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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New Enhanced Editions of Harry Potter Series Now Available on iBooks

In a press release from Apple:

Apple today announced that enhanced editions of all seven books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are now available exclusively on the iBooks Store for readers around the world to enjoy on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac. Customers can download individual books featuring full original text, interactive animations and elaborate artwork bringing these beloved stories to life in a unique way. Harry Potter fans will also find annotations throughout their literary journey, written by the author herself.

Each book costs US$9.99 and they are available in 32 countries today. French, German and Spanish versions are also available for pre-order and will be released on November 9 in 18 additional countries.

“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” said J.K. Rowling.

I had a quick look through the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and there are quite a few illustrations. They all look terrific and the animation really does bring it to life (they're reminiscent of the moving images of the Daily Prophet, or perhaps more appropriately, Live Photos from the iPhone 6s). But that's about it, the rest of the book is virtually identical to a standard ePub.

The candles in this image hovered up and down, whilst the Snitch fluttered around on the page.

The candles in this image hovered up and down, whilst the Snitch fluttered around on the page.


Apple Debuts Six New Apple Watch Adverts

Apple yesterday debuted six new adverts for the Apple Watch. The new adverts are short 15 second pieces which highlight various features of the Apple Watch (from Apple Pay to audio messages to fitness features) and how they can be useful in different contexts.

  • Sprinkle: With Apple Watch, and Apple Pay, buying something on the go is simpler than ever.
  • Date: When you get a new message Apple Watch gently lets you know it’s there, so you can see it right away.
  • Ride: Apple Watch gives you turn-by-turn directions, so if you get a little lost you won’t be for long.
  • Sing: Sending an audio message on your Apple Watch is simple. Just say it and send it.
  • Train: Apple Watch lets you check your heart rate fast so you can keep your heart beating faster.
  • Cycle: Apple Watch tracks every second of your ride, from warm up to cool down.

You can view all the adverts below the break or on YouTube.

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Adobe Introduces New Features and New Apps in Big iOS Updates Today

Adobe today updated over a dozen of its iOS apps, refreshing their designs, consolidating multiple apps into new, unified, apps and adding big new features to some of their most popular apps. Here are some of the highlights:

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom on iOS can now be used for free, provided that you don't need to sync your photos with Adobe Creative Cloud (which is still paid). Other new features include better color control and the ability to control the amount of atmospheric haze in your photos.

Download - Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop Fix

Adobe Photoshop Fix is a new app designed specifically to do image retouching and restoration on your iOS device. It features the liquify, heal and patch, smooth, and lighten and darken tools that Photoshop users will be familiar with.

Free - Download Photoshop Fix

Adobe Capture CC

Adobe Capture CC is a new, consolidated, app that brings together the features from Brush CC, Color CC, Hue CC and Shape CC. This means that you can extract color themes from photos, convert photos and drawings into vector graphics, create brushes from photos. Essentially, Adobe Capture CC is all about capturing design assets for use in other Adobe apps.

Free - Download Adobe Capture CC

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

Now at version 3.0, Adobe Photoshop Sketch adopts the features from the now-defunct Adobe Illustrator Line app, which means it supports perspective and graph grids, drawing French curves, polygons and other new shapes that weren't previously available. Also new is its support for watercolor paintbrushes (on newer iPads) and the ability to add images directly from Adobe Stock.

Free - Download Adobe Photoshop Sketch

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Apple Announces Q4 2015 Earnings Call For October 27

Apple's Investor Relations website was yesterday updated to note that Apple's fourth quarter earnings call for fiscal year 2015 (July, August, September) will be held on Tuesday, October 27. As is usual, Apple will provide a live webcast of the conference call.

FY 15 Fourth Quarter Results
Apple’s conference call to discuss fourth fiscal quarter results is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET.

Apple announced yesterday that it had sold a record 13 million units of the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The rollout of the new iPhones is on track to be the fastest ever from Apple, and we'll no doubt hear more about that on this upcoming earnings call.

In the third quarter of FY15, Apple posted revenue of $49.6 billion. The company sold 10.9 million iPads, 47.5 million iPhones, and 4.8 million Macs, earning a quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion.

As we have for previous earnings calls, MacStories will cover the conference call on our site’s homepage on October 27 starting at 2 PM PT, posting charts of the results, collecting key quotes from Apple executives and highlighting interesting Tweets from others.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Opening Weekend Sales Hit a Record 13 Million

Apple announced this morning that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus has sold more than 13 million units over its opening weekend. The new iPhone went on sale last Friday in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the UK.

“Sales for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have been phenomenal, blowing past any previous first weekend sales results in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customers’ feedback is incredible and they are loving 3D Touch and Live Photos, and we can’t wait to bring iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to customers in even more countries on October 9.”

13 million units sold over the opening weekend is a new record for iPhone sales. Last year Apple sold 10 million units of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, whilst in 2013 Apple sold 9 million units of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. In fact, Apple has consistently beaten their opening weekend iPhone sales every single year.

Second Wave of iPhone 6s Launch Countries Announced

Apple also announced today that the second wave of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launch countries will get the device on October 9 and 10. Over those two days, the new iPhones will launch in 42 countries in this second wave, including Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Taiwan.

The full list of countries:

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will roll out worldwide to more than 40 additional countries and territories beginning October 9 including Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan. On October 10, countries include Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

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Instagram Hits 400 Million Users

Instagram announced yesterday that they had hit the milestone of 400 million monthly active users:

We are thrilled to announce that the Instagram community has grown to more than 400 million strong. While milestones like this are important, what really excites us is the way that visual communication makes the world feel a little bit smaller to every one of us.

Our community has evolved to be even more global, with more than 75 percent living outside of the US. To all the new Instagrammers: welcome! Among the last 100 million to join, more than half live in Europe and Asia. The countries that added the most Instagrammers include Brazil, Japan and Indonesia.

I can't believe its been nearly five years since Instagram launched, it really doesn't feel like it's been that long. But I was really surprised to remember that Facebook acquired Instagram in April 2012, when Instagram had "only" 40 million users. If I recall correctly, a lot of people thought Facebook was crazy to buy Instagram for $1 billion. Well, I think Facebook got the last laugh on that one, and as Forbes points out, Instagram now has more monthly active users than Twitter (316 million).

It's been a few years since I updated my Instagram growth chart, so here's an updated version.


Apple’s iOS 9 News App Review: Broken News

Apple occasionally introduces new apps to iOS that come preinstalled on every device, and with iOS 9 they've done this again with the introduction of News. As you would expect from the name, News is, or at least tries to be, a one-stop shop for all your news needs. One way to think of News is a fusion of Google News (for the recommended articles), Flipboard (for the ability to follow publishers and topics), and Facebook's Instant Articles (custom, gorgeous articles on mobile).

The News app was, to me at least, one of the features of iOS 9 that I was most looking forward to using – I even put that in writing. I was excited about the News app because reading news on an iPhone, although it has improved over time, can still be a frustrating experience jumping from app to app. The experience is even worse with many news websites which chew massive amounts of data and obscure the small display with a myriad of annoying ads. News, as it was demoed at WWDC, offered a promising alternative: a one-stop app that would deliver "the articles you want to read in a beautiful and uncluttered format, while respecting your privacy".

Much like Apple's past experiments in bringing news to iOS,1 the News app in iOS 9 fails to live up to its potential. The high hopes that I had for the News app have unfortunately been (mostly) dashed. Whilst there are aspects of great execution in some limited areas, huge aspects of News seem half-baked and confused.

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Sofa: Discover New Movies from Curated Collections

Sofa is a new app that launched just last Friday. Sofa does two things: it helps you discover new movies to watch, and it lets you keep a list of movies you want to watch. Despite its rather sparse feature list, Sofa is well worth your time. One of the reasons why is because Sofa's discover section is populated by hand-curated collections of movies. But Sofa also looks great and, because it isn't burdened with dozens of features, the app is simple and delightful to use.

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