When it’s worth paying
Affordable paid apps can return many times your investment
Although we’ve been singing the praises of free software in this feature, that isn’t to say you should ignore every app that has a price tag attached. These days you can buy highly capable apps of all kinds at affordable prices; something that might be attributed to Apple’s app stores skewing prices downwards. Many of these apps are far more ambitious than their price and your
previous experience of low-cost software might suggest.
We’re talking about the likes of Affinity Designer, Pixelmator
and OneNote, which are strong, capable rivals to big names such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Evernote. Spending a relatively small amount encourages developers of these apps to continue investing effort in new features, which these days often come at a steady pace, and often without having to pay for a whole new version.
Affinity Designer (£39.99, Mac App Store) was a great app even from the start, yet features added since version 1.2 have added significantly to its appeal. That version brought the ability to set text on a path, dashed lines, a corner tool, and vector slice export. It enables your undo history to be saved with documents, and features a new pixel alignment mode to aid user interface and web design. Version 1.2.1 added support for Apple’s Force Touch trackpad on the new MacBook and MacBook Pro, enabling you to paint with
pressure sensitivity without buying specialist hardware.
Microsoft’s OneNote (free,
onenote.com) may not be as popular as Evernote, but it still has a great deal to offer. For a start, it doesn’t impose a 60MB monthly limit on uploads, as Evernote’s free tier does. Its latest version has the ability to search handwritten notes, and can record and play audio notes. Djay (algoriddim.com) gained a ton of new features in version 1.1, including the ability to create video mixes, not just audio. It also supports an extended range of hardware
controllers, and its media library has been beefed up by
integration with iTunes and Spotify and video importing.
Pixelmator (£22.99, Mac App Store) goes from strength to strength, with version 3.3 adding support for Handoff so you can switch between editing an image on your Mac and your iPad. It supports Yosemite’s Extensions too, boosting its value by making its Repair tool available within other apps.
When it comes to annotating images, Napkin (£29.99, Mac App Store) is a good alternative to Apple’s Preview. Version 1.5 adds two new visual styles when redacting information, with a choice of blurring or pixellating an area for a subtler aesthetic, rather than simply filling it with black. It also enables images to be cropped within the app, so you no longer have to open them in another tool to do that, and it follows the lead of many other good Mac apps by enabling you to match the style of surrounding text
wherever you paste.
Finally, version 5.3
of 1Password (£25.99, Mac App Store) is more tempting than ever as a replacement for iCloud Keychain, with improvements to the accuracy of filling out your identity in online forms, and new field types to store more varied data in your keychain.
These days, apps often add
new features at
a steady pace at no extra cost
1Password stores a wider variety of information than iCloud Keychain yet still syncs it between your devices.
Pixelmator is an excellent example of OS X Yosemite’s Extensions feature, which makes the app’s Repair tool available from within other software.
Already a capable app for designers in its initial release, Affinity Designer continues to develop at a pace with new creative tools and leveraging Apple’s Force Touch trackpad.