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
The Lytro camera is an amazing way to add perspective to photos, but at $399, it’s beyond the financial grasp of many amateur shutterbugs. Thankfully, a new iPhone app promises to deliver refocusable, ready-to-share images for a whole lot less. FocusTwist takes a page from the Lytro playbook, creating images where the key focus can be changed to another object with just a tap.
Studio Neat's clever Glif looks like a musical note from the side, hence its name. But that's not the cool thing about it -- Glif snaps onto your iPhone, then lets you securely screw that device onto a tripod or other camera-mounting system, so you can take better photos.
Your iPhone’s camera is fantastic, and not because it has the best lens or the widest array of features, but because it’s always there with you, ready to take a shot in seconds. What if you have a little more time to get just the shot you want, frame it right, and set the focus, but don’t want to carry around another device just for snapping photos? For those who want to control more parameters and apply filters before clicking the shutter – or have the app do it all for you – Blux Camera Pro is a very good option to consider.
Like Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, we relentlessly seek our own white whale: A way to curate digital photos on the Mac, sync them to the cloud, and make the whole collection accessible from iOS. All of the services we’ve caught in our net thus far have been tossed overboard, but another has now surfaced on the horizon. Picturelife may not completely live up to “white whale” status, but it’s definitely worth harpooning. With the right subscription plan, we can upload even a massive library to the cloud (with a few caveats), complete with automatic organization and duplicate detection while backing up images stored across multiple social networks.
At this point, it’s easy to get lost in the endless stream of iOS photo apps that basically offer variations on the expected themes of color tinting, vignetting, posterization, and other usual suspects. While lots of them are nice, it all gets a bit repetitive and predictable. Every now and then, something unique and different pokes through the pack, and Tangled FX is exactly the kind of app we love to see. It might seem a little limited in scope, but it’s a darned good gag with enough flexibility to make it compelling, plus a look that is like nothing else we’ve ever seen.
As the saying goes, the best camera is the one that’s with you. In our case it's an iPhone, so we tend to pounce anytime a new and potentially better camera app pops up on the radar – although few can top the modest simplicity of Apple’s built-in Camera paired with a good third-party image-editing app. The latest to land on the App Store is Zitrr Camera, an oddly-named but feature-packed solution that claims to do it all for little money, but stumbles when it comes to the one thing we want most from a camera app: Retaining original resolution from start to finish.
Gimmicky apps certainly have their place on our iPhones. At some point, we've all been suckered into plunking down our hard-earned pennies for an app that seemed like a great idea (iBeer, iSteam, etc), but ultimately they end up in one of those folders that rarely gets opened – or worse, deleted outright. Cycloramic might not seem like it belongs in that class, but after a few attempts to make a panoramic photo, it becomes clear that this phone-spinning app is mostly a short-lived diversion.
This is it, friends, the very last Price Drop of the year. Did you get the apps you wanted this time around the sun? No? Well, then this is your last chance for some cheapies. Or it's time to put some money into your App Store account and suck it up and buy what you want, no matter the cost.