Apple to price match retailers’ discounts, offer $49 iPhone 4, $149 price points on iPhone 4S models

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 14:23
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t knock a decent deal…

Per MacRumors, Apple has instructed its retail stores to match the iPhone discounts being offered by major retailers including AT&T, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, Sprint and Verizon when customers present competitive offers.

Apple’s publicly advertised prices for the iPhone 4 and 4S are US$49.01 higher than a variety of retailers and carriers are currently offering, as the entire retail channel prepares to sell off existing models to make way for the upcoming iPhone 5.

Now, Apple Retail stores are authorized to match prices when customers request the discount and indicate where they saw it.

Apart form the already “free with contract” iPhone 3GS, this makes the 8GB iPhone 4 just US$49.99 rather than US$99, and drops the iPhone 4S price range from US$199, US$299 and US$399 for the 16, 32 and 64GB models to US$149, US$249 and US$349.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to add “Wi-Fi Plus Cellular” feature in iOS 6

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 11:38
Category: iOS, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, a new feature that appears to be making its way to iOS 6 this fall aims to automatically detect these hiccups and toggle your iPhone back to cellular data until the Wi-Fi network clears up. This way, some of your most important data and applications will keep on syncing.

Dubbed ‘Wi-Fi Plus Cellular,’ the feature is listed under General->Cellular systems setting pane in the latest beta of iOS 6. If it makes it into the final release of the software, you’ll be able to tell your iPhone to automatically revert back to cellular data to keep your iCloud Documents, iTunes purchases, Passbook and Reading Lists up to date.

In much the same way, it will also attempt to keep your FaceTime video conferences from dropping on an iPhone 4S or greater (the FaceTime toggle does not show up on iPhone 4 or earlier). It’s not yet clear, however, how individual carriers will handle cellular data use for FaceTime, as an earlier finding from within the iOS 6 betas indicated that AT&T may charge for the capability, which is currently limited to WiFi in iOS 5.

Either way, the potential new feature underscores Apple’s drive to equip customers with the best possible user experience where things ‘just work.’ It’s joined by other additions in the latest iOS 6 beta that are similarly designed to keep users connected, including a Bluetooth Sharing feature and an option to be notified when someone subscribed to one of your shared calendars makes an update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint reduces iPhone 4S price to $149, rumors of next-gen iPhone release, Apple special event fly

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve got to love competition, price cuts and the promise of a next-gen iPhone on the horizon.

Per All Things D, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has cut the price of Apple’s current iPhone 4S to US$149 and is waiving activation fees for the handset ahead of a rumored Apple special event that may see the launch of a next-generation iPhone.

The new $149 price tag showed up on Sprint’s website over the weekend and represents a US$50 savings not including the US$36 activation fee waiver.

The new pricing comes ahead of a rumored special event Apple is said to be planning for Sept. 12, where many expect the company to launch the sixth-generation iPhone and possibly a smaller 7-inch iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hulu Plus quietly appears on Apple TV devices, no update needed

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 06:50
Category: Apple TV, News

Soon you will watch Hulu Plus on your Apple TV.

And it’ll have all the nifty perks of Hulu Plus.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding a new application for the Hulu Plus streaming video service.

The subscription service appeared on users’ Apple TV home screens on Tuesday without the need for a software update. Those who subscribe to the Hulu Plus service can log in to access their account, while new users are offered a free one-week trial.

Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as third-party content providers available on the Apple TV. They join Apple’s own iTunes content available for sale or rental.

The US$10-per-month Hulu Plus service debuted in mid-2010, offering access to back episodes of popular shows like “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “Glee.” Users of the service have previously been able to access Hulu Plus on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has steadily added new applications to the Apple TV even without the availability of a dedicated App Store, like exists on the iPhone, iPad and even Mac platforms. Streaming MLB and NBA games were added along with 5.1 sound support for Netflix in March of 2011, while NHL games, Wall Street Journal Live, Photo Stream, AirPlay Mirroring and iTunes Trailers were added with a software update last October.

This fall, the functionality of the Apple TV will grow with the launch of iOS 6. Developer previews of the forthcoming software update have the added ability to reorder icons on the Apple TV home screen, much like users can do on an iPhone or iPad. The third iOS 6 beta for Apple TV also added enhanced AirPlay control, allowing users to actively stream audio to external AirPlay-capable speakers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working on modified cases for next-gen iPhone model

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 10:27
Category: News, Rumor

It’s the cases that give it away sometimes.

Per iLounge, third party accessory companies are apparently creating a larger “Bumper” case to accommodate a taller iPhone screen, the second case will feature a new, different design. Citing a “highly reliable source,” the site reported on Monday that though the new case will affect third-party case makers, the design will be “not hugely surprising,” which led author Jeremy Horowitz to speculate the case could include a stand.

Apple stepped into the iPhone case accessory business with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Its first-party “Bumpers” wrap around the outside edges of both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which feature the same external design.

Monday’s report follows up on an earlier rumor that claimed Apple will launch its next-generation iPhone at a media event on September 12. Corroborating some of those details, Horowitz said the new iPhone will be ready to ship in mid-September.

Also rumored to arrive in September is a new iPod touch, which will presumably also feature a larger 4-inch display to bring it in line with the new iPhone. iLounge, however, disagreed with an earlier rumor that suggested a new iPod nano will also be unveiled at an alleged September event.

Rumors of Apple’s next-generation products have picked up steam, as both photos and a video of parts claimed to be from Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone have also appeared online.

Earlier this month, pictures of alleged “iPad mini” engineering samples also surfaced, showing a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display and a shrunken dock connector also expected to appear in the next iPhone. Numerous reports from mainstream media outlets have indicated that Apple plans to expand the iPad lineup with a new, smaller, less expensive model this fall.

As for Apple’s full-size iPad, iLounge was told that Apple currently plans for its fourth-generation model to have a “relatively modest body tweak.” The device is expected to keep largely the same shape while adopting a smaller 19-pin dock connector, a new rear-facing microphone, and design tweaks to reduce heat.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Photos of purported next-gen iPhone surface, show fully assembled state

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 06:40
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

It had to happen sometime.

Per the web blog of Japanese repair company iLab Factory, pictures of an alleged fully-assembled next-generation iPhone hit the web on Sunday, offering what could be the most detailed look at Apple’s upcoming device yet.

The photos depict what is supposedly a complete next-generation iPhone built from leaked parts sourced from China.

The purported unit pieces together previously-seen components including the smaller 19-pin dock connector first rumored in June and 4-inch display and a relocated headphone jack. The site notes that the home button’s finish has been modified and feels to be improved. A report in April found a supposedly leaked home button had been slightly redesigned internally to accomodate changes made to the screen and case.



While all of the external parts are in place, most of the handset’s innards are missing with only power and sensor flex cables and accompanying home button circuitry installed. This lack of integral electronics, such as cameras, logic board and battery, hint the supposedly-leaked parts may have come from an upstream supplier rather than an assembly plant.

Pictures of the unit’s casing show the two-tone aluminum design first seen in early June, though noticeably absent is the nano-SIM card tray purportedly leaked in May.

The unit’s front seems to sit tightly with the uni-body casing which, unlike the current generation iPhone 4S, features a slightly beveled edge. Side shots show the expected volume rocker button assembly and hold switch as well as a sleeker profile compared to existing iPhones.

Making a reappearance is the small hole located beween the camera assembly and the unit’s LED flash, a feature which was rumored to be removed in final production models.

As mentioned above, much of the internals are absent, however what is in place yields some insight into how Apple plans to utilize the cramped space. The site notes three screw anchors on the back plate will likely hold the display in place while four screw anchors located on the unit’s right wall and six on the left will most likely secure integral components as the device can no longer be opened by removing case-back. Also new are four screw holes at the top of the case near the power button though their use remains a mystery.

Overall, the site points out the alleged device boasts a high-quality milled aluminum feel consistent with all Apple products and makes special note of the unit’s thinness.

Apple is rumored to announce a follow-up to the iPhone 4S sometime this fall with one analyst estimating an early-September launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy now offering iPhone 4 for $50 with 2-year contract

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t argue with a cheap price.

Per AppleInsider, Best Buy is now selling Apple’s 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49.99 with a new two-year contract.

The new price is half that of the regular US$99 price for the iPhone 4 with a new service contract. Reseller Best Buy is offering the US$49.99 upgrade price on both the GSM iPhone 4 model, compatible with AT&T, as well as the CDMA variants, available for both Verizon and Sprint.

Best Buy’s website does not identify the new price as a temporary sale. The new price is the same that Best Buy charges for a refurbished iPhone 4, and the discount is available in both black and white models.

The price cut comes only days after Apple announced it sold 26 million iPhones in the June quarter, representing 28 percent growth over the same period a year prior. Investors viewed that number as disappointing, and AAPL stock took a hit as a result.

Apple executives said during their quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that they believe the growth slowdown, particularly with respect to iPhone sales, was at least somewhat attributable to rumors of new products. The company is widely expected to launch its next-generation iPhone with a slightly larger 4-inch display later this year.

The iPhone 4 was first released in mid-2010 and marked the debut of the high-resolution Retina display, as well as the forward-facing FaceTime camera. It is currently Apple’s mid-range handset, resting between the newest model, the iPhone 4S, and the low-end iPhone 3GS, available for free with a two-year contract. Verizon and Sprint do not offer the iPhone 3GS, which means the iPhone 4 is Apple’s entry-level handset with those two carriers.

So, yeah…an iPhone 4 for 50 clams. Not the worst thing that’s ever happened…

Apple releases OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on Mac App Store

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Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012, 07:27
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for it.

And it’s here.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-awaited OS X Mountain Lion upgrade through the Mac App Store. The download is 4.05GB, and retails for US$20.

The software incorporates a number of apps previously exclusive to iOS, including Notes, Reminders, Game Center, and the Notification Center. It also more deeply integrates iCloud, and introduces Gatekeeper, a new security system designed to prevent malware from being installed. In all, Apple claims that over 200 new features have been added including the following:

Messages:
– Send messages from your Mac to friends with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

– With iMessage, you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone or iPad.

– Messages also supports traditional instant messaging services like AIM, Yahoo! Google Talk and Jabber.

iCloud:
– Documents in the Cloud lets you create and edit your documents on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

– The new Reminders app makes managing tasks easy. Jot down your thoughts with the new Notes app. And iCloud keeps your Reminders and Notes up to date across all your devices.

Safari:
– Type both searches and web addresses in the new Smart Search Field.

– Pinch to see tabs with Tab View and swipe to switch between them.

– iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you looked at accessible on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.*

Notification Center:
– New notifications appear in the top right corner of your screen.

– Open Notification Center from anywhere in OS X to see recent notifications.

– Configure your notifications to receive just the ones you want.

Sharing:
– Share links, photos, videos, and other files right from the app you’re in.

– Share with Mail, Messages, and AirDrop.

– Sign in to Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo once to start sharing.

– Tweet right from your apps with the Tweet sheet.

Game Center:
– Play live multiplayer and turn-based games against friends on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.

– Log in to the Game Center app to see friends in your gaming network.

– Check out leaderboards and achievements.

– See what games your friends play and track your progress against them.

Other Mountain Lion features:
– Dictation lets you talk anywhere you can type–no setup or training required.

– AirPlay Mirroring shows your Mac screen on your HDTV with Apple TV.

– Power Nap keeps your Mac up to date while it sleeps so it’s instantly ready to go.

– Gatekeeper makes it safer to download apps from the Internet by giving you control over which apps can be installed on your Mac.

– New features for Chinese users include improved text input, leading search engine Baidu as an option in Safari, sharing to microblogging service Sina Weibo and video websites Youku and Tudou, eight new fonts, and a new Chinese dictionary.

OS X 10.8 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 and access to the Mac App Store to download and install.

If you guys have downloaded, installed and played with OS X 10.8, please let us know what you make of it 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

applelogo_silver

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.

AT&T to launch shared data plans in late August, offer base price around $45 per smartphone

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

attlogo

You can’t argue with a bit of competition.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&T on Wednesday announced its new shared data plans, ranging from 1 gigabyte to 20 gigabytes of cap space, and starting at US$40 for 1 gigabyte of data plus an additional US$45 per smartphone.

The cost per gigabyte and smartphone decreases as customers add more data to their plan, so 4 gigabytes of data has a base price of US$70, plus US$40 per smartphone, all the way up to US$200 for 20 gigabytes of data per month and US$30 per smartphone.

Cellular capable tablet-style devices like Apple’s iPad are less expensive, and will cost US$10 per month to add to a shared data plan. Laptops and mobile hotspot devices are another US$20 each month, while basic and messaging phones can get shared data, unlimited talk and text for US$30 each month.

The new shared data plans allow customers to choose open of AT&T’s existing individual or family plans, and current customers are not required to switch to the new plans. Those who decide to switch to AT&T’s shared data plans can do so without a contract extension, and the rates are also available for business customers.

Customers can choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, and at least one of those devices must be a smartphone. The plans include tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones.

Competing U.S. carrier Verizon launched its own shared data plans on June 28, called “Share Everything.” With it, line access for smartphones like Apple’s iPhone run US$40 per month, while tablets like the iPad are US$10 per month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.