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You will never read a Hands On review that does not include the price. Of course you won't, but usually price is the least significant part: whether something is expensive or not, good software and hardware is worth anything because it is so very, very useful and you use it so very, very much. TextExpander 6 is very, very good. Yet this might as well be a Hands On review of the price, and the software's shift to subscription.
Sometimes you can fully understand why people like a certain thing, and yet not appreciate it yourself. That's probably where we were when we last reviewed Ulysses: it is a very well done writing app, it has excellent features, it's got fans, and we entirely recognized why. Yet it took us until the new release, Ulysses 2.5 for iOS -- alongside Ulysses 2.5 for OS X -- for us to think hang on, that's rather good. Really, the sole difference in the new version is that it is now available on iPhone, but that ubiquity and how well it all works, that's finally arrested us.
In the year or more since we last reviewed Drafts 4, it's had 15 updates -- and we've used them all, every day. Usually several times a day. Yet it's only the new Drafts 4.6 version that has brought immediately visible changes: the writing app now has a dark mode, and more font control. It should be all its less visible improvements that excite us, but we like what we see.
Usually when you say something is a niche product, you mean that even if it's superb, it's only ever going to be of use to a small group of people. In this case, though, a huge audience would benefit from TextSoap, but we'd bet money that it's a niche because only a small group of people realize they have the problem this solves. TextSoap 8.0.3 for OS X fixes issues some people don't notice, others put up with, and a small group of people have previously had to work hard to solve for themselves.
Texting is already a pretty fast way of communicating, but we're an impatient lot, us humans, so if you can shave a few seconds work or a few seconds thinking off a task, there is someone who will do that. This is especially true if the task involves typing on an iPhone keyboard, as plenty of people don't like doing that. Etch Keyboard 1.0.2 is for these people.
There is definitely a case of just having someplace you can scribble down a thought, a phone message, a shopping list. There is also definitely an entire industry devoted to creating such note taking apps and it's a mightily productive one. Search on the word 'note' in the Mac App Store and you get nearly 600 results. Do it on an iPhone and you get just under 9,000. This is the world Intellie Notes 1.0.5 is stepping in, and it's no criticism to say that it has about as much reason to buy it as most of the others do.
The latest release of Amazon's Kindle software for iOS and Macs is devoted to improving how text looks on your screen as you read. Excuse us? With Kindle 4.9.1, it's five years since the application came to Apple gear and only now it's concerned with how you read on it?
Enough already. We just want to write this thing down before we forget it, okay? If we could avoid faffing around picking a template to base our new document on, that would be a big help. Later on, we'll worry about where we're going to use the text, at this moment we just want to get words down. That's the aim of this app, and it has been from its start in 2008 right up to two weeks ago, when it got updated to Simplenote 4.1.1.
You've read the headline, Hands On: TextExpander 5, and for many people that would be enough to send them straight off to buy it. Here's TextExpander 5 on its official site. Without exception, though, those keen people will all be ones who've already used TextExpander 4. If that's not you, if you've barely heard of this thing that speeds up your typing, then wait a moment, read on a bit, and only then go buy it.
From the makers of PDFpen for Mac and iOS comes the newly-updated PDFpen Scan+ which is a way to quickly photograph documents and turn the text into something you can then copy out, email, or reuse anywhere else. The new version now automatically crops photographs, so you don't end up with hundreds of shots of the edge of your desk. It also increases the speed of scanning thanks to new automated features.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE