I have a hobby that may surprise people and simultaneously make them think I’m bonkers… I love dabbling in astrology. I know, most people will say it’s rubbish, but I’ve erected enough astrology charts to think Hamlet was right when he said: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy.” I used to be a Kairon user, software developed by an Austrian astrologer/programmer who stopped updating the macOS application a few years ago. Then I started using iPhemeris on the iPad by Clifford Ribaudo, but that software gets updated very occasionally and you Ribaudo hides behind an alleged Apple bug in iOS that prevents users from exporting complete charts and tables. But in the week between Christmas and New Year I’ve found a macOS/iOS/Android software that might be the astrology app Mac users have been craving for a long time. It’s Astro Gold and it’s been developed by the same people who made Solar Fire the industry standard on Windows PCs. So, although it’s off-topic, here’s a review of Astro Gold.
Affinity Designer for iPad is the much anticipated competitor of Adobe Illustrator on the iPad. It’s a well-designed port from Designer on the Mac in terms of power and capabilities, and of integration with the iOS environment.
ScreenFlow 8 is a paid upgrade and it’s a big upgrade. Telestream has made ScreenFlow a more professional video editing tool with a detachable timeline and track thumbnails. It’s faster and has time-saving templates and styles that resemble Photoshop more than it does a NLE. And it comes with a subscription-based royalty-free stock media library that has video clips, backgrounds and audio tracks.
Screen captures are often a necessity for use with presentations, magazine articles, and tutorials. The ability to create them comes with your operating system, but TechSmith’s Snagit offers a lot more flexibility and adds the ability to create short videos of your screen as well. Its latest version adds the ability to grab and recognise text, while Smart Move lets you move elements on screen that can be considered to be independent screen components.
Animation for anything from presentations to games and goofy Youtube movies is possible with CrazyTalk Animator 3. This, the developer says, is the world's easiest 2D animation software that enables all levels of users to create professional animations with the least amount of effort, and I agree – up to a point.
Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Affinity Designer and Photo, allow you to create patterns that you can use and reuse as backgrounds, desktop or real-world wallpaper, etc. They all require you to start from a vector or bitmap image such as a drawing or photograph and then work out how to make it seamlessly repeating. That’s not too easy, to say the least, but Patternodes has found a simpler, more user-friendly way to do it.
Fancy creating a screencast or a presentation involving demos of iPad apps, or a PiP (picture in Picture) video presentation of new software? Then ScreenFlow has been your best option for some years now. Telestream recently released version 7 of the application. It comes with new options, such as text animations, a global media library, multi-pass x264 encoding and more.
SketchBook Pro users enjoy a whole year of improvements and new features even, for a price of about €30/year. A few months ago, Autodesk’s sketch app was upgraded to version 8, which comes with textured brushes, a new predictive stroke and direct access to brush libraries created by leading professionals. I checked out if the new stuff is worth the subscription money.
British thermal label specialist Peninsula Group develops one of the few barcode apps available for Mac users. It’s called Barcode X and you can create most of the currently existing barcodes with it — 170 different types to be exact — without risking to make errors. I had the opportunity to test the latest version.
OmniGraffle has been and is for creating precise graphics such as website wireframes, electrical systems, family trees, presentation diagrams and maps of software classes. Everyone from professional artists and designers to casual data mappers and beginning diagrammers will find something gratifyingly new in OmniGraffle 7. I had the opportunity to review the Pro version.