More Black Friday software details

So this is the year that Black Friday hit the UK. It’s a thing now. But here’s a benefit of the whole shebang: more cheap software. MacLife has a bigger list than I’d seen before and it includes many I’d recommend:

Well, the big Black Friday sale day is upon us. If you’ve been out this morning beating back hordes for physical bargains on flat screen TVs and whatnot, this will come as a welcome respite. Cheap prices and no lines, no shortages, no riots. And if you skip the whole retailer madness on principal or for other reasons, you can still grab some sweet deals right here still.

Price Drop Black Friday Edition: The Weekend’s Best App Deals, November 28 | Mac|Life

Read the full piece.

Very important: Things for iOS is briefly free

Stop reading this and go get both the iPad and the separate iPhone version of Things on the App Store.

Are you back? Things is important because it’s a very good To Do manager and I don’t believe it’s ever gone free before. I could be wrong, but To Do apps fall into four tiers that they generally stay in. There’s your free ones, your low-price, your higher price and your OmniFocus.

To my mind OmniFocus is the best by far and what it does for me is worth an awful lot more than its asking price. I used to say that I relied on OmniFocus so much that if I had to pay the money again, I would. I don’t say that any more – because I did pay the money again. New versions came out and I bought them faster than you can read this sentence.


Before I found OmniFocus, I very strongly considered Things.

In its favour, it has a great name. I’ve got Things to do. Sold. I am a sucker for a good name and this is a good name. Then it seemed to me that it was more powerful than anything else I’d tried up to then and at the time I was moving to needing something with much, much more oomph. I had so much more to do at that point and actually it’s only got worse.

Also, Things looks great. Today I’d say OmniFocus looks very good and even if it didn’t, the look wouldn’t be enough to make me switch. Right now, this minute, nothing is enough to make me switch. But you spend a hell of a lot of time in your To Do app so the look – both in terms of its aesthetics and in how it works for, what you press and what you tap – that’s important. You can’t quantify it but you also can’t deny it.

In the end, I think I tried the Mac version and it just didn’t take. Not for me. I wish I could tell you why, I wish I could point to something. I can with the iPad version that I’ve just downloaded and played with: there doesn’t appear to be a way to set a start date for a task. A deadline, sure, but not a start date. I regularly now have work that is scheduled months out and while I need to plan for them, it’s unproductive of me to plan now, to plan the day before, or to have a reminder every day in between. So I tell OmniFocus that my planning task should first show up on my list about a week or a fortnight before the due date. Can’t see a way to do that with Things.

Sometimes this stuff can be a bit buried under preferences and suchforth so I could be wrong.

And I told you I just downloaded this to play with. I did that to get you the screenshot above and to see what Things looks like now, a few years down the road. Why not? It’s free.

Until 28 November.

Because the reason for this rare free-dom is that Apple has chosen Things as its app of the week. Come next week, something else will go free.

So go grab Things right now. Remember that the iPhone and iPad ones are separate, they’re not universal. So grab them both right now. Even if you haven’t the time to play with them, grab now and you can use them tomorrow, next week, next year, whenever you have a minute or a need.

Sort of a good deal: iA Writer down to 69p

I say this is sort-of a good deal because I learnt of the price drop, remembered how enthusiastically people had recommended this app to me and I bought it on the spot. And it was only as I tried writing in it that I looked through the controls and found a line saying “Buy the Pro version”.

The Pro version is only £2.99 but you just know that all the enthusiasts were enthusing about that edition so the one I’ve got isn’t the one they meant. It’s only 69p but I was on the fence about trying to take on another word processor so I find I’m unwilling to go plop down £2.99 until I know what the differences are.

But whether you look at the 69p one or the Pro £2.99, go take a look in the App Store. You can’t believe how much praise I’ve heard for iA Writer.

Small but good price drop for the excellent Fantastical 2 for iPad

I still use Apple’s Mail, iTunes, Maps, Camera, pretty much everything: I’m not much of one for ditching the provided apps in favour of replacements by other companies. I get it and I do try them out, but those Apple apps I keep are good and usually I don’t find alternatives to be compelling.

Except Fantastical 2.

That has replaced Apple’s Calendar on my iPhone and iPad. It’s the way I can type “Lunch at York’s Bakery with Bert next Tuesday from 12 to 3 /a”. (The /a at the end adds the appointment to my joint calendar with Angela. It just needs that first letter to know which calendar I want.) And it’s also now, right now, this moment, talking to you, that I like it for how it detected that lunch example. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t steering you wrong, that this slightly more complex than average line would still work. So I copied it, went to Fantastical 2 for iPad and was going to paste it in but didn’t have to: Fantastical popped up a little note saying that it had detected an event in my clipboard, did I want to add that?

So I did and it worked perfectly. That’s impressive and I thank you for it, I hadn’t seen that before.

I’m glad of it because I like there being specific things I can point to that are good. For me, the reason to stay with Fantastical 2 is more a general, nebulous, comfortable one. I like the design, mostly, and when I go back to Apple’s one I’m missing the look and the feel of Fantastical.

I like it enough that having used it on iPad, I bought a copy for iPhone. I don’t like it so much that I’ve also bought it for my Mac, but I keep thinking about it.

Along the way of thinking about the iPhone version and whether to buy it, I did find that during my trying out of alternative apps, I had at some point bought and discarded Fantastical 1 for iPhone. I tried using it again and I couldn’t see why I’d chucked it away before. I think in the end the reason I spring for a new app with Fantastical 2 is that I liked it so much on the iPad that I wanted to reward the makers a little. A very little: Fantastical 2 is cheap.

But it’s now that little bit cheaper. Fantastical 2 for iPad is down from £6.99 to £5.49 (and if you like, from $9.99 to $7.99 which does seem like more) and you can get it here.

The iPhone version has also dropped from £2.99 to £1.99 and from $4.99 to $2.99. It’s here.

And because I don’t think I’ve conveyed the benefits of Fantastical 2 very well, here’s a video from the makers, Flexibits:

Get this right now, right now: 1Password for iOS goes free

I believe this is unheard of and I believe you should be getting it now rather than reading this. Get it now. Hurry.

1Password-4-LogoLook, I got my copy in a sale several years ago and it was a bargain price but it was still a price. When I learnt that it was free, I actually didn’t believe it. You know how the App Store doesn’t show you a price after you’ve bought something? It only and forever shows the word ‘Open’? Often I like that, especially if the app was expensive and has now dropped a lot in price. But it means it’s quite difficult to check these things out to be sure that they’re true.

Listen to me, I sound like I still don’t believe it. To put this in one perspective, free is just a £6.99 drop. But to put it in another, I’ve used 1Password a minimum of once every single day – every single day – since I got it around 2009.

It’s a password manager that creates strong passwords and then securely enters them for you. So on the one hand you’re never going to use ‘123456789’ as your password. And on the other, going to websites and logging in to them is now very fast. One tap and I’m at the BBC Radio Previews website, 1Password is popping my username and password in, and I’m off to the races.

That’s a feature that is going to get even better in iOS 8, which arrives today, and the new version of 1Password which will arrive at about the same time. That’s going to be a free upgrade for me, as an existing user, and it will be a free upgrade for you as an existing user – if you go get this bizarre free offer while it lasts.

Final Draft on sale (pretty briefly)

You’ve got until 19 September to get Final Draft version 9 for $149.99 US, approximately 40% off, from the official site here.

The sale includes both the Mac and Windows editions: for Mac you need OS X version 10.7 or later – that’s better known as OS X Lion – and for Windows you need XP or later.

Final Draft doesn’t exactly stretch your computer: it’s funny how old-fashioned the software looks. I have version 8 and don’t really use it enough now to warrant going to 9 nor can I really see much of a difference in the upgrade: there isn’t a killer must-have feature.

But it’s a solid script-writing word processor and if it has more and better competitors today, it is still true that Final Draft is the nearest thing to an industry standard.

If you are an existing user, by the way, you can upgrade to version 9 for $99.99 on the same official site’s store.

Urgent – Nisus Writer Pro for Mac on sale (briefly)

This one is important. Nisus Writer is the strangely still little-known and unfortunately a bit little-used word processor for Macs. While every other Mac word processor died in battle against Microsoft Word, this one mostly carried on. It was wounded, it may have had some time in a coma, but it survived and in recent years has been bounding back.

I don’t use it.

But Nisus is special to me because of its history and specifically of how it was the first to introduce features we now depend on. The one that jumped into my head was non-contiguous selection. Cor. That’s a teeshirt phrase. But it means being able to highlight that sentence over there, then that sentence down here, and copying them at the same time. It’s not just a time saver for copying out bits of text you need, it’s a boon at the other end to. When you hit Paste, it all goes there in one go.

I remember using it for repurposing copy from somewhere. Can’t quite recall. Maybe something like a bio where I knew these three or four bits would help in whatever pitch I was doing. Copied those out, pasted them into one new bio and I could’ve just sent the lot off like that but equally I could take some of this reclaimed time and spend it crafting the bits into one good, persuasive whole.


Thanks for reading my reminiscing, now go take a look at the deal. This is a MacUpdate deal, nothing to do with me, and for an extremely limited time it’s got Nisus Writer Pro for 50% off. So that’s $39.50 instead of $79.

I think $79 is a bargain anyway. But don’t be like the colleague of mine who decided to buy Final Draft 9 one day after it was on a half-price sale.

Prototypr for Mac (briefly) free

You know how when you need something, it seems to be everywhere? I’m going to be working on an app and so everywhere I look I am reminded of this.

Sometimes it’s useful, as in references on various podcasts. Sometimes it isn’t, as in Community season 5, episode 8, “App Development and Condiments”.

Look out for it.

And then there are times when it’s handy. As in tonight, when there’s a Mac app called Prototypr that has briefly gone free. Usually retailing for £6.99, it’s for building a kind of demo version of your app idea: showing the screens and what it will look like without it actually being able to do anything.

It means you can try things quicker and get to the design you need sooner.

Have a look at Prototypr. I’ve not used it, but while we were talking, I was downloading it.

MyScript Smart Note free (briefly)

That’s script as in handwriting, not script as in coming soon to a cinema near you. MyScript Smart Note is for handwriting on iPads and I’ve no compulsion. Again, I enjoy typing.

But this isn’t really a sale as I think for it to be called that, the maker has to be selling it for something. And at the moment, MyScript Smart Note is free. Take a look on the App Store.

Talk to the Mac: Dragon Dictate on sale (briefly)

I haven’t used it in centuries but those who do tell me that Dragon Dictate is very, very good. Not only in the way I would’ve imagined – that you can, you know, dictate into it – but also in that you can control it by voice. Nip up a paragraph, skip to the end of a page, right a bit, left a bit, fire.

I’m still not going to get it because I really enjoy typing but if you’ve been thinking about it, go get Dragon Dictate now for half price. Cult of Mac has a deal running where it costs $99.99 instead of $200.