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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

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Notes from Apple’s Q2 2014 earnings call

Apple’s conference call after the company’s reported Q2 2014 earnings started with CEO Tim Cook calling the results “very strong.” The results were Apple’s “strongest non-holiday quarter ever,” Cook said.

Cook pointed out that iPhone sales were strong in the quarter. Apple’s smartphone market share is now 55 percent in Japan. There are now 800 million iTunes accounts, “most of them with credit cards,” Cook noted. iPad sales were at high end of Apple’s expectations, though below analyst explanations — Cook spoke about why there was a difference between the two.

Apple announces 7:1 stock split, increased share buyback, dividends

Apple today announced a seven-for-one stock split, with shareholders receiving six new shares for every one they own at the close of business on June 2, 2014. This is the first split since 2005. The company’s share repurchase program will be increasing from $60 billion to $90 billion, and has raised its dividend to percent%. This puts it at $3.20 per common share, payable on May 15, 2014. 

Apple Q2 2014: 43.7M iPhones, 16.3M iPads, 2.7M iPods

Apple reported its second quarter 2014 financial results today, as the company sold 43.7 million iPhones, 16.3 million iPads, and 2.7 million iPods. The company also reported $45.6 billion in quarterly revenue, and a quarterly net profit of $10.2 billion. Revenue is down from the record of Q1 2014, but up from Q2 2013. Gross margin was 39.6 percent in Q2 2014, compared to 37.5 percent in the year-ago quarter.

For its fiscal third quarter, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $36 billion and $38 billion, and gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s conference call on the results will take place at 5 p.m. EST and can be heard on the company’s investor website.

“We’re very proud of our quarterly results, especially our strong iPhone sales and record revenue from services,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We’re eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market.”

“We generated $13.5 billion in cash flow from operations and returned almost $21 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the March quarter,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said. “That brings cumulative payments under our capital return program to $66 billion.”

Former employee says Apple left iOS users vulnerable

Apple left iOS users vulnerable by not fixing security weaknesses in iOS at the same time as in OS X, former Apple employee Kristin Paget wrote in a blog post. Paget points out that an OS X fix included a number of the same issues which popped up about three weeks later in Apple’s recent iOS 7.1.1 update. “Is this how you do business?” Paget wrote. “Drop a patch for one product that quite literally lists out, in order, the security vulnerabilities in your platform, and then fail to patch those weaknesses on your other range of products for *weeks* afterwards? You really don’t see anything wrong with this?” Paget asks readers to compare previous updates of iOS and OS X to see how security patches differ over time between the two operating systems. [via Ars Technica]

Siri coming to Apple TV?

It’s possible that Siri could appear on Apple TV in the future, judging by code found in the iOS 7.1 SDK. According to 9to5Mac, an SDK file showing which platforms are compatible with Siri uses the number 3 as an identifier — the number 3 internally represents the Apple TV family in such cases. The code is present in iOS 7.1 and 7.1.1, but not in iOS 7.0.6. It’s possible Apple could introduce Siri in the rumored upcoming version of Apple TV.

Google covering some Samsung defense costs in Apple case

Google has agreed to take over defense of some of Samsung’s claims in Apple’s current patent lawsuit, also agreeing to indemnify Samsung on potential losses from those claims, Re/Code reports. Though Google agreed to cover four patents, two were dropped from the case before the trial — remaining are the ‘414 and ‘959 patents, involving background synchronization and universal search. The information was revealed through Google attorney James Maccoun’s deposition testimony. As the report notes, “this was the first evidence shown to the jury that Google is playing a central role in the defense.”

Changes introduced to Apple’s app content rating system

Apple has sent an email to developers about recent changes that may affect the content rating of certain apps. A new rating system has been instituted in Brazil to meet local regulations — the rating is determined by an app’s existing content description. Territory-specific restrictions in the Brazil, Korea, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia app stores have also changed. Additionally, developers can now use new descriptions for apps: medical/treatment information, gambling and contests, and unrestricted web access.

iOS 7.1.1 makes in-app purchases clear in Top Grossing chart

Along with minor tweaks and bug fixes, today’s release of iOS 7.1.1 sees Apple continuing to make it clear which apps support in-app purchases. Now, the Top Grossing chart in the App Store lists when an app has in-app purchases.

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This is the latest step the company has taken to point out which apps may eventually cost more than their initial purchase price.

Apple releases iOS 7.1.1

iOS 7.1.1, an update to Apple’s mobile operating system, is now available for download. The update lists improvements to Touch ID fingerprint recognition, the virtual keyboard, and Bluetooth keyboard usage.

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While complaints regarding iOS 7.1’s keyboard space key have been fairly widespread, the update appears to address keyboard responsiveness issues rather than design.

Apps: 1Password 4.5, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Health Mate 2.0 + WeMo 1.5.1

AgileBits is calling its newest version of 1Password ($9) its biggest update ever — an apt time for it, considering the catastrophic Heartbleed bug. The password manager and secure wallet app has been rebuilt for speed and productivity in version 4.5. 1Password now supports multiple vaults and sharing from the Mac or Windows versions of 1Password. Multiple Dropbox accounts are also now supported. The app’s browser has been improved, with easier login and checkout, and one button for autofill.

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New from Gameloft is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($5), a new fighting adventure based on the upcoming film. Players can guide an impressively-animated Spider-Man through an open world, web-slinging and wall climbing while fighting many recognizable characters from the Spider-Man universe. While the game has been designed to encourage exploration, enabling Spider-Man to move throughout a giant and impressively populated city, the swinging, climbing, and jumping controls haven’t quite been perfected, nor have the camera controls, collectively making navigation and movement somewhat confusing. The non-linear design also leaves Spider-Man to fight minor crooks and take on side missions that feel both repetitive and not particularly meaningful, rather than tackling big villains. It’s not a bad game, but with a bit of extra polish, it could have been a great one.

Apple Reuse & Recycling program expands to iPad

Apple has expanded its in-store Reuse & Recycling program to iPad, 9to5Mac reports. Previously, only iPhones could be traded in for credit toward other iPhones. Now, iPads can be traded in for credit, and credit from iPhones and iPads can be applied to a newer version of either device. It’s noted that Apple is less lenient on used iPad conditions — for example, stores won’t accept an iPad with a cracked screen, but will accept an iPhone in the same condition. Apple won’t accept trade-ins of its newest current devices — iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, and iPhone 5s and 5c — or its retired devices.

Apple offering free recycling of used products in stores

Apple is now offering free recycling for all of its used products in its retail stores, the Associated Press reports. Previously, only some devices could be recycled in-store. The company will still give out gift cards for devices with monetary value. Apple’s recycling policy change coincides with Earth Day and the company’s new environmental campaign.

Report: 5.5” ‘iPhone Air’ may not be seen until 2015

Apple’s rumored 5.5” iPhone may not hit the market until 2015 due to battery issues, according to Taiwan’s Commercial Times. The phone — referred to in the report as “iPhone Air” — supposedly needs a battery that’s 2mm or less in thickness. Suppliers need more time to meet Apple’s requirements, thus delaying the phone. While the report doesn’t seem completely unreasonable, it’s worth noting that the Commercial Times previously claimed a 4.8” “iPhone Math” — almost certainly a translation error — would arrive last year. [via G for Games]

Apple interviewing candidates for mobile payment service

Apple has been interviewing senior payments industry executives as the company looks to move forward with its own mobile payments service, Re/Code reports. The company is looking to hire for two new positions — head of product and head of business development — concentrating “exclusively on building a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file.” Apple executive Jennifer Bailey is reportedly leading the initiative — a prior report noted Bailey was in a new role. A source said on the plans, “their ambitions are very, very serious.” While this report claims that the initiative is now further along, rumors of an iTunes-based mobile payment service have been circulating for long enough that it’s hard to imagine the company is just staffing up for this purpose now.

Apple launches environmental responsibility campaign

Apple has launched a new environmental responsibility campaign with a revamped environmental webpage on its site. The new site includes a short film, “Better,” narrated by CEO Tim Cook. “But now, more than ever, we will work to leave the world better than we found it,” Cook says. The page includes information on how Apple is reducing its impact on climate change, and how the company is conserving resources and reducing toxins in its products. Environmental reports are also included for each current Apple product.

Apple TV adds A&E, History, Lifetime channels

Apple has added three new channels to Apple TV: A&E, The History Channel, and Lifetime. All three channels from A+E Networks require a cable subscription for full access — currently, only DirecTV, Cablevision Optimum and Verizon FiOS subscribers can gain access to all included content.

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The networks are home to popular shows like Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, and American Pickers. Recently, the A&E and History iOS apps were both updated to offer live streaming TV.

Nike stopping FuelBand production

Nike is stopping production of wearable hardware, including its FuelBand fitness tracker, CNET reports. Most of the team responsible for the development of FuelBand has reportedly been fired, as Nike is shifting its focus from hardware to fitness and athletic software. A new, slimmer version of the FuelBand was canceled, as have “all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm.” Nike will continue to sell its second-generation FuelBand SE — reviewed here — for the time being. While the report notes that it makes less sense for Nike to stay in hardware when there are so many fitness trackers on the market — a somewhat confusing suggestion given the FuelBand’s popularity — the company could also avoid competing with upcoming devices such as Apple’s iWatch. Apple reportedly hired some key FuelBand developers last year.

Apple, Google seek exclusive game debuts

Both Apple and Google are approaching game developers to get top titles to debut first on their respective operating systems, the Wall Street Journal reports. The companies are both offering premium placement within their app stores in exchange for exclusivity.  It’s reported that Apple doesn’t offer money for exclusive game debuts, only “marketing or promotional assistance.”

Apple and EA reached a deal for the launch of Plants Vs. Zombies 2 last August — Apple got about two months of exclusivity for the game, and it was released on Android in October. ZeptoLab’s Cut the Rope 2 was also featured exclusively on Apple’s App Store for about three months. Gameloft has considered Apple exclusivity, but thus far has decided against it, opting for simultaneous iOS and Android launches.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Hitman GO

The Hitman game series has proven popular enough to spawn a number of sequels, as well as a feature film. And with the release of Hitman GO ($5), it’s clear Square Enix thinks the franchise still has legs, as Agent 47 makes a big move from stealth action/adventure to stealth strategy.

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It’s important for gamers to think of Hitman GO as a spinoff, rather than a proper continuation of the franchise. Perhaps Agent 47 will become the next Mario, popping into go-karts, onto tennis courts, and so forth. Or not. Hitman GO is a puzzler made to look like a board game, as Agent 47 is merely a piece to be moved strategically from space to space. The game’s most “violent” moments involve knocking over other pieces. This is way more fun than it initially sounds.

Alleged next-gen iPad Air front panel leaked

  • April 18, 2014
  • iPad

Alleged leaked pictures of the next-generation iPad Air show a new integrated display. The photos, posted by Dutch site One More Thing, show the LCD layer integrated into the glass display, and the site says it appears the device may be even thinner than the current iPad Air.

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If the overall dimensions stay the same, an integrated display could give Apple a bit more room for internal components, including a larger battery. It’s rumored that the new iPad will come with Touch ID and an A8 processor. [via MacRumors]

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