Archive for December, 2015

Poll: What content would you like to hear on other Beats radio stations?

Beats-1-2-3

When it was discovered that Apple applied for trademarks for Beats 2, 3, 4, etc, it seemed pretty obvious the company was considering expanding its 24/7 Beats 1 radio station that it’s promoted as a key part of its new Apple Music service since launch.

And it’s not a stretch to imagine how it could easily expand on the mainstream programming found on Beats 1 currently. Think of a 24/7 station that focuses specifically on one genre like rock, jazz, or hip-hop, for example, with shows programmed to focus on subgenres or featuring guest hosts and regular segments much like Apple’s Beats 1 station. To me this seems like a natural progression for Beats radio as part of Apple Music, but it’s possible Apple could also include more than just more music with Beats 2, 3, and beyond.

Sports/Talk Radio/Podcasts… 

Apple already could have a bit of a head start with talk radio content beyond music if you consider iTunes and its dominance when it comes to attracting podcasters. Most popular podcasters are already distributing content through iTunes and as of this year estimates say most mobile podcast listening— around 82%— is happening on iPhones and in Apple’s own Podcasting app. With Spotify, Google and other music streaming competitors recently integrating podcasts, Apple has to be at least considering the potential of content beyond music for its streaming service.

A Podcasts app for the new Apple TV is apparently on the horizon, but that doesn’t necessarily rule out bringing sports programming, talk radio, and podcast-style series to Apple Music and Beats radio. Sports alone, for instance, is a category big enough to have a channel or more per sport or league. Sirius has a popular station dedicated to NFL programming, for example.

Add in the possibilities of 24/7 news coverage and the long list of hit podcasts on iTunes, and you can start to see what Beats radio might look like a year from now if Apple goes that direction.

Live streaming for iTunes Connect |

Opening up Beats streaming to any artist the way Apple Music is essentially open could get messy (Beats 4,205,405 anyone?), but integrating similar live streaming capabilities into Apple Music Connect— Apple’s service that lets artists upload content to their artist profile on the fly— could make it at least possible for any artist to host their own live content. And on that note, Apple has a lot of Beats radio video content we’ve yet to see… 

Video content |

We reported earlier this year just before the launch of the new Apple TV 4 that Apple was also planning a new streaming video service. It’s currently working behind the scenes to launch the service, which would include bundled content from various networks for as low as $40 per month, sometime next year for owners of the latest Apple TV 4 and the previous generation Apple TV 3.

Apple already releases short video clips of full-length interviews it’s done with artists on Beats 1 online (Beats has a YouTube channel) and in various places in Apple Music, which means it’s already compiling a catalogue of video interviews with artists and that could give us an idea of what a Beats video channel might look like on Apple’s new video streaming service. Add in the potential for artist performances, live streaming of concerts and other events (like Apple already does with its own Apple Music Festival), and it’s easy to see how Apple’s new video service could be a big part of expanding Beats in 2016.

Other languages/international stations |

Yet another possibility for the expansion of Beats is to launch channels in other languages, to help it expand into markets where the service is yet to launch or might not be particularly popular due to the english-language programming. One report regarding Apple’s plans for other Beats stations noted the possibility of “a Beats 2 station headquartered in Australia or Asia.”

Poll |

What content would you like to hear on Beats 2, 3, 4, etc stations? Sports programming? Talk radio and podcasts? 24/7 news? Have your say below in the poll, and hit up the comments to continue the discussion.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Beats 1, Beats 2, Beats 3, Beats 4, Opinion, poll

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Jordan Kahn

December 31st

Apple

Mac

We’re Close

15751836930_315ffa1902_k All of the chatter about virtual reality shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Over the years, we’ve been forcing our way to get closer and closer to content of all types. For example, before we ever sat down to watch a movie, we’d hang out at a playhouse to watch a live show. The people who actually enjoyed sitting in the back were few and far between. They were probably… Read More

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Drew Olanoff

December 31st

Gadgets

Mobile

Apple TV Brawl results: Apple solidly wins the 4K debate for now – and here’s why

appletvfamily34

Yesterday, we gave you the chance to speak your mind on Apple’s choice to omit 4K video support from the latest Apple TV — did Apple blow it, or does 4K support not yet matter?

After over 6,500 votes, and more than 125 comments, we have a clear answer: roughly 2/3 of readers said Apple made the right call leaving 4K support out of the Apple TV, as they didn’t care (yet) about the feature. That’s a decisive majority. But a solid 35% of readers opined — often strongly — that neglecting 4K support had cost Apple their business, given that 4K Ultra HD TVs are becoming affordable and more popular.

I hoped we’d see some intelligent discussion, and was thrilled that so many comments actually delivered, including insights on why Apple’s approach was practical — for now. Here are some of the best comments readers posted on each side of the debate…

Representing the 65% of users who said “No, I don’t care about Apple TV 4K support (yet),” the most common thread was that 4K content currently isn’t compelling enough to be a necessity, particularly in a low-end Apple TV, and mightn’t be for 2 years.

4K is just not an issue right now. And I don’t see much need to future proof a $150 item.   – Jon C

The reality is that 4K is not “there” yet. [1080p] HD is where +95% of current content is filmed and distributed. Why would I stress future proofing a $150 device? By the time 4k is ubiquitous enough to make it a no brainer that generation of Apple TV will have enough features to make it worth upgrading.   – Akil Ford

Some of the most interesting comments discussed a compromise — using (much-improved) 4K upscalers built into 4K Ultra HD TVs to make better use of higher-quality 1080p source files.

I had a perfectly fine 1080p Sony XBR television but recently upgraded to a Sony XBR 4K TV… And all content is upscaled to 4K and looks PHENOMENAL. So even without a lot of 4K content out there, you’re still reaping the major benefits of a razor sharp image 99% of the time for viewing. […] Since my TV upscales the content anyway, I’ll take the standard 1080p file that I know will load quickly and stream beautifully.   – verizon2828

There were lots of comments regarding the current state of 4K streaming standards and broadband service.

Apple never uses half baked technologies, instead it implements those when everything is ready and polished…. HEVC (H.265) is not finished yet, it still doesn’t render videos with grain as good as H.264/AVC does. And videos with grain are almost 9/10 of all movies ever shot because it is the side effect of the film itself and only movies shot on digital cameras don’t have grain. So, it means that 4K videos is not yet ready for “everywhere use” at Apple. You can’t see these rendering problems on iPhone screen, but you will notice those in a second on TV.   – Gagik Stepanyan

Netflix has a handful of shows and documentaries that support 4K. For me 4K streaming is a no go… because of 300 GB a month data cap on my 100mbs cable broadband. Just normal HD on Netflix eats quickly into my data caps. The infrastructure and way ISP’s are set up now does not make 4K streaming a good experince for most people… It needs time.   – taoprophet420

The average US broadband speed is 12.6 Mbps per Akamai. High quality and reliable 4K streaming would require 20 Mbps or more with current compression technology.   – Ondray Wells Jr.

And some of the comments focused on the modest benefits 4K offers users of smaller TVs.

Yes, everyone wants 4K TVs, and if you have a 4K TV, you want devices that work with it. So Apple is behind in what people want. However, I don’t think it actually makes in difference in useable quality. Unless your TV is bigger than 65″, you’re not actually going to notice any difference when you’re sitting on the couch. You’ll only notice when you go up and get really close to the TV.    – dwsolberg

Not everyone agreed with this, however. Representing the nearly 35% of users who said “yes, I’m skipping it because it can’t play 4K videos,” several readers noted that they own 4K TVs and appreciate the improved visual quality they’re already seeing in 4K streams.

“Daredevil” in 4K on my 55″ Samsung looked much better than in 1080p on my old 46″ set. – Samuel A. Maffei

I purchased a 4k Samsung 40″ Smart TV this month…. I have to say, I can see the difference between 4k native and 1080p DVD or 4k upscaled [1080p] streamed content. Upscaling generally looks good but I can appreciate the difference with native content…. Aside from a noticeable general improvement in picture quality with 4k content, 4k resolution on my 40″ TV is particularly appreciated with video content that contains text…. I have to say, now that I’ve had time with the Samsung Smart TV environment, I don’t see any need to buy an AppleTV in the future.   – sbandyk

For some people, the lack of 4K support is important for theoretical reasons.

I decided to skip this Apple TV because it doesn’t have 4K, even though I don’t have a 4K TV yet, and the only 4K content I currently have is from my iPhone. But I decided that anything I upgrade at this point should be 4K. Since Apple has already implemented 4K on the iPhone and iMacs I imagine a 4K Apple TV isn’t that far off.   – davegolden

Mirroring comments we’ve seen on earlier Apple TV articles, quite a few readers expressed anger at what they felt was either planned obsolescence or development inconsistency by Apple.

Anyone who wants to think Apple didn’t include 4K because there isnt enough content yet or it hasn’t taken off yet has their heads in the sand…. The fact is 4K TVs are dirt cheap right now, 9to5Toys was offering one at 600 yesterday I believe. This is classic Apple, just like you stated, they pulled the same stunt with 1080p. And I for one will skip it this year so that I buy a future proofed device. Not to mention that A8 is going to be pretty choppy once Devs start coding their games for the next model released with enough power to push 4K.   – chrisl84

A bigger concern for me is the lack of technology consistency in Apple’s lineup. You have phones that can now record 4K but a brand new Apple TV that cannot handle it. You have an iMac which is 5K and a high end Mac Pro which is stuck with an aging non-HD display…. And you have a company which is so secretive that you have no idea whether and when these inconsistencies are [ever] going to be addressed.   – Warren Shaw

One thing that’s clear from both the comments and the poll, which again has over 6,500 votes counted, is that while there’s a strong majority that doesn’t care about 4K support yet, a 1/3 minority that cares a lot about 4K — enough to skip the new Apple TV over it — is not trivial, despite what some commenters might suggest.

0.0.0.0.0.0.1 of people care. You can talk about future proof, but the fact is, 4k is not standard on everything right now.   – viciosodiego

That’s just plain wrong. Our poll’s very large sample size, combined with the science of statistics, provide us with numbers that are very broadly generalizable. Even if we only had 4,200 responses, we could say with 99% confidence that the roughly 65% “no” and roughly 35% “yes” split we saw would be accurate to +/- 2% for a much larger population of people. Even today, with 4K penetration at as low of a level as it will be for decades, around 1/3 of people think it’s a major omission in the Apple TV. Leaving it out this time was a reasonably safe bet for Apple, but since 4K Ultra HD TVs keep falling in price, it’s clearly going to be at the top of the next version’s list of features.

More From This Author

Check out more of my reviews, How-To guides and editorials for 9to5Mac here! I’ve published a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users, as well as a personal gift guide for Apple fans, a great gift guide for iPhone users, a detailed gift guide for Mac users, and a separate gift guide for Apple photographers.


Filed under: Apple TV, iOS Devices Tagged: 4k, Apple TV

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Jeremy Horwitz

December 31st

Apple

Mac

Opinion: Apple had a good year for product launches in 2015, despite unrealistic expectations from some

apple-store-brussels-2

The view that Apple lost its innovative edge with the sad loss of Steve Jobs has been one of the oft-repeated criticisms of the company in recent years. But this idea is based on an entirely mythological view of Apple as a company that was constantly launching ground-breaking new product categories.

The reality is a little more mundane. The Macintosh, a truly revolutionary computer, was launched in 1984. We had to wait 17 years for the next groundbreaking product: the iPod in 2001. We had to wait six years after that for the next major product category: the iPhone in 2007. And a further three years for the iPad in 2010. (If you wanted to push things a little, you could argue that the MacBook Air was also so revolutionary that it deserves to be included; if so, we’re up to five new product categories in 26 years.)

Note, too, that none of the product categories were invented by Apple. Xerox, of course, invented the graphical user interface for personal computers. There were MP3 players before the iPod; touchscreen smartphones before the iPhone; tablets before the iPad. What Apple did in each case was what the company does best: take something clunky and used only by techies, and turn it into a slick product that will appeal to the masses.

So no, Apple never has churned out revolutionary new products on an annual basis. If we’re going to assess its performance today, it has to be against a realistic background. Zac recently reminded us of Apple’s product timeline for 2015. Looking at this in the context of a company whose true history is occasionally taking a new product category and doing it better than anyone else – and in between times merely refining its existing product ranges – how did Apple do this year … ?

Firstly, of course, there was the Apple Watch. Ok, Apple announced the product in 2014, but it went on sale this year, so I’d argue it counts as a new product category in 2015. As with the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple looked at an existing invention – the smartwatch – and figured out how to do it better. Much better.

It was so successful in this that even I – a techie who normally needs little excuse to buy a new gadget, but couldn’t see the point in smartwatches – was assimilated. When we asked you to name the Apple Product of the Year, the Apple Watch was the clear winner, taking more than twice as many votes as the second-placed iPhone 6s/Plus.

Granted not all of you were sold – a recent poll showed that some 16% of owners had abandoned the device, and a further 13% are not wearing it daily – but there’s no question that the Watch is a successful product. Admittedly, Apple has declined to reveal sales numbers – stating only that sales are strong and growing – and analysts have had to make wild guesses, but it’s abundantly clear that Apple has sold more smartwatches than every other manufacturer put together. Way, way more.

ipad-pro

One could debate the status of the iPad Pro – new product category, or just a ginormous iPad? I can see arguments on both sides. While technically it is just a larger iPad, you could equally well have argued that the iPad itself was just a larger iPod touch. Sometimes size matters.

Although I concluded that the iPad Pro wasn’t for me, I did not in any way dismiss the device. As I said at the time, it’s a great device for many people. Brilliant for artists and designers (you easily chose the Apple Pencil as Apple Peripheral of the Year). A great tool for corporate warriors. Very handy for musicians. A better choice than a laptop for those with relatively basic computing needs. And a fantastic personal entertainment machine.

Importantly, the iPad Pro – together with all those enterprise apps – is clearly going to take the enterprise market by storm.

So, new category or not, the iPad Pro will, I’m sure, prove to be a hugely valuable product for Apple, and one which could very well help the company turn around those flagging iPad sales.

Oh, and the new iPad mini brought it into line with the design and capabilities of the iPad Air 2. Not unexpected, of course, but still a worthwhile upgrade.

macbook

The 12-inch MacBook doesn’t qualify as a new product category – it’s just the latest refinement of the MacBook Air concept – but again, as product evolutions go, it’s an impressive one.

It hasn’t yet sold itself to me personally. I’m still very happy with my 11-inch MacBook Air, and appreciate the fact that this can drive my 27-inch display to provide a full desktop experience when needed.

But it takes the MacBook Air concept to the next level. Its power will of course increase, and I’m confident that support for external monitors will come. Once it’s a little more capable, I have no doubt that this is the machine that is set to replace the MacBook Air.

Admittedly, we didn’t see anything else exciting on the MacBook side. The Retina MacBook Pro got Force Touchand a refreshed MacBook Air just got a Broadwell CPU and faster graphics. We’re going to have to wait until next year for more significant enhancements there.

imac

On the desktop side, there were the new 4K and 5K Retina iMacs. Sure, evolution rather than revolution, but it was clear from the reviews that the 5K iMac was blowing people away. At a time when almost everyone else has given up on desktops, Apple is still there launching new products that continue to wow people.

Apple also didn’t forget desk-based customers when it came to peripherals, launching the Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Mouse 2. Again, nothing amazing (despite the names), but still keeping things fresh.

tv

The Apple TV 4 got a more mixed reception. Many viewed it as effectively giving non-gamers a games console in their living-room for the first time, and one which will at least keep the kids amused. Siri was also welcomed by most. Others complained that it was inexplicable that a TV box launched in 2015 omitted 4K.

6s

Finally, we have a to give a more than honorable mention to the iPhone 6s. 3D Touch expanded the capabilities of the user-interface, and the camera functionality got a big boost with Live Photos, 5MP FaceTime camera, 4K recording and 1080p slo-mo at 120fps – even if the boost from 8MP to 12MP was something of a mixed blessing.

LTE Advanced will also be appreciated once it is more widely supported. For an S-year, it’s an impressive release.

apple

Apple cannot, of course, please all of the people all of the time. I still grumble about the disappearance of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, and still cling to the hope that the 12-inch MacBook could lead to new even-numbered sizes that at least sees a 16-inch MacBook Pro in my future.

And we’re all techies, so we’re of course always impatient for new toys. But viewed in a sensible historical context, I think we have to say that 2015 was an impressive year for Apple. Do you agree? Take our poll, and please share your reasons in the comments.

With the end of that year almost upon us, it only remains to say that I’ve had enormous fun writing these opinion pieces throughout the year, and have been very appreciative of the responses. I’ve very much enjoyed reading your comments, and look forward to doing so in 2016. Happy new year!


Filed under: AAPL Company, Opinion Tagged: 2015, 2015 review, Apple Inc, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Mac, Macintosh, Opinion, Steve Jobs

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Ben Lovejoy

December 31st

Apple

Mac

This is how AAPL could prove pessimists wrong in holiday quarter iPhone sales – analyst

The new Apple iPhone 6s Plus is displayed as it goes on sale in Sydney on September 25, 2015. Apple launched the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus on September 25 featuring 3D touch screen technology. AFP PHOTO / William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

There have been a number of predictions that Apple will next year report a year-on-year decline in iPhone shipments for the current quarter, KGI among them. Most such reports are based on extrapolating from supply chain data which attempts to estimate production volumes.

These reports contrast with Apple’s own guidance for record revenue of $75.5B to $77.5B. Tim Cook argued in October that some two-thirds of existing customers are still using older phones, leaving plenty of room for upgrades this quarter, and that Apple is winning over Android owners in record numbers.

One analyst believes he knows how the conflict can be resolved…

AAPL has had a very close eye on being able to achieve what has become a Dec Q Street iPhone estimate of 76M – 78M; we think that the company can deliver this number by building 70M – 75M and shipping the balance from inventory.

In other words, while it may have made fewer iPhone 6s/Plus models this quarter (calendar Q4 2015, Apple’s fiscal Q1 2016), it can more than make up the difference from existing stocks of older models, reports Business Insider 

Beating last year’s numbers would be quite an achievement. In 2014, the iPhone didn’t go on sale in China until the holiday quarter, meaning plenty of pent-up demand; this year, China was a launch country, so there’s no equivalent artificial boost.

The number to beat? 74.4M iPhones. We’ll find out next month.

Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: AAPL, Apple Inc, iPhone, iPhone sales Q1 2016

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Ben Lovejoy

December 31st

Apple

Mac

SEC backs shareholder’s call for vote on accelerating diversity among Apple’s directors & senior execs

sec

The Securities and Exchange Commission has said that a resolution submitted by an Apple investor to accelerate diversity on the company’s board and among senior execs should be included in proxy materials sent to shareholders. Bloomberg reports that proposal was prompted by a conversation the shareholder had with his teenage son.

The proposal for an “accelerated recruitment policy” was submitted in September by Antonio Avian Maldonado II, who owns 645 Apple shares. He said he was spurred to act after looking at photos of the directors with his teenage son, who asked him why nearly everyone was white.

Apple rejected the proposal, stating that it was an attempt to micromanage recruitment. Apple told the SEC that it was actively trying to attract minorities but “has no power to ensure that its recruits will accept offers.” The SEC, however, does not accept Apple’s position …

The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance said in a Dec. 11 letter that the agency didn’t agree with the company.

While the Commission has no powers to force Apple to have shareholders vote on the resolution, it could potentially bring an enforcement action against the company afterwards if it fails to do so. Bloomberg says that Apple didn’t respond to emails and phone calls, and that the SEC declined to comment on the possibility of sanctions.

Apple publishes an annual diversity report, which this year showed small improvements across the company’s total workforce, with Tim Cook acknowledging that “there is a lot more work to be done.” However, Bloomberg notes that among senior roles – those classified by Apple as Leadership positions (click the tab) – white employees this year increased from 55% to 63%, while there were falls in the percentages of those classifying themselves as Hispanic, black or multi-racial. Among racial minorities, only those listed as Asian saw an increase. Six of Apple’s eight board directors are white.

Cook has repeatedly spoken about the company’s commitment to diversity in its hiring, stating last month that “the best companies in the world will be the most diverse.” Apple also supports the Code2040 fellowship program geared toward increasing diversity in the tech industry.

Photo: SeedInvest


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple Inc, diversity, sec, Tim Cook, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

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Ben Lovejoy

December 31st

Apple

Mac

This 3D-Printed Star Destroyer Is Two Feet Long

5O4MYZr The Star Destroyer, one of the largest ships in the Star Wars universe, has been recreated in excruciating detail in the form of a two-foot long 3D-printed ship consisting of thousands of small parts. It was, as the creator suggested, a big job. You can check out a set of images here but, sadly, there aren’t plans just yet. Using a PowerSpec 3D Pro printer and three rolls of filament… Read More

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John Biggs

December 31st

Gadgets

Samsung Gets Wacky With A Belt Called WELT And Other Oddities

welt CES is a bit like the auto shows of yesteryear, back when carmakers simply came to flex their muscles and show what they were capable of, as opposed to unveiling products that are destined for dealership parking lots. In the same spirit, Samsung has unveiled three products that will be on the showroom floor at CES 2016 next week. The first, and the strangest, is a ‘smart wearable… Read More

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Jordan Crook

December 30th

Gadgets

Happy Hour Podcast 047 | 2016 Apple Wishlist

Happy Hour 21

This week, we have a special guest Greg Barbosa joining Zac to discuss our expectations for 2016 in the Apple world. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.

New episodes of Happy Hour are available every Wednesday. As mentioned, you can download this podcast via iTunes or plug in our RSS feed link into your favorite podcasting app. Send an email to listenermail@9to5mac.com (or click here) and your question/comment may be featured in an upcoming episode of Happy Hour.

Note: iTunes (web interface and app) may still be propagating the new episode which could take up to 24 hours. Subscribing to the podcast feed will guarantee the latest episode is downloaded.

Hosts:

Here’s what we discussed in this episode:

If you missed our 46th episode last week, you can subscribe and find every episode or start off from the previous episode here.

Remember: Subscribe on iTunes to catch all of the episodes as they go live and send in your questions/comments to listenermail@9to5mac.com.


Filed under: Happy Hour Tagged: 2016, Apple, Happy Hour, rumors, Star Wars, tech

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Dom Esposito

December 30th

Apple

Mac

Redesigned Twitter for Mac app with dark mode, GIF support, & more is now available

Twitter 4 for Mac

Earlier this year, Twitter promised a brand new Mac app with a fresh new look and a whole lot more. Today that new version is out now with a huge list of new features including a dark mode and GIF support. Twitter 4 also features a new round icon (that’s how you’ll know it’s the new version).

The new version fits in much better with OS X Yosemite/El Capitan and includes a Notification Center widget in the Today view. It also includes many features that were previously only available on the mobile apps and third-party clients. Here’s everything that’s new:

What’s New in Version 4.0.0

Don’t call it a comeback!

Twitter for Mac is getting the update you’ve been asking for. Now it looks and feels more like the Twitter you carry with you everyday. We’ve built in some of the most-requested features so your Twitter for Mac experience combines what you love about Twitter with the elegance you expect on a Mac. Here’s what we’ve added:

• Inline video playback – You’ll see videos play directly in your feed.
• GIFs support – See animations without leaving your timeline.
• Group Direct Messages – Create and receive private notes with up to 50 people.
• Mute – Silence specific accounts so you no longer see them in your feed.
• Today Center Widget – Get your Twitter Highlights right on your desktop.
• Dark Theme – Now you can see the world in black or white.
• Updated design – Get the latest improvements to icons, buttons, and interactions.
• Quote Tweet – Add your two cents to any Retweet.

If you have any suggestions or feedback you can email it to us at mac-feedback@twitter.com

The update still lacks some features like full-screen mode or Split View support as well as presenting Twitter polls, but it’s a step in the right direction for what previously felt like an abandoned Mac app. You may recall Twitter for Mac previously took an uncomfortably long time updating to Retina displays, then remained stagnant for quite some time afterwards.

Grab the new Twitter for Mac for free on the Mac App Store.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: Twitter

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Zac Hall

December 30th

Apple

Mac
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