We all love our Macs – So much so that it’s often a struggle to pull-ourselves away from them, such is the integral role they play in our lives, in helping us be more creative and productive. However it is important that we do find time to do so, as staring at any computer screen for long periods of time, can cause quite severe strain on our eyes, not to mention headaches and migraines.
This is where BeHealthy comes in, with it’s aim to remind you to take regular breaks away from staring at your Mac.
BeHealthy is free in The Mac App Store and is well worth a download.
Once installed, BeHealthy sits in your menu-bar – From here you can change the preferences for your work and break schedule – For example, you can choose a period of time to work for, let’s say 1 hour – Then you choose a break duration, let’s say 15 minutes – Once selected you can minimise the app.
How does it work?
Once you have been working for your selected duration, your screen will go white and a pop-up will appear, encouraging you to take a break. The pop-up will remind you how long you have away from your computer before going back to work (based on the break duration you selected) – If you are in the middle of something and not quite ready to take a break, you can choose to postpone your break by 1 minute intervals. You also have the option to extend your break or postpone it altogether.
Once your break is over, a notification sound will play, your screen will become bright again and you’ll be prompted to resume work. In between breaks, you can click-on the eye icon in the menu-bar at any time to see how long is remaining until your next break.
BeHealthy is a great little app, which will lessen the strain on your eyes and remind you that it’s always important to take regular breaks away from your Mac.
Snapseed for Mac has been out for a good few weeks now and for those thinking of purchasing it, I wanted to share with you a few screenshots of the app in action.
If you have used Snapseed on the iPhone or iPad, you will be instantly familiar with the interface and how things work.
Using the app in full-screen mode on a Mac is a joy, but to be fair for £13.99, I expected more far more functionality. The app is basically the same as the iPad version which is available for a fraction of the price – Hopefully Nik Software will offer updates over the coming months, to justify it’s price tag.
If you don’t already have the iPad version, I would definitely advise you to try Snapseed on the Mac, it’s expensive, but it works great and looks fantastic – however if you do already own it’s little brother, you may want to ask yourself if the app is worth the outlay.
Instagram is an iPhone success story and the latest 2.0 update to the app, is set to increase it’s popularity even further. If you are not familiar with Instagram, it’s a simple, stylish application that allows you to either snap a photo or import a photo, add a filter and then share it across social networks or within the app itself.
Carousel by Mobelux sets-out to bring some of the magic of Instagram to Mac users.
What struck me first about Carousel was how great it looks, the UI radiates with minimalistic sophistication in the finest Apple tradition.
Once you have signed-in with your user-name and password, you can head to preferences and choose from one of the four elegant themes.
Carousel displays photos from Instagram in a vertically scrolling roll. Navigation is slick and fast and there are multiple viewing options.You can either view photos from your feed, see what’s popular worldwide, check-out your own photos, look at photos you have previously liked or search for new content. Switching between the viewing modes is straightforward and quick.
Double-tapping on any photo will lead to a pop-up full-size version appearing. Transitions from viewing previews of images to seeing them full-size are smooth and polished. A great feature of Carousel is the ability to save any photo (not just your own) to your desktop.
As a lot of good Mac apps do, Carousel makes extensive use of keyboard shortcuts – They are easy to learn and fun to use – For example tapping the L key will enable you to like a photo, cmd + S will save a photo, pressing C will allow you to comment on a photo and so on.
Unfortunately the only thing the app won’t allow you to do is upload a photo, I suspect this will be a deal-breaker for some.
Some may argue that Carousel lacks functionality, however I personally love the app and if you are looking for a stylish way to view Instagram on your Mac, then it’s perfect.
CoverSutra is a gorgeous little app for Mac OS X. This desktop controller for iTunes will allow you to listen to, view and search for music in your library in a more elegant way.
The app sets out to liberate you from having to switch to iTunes to control your music. From within CoverSutra you can see the song that is currently playing, pause it, resume it, skip to another track or search for anything in your library. Together with this functionality, comes exquisite design and how this app looks, is one of it’s main selling points,
With CoverSutra the album art of what is currently playing will sit on your desktop and it looks awesome, far more attractive than how iTunes displays your music. You can customise how the album art looks by having it displayed within a CD case or by having my personal favourite, the vinyl record option. Whenever a song changes, you can set the app to display the title and album cover of the new song in the now playing bar. This is feature is pure eye-candy and you will fall in love with the smooth, beautiful transitions.
Searching for music in your library is easy and straightforward – people who are used to working with Spotlight or Alfred on their Mac, will be instantly familiar with how it works. Searches can be fine-tuned and you can search by artist, album, song or playlist.
Another great feature of this app are the global shortcuts, which basically allow you to set keyboard shortcuts for everything within CoverSutra. For example, I have set a shortcut of cmd + s to search and when I want to pause a track, I have set the shortcut to be alt and space. These shortcuts are quick and convenient and really add to the app’s functionality. Allowing you to scribble to Last.fm is another nice touch.
Everything about this app is slick and well designed and if you are looking for a classier way to listen to your iTunes, you should definitely consider it.
Camera Bag 2 is a great new photo-editing desktop app for Mac and Windows – it is the follow-up to the extremely popular Camera Bag, but comes packaged with far more editing options and functionality than it’s predecessor.
The app has been available as a Beta for a while and I have had the pleasure of using it for the last month – This week saw the app leave it’s beta mode and become available to buy either from the Mac App Store or from The Never Center website.
I intend to post a full-review in the near future, but as a teaser, wanted to share with you some screenshots of this fantastic new application.
Mac users – are you looking for a simple to use, fast and responsive app to easily edit photos on your computer? RealMacSoftware have set out to design such an app, it’s called Analog.
Analog is very similar to apps like Camera + and Instagram on the iPhone, in that it provides you with simple post-processing features – These include cropping and rotating, adding a filter and choosing a border.
How does it work?
First off, a massive well-done must go to the developers for designing such an elegant and easy to use interface. The design is so straightforward and intuitive, that you will literally be editing your photos in seconds – There is no steep learning curve with Analog, even novices will be able to get to grips with how it works in no time at all.
First up, you need to choose a photo – This can either be done by choosing from a file on your Mac and importing it, or by simply dragging and dropping an image.
Once you have your photo, you can use the tools for crop and rotate if required, before getting to the fun part, adding filters.
Analog has 23 filters which will alter how your photo will look – each filter has a slider option which is cool, as it gives you the option to increase or decrease the level of the effect applied by the filter.
Most of the filters look good, whether it be ones that convert your image to black and white, ones that give photos a vintage look or those that create Hipstamatic-esque lo-fi effects.
To preview a filter, all you need to do is tap on it – there is no need to worry here, as all of the filters are non-destructive, allowing the original image to remain unmarked by the changes you make.
Once you have a filter applied, you can add a border – Most are well-designed, just beware that some will crop your image which is disappointing.
Once you are happy with your photo, you can easily save it or share it to sites such as Facebook and Flickr.
In summary Analog achieves on all levels, it is easy to use, the filters are excellent and you can achieve impressive results with just a few clicks. Power users beware, Analog is not a replacement for apps such as Photoshop, that’s not what it’s about – this app is all about providing the user with easy to use tools, together with preset filters and borders.
Below are some examples of the app in action.
Kyoto – Dissolving Border
Bromide – Paper Border
Lomia – Screen Border
Lost and Found – Retro Square Border
Nikolai -Retro Border
Today I am going to be reviewing one of my favourite productivity apps, the gorgeous Day One, developed by Bloom Built.
Day One can be different things to different people, but basically it’s a simple journal / diary / text logging application that allows you to quickly write down anything you want to, whether it be a thought, a memory or a draft of a new blog entry. The app is available on the Mac, iPhone and iPad and brings you a simple way for writing on a daily basis.
All of the versions are pretty similar, but for this review I will concentrate on the Macintosh version £6.99 (Mac App Store)
The first thing you will notice about the application is the drop-dead gorgeous icon. Already this is a good sign of things to come, as if a developer puts a lot of effort into designing a good-looking icon, you know they really care about the app they have developed.
Fire-up the application and you will immediately see that the aesthetic beauty of Day One is not restricted to the icon. The app has a lovely minimal interface with 5 tabs: New, Days, Calendar, Starred and Reminders.
A nice touch of Day One, is that displayed over where you write, are quotes or prompts to inspire you in your writing – An example of one of these is: “Your story should be written while it is fresh and while the true details are available” – If the prompts are not for you, they can be easily switched off.
How does it work then?
Well if you want to write a new entry, just press the plus button and you are good to go. By default the app will show the current date and time, if you want to change these, it’s as easy as clicking on the calendar icon at the top of the page.
Pressing on the Days icon will enable you to see what you have written in the past – It is easy to scroll through your previous entries and reflect back on your writing.
The Calendar tab is beautiful – Days where you have written an entry will be highlighted in a stylish aqua blue colour. A nice detail is the ability to hover your mouse over a certain day to see a quick overview of your entries on that particular day.
The Starred tab is self-explanatory, it’s where you will find all of the entries you have starred.
The Windows tab is one of my favourite aspects of this app. Pressing on it will bring-up the menu bar app. Day One can run in the menu bar of your Mac, to enable you to quickly write an entry without loading-up the full app. From within the Windows tab, you can set a reminder to pop-up at a certain time each day to encourage you to write on a daily basis. Within preferences a keyboard shortcut can be created to access the menu bar’s quick new entry field.
Other features include the ability to password protect your writing, the capability to work in OS X Lion’s full-screen mode (which looks beautiful) and possibly the best, Dropbox Sync, which will sync your data between devices. Start writing an entry on your Mac and finish it off on your iPad, Dropbox makes it happen.
Day One is not quite perfect yet, the ability to add photos to your writing would be most welcome and the developers have promised this feature in a future update.
In summary, I love this application, it does what it sets out to achieve, the interface is gorgeous and minimal, making writing a joy and not a chore.
If you have any interest in daily writing, Day One is worth a try and if you are like me, it will quickly become an indispensable tool.
For photos, check out the gallery below.
Sometimes you find an app that ‘just works’ for the specific task you want it for and I discovered one such app today.
I was watching the full fantastic video of Radiohead performing The King Of Limbs from The Basement on my MacBook Pro, wishing I could increase the sound to enjoy the performance more. 2 minutes and a Google search later, I had discovered Boom, a wonderful little app.
Boom does one thing and does it superbly well, it boosts the volume of your Mac, allowing you to enjoy your audio and video files more. It will also significantly increase the volume in apps such as Skype and iChat.
So as the developers say “start booming and blow away the silence!”
Are you tired of the stock wallpapers on your iPhone? Would you like to easily design new ones based on your interests for your device? Would you like to create better photos for your contacts. Well if the answer to any of these questions is a yes and you own a Mac, you should check-out Ensoul available on the Mac App Store. The app is created by MacPaw, the developers behind the fantastic ‘Clean My Mac’.
Ensoul is very user-friendly and within 5 or 10 minutes of using it, most people will be well on the way to creating their own wallpapers or contact photos.
So how does it work?
Either import a photo into the gorgeous, intuitive UI from iPhoto or Aperture or quite simply drag and drop an image from your desktop and you are ready to start designing. Once you have an image, you then choose whether you want to develop a wallpaper or a contact photo. After deciding, you can preview how the images will look on your iPhone. If you are not happy with the results, use the tools provided within the app to rotate, crop and zoom or to apply one of the attractive filters provided.
Once you are happy with your new creation, getting it onto your iPhone is just a click away, as the app has iCloud compatibility.
I love the app and being competitively priced at £6.99, Ensoul is well worth a look if you want greater control when personalising your iPhone.