A Cool Now Playing Widget for Your Desktop

Apps

Beautiful Pixels:

Sleeve is a beautifully crafted app for macOS that displays your currently playing track as a tiny widget on your Desktop. Made by Hector Simpson and Alasdair Monk from Replay, it works with Apple Music or Spotify and comfortably lives on your desktop without getting in your way. We’ve only been playing around with it for a day, but can confidently say that Sleeve is the ultimate example of a really polished and delightful app.

Sleeve shows the album artwork, track name, artist name, and album name on the Desktop. It’s not an interactive widget, so you can’t control playback using Sleeve (not that we want to). It works natively with the Apple Music and Spotify apps and doesn’t require your account details.

Sleeve is $5 and available here.

MacStories Reviews Albums 4.0

Apps

John Voorhees, reviews the new version of Albums 4.0 at MacStories:

Albums 4.0 is a beautifully designed, feature-rich app with more filtering and discovery tools than any other music app I’ve tried. The app is also opinionated, favoring album playback over individual songs or playlists. It’s the sort of focused, deep approach to music that Apple’s Music app doesn’t offer because it’s designed to appeal to a wider audience.

If you’re an albums-first music fan, you’ll love Albums. However, even if you prefer singles, playlists, and jumping around the Apple Music catalog as I do, Albums is worth checking out. The app’s powerful filtering opens up brand new ways to enjoy your music collection that any music fan can appreciate.

Capo 4 Released

Apps

The new version of Capo has been released:

The new chord detection engine in Capo 4 is powered by a deep neural network that was developed and trained in-house at SuperMegaUltraGroovy using proprietary tools. “Our chord detection has always used some form of machine learning, but what we’re shipping with Capo 4 is a huge leap forward for us,” says Liscio. “It’s far more accurate, detects many more chords, and now it can even identify inversions.” Capo’s support for inversions allows it to identify the lowest note played in any given chord. For example, it can now distinguish between a C major chord that is played with a C, an E, or a G in the bass.

My iOS 14 Home Screen

Jason's iPhone 11

I like keeping screenshots and documenting my iOS home screens over the years so I can look back on how I had everything set up and remembering what it was like. The release of iOS 14 brings even more customizable options with the new widgets and stacks. I decided to describe my current layout, my custom iOS 14 icons, and add a little commentary about the apps.

UPDATE • Oct 23, 2020

I’ve made some changes, notably changing up how all my custom icons look. All the screen shots have been updated.

Read More “My iOS 14 Home Screen”

SongKit App Review

Apps

Brian Sutich reviewed the new songwriting app SongKit for Chasing Sound:

You can think of SongKit as a super powered, musician-focused songwriting text editor. And the difference from other songwriting apps I’ve tested over the years are significant. SongKit is way more than just a nice coat of paint.

You can write lyrics, chord charts, and even tab. The power comes in when using notations. Right now there are chord chart and tablature notations, and it seems like more will be on the way in future updates of the app! You can use multiple voices in a song, and in my testing of the app, found that if you had two voices (guitar and piano) you could switch back and forth, and the chord diagrams would adjust accordingly – a really nice touch. If you’re using the app live or for practice, there’s a helpful autoscroll option that scrolls the song depending on your preferences.

Soor Offers Customizable Widgets for Apple Music

iPhone

MacStories details the third party Apple Music app, Soor, and their customizable home screen widgets for iOS 14:

Soor’s Now Playing widget is a much nicer way to find out what you’re listening to. Sticking a small widget on your Home screen or in your Today view will not only display the name of the currently playing song, but also provide artwork and let you know what music is coming up next. 

MusicHarbor Gets iOS 14 Update

Apps

MusicHarbor, a great app for tracking new music coming out from your favorite artists, got a big iOS 14 update. MacStories has a rundown of the new features:

MusicHarbor also offers three types of widgets: Upcoming Releases, Latest Releases, and Stats. Upcoming Releases and Latest Releases draw from the albums collected in those sections of the app. Upcoming releases come in small and medium variants, while Latest Releases also includes a large widget. Each type displays a grid of album art, album details in some cases, and release date. The small widgets simply act as launchers for MusicHarbor, while the medium and large ones will open the album tapped.

MusicSmart Puts the Spotlight on Music Credits

Apps

Federico Viticci, writing at MacStories, about the new app MusicSmart:

Here’s the amazing part – the “aha” moment that brought back the same feelings I had as a kid when reading through liner notes: in the Tracks section, you can tap any of the listed songs to view detailed credits for the selected song. These go beyond the standard “written by” credits you see in Apple Music: MusicSmart lists engineers (including mixing, mastering, and assistant engineers), producers, and even the name of the label and studio where the song was mastered. But there’s more: MusicSmart can show you the names of all the artists credited for the creation of a song even if they’re not core members of a band, including backing vocalists, percussionists, keyboard players, saxophonists – you name it.

I’ve been playing around with this app for the last couple of weeks and it’s a really nice addition for those that want to dive deeper into the credits of a song. In past I’d be listening to something and often wonder who was playing one of the backing instruments, or trying to figure out if the strings were real or fake, and end up Googling around and hoping I could find the information or a photo of the album credits. This is much nicer.

Read More “MusicSmart Puts the Spotlight on Music Credits”

Casey Liss Launches ‘Vignette’ App to Fix Your Contact Photos

Apps

Casey Liss has released a new iOS app to quickly add photos to your contacts using their social media profiles. MacStories has a good rundown:

Unlike many other apps that aim to streamline the act of adding contact photos, Vignette doesn’t require access to any of your personal social media accounts. Commonly, apps will ask you to log in to Facebook, for example, so they can crawl your friends list to extract profile images and other data for your contacts. While this is an effective method, it also requires giving a third-party app special access to your social media accounts. Vignette takes a different approach.

Drafts 5 Released

Apps

The new version of one of my favorite apps, Drafts, has been released:

Drafts is a launching-off point for text – use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services. Compose a tweet or message, create a file in Dropbox, send a task off to Reminders – there are hooks into tons of your favorite apps.

If I need to make a note of anything, Drafts is where I start. Once I get the text out of my head and into the app, then I can decide where it needs to go (is it a tweet, task, reminder, note, etc.). It’s changed how I think about text and notes on my phone.

Worth a Look: Scratch Track

Apps

Today I came across this app called Scratch Track. The app lets you record song ideas and easily share them with bandmates to foster collaboration and keep everything in one spot. Here’s the founder on Medium talking about the app:

The concept for Scratch Track came from years of playing in DIY/punk bands, where musicians are always adapting to the latest, cheapest recording tools for capturing basic ideas. In recent years, we’ve found ourselves and many others relying heavily on the Voice Memo app (a simple recording tool that comes pre-installed on the iPhone). Capturing new ideas with Voice Memo was incredibly easy, but unfortunately, everything after that was a struggle.

You can watch a quick trailer here. The group sharing/collaboration feature is pretty great. I think being able to add notes and tags to the song clips would help with searching and sorting. This is definitely an app I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Read More “Worth a Look: Scratch Track”

Letterboxd Comes to iPad

Apps

Letterboxd, an app for tracking movies that I’ve talked a bit about before, has launched version 2.0:

In the 22 months since the launch of our iPhone app, we’ve consistently received the same feedback: please make this work on my iPad! We’re pleased to announce that today we’ve shipped Letterboxd 2.0 for iOS, a universal app with native iPad support that brings the richness of our community to the larger form factor.

You can follow me here if you’re interested.

Pixelmator Pro Releases to Mac App Store

Apps

Pixelmator, one of my favorite image editors on the Mac, has released Pixelmator Pro:

The Pixelmator Team today released Pixelmator Pro, a brand new Mac app that redefines image editing on the Mac, providing professional-grade editing tools in an incredibly intuitive and accessible design. Pixelmator Pro 1.0, codenamed Whirlwind, includes a modern single-window interface, nondestructive, GPU-powered image editing tools, machine learning-enhanced editing features, and more.

MacStories has a good review:

The decision of whether to move to Pixelmator Pro won’t be a clear one for everyone given the price differential. That’s exacerbated by a small, but real learning curve associated with the Pro version because many of the tools have moved and the menus have changed. In addition, Pixelmator remains a solid app that includes many of the features that Pixelmator Pro has. That said, Pixelmator Pro has been built from the ground up with Apple’s current technologies, which I expect will mean that in time, Pixelmator will be left behind its Pro sibling, gaining fewer and fewer of the Pro version’s features.