Downcast for Mac Released

The iOS version of Downcast is one of my most-used iPhone apps. Now there’s a companion Mac app, I’ll be listening to even more podcasts.

Josh Centers has a great review of the app over at TidBITS, if you’d like to find out more.

My thoughts? If you’re starting with nothing and want to get into the world of podcasting apps, try Instacast. If you’re a Downcast user — like me — and don’t want to migrate between apps, the Mac app is a nice addition, although there are some bugs in the 1.0 release (iCloud playlist syncing isn’t working quite right for me).

Sleevenote for iOS

I wrote a pretty great review of Sleevenote for iOS for The Industry, even if I do say so myself.

In short, this is an app for music lovers who really care deeply about their collection. The interface is noteworthy: with a completely black background and no UI chrome at all, the artwork of your albums becomes the interface. I'm a big fan.

(If you read Chasing Perfection because you're an audiophile like myself, be sure to read on to find out how I use Sleevenote on my iOS devices. I use it with iTunes Match in a pretty clever way.)

Google Announces New Service, App First

Google has always focused primarily on webapps.

Apple has always focused primarily on native apps.

After this announcement (and looking at Apple’s iCloud web control panel), I think it’s a reasonable assumption to expect the future of online services to encompass both native apps and web apps.

Still, it feels strange to me watching Google release a new service focused primarily around an app. Times are changing.

As for Google Keep itself, it looks a bit like Reminders coupled with a scrapbook. Looks a bit too disjointed for my taste, but I’m interested to see how it works.

Groove for iOS

Gabe wrote a sweet review of Groove for iOS, a music player designed to be a different way to experience your library of tracks on iPhone or iPad. If music is something you enjoy, you might want to check the review out.

Groove is certainly miles away from iOS’s default music app, and as I’m a bit of a music nut, I bought it and am enjoying it.

It hasn’t replaced the Music app in iOS for me (I still use it for pre-made playlists), but it’s a nice addition when I want to be surprised. I consider Groove the iOS equivalent of a “Genius” style feature, wrapped up as an app. And, as that, it rocks.

Sunrise for iPhone Launches

I had the pleasure of reviewing this new app over at The Industry. Whilst it isn’t replacing Fantastical on my phone, it’s a great app which I can see many people enjoying:

If an event has an address associated with it, Sunrise offers to give you directions. This is a feature I’ve wanted in a calendar app for as long as I can remember. There’s even a preference to choose between Apple or Google Maps services, provided you have Google Maps installed on your iPhone. This saves me a lot of time — I no longer have to remember an address and copy it into Maps from my Calendar. It’s all much more seamless.

“Skeuomorphism” and Personality Through Interface Design

Louie Mantia rarely vents his thoughts on design in a way other than via twitter. This recent essay of his is a refreshing change. He discusses “The S Word”, visual design and app interfaces. It’s a good read. This struck me:

More importantly, a visually distinctive app such as Game Center, Find My Friends, Podcasts, or iBooks helps you to remember which app you’re in. The colors, textures, and environment paint that picture instantly. (When I look at an Android phone, it’s often hard to remember which app I’m in because most default apps look the same and use the same colors and theme.)

I couldn’t agree more. The most memorable apps tend to be the ones with the most personality. I’m reminded of Dustin Curtis’ recent blog post:

I've settled pretty firmly in the camp of thinking that interfaces should mimic social creatures, that they should have personalities, and that I should be communicating with the interface[.]

Apps which are the most fun to use tend to be opinionated.

Color Thief for iOS

Speaking of app icons, here’s an app I discovered recently which sports a beautiful one: Color Thief.

The premise of this image manipulation app is simple: take the colours from one image and apply them to another. Simple, beautiful and elegant, I find myself playing with Color Thief regularly. Recommended.