When FileMaker relegated Bento to the dustbin, users of the occasionally maligned but rather excellent and exceedingly simple personal database for the Mac and iOS were left wondering what’s next for the collection of Bento data they had accumulated over the previous few years. Are any applications as versatile as Bento available to take over its role? And is there an easy way to transfer your data from Bento to one of those other apps?
Though some critics of Bento felt that the app was too inflexible and that it put a straitjacket on database creation, it was a slick database app that enabled users to create nice-looking relational databases without requiring much more than an interest in organizing your personal data. Turns out, finding a capable replacement is a pretty tall order.
Over the past few weeks I’ve reviewed three apps that offer features similar to Bento: Tap Zapp Software’s TapForms (), Apimac’s iDatabase (), and Giowisys Software’s Symphytum () For this story I also looked at Filemaker Inc.’s flagship FileMaker Pro, as a slightly more expensive and far more capable alternative. Each offers useful database tools—some of them better than Bento’s, but most of them not.Tap Forms lacks the customization tools that some power users may want, but it offers a lot of prefab databases, plus iCloud support and data encryption. Importing existing Bento data
Which of these apps gives you the best options for importing your existing Bento data? The short and unsurprising answer is FileMaker Pro. TapForms, iDatabase, and Symphytum only offer options for importing data files in their native formats or as comma-delimited (CSV) files. Bento has no problem exporting data in a CSV format, but, since CSV files are text files, they can contain only text data. If you have any images stored in your Bento database, they will not show up in your new database.
Want to get a head start on Black Friday deals? Consider this, the original Infinity Blade, which quickly became one of the most impressive and successful action games for iOS, is now available for free. The popular game, originally released in late 2010, has only been available for free once before. When it first debuted, we gave it an "excellent" rating that it still deserves today.
Sporting breathtaking graphics, surprisingly masterful touch-based swordplay, and surprisingly strong replay value despite what initially seems like a short campaign, it's a game you shouldn't pass up for the price. Its visuals have become so celebrated that Apple used its second sequel, Infinity Blade III, to show the potential of the new A7 chip for the iPhone 5s during the September 10 reveal.
There's no telling how much longer the deal will last (although it seems safe to assume it will last through Friday), so be sure to pick it up sooner than later. According to its iTunes page, it's compatible with every iPad model (yes, even the oldest ones), in addition to the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and the third, fourth, and fifth generation models of the iPod Touch.
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So far, almost of all the discussion of wearable tech associated with Apple has centered on the so-called "iWatch," Apple's take on the current interest in smart watches that recently failed to ignite with the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Gear. But according to a new report from Reuters, that's not the first form of wearable tech partly designed by Apple that we'll see. What is? Believe it or not, a hearing aid.
This could be big. The hearing aid industry is worth around $15 billion, which, as Cult of Mac notes, is around one-third of the money wrapped up in the global tablet market. Apple is working with Denmark's GN Store Nord, the world's fourth largest maker of hearing aids, to develop a device called the ReSound LiNX with technology similar to Bluetooth that will stream voice and music from iPhones without the need for another device.
And it's possible that we'll see it within the first quarter of 2014, much sooner than the long-anticipated iWatch. The device--which runs on a 2.4GHz connection--will be pricey, too. According to the Reuters article, it'll be a little more than $3,000, which is apparently the range that premium headsets currently sell for in the United States.
GN's work is only the beginning of a larger push. Future projects are expected to come from Starkey Technologies in Minnesota and Denmark's William Demant. According to the report, analysts at Morgan Stanley called Apple and GN's project the "first attempt to turn a hearing aid into more of a lifestyle product."
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On the off chance that you were doubting that Apple would have a Black Friday event this year, it looks as though your doubts were for naught. As reported by MacRumors, a teaser page popped up on the online Apple Store for Australia, promising a one-day shopping event on November Friday, 29. With that in place, it seems as though it's only a matter of hours before we see a similar announcement for the United States.
Black Friday, which always falls after the American holiday of Thanksgiving, is traditionally one of the strongest shopping days of the year (and the start of the holiday shopping season), and a time when retailers offer deep discounts on their products. As the Australian announcement demonstrates, in recent years it's also spread to other parts of the globe.
Keep in mind, though, that you're likely to find better deals on Apple products at secondary retailers such as Best Buy or Target. Walmart, for instance, is offering the iPhone 5c for free (with a plan, of course) along with a $75 gift card, and Target is selling the new iPad Air for $379, down from its retail price of $499.
For comparison, MacRumors also compiled a list of the deals Apple itself offered during the same event last year, and they hardly compare. You only got $101 off the MacBook Pro with Retina, for instance, and a mere $31 off the price of the aging iPad 2, which is still priced at $399.
MacRumors also included a link to some of the best deals you'll find at secondary retailers.
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[This is an advertorial. Maclife gets a portion of each unit sold.]
Git has become an absolutely essential tool for web developers and designers. It's powerful and gives users tons of capabilities that they will find essential. But unlocking the potential of Git isn't easy without a little bit of help. Tower, an extremely powerful Git client, is here to help you tap into all the abilities you need so you can get the most out of Git. It's on sale in our Deals tab.
When you use Tower, you can count yourself among developers and designers at companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, and most other top sites. They rely on Tower for the same reason that you'll come to love it: It's reliable, easy to use, and helps you maximize the work you can do with Git. With repository management, commit history, work copy status, and tons of other features, Tower will become your go-to tool when working with Git.
Tower usually retails for $59. If you head to our Deals tab right now, you can save yourself 50% off the retail price. That means you pay just $29.50. That's a great price for this powerful program, so grab this deal today!
In this week’s Mac app roundup, you’ll find software destined to explore new worlds, fix your photos, help you build some forms, and even find out everything you could possibly ever want to know about your Mac.1Password 4.0.8
In addition to several bug fixes, the company has improved its $50 password manager by making backups more resilient, syncing faster, and license management easier.Dru 1.4
As a Web developer and project manager, I maintain lots of notes that I edit, not only on my Mac, but also on my iPhone and iPad. I prefer to keep my notes in plain text format partly for philosophical reasons, but mainly for the sake of simplicity and flexibility. My formatting needs are pretty simple and Markdown works great for me; typical word processing apps, like Microsoft Word and Pages are simply overkill. Likewise, by working with plain text, I have a wide array of apps to choose from on my Mac and iOS devices, while my choice of word processing apps is severely limited in comparison. Additionally, since plain text is a universal file format, I have no need to worry about whether or not my colleagues can open the documents I send them.Watch your back, spreadsheet apps. Calca is a text editor that lets you combine plain text, Markdown syntax and calculations in the same document.
Only one thing, though: while this works great for regular text-oriented documents, I tend to do quite a bit of estimating, which also requires performing some calculations. That’s traditionally been the role of spreadsheet apps, like Excel or Numbers. (I’m no stranger to spreadsheets as I started my computer career back in the Dark Ages as an analyst, peering endlessly into the glowing green screen of an IBM-PC running Lotus 1-2-3.) So now we’re back to the plain text versus binary format quandary. How can I crunch numbers but stay within the comfort of plain text and Markdown? Luckily, Krueger Systems, Inc. has come to the rescue with Calca for Mac and iOS.
In essence, Calca is a Markdown-powered text editor that also understands math and performs calculations. This allows you to mix calculated results with regular text within the same document. For example, a Calca document can contain variables, such as “length = 5” and “width = 10”, perform calculations on them, such “area = length * width” and then produce the result thusly: “area => 50”. As you might have already guessed, as soon as you type the “=>“ symbol, Calca inserts the calculated result (50). Of course, as any spreadsheet jockey would expect, when you change the values of the variables, the results will change automatically in the document as well.Calca provides lots of examples to help you learn how to build different types of formulas.
Calca isn’t limited to just performing simple arithmetic. You can build functions which can be reused multiple times within a document. You can solve algebraic equations, sum ranges of numbers perform logical functions, and so on. Lots of examples are provided at the developer’s website as well as within the wide variety of sample documents included with the app.
Among Apple's many genius marketing decisions was the "Get a Mac" advertising campaign aimed at luring PC users into the fold. Now iPhone users are getting similar encouragement about switching to Android from one of Google's executives.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt took to his Google+ page on Sunday to offer iPhone users a detailed guide on how to switch from their beloved iPhone to one of the latest crop of handsets powered by Android.
"Many of my iPhone friends are converting to Android," Schmidt writes. "The latest high-end phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4), Motorola (Verizon Droid Ultra) and the Nexus 5 (for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have better screens, are faster, and have a much more intuitive interface. They are a great Christmas present to an iPhone user!"
The post raised eyebrows in the media given Schmidt's previous alliance (and board member status) with Apple. During his former tenure as Google CEO, Schmidt worked with Steve Jobs to include Google Maps as part of the built-in Maps app as well as YouTube -- both of which have since been exiled as third-party App Store titles.
"Here are the steps I recommend to make this switch," Schmidt continues, detailing the four steps necessary. "Like the people who moved from PCs to Macs and never switched back, you will switch from iPhone to Android and never switch back as everything will be in the cloud, backed up, and there are so many choices for you. 80 percent of the world, in the latest surveys, agrees on Android."
Among the recommendations are swapping iTunes out for Google Play Music, moving contacts to Gmail and using Chrome instead of Safari because "it's safer and better in so many ways."
Will Apple now come back swinging with advice of its own for Android users who want to make the switch to iPhone? (Probably not, but it would be fun to see.)
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Image courtesy of AllThingsD)
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous (you’ll see why shortly) is concerned about his curious kin. He writes:Over the upcoming holidays, members of my extended family will be sharing my Mac to check their email and surf the web. I have some files that I’d like to keep hidden from them. I’m particularly concerned that some of these files will appear in Spotlight. Is there any way to hide them?
I can recommend a few options.
The first is to force them to use your Mac’s Guest account. To ensure that it’s an option when your Mac starts up, launch System Preferences, select Users & Groups, click the Lock icon and enter your username and password to unlock the preferences, select Guest User, and enable the Allow guests to log in to this computer option. Additionally, click on Login Options and be sure that Automatic Login is off. If you then log out of your account, the login screen will display at least two accounts—yours and the Guest User account. To use your Mac your relations will choose that Guest User account and then do their business via Safari and webmail services.
If, for reasons best known to you, you want to let them use your account you can keep these files on another volume. If you don’t have a lot of sensitive files you could copy them to a USB flash drive, delete them from your Mac’s hard drive, and then tuck away that flash drive until the in-laws leave. At that point, copy them back on to your Mac.
Although Microsoft long ago brought all of its Kinect development in-house, there's apparently still value to the Israeli company who helped design the initial 3D motion sensing technology.
AllThingsD reported Sunday that Apple has finally confirmed the acquisition of PrimeSense, ending months of negotiations between Cupertino and the Israel-based maker of 3D sensors.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet confirmed in one of the iPhone maker's traditionally cookie-cutter statements.
PrimeSense is said to have nabbed $360 million in the deal, a drop in the bucket for cash-rich Apple. The acquisition talks were first reported back in July by Calcalist, an Israeli news source.
The real question now is: What does Apple intend to do with PrimeSense? The company first made its mark providing 3D sensor technology for Microsoft's original Kinect, work that has since gone in-house with the latest Xbox One variation.
The report notes that PrimeSense has shifted its focus from "large, stationary sensor" products such as Kinect to smaller sensors such as Capri, which appears to be intended for mobile devices like the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.
PrimeSense tech could ultimately be used in Apple's current wish list product line such as an HDTV or smart watch, but only time will tell what its engineers might have cooking up on the drawing boards in Cupertino.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Product (RED) has a long history of partnering with Apple on customized versions of its gadgets, but the latest collaboration includes two unique items aimed at raising big money for charity.
MacRumors reported Saturday that the latest Sotheby's charity auction has closed with big-ticket winning bids on four custom, one-off items including a (RED) Mac Pro and gold Apple EarPods.
The auction items were designed by Apple Senior Vice-President of Design Jonathan Ive and famed designer Marc Newsom to benefit Project (RED), a charity founded by U2 frontman Bono for which Apple has raised more than $65 million since 2006.
One of the most coveted products was Apple's as-of-yet unreleased new Mac Pro adorned in red, which fetched $977,000 after an initial estimate of only $60,000. The designers also raised $461,000 for a pair of solid rose gold Apple EarPods, which were estimated with a maximum bid of only $25,000.
Non-Apple items included a special edition Leica camera which closed at $1,805,000 and a one-of-a-kind aluminum desk designed by Ive and Newsom which hit a whopping $1,685,000. Several other items customized by the pair also fetched big money, including a Steinway & Sons grand piano for $1,925,000.
The Sotheby's charity auction received wide coverage in the media leading up to Saturday's event, including an interview with Vanity Fair where Ive and Newsom discussed their collaboration at length.
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When it comes to storage, many of us struggle with the decision of whether to buy speed or capacity. An SSD delivers speed aplenty, but you need a mechanical hard drive for capacity. Buy the SSD and rely on the cloud, or opt for the hard disk and just turtle along? Western Digital's Black2 combo SSD/HDD promises to deliver speed and capacity.
Marrying a 120GB solid-state drive and a 1TB mechanical drive in a single 2.5-inch, 9.5mm package, the Black2 fits in most laptops. Owners of thin-and-lights, on the other hand, won't benefit because that form factor typically accommodates only thinner, 7mm drives.WD's Black2 drive marries a 120GB SSD to a 1TB HDD that fits in a 9.5mm bay. It uses a single cable to connect to most SATA 6-gigabits-per-second drive controllers.
The Black2's SSD and HDD are treated as separate drives, with the idea that you install the operating system, applications, and frequently used data on the SSD and everything else (large files, movies, music, etc.) on the hard drive. This is basically what desktop and two-bay laptop users have been doing with separate drives since the advent of the SSD. It works far better than the hybrid concept (a hard-disk drive with a large NAND cache), which has never delivered on performance promises in PCWorld's real-world tests.
There are a few Black2 caveats: WD highly recommends a fresh OS install; the drive doesn't support Nvidia or ASMedia storage controllers, or the Mac; and the unit can't be used in RAID arrays due to the software component required to access the hard drive—only the SSD is visible without the driver. Mac users might get a driver down the road, but don't hold your breath on the other controllers; their relatively insignificant share of the mobile market doesn't warrant the effort. The driver isn't shipped in the rather stylish retail box; WD instead provides a USB flash drive that takes you online to download the software.
Many Americans will have a short work week because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, and the madness of Black Friday the day after. As for us, we'll be off those two days on a turkey binge, and back to work next Monday for another weekend recap and some Cyber Monday fun. In the meantime, here's a quick recap with a few tidbits you might have missed over the weekend...Dropbox Delivers Fresh New iOS 7 Look
After being teased in a blog post earlier last week, Dropbox announced the release of version 3.0 of its free, universal iOS app on Thursday. As expected, the app offers a "refreshed design inspired by Apple's iOS 7" which the cloud storage provider calls "a new beginning" for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad app. But apparently this update is only the beginning, as the Dropbox announcement teases that version 3.0 "sets the stage for some exciting things to come," although we'll have to use our imaginations at this point, since the company remains mum on the details. Dropbox 3.0 is now available from the App Store.Plex Home Theater 1.0 Released, Major Improvements Abound
The kindly team at Plex has been quite busy in recent months, and they're not finished yet. On Saturday, Plex announced the release of Plex Home Theater 1.0 for Mac and Windows, a major new refresh of the company's flagship media center software. Following 11 months of work and 15 test versions released to PlexPass subscribers, the application is now "faster, prettier and more powerful" in every way, with support for more media types while remaining efficient as ever. Plex Home Theater 1.0 is now available from the Plex website, and features a shiny new skin longtime fans are sure to enjoy.FlightTrack 5 Takes Off with Biggest Update Yet
Mobiata announced Thursday the release of FlightTrack 5, a major new refresh of the company's flight tracker app that marks the biggest update since the title debuted on the App Store in 2008. In addition to a new iOS 7 look and feel, FlightTrack 5 allows users to group flights into trips and tag travelers, share journeys with real-time animation and best of all, know if your next flight is equipped with Wi-Fi before you actually board. FlightTrack 5 also includes previously Pro-only features such as push notifications and terminal maps, available as an all-new purchase for the introductory price of $2.99 until December 1, at which point the price increases to $4.99.Mosaic Debuts Web-Only Montage Photo Book Service
Not so crazy about the idea of hovering over your iPhone to make a photo book with Mosaic? The company has now introduced a new web-only variation called Montage, which turns your moments into eco-friendly synthetic leather photo books with high-quality paper and pages that lay flat at all times. Best of all, Montage books are made in America with "precision, care and craftsmanship," available in three sizes: Six-inch small at $39, 8.5-inch medium for $59 and 12-inch large for $119, delivered within five days. Montage is currently available by invitation only, but photo book fans can request access now to reserve their place in line.Clickky Debuts Free Dream: Hidden Adventure for iPad
Kids and adults alike love hidden objects quest games with a fairy-tale storyline, which is why the folks at Clickky have released Dream: Hidden Adventure, a new iPad game with beautiful, hand-drawn graphics for the adventurer in all of us. "Dream is an inexhaustible free-to-play source of pleasure for hidden object adventure fans," the app description reads. "This game will take you to a fairy-tale world as if molded from legends, fairy-tales and cartoons. Travel from one hovering island to another to rescue this beautiful world from nothingness! Extraordinarily beautiful dreams have tons of hidden objects for you to find and become one step closer to happy ending." Dream: Hidden Adventure requires iOS 6.0 or later and is now available from the App Store.
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In spite of its title, you won’t find hooded killers or acrobatic climbing in Assassin’s Creed Pirates (at least not at first). In fact, its main character, Alonzo Batilla, seems to never even leave his ship. Instead, this upcoming spinoff focuses entirely on piracy and simple naval battles, letting players explore a quasi-open version of the Caribbean in a story set around the same time as the latest entry in the series, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Looking like a visually downgraded version of Black Flag’s shipboard segments, Pirates lets players freely steer a 3D ship through a series of sizable, open maps filled with often-hostile ships to plunder and other assorted tasks. The experience adapts to touchscreen controls surprisingly well; swiping a finger across the bottom of the screen turns your ship’s wheel, while swiping across the top turns the camera. If you’d rather not steer through miles of water and cliffs, you can switch to a top-down view of the entire area, and simply drag a path for your ship to follow — less visually impressive, but much more useful for getting around in a hurry.
The story, at least in the first two chapters we played, is skeletal, made up of occasional static cutscenes — but the action’s fairly meaty. Each area contains a handful of missions to pursue, including rally races (complete with treacherous weather to push you off course), item fetch quests, and assassinations (essentially just ship battles preceded by a top-down stealth puzzle in which you need to drag your ship to the target, past patrolling defenders).
This being a game about pirates, combat erupts pretty frequently, although the ship-to-ship battles are surprisingly simple — and weirdly addictive. Rather than simply unfolding in the 3D exploration mode, fights have offensive and defensive stages depending on who’s reloaded their cannons first. When you’re firing, you’ll have to tap and drag to train your cannons (or swivel guns, or grape shot) on your enemies as they drift rapidly from side to side. And when it’s their turn to shoot, you’ll have to tap dodge buttons to skirt out of their line of fire right when they let fly. This part is like a rhythm game with no musical cues; when your enemy aims, a white line passes down their line of fire, and if you dodge at the moment it touches your ship, you’ll avoid the cannonballs that follow every time.
Again, we’ve only played the first two chapters, but even those took a couple of hours to play through, with plenty of varied missions and unlockable upgrades (in the form of new, perk-granting crewmembers and ships) to play around with. In spite of the stripped-down approach and lack of Assassins, it’s fun and strangely intriguing, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else it has to offer. The game’s due out on Dec. 5 for $4.99, and you’ll need at least an iPad 2, iPhone 4s, or iPod touch 5 running iOS 7 to play it.
You don’t have to be a National Geographic photographer to take your digital camera on the road. Whether you're embarking on a week-long vacation, a weekend getaway, or even just a day trip, you might want to bring your digital camera with you for better photos than you can snap with your phone alone. But what accessories do you need to take the best photos and to keep them safe? I’ve rounded up a collection of gear designed for traveling photographers. You won’t need to bring everything on this list unless you really are a Nat Geo pro, but you can use the list to find all the essentials that work for you.
Put it in a proper bag: How do you carry your digital camera? If you’re still stuffing it into a backpack designed for schoolbooks or not using a protective bag at all, consider upgrading. No bag is perfect for all setups, which is why you'll find roughly a million of them for sale in camera shops and online; but you can narrow the field by looking for a case style that best suits your lifestyle and equipment (a backpack versus a messenger bag, for example). Look for a bag with a healthy amount of padding and with separate compartments for lenses and other accessories you want to carry. Some camera bags have room for electronics like an iPad or laptop, as well. For additional pointers, check out TechHive’s camera bag roundup.
Keep the rain away: When you take your camera outside, you may face a risk of rain—and with rare exceptions, cameras aren’t designed to thrive in wet environments. At a minimum, to avoid damage to your camera and lenses from unexpected showers, grab a disposable rain cover like the Op/Tech USA Rainsleeve (two for $7)—you can even use it to take smartphone photos in the rain. For heavier-duty options, consult TechHive's rain cover roundup.
Carry spares: The longer you’re away from home, the likelier you are to run out of something useful, like battery power or snacks. It’s a great idea to equip yourself with two fully charged batteries when you hit the road—one in your camera and a spare in your camera bag—plus a charger if you’re going to be away for more than a day. And since memory cards are crazy cheap these days, it makes sense to carry two or more such cards. Don’t rely on a single card, no matter how big it is, because if you do and it fails, you're out of business.