The Numbers From Apple’s October 16 Event

Photo courtesy of Jason Snell at Six Colors.

Every year, Apple kicks off their product presentations with a “state of the business” introduction that, with various numbers and facts, reveals how the company is doing in several areas such as retail, the App Store, iOS device sales and software upgrades, and Mac sales.

At today’s media event in Cupertino, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared only a few details about the launch of new iPhones, but the company still revealed some interesting numbers and statistics throughout the keynote.

  • 48% of customers have already updated to iOS 8 after 4 weeks; 46% of them remain on iOS 7, and 6% on "other" versions of iOS.
  • Another 500 banks have confirmed they will support Apple Pay.
  • More than a million members of the Mac community signed up for the Yosemite public beta.
  • 225 million iPads have been sold to date.
  • 675,000 apps have been created specifically for the iPad.
  • The new iPad Air 2 is 6.1 mm thin; 18% thinner than the first iPad Air.
  • The new A8X chip of the iPad Air 2 has a 40% faster CPU, 2.5x faster GPU.
  • The Mac's line has been growing 18% year-over-year.
  • The iMac's new Retina 5K display has 67% more pixels than 4K.

For more coverage, check out our October 16 news hub and follow @macstoriesnet on Twitter.

Apple Updates the Mac mini with Faster Processors, Thunderbolt Ports

Photo courtesy of Jason Snell at Six Colors.

At its media event held earlier today in Cupertino, Apple announced an update to its Mac mini line.

“People love Mac mini. It’s a great first Mac or addition to your home network, and the new Mac mini is a nice upgrade packed into an incredibly compact design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With the latest CPU and graphics, faster Wi-Fi, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, OS X Yosemite, and starting at just $499, the new Mac mini is the best value ever.”

Described by Phil Schiller's as "the world's most efficient" desktop computer, the new Mac mini comes with two Thunderbolt 2 ports, new fourth generation Intel Core processors,  and 802.11ac WiFi. Packing an "entire Mac experience" in a small  7.7-inch-square frame, the new Mac mini will come pre-installed with OS X Yosemite and also offer four USB 3 ports.

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Apple Announces OS X Yosemite Launching Today

At a media event held in Cupertino, California, Apple announced that the next major version of OS X, Yosemite, will be released later today.

Introduced at WWDC in June, OS X Yosemite (version 10.10 of Apple's desktop operating system) brings a complete redesign, updates to core apps such as Safari and Mail, and better integration with iOS devices thanks to Handoff and Continuity. Alongside an elegant design that prioritizes content, Yosemite will feature an updated Spotlight with rich inline previews, a revamped Notification Center with widgets (also available in iOS 8) and iCloud Drive, a new unified folder to manage all documents stored in iCloud.

OS X Yosemite will be a free update and available through the Mac App Store.

For more coverage, check out our October 16 news hub and follow @macstoriesnet on Twitter.

Facebook Launches Safety Check

Great idea by Facebook: an easy way to let people update their News Feed to tell friends and family they're safe after a disaster.

In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. It is in these moments that communication is most critical both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news.

We want to provide a helpful tool that people can use when major disasters strike, so we’ve created Safety Check – a simple and easy way to say you’re safe and check on others.

On iOS, Safety Check will be a push notification that takes you to a page where you can confirm whether you're safe or not in the area monitored by Facebook. This is a good example of how data gathered by Facebook can be useful and important on a practical standpoint. I have seen friends using Facebook to reconnect after a natural disaster, and Safety Check makes perfect sense.

As Mark Zuckerberg puts it:

Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help. Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they're safe. Connecting with people is always valuable, but these are the moments when it matters most.

Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters and gives you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place.


Connected: A War of Semantics

This week, Myke, Federico and Stephen debate what’s after the Post-PC era, the future of the iPad and Federico’s true feelings about OS X.

I expect to receive quite a bit of follow-up after this week's episode of Connected, which is also a nice preparation for today's Apple event. Hopefully some of my iPad wishes will come true. Get the episode here.

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Reddit Acquires Alien Blue

Alien Blue, perhaps the most popular third-party Reddit app available on iOS, has been acquired by Reddit. Greg Kumparak writes at TechCrunch:

We heard whispers of this deal going back a few weeks. While reddit isn’t disclosing terms, they’ve just confirmed to me that they’ve acquired the Alien Blue project and that its Melbourne-based developer, Jase Morrissey, will be joining their team.

Curiously, reddit seems to hesitate in calling the app their “official iOS reader” — they’re keeping the “Alien Blue” name, for example, rather than changing it to just be called “reddit” or “reddit reader” or something.

I've covered Alien Blue several times here at MacStories over the past five years – it's always been a fantastic Reddit client packed with nice design touches and powerful functionalities to customize the way you read Reddit, browse sub-reddits, and interact with comments. It's interesting to see Reddit acquiring a power-user app such as Alien Blue rather than more simplistic and minimal clients, and it makes me wonder if the company will keep on adding features for reading and user management, or if they'll begin to simplify the app and remove its advanced features (always been a fan of subreddit grouping and iCloud sync in the app).

Alien Blue joins the dedicated Reddit AMA app on the App Store, and it's available in two versions for iPhone and iPad; Reddit is keeping the app's "Pro" In-App Purchase, but to ease the transition to the separate app, they're offering it for free for a limited time.


Drafts 4 Review

Drafts is one of my all-time favorite apps on iOS, not only for its amazing utility, but also because it was the app that got me started writing about technology, so it has a special place in my heart. However, surveying what the app has looked like since its last big update over a year ago, it’s been clear to me that an unchanged Drafts would stagnate in the post-iOS 8 world. In the face of new methods of inter-app communication such as extensions, documents pickers, and widgets, surviving on URL scheme-based utilities alone would likely not be enough to keep Drafts relevant.

This is Drafts though, an app that has been at the forefront of iOS automation since the field began. I should not have been worried. Released today on the App Store as a new, iOS 8-only, and Universal app, Drafts 4 is an evolution which boasts a huge number of improvements and represents a much needed shift in direction. With a UI refresh, a smarter and more accessible interface for building actions, a fantastic Share extension, a customizable extended keyboard, an enhanced URL scheme, and the intriguing introduction of JavaScript scripts for text manipulation, Drafts 4 is Agile Tortoise’s statement that they are ready for the challenges of a modern iOS.

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Mac Necessities

I was reading this article by Fraser Speirs as a follow-up to Bradley Chambers', and he made a great point about iOS devices and Macs towards the end:

I ask myself what it would take for me to completely eschew owning a Mac. I'm not there yet and I'm not even all that close to it in practical terms. Like your pal that doesn't have a car but who can only do so because you give him a lift, I could possibly do without my own personal Mac only because I have access to Macs at school.

One of the reasons for this is that the Mac is how you recover an iOS device. If your device turns up its toes completely, one way to get it back is to plug it into a Mac and perform various incantations to revive it. If your iOS device ends up totally full of images and video, the fastest way to solve that problem is to plug it into a Mac and download them all through Image Capture.

I've been thinking about not repairing my MacBook Air and going 100% iOS-only with an iPad Air this year. Because in spite of trying to get all my work done on iOS, I still have to use a Mac for specific tasks that can't be done on iOS.

I've been putting together a list of tasks that I still my Mac for. So far, I have these:

  • Local device backups with iTunes;
  • Photo and video extraction with Image Capture;
  • Screen recording (currently possible with either AirPlay Mirroring or Yosemite's upcoming QuickTime player);
  • Generating GIFs from screencasts;
  • Browsing versions of documents;
  • Recording podcasts with Skype;
  • Cyberduck (for Rackspace Cloud Files);
  • Downloading torrents;
  • Installing betas of iOS;
  • Following Apple live streams and taking notes at the same time;
  • Xcode;
  • 4 GB of RAM (multiple Safari tabs that don't time out).

There are many other reasons why a Mac could still be preferable to iOS, but, for me, these are the main limitations that force me to keep a Mac around. I believe some of them are unlikely to change (torrents and installing iOS firmware betas), others are simply missing apps (where are Cyberduck and GIF Brewery for iOS?), but, in general, it looks like I'll have to finally fix my broken keyboard.