Mac|Life - Reviews http://www.maclife.com/articles/22/feed en Review: Sparkle — Pro Visual Web Design http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review-sparkle-pro-visual-web-design <!--paging_filter--><p>Sparkle calls itself a “vector drawing tool, uniquely tailored” for creating websites. In use, we found it most reminiscent of Pages, with a workflow based around drag-and-drop and free layout.&nbsp;</p><p>Web pages are constructed from containers — standard boxes, “wide boxes” that span the entire screen width, and text blocks — as well as embedded elements such as images, videos and components from third-party websites, where you copy and paste code into a Sparkle sheet. There are no themes to give you a head start, but Sparkle provides useful page templates to work with — or you can start from scratch with a blank page.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/sparkle_620.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>Given that mobile accounts for plenty of online traffic, it’s good to see Sparkle tackle responsive design. At each of five viewport sizes, you can adjust your site, resizing and moving components (but you can’t delete them from here).</p><p>From a technical perspective, Sparkle fares less well. Code output is — as with similar apps — bloated and not that semantic. This isn’t a tool for pros.&nbsp;</p><p>In some ways, it’s also quite raw — it’s easy to delete a page from the sidebar, and exporting is basic — only to a Finder folder. But if you’re still mourning the loss of iWeb, Sparkle will likely prove a wise investment. It already matches or betters its contemporaries in the consumer space, offers potential, and the app is in active development.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Feels slightly unfinished, but offers usable consumer-oriented website creation for a good price.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Sparkle</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> River SRL </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.sparkle.cx" target="_blank">www.sparkle.cx</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $79.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>OS X 10.9 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Enables free layout. Can output responsive designs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Currently produces quite raw source code. No built-in FTP upload or sync.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review-sparkle-pro-visual-web-design#comments Reviews sparkle visual web design websites Mac Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:01:10 +0000 Craig Grannell 20864 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Adobe Photoshop Mix http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_adobe_photoshop_mix <!--paging_filter--><p>Adobe Photoshop Touch is a wonderfully creative tool for the iPad, but let’s face it: Even the iPad Air’s powerful processor can’t fully replicate some of the more powerful features found in the Mac or PC version of Photoshop — until the release of Photoshop Mix.</p><p>Launched as part of the 2014 Creative Cloud lineup, Photoshop Mix brings three of the most processor-intensive features from desktop to iPad: Upright (for straightening objects), Shake Reduction (for removing blur) and Content-Aware Fill. The app also makes it ridiculously simple to cut out portions of an image with a smart selection tool, and then composite them onto an entirely new background.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/photoshopmix_620.png" width="620" height="466" /></p><p>How did Adobe manage to pull this off on an iPad? With a little help from the cloud, naturally. A free or paid Creative Cloud membership is required to actually use the app, and with good reason: the heavy lifting is done remotely, then pushed back to the iPad over the Internet.</p><p>While that may sound like a potentially large creative limitation, not every Mix feature requires you to be online – a variety of Enhance, Looks and Crop features can be used even in Airplane Mode, as well as the aforementioned (and very slick) Cut Out tools.</p><p>Considering Mix has a maximum resolution of 4,096 x 4,096 pixels, processing happens quickly. For example, removing an object with Content-Aware Fill took place in under 18 seconds, including upload, rendering, and downloading the results. Best of all, the end product is just as impressive as you might find in Photoshop CC.</p><p>Images can be imported from the device or camera, Creative Cloud, Lightroom Mobile, Dropbox, or Facebook, and we were pleasantly surprised with how Mix optimizes the process every step of the way. Edited images can be saved in lower resolution to the Camera Roll, shared via Messages, Mail, or the usual social networks including Adobe’s Behance, or as a full-resolution PSD file on Creative Cloud, ready for further work on the desktop. You can save full-res JPG or PNG images to your local device, too.</p><p>Curiously, the app doesn’t allow sending files directly to Photoshop Touch (or any other image editing apps, for that matter), an unfortunate limitation given Mix currently allows only two layers per image. We also experienced an occasional “network error” when attempting to save PSD files to Creative Cloud.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Adobe expands the iPad’s creative possibilities again with some potent features, although the required ties to Creative Cloud haven’t quite reached maturity yet.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Photoshop Mix</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Adobe Systems, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.adobe.com">www.adobe.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free (requires Creative Cloud membership) </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iOS device running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Basic tools (including Cut Out) work offline. Ability to save layered PSD to Creative Cloud for further editing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Best features require active Internet connection. Premium features free for unspecified limited time only.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_adobe_photoshop_mix#comments Reviews Adobe image editing photo Photography Photoshop Mix iPad iPhone iPod Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:22:49 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20860 at http://www.maclife.com Review: NoteBook 4.0 for Mac http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_notebook_40_mac <!--paging_filter--><p>It may seem hard to believe, but the last major update to NoteBook for Mac was all the way back in 2009 — more than a year before the first-generation iPad made the dream of a truly mobile digital notebook a reality. OS X still has the upper hand, however, especially after the more than 100 new features and improvements introduced in version 4.0.</p><p>To recap: NoteBook faithfully recreates the experience of using traditional ruled notebook paper in electronic form, but goes far beyond what physical pen and pulp alone are capable of. Although NoteBook offers plenty of convenient formatting shortcuts, the venerable Mac application remains flexible enough to handle anything you can throw at it — including to-do lists, image or audio files, bits clipped from websites, and much more.</p><p>Developer Circus Ponies added handwriting recognition to the previous version and eventually caught up with the iOS phenomenon by adding the ability to sync notebooks to mobile devices via Dropbox, but NoteBook 4.0 finally does Apple proud with 64-bit processor and Retina Display support, making the application faster and more visually appealing than ever.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/notebook_620.png" width="620" height="643" /></p><p>While that alone would be plenty enough to get excited about, NoteBook 4.0 features a streamlined user interface (most notably the toolbar), without losing the skeuomorphic metaphor in the process. For example, tab strips piled up in the bottom corner of documents can now be scrolled out of the way to reveal the one you’re looking for — a brilliant little touch that’s so obvious, it feels like it should have been there from the beginning.</p><p>Speaking of which, the Clip and Annotate panel has finally returned to the Services menu after being exiled at the time of Snow Leopard. It’s a nifty addition that allows users to make tweaks and even strip formatting from copied text prior to pasting it into an existing notebook. Last but certainly not least, Multidex results are grouped by which page they’re on, complete with a path to where such listings reside.</p><p>There’s little to complain about here, although the sheer ever-growing number of features might overwhelm novice users. While NoteBook 4.0 is capable of syncing data with the iPad edition, there’s still no iCloud support — a limitation we hope might be lifted once iCloud Drive arrives with OS X Yosemite.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Circus Ponies continues a storied tradition with NoteBook 4.0 for Mac, now with blistering performance in the best-looking release to date.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>NoteBook 4.0 for Mac</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Circus Ponies Software, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.circusponies.com">www.circusponies.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $49.95 single user ($19.95 upgrade) </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or higher, 64-bit processor</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Faithful electronic reproduction of classic notebook with all the trimmings. Adapts nicely to nearly any user. 64-bit and Retina Display support.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>No iCloud support. Sheer number of features overwhelming for novice users. No multiple user support.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_notebook_40_mac#comments Reviews App notebook NoteBook 4.0 notes productivity Mac Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:53:26 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20855 at http://www.maclife.com Review: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Mac) http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_lego_marvel_super_heroes_mac <!--paging_filter--><p>The LEGO games continue to actually deliver entertainment over disappointment. As a result, other heavyweight property licenses are gatecrashing the block party, eager to piggyback on the success. This time it’s the turn of Marvel and an incredible cast of iconic superheroes, 150 in fact, to assemble inside a world full of typical TT Games humor.&nbsp;</p><p>Doctor Doom leads a band of comic-book villains on the quest for “Cosmic Bricks” – the powerful remnants of the Silver Surfer’s shattered board. Thwarting his plans rests on guiding Iron Man, Wolverine, Thor and friends through armies of foes, bashing and crashing through detailed environments.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/legomsh_620.png" width="620" height="349" /></p><p>Chaotic and cartoonish the action may be, but the real joy and reward comes from using each character’s unique skills to progress. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is nothing if not an imaginative puzzler, colorful enough for young fans while still challenging veteran players. It’s not without scope either, somewhat surprisingly shifting from linear levels to an open-world mode to great effect.&nbsp;</p><p>Choose a hero from the growing roster unlocked along the way and explore a sprawling LEGO Manhattan, uncovering secrets and playing mini-games. It’s here the genuine replay value lies and that nagging need to collect absolutely everything kicks in. On a technical level, too, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes excels on Mac, despite minor control and camera issues that occasionally frustrate.&nbsp;</p><p>Well-scripted cutscenes, plus charming voice acting and sounds, ensure you won’t stay annoyed for long. Graphically this is a feast for all ages, with animation slick enough to keep the pace frenetically fun.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Cute characterization, wit, and multiple gameplay styles bring new life to Marvel’s universe in a tongue-in-cheek caper fans will adore.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>LEGO Marvel Super Heroes</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Feral Interactive </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.feralinteractive.com" target="_blank">www.feralinteractive.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $29.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>OS X 10.8.5, 1.8GHz Processor, 4GB RAM, 512MB VRAM, 7.0GB hard drive space</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Fun-filled gameplay, not without challenge. Loving treatment of Marvel’s most popular heroes. Open-world mode extends substantial campaign.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Camera and controls not always 100 percent reliable. Very young players may struggle with puzzles.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_lego_marvel_super_heroes_mac#comments Reviews App Comic Book Feral Interactive lego LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Mac Games Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:08:35 +0000 Mark Billen 20833 at http://www.maclife.com Review: GameSmart CTRLi Mobile Gamepad http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_gamesmart_ctrli_mobile_gamepad <!--paging_filter--><p>When the MFi (Made For iOS) controller standard came into being about a year ago, it had the potential to usher in a new era of iOS gaming that allowed developers to deliver true console-quality gaming on an iOS device. Unfortunately, most MFi controllers have suffered from one problem or another: too expensive, too unwieldy, too unresponsive, or a combination of the above. The GameSmart CTRLi Mobile Gamepad from Mad Catz aims to succeed where others have failed, and it does a very admirable job.</p><p>All it takes is one look at the CTRLi to see where it gets its inspiration: the controller is clearly modelled off of an Xbox 360 gamepad. That's not a bad thing; the CTRLi has a good heft to it — it doesn't come off as flimsy or cheap in the slightest — and feels very natural in one's hands. Unfortunately, the controller also borrows one negative feature from Xbox — the somewhat clunky D-pad (digital directional pad). The D-pad on the CTRLi is arguably superior to that of an Xbox controller, but it still sometimes requires an extra-firm touch to get it to do what you want it to.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/madcatz_ctrli_620.png" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>Luckily, just about everything else about the CTRLi is excellent. The two analog sticks have just the right amount of tension, the shoulder buttons are well placed, and the face buttons are very responsive. There are plenty of <a href="http://madcatz.com/compatibility/ctrli/" target="_blank">compatible titles</a> in a variety of genres, and every game we tested benefitted from improvements to maneuvering and action; gameplay was significantly smoother and easier to control than it was via touchscreen-based virtual joysticks and buttons. The controls were less consistent when navigating menu screens, but that's a fault of the software rather than the controller itself.</p><p>The CTRLi was easy to get up and running as well; all it takes is a couple of button presses to get it synched via Bluetooth to your iOS device. It comes with a detachable smartphone clip, too. Though you can play with your iOS device propped up or in a stand, you can also attach the easy-to-use spring-loaded adjustable clip and slide your iPhone right in to create a makeshift portable gaming system. The clip is surprisingly sturdy and it's big enough to even hold an iPhone 6 Plus.</p><p>Speaking of which, don't worry about the fact that the package claims it's made for iOS 7 and iPhone 5s/c; we tried it with iOS 8 and the aforementioned iPhone 6 Plus (as well as a 4th-gen iPad running iOS 7), and the controller worked beautifully. Perhaps the biggest strike against it, however, is the fact that doesn't feature a rechargable lithium-ion battery; though that helps keep the cost down to just under $60, it means you'll have to keep a supply of AAA batteries on hand for whenever it runs out of juice (which reportedly won't happen for 30 hours or so).&nbsp;</p><p>If $60 is a bit too pricy for you, you could also consider Mad Catz's Micro CTRLi; it's smaller, so it may be less comfortable depending on the size of your hands, but it's $10 cheaper and offers most of the same functionality as its larger sibling.</p><p>Though the CTRLi isn't perfect, it's the best MFi controller we've tried. It provides comfort and responsiveness in a reasonably priced package, and it significantly improves the playablity of console-style games on iOS devices.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If you're looking to get an MFi controller, this one should be at the top of your list.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>GameSmart CTRLi Mobile Gamepad</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mad Catz </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://madcatz.com/gamesmart-c-t-r-l-i/" target="_blank">www.madcatz.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $59.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone 5, iPad (4th gen), iPad mini, or iPod touch (5th gen) or newer device running iOS 7 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Feels great. Controls are mostly responsive. Reasonable price.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>D-pad is a tad sticky. Runs on AAA batteries rather than built-in lithium-ion.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_gamesmart_ctrli_mobile_gamepad#comments Reviews controller CTRLi GameSmart iOS mad catz MFi controller Micro CTRLi iPad iPhone iPod Games Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:02:55 +0000 Chris Hoffman 20827 at http://www.maclife.com Review: MagiCam http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_magicam <!--paging_filter--><p>The latest iPhones take pretty amazing pictures, but an app from the creators of Camera+ aims to improve upon that experience by transforming images into perfection within seconds. You’ll hear the sound of a bell and, before your very eyes, the app magically improves contrast and color saturation to make almost any photo look great.</p><p>We say “almost” because MagiCam isn’t perfect for every situation. The app occasionally overexposed correctly lit shots, or excessively boosted grain in darker images. In other apps we could hit undo, but with MagiCam there’s no way to revert — users can toggle a before and after view, but you’re stuck with the end results.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/magicam_620.png" width="620" height="349" /></p><p>There are also no settings in MagiCam; you can’t even tap the screen to manually adjust focus or exposure, since the app handles that. MagiCam includes options for switching between front/rear cameras, auto/on/off flash control and the ability to shoot with Instagram-friendly square framing, but it would benefit from a way to export untouched photos or save before and after images separately.</p><p>MagiCam does feature one option for controlling the look of images, courtesy of nine different “Moods” that can be applied live or after a shot is taken. Sharing is also about as easy as it gets, with one-tap save to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other apps for further tweaking, including Camera+ should you own it.</p><p>A row of thumbnails across the bottom displays only images taken with MagiCam; tap one to open, with options to go back, trash, share or apply Moods, while swiping left or right scrolls through adjacent pictures. We accidentally deleted shots on more than one occasion due to the back button being located too close to the trash button — here’s hoping the developers can adjust this UI faux pas in a future update.</p><p>We also noticed shots appeared somewhat fuzzy when viewed inside the app, despite looking sharp in the Photos app; for some reason, MagiCam images also refused to automatically import into our favorite journal app, Heyday.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> When it works (thankfully most of the time), MagiCam shoots eye-popping photos, but we’d prefer the option to retain the original, unaltered shots just in case.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>MagiCam 1.1</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> tap tap tap LLC </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.taptaptap.com/magicam" target="_blank">www.taptaptap.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $1.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Effortless great photos, automatically. Fast, one-tap sharing. Nine different “Moods” can be applied live or on previous shots.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>No option to save original photos. Occasionally produces over- or underexposed images. View mode back button too close to delete button.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_magicam#comments Reviews App AppLife MagiCam Photography Photos iPad iPhone iPod Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:17:13 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20826 at http://www.maclife.com Review: WinZip 3 http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_winzip_3 <!--paging_filter--><p>It’s rare to find an archiving tool worth paying for these days. WinZip makes a better case than most, though, with an excellent interface and some handy features.</p><p>The main interface fills a gap that the built-in OS X archiver and its many alternatives miss, allowing ZIPs to be updated by dragging and dropping files, rather than treating the archive as a fixed thing to simply be created or extracted. WinZip is able to extract from ZIP, LHA, RAR and 7Z files and archive as ZIP, ZIPX and LHA, though it prefers its own format.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/winzip3_620.png" /></p><p>One-click unzipping is available from the context menu, though the default is to open the ZIP in something approximating OS X’s standard folder views.</p><p>The cloud features let you add files from and extract ZIPs to your choice of destination on Dropbox/Google Drive (but not iCloud), which is done using their APIs rather than relying on shared folders already on your Mac.</p><p>For simply opening files, all of this is not really worth the best part of $30. That said, the interface that handles the ZIP files is a huge improvement if you do regularly make or receive zips with many files to sift through, or you simply want a way to be able to compress large numbers of files without losing the ability to deal with them on an individual basis</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> One of the best archiving tools around, but at a hefty price unless you find its features essential.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>WinZip Mac 3</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> WinZip </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.winzip.com" target="_blank">www.winzip.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $29.95 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>One-click unzipping. Treats ZIPs as folders. Syncs to cloud storage.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Comparatively pricey.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_winzip_3#comments Reviews App archive software WinZip 3 Mac Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:35:50 +0000 Richard Cobbett 20821 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Publisher Plus http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_publisher_plus <!--paging_filter--><p>Publisher Plus is a curious app. It’s seemingly laboring under the misapprehension that Apple’s Pages does not exist. It’s like someone’s grabbed Pages, pulled off some of the complicated bits, and glued some clip art and templates onto what remains.</p><p>Oddly, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Pages has a lot going on, and a more focused product that provides a wider variety of starting points could have added value. As it is, we were certainly impressed by the range of templates on offer — everything from menus to magazine covers — although the actual design is variable in quality and broadly less stylish than the smaller selection in Pages.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/publisherplus_620.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>In use, the app heavily resembles Apple’s, providing you with a toolbar, canvas, and inspector. Even the tabs within the inspector are identical. The main differences are that Publisher Plus is a touch faster to use, because it doesn’t hide options behind menus. Unfortunately, the main reason for this is that there are fewer settings to choose from; for example, there’s only &nbsp;a standard drop shadow, with no contact or curved shadows.</p><p>Extended use highlights further distinctions between the two products, although not always in Publisher Plus’s favor. A second sidebar provides fast access to iPhoto images and any custom folders dragged there, and it can be toggled to display a selection of clip art of variable quality.</p><p>But it’s that reduced toolset that is a problem. The Shape and Draw tools are both fine, but the Background button is odd, providing only settings for the canvas, while Calendar dumps a barely configurable calendar onto your document — and that’s about it.</p><p>The Text tool is perhaps the most disappointing, merely providing you with the means to drag out a box and adjust the font; there are no styles, so keeping text consistent across multi-page documents is tricky.</p><p>Export options also differ from Pages, because Publisher Plus flattens everything into images, even when you print to PDF. That’s understandable for an app slightly more targeted towards layout than document creation, but in a digital age, it’s a pity to not at least have the option for outputting more accessible content. Despite its faults, we still don’t consider Publisher Plus anything less than quite a good app. It’s usable, fun, and does the job it sets out to do reasonably well.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If it were a lower price, we’d have perhaps recommended it more strongly. As it is, it’s just too similar to Pages to be worth bothering with.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Publisher Plus</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> PearlMountain Technology Co. Ltd. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.pearlmountainsoft.com" target="_blank">www.pearlmountainsoft.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $19.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>OS X 10.6.8 or later, 64-bit processor, at least 304MB hard drive space</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Loads of templates. Simple to work with.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>No text styles. Tools are a bit lacking.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_publisher_plus#comments Reviews Design layouts Publisher Plus Mac Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:30:00 +0000 Craig Grannell 20789 at http://www.maclife.com Review: VVVVVV http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_vvvvvv <!--paging_filter--><p>VVVVVV is a fairly simple platformer, but one crafted and refined to mechanical perfection. The controls are as basic as the visuals — go left, go right, and flip gravity. But this game is full of things that complicate matters.&nbsp;</p><p>The aim is to rescue your scattered crew members by exploring VVVVV's grid-based world. It’s effectively made up of single-screen platform puzzles, each one offering a test of dexterity, brain-power or both (though some stretch across more than one screen).&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/vvvvvv_620.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>Solving the harder ones is both supremely satisfying and rarely frustrating, thanks to generous restart points. It does get very hard — platform veterans will find their skills tested. But the ability to quickly try sections over and over again means casual players shouldn’t be put off, either.&nbsp;</p><p>The game controls beautifully, too — crisp and accurate, though we switched to using (non-default) on-screen buttons for greater precision.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Inventive, huge fun, challenging, and satisfying. VVVVVV is one of the best platformers on iOS.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>VVVVVV</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Terry Cavanagh </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.terrycavanaghgames.com" target="_blank">www.terrycavanaghgames.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $2.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iOS 4.3 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Great level design. Excellent controls. Lots of retro charm.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>N/A</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_vvvvvv#comments Reviews AppLife Apps iOS Platformer VVVVVV iPad iPhone iPod Games Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:23:43 +0000 Matt Bolton 20785 at http://www.maclife.com Review: Adobe Ink & Slide http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_adobe_ink_slide <!--paging_filter--><p>Sold only as a set with the Slide ruler, Adobe Ink is a 5.67-inch digital pen manufactured by the Photoshop maker’s hardware partner Adonit. With an aluminum shell and weighing less than an ounce, Ink communicates via Bluetooth 4.0 LE with recent iPad models, and is capable of writing or drawing on the screen and making menu selections from any app (the stylus even works on iPhone).</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/10/adobeink_620.png" width="620" height="365" /></p><p>When coupled with one of two new apps, however, Ink delivers fine-tip precision with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Once linked to a Creative Cloud account, artists can copy and paste artwork, sync assets or Kuler themes, and share work, all through an innovative menu.</p><p>As for the apps, Adobe Line modernizes the tasks of drawing or drafting with a full complement of color palettes and virtual pencils, pens or markers. Switching between them is simple, as is making complicated shapes or even perspective views. Adobe Sketch provides a free-form canvas on which artists can let their imaginations run free.</p><p>Connecting is a snap: tap the pen icon in the corner of the screen, wake Ink with a button, then touch tip to display for a few seconds. When the end of the Ink glows green, you’re ready to work.&nbsp;</p><p>Even for lengthy sessions, Adobe Ink is comfortable to hold, and drawing in conjunction with Slide is a magical experience. There is a slight learning curve — artists will need to adjust to the concept of letting the apps handle some of the heavy lifting, but drawing on an iPad will soon come as naturally as with pen and paper.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> For those who can afford it, Adobe Ink &amp; Slide makes the dream of digital artistic expression from anywhere a reality for iPad owners.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Adobe Ink &amp; Slide</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Adobe Systems, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.adobe.com" target="_blank">www.adobe.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $199.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPad (4th gen or newer); Adobe Line or Sketch; iOS 7.0 or later; USB port (for charging)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Magical drawing tools for iPad. Palm Rejection prevents artist’s hand from getting the way. Doubles as basic input device for unsupported apps/devices.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Expensive; only available as a set. Ink occasionally finicky about USB charging. Creative Cloud features require active internet connection.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/review_adobe_ink_slide#comments Reviews accessory Adobe Adobe Ink & Slide hardware line Sketch sketching iPad Tue, 14 Oct 2014 18:52:54 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 20779 at http://www.maclife.com