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Posts tagged with "utility"

Binarynights Releases Forklift 4, a Major Update Its File Management and Transfer Utility for Mac

Today, Binarynights released Forklift 4, its Mac file management and transfer app. Version 4 is a complete rewrite of the app, which adds a lot of new features, a modern design, and a new business model. I’ve only spent a little while with the update, but so far, I like what I’ve seen a lot.

The new design is excellent, with a modern sidebar and preview pane, along with columns for your files and folders that snap to optimized widths for your content but can be adjusted however you like. Of course, there are multiple view options for files and folders, and the toolbar is fully customizable, too. Plus, Forklift 4 adds eight different themes that look great.

Forklift 4 includes a long list of ways to connect to your files, such as FTP and SFTP, but the update also adds cloud services, including Dropbox, Google Team Drives, and Microsoft OneDrive. Other new features include syncing favorites between Macs using iCloud and saving views on a per-folder basis. Binarynights says file syncing and other actions are significantly faster, too.

Forklift 4's default theme.

Forklift 4’s default theme.

Today’s update also introduces a new business model. Forklift 4 offers a free trial, and when you purchase a license, you’ll get the current version plus one or two years of updates, depending on which license you buy. After that, you can continue using the app as-is indefinitely or renew your license to continue getting updates. Also, to celebrate Forklift 4’s launch, Binarynights is adding an extra 100 days of updates for a limited time.

I like this business model a lot for utilities like Forklift. Light users who don’t need the latest and greatest features can pay once and wait to upgrade until there’s a new feature they need, but heavy users can pay more regularly to stay on top of the latest enhancements to the app.

There’s a lot more that Forklift 4 can do than I’ve mentioned above, so it’s worth checking out the app’s product page and the blog post covering the updates. Although I haven’t spent a lot of time with Forklift 4 yet, it makes a great first impression with its native, modern design, extensive customization options, and deep feature set. If you’re looking for a new file management and transfer app, Forklift 4 is worth checking out.

TimeWave: Stacked Timers Delivered with a Clean, Spare Interface

Timers are a staple of productivity systems, which is why there are so many of them on the App Store. My favorite timer apps are the ones that are the most flexible. A little structure goes a long way if you’re casting about for a system that works for you, but I prefer timer apps that can be adapted to multiple scenarios. That’s why I’ve enjoyed playing around with TimeWave so much.

The app, which works on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, plus Apple Silicon Macs in compatibility mode, isn’t new, but in a sea of timer apps, its focused black-and-white design and regular updates caught my eye. TimeWave is pitched as a focus timer that can be used with the Pomodoro time management system, which is a good use of it. However, what’s best is that TimeWave can also be used as a habit tracker, cooking timer, exercise routine timer, and more.

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Callsheet Provides Movie and TV Details with an Uncluttered Native Interface

Today, Casey Liss released a brand new app called Callsheet for looking up cast and crew information about movies and TV shows. The app, which works on the iPhone and iPad, has a lot in common with movie and TV show tracking apps that I’ve covered, except for one very big difference. Callsheet isn’t a tracking app. Instead, it’s an app front end for The Movie DB, a website that offers a crowd-sourced movie and TV show database and an API for developers.

That’s an important distinction to understand. Callsheet is designed for those times that you want to know more about the people behind a movie or TV show but find the ads in apps and on websites, like IMDb, frustrating. If that resonates with you, and you’re not interested in tracking what you’ve watched, Callsheet offers a better experience for finding cast and crew information.

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Chronicling: A Flexible Event Tracker with Modern Features and A Top-Notch Design

Chronicling is a brand-new event tracking app for iOS and iPadOS by Rebecca Owen. The App Store is full of apps for tracking everything from the very specific, like caffeine consumption, to apps like Chronicling that can be used to track nearly anything. What makes Owen’s app unique, though, is it’s one of the best examples of modern SwiftUI design that I’ve seen that incorporates the still relatively new Swift Charts and other recent Apple technologies to deliver a great user experience.

Trackers like Chronicling are the perfect fit for the iPhone. Most people have the device with them all the time, which makes it perfect for collecting data frequently, but it’s what you do with that data that matters the most. Maybe you’re trying to learn a new language and want to track how often you practice to hold yourself accountable. Or maybe your knee has been bothering you, and you want to keep track of when it flares up to see if it corresponds to an activity in your life. The point is, whether you’re trying to form a new habit or find patterns in things that happen throughout your day, part of the process is gathering the data. The other half of the equation is breaking the data down in a meaningful way. Chronicling does both well.

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Paku: Hyper-Local Air Quality Tracking on Every Apple Platform

With millions of people facing a long, smokey summer here in the US, I thought it would be a good time to recommend Paku by Kyle Bashour, an iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch app for tracking the air quality where you live.

Paku on the Mac.

Paku on the Mac.

Paku combines Apple’s MapKit framework with public data from PurpleAir to track air quality globally. By default, the app displays Air Quality Index data as color-coded dots on its map UI. Just like Apple Maps, you can zoom out and pan around to see data in other areas or use the app’s search functionality, but the greatest value is in knowing what the air quality is in your neighborhood.

Paku running on the iPhone.

Paku running on the iPhone.

In addition to AQI data, Paku can display temperature, humidity, and PM1.0, PM2.5, and PM10.0 data, using the toolbar overlay on the app’s map. For more information about a station’s data, tap it, and you’ll get all the available data, historical context for the current reading, and an explanation of what precautions you should take if the air quality is bad. From the three-dot More button in the corner of a station’s data view, you can also favorite an air quality station, open the PurpleAir website, or hide a station.

Examples of Paku’s widgets.

Examples of Paku’s widgets.

Paku includes Home and Lock Screen widgets too. For the iPhone’s Lock Screen, there are widgets to track air quality, temperature, and humidity. The same is true for Home Screen widgets, which feature the same types of data but use two designs. The first design uses a blue gradient background, big numerals for the primary data point, and a graphic that shows where your current air quality falls on the air quality scale. The other Home Screen widget design uses the EPA’s color scheme as the background of the widget to make the air quality reading even more glanceable.

Paku also supports a single Shortcuts action that opens the app, which is fine, but it would be better if the action returned the air quality, temperature, and humidity data instead.

Air quality alerts and alternate icons are two of the Paku benefits that are subscriber-only.

Air quality alerts and alternate icons are two of the Paku benefits that are subscriber-only.

Paku is free to download but offers a subscription with additional features, including the ability to set alerts based on readings from a sensor when air quality reaches one of the scale’s thresholds, such as Unhealthy or Hazardous. Subscribers can also access data from private sensors you can install at your home and pick from a long list of alternative icons. Of those paid features, notifications strike me as the most useful unless you don’t have a nearby public air quality sensor that you can rely on. I’m fortunate in that there’s a sensor less than a quarter mile from my home, so I haven’t felt the need to install my own sensor.

When I moved to North Carolina, I was struck by how clean the air was compared to the Chicago suburbs. I’d tracked air quality on and off in my old neighborhood, but when I got to North Carolina, there wasn’t any reason to do so. Every day started and finished solidly in the green zone. That changed last week, and although there are areas with far worse air quality than here, Paku is back on my Home Screen, helping me decide whether I should get my exercise outside each day or do something indoors. I could use the AQI data from a full-blown weather app, but I love Paku’s clean, focused design and the fact that I can set its widgets to a sensor that’s just down the street from my house.

Paku is available on the App Store as a free download. Notifications, private sensors, and alternative icons require a subscription that is $1.99/month or $13.99/year.

Raycast Introduces a Pro Subscription with New AI, Sync, Theming, and Clipboard Functionality

Raycast, the keyboard-driven launcher for the Mac, introduced a new subscription service today called Raycast Pro that adds AI, syncing, templating, and extended clipboard functionality to the app.

Raycast Pro, which is $8 per month when billed annually and is also included in Team plans, includes three artificial intelligence features:

  • Quick AI, which is meant to provide one-off answers that can be copied and pasted into whatever you’re working on
  • AI Chat, a chatbot window that floats onscreen, allowing for back-and-forth interaction
  • AI Commands, which include built-in commands for things like spelling and grammar checking, along with customizable commands

According to Raycast’s FAQs, the app uses OpenAI’s GPT 3 and GPT 3.5-Turbo large language models “as well as some other models” for their AI features and does not offer an option to use your own OpenAI API key.

If you use Raycast on multiple Macs, a Pro subscription will allow you to flip a toggle to sync items like Extensions, Quicklinks, Snippets, and Hotkeys. Subscribers can customize Raycast with themes and build their own sharable themes in the app’s Theme Studio too. Finally, a subscription adds an unlimited clipboard history that is stored locally on your Mac and not synced as part of the app’s new sync features for security reasons. Free users are limited to a maximum of three months of clipboard history.

For anyone who relies heavily on AI for their work or has complex Raycast setups that they find hard to maintain across multiple Macs, a Raycast Pro subscription should be attractive. For everyone else, you can still take advantage of the free features, which haven’t changed. I’ve relied on Raycast for more than a year now and don’t need the Pro features myself, but I’m glad to see Raycast expanding its offerings and ways users can support the app’s continued development.

Automation April: Hyperduck Leverages the Power of URL Schemes to Control Your Mac from an iPhone or iPad

Hyperduck is a recent utility from Sindre Sorhus for sending URLs from an iPhone or iPad to your Mac that has some very interesting applications. Hyperduck hasn’t replaced my use of AirDrop, Handoff, and other Apple technologies that move data between devices, but it has extended those features in meaningful ways and has quickly worked its way into my everyday computing life.

Hyperduck does just one thing very well. It sends URLs from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac using iCloud. That’s different than how AirDrop works, which has some advantages.

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Automation April: Mac Outliner Bike Adds Shortcuts Support

Last spring, I reviewed Bike, Jesse Grosjean of Hog Bay Software’s excellent outlining app for the Mac. The app’s simple, elegant design keeps the focus on the outline you’re creating, while its rich, keyboard-driven set of features enable ideas to be organized quickly and efficiently. Advanced features, like versioning, linking and grouping rows, and a long list of ways to view, navigate and edit your outlines, make Bike one of the best ways to create outlines on the Mac.

Bike has 14 Shortcuts actions.

Bike has 14 Shortcuts actions.

Bike’s focus on efficiency and extensive support for keyboard shortcuts and AppleScript make it the perfect candidate for Shortcuts support, which was added to the app today. Version 1.11 of Bike adds 14 Shortcuts actions to the app:

  • Create Outline
  • Open Outline
  • Open Row
  • Get Rows
  • Fold Rows
  • Focus Row
  • Edit Rows
  • Import Rows
  • Export Rows
  • Find Rows
  • Create Row
  • Delete Rows
  • Move Rows
  • Get Selection

The actions cover a lot of the functionality of Bike with a focus on outlines, text and row selections, and rows. Outlines can be created from scratch or existing ones opened, and Get Selection returns any selected text and its outline row.

Exporting all rows as plain text.

Exporting all rows as plain text.

The remainder of Bike’s Shortcuts actions apply to rows, the building blocks of outlines. Rows can be opened in-app or retrieved in a variety of ways, such as by their root, row ID, focus, selection, ancestor rows, child rows, and descendant rows by using the Get Rows action. There’s also a Find Rows action that uses predicate filtering to allow rows matching multiple criteria to be located and sorted. Rows can be imported and exported in Bike, OPML, and plain text formats too.

Rows can also be created, edited, deleted, and moved within an outline with precision, thanks to a detailed set of action parameters. Actions for focusing on particular rows and folding and unfolding rows round out the available actions by allowing users to use Shortcuts to prepare their outline work environment automatically.

I’ve only just begun experimenting with Bike’s new Shortcuts integration, but it’s clear that thanks to extensive parameter and predicate filtering, the automation opportunities are extensive. Especially if you work with big outlines that require frequent, repetitive edits, Bike’s new Shortcuts integration could save you a lot of time.

Bike 1.11 is available on the App Store and directly from Hog Bay Software as a free download. Some features, including Shortcuts support, require a $2.99/month or $19.99/year subscription from the App Store or a one-time license purchase directly from Hog Bay Software, which comes with one year of updates.

You can also follow MacStories’ Automation April coverage through our dedicated hub, or subscribe to its RSS feed.