Graham Spencer

819 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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Inbox by Gmail to Add New Smart Reply Feature This Week

Inbox by Gmail is about to get a whole lot smarter this week with a new feature called Smart Reply. Bálint Miklós on the Official Gmail Blog explains:

Smart Reply suggests up to three responses based on the emails you get. For those emails that only need a quick response, it can take care of the thinking and save precious time spent typing. And for those emails that require a bit more thought, it gives you a jump start so you can respond right away.

The feature will be rolling out to the Inbox by Gmail app on iOS and Android later this week, but will only work in English for now. Smart Reply uses machine learning to recognize which emails need responses and then generate three appropriate responses for the user to pick from. The Google Research Blog also has some more details on how the researchers got the feature to work.

And much like how Inbox gets better when you report spam, the responses you choose (or don't choose!) help improve future suggestions. For example, when Smart Reply was tested at Google, a common suggestion in the workplace was "I love you." Thanks to Googler feedback, Smart Reply is now SFW :)


AgileBits Announces 1Password for Teams

AgileBits yesterday announced 1Password for Teams:

1Password for Teams allows you to share the convenience and security of 1Password with everyone in your life. It gives you the tools you need to control and manage access to your most important information.

New to 1Password for Teams is the Admin Console, a central location to manage your team, vaults and items. The Admin Console makes teamwork a breeze and it completely changes the way you use 1Password in a group environment. It’s packed with features you’ve been asking for, and several new ones you didn’t know you needed :)

Agile Bits is currently accepting sign ups for the 1Password for Teams beta, which will run for the next couple of months. 1Password for Teams is free during the beta period, but when it launches it will cost $4.99 per user per month (which will include licences for all of the native 1Password apps).

I've been using 1Password for years and this seems like a fantastic product for any business or team that needs to share logins between users. Just the ability to easily control who has access to which passwords and easily remove access to employees who leave the company will be invaluable. You can view all of the features of 1Password for Teams here.


Plex Now Available on Apple TV, and Apple Adds Top Charts to Apple TV App Store

The highly anticipated official Plex app for the new Apple TV is now available on the App Store as a free download. The Plex Apple TV app can play all of your video, music, TV and photo collections from any computer or NAS device that you install the Plex Media Server on. You can view more screenshots of the Plex Apple TV app on the Plex Blog.

There truly isn’t any other platform we’ve wanted to be on for as long as we have the Apple TV. Today’s the day, and we’re celebrating. The app is free in the app store for everyone, and requires the latest media server.

Meanwhile, Apple appears to have listened to some of the complaints about the lack of discoverability in the Apple TV App Store and added a Top Charts section. Just as it does on iOS, the Top Charts section is broken down into Top Free, Top Paid and Top Grossing lists.

Top Charts is currently limited to the US App Store, but it seems likely that the feature will roll out to international stores over the coming days. Unsurprisingly, the lists for the Top Paid and Top Grossing apps are dominated by games, whilst the Top Free list is mostly occupied by media and entertainment apps. If you don't have access to an Apple TV or live outside the US, you can see the top 10 apps in each list on MacRumors.

Perhaps in another effort to increase the discoverability of Apple TV apps, Apple has refreshed the App Store Featured page and is now highlighting some new apps. Typically on the iOS App Store they only refresh the App Store Featured page once a week on Thursdays. Hopefully this happens more frequently on the Apple TV App Store, at least until they introduce categories or some other ways to discover apps that aren't featured or trending.

Orders for the New Apple TV Are Now Open, Begins Shipping This Friday

The new Apple TV is now available for order on Apple's website, with deliveries expected to start arriving from this Friday, October 30.

The new Apple TV, now in its fourth generation, features a familiar but overhauled user interface, a new Siri remote and there's now an App Store for apps and games. The new Siri remote, which primarily operates over Bluetooth and charges via a Lightning port, features a touch surface for navigation, as well as dual microphones so that you can use Siri to interact with the Apple TV. You can learn more about the new Apple TV here.

Pricing & Availability

When Apple announced the new Apple TV at its September Keynote, it noted that it will be available in 80 countries at launch and over 100 by the end of the year. It also revealed US pricing which is US$149 for the 32GB model and US$199 for the 64GB model. Now that the Apple TV is available for order we can see the international prices, some of which I've included below:

  • United Kingdom:
    • £129 for the 32GB model
    • £169 for the 64GB model
  • Canada:
    • $199 for the 32GB model
    • $269 for the 64GB model
  • Australia:
    • $269 for the 32GB model
    • $349 for the 64GB model
  • France, Germany, Italy:
    • €179 for the 32GB model
    • €229 for the 64GB model

Apple Debuts Seven New Apple Watch Adverts

Apple today debuted seven new adverts for the Apple Watch, which follow in the same style as the six Apple Watch adverts that debuted on October 5. These short 15 second pieces highlight various features of the Apple Watch including Apple Pay, different watch bands, music controls and some third party apps including Uber and eBay.

  • Dance: Apple Watch lets you control your music right from your wrist. Whatever song you want to hear, just say it and play it.
  • Skate: If you need to buy something quick, Apple Pay lets you pay in a hurry.
  • Move: Your Apple Watch helps you set and achieve new goals. Even a goal as simple as moving more each day.
  • Play: Apple Watch can send you eBay alerts instantly, so you’ll never miss a bid.
  • Style: New bands, new colors, new ways to change your Apple Watch to match your own look.
  • Kiss: Your Apple Watch will gently let you know when your Uber arrives. But there’s no rush.
  • Travel: Apple Watch puts your boarding pass right on your wrist. Now traveling is one step simpler.

You can view all the adverts below the break or on Apple's website.

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Tim Cook: New Apple TV Begins Shipping Next Week, Orders Start Monday

Tim Cook revealed today that Apple will start taking orders for the new Apple TV next Monday, October 26, with units shipping by the end of next week. Cook made the comment whilst speaking at The Wall Street Journal's WSJD Live 2015 conference.

As Apple announced at its September Keynote, the new Apple TV will be sold for $149 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model. Apple said the initial late October launch of the Apple TV will see the product launch in over 80 countries, but by the end of the year it will be available in 100 countries.

Cook also revealed on stage tonight that there are now 6.5 million paid members of Apple Music and a further 8.5 million Apple Music members who are still in their 3 month trial phase. For comparison, Spotify announced on 10 June 2015 that it had over 20 million paying subscribers and more than 75 million active users.

Some of the other topics that Cook addressed in his interview at WSJD Live was the Apple Watch (where he declined to provide sales figures), debates over privacy and security, the future of cars and Apple's broader role in public life. If you want to read more, be sure to check out the live blogs from The Verge, The Wall Street Journal and MacRumors.

[via The Verge]

Apple Introduces 4K 21.5-inch iMac, Force Touch Magic Trackpad, and Refreshed 5K 27-inch iMac

Apple today introduced a new 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display, plus a new Magic Trackpad 2, Magic Mouse 2 and a Magic Keyboard. In addition, the existing iMac line was also refreshed, from the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display to the bottom of the line 21.5-inch iMac.

“From the first iMac to today, the spirit of iMac has never wavered — deliver the ultimate desktop experience with the latest technologies, gorgeous displays and cutting-edge designs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “These are the most stunning iMacs we’ve ever made. With our gorgeous new Retina displays, more powerful processors and graphics and all-new Magic accessories, the new iMac continues to redefine the ultimate desktop experience.”

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App Store Prices Increasing This Week in Australia, Indonesia and Sweden

AUD/USD from 4 April 2014 (when App Store prices were last adjusted in Australia) to 13 October 2015.

AUD/USD from 4 April 2014 (when App Store prices were last adjusted in Australia) to 13 October 2015.

As reported by 9to5Mac, Apple is set to increase the prices of apps in Australia, Indonesia and Sweden within the next 3 days. The new prices will affect all paid apps, In-App Purchases and In-App Subscriptions. As an example, in Australia, the App Store pricing Tier 1 will be increasing from $1.29 to $1.49.

In an email to developers, Apple explained that the price increases are a result of changing foreign exchange rates. In the case of Australia, the above chart shows how the Australian dollar has depreciated in value against the US dollar since the last pricing change in April 2014.

Source: 9to5Mac

Source: 9to5Mac

Apple is also introducing the Alternative Tier A and Alternative Tier B pricing tiers to Australia. Apps sold at these price tiers will cost Australian App Store customers AU$0.99. These tiers have previously been used by Apple to enable developers to sell their apps at very low prices in some developing countries such as China where Alternative Tier A (¥1) is equivalent to US$0.16.

If you want to know a bit more about App Store Pricing Tiers, I wrote an article about them which has more information on how they operate and why Apple needs to adjust them occasionally.