A 14-year-old Maine girl reportedly suffered second-degree burns when her iPhone 5c caught fire in her pants pocket. According to the report, the girl and her friends heard a “pop” from the phone, which then started billowing smoke and caught fire. The girl stopped, dropped, and rolled, then had to remove her pants, and sustained burns on her thigh and back. “The phone fell out of her pocket ... and it was still smoldering,” school principal Jeff Rodman said. Area repair shop owner Andrew Rosenstein noted of the iPhone’s lithium-ion battery, “It’s very rare there can be an issue, but any battery is just a chemical composition that can be flammable in extreme circumstances.” Several battery issues with prior iPhones have been blamed on third-party chargers. [via Morning Sentinel]
Apple is testing new charging options for its iWatch, The New York Times reports. The company has reportedly tested a method to charge the wristwatch’s battery using magnetic induction. Apple is also “experimenting” with types of new power-charging methods. Among these experiments is a solar-charging layer over a curved glass screen that could power the device during daylight, and a battery that’s charged by kinetic movement, such as arm swinging during walking. The Times notes some of the methods being tested “are years from becoming a reality,” which means that a first-generation iWatch release this year might not include any of the technologies. “Hoping and betting on new battery technology to me is a fool’s errand,” former Apple SVP and “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell told the Times. “Don’t wait for the battery technology to get there, because it’s incredibly slow to move.”
Apple is also likely developing its upcoming iOS 8 update with iWatch in mind, according to 9to5Mac. iOS 8 will reportedly include a new app with the codename “Healthbook.” The app will be able to monitor a user’s vital signs, in addition to health tracking features, using Passbook-style data cards to organize different results captured by the device and accessories. It’s suggested that “Healthbook” could relay information from the iWatch, as the iWatch has reportedly been “designed to be heavily reliant on the iPhone.”
- January 31, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny today during a visit to Ireland, and Kenny confirmed the meeting included a discussion of corporate tax rate. Kenny, the Irish head of government, said Ireland is “participating fully” in EU discussions about corporate tax rate, and denied that the Irish government makes special deals with Apple or any other companies. Apple drew criticism last year for allegedly avoiding taxes in both Ireland and the U.S due to a loophole stemming from the incorporation of the company’s international operations in Ireland. Cook said in a statement at the time, “We pay all the taxes we owe — every single dollar.” During his visit, Cook also addressed Apple staff in the company’s Cork office. [via thejournal.ie]
Thousands of iBeacons will be placed in Major League Baseball ballparks next week, with MLB hoping to have 20 parks outfitted by Opening Day in late March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, San Francisco, and the L.A. Dodgers will be among the teams with iBeacons installed in their stadiums, MacRumors reports. Each park should have about 100 iBeacons installed. It was reported last year that many MLB teams expressed interest in iBeacon, with the New York Mets already testing the technology. iBeacon will work with MLB’s At The Ballpark app. Though functionality will differ in each ballpark, it’s likely the app will use iBeacon to offer ballpark information, concessions coupons, and loyalty programs, among other features.
- January 30, 2014
PayPal has been pitching Apple on helping out with the Cupertino company’s rumored mobile payments system, Re/code reports. Industry executives say PayPal is offering to “white-label parts of its own payment service,” from infrastructure to payment processing. While PayPal may be keen to partnering with Apple, the interest may not be reciprocated — two executives said it’s “unlikely” Apple would need to team with PayPal. It’s tough to see why Apple would seek such a partnership, considering the company has the infrastructure and technology to go it alone. According to a recent report, Apple SVP Eddy Cue has met with industry executives about making payments through iTunes accounts. Additionally, Apple CEO Tim Cook said during Monday’s earnings call that making mobile payments “was one of the thoughts with Touch ID.”
Google will keep its newly acquired Nest group intact to work on hardware for the company, TechCrunch reports. Nest, founded by “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell, will “not necessarily” work on thermostats or smoke detectors, as Google reportedly “would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company.” It’s possible that phones or tablets could be part of that plan. Google’s recent acquisition of Nest cost $3.2 billion.
Documents between Apple and U.S. Foreign Trade Zone officials show the company is planning an “aggressive” push to open its new Arizona sapphire manufacturing plant in February, possibly in time to include sapphire in products to launch later this year. In one of the documents obtained by 9to5Mac, Apple explains that the manufacturing process in the plant “will create a critical new sub-component of Apple products.” Though the ambiguous description could conceivably refer to the use of Touch ID in new devices, it’s also possible that sapphire could play a larger role in existing Apple products; an Apple patent application published today shows a “sapphire window,” with an illustration of an iPhone with a sapphire display. Another possibility is that sapphire could be used in Apple’s rumored iWatch. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has released iOS 7.0.5. The update “corrects network provisioning” for some iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c models sold in China. iOS 7.0.5 is only available for some iPhone 5c/5s models.
Apple is testing upcoming Apple TV versions with an AirPort-style router and built-in TV tuner, 9to5Mac reports. The Apple TV with a router appears to combine the Apple TV and AirPort Express for upgraded bandwidth and video quality for the device, enabling the router to prioritize video stability while doling out data to other devices as needed. Separately, the TV tuner component would allow users to access their television content through an Apple interface, finally bringing to market a feature rumored to be in development at the time of Steve Jobs’ death in 2011. Neither of these features is guaranteed to appear in new Apple TV hardware — but the possibility is there, as prototype versions reportedly exist. The article also backs our earlier report that game support would be a key part of an upcoming Apple TV update; existing iOS devices would be used as controllers, according to the new report.
The report also notes that Apple has added an Apple TV section to its online store, rather than treating Apple TV as an accessory, hinting at major upcoming changes. Accessories, a Q&A section, AppleCare, and a page for refurbished Apple TVs are all included in the new section.
- January 28, 2014
Apple recently posted an update to its website on National Security and Law Enforcement Orders received by the company. The update includes the amount of National Security orders Apple received worldwide from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2013. In the National Security column, Apple reports that a range of 0 to 249 orders were received, and a range of 0 to 249 accounts were affected. More specific numbers were included for account information requests from law enforcement, as there were 927 account requests received during the same time period, among other numbers disclosed by Apple.
Apple also notes, “...we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the U.S.” Those new rules were confirmed in a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. The joint statement from Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers.” It’s noted that additional steps are required before the reforms are fully implemented.
Developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who last week showed pictures of a pre-release version of Apple’s upcoming iOS in the Car, has uploaded a video to YouTube of the system in action. The video shows an iOS in the Car in-dash display running next to an iPhone using iOS 7.0.3. Troughton-Smith notes on YouTube that this is “all available in the public, shipping version of iOS 7.”
He also notes iOS in the Car supports multiple resolutions, touchscreens, hardware buttons, wheels, and touchpads. It does not support multitasking, as the car display shows the same app as the iPhone. Voice recognition is used as input, as there is no keyboard UI. Most notably, Troughton-Smith points out the UI is “clearly subject to change;” screenshots released recently showed a markedly different interface with a vertical, driver-side control panel. [via 9to5Mac]
- January 27, 2014
Apple’s Q1 2014 earnings conference call after the company’s reported record quarter started with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer discussing the company’s all-time quarterly records for iPhone and iPad sales. Oppenheimer cited iPhone market share numbers in various markets — he said iPhone has 69 percent of the smartphone market in Japan — in addition to mentioning web traffic numbers from iPhone and iPad.
As of this month, 80 percent of iOS devices are running iOS 7, Oppenheimer confirmed, following Apple’s quiet release of those numbers earlier today.
Oppenheimer said iTunes services made $4.4 billion in the quarter, with $2.4 billion in sales from iTunes alone. Apple has paid a total of $15B to App Store developers. Mentioning some specific apps, Oppenheimer said Clumsy Ninja was downloaded 10 million times in the first week of release, and Plants vs. Zombies 2 was downloaded 16 million times in the first five days of release. He also briefly mentioned iBeacon, which is now showing up in Apple stores.
During the Q&A, Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week was the best ever in China for iPhone activations. “We really turned in a stellar quarter in greater China overall and we’re really proud of it,” he said.
Asked about mobile payments, Cook said, “The mobile payments ... in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with ... and that was one of the thoughts with Touch ID.”
On iPhone market share, Cook mentioned the growth in emerging markets, but also said, “Our North American business contracted somewhat year over year.” He said iPhone 5s supply wasn’t strong enough. Carriers changing their upgrade policies is also having a major effect on North American sales, Cook said.
When asked if Apple is still a growth company, Cook referred back to Oppenheimer’s comments while reiterating the iPod is bringing down the overall numbers.
On iPhone user growth, Cook also said Apple saw significant new-to-iPhone numbers on the 5c. “It’s typically not just upgraders,” he said.
On expanding the iPhone product family, Cook said, “We’re willing to make any product that’s a great product. Our line in the sand is making something that’s not fantastic.”
When asked about 5c sales, Cook played up the 5s. He said, “People are really intrigued with Touch ID. It’s a major feature that has excited people.”
To end the call, Cook made a vague comment on future products, saying “Innovation is deeply embedded in everybody here ... we have zero issue coming up with things we want to do that we think we can disrupt in a major way.”
Apple reported its first quarter 2014 financial results today, selling 51 million iPhones and 26 million iPads, both all-time quarterly records. The company reported a record $57.6 billion quarterly revenue, as well as quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion, or $14.50 per diluted share. Apple sold 6 million iPods, a 52 percent decrease in units from Q1 2013. iPhone unit sales were up 7 percent, and iPad unit sales were up 14 percent from Q1 2013.
Gross margin was 37.9 percent, compared to 38.6 percent in Q1 2013. Apple noted that international sales accounted for 63 percent of revenue in Q1 2014. For Q2 2014, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion, and gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. EST, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.
“We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”
“We generated $22.7 billion in cash flow from operations and returned an additional $7.7 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the December quarter, bringing cumulative payments under our capital return program to over $43 billion,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said.
Apple now claims on its developer website that 80 percent of devices are using iOS 7, a statistic measured through the “App Store during a 7-day period ending January 26, 2014.” In early December, Apple released numbers in the same quiet manner, noting that 74 percent of devices were using iOS 7 in a seven-day period ending Dec. 1. Apple now claims 17 percent of devices are using iOS 6, with 3 percent using an older version of iOS. Intended for developers, the metric obviously doesn’t capture devices that aren’t actively using the App Store, so it’s unclear how generalizable the numbers are to the entire iOS-using population.
Apple is investigating the possibility of enabling users to pay for physical goods and services through their iTunes accounts, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. Apple SVP Eddy Cue has reportedly met with industry executives on the matter. It’s also noted that Apple executive Jennifer Bailey, who ran Apple’s online stores, is now in a new role “to build a payment business within the technology giant.” A number of possibilities exist regarding how Apple could institute the system, which will no doubt leverage the hundreds of millions of credit cards currently linked to the iTunes Store; a recently discovered patent application revealed a method for making secure payments using two “air interfaces.” Still unknown is the per-transaction fee Apple expects to charge for the service; given common credit card transaction fees in the 3% range, some third-party vendors loudly balked at the 30% cut Apple demanded when in-app purchases were rolled out for the App Store and Newsstand.
Apple has issued updates for the iOS editions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. All three — updated to version 2.1 — gain the ability to share password-protected documents via iCloud link, in line with the recent iWork for iCloud update. The suite sees improved compatibility with Microsoft Office 2013 documents, and bug fixes and stability improvements. Additionally, each app has its own individual upgrades.
For example, Pages now allows character counts with or without spaces, and improved support for bidirectional text, while Numbers users can view and edit spreadsheets in landscape orientation. Keynote has absorbed the features of Keynote Remote, which has been removed from the App Store, and can now control presentations on other devices. There are also new transitions among the other changes.
Apple has updated iWork for iCloud, adding redesigned elements to the web apps while introducing new features to Pages, Numbers and Keynote. The template selector and document library now resemble iOS 7. Upon opening the apps, Apple reveals the new changes.
Users can now add passwords and share password-protected documents, and view documents that have been shared by others, among other features added to each app. VoiceOver support has also been improved in all three apps. [via 9to5Mac]
The Wall Street Journal is reporting Apple will release two new iPhones with larger screens this year. The two new handsets will feature displays larger than 4.5” and 5”, respectively. “The smaller of the two models is further along in development, and is being prepared for mass production,” the Journal reports. “The larger-screen version is still in preliminary development.” The phones will not feature curved displays.
An initial reading of the story also appeared to suggest the iPhone 5c would be scrapped, but the language may only suggest that the new iPhones will feature metal casings, instead of the 5c-style plastic casings. Both new iPhones are expected to be released in the second half of this year. Apple declined to comment.
- January 23, 2014
Several former Foxconn employees have been charged in Taiwan with taking bribes from supply chain partners, the Wall Street Journal reports. A former Foxconn general manager has been detained, and three other former Foxconn employees were released on bail. There are no plans to investigate Foxconn’s clients, as no evidence has linked them to the alleged bribery. Apple, Foxconn’s largest client, declined comment on the story. In 2011, former Apple global supply manager Paul Devine pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from Asian suppliers.
Apple said a future iOS 7 update will resolve the bug that causes devices to crash and reboot. “We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller said to Mashable. It’s expected the fix will arrive with the official release of iOS 7.1, which is currently in its fourth beta. A separate update for this specific issue could even come before iOS 7.1 is released.