built the first mobile apps for the service.
Saving articles and links from the Internet for later isn’t new, but it’s something that has drawn renewed interest from developers over the past year or so, including the makers of Matter, who are reexamining the approaches of the past through a modern lens.
Apps like Instapaper and Read It Later, which became Pocket, pioneered saving web articles for later. The original iPhone ran on AT&T’s EDGE mobile network in the US and coverage was spotty. Read-later apps saved stripped-down versions of articles from the web that could be downloaded quickly and read offline when EDGE was unavailable. The need to save content offline because of slow and unreliable mobile networks is far less pressing today, but collecting links and time-shifting reading remains popular.
Today, classics like Instapaper and Pocket are joined by Matter, which I’m reviewing today, plus Readwise Reader, which is currently in public beta, and a long list of link organizer apps like GoodLinks, Anybox, and Cubox, all of which include their own reading modes and are the spiritual successors to web services like Delicious and Pinboard. The result is that users have more choices than ever. That’s fantastic because, as I’ve learned from MacStories readers, no two people take the same approach to what they save and how they read and process it.
John: It’s time for the MacStories Selects awards, our annual celebration of the apps we love and the people who make them. Every year since 2018, we’ve paused at the end of a busy year to reflect on the hundreds of apps we’ve tried and recognize the best.
It’s been another big year for apps, driven by the ingenuity and creativity of the developers who make them combined with new technologies introduced by Apple. Note-taking apps were big again, and just as we get ready to put 2022 in the rear-view mirror, the read-later app space has begun heating up like it’s 2010 all over again.
Last year, we kicked off the MacStories Selects Awards with a new Lifetime Achievement Award, which we gave to PCalc by James Thomson whose app will celebrate its 30th anniversary in a couple of days. This year, we’ve got another app that has stood the test of time and had an outsized impact on the world of apps, which you can read about in a special story written by our Alex Guyot, whose history with the winning app makes him the perfect choice to present the award.
It’s also time to pause and honor the best apps of the year in the following seven categories:
- Best New App
- Best App Update
- Best New Feature
- Best Watch App
- Best Mac App
- Best Design
- App of the Year
which were picked by the MacStories team, plus the winner of the Readers’ Choice Award, which was picked by Club MacStories members, for a total of nine awards, plus six runners-up, all of which are covered below.
We also recorded a special episode of AppStories covering all the winners and runners-up. It’s a terrific way to learn more about this year’s apps and includes an interview with our Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
You can listen to the episode below.
So, without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce the 2022 MacStories Selects Awards to the MacStories community.
Shawn Hickman is back with another excellent update to Sofa, the downtime/media organization app for iPhone and iPad that we’ve covered several times on MacStories. Sofa remains my favorite one-stop app for managing lists of media I don’t want to forget to enjoy later. The app supports TV shows, movies, books, audiobooks, videgames, music, podcasts, board games, and apps, making it the most comprehensive media organizer I’ve used. However, what makes Sofa special is its design and extensive customization options, which is why it was the runner-up for Best App Update in last year’s MacStories Selects awards.
What I appreciate most about version 3.4 of Sofa is that it extends the app beyond its existing boundaries with list sharing and new Shortcuts support. To round out the update, Sofa also adds Lock Screen widget support and TV and movie provider details for Super Sofa subscribers. It’s an excellent batch of new features for an app that I already consider one of the finest in its category.
Today, Apple announced three new security features.
First, iMessage Contact Key Verification allows users to verify that they are communicating with the person with whom they think they’re communicating. The feature will alert users who use it if someone has infiltrated cloud services to gain access to the user’s iMessage conversations. For even greater security, users can compare a Contact Verification Code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure channel.
Second, Security Keys lets users adopt hardware security keys when logging into their iCloud accounts. The new system is an enhancement over two-factor authentication because it prevents someone from obtaining a your second factor through a phishing scam.
Third, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud adds encryption on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac for a long list of data categories. According to Apple’s press release:
iCloud already protects 14 sensitive data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including passwords in iCloud Keychain and Health data. For users who enable Advanced Data Protection, the total number of data categories protected using end-to-end encryption rises to 23, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos. The only major iCloud data categories that are not covered are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar because of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.
Apple says that iMessage Contact Key Verification will be available globally in 2023, and Security Keys is coming early 2023. Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is available in the US today for participants in Apple’s beta OS program, and will presumably roll out with the next point release to Apple’s OSes.
It’s never been about just the weather when it comes to CARROT Weather, and version 5.9 of Brian Mueller’s app is no exception. With the latest update, you can participate in bonding activities with CARROT. Yes, it’s as strange as it sounds, and a lot of fun too. Still, if getting to know CARROT better isn’t your thing, the update has also expanded Live Activities, updated the app’s layout UI, and more.
Tap the CARROT icon in the toolbar to get to know her better through a series of mini-games. At the outset there are three games:
- Charging CARROT’s batteries by feeding her an assortment of objects that rotate roulette-wheel-style onscreen until you tap a button
- Stroking her ego by repeating nice things to CARROT, which uses speech recognition to make sure you get the compliments right
- Debugging CARROT’s code by shaking your device
But relationships take time, so you’ll find that after a while, you’ll stop earning hearts and have to wait before you can continue earning your way into CARROT’s good graces.
Bonding with CARROT is part of the app’s Achievements system, and you’ll see if you visit that section of the CARROT menu that there are additional mystery tasks available to complete once you fill op the rings of the first set. Fill enough rings, and you can even start a romance with CARROT.
I love CARROT’s new bonding activities. They’re fun and breathe new life and personality into the character that’s been abusing users for years as they check the weather. I’ve only begun earning hearts, so it remains to be seen where this all will lead, so stay tuned to MacStories for updates on that, I guess.
Version 3 of Broadcasts, Steve Troughton-Smith’s Internet radio app and a Club MacStories Recommends pick, is out with an updated design, improved search, Shazam integration, and a URL scheme that makes sharing stations simple. Together, the changes look fantastic and make enjoying Internet radio with the app easier and better than ever.