Graham Spencer

916 posts on MacStories since January 2011

Graham is a regular contributor to MacStories, a law and economics student at university, and a fan 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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Craig Federighi on Why There Is No Touchscreen Mac

CNET spoke with Craig Federighi after last week's keynote, and one of the questions they ask him is whether there will be a touchscreen Mac (around 2:30 in the video):

Craig Federighi: At Apple we build prototypes around all sorts of ideas. So we certainly explored the topic deeply many years ago and had working models, but we decided it really was a compromise. For a device you hold in your hand like a phone or tablet it is very natural to rest your hand on the tablet and work that way. We think touch is at its best and we wanted to build, and have built, a really deep experience around a multi-touch first user interface. Grafting touch onto something that was fundamentally designed around a precise pointer really compromises the experience.

Those were carefully chosen words by Federighi. He does not say that there won't be a touchscreen Mac, instead he notes that the simple addition or "grafting" on of a touchscreen to the Mac would be a compromise. Importantly, the compromise that he refers to is not one related to ergonomics, but rather the fact that macOS is currently designed around an interaction model driven by a precise pointer.

I agree with Federighi. I certainly wouldn't want to see a Mac with a touchscreen bolted on, with no adjustments to the UI of macOS. But as someone who regularly uses the iPad Pro in a laptop-esque configuration with the Smart Keyboard, I see the value in having a touchscreen on a Mac, provided that there are also UI changes to macOS. I don't expect this any time soon, but I do think it will happen.

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MacStories Guide: Design and Launch Your Own iMessage Sticker Pack on the App Store

The barrier to entry onto the App Store was already quite low, but with the launch of sticker packs in iOS 10, that barrier was substantially lowered. Now you don't even have to type a line of code in order to launch a product on the App Store. This has been an exciting development and has enabled a whole new wave of creators to make products and launch them on the App Store.

I was one of them. I don't know how to code, but I do have some design skills, and I wanted to see what it was like to create something for iOS and launch it on the App Store. So a few months ago I decided that I would make some sticker packs for iOS 10 – and that's what I did. I brainstormed possible ideas, started designing some stickers and ultimately ended up publishing Birthday Celebration Stickers and an app bundle which included World Flag Stickers and a few other country-specific flag stickers.

The process of making and publishing these sticker packs was fairly straightforward, but I also encountered some unexpected hurdles. To help others who are excited about making their own sticker packs, I've written this guide, which I hope can make the process a little smoother.

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Apple Q4 2016 Results: $46.9 Billion Revenue, 45.5 Million iPhones, 9.2 Million iPads Sold

Apple has just published their financial results for Q4 2016, which covered the three months from July through to September 2016. The company posted revenue of $46.9 billion with a quarterly net profit of $9 billion. Apple sold 9.2 million iPads, 45.5 million iPhones, and 4.8 million Macs during the quarter.

“Our strong September quarter results cap a very successful fiscal 2016 for Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re thrilled with the customer response to iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2, as well as the incredible momentum of our Services business, where revenue grew 24 percent to set another all-time record.”

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Apple Debuts New Advert Showcasing Redesigned Apple Music

Apple yesterday debuted a new advert on its YouTube channel which showcases the redesigned Apple Music that comes with iOS 10. The extended, 80 second, advert explores the key features of Apple Music and actually shows, step-by-step, how you can use the app.

The walk-through begins by showing how you can access your own music library, and then moves on to demonstrate the For You feature of Apple Music which, based on your tastes and listening history, will recommend "music you'll love next". The advert then pivots to demonstrating how you can share music and your playlists, before showing you how to download music to your device and explore new music in the Browse tab of Apple Music. Finally, the advert highlights the live and on demand radio stations that Apple Music offers, with a particular focus on Beats 1, which also offers interviews with musicians.

This Apple Music advert follows last month's tongue-in-cheek Apple Music advert featuring James Corden. You can watch this advert on Apple's YouTube page, or below the break.

(via MacRumors)

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Unofficial Remixes From Dubset Arrive on Apple Music and Spotify

Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:

The first unofficial single-track remixes just went live on Spotify and Apple Music thanks to their partnerships with music rights management service Dubset.

Apple struck a deal with Dubset in March, and Spotify did in May, BPMSupreme reported. But the remixes are finally beginning to stream today, starting with this DJ Jazzy Jeff remix of Anderson .Paak.

This sounds like good news for users, DJs, content owners as well as Apple and Spotify. Dubset will scan a mix uploaded to its service and use the Gracenote audio fingerprinting database to detect which songs were used in the mix. Royalties paid by Apple and Spotify will be distributed to the original rights holders.

Stephen White [Dubset CEO] says 700 million people listen to mixed content a month, making it a big opportunity. But record labels have historically fought against unofficial mixes because they considered them piracy since they weren’t getting paid. Dubset gives them a fair share, so they’ll permit remixes and mix sets to stream on the major platforms. Royalty revenue from the platform is shared with rights holders while Dubset gets a cut.

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Tim Cook Says VR Is Nice, but Augmented Reality Is the Future

Adario Strange, writing for Mashable, picks up on Tim Cook's answer to a question that was posed to him last Friday when he was interviewed by Senator Orrin Hatch at the Utah Tech Tour.

"AR [augmented reality] I think is going to become really big," said Cook. "VR [virtual reality], I think, is not gonna be that big, compared to AR … How long will it take? AR gonna take a little while, because there’s some really hard technology challenges there. But it will happen. It will happen in a big way. And we will wonder, when it does [happen], how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our [smartphones] today."

This is not the first time that Tim Cook has commented on the potential for AR. Soon after the release (and phenomenal success) of Pokemon Go, Tim Cook said that Apple was "high on AR in the long run" when answering a question during an Apple earnings call:

It also does show that AR can be really great. We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We are high on AR for the long run, we think there’s great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity. The number one thing is to make sure our products work well with other developers’ kind of products like Pokemon, that’s why you see so many iPhones in the wild chasing Pokemons.

You can watch the full Tim Cook interview from the Utah Tech Tour on YouTube.

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‘Spoken Editions’ Section Makes Official Debut on iTunes

Roger Fingas, writing for AppleInsider:

Following a false start in September, Apple on Monday launched an expected "Spoken Editions" section on the iTunes Store, letting people hear audio versions of written content from online publishers.

The section currently includes articles from over 40 sources, such as Reuters, Wired, IGN, Jezebel, Playboy, and the Huffington Post. People can also access the material from Apple's dedicated Podcasts app.

I like this idea, and could see myself subscribing to some Spoken Editions when it expands to other publications, particularly those in Australia. I listened to a few Spoken Edition articles, and whilst the recording quality was generally quite good, I was a little surprised to hear some obvious pronunciation errors and general reading mistakes which hadn't been edited out.

The Spoken Editions are featured on the front page of the Podcasts section of the US iTunes Store, but they are also accessible via this link (which will also work even if you are outside the US).

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Enhanced Edition of ‘A Game of Thrones’ Available on the iBooks Store

The iBooks Store is today featuring the launch of 'A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition':

Navigate the astounding world of Westeros with the enhanced editions of George R.R. Martin's magnificent series. Available only on iBooks, they're the best way to read this thrilling epic. Interactive maps, author notes, glossaries, family trees and illustrations add to the adventure, whether you're new to the books or speak fluent Dothraki.

A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series, and the Enhanced Edition is available now. The other books in the series are also set to received Enhanced Editions over the coming months. A Clash of Kings is coming on 27 October, A Storm of Swords is arriving on 15 December, A Feast of Crows is arriving 2 February 2017, and A Dance with Dragons is expected on 30 March 2017. The Guardian has a few more details on the Enhanced Editions, including this quote from George R.R. Martin:

“We’re now entering a new period in the history of publishing,” said Martin, announcing the new edition. “The digital book gives readers the ability to experience all this rich secondary material that had not been possible before. These enhanced editions, available only on iBooks, include sigils and family trees and glossaries. Anything that confuses you, anything you want to know more about, it’s right there at your fingertips. It’s an amazing next step in the world of books.”

This is not the first time the iBooks Store has released Enhanced Editions of a popular series. Last October saw the release of Enhanced Editions of the Harry Potter series on the iBooks Store, which included new illustrations and animations.

(via 9to5Mac)

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Plex Cloud: Unlimited Media Storage in Amazon Drive

Plex yesterday announced a new Plex Cloud service:

Run your always-on Plex Media Server in the cloud without the need for an always-on PC or network-attached storage device (NAS). With Plex Cloud, you’ll be ready to go in 60 seconds or less, easily streaming and accessing your media remotely on all your Plex enabled devices. Too easy!

Plex Cloud is invite-only for now, and priority is being given to Plex Pass subscribers. The cost of Plex Cloud is $60/year in the US, and that gives you unlimited storage in Amazon Drive for your media. This is a great new initiative from Plex, and it seems like a fantastic deal – even if you just use it as a backup of your local copy of your media.

If you're interested in learning more, the Plex Blog has even more details on Plex Cloud.

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