Ember allows you to simplify your work while being creative.
I’ve had the opportunity in the past to review some great apps that do image collecting, screenshot taking, and organizing. All of which can get the job done, but then I met Ember.
You might have heard me say great design and great code equals great software. Ember is just that.
It has a clean interface and it’s easy to use while still giving you some really great features.
Normally I like to begin my review from the start of the app I’m working with. This time before doing our review I wanted to defend Ember. While I was using the app and doing research on it I found where some users had complained about a feature they said was not provided with Ember. I believe some complaints might have been made before people really had a chance to find this so I’d like to jump straight to a spot inside of Ember where some users had been so upset with. I would have agreed with this complaint if it was valid.
The complaints are that you could not use arrows or add boxes or circles. This is just not true.
As you can see in my screen shot this feature is here. It maybe be different for some folks to find. As a test, I asked Robyn if she could find the option to place an arrow or create a square and she passed up the Smart Drawing tool over and over. This would lead me to believe the some of the people complaining about this did too.
The team behind Ember, Real Mac Software, has provided the tool in question and I think the way they did it is brilliant – much better then the standard way. Inside Ember instead of going to a drop down box that has shapes inside you can just choose the Smart Drawing pen. This tool is located in the tools palette next to the Freehand pen.
What’s nice about this option is instead of dragging a circle out or dropping the wrong size arrow you can simply draw the object and the Smart Drawing pen will recognize that you drew a square, arrow, circle, or rectangle. I think it makes my screen shot editing much quicker. I will provide a video of this at the bottom of the review. Now let’s get back to our review.
Ember was created to replace Little Snapper. Ember has a Mac and iOS client that can work together via iCloud. When opening Ember in iOS I can use it to take a photo or grab an image from my camera roll. So after I’ve taken screenshots of an app I’m reviewing I can use Ember to import them to my desktop client of Ember to quickly do my editing before adding them to my written review. I can also use the iOS client to do the same work on my iPhone or iPad if I’m on a deadline and know I need to have this part done before I even make it to my Mac.
Ember’s desktop client has a very clean interface that might remind you of your Mac’s Finder. You can find Embers options on the lefthand side.
These options are:
- Recently Added
To the right, you’ll see the images you have dropped in or imported.
The plus at the bottom of the window holds your options to create a Collection, Smart Collection and Folder. Collection is away for you to group your images for easier finding. Smart Collections are similar to the Smart Mailbox inside Apple Mail, and Folder allows you to group your collections inside if your project would require multiple collections of images.
Ember will add a Menu bar icon that when clicked on a drop down holding the options for taking screenshots are available. I’m a huge fan of using the built-in shortcuts for taking screenshots on my Mac. But, when using Ember it makes the most since to use Ember’s screenshot options because after taking the screenshot Ember will import the image to its library. Also, you will find a few options your Mac does not have like a timed fullscreen snap.
Just like the Finder, you have a toolbar with Ember. In the toolbar a new feature that came with Ember when it replaced Little Snapper is RSS. I made the mistake thinking that it would be a true RSS that would grab posts from my favorite websites. I was told by Ember’s product manager when asking why nothing was showing up in my RSS and here is what he told me.
“If there’s nothing showing, that normally means there’s no images within the RSS feed – Ember filters out and only shows images from an RSS feed, nothing more.”
This is a pretty handy feature I think for someone scraping together a design page for new posts. I’m about to paint the inside of my house so using this to see a blog about house design would be great. I unfortunately have not been able to get this feature to work. I even tried using MacSources with no luck of getting any image. It’s a very good possibility I did something wrong because Ember does have an area inside to add an RSS feed called “Need Inspiration?” This has worked with no problem. Here you can find subscriptions – for example 500px Editor’s Choice and National Geographic.
If you decide to add one of the eighteen subscriptions they provide, each time one of the sites updates with an image Ember will grab the latest images and you will see the notification on what site updated with new images. I see lots of potential for this so once I get that figured out I know it will be used quite a bit.
Next, in the Toolbar is Ember’s built-in web browser. You might be wondering if Ember has a browser plugin for Safari and Google Chrome. Why does it need its own browser built-in? The answer is simply because of different screen views. With Ember’s built-in browser, I can view a website the same way I would see it via a computer, iPad in Landscape, iPad in Portrait, and iPhone. When designing a new website, you will find this option to be outstanding. No more wondering how your website looks in different screen sizes just open up Ember and take a look.
That’s not the only great feature about the built-in web browser. Because I do design work I’ve had clients show me a website and ask if I could create something similar but with a few changes. What I’ve found using Ember’s web browser is that before I would have to take a screenshot of each part of the site and then waste time in photoshop placing them together. Ember will allow you to take a snap of a singular image or the entire website in one shot, thus saving me from the time of slicing the screenshots together. I read a few complaints about this as well and I can tell you I’m so happy it was designed this way. I’ve already found this to be a great time saver. To touch on the complaint I read about this option is you can’t just take a small shot of part of a page. Maybe not, but by grabbing the whole page it allows you to edit how you need to later on. Once the image has been shaped it takes no time to crop out what you don’t want of the full page.
Somehow I feel my review has been more on defending Ember then really reviewing it. I just want to make clear that if I did not find the Ember to be a wonderful add-on to a designer’s tool kit, I wouldn’t defend it. These are some amazing tools that I’ve not seen in other software so I’m extremely happy to have them in my toolkit collection.
Ember is made by Real Mac Software, they have been creating software for a while. You might have heard of Little Snapper, Clear, and RapidWeaver. Real Mac Software sells Ember for $49.99 in the Mac App Store and you can find a free trial via RealMacSoftware.
The team at Real Mac Software promises to keep updating Ember with awesome features as time goes on making the $49.99 price not sting that much. While the price is higher then some other image library software I feel Ember is designed right it’s solid as a rock. Ember is a great and simple way of collection images.
When using Ember, I know the Real Mac Software team put lots of thought into the design and how the software should work. It’s got such a clean and user-friendly interface.
Ember for iOS looks the same and works just like the desktop client. I do have a gripe about this though. As much as I love the desktop version of Ember and can justify the price, for someone who would be using this software, like myself, I HATE in-app purchases. I see how they can be a necessary evil by making software cheaper and allowing the user to just buy the in-app purchase they need at the time and I’m ok with that to a point. The Ember iOS app not only charges you $4.99 for it, but then also charges you to use the Auto-Import Screenshots or Annotations option. In the iOS app you have to buy them as in-app purchases. The Annotations are listed at $4.99 and the Auto-Import Screenshots is $1.99. I would expect this from a free app, but when I have to pay for the app and then to really get use out of it pay again to unlock features it’s a bit upsetting. That’s defiantly something I feel the Real Mac Software team should adjust by either charing a higher price for the iOS app or giving the app away for free in the app store and charging a bit more for it’s in app purchases. That is just my opinion. The iOS app does work great and when both the desktop and iOS client are using iCloud you can keep in sync with each other.
Real Mac Software even has a Creative Course where they will send you a series of emails showing you how to get the most from Ember.
I’m sure there are so many other features of Ember I did not even touch on in this review. That’s why grabbing the free trial via RealMacSoftware is a great idea. Play with the software make sure it’s something that will help you in your day to day activities.
Ember has become a tool in my workflow that I’m really enjoying. I can say as long as the Real Mac Software team keeps updating Ember for Mac and iOS, It’s worth every penny. Ember is a great tool that when used correctly it becomes a daily must have.
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