Illustration software that's easy to use
You take your life in your hands when you ask us to draw something. Look at the screenshots here and tell us you can't tell that we're really writers with clipart. But if we don't spend all day coloring in fantastic illustrations, we do very often need to sketch out images and that's where Artboard shines. It is a fully-fledged illustration application and a full-time artist could work in it full-time -- but it is particularly suited to those of us who occasionally need a powerful tool, and don't want to dole out the cash for a monthly subscription to a software giant.
Dev channel for Chrome OS includes always-on voice search option
Google is bringing the always-on "Ok Google" voice command to Chromebooks. Spotted in the Dev Channel version of the operating system by Francois Beaufort, the function lets users perform a search verbally at any time, in a similar manner to some Android smartphones. It is unknown if or when the feature will reach non-developer users.
Quickly and simply convert videos between formats
Before we get into this, Video Converter Pro is currently free for a limited time, so go get it on the Mac App Store now. If you read this one minute too late and the price has gone back up, get it anyway because it is more than worth the usual asking price of $15. Or rather, it is if you need to convert videos, because that's what this just does, without fuss.
Clean-feeling mail client lessens the stress of correspondence
Staying on top of emails, especially when there are multiple accounts involved, is unpleasant. Of the many mail clients out there (such as Mail, included with OS X), each tries to offer users its own spin on staying ahead of the curve. Airmail 2.0, released earlier this year, provides a client designed for Yosemite, supporting iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP 3, and more. We got a hold of Airmail 2.0 (which we will simply refer to as "Airmail" going forward) to take a look for ourselves, and see if this email client stands out from the crowd.
MacNN and Electronista Deals for December 19, 2014
There is less than a week until Christmas, and depending on where you live, approximately four days available for deliveries of presents. If there are more presents to get before the big day, you're likely to be spending a lot on quicker deliveries, so why not even out the cost by getting some great Friday Deals? Every Friday afternoon, we search for bargains on hardware, peripherals, gadgets, and software for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Prices are right at the time of writing, but double-check before purchasing, as prices could change. Also, be sure to return to this post over the weekend, as more deals will be added as time goes on.
ChatOn closing for majority of users from February 1, US users sometime in first quarter
Samsung is shutting down its ChatOn messaging service in the next few months, the manufacturer has announced. The cross-platform messaging service will go dark on February 1 for the majority of users around the world, though apparently users in the United States could have access to the service for a little while longer than everyone else.
Get Flash applications and videos onto your iPad -- if you must
Perhaps you don't know it yet, but you are already in one of the two camps over how Apple refuses to allow Flash to work on iPads. If you doubt this because you haven't even heard of the issue, then you're in the half of the population that has simply never noticed the problem. If you do know it and you're reading this because you know it, then you are getting this problem a lot -- and you have been searching forever for a solution. Photon Flash Player for iPad is a solution. It's a web browser, like Safari, but it comes with the ability to play Flash -- and you pay for that, in how its other functionality is weaker.
Clear out duplicates and manage your huge photo library better
Apple's professional photo manager, Aperture, had its advantages over its biggest rival, Adobe Lightroom -- and it is a shame the former been dropped (to be replaced with a new app, Photos for Mac, early next year). One thing Aperture was really good at was adding photos - so much so that we tended to do it over and over. Just not intentionally. One thing it was bad at, by contrast, was helping you find duplicates -- so a big photo library quickly became an unmanageably enormous one. Snapselect intends to fix this for users of Aperture, Lightroom, iPhoto -- and anyone who has tried to handle photos without using any of those programs.
Judge concerned about 'speculative nature of the damages'
US District Judge Beth L. Freeman ruled on Thursday that she requires the plaintiffs, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, in a lawsuit against Google to submit more details. The two consumers allege that Android-based smartphone prices are being negatively impacted because manufacturers must agree to pre-load apps like the Google search app by default, instead of making deals with, for instance, Bing. The judge has said she would most likely dismiss the lawsuit as it stands, but is giving the plaintiffs a chance to revise it with additional evidence.
Real-time simulation/strategy game allows micro-management of resources
War games may have originated from the need to boost military logistics and planning, but they have since become popular with civilian gamers. Risk and Chess are two popular war games most people are familiar with, as are Civilization and Hearts of Iron. How does newcomer Supreme Ruler Ultimate, by Battlegoat Studios, stack up to the classics?
Requires physical access, but works on OS X, Windows, Linux
A new USB microcontroller -- roughly the size of a small thumb drive -- has been demonstrated as a proof-of-concept device that leverages a serious and unfixable vulnerability in USB easily take over and install malware on any unlocked computer. Though it requires physical access or tricking the user into inserting the controller into a USB port, the device has worrying implications for any computer left unattended for more than a minute -- the time it takes for the device to gain admin access, change network settings, install a backdoor and remove any obvious sign of intrusion.
New Xcode 6.2 beta also available
Apple has begun seeding a third beta of iOS 8.2 to developers. Significantly the code restores blood glucose tracking in the Health app, which was temporarily disabled earlier this year due to confusion caused by the app displaying data in mg/dL but accepting data from devices using mmol/L as well. In the new software, users can toggle between mg/dL or mmol/L.
Can run up to 24 threads on Mac Pro
Algoriddim has launched djay Pro, a new Mac edition of its typically iOS-based DJ software. In its new incarnation the app supports up to four simultaneous decks, rather than two, and can draw music not just from a local iTunes library but from Spotify, thanks to a partnership with the streaming music service. It also exploits Retina displays and multi-core 64-bit processors; on a 12-core Mac Pro, the app can handle up to 24 processing threads at once for track analysis.
Scribble on iOS like you had a old Newton and good handwriting
People must really dislike Apple's on-screen keyboard for iPhones and iPads, because the instant we could try alternatives, we got alternatives. Some seem different for the sake of being different. Some, like TextExpander's one, add useful new features -- yet take away some of the usability. But then you get the odd keyboard like Mazec, which tries to offer a true alternative. Rather than typing, you scribble with a stylus -- if you've got one, and haven't lost it -- or with your finger.
Google adds Colbert Report set to Street View using Business View
Google has recreated the set of The Colbert Report in Street View, in honor of the show's last episode. The virtual tour of the studio, including around the main desk and interview area, was created by Business View, a service which uses a Google-certified photographer or agency to take photographs at a location before generating the explorable 360-degree images.
CEO announces company's promotions have raised over $100 million since 2006
In a memo to all employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced that the recent (Product) RED campaign, which ran through app upgrade purchases, in-store items and online accessories during the run-up to World AIDS Day on December 1 raised over $20 million, which will be seeded to the Global Fund. The group fights HIV/AIDS, malaria and other health threats largely in Africa and other impoverished areas. Cook said that the promotion has thus pushed Apple's total contribution to over $100 million since 2006.
Open and save documents faster with a utility that remembers where you go
If Apple has its way, then one day we will never save another document -- and we will never think about where it went. It will just be there when we want to open it again. That's nice. Until then, we open and save documents nearly as often as we check Facebook. Which makes it a shame that OS X rather fights us. You can open a document from this folder on that network drive and you can then save it on that folder on this USB stick, but it is a pain. Not much of a pain, let's not get carried away here, but try doing it twice and see how you feel. That's where Default Folder X comes in.
Thirty percent of tech preview testers are 'highly active,' says company
Back in October, Microsoft launched the "Windows 10 Insider program, "where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops." As of December 17, 1.5 million users have joined the program, Microsoft has announced. In the December update for the forthcoming OS version, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said roughly 30 percent of Insiders, or 450,000 users, are "highly active" in the program.
Library syncing software for iTunes packed with features at a great value
Apple's iTunes media player has been around since 2001 -- meaning that for many users, it's likely that their library has traversed multiple system upgrades, duplicating and splintering across a variety of drives and mobile devices along the way. For this, there is SuperSync, an app designed to provide access to all your music in one location, allow libraries to be accessed via the Internet, and organize multiple music libraries as to stay organized. Aimed at DJs, avid music collectors, and anyone with multiple libraries, SuperSync aims to get all your tracks in a row. Pricing is organized by license packs, starting at $23 for 2 computers. We took a look at SuperSync for ourselves, and took some of its features for a test run.
Judge agreed video was witness testimony rather than evidence
As a postscript to Apple's unanimous win in a lawsuit brought by audio software company Real, Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers on Wednesday turned down media requests to make public a videotaped deposition from Steve Jobs, in one of his final filmed appearances, that was presented during the trial. Jobs, who was quite ill at the time and just months from his resignation from Apple and later death, was videotaped answering questions about the case. Yesterday, a jury exonerated the iPhone maker from charges it had conspired to lock out competitors.
AutoFill, HTML5 video, notifications among testing areas
Apple is distributing three new Safari betas to OS X developers. Yosemite users are getting v8.0.3; v7.1.3 is available for Mavericks, while v6.2.3 is the equivalent for Mountain Lion. Some testing focus areas include AutoFill, web notifications, website and extension compatibility, HTML5 video playback on "popular video sites," and debugging sites via Web Inspector. Apple is also concerned with bookmark editing, and the read/unread state of Reading List items.
Mac app gets demanded pinch-to-zoom option
Pixelmator Team has released updated Mac and iPad versions of its namesake image editor. The Mac update, v3.3.1, now supports pinch-to-zoom gestures on trackpads, fulfilling a popular demand. Resizing and scrolling options have been added to the Shapes, Gradients, and Styles palettes.
Instagram adds five new filter options, filter management
Instagram has updated its famous photo filters, for the first time in two years. The Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Aden, and Perpetua effects have been added to both the Android and iOS versions of the app, each shifting and softening the photograph's colors in varying ways. The app has also updated how the various effects are displayed, providing a blurred preview of filters, while a "Manage" button will allow users to hide the rarely-used filters from view.
Manage all your videos in one speedy and convenient place
We all have more videos than iTunes Store ones, we all have more videos than we can ever remember getting. They're from our digital cameras, they're from our iPhones, they're Vimeo files we wish we could remember how to download again. However we got them, we have them now, we can't find them very easily and they are all clogging up our hard drives. Plus, we have to to somehow remember that this movie will play in iTunes but that one needs the extra VLC video player. Cinematica 2 does a smart job of solving this by giving you one place to see everything it possibly can.
Quick movie editor makes it easy to send video to social media
Try as you might, you're not going to revolutionize how video is edited: whatever application you're using, the process has been roughly the same since we ditched celluloid and razor blades. Equally, you're not likely to easily replace Apple's iMovie for ease of use, nor Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X for high-end professionals. Movavi Video Editor, an editor for Windows that has just made the jump to OS X, definitely aims at being very simple to use -- but it's also intended for the ever-growing number of us who just want to quickly get video out to people.
MacNN and Electronista Deals for December 15, 2014
The rush to acquire gifts is mounting, with Christmas just ten short days away and slightly fewer days remaining to receive a delivery on time for the big day. Today's Monday Deals hopes to offer some cut-price suggestions for what you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader, could pick up cheaply to give to your nearest and dearest. As per previous deals posts, pricing is correct at the time of writing and may change between now and when you read this, so always check the price before buying, and come back to this post as more deals are likely to be added to the list later.
Changes in appearance, new apps shown in latest Windows 10 build
More leaks for Windows 10 have surfaced, ahead of an event planned to show off the Microsoft operating system on January 21st. The latest leak of build 9901 includes a more refined design for the Cortana virtual assistant than in previous reports, with the changes accompanied by a number of other tweaks and small changes to the Windows interface.
Baidu agrees to use Here maps for location services outside of China
Here, Nokia's mapping service, is going to provide content for the Android and iOS Baidu Maps app, as well as desktop maps. The agreement will allow Baidu to offer its Chinese travelers access to maps for areas outside of China for the first time, with Taiwan set to be the first country covered and others set to follow. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Keep your to-do lists on hand across iOS and Mac with Things
Productivity apps are often complicated, and host myriad extra features that make the apps unpleasant to use. Often, some of the better apps follow the old adage "less is more." Things, by developer Cultured Code, is a simple to-do list and reminder app for OS X and iOS that allows users to create organized lists to help them keep on track.
Leather wallet case for iPhone 6 now available through TwelveSouth
TwelveSouth has announced the release of its Bookbook wallet case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Comprised of genuine leather, the wallet case additionally functions as a hands-free stand, and disguises one's iPhone to look like a vintage book. The Bookbook features a removable shell that protects the enclosed iPhone from damage. Priced at $60, the Bookbook for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is available in black and brown.
CFO Mark Garrett says company as 'completed' transition to subscription business model
As part of its fourth quarter and 2014 financial report, Adobe announced its agreement to acquire stock content marketplace Fotolia, and a new, often wished-for, collaboration feature in its Creative Cloud suite. Saying the firm had successfully transitioned to its subscription-based business model, CFO Mark Garrett said the company now expects revenue to grow sequentially every quarter of the year, rather than only when upgrades are announced.
Timeline for final update up in the air
Apple has issued a third beta of OS X 10.10.2 to developers. The code is listed as build 14C81f, and follows 14C78c, released on the 4th. One significant change is that Mail and VoiceOver have been added as new areas for testing focus, suggesting an expanded scope for Apple's bugfixes.
One dollar app ensures you don't hear the same song too often
There are at least several apps that come to mind that aim to accentuate your iTunes experience. One that we're taking a look at today is Altunenator, a budget-friendly, $1 app that ensures the listener isn't subjected to the same songs (or other media content) too frequently. Altunenator skips tracks for you based on preset parameters such the duration between the last time a song was played, which is particularly suited for playing a large playlist or your full library on shuffle. Is it worth checking out?
Win a Creative Kit Plus software bundle valued at $150!
Earlier this year, photo software company Macphun started offering a bundle of pro-level software titles together called the Creative Kit which consisted of Snapheal Pro, Intensify Pro and Focus Pro. They have recently added Tonality Pro to this bundle, and it is now called the Creative Kit Plus, retailing for $150. We have teamed up with Macphun to give away one of these bundles to one of our lucky readers.
alleged iPhone instability
While this week has been relatively quiet in the MacNN forums, members discuss topics such as iPhone instability, software compatibility and more. After having his first iPhone for a short while, Mac Elite "jeff k" turned to the forums looking for explanations to problems he is experiencing. Yesterday one Fresh-Faced Recruit turned to the forums to ask if Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 and Yosemite work nicely together.
Works with iOS, Android, Windows Phone: crash reporting, analytics, beta distribution to be unified
Microsoft has announced through a blog post that it has acquired HockeyApp, a mobile analytics and app-distribution service similar to Apple's Testflight. Originally launched as a web-only service in 2011 that allowed iOS, OS X, and Android developers to collect crash reports and manage beta distribution, the app now offers such services for Android, iOS and Windows Phone developers, and will continue to operate as Microsoft works on integrating HockeyApp into the Applications Insights service in Visual Studio Online.
Adobe announces availability of Adobe Camera Raw 8.7.1
Adobe has announced the availability of Adobe Camera Raw 8.7.1, adding support for Sony ILC-A7M2 and updated support for the Samsung NX1 cameras. The release is available as a final release on Adobe.com, as well as through the update mechanism in Photoshop CC 2014 and Photoshop CS6. DNG Converter 8.7.1 is also now available, and an update for Lightroom 5.7.1 is anticipated within the next week.
8.0.2 update replaces botched 8.0.1
Apple has released Safari 8.0.2 for users of OS X Yosemite. Unlike most updates to the browser, v8.0.2 is virtually identical to its predecessor. It instead patches over the broken v8.0.1 release, which was found to cause some copies of Safari to become completely non-functional, and later pulled.
Ultrasonic pulses used to connect guest smartphone with Chromecast
The Google Chromecast is finally allowing guests to cast content without joining the same Wi-Fi network, courtesy of a new update. Originally teased during Google IO in June, the new Guest Mode can be enabled on a Chromecast individually, with the Chromecast and the guest smartphone or tablet also attempting to open communications without requiring any user configuration.
Milestone blog post reveals Instagram user base doubled in just over a year
Instagram has overtaken Twitter in terms of active users, the Facebook-owned photo app has revealed. According to a company blog post, Instagram currently has more than 300 million active users sharing over 70 million photographs and videos daily, eclipsing the the 284 million monthly users claimed by Twitter at the end of October.
Company looks to change the way the web is accessed, consumed with new project
BitTorrent, for good or ill, was a giant step for pushing data out to clients. While it's most often associated with piracy, it has many practical applications on the correct side of the law. The transfer technology is allowing the company to look in new directions -- such as chat clients and commerce -- but its now looking to additional avenues like web browsing with "Project Maelstrom."
Nokia plans launch of Here maps on iOS in early 2015
Nokia's Here maps for Android is no longer just for Samsung smartphones and tablets, with Nokia making it available to other Android devices on Google Play, without the need to side load the app. At the same time as the Android expansion, the company has revealed its upcoming Here release for iOS will be slightly later than initially believed, with a version for Apple devices set to arrive in early 2015.
Attorneys argue that video was entered as witness testimony, not evidence
Apple is opposing a media request to the court hearing the lawsuit between audio software maker Real and Apple that seeks to release a video deposition made by Steve Jobs, near the end of his life, on behalf of the case. The iPhone maker is opposing the request, saying that the video was part of witness testimony and not entered into evidence, and therefore can't be released as that would constitute a recording of a portion of the trial, which has not allowed cameras or video.
Developers gain new API to help create faces for Android Wear devices
The latest update to Android Wear is adding more user-personalizable options to the smartwatch software, among other improvements. Dozens of watch faces for Android Wear wearables are being made available to download, with a new Watch Face API also being introduced to make it easier for developers to create new faces.
win 1 of 10 "Tunes Cleaner" Mac App Store redemption codes!
One common problem that anyone who uses iTunes extensively will face is clutter. This can be remedied by painstakingly going through and organizing files manually, or specialized software can be used. Enter stage right, the "Tunes Cleaner" App for OS X. MacNN recently got our hands on a review copy to see if it was worth the price, and late last week we published our hands-on review. We also have 10 redemption codes to give away to our readers, find out more below.
Photo Suite 9 brings Adobe competitor in tight package
Thanks to the ever-improving cameras found in today's smartphones and less-expensive DSLR and mirrorless devices, both of whose work can increasingly be seen on popular social networks such as Instagram, more and more people are finding an interest in photography. Inevitably some will start looking for tools that can be used to manage and edit all of their images. While the most ubiquitous product in this field is Adobe's Creative Suite, with apps like Lightroom and Photoshop, it is far from the only option out there. The real question is, can any of the competition stand up to the quality that Adobe has become renowned for providing? Over the past few weeks we have spent some time with the latest version of OnOne's Perfect Photo Suite to test this very question.
New webpage editor finds accessibility while incorporating detail
If your work or personal situation is anything like Chilton Webb's -- a freelance web developer, and head of Conjurebunny Software -- you may have wanted for an app that simplifies the process of web design, with specific attention paid to working on one webpage at a time, as opposed to an entire site. Conjurebunny's Landscape for OS X aims to provide tools "that can quickly assemble complicated webpages, without confining the artist to a template or a limited design," in a freeform style that is also responsive on all platforms. Currently priced at $40, Landscape purports to be at once easy and detail-oriented. Version 1.2 was recently released, so we gave it a bit of a test run to find out if it, in fact, achieves the middle ground it's aiming for.
Embark on an epic journey to toast a slice of bread
Bossa Studios hit the market earlier last year with their hit game Surgeon Simulator, which challenged players to successful complete levels by hacking and slashing their way through surgeries. In December, the company released the highly anticipated game I Am Bread to early access on Steam. I Am Bread is the strangely emotionally-charged narrative that follows a slice of bread as it attempts to become toasted.
Can be run from Recovery Partition, offers partition table repair, more
A once-essential utility for Mac owners has returned after several years of only minor updates with a major new version that offers significant changes and improvements. DiskWarrior 5.0 by Alsoft is something of a one-trick pony, in that it primarily repairs and optimizes OS X directories -- but this can often be used to save data from failing hard drives, prevent failures in the first place, or rescue data from flash drives where directory corruption is a common problem, among other instances. The new 5.0 version supports Apple Fusion and CoreStorage homebrew "Fusion" drives, repairs partition table damage (especially vital for multi-system boot users) and much more.
Executive decision prompts resignation of HBO CTO
HBO has hit some stumbling blocks in the creation of its standalone streaming service, it has been revealed. An alleged internal memo states that the broadcaster has decided to cancel its own attempt at the project, and instead will be using an existing streaming provider to provide the eventual service, something which is earmarked to launch by April 2015.