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.
Generally directed at bugfixes
Apple has released iOS 8.1.3 via iTunes and as an over-the-air download. Though primarily a maintenance update, it does make one important change: reducing the amount of storage that will be needed for future over-the-air upgrades. The amount of space iOS 8 required for an OTA update was a common complaint by users; on 16GB iPhones and iPads, there is frequently too little room left, forcing people to use iTunes instead. Apple hasn't said how much storage will be needed in the future.
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.
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.
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.
Built-in OS X, iOS utility has extra dimension for added usefulness
Even if you're particularly good at making a note about tasks you need to accomplish, you often get tasked with something only when people think to tell you -- and if the job is some time away, you may completely forget that you were asked to do it at all, apart from that nagging feeling that you've forgotten something important. Apple's built-in Reminders app (along with Siri) can make it easy to create a to-do or reminder item, but a lesser-known feature leveraging Location Services can make it nearly impossible to forget.
All new iOS 8 software must be 64-bit compatible by February 1
A new reminder email has gone out from Apple to all registered iOS developers reminding them that, beginning February 1, all app new submissions to the App Store must support 64-bit architecture. For existing programs, updates must support 64-bit no later than June 1. The move will not prohibit apps from running in 32-bit mode, but must contain support for 64-bit operation, which may "prune" some apps that are no longer being developed.
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.
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 .
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.
Public release may run parallel with Apple Watch availability
Apple is now seeding a fourth beta of iOS 8.2 via the company's developer portal, and as an over-the-air update for existing beta users. The build is listed as 12D5461b, and follows a little less than a month after beta 3, which was issued December 18. That build was 12D5452a. Accompanying the beta is a new version of WatchKit, the SDK and framework needed to build Apple Watch support into iOS apps.
Tracking data points to spike in Apple testing
Apple's upcoming iOS 8.1.3 update should arrive next week, reports suggest. Sources say that some sort of iOS 8 update, whether beta or public, will go live on Tuesday or Wednesday. Web tracking data at MacRumors, however, shows a sudden spike this week in iOS 8.1.3 devices visiting from Apple's internal networks.
iOS 8 autocorrect has gone mad
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss the latest changes to auto-correct in iOS 8 after Clinically Insane member "subego" pointed out that it just doesn't "feel coherent like all the previous iterations," going on to say that it has the feeling of different algorithms competing with each other. Forum Regular "Harvey" has some questions about playing music from the cloud.
Likely includes better compatibility with recent iOS 8, OS X 10.10 changes
On Thursday, Apple updated its productivity apps for OS X and iOS -- previous sold together under the banner "iWorks" -- with no specified improvements or features other than the usual "bug fixes and stability improvements tag." Keynote for OS X has been update to version 6.5.2, with Pages at v5.5.2, and Numbers at version 3.5.2. The three corresponding iOS apps are all updated to v2.5.2. The update may also reflect some changes made in recent updates of Yosemite and iOS 8, or hint at some security fixes.
Cites ongoing problems with Apple's developer agreement
Internet advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a new app today, allowing Android users an easy way to access its action center and get involved. As part of the announcement, the organization explained there would not be a similar app for iOS, citing issues with the Apple developer agreement. Some elements of the disputed agreement have been around since 2010.
Early buggy releases quickly corrected, adoption rates now back to normal growth
Apple updated its developer portal on Wednesday with new statistics on its current mobile operating system, iOS 8. Adoption for the system is up to 68 percent across both iPhones and iPads, up eight percent from approximately six weeks ago. As would be expected, older versions thus continue a decline in popularity, with iOS 7 losing six percentage points and dropping to 29 percent, while iOS 6 and all earlier versions are essentially down to just devices that can not be upgraded beyond that point, holding around four percent share (a drop of one percent from the last report).
Startling photography app for making fine edits and filters easy
The cameras in our iPhones are so good that they are destroying the point-and-shoot digital camera market. We all have high-resolution lenses that create vibrant, brilliant images -- and then we slap a sepia filter over every photo. Even if you would never apply iOS 8's Chrome or Transfer filter, however -- even if you have never heard of Instagram -- take a look at Exposure. It's one of those apps that is genuinely unexpected and new.
New edition compatible with iOS and Android with simultaneous analog connection
Unlike its predecessor -- which only recently added support for Android devices (and then just the Galaxy Note 4) -- the iRig 2 guitar-to-phone interface, announced today, will support both iOS and Android right out of the gate, developer IK Multimedia says. Outputs on the device have been improved and added -- not only provide studio-quality sound from a smartphone, but to allow musicians to additionally plug into a traditional amplifier without an adapter.
Exceptional algorithms improve nearly any picture with little assistance
Unless you are a supremely-gifted photographer with a bucketful of top camera gear, you may often find yourself wishing a shot you had taken could be sharper, clearer, or otherwise "better," and are always looking for an app that can deliver this magic to your pictures consistently. Honest to gosh, we think we've found it -- or at least, pretty darn close. The program is called Perfectly Clear by Athentech, it's available as a mobile app or a plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom, and -- we kid you not -- it's like Windex for most photos.
IK Multimedia's new portable groove controller
When it comes to mobile music products, IK Multimedia has positioned itself as one of the top suppliers. Right from the early days of iOS, the company has remained at the forefront of the iOS music creation market with products like the original iRig and iRig Mic. As iOS has developed and become more powerful, so has the line-up of iRig products -- its latest introduction, iRig Pads, brings musicians a full-featured 16-pad MIDI groove controller. Is the iRig Pads worthy of the space in your bag for creating a mobile loop workstation? We put the hardware through its paces in our full review.
Company trying to push iCloud subscriptions, plaintiffs suggest
A new lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California on Tuesday, accuses Apple of failing to inform people how much space iOS 8 will consume on a device, while simultaneously prompting them to buy online storage via iCloud. Specifically the suit claims that iOS 8 can occupy as much as 23.1 percent of device memory, but that not many people realize this when making a purchase. The plaintiffs are seeking damages, as well as changes by Apple to comply with state law. The case is being pursued as a class action.
Send anything from your Mac to your iOS device, but not the other way round
Is it our typing speed, or just our attention span? Back in the olden days, we would copy out a telephone number, and type it into our cell phones. Mind you, back in the even more olden days, we would just remember the numbers and, let's be fair, that's completely unreasonable. Now that we all tend to have Macs and iPhones or iPads, we are forever going between the two -- and sometimes, that means the information we need is on the other one. Scribe is a clipboard utility for, well, copying anything from your Mac. If you can select it, you can copy it, and Scribe will send it on over to your iOS device.
Basic but flawed iPhone camera scanner hides its best features
As great as the cameras are on our iPhones, the only reason to use them as document scanners is when you have no other choice. There are just too many inherent problems -- from the difficulty of focusing evenly, to how hard it is to just line up the paper edges consistently. Then, of course, if you do get it perfectly straight and perfectly lit, the instant you tap the iPhone screen you introduce a judder. Scanner 2 PDF aims to be that best scanner, and specifically to do one particularly important job well, but if it's got the features then it falls down on the execution.
Embark on a Mayan adventure in this gamebook
Gamebooks combine the enjoyment of reading a book with the interactivity of a text adventure. Similar to a "choose-your-own adventure" with quite a bit more control, gamebooks are becoming ever more popular. We recently checked out Necklace of Skulls, a Mayan action-adventure by Cubus Games, to see if it has earned its place in the genre.
Or how to use up all those iTunes gift cards you're going to get
Although we have mentioned some app bargains in our "beyond the last minute" gift guide this morning, the elves at MacNN and Electronista have been hunting up some additional discounts by shaking the App Store tree and seeing what falls out. We found a few more, so click through to save a bundle on some awesome app deals -- and don't forget to check back with us regularly for DealNN reports, Apple refurb store bargains, and our usual Friday Deals all year long!