iOS 8 questions and discussion
With the Beta release of Yosemite in the hands of a million Mac owners, and questions about that subsiding, the next big question in the MacNN forums is about the future of iOS 8. Forum-goers discuss the future of the Mac desktop in two different threads, one asking if a consumer Mac Pro might surface, and the other questioning the possibility of a Retina iMac.
Excel, PowerPoint get custom improvements
Microsoft has updated its trio of Office apps for the iPad -- Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- adding a number of significant features. Perhaps the biggest addition is support for PDF export, but new third-party fonts have also been added, as have new Picture tools that let people crop an image or reset it to an unaltered state. Other changes are specific to Excel and PowerPoint.
Beginning of greater tablet support
Free voice, texting, and data service provider FreedomPop is extending its plans to tablets, starting with the Apple iPad mini and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, according to an announcement. In the case of Minis, subscribers will be given mic-equipped Apple headphones and a special app, allowing them to make calls through FreedomPop's VoIP platform. Each person will have a unique phone number, and associated features such as voicemail and the ability to port that number to a different device or carrier.
iPad Air is a more capable productivity tool than some might expect
The question of how much productivity you can get done on the Apple iPad is one that has persisted since its introduction. Even if the question is not an easy one to answer, it seems almost irrelevant to even ask when one looks at how massively successful the iPad has been since its introduction. The question also depends on what one defines as being 'productivity,' when it has been clear for some time that plenty of people can and do use iPads for getting work done, particularly in creative endeavors. The recently announced partnership between Apple and IBM in enterprise, coupled with the arrival of Microsoft Office for iPad suggests that the iPad's capability in the workplace will be properly tested given that IBM also becomes an official Apple reseller and will help to shift many more units into the workplace.
Yosemite Beta pros and cons
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss the things they like and dislike about Yosemite now that the beta version has been released to the public in a thread started last week by one Mac Elite who wondered why no one seemed excited about this update to the OS. "Does anyone know how much amperage the iPhone 6 will require?" asks one Fresh-Faced Recruit to the forums.
Expansion campaign continues
In keeping with expansion efforts made during the past year, Apple has brought its AppleCare+ plans for the iPhone and iPad to Mexico and Sweden. Mexican plans cost 1,599 pesos, or about $123. Swedish plans are 799 kronor, or $117. In the US AppleCare+ coverage is $99.
Part of sea change in Apple policies
A Bitcoin trading app, Blockchain, has been allowed to return to the iOS App Store, reports note. The title was one of several removed from the App Store early this year during an Apple crackdown. The company's policy is normally to prohibit apps allowing activities which may be illegal in some countries. Although Bitcoin has become increasingly accepted, it still sits in a legal limbo in many regions.
'Network optimization' should only hurt 5 percent of LTE userbase
Starting October 1, Verizon will begin throttling some of its "unlimited" LTE users, according to an official announcement. The carrier promises that only five percent of that group -- those using 4.7GB or more per month -- will be affected, and "only in places and at times when the network is experiencing high demand." Unlimited 3G access has been throttled in a similar manner for some time.
App to be discontinued
Beginning with iOS 8 beta 4, Apple is warning owners of iPhoto for iOS that some features may not make the transition to its replacement, at least at first. Much as with iPhoto on the Mac, users will eventually be migrated over to an all-new, native Photos app, a huge overhaul of the existing iOS Photos app. When trying to run iPhoto in the current beta of iOS 8, an error message now appears stating that iPhoto isn't supported; instead, people are offered the choice to migrate data to Photos, with the exception of "layouts and text added to Books, Journals and Slideshows."
4.7-inch iPhone 6 already underway
Although mass production of a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is underway, other Apple products due this fall -- including new versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini, and the 5.5-inch iPhone -- have yet to begin assembly, according to Chinese-language publication UDN. The new iPads are expected to enter production in September, but there is no reported timeframe for the 5.5-inch iPhone. UDN makes no mention of the iWatch, something generally anticipated in the fall.
Apple, Samsung give up share to Lenovo, ASUS, others
Although Apple's iPad is still the leading tablet globally, the company is continuing to lose marketshare, according to new IDC shipment data. Year-over-year, Apple's June-quarter tablet share fell from 33 to 26.9 percent, based on shipments of 13.3 million iPads this quarter versus 14.6 million in Q2 2013. The company's next closest competitor, Samsung, saw its share slip from 18.8 percent to 17.2.
Expects 'busy fall' with new iPhone, long-awaited 'iWatch' debuts
Despite some disappointments in Apple's latest quarterly earnings report, analysts appear to be satisfied that the company's overall financial picture is in order, particularly on the strength of rising margins and strong developing market sales. The stock closed up $2.47 on Tuesday (an increase of 2.61 percent) to close at $97.19, not far from its 52-week high. On Tuesday, RBC Capital Markets raised its year-end target price to $110, joining Barclays and Morgan Stanley in predicting the company would hit an all-time high this year.
Griffin Technology's Survivor Slim rugged iPad Air case now available
Griffin Technology has announced the release of a new rugged case for use with iPad Air. The Survivor Slim aims to deliver protection for all conditions, featuring a shatter-resistant shell and silicone bumper for absorbing the shock of a drop. Its accompanying screen shield prevents scratches and smudges, and the flexible button covers deflect dust, dirt, and rain from entering vulnerable places on the tablet.
More color selection options
Savage Interactive has released v2.1 of Procreate, its professional-level illustration app for the iPad. The update is a major one, adding a number of new features, most significantly ColorDrop. Users can now simply drag and drop a color to a location to fill; before dropping, continuing to hold will bring up fill threshold controls.
Tools intended strictly for diagnostics, file capture, company says
In another step to address concerns of possible backdoors in iOS, Apple has published a newdocument explaining what three services are intended to do. The first, com.apple.mobile.pcapd, is said to support "diagnostic packet capture from an iOS device to a trusted computer," something useful for "troubleshooting and diagnosing issues with apps on the device as well as enterprise VPN connections." Another, com.apple.mobile.file_relay, "supports limited copying of diagnostic data from a device."
Air Jacket provides protection while preserving the looks of you iDevice
Finding the right case to protect your gadgets can be an expensive hit-or-miss affair. With plastic smartphone cases typically priced at around $20-$30 and tablet cases typically priced at around $30-$40, it can be an expensive mistake if you end up with one that you aren't happy with. Power Support is a Japanese-based company that has been making Apple accessories for the past few years. In particular, they are known for developing relatively thin and light, translucent polycarbonate cases for Apple's iPhone and iPad range that are popular because they help to preserve the beautiful appearance Apple's products without covering them up completely. Are they worth a look?
Larger markets waiting on next iPad, sales in developing markets are way up
For the second time in as many quarters, Tim Cook has had to explain away drops in iPad sales. Last quarter, the iPad saw a 16 percent drop from the year-ago quarter, but Cook detailed a credible explanation that channel inventory from the holiday season had overstuffed retailers and that the drop was actually only three percent because of that, which fell within normal ranges. This time, iPad sales were down about 9.2 percent, which Cook largely blamed on anticipation for the next iPad coming this fall.
iPod continues terminal decline
In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. "Greater China" -- including Taiwan and Hong Kong -- continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple's most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.
iPhone and Mac units rise, iPad takes a hit
Apple revenues rose 6 percent year-over-year to $37.43 billion in its third fiscal quarter, which ended in June, the company has announced. Profits were up 12.3 percent to $7.75 billion, while earnings per share climbed from $1.07 to $1.28 when adjusted for the recent 7-to-1 stock split. Gross margin increased from 36.9 percent to 39.4 percent.
Samsung sees big setback
Since April, the shares of North American tablet web traffic from iPads and Kindle Fires has increased by 0.8 and 1.2 points, respectively, according to new data compiled by Chitika Insights. The figures put the iPad at 78 percent of traffic, and the Kindle Fire at 7.3 percent, the latter displacing Samsung tablets in aggregate (down to 6.3 percent). Google and Microsoft -- also generally considered prominent tablet makers -- managed shares of just 2.1 and 1.4 percent.
May enable collection of private data by Apple, governments
[Updated with rebuttal from Apple] Apple's iOS platform contains several backdoors that may allow for Apple and/or governments to collect private data, according to a forensic scientist, Jonathan Zdziarski. Presenting at the recent Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference, Zdziarski said that that there are several conspicuous design gaps -- and some deliberately-included forensic services -- that make it possible to extract data using forensic tools. The services have names such as "lockdownd," "pcapd," and "mobile.file_relay."
OS X gets iTunes 12, iOS 8 gets new Tips app
(Updated with other beta releases, more Yosemite changes) Apple is now seeding its fourth betas of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite to developers. Perhaps the most significant change is in the latter, which includes the first beta of iTunes 12. The updated media player uses a flatter, streamlined design more in keeping with Yosemite, and is the first version to support Family Sharing, something also present in iOS 8. While Yosemite is still only accessible to developers, sources claim that the first public beta could go live later this month, after Apple has put more polish on it.
Does Patriot have the right formula for high quality backup batteries
Mobile device batteries are better than they used to be, but there's always a scenario where users could use more juice. Upgrade manufacturer Patriot has a solution -- it has a line of portable batteries intended for charging devices on-the-go, called the Fuel+. In theory, a booster battery is easy -- implement a battery, some ports, and a way to charge the battery, and done. In actuality, proper execution of an external battery is a bit more complex. Does Patriot have the balance right? Check our review to find out.
Roughly 14.43 million iPads, 35.88 million iPhones expected on average
With just a few days to go before the actual sales figures are revealed, analysts are at a loss to come up with a strong consensus on how many iPhones and iPads the company actually sold in the calendar second quarter, which ended June 30 (Apple refers to this as fiscal Q3). The iPad figures are even more befuddled, since last quarter's drop in iPad sales -- 16 percent year-over-year -- was explained by CEO Tim Cook as changing inventory numbers rather than an actual drop.
PureGear announces Folio case for tablets and e-readers
PureGear has announced its new offer of a versatile folio case for tablets and e-readers. The new Universal Tablet Folio can protect, prop, and provide multiple viewing angles for any seven- to eight-inch, or nine- to 10-inch tablet. Its flexible bands can hold virtually any tablet in place, and it utilizes built-in props for hands-free viewing and typing. The Folio has a magnetic closure for folding back while the tablet is in use. Pricing starts at $40, with the Universal Tablet Folio available for purchase online.
iOS support comes out of unofficial stage
Google has released v1.1 of LiquidFun, its open-source 2D physics engine. The software now officially supports iOS, as well as desktop versions of Chrome, the latter via extensions. It was previously possible to make LiquidFun run on iOS, but Google didn't enable that compatibility by default.
Should allow game studios to start full-scale iOS 8 development
Epic Games has released v4.3 of the Unreal Engine, code that undergirds many desktop, console, and mobile games. Although most of the changes are of interest only to developers, the update also includes the first support for Metal, Apple's new 3D graphics API. Developers must be using the Xcode 6 beta to compile it, and it's not enabled by default. It can however be toggled on via a game's Project Settings.
Reasons for possible reversal unclear
TSMC will probably lose chip production orders from Apple and Qualcomm to Samsung in the second half of 2015, says KGI Securities analyst Michael Liu, quoted by Reuters. Liu made the comments in a memo issued after a TSMC investor conference. The Commercial Times and the Economic Daily News both suggest that Qualcomm has in fact already started working with Samsung, a claim which has hurt TSMC shares in trading.
Based on popular 30-pin version, includes line-in and USB passthrough charging
A little less than two years after it introduced its first digital 30-pin attachable microphone for the iPhone and other iOS devices, Blue Microphones is finally bringing out a Lightning-based version that works natively with the iPhone 5 and later models such as the iPhone 5s and Retina iPad mini. The new Mikey Digital includes two condenser microphones -- identical to the ones used in its popular Yeti and Snowball microphones -- and thanks to its reversible Lightning connector is now able to pointed either forwards or backwards.
Felix announces integrated kickstand case for iPad Air
Mobile accessories creator Felix has announced the release of its new case for iPad Air. The FlipBook Air consists of a case with an integrated kickstand, featuring the aesthetic of a book cover. Composed of faux leather, the case includes a smart cover function that wakes the iPad upon opening, and engages the sleep function when it is closed. Its patented kickstand supports both horizontal and vertical viewing, and features proprietary air bladder technology for additional protection of one's tablet.
Reduces obstacles to cord-cutting
Satellite TV provider DirecTV has announced its first digital-only subscription plans for NFL Sunday Ticket. Subscribers will have to wait until September 7th for the first games, and will only be able to watch out-of-market events, but will have access to them on phones, tablets, computers, and/or consoles without also having to have a satellite or cable package. Costs begin at $200 for a subscription covering phones, tablets, and computers. A separate console-only plan is $240; the $330 Max plan covers all devices, and further includes access to the Red Zone channel and DirecTV's new Fantasy Zone.
Gap between betas shrinks back to two weeks
Apple is currently planning to seed iOS 8 beta 4 to developers on July 21, an inside source has claimed. That date would be two weeks after Beta 3. There was a three-week gap between the second and third betas, which may have been needed to cope with flaws hampering the OS' basic performance.
Mail Designer 2 app available for introductory price of $10
Equinux has introduced a major new version of Mail Designer, an email HTML design app. Aligning itself with current mail design trends, Mail Designer 2 includes support for animated images, embedding videos directly within emails, and more. Professional-level newsletters can be created without the use of HTML coding, and the project can be easily managed by a team, with collaboration features built into the interface.
One of the last automaker holdouts now planning to add CarPlay to 2016 models
One of the few remaining major carmakers yet to embrace Apple's CarPlay technology is said to be getting on board, holding talks with Apple on embedding the iOS-based technology into its 2016 models, according to an unnamed source with "knowledge of the discussions." The Beetle maker was an early adopter of iPod compatibility with its vehicles, but has done little with Apple since then. The two companies are expected to announce an agreement later this year.
New AppleCare tailored for enterprise, IBM to sell iOS devices with custom apps
[Updated with text from Tim Cook's memo to employees] In a surprise move, Apple and IBM have announced a new partnership that will see the enterprise giant working with the iPhone maker to bring more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions to the iOS platform as native apps for iPhone and iPad, as well as see IBM selling and leasing iOS devices pre-loaded with industry-specific solutions to its business clients. The exclusive deal also includes new AppleCare service and support plans tailored for enterprise, and IBM enterprise cloud services optimized for iOS.
Designed to save time wasted on incompatible content
Google has implemented a change to the way mobile search results are displayed, warning users if a website uses Adobe Flash. On devices running iOS or Android, results may now show a tag saying "Uses Flash. May not work on your device." Below this are links letting users "try anyway" or learn more about the problem.
Older iPhone and iPads can be traded in for credit up to A$250
Australians can now trade-in their older iOS devices for up to A$250 ($235 US) towards the purchase of a new device, Apple announced on Monday. The higher reward is available to for iPhones, while buyers can get up to $202 (A$215) in credit for iPad trade-ins at Apple Stores across the country. The new program arrives just shy of a year after the US debut, which offers up to $225. Since then, the initiative has expanded to Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
Mobile now responsible for more than one-third of all online ordering
Mobile devices are increasingly supplanting traditional desktop or notebook PCs as devices for online shopping, a new study finds, and iOS devices continue to be dominant in yet another real-world usage study despite claims of higher Android-based marketshare, at least in the US. Mobile sales analysis firm Custora looked at $10 billion in mobile transaction revenue covering 100 retailers and 70 million consumers in its latest study, and found that 54 percent of mobile phone sales and 80 percent of tablet sales came from iOS devices.
11-year-old boy's reactions traced to iPad use
People with nickel allergies may have to be careful with the iPad, a newly-published paper in the journal Pediatrics suggests. The paper documents an 11-year-old boy who was treated at a San Diego hospital for a rash. Most treatments didn't work, but testing found nickel in his skin, and it was ultimately discovered that the nickel was coming from an iPad the boy had been using increasingly often during the past six months.
Tech would still be years off
Apple is working with a company called Intelligent Energy in the hopes of integrating fuel cells into its mobile devices, claims UK publication the Daily Mail. The paper cites "senior sources in the US," and says that the technology could come to MacBooks and/or iPads "within a few years." Intelligent Energy is noted to have bought a collection of related patents in cooperation with a major "international electronics company," which one source says is Apple.
Apple defines what location tracking does, how it works
Apple has responded to Chinese government media allegations of the iPhone and iPad being a national security threat. A Chinese-language statement titled "Your Location Privacy" has been posted by the Cupertino manufacturer, with the company guaranteeing that it won't track users, or share information location with outsiders. Additionally, it claims that the "frequent locations" feature touted for iOS8 will just "quickly and reliably determine their current locations for specific activities such as shopping, travel, finding the nearest restaurant or calculating the amount of time it takes them to get to work," and not leak any personal data.
New Explore feature points out places and activities
Google has released an update of its Google Maps client for iOS, adding several significant features. When searching for places, for instance, results will now appear directly on a map. Users can switch between this view and a more standard list.
Specs would be somewhat out-of-step with recent competitors
For its A8 processor, Apple is planning to boost clock speeds to 2GHz or higher, but stick to just two cores, says Chinese site cnBeta. The A7 used in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and Retina iPad mini is a dual-core 1.3GHz chip. On top of the speed boost, the A8 is expected to upgrade from 28nm manufacturing to 20nm.
bugs Apple should fix for Yosemite
This week has been rather quiet in the MacNN forums, however members continue to discuss and debate a wide range of topics. Earlier this week, Mac Elite "And.reg" started a thread discussing bugs and weird issues that need to be fixed in Yosemite before it becomes a public release this fall. Yesterday, "chasg" was trying to determine why his iMac wasn't booting from an external disk, and turned to the forums looking for advice.
Claims data could be used to glean state secrets
State-run China Central Television has called iOS 7's Frequent Locations function a "national security concern" in a noon broadcast, according to the Wall Street Journal. The report quoted researchers as saying that people with access to the underlying data could get a glimpse of the broader Chinese situation, or "even state secrets." Electronic security has become a sensitive topic for the Chinese government in the wake of leaks from Edward Snowden, revealing that the NSA is spying on Chinese leaders, and that American businesses have willingly or unwillingly provided the NSA with access to demanded data.
All-Star Game gets interactive content
Major League Baseball is entering into a second phase of iBeacon deployments at stadiums. Beginning this is project for the 2014 All-Star Game, which is being hosted at Target Field in Minneapolis. People with a supporting iPhone and the latest version of At the Ballpark will get extra content, including interactive material, when visiting nine different exhibits in the stadium. iBeacons are already in use at 28 other ballparks, but mostly for check-ins and discounts.
Samsung, TSMC splitting orders
TSMC has begun shipping Apple A-series processors out for assembly, according to the Wall Street Journal. Production is said to have begun on 20nm fabrication lines in the first quarter, but shipments have only started happening more recently. Despite TSMC's involvement, the firm is expected to split orders with Samsung, which has traditionally produced every A-series chip.
Discussions let students, teachers communicate
As promised at the end of June, Apple has released a major update of iTunes U, v2.0. On the iPad, teachers can now create and manage courses entirely on their own, including assignments, outlines, and other course materials. Custom content can be added via an "Open in iTunes U" extension in other iOS apps such as Pages and Keynote; photos and video can be captured and uploaded directly. If a teacher is associated with a qualifying institution, they can publish courses to the official iTunes U catalog.
Joins other retailers in Back-to-School offer bandwagon
US retail chain Target is now offering gift cards with the purchase of any of a selected range of iOS devices, including the iPod touch, the iPad Air or Retina iPad mini, or the iPhone 5s or 5c. In addition to the gift card, Target REDcard users receive an additional five percent off the normal price. Buyers of the iPad (in any variety or capacity) will be given a $100 Target gift card, while those opting for the 32GB iPod touch will get a $30 gift card. The retailer has discounted the 16GB iPhones to $100, and buyers also get a $20 gift card.
Buying both devices brings $100 prepaid Mastercard as mail-in rebate
Among other offers the carrier is set to announce when it kicks off its own Back-to-School promotion on Wednesday, July 9 is a combination rebate when buyers purchase both an iPhone and iPad from the carrier. Customers who get both and are either already on a Simple Choice postpaid plan or activate/upgrade a new line will receive a $100 prepaid Mastercard gift card as a mail in rebate. The iPhone and iPad have to be purchased at the same time, according to reports.