We recently went over the best apps of 2011 and it’s safe to say that last year was an amazing time to be a Mac user. Not only did our favorite apps see major updates, there was a nice influx of brand new apps that were simply too good to pass up.
Today we want to reverse things and start looking forward instead of reviewing what has already come. We’ll introduce you to ten apps that are going to make big waves in 2012. Interestingly enough, most of them happen to be geared towards designers and web developers so if you fit that description, you’ll definitely want to take a look! We’ll also look at an awesome new Google Reader app, what’s in store for Spotify and even get a glimpse of the gem that 6Wunderkinder has been keeping up its sleeve.
Apps to Watch
Reeder made such a splash in 2011 that most other entrants into the RSS reader market were viewed as second rate clones. However, we’re finally starting to see some worthy rivals step forward and Caffeinated is at the top of that list. Developer Curtis Hard has been toiling away on this app since before the launch of Reeder for Mac and is almost ready to unleash his creation on the masses.
The Caffeinated interface is super slick and it’s got plenty of awesome features to boot. My favorite thing about this app is its extensibility. Curtis has extension and theming systems in place that will make it super easy for users to really make the app their own through varying the interfaces and adding on third party functionality.
TextMate is a tool that just about every web developer is familiar with. Dating all the way back to 2004, this text editor seems simple on the surface but actually packs a huge number of features and can be thanked for much of the progress made in web text editors to date.
Fans of this app have been waiting for a new version for a long time and it seems we’re finally approaching that day. TextMate 2 is a complete rewrite with tons of new features including split view and fullscreen modes. It’s still in alpha so I’m not sure how soon you can expect to see the official release, but for now TextMate 1 owners can enjoy the early alpha.
Panic is hands down one of my favorite Mac developers, these guys have been around for ages and they know better than anyone what makes a solid Mac application. Their flagship product Transmit has been the FTP standard for years and version four was a true delight.
Now they’ve turned their focus to the second major release of Coda, their awesome complete coding environment application. After major rival Espresso released a new version in 2011, Coda fans have been dying to see Panic’s response. In a recent blog post, Panic stated that they’re just about ready to start the private beta stage. They opened up some invites, which were quickly gobbled up so if you were hoping to get in now you’re out of luck.
The same blog post promises (in a round about way) a fresh design: “Coda might look a little different than you’re used to, but we think it’s for good reason.” Keep an eye out for more updates throughout 2012, this one is going to be good.
Private Beta: Closed (for now)
2011 brought more Markdown editors than you can shake a stick at. They’re all fullscreen and they all convert your Markdown to HTML, making it difficult to decide which truly has any sort of definable competitive advantage.
I tried them all and never really connected with anything until I happened upon Mou, a Markdown text editor aimed at web developers. Mou had exactly what I was looking for: a split screen view that showed your markdown text on the left and a live auto-updating preview on the right. Other bonuses include swappable themes, autocompletion, and custom CSS for the output (opening up some truly amazing possibilities). Mou is currently in an open beta and moving along quickly. Hopefully we’ll see version 1.0 soon.
Chocolat is an up and coming text editor that I first looked at back in December. It’s a really well done piece of software that I thoroughly enjoy using. It feels smaller and more lightweight than apps like Coda and Espresso and yet is far beyond a simple text editor.
Great features include split screen editing, live previews, auto-completion, and a project drawer to quickly get an overview and switch between your files. It also supports syntax highlighting for a ton of different languages, from HTML and PHP to AppleScript. You can preorder the app for the awesome price of $34 (Coda is $99) and/or try out the free alpha.
Coding CSS gradients by hand is a pain. There are a few free online solutions that help you out, but none have the grace and finesse of Gradient for Mac. The UI is super slick and it makes creating CSS gradients a breeze, one might even call it fun.
The major limitation here, as just about every developer who tries the app points out, is that you can currently only create two color gradients. Given that designers’ tastes are so often much more complex, this really hurts the app’s usefulness to cost ratio. Fortunately, the developers are hard at work implementing multi step gradients so you can expect this app to get really awesome really fast later this year. CSS preprocessor fans will be happy to know that Sass support is coming soon as well.
Sublime Text is a rarity in that it’s a Windows app that’s actually good enough to catch our attention (though the icon is still far from the quality we’re used to on OS X). This web text editor has some really innovative features like multiple selections and a mini map that allows you to quickly jump to any part of the page. It’s a great app and more than a few Mac users have longed to see it cross platforms.
Fortunately, the developer has come to his senses and Sublime Text 2 will be available for OS X, Linux and Windows. It’s packed with plenty of new features including an awesome fullscreen distraction free mode. No word yet on an official release date but you can hop on the beta free.
Sublime Text 1
Adobe is keeping on its frequent update schedule, designed by evil geniuses to keep your interest piqued and your checking account empty. Despite the fact that I know you’re currently yelling at your screen about having finally forked out the cash for CS5, it’s definitely the case that CS6 will be hitting sometime this year (and you don’t get a discount for upgrading from CS4 or earlier).
We don’t know too much at this point but AppleInsider has posted a glimpse of a brand new Lightroom-like dark interface for Photoshop and tells of some fancy new 3D options and even some new tools: the Perspective Crop Tool, 3D Material Eyedropper Tool and Remix Tool.
2011 was a big year for Spotify and its revolutionary radio format (listen to anything you want). It finally hit the U.S., a transition which has created a huge influx of new free users paid subscribers. Spotify is rocking the radio industry and we just can’t get enough.
Keep a close eye on Spotify though, the innovation is only just beginning. 2012 will be the year of Spotify apps, a new initiative that brings all kinds of added functionality to the Spotify player such as lyrics, Billboard charts and tighter Last.fm integration. These have only just taken off the ground so you can expect to see a lot of developments in this area this year.
Wunderlist took the world by storm in 2011. The award winning todo list application taught us that task management could be beautiful, functional, collaborative and synced across multiple platforms for the magical price of free. So how in the world can the people at 6Wunderkinder justify the investment?
The answer lies in their next product, a premium project management tool called Wunderkit (coming sometime in 2012). All the features you’ve wanted to see brought to Wunderlist are here: subtasks, reoccurring tasks, workspaces (multiple projects), and full team collaboration with the ability to “follow” workspaces and leave status updates. Be sure to check out the screenshots, they’re gorgeous.
Which Apps Will You Be Watching in 2012?
There you have it, this list represents the best of what we know is coming for Mac users in 2012. Whether you’re looking for a new text editor or a better way to manage your projects, it’s going to be an exciting year full of great developments.
Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of the apps above. Also be sure to tell us about any other apps that you expect to have major updates this year. Are you currently using any alpha or beta releases? We want to know!