Apple has added a toggle for turning iTunes Match on and off to the Music section of iOS 5’s Settings app, suggesting an imminent launch for the service. Announced in June at WWDC, iTunes Match is a $24.99/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. The appearance of the toggle — which currently activates an alert stating that “You are not currently subscribed to iTunes Match. Use iTunes on your computer to subscribe” — has some suggesting that the service may launch ahead of Apple’s “end of October” estimate, however, the service does require iTunes 10.5.1, which is currently in developer beta and not available to the public at large. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has updated its prior Steve Jobs tribute page with a constantly updated page that highlights messages from people all over the world. Entitled “Remembering Steve”, the page reads, “Over a million people from all over the world have shared their memories, thoughts, and feelings about Steve. One thing they all have in common — from personal friends to colleagues to owners of Apple products — is how they’ve been touched by his passion and creativity. You can view some of these messages below.” The page also notes that readers still have a chance to share their own messages by sending an email to [email protected]
During Apple’s fourth-quarter 2011 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and COO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPod, iPhone, and iPad businesses. As noted by Cook at the beginning of the call, it was the company’s first after the passing of the company’s co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. Cook repeated a message posted on the company’s website following Jobs’ death, expressing gratitude for the condolences and expressions of support the company has received, and reassuring listeners of the company’s dedication to “continuing the amazing work that he loved so much.”
Directly following Cook’s brief statement, Oppenheimer gave his opening remarks, touting new all-time quarterly records for Mac and iPad sales, and a new September-quarter sales record for iPhone. He said that while iPod sales were down year-over-year to 6.6 million, they beat the company’s internal expectations, as the iPod touch continues to account for more than half of all iPods sold, and the iPod continues to be the top-selling MP3 player in most countries the company tracks. Oppenheimer also briefly discussed the iTunes Store, which produced nearly $1.5 billion in revenue—a record result—and has seen over 16 billion song and 650 million TV show downloads, and the iBookstore, which has seen over 180 million downloads thus far.
Reporting its fourth quarter 2011 financial results today, Apple said it sold 6.62 million iPods during the quarter—a 27 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Apple sold 17.07 million iPhones in the quarter, a 21 percent increase year-over-year, and down slightly from the 20.34 million units sold in the third quarter. Apple also sold 11.12 million iPads during the quarter, up 166 percent from 4.19 million units in the year-ago quarter. The unit sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 145.96 million, 321.18 million, and 39.85 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $28.27 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.62 billion, or $7.05 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per diluted share, in Q4 2010.
“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011, growing annual revenue to $108 billion and growing earnings to $26 billion,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”
“We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of $5.4 billion during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 14 weeks rather than 13, we expect revenue of about $37 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $9.30.”
Following a series of conflicting reports from AppleCare representatives, iLounge has confirmed that Apple intends to phase out its $69 AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone in favor of the $99 AppleCare+ for iPhone, a change that will have major implications for future iPhone customers. As of today, the $69 plan may still be purchased during the iPhone’s one-year standard warranty period—unlike the new AppleCare+ plan, which must be purchased at the point-of-sale—but only for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, not the iPhone 4S.
According to AppleCare representatives, AppleCare will be “phased out” or “discontinued” for iPhones, remaining an option for customers who purchased their phones prior to the introduction of the AppleCare+ plan, until all potentially eligible customers have exhausted their one-year warranty periods, sometime on or near October 13, 2012. Notably, AppleCare+ is currently not available in all countries, and the prior AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone is still promoted as the primary option for customers where AppleCare+ is not available. In the United States, Apple’s AppleCare page for iPhone now lists only AppleCare+, while no mention is made of the $69 plan.
Introduced in July 2007, the original AppleCare Protection Plan extends the iPhone’s one-year of defect- and battery-related repair coverage to two years. The new AppleCare+ plan goes beyond this by adding coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage due to handling, each subject to an additional $49 service fee. The difference in the packages means that customers will need to pay more up front, and immediately, as the AppleCare+ plan must be purchased with a new iPhone. Additional charges may apply down the road, depending on how fortunate the user is in preventing damage to the handset. Previously, AppleCare representatives had the option to repair an accidentally damaged iPhone one time without charge to the user, a customer satisfaction policy that we have been told will no longer be permitted with AppleCare+‘s introduction.
Apple released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.1 for its second-generation set-top box less than one week after the release of 4.4, only to pull the update—at least on a temporary basis—shortly thereafter. According to Apple’s release notes, the 4.4.1 update “addresses an issue that required a small number of Apple TV units to be connected to iTunes in order to complete the update.” Shortly following the update’s release, some users reported that the 4.4.1 update “bricked” their units, requiring connection to iTunes for a restore, according to Mac Rumors. The update has since been pulled, at least on a temporary basis.
Apple is offering “special limited time” pricing on refurbished first-generation iPad units. The refurbished iPad page of the company’s online store shows several models in stock, including 64GB Wi-Fi units for $399, 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G units for the same price, and 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G units for $499, a substantial savings off the original $829 price. All of Apple’s refurbished iPads come with a new battery and outer shell, all manuals and accessories, and the same one-year warranty as new models.
An administrative law judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in Apple’s favor in an early decision on HTC’s patent infringement claims. Reuters reports that the judge found “no violation” by Apple of four HTC patents related to power management and phone dialing. The full commission will decide whether to uphold or reject the judge’s decision next February; HTC said in July that is was “open to having discussions” with Apple in hopes of reaching a settlement in the various ongoing patent infringement cases between the two companies.
Apple this morning announced that the iPhone 4S saw sales of over four million units over the launch weekend. In the announcement, it also revealed that over 25 million customers have updated their iOS devices to iOS 5, and more than 20 million have signed up for iCloud. The iPhone 4S is available now in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK, and will launch in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland on October 28.
“iPhone 4S is off to a great start with more than four million sold in its first weekend—the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPhone 4S is a hit with customers around the world, and together with iOS 5 and iCloud, is the best iPhone ever.”
Apple is preparing to launch the iPhone 4S today at 8:00 am Local Time, or less than 20 minutes from now for those of our readers on the East Coast. With a record-setting number of units being pre-ordered, it is unclear whether crowds at today’s brick-and-mortar launches will be as large as they have been for prior iPhone launches; however, as evidenced by the photos below, taken by iLounge editor Nick Guy at the Walden Galleria Apple Store, there are plenty of people waiting to get their units before the delivery trucks start arriving for pre-order customers. Interestingly, Apple appears to be reusing its old iPhone 4 window displays for the iPhone 4S, as the oversized units show the prior GSM antenna positions.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek has posted a lengthy profile of Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software Scott Forstall which is to be its cover story in this week’s print edition. Calling Forstall a “sorcerer’s apprentice,” the article points out a number of ways in which Forstall resembles his long-time mentor Steve Jobs. In particular, Forstall is known for keeping a fairly consistent wardrobe across media event appearances, sporting a Jobs-like jeans and black top—a zippered sweater, instead of a turtleneck—and for his taste for the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, the same car Jobs was known to drive.
Apple is in talks with Hollywood studios to add movie streaming to its iCloud service. Citing people with knowledge of the matter, the Los Angeles Times reports that Apple representatives have been meeting with studios to finalize deals that would allow customers to stream movies purchased on the iTunes Store to any Apple device. As noted in the report, the moves comes at a time when a majority of the major studios—all but Disney—are preparing to rollout a similar initiative called Ultraviolet, in which consumers purchasing select DVD or Blu-ray titles will also have access to digital copies that can be streamed to Internet-connected TVs, smartphones, and tablets; Apple is not one of the companies currently participating in the initiative. Regardless, the report suggests that the studios may be amenable to adding Apple on, as it accounts for 66 percent of online movie sales and rentals, and thus building a cloud-based movie business without its support could prove difficult.
While the report suggests that Apple’s devices could be made Ultraviolet compatible via Apps, it appears that a more sensible approach—especially given iTunes’ current handling of digital copies included with physical releases—would be to allow iTunes to store the copy of the film and handle streaming in the same way it will for traditional iTunes purchases.
Apple has released Cards, its new app designed to allow users to create and mail their own personalized, professionally crafted cards directly from an iPhone or iPod touch. Announced last week during Apple’s iPhone Event, Cards is a free app whereby users can choose to create their own personalized, physical greeting cards from a selection of 21 different designs. Users add personalized messages and photos from the camera or iOS photo library and then choose a recipient from their iOS Contacts and submit the order to Apple which then prints the greeting card and mails it out to the recipient. Printed cards use a professional letterpress technique and are crafted from 100 percent cotton paper with an elegant debased design.
Available card designs are grouped into six themes for different occasions: Thank You, Holiday, New Baby, Birthday, Love and Travel. Location integration can automatically fill in the users’ current location when choosing a card from the Travel category or insert the location that a photo was taken when adding a photo to a card. Cards mailed to U.S. addresses can be tracked via the U.S. Postal Service Intelligent Mail barcode system and push notifications are used to provide the user with delivery status and other tracking information. A history of cards is also saved automatically making it easy to send the same card to more than one recipient. Cards is available from the App Store as a free download; users are charged via in-app purchase to send individual cards at $3 per card for U.S. destinations or $5 per card for international destinations.
Apple has released iTunes Movie Trailers, a new iOS app that allows users to access new and exclusive movie previews in HD on their device. Users can browse trailers, clips and featurettes for both major Hollywood films and independent cinema along with high-resolution photos, a year-long calendar of movie releases and location-based showtime info. The application also allows users to purchase movie tickets directly from their iPad or iPhone. Favorite movies and theatres can be saved for quick access and images can be saved to the iPad photo gallery to use as desktop wallpapers or share with friends. AirPlay is also supported allowing users to view trailers on their Apple TV, and favourites can be pushed to multiple iOS devices via iCloud.
iTunes Movie Trailers requires iOS 4.3 or later and an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2 or third- or fourth-generation iPod touch. iCloud sync requires iOS 5 or later and a valid iCloud account. iTunes Movie Trailers is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Today’s software update for the Apple TV brought with it two surprising new features: support for NHL and WSJ content. In the release notes, Apple touts the new National Hockey League feature, which offers live games, highlights, scores, and more, as well as Wall Street Journal Live, which offers on-demand streaming of video content from the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the update also brings with it a new interface for movie trailers, which is highly similar to the prior interface for movies. The latest Apple TV Software Update—listed as software version 4.4 (3140) and iOS version 5.0 (9a334v)—is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s general settings menu.
Apple has released iOS 5 updates to its three iWork apps—Pages, Numbers and Keynote—adding support for sharing documents via iCloud. The latest versions allow users to automatically store presentations, spreadsheets and word procession documents in iCloud and automatically keep them up to date across all iOS devices. Documents can also be downloaded to a Mac or a PC from iCloud.com in either native iWork, PDF, or Microsoft Office compatible formats, and new compatible files can be uploaded to iCloud.com for automatic synchronization to iOS 5 devices.
Several other new features have also been added to each of the apps in addition to iCloud and iOS 5 support. Keynote 1.5 introduces the ability to stream presentations wirelessly to an Apple TV via AirPlay along with support for navigating slides, viewing presenter notes and using the virtual laser pointer while giving a presentation. Keynote also adds several new builds and transitions, advanced presentation controls including loops slideshows and autoplay and support for hyperlinks between slides.
Pages 1.5 adds voice dictation support for the iPhone 4S, the ability to create footnotes and endnotes in documents and character, paragraph and page counts. Numbers 1.5 improves formatting and data entry features adding sliders, steppers and pop-ups to simplify entering data and support for merging cells and hiding rows and columns. All three apps also improve compatibility with their iWork for Mac and Microsoft Office counterparts and include improved support for Chinese, Japanese and Korean language input.
As expected, Apple today released iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The anticipated update offers over 200 new features, including a new Notifications system, Reminders app, Twitter integration, Camera enhancements, full support for iCloud, Wi-Fi Sync, PC-less setup, and more. iOS 5 is available now for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch via the Update feature in iTunes 10.5.
Apple has released its latest Software Update for the second-generation Apple TV. The new update offers support for iOS 5, including wireless display mirroring from the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, Photo Stream support, and improved AirPlay support. The update is available now via the “Update Software” option in the Apple TV’s general Settings menu.
Update: Several iLounge editors have experienced trouble installing the update, with the message “The update was not successful.” appearing on the screen after a lengthy download period. It is unclear whether the problem lies with the update image itself or with some other issue.
Apple has started rolling out its iTunes in the Cloud feature in a variety of new countries. According to a MacRumors report, iTunes in the Cloud has started rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, with other countries possibly to follow. Part of Apple’s iCloud initiative, iTunes in the Cloud allows users to re-download past music, books, app purchases from the iTunes, iBook-, and App stores directly to their iOS devices or computers, and also offers an “Automatic Downloads” feature.
iLounge has confirmed that the new white models of the fourth-generation iPod touch are now available at Apple Retail Stores, as scheduled. Announced during Apple’s “Let’s talk iPhone” event, the white models are virtually unaltered from the prior version, save for the fact that they arrive with iOS 5.0 pre-installed. The new white models of the fourth-generation iPod touch are available for purchase now and are priced from $199.
Updated: We’ve added additional photos, including one comparing the white model with the existing black version.
Updated x2: We have now received our test white iPod touch 4G unit, and have posted a complete unboxing gallery, which is available on Flickr.