I’ve long been a proponent of natural language parsing in calendar apps. In 2013, it’s a genuine surprise to me when a modern calendar application doesn’t allow you to type your schedule in naturally. If I’m going to a play on Friday (which I am), I want to be able to type “Tim’s play on Friday from 7:30–9:30” in the event creation field and have the event ready to go. Calendar.app has this all wrong, and Fantastical wiped its clock clean when it debuted with natural language parsing last year.

But now there’s Fantastical 2. More than just a re-skin, it brings some great new features and enhancements to the table. At this point, though, Fantastical isn’t alone. It’s also dealing with contenders like Horizon and Calendars 5 by Readdle, both of which bring their own unique tricks to the table. Despite that, though, Fantastical isn’t just king of the calendar throne, it’s also my most-used app every day. It’s the one that manages everything for me now, and it’s an automatic must for me for anybody I know with an iPhone. Read on to find out what makes this not just a great update, but one of the best iPhone apps available and my pick for the best utility app of the year. (more…)

I’m not addicted to television or anything like that, but I like to keep up with what’s on TV. I go through binges a fair bit, sometimes on Netflix, but I also like to keep up with a couple sitcoms. I loathe myself for it, but I have a little bit of a soft spot for Big Bang Theory. I love HBO too. I’m also checking out apps to see if there are any good ones to help me schedule my week a little bit.

One that’s been making the rounds recently is Televised, an app that helps you keep track of what’s coming up on television. Read on to find out how it compares to the competition and whether or not it’s worth trying for all you TV diehards.

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I’ve got something of an addiction to stargazing apps. While some app addicts have a folder for Twitter apps or Pinboard apps, I’ve got a folder simply labeled “Stars.” The thing is, I’m not an astronomer. I know as much about the stars as I do about neuroscience — almost nothing. I can point out the Big Dipper. My closest friend is a serious stargazer, and she’s always pointing things out to me, but the Big Dipper is embarrassingly about as far as I can get on my own.

These apps, then, have really helped me out on my journey to learn more about the night sky. They’re equally informative and always brilliantly designed. The ones that have an iPad interface are always stellar there as well, but I mostly fiddle on my iPhone, which is like staring into a portal in our own universe. It blows me away. But the problem is, living in the city, I rarely know when I can go check out stars. There’s no “forecast app for stargazers.” Or at least, there never used to be. Recently, I’ve been using Sky Live, a beautiful app that helps me know when I should leave my house. Read on to find out why this is a must-try for night owls.

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I love Tumblr. I didn’t think I would, after I saw some of the stuff that my younger sister was always checking out on it, but sometimes I surprise even myself. At this point, I keep two blogs up on the site: a rarely-updated personal blog that’s not even worth linking to and a music recommendations blog called Unsung Sundays, and I couldn’t be happier with the service. It’s one of the few CMS systems that doesn’t feel totally broken.

That being said, I didn’t think I’d ever start making posts on my iOS devices and keeping them. While the Tumblr app for iPhone and iPad has been capable of doing that sort of thing for a while, it hasn’t always been as smooth of an experience as it’s been on the desktop. But recently, that changed with the iOS 7 update for Tumblr, which makes it the best blogging app on iOS bar none. Read on to find out why you might consider taking up blogging again, but from your phone.

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I’ve been a Pinboard user for a few months now. The service is great: its a bookmarking tool for those of us that prefer to be organized about it, letting us tag everything we bookmark for reference later. The full-priced annual membership fee (for $25), an optional “accessory” which I don’t subscribe to, allows you to save a cached copy of any website page at the time of initial reference and provides full text search across all your bookmarks.

There’s bevy of great Pinboard clients out there, and for a long time I was using Pincase for my iPhone and iPad. It’s a great app with a beautiful iOS 7-inspired design, but it’s certainly not perfect (read more about it in my review). That’s why I’m excited to talk about Pinswift, a fast and beautiful Pinboard client for iPhone that I’m absolutely in love with. Read on to find out what makes this app such a great buy.

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I love a good word game. I have fond memories of playing word games against my family growing up, although I’d be hard-pressed in my adult life to remember the names of most of them now. iPhone games that remind me of those games usually earn a cherished place on my phone. Letterpress is a great example of a game that never left my iPhone or iPad once it got on them.

With that tradition in mind and the winter upon us, I was really excited to try out Freeze It, a word game that reminds me of games like Boggle — but it’s been made for the ground up for iPhone. Read on to find out how the game works and whether or not it’s worth giving it a shot.

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It’s been a long time since I owned a Nintendo system that I actually used (that old Gamecube still works though), but I have really fond memories of some of the games I used to play. I get cravings for a few of them on iOS: namely, Mario Kart, Super Mario 64 (if Nintendo made that happen I’d die), and a Legend of Zelda game.

Well, with Oceanhorn, my request for the latter has been answered with a fantastic adventure RPG that pulls out all the stops in an effort to amaze me. And amaze me it has, to the point where Oceanhorn has absolutely become my game of the year. Read on to find out what makes Oceanhorn a must-play experience.

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If there’s one thing I’m addicted to about my iPhone, it’s the camera-taking experience. I love Instagram. When I do creative work, it’s the place I share my progress with my friends and followers (so long as the client allows it). It’s also where I share photos my other loves: coffee, technology, and more coffee. (I promise I have real friends; I just keep most of my relationships private.)

Some apps make the Instagram experience a little better, though. One of my favourites (apart from the indisputably excellent VSCO Cam) has been around a long time, and it’s called A Beautiful Mess. I’ve been meaning to review it for a while, but I decided to let the developer finish up the iOS 7 update. It was worth the wait. Read on to find out more about what makes this a great, and fully-featured, photo editor for picture sharing.

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I’ve been giving some thought, recently, to many of iOS 7’s design changes. I’ve noticed that some of them have been seeping through into my own professional design — partially because I admire the work that’s been done and partially because I spend so much time on my iPhone. What we live with is often what inspires us, and sometimes not in the ways we expect.

There are three areas of iOS 7’s design that most strike me, though: the depth, the blurs, and the translucency — in other words, the subtlety with which layers and a nearly-tangible sense of depth is created in a virtual OS. It’s pretty incredible. I love the way, in particular, that wallpapers work within the system, and have spent a little more time than I’d care to admit selecting my own for a few weeks at a time before changing them just to see a new “effect” with the blurs and transparency effects. Although it’s not the only (or even the first) app to play with wallpapers and iOS 7-like blur effects, Blur Studio is my favourite. Read on to find out why. (more…)

There’s a certain risk in taking on the review of a 1.0 todo list. Some of them are incredibly ambitious, but lack too many features to be ready for primetime. Others are simply too novel to really be understood yet, and require a lot of time to get used to and understand. Not to mention the fact that todo list reviews are terribly subjective. My personal favourite todo list on the iPhone, and the only one I’ve been using religiously apart from the built-in Reminders system, is Begin, and app that helps me focus on today’s needs and not tomorrow’s — but I know a lot of people don’t care for it.

That’s why I’m a little nervous about reviewing DashPlus, the latest geeky todo list to hit the App Store market. Based on popular blogger Patrick Rhone’s task management system, the app is something of an enigma right now — it offers a largely new method of organization that requires a little bit of retraining. In other words, there’s a learning curve. I really respect Mr. Rhone’s work and quite like his writing, so I thought I’d give it a shot to see how I’d adapt. Read on for some of my thoughts about DashPlus to find out.

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