Posts in news

Apple Announces September 9 Media Event

As first reported by Jim Dalrymple at The Loop, Apple has announced a media event for September 9 in San Francisco:

Apple on Thursday sent out invitations for a special event to be held on September 9, 2015. The event will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco at 10:00 am.

In the event invitation (pictured above), Apple is using the "Hey Siri, give us a hint" tagline with an Apple logo recreated using the refreshed Siri interface of Apple Watch and iOS 9.

According to recent speculation, Apple is widely expected to introduce updated iPhones and a new Apple TV at its September event. The next generation iPhone, unofficially referred to as the iPhone 6s, is rumored to offer an improved camera, a stronger aluminum body, and faster performance across the board. A new Apple TV is also expected to be unveiled at the event, featuring a major redesign, an updated remote, and a refreshed software interface to go alongside an SDK for developers to build Apple TV apps.

At the event, Apple will also likely announce the official release of iOS 9, currently in testing with developers and the general public through a public beta. A Golden Master seed of iOS 9 is expected to be released soon after the event, with a public launch within 10 days in mid-September.


Focus: Your Productivity Timer [Sponsor]

Focus is a time manager that helps you beat procrastination and work more efficiently. Available on iOS, OS X, and Apple Watch, Focus lets you work in intervals and reminds you to take breaks regularly (based on the Pomodoro Technique).

Taking breaks regularly enables you to be more concentrated, more thoughtful, and ultimately more productive. With its simple and lightweight way to organize and manage your tasks, Focus lets you set and achieve daily goals to keep you motivated; because its task management features are unobtrusive by design, you'll spend your time working on a task instead of fiddling too much with the app.

Focus is designed to work seemlessly together across all platforms and devices. You can switch devices by using Handoff and with iCloud, so everything stays in sync. On iOS, you can see your current progress with a Today widget, and use interactive notifications to start, stops and extend your work. On the Mac, a beautiful and clear design feels natural on OS X Yosemite (including dark mode), and a menu bar item lets you see your current progress at a glance (it even works with a closed Focus app window).

Focus is available for iOS and OS X. For more information, visit focusapp.io.

Our thanks to Focus for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Instant Hosted Web Pages From Markdown With Loose Leaves

Loose Leaves is a handy (free) utility for OS X that takes selected Markdown text from almost any app and instantly creates a web page on the secure Loose Leaves server that you can link to and share.

Loose Leaves is available anywhere, and just a hotkey away in any app. If you've ever needed to share more than 140 characters, link long text in Trello or Slack, or just effortlessly share an idea from your notes, this is a handy tool to have.

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Acorn 5: Shape Generators, PDF Import, and More

I've been an Acorn user for years now. I first started using it as my primary photo editing tool because I could open, edit, and export a perfectly-optimized web image before Photoshop had finished bouncing in the Dock. Photoshop has improved its launch time in recent versions, but Acorn has stepped up its game, too.

Acorn 5 came out this week, and it adds some powerful new features. Notably, it adds tools for vector manipulation and generation, as well as additional bezier and vector tools, PDF Import, snapping to grids, guides, other shapes, and more.

If you're a Photoshop user looking for an alternative, Acorn has the tools you're used to: dodge and burn, hue and curve adjustments, custom selection editing, and everything you need to do advanced photo editing. Acorn 5 can even import Photoshop brushes. Given the wide diversity of custom brushes available on the net, this opens up a lot of possibilities.

Version 5 also adds additional non-destructive filters and adjustments for both raster and vector layers, and the new Shape generators and processors are stackable and non-destructive as well. The layer adjustments are stored in the native Acorn file format, so you can always access and update them.

Acorn still has all of the great tools from version 4, including professional photo editing tools, Smart Layer Export for automatic 1x and 2x images, and the best compression on exported PNGs you're likely to find.

Acorn 5 is $24.99 US on the Mac App Store (also available for direct purchase, with a few small differences). Check out the website for more info, and read the release notes for a mind-boggling list of all of the new features.


Apple Posts New iPhone Advert: “Apple Pay”

Apple's fourth advert featuring the new "If it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone" tagline was last night posted online. The new advert, "Apple Pay", naturally focuses on Apple Pay, demonstrating Apple's contactless payment method available on the iPhone 6 in the US and UK. The advert's narration makes particular mention of how Apple Pay is "faster", "safer" and keeps your information private.

This is an iPhone, and this is Apple Pay, which lets you shop in a faster, simpler way. For groceries, and kicks, toys and your lunchtime fix. It's safer than a credit card and keeps your info, yours. And you can already use it in one million stores. If it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone.

You can watch the new advert below the break, or on YouTube.

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Apple Music Festival Arriving in September for Ten Nights at London’s Roundhouse

Apple today announced that it will host an Apple Music Festival at London's Roundhouse for ten nights running from September 19 through to September 28. Headlining the festival will be performances from Pharrell Williams, One Direction, Florence + The Machine and Disclosure.

“We wanted to do something really special for music fans this year,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “The Apple Music Festival is a greatest hits set of ten unbelievable nights featuring some of the best performers on the planet appearing live and interacting directly with their fans on Connect and Beats 1.”

The performances will be broadcast live and on-demand on Apple Music, iTunes and through the Apple Music Festival channel on the Apple TV. Apple is also promising coverage on Beats 1, and "backstage news and footage" on Apple Music Connect.

You can learn more about the Apple Music Festival in Apple Music on your iOS device or in iTunes. Additionally, for those who live in the UK, you can apply to win tickets to the Apple Music Festival.

The event was previously called the iTunes Music Festival which Apple has hosted at the Roundhouse since 2007. Unlike in previous years where the event usually ran for an entire month (September in recent years), this year's festival run has been shortened to ten nights.


Automatic: Your Smart Driving Assistant on Your Smartphone [Sponsor]

There’s a mountain of data inside your car waiting to be unleashed, and all you have to do is plug in a quick little connector and download a mobile application.

Automatic is a smart driving assistant that plugs into your car's data port and lets you connect your smartphone (either iPhone or Android) with your car. By  talking to your car’s onboard computer and using your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car's capabilities, Automatic will allow you to easily diagnose your engine light, never forget where you parked your car, and save hundreds of dollars on gas.

Automatic learns your driving habits and gives you suggestions through subtle audio cues to drive smarter and stop wasting gas. Thanks to a map view available on your phone, Automatic can display a trip timeline after every driving session, showing you how you're doing with a Drive Score; the app can even track local gas prices and tell you how much you're spending.

In case of engine problems, Automatic can decipher what the "check engine" light means and show you a description of the issue with a possible solution. And thanks to a feature called Crash Alert, Automatic can detect many types of serious crashes and automatically alert local authorities as well as your loved ones when you can't.

Automatic is currently available in the US for iPhone and Android devices, with a 45-day return policy and free shipping in 2 business days.

MacStories readers can go to automatic.com/macstories to get $20 off and buy Automatic at just $79.99. For more information, check out Automatic's website.

Our thanks to Automatic for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Apple Posts New Apple Music Ads with the Theme of “Discovery”

Today Apple released three new videos advertising Apple Music, all focused on the discovery aspects of the service. The new tagline debuted in the ads is "All the artists you love and are about to love".

While that tagline seems like a bit of a mouthful, I suppose it makes its point. Apple wants to position Apple Music as the new home for your music: there's no downside to trying it because all of the artists you already know and love are there waiting for you, but it's also the best place to discover new artists you'll love that you are currently missing out on.

To showcase this, two of the ads are almost entirely made up of performances by artists James Bay and Kygo. At the end of the "Discover James Bay" and "Discover Kygo" ads, some text and buttons scroll down on top of the video. It is the artist's name, a "Following" button, and three radio buttons: All, My Music, and Connect. This is the view you see in Apple Music when you open an artist's page.

Amusingly, while in both ads the "Connect" radio button is selected, Kygo does not actually even have a Connect page at this time (meaning that "Connect" button which is selected doesn't even exist on his page in Apple Music), and James Bay has only ever posted a single item. Probably not the best two artists to use to drum up interest in the Connect features of Apple Music.

The third video, titled simply "Discovery" is voiced by Trent Reznor, and features a variety of artists (including Bay and Kygo) preparing to be filmed. Reznor's narration describes the motivations behind starting Apple Music, leading up to the new tagline. I would be surprised if we didn't see some more of these "Discover [some artist]" videos soon, featuring the other artists that were shown in "Discovery".

You can check out all three ads below.

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Apple Publishes Updated Employee Diversity Data

Apple yesterday published updated data on the diversity of their employees, for the second year in a row. Some of the news is good (Apple hired 65% more women in the last 12 months than they did in the previous year) but the picture is still bleak in other respects (only 22% of "tech" employees are female). Apple's updated Diversity webpage includes a letter from Tim Cook, in which he says:

Last year we reported the demographics of our employees for the first time externally, although we have long prioritized diversity. We promised to improve those numbers and we’re happy to report that we have made progress. In the past year we hired over 11,000 women globally, which is 65 percent more than in the previous year. In the United States, we hired more than 2,200 Black employees — a 50 percent increase over last year — and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66 percent increase. In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year. Additionally, in the first 6 months of this year, nearly 50 percent of the people we’ve hired in the United States are women, Black, Hispanic, or Native American.

You can view all the numbers on Apple's Diversity page, including some interactive statistics, the full letter from Tim Cook and information on what Apple is doing today to improve diversity at Apple, and steps they are taking to improve the numbers in the future.

Some people will read this page and see our progress. Others will recognize how much farther we have to go. We see both. And more important than these statistics, we see tens of thousands of Apple employees all over the world, speaking dozens of languages, working together. We celebrate their differences and the many benefits we and our customers enjoy as a result.

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