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.
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.
Ever since I last wrote about iPadOS 16, I have continued using Stage Manager on my iPad Pro. As I wrote in October, I like the idea behind Stage Manager more than its implementation. Despite the flawed design of its multitasking concepts and bugs I still encounter on a daily basis, it’s undeniable that Stage Manager lets me get more things done on my iPad by virtue of its concurrent app windows.
With today’s release of iPadOS 16.2, the idea behind Stage Manager achieves the full vision first presented in June, while its design and technical implementation remain stuck in an unpolished, half-baked state. Which is to say: conceptually, I love that Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.2 allows me to extend my iPad to an external display and put four additional windows on it; I’ve waited years for this feature, and it’s finally here. Technically speaking, however, the performance of this mode leaves a lot to be desired, with frequent crashes on my iPad Pro and an oft-confusing design that, I will reiterate, needs a rethinking.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve learned to live with Stage Manager, accept its quirks, and use what’s good about it to my advantage. As I recently wrote for Club MacStories members, I’ve put my money where my mouth is: I’ve gone all-in with Stage Manager on my iPad Pro and completely rebuilt my work setup around the M2 iPad Pro and Apple Studio Display, using Universal Control to seamlessly control iPadOS from a nearby Mac mini. (You can read the full story here.) After all, no other device in Apple’s ecosystem can effortlessly turn from a tablet into a laptop and into a desktop workstation like the iPad Pro can.
I’ve been working toward this vision for iPad modularity and contextual computing for the past several years. So now that Stage Manager has unlocked the final piece of the puzzle with external display integration, how good is it in practice?
And more importantly: was it worth the wait?
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.
Timery has been updated with a long list of new features and improvements that fans of the app are going to love.
First off, Timery has added iOS 16 Lock Screen Widgets and Live Activities. The Lock Screen widgets can display your current time entry, the total amount of time tracked today, or start a new timer. Each widget type includes circular and rectangular variants when added beneath the Lock Screen’s time, as well as a narrow in-line version that can be added to the top of the screen. The widgets can be configured to start a specific saved timer or show a list of timers and optionally show the app’s edit view for tweaking the details of the timer you start. It’s worth noting that Timery’s editing view now supports ‘@’ as a way to quickly search and add projects and ‘#’ for adding tags.
Live Activities display the current time entry on the iPhone 14 Pro line’s Dynamic Island and the Lock Screen. Long-pressing either reveals additional information about the current project, task, and total time tracked for the day.
I’m a big fan of Timery’s new widgets and Live Activities because they offer the sort of glanceable details that weren’t possible before unless you were using the Mac version of the app and enabled its menu bar app. Now, I don’t have to unlock my iPhone or iPad to check on a timer, which allows me to get the information I want without getting distracted by other things on either device.