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Posts tagged with "utility"

Sofa 3.0 Adds New Ways to Manage Your Media Lists Along With a New Business Model

Sofa 3.0, an app that I last reviewed in March, is out with loads of new ways to track, organize, and browse the media lists you create. The app also has a new subscription business model for its pro features.

Media recommendations come at us all from every angle, whether it’s friends and family or sources like reviews. You can save lists of books, movies, videogames, and other media you want to try in lots of ways. You could use an app like Apple’s Notes or Reminders, but they’re general-purpose apps that don’t address the specific needs related to media consumption. Plus, trying to track media in something like a task manager gets out of control and messy fast.

Another option is to turn to an app designed for a specific type of media, and there are many good options available on the App Store. The advantage Sofa has, is that it makes it just as easy to pick a book as a movie or something else when you’re deciding what media to try next. It’s a subtle but important distinction. With single-purpose apps, you need to decide what kind of media you want to consume and then turn to an app to pick something. Sofa dispenses with the first step allowing you to answer a broader question: “How do I want to spend my free time?” That a one-stop approach is one of Sofa’s greatest strengths and one that the app leans into hard with the latest excellent update.

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CARROT Weather 5.3 Adds Smart Layouts and a Fun Weather Reports Feature

My nighttime Smart Layout.

My nighttime Smart Layout.

Apple Design Award winner CARROT Weather offers an unprecedented amount of user control over its interface, something which Federico and I recently discussed at length on AppStories and interviewed developer Brian Mueller about last month. The customization options that were introduced in January with version 5 of the app allow users to define the look and layout of multiple weather tiles along with the date presented by each. Since that UI overhaul in January, Mueller has continued to extend the customization system, most recently adding a preview system and other refinements to make it easier to experiment with and create different layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

With version 5.3 that was released today, Mueller has added Smart Layouts, allowing users to create different layouts for nighttime and when it’s going to rain. I like these new options a lot for a couple of reasons. The first is practical: if it’s nighttime, you probably don’t care about the day’s high temperature because it likely happened hours ago. Likewise, if it’s going to rain, a graph of when the rain is going to start and when it will be most intense is far more important to you than on a beautiful, sunny day.

Picking Smart Layouts.

Picking Smart Layouts.

With Smart Layouts, you can adjust your weather layouts for each circumstance. For example, I created a Smart Layout for nighttime based on the Siren template that emphasizes the current conditions followed by the hourly and daily forecasts. When rain is in the forecast, I’ve got a layout that moves a precipitation graph and radar view to the spots just below the current conditions. The changes I made were relatively minor but have made CARROT Weather more relevant as conditions change.

I also enjoy Smart Layouts because they’re another outlet for trying new layout templates and experimenting with setup options. The process is fun and adds an extra touch of personalization and variety that I enjoy. Smart Layouts require a Premium Club subscription to CARROT Weather.

The other headline feature of CARROT Weather’s update is Weather Reports, which lets you create 30-second weather report videos and share them. Whether you’re flexing from the beach on vacation or just want to complain about how hot it is to your friends, Weather Reports are a ton of fun. Videos are recorded with the front-facing camera, and CARROT Weather lends a hand by providing an overlay to help frame yourself. Videos can be scripted randomly by CARROT or unscripted, and you can even pick a funny weatherperson name if you’d like. If you pick a scripted video, the words scroll up the screen as you record yourself teleprompter-style. Here’s one I did from my backyard yesterday afternoon:

Weather Reports are a blast to create and will undoubtedly show up in droves on social media networks before you finish reading this.

Today’s update also adds a variety of smaller updates, including new layout components and multiple formats for taking screenshots of weather conditions for sharing.

CARROT Weather 5.3 is available as a free update on the App Store.


Transloader 3: A Simple, Versatile Way to Remotely Manage Mac File Downloads from an iPhone or iPad

Matthias Gansrigler of Eternal Storms Software recently released Transloader 3, an app for remotely controlling Mac file downloads from an iPhone or iPad. Although the app has been around for a long time, version 3 might as well be a completely new app because it’s packed with new features, making it worth revisiting if you haven’t tried it in a while.

Transloader is one of those utilities that reduces the friction of working on multiple devices by solving a common problem that Apple’s OSes could handle better: cross-device downloads. There are a couple of scenarios where I run into this all the time. The first is with email. With no TestFlight for Mac yet, developers often send me links to a ZIP or DMG file of their apps to try. Going through email messages is one of those tasks that I often leave until late in the day when I’m away from my desk, using my iPad or iPhone. The second scenario is when I’m researching apps and find one or a related press kit I want to download to check out later.

In both cases, I could save the app or other files to iCloud Drive’s Downloads folder and revisit the materials the next time I’m at my Mac. However, with Transloader, I’ve got many more options thanks to its built-in automation tools as well as other features that make managing downloaded files easier.

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Timery Comes to the Mac and Makes Time Tracking With Toggl Easier Than Ever

I don’t track my time because I enjoy starting and stopping timers; I do it because, over the long haul, it provides valuable insight into how I’m spending my time. As useful as it is to have data on how much a project or task takes or how much time a task consumes relative to other things I do, the act of tracking itself can be tedious, which is why it can be so easy to fall out of the habit of doing it.

The reason I’ve used Timery, the time tracking app for Toggl, on my iPhone and iPad since it was released, is because of developer Joe Hribar’s attention to making it as easy as possible to track your time without a lot of fuss. Features like saved timers, widgets, keyboard shortcuts, and Shortcuts actions for automating timers have made the app a delight to use since version 1.0.

In fact, the Timery experience has been so good that I used it even though it had no Mac app, which is something I rarely do with apps I use every day. However, with the release of version 1.2 of Timery today, I no longer need to use a different time tracking app on my Mac because Timery has been released as a Mac Catalyst app, complete with all the features Timery users already know and love from iPhone and iPad versions. Today’s update to Timery isn’t just a treat for Mac users, though. Version 1.2 also packs in a long list of new keyboard shortcuts and settings for all users, making this one of the biggest updates since the app was launched.

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Bartender 4.0 Offers Powerful New Control Over Your Mac’s Menu Bar Apps

Bartender 4.0 was in beta for a long time, and the time and attention to the details paid off. If you were waiting to update until the app was officially released, now’s the time to act because it’s out, and the update is excellent.

I use Bartender on all my Macs, but I appreciate it most on my MacBook Air. The updated app, which manages your menu bar apps, retains its core functionality, allowing you to rearrange your menu bar apps and hide the ones you don’t need regularly. However, with version 4.0, Bartender does a lot more too.

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Reflector 4 Updated with Modern UI and M1 Mac Support

Reflector 4, an app for mirroring iPhones, iPads, and other devices to the Mac, has been updated with a new design, M1 Mac support, and new onscreen device frames. Whether you’re making screencasts, demoing apps for a group, or in a classroom environment, Reflector lets you wirelessly transmit your device’s UI to your Mac and record it too. In addition to mirroring iPhones and iPads, which is what I did in my testing, you can also mirror Android, Windows, and Chromebook devices. Think of it as Apple TV and Chromecast’s mirroring and streaming features all on a Mac, thanks to this one simple menu bar app.

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Nova Review: Panic’s Code Editor Demonstrates Why Mac-like Design Matters

I’ve been writing code for nearly a decade, and throughout all of that time, I’ve never quite been satisfied with a code editor. Each one I’ve tried has annoyed me in various ways, and eventually, I find myself looking elsewhere.

My code editor is the app I use more than any other. I spend hours in it nearly every day and often keep going deep into the night. The code editor is the main tool of my trade, and I want to be using the best one that I can.

One of my main frustrations with pretty much all of the popular code editors out there (and I’ve tried most of them, including Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, Atom, IntelliJ, and Eclipse) is that none of them are Mac-assed Mac apps. They’re all clearly cross-platform apps with design senses that differ significantly from those of Mac-first developers.

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DarkModeBuddy: Automatic Light and Dark Mode Switching Based on Ambient Light

Gui Rambo, the maker or AirBuddy, the Bluetooth headphone and peripheral menu bar utility that I’ve covered before, has released a new app called DarkModeBuddy that can automatically switch between light and dark mode on Mac laptops based on ambient light levels. DarkModeBuddy runs in the background monitoring the ambient light readings from the same sensor that automatically adjusts your screen’s brightness. When the ambient light drops below a threshold you pick for an amount of time that you also choose, DarkModeBuddy automatically switches Big Sur from light to dark mode.

The app is a terrific example of the sort of single-purpose, useful utility available on the Mac. The app’s settings helpfully display the current light reading, which will assist you in deciding what light threshold to pick. The easiest way to dial in a comfortable setting is to choose something you think might work and then adjust it as you work in different lighting environments based on the readings reported by DarkModeBuddy.

If you watch the ambient light readings in DarkModeBuddy, you’ll see they jump around a bit as the lighting of your surroundings changes. That’s why the app has a Delay Time setting, which only switches between light and dark modes if the lighting conditions cross the threshold you set for a certain amount of time. The timer prevents flickering back and forth between light and dark modes based on small, temporary changes in lighting.

I generally run my Macs in dark mode full time, so I’m not planning to run DarkModeBuddy all the time. However, I like Gui’s approach to light and dark mode switching better than Apple’s. If I’m in a dark environment, light mode, especially with Big Sur’s emphasis on bright white UI elements, can feel like having someone point a spotlight at your face. You may find yourself in those conditions because it’s nighttime, but the time of day doesn’t account for when you’re working in a poorly lit room, which is where DarkModeBuddy really shines.1

DarkModeBuddy, which is an open-source project, is available with a ‘name your price’ model via Gumroad.


  1. Sorry (not sorry) for the bad pun. ↩︎

Nudget Review: Budgeting Made Simple

Nudget1 is a budgeting app designed to streamline the daily input of expenses. Developer Sawyer Blatz created a gorgeous and extremely efficient interface to make budgeting feel light and fun. With my beloved bank Simple closing this year, I’ve been looking for new solutions for keeping track of my finances. Over the last couple weeks I’ve worked with Nudget full-time, and the experience has been rewarding.

Getting Started

As is the case with any budgeting app, you’ll need to put in a bit of work up front to get started with Nudget. When you first open the app it will prompt you to input your after-tax income and recurring expenses. Nudget uses this data to craft a simplified budget for you. Budget-wise, the app isn’t doing anything too fancy. Each budget consists of three categories: recurring expenses, spending money, and savings. These categories are shown as large cards in Nudget’s ‘Budget’ tab, and you can tap each one to edit it.

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