Ryan Christoffel

317 posts on MacStories since November 2016

Ryan is an editor and regular contributor for 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 Celebrates the App Store’s 10th Anniversary

Next week the App Store turns 10. Ahead of that momentous date, Apple has published a new retrospective feature on what the last 10 years have been like:

When Apple introduced the App Store on July 10, 2008 with 500 apps, it ignited a cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel and so much more. Over the past decade, the App Store has created a safe place for users of all ages to get the very best apps and a vibrant app economy for developers of all sizes, from all over the world, to thrive. Today, customers in 155 countries are visiting the App Store more often, staying longer and downloading and using more apps than ever before.

While there have been many notable moments since apps first came to iPhone and later iPad, the milestones and testimonials below reflect some of the most significant over the past 10 years — defining how the App Store democratized software distribution and transformed how we live every day.

The article includes quotes from developers who have published their work on the App Store over the last 10 years, as well as from Apple executives, creators like Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, and more. These quotes are framed within the following 11 topics of the App Store's impact:

I. The App Store Opens Doors for Developers, Puts an All New Experience in the Hands of Customers
II. Mobile-First Businesses Thrive
III. Gaming Takes Off, Reaches New Fans
IV. In-App Purchase, Subscriptions Unlock Experiences
V. Streaming Entertainment Takes Off
VI. Creativity, Productivity and Education Soar Beyond Office, Classroom Walls
VII. Health, Fitness and Wellness Apps Surge in Popularity
VIII. Accessibility Apps Empower Communities
IX. Coding Inspires Future Generations
X. New App Store Features Encourage Discovery
XI. The AR Revolution Awaits

10 is a landmark year, and the App Store has a particularly warm place in the hearts of the MacStories team. We have some special celebration plans coming next week, and can't wait to share them with you.


Apple Is Building a Media Platform Like Never Before

Have you ever watched the construction of a new building while knowing nothing about what the finished product would be? You track its progress a piece at a time, clueless about the end goal until finally there comes a point when, in a single moment, suddenly it all makes sense.

Apple's media ambitions have been like that for me.

In recent years, Apple has taken a variety of actions in the media space that seemed mostly disconnected, but over time they've added up to something that can't be ignored.

  • 2015: Apple Music and Apple News launched.
  • 2016: Apple Music redesigned; TV app debuted.
  • 2017: App Store revamped with dedicated games section; Apple Podcasts redesigned; TV app adds sports and news.
  • 2018: Apple acquires Texture; iBooks redesigned and rebranded Apple Books.
  • 2019: Apple's video streaming service launches?

Apple already has control of the hardware that media is consumed on, with its ever-expanding iPhone business and suite of complementary products. It has invested significant effort into building the apps media is consumed in, as evidenced above. And finally, it's also building the paid services media is consumed through.

And the company is doing these things at a scale that is unprecedented. Once not long ago, Apple's primary media platform was iTunes. Now, hundreds of millions of users consume media every day through Apple's suite of spiritual successors to iTunes:

  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV (the app)
  • Apple Podcasts
  • Apple Books
  • Apple News
  • And the App Store

Apple has one unified goal, I believe, driving all its media efforts: it aspires to utilize hardware, software, and services to provide the entirety of a user's media experience. If you consume media, Apple wants to provide the full stack of that consumption, from media delivery to media discovery. My aim in this story is to share an overview of how that goal is being fulfilled today.

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macOS Mojave Public Beta Now Available

Following yesterday's release of public betas for iOS 12 and tvOS 12, today Apple opened the beta of macOS Mojave to the general public.

To accompany the beta release, Jason Snell has published a fantastic – and extensive – overview of Mojave on Six Colors:

For a few years now, it’s seemed that any forward movement macOS might make was coming in lockstep with Apple’s other platforms, most notably iOS. What was new to the Mac was generally something that was also new to iOS, or was previously available on iOS.

With macOS Mojave, available today to the general public as a part of a public beta, the story is different. macOS Mojave feels like a macOS update that’s truly about the Mac, extending features that are at the core of the Mac’s identity. At the same time, macOS Mojave represents the end of a long era (of stability or, less charitably, stagnation) and the beginning of a period that could completely redefine what it means to use a Mac.

Is macOS Mojave the latest chapter of an ongoing story, the beginning of a new one, or the end of an old one? It feels very much like the answer is yes and yes and yes.

Beta software is always full of problems, so hop on the Mojave train with caution. That said, if you'd like to join the beta program, you can sign up here.


The Numbers Behind Monument Valley 2’s First Year

Once an app has spent a while on the App Store, it's difficult from a user perspective to know just how well or poorly the app has done. It's unusual for developers to share detailed financial figures, though it does happen every now and then. One team that's led the charge in this area is ustwo, creators of the Monument Valley series of games. For the first Monument Valley, ustwo shared comprehensive statistics for the game's performance in its first and second years. Today, year one of Monument Valley 2 has received the same open treatment. Head of studio at ustwo games, Dan Gray, writes:

I’ve heard this kind of data has really helped some developers get a handle on what they might expect from a successful premium launch, and given that it’s bloody hard making premium mobile games nowadays, if there’s anything we can do to help other teams to succeed then we’re going to do it. Admittedly Monument Valley is a bit of a unicorn in this space with regards to how well it’s performed over the years (succeeding on a level we could never have expected or predicted), but we hope this latest set of data might help others to set a yard stick for something towards the top end of profitability.

Monument Valley 2 had a unique launch that almost no other apps could hope for, debuting on-stage during last year's WWDC keynote. However, after the success of the first game, the sequel was certainly bound to get off to a great start no matter how it launched.


WWDC 2018: The Announcements I Never Would Have Expected

When you've followed Apple for several years, there are certain kinds of announcements you come to expect from the company: iterative refinements that make existing products better, and even those exciting surprise features you never would have thought of yourself, or new hardware that seems like something straight out of the future. There are other kinds of announcements, however, that you're confident will never come to fruition. Perhaps because they simply seem like something Apple wouldn't do, or that the company doesn't seem to really care about.

Every now and then, to our surprise and delight, those unexpected things come about after all. Looking back on last week's news from WWDC, there are several big and small announcements Apple made that hit me as totally unexpected.

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Apple Highlights World Cup Coverage Across a Variety of Apps and Services

Football fans know that the World Cup kicks off later this week, and ahead of that event Apple today shared a press release highlighting how it plans to cover the event using a host of its services and apps. World Cup support will include the following:

  • Siri knowledge of football-related queries is expanding to nine new countries: Brazil, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
  • The App Store's Today tab will see special stories over the next month related to the World Cup, featuring apps from football stars and more.
  • The TV app can be used to not only watch the games, but also track them easily from the Sports tab.
  • Apple News will feature special coverage to keep users up-to-date on the latest World Cup stories.
  • Each of the 32 nations represented in the World Cup will have its own special playlist in Apple Music, highlighting artists from each respective country.
  • Apple Podcasts and iBooks will each showcase a new 'The Beautiful Game' collection, with shows and books all about football.
  • Finally, Apple's video app Clips will get in on the action too, thanks to a recent update that added football-themed content.

While I'm not a football fan (unless we're talking American football), Apple's World Cup coverage is exciting to me simply because it shows the potential for future integrated efforts around topics I do care about.

As Apple moves deeper into focusing not just on tech, but on media as well, it will have an increasing number of opportunities to use its apps and services to supplement a user's experience of big events, such as other major sporting events, election seasons, and more. Applying the Apple ecosystem's unified media and editorial services to the area of pop culture may seem like a small move, but it could become a product differentiator that users grow to love.