AppControls Review

AppControls 1Mac App Store is filled with applications which are created with solely one purpose. This is a reaction to professional-grade software which is very powerful, but which is also very expensive and requires time to learn and master. Let’s, for example, take Photoshop. This is a well-known photo editor, which comes with numerous high-end capabilities, and is used by professionals who are properly trained. It would be unreasonable for you, as an average home user, to buy this application in case you simply need to edit your digital photo library. That’s why Mac App Store offers plenty of simple photo editors which are focusing only on one feature like cropping, adding borders, creating black and white effect, or currently popular tilt-shift effect. Most importantly, they usually costs only a few dollars. Many applications like these are always in the top 10 of bestselling apps, so I assume that it a very wise business decision as well.

Today we are going to talk about an application named AppControls, which could be purchased through Mac App Store for $14.99. It comes from Blue Crowbar, which specializes in simple photo editors.

AppControls is used to create custom controls for iOS and Mac apps, and those can be sliders and buttons. Since it costs $14.99, I wanted to see what kind of features it brings, since you can surely find a similar application for a much lower price.

AppControls 2

Once you open AppControls, you’ll see a fairly familiar and clutter-free interface. Of course, it would be familiar if you’ve worked before in photo editors, or Photoshop for example. There’s a top bar which allows you to export an image, or to save a preset. It also allows you show presents, which could speed up creation from scratch, and could be useful to uniform design in larger projects. In the top right corner you’ll “Show CSS” button, and actually AppControls will generate CSS for use in an external or an inline style elements. It can even create specific CSS for WebKit and Mozilla, which is good news for web designers and developers.

AppControls 3

There aren’t that many tools you can use, but on the other hand, this depends on your skill and creativity, since you can do very nice effects with a few tools. For example, you can create different shapes with a great precision, and you will have unlimited choice of colors. Then, you can add borders, drop inner and outer shadows, all with fine precision. Of course, you can add and edit text.

Basically, AppControls brings all of the essential tools in order to create a standard looking button. It also brings some fine precision, which makes work a lot easier. Still, I do believe that $14.99 is overpriced, since you can find a better deal right there on the Mac App Store.

 

CameraBag 2 for Mac Review

Just as the iPad and the iPhone arrived, and once the iOS App Store appeared, photo editing applications became extremely popular. These devices offer innovative and unique way to control and edit your photos, which was very appealing to users. Most of these applications are very simple to use, and they tend to target one specific type of potential users. For example, some of them bring ability to turn your pictures into sketches, others offer ability to create collages, and there are some which offer entry-level editing and preloaded photo effects.

After Apple introduced Mac App Store, large number of these popular photo editing applications which were previously iOS exclusive, were rewritten to be used on a large screen. Most of them offer the same or very similar interface, but simply because screen is much larger on Macs, made this application look brand new.

With the popularity of Instagram, many application appeared which offered similar photo effects filtering, which could change atmosphere of a photo in just one click. In this article we’ll review probably the most successful example of a photo editor which uses preloaded effects to edit a photo. It is called CameraBag 2, and is one of the runner ups for the 2012 App of the Year award.

CameraBag 2 offers unique way to edit photos, by introducing already well-known photo effects. The main difference between this application and hundreds of others who also use preloaded effects is in the way how CameraBag 2 piles up layers of effects and offers fine-tuning for each of these layers. This gives us unlimited number of effects, which all depends on your imagination and creativity.

Once you open a photo in CameraBag 2, you’ll notice a beautiful and streamlined interface. Whole window is focused on a photo you’re editing, so it is real pleasure to use this application on large iMac displays. There’s only a small vertical bar which features photo effects, which are organized in several categories. These categories, or groups of similar effects, could be found in a very thin vertical bar on the right side of the window.

When you decide to add an effect, you can simply hover over it and a small window will appear which will show you a preview of your photo. Simply click on an effect and it will be automatically applied. Every effect comes with some tweaking options, so you can fine-tune amount of color, or strengths of shadows, or graininess, and so much more. Now, you can apply another effect on top of existing one, which creates a completely different setting. You can now fine-tune the latest layer (effect) and you can also go back to any previous layer and change its settings as well.

CameraBag 2 comes with approximately 100 preloaded effects, which means that you can play with this application for a very long time.

 

Any Video Converter Review

Back at the times when I was a Windows user, I always had a problem with video converter applications. There are numerous occasions when you need to convert a video so you can send it to someone, or in case you’d like to watch in on your iPhone, iPad, PlayStation Portable and similar devices. Problem with most of video converters for Windows is that they are a synonym for malware, so in most cases you will end up with a worm or some type of spyware. Of course, you can always purchase a license for a professional software, but tends to be quite pricey, and frankly, you will only need it once in a while.

Once I switched to Mac OS X, which was also a long time ago, I didn’t have a problem with video converters, since most of this converting would happen in Apple designed iLife. Since I mostly convert videos to watch them on my iPad, all I need to do is to import them into iTunes and everything else will be completely automatic and in the background. Still, you will surely need a converter which could deal with some of the unusual video formats, and this is when you will need to find a suitable application. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about malware since you find one at the Mac App Store.

The application which we will review in this article is called Any Video Converter, which is created by AnvSoft. There is a free version, but in case you plan on using this application on a daily basis, you can purchase a license which will unlock a Pro version.

Any Video Converter is able to effortlessly convert formats like ASF, AVI, MPEG1/2/4, WMV, MOV, MP3 and 3GP, for example. You can also export it as any of the previously mentioned formats, and you can also fine-tune all of the settings associated with that particular video format.

This application doesn’t only convert videos, since you can also use it to convert audio files as well as to automatically download YouTube videos and transform them into viewable format. Just like with video files, you can fine-tune output settings, so you can make sure that you’ll get the best possible quality. In case you don’t want to mess around with these important settings and parameters, you can use one of the preloaded profiles by selecting a device you want to use to view those files. This is how you can select iPad, iPhone, PSP, Windows Phone or any other popular device, and Any Video Converter will automatically adjust resolution and all other settings.

Any Video Converter comes with an interface which is quite similar to any other video converters. This means that it can be a bit difficult for a complete newbie, but you will eventually find your way around. Still, this is a free application which does somewhat complication operation, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

Snapseed for Mac Review

Ever since the original iOS App Store appeared, photo editing applications became hugely popular and successful. First simple photo editors became available for iPhone, but this trend became mainstream once iPad was introduced. iPad is a perfect device for this type of applications, since it gives you very intuitive ways to control your image and apply effects, which is something that we haven’t witnessed before. Once Apple introduced Mac App Store, many of these applications were rewritten so they can work on Mac OS X, and many of them proved to be a huge success.

Most of these applications offer basic and somewhat advanced photo editing capabilities, which makes them user-friendly and much more approachable than some other popular photo editing applications, like Photoshop. What’s different between these applications and Photoshop, is that these applications are aimed to be used by an average user who doesn’t have a knowledge of working in a complex application like Photoshop actually is.

In this article we are bringing you a review of one of the most interesting photo editing applications for Mac OS X, called Snapseed. You’re most likely somewhat familiar with this app, since it was first developed for iOS devices and it was a huge success for Nik software, a developer company who stands behind this creation.

Snapseed for Mac OS X offers familiar interface which is not much different than the one in iOS versions. In order to get started, all you need to do is to drag-and-drop a photo onto the open Snapseed window. This will open its main window where you will see a set of icons on the left side, which are symbols of different types of adjustments and effects that you can apply. Few icons on the top are basic adjustments like color enhancements, the ability to crop and straighten your image as well as to adjust some other details. The rest of them could be referred to as creative adjustments, and this is something that makes Snapseed unique.

These creative adjustments let you create Black & White photo, center focus of your image, add drama effect (change various color moods), insert a tilt-shift feature, and finally add some frames. There are also some other mood-enhancing features like Vintage and Grunge, all of which you can fine-tune up to their smallest bits. All of these features are applied the same way as with iOS edition, where you drag up-and-down or left-to-right to apply effect and then increase/decrease its intensity.

Snapseed is unique and so popular because it is not a classic photo editor. It easily gives your photos a certain shine or a mood which is hard to explain. And the best thing is that it’s so fun to use it, and you don’t have to have any previous knowledge.

Snapseed could be purchased through Mac App Store for $19.99.

Photoshop Elements Editor Review

PS Elements 1

PS Elements 1Photoshop is certainly one of the most important tools in digital publishing, web design, photography, and graphic design. Of course, there are numerous other professions which are using this tool on a daily basis. Since it’s considered a professional software, it’s priced quite high, especially if you’re buying bundled pack called Creative Suite which is also a necessity in today’s digital world.

During the last couple of years, Adobe – the creator of Photoshop and Creative Suite pack, tried to offer less expensive version of Photoshop, which is created for home users. Even though this version doesn’t offer tools as powerful as those in the original, these tools are more than enough for an average basic user who would like to edit photos and prepare them for print or online publishing. This version of Photoshop is called Photoshop Elements Editor and you can purchase it through Mac App Store for $79.99. This means that it’s still a little bit pricey, but remember that PS Elements is not created only to crop a photo or to color it, since this is still a powerful software and you’ll need to take some time to learn its features in order to get the most out of it.

At first, PS Elements is quite similar to original Photoshop, but it’s obvious that it’s more user-friendly. You’ll have a set of standard tools in the vertical toolbar on the left side, while right side is reserved for various tools which could be turned on or off through a Window command in the menu.

PS Elements 2One of the biggest changes, comparing it to the original PS is the set of tabs located on the right side, in this order: Edit, Create, and Share. This is where you’ll find a lot of great features, which are all put together. Edit tab will let you automatically adjust your photos in many different ways. There are also a lot of preloaded effects which you directly apply to you photos and you can also use features to fine-tune you image. All these editing features are located within Edit tab. Finally, there’s one more very helpful thing and that’s the Guided option which explains each of the editing feature. This is perfect for new users as well as for anyone who would like to fully utilize each of the tools PS Elements offers.

You can also create many different pre-formatted photo files like photo books, greeting cards, collages and more, by using Create tab. Finally, there’s also a Share tab which lets you easily share a photo through one of most popular online services like Flickr and Facebook, but you can use create online photo album, attach a photo to an email on burn you gallery to a DVD media.

In overall, this is certainly the best and the most comprehensive photo editing solution available, for an average consumer. It’s priced at $79.99, and it is well worth it.

Picasa 3.9 Review

Picasa

PicasaMac OS X has been always known for its ease of use and simplicity. One of its biggest qualities is that you can use it right after you’ve turned it on for the first time, since it comes with a large number of preinstalled applications. Perhaps the best known is the iLife suite, which includes photo and video managers, as well as some creative music apps. Even though iPhoto is surely one of the most popular photo editors for Macs, many other companies are also trying to present their own ideas of what a great photo manager and editor should be. One of these companies, who already produced interesting and quite popular photo editor for Windows, is Google.

Picasa is Google’s photo manager and editor, whose latest stable version is 3.9. This shows that Picasa is under the constant development, so it actually became quite useful and interesting photo editor for Mac OS X.
The best way to review Picasa and to show how it actually manages your photos is to compare it to its biggest rival – Apple’s iPhoto. As you probably know, iPhoto stores your images into its own picture library where it classifies them according to its own rules. You manage and edit your photos directly within iPhoto, so in case you’d like to move it to your USB, you can simply drag it from the iPhoto window to a desired destination.

Picasa does things a little bit differently. It doesn’t have its own library, but it actually uses paths to photo folders that you need to set up. This can be helpful in case you’ve got several partitions and pictures scattered across all of them. This way you can set up Picasa to look for all your personalized pictures folders on all these hard drive partitions and to show your library within one Picasa window. After that, you can create specific albums and folders to reorganize photos the way it most convenient for you. So, even though iPhoto offers famed Apple simplicity, Picasa can be used in a number of time-saving actions.

Picasa is not only photo manager, but it also has some nice editing tools. You can use a wide range of basic photo retouches to improve your photos and there are some interesting tools like collages and preloaded photo effects. Each new version adds new effects, so with the version 3.9 you really have a plenty of options. Google has decided to separate effects into two groups: basic and advanced effects and each one of these give you some really nice fine-tuning options.

Since Picasa is Google’s online photo depository which is connected to your Google account, Mac application has a lot of ties with its online service. You can directly edit online photos, rearrange them, tag people who appear on your photos and upload them. You can also share your photos with your Google+ circles.

MacReview.com Verdict:

Overall, Picasa is a very nice application which features a lot of capable photo editing tools. Surely, you can benefit the most in case you’ve got a Google+ profile and in case you’re using online Picasa service.

Pixelmator Review

PixelmatorThere a lot of interesting image editors, specially made for Mac OS X, which are quite popular within the Mac App Store. One of those is called Pixelmator, which is holding a top position for a while now, and there are numerous reasons. This application has been under development since 2007, and the biggest success of 2011, when Apple named it Mac App Store – App of the Year (2011).

One of the biggest advantages of Pixelmator is that it combines beauty and streamlined interface with the simplicity of use. Even new users, who haven’t gotten the chance to work with image editors before, will start working and editing their images almost immediately. You can achieve really astonishing result in just a few mouse clicks. This application is not as powerful as some professional-grade image editors like Adobe’s Photoshop, but it brings tons of interesting features for a very competitive price, and is user friendly.

Pixelmator is Mac-only application and it implements itself nicely within the Mac OS X desktop interface. Once you open it, you can choose if you’d like to open an existing image, or use a blank canvas with a number of preloaded sizes. Once you choose the one you like, you’ll be taken to a main Pixelmator window. This application actually doesn’t come in all-in-one window, since you’ll get the image you’re working on freely floating, just like any other opened toolbars (or differently said – small floating windows with tools). This way you can simultaneously work on several different images, which means that Pixelmator can be used graphic designers and serious photographers, not only home users.

While working in Pixelmator, you’ll get all of the essential tools which you hope to find in an image editor. You can use several different selection tools, work with brushes, manipulate layers, add and edit shapes, text elements, color adjustments and much more. Since this is a Mac-only application, developers worked hard to implement some of the Mac OS Lion and Mountain Lion features like support for a full screen, auto-save and versions features as well as the Info Bar feature. Another important thing is Pixelmator is being frequently updated, so you’ll get updated as well as new features, without paying additional price.

The newest feature is call “2.1 Cherry” and it brings support for retina displays as well as support for iCloud, which means that you can work on several computers without need for USB drive to transfer your files. New version also brings new preloaded effects like vintage and miniaturize, as well as some very nice alignment guides which are very easy to use and quite helpful, that you couldn’t find as such in other serious applications like Photoshop.

During the test period, Pixelmator was very stable and it showed good performance. Some of the user comments reflected a situation with certain crashes, which may seem to be fixed with the new “2.1 Cherry” version.