Graham Spencer

702 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.


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.


16 GB iPod Touch Now Available For $199, Comes in Colors and with a Rear-Facing Camera

Apple has today made a minor change to its iPod touch line up, updating the 16 GB iPod touch to now include a 5 megapixel rear-facing ("iSight") camera and is sold in the six vibrant colours that have previously been offered for the 32 GB and 64 GB models. The 16 GB iPod touch also receives a small price drop from US$229 to the new price of US$199.

Everything else about the device from its 4-inch Retina display, A5 chip and front-facing ("FaceTime") camera, remains identical to the previous model. One interesting tidbit is that the iPod touch loop is sold separately for the 16 GB model - yes, you'll have to pay an extra $9.00 to get one of those.

The refreshed 16 GB iPod touch is available today online and in US Apple Stores. Apple says in its press release that it will be coming to other countries in "the coming days".

Microsoft Updates OneDrive iOS App with Improved Office App Integration and Background Camera Uploads

Microsoft yesterday updated their OneDrive iOS app to support a more seamless method of integration with their Office iPad apps. The app will now instantly open Word, Excel or PowerPoint if you tap on an Office document in OneDrive - provided you have the Office iPad apps installed. Previously OneDrive would simply display the document (.doc, .xls, .ppt, etc) using iOS’ preview, which unfortunately struggles to properly format the more complex Office documents. The feature can be turned off by going to the OneDrive settings and toggling the ‘Use Office Apps’ switch.

The OneDrive app’s Camera Roll upload feature was also improved to support background uploads, allowing the app to contine upload images when you switch to another app. The app update also included various bug fixes, most notably making uploads more reliable.

In related news, Microsoft earlier this week announced that they would soon boost the storage space for Office365 users to 1TB per person on a family plan and 1TB per subscription for those on personal or university plans. For those without a Office365 subscription, the free storage available also got a boost to 15 GB (up from 7 GB) and standalone OneDrive storage plans got price cuts (starting from US$1.99 per month for 100 GB).

ABC News, PBS Kids, AOL On and Willow TV Arrive on the Apple TV

Earlier today the Apple TV was updated to add channels for ABC News (US only), PBS Kids (US Only), AOL On (US, Canada and UK only) and Willow TV (US and Canada only). It is now the 19th occasion on which Apple has updated the Apple to add new channels, pushing the total number of third party channels to 37 for those in the US. Also updated was the existing Flickr channel, which received a redesign.

Back in April, when we originally posted the above visualization, I wrote:

Even more interesting is the fact that in the last 12 months Apple has rapidly increased their pace of adding new channels, with 26 being added in that time period.

With today's additions, it takes it to 30 third-party channels being added to the US Apple TV in the last 12 months. If you want to see what channels are available in your region, Apple has a helpful knowledge base article.

[via MacRumors]

A Recap of Adobe’s Creative Cloud 2014 Announcements

Adobe yesterday pushed some huge updates to their Creative Cloud desktop apps, as well as launching new mobile apps, a Creative Cloud SDK for third parties, and even some hardware products. To get your head around all of Adobe's news, we've put together this brief recap of all the news, with links to great articles and reviews if you're interested in learning more.

“Our shift to Creative Cloud has given us a broad canvas on which to innovate like never before,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president, Digital Media, Adobe. “We’ve taken bold steps with this milestone release, fast-tracking new features to industry-defining tools like Photoshop and InDesign, while introducing mobile apps that turn tablets into indispensable creative tools.”

Creative Cloud SDK

Time will tell, but perhaps the most significant announcement in the long-term will be Adobe's announcement of a Creative Cloud SDK. This SDK will allow third party developers to do everything from incorporate their apps with Adobe's Creative Cloud storage component, enable compatibility with Photoshop documents (.PSD), support Adobe's new Ink and Slide hardware, publish directly to Behance and a whole lot more. You can read more about the SDK on Adobe's website and request access to the private beta.

Khoi Vinh has a great take on all of Adobe's announcements that you should really read, but I think his comments on the Creative Cloud SDK are particularly great.

A properly implemented third-party developer ecosystem could mean that the next Photoshop or Illustrator competitor won’t have to fight against the full might of Adobe in order to gain mass acceptance. Rather, with access to Creative Cloud’s millions of pre-qualified customers of creative tools, they could compete against Adobe’s marquee apps on a feature-by-feature basis. So long as they’re driving more subscriptions, Adobe benefits regardless.

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