Your Mac and iOS devices come with a great dictionary
Some people collect dictionaries, some have never bought one in their lives -- but we all have them at our fingertips right now. If you have a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, you've got a dictionary, and it is a good one. It's good enough to replace most concise dictionaries you can buy, and it's easier to look up than a book. We're not saying it's arduous looking things up a in book, but the fact that you have to turn away from what you're reading is reason enough that many of us pile on with a soon-forgotten vow that we'll look it up later. Here's an easy way to look up the definition of a word right there on your Mac -- and then if that isn't enough, we've an even easier way to do it at your fingertips.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Calendars don't have to be costly to be useful
You don't have to buy the big, powerful, and comparatively costly calendar apps like Fantastical 2 and BusyCal on OS X: you can get better than Apple's own offering with cheap, and even free, alternatives. Don't get us wrong: Fantastical, BusyCal and more are superb -- and you won't get their power with a free app. However, there is a middle ground between those and Apple's iOS Calendar that is rich and useful. We're going to recommend you take a gander at Horizon Calendar, for instance, and not because it's free.
Get things done with this concentration app
Most of the time, the secret to getting things done is getting on with them, and doing things. The Pomodoro technique is a trick to get yourself going, and keep yourself going, which has been around since the 1980s and is perfect for being turned into an app. Consequently there are many such apps, but the newly-updated Pomodoro Time Pro is a solid, capable and versatile one.
An iOS clipboard manager you didn't know you needed
If you don't happen to know what a clipboard manager is, you need one. If you do and you've also tried out a couple, you know why you need it and you know just how hard it will be to make you give them up. Not to rub it in if you haven't tried one yet but they have been around for a very long time – or at least they have on Macs. With iPhone and iPads, it's really taken until iOS 8 for them to be possible. Clips is a free clipboard manager for iOS and it is just about as good as Apple allows it to be.
The note-taking app comes with little-used outlining features
There is a reason why the outlining features of Evernote are not the most widely-used feature of that software: they're not the best feature. They're also not on a par with the outlining in the best word processors, and they are barely in the same universe as dedicated software like OmniOutliner. However, Evernote is free, and Evernote has uses far beyond outlining, so you're likely to find it indispensable even if you end up not using the outlining.
Make this nearly brilliant feature work for you
The first time you use this feature of Evernote for iOS, you will go "wow!". Unfortunately, before you finish using it for the first time, you will also go "oh." For Evernote is practically magical in how it will scan a business card, and cull every last detail off it -- and then it's surprisingly bad at what it does with that information.
BlackBerry adds BBM Protected mode to iOS, Android apps
BlackBerry is allowing its enterprise users to have highly-secure FIPS 140-2 validated conversations with other mobile users, rather than just between BlackBerry devices. BBM Protected, a mode for the BlackBerry messaging app that encrypts the conversation between two parties, is now available on the iOS and Android versions of the client. BBM Protected requires the use of the paid service BES from BlackBerry in order to set up the secure communications, though the secondary party only needs the free client to receive secure chat requests.
Powerful To Do app gets better with age
Software is personal and when an app is right for you, its impact on your working life -- or even just your life -- can be extraordinary. You don't get that impact very often, though, and unfortunately even when you do, it doesn't tend to last. I've had moments of it with Apple Maps, but my enjoyment of that has grown hand in hand with annoyances. I got quite a bit of it with Evernote, and that is now a staple of my every working day, but somehow it's become too familiar, I no longer see what was so special. You know where this is going, though. It's going to the point where I enthuse at you about OmniFocus.
Minimalist and speedy note-taking app now also on iPad
We have come such a long way from the original iPhone's yellow Notes app with its very yellow pages and Comic Sans font. Did we mention yellow? Today's Vesper, from Q Branch, does the same job -- yet comes from the opposite end of the design spectrum with a plain, tasteful look and typography control. It's also much faster than Notes ever was, and its syncing of individual notes is quicker than Evernote's.
The writing app beats Scrivener to the iPad
It's not as if this were Mac versus PC, not Word versus WordPerfect, not even Aperture versus Lightroom. Still, Ulysses vs Scrivener, a war of word processors, is a thing -- and Ulysses just took a big step ahead. These two applications give writers a complete and single package of tools for writing, research, and then publishing. What they have not given writers before was the ability to pick up an iPad and carry on where you were.
Company unifies different beta programs into single 'Apple Beta Software Program'
On Thursday, Apple released a flood of new betas for various versions of its two main operating systems, including the first semi-public beta of iOS 8.3, and third developer betas for iOS 8.3, OS X 10.10.3, Xcode 6.3 with Swift 1.2, and OS X Server 4.1 Developer Preview. The company has also decided to unify its various beta programs under a single tent now known simply as the "Apple Beta Software Program."
At last it's on iOS – though it could be better
Be grateful for -- well, if not exactly small things, then things that could be bigger than they are. Google Calendar has finally landed on iOS, and if you use this calendar online, you should be running off to download this new app right now. For everyone else, it has promise. The key, killer feature of Google Calendar for iOS is that it is Google Calendar and it is on iOS: its very presence on the platform is a great thing. Beyond that, it is a good-looking app and it's quick to set up with your Google account.
Launches on other platforms could join Windows Phone MixRadio update this summer
MixRadio, the rebrand of the Nokia Music streaming service known to Windows Phone users owning Lumia devices, is being tested on Android and iOS. Fresh from being transferred to Line after being acquired from Nokia by Microsoft, MixRadio is now performing a private beta of the app for the other two major mobile platforms, suggesting it could be heading to users sooner than initially thought.
Apple Maps is underrated, except when it isn't
Well, this is awkward: I'm about to enthuse at you about how and why Apple Maps is very good, but the impetus came when my wife Angela offered to pick me up from a meeting in Kings Heath, Birmingham (in England, for those not familiar with the place). I shared my location with her over Messages and was just thinking how handy this was, how straightforward and easy it was -- when she texted back "why are you in Stechford?"
New Snowden documents tell of attempts to compromise Xcode
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been trying to compromise iOS devices for a number of years, a report claims. Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that a secret annual conference called the "Trusted Computing Base Jamboree" was used to discuss various ways to exploit security in consumer devices and electronics, including iPads and iPhones, as part of ongoing attempts by intelligence agencies to use consumer devices for surveillance.
Use your iPhone to start downloads on your Mac
This is a bit like the Flash or no Flash business: either the fact that you can't download files to your iOS device enrages you or you're now trying to remember ever noticing. If you need a file, though, you need it (likely right now and Transloader is a good and clever workaround. It won't make your iPhone download anything, but it will get you that file.
The official Gmail app gets iOS 8 update, but still needs more
Google has released an update to its universal iOS email app, Gmail 4.0, and it adds good new features that exploit iOS 8. The new features are welcome, and the app is a must-have update if you're a Gmail user.
Revenue from iOS makes up 10 percent of gross revenue, UBS claims
Being the default search engine option in iOS is such an important position that losing it could cost Google around 10 percent of its gross annual revenue, according to a new analysis by investment bank UBS. The advertising giant is at risk to lose upwards of $8 billion if it should lose the default search engine position, a real possibility with the deal between Google and Apple coming up for renewal. Investors are worried that Apple will refuse to renew the arrangement.
Advisor Alerts, Passenger Care, Dynamic Buy added to MobileFirst for iOS collection
IBM and Apple have used their partnership to release three more iOS apps for enterprise, under the IBM MobileFirst for iOS initiative. The new apps, called Advisor Alerts, Passenger Care, and Dynamic Buy, will join the existing 11 apps already brought out under the partnership, with more enterprise-specific apps expected to launch in the coming years.
Get more from Apple's deceptively powerful word processor
You probably own Apple's Pages, and you may even have opened it. If you did, what you think depends on what you're used to: new users just dive right in and start typing, while we've heard Word users complain that it simply isn't powerful enough for them. This is an odd one: they are actually right, but not in the ways they expect. Pages does lack some of the very heavy-lifting word processor functions that Word has, but few people use those. What Word fans think is missing from Pages is the more general day-to-day features that in fact it has, and has very well.
Rare situation where two future iOS betas were in circulation at the same time
Ending an unusual scenario where two iOS betas were being tested by developers simultaneously, a new report suggests that iOS 8.2 is likely to be released next week, possibly as early as Monday. Apple has been testing both iOS 8.2 and the forthcoming iOS 8.3, the latter of which is now on its own second beta version. While Apple released a total of five betas for iOS 8.2, the same report claims that iOS 8.3 will only have a maximum of four betas.
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.
Improvements continue in latest pre-releases, along with feature additions
[Updated with further details] On Monday, Apple released new second betas for both OS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3, along with a second Xcode 6.3 beta. While any new information on the latest betas is presently scarce, the first releases of the 10.10.3 beta brought the Mac version of Photos to the surface for the first time -- and the new beta version appears to have supplemented that release with some new features, including the return of social sharing services. Meanwhile, iOS 8.3 continues to sport Wirless CarPlay, new emojis, an enhanced Siri voice, and more.
Superb Sudoku app gets gets bug fix update
The bug was something to do with iOS 8 compatibility. We don't care. We just want to enthuse about a puzzle game that has kept us up nights with that 'just one more game' feeling. Plus, the bug's been fixed now, what are you waiting for? Sue Doku is on the App Store and it's $1.
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.
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.
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.
Wide variety of app updates bring instant hotel rooms, streaming video, bug fixes, more
A number of apps for both iOS and OS X have received notable updates lately, ranging from the official NBC app gaining live streaking to Kayak adding a service that allows same-day discounted hotel rooms. Apple has updated iTunes 12.1 specifically for Windows users, while Snapchat now lets users play music while snapchatting. Yelp has added translations of reviews to its own app, and The Sims 4 has debuted on the Mac.
User interface update makes Google Play Music for iOS look like Android app
Google has made a few major changes to its Google Play Music app for iOS, following a three-month update gap, turning it from an iPhone-only app into a universal app that works on the iPad. At the same time, the music app has received a graphical overhaul, with the "Material Design" influence of Android Lollipop being used in the iOS version, making it seem almost identical to what Android users see on their devices.
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.
Updated version 2.4.1 currently available to previous buyers only
Multi-format video player VLC for iOS has reappeared in the App Store following its pulling from the store (by its developer) last September. At present, the listing is only available for those who previously owned the software, which allows users on iOS devices to play videos in nearly any format without first converting it to the standard iTunes-supported formats. It was removed from sale due to licensing disagreements among the developers.
win 1 of 5 copies of Workflow 1.1
What is Workflow 1.1? Is it really an "essential" tool to add to your tool kit? What's new in version 1.1? Last week MacNN explored these questions in a complete Hands On review. We discussed who this software title would be good for, and who it might not be so good for. We also secured five promo codes to give away copies of this software to our readers.
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?
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.
Strong To Do app with tags and timers
No, you're wrong: we do need another To Do app. If we didn't always have more To Do apps to try out, we might have to actually start doing things. The Hit List enters a very crowded field, and after a tumultuous, prolonged and controversial beta, but it does so with verve -- and brings good features in a smart pair of Mac and iPhone apps.
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.
May hint at imminent 8.2 release; 'noteworthy' changes in Swift force migration tool
On Monday, Apple released a first beta of iOS 8.3, even before iOS 8.2 has been released to the public. It has also unveiled a new version of its programming language Swift, with changes the company calls "noteworthy" -- to the point that a new beta of Xcode 6.3 has also been issued to developers, with a "Swift Migrator" function allowing programmers to move code from Swift 1.1 to version 1.2. The changes may hint that iOS 8.2's public debut is imminent.
Financial results slightly lower than expected, iOS 8 pinned for loss
In the quarterly conference call discussing Twitter's financial results, Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto pointed to Apple's iOS 8 rollout as the reason why the company's monthly active users figure was short by four million members, at least in part. While initially a throwaway line in the discussion, the company's CEO has clarified the remarks somewhat, and has pointed specifically to iOS Twitter integration, and features in the new Safari as specific reasons for the user drop.
Releases enter later testing phase
Apple has released fifth betas of iOS 8.2 and Xcode 6.2 to developers. Both are available through the Dev Center; iOS 8.2 is also accessible as an over-the-air update for people already using beta firmware. Exact changes have yet to be discovered, but Xcode has been updated to include the latest set of WatchKit tools for Apple Watch developers.
Apple might be late to the party, but delivers a much better phablet experience
The Nexus 6 is the latest flagship Android smartphone from Google that is designed for developers and Android fans who prefer Google's stock iteration of its popular Android operating system. The massive six-inch device is meant to stand as a testament to the Android platform, its capabilities, and where the technology is currently heading. In the other corner, we have Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, the first "phablet" from Apple, which has famously resisted pushing into this segment in the recent past. Like the Nexus 6, the iPhone 6 Plus represents all that is currently state-of-the-art when it comes to iOS-powered smartphones. The two devices are undoubtedly two of the leading heavyweights in this segment, but which stands tall over the other in a head-to-head fight?
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.
Extra leeway added to test early apps, compatibility, battery life?
Recent reports have suggested that Apple is notifying its highest-profile developers who are known to be working on Apple Watch apps to be sure the programs are ready for launch by mid-February, about a month earlier than expected. Similarly, Apple is asking Apple Pay partners who will be creating iOS apps with Watch support to have them ready by specifically the 12th of February. Apple CEO Tim Cook has already announced that the Apple Watch will ship in April.
Outlook preview edition for iOS, Android rebrands existing Acompli app
Microsoft has made its Office apps available to all Android users, following the limited preview release and the iOS version. The apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are accompanied by a new preview of another Office app, with a rebranded version of email app Acompli as Outlook downloadable from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
Apple credits TaiG team in release notes
Yesterday's iOS 8.1.3 update sabotages the TaiG jailbreak tool, users say. The hack was functional through iOS 8.1.2, outdoing Pangu, which stopped working as of v8.1.1. Although the TaiG team itself hasn't confirmed the problem, Apple's notes for v8.1.3 actually credit the group with finding four security vulnerabilities.
Analysts believe Apple outsold all others in China, sold more iPhones than US
In the midst of so much good news that came out of Apple in its fiscal Q1 report today, a significant milestore was also noted: the company said it had sold its one billionth iOS device, which it will keep for historical purposes. The device was said to be a 64GB Space Grey iPhone 6 Plus, and was part of the extraordinary 74.6 million iPhone sold worldwide in the holiday quarter. China sales played a major role as well, growing sales 157 percent from the previous quarter.
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.