News/Rumors

Apple confirmed 1 billion iOS devices sold

During the traditional quarterly conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed, that the company had sold its one billionth iOS device in the December quarter.

Cook noted that the billionth product was a 64GB iPhone 6 Plus and that Apple is keeping it at its headquarters in honor of the milestone.

“On Nov. 22, we shipped our one billionth iOS device,” Cook said. “It was a space-gray 64GB iPhone 6 Plus, which we’ve saved here at Apple.”

According to Apple CEO, the great milestone, which accounts for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, was reached in November and was helped along by a record-breaking 74.5 million iPhones sold in Q1 2015.

Additionally, Cook revealed, that the massive 74.5 million devices sold equates to about 34,000 handsets “every hour, 24 hours a day, every day of the quarter.”iphone6-stock

Apple CEO also emphasized that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus demand was stronger than any other iPhone it has ever released. Cook also noted the percentage of customers upgrading from older models was below 14 percent, and in fact only barely cracked the teens. 

News/Rumors

Apple adds ‘Free on iTunes’ section with free TV and music downloads

After the removal of the free iTunes Single of the Week promotion, Apple launched a new “Free on iTunes” section in the iTunes Store, offering free downloads of songs and full length TV episodes.

The “Free on iTunes” section can be found on the homepage and helps users find content without having to spend money.

The new section is a kind of replacement for the company‘s “iTunes Single of the Week”, which previously featured free songs from popular and indie music artists and launched a decade ago, back in 2004. Additionally, the company stopped its 12 Days of Christmas promotion in 2014.

The “Free on iTunes” section includes music from artists like Purity Ring, Machine Head, and Guster, and offers to select episodes of shows from Fox’s Backstrom, Syfy’s 12 Monkey’s, Disney Channel’s KC Undercover, and MTV’s Eye Candy.

Free on iTunes

The company isn’t offering a large selection of widely known and popular content available for free – it’s more indie content.

Apple’s “Free on iTunes” section is available now, and it is probably that the company will add new content every week as it has done with the iTunes Single of the Week and its App of the Week section. If you’re looking for new iTunes content, the “Free on iTunes” section is worth checking out.

Mac, News/Rumors

Alleged photos of 12-inch MacBook Air show black glass cover

A fresh set of photos, which are claimed to be the lid and display for the upcoming 12-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, have been published by Chinese site, iFanr. 

Just a few days ago, Apple supplier Quanta Computer has reportedly begun ramping up production of the upcoming 12-inch MacBook Air. The company is expected to launch a mid-size version of its notebook computer lineup, and these images seem to provide even further evidence of that being that the case.

If these photos are legitimate, they are the first extensive look at Apple’s much-rumored 12-inch device. 

The pictures demonstrate the claimed display and metal shell from the 12-inch product alongside both a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 9.7-inch iPad.  As expected, its display is smaller than the 13-inch model, but appears to be a bit taller than the company’s existing 11-inch MacBook Air.

Retina display

There is also a couple of differences in the display. The new product doesn’t have a backlit Apple logo on the back of the display assembly as is typically seen on Apple’s notebooks. Instead, you can see a polished metal logo. In addition, the display doesn’t feature the grey bezels current MacBook Air models include, instead demonstrating an apparently all-glass edge-to-edge cover for the display as found on Retina MacBook Pro models.

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The 12-inch MacBook Air is expected to feature the same footprint as the 11-inch MacBook Air. The comparison pictures revealed by iFanr show the significantly smaller footprint for the 12-inch machine compared to a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

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The next-generation MacBook Air is said to include a high-resolution display along with new Broadwell Core M processors. Other sources believe the 12-inch MacBook Air will come with all the ports typically found on Apple’s line of MacBooks.

According to the most recent rumors, Apple could introduce its 12-inch product by the end of the first quarter, though an exact launch date is still unclear.

 

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News/Rumors

Apple patent app shows home button that transforms into gaming joystick

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent, that shows a spring-loaded pop-up iPhone home button that acts as gaming joystick when in the raised position. 

The home button itself would do its usual home button functions, but with a quick pressure click would pop up and turn into a slightly elevated thumb joystick, offering a various way to interact with an iPhone, iPad, or any other device. A simple push of the elevated home button would bring it back to its normal state. When elevated, it’d give 360-degree movement and serve as a D-pad of sorts in games. Thus, users will have access to two modes: “button mode” and “joystick mode.”

According to the documents, the home button will transform into a very low-profile joystick, which is much smaller than traditional game controller joysticks.

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The most evident app for this would be for playing games, but the home button could also act to control a cursor or provide more accurate or unique input methods when the appropriate situation appears.

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Apple thinks a built-in function in form of this new home button could be an acceptable option for those unable or unwilling to carry additional gaming accessories. 

The company believes, the Touch ID home button found on the latest iPhones and iPads can be used for much more than just sensing a user’s fingerprint. 

The patent was first filed by the company in the summer of 2013. However, the new technology unlikely will be used in the company’s next iPhone, allegedly launching later this year.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock-basic Mac accessory with a lot of promise

Thunderbolt 2 Dock is a new solution to ramp up the speed of your devices and boost the performance of integrated USB 3.0, HDMI video, and analog audio-out ports.

The Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock has an appealing design and matches well with virtually any device in Apple’s line-up of personal computers. It has a silver aluminum frame with a black plastic core, looking almost similar to the previous model. However, the newer version’s front and rear ports are located in different orders.

Elgato features three USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, a 3.5mm microphone input port, a USB-to-analog 3.5mm audio out port, a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port and an HDMI port.

The Dock’s USB 3.0 ports feature standalone 1.5-Amp power output with USB Battery Charging 1.2/UASP standard compliance, which is enough to make sure your iPhone or iPad can charge when connected.

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The HDMI port now supports the HDMI 1.4b standard and 4096×2160 resolution output in case you happen to connect your Mac to a 4K monitor.

The USB 3 ports guarantee enhanced speeds, which means that USB 3.0 hardware will transfer files faster, and the sounds will be a bit more deep and rich. A separate audio input port also makes it possible to simultaneously connect a high-quality microphone for conference calls or any other project that benefits from having your voice heard.

The Gigabit Ethernet port provides your MacBook with a wired connection.

The companion software can be downloaded from Elagto’s support site.

Thunderbolt 2 Dock, a basic accessory that benefits about any Mac owner, is available for $230.

News/Rumors

CNN named Tim Cook 2014 CEO of the year

CNN has named Tim Cook 2014 CEO of the year.

Cook took the top spot in the CNNMoney rankings, saying the CEO did an “amazing job” at Apple in 2014.

“He’s had to convince skeptics that Apple can still innovate after the death of Steve Jobs,” the ranking declared. “He’s proven all the naysayers wrong.”

Also mentioned in the list was the highly successful launches of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as Apple Pay. It also paid attention to the upcoming launch of the Apple Watch in early 2015.

The company said Cook has “arguably the toughest CEO job in America” and noted the company’s 40% stock climb this year.

Tim Cook is followed by other high-profile CEOs, including John Chen of BlackBerry, Mary Barra of GM, and Meg Whitman of HP. 

CNN named Tim Cook 2014 CEO of the year

CNN’s CEO of the Year isn’t the only award Cook received this year. Earlier this month, the Financial Times awarded Tim Cook with ‘Person of the Year’ title for the same reasons as CNN—debuts of new products and climbing stock price. Finally, the FT thanked Cook for his  personal essay on his sexuality published earlier this year and his decision for Apple to purchase Beats for $3 billion.

Apple CEO was also nominated as a finalist for TIME’s 2014 “Person of the Year” award, but ultimately lost out to the Ebola Fighters.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple launches iTunes Tumblr page to promote music, movies and more

Apple opened a new Tumblr page offering the touchstones of pop culture across 2014.

The page includes music, movies, TV and books content, with individual posts consisting of images, videos and animated GIFs of artists. Each product category features a brief promo video running through the best content of 2014. For example, users can find GIFs and video of Nikki Minaj, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and more. 

As with any Tumblr blog, visitors can like a post, share the information on Facebook and Twitter, and reblog it to their own tumblr page. On a related note, iTunes also launched an official Instagram account earlier this month.

Apple has taken big steps to resurge on social media recently. The company has previously opened a Tumblr blog for the iPhone 5c back in March, and CEO Tim Cook himself joined Twitter in September of 2013.

iTunes Tumblr

Apple hired Musa Tariq, a social media guru, who previously cooperated with current retail chief Angela Ahrendts during her time as CEO of Burberry. Before taking his position in Apple, Tariq was senior director of social media at Nike. 

Apple seems to continue working in this direction. A recent listing on Apple’s Jobs webpage shows, that the company is planning to hire a new Head of Social Media and Content that will be based in Culver City.

News/Rumors

Apple “deeply offended” by BBC allegations of poor working conditions in iPhone factories

Last week, in one of its program, BBC One reported, that Apple had broken promises over the working conditions in Pegatron’s iPhone factories in China and revealed multiple instances of purported poor treatment of workers.

BBC used hidden cameras in its investigation to find out a list of infractions violating Apple’s own Supplier Responsibility report, such as illegal ID card confiscation, excessive working hours, poor living conditions, and underage workers.

Following the BBC undercover documentary, Apple executive Jeff Williams sent a corporate memo, which said, that both he and CEO Tim Cook are “deeply offended” by allegations that Apple permits the mistreatment of workers in its supplier factories, reports the Telegraph.

In his letter to employees, Williams said that the company’s audits and tracking reveal that it has achieved an average of 93 percent compliance with its 60-hour workweek limit. The Apple executive added that Apple can do better, and vowed that it will.

“We know of no other company doing as much as Apple does to ensure fair and safe working conditions, to discover and investigate problems, to fix and follow through when issues arise, and to provide transparency into the operations of our suppliers,” Williams wrote.

Williams also paid attention to the issue of child labor in Indonesian tin mines, saying that the company made the more moral choice by working for change in the country.

“Apple has two choices: We could make sure all of our suppliers buy tin from smelters outside Indonesia, which would probably be the easiest thing for us to do and would certainly shield us from criticism,” Williams wrote. “But it would be the lazy and cowardly path, because it would do nothing to improve the situation for Indonesian workers or the environment since Apple consumes a tiny fraction of the tin mined there.”

“We chose the second path, which is to stay engaged and try to drive a collective solution.”

In its Supplier Responsibility report, that is published annually by Apple, the company revealed the result of its own audits and the steps that have been taken in response to problems identified in its supply chain.

News/Rumors

European iTunes App Store to see tax changes Jan 1st 2015

Apple has sent an email to iOS developers  reminding them of an upcoming value-added tax rate policy changes, that are calculated for App Store purchases in the European Union. 

Starting January 1, 2015, the company will charge the value-added tax, or VAT, rate based on the country which they are from rather than calculating a flat VAT rate for all countries in the European Union. That means, that residents of the countries, where value-added taxes are higher than users are currently being charged, could actually see their app prices go up.

According to the email, Apple says:

“On January 1, 2014, value-added tax (VAT) rates for apps will change for all territories in the European Union. VAT will be based on the customer’s country of residence instead of being the same across all EU territories.”

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Apple’s tax practices recently came under fire from government authorities.

There is no information on whether Apple plans to apply the new tax rule to all iTunes purchases, including music, movies and e-books. It is also unclear how huge of an impact this will have on customers.

News/Rumors

Apple took down Russian online store due to ‘extreme’ currency fluctuations

Apple has taken down its online store in Russia due to “extreme” fluctuations in the value of the ruble. 

According to the company’s spokesman Alan Hely, Apple had decided to shutter the store while it “reviews pricing,” and it “apologizes to customers for any inconvenience.”

The Russian economy has face several problems for months, but the situation have gotten significantly worse in recent days due in large part to the falling price of oil and economic sanctions. The ruble has experienced a dramatic 19 percent decline on Tuesday, after the central bank raised interest rates by 6.5 percentage points in the middle of the night.

Apple has previously tried to deal with the ruble’s fluctuations last month by increasing the price of the iPhone 6 by 25% in the whole country.

Apple’s Russian online store is currently unavailable, with the company’s usual offline message left on the site. “We’ll be back,” the site says. “We’re busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon.”

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Russia, one of the top 5 largest cellphone-using countries in the world, received its own Apple Online Store in June of last year.

There is no news on when Apple will restore online sales and how much it will increase its prices.