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Apple, others settle poaching antitrust suit

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe have agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit regarding no-hire agreements, Reuters reports. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Former employees of the companies were reportedly seeking $9 billion in lost wages, alleging the companies agreed not to hire each other’s employees. The trial was scheduled to start in May.

Some iOS 6 users must upgrade to iOS 7 to fix FaceTime

A new Apple support document reveals that some iOS 6 users must upgrade to iOS 7 in order to get FaceTime to work properly. Those iOS 6 users who have seen FaceTime call issues pop up after April 16, 2014 may be affected by a bug “resulting from a device certificate that expired on that date.” The only course of action to fix FaceTime is to update to iOS 7. People using iOS 7.0.4 or later or iOS 6.1.6 won’t be affected by this issue. [via MacRumors]

Cook: New products ‘closer,’ mobile payments ‘really interesting’

Apple CEO Tim Cook again hinted at upcoming new products without revealing anything concrete in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He said the company’s strong fiscal quarter might silence critics, while adding, “Maybe it will take some new products.” In the interview, Cook again stressed the importance of getting things right — not being first. “I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been,” he said.

Cook also called mobile payments “really interesting,” noting that most iTunes accounts — which now number about 800 million in total — have credit cards attached. He said: “We already have people using Touch ID to buy things across our store, so it’s an area of interest to us. And it’s an area where nobody has figured it out yet. I realize that there are some companies playing in it, but you still have a wallet in your back pocket and I do too which probably means it hasn’t been figured out just yet.”

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]

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

Yahoo aims to become default iOS Safari search engine

Yahoo is attempting to make its search engine the default option on Apple’s iPhone and iPad Safari browsers, Re/Code reports. Though it is a major goal for Yahoo, it “has not happened as yet officially and no deal is imminent.” Currently, Google is the default search on iOS, though users can change that to Yahoo through setting adjustments.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly has the attention of some Apple executives, including SVP of design Jony Ive. One source said “it will take more than pretty pictures” to get Apple to switch from Google as the default browser, as Apple aims for providing a top-notch user experience. It’s notable that Apple already uses Yahoo to power its iOS weather and stocks apps.

Apple working with Shazam on iOS song discovery feature

Apple is partnering with Shazam on a song discovery feature that will appear in a future iOS update, Bloomberg reports. The new feature will not require a separate download, and it will also incorporate Siri so that an iPhone user has the option of doing a voice search for what song is playing. It’s likely the app will then be able to link users to iTunes to purchase the song — as the report notes, Apple has been considering several options on how to tweak iTunes, with a number of rumors and reports already floating about. Though it’s pointed out that Apple will preview iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference next month, it’s unclear if the new feature will be a part of the next major iteration of iOS, or if it will come in a separate update.

Report: Apple bans UK music service from iAd

Bloom.fm, a U.K.-based streaming music service, has reportedly been blocked from using iAd by Apple. A spokesman for Bloom told CNET Apple must view the much smaller service as a threat. “We were surprised at Apple’s decision to ban us from their iAd network as their iTunes Radio service isn’t even available in the U.K.,” the spokesman said. “Bloom.fm gives you 22 million tracks for £1 a month — the price of a single download on iTunes — so I can see why they’d want to protect their business.” Although Bloom spent £2,000 per month on iAd, the company was informed it could no longer advertise on the platform. Apple said Bloom.fm is “a competitive service to iTunes Radio and it is against Apple policy,” according to a Bloom tweet. iTunes Radio still has yet to launch in the U.K., though a report said the service would launch in early 2014.

Apple says services not affected by Heartbleed

The Heartbleed security flaw, which has affected hundreds of thousands of websites using OpenSSL, has not done the same to Apple’s services. Apple confirmed to Re/Code that its mobile, desktop, and web services were not affected. “Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key Web-based services were not affected,” an Apple spokesperson said. It’s recommended that Internet users look into which sites were vulnerable to Heartbleed, then update their passwords after those sites update their security software.

Apple considering ‘dramatic overhaul’ of iTunes Music Store

Apple is now considering “the most dramatic overhaul of its iTunes music store in more than a decade,” Billboard reports. The internal debate has been prompted by iTunes Radio’s inability to cease the decline of music downloads. Apparently, only 1-2 percent of iTunes Radio listeners are clicking the buy button. But just how Apple plans on revamping the iTunes store is up in the air.

It’s previously been reported that Apple is considering creating an on-demand music streaming service like Spotify, and the company has looked into creating an iTunes app for Android. Apple is also reportedly pressuring labels for exclusive album releases to boost sales, though it’s likely the company is placing more focus on streaming music at this time.

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