Graham Spencer

745 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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Snapchat’s ‘Our Story’ Events Are a Captivating Experiment

I use a lot of apps, but there are only a few that I open every single day, and over the past few months Snapchat has become one of those elite few for me. If you told me this back in January, I wouldn’t have believed you and probably would have laughed at the idea too. Why the drastic change in opinion of Snapchat? Well, I eventually signed up when a few of my friends convinced me to, but my usage really skyrocketed with the launch of their (relatively) recent feature called ‘Our Story’. But first, an explanation of Snapchat and how it has rapidly evolved into a number of different features.

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Apple Debuts Two New iPhone 6 Adverts Featuring Gaming and Continuity

Overnight Apple released two new adverts for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. One, called 'Gamers', features the new iOS game Vain Glory and the other, 'Reservations', demoes the ability to make and receive phone calls on an iPhone, iPad or Mac with Continuity's Phone Relay feature.

These new iPhone 6 adverts continue to be narrated by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake and are the fifth and sixth adverts in the series. Previous iPhone 6 adverts included Duo, Health, Cameras and Huge.

We've embedded the adverts below, but you can also view them in YouTube (Gamers and Reservations).

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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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