Archive for the ‘Front Page’ Category

Apple Releases iTunes 12.1 With New Yosemite Notification Center Widget

Friday, January 30th, 2015

itunesiconApple today released iTunes 12.1 for OS X Yosemite, introducing a new iTunes widget for the Notification Center. With the widget, it's possible to see what song is playing, skip ahead, and purchase music while listening to iTunes Radio. The update also includes performance improvements when syncing with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iTunes 12.1 can be downloaded via the Software Update Mechanism in the Mac App Store.

iTunes 12.1 is the first major update to iTunes 12, which was introduced alongside OS X Yosemite. iTunes 12 brought a new design with Yosemite-style translucency elements to improve depth, a streamlined toolbar, and the melding of the iTunes Store and the personal Library to make it easier to navigate between owned content and what's available in the store.






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Possible Third-Party ‘iPad Pro’ Case Shown in New Photo

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Ahead of any major product release, we often see part leaks and case molds, which give us hints on the sizing, features, and design of the forthcoming product, and the "iPad Pro" is no exception. We've previously seen what's said to be an iPad Pro dummy model for Apple's upcoming large-screened tablet, and today, French site Nowhereelse.fr [Google Translate] has shared an image of a case that may be designed for the device.

According to the site, the image of the case originated from a reliable source that the site has been in contact with "for many years." Though the case in the photo is not depicted next to an object to provide a size reference, it is clearly quite large and could fit a tablet in the range of 12.2 to 12.9 inches.

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The case appears to have two speaker cutouts at both the top and bottom, which would accommodate the stereo speakers that have been rumored for the device. There are also cutouts for a headphone jack at the top left of the case, volume buttons at the right, a camera cutout at the back, a Lightning port cutout at the bottom, and a power button cutout on the top right, all of which is in line with previous iPad Air and iPad mini designs.

The one unknown is a cutout on the left side of the case, which could possibly be for a SIM tray, suggesting that this is a case for a Cellular iPad Pro. Previous design drawings have not suggested that there's another port in that particular location.

Because case makers often create molds based on leaked design specs and information that may not be accurate in an effort to be the first to come out with accessories for a new product, some of the design elements could be slightly off. There have certainly been a few misses over the years when it comes to case design, mainly when rumors of a tapered iPhone were circulating, but for the most part, case leaks have been highly accurate.

The "iPad Pro," as it has been named by the media, is rumored to include a 12.2 to 12.9 inch screen, an A8X or A9 processor, and a design that is similar in style to the iPad Air or iPad mini, with a thin body and a high-resolution screen. Recent rumors have suggested that it could be the first Apple tablet to ship with an included stylus due to its size.

A launch date for Apple's larger iPad remains unclear, but rumors have suggested that it could be released in the second or third quarter of the year.






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iTunes Connect Issue Causing Developers to be Logged Into Wrong Accounts

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

A number of iTunes Connect developers have turned to Twitter and tipped us off about an ongoing issue where users are being shown someone else's session after attempting to login into their own account. MacRumors has been able to duplicate this issue, which appears to be widespread and has been going on since at least 8 AM Pacific.

iTunes Connect Issue
While other developer's apps are displayed in the iTunes Connect dashboard, attempting to take further action results in an "unable to process request" error and a redirect to the proper account. Sales and payment information are also not accessible for the mismatched account. For some other users, iTunes Connect also appears to be experiencing issues with logging in. Apple has yet to comment on the matter. This post will be updated as further details become known.






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Apple and Samsung Tied as World’s Largest Smartphone Makers in Q4 2014

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

The latest numbers from Strategy Analytics reveal that Apple tied Samsung during Q4 2014 to become the world's largest smartphone maker based on global shipments. According to the report, both Apple and Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones during the three-month period of October through December. Apple's number is an official figure from its financial results, while Samsung's number is an estimate since the company stopped reporting smartphone shipments a few years ago. The research firm adds that Apple and Samsung were last tied in smartphone market share in Q4 2011.

Apple Samsung
Apple experienced a record-breaking first quarter of the fiscal year because of strong demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The larger screen sizes of the two new smartphones were a major selling point for many consumers, attracting more new customers and Android converts than ever before. Meanwhile, Samsung reported a 27% quarterly decline in earnings earlier today amid tough competition from both Apple and up-and-coming Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi and Huawei.

Strategy Analytics claims that global smartphone shipments grew 31% annually to eclipse a record 380 million units in the fourth quarter. An estimated 1.3 billion smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2014, with strong growth in emerging markets such as China, India and Africa. Apple has experienced a lot of momentum in China, noting that its online sales in the region for 2014 were more than the previous five years combined.

Apple Samsung Mobile Vendors Q4 14
Apple also surpassed Microsoft to become the world's second largest mobile phone vendor on the strength of the United States and China. Apple's 74.5 million smartphone shipments placed ahead of Microsoft's 50.2 million units shipped, but were behind Samsung's market leading 95 million units shipped. Apple and Samsung have global mobile phone market shares of 14.5% and 18.4% respectively.






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Following Apple’s Record Quarter Announcement, Samsung Reports Profit Drop

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

On the heels of an earnings call that saw Apple announcing record earnings, rival phone maker Samsung today announced its own results for the October to December period, reporting a 27 percent year-over-year decline in profit.

Samsung saw net profit of 5.3 trillion won ($4.9 billion), compared to 7.3 trillion won last year, marking its first annual earnings decline in three years and its fifth consecutive quarter of decline. Apple, meanwhile, announced record earnings of $18 billion, largely due to the success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

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Overall, Samsung's 2014 profit was at 25 trillion won, down from 36.8 trillion won in 2013. Samsung did not announce mobile sales numbers, but Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the quarter.

Market research has suggested that Apple's share of the smartphone market in Asia rose dramatically after the launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. According to a recent report, Apple gained significant share in Japan, China, and South Korea, countries where Samsung has previously dominated due to demand for big screen smartphones.

While Samsung's mobile sales were down 64 percent year over year, its semiconductor division earned 2.7 trillion won due to high demand for the chips that it sells to companies like Apple, boosting earnings from the previous quarter and helping it meet guidance and beat analyst estimates.

Chip maker Qualcomm also reported its own earnings today [PDF], and noted the loss of a major customer thought to be Samsung. Samsung's Galaxy S6 is unlikely to feature the Snapdragon 810 processor due to issues with overheating, and the South Korean company may opt to use its own chips instead.

Samsung expects continued growth in its mobile division in 2015 in emerging markets, and it also plans to introduce "new materials, innovative design, and differentiated features" in its devices to drive sales.






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FTC Levies $40M Fine Against TracFone for Throttling Unlimited Data Customers

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

tracfone_4In recent months, the Federal Trade Commission has taken a significant interest in carrier throttling practices and today handed down a ruling that could have future ramifications for carriers who throttle their unlimited customers.

As reported by Re/code, the FTC has ordered prepaid wireless carrier TracFone to pay $40 million to consumers who paid for unlimited service and were then throttled after reaching certain data limits.

TracFone advertised "unlimited text, talk, and data" for $45 a month under the brands Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America, and until September 2013, did not clearly disclose its throttling policies that saw customers experiencing data speeds that were cut by up to 90 percent, thereby violating the FTC Act.

While this ruling only affects TracFone at the current time, there are several other carriers that have similar practices for their unlimited customers. AT&T and Verizon no longer offer unlimited data plans, but continue to provide unlimited data for many people who remain on grandfathered plans. AT&T has engaged in throttling practices for years, often cutting off customers who exceed 5GB of LTE data usage.
"The issue here is simple: when you promise consumers 'unlimited,' that means unlimited," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "This settlement means that Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America customers will be able to get money back from the company for services the company promised but didn't deliver."
Last year, Verizon planned to throttle its high-usage unlimited data LTE customers, sparking interest from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who said he was "deeply troubled" by the decision. Verizon ultimately reversed course and opted not to throttle its unlimited customers, but the FCC's attention was already roused, and the agency began questioning all carriers on their unlimited throttling practices.

The government's interest in carrier throttling practices led the FTC to file a federal complaint against AT&T in October of 2014, accusing the carrier of misleading its smartphone customers by charging them for unlimited data and then going on to reduce data speeds. Based on today's TracFone decision, AT&T may also be facing hefty fines in the future, and the FTC's ongoing interest in carrier throttling of unlimited customers could finally put an end to the practice.






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Sony’s ‘Music Unlimited’ Service Shutting Down After Failing to Emerge as Viable iTunes Alternative

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Sony announced on Wednesday that it will be shutting down its Music Unlimited on-demand streaming music service ahead of launching Spotify on PlayStation Music. Music Unlimited will shut down in all 19 countries it operated on March 29, 2015, with nearly all of the countries among the 41 regions that Spotify for PlayStation Music will be available upon launch, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

Sony Music Unlimited App
Music Unlimited launched in December 2010 on PlayStation Network in several countries worldwide, and the service was later extended to iPhone [Direct Link], Android, PlayStation Vita and other devices and platforms. In February 2011, it was reported that Sony viewed Music Unlimited as a potential iTunes Store alternative and that it was considering pulling music from Apple's platform if its own service became successful.
"If we do [get mass take up] then does Sony Music need to provide content to iTunes?" Mr Ephraim asked. "Currently we do. We have to provide it to iTunes as that's the format right now."

"Publishers are being held to ransom by Apple and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to see what the next three to five years will hold."
The on-demand streaming music landscape has gone through significant change in the past three years, however, and Music Unlimited failed to remain competitive with industry leaders such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and Beats Music. Music Unlimited users with active subscriptions will continue to have free access to the service through the March 29 closing date.






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Marissa Mayer Says Yahoo Would ‘Welcome the Opportunity’ to Become Default Safari Search Engine

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Yahoo AppYahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, during the company's quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, expressed interest in Yahoo becoming the default search engine in Safari. Mayer recognized the significance that getting Yahoo in front of Mac, iPhone and iPad could have for the search engine, referring to Apple's default web browser as "one of the premier search deals in the world if not the premier search deal in the world."
"The Safari platform is basically one of the premier search deals in the world if not the premier search deal in the world," Mayer told RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney. "We're definitely in the search distribution business. I think that we've stated that really clearly in the past and I think with Mozilla and also in addition we brought Amazon eBay on board with smaller distribution partnerships in Q4."
Google renewed its search partnership with Apple in 2010, although the contract is reportedly set to expire in 2015 and, supported by the fact that Google Maps and YouTube are no longer stock iOS apps, Apple is speculated to be considering a number of options. Back in November, it was reported that both Microsoft and Yahoo were courting Apple to become the default search engine in Safari.
"We're in the search distribution business and anyone who is in that business needs to be interested in the Safari deal. The Safari users are among the most engaged and lucrative users in the world and it's something we would really like to be able to provide.

We've worked really closely with Mozilla to ultimately bring to their users an experience that they designed and that they feel really suits those users and we would welcome the opportunity with any other partner to do the same, particularly one with Apple's volume and user base."
The New York Times, citing various reports from analysts, suggests that Google losing its Safari contract may not have much impact on the company's bottom line. The two important factors involved are how much Google is paying for its Safari search engine deal, and how many users would simply switch back to Google if Apple switched to Yahoo or another search provider as default.






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Quad-Core 2012 Mac Mini Mysteriously Reappears on Apple’s U.S. Online Store

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Apple today has mysteriously added back a 2012 model Mac mini to the Apple Online Store for $699. The over two-year-old machine still has the same hardware specifications as it did in 2012, including a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 4000. The listing also shows that the computer ships with OS X Mavericks installed.

2012 Mac Mini Apple Online Store
It is unknown if the outdated Mac mini has mistakenly resurfaced on the Apple Online Store, or if Apple intentionally reintroduced the model on its website. One plausible reason that Apple may be making this older Mac mini available for purchase again is to provide customers with a quad-core option, as the existing 2014 models are each powered by dual-core Intel Core i5 processors.

The entry-level Mac is listed as out of stock in the United States, and MacRumors could not find the model listed for sale elsewhere after spot checks of the Apple Online Store in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and several other countries. Apple still offers a refurbished version of the same 2012 Mac mini for $589 on its website, although that model is also currently out of stock.






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Apple Reports Record Earnings and iPhone Sales: $18B Profit on $74.6B in Revenue for Q1 2015

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Apple today announced financial results for the first fiscal quarter of 2015, which corresponds to the fourth calendar quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $74.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $18 billion, or $3.06 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $57.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, or $1.98 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 39.9 percent compared to 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 65 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.47 per share, payable on February 9 to shareholders of record as of February 12. The company currently holds $178 billion in cash and marketable securities.

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Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the quarter, up from 51 million a year earlier, while Mac sales were also strong with 5.5 million units sold, up from 4.8 million units in the year-ago quarter. iPad sales were down, however, falling to 21.4 million from 26 million.
“We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our revenue grew 30 percent over last year to $74.6 billion, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal.”
Apple's guidance for the second quarter of fiscal 2015 includes expected revenue of $52-55 billion and gross margin between 38.5 and 39.5 percent.

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Apple will provide live streaming of its fiscal Q1 2015 financial results conference call at 2:00 PM Pacific, and MacRumors will update this story with coverage of the conference call highlights.

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