One of the subjects in this week's Mac app roundup opens up your Mac to the wonderful world of fractals, while others help you organize and manipulate your images, keep an eye on your personal finances, and even design your backyard down to the most minute detail.Anytune 1.0
Anytune also comes with a number of features designed to isolate and enhance specific portions of a music piece, like electric guitar, vocals, and so on.CameraBag 2.5
Every Apple Store in the U.S. is offering a one-hour introductory course in computer programming on Wednesday, part of a national effort to expand computer science education.
The event is part of Computer Science Education Week, a celebration and campaign in which school teachers—no matter their specialty—are being asked to devote classroom time to an “Hour of Code” in order to get students started with rudimentary coding skills.
“We’ve had unprecedented support – not only from CEOs, celebrities, and world leaders, but from teachers, parents, and students, in the thousands and millions, to spread a simple idea: that computer science should be accessible to every 21st century student,” Hadi Partovi, a founder of Code.org, wrote in a blog post on Monday morning.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increasing number of Mac apps from China and Russia make a play for American users as well. Foxmail 1.2 (Mac App Store link), the new free email client from Chinese Internet company Tencent, acquits itself better than some foreign imports I’ve seen, with a clean design and a few clever features. But it still doesn’t quite clear the language barrier, and what does make it over that hurdle pales in comparison to other apps closer to home.Foxmail displayed some HTML messages just fine, but others came through with big chunks missing. Eerily familiar
On the face of it, Foxmail’s a calm and competent contender for your email attentions. Its IMAP-only setup worked like a charm, and while it doesn’t offer unique ways to sort your mail, it did display all my Gmail tags and folders correctly.
Test enough email apps in a row, and they all begin to blend together. So I can’t say for sure whether the strong, strange sense of déjà vu Foxmail’s look and feel gives me is the result of its designers borrowing heavily from other, similar programs, or just a brain-muddled byproduct of already using so many of its brethren.
Foxmail’s clean, Spartan layout most closely resembles Postbox, but the match isn’t exact. And I could swear I’ve seen another program offer Foxmail’s nifty quick reply feature—just “pull” the message you’re reading downward, and a mini-compose window will appear above it—but I can’t recall where.
This week's iPad case roundup includes a model that will unleash your inner child, one brick at a time. It also includes the usual mix of accessories designed to keep your tablet safe and looking great.Belkin
The Lego Builder Case for iPad mini (iPad mini; $60) features a real Lego base plate on the back, on which you can let your brick-fueled imagination go wild.
The case comes in red, green, or yellow with blue accents, and features a built-in flip cover that’s compatible with the iPad mini's magnetic sleep/wake function and doubles as a viewing stand in landscape orientation.Cygnett
The Archive Classic (iPad Air; $50) is a folio-style case crafted from high-quality materials. Its cover doubles as a viewing and typing stand capable of supporting multiple angles in landscape orientation.
Reader Robert Matheson desires a tidier inbox. He writes:For years I’ve allowed all my incoming email to pile up in my inbox. That strategy has broken down to the point where I can’t find my important email. I want to be more organized but don’t know where to start. Any hints?
If you could see the office I inhabit, you might think better of asking me anything about organization. But while the immediate area around me may be a disaster, I’m fairly picky about my inbox—not Inbox Zero picky, but particular enough that the worst of my electronic effluent is not within eyeshot.
To do that, I employ rules like nobody’s business. By creating conditions that act on existing as well as incoming email, you can tidy up an inbox in next to no time.Move notification email
I’d begin by weeding out organizational email. By this I mean notifications from Amazon, iTunes, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Netflix, and so on. In Apple’s Mail create a new mailbox within the account that receives the notification or create one that appears under the On My Mac heading. (Choose Mailbox > New Mailbox, select a location for it in the sheet that appears, and then name the mailbox.) Click on a representative message—a notification that you have a new Twitter follower, for example. Choose Mail > Preferences and click the Rules tab.
Piasa’s Grilly the Cheese is a side-scrolling runner game where you play as a grilled cheese sandwich. Now, there’s no backstory as to why Grilly has left his home. Maybe he barely escaped the grubby hands of a little boy ready to chomp down on Grilly after a morning in the backyard sandbox. Maybe he found his way out of a diner doggy bag. Maybe he’s a refugee from a hip restaurant that caters to techies who prefer online interaction to human contact. In any case, Grilly is a just happy to roam about, collecting treasures along the way.
The controls to Grilly the Cheese are very easy. Tap on the screen to jump, tap again while in the air to reach even higher. Of course, Grilly runs into obstacles and characters that try to spoil Grily’s stroll, and jumping is the way to avoid them. The main item to collect is coins, which you can redeem for power ups that assist you during the game, or accessories to dress up Grilly.
Piasa offers the game for free, but it makes its money by selling coins. It’s easy enough to collect coins, however; after just 10 minutes of play, I already had several hundred coins that I used in the store to buy a Head Start cannon that shot Grilly forward.
Grilly the Cheese doesn’t have violent action, and its graphics feel like they’re straight out of a children’s book. Young kids who can perform the basic touches on an iPad or iPhone will enjoy this game. And it’s an easy game for more experienced gamers looking for a quick fix.
Our editors spend a lot of time testing and using iPad cases, but there are a few we keep coming back to once our testing is done. Here are some of our favorites for the iPad mini.SwitchEasy CoverBuddy
Apple’s iPad mini Smart Cover is pretty disappointing. But if you’ve already got one, you can make it considerably more usable and protective by adding SwitchEasy’s $20 CoverBuddy for iPad mini. Made specifically to partner with the official Smart Cover—and available in the same range of colors, as well as clear—the CoverBuddy is a thin-but-tough polycarbonate shell for the back and edges of your tablet.
In addition to protecting the body of your iPad, I've found that the case helps stabilize the Smart Cover: The CoverBuddy adds a tiny lip around the iPad mini's screen that keeps the Smart Cover from sliding around as much when closed.—Dan FrakesMoshi VersaCover
Not a fan of Apple's Smart Cover? Try Moshi's $50 VersaCover Mini Origami Case for iPad mini instead. This case has a slim, hardshell back combined with a flexible front cover—the latter can be folded in different ways to prop your mini up at various viewing angles. Because the shell is transparent, you get the benefit of protecting your iPad while still showing off its design. Plus, the VersaCover Origami is so slim and light, you'll barely notice it.—Leah Yamshon
There are certain truisms in life. One is that Apple acquisition fantasies always involve the company dumping billions on a big name. Another is that Microsoft always wins. No matter how you have to arrange things in your imagination to have it work out.Crazy talk
Sometimes it takes a craaaazy idea to shake things up!
But not this time. This is just regular old crazy crazy.
Uncommon Wisdom’s James DiGeorgia says:
According to a chart posted on Apple's developer website, iOS 7 is now installed on 74 percent of all active mobile devices manufactured by the tech giant. iOS 6 still powers 22 percent of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch models out there, while the remaining 4 percent—likely older hardware that can no longer be upgraded—are on “other” versions of the operating system.
As several publications have noted, this means that the adoption of Apple's latest operating system has jumped by nearly ten percentage points in the last month, making it the fastest-growing version of iOS ever. That’s been helped, at least in part, by the company's tradition of supporting several generations of hardware with every update.Quick growth and fast adoption
Although Apple does not make historical information about operating system adoption available, mobile tracking firm Fiksu notes that iOS 6 was only installed on about 70 percent of devices the same number of days after its release, while iOS 5 was only able to make its way onto 65 percent of hardware.
These numbers are even more impressive once you realize that they represent percentages of an ever-growing number of overall hardware devices. Back in September, while announcing that it had sold 9 million new iPhones, Apple indicated that some 200 million users—30 percent of the total—had already updated their existing phones to iOS 7, which means that today's 74 percent translates to over half a billion devices—and that's based on an overall figure that doesn't even consider the devices that Apple has sold in the last three months.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced on Wednesday that it had finalized a new type of connector for USB cables that would fit into your PC no matter which way the cable is oriented. But if a USB 2.0 cable will do the job, you don’t have to wait. Tripp Lite has been shipping reversible USB 2.0 cables for several months.
The connector on the host side of the cable is in the middle of the shell and has electrical contacts on both sides, so it doesn’t matter which side of the cable is facing up when you plug it into your PC. The other end of the cable that plugs into the device you’re connecting, on the other hand, hasn’t changed. It still needs to be oriented a particular way, but the frustration most people encounter is at the host end anyway, especially when you’re plugging the cable into a USB port on the back of your PC.
The electrical contacts at the host end of Tripp Lite's reversible USB 2.0 cables are in the middle of the shell, so it doesn't matter how they're oriented when you plug it in.Tripp Lite
Tripp Lite sells 22 reversible USB 2.0 cables with reversible Type A male connectors on one end and a variety of connectors on the other, including Micro-B male (used with many non-Apple smartphones), Type B male (commonly used with printers and some USB audio devices), and Type A Female (for extension cables). Tripp Lite does not manufacture any of these cables with Apple’s Lightning connector.