The Apple spirit of making things that can be used by anyone lives on in two products that let users be a bit more creative with photos and music.

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Practical Mac

Apple’s oldest guiding principle has been that its products can be used by anyone. Even the earliest kits Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold out of that fabled garage were designed to make it easier for hobbyists to assemble their own computers without having to solder every part.

That spirit continues in many ways throughout the Apple ecosystem today. A couple of recent iOS apps have caught my eye for the way they make complicated tasks easy for everyday folks.

Adobe Post: I get a lot of product pitches, and I’ll admit that when Adobe contacted me about a new app designed for social image sharing, I wasn’t interested. I have to say, though, Adobe Post ( is well done.

The idea behind Post is that many people share images on services such as Instagram, and they want to add various text decorations. Sometimes that’s adding funny captions to photos; sometimes companies want to promote a service, sale or special event.

Of course it’s possible to add text to images in many other ways, including building it yourself in a full-blown image editor like Photoshop, but most people don’t want to, or don’t have the time or skills to do that.

With Post you can start with a blank slate or “remix” one of dozens of templates of various themes. Choose from several photo filters to customize the look of an image (yours or one of the included photos).

Where Post becomes impressively easy is in editing and styling text. You can choose from several different typefaces and decorative treatments, but the app shines when you resize any given text block. It makes some words larger or smaller to fit the space you specify, saving you the trouble of independently resizing them for creative effects. This is all done fluidly, giving you a lot of latitude to experiment with the appearance.

It’s simple to change text frames and borders, switch colors, or choose complementary color palettes for all items in the image.

When you’re happy with the result, share it to your favorite social-media service.

Taking Instagram’s lead, each creation is limited to a square aspect ratio. If you need to do any photo correction, you’ll have to do that before you bring the image into Post.

The app is a free download and runs on the iPhone and iPod touch. Each image is watermarked with an #adobepost hashtag, which you can remove by tapping it and sharing the image (you can simply email it to yourself if you don’t want to shill the app to your social contacts).

A series of exclusive designs are similarly available if you share them, though in my test I was able to share only to Twitter.

Music Memos: I’m adept enough at Photoshop that I could make creations similar to those in Adobe Post if I wanted to. When it comes to music, though, I’m smack dab outside the target demographic of Apple’s latest iOS app, Music Memos ( And yet it makes me feel like perhaps I’m more musical than I give myself credit for.

Music Memos is designed to record music snippets as they come to you, so you can capture that moment of creation. The app begins listening when you launch it, and tapping the single button in the middle of the screen starts recording. Tap it again to stop.

That describes nearly any audio-recording app. What Music Memos does next is attempt to figure out notes and chords from the recorded waveform. You can also add an automatically generated background drum or bass guitar track that synchronizes with the music.

You can make a few basic edits to the recording, such as trimming and tempo changes, and then export it to GarageBand on the same device, where the individual tracks are separated for further editing.

I first used it during one of my daughter’s piano lessons when she spontaneously started playing a pattern of her own devising and her teacher chimed in at the other end of the scale.

And if I can turn a fragment of time into something usable, I imagine musicians will find it useful to capture their inspirations.