Ember is a new tool available today on the Mac App Store for collecting inspirational digital bits and pieces from websites, images, apps or anything else. It’s not entirely new, however – Ember was once LittleSnapper, popular in its own right, but with a somewhat limited reputation as an excellent advanced screenshotting tool. Brighton’s Realmac Software is refocusing its snapping and saving software with Ember, and decided a total rebrand was in order.
Ember is a digital scrapbook at heart, but it’s more about a productive, interactive creativity than a static collection of things you happen to like. The drag-and-drop interface allows you to grab anything from the web and anything local to your app and drop it into your library, tag the stuff and then build collections around that and other metadata built right into the content. There are already a few simple collections built in, organizing content from its original source – whether it came from a screenshot, the web, a photo or a tablet or phone device.
You can create your own smart collections based on words contained in the title, when they were taken or captured, keywords in the web address if they’re saved pages, tags, device type or star rating, as well as any combination of the above. For hardcore organizers, it’s a comprehensive content management system, but it also works equally well as a general grab bag for lazier users like myself.
Ember also does take screenshots, and these autotag with the application they’re grabbed from. Plus you can subscribe to websites to browse the web visually and easily take images from those websites to make site-specific libraries. Safari and Chrome extensions allow you to save entire websites, and adheres to specific layouts as represented by your current browser window size when grabbing the capture, but you can adjust to check out how a page behaves dynamically, as well.
All content can be shared with others via AirDrop, Messages, Twitter, Tumblr and more, and you can sketch and annotate captures to better explain why you’re sharing things or what you want to flag about the items you’ve collected. All of this can be done in fullscreen mode, too, for a distraction-free environment, and that should become even more handy with OS X 10.9’s new multi-monitor support.
Ember is a brand new app, and LittleSnapper users will have to fork over $49 just like everyone else to pay the price of admission. I expect some of them to be a bit sore about the change, but the classic Catch 22 of software is that you can’t give something away forever and continue to make new stuff or improve it. Also, people might get a little sticker shock at a near-$50 price tag for a piece of software in the age of the App Store, but Realmac has delivered nothing but winners and Ember is no exception to that rule.