Graham Spencer

696 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.


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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Healthy Target from WebMD Collects Health Data, Gives You Tips and Lets You Set Goals

WebMD, the popular online health information provider, yesterday updated their iPhone app to include a new 'Healthy Target' service. The service will be able collect data from a range of activity trackers, wireless scales and glucose meters, compile the data and provide "tailored, physician-reviewed, contextually relevant content and motivational tips to individuals looking to develop sustainable health-conscious habits".

WebMD foresees the service as helping not only those with chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes but also those who just want to achieve a healthier lifestyle. But as Re/code importantly noted in their report, WebMD is just the latest in a series of companies that have been developing similar systems to collect personal health data in a meaningful way. Apple announced HealthKit at WWDC two weeks ago, Samsung previously announced S.A.M.I., Google is expected to announce Google Fit at their I/O conference, Microsoft has HealthVault and Qualcomm Life has the 2net platform.

The Healthy Target platform is currently able to collect data about sleep patterns, steps, weight and blood glucose data. WebMD's platform currently supports devices including those from Entra, Fitbit, Jawbone's UP and Withings, as well as the iPhone 5S for steps (naturally). If a user doesn't have a compatible device, there is still the ability to manually input their biometric data.

"WebMD's Healthy Target empowers consumers to make behavioral changes that can improve their physical and mental health," said Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Editor at WebMD. "To achieve successful, sustainable behavioral change, consumers must learn how to track and manage the factors that contribute to healthy living."

The WebMD app with Healthy Target gives users the ability to set goals (such as losing weight, sleeping better or controlling blood sugar), review their health data that has been captured by the service and receive weekly recaps and personalised tips to (hopefully) encourage achieving health goals.

WebMD's iPhone app, including the Healthy Target service, is available for free from the App Store.

[via Re/code]

Vying for the Hearts of Developers

[…] the mobile revolution is over, and the war is now between Apple and the Google / Samsung alliance for the hearts of developers.

That's why Apple spent fully one-third of its presentation today on new developer features, including an entirely new programming language called Swift. That's why iOS is opening up in entirely new ways, including previously-forbidden things like letting apps talk to each other and even share interface elements with the system. That's why Apple is building out the foundations of both health-tracking and home-monitoring platforms that big companies like Nike and Honeywell can tap into alongside smaller players like the smart lock maker August and speaker company iHome. And that's why Apple is adding all sorts of little features to its systems that only power users really want, like widgets in the notification shade and replacement software keyboards. Make the developers happy, and they'll stick around to write great apps that rely on the iPhone as the center of the universe.

It's been less than 24 hours since Apple’s WWDC 2014 keynote, but already there have been a wave of opinion pieces, criticisms, compliments and everything in between. But so far, my favorite article has come from Vox’s Nilay Patel (just ignore Vox's weird, almost click-bait headline). Like every opinion, not everyone will agree with it, but Patel makes some strong arguments about how Apple has now laid a really solid foundation for its immediate future. Apple wants to sell consumers on their ecosystem and in order to make that appealing to consumers, Apple is making their platform as attractive as possible for developers and other third parties such as those which provide health-tracking and home-automation products.

If Apple succeeds at attracting the very best developers and third party products to the Apple ecosystem it will make it that much more appealing for new consumers to buy in (and as Tim Cook jokingly said, have “a better life”) and that much harder for existing customers to leave the ecosystem. As someone who has invested in the Apple ecosystem in recent years, yesterday's announcements were very encouraging and restored my confidence that this ecosystem will continue to grow in convenience, utility and value. I for one can't wait to see what the developers bring us later this fall with the public release of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.


OS X Yosemite Overview

Apple today unveiled OS X Yosemite, the next major version of their Mac operating system. Introduced by Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, Yosemite brings a big new redesign to the Mac that is reminiscent of last year's iOS 7 redesign. Continuity between OS X and iOS is also a huge aspect to the Yosemite release, including a so-called 'Handoff' feature, instant hotspots, and support for making phone calls and sending text messages from a Mac. Beyond that, Notification Center now includes the 'Today' view from iOS (with support for widgets), a brand new 'Spotlight' and big improvements to Mail, Safari and the new iCloud Drive.

 “Yosemite is the future of OS X with its incredible new design and amazing new apps, all engineered to work beautifully with iOS,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “We engineer our platforms, services and devices together, so we are able to create a seamless experience for our users across all our products that is unparalleled in the industry. It’s something only Apple can deliver.”

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Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine Speak at Code Conference, A Brief Recap

Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine. Photo via Re/code

Following the news that Apple was acquiring Beats yesterday, Eddy Cue from Apple and Jimmy Iovine from Beats spoke to Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the inaugural Code Conference. We’ve run through the liveblogs from Re/code and The Verge and highlighted some interesting moments of the discussion below. If you’re interested, I’d recommend reading the full liveblogs yourself and keep an eye out for the full video of the interview (which we’ll link to once posted by the Re/code team).

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