In preparing this year’s 20 Under $20 list, we loved the idea of presenting 20 killer Mac apps you might not know about — 20 is such a round, pleasant number, and would hopefully let us find something for everyone. But $20 per app might not seem like the bargain-basement price that it used to, even just back in the summer of 2011 when we did our last 20 Under $20 feature.
But guess what? Most of these polished, stable, user-friendly, and utterly useful applications don’t come anywhere close to a full Andrew Jackson, anyway. Four of them are free, and only two cost over $10. We thought about calling it “18 Mac Apps Under $10 and Also Two That Are More Than $10 But Still Less Than $20, and By the Way, Four Are Free,” but that’s just too long, wouldn’t you agree
While Game Center on Mac has yet to really offer a bounty of great games, Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is the first big title to take advantage of cross-play between Mac OS X and iOS devices. Surprisingly, the transition to a keyboard-centric control setup feels less comfortable than the touchscreen interface, but Air Supremacy is still a stellar aerial combat game with excellent online multiplayer.
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.)
Despite the shift to a digital display, Ticket to Ride looks exactly as you’d hope, with the distinctive visuals pulled directly from the now-classic board game and perfectly presented in this new Mac release. And the menus are as stylish as they are functional, getting you to where you need to go while staying era-appropriate. Luckily, they get you right into the game itself, which is the real draw here.
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.
The Getting Things Done (GTD) method of organizing tasks is a favorite among productivity seekers, and many apps support it. Firetask might be simple, but it still manages to fit in the core elements of GTD.
GTD works by following a simple three-stage approach to managing tasks: collect, organize, and review. Firetask mirrors this approach nicely, with an inbox for collecting items, a Focus section for putting them into projects, and a Review section to scheduling those tasks on a calendar. The interface is simple, making the whole process very quick and painless--after all, spending long chunks of the day tinkering with a GTD app isn’t quite as productive as actually doing your work.
There’s plenty to like about the iTunes Store--it’s a one-stop shop for DRM-free music, loads of TV shows and movies, and more apps than we could ever want to use. There’s even tons of free stuff. But the thing that really irks us is the store itself, which you have to search using iTunes, a process that’s cumbersome, sluggish, and often downright infuriating. The idea behind Tunesque is to search the iTunes Store outside of iTunes, making the process far more efficient.
Many moons ago, I installed an iPhone app called TwitFire. All it did was send a tweet without showing me the Twitter timeline first, but it was surprisingly useful, enabling me to broadcast a single thought to the world without getting distracted by all the other messages. QuickMailer does the same thing for email on your Mac. The idea is that you use a keyboard shortcut or click a menu bar icon, bang out a quick email, optionally add an attachment, and then send it. Since you don’t have to open Mail itself, you can avoid getting bogged down replying to other emails that might cry out for your attention.
Photographers have never had it so good. There’s no fumbling around installing new film, no saving a few shots on the roll “just in case,” and no disappointment when you get your prints back and your photos didn’t turn out like you expected. Shooting digitally gives you convenience, previews, and almost limitless shots--but it doesn’t give you warmth and character.