August 20, 2012

Daily iPhone App: Audio Xciter brings joy to your ears

Aphex, formerly Aphex Systems, has been around for over 35 years and is well-known in music circles for its audio enhancement technology. The company recently moved beyond the recording studio with a new mobile app that brings Aphex’s signal processing technology to the iPhone.

Audio Xciter is a standalone app that serves as an alternative to the stock music player. When you launch the Audio Xciter app for the first time, it scans your iTunes library and organizes the tracks by playlist, artist, song, album and more. Just like the default music app, you can browse or search for individual songs.

When you play a music file, Audio Xciter enhances the sound by restoring the harmonics that are lost in the compression and post-production process. It gives each track a crisp, bright sound that makes listing to music an enjoyable experience. To my ears, it’s a noticeable improvement over the stock music player.

The Audio Xciter app is available in a free version that lets you playback your tracks using Aphex’s signature audio technology. A US$ 4.99 studio version has similar features as the free app, but gives you control over a variety of audio settings, so you can tweak the sound to your own listening preferences.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Horn Brings Original Storyline, Gorgeous Visuals To iPad, iPhone, And iPod Touch

Horn Brings New Story, Gorgeous Visuals To The iOS Gaming Scene

Horn Brings New Story, Gorgeous Visuals To The iOS Gaming Scene

Developer Phosphor Games knocks it out of the park with a new, beautiful iOS game named after protagonist, Horn. The game uses the Unreal Engine and multitouch-based gestures to a third-person action adventure game. While the technology, visual style and swipe-based combat in Horn bring to mind Infinity Blade, it’s clear from the start that this is something different.

From the App description:

You play as a young blacksmith’s apprentice named Horn who wakes up to find your village and lands over run by large fantastic, and sometimes humorous, monsters. It is revealed these creatures are actually the people and animals from your village transformed by a curse, and you alone have the power to free them. On your incredible adventure you carry the loud-mouthed head of one such fantastic creature with you – a somewhat uncooperative and ill-tempered but grudgingly helpful sidekick. Along with this new companion you must use your sword, crossbow, trusty musical horn, and wits to explore the lands, defeat the enemies, and solve puzzles in your quest to undo the curse that engulfs your homeland.

The first tutorial level shows players how to control Horn and sets up some story line, including the above. The gameplay in this first section is mostly about navigating the lush environments, learning how to move, jump, engage in combat, and the like. There are some neat little Zelda-esque touches, like the horn (the musical instrument, not the hero) used to clear areas in the dungeons Horn is exploring.

There are three different lands to discover, a rising level of difficulty, extra side content, and a score by Austin Wintory, the composer behind the score of indie-hit Journey on the PlayStation 3. The game (published by Zynga, of all things) will run you $ 6.99 but nets a universal app, so you’ll be able to download and play it on any iOS devices you own, though it doesn’t seem as if cloud-sync is available, yet.

The game (published by Zynga, of all things) will run you $ 6.99 but nets a universal app, so you’ll be able to download and play it on any iOS devices you own, though it doesn’t seem as if cloud-sync is available, yet. It’s probable that the price will go down at some point in the near future, of course, but I feel like the seven bucks is worth it for such a high-quality gaming experience on any platform.

Rob LeFebvreRob LeFebvre is a freelance writer and editor living in Anchorage, Alaska. He contributes to online tech, gaming and iOS websites around the net, including Cult of Mac, 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. He owns and operates GamesAreEvil as well, so it’s surprising he finds time to have two amazing kids, a disco band, and (yes) a day job. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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Cult of Mac

UX Write’s First iOS Update Brings External Keyboard Support, Autosave, Dictation, More

I featured UX Write in one of my must-have apps roundups when it first hit the App Store, because it’s one of the best word processors available on iOS. It has now received its first update, and it’s a fairly major one, introducing support for external keyboards, autosave, dictation on supported devices, and more.

UX Write version 1.0.1 now properly supports external keyboards connected via Bluetooth, including keyboard shortcuts. What’s more, it now has autocorrect for a whole host of languages, including Danish, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, British, and U.S. English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. And proper handling of text entry in Korean.

However, if you’ve got a recent iOS device, such as the iPhone 4S or the new iPad, you don’t need to do any typing at all, because UX Write now supports dictation.

Other improvements include an optional “toggle” mode for the virtual trackpad feature, the ability to scroll through documents using the virtual trackpad, and numerous bug fixes.

You can find UX Write 1.0.1 in the App Store now, and if you haven’t already tried it, I highly recommend it. Now’s the best time to buy, too, with 60% off its usual price until August 27, which means it’ll cost you just $ 5.99 instead of $ 14.99.

Cult of Mac

WordPress iOS app update brings new UI, features

Talk about timing! Just yesterday, Mike Rose and I were talking about blogging tools on TUAW TV Live and had a discussion about the WordPress iOS app. Today, the WordPress team shipped an update to the iOS app that changes the user interface and adds features that should help power users with multiple WP sites get more work done while mobile.

Version 3.1 of the free WordPress app brings a new look to the universal application. There’s a sidebar for quickly navigating through your site, and on the iPad, sliding panels make navigation a piece of cake. The app can now be used in landscape mode, which makes me quite happy as that’s the way I prefer to type on the iPhone and iPad. There are allegedly “updated colors and graphics”, but if so, they are almost invisible changes.

The iPad has gained the WordPress.com blog reader and the ability to quick-add photos. Rather than needing to “write” a blank post and add an image to it, you can just snap a photo, give it a title and add it immediately to your blog as a photo entry. That’s perfect vacation blogs where you want to add a photo and not write a book for every entry.

One more iPad feature is the “Friend Finder.” If any of your friends are blogging on the free WordPress.com hosting system, you can follow their sites through the app. To search, you give the app temporary access to your Address Book, Twitter, Facebook or any email addresses matching a site on WordPress.com, you can add it to your “watch list”. I guess nobody I know has a WordPress.com site, as it searched 672 names and returned no hits.

Creating a new WordPress.com blog on the fly is a lot easier, with a button in the “Add a Blog” window opening a short form that you can use to set up your “Fishing for Flies” blog in seconds.

I’m not sure that I’m overwhelmed with the way the dashboard was implemented. On both devices, it’s essentially a window into the browser-based dashboard. A native iOS implementation with big, easily-tapped buttons would be more user-friendly.

Performance seems to have improved as well. I found previous versions almost painfully slow, while 3.1 seems to update a lot faster. However, the app crashed on several occasions on the iPad and iPhone.

If any TUAW readers are WordPress fans and have installed the WordPress 3.1 app update, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

WordPress iOS app update brings new UI, features

Talk about timing! Just yesterday, Mike Rose and I were talking about blogging tools on TUAW TV Live and had a discussion about the WordPress iOS app. Today, the WordPress team shipped an update to the iOS app that changes the user interface and adds features that should help power users with multiple WP sites get more work done while mobile.

Version 3.1 of the free WordPress app brings a new look to the universal application. There’s a sidebar for quickly navigating through your site, and on the iPad, sliding panels make navigation a piece of cake. The app can now be used in landscape mode, which makes me quite happy as that’s the way I prefer to type on the iPhone and iPad. There are allegedly “updated colors and graphics”, but if so, they are almost invisible changes.

The iPad has gained the WordPress.com blog reader and the ability to quick-add photos. Rather than needing to “write” a blank post and add an image to it, you can just snap a photo, give it a title and add it immediately to your blog as a photo entry. That’s perfect vacation blogs where you want to add a photo and not write a book for every entry.

One more iPad feature is the “Friend Finder.” If any of your friends are blogging on the free WordPress.com hosting system, you can follow their sites through the app. To search, you give the app temporary access to your Address Book, Twitter, Facebook or any email addresses matching a site on WordPress.com, you can add it to your “watch list”. I guess nobody I know has a WordPress.com site, as it searched 672 names and returned no hits.

Creating a new WordPress.com blog on the fly is a lot easier, with a button in the “Add a Blog” window opening a short form that you can use to set up your “Fishing for Flies” blog in seconds.

I’m not sure that I’m overwhelmed with the way the dashboard was implemented. On both devices, it’s essentially a window into the browser-based dashboard. A native iOS implementation with big, easily-tapped buttons would be more user-friendly.

Performance seems to have improved as well. I found previous versions almost painfully slow, while 3.1 seems to update a lot faster. However, the app crashed on several occasions on the iPad and iPhone.

If any TUAW readers are WordPress fans and have installed the WordPress 3.1 app update, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Pixelmator 2.1 For Mac Brings Retina Graphics, iCloud Syncing, New Effects & More

Pixelmator 2.1 For Mac Brings Retina Graphics, iCloud Syncing, New Effects & More

Pixelmator now looks even more incredible on a Retina MacBook Pro.

Pixelmator, a wonderful image editing app for Mac OS X, just received a major update that introduces some great new features. As well as Retina graphics for the new MacBook Pro, version 2.1 brings iCloud syncing, a new Effects Browser with new effects, OS X Mountain Lion support and more.

Those of you with a Retina MacBook Pro will appreciate Pixelmator’s latest update the second you open it, because its high-resolution visuals look terrific. But there’s plenty of other improvements for the rest of you.

iCloud syncing is now built into Pixelmator, allowing you to sync your work across all of your Macs. That means you can edit your projects at work in your lunch break, and your changes will be waiting for you on your Mac when you get home.

There’s also a brand new Effects Browser, which allows you to instantly preview and apply special effects, or add color adjustments to your images, including blur, distortion, tile, and more. Furthermore, Pixelmator now has a number of new effects, including vintage, miniaturize, back and white, rain, and snow.

The new Alignment Guides will help you “position, align, and evenly distribute objects in your Pixelmator compositions with pinpoint accuracy,” the release notes promise.

Pixelmator’s Saulius Dailide believes the new update ideal for Mac users looking to “tap into their creativity” without breaking the bank:

Pixelmator continues to be a big hit among both professional and amateur image editors, and we’re thrilled to deliver even more features at a very affordable price. With support for Mountain Lion, iCloud and the new Retina display, Pixelmator 2.1 is ideal for Mac users looking to tap into their creativity with a full-featured, easy-to-use image editing app.

Finally, Pixelmator 2.1 brings support for OS X Mountain Lion, and “much more.”

You find the latest version in the Mac App Store now, and it’s free if you’re already Pixelmator customer. If you’re not, now’s the best time to buy, because it’s currently just $ 14.99 — down from $ 59 — for a limited time.

Cult of Mac

Archy beta brings panache to Google Drive

If you use Google Drive and want a lightweight Mac client to view and manage your Drive files, then you should check out Archy. Archy sits in your menu bar or dock and gives you one-click access to all your documents stored in Google Drive. From the app, you can easily preview your files, organize them into folders and download them to your hard drive.

Archy also lets you see the current sharing options for files and allows you to share documents with other people from within the app. If you want to edit a document, Archy will open it in Google Drive using your web browser by default. You can also choose an app to open a Google Doc file, which is useful for users who have the iWork apps or Microsoft Office installed.

Archy’s strength is its simple and elegant interface, which makes it easy for you to glance at a Google Drive file without logging into your Google account. Its features are similar to Google’s Drive app for the Mac, but Archy is less intrusive because it works off your online Drive directory and doesn’t place a folder on your hard drive.

Archy is currently in the beta phase and available for the public to download from the Archy website. Because it’s a beta, there are a few areas that need some polishing, but the overall experience is particularly good. If you’re a Google Drive user, you should give it a whirl.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Evernote For Mac Updated, Brings LinkedIn Support To Free App, Web Client

Evernote For Mac Updated, Brings LinkedIn Support To Free App, Web Client

Time to update? You know it!

Popular and useful note-taking and synchronization app Evernote has just updated its Mac app to version 3.30. The new version adds new keyboard commands, a new premium user account, new user controls and LinkedIn support, which is also now available in the web-cased Evernote client. In addition, Evernote sports a handy slideshow option for notes that involve pictures. This will look really nice using Evernote’s new Retina display support.

While Evernote remains free and ad-supported, you can also purchase a premium account for $ 5 a month (or $ 45 per year), which will now give you the ability to switch between accounts without signing either one out. You’ll need to add the accounts to Evernote, but once added, Command-Control-A will switch between accounts easily.

The Mac version of Evernote also adds Command-Control-K to add a strikethrough style to highlighted text, and Command-Shift-D to insert a date into a note. The List view has gained a tag column, and the dev team promises improved stability for both Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion.

Evernote is a daily part of my workflow, allowing me to organize a ton of internet research, lists of tasks, and even shopping lists I can create on my Mac, sync, and then open on my iPhone when in the store. Being able to share notes on LinkedIn is just another extra plus to an already great app.

Here’s a full list of the new features:

- New Premium Feature: Switch between accounts from the Evernote menu
- Share notes to LinkedIn
- Added a Tag column to List View
- New keyboard shortcut for strikethrough: CMD+CTRL+K
- CMD+Shift+D inserts date when cursor is in title area
- Larger clickable area for Activity Stream items
- Select multiple lines and click the checkbox option to add checkboxes quickly
- Activity Feed now combines recent events
- New Retina-optimized icons for Preferences
- Fixed numerous Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion crashes and issues
- More consistent results when searches contain quotes

Rob LeFebvreRob LeFebvre is a freelance writer and editor living in Anchorage, Alaska. He contributes to online tech, gaming and iOS websites around the net, including Cult of Mac, 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. He owns and operates GamesAreEvil as well, so it’s surprising he finds time to have two amazing kids, a disco band, and (yes) a day job. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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Cult of Mac

Daily iPad App: Magic 2013 finally brings Magic to iOS

Magic 2013 arrived on the App Store recently, and it was a long time coming. It’s the first real version of Magic: The Gathering that we’ve seen since Apple’s platform was first created. The iPad’s touchscreen seems like a no-brainer for collectible card games, and there have been quite a few of them out there already. But we haven’t had a real, official Magic: The Gathering app until now, which means Magic 2013 is the first app that actually lets you play the official game that’s been so popular for years and years.

Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast has had to make some concessions, and those shortcuts are problematic. First of all, this game is actually modeled off of (and created by the same team as) the Xbox Live version of the game, which means it isn’t a “pure” version of Magic (where you can create your own decks at will). Instead, it’s sort of a “sampler” version, with a bunch of different decks to play with and only slightly customize, rather than free access to the collectible cards.

The other issue is that because this version is based on a controller-driven game, it’s not nearly as tactile as you’d imagine Magic on the iPad to be. That’s a shame — instead of designing a different version of Magic just for the iPad, Wizards essentially ported the (already popular) Xbox Live version. Not being able to do things like interact with the cards in a realistic way is a bummer.

There are obvious reasons for all of this. Wizards certainly doesn’t want to cannibalize sales of the actual cards, and the Xbox Live version is already a proven success (not to mention relatively cheaper to port over than to create a whole new game). Magic 2013 is an excellent title if you like Magic. It definitely allows you to play cards, make moves, and play out the full game, against the AI or other players. It’s just too bad we didn’t get something a little more suited to this platform, instead of a copy of Xbox Live’s big title.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Angry Birds Update Brings Tons Of New In-App Purchases

Angry Birds Update Brings Tons Of New In-App Purchases

IAPs come to Angry Birds.

Rovio has updated the original and still the best of the Angry Birds games with 15 new levels, and four new power-ups. It seems like everyone who wants this game has already bought it, so in order to keep milking the franchise for money on these free updates, Rovio has decided to go down the dirty path of in-app purchases.

The power ups are designed to let you get three stars on harder levels (or just to buy your way through the whole game if you are a new customer). Here’s the lowdown from Graham Spencer:

  • King Sling upgrades your slingshot for “maximum power and velocity”
  • Birdquake will bring the pigs’ defenses “crashing to the ground”
  • Super Seeds will turn your bird into a “pig-popping giant”
  • Sling Scope lets you use laser targetting for “pinpoint precision”

The update includes 20 credits to use these power-ups, and you can buy more (of course). $ 2 buys you five uses of any of the power-ups, $ 1 will get you ten of a single power up and $ 21 will buy you 125 power-ups. Ouch. For those of us with a little patience, you’ll get one free power-up per day.

I’m stoked to try the new levels and new weapons, but I have a feeling that they’re going to destroy the balance of the game, which was one of the things that made Angry Birds so great.

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Charlie SorrelCharlie Sorrel sits in his gadget nerve-center in Barcelona, Spain, and spits out words about  various weird plastic widgets while the sun shines outside his iCave. Previously found at Wired.com’s Gadget Lab covering cameras, power cables and sneaking in as much Apple-centric coverage as he could, Charlie spends his rare moments outside perched atop a bicycle and snapping photos. You can follow him on Twitter via @mistercharlie

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Cult of Mac