Sweet Apps


Weather Line

Weather Line is a cool new weather app from Ryan Jones. Ryan sent me a copy of the app earlier this month and I’ve been using it for a bit.

When I launched Weather Line for the first time my initial impression was that it’s not a general purpose weather app. I assumed it was more niche, with a focus on forecast data rather than current conditions.

But that’s not the case at all.

As you can see from the screenshot, the primary element of the app is its line graph (the “weather line”) which shows the temperature forecast.

Weather Line

When you launch Weather Line, or navigate between the Hourly, Daily, and Monthly tabs, the left-most temperature animates itself with a sort of balloon effect. This instantly grabs the attention of your focus and draws your eye to the current temperature.

So, Weather Line is, in fact, a nice general purpose weather app. And, as I’ve been using it, I have come to enjoy the quick view I get of the current conditions right now and how they will change in the next 8 hours.

However, I do have two quibbles with the app:

  • All the navigation is up top. To navigate between locations you swipe on the location name; to navigate between Hourly, Daily, and Monthly forecasts you tap on those respective tabs. But on an iPhone 5/5s these tap targets are just out of reach for my thumb and it makes the app a little bit difficult to fully navigate one handed.

  • No radar view. Though Weather Line does use the Dark Sky API to give the 60-minute precipitation forecast, it does not have an actual radar view. Ryan, the man behind the app, said the reason there’s no radar view is because he can’t find one that is beautiful enough for him.

    In an email, he said to me, “Our app takes ugly boring data and uses beauty to make it easily understood, we want the radar that does the same thing.”

    I appreciate Ryan’s commitment to excellence, but for me, a weather app without radar is an incomplete weather app. My two favorite weather apps — Perfect Weather and Check the Weather — both have the standard radar views and I’ve never thought them to be ugly.

So, is Weather Line the best new general purpose weather app you can buy? I don’t think so (because of its lack of radar). But it is a fantastic app nonetheless.

Weather Line is simple, delightful, and very responsive. It feels right at home on iOS 7. And the icon is fantastic — it’s one of the best weather app icons on my iPhone. Just $3 bucks in the App Store.

Revisiting All My Past Product Reviews and Recommendations: What Stuck and What Didn’t?

I’ve been writing about hardware and software for years. Some things I review because I think they’re awesome and I want to recommend them. And then some of the things I link to or review are things I find noteworthy for one reason or another.

But things change over time — things like my own workflow habits, my software preferences, and even the software itself.

This site’s design puts the most emphasis on that which has been most-recently published. But what about that review of MarsEdit I wrote back in 2008? How can you know if I am I still using that app (if you ever even read the review in the first place)?

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It can be easy to write a positive review of a cool new app or gadget, but how does that product hold up over time when the newness wears off and the routine of life settles back in?

There are a lot of apps that I’ve endorsed after a few weeks or months worth of usage, but am I still using them years later?

Well, over the past three days I went through every single review and recommendation I’ve written in the past 6 years in order to take inventory of which products I still use and which I don’t.

(I encourage all of us who write about, review, and recommend products to do something like this. Especially when we highly recommend something, it would be a great benefit to come back to that review in 6 months or a year and let our readers know if we are still using that product or not.)

My list below contains about 50-or-so apps and gadgets. Surprising (to me, at least) is that only 13 of them are products which I no longer use.

Which means I’m still using about 75-percent of the things I’ve reviewed and recommended over the past 6 years. So either I’m incredibly lazy, or I have excellent taste.

What Software am still using?

  • OmniFocus: I’ve been using the OmniFocus suite of apps (Mac, iPhone, and iPad) for over three years now. Sometimes I wonder if they are overkill for me now that I’ve somewhat settled into a grove with my work-from-home schedule. But I just can’t quit them because it’s a task management system that I trust. I know that if and when an important task becomes due, then OmniFocus will show it to me.

  • Simplenote: Gosh, I’ve been a hardcore Simplenote user since I first learned of it back in 2008 (thanks to John Gruber). Recently I even went looking for alternatives to Simplenote, but I just couldn’t quit it. And, I’m a big fan of the updated Simplenote app for iOS 7, and the Mac app, too, has become a daily driver for me as. In short, I put a lot of text into Simplenote and am happy to do so.

  • MarsEdit: This, my friends, is quality software. It’s hard to believe I’ve been using this app just about every day for 6 years.

  • Rdio: Access trumps ownership, or so they say. Anyway, I am an avid fan of Rdio. And I still use Airfoil to adjust the EQ of Rdio’s output and to send the audio to my nicer sound system that’s hooked up to the Apple TV if I want.

  • Keyboard Maestro: I haven’t written any formal reviews of Keyboard Maestro because I don’t know where I would start, and once I did start reviewing the app I don’t know how I could stop. I’ve been using Keyboard Maestro for years and it does just about everything. About a year ago, Ben and I recorded a Tips & Tricks episode of the B&B podcast (RIP) giving some use-case scenarios for Keyboard Maestro.

  • LaunchBar: Another critical app that I haven’t written a review about but have long been an advocate of. This is my application launcher of choice. Also, there’s a B&B podcast Tips & Tricks episode about LaunchBar in the archives as well.

  • Hues: When I’m designing a website, Hues is always running. Been using it for a few years now.

  • Coda 2 and Diet Coda: I’ve been using and loving Coda since it shipped years ago. I’m not a developer, but I do know enough HTML, CSS, and PHP to build and maintain my own WordPress websites. And when I do need to update, create, or fix something I do so in Coda 2 (or Diet Coda if my Mac’s not nearby).

  • Editorial: I’ve only been using it for 2 months, but it’s splendid.

  • Byword: On the Mac, I do almost all of my longform writing in Byword. I then keep all my “in-progress” articles in a folder in Dropbox. If/when I need to access them on the iPhone I use Byword on the iPhone (the iOS 7 update is splendid, by the way). But on the iPad I use Editorial.

  • Reeder: Reeder has long been the best RSS reading app on iOS.

  • ReadKit: This app is good enough. So far as I know this is the only Mac app that syncs with Feed Wrangler. The app has seen a lot of consistent development and improvement over the past few months, but I still consider it pretty slow at updating my feeds and it’s not extremely easy to navigate using the keyboard.

  • Tweetbot: Still my go-to twitter client on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I talk often of how awesome Twitterrific is — it’s beautifully designed.

  • Riposte: I think Riposte is more than just the best ADN client for the iPhone — it is one of the nicest iPhone apps, period. I find it very easy to use; it’s fast, clever, well designed, and it has a slew of killer features.

  • Feed Wrangler: This has been my post-Google Reader sync service of choice and after several months I’m still quite content with it.

  • 1Password: Gosh. I’ve been using 1Password for several years, and the more I use it the more I’m glad I use it. Such a well-done and valuable app.

  • Transmit: It’s the best FTP client for the Mac, so why wouldn’t I still be using it?

  • TextExpander: No official review of this fine utility, just many links to it over the years. You bet I’m still using the OS X and iOS versions.

  • Backblaze, SuperDuper, Arq, and Dropbox: This is still my backup strategy, and I’m quite happy with it. Though (thankfully) I have yet to encounter a time where I needed disaster recovery of my data, so it’s hard to say exactly how it would all pan out were my laptop and external HDDs all destroyed or stolen.

  • Day One: This is certainly the best journaling app out there. I keep the iOS apps on both my iPad’s and iPhone’s Home screen and write in them often. I have the Mac version as well, but don’t use it nearly as much. Probably because journaling is something I don’t tend to do when sitting at my desk. And also, a lot of my Day One entries are photos I take with my iPhone.

  • Fantastical and Agenda: These are the two calendar apps I’ve written about over the years. I still use and love Fantastical on the Mac, and up until recently used Agenda on the iPhone (the latest iOS update to Agenda is quite nice).

    However, there’s a new website project I’m working on that has me doing a lot of digging and testing with iOS calendar apps right now. Calendars 5 is a new entry to the iOS calendar market and it’s pretty amazing. And so, honestly, I don’t know which of these three (Agenda, Calendars 5, Fantastical) are my favorite on iOS. They’re all great in their own way — the jury is still out.

  • Junecloud’s Delivery Status app: still use this to track shipments. It’s great.

  • Droplr: I’ve been using Droplr since it was in beta back in 2010, and I still use it every single day.

  • Checkmark: Checkmark does location-based reminders better than iOS does, in my opinion. It’s faster at setting them up and more accurate at reminding you. Though I don’t set reminders like this very often, when I do I still use Checkmark.

  • Breaktime: This app is helping me live longer. It’s sitting in my menu bar right now, reminding me that in 21 minutes I need to stand up again and walk around for a bit.

  • Bartender: My goodness I am so thankful for this app. It cleans up your Mac’s Menu bar. Still highly recommended.

  • Quickshot: Still using this to take photos of receipts (for tax purposes) and then upload them to Dropbox. A Hazel rule then moves them to my receipts folder.

  • DropVox: This app is extremely dated, but it still works and I still use it to record Shawn Today episodes whenever I’m away from my Mac. And, so far as I know, there are no other apps which take a voice recording and pipe it to Dropbox.

  • Timer: The guys behind Timing were sponsors of the site a few times in the past, but I’ve also personally had this app running in the background since it came out in 2011. And even though I use it, I don’t really make use of the data it tracks — I have a hard time parsing it all myself. I’ve been considering setting up an account with Rescue Time instead, to see if the reporting there is better and more useful.

What gadgets am I still using?

  • Mid-2011 MacBook Air: Stilly gutsy, still glorious, still using it every single day.

  • iPad 3: I still use my iPad as a laptop replacement (though, to be honest, I do leave the house with my MacBook Air a bit more often these days).

  • Last Year’s Kindle Paperwhite: Still love it. I wouldn’t mind getting the new one, but I don’t think it’s worth paying to upgrade.

  • My Clicky Keyboard: After a whole lot of fiddling and typing on mechanical keyboards (both big ones and tenkeyless versions) I picked the Filco Majestouch-2 Ninja with the Cherry MX Blue switches. I’ve been typing on this keyboard for over a year now and still love it. And, as a matter of fact, I’m typing on it at this very moment. Click! Clack!

  • Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm: Still the greatest, inexpensive, fine-tip gell ink pen in the world.

  • Audyssey Computer speakers: Earlier this year I bought these white Audyssey Bluetooth speakers because their sibling version (which are black and non-Bluetooth) were recommended by The Wirecutter. I don’t use the Bluetooth connectivity, but I think the white is much better looking than the black and the price is actually cheaper. The Audyssey’s are bigger than they look in the pictures, and they sound absolutely fantastic. Very full, rich, and crisp. For $145, you can’t go wrong. I’m jamming out with them as I type this very sentence.

  • E-PL5 mirrorless camera and Panasonic 20/1.7 pancake lens: It has been almost a year since I got this camera and lens and I am still very satisfied. While I do wish it had more dials for faster manual adjustment of the aperture and other settings, I have never felt frustrated or constrained. If I were buying a mirrorless camera today, I’d probably go with the new E-P5.

  • Doxie Go, Hazel, and my Paperless Office: Still using this setup and workflow every single week to keep my office paperless. Of course it’s a chore, but one that’s easy enough I don’t not do it. (See also my review of the Doxie Go.)

  • Origami Workstation for iPad: I’ve had this thing for a few years now and still use it near daily. What I wrote in my review still stands. One thing I’m noticing is that the velcro on the tabs that holds the flaps together is starting to lose a bit of its grip strength. My guess is that in a year or less I’ll need to replace the velcro somehow.

  • AeroPress: You know I’m still brew coffee with it just about every single day (if I’m not brewing with a Clever or a v60).

  • Blue Yeti: Still use (almost) every day to record my Shawn Today podcast. I also used it to record all the interviews and the audio book version of Delight is in the Details.

  • My gray-market 27-inch IPS LCD: I bought this display last fall when my 23-inch Apple Cinema Display died. It’s great for the price, and I’ve been happily using it for over a year. But a very faint shadow has appeared across the bottom of the screen. I am crossing my fingers that Apple will update their Thunderbolt displays later this year so I can upgrade.

What I am no longer using

Here are apps and gadgets that I’ve recommended and said I liked but am no longer using today.

  • The Jawbone UP: I thought it was so cool at first, and I still do love the idea of it, but the bracelet never got comfortable for me. Over time I just tired of charging it and syncing it and wearing it in my sleep.

  • Triage: This is a very clever email app for the iPhone. But when I installed the iOS 7 beta onto my iPhone 5 earlier this summer, I wiped the phone and started fresh. Triage just never got installed again.

    And, so long as we’re on the subject, no 3rd-party email client has ever stuck for me beyond the stock Apple email apps (on iOS and on OS X). I’ve tried Postbox, Sparrow, Mailbox, Triage, and probably a dozen others, but I always just come back to Apple’s email apps.

  • Writing Kit: This is a great iPad writing app, and it was my favorite until Editorial came along.

  • NetNewsWire 3: This was one of the best. It would still work as a standalone RSS reader, but I use Feed Wrangler to sync my feeds and the old NNW doesn’t sync with anything any longer.

  • Recall: Another really cool app that just never stuck for me.

  • Yojimbo: I raved about this app for years, and I still consider it to be one of the finest Mac apps I have ever used. But alas it didn’t scale well for my needs, and I ended up moving to a few individual applications and services.

  • Nexus 7 tablet: I think I’ve got it sitting in the bottom of a drawer around here somewhere.

  • Visual, iOS timer: I used this for a while as a way to keep my time spent on email to a minimum. But it never became habit and the app never stuck for me.

  • Instacast: Instacast is great, but I just don’t listen to podcasts any longer. And with a toddler, I no longer queue podcast episodes up for road trips — instead we listen to white noise or music.

  • Pastebot: Some apps you just slowly stop using, and Pastebot was one of those for me. It’s neat, but I no longer use it for the things I used to use it for. And with the ever-increasing number of apps and services which sync, I don’t have as much need to copy/paste things between my Mac and iPhone.

  • Fever: I have Fever running on a server, but never ever check it these days.

  • Mint: I would still be using Mint, but something in its database farted out on me a few months ago and MySQL is something I know nothing about. So I signed up for an account with GoSquared, which is nice but I don’t love it.

  • Things: I stopped using things because I really needed a to-do list app that synced over the air. So I switched to OmniFocus in 2010. But then, even after Things got OTA sync, I kept using OmniFocus because the iPad app and the review function are just so, so great.

Quick-Capture Notes Apps

Something I left out of my Simplenote / Dropbox / writing workflow article last week is what iPhone app lives in my Dock for the sole purpose of being the go-to for initially capturing ideas, lists, and other miscellaneous tidbits of information.

The iPhone can be pretty awkward when you need to quickly jot down a piece of information. Such as someone’s shipping address, phone number, and/or email address; a list of things to get while you’re out that your wife is rattling off to you as you walk out the door; the coffee order your co-worker wants you to pick up for them while you’re out; etcetera.

The point being, there are many occasions when typing the information into the app it belongs takes too much time and attention than you have at the moment.

For this stuff, and more, I use an app called Scratch by Sweet Mac Alum, Garrett Murray and his team at Karbon.

Scratch

Scratch is a no-nonsense “scratch pad” app for your iPhone. It launches in a hot second, and greets you with a blank text-entry pane and blue blinking cursor. You are then free to type whatever it is you need to type out right now, and leave the fiddling to later when you have a few minutes.

The reason you want to use an app like Scratch for stuff like this is all in the way Scratch handles your text after you’ve typed it in.

Once you’ve made your note, you can export the text you’ve just typed by sending it to Simplenote, Byword, Notesy, et al. You can also email it; text message it; send it to OmniFocus as a to-do item, or as the note for a to-do item; tweet it from Tweetbot or post it to App.net; send it to Quotebook; send it to Day One; create a new text file in Dropbox, or append your new text to an already existing text file.

And the export options are customizable. When you tap the export button you don’t see the entire list of every supported app, you see only what you’ve enabled in Settings. I’ve enabled Simplenote, Day One, and Email export.

Scratch isn’t just for capturing now and processing when you’ve got a minute. It’s also great for capturing disposable information, like that coffee order or your Honey Do List — why launch an app that syncs when you only need to jot down something that’s relevant for the next hour?

The Custom Keyboard Row

Scratch makes clever use of a custom keyboard row. Instead of there being a top Navigation / Title bar, the text pane goes all the way to the top. And then above the default iOS keyboard is a 5th keyboard row.

This 5th row can be swiped left and right. It sports a set of Markdown-friendly custom keys, action buttons for your current note, and access to the settings pane.

Additional power-features include TextExpander support, and markdown auto completion for links.

Drafts

Similar in scope to Scratch is another excellent app: Drafts.

A few of Draft’s main differences include:

  • An iPad version which syncs to the iPhone.
  • An option to always launch with a blank text entry box.
  • A link mode, which takes mailing addresses, emails, phone numbers, and events and turns them into tappable links.

* * *

I highly recommend either of these apps — Scratch being one of three apps in my Dock. People have asked me why I use Scratch over Drafts. And though Drafts has a few more power features and is available on the iPad, I prefer Scratch because of the design.

Sweet App: Recall

I’m becoming fond of specialized, finely-tuned, someday-maybe-list-type apps such as the brand-new app, Recall. (cf. Checkmark.)

For one, I am (as are many of you, I suspect) a fan of apps that do one thing well. Secondly, the more my to-do list is filled with items not critical to my current projects or responsibilities then the more those non-critical items can dilute the importance of the truly critical ones. This is, of course why you should never set a due date for an item that’s not truly due that day. And it’s why you should at least separate your someday/maybe items from mingling in the list that reminds you to pay the mortgage and go buy groceries. But I digress.

Recall is an app for finding various types of media and saving them for later — such as movies, books, music, and apps. When you find a book you’d like to read one day or an album you’d like to listen to, then you simply add it to your running list. Recall shows you cover art, ratings, description, and a direct link to the iBookstore. And you can set reminders for each item. Recall can notify you when a movie comes to the big screen or when it comes to Blu-ray, or when an album becomes available to buy on iTunes.

I like that Recall combines the need for researching and finding something into the same step as saving it for later. The app is ultra fast, it looks gorgeous, and the whole experience of using it is very well polished. And it’s just a buck in the App Store.

Sweet App: Junecloud’s Delivery Status

Do you buy stuff on the Internet? I thought so. That’s why you’d probably like Junecloud’s Delivery Status apps.

Delivery Status is both a universal iOS app and a Dashboard Widget for OS X. You paste the tracking number for a shipment you’re expecting, and Delivery Status will keep tabs on it, letting you know where the package is and what day it will arrive. The apps and widget stay in sync via Junecloud’s sync service.

Delivery Status apps

Delivery Status supports 7 languages and over 35 global delivery services. I’ve used it for tracking packages from UPS, USPS, and FedEx and it has always been accurate.

When you get your shipment notification from Amazon or Apple or whomever, there are a few ways to add the tracking number to Delivery Status:

  • From the Dashboard widget, simply hit the “+” and enter in the tracking info. All you really need to do is paste in the tracking number and give your shipment a name. Junecloud is will know the carrier based on the tracking number.

  • The iOS apps are clever enough to recognize if you’ve got a tracking number on your device’s clipboard. If so, when you launch the app you’re asked if you want the tracking number to be used to create a new delivery.

    Delivery Status on iOS auto-add tracking number

  • Assuming you’ve signed up for the Junecloud sync service, you can forward your shipment notification email to track@junecloud.com and their servers will attempt to identify the tracking number and then add the shipment to your list of deliveries.

    I found that when I simply forward the email I get from Amazon, Junecloud isn’t able to find the tracking number. But by first highlighting the tracking number before forwarding, then only that information is sent, and Junecloud was quickly able to add it.

    When adding a delivery via email, whatever the subject line is will be the title of your item. Since I don’t want a delivery item called “Your Amazon.com order of “Contigo AUTOSEAL Stainless…” has shipped!”, I change the subject line to a more accurate description.

If you want push notifications in the iOS apps, you can easily set them up. They rely on your Dashboard Widget and your Junecloud sync account, which means that your iOS device will receive a push notification whenever your Mac notices the status of a delivery has changed. It would be nice if there were a more granular control about which statuses to send notifications about — I’d prefer to only receive notifications when an item is out on the truck for delivery and when it has been delivered.

To sum up, for someone who gets a fair amount of stuff delivered, Delivery Status is a superb way to track it. I haven’t seen the UPS or FedEx sites in months.

Sweet App: Favs

Between Twitter and my RSS feeds I come across a lot of things I want to bookmark for future reference. Some are articles to read for later but some are actionable items (like check out such and such app). And so I’ve established this habit where I “favorite” or “like” something as my way of bookmarking it. I also “like” most articles in Instapaper if they’re something I want to link to later.

Favs (pronounced fayves, I presume) is a nifty little Mac app that collects all your “favorites” and “likes” and into one place. It’s interface is not unlike an RSS reader, and it pulls your favorites from nearly 20 different services.

The app was in public beta for a while and so I’ve been kicking the tires on it for the past several weeks and like it quite a bit. It hit the Mac App Store just a few days ago — it’s polished and useful and definitely worth 5 bucks.

For a more in-depth review, check out Federico Viticci’s article.

Favs is $5 on the Mac App Store.

Sweet App: QuickShot

QuickShot is like DropVox but for images.

I found this iPhone app by spying on David Barnard’s Home screen. You use QuickShot to take a photo and it will then upload the image to Dropbox for you. It uploads in the background too, so you just snap a pic and close the app.

David explained how he uses the app to take pictures of all his tax-deductible, business expense receipts when on the go. When I read that, I thought to myself, what an extremely clever idea.

I keep my business receipts in Yojimbo, and so I’ve set up a folder action on my QuickShot Dropbox folder to run the below AppleScript. What the AppleScript does is: when I take a photo of a receipt using QuickShot the image will be tossed into Yojimbo with the tags “receipt” and “viaDropbox” and then the original image is deleted from my Dropbox folder.1


on adding folder items to this_folder after receiving these_items
    repeat with x from 1 to the count of these_items
        set theFile to item x of these_items
        set theTags to {"receipt", "viaDropbox"}
        try
            tell application "Yojimbo"
                set newItem to (import theFile)
                add tags theTags to newItem
            end tell
        end try
    end repeat
    tell application "Finder"
        delete these_items
    end tell
end adding folder items to


QuickShot is universal and just $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.


  1. Thanks to my pal, Brett Kelly, for a bit of AppleScript debugging to get the script to work right. Actually, especially thanks to him because it’s a script that works with Yojimbo and we all know he’s an Evernote guy.

Sweet App: Goodfoot for iPhone

Goodfoot is an iPhone app that helps you find cool, nearby places. And it does so by using the Gowalla API in one of the most clever ways I’ve seen.

Goodfoot iPhone app

I came across this app while doing research and preparation for our Creatiplicty episode with Trent Walton.

Goodfoot works by taking the most popular spots on Gowalla and then sorting them by distance (walking, biking, or driving distance) from where you currently are. Then it removes all the non-interesting spots from the list (such as big-brand locations, doctors offices, grocery stores, etc.) and does a pretty good job at only showing you worthwhile locations.

As you’re looking at each location Goodfoot has its own built-in Awesometer®. Goodfoot’s Awesometrics System rates the likelihood of that location being awesome by looking at how many total check-ins the location has compared to how many of those check-ins are unique. So, for example, a place with 100 check-ins from 100 unique people is probably a tourist hotspot and thus not that awesome (unless you think gift shops are awesome). A place with 100 check-ins from 20 people is clearly a local favorite and thus more likely to be awesome.

Once you find a spot that you want to go to, you can view that site in Gowalla or use Google Maps to get the exact location and directions.

Goodfoot is just a buck in the App Store and works wherever Gowalla users have been.

Sweet App: Airfoil for Mac

I heard about Airfoil via Twitter one day when I was wishing out loud that I could play the music from my Rdio desktop app through my home stereo which is connected to my Apple TV.

By default, I can only play music in my iTunes library through the Apple TV. Therefore, if I am listening to Rdio or Pandora while working in my office, I have to play the music through the laptop speakers. But that is where Airfoil comes in.

Airfoil Mac App works great with Rdio

Airfoil acts like a middleman for my audio and video by taking the audio from any source and send it to any speaker on your network. It certainly has many more use-case scenarios, but this is what I use it for and I am quite happy with it.

Moreover, Airfoil has its own EQ. This truly seals the deal for making it perfect companion to Rdio because Rdio does not have any way to adjust EQ. Even if you’re only using Airfoil to listen to Rdio on your laptop, it’s practically worth it to get a perfect EQ setting anyway.

I even adjusted my Keyboard Maestro macro for launching Rdio to now launch Airfoil first, wait a couple seconds, and then launch Rdio so that Airfoil can have the slight head start it needs in order to hijack the Rdio audio.

Sweet App: Hues for Mac

This Sweet App review is the first in a new type of post I’ll be writing for the site: short, mini-reviews of apps that come across my path. I’ve had it in my head that the only valid software reviews I shall ever publish to shawnblanc.net are ones which exceed 3,000 words. Moreover, I shall only write about apps which have become an integral part of my day-to-day computing life.

Well, that’s baloney. What about the apps I like but which don’t change my life? What about the apps I want to talk about but don’t have 3,000 words for? The weekly Sweet App review is the answer to these conundrums. Enjoy.

Hues

Hues is a simple and useful color finding tool for your Mac. I came across this app when its developer, Zach Waugh, emailed me to let me know about it.

Hues Color Picker for OS X

I like Hues because it has the familiarity of the built-in OS X color-picker tool, yet it with a few special modifications of its own:

  • It gives you the HEX, RGP, and HSL values for any color you pick. Since I design live in a browser having a light-weight app that helps me find colors and their HEX values is super helpful. I’m embarrassed to admit that used to launch Photoshop for the sole purpose of finding a color I liked and copying its HEX value. Needless to say, Hues is much more economical for that purpose than Photoshop is.
  • It has 5 rows for saved swatches instead of one. (Update: news to me is that if you click and drag the little dot underneath the swatch palette you can adjust how many rows of saved swatches are visible.)
  • In the app’s preferences you have the ability to remove any of the color pickers from the toolbar that you don’t use. I, for instance, only ever use the color wheel, so I removed the Sliders, the Palettes, and the Crayons.
  • It works, looks, and feels just like the native color picker, just better.

Hues is $3 in the Mac App Store.