30 days and counting to switch from MobileMe to iCloud

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Date: Friday, June 1st, 2012, 13:17
Category: News, Software

If you were putting the transition to iCloud off for a while, you might want to take care of it.

Per AppleInsider, MobileMe users now have just 30 days remaining to download their photos and files from iDisk, Gallery and iWeb before Apple’s service concludes.

Legacy MobileMe users began receiving e-mails this week warning that the deadline is fast approaching. The company originally announced a year ago that MobileMe will cease to exist as of June 30, 2012.

The deprecated service, which used to be offered for US$99 per year, has been replaced by Apple’s new, free cloud-based offering, dubbed iCloud. As part of that transition to iCloud, the iDisk, Gallery and iWeb services will no longer be offered.

Before MobileMe goes dark on June 30, users should log in to their account and back up and save all of the content that is stored on the Web in the iDisk, Galleries and iWeb services. A step-by-step tutorial on how to do this was published on Friday by the cool cats at Ars Technica.

For those who want to continue using Apple’s cloud-based services, a MobileMe account must be rolled over to iCloud. The transition must be completed by June 30 for users who want to keep their Apple e-mail account, as well as calendars, working properly.

In April, Apple began attempting to entice users to upgrade to iCloud from MobileMe by offering them a free copy of Snow Leopard. The company has also granted MobileMe subscribers a free 20 gigabytes of storage on iCloud until September.

Apple is expected to announce further enhancements to iCloud later this month at its Worldwide Developers Conference. One report has claimed that Apple will launch a new photo sharing feature, while a beta website that was temporarily available to the public suggested Apple plans to add Notes and Reminders to the iCloud.com website.

If you have any feedback as to the transition, please let us know in the comments.

Analyst states that next-gen MacBook Pro could use NAND storage system

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 06:00
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The components found on the next generation of MacBook Pro notebooks could be that much more interesting.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ben Reitzes of Barclays Equity Research said that the adoption rate of Apple devices using SSDs, along with a continuing move to cloud computing, will push consumer notebook demand toward flash-based storage.

Perhaps the single greatest setback to flash adoption is that the price of solid state solutions grossly outweigh comparable HDDs, keeping the technology out of reach for everyday consumers. This cost ratio may tilt in the physical hard drive’s favor, however consumers have recently started giving up storage space and low cost for design and performance benefits, evidenced by the success of the thin and light MacBook Air.

Reitzes believes that the advent of cloud computing will help ease consumers in the transition from physical drives to flash by offloading storage to servers, thus diminishing the need for pricey high-capacity NAND drives. Apple’s iCloud is already well in-place and has the potential of filling offsite storage needs if the company chooses to move to a NAND-heavy laptop lineup.

For these reasons, the analyst expects Apple to reveal a NAND-equipped MacBook Pro as well as MacBook Airs with increased storage options in the near future.

“We believe these products combined can ramp quarterly demand for Macs by up to 1 million incremental units on a run rate basis – taking over a point of share from HDD-based PCs,” Reitzes said.

The report goes on to say that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of notebook PC sales have been cannibalized by NAND-carrying iPads and iPhones, further impacting HDD demand for PCs. The move to portable products has been dubbed as the “post-PC era,” as consumers begin to replace computers with tablets and handset. Interestingly, this trend toward flash in consumer devices is seen as fueling data growth, which helps to augment sales of enterprise-class HDDs.

Hard drive makers won’t be the only ones to be affected by the trend toward cloud computing and flash storage, and Dell acknowledged earlier in May that PC demand was slowing due to the strong performance of tablets and smartphones. If rumors pan out, the PC market could see further pressure with Apple’s debut of a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad later this year.

It is expected that Apple will outline its intentions for iCloud and possibly introduce a revamped MacBook Pro lineup at WWDC in June.

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 begins to include Automatic Downloads alert feature to recent Mountain Lion betas

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Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 08:56
Category: News, Software

Apple is going to make sure you’re up to date, no matter what.

Per a tweet by the mighty Zach Kahn, Apple’s previously announced Automatic Downloads feature is slowly coming together in the latest developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which features a new Notification Center alert for Mac App Store purchases.

Automatic app installs were touted earlier this year as one of the many new features coming to Mountain Lion. Like on iOS devices, it allows users to have App Store software automatically installed on iCloud-registered Macs.

Automatic Downloads are not yet fully functional in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, but when users purchase content from the Mac App Store, the OS X Notification Center posts an alert to “Turn on Automatic Downloads to always install new purchases.”

The alert features an “Enable” button, which will allow users to quickly turn on the Automatic Downloads feature of Mountain Lion. However, in the current pre-release build, the feature is not yet operating properly, as software does not automatically install.

Apple debuted the “Apps in the Cloud” feature on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with the release of iOS 5 late last year. It allows users to shop for apps on one machine and have the same titles automatically download on the rest of their devices with the same iCloud account.

Similar functionality is already available in OS X 10.7 Lion with the latest version of iTunes. Apple’s “iTunes in the Cloud” gives users the ability to automatically download iTunes Store content to their machine when it is purchased through their account on another device.

Previously, the option to turn on “Auto Download Purchases from Other Macs” was available in developer preview builds of Mountain Lion. But with last week’s release of a new version of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, users are now prompted with a notification when App Store content has been purchased through their account.

The latest pre-release build of the Mac operating system update hit the Mac App Store last Wednesday, identified as build “12A206J.” The final release of Mountain Lion is scheduled to go on sale to the public this summer.

Apple has promised to offer a closer look at Mountain Lion at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, which kicks off June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. WWDC 2012 is also expected to feature the introduction of iOS 6, Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate photo sharing features in iCloud at WWDC

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 09:20
Category: iCloud, iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, add functionality.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to upgrade its iCloud service with new photo sharing functionality at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The new features will reportedly be announced when WWDC kicks off on June 11 and the new functionality will allow users to share photos with others and also comment on them.

That’s a major improvement from the current Photo Stream functionality in iCloud, which simply syncs pictures across devices rather than giving users the ability upload and share them publicly or with friends.

If true, the new photo sharing functionality would be another attempt at social networking on the part of Apple. The company launched a social networking component of iTunes with Ping in 2010, but that effort has largely failed to gain traction despite integration with Twitter.

Monday’s report also reaffirmed that Apple is planning to add support for synced Notes and Reminders to an upgraded iCloud.com website. Apple itself tipped its hand to those upgrades last week, when the site beta.icloud.com was temporarily accessible to the public.

Last week Apple’s regular iCloud.com site also showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website. Monday’s report made no mention of Web-based notification syncing for iCloud.

Apple will show off the future of both iOS and OS X at WWDC when it kicks off on June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. The company is expected to reveal more about this summer’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion update, and also unveil iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iCloud beta site shows possible upcoming Notes, Reminders functionality

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 10:07
Category: iCloud, Rumor, Software

While it’s not a wild stretch of the imagination in terms of added functionality, this could be useful.

The beta.icloud.com web site has been sporadically available today and seems to suggest that Apple is looking to add Notes and Reminders to iCloud’s syncing services.

The change was discovered by developer Steve Troughton-Smith and another space was also included in the beta site for iCloud for another service, though the image link was broken and did not display. It’s unclear whether the website was a beta for iCloud before it launched last year, or if it was a test for a forthcoming update to the service.

However, the beta site for iCloud was not functional as of Friday, as attempts to sign in to the page were not successful. The site has since been pulled offline, and forwards to Apple’s overview page for the iCloud service.

The beta site is the second unintentional iCloud-related leak from Apple this week. On Tuesday, the regular iCloud.com site showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AppleCare training schedule now pointing towards June launch of Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 05:30
Category: Rumor, Software

No one ever said it was easy to keep a secret.

Per AppleInsider, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division of AppleCare is allegedly hiring and training new staff on certain aspects of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, possibly hinting that a release date is soon to arrive.

According to an unnamed source familiar with the matter, AppleCare EMEA is hiring a number of new employees who will serve as customer support for the new operating system that has yet to receive an official launch date.

The source went on to say that Mountain Lion may be just a few weeks from launch as internal training recently commenced regarding certain facets of the operating system. Apple usually restricts the operating window of support staff training to a minimum before large product release presumably to avoid leaks.

Though purely speculation, the training could point to a OS X 10.8 debut at WWDC 2012 which is scheduled to take place from June 11 to June 15.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was announced on Feb. 16 with an expected release date of summer 2012. Beyond the basic information provided on Apple’s website, developer previews have revealed that the new OS will offer a bevy of new features like Messages and more comprehensive integration with iCloud that will further blur the line between OS X and iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple extends MobileMe users’ complimentary 20GB of online storage space deadline to September 30th

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 06:21
Category: iCloud, News, Software

You can’t knock both a deadline extension as well as additional storage space.

Per Mac Otakara, Apple has extended the additional 20 gigabytes of MobileMe storage from its original June 30 expiration to Sept. 30. A Frequently Asked Questions page on Apple’s website was recently updated to reflect the extension.

“MobileMe members with 20GB of purchased storage receive a complimentary iCloud storage upgrade of 20GB, and accounts with additional purchased storage (40GB to 60GB) receive a complimentary upgrade of 50GB after moving to iCloud. These free upgrades are good through September 30th, 2012,” the site read.

After September, former MobileMe customers can either pay to keep the storage or downgrade to the free 5GB iCloud plan. Though it’s not exactly clear when Apple revealed the extension, a cache of the FAQ page by Google from April 30 does not include the above paragraph.

Last month, it was discovered that Apple had begun offering free copies of OS X Snow Leopard to MobileMe users still on OS X Leopard. Subscribers could then pay for an upgrade to OS X Lion themselves in order to make the move to iCloud.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs took the wraps off iCloud last June and promised that it would be a step up from MobileMe, which he said was not Apple’s “finest hour.” Since the company launched iCloud last fall, it has attracted more than 125 million users.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer revealed last month during a quarterly earnings call that the company considers revenue from iCloud storage plans to be incidental. “Our real desire here was not about selling more storage… We just really wanted to increase the customer delight,” he said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Drive service launched, users begin with 5GB of free online storage space

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 06:21
Category: News, Software

You just can’t knock free cloud space.

Per Google’s official blog, the company launched its long-rumored Google Drive service was officially launched on Tuesday, offering users 5 gigabytes of free cloud-based file storage.

Google Drive was presented as a service that allows users to “create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.” It allows users to upload and access all file types, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and more.

Users can start at drive.google.com/start#home and the Google Drive application can also be installed on a Mac or Windows PC to sync files locally. A Drive application is now available for Google Android devices, while the company said it is “working hard” on a version of Drive for iOS devices.

Storage can be upgraded to 20 gigabytes for US$5 per year, 80 gigabytes for US$20, 200 gigabytes for US$50, 400 gigabytes for US$100, and one terabyte for US$256.

Upgrading to a paid account will also give Gmail users a boost on their e-mail storage through Google to 25 gigabytes. Storage used in Gmail does not come out of space allotted for Google Drive.

In comparison, Apple’s iCloud service, which launched last October, comes with 5 gigabytes for free, while users can buy an additional 10 gigabytes for US$20 per year, 20 gigabytes for US$40, or 50 gigabytes for US$100.

Google said that Drive allows users to work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Using the new service, users can also share content easily, and add and reply to comments on anything, including PDFs, images, or video files.

Of course, the company’s search technology is also a part of the package, granting the ability to search by keyword and filter by type, owner and more. Google Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition technology.

Drive also ties in with other Google products, allowing users to attach photos from Drive to posts in the Google+ social networking service. Soon, users will also be able to attach files from Drive directly to e-mails in Gmail.

Google also boasted that drive is an “open platform,” which will allow third-party developers to enable new features. Some of the additions mentioned by the company include the ability to send faxes, edit videos, and create website mockups.

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

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.