Google developing Chrome version for iOS

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 12:08
Category: News, Software

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It never hurts to have a choice.

Per macq.wir.jp, Google is said to be planning to compete with Apple’s own Safari by releasing a version of its Chrome Web browser for iOS devices.

The launch of Chrome for iOS on the App Store could be as soon as this quarter, according to Macquarie Equities Research. Its debut is seen as igniting a modern browser war on mobile devices, similar to the “Browser Wars” of the late 1990s between Internet Explorer and Netscape.

All third-party browsers for iOS must be based on WebKit, Apple’s open source browser engine. The existing versions of Google Chrome, available for Mac, Windows and Android, are already based on the WebKit layout engine.

Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter said Chrome for PCs has been a “home run” for Google, as it has “significantly” reduced desktop traffic acquisition costs for the search giant.

He expects that Google will launch a major marketing campaign to hype the debut of Chrome for iOS. The company has run television spots promoting Chrome for desktops for some time, featuring celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, helping its advertising budget quadruple in the U.S. last year to US$213 million.

Google’s own Android operating system ships with a generic browser, but the company released a mobile version of Chrome for its Google Play application store in February. The free software remains in beta, but is well reviewed.

Third-party browsers first began appearing on the Apple-controlled iOS App Store in early 2009. Prior to that, browsers that would rival Apple’s own Safari were rejected from the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox complies with App Store’s terms of services, revises iOS app

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes revisions are necessary.

Per AppleInsider, Dropbox has officially confirmed the changes made to its SDK in its developer forums. Brian Smith, who works on the iPhone and iPad versions of Dropbox, said the issue with Apple was resolved after “the worst game of telephone you’ve ever played.”

Using the new SDK, applications no longer offer an option to create an account with Dropbox. If a user attempts to use an application that relies on Dropbox and the official Dropbox application is not installed on their iOS device, the SDK will open a login view for the service directly within the third-party application, rather than opening the Safari Web browser and visiting an external link, which the App Store’s terms of service prohibit.

The issue stemmed from the fact that Dropbox offers users the ability to purchase more cloud-based storage for their files. By linking to the Dropbox website to ask users to login, they could also follow a link to register for a Dropbox account and pay for additional storage if they so chose.

Apple’s official rules for App Store developers explicitly ban links to out-of-app purchases. That’s because transactions made through a browser can be used to bypass the App Store and cut Apple out of its 30 percent share of transactions.

The enforcement of that rule has affected some of the biggest names on the App Store, including Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and Barnes & Noble. Their applications were updated to remove links to out-of-app purchases in order to remain available on the App Store.

With services like Dropbox or Amazon Kindle, users can still open a browser and make a transaction, like additional storage, that will be reflected in the official iOS application. But developers cannot allow users to make that purchase with a link from the iOS application without using Apple’s in-app purchase tool for developers, which gives Apple its 30 percent share.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts $11.6 billion profit for Q2 2012, iOS devices drive strong earnings

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 05:48
Category: Finance, News

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It’s pretty clear at this point: Apple’s not in danger of going out of business.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple reported a net profit of US$11.6 billion on revenue of US$39.2 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2012. Those are respective increases of 94 percent and 59 percent from the 2011 second quarter. Apple’s profit translates to earnings of US$12.30 per share, up from US$6.40 a share last year; analysts were looking for earnings of US$10.06 a share for the quarter.

All told, Apple tallied record March quarter sales for its iPad, iPhone, and Mac lineups. The company also saw record results for its retail stores during what chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer called “the most amazing March quarter that Apple has ever had.”

It was a big quarter for Apple’s iPhone business as the company launched the third-generation tablet on March 16 and cut the entry level price to US$399 for the iPad 2. While those moves came late in the quarter, Apple sold 11.8 million tablets during the quarter, up from 151 percent in the year-ago period.

In terms of revenue, Apple recorded US$6.6 billion from iPad sales, up from US$2.8 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Following its March 16 launch in the U.S. and nine other countries, the third-generation iPad is now available in 40 countries around the world.

Apple executives also noted on Tuesday that the iPad is extending the company’s reach into new markets. According to Oppenheimer, Apple sold two iPads for every Mac bought by one of its K-12 education customers in the U.S.—and that was during a record March quarter for Mac sales. Oppenheimer also touted the iPad’s presence in the enterprise, specifically citing the U.S. Air Force’s deployment of “thousands” of iPads as technical flight bags.

“The iPad continues to open new doors to customers with whom Apple had no previous relationship,” Oppenheimer said.

iPhone numbers were also strong for Apple during the quarter. The company sold 35.1 million phones between January and March, an 88 percent jump from year-ago iPhone sales and a record for the March quarter. That outpaced the growth of the overall smartphone market, in which sales increased 42 percent year over year.

Revenue from the iPhone grew 85 percent from last year’s second quarter to US$22.69 billion.

In particular, Apple did brisk iPhone business in the Far East. Sales more than doubled in the Asia Pacific and Japan markets, according to Oppenheimer. In China, iPhone sales increased five times from last year, helped by the iPhone 4S’s release in that country in January and the addition of China Telecom as an iPhone carrier in March.

Apple ended the quarter with the iPhone 4S available in 100 countries with 230 carriers offering the smartphone.

Oppenheimer says iOS device sales—which include the iPod touch—totaled 50 million during the March quarter. Apple’s cumulative iOS device sales have grow to 365 million units.

The App Store now carries more than 600,000 apps, with a third of those specifically built for Apple’s iPad.

Mac sales also set a March quarter record. The company sold 4 million Macs, an increase of 7 percent from the year-ago quarter. The entire PC industry grew 2 percent during the March quarter, making it six full years that Apple’s Mac business has outpaced the demand for PCs overall.

Notebooks are still the driver for Apple’s Mac business. The 2.8 million portable Macs sold during the quarter represent 70 percent of Mac sales. Besides illustrating the importance of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to Apple’s fortunes, that figure could also indicate that Apple’s desktop lineup is getting long in the tooth. The iMac last saw an overhaul nearly a year ago while the Mac mini has remained unchanged since July 2011. The Mac Pro is approaching the second anniversary of its last update.

The Asia Pacific market saw the biggest jump in Mac unit sales, with a 29 percent rise from last year. Other global markets saw single-digit growth in Mac sales.

Apple’s Mac sales may be outpacing the industry growth rate, thanks in some part to the company’s brick-and-mortar retail efforts. Apple says it sold 826,000 Macs at its retail outlets in the second quarter—about 20 percent of all the Macs it sold during the three-month period. About half the Macs sold at Apple Stores were to customers new to the platform.

Speaking of Apple retail, Apple ended the quarter with 363 stores, after opening two new ones in Amsterdam and Houston. Retail revenue of US$4.4 billion for the quarter was up 38 percent from last year. It was the retail segment’s second-largest quarter of sales, behind only first quarter of 2012, which includes the holiday shopping season.

iPod sales continued their decline. Apple sold 7.7 million music players, a drop of 15 percent from the second quarter of 2011. iPod sales actually came in ahead of Apple’s expectations for the quarter, according to Oppenheimer, with Apple choosing to focus on the fact that the higher-priced iPod touch represents more than half of the iPods sold during the quarter. Even with its declining sales, the iPod remains the market leader among MP3 players, according to Apple’s figures.

The company was much more eager to talk about the growth of its iTunes Store, which also saw record revenue of US$1.9 billion during the quarter. That’s an increase of 35 percent from last year’s tally, with music, video, and app sales driving the growth.

Apple executives revealed a few other interesting details about the quarter during their briefing with analysts. The company ended the quarter with US$110 billion in cash—a situation that figures to change in July when Apple starts paying out a US$2.65 per share dividend to shareholders. Oppenheimer said the company would provide more information about that dividend program in July.

iCloud now has 125 million subscribers, after Apple launched the cloud-based service and MobileMe replacement last October. That subscriber base is up from 85 million at the end of the first quarter. It was only in February that Cook was telling investors that iCloud had topped the 100 million subscriber mark.

Apple continues to do a staggering amount of business in China. Cook told analysts the company recorded US$7.9 billion in sales from that country during the second quarter, three times the amount of revenue it took in during the year-ago period. The US$12.4 billion in revenue Apple has seen in China during the first six months of its 2012 fiscal year nearly matches its revenue from that country for all of 2011. Cook credited pent-up demand for the iPhone 4S and strong iPad 2 demand for much of that growth, which is also creating a halo effect for Mac sales in China.

Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion and earnings per share of US$8.68 for the June quarter. That compares to revenue of US$28.57 billion and earnings of US$7.79 per share for the fiscal third quarter of 2011.

Apple’s forecasted numbers would be a sequential drop from the revenue and earnings the company just reported for its second quarter. Oppenheimer said the company is expecting a sequential decline in iPhone sales, as Apple had ramped up inventory to meet pent-up demand. The company was also able to satisfy demand for the new iPad, thanks to a significant supply of tablets. The lower entry price for the iPad 2 and a stronger U.S. dollar are also factors in Apple’s forecast.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases fourth Mac OS X 10.7.4 seed to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

The betas, they just keep rolling on…

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week seeded its developer community with the fourth build of OS X 10.7.4, the upcoming maintenance update for its Lion operating system.

Sources familiar with the latest build said it is labeled as “11E52.” The download is said to be more than 700 megabytes in its delta form, while the combo update is nearly 1.5 gigabytes.

There are reportedly no known issues with the latest build of Lion. Developers have been asked to focus on Graphics, iCal, Mail, Printing, and Time Machine.

Registered Mac developers can contain the pre-release software for testing from Apple’s official Developer Center website.

The release of “11E52″ comes less than two weeks after Apple seeded the third beta of OS X 10.7.4 to developers. That build also contained no known issues, and developers were asked to focus on the App Store, QuickTime, and Screen Sharing, in addition to Graphics, Mail and Time Machine. The first beta of the anticipated Lion update was delivered to developers in mid-March.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple releases third Mac OS X 10.7.4 seed to developer community

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Date: Monday, April 16th, 2012, 09:47
Category: News, Software

It’ll be cool to see what comes next.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday seeded the new OS X 10.7.4 build 11E46, asking developers to focus on the App Store, graphics, Mail, QuickTime, Screen Sharing and Time Machine.

The third build has no known issues and Apple is asking devs to continue their focus on the same areas as the second beta, called 11E35. This release comes less than a month after the first beta was released on March 16.

There are presently no known issues and the new developer-only beta is available for download at the Mac Developer Center.

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

Apple updates iTunes account security protocols, adds new security prompts for users

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Date: Friday, April 13th, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, security, Software

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This could make your iTunes account that much more secure.

Or it could make you want to put an axe through the screen as you just want to buy a cool 99 cent app.

Per Ars Technica, Apple has begun asking users to select and answer a series of questions associated with their Apple IDs to enhance security measures.

The security prompts began popping up on iOS devices on Wednesday, wherein users were met with a prompt that states “Security Info Required.”

After being shown the message, users are asked to select from a number of security questions and provide personal answers. Users are also prompted to provide a backup e-mail address in case the primary address associated with their Apple ID is compromised.

The changes are meant to curb fraud and phishing attempts that have been used for many years to hijack iTunes accounts. Because credit card information is tied to a user’s account, nefarious people will steal and resell accounts, allowing people to buy content like music, movies and applications on someone else’s dime.

This week’s changes are only the latest in a series of measures by Apple over the years to improve security associated with iTunes accounts. Some of the steps taken include requiring users to verify their account information when they log into new devices, and upgrading passwords to make them more complex with varying characters.

Some users have been confused by the new security prompts appearing this week, and have expressed concern on the Apple Support Communities website that the alerts could be bogus phishing attempts. However, the revised measures have been proven to be legitimate, and Apple has admitted they are part of an ongoing effort to bolster security.

If you’ve seen these prompts on your end, please let us know what you make of them in the comments.

Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
- Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

- Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

- Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

- Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

- iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

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

Apple Volume Purchase Program allows businesses to buy iOS apps in bulk

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Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 05:58
Category: iOS, News, retail, Software

Sometimes a business just needs certain App Store apps.

Per Macworld, Apple quietly unveiled a Volume Purchase for Business program (also known as VPP) last summer: Essentially, it’s an App Store specifically for businesses, where they can purchase iOS apps in bulk. It allows developers to custom-tailor software for specific businesses; it also gives Apple another entry into the business market.

Here’s how the Volume Purchase Program works: Businesses create a single Apple ID to manage their purchases. Using that account—which needs to be linked to a corporate credit card or purchasing card—organizations can search for apps and then buy them in bulk.

Once the purchases have been made, Apple issues the company a list of redemption codes for the app. Whoever is managing app distribution for the company can email those codes to employees, allowing them to download the app just by following a link on their Mac, PC, or iOS device. The management interface is updated as users redeem the apps, keeping track of which codes are still available, as well as retaining a full purchase history.

Developers say Apple sets a minimum price of US$10 per app, but after that they’re free to offer custom prices, features, and services to specific customers.

VPP does have its limitations and as of now has yet to expand beyond the United States.

For years, Apple has famously focused on the consumer end of the market. But as more and more of those consumers bring their iPhones and iPads to work, IT departments are increasingly needing to take advantage of those devices; VPP gives Apple a way to help with that and thereby make inroads into the enterprise market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve ever used the VPP for your business, please let us know about your experience, positive or otherwise.

Rumor: Nintendo to create Wii U app store, work to draw business from iOS App Store

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Date: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

You know all those nifty profits Apple seems to be making from the App Store? Nintendo might want some of it for itself.

Quickly coming on the heels of talk of a full Wii U app store is a rumor late Monday of Nintendo actively courting iOS developers. The gaming giant was said by a developer talking to Forget the Box to be offering “assistance” porting apps for Apple’s platform to the Wii U. The titles would by necessity played on the controller’s 6.2-inch touchscreen.

Per Forget the Box, Nintendo may also be dipping into e-reading on its mobile devices for the first time, the source said. It would make e-reading catalog with books, comics, magazines, and other periodicals. The aim would be to let owners read even when the TV is occupied, since the ultra-wideband wireless controller would let users treat the Wii U controller as a tablet while within range.

To stand out, Nintendo would bring some of its own content into the fray. Every issue of Nintendo Power ever released would be available, as well as its Players Guides and manuals for Virtual Console games. Titles would be available on both the Wii U and the 3DS, presumably taking advantage of the 3DS’ second screen for extra reading space.

All of this remains a rumor, but combined with talk of an app store point to Nintendo hoping to get away from its reputation solely as a child-oriented game system developer. Both Microsoft and Sony have made their systems media hubs with access to several or more music and video services and, in Microsoft’s case, an revenue losses to Apple from those using their iPads and iPods both for gaming and for apps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

NORAD releases updated Santa Tracking app for iOS

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Date: Friday, December 23rd, 2011, 10:16
Category: iOS, News, Software

The same organization that almost blew up the world in “War Games” knows exactly where Santa is this year.

Per Macworld, NORAD, the Colorado Springs-based military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada, has released the the NORAD Tracks Santa app available for free from the App Store and the Android Market.

According to Colorado Springs app maker Visionbox: “The NORAD Tracks Santa App is the official mobile app of the NORAD Tracks Santa program. Watch the days countdown to Santa’s flight, follow Santa’s progress on December 24, play ‘Elf Toss’ to help Santa’s elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission.”

Santa can also be tracked via a second-by-second countdown on the NORAD website as well as in 3D via Google Earth. Last year, the NORAD site had more than 15 million visitors on Christmas Eve, according to USA Today.