Obscura 2 Review: An Approachable Manual Camera App with Tasteful Filters

I enjoy taking lots of photos. Over the years, I’ve dabbled with DSLRs, but more often than not these days, I use my iPhone because it’s always nearby.

I’ve historically used Apple’s built-in Camera app. It has the advantage of being available from the Lock screen, which is a big plus because it lowers the barrier to getting up and running with the camera. Later, I would go back and pick out the best shots, edit them a little in the Photos app, and share a few.

Over the past couple of weeks though, I’ve been moving between Apple’s Camera app and Obscura 2, which was released today by developer Ben McCarthy. I’ve used manual camera apps in the past, but always wound up going back to Apple’s option in the end.

Obscura has been different. I’ve found myself going back to it repeatedly because I enjoy the way

Obscura 1 camera control UI (left) and Obscura 2 UI (right).

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A Redesigned 1Password 7 for Mac Enhances Watchtower and Adds Flexibility to Vaults, App Login Support, and More

AgileBits has released 1Password 7 for Mac, a significant update that is free to subscribers but also available as a standalone download. I’ve used 1Password since I started using a Mac. The app has always been the best way to store passwords for websites, and for years, that’s primarily how I’ve thought of it.

There’s been more to 1Password than just password storage for a while now though, and what sets this update apart is the depth of those other features and the ease with which they can be incorporated in your everyday computing life. That’s important because it doesn’t take much friction for someone to get lazy about security.

1Password 7 is a comprehensive update that touches every corner of the app. The app will still be familiar to long-time users, but features like Watchtower and Vaults have been extended with new capabilities that are worth exploring if

Watchtower provides alerts of security breaches that may have exposed your login credentials.
Creating a new vault.
1Password has a redesigned dark sidebar that collapses.
Secure notes support Markdown formatting syntax.

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Gemini Photos Declutters Your Photo Library

MacPaw has released a brand new iPhone app that takes the ideas from Gemini 2, the company’s duplicate file finder on the Mac, and applies them to your iOS photo library. Gemini Photos uses an algorithm to analyze your photos that suggests the ones you should consider deleting. With photo files getting bigger with each improvement of the iPhone’s camera and features like Live Photos and burst mode, a utility like Gemini Photos can save significant amounts of space on your iPhone.

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Castro 3 Review: The Castro You’ve Always Wanted

Castro has long been one of the premier podcast clients on iOS, and its excellent version 2 – with an innovative triage system and delight-inducing design touches – helped solidify it as such. Those strengths in 2.0, however, were mitigated in part by the absence of a few key features that competing podcast apps tout. That changes with Castro 3.

If you’re unfamiliar with the app, Castro’s centerpiece feature is a triage system involving an inbox and queue. The premise is that, with the rising popularity of podcasting, there are more great podcasts available than ever before. If you subscribe to lots of shows, the standard episode management tools found in competing apps likely aren’t sufficient. With Castro, by default new episodes of shows land in your inbox, and can then be sorted to the top or bottom of your queue and downloaded, or archived if they’re not of

Left and Center: Castro 3's player screen; Right: Castro 2's player screen.

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Streets 4 Adds Drag and Drop, Live Panorama Mode, and iPhone X Support

Last week my wife and I ventured to New York City for a vacation, and in the time leading up to that we planned out our agenda with the help of Google Street View. Unfortunately, our planning took place just a couple weeks too early to benefit from the newly released Streets 4 by FutureTap.

Streets is an iOS and watchOS app John reviewed upon version 3’s release. It provides an immersive, touch-friendly way to navigate Google’s Street View data. And in version 4, that experience has been upgraded with drag and drop support on iPad, a new Live Panorama mode, and optimization for the iPhone X’s display.

Drag and drop enables you to drop in a location from Apple Maps, a contact that includes an address, or any other linked address to load up nearby panoramas in Streets. My favorite feature enables dropping in any geotagged photo, which Streets Continue reading “Streets 4 Adds Drag and Drop, Live Panorama Mode, and iPhone X Support”

Cardhop 1.1 Adds Smart Groups, Printing, and More

Cardhop from Flexibits got an update to version 1.1 today, and it packs in some pretty great improvements for an incremental update.

If you missed it before, Cardhop is the app from the makers of Fantastical that does for contacts what Fantastical did for calendars. All your contacts are managed from your menu bar, and you’re never more than a few keystrokes away from sending an email, making a call, sending a text, or anything else contact-related. Type “email elle” and it will find Elle’s card, pick the first email address, and hitting enter will fire up a new email in Mail (or your favorite mail app). Type “call mom home” and handoff a call to Mom’s home phone number. It’s far more powerful than that, but I’ll refer you to John Voorhees’ great writeup back in October for the overview.

Cardhop 1.1 comes with some fixes and

Print from Cardhop
Show Details
Envelope printing setup

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Microcasting on Micro.blog with Wavelength

Last month I covered the return of Sunlit, the iOS photo blogging app from Manton Reece that works with Micro.blog and blogging platforms like WordPress. Reece is back with another iOS app that’s aimed at bringing microcasting, which is short-form podcasting, to Micro.blog. Wavelength is an end-to-end solution for recording, editing, and publishing audio using nothing but an iPhone. It’s an interesting approach to podcasting designed to lower the barriers to entry by simplifying the workflow, while also creating new uses for Micro.blog.

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Game Day: Trick Shot 2

Trick Shot 2 is a physics puzzle game from Jonathan Topf, the lead designer of Monument Valley 2. This isn’t a game that breaks new ground, but it’s one that is executed wonderfully on all levels and has some great extras, instantly endearing itself as a fun diversion.

The goal is simple: shoot a ball into a box. You launch the ball by sliding your finger back inside an outlined launch area and releasing. The action is similar to the slingshot mechanic used in Angry Birds. The trick is to get the perfect angle, velocity, and timing to land the ball in the box. The process is complicated by the fact that the ball is incredibly bouncy and there is often a maze of household and other objects between you and the ball’s destination.

Trick Shot 2 is one of those casual games that works extremely well on a

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Drafts 5: The MacStories Review

There are few apps I’ve ever used which made a lasting impact on my daily workflow. But for years now, the singular app that’s been the foundation of my iOS use has been Drafts. The app has lived in my dock since I first picked it up, it’s the single most important app I use on the platform, and it’s the only paid app I mandate to anyone looking for must-have apps on iOS.

Drafts is the bedrock app from which I build all my productivity. It’s the single point of text entry that shares to any app, whether through the share sheet, a simple action, or a custom and complex action. Any time I have an idea, I put it in Drafts. Tasks to add to my task manager? I do that from Drafts. Something I want to write about on my blog? That idea starts in Drafts too.

Drafts has many customizations for the editor.
Glyphs give a modern feel to the UI.
Drafts 5 (left) vs Drafts 4 (right).
The Apple Watch app has been expanded to include more options.
Access the drawer with a swipe or the external keyboard shortcut ⌘1, then pin the drawer with the indicator.
Tap the tag icon in the top toolbar to add a tag.
An additional swipe on the draft drawer provides access to the tag drawer, or use ⌘T to access with an external keyboard.
You can customize each workspace in the menu.
The Workspace Today widget is something I want to have everywhere on my devices.
You can now share and update actions to the directory without creating an account.
The extended row menu provides access to switch your groups and use the built-in commands.
Drafts has a proper find and replace, complete with regex. Finally.
My Piques of the Week posts are as easy as a few taps.
Custom prompts for creating single tasks without interruption to your text has been phenomenal.
Using a module for action scripting helps the coding process of creating actions.
My Drafts 5 review module, which worked perfectly.
Journaling with Drafts, Workflow, and DEVONthink gives me a great journal.
Actions in the module help remind me of specific drafts.

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Burst: A Reddit Client to Pop Your Filter Bubble

Burst is a new Reddit client for iPhone with a unique goal: bursting the filter bubbles we can all find ourselves in.

Recent political events around the globe highlight how harmful it can be to society when people are only exposed to news from one perspective. The same piece of news can be spun into two polar opposite stories by differing political parties, leading each opposing side to remain, at best, misunderstood, and at worst, demonized. To lesser degrees these divisions extend to other areas of life too, such as technology debates between iOS and Android users, or even, to get a little more relevant to our audience, iPad and Mac users. In all these cases, Burst makes it easier to see the thoughts of people outside your normal online circles in an effort to broaden the array of perspectives you’re exposed to.

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Medical ID Record Provides an Extended, More Flexible Solution to Storing Medical Data

Many of the stock system apps installed with iOS are designed to meet the needs of most people, but they rarely satisfy everyone. Apple leaves it to third-party developers to fill in the gaps. That comes with the risk of being ‘Sherlocked’ in the future, but it’s also an opportunity for developers to attract users who want more than Apple provides.

Medical ID Record is a perfect example of such an app. It takes a feature of the Health app and extends it. The depth of functionality in Medical ID Record may not be needed by everyone, but it’s an excellent option for anyone who has felt constrained by the Health app’s Medical ID feature.

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Scanbot 7 Adds Customizable Filters, Document Merging, Improved Search, and New Themes

Scanbot 7 was released today, the latest update to the popular document scanning app for iOS. This is the first major version bump for Scanbot since Apple introduced its own scanning feature into the built-in Notes app, making it especially of interest. Every time Apple introduces a free app or feature that competes with existing third-party options, the impetus falls on those developers to prove their app’s continued value. Scanbot already offered a variety of features that Notes’ scanning doesn’t, but it adds to those in today’s update with a handful of thoughtful enhancements that make a great app even better.

In Scanbot 7, each of the app’s five color filters for scans can be tweaked to your exact preferences. There are sliders included to make three types of adjustments for each filter. On most filters, those options are Brightness, Color, and Contrast, and with the Gray filter they’re Brighter, Continue reading “Scanbot 7 Adds Customizable Filters, Document Merging, Improved Search, and New Themes”

One Strange Rock is a Cosmos for the Earth-bound that’s worth watching

One Strange Rock trailer, National Geographic.

If you work or live in a city, it’s easy to forget how powerful and delicate nature is. Even if you do get quality outdoor time on a regular basis, it’s hard to hold in your mind how this dichotomy of strength and vulnerability expands across the globe, connected by systems of air, water, and sunlight that tie the whole planet into a single complex system.

But the National Geographic Channel has just the antidote to our collective myopia. A 10-episode series called One Strange Rock debuts tonight at 10ET/9CT, and if you get that channel, it’s worth checking out. The series is a detailed look at some of the Earth’s macro- and micro-scale bio-systems that keep our tiny planet alive. It’s a lot like Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos, but strictly with an Earth focus.

Some pre- and post-production magic

One of One

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Sleep++ 3.0 Brings Automatic Sleep Detection on Apple Watch

Sleep++, developed by _David Smith, was one of the first apps to experiment with the idea of using the Apple Watch as a sleep tracker. Using physical movement data collected by the Watch overnight, Sleep++ allowed you to keep track of time spent sleeping without having to buy a separate device (funnily enough, exactly what Apple itself acquired).

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Linea Sketch 2.0: Elegant, Approachable Sketching for the iPad

Today, The Iconfactory released a major update to its iPad sketching app, Linea. Version 2.0, which has been renamed Linea Sketch, takes what was already one of my favorite Apple Pencil-enabled drawing apps and has extended it with new features that make it more powerful than ever before. Most importantly though, the new features don’t come at the expense of the app’s usability.

When I reviewed Linea 1.0 last year, I was struck by how approachable yet capable the app was. That’s still the case, but The Iconfactory has added several new features should make it appeal to an even broader audience.

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Overcast Adds Smart Resume, New Auto-Deletion Option, and Support for Password-Protected Podcasts

Overcast 4.1 is out with a handful of new, notable features and bug fixes.

My favorite addition is what Marco Arment calls Smart Resume, which does two things. First, when resuming playback, Overcast skips back a few seconds to remind you of where you left off in a paused episode. Second, Overcast resumes playback in the dead space between words where possible.

The effect is understated but perceptible. During the beta of 4.1, I had a sense that something more than simple skipping back was going on with Smart Resume, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I dug into Arment’s release notes. Smart Resume reminds me of what happens when an in-person conversation is interrupted. If you’re sitting at a table in a restaurant with a friend and the waiter interrupts one of you mid-sentence, you don’t pick up where you left off mid-word. You Continue reading “Overcast Adds Smart Resume, New Auto-Deletion Option, and Support for Password-Protected Podcasts”

Textor: The iOS Equivalent of TextEdit, Integrated with Files

Over the weekend, developer Louis D’hauwe released a new plain text editor to the iOS App Store. Textor is about as simple an app as you could get: while it does offer support for modern iOS technologies, like Split View on iPad, and modern iOS screen dimensions, like the iPhone X and iPad Pro sizes, it doesn’t offer any kind of innovative features to pull you in. In fact, it doesn’t really contain much in the way of features at all.

D’hauwe created Textor as a result of exploring what new iOS tools he would need before making the iPad his primary computer. His recently launched terminal app, OpenTerm, birthed from the same roots.

Razer Blade Pro FHD review: The screen is its best and worst trick

Enlarge / The Razer Blade Pro FHD, complete with a week’s worth of fingerprints on its black-aluminum frame. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

For all of the years we’ve talked about the gaming-hardware company Razer and its range of expensive and (sometimes) remarkably thin gaming laptops, we’ve rarely put those “Blade” machines through extensive testing. The Razer Blade line debuted in 2011 with a flashy multitouch panel that had a screen inside of it—which, at the time, was the most Pimp My Ride tweak we’d ever seen in a laptop. (“Yo dogg, I heard you like screens, so we put a screen… in your trackpad!”)

But we passed that one up, along with most other Razer laptops, except for its 2016 not-quite-gaming entry, the Razer Stealth. As the company has settled into a steadier track record, we wanted to take an opportunity to see where Razer’s purest gaming laptop line

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