Graham Spencer

722 posts on MacStories since January 2011

Graham is a regular contributor to MacStories, a law and economics student at university and connoisseur of great TV shows. With a particular passion for telling stories with the aid of data and visualizations, there is a high likelihood that he wrote a story if you see a graph on MacStories.

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Emoji Type: A Predictive Emoji Keyboard

Emoji have really taken off this year, and on the iPhone and iPad it is easier than ever to use them thanks to iOS 8’s custom keyboards. Like many people, I’ve been using and enjoying the fantastic Emoji++ from David Smith (you can read our review here). But as someone who is admittedly a bit of a novice when it comes to emoji, the wall of emoji in Emoji++, whilst a massive improvement over the default emoji keyboard, is still a bit intimidating at times. This is particularly the case when searching for an emoji, with no idea if it exists or where it might be.

Emoji Type, which launched today, is a new predictive emoji keyboard. That means you can start typing koala and Emoji Type will pull up the koala emoji in a bar similar to the QuickType suggestion bar from iOS 8’s default keyboard. There’s a whole dictionary of words associated with the various emoji that has been built into Emoji Type. So, as an example, you can get to the koala emoji by typing koala or Australia and you can get to the heart emojis by typing heart or love. And you don’t have to type the whole word for the emoji to appear, emojis start appearing after typing two letters and each letter you type after that will continue to narrow the selection (which is horizontally scrollable).

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Apple Adds More Channels to Apple TV, YouTube Channel Gets a New Design

Click image for full resolution version

Click image for full resolution version

The Apple TV yesterday received four more channels, with UFC, The Scene, Fusion and Dailymotion joining the dozens of other channels available on the device. The above image is an update to our original article that visualizes the addition of Apple TV channels since the Apple TV 2 launched (the original black puck version).

The Apple TV also got an update to the long-standing YouTube channel, featuring a new design and new features. The highlights of this update includes predictive search, personalized recommendations and the ability to subscribe to channels. It probably wouldn't be considered a 'feature', but the updated YouTube channel now also supports advertisements before videos. You can watch a brief promotional video from Google that talks about the update below.

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Apple Debuts ‘Change’ Advert for the iPad Air 2

Overnight Apple published a new advert for the iPad Air 2 called 'Change'. Unlike their previous 'Your Verse' iPad adverts, which focused on how one person or small group used the iPad, this latest advert is a fast-paced montage of many different people using the iPad in many different ways.

Those apps featured in the advert include iStopMotion, AutoCAD 360, Molecules, Animation Creator HD, and many more. In fact along with the advert is a new page on Apple's website that is dedicated to highlighting every single app that was featured in the advert.

You can view the advert on YouTube or on Apple's website, as well as embedded below.

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Apple Posts “Best of 2014″ App Store and iTunes Store Lists

Apple has today published their "Best of 2014" iTunes and App Store lists, which include editorial picks for the best releases in apps, music, movies, TV shows, books and podcasts from 2014.

For the best apps and games, Apple has picked Elevate and Threes for the iPhone, Pixelmator and Monument Valley for the iPad and Notability and Tomb Raider for the Mac. Runners up were Hyperlapse and Leo's Fortune for iPhone, Storehouse and Hearthstone for iPad and Affinity Designer and Transistor for Mac.

Some of the winners in the other categories include 1989 by Taylor Swift as the best music album, Guardians of the Galaxy as the best blockbuster movie, Fargo as TV show of the year, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr as the best fiction book, and Serial as the best new podcast. Although keep in mind that some of these lists vary from country to country.

Last year, Apple picked Wunderlist and XCOM: Enemy Unknown as winners for the Mac; Disney Animated and BADLAND for the iPad; and Duolingo and Ridiculous Fishing for the iPhone. In 2012, Apple picked Day One and Deus Ex: Human Revolution as winners for the Mac; Paper and The Room for the iPad; and Action Movie FX and Rayman Jungle Run for the iPhone.

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Snapchat’s ‘Our Story’ Events Are a Captivating Experiment

I use a lot of apps, but there are only a few that I open every single day, and over the past few months Snapchat has become one of those elite few for me. If you told me this back in January, I wouldn’t have believed you and probably would have laughed at the idea too. Why the drastic change in opinion of Snapchat? Well, I eventually signed up when a few of my friends convinced me to, but my usage really skyrocketed with the launch of their (relatively) recent feature called ‘Our Story’. But first, an explanation of Snapchat and how it has rapidly evolved into a number of different features.

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Apple Debuts Two New iPhone 6 Adverts Featuring Gaming and Continuity

Overnight Apple released two new adverts for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. One, called 'Gamers', features the new iOS game Vain Glory and the other, 'Reservations', demoes the ability to make and receive phone calls on an iPhone, iPad or Mac with Continuity's Phone Relay feature.

These new iPhone 6 adverts continue to be narrated by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake and are the fifth and sixth adverts in the series. Previous iPhone 6 adverts included Duo, Health, Cameras and Huge.

We've embedded the adverts below, but you can also view them in YouTube (Gamers and Reservations).

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Calcbot for Mac

Tapbots have today launched a Mac version of their Calcbot app. Priced at $4.99, Calcbot for Mac is a good replacement for the default OS X calculator if you want a calculator with a few more bells and whistles but don't necessarily need something as advanced as PCalc. Calcbot comes with a Basic and Scientific calculator, as well as an in-built unit converter.

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Tim Cook: I’m Proud to be Gay

Tim Cook, in an op-ed for Bloomberg Businessweek:

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

A powerful and courageous message from Tim Cook. At the very least, take a few minutes out of your day and read Cook's entire op-ed.

So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

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Google Approaches Email in a New Way with Inbox

Google yesterday unveiled Inbox, a new email client for Gmail that takes a different approach to email. Google frames Inbox as a product that recognises we now use email in very different ways today, but email (and email clients) have barely changed.

Email started simply as a way to send digital notes around the office. But fast-forward 30 years and with just the phone in your pocket, you can use email to contact virtually anyone in the world…from your best friend to the owner of that bagel shop you discovered last week.

With this evolution comes new challenges: we get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracks—especially when we’re working on our phones. For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do—rather than helping us get those things done.

Google Inbox is different in a few fundamental ways, with a strong focus on some interesting features:

  • Bundles: Inbox will group together similar emails into bundles such as Travel, Purchases, Promotions.
  • Highlights: Inbox will try to intelligently highlight key information from your emails (event details, flight itineraries) and even pull in information from outside your emails (such as real-time status of a delivery or flight)
  • Reminders, Assists, and Snooze: Inbox also becomes a kind-of to-do app, able to remind you about emails or tasks to accomplish at a later date. This includes letting you snooze on messages until a later date.

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