graham

Graham Spencer – 640 posts on MacStories

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Nov
23
2012

In an email to customers, Studio Neat has announced that the Glif is now available for the iPhone 5 on their online store and will start shipping next week. The standard Glif for iPhone 5 is available for $20, whilst the Glif+ which includes the ‘Serif’ (further secures your iPhone) and ‘Ligature’ (attatches the Glif to your keychain) is available for $30. Originally launched in late 2010, the Glif is quite an ingenious tripod mount and stand for the iPhone and was one of the first Kickstarter success stories.

We are happy to announce that the new Glif and Glif+ for iPhone 5 are on their way to the warehouse and will begin shipping early next week! The new Glif is like the previous version you know and love, just… 5-ier.

Studio Neat has since brought out The Cosmonaut (an stylus for capacitive touch screen devices such as the iPad and iPhone) and Frameographer (an iOS app to make time-lapse and stop motion movies). The duo behind Studio Neat, Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost also wrote about their experiences launching these products in a book called It Will Be Exhilihariting earlier this year.

As announced earlier this week, Apple has now launched the One-Day Shopping Event with discounts on iOS devices, Macs, and accessories. The event will propagate on Apple’s online stores across the world according to different time zones; right now, it is available on Apple’s Australian and New Zealand stores with a dedicated webpage.

Apple reports some important details on its website:

Enjoy special pricing on all the great gifts below. Buy online and get fast, free shipping. Or shop at your favourite Apple Retail Store, where you’ll enjoy faster checkout with Express Shopping.

Shopping event prices are solely available on 23 November, 2012, from 2:01 a.m. to 24 November, 2012, 1:59 a.m. in AEDT, are subject to change, and include GST. Promotional pricing cannot be combined with any other offers. Not all sale products are available in all Apple Retail Stores.

Starting with the iPad 2 and Retina iPad at the top of the list, the exclusive offer doesn’t include the iPad mini. Notably, for Macs, only portables are included, but there are accessories that are usually meant for desktop computers such as Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Apple’s Wireless Keyboard.

The official One-Day Shopping Event webpage is available here for Australian users. We’ll update this post with links to EU and US pricing as soon as they become available. Note only the base model prices are listed below.

  • iPad: A$498 – save A$41
  • iPad 2: A$398 – save A$31
  • iPod touch (5th gen): A$298 – save A$31
  • iPod touch (4th gen): A$194 – save A$25
  • iPod nano: A$158 – save A$11
  • MacBook Pro (13″ Retina): A$1,794 – save A$105
  • MacBook Pro: A$1,244 – save A$105
  • MacBook Air: A$994 – save A$105
  • AirPort Express Base Station: A$108 – save A$11
  • AirPort Extreme Base Station: A$178 – save A$21
  • Time Capsule: A$298 – save A$21
  • Apple Magic Mouse: A$64 – save A$11
  • Magic Trackpad: A$64 – save A$11
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard: A$64 – save A$11
  • iPad Smart Case: A$44 – save A$15
  • iPad Smart Cover (Polyurethane): A$34 – save A$11
  • iPad Smart Cover (Leather): A$58 – save A$21
  • Apple In-Ear Headphones: A$88 – save A$11
  • Apple EarPods: A$28 – save A$7

Rockstar has announced that the 10th Anniversary Edition of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City will arrive on iOS and Android on December 6th. Previously announced in late October, the Anniversary Edition will cost $4.99 and feature “native high-resolution graphics” with support for Retina display devices.

The game will also include “updated character models and lighting effects, new and more precise firing and targeting options and a fully customizable control layout”. It’ll be able to run on all iPads, iPhone 4 and newer, and the 4th and 5th generations of the iPod touch.

[Rockstar via Eurogamer]

Nov
8
2012

Angry Birds Star Wars is now available for download on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Mac & Windows 8. The game is the fifth installment in the Angry Birds series from Rovio (following Seasons, Rio and Space) and is a collaboration with Star Wars creator Lucasfilm.

“It’s a banner day for us,” said Peter Vesterbacka, CMO of Rovio Entertainment. “This is our best Angry Birds game yet, and we’re excited for our fans to finally meet Luke, Leia, and the rest of the gang! But it’s more than just a game launch: we think fans are going to just love the new animated trailer and the Angry Birds Star Wars products, sure to be a big hit this holiday season.”

The game features more than 80 levels at launch including bonus levels that let you play as R2D2 and C-3PO birds. According to Polygon, which has a great review of the game, Angry Birds Star Wars currently “track the events of A New Hope, while a soon-to-be-released free Hoth level pack will dig into the beginning of Empire Strikes Back”. There’s also an in-app purchase for an additional level pack that is set in Dagobah that is available at launch for $1.99.

The makers of Angry Birds Star Wars have imagined how the the original Star Wars trilogy might have looked if performed by their coterie of birds and pigs — truly, a bizarre undertaking. Angry Birds Star Wars succeeds, though, because it is more than just a Star Wars tie-in. Polygon

Rovio and Lucasfilm also held a Google+ Hangout a few hours ago where they counted down to the launch whilst discussing the game and chatting with fans – that video is available to watch now.

Angry Birds Star Wars is available on:

“We can’t wait for fans around the world to experience the fun of launching the Angry Birds characters into the Star Wars universe,” said Colum Slevin, Vice President, Head of Studio Operations for Lucasfilm Ltd. “This is the kind of creative partnership that has helped Star Wars remain vibrant and beloved for over 35 years.”

Nov
1
2012

October 2012 In Review

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We’re back again with another month in review, and what a month October has been. On the news front there was, of course, the October 23rd Apple event which saw the launch of the iPad mini, fourth generation iPad,  13″ MacBook with Retina Display, new Mac mini and iMac. Apple also had their fourth quarter earnings call and remembered the first year anniversary since the passing of Steve Jobs.

October was also chock full of new apps and big app updates. Tapbots in particular had a big month with the launch of Netbot and Tweetbot for Mac, Marco Arment launched The Magazine, Loren Brichter made his comeback with Letterpress, Pocket released a Mac app, and iPad drawing app Paper got a big update.

On the stories front, Federico has had a lot of fun putting together a number of guides and tutorials this month and we’ve collected them all together below. Federico also interviewed Loren Brichter for the launch of his new Letterpress app, talked about the leadership changes at Apple and I mapped out the entertainment ecosystems of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Be sure to check out our previous Month in Review posts here

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Please note: An update to this article is available here, it includes the December 2012 iTunes expansion (Music & Movies) as well as Xbox Music.

 

The choice of what phone or tablet to buy is one that often involves many considerations, chief amongst those is the physical device and the operating system that it runs. But I think there is a third fundamental consideration that is growing in importance: what services and entertainment ecosystems you’ll be able to access. You need only look back to the recent criticism of iOS 6, in which Apple replaced Google Maps with their own Maps app. Summing it up generally, Apple’s Maps app is sub-par to what it was replacing and that mattered to people – enough that Tim Cook felt the need to apologise for the frustration the switch caused.

Today I want to focus specifically on the entertainment ecosystems of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. I’m referring to the various digital content stores that are run by Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon – specifically their Music, Movies, TV Shows, eBooks and App stores. In my mind, there are four general aspects that make a good entertainment ecosystem:

  • Wide selection of quality content
  • Competitive prices
  • International availability
  • Interoperable on a user’s devices

I want to explore the third aspect in depth today, because it’s something that I feel is all too often downplayed by the technology press (which, coincidentally, is based predominantly in the US). I’ll also briefly discuss the fourth aspect as well at the end. Why are these two aspects so important? Well, smartphones and tablets are devices that have universal appeal, so for Apple or any of the other three to win the smartphone or tablet “race” – an entertainment ecosystem that is available across the world, not just in the US, isn’t just a cool extra feature, it’s a necessity. The US may be one of the biggest markets for such devices today, but is there any doubt that these devices will rival the prevalence of personal computers (which are everywhere) in years to come?

I’ve collected data on which countries each service is available in and then added in population figures to create many of the graphs and diagrams you’ll see below, mixed in with some of my own analysis and thoughts. Please note that the five HTML5 map diagrams are interactive, click on the logos of the four companies to compare their coverage.

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Oct
10
2012

Behind The App: MoneyWiz

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Early this year, I set out to find an iPad app that I could enjoy using to manage my finances. After a couple of days of looking, I settled upon MoneyWiz from the developer SilverWiz. Its developers describe it as “beautiful, powerful and easy to use”, and having stuck with the app since late January I’m inclined to agree. In my reviews of the iPad and Mac versions my overall take was mostly positive (there is also an iPhone version, but that I have yet to use).

After exchanging a few emails with Iliya Yordanov, the founder of SilverWiz, I thought it would be interesting to have a Q&A with him and learn a bit more about the app, similar to what we’ve done in previous interviews here on MacStories, but this time, I decided to change things up a bit. For this interview I’ve assembled all the various stories about MoneyWiz and the SilverWiz company that Iliya shared with me into a single story that (hopefully) gives you a fascinating and unique look behind the app and company.

Disclaimer: At the time of publication SilverWiz is one of the advertisers on MacStories; however, this article was in the works before the campaign began. Advertising on MacStories is not handled by editors but by BackBeatMedia, and has no relation to editorial content whatsoever.

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Oct
5
2012

Apple has put together a short video to remember Steve Jobs, who passed away one year ago today. The video is a montage of pictures of Steve throughout his life, many of which show him holding the key milestone products in Apple’s history from the iMac to the iPod and iPhone. It’s narrated with audio from Steve Jobs speaking at various events throughout his life about Apple, its products and its culture.

The video is simply played when you navigate to Apple.com and once it concludes, there is a a short, sombre letter from Tim Cook, remembering and paying tribute to Steve.

A message from Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Steve’s passing one year ago today was a sad and difficult time for all of us. I hope that today everyone will reflect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place.

One of the greatest gifts Steve gave to the world is Apple. No company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself. Our values originate from Steve and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We share the great privelage and responsibility of carrying his legacy into the future.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we are doing, delivering products that our customers love and dreaming up new ones that will delight them down the road. It’s a wonderful tribute to Steve’s memory and everything he stood for.

Tim

Apple has just posted on its website a letter from Tim Cook to Apple’s customers, apologizing for not delivering the best experience with its new iOS 6 Maps. In the letter, prominently link to from the front page of Apple.com,  Cook describes how Apple “strives” to make products the “deliver the best experience possible“, but that the new Maps app has fallen short of this standard, frustrating millions of customers.

He re-emphasises the previous Apple statement on Maps, by saying that as time goes on and more people use Maps (there have already been nearly half a billion location searches), that the Maps app will get better. But in the mean time, Cook suggests that users try alternative map apps, and actually names some third-party apps available in the App Store such as “Bing, MapQuest and Waze” or alternatively to use “use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app”. Whilst that is certainly far from ideal, it’s quite extraordinary to see Cook actively name and recommend third party mapping solutions.

Cook explains that since they first shipped the original iPhone, they’ve been wanting to add new features such as “turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps“. Cook claims that they had to create a new version “from the ground-up” to achieve these – there is no mention of Google’s role in the letter.

Tim Cook’s full letter to customers:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO