Apr 27 2009
With less and less time to devote to the series (and less and less frequent episodes) it is time for a change. Fortunately, the amazing power of the Mac’s free software community has been here long before Freeloader and will be around for years to come. With the welcome addition of iPhone freeware, the future is bright! But enough nostalgia, let’s get to the list:
Best on the Web
I have to admit, I cheat on Firefox all the time (most recently on the PC side with Chrome) but I always come back. There are worthy contenders but the extensibility, community and recent version 3 enhancements to make it more ‘Mac’ make Firefox the workhorse of the web.
For years, Mac users had to suffer through the accusation that the Mac OS lived and died by Microsoft’s support of Office for Mac. Fortunately the support of Sun, the work of Open Source programmers and some missteps by Microsoft have ended the validity of that argument. Apart from whatever the ‘ribbon’ is and erroneous new file formats, Office has not changed – but OpenOffice has. In its new Aqua-native flavor, OpenOffice not only brings a robust office suite to the Mac (for free) but also includes an Access-compatible relational database app called Base. With the latest version OpenOffice also includes support for extensions, a la Firefox.
Best App Killed by Apple
This category features an app rendered useless by Apple. With the App Store emerging as the crowning achievement of the iPhone, it is easy to forget that Apple was not the first to deliver 3rd party apps on the most exciting new platform around. While many contributed to the Jailbreaking of the iPhone, one company was a bold sponsor of rouge 3rd party hacking: Conceited Software. They supported jailbreaking on every version of the OS up to 2.0. Where are they now? I guess you could say they moved on with the rest of us. You can find several of their excellent 3rd party apps in Apple’s app store.
Best System Extension
The move to Intel opened up all kinds of possibilities for running other operating systems on the Mac. While Boot Camp works, Parallels and VMware quickly provided support for running Windows apps along side Mac apps. Our friends at Sun released a powerful emulator similar to an old mac favorite VirtualPC. VirtualBox brings Windows to Intel Macs without a reboot, and allows the management of multiple virtual machines.
It is a shame that this award has to be given postuously. For years, the process of encoding video for the iPod or Apple TV was a much better experience on the Mac thanks to iSquint and its paid older brother (the Swiss army knife of video conversion, VisualHub). Sadly, both of these have been discontinued.
I love Apple and Apple design, but I find myself pretty frequently unsatisfied with a feature gap in OS X or the iPhone OS. One might argue the biggest outstanding feature gap in the iPhone is file access. BriefCase was one of the first to conquer this, and thanks to a lite version, allows free (and ad-free) access to a file store on your iPhone as well as the files on your Mac.
Rookie of the Year
This one goes to an app with a lot of potential that hit the Mac scene about a year ago. This vector drawing app looks great and has a good and growing feature set.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Backing up your Mac will never go out of style. One app has leveraged OS X’s Unix power with a slick aqua interface for years. Carbon Copy Cloner brought bootable backups to the Mac, and continues to support optimized backup on the fly or by a schedule. And, its always been free!
Winner: Carbon Copy Cloner
Hats off to the many skilled developers that have made the Mac rock for all these years! And what of the Freeloader? While the Freeloader Series is complete, stay tuned for more great reviews, features and tutorials.
Thanks for reading!