Apple announces iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad, offers extended returns for recently-purchased third-gen iPads at select locations

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:15
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You’ve been hankering for this.

And now you get to be somewhat angry at Apple for having bought a third-generation iPad, oh, six months ago.

Per Macworld, Apple unveiled the long-rumored iPad mini along with a fourth-generation of the standard model.

The iPad mini is 7.2mm thick—23 percent thinner than the new, fourth-generation iPad—“thin as a pencil,” as Schiller put it. It weighs 0.68 pounds, which is half the weight of the previous iPad.



The iPad mini is available in white with silver or black with slate black, much like the iPhone 5.

In determining what size to make the iPad mini’s screen, Schiller said, Apple engineers worked to make the device smaller, but not “so small that it stops being incredibly useful.” The iPad mini screen measures 7.9 inches diagonally. Like the iPad 2, the iPad mini employs a 1024-by-768 resolution, meaning all existing iPad apps work with the iPad mini, too.

Schiller said that the iPad mini is great for the same tasks that the full-size iPad is good for: games, Facebook, Web browsing, email, GarageBand, iWork, and so on. “I could sit here and list 275,000 examples” of what the iPad mini is good for, Schiller said, referring to the number of iPad-optimized apps in the App Store.

Compared to Android tablets, Schiller said, the iPad mini is vastly superior. Apps are custom-built for the iPad, but on Android tablets, apps are often blown-up phone apps that aren’t optimized for the device.

Inside the iPad mini, Schiller said, “the technologies…are equal to or better than the iPad 2.” The iPad mini uses Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. It has a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel iSight camera on the back. It gets the same LTE capabilities as the fourth-generation iPad with LTE, and faster Wi-Fi, too. Of course, it uses the Lightning connector. Apple says that, like the other iPads in the lineup, it still offers ten hours of battery life; the company boasts that the iPad mini uses the largest and thinnest battery Apple’s ever made.

The iPad mini will be available in a variety of configurations. The 16GB model will retail for US$329, the 32GB model will retail for US$429, and the 64GB model will retail for US$529. If you add in the option for cellular connectivity, those prices increase by $129. Pre-orders for the iPad mini will start on Friday, October 26. The Wi-Fi versions will ship starting on November 2, in many countries. Two weeks later, they’ll start to ship the iPads with cellular—first in the U.S., and then later around the world.

Apple also introduced a lineup of new Smart Covers for the iPad mini. The polyurethane Smart Covers custom-designed for the iPad mini are available in pink, green, blue, light gray, dark gray and (Product) red for US$39. Existing Smart Covers and Smart Cases work with the fourth-generation iPad. Among the new Lightning accessories Apple unveiled on Tuesday are cables for connecting cameras and SD cards.

Schiller also took the wraps off the new fourth-generation iPad. The new iPad uses the Apple A6X chip, a new chip that further improves upon the speed performance of the A6; the company claims that it’s twice as fast as the A5X, with double the graphics performance. It gets the same ten hours of battery life as the third-generation iPad.

New to the fourth-generation iPad is a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a Lightning port that replaces the 30-pin dock connector of old. And the Wi-Fi is twice as fast as in the previous generation.

Like the third-generation iPad, the fourth-generation iPad comes in black in white. It keeps the same pricing: The base 16GB model starts at US$499, with 32GB at US$599 and 64GB at US$699. Cellular-ready models are available for US$130 extra, at US$529, US$629, and US$729 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively.

For those of you somewhat kicking yourselves for having just bought a third-generation iPad, assorted Apple Store retail locations are extending their return policy. Tablets bought within the last 30 days that show no signs of wear and tear can be exchanged for the new model.

For more information as to which Apple Store locations are offering the extended exchange, be sure to call around to see which policies are in effect.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases second public apology regarding iOS 6 Maps app issues

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

Once again…this is awkward.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday published an open letter to customers on behalf of CEO Tim Cook, who formally apologized for Apple’s new Maps in iOS 6 and “the frustration this has caused our customers.”

Cook vowed that his company is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.” In the meantime, he said, users can download third-party mapping tools from the App Store such as Bing, MapQuest or Waze, or use Web-based options like Google Maps or Nokia’s product.

The comments from Cook also corroborate a recent report that indicated Apple’s switch to its own mapping solution in iOS 6 was driven primarily by the company’s interest in providing turn-by-turn directions. Under its previous agreement with Google Maps, voice-guided navigation was not available in the iOS Maps application.

“We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS,” Cook wrote. “As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”

Upon its debut with iOS 6, Apple’s new Maps application was met with a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Apple’s new mapping solution is generally seen as inferior to the product it replaced, which was powered by Google Maps.

Friday’s letter by Cook is the second time Apple has commented publicly on the Maps controversy. The company first issued a statement soon after the release of iOS 6 to say it was “working hard” to fix the Maps application, and that the company appreciates customer feedback.

Apple’s mapping team was said to be “under lockdown,” attempting to quickly fix some of the larger issues with iOS 6 Maps. And the company was also reported to have been luring ex-Google Maps engineers to work on its new application. Apple also began advertising for new positions available for mapping developers on its website.

One of the most-cited features missed by users with iOS 6 Maps is Google’s Street View functionality. That feature is reportedly coming to the Web-based version of Google Maps within two weeks.

Cook’s full letter is included below:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store for iOS updated to 2.3, adds new shopping features

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 07:24
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most exciting news in the world, but it’s sort of a helpful update.

On Friday, Apple released version 2.3 of its Apple Store app for iOS. The new version, a 5.6 megabyte download via iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Now get the option to have Pages, Keynote and Numbers pre-installed on any MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro.

- Performance enhancements to make it easier to shop for Apple products on the go.

The Apple Store app is available for free and requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later.

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

Apple posts $8.8 billion profit, $35 billion in sales for Q3 2012 returns

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Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Finance, News

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There’s a nice ring to the words “US$8.8 billion quarterly profit”…

Per Macworld, Apple announced its returns for the third quarter of 2012 yesterday, the company’s sales hitting US$35 billion, up 22 percent from US$28.6 billion last year while profits rose 20.5 percent to US$8.8 billion from US$7.3 billion. Earnings for the quarter were US$9.32 a share, up 20 percent from last year. Reported earnings topped Apple’s forecast, but fell short of Wall Street expectations of US$10.35 per share on projected revenue of US$37 billion.

Apple sold 17 million iPads during the quarter, the most the company has ever sold during a quarter. The company tallied June quarter records for both Mac and iPhone sales—the latter figure coming even as customers have held off on purchasing a new iPhone in anticipation of a new model coming out later this year.

Despite the sales records, the third quarter saw the slowest growth rate for profit since 2009. Still, Apple finds itself better positioned than most tech companies. Sales of Macs, for example, rose during the quarter while the rest of the PC market saw a 1 percent decline, according to figures from market-research firm IDC.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, told analysts during a conference call that the company was “pleased” with its quarterly results.

The number that probably pleased Apple the most came from its surging iPad business, where Apple saw sales of its tablet grow 84 percent from the year-ago quarter. This was the first full quarter of sales for Apple’s third-generation iPad, which debuted on March 16. Apple is currently selling iPads in 97 countries.

Recognized revenue from the iPad lineup hit US$9.2 billion for the quarter, up 53 percent from the US$6 billion in revenue Apple recorded last year. Apple says it sold twice as many iPad as Macs to its education customers—and Apple just happened to set a record for Mac sales to U.S. educational institutions for the quarter.

As for its Mac business, Apple sold 4 million computers, up slightly from the 3.9 million Macs it sold in the year-ago quarter. Even with slight 2 percent gain, Apple still sold more Macs in this three-month period than in any June quarter before.

Those sales were largely driven by the revamped MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models Apple released, even though those notebooks came out less than three weeks before the end of the June quarter. According to Cook, prior to the release of those models at June’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple’s Mac sales were off last year’s pace. Once the updated MacBooks hit the market, though, Apple’s weekly sell-through increased, allowing it to beat last year’s figure and outpace PC industry growth for a 25th straight quarter.

In particular, Cook noted that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has been “incredibly well-received. We still have not caught up with demand, but we anticipate doing so next month.”

Mac sales are usually dominated by portables, and this quarter was no exception. Notebooks accounted for three-fourths of the Macs Apple sold.

In addition to the June record for overall Mac sales, Apple executives noted that the quarter was the best ever for Mac sales to U.S. education institutions.

Apple sold 26 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 20.3 million last year—another June quarter record for the company. The 28 percent growth in iPhone sales was also ahead of the amount Apple factored into its quarter guidance, Oppenheimer noted.

While Apple hasn’t made any iPhone hardware changes since it rolled out the iPhone 4S last year, it has been expanding the reach of its smartphone. During the June quarter, for example, the company added a number of regional carriers in the U.S. More than 250 carriers now provide service for the iPhone in 100 countries.

Recognized revenue from the iPhone rose 23 percent from last year to US$16.2 billion.

Despite the record sales, this quarter’s iPhone figures represent something of a blip for Apple. Both unit sales and iPhone revenue were down sequential in the third quarter; in 2011, unit sales and revenue rose from the second quarter to the third quarter. That’s largely a sign that customers may be holding off on iPhone purchases in anticipation of a new smartphone from Apple.

Pressed by analysts about the impact iPhone rumors might have on Apple’s bottom line, Cook said that while the company goes to great lengths to keep its product road map under wraps, he doesn’t put any value in clamping down on speculation about product releases.

“That’s just the environment we’re in,” Cook said. “I’m glad that people want the next thing. I’m super happy about it.”

Apple may have less reason to happy with its iPod sales, which saw another dip. The company sold 6.8 million music players, down from 7.5 million iPods in the year-ago quarter. Average selling price for iPods was also down for the quarter. Still, Apple notes that the iPod continues to hold a 70 percent share of the music-player market.

Combining iPod touch numbers with iPhone and iPad figures, Apple says that cumulative iOS device sales have reached 410 million units.

Revenue from the iTunes Store topped US$1.8 billion for the quarter; Apple brought its online music, movie, TV, and app store to 12 more countries.

Cook said that Apple sold 1.3 million Apple TVs during the quarter, bringing total sales for the fiscal year to 4 million units. The set-top box is “still at a level that we would call it a hobby, but we’ll continue to pull the string to see where it takes us,” Cook added.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Apple also unveiled the details of the stock dividend plan it first announced in March. The company will pay out US$2.65 per share on August 16, 2012 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on August 13. Subsequent dividends will be announced at the same time as the company’s results, with future payouts subject to declaration by the board of directors. Apple will begin buying back stock starting in its 2013 fiscal year, which starts September 30, 2012.

Both the dividend and the stock buyback program are part of Apple’s efforts to dispense with the massive amounts of cash the company has on hand. Apple ended the June quarter with US$117.2 billion in cash and short- and long-term securities, up from US$110 billion the previous quarter.

In terms of future performance, Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion during the company’s fiscal fourth quarter and earnings of US$7.65 a share. That compares to 2011 fourth-quarter revenues of US$28.27 billion and earnings per share of US$7.02.

Apple offers final notice, warns users of July 31st iWork.com closure

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Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2012, 11:46
Category: News, Software

Ok, it’s time to stop procrastinating…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday issued what it called a “final reminder” to users that they must save their iWork.com documents before July 31 or lose them forever.

The iWork.com beta website will close in one week’s time, after which users will no longer be able to access their documents on the iWork.com site or view them on the web.

Apple has recommended once again that users immediately sign in to iWork.com to download documents and ensure tehy are not lost. An accompanying support article also details how users can save a copy of their documents onto their computer.

“Moving forward, you can use iCloud to store your documents and make them available across your computer and your iPHone, iPad or iPod touch,” the e-mail sent out on Tuesday by Apple reads.

Apple has sent out numerous reminders, including one earlier this month, encouraging users to back up their documents. Apple first notified customers in March of its intent to shutter the iWork.com website by the end of July.

The iWork.com service first launched as a beta in early 2009, offering iWork users on the Mac the ability to more easily collaborate with others using Windows and Microsoft Office. Now, the iWork suite of applications is become available on iOS, with Pages, Numbers and Keynote among the most popular downloads on the iPad App Store.

So, yeah, snag those files, put them somewhere else and perhaps head out and grab a really good bagel between now and the 31st, because Apple has decided to move on.

Apple release OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) gold master

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Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012, 07:25
Category: News, Software

Your official Mountain Lion release day is almost here.

And to celebrate, you should buy an actual mountain lion as a pet.

Nothing could go wrong from this decision.

Late Monday, Apple released the gold master version of its OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) operating system. The build, a 4.3 gigabyte download, requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 and an Apple developer account (US$99 per year) to run.

The final version of OS X 10.8 will be available for direct download and installation via the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google releases Google Chrome, Google Drive for iOS

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Date: Thursday, June 28th, 2012, 14:05
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

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It had to happen sometime.

Per Mac|Life, on Thursday, Google announced the release of both its Google Chrome and Google Drive apps for iOS on Thursday. Announced during the company’s day two keynote at Google I/O, the pair of free universal apps have been long awaited from iOS users.

Google Drive version 1.0.1 is already available from the App Store, offering quick and easy access to documents, photos and videos stored in your 5GB of free cloud storage. Users can make files available offline for access when an internet connection isn’t available, and Drive offers easy file sharing as well.

The app also allows searching within any kind of file synced across your desktop and other devices, and files stored on Drive can be opened from other iOS apps with just a tap.

Google’s Chrome web browser is also making the leap to iOS on Thursday, allowing Mac, PC, Chrome OS and Android users to now sync their bookmarks, tabs and other data seamlessly to iOS devices as well.

Google Drive and Google Chrome require an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new apps and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Apple outlines iOS 6 at WWDC, highlights Facebook integration

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Over at WWDC, Apple began to lay out the basics as to what to expect from its upcoming iOS 6 operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s iOS software chief, Scott Forstall, showed off some of the new features at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, including the ability to query Siri for sports scores, dinner reservations with OpenTable, and movie times via RottenTomatoes.

Siri can now also be used to launch Applications. Forstall demonstrated onstage asking the voice control software to play the game “Temple Run,” and it opened on the iPhone. Users can also post messages to Twitter by using their phone.

Language support for Siri has also been improved with Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and more.

When it launches this fall, iOS 6 will be compatible with the second- and third-generation iPads; the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S; and the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Facebook integration will also go system-wide with iOS 6. Much like with the existing Twitter integration, users simply log in to their Facebook account in the iOS settings application, and users can quickly post to their account or share music, applications or photos with their friends.

Facebook events and birthdays will also appear in the iOS calendar. Users will also be able to “like” applications on the App Store.

Enhancements have also been made to the native phone application in iOS. When declining a call, users are given the option to send a quick message to the person calling, or ask to be reminded later of the call. Quick messages are available to select such as “I’ll call you later” or “I’m on my way.”

Another addition called “Do Not Disturb” allows users to choose a set time range where notifications and alerts are silenced completely. This feature is customizable to allow calls from certain people to come through during those hours.

With iOS 6, users will also be able to make FaceTime video calls over cellular data networks, and are no longer required to be connected to Wi-Fi. The phone number and Apple ID have also been unified, so if someone sends a FaceTime request to a phone number, it can still be answered on an iPad or Mac.

Enhancements for Safari in iOS 6 include iCloud Tabs, which allows users to view and sync websites across a range of devices, as well as the ability to upload photos from directly within Safari on popular websites. Safari will also gain fullscreen support in landscape mode.

PhotoStream has also been enhanced with new sharing features that allow users to share specific pictures or entire albums with others. The social networking style serve will also let users comment on and like photos shared via PhotoStream.

And Mail for iOS will receive a new feature called VIPs, which allows users to specify people whose e-mails are of high priority. These flagged messages will show up in their own separate inbox.

Mail in iOS 6 also adds the ability to easily insert pictures and videos when composing a message, and users can also pull down on the app to refresh and check for messages.

The company also announced that its iOS 6 developer preview was now available as a 186 megabyte download, albeit this requires a developer account to log in and access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft Office for iPad to arrive on November 10th

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 10:58
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s a rumor…but it’s a more specific rumor.

And that can’t be a bad thing.

Per The Daily, the development team at Microsoft finished work on the project last month. The design team responsible for Office on iPad was also said to have wrapped their work soon after.

“The app is now in the hands of a usability team that appraises software that utilizes the Metro design language for ‘Metro compliance’ and suggests changes as needed,” reporter Matt Hickey wrote. “When approved by the team, the app likely will go to Apple for app store approval, which could take a couple of weeks.”

While development of the application is apparently near finished, Thursday’s report did not give any indication as to why Microsoft will wait more than five months to release the application on Nov. 10. The story corroborates with a report from last week that claimed Microsoft’s industry leading productivity suite will be coming to the iPad and Android-based tablets in November.

Word first surfaced late last year that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

The Daily first shared what was said to be a picture of Office for iPad in action in February. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and portrayed it as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

Exact components and features within Office for iPad are still in flux/the rumor mill, but stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hulu releases version 2.5 of iOS app, adds Retina Display support, other features

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Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 08:42
Category: News, Software

Never mock a good software update.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Hulu released version 2.5 of its iPad app that adds support for the Retina Display of the third generation iPad. The latest version has a new look and feel as well as an enhanced video playback engine. Hulu also has improved AirPlay mirroring and HDMI support, so you can watch your content on your HDTV.

In addition to the software update, Hulu launched ten new original series that’ll help you make it throughout the summer doldrums. These new shows include basketball comedy We Got Next and Spoilers, a movie “revue” series from Kevin Smith. The ten new shows are listed in the press release below. You can download the Hulu app for free from the iOS App Store. It requires a US$7.99 monthly subscription to Hulu Plus.

Hulu 2.5 for iOS requires iOS 4.0 or later to install and run.

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