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CardioBot: Heart Rate and Activity Tracker for Apple Watch [Sponsor]

Your Apple Watch measures your heart rate every 4 minutes during the day. With CardioBot, you can easily understand the data captured by the Apple Watch so you can improve your lifestyle and discover notable patterns.

CardioBot is an iPhone app that reads heart rate data stored by the Apple Watch in HealthKit. The app separates readings in low, resting, high resting, and elevated heart rate through different colors and charts, allowing you to see averages at a glance.

CardioBot also supports viewing data captured during workouts, and it can also provide sleep analysis information for a complete dashboard of your heart rate. All of this is done with a minimal and elegant interface that makes it easy to view statistics for individual days, browse detailed timelines, and compare day-to-day changes.

CardioBot is available for $2.99 on the App Store.

Our thanks to CardioBot for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Daylite: A Business Productivity App for Mac and iOS [Sponsor]

Daylite is a business productivity app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Organize you and your team’s contacts, calendars, projects, tasks, emails, notes, and new business opportunities all in one app.

Track sales and set reminders for follow-ups. See a full history of all emails, calls, and notes for each customer. Customize your own pipelines to track sales and projects. View your whole team’s calendar to make scheduling meetings simple. Daylite even integrates with Apple Mail so you can update customer info, set tasks and reminders, and add appointments to your calendar – all without leaving Mail.

Automate lead generation from online web forms with Daylite & Zapier integration. When someone fills out a form on your website through Google Forms or Wufoo, a new contact and business opportunity are creating in Daylite. You can then segment leads for specific email campaigns and track all of your communication with them in Daylite.

Always have your business info no matter where you go. Daylite is a native app so you can access your information on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad even when you don’t have an Internet connection.

Read how businesses all over the world are becoming more efficient with Daylite.

Our thanks to Daylite for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition Hits 1.0 and Gets an Apple TV Version

Minecraft fans got an early present under the tree today. Mojang, the maker of Minecraft: Pocket Edition on iOS, announced that it is releasing a big update to the game today as well as an all-new Apple TV version.

The update to Minecraft: Pocket Edition on iOS has been dubbed the Ender Update and brings the version number of the game to 1.0. Mojang’s Owen Jones says on the that:

my personal highlights have to be The Ender Dragon (because I’m Welsh and love dragons), The End (all dragons deserve to have a fitting home to relax in), and the Dragon’s Breath potion (it’s delicious). This update also brings this year's Festive Mash-Up Pack including all kinds of holiday themed looks.

The Ender Update is currently rolling out and should be available in the App Store soon. In the meantime, Mojang has put together a preview trailer highlighting the update and another featuring the Festive Mash-Up Pack that you can watch:

Mojang also announced that Minecraft will be released on the Apple TV today. Originally mentioned onstage at Apple’s October MacBook Pro event, the game will be available for $19.99. For a limited time the Apple TV version will include the following seven DLC add-ons for free: Holiday 2015, Town Folk, and City Folk skin packs, along with the Plastic, Natural, Cartoon, and Festive 2016 mash-ups.

Our Favorite Mac Apps of 2016

What becomes a favorite app is personal, complicated, and evolves over time. Favorites can be brand-new apps that debuted this year, old standbys that you go back to over and over, or newly-discovered apps that have been around for a while. With the end of the year in sight Alex, Jake, and I got together and each picked a handful of our favorite Mac apps that we used in 2016 to share with you.

Read more

Apple Releases macOS 10.12.2 and watchOS 3.1.1

Today, Apple updated macOS Sierra 10.12.2 and yesterday, it updated watchOS 3.1.1 with the usual unspecified bug fixes and performance enhancements, but there are also a few other nice perks that are likely to attract customers to the update.

Some of the 72 new emoji accessible from the macOS character viewer.

Some of the 72 new emoji accessible from the macOS character viewer.

The macOS and watchOS updates both feature the same emoji added to iOS 10.2. The 72 new emoji, approved as part of Unicode 9.0 in June 2016, include new smileys, animals, food items, professions, sports, and more. Apple has also redesigned many of the existing emoji with a slightly more three-dimensional look and greater detail. As has been the case in the past, the new emoji added to macOS and watchOS should encourage adoption of what are otherwise primarily maintenance updates to each OS.

macOS 10.12.2 includes four new colorful wallpapers.

macOS 10.12.2 includes four new colorful wallpapers.

In addition, macOS adds four new wallpapers called Abstract Shapes, Color Burst 1, Color Burst 2, and Color Burst 3. The Color Burst wallpapers were first seen at Apple’s October MacBook Pro event and have since made cameos in advertisements for the new MacBook Pros.

Apple Publishes Super Mario Run Podcast

Two days out from the release of Super Mario Run for iPhone and iPad, Nintendo's marketing onslaught continues unabated, this time with a podcast.

Apple has published a new podcast featuring an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the beloved Nintendo character. The podcast's official description reads:

Join the video game designer and creator famously known for Super Mario Bros. and other iconic Nintendo games for an insightful chat on the making of Super Mario Run. He'll be in conversation with TV personality Katie Linendoll to share the importance of fun and the inspiration behind the gameplay.

The Super Mario Run podcast is available in both video and audio formats. It is unknown at this time whether future episodes can be expected, or if the one episode available now will remain a stand-alone.

Super Mario Run is Coming

The Super Mario Run marketing blitz has begun. With the launch of Super Mario Run on iOS just one week away, Shigeru Miyamoto was interviewed by The Verge and BuzzFeed News. The creator of Mario spoke at length with both publications about the game, Nintendo's goals for it, and how it was made.

Miyamoto discussed the thought process behind Super Mario Run's gameplay with The Verge:

"We felt that by having this simple tap interaction to make Mario jump, we’d be able to make a game that the broadest audience of people could play.”

Nintendo's strategy to expand its audience extends beyond gameplay though, as Miyamoto explained to BuzzFeed News:

“Kids are playing on devices that they’re getting from their parents when their parents are upgrading,” Miyamoto said. “We wanted to take an approach of how can we bring Nintendo IP to smart devices and give kids the opportunity to interact with our characters and our games.”

It's a strategy that makes a lot of sense given the dominance of smartphones and rise of casual gaming.

Nintendo's goal to make Super Mario Run a one-handed game necessitated designing it for portrait mode, which led to new opportunities for Nintendo's creative team. Miyamoto told The Verge that:

"Once we did start to focus on the vertical gameplay and one-handed play, we were surprised at how much having that vertical space in a Mario game could add to the verticality of the game itself and how that added a new element of fun to Mario,” Miyamoto explains. “They’re all brand new levels that we created for this game, but because of the vertical orientation, it gave us a lot of new ideas for how to stretch the game vertically. I think it’s been maybe since the Ice Climbers days that we’ve had a game where you’re trying to climb a tower."

Miyamoto also shared with BuzzFeed News that the inspiration for creating an "endless runner" style Mario game was influenced by fans who do speed runs through Mario and other games. You may have seen videos of speed runs; there is no shortage of them on YouTube. BuzzFeed explains that:

Watching online videos of these gamers’ astounding speed runs and other feats of gaming skill, Nintendo employees noticed that the gamers never let up on the D-Pad. Mario always kept running, and all of the skill came down to the incredible precision of the jumping. What if, the Nintendo braintrust reasoned, all players could have that experience?

In addition, Nintendo executive Reggie Fils-Aimé and Shigeru Miyamoto paid a visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, demoing Super Mario Run and the Nintendo Switch console that is slated for release in March. If anyone wasn't sure before, there is no doubt that Jimmy Fallon is a huge Nintendo fan and geek. This video is wonderful: