Apple releases iOS 6.1 update

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Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 07:20
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

You’ve been hankering after it for a while and it’s finally here.

On Thursday, Apple released its iOS 6.1 update. The new operating system, a several hundred megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:
- LTE support for more carriers (complete list of supported carriers).

- Purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri (USA only).

- iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual songs from iCloud.

- New button to reset the Advertising Identifier.

iOS 6.1 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second, third or fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.1 works for you in the comments, no matter what the feedback may be.

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 announces 36 international wireless carriers moving to 4G LTE networks in 2013

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Date: Thursday, January 24th, 2013, 08:31
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

If you’re traveling internationally with your iPhone 5, this will come in handy.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will more than double the number of carriers that support fast 4G LTE data service for its flagship iPhone 5 next week, with 36 new LTE carriers joining its existing pool of 24.

When asked about “the pace of LTE build outs across the globe, in Europe or parts of Asia” and how that could have an impact on Apple’s iPhone business as LTE capacity becomes more available, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook outlined big expansion plans beginning next week.

“Today we have 24 carriers around the world that provide LTE support for iPhone 5. Those are in countries like the US, Korea, the UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia and a few others,” Cook said.

“Next week,” he added, “we’re adding 36 more carriers for LTE support. These carriers will be in countries that we are not currently supporting LTE.”

Cook specifically noted new carriers “in Italy, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Philippines, and also several middle eastern countries,” pointing out that “if you look at the total of all of these, the incremental subscribers in those countries it’s over 300 million.”

That subscriber total of the 36 country expansion is just over 10 percent larger than Verizon Wireless, which is currently the world’s largest LTE carrier, with about 257 million subscribers. Verizon just announced having sold 9.8 million smartphones in the winter quarter, 6.2 million of which were iPhones.

In addition to carriers supporting LTE, Cook also drew attention to iPhone 5′s ability to work with other advanced data networks, noting, “as you know iPhone 5 also supports other ultra fast networks like HSPA+, with downloads up to 42Mbps, which is 3 times the speed as iPhone 4S.”

Cook concluded his comments on global carrier expansion by saying, “we feel really good about the situation we are in, particularly with these adds next week.”

Apple first launched LTE support one year ago for its third generation iPad introducing a Retina Display. Last September, Apple launched iPhone 5 as its first LTE phone, expanding LTE and HSPA+ support to new carriers globally.

Apple currently sells three versions of iPhone 5 (and new iPad 4 and iPad mini models equipped with LTE mobile data): a model that works exclusively with American AT&T and Canadian carriers using LTE bands 4 and 17; a model supporting CDMA carriers Verizon and Sprint in the US and KDDI in Japan, using LTE bands 1,3,5,13 and 25; and a third model supporting LTE bands 1, 3 and 5, sold to subscribers in Germany, the UK, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Softbank in Japan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.)

Opera demos “Ice” web browser for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Monday, January 21st, 2013, 08:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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It never hurts to have a wider array of web browser choices for your iOS device.

Per Pocket Lint and AppleInsider, Opera Software on Friday unveiled its latest project, a WebKit-based mobile browser called “Opera Ice” that is specifically designed for screen formats seen on popular smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad.

In an internal video released on Friday, Opera gave a brief look at a beta of the new app, which features an icon-based interface much like the optional homescreens seen on desktop versions of Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome browsers.



According to the developers, the app was designed to hide the usual clutter seen with modern web browsers, including the ubiquitous URL bar, that takes up limited screen real estate on mobile devices. The so-called “full touch browser” does away with buttons and menus to create a spartan user interface driven by screen taps and gestures.

Instead of the Presto rendering engine that Opera has used for years, Ice is based on WebKit, the same engine used by both Apple and Google. The move is meant to keep Opera in the fast-changing mobile market.

“We need to focus on getting strong products out on iOS and Android,” said Opera CEO Lars Boilesen.

As for the company’s current mobile solution, Opera mini, Boilesen said that it won’t be replaced by Ice. Instead, the platform will be leveraged to generate users that will eventually be migrated over to new mobile apps. Opera Ice is expected to debut sometime in February, while a new unannounced desktop browser is slated for a March release.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple allies with Merchants Bank Co. to offer installment-based payment plans to Chinese customers

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Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 09:06
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail

If you’re buying Apple equipment in China, there’s a payment plan for you.

Per Bloomberg, Apple on Thursday introduced a new option for Chinese buyers of iPhones and MacBooks, allowing them to spread the cost of purchases ranging from from 300 yuan (US$48) to 30,000 yuan (US$4,800) over as long as two years.

The new installment payment plans require a China Merchants Bank Co. credit card, with fees ranging from zero percent for a three-month installment plan to 8.5 percent for a 24-month plan. The payment structure likely represents Apple’s attempt at making its products, typically priced at a premium, more affordable for urban Chinese workers.

The article noted that Apple fell from fourth to sixth place in China’s smartphone market in the third quarter and now trails firms such as ZTE, Samsung, and Lenovo, whose smartphone offerings are more affordable than Apple’s iPhone.

Industry observers have long held that a cheaper iPhone would give Apple control over the growing Chinese market, and the financing move may allow Apple to retain its typical profit margins and brand image while widening its base of potential buyers in what will soon become the world’s largest market.

The iPhone 5, which hit the Chinese market last month, costs 5,288 yuan on Apple’s site, or about six weeks’ pay for the average urban worker. By comparison, handsets from competitors often cost less than 1,000 yuan.

Sales of other Apple products have demonstrated demand for the Cupertino company’s devices, as the iPad mini debuted to “insatiable demand” in China last December. Apple has increased its focus on the country accordingly, with chief executive Tim Cook visiting China twice in the past 10 months, most recently meeting with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to enable FaceTime for tiered customers with compatible iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 08:00
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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Nothing like a little competition to get the wireless carriers to try to beat each other’s offerings.

That and the FCC yelling at you to do it sort of helps.

Per the company’s blog, AT&T announced on Wednesday it will enable FaceTime over cellular at no extra cost to any customers with a tiered data plan and compatible iOS device.

The announcement was made on the carrier’s website by Mark Collins, senior vice president of voice and data products. The change means that iPhone 4S customers with tiered plans will be able to make FaceTime calls over the AT&T network.

“We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks,” Collins wrote. “Customers do not need to do anything — the update will be applied automatically over the next few months.”

FaceTime over cellular will not come to older devices such as the iPhone 4 or second-generation iPad, even if they are running iOS 6. But that’s because the hardware does not support mobile FaceTime connections — a decision made by Apple, not AT&T.

Previously, AT&T had restricted FaceTime over cellular to customers who had switched to its Mobile Share plans, as well as those with an LTE device, such as the iPhone 5 or latest iPad, on a tiered plan.

AT&T came under fire for its initial decision, and the company was compelled to defend itself in a statement claiming its plan complied with Federal Communications Commissions that prohibit carriers from blocking services that compete with their own. The carrier argued that its decision was in compliance because AT&T does not offer its own competing preloaded video chat application.

AT&T began quietly activating FaceTime over cellular for more subscribers in November. At the time, some users who had grandfathered unlimited data plans said they too were able to use FaceTime. However, Wednesday’s announcement indicated the ability will only extend to customers who have tiered data plans.

If you get a chance to try FaceTime over AT&T’s cellular connections and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

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.

Fourth-gen Wi-Fi, cellular iPad to arrive alongside iPad mini in China on January 18th

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Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013, 08:09
Category: iPad, News, retail

Come Friday, the newest and coolest iPad will be available in China.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple CEO Tim Cook has teased that Wi-Fi + cellular versions would hit China sometime this month, and it looks like January 18 is indeed the magic day. Cellular-capable versions of both the iPad mini and 4th gen iPad with Retina will be offered at Apple retailers and on the web via the Apple Online Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re in/around China and have noticed the 4th-gen iPad or the iPad mini surface, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to release updated iPad, iPad mini models in March

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Date: Friday, January 11th, 2013, 09:42
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Come March…you may buy the next generation of iPad.

Per AppleInsider, a new rumor has pegged both the full-size iPad and iPad mini as due for updates in March.

Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets said his checks with industry sources at this week’s CES event in Las Vegas, Nev., indicated both the fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will debut this March, just five months after the last update was announced.

White was told that the new “iPad 5″ will be lighter and thinner than the fourth-generation model Apple released late last year. The updated model features a new A6X processor and Apple’s smaller Lightning chip but maintained the same design as the third-generation iPad released last March.

As for the iPad mini, White said the second-generation device is expected to have the same form factor. A new model would likely just have upgraded components, such as a faster chip.

No mention was made of a potential high-resolution Retina display in a new iPad mini. One report from last month claimed Apple was focused on boosting the resolution of the next-generation iPad mini.

Though many industry insiders attend CES, Apple does not have an official presence at the annual event. White did not indicate the source of his information aside from unnamed “checks” at the show.

White also reported last week that Apple is expected to debut new iPhones this summer in more sizes and colors, expanding the lineup from the current black and white options. He expects the new iPhones to debut in the May-June timeframe, which would be earlier than the last two years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.