Graham Spencer

716 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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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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Maps Connect: Apple’s Tool for Small Businesses to List on Apple Maps

Greg Sterling of Search Engine Land has a great post that details how small businesses can use Apple's Maps Connect tool to add their business to the Apple Maps database. It isn't a completely new feature, as pointed out by Apple Spotlight, but new features have been added and Apple is now actively promoting the feature.

This afternoon Apple notified us of a new self-service portal to add or edit local business listings: Apple Maps Connect. It’s intended for small business owners or their authorized representatives (though not agencies) to be able to quickly and easily add content directly into Apple Maps.

Updates or new listings will show up within a week or could show up more quickly depending on the situation and whether the listing was flagged and/or there’s additional verification required. Beyond this, Apple has additional fraud prevention measures in place but didn’t discuss them extensively.

Sterling's post has screenshots of the entire process, so if you're interested I recommend reading it yourself. Also interesting is that as part of Maps Connect, businesses can apply for Apple's indoor positioning technology which it launched with iOS 8. The website notes that Apple is currently focused on working with those businesses that have annual visitors of over 1 million, WiFi throughout and accurate maps, amongst other things.

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Apple Q4 2014 Results: $42.1 Billion Revenue, 39.3 Million iPhones, 12.3 Million iPads Sold

Apple has published their Q4 2014 financial results for the quarter that ended September 27, 2014. The company posted revenue of $42.1 billion. The company sold 12.3 million iPads, 39.3 million iPhones, and 5.5 million Macs, earning a quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion.

“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”

A new 'Other' category for Apple Watch in 2015

As noted by Bloomberg, starting next year, Apple will create a new 'Other' category for their financial results which will combine the sales of the new Apple Watch, iPod, Apple TV, Beats products and other accessories. The move will make it difficult to break out exact sales figures for the Apple Watch and is also different to how Apple treated the iPhone and iPad which from the first quarter received their own category.

“This gives Apple cover for the early months of Apple Watch sales at least,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst and founder of Jackdaw Research. “If they’re low, the results will be buried with other product sales and hard for analysts to back out. But if they’re good, then Apple can still crow about them and split out results on an ad-hoc basis.” (via Bloomberg)

 

Notably, Apple's gross margin was slightly higher at 38%, compared to 37% in the year-ago quarter. International sales also accounted for 60% of all Apple's revenue. You can see all our usual earnings call charts below.

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iCloud Drive: What Is It, How It Works & Its Fundamental Problem

With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple is introducing a new feature of iCloud: iCloud Drive. Apple bills it as a feature that will let you:

...safely store all your presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, images, and any other kind of document in iCloud. Documents you store in iCloud Drive will be kept up to date across all of your devices, and you can access them from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC.

This brief article aims to clarify what exactly iCloud Drive is, how you access it, as well as the big problem that it has.
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Adobe Releases Aperture Import Tool for Lightroom

MacRumors:

The free plugin, which can be downloaded from Adobe's site, will make it simple for Aperture users to migrate their libraries into Lightroom, a task that takes quite a bit of time to do manually. It is available only for Mac users and requires Lightroom 5.6 or later.

Using the plugin, Aperture users can import the following data into Lightroom: Flags, Star Ratings, Keywords, GPS Data, Rejects, Hidden Files, Color Labels, Stacks, and Face Tags. Color Labels, Stacks, and Face Tags are imported as Lightroom keywords, and because adjustments to photos made in Aperture can't be read into Lightroom, the tool will import both original images and copies of images with adjustments applied.

This plugin should make life considerably easier for those wanting to migrate from Aperture (which has been discontinued by Apple) to Adobe's Lightroom. Keep in mind that this plugin does require a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud, which starts at $9.99.

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The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display

At Apple's media event yesterday, Apple unveiled a new high-end iMac that includes a Retina 5K display. Starting at US$2499 it includes the 5K display with a resolution of 5120x2880, a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion Drive and an AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. In every other respect, the iMac is identical to its non-Retina version, still tapering off to the sides with an edge of just 5mm.

“Thirty years after the first Mac changed the world, the new iMac with Retina 5K display running OS X Yosemite is the most insanely great Mac we have ever made,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With a breathtaking 14.7 million pixel display, faster CPU and graphics, Fusion Drive, and Thunderbolt 2, it’s the most beautiful and powerful iMac ever.”

The Retina iMac can be further upgraded to a 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 32GB of RAM a 3TB Fusion Drive or 1TB SSD and an AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

Apple's website explains the interesting technical features that allow the iMac to have a 5K display, including a custom timing controller, Oxide TFT and highly efficient LEDs. Because there are nearly 15 million pixels, Apple developed its own timing controller that has four times the bandwidth of the previous generation 27-inch iMac.  The Oxide thin film transistor (TFT) provides the electrical charge to each pixel and does so more precisely and quicker than other technologies - and is even more energy efficient. Apple have also used more efficient LEDs which has actually enabled them to power four times the number of pixels with 30 percent less power.

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OS X Yosemite & iOS 8 Continuity Explained: Handoff, Instant Hotspot, SMS & Phone Relay

Perhaps the headline feature of OS X Yosemite (besides the visual overhaul) is what Apple has called 'Continuity'.

Continuity is really just an umbrella-term for a few key features that allow OS X and iOS to, in Apple's words, "connect like never before". Those key features that make up Continuity are Handoff, Instant Hotspot, SMS Relay and Phone Relay.

Please note: iOS 8.1 is required for Continuity features.

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