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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Apple Asks Developers to Start Submitting iOS 9, El Capitan, watchOS 2 Apps

Ahead of the upcoming release of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 on September 16, Apple has now begun notifying registered developers that App Store submissions are open for iOS 9 apps.

In an email shared today with the developer community, Apple has confirmed submissions are also open for OS X El Capitan apps built using the OS' Golden Master seed.

From Apple's email:

The next release of watchOS, iOS, and OS X will soon be in the hands of hundreds of millions of customers around the world. Make sure your apps are optimized for the exciting new features now available for these platforms.

To prepare, build your apps using Xcode 7 GM seed, and test with the GM seeds of iOS 9, OS X El Capitan, and watchOS 2. Read the App Review Guidelines and use TestFlight to get feedback before submitting to the App Store.

Starting today, developers will also be able to set up iOS 9 apps with external testers via TestFlight, Apple's beta testing service.

iOS 9 adds hundreds of new features that developers can leverage to improve their apps, including multitasking on iPad, new gaming APIs, expanded search capabilities and deeper support for CloudKit, HomeKit, HealthKit, and MapKit. iOS 9 will be released next week on Wednesday, September 16.

Interesting Apple TV Tidbits: App Size Limits, Parallax Icons & More

If you haven't already read our overview of the new Apple TV, I'd recommend reading that first. But since then we've also learnt a few more details about the Apple TV that were interesting enough to share. They include details about Apple TV app size limits, parallax icons (and how you can test them today), the Remote Loop and the Nimbus Steelseries (third-party) controller.

Apple TV Apps Limited to 200MB

As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple is restricting the size of Apple TV apps to 200MB. Apps can of course download additional content at any time, but this additional data will only be kept temporarily. This might not be too much of a problem for apps, but this may prove to be a big hurdle for some of the more ambitious Apple TV games.

Along with the lack of local storage, the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB. Anything beyond this size needs to be packaged and loaded using on-demand resources. Knowing how and when to load new assets while keeping your users engaged is critical to creating a successful app. For information on on-demand resources, see On-Demand Resources Guide.

Read more about this in Apple's tvOS Developer Library.

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Apple Watch Announcements from the September 9 Apple Keynote

The Apple Watch didn't receive a hardware update, but it was the subject of a number of other big announcements at today's Special Event keynote from Apple. On the software front, it was revealed that watchOS 2 would be released to the public next Wednesday, September 16. Apple also took the time to unveil a number of new watch bands, new variations in each of the Apple Watch collections, and a partnership with Hermès to deliver a fourth Apple Watch collection.

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The New Apple TV: Our Complete Overview

As was widely expected, Apple today unveiled the new Apple TV at its Special Event keynote at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The new Apple TV (fourth generation) features a familiar but overhauled user interface, a redesigned remote which features a touch surface for navigation and Siri for interaction, plus there's now an App Store for apps and games.

Tim Cook: This is the new Apple TV and we believe it is the future of television.

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Apple Announces iOS 9, watchOS 2 Launching on Wednesday, September 16

As widely expected, Apple has today confirmed the official release date of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 at a media event held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. iOS 9 and watchOS 2 will be released on Wednesday, September 16th, for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Announced at WWDC in June, iOS 9 includes new and updated built-in apps, a major focus on improving the experience and capability of the iPad, and better performance, security and battery life. Apple significantly improved the functionality of the built-in Notes app, adding support for sketches, checklists, and a share extension. Apple Maps now has support for Transit directions (in limited locations) and there's a new News app. iPad users with one of the more recent models can now use multiple apps at the same time with the introduction of Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture modes. Siri and Spotlight also got a little smarter and can now answer more questions whilst attempting to proactively surfacing information and content that is relevant to you.

Apple hasn't announced a Golden Master seed of iOS 9 yet, but it will presumably be released to developers today. Typically the last developer release before a public launch, the GM seed will allow developers to make final preparations to their iOS 9-ready apps and submit them to the App Store.

You can also follow all of the MacStories coverage of today's Apple's keynote through our September 9 Keynote hub, or subscribe to the dedicated September 9 Keynote RSS feed.

Twitter Aims to Unify iOS Apps, Updates its iPad App

Brendan Donohue, writing on the Twitter Blog:

Previously, Twitter for iPhone and iPad offered very different experiences. Now, Twitter apps on these devices will be more consistent regardless of which one you’re using. Starting today, iPad users will be able to create and see revamped quote Tweets, explore trending topics in search, visit product and place pages, and more. We’d like to tell you how we made this happen.

Although they shared some code, Twitter for iPad and Twitter for iPhone were originally developed and designed separately. Each app was tailored to its platform — but required a lot of extra effort to develop. All too often, this meant that Twitter for iPad features lagged behind other updates. To fix this, we had to rethink our approach.

The good news is that Twitter's iPad app is now mostly at feature parity with the Twitter iPhone app. The bad news is that Twitter's iPad app doesn't exactly use the extra screen space of the iPad efficiently, and instead is mostly just a scaled-up version of their iPhone app.

This is probably explained by the fact that Twitter has been working hard on rebuilding a solid foundation across all their platforms to ensure feature-parity, as they explain in their blog post. It may just be that they wanted wanted to get something out the door and (finally) update the iPad app and they didn't get a chance to fully adapt the design for the iPad. That might be naive of me, but I'm sure there are some at Twitter who recognise that this update still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a good iPad Twitter app and will work hard to continually improve it.

What we’ve got so far is a baseline to make everything work well. It’s been a huge effort to rewrite the system in place as seamlessly as possible. One of our first steps was building landscape support, which we shipped for the iPhone 6 Plus earlier this summer. From this effort, we learned a lot about how and when to adapt to changing conditions. This was the foundation on which we built our updated iPad support. Now, we have new tools that are more robust and allow faster iteration. Adaptive UI gives us the ability to support new devices and bring new Twitter features to people faster. But as you might expect, from time to time there are going to be some differences in features and functionality between devices. In the future, we aim to get Twitter for iPad and iPhone to complete feature parity.

Apple Events Channel on Apple TV Updated to Stream Today’s Apple Keynote

The 'Apple Events' channel on the Apple TV has been updated and is ready to stream today's Apple keynote. The channel will allow users to stream Apple's keynote from 10am PDT, as Apple previously announced. If you've got some time, the channel also allows you to stream previous Apple events, including the 2015 WWDC keynote which introduced iOS 9, OS X El Capitan and Apple Music.

For those without an Apple TV, you will also be able to stream Apple's keynote from Apple's website from Safari on iOS or OS X and from Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

You can also follow all of the MacStories coverage of today's Apple's keynote through our September 9 Keynote hub, or subscribe to the dedicated September 9 Keynote RSS feed.

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Apple Launches App Store Games Twitter Account

Casey Newton, writing at The Verge:

Apple has launched a dedicated Twitter feed for gaming just days before the company is expected to reveal a new Apple TV that doubles as a gaming console. Apple confirmed the authenticity of the account to The Verge, which sent out its first tweet this morning. It included a GIF featuring some of the platform's most popular games, including Clash of Clans and Angry Birds.

Staffed by App Store Games Editors, the new @AppStoreGames Twitter account will feature various kinds of content, as Apple told The Verge:

The Twitter feed will feature more than just the usual picks for app of the week, the company said. App Store editors will run the feed, and plan to populate it with sneak previews of games, tips and tricks, and profiles of talented gamers. Editors will also interact with game developers on the feed, Apple said.

This is far from Apple's first foray into actively using social media, but in recent times they've become more sophisticated in the way they approach it, and the frequency to which they use it. Just a few short weeks ago Apple launched a Snapchat account for Apple Music, which has been incredibly well produced. Just looking at the first day of tweets from @AppStoreGames (a sample of which are embedded below) and it looks like this account is well worth a follow.

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Beamer 3 Public Beta Available Today: Features Chromecast Support and a New User Interface

Beamer, a favorite Mac app of the MacStories team, is today launching a public beta of their third major release. For those unfamiliar with the app, Beamer is a Mac app that enables you to easily stream video (in almost any format) to your Apple TV via AirPlay.

The tentpole new feature of Beamer 3 is that it can now stream videos to Google Chromecast. Beamer 3 also has a redesigned interface that looks better on OS X Yosemite and has improved functionality, making it easier to access key options such as audio tracks and subtitles. You can also skip to the next video in your Beamer queue by double clicking the play button the Apple Remote. Beamer's developer also plans to implement further improvements during the beta period.

Beamer 3 is a free upgrade for existing Beamer 2 customers. During the beta period, new customers can purchase Beamer 3 for $15, discounted from the standard price of $19.99.