Vivaldi (free), the new browser from some of the creators of Opera, blends appealing looks with clever innovations. But while Vivaldi deserves applause for trying new things and getting many of them right, it still strikes a few sour notes.
Many browsers trade off between ease of use and customization, sacrificing one for the other’s sake. Vivaldi doesn’t. You can move and change nearly every element in the interface, but upon first opening, Vivaldi walks you through that process with easy, elegant setup screens. Want tabs on the bottom of the window, and the URL bar up top? No problem. (If you change your mind, you can adjust all these elements, with only slightly more difficulty, in Vivaldi’s clean and well-organized Preferences.)
Our productivity is measured in megabits. No matter how fast the processors are or how much RAM we have installed, our Macs are only as efficient as the Internet connections they receive; in this age of always-on apps and streaming everything, downloads speeds are king, and even a slight dip in bandwidth can make or break your day.
Whether you rely on the Internet for work or play, you want to make sure your connection is always running at its optimal speed (or just something close to what you pay for). There are numerous ways to do so right in your browser, with Ookla’s speedtest.net setting the bar with a reliable tool that doesn’t use Flash. But like most browser tests, it’s not exactly elegant, with several banner ads surrounding the testing screen, and some may have concerns over the potential for viruses or malware.
Believe it or not, QuickTime turns 25 years old this year. The multimedia software that debuted with System Software 6 (?!) soon became the de facto method for playing video on the Mac, eventually introducing an optional Pro upgrade that allowed users to perform basic edits, merge files, and export to supported video codecs.
With the release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard and QuickTime X in 2009, Apple went back to basics, stripping QuickTime Player X of most pro-centric functionality. Over time, some features like trim would return, but in the eyes of power users, the damage was done.
There’s been no shortage of powerful media players ever since, many capable of playing just about any file you can throw at it, even without proper codes installed. But these alternatives are often designed for power users, rather than content creators who require a fast, lightweight player for reviewing files.
Airfoil 5 is a digital ventriloquist that lets you throw your computer’s “voice.” The latest version builds on the foundation of letting you take a single app’s audio output and route it to one or more places to play it back. It's something like iTunes multi-“speaker” support but with much more control and it works with any application, all while not relying entirely on AirPlay.
Airfoil can target any AirPlay destination, as it’s long been able to. In my house, that includes an older and current-generation Apple TV, a Yamaha stereo receiver during a brief period of rudimentary but functional AirPlay support, two computers via Airfoil Satellite
(also discussed in this review), and a Jawbone Mini Jambox (via Bluetooth). Airfoil Satellite can stream to iOS and Windows 10 devices and Airfoil Speakers in Android. That’s a lot of options.
Way back in 2009, developer Tapbots released an iPhone app that made it easy to organize, store, and search everything you’ve ever copied to the clipboard. Through what I can only assume was the power of sorcery, Pastebot also worked in tandem with OS X companion software, allowing anything copied on the Mac side to be magically pushed to iOS, and vice-versa.
Although iCloud makes such app-to-device interoperability seem like child’s play today, at the time Pastebot was nothing short of a revelation. Sadly, the app was put out to pasture last year and faces an uncertain future, leaving longtime users to hold a candlelight vigil in its absence.
There are lots of ways you can manage windows in OS X. You can use Spaces, or you could use multiple displays, and sort your windows on different virtual or physical desktops. But if you don't use either of these methods, you may find that when you have a lot of windows visible on your display, it can be hard to focus.
HazeOver helps you deal with multiple windows by masking the ones that are in the background, putting a sort of translucent curtain behind your frontmost window. Instead of seeing multiple windows with their text and graphics distracting you from your task at hand, HazeOver lets you focus on the app and window you're working in. You can dim your Twitter client, your email app, and Messages, so their changes don't catch your eye when you're browsing the web or writing in a word processor.
Jumsoft’s Infographics app is not so much an app as it is a collection of high quality images, graphs, and table elements you can use and repurpose in Keynote presentations. Or, translated into a little old-school parlance, this is high quality clipart designed for use in Keynote that, unlike normal clipart, can be edited and updated so it looks and works just the way you want.
Infographics is purchased and downloaded from the App Store, but the app itself is really just a delivery system for Keynote templates containing Infographics’ custom table, graph, and graphic elements. (It should be noted that everything in Infographics, and more, is available as an in-app purchase in Jumsoft’s Toolbox for Keynote app.) This is an important distinction. You don’t create any Keynote elements using Infographics, instead you open them in Keynote and copy and paste them into your own presentations. You’ll need Keynote 6 or later in order to use any of the templates in the app. Also of note, while these are designed for Keynote, you can use any Infographics element in any iWork application.