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Hands On: Airy (OS X, Windows)

02/28, 8:40am

Download and keep YouTube videos with this simple app

The newly-updated Airy - YouTube Downloader for Mac does what almost every word in its title says. It downloads YouTube videos, it runs on a Mac. Run this, grab a YouTube video, and save it to your Mac to watch later. It's so simple, you'll be surprised YouTube itself doesn't come with this functionality.

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Hands On: Apples vs Robots (iOS)

02/27, 8:56pm

Clearly the sequel will be an RPG called Androids of Yosemite

Just when you thought the platform wars were over ... okay, maybe you didn't. Either way, Apples vs. Robots by umetec is a very simple tower defense-type game, where the player protects a group of technology enthusiasts from an oncoming horde of robots by chucking apples. Unsurprisingly, this pay-once-and-play game is an iOS exclusive.

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Hands On: Bricks (iOS)

02/27, 12:01pm

We are still bouncing dots across the screen with lines after all these years

In 1952, the first video game was invented at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Tennis for Two was played on an oscilloscope screen, it involved a side view of a simulated game of tennis using two controllable lines and a dot created by an algorithm that was intended to predict the movement of ballistic missiles. Twenty years later came Pong, and four years after that, Breakout! for the Atari 2600 was released. It's been 63 years since the invention of the video game, but Bricks by Konstantin Gonikman proves that, in spite of all the advancements in hardware and graphics, all anybody really wants to do is make a dot move around on a screen by bouncing it off a line.

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Hands On: Lux DLX (iOS, Android)

02/27, 7:51am

World domination in the palm of your hands

Lux DLX by Sillysoft Games is a play-and-pass strategy board game of troop movements and world domination. The app has been around since 2008, it's the mobile version of Lux Delux. Behind it is an enthusiastic community of players, creating custom maps and providing strategy tips with an in-app accessible wiki.

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Hands On: CoconutBattery 3.2 (OS X, iOS)

02/26, 8:24pm

Excellent free app psychoanalyzes your batteries

The curiously-named CoconutBattery 3.2 is a free app that examines the batteries in your MacBooks and your iOS devices. One click and you know everything: it gives you the skinny on every possible scintilla of information about the state your battery is in.

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Hands On: Footpath (iOS)

02/25, 10:54am

Clever route map for walkers

Footpath – usually $1 but at time of review free on the App Store – is a route map app for walkers and runners that does one thing very well. We would like it to do just a little more for the ambulatory but it's one of those apps you'll play with just to see how it works.

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Hands On: And Then It Rained (iOS)

02/25, 7:32am

Pay-once-and-play game of catching colorful rain that drips from the top of the screen

And Then It Rained by Megagon Industries is one of the most tranquil games we've come across. It's a colorful one-touch game that involves sliding different colored "towers" across the bottom of the screen, to catch droplets of corresponding colors falling from the top.

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Hands On: On The Line (iOS, Android)

02/24, 8:28am

A game that feels silly at first but becomes surprisingly challenging

On The Line by Kevin Choteau is a scrolling not-quite-a-maze game where you hold a finger down on the screen and try to stay ... (wait for it) ... on the line. We were pleasantly surprised by how compelling it was. We were dubious that we would find it very interesting to play at first, because it just seemed too easy. You can't get any easier for instructions than: keep your finger on the line, don't touch the sides, take your finger off the screen to pause the game. That being said, we were amused by how fun it was to play, and the fact that we can't stop grinning when we played it.

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Hands On: Rainy Mood (iOS)

02/23, 11:33pm

Sound generator promises to help block out unwanted noise

Sometimes it's hard to stay calm in a world of constant noise. We hear it in our morning commutes, we hear it in the office place, we hear it as we're out running errands. If you're looking for a way to get away from the noise, but you aren't looking to invest in a pair of expensive noise-cancelling headphones, you've got a few options. Sure, playing music helps, but that can often be every bit as distracting as environmental noises. If you're looking for a way to tune out distractions, we recommend you take a look at Rainy Mood by Plain Theory, a high-quality, calming sound generator.

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Hands On: Symmetrain (iOS)

02/23, 9:45pm

This 'find the difference' game is literally fun on rails

Symmetrain by Black Pants Studio is a game that starts off as a leisurely train ride through an idyllic countryside. The player's job is to spot where the scenery on the left and right of the train isn't symmetrical. Tapping an out-of-place structure, or bit of greenery, makes a matching item appear on the other side of the track before it scrolls off the screen, gets you points, and keeps the train rolling.

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Hands On: HoudahSpot 4.0 (OS X)

02/23, 8:06am

Powerful file-finding app for searching your documents

We wrote something ages ago about finding documents on your Mac. Fortunately, the whole point of HoudahSpot 4.0 is to help us dig that one scribble out from the untold thousands of files that clog up our Macs. Unfortunately, the problem is that OS X's own Spotlight is meant to do that, too.

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Hands On: Wi-Fi Priority (iOS)

02/22, 5:43pm

New utility scratches a Wi-Fi itch for techies

Wi-Fi Priority is a small app that does one particular thing: it lets you decide which Wi-Fi networks your iOS device will join. That doesn't sound like a big deal but in certain circumstances it is, and if you hit those regularly -- and you're maybe a little more techie minded than the average -- this is a good app for you.

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Hands On: Calcbot 2 (iOS, OS X)

02/22, 4:21pm

Redesigned calculator app gets excellent new features

You need a pretty compelling reason to ditch the calculator that Apple supplies on iPhones – and the new Calcbot 2 from TapBots offers several. Weirdly, Apple still doesn't provide a default calculator on the iPad, so at some point you're going to want one, and when you eventually need it, you'll find this app compelling.

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Hands On: Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock and Power Nap (iOS)

02/21, 12:54pm

Track your sleep and manage your naps with two apps from Northcube AB

We're all adults here, and as adults, we understand a very simple truth ... Sleep is awesome. We've mentioned Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock before, but it recently got an update, and we also want to talk about its companion app Sleep Cycle Power Nap. Because the only thing more awesome than sleep, is more sleep on the side, also known as a nap. These two apps use an iOS device's accelerometer to track movement during the user's sleep, and gently wake them up when it's time.

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Hands On: Loopy HD (iOS)

02/20, 7:34pm

Music-making app offers easy-to-learn gesture controls

A "looper" is a tool used by musicians that takes short recordings and plays them over and over in a loop, obviously, allowing the musician to layer them and create harmonies and background tracks on the fly. Loopy HD is one such tool, and it's pretty easy to use, as evidenced by Jimmy Fallon's penchant for using it with musical guests every couple of months.

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Hands On: Tap Forms (OS X, iOS)

02/20, 3:32pm

Solid database app with good templates

Back in January, and during a review of the poor iDatabase, we lamented how database users have been abandoned by FileMaker's Bento app, and how we were struggling to replace it. Readers and developers alike chimed in with alternatives, and Tap Forms is a particularly strong one.

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Hands on: Lyne (iOS)

02/20, 7:48am

Mazes without walls

Lyne, by Thomas Bowker, is 250 levels of puzzles, where the player connects shapes on a grid with lines that may not intersect (mostly). It's by no means a new game -- the game got its last update about a year ago -- but it's still a pretty good diversion for anybody looking to unwind with a puzzler while waiting in line (see what we did there?) or while traveling.

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Hands On: Do Button, Do Camera, Do Note (iOS)

02/19, 5:18pm

Three new apps exploit the power of IFTTT

If you use IFTTT, then not only do you know it's great but you also know what it stands for. If This Then That is an exceptional online service, that is now also a trio of apps: Do Button, Do Camera, and Do Note. If IFTTT is still the tool of the same people who use RSS -- so not exactly geeks, but at least geek-inclined -- then these apps might be what brings it to everyone else.

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Hands On: Fantastical calendar app (OS X, iOS)

02/18, 8:46pm

Superb complement to and improvement on Apple's Calendar

Fantastical is a calendar app, and there are separate versions for iPhone, iPad and OS X. If you read this late one horrible night, if you read it when your head is spinning from all your commitments and meetings and appointments, buy Fantastical -- even if it is not on sale. Yes, for all three device platforms (as you need). In other words, this program is so great that you shouldn't wait for the occasional sale price; we wouldn't be raving about it if the sale prices were the best bit.

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Hands On: Folderol 1.95 (OS X)

02/17, 8:57pm

Customize and colorize your Mac folders

Folderol does one thing: it lets you change the color of any folder you drag on to it. There is slightly more to it than that, but this is its core function, and Folderol does it well. Think of it as OS X Yosemite's colored tags, just done bigger, brighter and without taking up a tag.

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Hands On: Home Design 3D (OS X)

02/17, 1:40pm

Play dress-up for your house

Home Design 3D is for you if you're addicted to shows like HGTV's Dream House rather than, say, Selling New York. It's for property fans who already know that the way to choose the right color paint is to try some out on a box. Seriously. Get a large cardboard box and paint it: there is something about seeing that color on a surface with corners that really gives you a better feel than if you just toss a can of paint at your wall.

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Hands On: Drafts 4.1 (iOS)

02/13, 12:56pm

Utterly excellent note taking app gets updated

The newly updated Drafts is just one of those applications that is a pleasure to use. It is an app for writing the occasional note or jotting down the odd little thought yet you'll find you use it constantly and you will write long pieces in it. Go get it now, would you?

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Hands On: Workflow 1.1 (iOS)

02/13, 11:40am

New update makes this iOS tool essential

Well, let's back up a second there. 'Essential' is a funny word. If you tried to take the iOS automation app Workflow away from us, things would get ugly. So we'd say it's essential and that it's ours, get your own. Yet equally there are going to be people for whom its benefits are not compelling enough to make them take time learning how to use it. There will be yet more people for whom it just has no benefits at all. Consequently, then, Workflow is entirely essential and entirely not essential. It depends on you so let's do a Hands On review of you.

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Hands On: aNote 1.4.1 (iOS)

02/12, 9:04pm

Simple app makes screenshots and memos easier.

Taking screenshots on the iPhone can be tricky. Provided your target image fits within the window, it's not impossible -- but if you're trying to take screenshots of large images, or lots of text, it generally leads to multitudes of awkward screenshots within your phone. Then, if you want to send them to another person, it leads to frustration as you spend time trying to carefully piece them together to make it easier for the receiving person. That's why withnamu created aNote, an app that helps you take perfect screenshots in one go.

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Hands On: PhotoSweeper 2.0 (OS X)

02/12, 7:10am

Remove duplicate photos quickly and easily

We're starting to think we were clever, turning our Aperture database into a gigantic mess -- because PhotoSweeper is the third recent app to come across our desk that is aimed at fixing it. It isn't specifically for fixing our problems, and it isn't only for Aperture, but we set it loose on our 33Gb hellstew -- just as we did with SnapSelect and Tidy Up before it.

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Hands On: Age of Zombies: Season 2 (iOS)

02/12, 1:00am

Intense shooter pits players against zombie hoards

Mobile gaming isn't often taken seriously by the gaming community at large, and that might be because most of the games are geared more toward casual play. The App Store is filled to the brim with easily accessible match-3s, word games, and resource management games, but is surprisingly lacking in more challenging titles. However, Age of Zombies: Season 2 by Halfbrick Studios, is an action-packed, top-down, bullet-hell shooter that requires a player to utilize quick thinking and fast reflexes in order to come out on top.

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Hands On: Dictator Revolt by Tigrido (iOS game)

02/11, 9:11pm

How long can you keep their love or maintain just the right amount of hate?

You know what they say, "You can't please everybody." Dictator: Revolt by Tigrido is a game about trying to stay in power by managing how much your people love or hate you. The player/Dictator grants audiences with different power groups, who then make outrageous requests, and granting -- or rejecting -- those requests makes the various groups like or dislike the player/dictator more.

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Hands On: DayMap 2 (OS X, iOS)

02/11, 6:40pm

Flexible productivity system across Mac and iPhone

It's hard -- bordering on impossible -- to have just one piece of software that you use to stay on top of everything you've got to do and when. DayMap 2 intends to be that one place, and calls itself an entire productivity system. It is. It's an entire system that works, too -- so our only real caution against it is the more conceptual issue that not every application suits everybody.

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Hands On: Rooster Teeth vs Zombiens and DLC (iOS, Android, Mac, PC)

02/10, 6:00pm

Base-under-seige action strategy from Team Chaos gets its first DLC 'Remember the Bungalow!'

Rooster Teeth vs Zombiens by Team Chaos, has been around for a couple of months now. It's an action/strategy game with some tower defense elements thrown in for good measure where the player attempts to survive as many waves of monsters as possible. Rooster Teeth (RT) is a not-so mild-mannered production company in Austin, TX that creates content for, but not limited to, podcasts and YouTube.

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Hands On: ControlAir (OS X)

02/10, 7:46am

Fun and promising music controller, but it's not quite there yet

If you have a minute, go get the free ControlAir app just for the fun of seeing it work. It's a way of controlling the music your Mac plays, and doing so by gestures rather than pressing any buttons. Given that it is meant for people who are working at their Macs, it doesn't seem a gigantic saving, waving your finger in the air instead of using it to press down on the keyboard's Skip button. Except pushing buttons was never this entertaining.

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Hands On: Tidy Up 4 (OS X)

02/08, 10:33pm

Find and remove duplicate images, files and folders on your Mac

It's a conspiracy of hard disk manufacturers, that's what it is. We start off with these 3TB drives in our iMacs, and the next thing you know we're eyeing up external RAID drives. We're also finding that our Macs are so full that they are running visibly slower, infuriatingly slower than we bought them. Until we unmask the cunning storage manufacturers who make us create so many files, we can use Tidy Up 4 to at least get back some of the space.

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Hands On: Mujo (iOS)

02/06, 10:40am

Play a charming ancient Greek themed match 3

Relaxing with a game at the end of a hard day, or over a lunch break, is a cathartic experience, for sure. There are lots of games out there that allow players to chill out while passing time, and sometimes finding the perfect one can be a little daunting. We checked out Mujo, by Oink Games, a match-3 puzzler with an Ancient Greek motif. Read on to find out how Mujo stacked up compared to other games.

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Hands On: Dreeps, an Alarm Playing Game (iOS)

02/05, 11:12pm

A simple alarm clock with lots of pixelated style

Alarm clocks aren't usually exciting or interesting, but one that encourages you to actually wake up is a good thing -- right? Enter dreeps, an "alarm playing game" for iOS exclusively by Hisanori Hiraoka. This app strives to make setting and waking up to an alarm into a 64-bit-style adventure.

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Hands On: Daily Routine (iOS)

02/05, 6:38pm

Irresistible app for planning out your day

Let's be clear right away: if you get this app, you will not be able to stop yourself playing with it -- because it is ridiculously fun to use. It might actually be more fun than useful, because to get the best from Daily Routine, you need to have pretty heavily-scheduled days. Thanks to a great interface and its ability to create "template days," it offers an edge over the average scheduler app.

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Hands On: iON Bond (iOS)

02/05, 7:45am

Clever science puzzler has players colliding particles

Casual puzzle games dominate the App Store, and with good reason. Playing a puzzle game between classes, or on a lunch break, helps you unwind and pass the time, while offering a mentally-stimulating challenge. We checked out iON Bond by Stewart Hogarth, a clever little science-based puzzler designed to pick your brain.

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Hands On: Odd Bot Out (iPhone, iPad, Android)

02/04, 7:40pm

Engaging puzzler equally good for binging or playing in spurts

The game Portal brought two things to the attention of a wider audience more so than any other puzzle game: firstly, just how satisfying it is to feel so clever after solving a puzzle; and secondly, just how easily a normally rational human being can become emotionally invested in a box. Odd Bot Out is a side-scrolling puzzler for iOS and Android, providing equal parts "I'm a big dang genius" and "totes adorbs" moments throughout.

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Hands On: GraphMe HD (iPad)

02/04, 1:59pm

Turn your iPad into a graphing calculator

Graphing calculators are immensly helpful tools, whether you're taking a high school trigonometry class, spending time in a college physics lab, or doing any sort of real-world number crunching. Traditional graphing calculators, however, aren't a great solution in this tablet age anymore, and can cost as much as an iPad! GraphMe HD, by Marcos Alan Gonzalez Schtulmann, seeks to improve upon the classic graphic calculator's flaws, by turning an iPad into a superior scientific instrument.

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Hands On: ExactScan Pro 2.5.7 (OS X)

02/04, 8:50am

Fast, clever and adaptable scanning software

The day that printers started coming with scanners was the day aspirin sales doubled. You can't get hardware that's less reliable or costly to run than a printer, but what's more galling is that scanners come with software -- and so should be easy to use, but rarely are. Nonetheless, every scanner ships with some kind of app, and OS X's Swiss Army Knife-like application Preview can connect to just about anything. That means many people won't even realize they could change to something better, and will instead just play through the pain, while thinking fondly of a time when all of us will be paperless forever. We look forward to that time too, but for now, the Exactscan suite, in either standard or pro versions, helps out tremendously.

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Hands On: Weather Dial (iOS)

02/03, 8:30pm

A gorgeous, minimalist weather app -- yes, another one

It's now death, taxes, and weather apps that are inevitable. We get them all, and with the exception of death, we seem to get them a lot. You could genuinely use a different weather app each day for the next two years and seven months without repeating -- we found over 1,000 on the App Store before we went cross-eyed and gave up. Make today's one be Weather Dial 2.

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Hands On: Red Arrow (iOS)

02/03, 7:41am

Walkers rejoice: Finally a navigation app for you!

GPS and navigation apps are standard these days, and there's no doubting their usefulness. Now, instead of getting lost, we're guided step-by-step to our destinations by friendly automated voices -- but what if you don't drive, but still need directions? We checked out Red Arrow by Georgios Ioannidis, a navigation app designed for those without cars.

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Hands On: Typed (OS X, iOS)

01/31, 5:45pm

Beautiful and rather serene word processor for Mac

There was a time, in the early days of computing, when word processors either had by default -- or were expected to implement -- a minimalist mode, that stripped away controls and formatting windows to let you see just your text. We've become so used to over-complex application interfaces, though, that we've even forgotten to expect that minimalist option. Realmac's Typed has nothing but that, and along with a deftly chosen default font, it makes a startling difference to the whole writing experience.

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Hands On: Orderly (iOS)

01/31, 1:09pm

Classy To Do app with great, if mid-range, features

With umpteen billion different "To Do" apps available, Orderly immediately scores by having a good name. True, to find it on the App Store you may have to use its fuller title: Orderly -- Reminders, Tasks & To Do Lists. Yet the fact that the makers gave it a new, smart and memorable name is a little detail that immediately tells you that what it does isn't just clever. It's indicative of the care, thought, and we think talent that has gone in to this.

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Hands On: Samson Go Mic Direct

01/31, 10:52am

Portable mic allows users high quality sound on the go

Laptop sound, especially on el-cheapo computers, is generally terrible. Compounding this, the diminutive microphone installed is about the same quality. Fortunately, we all have USB -- and thus Samson has introduced the Go Mic Direct to supplant the built-in microphone. At two by two inches, with no boom, how does the compact package stack up, and is it a worthwhile addition to your on-the-go tech bag?

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Hands On: 1Password 5.2 (iOS)

01/31, 2:09am

New security and convenience features in this updated password manager

Admit it: if you've already got 1Password, then you use it for creating superbly strong passwords for any site you use -- but the password you use to unlock the app itself is rubbish. That's partly because you've used this password since the dawn of time, and it's ingrained in you, but it's also because changing it across your Mac, iPhone and iPad is a pain. Not anymore. The new update is to the iOS version, but now if you change you password on your Mac, it will automatically change on your iOS devices.

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Hands On: iRemocon Smartphone-based home electronics controller

01/30, 8:12pm

A nice idea that falls short due to reliance on infrared, precise positioning

The iRemocon is an Internet-connected device, intended to allow the user to control multiple home electronics from an app on their smartphone. This is intended to simplify wireless control of one's "appliances" either at home or while out and about. Unfortunately, the device relies heavily on infrared signals, which offer some severe limitations regarding placement and reliability.

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Hands On: Tengami (OS X, Windows)

01/30, 10:38am

Beautiful, relaxed, point-and-click adventure game

When it comes to video games, the puzzle genre may very well be the most varied kind. There are the match-3s, the codebreakers, the word games, and the classic puzzle-adventure. Popularized by games like Myst and Monkey Island, the puzzle-adventure genre has been a long-standing fixture of gaming. We took a look at newcomer Tengami, a point-and-click adventure game by developer Nyamyam.

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Hands On: Mail Designer 2 and Mail Designer Pro 2 (OS X)

01/30, 4:29am

Create and send graphically designed email newsletters

If you just send a lot of ordinary emails, you can skip this. If you're in a company that already has designers in-house crafting gorgeous and on-message email newsletter designs, you can skip this. If you're in the middle, though, such as a small company sending out newsletters or HTML updates to a few thousand people, or even just the newsletter editor for a club with a few dozen scattered members, Mail Designer 2 and Mail Designer Pro 2 are worth looking at.

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Hands On: Microsoft Outlook (iOS)

01/29, 4:26pm

Microsoft's acquisition of Accompli pays off with excellent new email app

There must be people who use Outlook for pleasure, but you'll probably find all their names on a staff directory at Microsoft. Yet this might actually change now: the brand-new Outlook for iOS, released today, is strong, capable, quick, and has a good-looking design to boot.

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Hands On: CoinKeeper (iOS)

01/29, 12:17pm

Simple and attractive app makes budgeting easier

There's something to be said for sticking to a budget; it helps ease stress, and promote financial stability. That being said, budgeting is something that can be difficult to do, especially if you're a busy person. Sitting down to a table full of receipts and papers isn't always doable. That's why CoinKeeper, a budgeting app by Disrapp, exists: to help make budgeting available to even the busiest of people.

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Hands On: Comic Zeal (iOS)

01/29, 7:31am

Comic book reader packs in serious features

There are a lot of reasons to make the leap to digital formats when buying comics. For one, it's a lot easier to carry a digital collection of comics around, and for another, it's a lot harder to bend the pages of a digital comic book. Whatever your reasons are, Comic Zeal Comic Reader by Bitolithic Pty is a great digital comic book reader.

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