Posts in news

Igloo: An Intranet You’ll Actually Like [Sponsor]

Why invest in the latest, sleekest devices if you are going to use them to stare at an intranet website that looks like it was built in the 90’s?

Not only can Igloo be customized to look exactly like your brand, but with its responsive design, it’s automatically optimized for almost any device you’re using, including the latest iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. And just like your favourite Apple devices, Igloo helps you do your best work.

Share files, coordinate calendars, provide status updates and manage projects. Igloo’s not just for your traditional intranet stuff like HR policies and expense forms. It also lets you work better together with your teams. And it keeps getting better.

Our latest upgrade, Viking, gives you more control over how you interact with documents, gather feedback and make changes. We’ve even added the ability to track who has read critical information (like read receipts in your email, but less annoying) to keep everyone on the same page.

Not convinced yet? We understand love doesn’t happen overnight. If you sign up now, we will let you try our platform for free for as long as you want.

Our thanks to Igloo for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Apple Investing €1.7 billion to Build Data Centers in Ireland and Denmark

An Apple Press release this morning announced that the company will be investing €1.7 billion (US$1.93 billion) to build and operate two new European data centers. The two data centers, one in County Galway, Ireland and the other in Denmark’s central Jutland, will both be powered by 100 percent renewable energy according to Apple. The two new European data centers are expected to be in operation in 2017 and will be used to power Apple's various online services including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri.

“We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”

In its press release, Apple focuses on how they have continued to support jobs in Europe, claiming that they support over 672,000 jobs in the region and paying out €6.6 billion to European app developers. The press release also makes particular and repeated reference to the fact that these new data centers will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy, one of the key environmental benchmarks the company has been keen to demonstrate in recent years.

“We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives. “We’re excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is good for the planet, good for our business and good for the European economy.”

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Apple Debuts ‘Make a Film with iPad’ Advert

Coinciding with Sunday's Academy Awards Ceremony, Apple debuted a new iPad advert with a focus on making films. The advert features students from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) as they prepare and shoot films for a school project. Also featured in the advert is Martin Scorsese, with audio excerpts from his 2014 commencement speech to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts serving as the narration to the advert.

iPad is the ultimate tool for independent filmmakers. It lets them chase their ambitions and dive deeper into the work they’re so passionate about. Learn how students at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts relied on the power and versatility of iPad to write, produce, shoot, score, and edit their films in a matter of days.

Like most of Apple's recent adverts, they've set up a page on their website with more information about the advert and those featured in it. As noted on the page, the apps featured in this advert are Final Draft Writer, FiLMiC Pro, Garageband, and VideoGrade.

We've embedded the advert below, but you can also view it on Apple's website and on YouTube.

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IFTTT Launches New ‘Do’ iPhone Apps for Personalized iOS Shortcuts

Popular web automation service IFTTT unveiled three new iPhone apps today, aimed at allowing users to set up their own custom shortcuts for notes, the camera, and buttons to quickly trigger recipes. The three apps, called Do Note, Do Camera, and Do Button, abstract some of the functionality from the full IFTTT service for a lightweight experience with an easier setup for popular use cases. According to the IFTTT website, the main IFTTT app will be renamed “If”.

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Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS Add Support for iCloud Drive

Microsoft today updated the iOS versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint to include support for iCloud Drive. This means that iOS 8 users can now open, edit and save documents to iCloud Drive, making it even easier for users who want to share a document between multiple apps. To access the iCloud Drive pop-up window, simply tap the 'More' button in the Office app's open or save panel.

Today's addition of iCloud Drive support follows the partnership between Microsoft and Dropbox which saw the suite of iOS Office apps add support for Dropbox back in November last year.



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.


iWork for iCloud Beta Available for Everyone, No Need to Own an Apple Device

Late last week Apple made a change to their iCloud web services, opening up the iWork for iCloud beta to everyone. Previously the iWork suite of web apps (Pages, Numbers & Keynote) was limited to those users who owned an Apple device.

With last week's change anyone can go to beta.icloud.com, click the banner (shown above) to sign up for an Apple ID (which includes 1GB storage) and use the iWork for iCloud beta. Just make sure you do head to the beta iCloud website, as the main iCloud website doesn't let you sign up for an Apple ID yet. The iWork for iCloud web apps, which are still classified by Apple as betas, was first announced at WWDC 2013.

[via iMore]


Apple Promoting “Great Games with No In-App Purchases” on App Store Front Page

Apple has started promoting games that don't have any In-App Purchases on the front page of the App Store. Currently featured in the UK App Store and likely expanding to the U.S. store later today as part of the App Store's weekly refresh, the section is called 'Pay Once & Play' and it showcases “great games” that don't require users to pay for extra content through IAPs.

The section is organized in Recent Releases, Blockbuster Games, and App Store Originals. The games included vary in terms of popularity and developer: Apple is promoting indie hit Thomas Was Alone under Blockbuster Games alongside Minecraft, but they're also showcasing award-winning Threes, Leo's Fortune, and Blek.

Over the past few years, Apple has dealt with numerous complaints and investigations over the nature of freemium games and how they were advertised as free downloads while effectively hiding major gameplay features behind In-App Purchases. The company brought a series of changes to the way freemium games were displayed on the App Store – it added a specific label to indicate IAPs, and then changed the button to download freemium games from “Free” to “Get”.

It's unclear whether the new section will be regularly updated or become a permanent fixture of the App Store's front page, but it's a good sign as it shows an interest in promoting quality game experiences that don't follow typical (and lucrative but potentially confusing) freemium trends.


Saver 2 for iPhone Review

This week saw the release of Saver 2, a big update to the personal finance and expense tracking iPhone app from Alex Solonsky and Vadim Shpakovski. I reviewed the original Saver nearly four years ago, and whilst the core of the app is very similar, the new features and completely refreshed and modernised design make Saver 2 a lot better.

There are quite a few personal finance apps available these days and it’s important to know that Saver, an iPhone-only app, is one that won’t be for everyone. For example, you won’t be reconciling multiple bank accounts – that’s just not how Saver works. But at the same time, don’t think of Saver as just a barebones tool: it is far more than that and will work terrifically for many people. This is particularly true if you purchase one of Saver’s subscriptions which add a bunch of advanced features (more on that later).

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