Rumor: Apple may incorporate fingerprint sensor into iPhone “Home” button for next-gen models

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Date: Friday, January 25th, 2013, 08:34
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, Rumor

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is expected to launch a new iPhone this year with a fingerprint sensor hidden beneath the home button — an intuitive design that could be difficult for competing Android and Windows Phone devices to copy.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec to pay off this year with the so-called “iPhone 5S,” the company’s anticipated next-generation handset. He believes Apple will find a way to integrate the fingerprint sensor into the home button, allowing Apple to retain its “minimalist design.”

In contrast, many Android and Windows Phone devices have more than one button below the display, and those buttons frequently lack the mechanical push of Apple’s home button. As a result, attempts to integrate fingerprint scanning on competing devices would be less intuitive, and could frustrate users, Kuo said.

He believes that with the addition of a fingerprint sensor below the iPhone’s home button, Apple will be able to replace the use of usernames and passwords, allowing users to authenticate in a more efficient manner. He also expects that the fingerprint scanner will integrate with applications such as Passbook to enhance their functionality.

Kuo has a particularly strong track record in predicting Apple’s future product pipeline. Last year, the analyst accurately forecast the company’s entire fall lineup, including the taller design of the iPhone 5 and iPod touch, thinner iMacs, the iPad mini, and the fourth-generation iPad with Lightning connector.

Beyond the “iPhone 5S,” Kuo expects a new handset based on the iPhone 5 design will also launch this year. Kuo’s comments are in line with recent rumors, that have pegged Apple as planning to release a more affordable iPhone model this year targeted at emerging markets.

Kuo believes the less expensive iPhone 5 will feature a new design, including a plastic casing, to cut costs and expand Apple’s iPhone lineup.

The analyst has also predicted that the iPad mini will gain a Retina display in 2013, while the full-size iPad will sport a lighter and thinner design with a smaller bezel. He also expects new Retina MacBook Pros with cheaper prices, the discontinuation of the legacy MacBook Pros, and a refresh to the Apple TV set-top box — but no full-fledged television set this year.

Apple posts $54.5 billion in revenue, $13.1 billion profit for Q1 2013 financial returns

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Date: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 21:21
Category: Apple TV, Finance, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail

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It was a profitable quarter, but there were setbacks compared to last year.

Per Macworld, for the company’s first fiscal quarter of 2013, Apple posted revenue of US$54.5 billion and a net profit of US$13.1 billion. Revenue rose 17.7 percent from the 2012 first quarter, while profit was flat year-over-year. Apple earned US$13.81 per share, down half-a-percentage point from the US$13.87 it earned in the year-ago quarter.

Apple’s quarterly performance was in line with Wall Street expectations. Analysts were looking for sales of around US$54.7 billion for the quarter and earnings per share of US$13.42.

iPhone sales hit a record for the quarter ended Dec. 29, 2012, up 29 percent year over year to 47.8 million phones. That was within the 46 to 47 million range analysts were looking for. Apple says it sold 3.7 million phones a week during the quarter, compared to weekly sales of 2.6 million during the 2012 quarter.

iPhone sales growth was strong in all sales regions, Oppenheimer said, but particularly in Greater China, which includes China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Sales doubled year over year in that region.

Oppenheimer credited the “tremendous popularity” of iPhone 5 for driving Apple’s phone business—a not so subtle slap at rumors of sluggish iPhone 5 sales. Breaking with Apple’s typical practice of not addressing rumors, Cook did dismiss reports of iPhone order cuts.

iPad sales also set a new high-water mark, with 22.9 million tablets sold, compared to 15.4 million last year. That translates to more than 1.7 million iPads sold per week, a 60 percent increase from the year-ago quarter, according to Oppenheimer.

As is its custom, Apple didn’t break out sales figures between iPad models—it currently offers the iPad 2, a fourth-generation model of its full-sized iPad, and the iPad mini. Oppenheimer called the smaller version of Apple’s tablet a “tremendous hit.”

For the quarter, Apple sold more than 75 million iOS devices.

The company sold 12.7 million iPods, down about 21 percent compared to the year before. The iPod touch was (as always) popular during the holidays, and still accounts for more than half of all iPods sold. The company claims that the iPod owns more then 70 percent of the market for MP3 players.

iTunes generated US$2.1 billion in revenue, and the company established new all-time quarterly sales records for music, movies, and apps. The company added music stores in 56 countries, for a total of 119 around the world. The App Store sold 2 billion downloads in December; cumulative downloads have surpassed 40 billion, generating US$7 billion in payments to developers.

Apple made brief mention of its Apple TV offering, noting that it sold more than 2 million settop boxes during the holiday season quarter. That’s a 60 percent increase from the prior year.

Revenue from Apple’s retail effort was US$6.4 billion—an all-time high and a 5 percent increase over the 2012 first quarter. The company says that revenue is largely due to iPad and iPhone sales.

Apple opened 11 new stores, including four in its Greater China region. It expects to invest a bit less than US$1 billion in its retail stores this fiscal year.

Apple once again noted that the cumulative downloads have now surpassed 40 billion for the App Store, generating US$7 billion for developers. There were 2 billion downloads in the month of December alone.

Unusually, Apple did not break out the percentage of customers who purchased Macs at Apple Stores who were new to the platform. (In the past, that company has hovered consistently around 50 percent.) That omission could be a byproduct of the dip in Mac sales during the quarter.

For the second quarter ending in March, Apple expects sales to come in between US$41 and US$43 billion. That number would be slightly ahead of the US$39.2 billion in revenue the company logged in the 2012 second quarter. Apple is no longer giving analysts a forecast on earnings per share for the quarter, instead providing its expectations for gross margin and operating expenses in addition to revenue. (Apple expects gross margin to be between 37.5 and 38.5 percent for the upcoming quarter while operating expenses will come in at US$3.8 and US$3.9 billion.)

Rumor: Apple to release all-Retina iPad, MacBook Pro lineups in 2013

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Date: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013, 08:09
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, MacBook Pro, Rumor

Even though it’s a rumor, there’s got to be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has made his Apple hardware predictions for the upcoming year, and expects a bevy of new iOS and Mac product releases will help the iPhone maker address a wider swath of the market

Kuo, who has seen previous success in predicting future Apple products, says the company will introduce a number of new iOS devices in 2013, including an inexpensive iPhone 5, upgraded iPhone 5S, Retina display-toting second-gen iPad mini and a redesigned fifth-generation iPad, among others. He goes on to say that Apple will retire the non-Retina MacBook Pro line and replace it with an all-Retina lineup at a lower price.

Kuo is quick to note that none of the product forecasts are expected in the first quarter of 2013 and says “many” will be introduced in the second half of the year.

According to the analyst, Apple will release both an iPhone 5S with updated internals as well as an inexpensive version of the current iPhone 5 design with a thicker plastic chassis available in six colors. The iPhone 5S, which Kuo believes will launch sometime in June or July, will have largely the same aesthetic as the existing model, but will boast a built-in fingerprint sensor, improved camera and more powerful A7 SoC. A slightly revamped “new design” iPhone 5 is expected to go on sale as a less-expensive alternative to Apple’s flagship handset at around the same time, with the affordable price tag attributed to a plastic exterior that will be available in multiple colorways.

Kuo believes a new fifth-generation 9.7-inch iPad will launch with lighter frame and a more refined look, borrowing the narrow bezels seen on the iPad mini. In turn, the smaller tablet will move to generation two and get a Retina display that sports the same 2,048-by-1,536 pixel screen resolution as the existing full-size iPad. By using an identical resolution, app makers won’t have to make software changes to fit a new native format. The same thinking was used when the iPad mini was released with a resolution identical to the iPad 2.

As for Apple’s MacBook, the analyst sees an end of life for non-Retina MacBook Pros, which will be replaced by an all-Retina lineup that eschews optical drives. Pricing should be reduced to help move units. The MacBook Air will see little change besides a bump in internal specs as sizing down the high-resolution Retina display is seen as too steep a challenge at this time. Because the Air will not see a significant design change, the tweaked models are expected to arrive earlier in the year, with the all-Retina MacBook Pro line coming in quarter three.

In respect to the iPod product line, Kuo isn’t expecting much in the way of revolutionary changes. With the fifth-gen iPod touch released, Apple will likely introduce a cheaper variant of the current design without a camera and less built-in memory to reach a target price of US$199.

Finally, 2013 is expected to be the last year in which the Apple TV is considered a “hobby,” but Kuo doesn’t believe the company will introduce a full-fledged television set in the next 12 months. The existing media streamer is likely to morph into a serious business — possibly a full-fledged HDTV — in 2014, as Apple already has the infrastructure to support such a device with iTunes, the App Store and iCloud services. What the company lacks, however, is experience in the industry, especially concerning the establishment of a reliable supply chain. Kuo looks to the much-rumored “iTV” as a source of growth in the coming years.

Apple releases updated iOS 6.1 beta, Apple TV beta and Xcode 4.6 preview to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:08
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

The iOS updates, they’re en route…

Per AppleInsider, a new build of iOS 6.1 was provided to developers on Monday, less than two weeks after the first beta was issued, along with a new preview of Xcode 4.6, and new beta software for the Apple TV.

Sources familiar with the second beta of iOS 6.1 indicated it is known as build 10B510c. It’s compatible with the fourth-, third- and second-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, and fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The second beta of iOS 6.1 arrived Monday alongside a new Xcode 4.6 Developer Preview 2, said to be known as build 4H95e, as well as a new beta software release for the Apple TV set-top box.

As with the previous beta of iOS 6.1, the latest build enhances the Map Kit framework in iOS, allowing developers to search for map-based addresses and points of interest.

In one example provided to developers, users could search the string “coffee,” and it would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

Relevance behavior rules have also changed with Passbook iOS 6.1 for boarding passes with both a date and location. Developers are encouraged to provide both piece of information, when appropriate, to make boarding passes relevant for a longer window of time.

Because it is beta software, a number of known issues remain with iOS 6.1. For example, Apple has notified developers that when browsing for TV shows in iTunes Store, options to view content by networks, genres and Genius recommendations are not available.

Sources who tested the first beta of iOS 6.1 indicated that the software was relatively stable, aside from some crashing issues that were present when using the camera’s panorama mode.

The last update to iOS arrived in the form of software version 6.0.1 earlier this month. It addressed a number of minor bugs with the software, including screen distortion, issues with the camera flash, and problems with Exchange.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new betas and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple TV updated to 5.1, Shared Photo Streams, other features added

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 11:01
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s almost never bad to have a spiffy Apple TV update.

Apple on Monday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding the following fixes and changes to its operating system:

– Shared Photo Streams — Accept invitations for Shared Photo Streams, browse photos and comments, and receive notifications of new content.

– AirPlay — Send audio content from Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices (including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs). Also includes the ability to require an onscreen code to use AirPlay with your Apple TV.

– iTunes account switching — Save multiple iTunes accounts and switch quickly between them.

– Trailers — Search movie trailers. In the United States, see show times for local theaters.

– Screen savers — New Cascade, Shrinking Tiles, and Sliding Panels screen savers.

– Main menu— Reorder icons on the second page by holding down the select button on the remote.

– Subtitles — SDH support for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as improvements to viewing and selecting subtitles.

– Network configuration — Support for setting up advanced network options using configuration profiles.

– Stability and performance — Includes general performance and stability improvements.

Users can now download Apple TV Software Update 5.1 by going into the Settings section of the device, choosing General, and then selecting Update Software.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Hulu Plus quietly appears on Apple TV devices, no update needed

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 06:50
Category: Apple TV, News

Soon you will watch Hulu Plus on your Apple TV.

And it’ll have all the nifty perks of Hulu Plus.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding a new application for the Hulu Plus streaming video service.

The subscription service appeared on users’ Apple TV home screens on Tuesday without the need for a software update. Those who subscribe to the Hulu Plus service can log in to access their account, while new users are offered a free one-week trial.

Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as third-party content providers available on the Apple TV. They join Apple’s own iTunes content available for sale or rental.

The US$10-per-month Hulu Plus service debuted in mid-2010, offering access to back episodes of popular shows like “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “Glee.” Users of the service have previously been able to access Hulu Plus on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has steadily added new applications to the Apple TV even without the availability of a dedicated App Store, like exists on the iPhone, iPad and even Mac platforms. Streaming MLB and NBA games were added along with 5.1 sound support for Netflix in March of 2011, while NHL games, Wall Street Journal Live, Photo Stream, AirPlay Mirroring and iTunes Trailers were added with a software update last October.

This fall, the functionality of the Apple TV will grow with the launch of iOS 6. Developer previews of the forthcoming software update have the added ability to reorder icons on the Apple TV home screen, much like users can do on an iPhone or iPad. The third iOS 6 beta for Apple TV also added enhanced AirPlay control, allowing users to actively stream audio to external AirPlay-capable speakers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV 5.0.2 update goes live

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 13:28
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday updated its Apple TV software to version 5.0.2 for second and third generation units.

Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV Software Update, released as build 9B830, brings unknown fixes to both the second and third generation set-top media streamers. Apple’s support web page has yet to divulge the contents of the update, but a more detailed description should be posted in the near future.

The quick download showed no visible changes to the UI or content meaning that the update may be a fix for backend performance issues or preparation for as-yet unreleased features set to be announced at WWDC next week.

To install the new 5.0.2 version on your Apple TV, navigate to the “Update Software” menu option under Settings > General.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

And if anything caught fire or the dog proposed to the cat as a result of the 5.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

Apple TV OS may surface at WWDC

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 06:00
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor, Software

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Even an HDTV may need its own custom operating system.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple may show off an updated version of its Apple TV operating system at next week’s World Wide Developer Conference.

The new version is expected to be packed with more features, and will be the version of the OS on Apple’s rumored upcoming HDTV, the report says. Apple is reportedly talking to manufacturers about using a new “control out” application programming interface that allows accessories to work with the new Apple TV operating system and television. The idea is to allow users to control any component with an Apple remote.

The article also stated that Apple won’t be showing the HDTV at WWDC. The show is expected to feature an updated version of its iOS mobile platform, and likely the debut of updated MacBook notebooks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins manufacturing first batch of HDTV units

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:20
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

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Apple’s HDTV units might be en route relatively soon.

Per China Business News, Apple this month is reported to have begun production of the first prototypes of its much-anticipated connected television sets at one of its overseas manufacturing facilities ahead of a general production ramp expected to begin late in the 2012 calendar year.

The news, which was attributed to “informed sources”, was picked up and translated by the WantChinaTimes web site earlier on Monday.

In particular, the publication cited its sources as saying that this initial build plan is taking place in one of Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants as a trial production run, which typically produces a small number of assembly-line-quality prototypes for Apple to put through its design test verification stages. No further details were reported.

While Apple’s foray into the big-screen, connected TV business has been a popular topic of discussion amongst industry watchers for several years, few — if any — reliable details surrounding the project have surfaced outside of a claim by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ secret to a simple HDTV.

Jobs’s vision for a connected TV, disclosed vaguely to Isaacson prior to his passing last October, would see the device synced with all of a user’s devices, and with Apple’s iCloud service.

The simplified HDTV would reportedly spare users from having to use complex remotes for multiple devices like DVD players and cable boxes. More specifically, Isaacson wrote in the best-selling biography that Jobs “wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”

Earlier this month, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his manufacturing firm was “making preparations” for an Apple television, but development or manufacturing had not yet begun. But days later, Gou issued a statement to reporters in which he backtracked on those claims, stating that “[a]ny reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 5.0.1 update, adds HD previews, other fixes

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It may not be the biggest update in the world, but it makes a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday released Software Update Version 5.0.1 for second and third generation Apple TVs, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes to the set-top media streamers.

The update includes the following fixes and changes:

– Fixing an issue that caused some iOS app to have trouble connecting via AirPlay.

– Improving the reliability of Home Sharing connections; addressing an unspecified issue with Neflix login and navigation.

– Fixes for issues affecting stability and performance.

The software is meant for second and third generation Apple TVs only and can be downloaded on the unit by navigating to Settings > General > Update Software.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know about your experience in the comments.