Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Review: Realmac’s ‘Analog Camera’ for iPhone Focuses on Making Sharing Easy

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

As promised earlier this month, Realmac Software has just released Analog Camera for iPhone. The new photography app, which promises a fast and intuitive UI, hit the App Store this morning at the very reasonable $.99 price point. But there are already hundreds of camera apps available in the App Store and Analog Camera faces stiff competition from the likes of Instagram, Camera+, and many others. Does Analog Camera manage to stand out? Read on to find out.

When you open Analog Camera, you’re presented with the virtual viewfinder and shutter button. A horizon guide in the form of a dotted line across the middle of the viewfinder helps you make sure your shot is even. You can tap once to set a combined focus and exposure point or tap with two fingers to set separate focus and exposure points, while double tapping puts you in full auto mode.

Above the viewfinder are thumbnail images of the photos in your iPhone’s Camera Roll. Swiping down from these thumbnails shows you more of your Camera Roll. Swiping from left to right takes you to a view of your Photo Stream. Swiping up from any of these views takes you back to the virtual viewfinder and shutter button.

To capture a new photo, all you need to do is tap on the shutter button. You can keep taking pictures in rapid succession to your heart’s content (every photo you take is saved to the Camera Roll) and when you’re ready to edit one, just tap on its thumbnail. From there, you’ll be taken to a grid view that shows a preview of your selected photo with each of the eight available filters applied. Tapping on one will show you a larger view. Large buttons below this grid let you save the edited picture to your iPhone’s Camera Roll, email it, or send it to another app, like Instagram, Process, or any other photo or other type of app you have that will import images. And sharing to Facebook and Twitter is easy with the larger, appropriately colored and icon-ed buttons at the very bottom.

If you change your mind about sharing that picture, all you need to do is drag down on the grid view which will reveal the pinwheel-shaped iris shutter in Analog Camera’s icon. As you drag down, the iris fills with color to the accompaniment of some cute, xylophone-like notes and you’ll be brought back to the viewfinder once the iris is filled.

To appreciate Analog Camera, it helps to take a step back and think about how you normally take pictures that you plan to share through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever your preferred medium is, and edit them. For me, it usually takes several shots first to get just the right picture. When I finally get the perfect shot, I want to edit it and then share it as quickly as possible through Instagram and Twitter. With Instagram, this can take several taps since you’re taken to a new screen to begin the editing process after every picture you capture. With the built-in Camera app I can take multiple pictures in a row but there are no filters so it takes a trip to Instagram, where I have to find that perfect shot in my Camera Roll and then edit it. Here again, multiple taps are in order.

With its streamlined approach to taking pictures (or finding ones you’ve already taken) and then editing and sharing them, Analog Camera gets everything right – it beats Instagram and other camera apps in requiring very few steps to get your pictures out in front of the public or to friends and family. If you’re looking for an all-around camera app with strong editing capabilities, Analog Camera is not for you, though. It automatically crops all photos to squares so you don’t need to mess around with that once you get to Instagram and it offers a limited number of filters to keep everything simple. There is no red-eye fix, blurring to mimic a shallow depth of field, or other fancy editing effects. If you want to take panoramic photos, capture in landscape orientation, or even use the iPhone’s front-facing camera, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But if quick and easy sharing is your goal, Analog Camera is the way to go.

  • Photography

    Analog Camera + Photo Editor...

    Last Changed:
    7 months ago
    Rating:
    3.50 (10)
    Version:
    1.1.1
    iOS iPhone

    “An unbelievably fast and straightforward app” — Gizmodo “It beats Instagram and other camera apps” — AppShopper “It’s a joy to use and it’s clear a lot of attention has gone into...

‘Keycard’ Locks Your Mac When Your iPhone Goes Out of Range

Monday, January 7th, 2013

If you’ve ever wanted a quick way to ensure that others can’t use your Mac when you step away from it and you’re the type of person to keep your iPhone with you wherever you go, developer Appuous has a solution for you with its new Mac app, Keycard.

Keycard is a tiny app that lives in your Mac’s menu bar (you can opt to keep its icon in your dock while it’s running as well) that locks your Mac when a paired Bluetooth device goes out of range. Once you and your device get back into range, Keycard will unlock your Mac automatically.

To use Keycard, you must first pair it with an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (Appuous states that it will work with almost any other Bluetooth device as well though I’ve only used it with an iPhone and iPad mini). The pairing process with Keycard is not as involved as with a headset, speaker, or most other devices since all Keycard does is detect the device, log its identifier, and keep track of its Bluetooth signal so the Bluetooth indicator on your iOS device won’t light up to indicate the pairing.

Here’s a demo video showing Keycard in action:

After using Keycard for the past week with my MacBook Air (a mid-2011 model) and my iPhone 5 and iPad mini, I’ve found that it works as shown in that demo video. The Keycard lock screen appears when my iPhone gets anywhere from 15 to 30 feet away as the crow flies (with walls and furniture interrupting the Bluetooth signal in my house) and disappears by the time I get close enough to my Mac to type. While it’s locked, you can’t access any applications or use keyboard commands to force quit or switch applications. You can still power off a Mac and turn it back on manually, so you should enable a log-in password for your Mac for more security.

Click to enlarge

While Keycard works with multiple devices, it will trigger based on the Bluetooth signal of only one device at a time. For me, pairing it with my iPhone is the best method since that’s the device I almost always carry with me wherever I go, which is not the case with my iPad.

In situations where your iPhone or iPad is out of Bluetooth range and you still need to work on your Mac, you can designate a 4-digit passcode that will unlock your Mac. I found this passcode to work as expected but entering it was a little buggy from time to time, with the cursor skipping backwards as I entered the code for no discernible reason. Also, once unlocked this way, my Mac would periodically re-lock as if Keycard momentarily detected my iPhone on the other side of the house and then lost the signal, requiring me to enter the code again. If your iPhone or iPad are going to be away from your Mac for a while, it makes sense to just quit Keycard to avoid this.

Despite these glitches, Keycard does what it promises. If you have mischievous coworkers who might take advantage of a brief absence from your Mac to post something inappropriate through your Facebook account or if you simply want to lock down your Mac to keep its contents relatively secure when you step away for a short period of time, Keycard will be ideal for you.

Keycard debuted in the App Store yesterday and is on sale for a special introductory price of $6.99 and its regular price will be $8.99. I have a hard time reconciling its regular price when comparing Keycard to an app like Clear, which is $9.99 and offers far more functionality albeit in a different category entirely, so I’d recommend you buy Keycard now before its price goes up.

  • Utilities

    Keycard

    Last Changed:
    7 weeks ago
    Rating:
    2.00 (54)
    Version:
    1.2
    Mac OS

    Keycard is undoubtedly the easiest way to keep your Mac secure when you're not around. Using Bluetooth®, Keycard locks your Mac using your iOS device when it detects you are leaving your computer....

Review: Twitterrific 5 for iPhone and iPad

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The Iconfactory, the company that began as a graphic design studio focused on icon design and has since branched out to iOS app development, has released a major update to its Twitter client for the iPhone and iPad, Twitterrific.

Twitterrific 5 debuted in the App Store tonight and it’s a radical departure in look and feel from its predecessors. The Iconfactory says that it’s been completely rewritten from the ground up and it does indeed feel like a totally new app. Twitterrific 5 keeps the core functions you’d expect from any competent Twitter app, allowing you to view your timeline, search for other users or trending topics, post new tweets with images or videos attached, and so on.

Beyond this, Twitterrific 5 offers a gorgeous interface and font and customization options that should please most users who want to change things up a bit.

To highlight the changes, here are screenshots from Twitterrific 4 (left) compared to Twitterrific 5 (right):

Twitterrific 5 feels much more modern and reminds me of Microsoft’s Metro design language, particularly when the Dark theme is active. It really is lovely, with excellent font choices that are all crisp and pleasing to the eye on the iPhone 5′s retina display. And if you’ve forgotten your reading glasses or need a larger font to catch up on your Twitter timeline as you burn off those extra holiday calories on an elliptical machine, Twitterrific 5 gives you nine (!) font sizes to choose from, ranging from way-too-tiny-even-for-my-20/20-eyes all the way to enormous.

Also new to Twitterrific 5 is cross-device synchronization so that you can keep track of your reading position in your timeline on multiple devices automatically. You can enable this using Apple’s iCloud service or through Tweet Marker, a 3rd-party service that The Iconfactory added to the Mac version of Twitterrific last year.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, which means a video should be worth a whole lot more, feast your eyes on this video of Twitterrific 5 in action that I recorded on my iPhone 5:

I’ve been using Twitterrifc 5 as my main Twitter client on my iPhone 5 and iPad mini for several days now and I’ve both loved it and had moments of frustration with it. I love the interface. It’s really, really pretty. And I like the light and dark themes and the automatic switching. But Twitterrific 5 fell down for me in a few places.

First, it doesn’t load nearly enough tweets when I’ve gone several hours without checking Twitter. You can force it to load additional tweets by tapping on the ellipsis symbol that appears in the break between recently loaded tweets and older ones. But this only goes so far and I find that I’m missing tweets that would load without prompting in my regular client of choice, Tweetbot.

This limit on the tweets loaded may be a performance-driven decision, or a philosophical one driven by The Iconfactory’s view of Twitter as a real-time social network rather than one where you should be going backward in time to view older tweets. Regardless, I’d love to have at least the option to load more older tweets before I could use Twitterrific as my primary Twitter client.

Second, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally scrolled to the top of my timeline when I was just trying to switch accounts, create a new tweet, or do anything involving any of the buttons at the top. The tap target areas for these virtual buttons are too small and it’s way too easy execute the scroll-to-top shortcut.

There were a few smaller issues here and there. For example, I’d selected the automatic theme switching between Dark and Light at 7:00 pm and 7:00 am but this switch didn’t always happen and I’d had to manually make the change from time to time. Also, Twitterrific 5 lacks some “pro” features like push notifications, the ability to mute other users, the option to create and edit your Twitter lists, or the ability to save multiple draft tweets (though it does offer offline posting, favoring, and following support).

All that aside, Twitterrific is drop-dead gorgeous and lovely to use. The gestures and customization options are great and it makes Twitter feel vibrant. This will be enough for many and you can’t go wrong with Twitterrific if you’re a Twitter user looking for a beautifully-designed Twitter app that can change its looks to suit your needs and take care of Twitter basics in style.

Twitterrific 5 is available now in the App Store for a special introductory price of $2.99, so snag it now before it goes up.

  • Social Networking

    Twitterrific 5 for Twitter

    Last Changed:
    2 weeks ago
    Rating:
    3.50 (15)
    Version:
    5.7.5
    iOS Universal

    Now with live streaming of tweets, Twitterrific is the award-winning, elegant Twitter client that’s easy to understand and a delight to use. The unified timeline lets you browse mentions and direct...

Review: ‘Fantastical’ for iPhone

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

I’ve been a fan of Fantastical for Mac by Flexibits since it was released last year and I was very excited to hear it was coming to the iPhone. Despite this excitement, I was a little skeptical that Flexibits could duplicate the utility and ease of use present in the Mac version on the iPhone. But using Fantastical for iPhone over the past few days has done away with my doubts and Fantastical will be a strong contender for many to replace the iPhone’s built-in Calendar app.

To step back a little, Fantastical for Mac is a calendar utility that lets you use natural language (e.g., “Lunch with Arn on Friday at noon”) to create new calendar events and reminders, which is parsed pretty damn accurately into real items. Since it integrates with iCal (or BusyCal, Entourage, or Outlook), anything you do with Fantastical will be reflected in your primary calendar application automatically, and then synced to your iOS devices accordingly if you’re using iCloud. You can invoke Fantastical with a keyboard shortcut or click on its icon in your Mac’s menu bar, making it super easy to get to in order to create new calendar items instead of opening iCal.

On the iPhone, Fantastical works largely the same way. You can create new calendar events using natural language by typing or using voice dictation if you’ve got an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. Fantastical parses your entry and transforms it into an event without requiring you to jump around to fill out bunch of different fields to specify the event’s name, time, location, and more as you would need to in the built-in Calendar app.

Here’s a video I recorded of Fantastical in action on my iPhone 5:

As you can see, the natural language feature works wonderfully and I’ve yet to see it bungle any of my calendar entries. It is far easier than creating a new entry in the built-in Calendar app with its multiple screens and fields you need to fill out to create even a simple event.

I know what you’re thinking. If you’ve got one of those new-fangled iPhones with Siri, why not just use that to create your events since Siri can pretty much do the same thing? Well, you’re right. Siri is how I create new calendar events and reminders these days most of the time. But, for those times when it’s not appropriate or feasible to talk out loud to your phone or if you have an older iPhone that doesn’t have Siri, Fantastical is a joy to use and beats the built-in Calendar hands down.

There is one feature that Fantastical for iPhone is missing and I feel bad for even mentioning it since it’s not something that Apple even allows: the ability to show the current date on the app’s icon on your home screen. Apple does this with its own Calendar app but won’t let anyone else do it, which is a bit of a cheap trick in my opinion. But, it’s something I’ve come to rely on and I didn’t exactly realize how much until I swapped Fantastical for Calendar on my iPhone’s home screen while testing it. A work-around here could be to imitate what several weather apps, like one of my favorites, Fahrenheit, have done–use a push notification number badge to show the current date. This isn’t the cleanest solution but it would still be incredibly useful for me and put Fantastical on my home page and relegate Calendar to my Apple-apps-I-never-use-but-can’t-delete folder.

Fantastical for iPhone is available now at a special introductory price of $1.99, which is 50% off its full price so get now before it goes up. Also, in celebration of the release of Fantastical for iPhone, the Mac version is also 50% off for a limited time, bringing its price down to $9.99 from $19.99, so now is a good time to snap it up if you want the Fantastical experience on your computer as well.

  • Productivity

    Fantastical

    Last Changed:
    10 months ago
    Rating:
    3.00 (107)
    Version:
    1.1.6
    iOS iPhone

    *** Fantastical 2 for iPhone (iOS 7 only) is coming soon and will be a separate purchase. If you use iOS 6, this is your last chance to get Fantastical 1 at a special price before it’s gone! *** ...

Review: ‘Clear’ for Mac

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

As promised last week, Realmac Software, Impending, and Helftone have released Clear for Mac today. Clear for iPhone made quite an impression at its release (I loved it and use it almost every day) with its fluid, gesture-driven interface and it’s been a regular in the Top 200 Paid Productivity iPhone apps since. The new Mac version offers synchronization with its iOS counterpart via iCloud and I’ve found over the past week that it manages to keep the spirit of the iPhone version’s button-free interface alive on the Mac.

Clear is, at heart, a simple lists app. You can create lists for items you need to buy or do or anything your little heart desires. There are no alarm options or sub-levels to break list items down into multiple parts. It’s meant to be straightforward and effortless to use so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want a tasks or lists app that lets you customize every last thing six ways from Sunday.

When you first open Clear for Mac, you’ll get a short and very helpful tutorial that walks you through how to create lists, add to and modify them, and navigate through the app. After this, using Clear for Mac will feel very familiar if you’ve already used the iPhone version with a few minor changes to accommodate and even work around the mouse-driven interface of a computer compared to the iPhone’s touchscreen. For example, you can just start typing to create a new list or add a new item to an existing list and to create a new item in between other existing items in a list, you can just hover and click in between them to insert the new item in that spot.

Here’s a video overview I recorded of Clear for Mac in action:

You couldn’t tell in the video, but navigating through Clear is easy with a mouse and keyboard but really shines with a trackpad on a laptop or if you have a Magic Trackpad or even a Magic Mouse for your desktop Mac. The swiping and pinching gestures these devices allow you to use are what keep the spirit of the iPhone version of Clear alive on the Mac. It’s not exactly the same but it’s still enjoyable and unique compared to most desktop apps where pointing and clicking rules the day.

Like the iPhone version, there are several color themes to choose from. In the iPhone version, you can unlock bonus themes by installing and using other selected apps (Tweetbot, Temple Run, and others) or doing certain things (using Clear for 7 days straight or between 12:00 am and 3:00am) and these bonus themes sync over to the Mac version accordingly. Clear for Mac also has the same cute sound effects as the iPhone version though you can elect to turn them off if you want.

I’ve been using Clear for Mac for about a week now and the only issue I’ve found is that it’s a little too easy to create lists and new items or navigate to lists I don’t mean to when using a mouse. I often scroll up or down too far, which will prompt the creation of a new list when I’m in the Lists view or a new item when I’m within a list. Other than this, Clear for Mac is just as functional and almost as fun to use as the iPhone version. The iCloud synchronization between the Mac and iPhone versions has worked very quickly and reliably in the short time it’s been available (the iPhone version was just updated yesterday to add iCloud synchronization in time for today’s Mac version release) though it’s not all unicorns and sunshine for everyone and Realmac has posted a troubleshooting support page if you’re seeing slow syncs.

Clear for Mac hit the Mac App Store last night and it’s on sale at a special introductory price of $6.99 through Monday, November 12 Sunday, November 11. After this it will go up to its regular price of $14.99 so mash that Buy Now button below before the price goes up. It’s a worthy purchase, particularly if you already have Clear for iPhone.

  • Productivity

    Clear – Tasks, Reminders &...

    Last Changed:
    9 weeks ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (84)
    Version:
    1.1.2
    Mac OS

    Over 2 million people de-clutter their lives with Clear, so stop stalling and start organizing your daily routine. Clear is the revolutionary to-do and reminders app that makes you more productive....

Scout Camera Lets You Focus on Taking Great Pictures

Friday, October 5th, 2012

There is no dearth of camera apps in the App Store with apps that can let you do almost anything from making your photos look like vintage comics to letting you add a virtual mustache to any face. But finding a straightforward, uncluttered camera app that lets you apply filters in real-time can be a bit harder and this is where Crush Apps comes to the rescue with Scout Camera.

Scout Camera hit the App Store last month and just got an update a few days ago to let it take full advantage of the iPhone 5′s larger screen. Here’s a walk-through of how it works on an iPhone 4S (thanks to Apple’s switch to the new Lightning connector in the iPhone 5, my app video capture system needs a new adapter before I can use it with my iPhone 5):

Scout lets you apply filters and change the aspect ratio of your photos as you capture them so you can frame them up exactly the way you want and know what you’re getting before you tap that shutter button. Comparatively Instagram, the wildly popular photo sharing social networking app, used to let you apply filters in real-time but actually lost this capability in a recent update when it got iPhone 5 and iOS 6 compatibility.

With other excellent photo editing apps like Camera+, Snapseed, and many others in the App Store, I was a bit curious to know why Crush Apps decided to release a camera app into what is already a crowded market. So, I asked the man behind Crush Apps, Jim Rhoades, why he created it and here’s an excerpt from what he told me:

I really enjoy the process of taking photos – and being able to frame a picture to a particular aspect ratio while taking it is, to me at least, a better experience than taking a photo and cropping it later on. I also really like the 16:9 aspect ratio. I find that particular shape of photo visually interesting, and wanted a camera app capable of that. I also wanted a camera app that didn’t have controls (like the front/back camera switch and flash buttons) blocking the view of the photo I was taking. In other camera apps, I find those controls distracting and think they get in the way of composing the picture.

…I also wanted to be able to offer something that allowed you to take photos in black and white, or that had a little extra color saturation (like the Vivian filter) – or a number of other visual looks… and I wanted to be able to see what those effects looked like as I was taking the photo.

I think Rhoades has succeeded in creating a camera app that lets you focus on taking great pictures first and foremost in Scout Camera. Rhoades told me he has plans to add more filters and possibly filter controls, so Scout Camera will get even better in the future. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense camera app that does more than the iPhone’s built-in Camera app and has controls that don’t get in your way, Scout Camera is a great choice.

Scout Camera is available for $.99 as a special introductory price. It requires iOS 5.1 or higher and works on the iPhone 3GS and later, the 4th-generation and later iPod touches, and second-generation and later iPads.

  • Photography

    Scout Camera

    Last Changed:
    22 weeks ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (74)
    Version:
    1.1.1
    iOS iPhone

    Take great photos with this unique and beautifully designed camera app. MINIMAL DESIGN With camera controls that stay out of your way, so you can see the photo you're taking with no distractions. ...