July 1, 2015 Last Updated 9:33 am

Greek deal now seen likely as government fears losing Sunday vote; Apple’s day of updates

Morning Brief: Few app updates available this morning as developers absorb major iOS and Mac updates released yesterday, including one that brought multi-touch eBooks to iPhone

The Greek government today gave strong indications it was willing to accept a deal that would require further austerity in exchange for some concessions on pension cuts. The move comes as pro-Euro demonstrators turned out in greater numbers than anti-austerity protestors, and indication that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may lose a vote on the Euro scheduled for Sunday.

Greece-atmlineYesterday Greece missed a payment to the International Monetary Fund, essentially going in arrears (not really default, though most media outlets phrased it that way):

“I confirm that the SDR 1.2 billion repayment (about EUR 1.5 billion) due by Greece to the IMF today has not been received,” said Gerry Rice, Director of Communications at the IMF. “We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared.”

“I can also confirm that the IMF received a request today from the Greek authorities for an extension of Greece’s repayment obligation that fell due today, which will go to the IMF’s Executive Board in due course.”

While the Syriza government was elected on the promise that it would fight austerity demands being put on Greece by its creditors, backed by European commissioners, the public appears to fear Greece pulling out of the Eurozone more than higher unemployment and recession. Tsipras therefore has only two choices: go on with a campaign for a NO vote, lose, and have the government resign, or reverse course and have the government say that Greece is OK to vote Yes, and hope he can keep together his own governing coalition despite what will be perceived as a betrayal of the government’s campaign promises.

Meanwhile, Greece continues to have currency controls, with ATM withdrawals from domestic accounts limited (but not for tourists with foreign accounts). Long lines were seen last week as Greeks rushed to get cash ahead of the imposed bank holiday.

But European stock markets soared today on news of a possible deal. The German DAX is currently up well over 2 percent, as is the French CAC 40. US stock futures are also up.

Mount Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina burned to the ground last night, the seventh black church in the South to have caught fire since the shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. The news of the burning is leading the news at The Post and Courier, Charleston’s leading newspaper, but appears to be of no interest to many media outlets who have now moved on.

That the campaign of terror at black churches is not considered a major news story by The New York Times is journalistic incompetence (it is the leading story in its US section, but given space on its home page). Instead, we get weepy stories of the troubles hedge fund managers are having because of Greece. (Even the NYT seemed embarrassed by the story as it turned off comments to prevent a backlash by readers.)

Apple yesterday released a series of major software updates, many tied to the launch of its music streaming service Apple Music. Apple’s iOS update, to version 8.4, brought Apple Music to the iPhone.

In addition to the iOS update, Apple also update its Mac OS (10.10.4), Apple also updated iTunes (12.2), iBooks Author (2.3), and released two updates for GarageBand.

iBA-iPhone-previewWhile Apple Music got the headlines, the release of iOS 8.4 was of most important to publishers as it brought multi-touch eBooks to the iPhone (see report here). That means eBooks designed for the iPad and Mac using iBooks Author, can not be read on the iPhone, though their design suffers and the dimensions of the iPhone do not match that of the iPad.

Late in the afternoon yesterday, Apple then released an update for iBooks Author, that introduced two new ePub templates (see report here). These are likely the ones Apple intends publishers to use when publishing a book for reading on the iPhone.

The update to iBA and its ePub templates, will certainly help publishers of fiction books, and books with limited graphics. But for those designers that have been using fixed layouts with intricate page designs, the update may prove a disappointment.

What many designers hoped Apple would do is revise the current templates, allowing for complex designs in landscape, and flowing text pages in portrait. Instead, Apple’s iBA team has forced publishers into making a choice: either create an eBook that works across all devices, but sacrifices design, or create two different eBooks, labeling them as being designed for the iPad or the iPhone. Many may see this as a serious step backwards, and a good reason to move to creating books in InDesign rather than iBA (maybe that is Apple’s goal).

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