Put down those bags of meat, you meatbags
A sad by-product of being made of meat is that we must eat, but not too much. Enter Carrot Hunger, the talking calorie counter. Did you ever wish you could get nutrition advice from GLaDOS? Well you can't, but that's okay, because Carrot has three times the attitude, and actually cares about your health. No really you guys, she cares. She's just also a big proponent of tough love; and by "tough love" we mean massive amounts of sarcasm and dry wit.
Text editor and outliner, all with Markdown
It's not as if you are stuck for applications to write in: whether you go for Microsoft Word or TextEdit, there are just about 40 different word processors for every man, woman and child on the planet. It's just that not many work in Markdown, which is a form of writing, a format, and a syntax that works well for the web. SmartDown is one of those, and it works very well.
The quest for the crown continues
The third installment of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! game series is now available from iTunes. It isn't necessary to play the first two chapters to enjoy the third; each leg of the journey is its own self-contained quest and story. However, for those willing to put in the time, a magic word is given at the end of each game to add input into the next. Friendships, items, curses, abilities, and knowledge transfer from one to the other, giving the whole experience a richer feel.
Power file sorting tool that should be on every Mac
You don't hear enough about Hazel from Noodlesoft. Its simplest description is that it automatically does things for you to do with files and folders, it moves and renames and sorts them. Unfortunately one reason you don't hear enough about it is that once you've set it up, you never have to think about it again. It just keeps right on doing its stuff. That's admirable and it's also a shame for Noodlesoft which should be lauded more. It's also a shame for you because you genuinely forget that it's there when you could be using it for more and more.
Deliveries makes us as happy as a new phone book makes Steve Martin
We've said it before in other venues, but it's worth repeating: when you become an adult, you get really excited over the strangest things. You know that part in the 1979 film The Jerk when Steve Martin's character jumps up and down yelling, "the new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!"? That was us when we tried out Deliveries: a package tracker by Junecloud. We tested Deliveries on an iPhone 5 and an iPad Mini 2, but there's also a Mac app, and everything syncs through iCloud.
New filters style, enhance video like filters for photographs
For more than 70 years, Tiffen has been a leading manufacturer of professional filters for photography and film. Generally, their premium glass filters are the first thing that comes to mind for anyone who hears the name "Tiffen." These filters would need to be applied at the time the photos or videos were being shot, but now in the digital age they can be applied in the post-production world as well with Tiffen's Dfx filter packs. Earlier this year, an update to version 4.0 was released, and we got our hands on a set to see what changes have been made.
Smooth and faithful iPad version of the board game
If it were any more famous, you'd have heard of it. Or possibly also have been there. For Carcassonne is a French town, and it's a board game, and it's now an iPad app. Take on the world through Game Center, take on the people in your house, or just play against the iPad and not have to spend an evening with anyone. If you like board games, this is so good that you've probably got it already.
Super easy to set up with lots of advanced features for networking and media
Once upon a time, a brand-new Linksys router showed up on our doorstep. So we gathered some network-minded friends together, and hooked it up to the Internet. We ran it through its automatic set up, and downloaded a few iOS and Android apps that would allow us to do cool stuff like stream media from an external drive plugged into the router to our mobile devices or a Chromecast. We fiddled, poked, and prodded so we could report back. Over all, we had a good experience setting up and using the brand new model from Linksys, but it wasn't without its challenges. What challenges, you ask? Check our review and find out.
Dull errands become vital quests in the grand adventure of your life
When we look at what our friends are posting online, everybody seems to have come down with a case of the "I don't wanna's." Even when the errand will lead to something cool, like, "fix rip in tent" or "buy zombie makeup," having a list of stuff you need to get done is dull and unexciting. EpicWin by supermono limited wants to make a to-do list into a series of quests that will bestow great power and treasure upon the murder hobo ... uh, sorry ... upon the brave Adventurer with the wherewithal to take them on.
Kids love playing store, and now they can create a real store with paper
Storest by Pixle has to be, hands down, one of the cutest apps we've seen so far this year. The app has two modes: the first is a virtual store where a kid can play at shopping, checking out, paying and getting change, on the tablet itself. The other mode provides materials to be printed and cut out, so a real store-themed play space can be set up in the physical realm, with the app used as the cash register. Storest isn't so much a game as an educational tool or prop to facilitate play, and we are utterly charmed by it.
Apply the filters before you take the picture
We've spoken before in this space about the importance of sweet filters when it comes to posting pictures on line. Generally, the user takes the picture, and then plays around with filters to see which one will make the image really pop. RetriCAM by Sergii Gerasimenko is here to cut out the middle-man. This app has a variety of "live" filters which are applied to the app's camera view before the picture is taken. So there's no fiddling around with the image -- the picture is already vintage or stylized as soon as it exists, and is ready to post immediately. While we're not sure this was a problem that really needed to be solved, RetriCam does have a couple of really sweet filters.
Superb tool for recording anything on your Mac's screen
Seriously, how often are you ever going to need to record a video of what's on the screen of your Mac? Unless you are the sort who routinely demonstrates things, you know it's not a very big number of times -- but we're going to tell you that it is precisely the same number of times that you should be using ScreenFlow 5.01.
Blizzards online collectable card game comes to mobile platforms
This reviewer has been avoiding Hearthstone since it first came out. We doubted our conviction in being able to resist spending scads of money on card packs, or spending on extra money on a card that represented something with which we had a particular attachment from our time playing World of Warcraft. Time and experience dealing with games with in-app micro-transactions later, we think we're finally ready to take the plunge, now that Hearthstone is on iOS. In a nutshell, we enjoyed the experience, and find the game as a whole charming.
Keeping track of what's on, and what it's costing
Neurio Home Intelligence is a piece of hardware that, when integrated into a home's breaker box, monitors electricity usage and allows the homeowner to see at a glance if they left the oven on, and what their electric bill might be. While the installation seems simple enough, we recommend having a qualified, professional electrician install it; using it after that is as easy as pie. While the performance of the Neurio Home Intelligence wasn't as magical as some of the documentation made it out to be, we really like this thing, and found it very useful -- check our review to see why we liked it so much.
So, anyway, why haven't you bought it yet?
BusyMac, the makers of BusyContacts, have been steadily adding to this address book app with the kind of attention you get when you've gone from a beta to a shipping product and now have customers all over the world stress-testing it every day. There have been many fixes to bugs we hadn't ever encountered ourselves and there have been improvements to features that we did spot and do like. However, regard this as less of a Hands On 2 review, more a nudge that we think you should get this app.
Smart document scanning app comes to iOS
Didn't we just do this one? At first glance, if you compare the new Microsoft Office Lens to Evernote Scannable, you might conclude that one is red and one is a sort of cyan blue. Otherwise, they do the same job of scanning documents very quickly, they do the same job of processing them, and they do a very similar job of passing that data on to other applications. In the case of Office Lens, that is chiefly anything beginning with Microsoft, and with Scannable, that is chiefly Evernote.
Extend Apple's Spotlight features with this free utility
Those of us who have used Apple's built-in local search tool Spotlight through its early years to now often find they've outgrown it, and are now life-support-dependent upon Alfred 2. Yes, there was some notable improvement in Yosemite, but it was too little, too late. Now Flashlight could bring us back. It's a free application that extends Spotlight's searching facilities, and to give you quick access to different corners of your Mac. From the keyboard, you can search the web, start a phone call, email someone a file, or shut down your Mac.
Mid-range project management tool that works cross platform
When To Do apps just aren't powerful enough for you, when OmniPlan is too powerful and when Microsoft Project might be powerful enough but is only on Windows, there is Pagico. It is a mid-range project management app which means it doesn't have superpowers but it does have strength and it does have ease of use.
An an epic quest in a vintage tabletop RPG style from Steve Jackson
The third installment of Steve Jackson's Sorcery will be out later this month, so we sat down with the first and second chapters in preparation. Sorcery and Sorcery 2 are, at their core, choose-your-own-adventure style experiences, but it all has a very vintage table-top RPG flair we really appreciate.
Curses. It's on the iPhone now. How will we get any work done?
Bad news for fellow addicts of the iPad game Sue Doku: it's been updated, and is now a universal app. You do hear that term a lot, and it often isn't explained, so let us clear that up now: a universal app means Sue Doku is now available on both your iPad and iPhone. Translation: distraction. It's just a sudoku app, we can stop playing any time, but it is a particularly well done one on the iPad, and enough so that we sidled back to our desk to quietly pick up our phones and download it immediately.
Spacial reasoning puzzle may help you hone cognative ability
Puzzle games are considered casual gaming, requiring little skill to solve the problems presented. However, every so often we come across a game that poses an actual challenge, a game that is mind-meltingly difficult, and that's what we've discovered today. We took a look at Tapslide, a game that will give even the most battle-hardened puzzle players a mental workout.
It has a very particular set of skills and it will find you
You've got to really need to find something before you'll bother going away from Google, and you've really, really got to need to find it before you'll spend money on a search utility. Yet don't see this as a reason why DevonAgent Pro must be a niche product, or see it as telling that this app satisfies those most demanding searches and searchers. It's a $50 utility for your Mac that does just do searches, but it does them through an intelligent and supremely customizable set of tools.
File organizer and transfer app makes quick work of arduous tasks
We love using our iPhones and iPads as much as anyone else, but we do have a few issues with the process as a whole. Sometimes transferring files between our computers and our iDevices is a real hassle. What if we don't have iTunes on the computer we want to use? What if we need to do it quickly? What if we forgot our cables? That's why we checked out Mophie Space, an app that helps you out if you're ever in any of these situations.
Unique relaxation app offers calming sounds and eye-catching interactive visuals
We like our relaxation apps here, from our sound generators to our guided meditation apps. We're also open to trying things that are a little more "out there," which was one of the biggest reasons we took a look at Sunny, an audio and visual relaxation app that's pretty special.
Cute and challenging arcade game
Cute games often get a bad rap for being too easy, and we tend to agree. Cuteness is often one of the first bullet points on the list of things that make up casual games, and even the look alone tends to tell you what's in store, even before you begin playing. Well, fortunately for those of you who like cute games but wish they were a bit more challenging, Orisinal must have had you in mind when he designed Casanova, an absurdly challenging and absurdly cute arcade game.
It's now on iPhone too, go buy it
If you've never heard of OmniOutliner before, then one thing you need to know is that is an outlining app -- you're not surprised so far -- which is so good that it will convert you to using outlines. It very much surprised us first, as it tricked some of our most outline-resistant reviewers into using it for planning complex pieces. Then it downright startled us, because we began using it outside writing: we've planned vacations on this thing.
Peaceful puzzler markets itself as 'meditative'
Meditation has been proven, time and time again, to be good for you. Even five minutes in the middle of a particularly stressful day can help lower blood pressure, clear your head, and prevent the onset of stress-related disease. But what if you're not used to meditating? What if you're not the type to sit in silence? The makers of Breath of Light have a solution for that, and it might not be one that you'd expect.
Tactical resource management title adds new improvements to the genre
Tactical games are popular these days, in no small part to how well they translate over to a mobile platform. Clash of Clans has seen substantial success, and since then the App Store has exploded into similarly-designed titles. We took a look at DomiNations, a tactical resource management game that attempts to put a new spin on a developing genre.
Space strategy game has players conquoring planets and batting aliens
If you're a strategy game fan, chances are you're aware of 4x games, like Sid Meier's Civilization series. 4x stands for "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate," which means that the player is in control of an empire that's eager to expand. Popularized nearly three decades ago, 4x games are gaining some traction in the gaming community again, especially with players who grew up playing the genre in the 1990s. Because of this, titles like Galactic Civilizations II and Civilization V have seen some decent success. We checked out StarDrive 2, a space-themed 4x that has players expanding their empire across the vast reaches of space.
Frogger meets Burnout in this strangely fun arcade game.
We love arcade games. We love arcade games so much that it wouldn't be a stretch to say they're probably one of our favorite genres around these parts. There's something about the "beat the high score" mechanic, the simple controls, the overall nostalgic feel. That's why we were so excited to try Carnage Crossing, a funny little Frogger-type arcade game.
Unique and quirky camera app that offers a lot for beginners!
Photography apps are a personal choice to a lot of us, and what one person likes, another may hate. That is one of the biggest reasons we check out so many camera and photography apps here, as an attempt to give you as many options as possible. As a true labor of love, we checked out HelloCamera, a quirky little camera and filter app with some interesting features.
Make professional, fun, high-quality sound loops!
If you've ever spent a quiet day indoors with nothing to do, chances are you know how much you'd welcome a noisy distraction. But maybe it's the middle of the day, and there's nothing good on TV, or maybe you're feeling a little creative. That's why you should check out Keezy, a unique music-making app that just about anyone can master.
Space adventure allows players to explore and quest at their own pace
There's something to be said about games that give you the chance to do whatever you want, however you want, and as fast or slow as you want to do it. Not sandbox games, but rather games with solid objectives but no heavy-handed storylines or time constraints hanging over your head. That's exactly the type of game you get with the very Escape Velocity-like VoidExpanse, a charming little space-shooter that lets you play at your own pace.
Sign, annotate, read PDFs with this streamlined app
PDFs are wonderfully convenient ways to read eBooks, fill out forms, or just provide users with a high-resolution, easy-to-read format. Apple's iBooks allows users to read PDFs on their iPhone and iPads, but sometimes we feel like it's missing a few key features, like the ability to annotate the PDF you're reading. That's where apps like PDF Max 4 Pro come in, which allow you to do more with all those PDFs you've been stockpiling.
Chack chack chack chack chack chack ding! Zzzzzzip!
A certain subset of our friends are currently obsessed with custom-making their own mechanical computer keyboards. Without going too much into how keyboards work, proponents of mechanical keyboards for computers argue that the tactile feedback, and the fact that each key is on its own individual lever, reduces the potential for incorrect keystrokes. I don't hold to that; I'm pretty sure it's the sound of a mechanical keyboard that really makes people enjoy it. Regardless of how a physical (or virtual) keyboard works, the sound of fingertips hitting keys is the sound of work getting done. Few things sound as industrious as the clatter of a mechanical keyboard or, better yet, the shotgun-like "chack chack" of a typewriter.
Apple's new photography app is superb
Ditch iPhoto, ditch Aperture, ditch Light -- okay, no, let's not go crazy here. You should probably keep Lightroom if you have it and definitely also Photoshop or Pixelmator. Hold on to those because Apple's new Photos app does not replace them -- but it is so very good that you'll find yourself using them less. You may also find yourself taking more photos. You just won't realize that the first time you open up Photos. This free app, included in the new OS X 10.10.3, is a very bald, white, minimalist application that initially takes some time to get going.
What if we dropped everything but the monolith bits from 2001?
Last Voyage by Semidome is a series of mysterious and visually-striking puzzles. The player is given little to no explanation or context for these puzzles, and figuring out the goal is as much a part of the puzzle as actually slotting everything into place. Throughout the experience, there seemed to be some kind of story that was always, tantalizingly, just out of reach.
Combining choose-your-own-adventure elements mixed with travel strategy
Is there such a genre as "Travel Strategy?" We suppose if there is, it would have started with Oregon Trail. In 80 Days by inkle, there's considerably fewer broken legs and people dying of dysentery, although at one point we were trying to stay ahead of a cholera outbreak. The game is, as the name would suggest, based on the book Around the World In 80 Days by Jules Verne. Everybody always talks about the English Gentleman, Phineas Fogg, but as anybody who has played 80 Days knows, the real brains of the adventure was his French Valet, Passepartout, and it's the role of the valet the player takes on.
Encrypt attachments before emailing them
People do tend to believe that a Word attachment is emailed out across the Internet as exactly that, a Word attachment: they don't realize that it's converted into something else for transmission. Similarly, people tend to think that an email leaves their computer and goes directly to their recipient's machine: they don't realize how many, many and three times many other computers that email may pass through on the way. In theory, someone using one of those computers along the way could intercept the email, and obtain a copy of that Word attachment. So that's what Privacy Envelope is designed to do: it is built to stop even the incredibly remote possibility of anyone getting their paws on your attachment.
Who doesn't love running through a high school full of zombies and guns?
Corridor Z by Mass Creation is about the last three living people in a high school full of zombies. Supposedly, there's a way to exit the building to safety, and the three characters must sprint through the hallways between fortified classrooms if they want to live. The game is free with ads, and includes in-app purchases. Thankfully, they manage to not be totally evil when it comes to either of those things, leaving the player free to actually ... you know ... play and enjoy the game.
The behemoth of PDF applications becomes more behomothy
Adobe Acrobat has long been the official PDF reader for Mac and it's just about as long since you ever needed it because you're on a Mac. You have Preview. If you want to do more than Preview offers then you have excellent tools like PDFpen. Nonetheless, Acrobat was the app made by Adode, the creator of PDF, and it was powerful. Now it's more powerful: it isn't just a single app anymore, Adobe Acrobat DC is more like a front door to an entire service that sees you using PDFs across Macs, iOS and more via a new service called Adobe Document Cloud.
A simple note app with a few advanced features and a few premium features
The full name of this app in iTunes is Notes Note-Ify: Colorful notes with Reminders, TextExpander and Dropbox synchronization by Sergii Gerasimenko. That's a bit deceptive, we think, considering most of the features listed there aren't available unless the user pays extra. Still, the base version of the app has some nice features.
Extremely powerful and comprehensive backup solution
Roll up your sleeves, get a coffee, and watch ChronoSync backup your hard drives. Or alternatively, roll your sleeves back down and nip out to lunch, because you're not needed here: ChronoSync has it covered -- and you can look in on it remotely, with the companion apps ChronoAgent and InterConneX. This is surely the most comprehensive disk backup and management application we've seen, and possibly that nature ever intended. That does mean it's complex, but you're not going to turn to this if all you've used so far is Apple's Time Machine.
A vitamin pill for the average sluggish Mac
If you have the most powerful Mac Pro that can be made today, if you routinely go through the Apple Store clicking all the upgrade options, laughing like a crazy person, spending someone else's money, then we hate you -- and we want to come round your place to see it. However, invite us soon -- because even that Mac is going to slow down to a crawl, and you wouldn't like us when we giggle. The reason for that is because there are basic elements that determine whether any Mac is going to sing or sink, and these are all things that CleanMyMac 3 is designed to fix. Specifically, it's there to fix them so that you don't have to: it helps stop you running out of space, it helps make sure your RAM isn't used up, and it keeps an eye on the health of key components.
A literal hands-on that is like Twister for your hands
Most mobile games are exercises in what some like to call "lonely fun." In our totally unscientific survey of mobile games, we found the majority of them to be single-player experiences. A sizable chunk of mobile games with multiplayer options worth playing, in our opinion, tend to involve asynchronous play. There's nothing wrong with asynchronous play, or a single-player game, or even a near-real-time game with somebody else over the Internet, but playing games with people who happen to be in the same room as you is pretty great. Fingle is by Game Oven, the same development team that brought us Bounden. These two games involve playing with one other person, using a single mobile device. The players interact with the game and each other in real "meatspace," providing delightfully awkward experiences of genuine fun.
Small number, big, big update
We put this on our To Do list three months ago: "Write combined Hands On about both OmniFocus and OmniOutliner's new iPhone versions". The company said they were coming, they were quite clear about what would be new about them, we were quite sure it was an important update but also that it wasn't worth a complete re-review of them. We've covered both apps before, we've liked both of them a lot, they haven't changed. Except, in use the one big new feature in OmniFocus is bigger than we thought -- and much more has changed too.
Almost completely, but not quite, unlike a squidgy Pac Man
Microtrip by Arthur Guibert is the older sibling of ZoidTrip. The user plays a little single-celled organism traveling through the body of some kind of larger monster. As the organism glides down what we can only assume is the blood stream, it has to keep eating white blood cells to keep its health up as a cheerful electronic soundtrack bops along in the background.
View Microsoft Project plans on Mac
The standard application for project managers is Microsoft Project for Windows, but there are two big reasons why you would buy something else: you're on a Mac, and Microsoft Project is expensive. As we said in our review of OmniPlan, a very good Mac-based project management application, even the price of MS Project is complicated. It ranges from $250-$850, but whatever price you get it at, you can count on it being too costly to buy for everyone who simply needs to view the plans. Seavus Project Viewer 1.8 is a Mac app that opens Microsoft Project files, and lets you examine them for the details you need.
Quickly and easily add geometric elements to cell phone snaps
We do enjoy fiddling with the pictures we take with our phones and tablets; it's a great way to pass the time, and exercise a bit of creativity. Tangent by Pixite, is a relatively simple photo-manipulation app that provides a bunch of overlays and filters for users to play with. The primary attraction of Tangent are the geometric patterns and textures which can be used to increase of pull focus to a particular point in an image, and give it an interesting look.
Updated app allows multiple users
Previously on Sway ... we reviewed Microsoft's latest app Office Sway back in January, and not only did we say lots of positive things, we managed to stop ourselves making a "walk this Sway" gag. Now Sway has been updated, and specifically to allow you to collaborate on these online articles with other people.