Graham Spencer

747 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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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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The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display

At Apple's media event yesterday, Apple unveiled a new high-end iMac that includes a Retina 5K display. Starting at US$2499 it includes the 5K display with a resolution of 5120x2880, a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion Drive and an AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. In every other respect, the iMac is identical to its non-Retina version, still tapering off to the sides with an edge of just 5mm.

“Thirty years after the first Mac changed the world, the new iMac with Retina 5K display running OS X Yosemite is the most insanely great Mac we have ever made,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With a breathtaking 14.7 million pixel display, faster CPU and graphics, Fusion Drive, and Thunderbolt 2, it’s the most beautiful and powerful iMac ever.”

The Retina iMac can be further upgraded to a 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 32GB of RAM a 3TB Fusion Drive or 1TB SSD and an AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

Apple's website explains the interesting technical features that allow the iMac to have a 5K display, including a custom timing controller, Oxide TFT and highly efficient LEDs. Because there are nearly 15 million pixels, Apple developed its own timing controller that has four times the bandwidth of the previous generation 27-inch iMac.  The Oxide thin film transistor (TFT) provides the electrical charge to each pixel and does so more precisely and quicker than other technologies - and is even more energy efficient. Apple have also used more efficient LEDs which has actually enabled them to power four times the number of pixels with 30 percent less power.

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OS X Yosemite & iOS 8 Continuity Explained: Handoff, Instant Hotspot, SMS & Phone Relay

Perhaps the headline feature of OS X Yosemite (besides the visual overhaul) is what Apple has called 'Continuity'.

Continuity is really just an umbrella-term for a few key features that allow OS X and iOS to, in Apple's words, "connect like never before". Those key features that make up Continuity are Handoff, Instant Hotspot, SMS Relay and Phone Relay.

Please note: iOS 8.1 is required for Continuity features.

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Taking a Tour of OS X Yosemite’s Revamped Spotlight

Spotlight in OS X Yosemite is improved not only in its appearance, but also utility. The biggest and most obvious change is that Spotlight no longer resides in the right corner of your menu bar. Triggered by the usual CMD+Space keyboard shortcut, it now appears as a floating bar in the center of your screen. As you start typing, the bar will expand downward to display your results on the left and a Quick Look-esque panel on the right.

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Apple: iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus Arrive in 36 More Countries and Territories This Month

Apple today issued a press release, noting that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will launch in another 36 countries this month. That will make the iPhone available in 69 countries by the end of the month, with 115 countries expected to get the new iPhones by the end of the year. According to Apple this will be the fastest iPhone rollout ever.

The countries getting the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this month are as follows:

  • Friday, October 17: China, India and Monaco
  • Thursday, October 23: Israel
  • Friday, October 24: Czech Republic, French West Indies, Greenland, Malta, Poland, Reunion Island and South Africa
  • Thursday, October 30: Bahrain and Kuwait
  • Friday, October 31: Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Guam, Hungary, Iceland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macau, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Thailand

As you can see from the below chart, the claim that this is the "fastest iPhone rollout ever" depends on which point you judge it. As of today (day 34) it is not the fastest rollout, but by the end of this month (day 52) and end of this year, it is.

Diagonal lines indicate that exact launch rollouts are not known, but the general projection is known (ie. 115 countries by the end of the year)

Diagonal lines indicate that exact launch rollouts are not known, but the general projection is known (ie. 115 countries by the end of the year)


Adobe’s Mobile App Canvas Adds New Apps

As part of its opening keynote for its developer and creative conference, Adobe will be announcing a more integrated desktop and mobile strategy, which centres around several new iPhone and iPad applications and some rebranded old favourites.

At Adobe Max it will reveal how each app fits into a category where it works with equivalent Adobe desktop software, with some split into groups and others working across most of its creative software. It calls the new line up its "mobile canvas" and what's more, you don't even have to wait until after the keynote to download them.

Rik Henderson of Pocket-lint provides a good overview of all of Adobe's key mobile apps following their announcements yesterday at the Adobe MAX conference. Many of the apps launched earlier this year, but a few, including Premiere Clip, Color and Shape are new.

Above all, it is impressive to see how seriously Adobe is taking mobile, and in particular, how rapidly they are rolling out new apps and updates to their existing ones. As always, these apps are free but require a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud service. If you want to learn more, Adobe's mobile app page has got details on all of these new and existing apps for the iPhone and iPad.

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Firmware Update Brings CarPlay to Selected Pioneer Products

Pioneer has today issued firmware updates for several of their aftermarket in-dash receivers that brings direct support for Apple's CarPlay software. The firmware update is available for users of Pioneer's AVIC-F60DAB, AVIC-F960DAB, AVIC-F960BT, AVIC-F860BT and the AVH-X8600BT dashboard systems, as well as the new SPH-DA120 model.

“CarPlay enriches the iPhone experience in the vehicle by providing a safer way to access the iPhone features they want to use most while driving,” said Philippe Weyers, marketing communication manager at Pioneer Europe. “With Pioneer’s implementation, CarPlay can now be integrated into millions of vehicles already on the road."

Spotify has also updated its app today, bringing support for CarPlay. It joins other apps such as Podcasts, Beats Music, iHeartRadio, MLB At Bat, Stitcher and CBS News in supporting CarPlay.

Apple has partnered with dozens of car manufacturers, as well as Pioneer and Alpine, to bring an improved experience for iPhone users in cars. By leveraging the power of Siri, CarPlay focuses on making it easier and safer to accomplish basic tasks while driving. You can learn more about CarPlay here. 


Apple Asks Developers to Start Submitting OS X Yosemite Apps

Apple today notified registered developers that Mac App Store submissions are now open for OS X Yosemite apps. Apple repeated its previous statement that Yosemite will be made available to customers "later this fall", but it may arrive as early as next week. By comparison, Apple notified developers to submit their OS X Mavericks apps last year on October 15, with Mavericks becoming available to customers a week later on October 22.

Add powerful new functionality throughout OS X Yosemite with app extensions, explore the innovative new Swift programming language, and take advantage of advances in game technologies, Safari, iCloud, and more. To prepare your apps for the Mac App Store, download and build with the OS X Yosemite GM candidate and Xcode 6.1 GM seed from the Mac Dev Center. With these latest releases, Swift is now final and you can submit your Mac apps written with Swift to the Mac App Store.