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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iOS 8 Family Sharing Explained: Share Purchases Between Family Members & Much More

Over the past few years it has been possible, but never easy, to have a family with iOS devices where everyone could share purchases but keep their own accounts for other purposes. Thankfully, Apple has recognised this pain point and introduced Family Sharing in iOS 8 which not only streamlines the ability to do certain things that were possible before, but also introduces some new features that makes having a family with iOS devices easier to manage.

To summarise the changes, everyone in a family can now have their own Apple ID but if they also enroll in Family Sharing they will be able to share App/iTunes Store purchases, Photos, location (Find My Friends/Find My iPhone), Reminders, and Calendar events between everyone. Most of that was possible pre-iOS 8 with some trickery and effort, but Family Sharing simplifies it significantly. What is new with Family Sharing is the ability for everyone to have their own Apple ID and share existing purchases or request purchases which will be made from one central account.

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Apple: Record 4 Million Pre-Orders of iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus Made in 24 Hours

Apple announced this morning that they had seen a record number of first day pre-orders with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with over 4 million pre-ordered in the first 24 hours. Apple notes that the demand well exceeds the initial pre-order supply and many iPhone customers aren't scheduled to receive their iPhone until October. There will be some additional stock at Apple retail stores and mobile carrier stores on Friday.

“iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are better in every way, and we are thrilled customers love them as much as we do,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple, and we can’t wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday.”

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available from this Friday in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK.

The two iPhone models will also launch in another 20 countries on the following Friday, September 26, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.


Apple TV Update Now Available: New Design, Peer-to-Peer AirPlay & Family Sharing

The Apple TV has today received an update which brings a fresh new design that removes skeuomorphic flourishes, adds more vibrant colors and more closely matches the style of iOS 7/8 and OS X Yosemite. Besides the visual refresh, the update also adds support for peer-to-peer AirPlay and the new Family Sharing features in iOS 8.

Supported Apple TV Models

Today's update is unfortunately only available for the 3rd generation of Apple TVs, which is the 1080p model currently on sale. If you're not sure which model you have, have a look on the bottom of your Apple TV and if it says Model A1427 or A1469, then you have 3rd generation Apple TV which is eligible. Apple TVs with model number A1378 are unfortunately the 2nd generation models with the older A4 processor and aren't eligible for the update.

Apple TV (3rd generation) users should be prompted to update their Apple TV when they next turn it on, but you can also manually update by going to Settings > General > Software Updates > Update Software.

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Apple Pay on Apple Watch Secured By Skin Contact

Apple Pay, the new mobile payments system that Apple has developed, is secured on the iPhone 6 through the use of Touch ID, but many wondered how Apple was bringing the system to the Apple Watch, which doesn't have Touch ID.

As noted by Rene Ritchie of iMore and Cult of Mac, Apple Pay on the Apple Watch is secured by requiring a passcode to be entered initially, but once entered Apple Pay would work until the watch is taken off a user's wrist, then requiring the passcode to be re-entered.

The Apple Watch can detect when it is in contact with skin thanks to the sensors located on the rear of the watch, which are also used to detect the user's heart beat. It is also backed up by a comment made by Ed McLaughlin of MasterCard who told Re/code that it would use the sensors for security, although he didn't go into the detail provided by Ritchie and Cult of Mac.

[Cult of Mac via MacRumors]


Paid iCloud Customers Getting Partial Refunds After Apple Reduced Prices

Earlier this week Apple adjusted the pricing of their iCloud plans to be more competitive, and as part of those price reductions, Apple has also been ensuring that existing paid iCloud customers can take advantage of the discounts. As noted by MacRumors and others, Apple has begun emailing those customers, informing them that they will be given a refund based on the price reduction and the number of months remaining on their subscription.

As noted earlier this week, the new plans start at 20GB for $0.99 per month and range up to a 1TB plan for $19.99 per month. A big reason for the new iCloud pricing is the imminent introduction of iCloud Drive which allows users to store any kind of file and access it from any device.

[via MacRumors]



Apple Discontinues iPod classic

Click image to view a full resolution version

Click image to view a full resolution version

The iPod classic is no longer on sale after Apple quietly discontinued the product yesterday. It shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone given that the product hasn't been refreshed since September 2009 - five years ago, but as the direct descendant of the original iPod, it signals the end of an era to a certain degree. The iPod shuffle, nano and touch remain on sale, at least for now.

We've charted the key product milestones of the iPod classic line above (view the full resolution version), with thanks to the thorough Wikipedia entry on it. If you're after a bit more of a visual history of some of the major changes to iPod classic, head over to The Verge.


Apple Events Channel Now Available on Apple TV to Stream Today’s Special Event Keynote

Apple has just made their 'Apple Events' channel accessible again from any Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation), ahead of today's Special Event keynote. The channel will allow users to stream the WWDC keynote from 10am, San Francisco time, as Apple previously announced. The channel also allows users to stream past Apple events (including WWDC), just in case you have some time to kill whilst you wait for today's event.

For those without an Apple TV, you will also be able to stream today's keynote from Apple's website on a Safari browser on a Mac or iOS device. You can also follow our September 9 Special Event hub for updates, or subscribe through RSS to our dedicated September 9 Special Event feed.

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Rdio Focuses on Freemium Model, Updates Apps with New Design

In the face of growing competition in the streaming music market, Rdio, a four-year-old service that charges for online subscriptions, has moved into a new phase with abundant free music — as well as free music’s ever-present companion, advertising.

“What we’ve learned collectively over the last few years,” said Anthony Bay, Rdio’s chief executive, “is that the most successful models are freemium models.”

As The New York Times reports today, Rdio has done well over the past few years, but it is clear that other competitors (most notably Spotify) have been doing far better by placing a strong focus on a freemium business model. As a result, today's updates to Rdio aren't much of a surprise to me, but I'm glad they have also taken the time to once again refine the design of their apps.

For those curious, the free version of Rdio will be available in 20 countries initially and will allow unlimited access to stations. Rdio Unlimited will unlock the ability to play albums and playlists, as well as remove ads for $9.99.

Rdio’s move is a result of a deal with the radio network Cumulus Media that was announced a year ago, in which Cumulus was granted an equity stake of at least 15 percent in Rdio’s parent company, Pulser Media, in exchange for providing content and promotional services that Cumulus says are worth $75 million over five years.

The new design is not a major departure from their existing designs, but rather a welcome refinement. For example the new apps get rid of the confusing to distinguish 'Heavy Rotation' and 'Top Charts' sections and are instead replaced with a far more understandable section called 'Trending'. There is also a new 'Browse' section which has curated Rdio stations into various categories including 'Top Stations', 'Aussie Hits', 'Alternative' and 'Fitness'.

The other big new feature isn't actually available yet, but there will also be a 'Home' tab which promises to be "an evolving feed of personalized music stories that surfaces the best of Rdio in a single destination". It'll be built from what you listen to, your friends listening activity, recommendations from Rdio, and other factors. On the whole it seems like a more advanced music discovery tool than the currently available 'Recommendations' page, which is mostly based on your music listening habits.


App Store Review Guidelines Updated to Consider New iOS 8 Features

To take into account of new iOS 8 and Yosemite features including app extensions, HealthKit, HomeKit and TestFlight, Apple has this week updated their App Store Review Guidelines for developers. The bulk of the new features are covered in the new guidelines in sections 25 to 28.

Whilst the new guidelines cover everything from requiring keyboard extensions to provide a number keyboard type and prohibiting HealthKit apps from writing false or inaccurate data, a majority of the new rules focus heavily on protecting the privacy of users. For example, keyboard extensions and apps using HealthKit or HomeKit must provide a privacy policy, apps using HealthKit or HomeKit cannot use data for advertising or marketing purposes and any apps using the HealthKit framework cannot store any health data in iCloud.

Furthermore, Apple has slightly changed one of its introduction dot-points to specifically warn developers not to create "plain creepy" apps.

We have over a million Apps in the App Store. If your App doesn't do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted.

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