Shorter leasing period, iPhone 5S inclusion in Sprint plan
Sprint is making changes to its iPhone for Life rental plan, just over a month after launch. The carrier is adjusting the plan to allow customers the ability to lease an iPhone and upgrade it after 12 months, though the existing 24-month period between upgrades will continue to be offered to users at a lower cost compared to the new plan option.
Details R&D buildings along North Tantau
Apple has a submitted revised plans for the second phase of its Campus 2 project in Cupertino, California. Next to the main "spaceship" complex, the company is looking to build three research and development-related buildings on opposite sides of North Tantau Avenue. It already has approval for the construction, but the updated plans reveal specific details.
Yosemite is a big win (or fail depending on who you ask)
With just a little over one week on the Mac App Store under its belt, OS X 10.10 Yosemite has been one of the hottest topics in the MacNN forums, with discussion topics ranging from claimed "unfixed bugs" and battery life issues to beefs with Dark Mode and tips for those who are just upgrading for the first time. Today, one Dedicated MacNNer was looking for help determining the cause of what appears to be USB power failure.
Mac desktops from $419
Right now at Apple's online store, take advantage of price cuts on a wide range of Mac desktops. The lowest-priced item on that list is the refurbished Mac mini with a 2.5GHz dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, now $419. Right now, refurbished 27-inch iMac models start as low as $1,399 for a configuration with a 2.9GHz Intel quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive.
Mac mini from $494, 256 SSD for $135 and more
MacMall.com has already begun dropping prices on brand-new Mac mini configurations. The entry-level Mac mini with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, Intel HD Graphics 5000 and Mac OS X Yosemite has seen a $5 price cut from $499 down to $494, making this the best price we have seen by the same price margin. As always, this Mac mini is backed by Apple's one-year limited warranty on parts and labor, with an optional AppleCare extended warranty available.
Beats Music expected to be rebuilt, integrated into iTunes
Sales at Apple's iTunes Store have fallen between 13 and 14 percent in 2014 so far, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. That represents a steepening decline, coming in the wake of a 2.1 percent dip in 2013. The trend is believed to be connected to the music industry's overall swing away from downloads to streaming subscription services like Pandora and Spotify.
On paper, its not as strong as the 2012 model, but why worry?
After its release, we came out pretty strongly against Apple's new $499 Mac mini. We thought it to be underpowered, and despite some minor improvements, generally a step backwards. Time has passed, tempers have cooled a bit, and we've given it a second thought. While we're not saying that its a must-buy, there are some good use cases for it, and in some instances it trumps the 2012 model.
May signal gradual expansion
The Amazon Rewards Visa Card has been added to Apple Pay, some owners have noticed. The card wasn't initially compatible with Apple Pay when the service was launched earlier this week. Support for the card is notable because of its popularity, owing to users getting 3 percent back on Amazon purchases, 2 percent at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores, and 1 percent on all other purchases.
Effort still in earliest stages
For Apple, getting Apple Pay working in China is a major priority, CEO Tim Cook tells China's state-run Xinhua news agency. "China is a really key market for us," he says. "Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list." He adds however that the company still has to learn the steps needed to bring Apple Pay to China, and has yet to meet with local banks, merchants, and carriers.
Pocket Informant receives update, adds iOS 8 support, updated interface
Web Information Solutions has updated its iOS app Pocket Informant, a combined scheduling and task list manager compatible with built-in calendar data, Google, Toodledo, Evernote or Informant Sync. Free to download, by upgrading to its premium version ($15) users can sync with other calendars, utilize Rich Text Notes and Contact Management features, Task Smart Filters and more. Pocket Informant v4.5.1 integrates iOS 8 components like the Today Widget, TouchID Support, Alarm Actions, and the ability to create tasks and notes from Safari and the Notes app. Users can now log in to Google, Toodledo, or Informant Sync through the app using 1Password, and can now sync with Toodledo's latest API. Various fixes have been additionally included since the major update was launched. Pocket Informant requires iOS 7.1 or later.
Icahn endorsement, strong iPhone sales, coming holiday behind push
Apple's stock on Thursday hit a new all-time closing high, reaching $104.83 per share at the closing bell. While many are waiting to see if the company can close the week at that level or higher, others -- including activist investor Carl Icahn and CEO Tim Cook -- believe the stock remains undervalued. AAPL also set a new intra-day high of $105.05 during trading, and is up slightly from its close at this writing in after-hours trading. Stronger-than-expected iPhone numbers and the coming holiday season has helped fuel the rise.
Christian Bale to play Steve Jobs in biopic, according to interview
Christian Bale is set to play the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the forthcoming biopic film written by Aaron Sorkin. Previously considered for Leonardo DiCaprio, Aaron Sorkin said in Bloomberg interview that there wasn't a need for Bale to audition for the role due to being a good fit. The latest screenplay is comprised of three thirty minute scenes of backstage goings on prior to three keynote presentations.
Testing pool limited to 1,000 users per developer
Following a soft rollout to internal testers a few weeks ago, Apple has fully opened its TestFlight beta-testing service. "You can now invite up to 1,000 testers to beta test your iOS apps by simply sending them an email invitation through iTunes Connect," the company says on its developer portal. "Once they accept your invitation, testers can install your beta app on their iOS devices, get updated builds, and provide feedback, all within the TestFlight app."
Former sapphire supplier will keep control of Mesa assets
(Updated with Apple response, hints at future initiatives) GT has confirmed its split with Apple via a press release, offering further details on the terms. "GT will be released from all exclusivity obligations under its various agreements with Apple," the statement explains. "GT will retain ownership of all production, ancillary and inventory assets located in Mesa [Arizona] and Apple is provided with a mechanism for recovering its $439 million pre-payment made to GT over a period of up to four years without interest, solely from a portion of the proceeds from ASF sales.
Argues China will become company's biggest market
As part of his trip to China, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told local media that the company is planning to open 25 stores in Greater China during the next two years. "Greater" China includes not just mainland China but Hong Kong and Taiwan. So far there are no Apple Stores in Taiwan, but there are three in Hong Kong and a dozen on the mainland, most of those being split between Beijing and Shanghai.
Will use transport layer security for push notifications starting October 29
In a note to developers, Apple has announced that due to a serious security flaw in SSL version 3.0, the company will be dropping support for the protocol beginning Wednesday, October 29 for all of its push notifications, which are delivered through Apple's own servers. The company will switch to Transport Layer Security (TLS) for the service, and notes that developers will need to build in support for TLS in their apps to ensure uninterrupted push notification compatibility if they haven't already.
CEO as already met with Vice Premier Ma Kai over China iCloud attacks
Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted a picture from his latest trip to China on Twitter, showing him sharing a laugh with a factory worker named Zhang Fan, who helps assemble the iPhone 6 at a factory in Zhengzhou. While Foxconn's factories manufacture equipment for a wide variety of technology firms including Google, Microsoft and others, Cook is the only CEO to routinely visit the facilities and personally investigate conditions and safety at the plants. He called the meeting with Zhang "an early highlight" of the trip.
Company directly refers to plaintiff as 'patent troll,' calls for continued patent reform
Non-practicing entity GPNE, which had tried to sue Apple over alleged infringement of expired pager-related 3G wireless patents, has come away completely empty-handed after a jury exonerated Apple of all charges. The firm, which has attempted to sue or sued most other big-name tech firms over the same or similar patents, had sought $94 million in damages (which Apple had referred to as an "attempt to extort money" from the iPhone maker), but was awarded nothing.
Lack of antenna for NFC radio hobbles unit for Apple Pay retail buying
A new teardown of the iPad Air 2 has confirmed much of what was speculated about the device, but has also revealed some minor surprises. The team at iFixit have rated the new iPad a "two" on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most repairable. The company says that while the new "fused" display is better visually, and sturdier when opening up the iPad, it will also increase the cost of repair for a cracked screen. The teardown also revealed that the latest full-size iPad features a smaller battery and more RAM.
Takes second place in all-time high price paid for a personal computer
On the same day that Apple's stock closed at the second-highest price it has achieved in 2014, a new record-high price for its first computer -- the original Apple I -- has also been set, by a considerable margin. While an incredibly rare still-functional Apple I model (thought to be one of just six in such pristine condition) along with a letter from Steve Jobs was sold in May 2013 for $671,400, the latest auction in New York saw this latest unit -- one from the original first batch of 50 -- change hands for $905,000.
Marketing built into new OS
People using Chrome or Firefox within OS X Yosemite are seeing push notifications asking them to try Safari, accounts say. The messages tout Safari as "fast, energy efficient, and with a beautiful new design," and even include "Later" and "Try Now" buttons. They appear to be triggered by launching Chrome or Firefox for the first time after the Yosemite upgrade.
Option temporarily restricted to Wi-Fi models
Shoppers at Apple's online store now have the option of selecting Personal Pickup as a delivery option for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. When preorders opened last Friday, the company required all orders to be shipped. Notably, some stores are listed as having iPads ready for pickup today, even though Apple Store workers are saying they won't have tablets on sale until later this week, or even next week. Shipped orders are beginning to arrive on doorsteps however.
Improved graphic-focused website creator now more powerful
Just because you need a website, doesn't mean that the best option is to hire someone to create one out of whole cloth. The alternative is either learning HTML, CSS, and a host of other acronymic technologies, or seeking out all-in-one website design software that allows users to publish a website without requiring coding knowledge or a ton of design expertise. Realmac Software has announced the release of RapidWeaver 6, an upgrade to its longstanding website creation app, and we've had a chance to put it through its paces.
Chinese government so far denying involvement
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China's Vice Premier Ma Kai in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss man-in-the-middle attacks against iCloud users, according to Reuters and China's state-run Xinhua news agency. Reuters notes that the Chinese government has so far denied allegations of involvement, which in particular tied the attacks to the state firewall used to censor Internet access in the country. As for the meeting, Xinhua says only that the pair shared views on "protection of users' information" and "strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields."
Company uses restricted stock units, conditional on performance, as incentives
In its latest SEC 10-Q filing, Apple has revealed certain company details -- including the fact that it still spends a small fraction of the money other tech firms do on Washington lobbying, and that it continues its practice of awarding its executives restricted stock units (RSUs) that could be worth millions if they stay with the company and it continues to do well. CFO Luca Maestri and Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Dame Angela Ahrendts both received their first executive bonuses as part of the disclosure.
Now at $45 billion in buybacks for the year, double its 2013 buying spree
During its conference call to analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that the company had spent $17 billion in the fourth fiscal quarter on further stock buybacks, the largest amount since the March quarter and bringing the total spent across the fiscal year to $45 billion. About half of the money was spent buying shares on the open market rather than through banking partners, an unusual move for a large corporation. The stock came close to another record high on Tuesday, but has yet to crack its $110 all-time (adjusted for both splits and buybacks) share high.
Retina iMacs beat Mac Pros in single core tests, but lags in multi-core
Early benchmarks of the new iMacs show the Retina 5K iMac as having high enough performance to beat the 2013 Mac Pro in some tasks, suggesting that in some cases it may be better to buy the new high-end iMac than a base-level Mac Pro. Results for the range, appearing on the 64-bit Geekbench 3 benchmark, has the high-resolution 5K iMac's 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor option dominating the board for single and multi-core performance when compared to previous iMacs, and it manages to also put up a good fight when compared to configurations of last year's Mac Pro.
If approved, GT will sell sapphire furnaces to pay back Apple loan
After much bickering in court during bankruptcy proceedings that took Apple and Wall Street by surprise, former sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has worked out an agreement with the iPhone maker that will let it pursue its plan of winding down operations at its Mesa, Arizona plant and laying off nearly 700 employees. Though Apple had initially said it would work to preserve the jobs involved, the deal instead offers incentives to certain employees to help wind down the plant, and provides a way for GT to pay back the money it owes Apple.
Involvement of Chinese government uncertain
Apple is aware of "intermittent organized network attacks" against people trying to sign into iCloud.com, says Dow Jones. It insists, however, that iCloud servers haven't been breached, and that people using iOS or the latest version of OS X -- Yosemite -- should be unaffected. The company doesn't specifically mention China, which is where the browser hijacks are taking place.
New Civilization title demands Yosemite, i3 processor
The latest installment of the Civilization franchise from developer Firaxis, Civilization: Beyond Earth, today has a slightly-narrowed release date for OS X as well as declared hardware and OS requirements. While the PC release is scheduled for October 24, the Mac version will ship in time for the holiday season. Civilization: Beyond Earth will require OS X 10.10 Yosemite, an Intel Core i3 processor or greater running at 2.2GHz or more, and 4GB of RAM. Minimum GPU specs are the Nvidia GeForce 640M, ATI Radeon HD 5750, or Intel Iris Graphics with 256 MB.
Some units could ship as soon as October 23rd
Apple is beginning to ship the earliest preorders of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 bought at its online store, accounts say. Notifications are being sent out today. Some orders are scheduled to ship on October 23 specifically, while other people have been given a broader 23rd-27th timeframe.
All iOS apps must support 64-bit code??
One headline on MacNN this week has caused a bit of a stir in the forums, when Mac Elite "WizOSX" pointed out that Apple has announced that all iOS apps must support 64-bit code by February. One Fresh-Faced Recruit is having trouble playing video with their Windows notebook computer, and is wondering if the MacBook Air would be able to handle it better.
17-inch iMacs from $1,399
Apple's online store has been slashing prices on refurbished 27-inch iMac models in the wake of last week's unveiling of their current-generation 5K model. The 27-inch iMac with a 2.9GHz quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive is now $1,399 after a $400 discount. A $310 discount is offered on the refurbished 27-inch iMac with a 3.2GHz Intel quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, now $1,489.
$120 off 13.3-inch MacBook Pro
Right now at B&H.com, get the 13.3-inch Retina MacBook Pro notebook on sale for $1,280. That's a savings of $120 off the regular price of $1,400, and it is $109 less than the lowest price offered anywhere else. Also provided is a free gift of either security software LoJack or Windows virtual environment software Parallels. This MBP features a 2.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage. A one-year warranty on parts and labor is included from Apple.
Country's first location with more conventional design
Apple's second store in Turkey is launching this Saturday at 10AM, the company has announced. The outlet is situated on one of the middle floors of Istanbul's Akasya Shopping Mall. It will be open from 10AM to 10PM seven days a week, and the company is already beginning to accept reservations for appointments including workshops and Genius Bar service.
Emphasizes user privacy through short-lived session IDs
While it may sound like a report from the Department of the Obvious, the new version of Spotlight included in Yosemite includes searching beyond the local drive, and consequently gathers and sends to Apple some information on what users are searching for, their (city-level) location -- if Location Services is turned on -- and what Spotlight Suggestion was selected. That one needs to get certain data to perform a web search has apparently come as a surprise to some, and thus Apple has released a statement clarifying exactly what data is gathered, how it is used, and reminding users of how to turn it off if desired.
Shows example apps made using Swift, notes colleges adding the language
Continuing its effort to promote its own streamlined object-oriented programming code Swift, Apple has followed up from its Swift blog with a full-blown mini-site on Apple.com. The new site takes a similar approach to Apple's dedicated mini-sites for education and business, highlighting some of the many apps now built using swift and featuring case studies, profiles and links to tutorials and free resources. The new promotional mini-site is in addition to the regular Swift developer site.
MLB was early adopter of Passbook app, iBeacons; MLB app will gain Touch ID functionality
Major League Baseball, which has taken the role of unabashed cheerleader for several of Apple's financial and retail technology initiatives including Passbook and iBeacons, has announced another embrace -- this time, Apple Pay. Both of the two MLB stadiums involved in this year's World Series will be accepting Apple Pay for concessions starting with the event, which begins on Tuesday. San Francisco's AT&T Park and Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium will both have the hardware on hand for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users.
Cook announces new trip to Beijing for worker meeting that will be posted online
As is his habit, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday released a company-wide memo to employees recapping much of the sales and growth data from the analyst conference call given earlier that afternoon. He referred to the expectation-beating results as "Apple's highest September quarter revenue ever, and our strongest growth rate in seven quarters," adding that this was made possible "by your hard work and dedication." He also noted the big jump in Mac sales, beating industry averages significantly.
Desktop publisher offers tools suitable for beginner and experienced users
Standalone desktop publishing software fills a need for those who want to create a variety of printed projects, particularly if seeking a structured, template format. Launched earlier this year, Printworks for OS X is an all-purpose page-layout and desktop publishing app that offers templates for a wide variety of documents, as well as the option to design a document from scratch. A comprehensive app currently available for $30 (regularly priced at $50), Printworks' attention to detail throughout the creation process of a document is suitable for personal use or for small businesses who are seeking software specifically for this purpose. Is it worth the pricetag?
Emerging markets, price cuts, back to school seen as key factors
In what CEO Tim Cook called the "best ever" quarter for the Mac, Apple's Mac lineup overall jumped a remarkable 25 percent in a single quarter to 5.52 million units. Making the event more noteworthy is the fact that the growth was achieved prior to any notable refreshes. Instead, what appears to be driving the increase in Mac sales is volume in emerging markets, such as China - where Macs were up 54 percent year-over-year. Price cuts and great back-to-school sales also contributed to the jump.
Dropbox adds TouchID, support for iPhone 6, 6 Plus
Dropbox has released an update for its iOS app today, featuring new features for iOS 8 and support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The cloud storage service allows users to access and share their remotely stored files, including photos, documents and videos. Dropbox v3.5.0 features new support for TouchID, with fingerprint unlocking now available within the app. Also included is a fix for previewing RTF files on iOS 8, and general stability and performance improvements. Free to download, Dropbox for iOS requires iOS 7.0 or later.
Company's performance generally healthy
In the wake of its official announcement, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its Q4 financial results. On a regional basis the company did well in most cases, for instance increasing Americans revenue 17 percent year-over-year to $16.247 billion, and European revenue 19 percent to $9.535 billion. "Greater" China -- including Hong Kong and Taiwan -- advanced 1 percent to $5.778 billion, and Japan was up 5 percent to $3.507 billion. Only the rest of the Asia Pacific region saw problems, with revenue dipping 3 percent to $1.923 billion. Global retail sales rose 15 percent to $5.133 billion.
iPad shipments see decline
Apple pulled in $42.12 billion in revenues during its fourth fiscal quarter, which ended in September, according to an announcement. That figure surpasses the $37.47 billion the company posted in Q4 2013, as well as consensus expectations of $40 billion, and Apple's own guidance in the last quarter. Net profits rose year-over-year from $7.5 billion -- or $1.18 per diluted share -- to $8.5 billion and $1.42 per share. Gross margins increased from 37 to 38 percent.
Should improve performance on more recent devices
As of February 1st, all new or updating iOS apps must not only be based on the iOS 8 SDK, but contain 64-bit code, Apple is informing developers. At the moment developers are still being allowed to submit 32-bit-only apps or universal binaries. The problem is that more recent iOS devices -- namely those based on 64-bit A7, A8, and A8X processors -- have to load extra resources into memory to handle 32-bit code, taking a toll on performance.
Relative handful of third-party apps currently showing support
The official Apple Store app has been updated to v3.1, enabling support for online Apple Pay transactions. Shoppers can now also make NFC-based payments at the company's retail outlets, but this doesn't require an app update; in either scenario, users must have a compatible device running iOS 8.1, which was released earlier today. Online payments are supported by the iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3. Only the 6 and 6 Plus can be used at retail.
Includes delayed SMS Relay tech, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth fixes
As planned, Apple has released iOS 8.1 to the public. The main addition is support for Apple Pay, but a number of other important features are present. These include beta support for iCloud Photo Library, and the return of the Camera Roll to the Photos app. SMS Relay enables SMS/MMS messaging via a nearby Mac or iPad, and people can now force a device to use 2G, 3G, or 4G for data, instead of it selecting networks automatically. A minor photo-related improvement generates alerts whenever there's too little storage to start a timelapse video.
Company claims discount could attract more subscribers
In preparation for relaunching Beats Music next year, Apple is currently pushing record labels to allow lowering monthly subscription fees from $10 to $5, sources say. The company's marketing pitch is allegedly that even Apple's best iTunes customers typically spend about $60 per year, or $5 per month. As such anyone switching from downloads to streaming would generate an equal amount of revenue, and more importantly the potential subscriber pool would increase thanks to more affordable fees.
Many Apple partners missing compatible terminals
The lion's share of early Apple Pay transactions will probably be in-app, rather than ones made at retail stores, admits Apple's senior VP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue. Over the weekend Cue spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the service, which launches today. In fact many of Apple's merchant partners have yet to receive point-of-sale terminals compatible with Apple Pay, but the company is expecting them to upgrade within the next year.
Dual-core Haswell processors may limit refreshed Mac mini usefulness
The refreshed Mac mini may offer a significant dip in performance compared to earlier iterations, a report claims. A blog post from the Geekbench benchmark suite suggests that, though the new Haswell-based systems may have slightly higher single-core performance scores than the Ivy Bridge-based counterparts from late 2012, their multi-core performance will apparently suffer considerably.