Ivory for Mastodon Debuts

Apps

The iOS Mastodon client from the makers of Tweetbot (RIP) is now available on the app store. MacStories has a great review of the 1.0 launch:

Given Tapbots’ pedigree, it’s no surprise that Ivory is an elegant, tasteful take on displaying Mastodon posts in a reverse-chronological timeline. And considering how most client experiences right now are mimicking a Twitter-like design (not just on iOS), it’s no surprise to see Ivory 1.0 rely on the core structure and layout of Tweetbot. At a glance, the app looks very similar to its dearly departed avian cousin: on iPhone, you have a set of customizable tabs at the bottom of the screen; on iPad, there’s a narrow set of tabs on the left edge of the screen with the ability to display a secondary column for another view on the right. In both apps, you can tap a title bar element to switch between timeline views; in Ivory, unlike Tweetbot, you don’t switch between lists but you cycle through the home, local, and federated timeline of a Mastodon instance instead.

If you’re not on Mastodon yet, I highly recommend checking it out and moving off Twitter. You can follow Chorus and myself, and we can always use more music fans over there as well.

MacStories Reviews MusicBox

Apps

Federico Viticci, writing at MacStores:

 MusicBox, the latest app by indie developer Marcos Tanaka, is the “listen-later” music app of my dreams, the one I’ve wanted to use for years and that someone finallymade as a Universal app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’s rare for me these days to find new apps that elicit this kind of enthusiasm, but when I do, I know I’ve stumbled upon something special. MusicBox is one of those apps.

This review is going to be pretty straightforward. If you’re a music lover and use either Apple Music or Spotify, and if you feel like you discover more interesting music than you can possibly consume in a day, MusicBox is for you. Open the App Store, spend $2.99 (there are no subscriptions or In-App Purchases in the app), and you’ll get what is likely going to be one of your favorite apps of 2022. Then, if you want to learn more about what the app does, how it integrates with Apple Music, and how you can set it up on your device, come back to this story and let’s dive in.

iOS Music Player Showcase

Apps

Marc Barrowclift wrote the most comprehensive guide to iOS music playing apps I’ve ever read:

There’s new and exciting developments every year in the realm of iOS third-party music players, and 2021 was no exception. While 2019 enjoyed an explosion of new players like Power Player and Albums that through time came to lead the space, 2020 in contrast received only a modest handful of new players and is instead remembered for the impressive growth the established player base received that year. This past year, 2021, managed to do both with a dizzying array of five new players and impressive growth across nearly all existing players.

A long, but extremely detailed and informative article. My favorite remains Marvis, due to its customizability, widget, and Last.fm integration.

Albums 4.2 Released

Apps

Albums, an iOS app we’ve written about before, got a new release:

You can now subscribe to Record Labels in the Release Feed and load their discographies from their collection pages. Not just the few hundred labels Apple supports in the Apple Music API, mind you, but all the labels your little heart desires.

There is a certain genre of feature that I tell my wife about and she says “you know you are the only person who cares about that, right?” And I say “you may bag me up and put me out with the trash on the day that I release a new version of Albums where I didn’t spend a week going down a rabbit hole working on something you will correctly tell me only I care about.” 

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 2, 2021

The Launch Center Pro way of making icons has been removed by Apple as of iOS 14.5. If you had made the profile/icons before, they still work, but now the best solution for custom icons is to use the Shortcut method.

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.

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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.

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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.

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