Graham Spencer

689 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.


The Eighth Annual iTunes Festival Returns to London This September

Apple today announced that their annual iTunes Festival will once again return to London's iconic Roundhouse for the eighth year. The month long festival will happen throughout September and will feature Maroon 5, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Beck, Sam Smith, Blondie, Kylie, 5 Seconds of Summer, Chrissie Hynde and many more of the world’s biggest artists.

“The iTunes Festival in London is back with another stunning line-up of world class performers and tremendous new acts,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “These live shows capture the heart and soul of iTunes and we love bringing them to our customers in the Roundhouse, as well as to the millions of people watching all over the world for free.”

Apple will once again stream the festival live as well as offer the performances on demand to iOS, iTunes and Apple TV users - just as they have for previous iTunes Festivals, including earlier this year in their first SXSW iTunes Festival. For those looking to attend the festival, Apple will be giving tickets away through iTunes and select media partners including Global Radio and the London Evening Standard.

You can read more information in Apple's Press Release or keep an eye on the iTunes Festival website for more information in the coming weeks.

Sue Wagner Elected To Apple’s Board of Directors, Bill Campbell Retires

Apple's board of directors received a slight change yesterday when Sue Wagner was elected and Bill Campbell retired from the board. Apple's chairman, Art Levinson, says the election of Sue Wagner to Apple's board comes after an exhaustive search by the company, in which they sought to "further strengthen our board’s breadth of talent and background".

Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world.

Wagner is the co-founder and director of BlackRock, one of the world's most successful asset-management companies, and also serves on the boards of BlackRock, DSP BlackRock (India), Swiss Re, Wellesley College and Hackley School.
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AppbotX Launches in an Effort to Help Developers Better Communicate with Users

Launched earlier today, AppbotX is a new open source support and communications solution for developers of iOS apps and soon for apps on other platforms including Android, Windows Phone and Unity. AppbotX is designed as a library that can be built into any app, allowing developers to easily provide inline notifications, smart feedback forms, FAQs, version updates and review prompts. It is the natural evolution of the Appbot service which launched in 2012 and enables developers to keep track of user reviews of their apps.

We’ve delivered over 15 million reviews for more than 34,000 apps with Appbot. We understand the pain points app developers have, complaints and bad reviews lead to fewer sales and poor rankings for apps. Now we're launching AppbotX to solve communication problems mobile developers have with customers.

AppbotX looks to be a huge time saver for developers who want to implement better support mechanisms within their apps but don't want to spend the time and expense of developing it themselves. I should caveat that statement by noting I'm not a developer, but even as a user the functions that AppbotX enables seem great. In particular I really like the idea of inline notifications that would allow a developer to send notifications to their users if there is a critical bug, server downtime or other important news. Because it runs on AppbotX's servers, those notifications will still get to the user even if the developer's servers are down.

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Apple and IBM Join Forces to Tackle the Mobile Enterprise

A few hours ago, Apple and IBM announced that they were partnering up with each other to "transform enterprise mobility". The partnership will bring new enterprise solutions to iOS including native apps developed by IBM, unique IBM cloud services for iOS, a new AppleCare for enterprise, and will allow IBM to sell iPhones and iPads packaged with "industry-specific solutions".

The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform. The combination will create apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction—faster and easier than ever before.

The two companies are working together to bring more than 100 mobile solutions, including a number of apps that are designed and developed for the enterprise. These so-called mobile solutions will address specific industry needs including, but not limited to, those in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance. They will be built from scratch with IBM's cloud software services for analytics, data security and data management native to iOS. The hope for both companies is that the partnership will "deliver a new level of value for businesses". These mobile solutions will start arriving later this year and into 2015.

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[Updated] Apple Launches iTunes Pass in Japan, Australia and the US, Lets Users Refill iTunes Credit with Passbook

iTunes Pass promoted on Apple's Japan website (text translated by Google Translate)

iTunes Pass promoted on Apple's Japan website (text translated by Google Translate)

UPDATE (17 July): iTunes Pass is now also available in the United States and Australia, as well as in Japan as previously reported.

As first reported by 9to5 Mac, Apple has today launched iTunes Pass in Japan (Google Translate). The service allows users to add credit to their Apple ID for iTunes Store, App Store and iBooks Store purchases without purchasing an iTunes gift card. iTunes Pass works by installing a new pass into iOS' Passbook app, connected to a user's iTunes account.

Use the iTunes Pass, you can now deposit directly to the account of the App Store or iTunes Store you. Go to the iTunes Store in the iOS device you have, if you tap "Use iTunes Card / Code" button and scroll down, you can get the iTunes Pass. 3 Please tell specialist that then, the Apple Store near you, you want to deposit into account. When you open the iTunes Pass from the Passbook, specialists will scan it, and accepts the payment. Balance is updated on the fly, available immediately.

The pass can apparently be installed from the iTunes Store or App Store for Japanese users. Once installed, employees at Apple Stores in Japan can scan the pass and directly add credit to the iTunes account. Its a small convenience to not have to buy a gift card and then redeem it (which has also become easier with camera scanning of gift card codes), but the impact will probably be limited until this program expands to international Apple Stores and to other stores that sell iTunes gift cards.

A footnote on the Japanese Apple site notes that "iTunes Pass is not available in Brazil, China and Turkey", suggesting that an international rollout of iTunes Pass is probably imminent (except for those countries).

Polymo Review

Polymo is a new camera app for the iPhone and iPod touch that launched earlier this month with a focus on letting you organize your photos with tags. The developers pitch it as a “better place for photos on iOS” thanks to the app's clean design, simple gestures, and elegant interface. Unfortunately, I don’t think Polymo is a replacement for the Camera Roll, but don’t dismiss it straight away; there are still appealing aspects of Polymo that may make it useful for you.

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Apple Publishes 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report

Late on Wednesday Apple published their 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report, detailing Apple's efforts to reduce their impact on the environment. The company also updated their Environmental Responsibility pages on their website, reflecting the new data contained in this year's Environmental Responsibility Report.

In the report and on their website, they highlight the significant progress they have made to reducing their carbon footprint. Between fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013, Apple's carbon footprint from energy use actually dropped by 31 percent, despite overall energy consumption increasing by 44 percent. As for this year's goal of powering Apple retail stores by renewable energy, they have so far converted 145 of their US retail stores and all 21 of their Australian retail stores to using 100 percent renewable energy (either purchasing from third-party renewable energy providers or participating in
utility green tariff programs).

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“Inclusion Inspires Innovation”

Following last month's Pride Parade in San Francisco, Apple has posted a short video to YouTube that highlights their involvement in the day, in which thousands of Apple employees and their families marched in support of equality.

On June 29, thousands of Apple employees and their families marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade. They came from around the world — from cities as far as Munich, Paris, and Hong Kong — to celebrate Apple's unwavering commitment to equality and diversity. Because we believe that inclusion inspires innovation.

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SoundCloud’s iPhone App Updated with a Stunning New Design

When we say all-new, we mean all-new. Designed and built from scratch. Easy and natural to use while you are out and about. Something that lets you hear more of what you want to hear.

So what makes the app special? It’s beautifully simple. You can control everything with your thumb. Tap anywhere to play and pause. Swipe to skip tracks. Slide along the waveform to explore a track and its artwork. Easy.

The SoundCloud team has done a fantastic job with version 3.0 of their iPhone app, it is simpler, cleaner and just stunning. I've only been using it for a short amount of time, but my favorite aspect is definitely the way they have designed the 'play' screen in the context of their "one thumb" interface notion - controls are hidden until needed and basic (but intuitive) gestures are used for skipping tracks and seeking.

However, one change to the app may disappoint some users, as SoundCloud have decided to remove the Record functionality from the app, which is now solely focused on listening. For those who still want to post music and audio to SoundCloud, they recommend an app such as AudioCopy. If you want to read more about the new SoundCloud app, you can check out the reviews posted by The Next Web and The Verge.

The new SoundCloud app is available on the App Store for free, an update to the iPad version is in the works.