Rumor: Apple “completes” cloud-based music streaming service, users unsure what to expect

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Date: Friday, April 22nd, 2011, 03:10
Category: iTunes, News, Software

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For those of you wondering what the future of Apple’s music plans may be, we might have a hint.

Per the All Things Digital blog, a new report claims that Apple has succeeded in procuring deals with at least two of the four big music labels in the last two months, possibly signaling that the rumored iTunes streaming music service is imminent.

The story reported Thursday that Apple is “actively seeking licenses” for a new cloud-based music locker service and is willing to pay labels for the privilege.

According to author Peter Kafka’s sources, Apple has inked deals with two of the for major labels, which include Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI within the last two months. One source claimed Apple VP Eddy Cue will be in New York on Friday in an attempt to solidify remaining deals.

“They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” Kafka reported an industry executive as saying. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.”

Kafka’s sources have yet to see the service for themselves, but say they’re aware of the “broad strokes.” “The idea is that Apple will let users store songs they’ve purchased from its iTunes store, as well as others songs stored on their hard drives, and listen to them on multiple devices,” Kafka wrote in his report.

The report comes on the heels of a Reuters report earlier Thursday that claimed Apple had “completed work” on a cloud-based iTunes music streaming service. Citing anonymous sources, the report said Apple is “set to launch” the service, which would store users’ songs on a remote server and allow them to access them from “wherever they have an Internet connection.”

However, a Reuters report claimed that Apple had yet to arrive at new licensing agreements with the labels.

Rival Amazon launched a digital music locker last month without new licensing approval. The online retailer has reportedly faced a backlash from the music industry as a result.

According to Kafka, Apple would be able to create a more “robust service” than Amazon with re-negotiated licenses. That service could include “better user interfaces, sound quality, and other features,” said Kafka.

For example, Kafka has heard that Apple’s new deals with the labels would allow the company to “store a single master copy of a song on its servers and share it with multiple users.”

Apple’s upcoming music streaming service could come in the form of an enhanced version of MobileMe. In February, it was reported that Apple plans to revamp its MobileMe offerings by adding a free ‘locker’ service for storing photos, music and videos.

In 2009, Apple bought streaming music service Lala for $85 million, prompting speculation that iTunes streaming was in the works. However, Apple shuttered Lala last year and the rumored service has yet to materialize.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iBooks 1.2.2 update

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Date: Friday, April 22nd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released a minor update to its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.2.2 includes “a number of important stability and performance improvements” for playing video with enhanced books from the iBookstore, incorrect fonts being displayed, and navigational responsiveness.

The new version’s fixes and changes include the following:
- Addresses issues playing video included with enhanced books from the iBookstore.

- Resolves a problem where some books open with a different font than expected.

- Makes iBooks more responsive when navigating books with many items in their table of contents.

iBooks requires an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Adobe Reader, Adobe Reader Pro updated to 10.0.3

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Date: Thursday, April 21st, 2011, 09:50
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Adobe released version 10.0.3 of its Adobe Reader application. The update, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses critical security vulnerabilities while providing more stability. Adobe always recommends that you install the latest security updates.

Acrobat Reader 10.0.3 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

iPad 2 ship times drop to 1-2 weeks in some locations

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Date: Thursday, April 21st, 2011, 04:52
Category: iPad, News

If you wanted an iPad 2 but were waiting for it, the wait time just got shorter.

Per AppleInsider, new iPad 2 orders placed through Apple’s online store are now estimated to ship within one to two weeks, as availability of the popular touchscreen tablet continues to improve.

Shipping times of one to two weeks are not just limited to America. Other countries, including Canada, Mexico and Australia, also ship in the same timeframe. Apple’s online stores in Europe, however, still estimate a wait of two to three weeks.

The improved shipping times are yet another sign that supply for the iPad 2 is catching up with demand. Since the device launched in the U.S. and 25 other countries around the world in March, Apple has seen huge demand for the second-generation device.

Wednesday’s change to shipping times comes weeks after they improved to two to three weeks in early April. Prior to that, new buyers had to wait over a month for their iPad 2 to ship from Apple.

The improved shipping times also come as Apple has expanded retail availability of the iPad 2. On Sunday, some Toys R Us locations in the U.S. began selling Apple’s tablet, and in late March, the iPad 2 went on sale at 500 stores owned by RadioShack.

This month, the iPad 2 is scheduled to launch in Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, as well as additional yet-unnamed countries. Like retail availability in the U.S., international expansion of the iPad 2 has occurred at a much faster pace than with the first-generation iPad.

If you’ve seen your iPad 2 ship time improve, please let us know.

Apple reports $24.67 billion in revenue, $5.99 billion profit for second quarter

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Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, 15:05
Category: Finance, News

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As irked as you may be with Apple from time to time, there’s no doubting this: the company makes a profit and is around for the long haul.

Per Macworld, Apple announced the results of its second fiscal quarter, citing sales of US$24.67 billion and a net profit of US$5.99 billion, according to figures announced by the company Wednesday.

The company’s quarterly revenue, a record figure for the second quarter, beat year-ago sales by 83%. Profits also set a record for the quarter, and improved 95% over the US$3.07 billion in profit the company tallied in the 2010 second quarter.

Apple earned US$6.40 per share, beating last year’s second-quarter earnings of US$3.33 per share by 92%. Apple’s performance also blew away analyst estimates. Analysts were looking for the company to report US$23.34 billion in revenue and earnings of US$5.36 per share for the quarter.

During the conference call, Apple stated that it had sold 18.65 million iPhones during the quarter, which ended March 26. This figure represents an increase of 113% from the 8.75 million phones Apple sold over the same period last year. The company recorded recognized revenue of US$12.3 billion in the just-completed quarter, an increase of 126%.

All told, Apple ended its fiscal second quarter with the iPhone available in 90 countries through 186 carriers, compared to 185 carriers in 90 countries at the end of the first quarter; Apple Chief Financial Office Peter Oppenheimer noted that there had been some carrier contraction during the last three months that offset the addition of new partners such as Verizon in the U.S., SK Telecom in South Korea, and Saudi Telecom in Saudi Arabia.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs during the second quarter, an increase of 28% over the 2.9 million Macs sold during the year-ago period. That set a record for Mac sales during the March quarter, Oppenheimer said. In particular, Mac sales compared favorably with the overall PC market, which contracted at a rate of 3% during the quarter, according to figures from IDC. That marks the twentieth consecutive quarter that Apple has outgrown the PC market, although sales numbers were below those posted by Apple for the last two quarters.

Notebooks continue to be the big driver for Mac sales, with the 2.7 million portables making up 73% of the Macs sold during the quarter. In addition to the February revamp of the MacBook Pro line, Apple also reaped the benefits of last year’s MacBook Air updates. The 1 million desktops sold were only more than during one of the last five quarters.

Apple also made notable gains internationally with Macs, seeing 76% growth in the Asia Pacific region on a year-over-year basis.

The iPad 2 shipped at the end of the quarter, on March 11 in the U.S. and on March 25 in 25 additional countries, which helped spur sales of Apple’s tablet. All told, Apple sold 4.69 million iPads during the quarter, though it didn’t break down those sales between the iPad 2 and the original model. In total, Apple has sold 19.48 million iPads since the product was released in April 2010.

Unfortunately, iPod sales continued their decline, though Apple says that the product line’s performance was ahead of expectations. The company sold 9.02 million iPods during the quarter, a drop of 17% from last year’s second-quarter figures. More than half of the iPods sold during the quarter were the iPod touch, according to Apple’s figures.

Despite that decline, Oppenheimer said that the total iPod sales were ahead of Apple’s expectation, and that the iPod remains the top-selling MP3 player in most of the countries where that data is tracked, and continues to hold onto its market-leading position in the U.S.

Apple found a silver lining in the performance of its iTunes online business, however. That segment tallied US$1.1 billion in revenues, its best quarter ever, according to Oppenheimer.

With Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail outlets approaching their 10th anniversary next month, Oppenheimer noted that the retail chains should see their 1 billionth visitor in a matter of days. During the second quarter, 71.1 million people visited the app store, up from 47 million visitors in the 2010 second quarter.

Revenue from the retail stores grew 90% to US$3.19 billion. Apple says it sold 797,000 Macs through its retail outlets, an increase of 32% from last year. About half of the Macs sold at the Apple Store were to newly minted Mac users.

Apple still plans to open 40 new stores during the 2011 fiscal year, with two-thirds of those outlets opening outside of the U.S. That includes a fifth Apple Store in China.

For the third quarter ending in June, Apple expects revenue of about US$23 billion and earnings per share of US$5.03. That compares to US$15.7 billion in revenue and earnings of US$3.51 a share for the third quarter of 2010. Prior to Wednesday’s call, analysts were looking for sales of US$23.8 billion and earnings of US$5.25 per share for the June quarter.

HBO Go to launch in early May, stream content to mobile and iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, 03:08
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

If you love the HBO Go online streaming service that allows subscribers to watch their shows as they please, you’ll like this. Per Engadget, HBO Go is slated to hit smartphones and tablets early next month. Android and iOS HBO Go apps have been teased by a new video on HBO’s YouTube channel, with promises of “instant and unlimited access” to “every episode of every season” of your favorite shows, garnished with a selection of hit movies.



The apps and streaming will be free to HBO subscribers, who’ll be able to get their content over both 3G and Wi-Fi connections. May 2nd is the date on which the teaser video ends, though it doesn’t explicitly say that the service will go live then.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2.2 update

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Date: Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, 03:14
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 10.2.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 24.5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses an issue where iTunes may become unresponsive when syncing an iPad.

- Resolves an issue which may cause syncing photos with iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to take longer than necessary.

- Fixes a problem where video previews on the iTunes Store may skip while playing.

- Addresses other issues that improve stability and performance.

iTunes 10.2.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Newer MacBook Air notebooks arriving with faster Blade solid-state drives

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Date: Monday, April 18th, 2011, 04:27
Category: MacBook Air, News

You may be getting a bit more than you paid for with some of the latest MacBook Air notebook units.

Per AnandTech, Apple eventually included a commercially available Toshiba Blade X-gale solid state drive module, model TS128C with the notebook.

Reports have surfaced showing MacBook Airs equipped with a second, even faster SSD with a SM128C part number — the “SM” hinting at its presumed Samsung manufacturing origins. Samsung’s SSD manages up to 260MBps read and 210MBps write speeds compared to Toshiba’s 210MBps read and 185MBps write performance. While it’s hardly unusual for Apple to multi-source components, aa recent decision to source parts from Korea’s Samsung would have been a smart move to keep just-in-time supply lines fully stocked following the spate of disasters in Toshiba’s home country of Japan. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any way of confirming which SSD you’re about to purchase without cracking open the retail box and running the OS X System Profiler…

To sum it up, you might get a bit luckier than you expected when snagging the current MacBook Air, it’s just a matter of chance.

Apple snags Kevin Timmons from Microsoft to run data center efforts

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Date: Friday, April 15th, 2011, 03:57
Category: News

With Apple’s recent forays into data centers, they’re going to need qualified people to run them.

Per Data Center Knowledge, Apple has scooped up Kevin Timmons, general manager of datacenter services at Microsoft. Currently, Timmons’ position and responsibilities are not known, thought the report indicated that Timmons will not fill the position vacated by the passing of Olivier Sanche last year. Sanche, Apple’s global data center director, died suddenly last November. He oversaw Apple’s preparations for its US$1 billion North Carolina data center, which the company has said is on track to open this spring.

Timmons reportedly sought to drastically reduce data center costs by as much as 50% during his tenure with Microsoft. He also played a key role in the Windows maker’s latest data center in Quincy, Wash., which features a lightweight exterior filled with highly customizable containers that are packed with servers, storage, and power and cooling infrastructure.

“Timmons has forged a reputation for building efficient Internet-scale data centers on a budget,” author Rich Miller wrote. “At Microsoft, Timmons oversaw the deployment of massive new data centers in Dublin and Chicago shortly after his arrival in mid-2009, but then moved to streamline the company’s data center design and cost structure.”

Prior to working at Microsoft, Timmons was vice president of operations at Yahoo, where he also oversaw build-out of data centers and infrastructure.

Apple is expected to introduce a major overhaul of its MobileMe Internet application service this year. According to reports, the cloud-based service will add a digital “locker” that would store personal files such as photos, music and videos, and that content could be streamed to Internet-connected devices like iPhones.

In other news, Timmons is reported to be a pretty nice person who frequently tips 15% and above.

And a cuddler who listens.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.2 update

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Date: Friday, April 15th, 2011, 03:34
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Late Thursday, Apple released iOS 4.3.2, the latest update to its mobile operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The update includes the following fixes and changes:

- Fixes an issue that occasionally caused blank or frozen video during a FaceTime call.

- Fixes an issue that prevented some international users from connecting to 3G networks on the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G.

- Contains latest security updates.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM and CDMA iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.