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Apple Releases ‘Moms’ TV Ad

Having a good camera won’t make you a better photographer, but having a good camera with you all the time means you have a chance to capture something special when the opportunity presents itself. That’s the power of Apple’s Shot on iPhone series.

Today, Apple released a special 30 second Shot on iPhone television advertisement called ‘Mother’s Day.’ The ad features photographs of mothers and their children, including three short video clips. Each photo also lists the first name and last initial of the photographer who took it.

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Apple Announces New Apple Music API

Today Apple announced a new Apple Music API via its Affiliate Program Newsletter. According to Apple, the API:

…allows iOS apps to directly control Apple Music playback and more. We encourage affiliates to use the Apple Music API to provide a superior user experience by integrating music into their apps.

With the Apple Music API you can:

  • See if a user is currently an Apple Music member
  • See which country the user’s account is based in
  • Queue up the next song or songs based on a song ID for playback
  • Inspect playlists already in My Music or create a new playlist with a title and description (see App Store Review Guidelines for limitations).

The announcement coincides with the introduction of a new Apple Music Best Practices for Apple Developers page that serves as a hub for developer and affiliate program resources related to Apple Music. The page includes:

  • App Review guidelines applicable to the Apple Music API, some of which are new.
  • Links to developer documentation for the Apple Music APIs.
  • A summary of Apple Music identity guidelines regarding the use of the Apple Music name, logos, and related matters, with a link to the more comprehensive Apple Music Identity Guidelines.
  • Links to more information regarding the iTunes Affiliate Program.
  • A link to the Apple Music Toolbox page for searching Apple Music in each of the 113 Apple Music countries by artist, song, album, playlist, Connect, curator, radio and music video, from which you can generate affiliate links.

One thing I’d like to see added to these tools is the ability to return search results for items like playlists using the iTunes Search API, which would allow developers to generate affiliate links to them programatically. Right now those links can only be generated from the web-based search tool in the Apple Music Toolbox. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see Apple Music being opened up to developers, and not surprising given the emphasis on services during Tuesday’s investor call.


Apple Pay Now Supported by ANZ in Australia

ANZ has become the first Australian bank to support Apple Pay, turning on support today for most customers with ANZ Visa credit or debit card and ANZ American Express cards. Although Apple Pay technically launched in Australia in November 2015, until today support was extremely limited to just those with an American Express issued card (a similar situation exists in Canada and Singapore).

ANZ is one of the "big four banks" in Australia, and as ANZ gleefully (I assume) point out in their Apple Pay terms and conditions, the other three do not support Apple Pay:

Apple Pay is not currently available at NAB, CommBank or Westpac.

The full list of supported ANZ cards are listed here.

It is interesting to note that most of ANZ Visa cards are supported, but no ANZ MasterCard cards are supported. Interestingly, last week's launch of Apple Pay in Singapore revealed that Visa support for Apple Pay in Singapore is coming soon to three of their domestic banks.

However, Apple's Australian website does note that MasterCard support is "coming soon".


Apple Q2 2016 Results: $50.6 Billion Revenue, 51.2 Million iPhones, 10.3 Million iPads Sold

Apple has just published their financial results for Q2 2016, which covered the three months from January through March 2016. The company posted revenue of $50.6 billion and earnt a quarterly net profit of $10.5 billion. Through the quarter it sold 10.3 million iPads, 51.2 million iPhones, and 4 million Macs.

“Our team executed extremely well in the face of strong macroeconomic headwinds,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are very happy with the continued strong growth in revenue from Services, thanks to the incredible strength of the Apple ecosystem and our growing base of over one billion active devices.”

The Company also announced that its Board of Directors has authorized an increase of $50 billion to the Company’s program to return capital to shareholders. Under the expanded program, Apple plans to spend a cumulative total of $250 billion of cash by the end of March 2018.

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Earnest: Take Control of Your Student Loans [Sponsor]

Did you know you can refinance your student loans, save thousands, and make your new loan incredibly easy to manage? Our sponsor this week, Earnest, has created the most flexible refinancing experience to help financially responsible grads take control of their student loans, at earnest.com.

Their product helps clients save an average of almost $18,000, with variable rates starting as low as 2.13% APR. Earnest never charges any fees — so no fees for origination, and no penalties for paying off your loan quickly or changing your terms down the line. They let you customize your payment to match your budget and timeline, and their simple dashboard makes it easy to manage your loan – even from your phone.

Earnest can do this because they’re a new kind of lender — one that looks at things traditional banks don’t, like your savings habits and earnings potential — to give you the lowest possible rates. And even better, their expert in-house customer service team is available via phone, email, and chat for the life of your loan.

It takes less than two minutes to find out how much you could save, and they even have a special offer for our readers: get a $150 bonus when you refinance through earnest.com/macstories.

Don’t get stuck paying more than you have to — check out earnest.com/macstories and take two minutes to see your personalized rate estimate today.

Our thanks to Earnest for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Drafts Releases MacSparky Screencasts

Agile Tortoise has teamed up with David Sparks of MacSparky.com to produce a series of screencasts introducing Drafts 4 to new users and highlighting some of its features. The first two screencasts were released today. The first video is an overview of how Drafts works, and some of the things you can accomplish with it. The second video focuses on using Drafts with Dropbox to save text as a separate file in Dropbox or append text to an existing text file.

David Sparks, who has made screencasts for companies like The Omni Group and Smile Software, does a great job of showing how easy it is to get started with Drafts, but also exposing some of the powerful ways Drafts can interact with other apps like Dropbox.

You can watch the first two Drafts videos below.

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Logitech Introduces iPad Pro Smart Connector Charging Dock

Logitech have today introduced a new charging dock for the iPad Pro. The Logi Base is rather unique in that it uses the iPad Pro's Smart Connector to charge the device. To date, the Smart Connector has only been used by Apple's Smart Keyboard and Logitech's keyboard case.

The minimalist looking dock will work with both the 9.7" and 12.9" iPad Pro, with magnets on the Logi Base helping guide the iPad Pro into the correct position for charging via the Smart Connector. Using the 12W power adapter and no apps running, Logitech advises that it will take 7 hours to charge the iPad Pro. The stand places the iPad Pro at a 70-degree viewing angle, and it is compatible with the iPad Pro Silicone cases from Apple.

The Logi Base is available to order from today for $99 from Logitech's website. If you're looking for more information, Chance Miller at 9to5Mac has a review of the Logi Base.

I've just been using my iPad Pro Smart Keyboard as the "dock" for my iPad, but I'm really tempted by the Logi Base. It looks really elegant and just being able to drop the iPad down onto the dock, without fiddling with a lightning cable, would be great. But the lengthy charge time and hefty price are dampening my enthusiasm.

[via The Verge, 9to5Mac]


Apple Posts New iPhone 6s Ads Highlighting Touch ID, 4K Video

Apple aired two new iPhone 6s commercials earlier today, highlighting the 4K video shooting capabilities of the device, as well as the Touch ID sensor with various iOS app integrations.

In the 1-minute 4K ad, dubbed 'Onions', Apple imagines a scenario in which a young girl shoots a close-up video of her mother cutting onions that somehow turns into a movie phenomenon. In the ad, the 'Onions' movie even goes on to win an award (with a ceremony hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris) with a tongue-in-cheek tone that, presumably, wants to communicate how the iPhone's camera can be used to shoot high-quality footage – whether it's an onion or an actual movie.

In the second ad, Apple follows the style of its previous, fast paced iPhone 6s commercials to focus on what can be done with Touch ID on iOS 9. The ad shows people paying for products with Apple Pay, starting a car with Touch ID in a dedicated iPhone app, logging into bank accounts, and more.

You can watch the ads below.

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Microsoft Brings Another Keyboard to iOS

Microsoft is on a roll with iOS keyboards. Just over two weeks ago, Microsoft’s Garage project released Hub, which has tight integrations with Office 365. Today, Microsoft Garage released another keyboard called Word Flow, which is based on the Windows Phone keyboard from Windows Phone 8.1. According to The Verge, Microsoft had promised a public beta period for Word Flow, but skipped that step.

There are multiple options for interacting with Word Flow. Once installed, you can use it in one-handed mode where the keyboard can be displayed in an arc on the left or right side of the keyboard area. Alternatively, you can use a traditional keyboard layout.

In either case, Word Flow accepts both swiping and tapping input and has a strong predictive algorithm that anticipates the words you intend to type. In my limited tests, the one-handed mode was helpful for typing on my iPhone 6s Plus one handed and the predictive input was solid, though it didn’t seem to recognize its own name, failing to capitalize ‘flow’ in the screenshots above. Of course, for the predictive feature to work, you need to grant Word Flow full access to your keyboard input, which not everyone will be comfortable doing.

Word Flow also lets you set backgrounds behind your keyboard, including ones that are built into the app or your own photos. Personally, I think the backgrounds are ugly and distracting, but fortunately you can use Word Flow without a background.

Microsoft Word Flow is available on the App Store for free.

Update: Microsoft Word Flow is a US English keyboard and is only available in the US App Store.