Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pixelmator 2.0: A Viable Alternative to Photoshop?

If the price point of Adobe's Photoshop ($699-999 MSRP), Lightroom (MSRP $299) or even Elements ($90 MSRP) has you a little gun shy about pulling the trigger (okay, I'll stop with the gun metaphors now), but you still need something to touch up your photographs, then perhaps Pixelmator might fit the bill. At a current $30 price point, it certainly should be more acceptable to your pocket book than any of Adobe's offerings.

So what do you get for $30 (which will rise to $60 soon)? Well you get a truly beautiful GUI that allows for easy creating, editing, and enhancing still images. But the GUI isn't everything and it hides a powerful engine designed to utilize many of the features of Lion such as  full screen and autosave. It does it very nicely too. Pixelmator has always been a good option for the budget minded or budget restricted image manipulator but version 2.0 has added a lot of features, namely:

  • New look and feel
  • Drawing Tools and Shapes
  • Healing Tool with Content-aware fill
  • Smudge, Sponge, Burn, Dodge, Eyedropper, Pixel, and Red Eye Tools
  • New Type Tool
  • Auto Save and Versions
  • Red Eye Tool
  • Pixel Tool
  • Column and Row marquee tools
  • New Gradient editor
  • New Brushes editor
  • Shadows and Highlights
  • New, easier color choosing
  • Numerical input for palettes
  • Content-aware Fill for selections
  • Improved Quartz Composer support
  • Improved Transforming tools
  • Support for PSD text layers
  • Mac OS X 10.7 UI support new scrollers, gestures, buttons, menus, and more.
  • Many more improvements

Use of Pixelmator is intuitive and the potential is terrific but let's be honest, it doesn't match up to the feature set offered by the Adobe products (well, maybe Elements). But what Pixelmator does offer is a surprisingly rich feature set for a fraction of the price. Of all the software that isn't offered by Apple as part of the OS and fills a gap, this is one of the most Apple-like and I could easily see Apple buying this application and offering as part of a future OS; it's that good.

Very affordable, great value and highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

It is with an incredibly sad heart that I report on the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple founder, at the far too young age of 56. I feel like I've lost a family member. Of course I haven't and can only offer my condolences to his wife Laurene, and their family and all of Steve's friends and fans. Steve passed away after many years of battling complications from pancreatic cancer. Apple's web site announced the news today:
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. 

I am reminded of a quote that Steve made during a commencement address at Stanford University in the spring of 2005.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. 
Steve's work has and will continue to bring joy to millions.

His legacy is inspirational.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple iPhone Announcements Fail

Tim Cook's first announcements as CEO of Apple has to go down as a bit of a miss.

I don't think that there was anything announced in iOS5 that we hadn't already seen and essentially the only news of consequence about the iPhone 4s is that it breaks Siri for the rest of us.


Okay, there are iterative upgrades to the hardware that are all very nice but not a reason to dump the iPhone you just bought. Perhaps the deal with Verizon was that the phones they had wouldn't become obsolete in a matter of months. Perhaps of most use to Verizon users is that the 4s is a world phone (the Verizon iPhone 4 is CDMA only which essentially means US only). However, given the exorbitant rates that Verizon charges for overseas usage, it's not that big a deal. What happens if I put a SIM from a Japanese carrier in a phone tied to Verizon - which protocol controls the phone? Do I get to choose?

And the Apple web site after the announcement.... I've never seen this before.