iOS 7 beta 4 code strings point towards forthcoming fingerprint recognition feature

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 12:44
Category: News, Software

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It’s the beta code that tells you where things are going.

Per Electronista, code strings buried in iOS 7 beta 4 suggests that one or more next-generation iOS devices will indeed have fingerprint sensors. An unused folder in the firmware, discovered by Hamza Sood, is titled “BiometricKitUI.axb.” Accompanying code strings moreover make reference to a “Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb,” a percentage completion meter for fingerprint recognition, and “a fingerprint that changes colour [sic] during the setup process.”

Apple has been expected to add a fingerprint sensor to iOS devices ever since it bought out AuthenTec last year. It was unclear if Apple would have the technology ready for this year however, and indeed Apple could simply be laying the groundwork for 2014 devices. At the same time, rumors have sometimes pointed to an iPhone 5S getting fingerprint recognition, and there would be competitive advantages.

On a basic level, the feature could let people unlock an iPhone or iPad without having to enter a passcode. It could also enable multiple user accounts however, since iOS would be able to automatically differentiate users. If Apple brings NFC to the iPhone, if might permit an upgraded Passbook app to make transactions, instead of just store coupons, tickets, and passes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple advises Chinese customers to avoid counterfeits, opt for genuine Apple products after charger-related incidents

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Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s best to stick with the genuine article.

After a pair of iPhone-related electrocutions in China allegedly caused by unauthorized third-party chargers, Apple has added a section to its Chinese website helping users identify official iOS device chargers as well as advised users to charge its devices with genuine Apple chargers according to CNET.

The page offers a look at official charger designs for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, and iPad 2.

The website notes that Apple “always” puts the safety of its users first, and that products are “subject to stringent safety and reliability testing.” The official chargers that come packaged with new iPhones and iPads are also designed to meet government safety standards from around the world.

The site comes after a pair of dangerous charger-related incidents occurred in China this month. In the more serious example, a woman died while using an iPhone 5 that was plugged into the wall to charge with a non-Apple adapter.

In the second incident, a man ended up in a coma after he was accidentally electrocuted using a third-party charger with his iPhone 4. It was said that the man was using a “counterfeit” adapter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint partners with Raketu Communications, works to bring caption calling feature to iOS devices via app

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Sprint on Tuesday announced the availability of a new accessibility feature aimed at helping iPad and iPhone owners on that network with hearing loss better use their devices.

Partnering with Raketu Communications, Sprint has developed Wireless CapTel for installation on the phones and tablets of the hearing-impaired. Wireless CapTel allows users to read conversations with real-time word-for-word captions displayed on the screen of their phone.

Users download the Wireless CapTel app from the iTunes App Store. The app is free with an Everything Data plan on Sprint.

After installation of the app, calls to the device will automatically connect to the CapTel service when an outgoing call is made. The service listens to what the caller on the other end says and automatically transcribes that into text the user can read.

The service does require that users give out the special number that routes calls through CapTel in order to have all calls transcribed.

Wireless CapTel is a Sprint-exclusive feature, and the carrier is rolling it out for some Android devices as well.

The CapTel app requires an iOS device running iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Q3 2013 numbers, cites $35.3 billion in revenue, $6.9 billion profit

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Finance, News, retail

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There wasn’t massive growth, but the numbers were still good.

Per Macworld, Apple reported sales of US$35.3 billion, with net profit at US$6.9 billion for its third fiscal quarter. That translated to earnings of US$7.47 per diluted share. Apple’s revenue marked a record for the June quarter, ticking up 1 percent from the $35 billion Apple posted in last year’s third quarter. Still, profits fell 22 percent year-over-year, down from US$8.88 billion in 2012. Apple also reported a drop in profit during its fiscal second quarter of 2013.

With a tiny increase in revenue but a drop in profit, you’d rightly conclude that Apple’s gross margin dropped: For the quarter, it was 36.9 percent, versus 42.8 percent on the year-ago quarter. That’s because Apple’s most popular products now have lower margins than the top-sellers a year ago.

The company also says it has issued US$18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

While Apple generally keeps a tight lid on future product announcement, company officials did reiterate a point made during its second-quarter earnings announcement in April—that the company plans to roll out new products starting this fall and into the next year. “We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products,” CEO Tim Cook said in an statement accompanying Apple’s earnings announcement.”

Apple says it sold 32.2 million iPhones—a record for the June quarter. That’s up from 26 million iPhones in the year-ago period. For the U.S., iPhone sales rose 51 percent year-over-year, Apple says.

The picture was less rosy for iPad sales, but Apple has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the 14 percent drop in tablet sales from last year’s third quarter. A year ago, Apple introduced the third-generation iPad and enjoyed a full quarter’s worth of sales to the tune of 17 million units. This quarter, sales fell to 14.6 million iPads.

Still, Apple has plenty of reason to remain bullish on the iPad. Company chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that the iPad ranked tops in a 2013 U.S. tablet satisfaction survey by JD Power and Associates. And during the quarter, the company inked a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S., to roll out iPads to 640,000 students.

In fact, the iPad got the bulk of the credit for a strong quarter of sales to U.S. schools. According to Oppenheimer, the last three months generated the highest quarterly revenue ever for Apple’s U.S. education institution business.

Mac sales also fell in the quarter, down 7 percent from last year to 3.8 million units. Still, Oppenheimer pointed out that the 3.8 million Macs sold beat Apple’s own expectations. And Apple’s sales still were ahead of the total PC market, which saw sales contract by 11 percent according to estimates from research firm IDC. By Apple’s math, the Mac gained market share during the quarter.

The Mac was one of the few product lines to see any changes during the quarter, with Apple updating its MacBook Air lineup at the beginning of June by adding new Intel processors. Company executives had little to say about any impact those new laptops had on overall Mac sales, but Oppenheimer did call it the most successful MacBook Air launch to date, adding that customer response was great.

But during the call, executives implied that there were better things to come. Oppenheimer noted that June’s Worldwide Developers Conference included previews of both the Mac Pro and the next version of OS X, code-named Mavericks.

The iTunes Stores—which includes the App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore, and the music, movies, and TV sections of iTunes—generated $4.3 billion in billings, Oppenheimer said, culminating in the best week and best month ever for App Store. That translated to quarterly revenue of US$2.4 billion, up 29 percent year over year. Total quarterly revenue from iTunes, software, and services generated US$4 billion in revenue.

Oppenheimer said that Apple now has over 320 million iCloud accounts, and 240 million Game Center accounts.

As for brick-and-mortar retail efforts, the Apple Store saw revenue of US$4.1 billion for the quarter, virtually unchanged from the year-ago quarter. Oppenheimer reported that Apple saw 16,000 visitors per store each week.

For the quarter, Apple had an average of 405 stores, with average revenue per store at US$10.1 million, down US$1 million from the year-ago quarter. Apple opened six stores across five countries during the quarter, giving it 408 stores around the globe; 156 of those outlets are outside the U.S.

The company plans to open nine new stores during the September quarter, giving it 27 new openings during the 2013 fiscal year. It’s not just about new stores, however: Apple says that it relocated four of its stores to more appealing spots; it will complete 23 such relocations before the end 2013 fiscal year in September.

Where stockholders are concerned, the company’s Board of Directors has announced another cash dividend, this one at US$3.05 per share of common stock, payable on August 15 to any shareholder as of August 12.

For the next quarter, Apple is predicting revenue between US$34 billion and US$37 billion, with gross margins between 36 and 37 percent. That sales figure would put Apple’s performance in line with the US$36 billion in revenue it reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the coming quarter, Apple also predicts operating expenses will be between US$3.9 billion and US$3.95 billion, with a tax rate of 26.5 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy to relaunch iPad trade-in program, offer $200 gift certificate for qualifying, undamaged iPads until August 3rd

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013, 06:05
Category: News

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A bargain’s a bargain.

Per 9to5Mac, retailer Best Buy will re-launch its iPad trade-in program tomorrow, July 23rd. The program, which offers a $200+ gift card toward the purchase of a fourth-generation iPad with Retina display, will run until August 3rd.

Best Buy piloted an iPad trade-in-program earlier this month for two days due to the success of the iPhone version.

For this new trade-in-program, iPad 2 and third-generation iPad models without water damage or a cracked display are eligible. While Best Buy will formally announce the special tomorrow, a Best Buy employee provided the above memo to employees detailing the deal:


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If you happen across this deal and have any feedback about it, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Analyst sees late September launch date for iPhone 5S, earlier launch dates for next-gen iPads, Haswell-based Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013, 06:06
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

The guesses as to when the next-gen iOS devices are out.

Per AppleInsider, according to a research note obtained by the web site, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S” is seeing setbacks in the production of “numerous components,” as well as handset assembly, meaning the next-gen smartphone will be available in limited amounts following a late September launch.

“While shipments forecasts may still grow sharply in 4Q13, we are concerned iPhone 5S may face the same problem as its predecessor, namely that by the time supply matures, demand will already have waned, hurting shipments,” Kuo writes.

The analyst also sees shipments of the much-rumored low-cost iPhone being below expectations, though the device will be available sooner than the iPhone 5S due to a less complicated manufacturing process. Kuo sees the model being priced at US$450 to US$550, with shipments capped at 26 million units for 2013. Market consensus had shipments at 30 to 40 million units.

As for Apple’s tablet plans, Kuo notes a redesigned 9.7-inch version will be the “highlight of iPad in 2013,” as no new iPad mini model is set for release this year. The analyst says Apple is unlikely to debut an anticipated Retina display version of the 7.9-inch tablet with A7 SoC this year. Due to higher energy demands attached to the Retina panel, as well as the components required to improve power efficiency in such a small form factor, Apple will likely shoot for a launch in March or April 2014.

Interestingly, Kuo points to a possible cheaper iPad mini running a legacy A5 processor. That device could still see release by the end of 2013, December at the earliest, but given the model is unlikely to see a substantial price cut compared to the current iPad mini, Apple will most likely debut the tablet next year.

Finally, the Mac lineup will see continued upgrades to Intel’s Haswell silicon in the coming months. Apple’s Retina display MacBook Pro is looking at a mid-September refresh, while the iMac will get the chips in late August.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing larger-screen versions of upcoming iPhone, iPad devices

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Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

Maybe there’s money to be made in the larger display market.

Per the Wall Street Journal and 9to5Mac, Apple and its suppliers are reportedly testing versions of the iPad and iPhone with larger displays.

Apple and its Asian component makers are testing larger screens for iPhones and tablets, officials at the company’s suppliers say.

Due to mounting competition from hardware competitors like Samsung, a larger-screened iPhone has long been expected and rumored. However, this is one of the first specific claims for a larger sized iPad. In March of this year, an unverified claim emerged for a 12.9-inch iPad model being in the works with a rather unlikely name. The report pointed to a display “measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally.”

A June report claimed that Apple and its suppliers are testing versions of the iPhone with both 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch screens. With Apple likely releasing a new iPhone with the same design as the iPhone 5 later this year, it seems likely that Apple’s 2014 iPhone will include significant design changes. The WSJ report does not specify screen sizes for the future iPhones.

The 2013 iPhone update, likely known as the “iPhone 5S”, will include an improved camera system, better chip, and potentially a slow-motion camera mode and fingerprint sensor.

As for today’s larger iPad claims, as Apple moves forward in its post-PC initiative, and as Mac sales dwindle, larger iPads that could replace more Mac features seem plausible.

In 2012, Apple slightly enlarged the iPhone display size by increasing the screen to 4-inches diagonally. Apple also shrunk the iPad by debuting a 7.9-inch model called the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases native Outlook Web Application for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 08:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

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You may not love it, but your workplace does and Microsoft finally released a native version for iOS.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released two different native versions of its Outlook Web Application for iOS, one for iPhone and one for iPad. OWA for iOS connects to the email, calendar, and contacts of Office 365 of business subscribers giving them complete access to their Outlook on the go. Beyond those basic tools the app features push notifications and a powerful voice search that can access your contacts or bring up your calendar.

iOS for iPhone and iPad requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Google Maps app for iOS hits version 2.0, adds slew of new features

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:44
Category: iOS, News, Software

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The new version tends to offer something cool.

Per 9to5Mac, Google began rolling out version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS on Wednesday. Most notably, the new application includes support for the large touch screens found on the iPad and iPad mini.

Additionally, like with the recent update to the Android version, enhanced navigation with incident reports and live traffic updates are included.

Also new is an “Explore” function to browse popular places such as restaurants, shopping, playing, and sleeping. This feature is integrated with Zagat ratings and deals via Google Offers.

The 2.0 update also includes indoor mapping functionality for malls, transit stations, and airports, according to Google. The new update has begun rolling out to some countries in Asia, but is not yet available in the United States. In fact, Google Maps is currently unavailable to download in the App Store for many countries until this update is released.

Google Maps ia available for free and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple to ship Retina display-equipped iPad mini in early 2014

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Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 14:05
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

There’s gotta be a nugget of truth in here somewhere.

Per the Economic Daily News and AppleInsider, Apple’s iPad mini may not gain a high-resolution Retina display until early next year, if the latest rumor about the second-generation 7.9-inch tablet proves accurate.

The claim was published on Friday which said that though Apple originally planned to launch a Retina iPad mini this fall, it may be delayed until the first quarter of 2014. As such, the rumor suggests that a second-generation iPad mini will not launch this year.

It’s expected that a Retina display on the iPad mini would follow the same double-resolution approach used by Apple in existing devices like the iPhone and full-size iPad. That would mean the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch display would need to pack in the same 3.1 million pixels into a panel nearly two inches smaller in diameter.

The latest report comes on the heels of a separate rumor out of the Far East from earlier this week which claimed Apple plans to launch a new fifth-generation, full-size iPad in September. That report claimed that the features of a second-generation iPad mini, such as a Retina display, remain in flux at Apple.

Reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said in April that Apple was experiencing yield issues in manufacturing high-resolution screens for its next iPad mini. He suggested that production issues would push back the launch of the second-generation tablet, but at the time he believed it would still launch this October.

The first-generation iPad mini debuted last October with a screen resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. That matches the resolution of the first-generation iPad and iPad 2, but packs the pixels into a smaller space, giving the display a higher pixel density.

Still, the iPad mini display squeezes in only 163 pixels per inch — an improvement on the 132 pixels per inch found on the first two iPad releases, but still well below the 264-pixel-per-inch density of the third- and fourth-generation iPads.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.