Apple has released a minor update to its Podcasts app focused on performance, stability and usability improvements. Originally released last month, the new standalone Podcasts app is designed to replace the Podcast playback functionality previously incorporated into the iOS Music app with additionl features such as the ability to search for and subscribe to new podcasts and download or stream podcast episodes over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection.
In addition to listing “significant improvements to performance and stability,” the Podcasts 1.0.1 update adds several small user interface tweaks, including displaying the number of unplayed episodes for each Podcast in the user’s library, displaying the Podcast titles in Top Stations in place of missing artwork, remembering the last-used playback speed when switching between episodes, and fixing problems with the Subscribe button and Top Stations artwork. Podcasts 1.0.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has released an update to its universal iTunes U app adding new note-taking and sharing features and improvements to searching within the app. iTunes U 1.2 now allowed users to take notes directly in the app while watching or listening to a lecture. An improved search feature now allows users to search for text within posts, assignments, notes and other course materials from any of their subscribed courses, and users can now also share their favourite courses with friends via Twitter, Mail or Messages. iTunes U 1.2 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
During Apple’s third quarter 2012 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod businesses.
Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, opened the conference call by calling attention to the company’s record June quarter, which he said was fueled primarily by strong iPhone and iPad sales.
He said that iPod sales, though down year-over-year, were ahead of internal projections, and as with the past few quarters, the iPod touch accounted for over half of iPod sales. U.S. share of the MP3 player market remained at over 70 percent. He added that iPhone is now available from over 250 carriers in over 100 countries, and said that the company estimates that the number of Fortune 500 iPhones has doubled over the last year.
Regarding iPad, Oppenheimer said the company was “thrilled” with sales. The company saw very strong year-over-year growth globally, and the iPad is now available in 97 countries. Just under one million iPads were sold into the education market during the quarter, and Oppenheimer said sales of iPad 2 in K-12 market were particularly strong. Notably, the iTunes U app has been downloaded over 14 million times, and over 700 new courses have been added.
Overall, over 410 million iOS devices have now been sold. The App Store now offers 650,000 apps, 225,000 of which are tailored to the iPad. Apple has now issued over $5.5 billion in payments to developers, and now boasts 150 million iCloud users.
During the Q&A session, both executives made several comments of interest.
Oppenheimer said that weekly iPhone sales continue to be impacted by rumors and speculation related to new products, a subject that would come up later, when Tim Cook replied to a pointed question about iPhone transitions. Cook said that he’s happy that people want the next thing, and added that he’s not going to put any energy into trying to get people to stop speculating about what the company may be doing next.
Discussing iPhone pricing in emerging markets, Cook said that the company has been very focused on China, seeing it as an enormous opportunity. He said that he firmly believed that people in emerging markets want great products, so Apple is going to stick to its “knitting,” and continue to make the best products it can.
Cook also discussed the iPad pricing umbrella, competing tablets, and the decision to offer the iPad 2 for $399 alongside the third-generation iPad. He said that iPad 2 did very well during the quarter. In terms of competition, he said Apple has seen tons of tablets come onto the market this year, and doesn’t think any of them have gained serious traction. He said the company is going to keep innovating in the space, and feels really confident about its momentum. Later, when discussing the iPad 2’s price point, he said that the company believed it would help drive elasticity, and it certainly helped in the K-12 market. He added that it’s been a big help to Apple, and he’s glad the company did it.
Discussing the Apple TV, Cook said that Apple sold 1.3 million in the third quarter, up over 170 percent year-over-year, bringing sales for the year to over 4 million. He said that’s still at a level that Apple would call a hobby, but it continue to invest in it, and there are a lot of people at Apple who are believers in Apple TV.
Finally, when asked if Passbook be a stepping stone to a digital wallet, he said that it’s a key feature, and that employees of Apple all found themselves receiving all these tickets and passes. He said it does a great job of pulling all those together in one place. He again called it an important feature, but said that he wouldn’t want to speculate on where it might lead.
Reporting its third quarter 2012 financial results today, Apple said it sold 26 million iPhones in the quarter, an 28 percent increase year-over-year, but down somewhat from 35.1 million units in the prior quarter. Apple sold 17 million iPads during the quarter, up 84 percent from the year-ago quarter and also up from 11.8 million units in the second quarter of 2012. Finally, the company said it sold 6.8 million iPods during the quarter — a 10 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Unit sales of iPhones, iPads, and iPods bring the cumulative totals for the three device categories to 244.1 million, 84.08 million, and 351.08 million, respectively.
Apple posted revenue of $35.02 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $28.57 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.31 billion, or $7.79 per diluted share in Q3 2011. Revenue from Other Music Related Products and Services, which includes revenue from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore in addition to sales of iPod services and Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, was 2.06 billion for the quarter, up 31 percent year-over-year but down four percent from the prior quarter. Apple’s Board of Directors also declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on August 16, 2012, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 13, 2012.
“We’re thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release Mountain Lion tomorrow and will be launching iOS 6 this Fall. We are also really looking forward to the amazing new products we’ve got in the pipeline.”
“We’re continuing to invest in the growth of our business and are pleased to be declaring a dividend of $2.65 per share today,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter, we expect revenue of about $34 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $7.65.”
Apple has started to air its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 4S. Entitled “Busy Day”, the 30-second spot continues Apple’s recent trend of using celebrities as typical users of Siri—in this case, Martin Scorsese. During the commercial, the famed director uses Siri to manage his schedule, check on the location of a friend using Find My Friends, and also check on traffic conditions, all from the back of a taxi. The new ad is available for viewing now on YouTube via the above link or in embedded form below.
The U.S. Justice Department has released a document in which it calls the criticism of its eBook price-fixing settlement leveled by Apple and the publishers as “self-serving.” PaidContent reports that the document serves as a reply to the 868 public comments that were filed in response to the announced settlement, the vast majority of which were in opposition to the deal. In the reply, the Justice Department refuses to modify any parts of the settlement, and addresses Apple’s objections at length because of its “central role in the events leading to the underlying enforcement action.” Under the terms of the settlement, Apple and the settling publishers must terminate their existing “Apple Agency Agreements” within seven days of the settlement’s final approval, and can then sign new contracts — but are forbidden for two years from using clauses that limit retailers’ rights to discount. [via DF]
Apple has launched its iTunes in the Cloud service for movies in 35 new countries. MacRumors reports that the feature has rolled out in Australia, Argentine, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., Venezuela, and Vietnam. In addition, the company has also expanded its iTunes Match service into Hungary and Poland. Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud service allows customers to re-download past purchases multiple times, and also serves as a base for content streamed directly to the Apple TV.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has penned an open letter the the Department of Justice, asking it to drop its lawsuit against Apple and major publishers. In the suit, the DOJ claims that Apple and the publishers colluded to raise the price of digital books. “While the claim sounds plausible on its face, the suit could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published,” Schumer writes for the Wall Street Journal. “The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.”
Schumer goes on to point out that Amazon held a monopoly position in the market before the arrival of the iBookstore, and set the prices for the books itself—many times undercutting the market for hardcopy titles. He also states that “As our economy transitions to digital platforms, we should be celebrating and supporting industries that find ways to adapt and grow”, adding that he believes the suit will “have a deterrent effect not only on publishers but on other industries that are coming up with creative ways to grow and adapt to the Internet”. Finally, the senator calls for new guidelines governing non-merger Justice Department investigations, which should “take a broad, pragmatic view of the market as a whole”.
Apple has been granted a patent that covers a wide swath of the iOS user interface. Patently Apple reports that the patent covers the basic user interface for many of iOS’ built-in apps, including Mail, Photos, Camera, Videos, Music, Calendar, Safari, Notes, and Maps. Also covered by the patent are iOS’ scroll bar, as well as the virtual keyboard. As noted in the report, Apple lists the following inventors on the patent: Scott Forstall, Henri Lamiraux, Andrew Platzer, Michael Matas and Imran Chaudhri. The patent was originally filed in the first quarter of 2007; Apple refiled the application in March of this year.
A U.K. judge has ordered Apple to publish notices on both its website and in British newspapers alerting consumers to a ruling in which Samsung was cleared of all alleged patent infringement. Bloomberg reports that according to Judge Colin Birss, the notice should outline the July 9 decision that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets don’t infringe Apple’s patented designs, and should be posted on the website for six months, as well as appear in several newspapers and magazines to correct the impression that Samsung had copied the iPad. The ruling will result in Apple running “an advertisement for Samsung, Richard Hacon, a lawyer representing Apple told the court, adding, “no company likes to refer to a rival on its website.” In his ruling, Birss said Samsung’s tablets were unlikely to be confused with Apple’s iPad because they are “not as cool”.
The Apple Online Store is now offering customers the ability to receive updates on their order status via text message. According to Apple’s Shipping & Pickup page, customers will be given the option to request text message updates when in Checkout. Messages will be sent when an order ships or is ready for pickup, and will include the order number and a link to the online Order Status; messages will be sent between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. local time in the customer’s time zone. The Next Web notes that text notifications are available exclusively in the U.S. and Canada at the moment. [via MacRumors]
Apple has revealed that it is starting to transition users away from the me.com email addresses and Apple IDs available through MobileMe to new @icloud.com addresses. In its iOS 6 beta 3 change log, a portion of which was posted online by MacRumors, Apple says that “icloud.com email addresses are now available for iCloud mail users. Users signing up for new Apple IDs, or enabling Mail on their iCloud account for the first time, will automatically receive an @icloud.com email address instead of a me.com email address. iCloud users with @me.com addresses that have been used with iOS 6 beta 3 will receive an @icloud.com email address that matches their @me.com address.” As noted in the report, Apple made a similar transition away from @mac.com addresses when it moved from .Mac to MobileMe in 2008.
Apple has seeded developers with the third beta version of iOS 6. While the update has yet to appear on Apple’s Developer website, it is available as an over-the-air update for those running the prior iOS 6 beta on their devices. The update weighs in at 347MB for the iPhone 4S; according to the brief release notes, the update “contains bug fixes and improvements.”
As expected, Apple today took its new Food & Drink category live in the App Store. The category was revealed in an earlier email from Apple to select developers, informing them of the change. According to that email, the category includes “apps that help users cook and bake, mix drinks, manage recipes, find new restaurants and bars, and learn what their friends like to eat and drink”, excluding “diet, grocery shopping, coupon-clipping, or food-related game apps.” Currently, the category holds 1120 apps; you can see the listings by following the link above.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been spotted this week at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, a well-known executive meetup. According to The New York Times, Cook was spotted having coffee with Paul Sagan, CEO of Internet content delivery company Akamai. Cook has reportedly lined up a number of one-on-one meetings with media executives who are also attending the conference, perhaps working on partnerships for a larger move into the home entertainment market. When asked what he was most looking forward to at the conference, Cook replied “all the private discussions I’ve set up this week.” Apple has been rumored in recent months to be working on a TV initiative, possibly including the introduction of an Apple-branded HDTV.
Apple this morning announced that it will launch the third-generation iPad in China on July 20. Both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi +Cellular models will be available through the Apple Online Store, from select Apple Authorized Resellers, and by reservation from Apple retail stores. According to the company, reservation requests will be accepted daily from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. beginning Thursday, July 19 for pick up the following day. As with the device’s launch in other locales, the arrival of the third-generation iPad in China will see the starting price of the iPad 2 lowered to $399 US.
In the wake of a report late Wednesday that many App Store customers were receiving corrupt downloads, Jim Dalrymple of The Loop has received a response from Apple explaining that the problem occurred due to “a temporary issue that began yesterday with a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded.”
Although Apple claims in its statement that only “a small number of users” were affected, Marco Arment who originally reported the problem tracked over 114 affected apps, including popular titles such as GoodReader; Arment further noted that over 20,000 of his own customers were affected by Instapaper alone.
Apple goes on to indicate that “the issue has been rectified and [they] don’t expect it to occur again” and suggests that affected users can simply delete these corrupt apps and re-download them. It appears however that the App Store has begun re-delivering all App updates sent out since Tuesday, when the problem is believed to have begun, possibly providing users with the ability to easily reinstall non-corrupted versions of these updates without losing any data in the process.
Apple has released Configurator 1.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. Configurator enables schools, businesses, and other institutions to configure up to 30 iOS devices at a time, update software, create and restore backups of settings and app data, and more. According to the release notes, version 1.1 improves reliability and ease of use when installing paid apps with Volume Purchase Program redemption codes, adds new preferences to disable the automatic removal of apps or profiles installed by the user when a configuration is reapplied and disable reapplying a configuration each time a supervised device is connected, includes small changes to the profile editor, and ensures that VPP codes are no longer marked as invalid if the App Store is unavailable. Apple Configurator 1.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store.
A number of users appear to be having problems with some apps crashing on launch following updates downloaded from the App Store. Instapaper developer Marco Arment reports that “within minutes of Apple approving the Instapaper 4.2.3 update” last night, he was “deluged by support email and Twitter messages” from users indicating the the app was crashing on launch, even with a clean install. Arment notes that not only had Apple obviously reviewed the app, but that his own submitted version worked fine, yet when he downloaded the update himself it “crashed instantly.”
Arment goes on to report that in some regions the App Store is sending out a “seemingly corrupt update” with the U.S. and U.K. being specifically affected, but not Australia as far as he was able to tell. Developer Ken Seto of Massive Damage notes that the issue may be affecting some Canadian users as well. Arment lists several apps that have been reported to him as causing issues, including his own Instapaper app along with GoodReader, Readdle Scanner Pro, Threadnote, Please Stay Calm, Angry Birds Space HD Free and more and notes that he contacted App Review very shortly after the Instapaper update went live and it appears that a functional version of Instapaper began being distributed on reinstalls and doesn’t appear to have recurred since. Users who are experiencing a problem with newly downloaded apps crashing due to corruption will likely need to wait until a good copy is being served again by the App Store, and then delete and reinstall the app.
Apple has officially opened its iCloud Beta portal to developers enrolled in the iOS 6 beta. MacRumors reports that the site, which is located at beta.icloud.com and was spotted briefly in early May, offers previews of new Calendar functionality, as well as a redesigned Find My iPhone web app, and all-new Notes and Reminders apps. The new apps most mirror the functionality of their iOS counterparts, with the new Find My iPhone tool adding a battery status icon and support for the upcoming “Lost Mode.” The new iCloud web app suite is expected to see a public rollout alongside the release of iOS 6 this fall.