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Posts tagged with "MacStories Selects"

MacStories Selects 2023: Recognizing the Best Apps of the Year

John: Every year, it seems like the MacStories Selects awards roll around faster than the last, and this year was no exception. For most people, the year begins on January 1st, but for us, WWDC marks the beginning of our year, and the MacStories Selects Awards feel like its conclusion. Plenty happens the rest of the year, but it’s these seven months that are the main event for us.

June begins with excitement about what developers will be able to do with Apple’s latest frameworks. Reconnecting with developers and meeting new people energizes and carries us through a busy summer and fall. This year marked Federico’s return to WWDC for the first time since the pandemic, and seeing so many developers together made this year’s WWDC the best in years.

2023 was an exciting year for apps. Read-later apps continued to be hot, but nothing was quite as big as interactive widgets, which brought new experiences to our Home and Lock Screens and shook up how many of us set up our devices.

Next year promises to be an even bigger year for apps with an all-new Vision Pro App Store on the way. For now, though, it’s time to pause and reflect on the many apps we tried in the year gone by and recognize the best among them.

Like last year, we’ve picked the best apps in seven categories:

  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Best Design
  • App of the Year

But there’s more. Club MacStories members picked the winner of the MacStories Selects Readers’ Choice Award. Plus, as we’ve done the past couple of years, we’ve named a Lifetime Achievement Award winner that has stood the test of time and had an outsized impact on the world of apps. This year’s winner, which joins past winners PCalc and Drafts, is the subject of a special story I wrote for the occasion.

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.

You can listen to the episode below.

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So with that, it’s my pleasure to introduce the 2023 MacStories Selects Awards to the MacStories community.

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2023 MacStories Selects Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Pixelmator Team’s image editing apps at MacStories. A lot of our coverage in recent years has focused on Pixelmator Pro and Photomator, but long before those apps ever hit the App Store, there was just plain Pixelmator, an app that’s still available on the iPhone and iPad, and I still use regularly.

Pixelmator debuted on the Mac in the fall of 2007. Here’s how the Pixelmator Team described the release on its blog:

Pixelmator Team today released Pixelmator 1.0, GPU-powered image editing tool that provides everything needed to create, edit, and enhance still images.

Built from the ground up on a combination of open source and Mac OS X technologies, Pixelmator features powerful selection, painting, retouching, navigation, and color correction tools, and layers-based image editing, GPU-powered image processing, color management, automation, and transparent HUD user interface for work with images.

It’s fun to look back at the app’s launch page with its focus on the iSight camera, iPhoto, and the latest Mac OS X technologies like Core Image and Open GL. It feels dated now, but the fundamentals that made Pixelmator an exciting new app in 2007 are just as important for the app and the Pixelmator Team’s other apps today as they were then.

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Coming Soon: The Sixth Annual MacStories Selects Awards, Readers’ Choice Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award

The sixth annual MacStories Selects Awards are just around the corner. The awards honor our favorite apps in a wide variety of categories. Winners will receive a physical MacStories Selects award designed by MacStories’ own Silvia Gatta. As with last year, awards will be selected in the following categories:

  • App of the Year
  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Design
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

We’ll also be conferring two special awards once again:

  • The Readers’ Choice Award
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2022, Club MacStories members picked CARROT Weather for the Readers’ Choice Award.

In 2022, Club MacStories members picked CARROT Weather for the Readers’ Choice Award.

The Readers’ Choice Award is nominated by Club MacStories members and chosen by Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members. A link to the nomination form and details about which apps are eligible for the award were published in Issue 393 of MacStories Weekly at the beginning of the issue. Nominations will be accepted until Noon Eastern US time this Tuesday, November 14th.

After nominations close, we’ll tally the submissions and open voting on the top nominees to Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members via our Discord community. Voting will conclude at Noon Eastern US time on Thursday, November 16th.

For more details on each Club MacStories membership and to join, please use the buttons below:

Club MacStories:

Club MacStories+:

Club Premier:

2022's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Drafts by Greg Pierce's Agile Tortoise.

2022’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Drafts by Greg Pierce’s Agile Tortoise.

We’ll also be selecting a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize an app that has had an important impact on the world of apps. We’ll be choosing an app beloved by users and inspiring to developers, which has left its mark on the App Store’s history.

Every year, we use hundreds of terrific apps. MacStories Selects is our way to call out a handful of our absolute favorites that are shining examples of the best apps on Apple’s platforms.

We look forward to sharing our selections and our Club members’ pick with you in December.


MacStories Selects 2022: Recognizing the Best Apps of the Year

Introduction

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.

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So, without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce the 2022 MacStories Selects Awards to the MacStories community.

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The MacStories Selects 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

Drafts

When we chose the second annual lifetime achievement award winner, there was no doubt in my mind that it should be Drafts. Developed and maintained by Greg Pierce of Agile Tortoise, Drafts has been the place where text starts on iOS for nearly a decade now. Times have certainly changed, but Drafts remains. Through the years, it has evolved into so much more than the simple text utility it once was.

While it has evolved, the most beautiful thing about Drafts has been the fervent dedication to its original mission statement. If you are about to type some text – any text — on your iPhone or iPad (and even, in modern times, your Mac), you should open Drafts. The app is so focused on text capture that it defaults to opening a new blank “draft” every time you open the app.

Writing text is only as useful as what you do with it, so the second pillar of the Drafts mission is its action menu; an infinitely customizable list of actions that allow you manipulate and send text from the app to essentially anywhere else you can think of. From random web services to other native apps on your devices, Drafts can almost certainly deliver your text. As your words get delivered throughout your entire digital life, you can take comfort in knowing that you can always search for and find anything you’ve written simply by looking up its record in Drafts.

Drafts in 2022. From left: the editing view, the action menu, and the filtering view.

Drafts in 2022. From left: the editing view, the action menu, and the filtering view.

It amazes me that after hearing that pitch (and even personally writing about it) again and again for over a decade, I still find it to be an alluring idea. Drafts’ longevity is a testament to the prescience of Pierce’s original vision. It pleases me immensely to see this app carrying on for so long, and it’s an honor to award it MacStories’ Lifetime Achievement award.

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Coming Soon: The Fifth Annual MacStories Selects Awards, Readers’ Choice Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award

Soon, we’ll announce the fifth annual MacStories Selects Awards, honoring our favorite apps in a wide variety of categories. Winners will receive a physical MacStories Selects award designed by MacStories’ own Silvia Gatta. As with last year, awards will be selected in the following categories:

  • App of the Year
  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Design
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App

We’ll also be conferring two special awards:

  • the Readers’ Choice Award
  • the Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2021, Club MacStories members picked Craft for the Readers' Choice Award.

In 2021, Club MacStories members picked Craft for the Readers’ Choice Award.

The Readers’ Choice Award is nominated by Club MacStories members and chosen by Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members. A link to the nomination form and details about which apps are eligible for the award will be available in this Friday’s issue of MacStories Weekly right at the beginning of the issue. Nominations will be accepted until Noon Eastern US time on Sunday, November 20th.

After nominations close, we’ll tally the submissions and open voting on the top five nominees to Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members via our Discord community. Voting will conclude at Noon Eastern US time on Tuesday, November 22nd.

For more details on Club MacStories, please visit plus.club.

2021's first annual Lifetime Achievement Award went to PCalc by James Thomson.

2021’s first annual Lifetime Achievement Award went to PCalc by James Thomson.

We’ll also be selecting a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize an app that has had an important impact on the world of apps. We’ll be choosing an app beloved by users and inspiring to developers, which has left its mark on the App Store’s history.

Every year, we use hundreds of terrific apps. MacStories Selects is our way to call out a handful of our absolute favorites that are shining examples of the best apps on Apple’s platforms.

We look forward to sharing our selections and our Club members’ pick with you in December.


The MacStories Selects 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award

PCalc

John Voorhees: I’d love to tell you that there was drama surrounding the selection of this year’s first-ever MacStories Selects Lifetime Achievement award, but there wasn’t. In the end, it was the easiest pick of the lot. Last month, I sat down with Federico in Rome to go over the Selects awards, and we began by scanning a list of potential Lifetime Achievement candidates that we’d put together over the previous weeks. In the end, PCalc by James Thomson, which started on the Mac and has been adapted to every possible Apple platform, was the obvious choice. Not only are James and PCalc longstanding pillars of the Apple community, but PCalc represents the sort of innovative and creative spirit that we value most at MacStories.

Below, you’ll find a written interview that Federico conducted with James about PCalc’s history, what makes the app special, having to adapt to hardware and software transitions by Apple, and what the future may hold. James also joined us for a special segment of AppStories, covering the Lifetime Achievement award and other MacStories Selects winners. Before we get to the interview, though, I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to PCalc, which has a long and rich history that not all readers may know.

PCalc 1.0 for the Mac (1992) and PCalc 1.0 for the iPhone (2008).

PCalc 1.0 for the Mac (1992) and PCalc 1.0 for the iPhone (2008).

PCalc was first released almost exactly 29 years ago with an email to Info-Mac, an online file hosting service that pre-dates the Internet. In the years since version 1.0, PCalc has updated, refined, and ported to other platforms, including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even the Apple TV, where you can enter calculations using a videogame controller.

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MacStories Selects 2021: Recognizing the Best Apps of the Year

John: The MacStories Selects Awards are our annual celebration of the apps we love and the people who make them. Every year, the MacStories team uses hundreds of apps. Some are familiar favorites, but most are new. So, after many months of testing those developers’ apps, we stop to recognize the best.

This year, as we headed into the final stretch of the year, we decided it was time for the MacStories Selects to honor more than just the apps from the past year. MacStories has been covering apps since Federico published his first story in 2009, and having covered thousands of apps spanning more than twelve years, it’s time to look back at all of those apps and honor the standouts that have withstood the test of time with an annual Lifetime Achievement Award, which you can read about more in a special story that includes a bit of history about the winning app and interview with its developer.

Apps have become part of the fabric of our daily lives, which makes it easy to forget that they’re the result of hard work by creative people. The MacStories Selects awards are our chance to pause and appreciate just how fortunate we are to have such a wealth of fantastic tools available from so many talented developers before we start the new year.

2021 has been an exciting year for apps. The resurgence of note-taking apps ignited by apps like Craft, Obsidian, and Roam Research continued unabated. We also saw new apps successfully remix technologies and approaches and apply them to new domains, and of course, automation continued to be a central theme, with a long list of established and new apps testing the waters of Shortcuts for Mac for the first time.

As a result, we had a wealth of apps to choose from as always for the following awards:

  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Best Design
  • App of the Year

Along with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Readers’ Choice Award, which was chosen by Club MacStories members, that makes a total of nine award winners plus seven runners-up for these fourth annual MacStories Selects Awards, which began in 2018. As we did last year, we have also created beautiful physical awards commemorating the winners, which we will be sent to each of the winners this week.

We also recorded a special episode of our podcast AppStories all about the MacStories Selects winners and runners-up. It’s a terrific way to learn more about this year’s apps.

You can listen to the episode below.

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We will hold our Monthly Town Hall live event with additional MacStories Selects coverage in our Discord community for Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members tomorrow, December 14, 2021, at 12:30 PM Eastern US time and release it later as a Town Hall podcast episode for those who can’t join live.

So, with those preliminaries out of the way, it’s my pleasure to introduce the 2021 MacStories Selects Awards to the MacStories community.

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Coming Soon: The Fourth Annual MacStories Selects Awards, Featuring Expanded Readers’ Choice and New Lifetime Achievement Awards

Soon, we’ll announce the fourth annual MacStories Selects Awards, honoring our favorite apps in a wide variety of categories. Winners will receive a physical MacStories Selects award designed by MacStories’ Silvia Gatta. As with last year, awards will be selected in the following eight categories:

  • App of the Year
  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Design
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Readers’ Choice Award

We’re also making a couple of changes this year to expand the awards and Club MacStories member participation.

First, we’re introducing an all-new Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize an app that has had an important impact on the world of apps. We’ll be choosing an app beloved by users and inspiring to developers, which has left its mark on the App Store’s history.

Second, we’re adjusting the Readers’ Choice Award to incorporate Club MacStories’ new structure.

All Club members can nominate their favorite apps for the Readers’ Choice Award. A link to the nomination form and details about which apps are eligible for the award can be found in Issue 297 of MacStories Weekly right at the beginning of the issue. Nominations will be accepted until 5:00 PM Eastern US time on Monday, November 15th.

After nominations close, we’ll tally the submissions and open voting on the top five nominees to Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members via our Discord community. Voting will conclude at Noon Eastern US time on Thursday, November 18th.

For more details on Club MacStories, please visit plus.club.

Every year, we look at hundreds of terrific apps. MacStories Selects is our way to call out a handful of our absolute favorites that are shining examples of the best apps on Apple’s platforms.

We look forward to sharing our selections and our Club members’ pick. We’ll be handling announcements a little differently this year, too, so keep an eye on all we do here and elsewhere for the big reveal in December.