Review: Mosaic – Simple Window Management for Mac

I have been a Mac user for more than 10 years, and while many things have changed about what I use the Mac for, and how I do my work, one thing has remained consistent – I always move app windows so they line up nicely without overlapping whenever possible. It is tedious, and probably somewhat OCD of me, but I like seeing everything lined up and positioned so I can easily switch from app to app without diving to the dock or doing a ⌘-tab to switch around. Thankfully, Mosaic – a new Mac utility – is here to save the day.

Overview

Mosaic by Light Pillar Software is a simple Mac utility that allows you quickly resize and reposition apps on your desktop. Using either keyboard shortcuts, drag and drop, or even the Touch Bar, apps can be positioned consistently and conveniently to allow for a great aesthetic or a functional working space.

Mosaic App Dialog
Currently available in two different pricing models, Mosaic can be purchased from the Light Pillar website, or as part of the Setapp subscription catalog.

Using the app is super simple. After getting things setup (allowing accessibility permissions for the app to allow placement and sizing), grabbing any app window and dragging it presents you with a a dialog box across the top of your screen. Simply drag your cursor over one of the sizing options, and BOOM, the app is perfectly positioned.

Mosaic Grid Menu
Being one to tinker, I personally adjusted this setting so the option key must also be pressed before the dialog appears. The ability to adjust these settings to better suit your needs is great in Mosaic.

Other options, like “Click and Select” allow a keyboard shortcut to present a layout picker for the currently active application. It also allows for quick access to custom layouts, where you select a section of a grid size the application. This quick customization is fun, and can be useful for larger window apps (like a web browser).
Mosaic Group Menu
Unlike Apple’s current approach to fullscreen multitasking applications (with their full screen and 2 up views), Mosaic doesn’t require the app to support special full screen or side-by-side, but simply needs to be resizable. And if an app can’t be resized, a simple notification lets you know “Hey, something couldn’t be resized because reason“. It’s a delightful experience.
Mosaic Layout Menu
The other big benefit of Mosaic vs the built-in macOS variant is the ability to have 3, 4, 5, or more apps all designated in their appropriate spaces without overlapping or needing to swipe through spaces. On a giant 27″ 5K iMac, this actually feels usable. Huge kudos to the folks at Light Pillar for one-upping Apple.

Another great feature of Mosaic is the ability to create your own custom layouts. For me, the first thing I did was make a three-section layout for Tweetbot, Messages, and Slack (since I often bounce around those three when I’m not doing actual work).

Mosaic Custom 3 App Layout
I also setup one for work, specifically to set a browser to ~72% of the screen (5/7), and ~28% for my Remote Desktop client (2/5). Making this layout pairing, and adding it to my group menu has likely saved me 30 minutes in the past month (did I mention this was an OCD thing for me?).

Other great features of Mosaic include a quick positioning option (moving an app to any side or corner of the display without resizing), and options for screen shotting the selected window and saving it to your desktop (or wherever you choose), or grabbing a screen shot and copying the image to your clipboard. These “extra” features are great power user tools, and are super convenient (for me, at least).

Mosaic Quick Grid
The only feature I find currently missing (one I hope the developers add) is an “auto-arrange” that puts all the currently active apps in a pre-determined position. This would save the step of click and drag, and enable a simple keyboard shortcut or click of the mouse to move all my apps to their assigned locations.

Verdict

Mosaic is a delightful utility that solved a problem that I didn’t know NEEDED solving. It has improved my efficiency on my computer by enabling me to spend less time fiddling and more time actually working. As I use it more and more, I find that I miss it when I’m on a computer that isn’t mine. For being a third party application, it feels like a native part of macOS, and I can only imagine it getting better from here!

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Pros:

  • Custom layout templates
  • Easy to use
  • Screen capture & quick layouts

Cons:

  • No auto-layout feature (yet)

If you’re anywhere near as fiddly as me when it comes to the layout and organization of apps on your Mac, Mosaic is hands down a fantastic utility to check out! Get it today from Light Pillar or with a Setapp subscriptions

 

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for by the developer. Light Pillar did supply a complimentary copy of the app. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

from Ian Fuchs – MacTrast

WWDC 2013 Predictions

With just over 12 hours until the 2013 WWDC keynote presentation, hundreds (or more) speculations, mock-ups, and predictions have hit the net.

I’m not typically one for making predictions or hypothesizing, especially when I have no insider knowledge of the matter, but I can’t help but speculate what may be on display in Moscone come tomorrow afternoon.

1. iOS 7.

This one is obvious. We know its gonna be called iOS 7 – the banners are up and photos are out. The bigger question is about what it will include.

Looking back at the iOS 4, 5, and 6 announcements (and associated banners), there was always a heavy weighted font and element of realism involved. Now that we’ve seen the slim iOS 7 type-face, I can only assume that we are bound to see a might lighter, smoother, simpler iOS.

I also think Apple is going to reshape the developers aspect of iOS. With recent rumors of AirDrop like functionality coming to
iPhone, iPad, and iPod touches, a much more advanced file structure and true app <> file interaction. Much like Android has offered for years now, the ability to click a photo and open it in any photo editor or send an document from app to app without having to export to Dropbox and move it around would be huge.

2. OS X 9?

While the general consensus is that OS X 10.9 is coming (has anyone else realized that technically the name is them OS 10 10.9?), I’m under the notion that we may see a very new OS X released. While the Mac operating system has certainly changed over time, many elements have remained consistent. It’s about time we see a huge change in OS X, hopefully not at the cost of usability or function. I’d truly like to see OS X 11.

With support for touch screen control (more on that later), more human interaction (Jarvis, look-up iron man 3), and a less hierarchical file system (to coincide with iOS) would all changes the Mac user demographic could make good use out of.


3. New products

I’m in full agreement with Mark Gurman on the lack of new iPad mini (or any iOS device). I could, however, see Apple alluding to new devices in updates to Xcode and app requirements. Support for a new screen resolution could quickly suggest a larger iPhone or higher PPI iPad mini.

Reports say Apple could be looking to AGAIN update the retina MacBook Pro line, which, to me, only makes sense if the update includes touch screen. An updated retina MacBook Air could also be huge for the Apple PC lineup, as well as a retina Thunderbolt Display.

4. The unknown.

Apple’s hobby market, the Apple TV could likely be a show stopper at WWDC, depending on what recent deals Apple may have made and how actively Apple decides to become involved in the future of home entertainment.

Another area of speculation is the iWatch market. If Apple is truly holding the Ace to drop at the end of the Keynote, it could completely reinvent the idea of wearable tech. With devices like the Pebble, Nike’s Fuel Band, and the increasing curiosity surrounding Google Glass, Apple releasing a wrist watch type wearable device could set the tone for yet another new industry (much like it did in the tablet industry with the iPad.

I’m no genius, but it looks like Apple is truly in a unique place that could greatly impact it’s position in mobile market in a matter of a few hours. If Apple fails to deliver significant (desired) changes, it could be a sign that they are losing their edge. Will we see a mass exodus – probably not – but it has become increasingly apparent that the Apple OS platforms have become stale, and developers are anxious to see what changes that will bring to the worlds most advanced computer and mobile operating systems.

It all goes down at 10 AM (pacific) tomorrow, and I’ll be following along as well as I can!

What do you think is to come? Send your best guesses to me on twitter – @IanFuchs, or leave a comment down below!

 


The iPad 3 – Announcement-Day Eve

this post was inspired by the mashable article “What if everything we think we know about the next iPad is wrong”

With all the off-the-wall speculation, rumors, claims, “insider” details, and the like – I figured it was my turn to share some insight into what I believe the next generation iPad will include.

Reports have claimed things like a lack of home button, 4G/LTE connectivity, a super hi-res Retina display, iOS 6, a new moniker (iPad HD), a new price point, and so much more… but here’s the truth in what to expect.

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, Apple will release the ePad (as a throwback to the old eBooks & eMacs). The ePad will be a 7.5″ Windows 8 tablet with a surprisingly low resolution (similar to the 1st generation iPod Touch). It will come in 1 size – 4GB. It won’t have 4G/LTE… or 3G for that matter. It will only be available with WiFi – but limited to WiFi 802.11 a/b… no 802.11 g/n. This tablet will form a new partnership between Apple and Microsoft that will allow Apple to slowly start a downward spiral.

In all likelihood, Apple won’t release a new iOS ever again, and will soon shut down the App store all together to push for more HTML5 based web-apps & will use the Windows marketplace as their sole distribution center.

The likelihood that Apple will drop the home button is not likely, and I assume that Apple will actually throw back to the original iPod (remember that one… with all the buttons… yeah… that one…) and will have a button to perform nearly every normal function on the device. The device will no longer be touch sensitive as a way to make room for the Serial ATA hard drive and the hatch for the D-cell batteries. Apple will also limit syncing to a new cable, only available to customers for use within Apple retail locations, with a Genius appointment. These cables won’t be sold in to consumers, which will further strangle Apple as a company.

All of this great new technology and these fantastic new features will be available immediately after the announcement event at the startling price of $189.99 (to compete with the Kindle Fire).

So what do you think? Will you be picking one up? I know I’ll be 1st in line!

 

P.S. This is all sarcasm… just want to point out how RIDICULOUS some rumors can be… how 1 person saying some is from a credible source can really spin things out of control.

Tomorrow will be another fantastic event, and I seriously can’t wait to see what Apple has in store for us. My prediction is just as good as any – but I’m guessing the following

  • Retina display
  • WiFi/3G (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Unlocked)
  • (Maybe) 4G-LTE
  • Possible elimination of the home button for touch sensitive buttons (similar to many Android devices – or better yet, Palm style touch area)
  • 16/32/64 GB options
  • I don’t foresee iOS 6, since 5 is so new… maybe some big new features in a 5.3 (similar to 4.3 from 4.1?)
  • No change in price, although the iPad 2 may drop in storage size (like the iPhone 4 did when the 4S was released) and the iPad 2 would be come the “affordable” version

Anything else Apple gives us in the new iPad will be a surprise to us all… tomorrow will tell!

The Next Wave of Classroom Technology

The following feature article was written for Waldorf’s “The Torch” quarterly magazine.  See the original article here!

We are living in very an unique time. It is a time where teenagers carry smartphones, college students live on their laptops, and jobs are centered around email, texting, and video conferencing.  For those who are behind or feel it is too hard to learn now – the world around them seems to be evolving faster than ever… and IT IS.

Graduating college just over 2 years ago, I was on the cusp of what is now somewhat of a technological revolution.  Since 2008, the adoption of smartphones has more than doubled for adults to an impressive 35% – and that number continues to grow.  A study by Pew Research Centers puts 18-24 year olds at an astonishing 49% using smartphones, and 58% of 25-34 year olds. So what does that mean? Nearly half of all college-aged students are carrying a smartphone – and it’s effecting how they learn. Continue reading “The Next Wave of Classroom Technology”

Review: Kurt Cobain’s Graphic Novel meets the Digital Realm (iPad App)

The iPad, for me, is a web browser, a productivity tool, and a way to consume visual media.  When I was tasked with checking out “Kurt Cobain: The Graphic Novel,” I was skeptical as to how it would fit into my typical iPad use – but I’m glad I gave it a try.

Downloading the app (available here) was a fairly painless process, although it does take a little time, even over wifi, due to the applications size.  The App Store requests the user to be 17+ in order to download, as the novel does contain some “R” rated (violence, drug use, sex, depicted suicide) content.  The $5.99 price tag was also relatively easy enough to swallow, especially for a Nirvana fan or comic book enthusiast.  The story takes you through the life, fame, and death of Cobain, in a unique and extremely visual 84 pages.

Overview: At first launch of the novel, you’re greeted with a comic book illustration of Cobain, with angel wings, on his knees crying, which very quickly establishes that this is the digital version of “Godspeed” – the print version of the Kurt Cobain graphic novel.  The home screen is optimized for both landscape and portrait viewing modes, but that doesn’t extend to the pages of the novel.  From the home screen, you can jump right into the comic, although there are a few other options (intro, help, about, etc).  There is also a light guitar riff that plays on the menu.  Enjoy it, because it’s the only sound included in the app. Clicking “enter” springs the comic open, and you’re immediately swept into the comic’s artwork by Flameboy.

To me, this feels like a real comic book, and, in my opinion, it is a truly brilliant use of the iPad’s screen.  They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and this graphic novel holds true to that.  The art work is dark, detailed, and tell most of the story by it’s self.  A simple double tap of the screen on any of the tiles will bring it full screen, and from there, users can swipe left or right to read it frame by frame.  This feature makes the digital version stand out over the print version and really improves the experience as a reader.


Verdict: Reading the novel, to me, almost felt like I was watching it on TV.  I found myself getting somewhat lost in my own imagination as I slid from one image to the next.  A soundtrackto the novel would have made it truly interactive, although the experience can be enhanced further by loading your iPad music library up with a handful of Nirvana tracks, and letting the music help set the mood of the graphic novel.

Comics and graphic novels are definitely a market that can utilize the iPad as a tool to further their reach, and “Kurt Cobain: The Graphic Novel” is a prime example.  If you’re into Nirvana/Kurt Cobain, or know someone who would really enjoy a digital comic, I recommend you check it out in the App Store… it’s worth it!

Rating: I would say that “Kurt Cobain: The Graphic Novel” is a 3.5 out of 5.

Pros:

  • Illustration Quality
  • Frame by frame content viewing
  • Like reading a ink and paper comic book

Cons:

  • Lack of audio content
  • Lack of true landscape version
This review was written by me, as a guest writer for Mactrast.com

Check out the original post HERE!!