Graham Spencer

749 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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Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS Add Support for iCloud Drive

Microsoft today updated the iOS versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint to include support for iCloud Drive. This means that iOS 8 users can now open, edit and save documents to iCloud Drive, making it even easier for users who want to share a document between multiple apps. To access the iCloud Drive pop-up window, simply tap the 'More' button in the Office app's open or save panel.

Today's addition of iCloud Drive support follows the partnership between Microsoft and Dropbox which saw the suite of iOS Office apps add support for Dropbox back in November last year.


iWork for iCloud Beta Available for Everyone, No Need to Own an Apple Device

Late last week Apple made a change to their iCloud web services, opening up the iWork for iCloud beta to everyone. Previously the iWork suite of web apps (Pages, Numbers & Keynote) was limited to those users who owned an Apple device.

With last week's change anyone can go to beta.icloud.com, click the banner (shown above) to sign up for an Apple ID (which includes 1GB storage) and use the iWork for iCloud beta. Just make sure you do head to the beta iCloud website, as the main iCloud website doesn't let you sign up for an Apple ID yet. The iWork for iCloud web apps, which are still classified by Apple as betas, was first announced at WWDC 2013.

[via iMore]


Saver 2 for iPhone Review

This week saw the release of Saver 2, a big update to the personal finance and expense tracking iPhone app from Alex Solonsky and Vadim Shpakovski. I reviewed the original Saver nearly four years ago, and whilst the core of the app is very similar, the new features and completely refreshed and modernised design make Saver 2 a lot better.

There are quite a few personal finance apps available these days and it’s important to know that Saver, an iPhone-only app, is one that won’t be for everyone. For example, you won’t be reconciling multiple bank accounts – that’s just not how Saver works. But at the same time, don’t think of Saver as just a barebones tool: it is far more than that and will work terrifically for many people. This is particularly true if you purchase one of Saver’s subscriptions which add a bunch of advanced features (more on that later).

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Apple Debuts ‘Make Music’ Advert for the iPad Air 2

Coinciding with Sunday's Grammy Awards, Apple debuted a new iPad Air 2 advert with a focus on music creation. Featuring recording artist Elliphant, producer Riton, DJ The Gaslamp Killer and director So Me, the advert is a 60 second montage of the 'All or Nothing' remix being written, produced, performed and filmed on the iPad Air 2.

iPad is changing how we live, work, and create more and more each day. For recording artist Elliphant, it’s liberating her to make music in a radical new way. And whether she’s writing lyrics at home or recording on the road, iPad has become an essential part of her process. It was even used by director So Me to shoot this film.

Like most of Apple's recent adverts, they've set up a page on their website with more information about the advert and those featured in it. As noted on the page, the apps featured in this advert are GarageBand, iMPC Pro, NanoStudio, Serato Remote and Manual Camera.

We've embedded the advert below, but you can also view it on Apple's website and on YouTube.
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Microsoft Releases Outlook for iOS

Microsoft today released an iPhone and iPad version of Outlook, their well-known email app from the Office suite of productivity apps. The app is free and does not require a subscription to Office 365.

Outlook for iOS supports email accounts from Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, iCloud, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail - but does not yet support custom IMAP accounts. Interestingly, the app also directly connects to online storage services such as OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive so you can easily attach and send files.

Outlook makes it simple to share files stored in the cloud. With just a few taps, you can insert a link to any file from OneDrive, Dropbox and other popular accounts in your email message. Recipients are automatically granted permission to view these files, with no extra steps.

Need to find a file quickly? No problem. Outlook provides a view of your recently received email attachments, so you don’t have to go searching through email to find that document you need. Outlook also lets you search across both your cloud storage and your email attachments at once, with Quick Filters to let you quickly sort by file type.

Be sure to read the full announcement blog post from the Microsoft Office team, they highlight a number of neat features that might convince you to try the app out. And if you're ready to try the app out, here's the direct link to Outlook on the App Store.
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Snapchat’s Discover: Daily Mini-Magazines from CNN, Cosmopolitan & More

Snapchat yesterday released ‘Discover’, a big new feature that sees Snapchat partner with news and entertainment brands such as CNN, National Geographic, MTV and Cosmopolitan to produce and publish content for the Snapchat app. The easiest way to explain the content is to try it out yourself, or watch the video below (which shows the CNN and National Geographic packages from January 27). But essentially, each partner will publish new content every 24 hours and that content can include video, articles, pictures, and other editorial content.
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The World of Indie App Developers

Here at MacStories we write about apps. A lot. Many of those we write about, perhaps even most, are created by individuals and small teams. And typically, those hard-working individuals remain unknown to the public who just know an app as something they use. Today we want to bring a bunch those indie developers to the forefront.

I wasn’t sure exactly where it would lead, but last month I asked on Twitter for independent developers to @ reply me and say hi. Amplified by retweets by Federico and many others, I got dozens and dozens of replies, ultimately totalling just under 200 responses.[1] That’s both a pretty huge number (trust me, it was a time consuming process documenting them all) and also incredibly tiny (there are around 250,000 active developers and over a million apps for sale).

It would be completely ridiculous to perform any kind of analysis on such a small sample size, but it was nonetheless great to have a relatively varied spread of developers from all over the world (illustrated in the above graphic). But more valuable was the list of developers and their Twitter accounts. So I’ve created a Twitter list that includes every developer that @ replied me. We’ve also included the full table of every developer we collated, links to their apps, location and Twitter account (see below). Please note that developers and apps shown in the full list does not mean they are endorsed by me, Federico or MacStories. If a developer met some very minimal criteria, they were included.

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The Shape of the App Store

Charles Perry of Metakite Software spent some time digging through the Overcast sales and rankings data (provided by Marco Arment last week) and extrapolated some interesting findings about the distribution of App Store income:

At the top of the long tail, in position 871 on the U.S. Top Grossing list, an app still makes over $700 in revenue per day. That’s almost $260,000 per year. Even number 1,908 on the U.S. Top Grossing list makes over $100,000 per year. In fact all apps above number 3,175 on the U.S. Top Grossing list produce enough revenue to at least make its developer the United States household median income for 2014 ($53,891).

That's the good news, because the bad news is that there are well over a million apps for sale and the earnings quickly fall as you go down the rankings. But Perry also makes the important point that many indie developers have multiple apps for sale simultaneously which can make a big difference.

So, with even fewer people than I expected making “yacht and helicopter money” in the App Store, I remain hopeful for my fellow developers. There’s a lot money circulating in the ecosystem, and a developer operating at indie scale only needs a little bit of it. It seems that even with the revenue curve tilted so heavily towards the big hits, the shape of the App Store still allows room for sustainable businesses to develop in the long tail. It seems that developers who work hard, mind the details, and treat their business like a business have a real chance of making it.

Keep in mind that Perry's conclusions are extrapolated from just the one data source, being Overcast. I'd be interested to see if the sales and rankings patterns from other apps fit along Perry's curve.

[via Hosam Hassan]

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A History of Apple News and Rumors During CES

To those of us who follow technology news closely, this time of the year is dominated by the barrage of CES news. But it often seems as though Apple, which doesn’t attend the exhibition, also has some of its biggest days in the press – coincidentally, or not. This was brought to light again yesterday as Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac published details of a rumoured 12" MacBook Air and a timeline for the Apple Watch launch. I have no idea whether the information leaked to Gurman was timed to coincide with CES or not – it may very well just be completely unrelated.[1]

But regardless of the intention of Gurman’s leaker, I was curious to see whether Apple really did have big news days during CES in past years as I had remembered. So I ventured over to Techmeme (which links to big technology stories every day) and went into their archives to look at what was on their front page at 7:10 PM on every day of CES since 2007. Whenever a big Apple news story appeared, I made a note of it. This is the result.

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