Apple's default Music app has always served my listening needs well enough; it's easy to navigate, looks good, and offers fantastic control over my iTunes Match-stored library. But since I downloaded Ecoute, I've been singing a different tune. PixiApps' offering manages to cram an incredible amount of features onto a 4-inch screen without making things feel cramped. A heavy reliance on gestures helps keep the interface clean, and an emphasis on artwork makes my music library come alive.
Former iOS software chief Scott Forstall may have been defenestrated through a skeumorphically beautiful digital window, but that doesn't mean that real world-based GUI fluff isn't alive and hovering over his metaphorical body. Such electronic noise is apparent in the app Calendar Plus, whose primary appeal appears to be in its visuals rather than its functionality.
Bartender is one of those apps that should be a feature of OS X itself. Once you allow software to populate the menu bar with icons, there should be decent means of management, beyond Command-clicking to drag the icons around. Once you get more than 10 or so apps running up there, your menu bar starts to look crowded, and that's when you signal for the Bartender.
Audio editing applications come and go like the seasons — Bias Peak and Apple’s Soundtrack Pro are now history, and while GarageBand, Logic, and Adobe Audition all vie for attention (along with Audacity and a few others), Sony has finally brought the popular Windows editor Sound Forge Pro to the Mac. While this should warm the hearts of Mac musicians and audio engineers, the fact is that this first version has enough rough spots to give us some pause in considering it ready for prime time.
The latest solution from Parallels for virtually running Windows (or other OSes) on a Mac, Desktop 8 boasts speed improvements and other enhancements such as support for 32GB of RAM. But as with its competitor VMWare Fusion 5, there aren’t many headline improvements over the previous versions.
Fusion 5, the latest Windows virtualization tool from VMware, comes less than a year after version 4 and as such has only received a light brush of new headline features. Support for Retina displays and USB 3.0 in Windows 8 is included, as well as optimization for the latest Macs, battery life improvements for those using a MacBook, and other minor enhancements. The Pro version of Fusion has been updated to keep the IT administrators happy as well.
Apple may be turning its back on the DVD format, but developers are filling the gap with software for copying, converting, and creating discs. Unfortunately, this leads to buggy Mac apps of questionable quality. DVDFab is one such product, comprising 10 different apps, with access only to those you choose to pay for. The bizarre licensing scheme offers one- to four-year subscriptions or a non-expiring “lifetime” license for a few bucks more. (The “all-in-one lifetime” package is $299.)
Back when the Mac first came out, when screens were only black and white, when graphics had no transparency, no gradients, not even textures, we had pattern fills. They were rudimentary tools for giving 2D, black-and-white graphical objects some flair. Phased out from just about every software product by the mid 1990s, those patterns persisted in FileMaker Pro and became emblematic of the long-neglected interface tools known as the “design surface.” With version 12, FileMaker finally ditches the ’80s patterns and gives users the tools for making good-looking databases in no time at all.
Every Mac user worth their salt knows you can press Command-Tab to access the Application Switcher and quickly move between open applications. But what if you want to switch between windows within an application? Exposé lets you flick out with three fingers to get a view of all windows open in every app (or press F3 on Apple keyboards, or set up another keyboard shortcut), but once you have Exposé open, you have to use a mouse or trackpad to click the window you want. I’ve been looking for an all-keyboard solution as easy as Command-Tab.