Boy, what a week! Two of the highly anticipated iPhone apps, Spark and Pixelmator for iPhone were finally launched. And then, we got the wonderful surprise in the shape of Google Photos. I haven’t seen so many high quality, productivity-focused app launches in the same week for a long time. In that spirit, today’s roundup is largely about productivity apps (other than the free puzzle game of the week).
This week’s apps will help you finally figure out email, will bring desktop-class photo editing tools to your iPhone, will help you create GIFs and take notes with a touch of class.
1. App Store’s Free App of the Week: Hyper Square
Hyper Square is a fast-paced and colorful puzzle game backed by funky techno music. Your only objective is to place all the squares in their respective target locations. The premise is simple, but the game gets difficult as you go on.
2. TechPP’s Free App of the Week: Spark by Readdle
If you listen to Apple podcasts you know Spark has been hyped up by beta testers for quite a while now. Merlin Mann, the host of Back to Work and Roderick on the Line and the inventor of the Inbox Zero phenomenon has given his seal of approval, which is a big deal.
The app itself is free and like any modern email app, the pitch is to make the email “smart”. While the app won’t magically take care of all your email, it gives you tools to make email feel like less of a drudgery. There’s a beautiful viewing mode, smart filters, smart folders, smart search, smart everything. If you’re looking for an iPhone email app, check out Spark. It does a lot more than what I’ve described above. In fact it does too much to go into here. If you’re interested, check out Federico Viticci’s in-depth Spark review.
3. Pixelmator for iPhone
Pixelmator is a $30 Mac app that gives Photoshop a run for its money. When it launched on the iPad last year, with most of the Mac app’s features intact, I was surprised. This week, I’m in shock because Pixelmator made it to the iPhone. It’s only $4.99 right now (down from $9.99) and let me tell you, when it comes to editing photos, professionally, but simply, it doesn’t get better than Pixelmator. Also, it’s a universal app so $4.99 gives you both the iPhone and iPad version. If you already had the iPad app, this is basically a free update for you.
Story time! Years ago, Marco Arment, the developer of Instapaper used to have an app called Bugshot. The iOS community loved its simple annotation, text and blur tools. But soon it fell out of active development. And Skitch basically took over that category. But after being bought by Evernote, Skitch for iPhone hasn’t gotten much attention and for some users it can be buggy.
Now, Lickability has acquired Bugshot, rewritten it from the ground up for the 2015 era and released the app as Pinpoint for free. You can upgrade to the pro version For $4.99 and get access to more colors but for most users, the basic access to annotation, arrows, text and blur tools is going to be enough.
5. Google Photos
Announced at Google I/O last week, Google Photos is something iOS users should pay attention to. You get free unlimited backup of photos and videos (till 16 MP for images and 1080P for video). Yes, the images are compressed, but according to user testing, Google’s algorithms are quite good.
The reason why you should consider Google Photos is because it’s the only service offering free truly unlimited backup right now. Hosting thousands of photos on iCloud would costs couple of dollars every month. Also, with Google Photos you get the advantages of automatic organization of all your photos based on people, location and time. You can also search through photos. Learn more about it here.
Relevant wants to be a curated and controlled Google Now clone. What that means is that you add stuff to track, like the weather, locations, news, Product Hunt or Hacker News and it will show information in a cards view. You can swipe inside cards to view more information.
GifLab is a feature-rich app for making GIFs from videos. You can pick specific parts of a video, stitch it all together and add text easily.
Mosaic is a free notebook app from the makers of physical notebooks, Baron Fig. Weird, right? Turns out, the experience of making physical notebooks does translate to the digital world. You start out with what’s called a “page”. You add a title, type in some text or add images. The app’s homescreen shows a timeline view of all your pages. You can swipe to delete stuff. Mosaic is in no way going to replace Evernote but if you’re looking for something simple and elegant, try this app out.
9. Moleskine Timepage
Moleskine Timepage is another physical book maker taking a stab at the app world. Only this time, it’s not a free app. The $4.99 Timepage app is a timeline for your entire day. In this beautiful screen you’ll see scrolling information for all your calendar events. There’s integration for maps, contacts and weather and it comes with a Watch app.
The team behind the beautiful TV show tracker TeeVee 3 now has a companion movie tracking app called MooVee ($1.99). If you’re crazy about movies and take it a bit more seriously than the next guy, check out MooVee. It will provide you with everything you need for a movie you’re interested in. Trailers, description and notifications for when the movie is coming out.
App Deals for Monday, June 1st
– Active Voice ($9.99 -> Free)
– Pixelmator ($9.99 -> $4.99)
– Writedown ($0.99 -> Free)
– Sapphire Cell: Escape ($1.99 -> Free)
– PDF Reader Premium ($4.99 -> Free)