Some of the best -- and worst -- trends in tech this week
The MacNN Podcast is now up to episode five, and this week we looked at the new Microsoft Office 2016 preview; the disturbing trend of legitimate app makers inserting adware (or worse) into their apps to make a few extra bucks; the news from last week's Mobile World Congress, including the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge; our favorite reviewed apps of the week, and more news about Monday's public debut of the Apple Watch.
The handiest To Do tool you're not using
The very best To Do apps on iPhone don't want you spending time using your To Do app. Get in, see what's next or add a new task, then get out and actually, you know, do things. This makes iOS 8's Notification Center a boon -- yet its handy features come with constraints that developers are having to overcome. We're looking at three main apps that use significantly different approaches: Apple's own included Reminders, OmniFocus and Things.
Apps can be installed through the service, without passing through app store
Social media aggregator Pinterest is rolling out a new app discovery service in conjunction with Apple. The new service, called "App Pins" allows users to share apps that they like with other users of the service, with the app downloading directly to a user's iPhone without leaving the Pinterest app, thus avoiding going through iTunes or the App Store app.
Free apps for your Android phones and tablets
You've no doubt seen some of our picks for discounted iOS apps, and our "beyond-the-last-minute" Gift Guide, but we've been poking around the Android side of things as well. The biggest deal going for Android users is a special offer from Amazon's app store currently has $220 worth of normally for-pay apps available for free. Read on to discover just a sampling of what Santa-zon has in store for you.
Messaging service issuing notices, wants users to 'stop using unauthorized apps'
Ephemeral picture messaging service Snapchat said this week that it's cracking down on the use of third-party applications. The move comes a month after a database of photos originating from Snapchat was leaked online, reportedly coming from a third-party service that allowed users circumvent the self-destructing feature of the platform.
Pandora iOS app updated, adds alarm clock feature
Music discovery service Pandora has released an update for its iOS app, adding an alarm clock feature for iPad users. Pandora makes musical recommendations based on a particular artist, song, genre or composer, and allows for the creation of personalized stations based on the user's preferences. Pandora's alarm clock plays a preferred station as its alert, and includes a "snooze" button that provides an additional wake-up several minutes later. The iOS app is available for free download through iTunes, and requires iOS 6.0 or later. A Pandora account is free to try, with an advertisement-free option available as a $4 monthly subscription.
Users must be allowed to delete unwanted apps already installed on devices
Owners of smartphones in South Korea will be able to delete pre-installed apps from their devices in the future, the country's government has ruled. From April, carriers will be required to allow users to uninstall software placed onto the device before purchase, in an effort to let device owners make better use of a device's storage, as well as to improve its battery life.
Twitter updating look of website to match its iOS and Android apps
Social media service Twitter has initiated rolling out an update to its website, with the aim to mirror the aesthetic approach to that of its app versions to iOS and Android. Users will be able to personalize their profile more than previously, with the settings menu including an option to add accent colors. The navigation bar is a different color and style than before, and some icons have been redesigned.
Apps to keep you beholden to no tech master
(This is the fifth in a series that showcases apps the staff at MacNN and Electronista use and recommend. The first installment, discussing media streaming and playback apps, is here. The second covered photo-editing apps, the third looked at music apps, and the fourth focused on board game conversions.)
One of the biggest perks of being a technology writer is getting to play with a bunch of the latest toys from lots of companies, sometimes before they come out. At any given moment, my house holds maybe four tablets, three to five smartphones, and two or three notebooks and desktops, including my own personally-owned tech, of course. In order to work across these multiple devices, I've had to develop a healthy agnosticism when it comes to platforms. This article on My Five Apps, then, will be an attempt to convert you to that view: The One True Tech Faith of No True Tech Faiths.
MacUpdate's Winter app bundle offers a $400 value for $40
Mac-only software directory MacUpdate has released its latest app bundle for the winter holiday season. Containing 10 apps (with an addition two bonus apps for early buyers), the bundle is worth nearly $400 and sells for $39, a 90 percent savings. The Winter Bundle consists of primarily of productivity and office utility apps.
Fifty per cent off Black Friday sale on Garmin's premium navigation apps
Garmin has announced that its premium navigation apps for iOS, Navigon and StreetPilot, will be available at a 50 percent discount on Black Friday. Garmin's premium apps offer a range of features not included in its free app versions, such as being able to store map information locally on the iPhone.
App marketplace may not be as crowded as suspected
Overcrowding in the Android and iOS app marketplaces may not be as big a problem as some have postulated, as new figures from app analytics company Flurry has found a growing "middle class" of apps that are not as dominant as the big names in mobile, but that have user bases strong enough to support a business. The findings run counter to claims that names like Facebook and others take too much of users' mobile activity time for smaller apps to survive. Instead, Flurry finds that the number of mid-level apps is steadily increasing, with independently-owned app developers seeing considerable growth in the process.
Coins to be used to buy apps, in-app purchasing
Amazon is introducing a new virtual currency for users of its Kindle Fire tablet. Amazon Coins will allow Kindle Fire users to pay for in-app items and apps themselves, via the Amazon Appstore, and as an incentive to customers, the company will be giving away tens of millions of dollars worth of free coins to US users when the service launches in May.
Twitter API limit forces developer to charge highly
Lazyworm Apps has relaunched its widely lauded Windows 8 Twitter application as a paid app. Tweetro+, for both Windows 8 and Windows RT, has been released after being pulled from the Windows Store, following the same Twitter-enforced user token issue that other app developers have had problems dealing with.
Contest to build Galaxy Tab, Note, S Pen apps
Samsung is calling out for entries to its Smart App Challenge. The contest is running until the end of September and will distribute $4.08 million in cash and prizes to 80 apps built with the Galaxy Tab and Note in mind. The ultimate aim of the contest is for Samsung to bolster its App Store, with all entries to the competition required to use it.
Spotify launches artist curated apps
Spotify is aiming to boost its user appeal by introducing Artist apps. The among the first apps to roll out include Quincy Jones, TiŽsto, and Rancid with an app for Disturbed launching soon. The apps are part of a new series of Artist apps created specially for Spotify designed to help music fans create a 'deeper connection' with their favorite artists.
Creates working models of mobile apps
Enterprise application developer iRise has brought its iRise Studio to the Mac, enabling rapid prototyping of mobile apps that can be tested on-screen early on in the development process rather than towards the end. The software helps team members see and actually interact with early versions of the proposed app before any actual coding has been done. With the use of a companion app, the prototype can be tested on a mobile device itself.
German car company makes first appearance at CES
Mercedes Benz scheduled a keynote this week at CES for the first time to show off its latest in-vehicle connected technologies. The German car maker is showcasing its latest vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show, while the CES event focuses on an updated infotainment system, Mbrace2, that includes cloud-based apps and takes advantage of interaction with smartphones.
Windows Phone Marketplace reaches 40,000 apss
The Microsoft Windows Phone Marketplace has now reached the 40,000 app milestone. New apps are being added to the store at a rate of 165 apps a day. A breakdown of the apps submitted over the past 30 days shows that games comprise only 15 percent of apps submitted, while 68 percent of all apps were free, 23 percent paid, and 9 percent paid with a free trial.
Scan, then annotate and flip sheet music
Deskew Technologies' new app for musicians, Scorecerer, is a desktop and iPad companion app combination that allows performers to scan sheet music (a library of public-domain music is also available), sync it to an iPad and flip pages using either a swipe or an optional Bluetooth foot pedal. The app also allows handwritten annotations and highlights directly on the iPad app, enabling notes to ease difficult passages on the fly.
Backs goal of tripling smartphone sales from '09
Choi Jee-sung, Samsung's chief executive officer, told reporters at Mobile World Congress that the company's investment for mobile device software would exceed last year's total of $113 million. The world's second largest mobile phone manufacturer plans to gain market share in the smartphone segment with a revised marketing strategy
that emphasizes content, apps and services.
The company expects to bring its app store to 50 countries this year and has released a software development kit for its quasi-open source Bada operating system.
RSS reader updated with new article view
NewsGator has released NetNewsWire 2.0, the latest version of its mobile RSS reader for the iPhone or iPod touch. The update adds several new features including Google Reader sync, with support for transferring starred items. The app also integrates Twitter and Instapaper services for sharing content or saving items for later reading.
Sonos iPhone app udpated
Sonos has released an update to its iPhone app that works with the company's multi-room music systems. Version 3.0 adds a new "Info View" command that connects to a variety of extra content from sources such as Last.fm, Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster and Sonos Radio. While listening to last.fm, users can view artist information, similar artists or upcoming concert dates.
Quickoffice for iPhone
Quickoffice has released its Microsoft Word and Excel editing application for the iPhone and iPod touch, Quickoffice. The software provides users with document spreadsheet editors, along with file access and content management tools. Users have the ability to modify documents in landscape mode, and can insert and resize Excel rows and columns within the application. File-sharing is also available, that enables users to transfer files to and from a desktop using Wi-FI, and can remotely access their MobileMe iDisk account.
Readdle has released a new document and file management application for the iPhone and iPod touch. ReaddleDocs allows users on Windows, Mac or Linux to transfer files over to an iPhone or iPod touch and then view them on the go or send them by email. ReaddleDocs works by giving users a free 512MB of online storage space: the space can be filled with any type of file which can then be accessed on an iPhone.
Apps: ResizeMe, VideoFlash
Label Wizard 1.1.0 includes several "user interface enhancements" and bug fixes. Black Cat Systems says its label utility gives users "complete control over the layout of the label," including text, pictures, objects and serial numbers. The $20 utility is a Universal Binary requiring Mac OS X 10.2 or higher. [Download - 3.4MB].
Apps: SuperNova 2, more
SketchFighter 4000 Alpha 1.10 ($20) is a one or two-player game featuring unique hand-sketched characters that look like a teenager's doodles come to life. Version 1.1.0 includes improved scrollwheel and full-screen video support, bug fixes, and an improved registration system. The Universal Binary app also includes an editor that lets users sketch their own backgrounds and create new levels of game play. SketchFighter 4000 Alpha 1.1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. [Download - 8.1MB].
Troi File Plug-in 4.5.1 for FileMaker 9 ($80) tool for getting access to information outside the FileMaker Prdatabase. Any files or folders stored on the computer can be accessed through the functions of the plug-in. Troi File Plug-in recently added support for drag and drop, GPS and XMP metadata. Troi File Plug-in 4.5.1 is a maintenance release that fixes some reported issues. [Download - 3.1MB]
- World Clock Deluxe 4.5.4 ($20) display multiple clocks in a horizontal or vertical palette, in the menu bar and in the Dock, show Coordinated Universal Time and Internet Time, assign labels and colors to clocks, calculate date and time conversions across different time zones and show the current weather all over the world. This release adds 99 cities including Algeria, Angola, Bolivia, Brazil, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Somaliland, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. [Download - 7.5MB]
- Hazel 2.2 ($22) watches whatever folders you tell it to, automatically organizing your files according tthe rules you create. Hazel 2.2 focuses on power users, providing many features for advanced workflows. In this release, Hazel introduces powerful pattern matching features as well as the ability to define custom tokens. Hazel also expands its support for AppleScript, including the ability to edit scripts directly within your rules. [Download - 1.6MB]
- GPS-Info CMM 1.1 (donationware) free Finder context menu plugin that displays the GPS coordinates embedded in a photo, and offers to display that location in Google Earth, Flickr, Panoramio, Google Maps, or MapQuest. Supported photo formats are JPG, TIFF, PSD, and RAW. In this release, the IPTC fields city, state, and country are being displayed, if they are contained in the photo [Download - 336KB]
- TaskTime4 4.5 ($20) straightforward method of tracking time spent on jobs you do for your clients. It can generate invoices which can be emailed, printed, and saved tdisk. The new release adds a daily Report item to the Options menu, a combined Project Manager and Client Manager into new Manager Window and a project summary has been added to Project tab of Manager window. [Download - 6.3MB]
The Tube, TimeCache
- The Missing Sync for Palm OS 6.0.3 ($40) enhances the software for synchronizing contacts, calendars, photos, and more between Macs and devices from Palm, Sony, Garmin, and others. The latest release offers better synchronization with Bare Bones Yojimbo 1.5, improved handling of recurring tasks, and enhanced support for custom field synchronization with Entourage.
- World Clock Deluxe 4.5.1 ($20) is the latest iteration of MaBaSoft's time tool for Mac OS X that displays multiple clocks in a horizontal or vertical palette, adding daylight-savings time information for Chile as well as Guatemala. The latest revision also adds San Luis, Argentina to the World Clock Deluxe cities database.
[Download - 2MB]
- The Tube 2.5 (unknown) accompanies new TubeToGo Web service, allowing Tube users to make TV recordings available in an online Web gallery. The Tube allows users to simultaneously watch videos while chatting amongst one another. The TubeToGo Web interface provides complete access to recordings, allowing users to publish as well as schedule recordings on-the-go.
- TimeCache 7.0.8 ($60, $35 for upgrade) fixes a significant bug discovered in a week-old update. TimeCache is a time and expense billing application with support for timed or manual entries. The latest release fixes a problem that could erase user changes to report and invoice layouts, and is available for free to current TimeCache users. The update also offers a new taxation option for users whose tax authorities require assessing cumulative taxes.
[Download - 14.7MB]
- PageSender 4.2.2 ($40) updates the fax software for Mac OS X with an option for sending a cover page only. The update also fixes a potential issue with access to cover page options, and repairs other minor issues. The software sense as well as receives faxes, allowing users to print or email received faxes automatically.
[Download - 6.9MB]
- Audiocorder 5.1.4 ($20) allows a Mac to act like a sophisticated audio recorder, operating as a volume operated (VOX) automated audio recorder in one mode and a scheduled recorder in another. The latest release fixes a bug that could cause recording schedule files to improperly load.
[Download - 430KB]
- CheckUp 1.0.1 ($50) is a tool designed to check the health and monitor the behavior of a Mac, either locally or remotely. The latest release features better communication between CheckUp and CheckUpAgent, improved compatibility with Intego products as well as Parallels and Fusion virtualization software, enhanced network management, and increased stability.
[Download - 12.6MB]
- TaskTime4 4.4 ($20) brings a new Leopard-style interface to the time tracking software. The update exports projects as Excel workbooks as well as plain text, adds a 'Copy Project' item to the Edit menu, and fixes several bugs. The latest release also brings an updated User's Guide, and ensures travel expenses are shown as separate expense items in invoices.
[Download - 7.4MB]
- TimeLog 4.3 ($25) keeps track of time spent on projects, offering integration with Apple's iCal and Address Book software alongside .Mac Sync and iSync. The software stores recordings in iCal calendars, and allows for sharing of time sheets over network services like .Mac. TimeLog 4.3 adds a backup option, custom address book formatting, and includes enhancements in the application tracker. The update also fixes several bugs.
[Download - 5.8MB]
- Play MPE 3.5 (free) is the latest version of Destiny Media Technologies' application for securely distributing pre-release music to radio stations. The update is configured to allow continuous streaming for full albums or bundles, and the process of obtaining releases from email announcements or via Mediabase 24/7 is streamlined to one mouse click. Clicking on the desired track automatically launches the Play MPE Player and shows the specific release.
[Download - 1.6MB]
- My Money Minder 1.9.8 ($13) updates the personal finance management application with numerous bug fixes. The latest revision fixes a bug in qif importing, ensures that 'All Year' menus display correctly for Financial Years that start in January, and repairs a printing-related bug where incorrect characters were displayed. The update also allows users to deselect rows correctly, and importing no longer creates duplicate Payments.
[Download - 7.9MB]
- iFuntastic 5.0 for iPhone and iPod touch (unknown) enhances the iPhone and iPod touch customization software by adding support for iPhone firmware 1.1.3. The software provides free 'unshackling,' includes an 'iFundex' feature with file/folder/full text search for the device's filesystem, and allows users to quickly locate graphics from a screenshot. The update also allows users to create custom themes via 'Theme Park,' with a utility to install as well as uninstall themes.
[Download - 70.5MB]
- FinderPop 2.1 ($8) updates the software that allows users to easily customize the Finder's contextual menu with custom content. The latest release brings Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard compatibility, removes compatibility with Mac OS X 10.3, and includes numerous fixes/enhancements. FinderPop 2.1 also supports Quicklook for any 'FP' menu item, and remembers a user-specified number of items last chosen (up to five).
[Download - 592KB]
- DynDNS 2.1 (free) provides users with dynamic (changing) IP addresses a means static hostname that never changes, easing the process of accessing hosts with changing addresses. The latest release adds a problem description dialog ot assist users in generating a diagnostic email, and includes a timestamp to daemon log messages. The update also fixes several bugs and removes excess logging to help make diagnosing problems easier.
[Download - 6.5MB]
- eOrdering eCommerce 4.0.5 ($65 for Complete, $75 for Gold, $450 for Professional) is a free update to the cross platform applications that create eCommerce websites. eOrdering eCommerce 4.0.5 adds coupons that users can send to customers for redemption at checkout. The new coupon feature is based on Ajax as well as PHP, and accompanies various other minor fixes.
[Download - 9.5MB]
- FinanceToGo 1.6.3 ($45) is a free update to the small business finance application for Mac OS X. The latest release fixes several bugs, improves performance, and eases the process of importing transactions. FinanceToGo 1.6.3 adds Currencies and Account Owners to the sidebar, rearranges the preferences window, and ensures that the recurring transactions pane shows whether a transaction is active as well as whether it is valid by default.
[Download - 5.8MB]
- TimeCache 7.0.7 ($60) is a periodic update to the time and expense billing application. Available for free, TimeCache 7.0.7 introduces the option to add graphic objects to report and invoice layouts, as well as a new layout editing mode. The update also significantly improves built-in user activity tracking functionality, and fixes a printing problem under Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
[Download - 14.7MB]
- Painter's Picker 2.2 ($20) is the latest iteration of the color selection utility that features an updated user interface as well as support for custom color spaces. The update fixes a problem where Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard would not report Painter's Picker's name correctly in the fly-away menu of the color picker, and updates website information stored in the software itself. Painter's Picker 2.2 also fixes an incompatibility bug with GL Golf.
[Download - 3MB]
Tiny Code apologizes
In response to a large influx of feedback regarding Tiny Code's announcement last week, developer for the app KellyTM revealed that the statement was false. Last week, Tiny Code announced that they were officially working with Apple on making legit iPhone and iPod touch apps, using a copy of the yet-to-be-released software developer's kit. KellyTM had also said that Tiny Code was waiting on the release of firmware version 1.1.4 before releasing any more updates, which he led others to believe was the first implementation of custom apps for the devices.
- PocketMac GoBetween for Meeting Maker ($25) is an automated application that syncs MeetingMaker data to iCal and the Mac OS X Address Book. The software supports Apple's iPhone as well as certain Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, and Siemens devices. All iPod models are also supported, according to the company, alongside many Palm PDA/smartphones and specific Handspring PDAs.
- TextExpander 2.0.5 ($30) is an update to the customizable typing shortcut tool for Mac OS X. The application enables users to define abbreviations for frequently-used text strings and images, which when typed automatically expand to the abbreviated content. The latest release fixes registration as well as the Dvorak keyboard layout, and repairs a bug that could cause double launches after upgrading.
[Download - 3.9MB]
- Time Out 1.5.2 (free) serves as a break reminder for Mac users, helping users remember to take breaks to prevent strain or injury. The update adds support for Spaces in Mac OS X Leopard, with breaks appearing in all Spaces even when switched mid-break. The latest release also enhances URLs for the Help menu to better support localization.
[Download - 1.8MB]
- Foreign translation dictionaries '08 ($45 for standard, $70 for pro) are the latest revisions of the English-Italian, English-Spanish, and English-German translation libraries. The updates improve compatibility with Mac OS X Leopard, and add Google Web as well as Google Images support for word searching directly from within the application.
[Download - varies]
- BarcodeMaker CS3 ($150) is an Adobe InDesign CS3 plug-in that enables users to print barcodes in CMYK process and spot colors. The latest release adds five new barcodes, and includes new features for text placement as well as justification. The update brings the total number of supported barcode patterns to 27.
[Download - form]
- Paperclip 1.0 ($10) is a new note taking application that supports document-specific notes, a menu bar application, and a note viewer. The software can store text, links, images, and movies alongside text. Paperclip 1.0 features multiple note colors and does not save notes in a Marker font by default.
[Download - 1.7MB]
- iTunes Dupes Barrier 1.2.0 ($10) allows you to search the duplicate songs inside the iTunes and iPod songs' databases. A Universal Binary program that runs natively on Intel-based Macs. The new release adds compatibility with Mac OS 10.5. Now it is fully Leopard compatible. It also improved the overall functionality. Requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and iTunes 4.0 or later. [Download - 2MB]
- DVDpedia 4.1 ($18) also Bookpedia, CDpedia and Gamepedia. The Pedia programs are media inventory applications for Mac OS X, with Internet search and iSight scanning ability. The update includes customization options for the Add/Edit window allowing users to choose where to display fields and in what order, customization for the Full Screen View details for an improved home theater experience, a new Tags field, better iWeb integration, full Leopard compatibility including new icons as well as many bug fixes and other enhancements. [Download - 6.7MB]
- ChronoSync 3.3.6 ($30) automated synchronization and backup application. ChronoSync 3.3.6 fixes bugs when running on Leopard and fixes a few minor bugs when running on other versions of Mac OS X. Also, for the first time, ChronoSync features an installer. Leopard specific fixes include correcting a problem where new file attributes introduced with Leopard would show files out of sync when they were still in-sync and added logic to automatic server mounting to deal with subtle differences identifying and mounting servers under Leopard. [Download - 4.5MB]
- SteamTRAIN 3 ($22) A Mac-only steam locomotive and train simulator, SteamTRAIN has transitioned to a dual terminal track plan with a working turntable and roundhouse at each end. New features include more complex terminal switching, visible coaling stations, plus express trains now seen and heard passing your loco. One of the most dynamically realistic train sims ever. SteamTRAIN runs at full speed on all Intel Macs (under Rosetta) plus most PowerPC Macs using Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 4.8MB]
- Classic Menu 2.8 ($10) [corrected 12/2] brings the classic Mac OS apple menu back to Mac OS X, replacing the system's built-in apple menu but keeping it within easy reach. Version 2.8 of Classic Menu adds full support for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), integrating smoothly into the appearance of the new menu bar. This version also adds custom ordering of menu items and separators, allowing the apple menu's contents to be grouped and sorted according to the user's preference.[Download - 104KB]
- Avernum 5 1.0.1 ($28) enormous, epic fantasy role-playing adventure. "Wander a gigantic world, full of multitudes of characters, hundreds of side quests, and traps, tricks, and treasure in every corner. Take the part of a soldier for the all-powerful Empire, hunting for the foul assassin that struck down your Empress." The new release fixes several bugs and runs properly on the newest MacBooks (with the X3100 graphics chip). [Download - 25.9MB]