Ryan Christoffel

110 posts on MacStories since November 2016

Ryan is a regular contributor to MacStories. He most commonly works and plays on his iPad Pro and bears no regrets about moving on from the Mac. He and his wife live in Texas, where he works for his church.

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Apple Goes All-In on Apple Newsroom for PR and Refreshes Executive Bio Pages

Benjamin Mayo reports on a couple of changes found on Apple's website:

Apple has today officially transitioned away from its aging press portal in favor of the modern Apple Newsroom, which combines company press releases, photo coverage and other news into one place. All links to apple.com/pr now redirect to apple.com/newsroom.

At the same time, the company has also updated its executive biography pages with a fresh design update to fit in with the company’s recent website design trends and adopts the San Francisco typeface, finally retiring the Lucida Grande font.

These are both minor, but welcome changes. It made no sense for Apple to continue publishing press releases on both the legacy press portal and Apple Newsroom. The design changes to executive bios were inevitable as well; this moves things one step closer toward retiring all old design on the company's website.

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Twitter for Apple TV Updated with Periscope Global Map

Twitter has updated its Apple TV app with an interesting new way to view Periscope videos from around the world. The feature is called Global Discovery, and it was announced in a tweet earlier today.

Once you open Global Discovery in the Twitter app, you'll be presented with a zoomed out view of Earth. The face of the planet is scattered with various pins representing different Periscope streams that are currently live. It's a clever way to discover live videos from radically distant parts of the world. I enjoyed being able to easily hop between Periscopes from areas in the U.S. and others in Asia, on the other side of the world.

Navigation in Global Discovery is limited to four options: you can scroll around the face of the globe, move from pin to pin (and thus video to video) on the planet's surface, and zoom in or zoom out. Switching between these options can be done at any time using the Siri Remote's Play/Pause button.

Global Discovery is a nice evolution of the Map view found in Periscope's iOS app, and one that takes advantage of the big screen to great effect.


IFTTT Launches Powerful Applet Tools in New Maker Tier

Last November IFTTT, the popular web automation platform, introduced powerful applet tools to its Partner tier of users. The Partner tier was not designed for the average user though, and was therefore cost prohibitive to most. But today, IFTTT announced that some Partner benefits are becoming accessible to a broader base of users with a new Maker tier. This tier is free, but it must be signed up for to gain the new applet tools.

One of the most significant privileges granted to users on the Maker tier is the ability to create applets with more than two actions. Previously applets could only have one 'If' and one 'Then' action each, but Makers can now create applets that have multiple 'Then' steps. So you can set up an applet that triggers based on one thing, then takes several different actions because of that initial trigger. Applet building in this way more closely resembles the power of a service like Zapier. Makers can also modify applets using JavaScript filter code, unlocking a range of new possibilities such as the ability to cause an applet, or particular applet actions, to run only at certain times of day.

Another benefit of being a Maker is that you can build applets for any service on IFTTT, whether you have an account with that service or not. Previously, actions could only be used in an applet if you had a connected account tied to that service or device, but that's no longer the case. This ties in well with another Maker benefit: public profile pages. Each Maker will have a public profile for sharing all of their applet creations.

Creating applets using the Maker tools must be done on the web; the IFTTT iOS app does not currently provide access to any Maker tools, and it is unclear if that will change in the future.


1Password Adds ‘Travel Mode’ Feature for Added Security While Traveling

AgileBits has announced a new 1Password feature launching today that travelers will appreciate. Rick Fillion shares the details:

Travel Mode is a new feature we’re making available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It protects your 1Password data from unwarranted searches when you travel. When you turn on Travel Mode, every vault will be removed from your devices except for the ones marked “safe for travel.” All it takes is a single click to travel with confidence.

1Password is home to some of the most sensitive information in its users lives, so a feature like Travel Mode seems like the perfect way to better safeguard that information when traveling. AgileBits has made its implementation extremely easy as well, with a simple login to 1Password.com to enable or disable the feature.

Though the benefits for individuals are clear, Fillion highlights Travel Mode's usefulness in a business setting as well. He shares that administrators of 1Password teams have the option to mark team vaults as "safe to travel" or not, allowing companies to keep business information as secure as possible when their employees travel.

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IKEA’s Low-Cost Smart Lights Will Support HomeKit

Earlier this year IKEA announced a collection of low-cost smart lights under the Trådfri name. At the time, it was unknown whether the lineup would be compatible with existing smart home platforms, such as Apple's HomeKit. Today MacRumors shared new details announced in a Swedish press release:

IKEA said in its press release that HomeKit support is in the works... IKEA plans to retrofit the new functions via a software update to the Trådfri Gateway and Trådfri app. In addition to HomeKit, the update will also make IKEA's smart products controllable through Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Perhaps the most significant barrier to wider smart home adoption thus far has been cost. While IKEA's Trådfri offerings will certainly not be able to compete with the prices of traditional lighting, their cost will be easier to swallow than that of competing products.

Additionally, news that the lights will support not only HomeKit, but Alexa and Google Home as well, set IKEA's products up to be strong contenders in the smart home market when they launch later this year.


Snapchat Adds Collaboration to Stories

New sharing options are rolling out today for Snapchat that allow friends to collaborate on Stories together. From Snap's website:

Today we’re announcing a new way to create custom Stories – about anything, with any of your friends, even for a specific location! It's perfect for a trip, a birthday party, or a new baby story just for the family.

You decide who can add to the Story and who can view it – you can also choose to Geofence the Story to a location.

Stories have always been a personal medium, so expanding into shared Stories is a significant move. While it would potentially cause headaches if a shared Story could be added to by any friends, the custom controls over who can add to it and the location they have to be in should alleviate those concerns.

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Nike Announces New Collection of Apple Watch Bands

Nike has announced a new collection of "Day to Night" Apple Watch bands going on sale soon. The four new Nike Sport Bands match up with the designs of a collection of Nike shoes: the Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit "Day to Night" collection. This marks the first time Nike has directly paired Watch bands with a shoe line.

The "Day to Night" collection celebrates runners whenever they choose to run – at twilight, sunset and everything in between. Each of the colors is inspired by a shade of the sky, from dawn to dusk, and allows runners to – for the first time – make a statement by matching their Apple Watch Nike+ bands to their footwear.

Each band will be priced at $49.00 when they go on sale next month. They'll be available from nike.com and select Nike retail stores on June 1, and shortly thereafter from apple.com, Apple Stores, and other retail partners.


Jimmy Iovine Shares Frustrations Over Free Music Streaming, Signals Greater Push into Video

Tim Ingham of Music Business Worldwide reports on a wide-ranging interview with Jimmy Iovine about Apple Music. One recurring theme is how wrong Iovine believes it is that artists are encouraged to give their work away for free on services like YouTube and Spotify:

The fact is that ‘free’ in music streaming is so technically good and ubiquitous that it’s stunting the growth of paid streaming.

Two things have to happen: free has to become more difficult or restricted, and the paid services have to get better.

It blew my mind that the day after I walked out on stage [to announce Apple Music at WWDC in 2015], YouTube mobile was licensed.

Iovine also indicates that the Apple Music team has moved away from doing as many album exclusives and is now focusing more heavily on video content:

We tried it. We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content.

But we’re doing exclusive video content now, and putting a lot of money into that.

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