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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You'll want to use PDFs more when you've got one of these
Right, here's the thing: by the time we're done here, you really must own PDFpen for Mac. It's just a question of which version -- and it's a more complicated question than it might be. For while there's now a new version 7 and it introduces some excellent features, it introduces them in two editions -- PDFpen and PDFpen Pro -- yet its very best abilities are already right there in version 6. Plus, there is the iPad version which we've already said we rate very highly.
DOS emulator lets you play abandonware titles on iPhone/iPad
DOS was the operating system that people born prior to 1983 ended up cutting their teeth on, and for many people the obsolete OS still holds some nostalgic value, particularly for games. Thanks to programs like DOSBox, millions of gamers are returning to the days of Duke Nukem and Commander Keen on their Macs or PCs. However, Power DOS by Power App GmbH, allows you to take all the fun of the 1980s and 1990s with you on your favorite iDevice.
Unexpectedly handy iOS addition to the Alfred 2 application launcher
When we recently reviewed Alfred 2 for Mac -- it was a rave. We noted how it was the perfect app to feature in a Hands On piece because that's the point: just about anything you can do on your Mac, Alfred 2 lets you do from the keyboard. It's not the only application that does this, but it does it very well, and is a true boon for getting things done. So much so that the application has been around and continuously developed for many years, just always with this hands-on idea. Until now.
Neat way of keeping a log of hours worked, though setting up is weak
[Updated with correction for program authorization] This is you: you may be no good at the money side of anything. Unless you're an accountant, in which case we apologize. Everyone else, though, most especially anyone who works freelance, or in a one-man or one-woman company, often struggles with the financial side -- because the money part is not primarily why you got into business. Hopefully you'll be earning lots, but you started your business because you wanted to do what that business does, and you'd rather be your own boss and risk failure than do some other kind of work to make somebody else wealthy. Consequently, your interest and focus is on the job. Somehow, you have to also keep an eye on the money -- and that's where TaskTime4 comes in.
Powerful, hugely customisable application launcher for Mac
It's only right and proper to review Alfred 2 in a column called Hands On, because that's its entire point: with this installed, you can do just about anything on your Mac without ever once taking your fingers off the keyboard. As much as the mouse and the trackpad changed the world, every time you use them you are losing time. Yes, it's probably only about a second, but that's enough: your concentration moves to where-is-the-mouse and then where-is-the-cursor before it can get back to the work at hand. With Alfred 2, your fingers will remember keyboard shortcuts like muscle memory, and you will feel you are hugely faster at everything.
Header: Adventure Time Fans Rejoice: An iOS game for you.
Adventure Time has been receiving critical acclaim and praise from the masses for years, and with good reason. The cartoon is smart, silly, and surprisingly deep. Fans of Adventure Time can rejoice, as Heavy Boat has brought gaming based off the Cartoon Network show to mobile platforms with Jumping Finn Turbo.
Thorough online and anti-malware security – if you want that kind of thing
Look, it's not that Macs are completely free of risk, but we're not running Windows here. One of the advantages of our platform of choice is that it isn't so riddled with viruses, that there aren't so many malicious applications that you need third-party security software just to be able to sleep at night and work in the day. Macs currently face no known virus threats, and almost no malware (apart from a recent scourge of "adware" that attacks both Mac and Windows web browsers, and the ongoing issues with Flash and Java). So what's the point of a OS X "anti-virus" program like Kaspersky Internet Security?
Mimic a full-size Mac keyboard on your iPad
Apparently, Android users have crowed for years about how their platform allows you to change the on-screen keyboard to ones from any company that cares to make them. We say apparently because, really, there's plenty of more serious stuff to listen to from Android users, and onscreen emoji keyboards are not high on that list. Consequently, if we were surprised that Apple added the feature in iOS 8, we are not surprised that the world has failed to shift on its axis. ProType, however, may have turned our head: read on to find out why.
Good entry-level app that makes the basics easy and fast
It's harder to make podcasts than you might imagine. No, strike that: it's easy to make bad podcasts, to make the kind of audio that makes grown NPR and BBC radio producers sob and listeners disappear. What's harder is to make anything worth listening to, and that's chiefly a mix of your talent and your technology. The new Opinion Podcast Recorder & Editor app won't make a scrap of difference to your talent -- except that it will let you concentrate on getting better, because it sets out to make the technical side of podcasts simple. It aims to be the one place you record your podcast, edit it, and then distribute it.
Contextual note-taking app integrates audio, video, and images with manual notes
Back in October, we took a look at AudioNote, a document creation tool from Luminant Software designed to synchronize notes and audio. An additional contribution to the note-taking category that Luminant offers is Note Studio, which builds upon Audionote's strengths by adding video, web, PDF, and subject-organization capabilities. Most people have at least some grievances attached to the task of note-taking, and this software aims to simplify the ordeal by integrating source material (audio, video, etc.) within the note making process, and the final result. Priced at $20 -- four times the present cost of Audionote -- is Note Studio worth shelling out more for the extra features?
Hack and slash through this retro-inspired adventure game
Retro-inspired games are hot on the App Store right now, with retro-chic games like Woah Dave and the BitTrip series making a name for themselves. Because these games feature simple mechanics and nostalgic graphics, they are a perfect addition to a gamer's pocket library of games. We checked out Tom Heinecke's Bit Dungeon II, a terrifying twist on the classics.
Excellent iOS note-taking app is equally good on Mac
It's not like there's a shortage of note-taking apps on either iOS or Mac: however, it is particularly good to see the familiar stubby-pencil icon of Notability on Mac because it's a boon to know your notes are with you everywhere. Although if you're a die-hard Evernote fan, currently thinking about reading a different review, hang on just one sec: The most important reason to use Notability is how it feels as you write in it. However, it also comes with a killer feature -- but it's a feature that specifically kills your desire to use Evernote.
Major update for already-superb audio recording app
When Audio Hijack 3 was announced, one of us actually squealed in delight. It wouldn't be right of us to mock him, but you can. In fairness, many people who had heard of the software -- and certainly every one who had used it -- was pleased too. For this is one of those applications that isn't just a regular part of your toolbox, it's one that reminds you every time why it is just so much handier working on a Mac than a PC.
Monitor the weather in detail from your pocket
Meteorology is a fascinating topic, and one that is freely available for most people to study, provided they know where to look. Monitoring the national weather websites is a great place to start, but if you're looking for something more portable, MeteoEarth by MeteoGroup Deutschland is like having a weather station in your pocket.
Let your child explore their inner chef with Toca Kitchen 2
Not every game needs to have a set objective. The reason games like Minecraft have done so well is because they encourage players to do whatever feels fun for them. Toca Boca is known for creating games for iOS that capitalize on this feature. Like most Toca Boca AB games, Toca Kitchen 2 is objectiveless, and focuses more on role play and silliness than anything else.
Rehearse and deliver speeches with this prompter
True story -- we had an important speech to deliver, and we wrote it on Drafts 4for iPad. That's a very good application for writing, but we shouldn't have also read from it: because, standing at the lectern, facing 200 people, we scrolled down to the next bit and accidentally grazed against an on-screen button. Upshot: we had to deliver the last two thirds of the speech from memory, because we'd completely wrecked our Drafts 4 document. Speechmaker aims to avoid all that, and have you look fantastic while flawlessly delivering a speech the equal of Susan B. Anthony's On a Woman's Right to Vote or Martin Luther King's I Had a Dream -- the text of both of which are included in the app.
Quick and fairly easy-to-use database, but with serious flaws
The best database you can buy for the Mac or iOS is Filemaker Pro -- if by "best," you mean the most powerful. It's also comparatively easy to use, at least when what you're comparing it with is Microsoft Access for Windows. But even so, there is a market for a database that is so simple even non-technical users can get a benefit from it. For some years, that database was Bento, from the makers of Filemaker Pro, but it was discontinued in 2013. One alternative has been iDatabase, and on the surface it has a lot going for it.
Find out what's around you and the quickest way to get there with this handy app
Think of Where To as a kind of Yelp for absolutely everything: instead of just looking for restaurants, this app will find you libraries, gas stations, lawyers, theaters, shops, and more. It's called Where To, but you will never call it that in real life, for its icon is of a freeway exit sign, and the word Exit is so prominent that you'll think that's its name. This is only a problem when you're trying to recommend it to someone -- but that means it is going to be a regular problem.
Quick RSS news app a pleasure to read, now freemium
Go on, tell the truth. Were you tempted to stop reading after the word RSS or did you last all the way to 'news'? It's not that RSS divides people, it's more that people either love it or they have simply never heard of the thing. Similarly, there are those of us who are news junkies and want to know what's happening in the world, and there are others who just watch Fox News instead. Unread for iOS is not going to be the app that makes you an evangelist for RSS, but if you're already a newsreader fan, you may love the app. Plus, its new freemium model could help when you go around telling everybody how great it is.
Get this essential Mac tool for speeding up your typing
Here's the thing: yes, TextExpander speeds up your typing, but some of us like typing -- and some of us are 120 words per minute. If you're one of the latter, that doesn't automatically rule out that you wouldn't be interested in the venerable TextExpander's speed, but we figured it wouldn't be that much use to us; or so we thought. Doubtlessly, if you are a slower typist, then the speed is the key reason to buy TextExpander -- but it does so much else, it is so useful in other ways, that we are now dependent on it, and wish we'd bought it ten years ago.
Solid handwriting word processor for Apple's mobile ecosystem
In the App Store, the program is listed with a full stop at the end of the name: "WritePad Pro." It's a little pretentious. The app is from the makers of Penquills, which is an iOS 8 keyboard that lets you handwrite in any app on your iPhone or iPad. When we reviewed Penquills, we liked its accuracy -- and that came in part from how it guided you to write certain things in certain places: do letters in this box, numbers in that one, symbols in a third. It was clear what you were meant to do where and once you got used to it, you particularly got used to how accurate it was. Let's not claim miracles here: handwriting recognition is nearer a dark art than it is a fully-practical engineering solution, but WritePad Pro also works well.
Preschoolers build birdhouses in this fun interactive game
Games for the under-five crew tend to be a mixed bag. Sometimes the games are too hard, requiring difficult-to-grasp concepts like timed tapping or difficult puzzle-solving. Other times the games are often too simple, and are more like movies. One game that has managed to strike a good balance between engaging and simple is Duckie Deck Bird Houses, by Duckie Deck Development.
Excellent blogging app for Macs
There can't be a blogging platform or service in the world that doesn't already come with an editor where you can write, you know, your blog. Certainly WordPress and Blogger have perfectly adequate, even good, text editors for you to do this and doubtlessly millions of people stick with them. It's not as if millions of people can be wrong, but it can be that millions of people haven't used MarsEdit yet.
Take to the skies in this cute arcade game
In the world of casual gaming, things tend to be pretty easy-going. If a player is looking for a challenging game, they're usually tasked with completing lateral thinking puzzles or quick-draw mechanics. Not every challenging game needs to be about speed or puzzle play, though, as demonstrated by Poppets by CakeBytes Creative. If you have a young child in your life, they might like this one very much.
Smart and quick mind mapping tool
We're in a tricky situation here. We've already covered MindNode, and said that for us it has the edge as the best of all the iOS mind-mapping applications. However, we did also say that for all the very many alternatives, this is currently a two-horse race and the other pony is iThoughts HD. If you went for MindNode on our recommendation, then thank you and isn't it great? If you haven't yet, still keep it in mind -- but let's examine iOS iThoughts HD as a serious alternative.
Take off into space with this fun rocket builder
The fun of space travel has long been reserved for astronauts and rocket scientists, which seems a little unfair sometimes. In 1970s television, we were promised routine space travel by the 21st century, which we clearly haven't gotten yet. How many of us have thought about how fun it would be to take off and soar through space, or wanted to design a rocket that could explore the furthest reaches of space? Not everyone is a rocket scientist, but with Simple Rockets by developer Jundroo, everyone gets the chance to design their own rocket.
Run your Mac from the keyboard in this utility that should be on every computer
Get it. Here it is on its official site. Go get it now: LaunchBar is that good. There are alternatives, that's about the only thing that should give you pause -- but the most obvious rival to LaunchBar is OS X's own Spotlight, and that is no competition at all. Sure, both let you tap a couple of keys and begin typing things like application names or search terms, but as excellent as Spotlight is, LaunchBar crams more power into the same space. With a couple of keystrokes, you can be entering an event into your calendar, you can be sending files to someone, you can be pasting something from the clipboard that you copied yesterday.
Take a trip back to 1998 (in a good way) with this Retro RPG
In the mid '90s, dungeon-crawler RPGs were pretty standard fare -- nearly all boasted isometric-view fields of play. These types of games have went by the wayside in lieu of flashier graphics and more complicated game mechanics. Spiderweb Software, however, has decided to continue its own ongoing trend, and release a positively retro fantasy RPG called Avernum 2: Crystal Souls.
The best contacts manager for OS X right now
You may never even think to replace or supplement the Contacts app that comes on your Mac or iOS device, but also you may never have realized that you can. Next time someone gives you a phone number, and you write it down on paper rather than keep them waiting while you fire up Contacts, think about getting Cobook for Mac and/or for iOS .
Web editor offers accessible platform for site building
A new What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) web design tool has made its way across our proverbial desk, with its aim being to allow users to "skip the tedium" and create full sites without coding knowledge. Sparkle is an OS X-native application that features 64-bit architecture and Yosemite optimization -- but above all, offers up what is intended to be a user-friendly, enjoyable medium for turning out an HTML5 website from on-screen element. We poked around and gave Sparkle a try, and found it to indeed be a pleasant experience. The question is, should you opt to invest the $90 in it?
Scan and convert books to PDF right from your iPhone or iPad
Having the ability to snap a picture and convert it to a PDF on the fly is surprisingly useful. If you have messy handwriting, you can simply snap a picture of a form, convert it to PDF, and fill it out from the comfort of your computer - not to mention that the camera can work as a scanner in a pinch. PDF Scanner, by Darsoft, is a choice in a crowded field, but is it a good one?
Slightly fiddly but very impressive remote control for your Mac
Imagine squeezing your retina iMac screen down onto an iPhone 5. You can do it. It might look a bit silly, and initially you might wonder why you'd bother, but it has long been possible to see and remotely control your Macs and PCs on even your iPhone. Now that Google has released Chrome Remote Desktop for iOS, you can do it for free. You'll do it, too: try this once, and you will forever keep finding other reasons why it's incredibly useful.
Release your inner cosmetologist with this fun hair salon app
Makeover apps tend to be somewhat serious, and are generally geared toward adults. Instead of being a fun game, they tend to be more akin to photo-editing software, which is generally pretty complex and low on the amusement scale. Toca Boca, however, has stepped forth with Toca Hair Salon 2, a makeover game that offers a lot to younger gamers or future beauticians.
Bolster your Spanish vocabulary with targeted flashcard app
It's a fact that Spanish is the world's fourth most-spoken language, with over 350 million native speakers across 21 countries. It's also a fact that people who are bilingual tend to do better in both academic pursuits as well as their career. If you've ever been curious about learning another language, Learn Spanish by Brainscape offers a solution for those who are trying to learn Spanish on the go.
Quickly add text and logo images to photos
It's a different world. You might be the sort who would never take photo from a website and use it in your own book, but today if an image is online, it's as if the world sees it as fair game. Maybe that's a peek into our base immorality and the ultimate cataclysmic self-destruction of humanity, or maybe it's just that cut and paste is easy. Whatever it is, though, it's happening and you cannot stop it – not even with an application like this: but if PhotoWatermark can't prevent the copying of images, it can help photographers and artists considerably by adding identifying text to your image.
Beautiful Mac wallpapers chosen to match the weather near you
You could just look out of your window, of course, but Weather Wall aims to set your wallpaper to an image that's right for the weather where you are. But if you ever had views like these from your office window, you would not stay sitting at your desk. These wallpaper shots are simply beautiful.
Fast, thorough utility for organizing thousands of files, folders
Let's start with the summary: even if you only use the Big Mean Folder Machine 2 once a year: you'll still think it's worth every cent. The reasons for this is because BMFM is built to do the kind of drudge work that makes us wish we didn't work with computers, that we were more organized, or that at least we had an assistant. There is no Mac or PC user in the world who does not, right now, have thousands of files on their computer -- and there are perhaps three of us who know where everything is. BMFM takes any folders you throw at it, and sorts the lot out into something manageable, something you can work with -- and something you can very easily archive.
Group whiteboard app makes project collaboration easier
Working on a project together while not being physically together is a hassle. If you've ever been in a group project that tries to collaborate via text message or email alone, you know how hard it can be -- especially if you're passing a bunch of files back and forth. Cloud services have certainly made things easier, but checking individual files for updates is troublesome, and many drive services are designed to work on a computer and fall a bit short on mobile devices. That's why MolaMola came up with MolaSync to help ease the pain of collaborating on projects across the Internet.
Pen app that aims for greater handwriting recognition
Seriously, if you could just get to love the keyboard that Apple provides on iPhones and iPads, you'd be much happier. Since the company allowed, with the release of iOS 8, keyboard alternatives, we've seen a minature flood of different keyboards appearing for iOS. While many feel like experiments, some are built to scratch specific itches. One big itch, for some people, is the desire to handwrite on their devices -- and Penquills attempts to help you do that.
Create interactive photo stories on your iPhone
Microsoft must've had some serious but closeted iPhone and iPad fans chomping to make apps for Apple's devices among its personnel -- because now that the company has officially embraced Apple's devices, it is making some of the very best iOS software around. This app for communicating ideas -- Sway -- is also very far from the powerful-but-dry business software that we still associate the company with. You would sooner believe this came from the makers of Keynote than from PowerPoint.
Discover new music with surprisingly intuitive app
Finding new music is a difficult task, especially when the radio has become a collective pool of the same 15 songs over and over, almost regardless of station. Streaming service Pandora is a safe bet for many Americans, though that often requires sitting through hours of familiar or similar music in hopes of finding a few undiscovered gems. What are you supposed to do if you're short on time, but equally short on tunes? You try something new, like Discovr, by Filter Squad , which aims to help you find new music you'll love by just knowing your current favorites.
Delightfully fast and automated scanning app from Evernote
It's not often that software makes you laugh -- at least, not for good reasons. The new Evernote Scannable, however, is so fast at scanning documents that on our very first go, we failed to get our thumb out of the way quickly enough, and it scanned that. We really did laugh at this big, fuzzy thumb -- and were then delighted, and surprised, and genuinely impressed with what happened next. Evernote Scannable removed our thumb from the image. Automatically.
Superb image editor for iOS at a tremendous bargain price
Pixelmator for Mac is not Photoshop -- but it might as well be, for how those image editing features that it does have are powerful, and easy to use. It also might as well be for the majority of people who aren't full-time PS professionals. If your work needs Adobe Photoshop, then you know it -- and can make the decision about paying the modest subscription cost to use it. Pixelmator handles an ever-growing number of the most common image tasks that most people need, and we are particularly fans of the separate iPad version, which has recently been updated. Today, we're taking a look at that iPad version.