- July 1, 2014
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion Tuesday, July 1. It’s unclear what sales will be featured this year, but last year’s promo featured $100 App Store gift cards with Mac purchases, and $50 gift cards with iPad or iPhone purchases made by students. It’s possible that there could be a special iPad deal given today’s iTunes U announcement, an unusual pre-release announcement of major new software features slated to debut a week from tomorrow.
Updated July 1, 2014: As expected, the Back to School promotion has launched. Instead of App Store gift cards, the company is offering a $100 Apple Store gift card with eligible Mac purchases, and $50 Apple Store gift cards with eligible iPad or iPhone purchases, in addition to existing educational discounts on Macs and iPads. The deal runs through September 9, 2014.
Apple has released iOS 7.1.2. The update “improves iBeacon connectivity and stability.” Other bug fixes and security updates include a data transfer bug fix, and a fixed issue with data protection class of Mail attachments – it was a known issue that iOS 7.1.1 was not encrypting email attachments within the Mail app. iOS 7.1.2 is available over-the-air or through iTunes.
Apple has announced that it will be updating its iTunes U app on July 8, 2014, adding new features that allow teachers to “create, edit and manage entire courses directly on iPad for the first time,” while giving students the ability to begin discussions and pose questions from the iPad. Teachers will be able to use content from iWork, iBooks Author, and the App Store in creating their courses, as well as photos and videos taken with the iPad’s built-in cameras. Students, on the other hand, will be able maintain conversations on various topics, optionally receiving push notifications when there are replies.
Apple has told The Loop that it will be ceasing development of both Aperture and iPhoto for Mac in favor of its new iCloud-based Photos app that will be coming in iOS 8 and Yosemite. “With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” Apple told The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS.” It seems likely that Apple’s iPhoto for iOS will suffer a similar fate; iPhoto will not launch in current iOS 8 betas, and developers have been told to “edit and organize [their] photos in the Photos app” instead.
This change clearly marks a major shift in Apple’s photo management strategy for iOS devices, and it is unclear at this point what this will mean for other features such as the original iCloud Photo Stream and iTunes-based synchronization of photos onto iOS devices. Apple first introduced photo synchronization in iTunes 4.7 with the release of the iPod photo in 2004, and the feature has remained largely unchanged since, with iPhoto and Aperture commonly used as photo management apps for organizing photos to be transferred onto iPods and iOS devices. The deprecation of these two apps suggests that Apple is moving more strongly toward a cloud-based photo management solution, while also ceding the “pro” photo management space to applications such as Lightroom, which recently introduced its own cloud-based sync along with feature-rich mobile editing apps for the iPhone and iPad.
Apple retail stores are now selling and activating T-Mobile and AT&T phones with prepaid plans. The T-Mobile devices must be activated in store with $50 or $70 worth of service, and the offer is limited to one device per customer. 9to5Mac also confirmed AT&T is now selling iPhones with prepaid GoPhone plans. A report earlier this month noted Apple would introduce prepaid and month-to-month plans.
iLounge has obtained a new 16GB fifth-generation iPod touch, introduced this morning. The differences between this model and the existing 32/64GB models are extremely minor, but there are a few. Inside the box, along with the iPod, are a set of EarPods and a Lightning cable. Although the iPod touch has the same loop attachment as the higher capacity versions, no loop is included; they can be purchased separately for $9. We’ve noticed a very, very slight color difference in the PRODUCT (RED) edition, as compared to the 32GB model, pictured after the break. It is just a bit more muted, but still quite vibrant. Click through for more photos!
- June 26, 2014
Apple is reportedly working on its own smart home hardware products that integrate with the company’s current devices, according to 9to5Mac. Development of these home devices has advanced “beyond the exploratory phase,” and sources said Apple thinks the devices could have “mainstream” usage — sources noted Apple is looking to make products that would have wider usage than the thermostat and smoke detector made by Google’s Nest. However, it’s unknown as to exactly what kinds of home devices Apple is developing, though sources noted it could be “advanced speaker systems or control panels for homes.” Apple’s home products would be built on its recently introduced HomeKit software. No timeline for the devices is known at this time.
Apple has quietly switched up its iPod touch 5G lineup, replacing the rear camera-less 16GB model introduced last year with a model that now has feature parity with the higher capacity units. Further, this new 16GB iPod touch now sells for $199—$30 less than last year’s feature-limited model—and comes with all of the same assets and accessories, save for the iPod touch loop lanyard, which can be purchased separately. It’s also now available in the full array of colors originally introduced for the fifth-generation iPod touch. In addition, the 32GB model has also seen a price drop of $50, down to $249, and the 64GB model has been slashed from $399 to $299.
Updated: Apple has issued a press release announcing the updates.
- June 23, 2014
Speaking at a Cannes Lions presentation about his global AIDS nonprofit agency (RED), U2 frontman Bono took Apple to task for the way the company has branded its (RED) products, Adweek reports. Bono criticized the company with his friend and Apple design chief Jony Ive seated on stage, saying Apple is “so f———annoyingly quiet about the fact they’ve raised $75 million. Nobody knows!” According to Bono, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs refused to put the signature (RED) parentheses in any Apple stores, and understates them on Apple products. “Where’s the (RED) branding?” Bono asked Ive, pointing to their hidden location inside an iPad Smart Cover. “Nobody can see that. This is modesty run amok. This is the Apple way. They’re like a religious cult.”
Ive sidestepped the criticism: “We started in 2006 with one (RED) product, a Nano, and now we’ve got well over half a dozen,” he said. “It’s been really, really special for us.” Apple has been one of (RED)‘s biggest supporters from its early days, as all of its red-colored iPods, iPhone accessories, and iPad accessories have been (PRODUCT) RED exclusives. The company’s (PRODUCT) RED website notes Apple alone has raised more than $70 million; in total, (PRODUCT) RED’s numerous partners has raised more than $250 million for the Global Fund to help African AIDS programs.
Foxconn and Pegatron, two of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners, have begun hiring workers to produce the iPhone 6. The former is recruiting more than 100,000 people, a Chinese continental record, according to reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News and Reuters. The bulk of the orders will go to Foxconn, which is said to be responsible for 70 percent of production; Pegatron will handle the rest. High demand is expected, with Pegatron adding 30 percent to its workforce in one mainland factory.
A new report from the Wall Street Journal claims Apple’s iWatch will likely be available in multiple screen sizes. Also according to sources, “The new wrist device from Apple will include more than 10 sensors including ones to track health and fitness.” Additional reporting from Chinese website Laoyaoba states that some of these sensors will monitor heart rate, blood glucose, and blood pressure, and that Apple is awaiting FDA approval on the device. By the end of the year, shipments of the unannounced product are expected to total between 10 million and 15 million. A Thursday report only claimed the iWatch would feature a 2.5” slightly rectangular display, wireless charging, and a pulse sensor.
- June 19, 2014
Apple is considering a number of customer support tweaks including changes to AppleCare+, 9to5Mac reports. The company is considering making AppleCare+ available for 60 days after purchasing a supported device, rather than the current 30 days. AppleCare+ may also be pushed as a subscription service, which has been reported in the past. The report also claims that this fall, Apple will let technicians share iOS screens with users in order to diagnose or fix problems with a device, similar to the support currently offered to Mac users. Apple may also introduce diagnostic tools to help users solve minor issues with Apple IDs, iTunes, and iCloud on their own.
Apple is looking to take advantage of Amazon’s ongoing dispute with Hachette Book Group — or at least ruffle Amazon’s feathers — by promoting discounted Hachette books in its iTunes Store. Currently, Apple is promoting 26 books under the heading “Popular Pre-Orders: $9.99 or Less,” and all of the books are from Hachette. Re/Code confirmed the promotion with Apple, but pricing arrangements were not disclosed. Amazon and Hachette couldn’t reach an agreement during contact negotiations and have been at odds ever since, with Amazon stating it is “buying less (print) inventory and ‘safety stock’ ” from Hachette.
Apple has released iOS 8 beta 2 to registered developers. The release is available over-the-air through Settings. 9to5Mac reports that a new Apple TV software beta has also been released. We’ll update in the near future with any pertinent information on what’s new and notable within iOS 8 beta 2.
- June 17, 2014
Apple has settled with states and consumers seeking damages from the company’s role in fixing e-book prices, Bloomberg reports. The company avoids a trial set for next month in which the company faced up to $840 million in damage claims; terms of the settlement were not disclosed. A judge ruled last July that Apple conspired to raise e-book prices — the upcoming trial would have provided additional state-level consumer relief based upon the federal ruling. It’s noted that Apple still plans on appealing the original federal ruling, and unclear as to what consequences a successful appeal might have upon this settlement.
- June 16, 2014
The New York Times has released an edited transcript of an interview with Apple design chief Jony Ive, who was interviewed for the paper’s recent profile of Apple CEO Tim Cook. In the interview, Ive said, “I would love to talk about future stuff – they’re materials we haven’t worked in before. I’ve been working on this stuff for a few years now.” Although Ive didn’t specify the new materials, Apple has shown clear signs of interest in working further with LiquidMetal and sapphire glass, each material having been used only in minor prior components. Alleged rear assemblies for the iPhone 6 appear to show a unibody metal housing with bonded antenna stripes, despite the fact that most metals inhibit antennas rather than letting them radiate, an issue that the more complex glass-like LiquidMetal is apparently capable of solving.
While people wait for the next big thing from Apple, Ive notes that it’s hard to be patient, even for the company’s key executives. Despite public clamor for new products, Ive also pointed out that the iPhone, iPod, and iPad were all dismissed by some people upon being introduced.
- June 16, 2014
Nuance Communications — the company behind the speech-recognition technology used in Apple’s Siri — has held buy-out discussions with Samsung, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s reported that Nuance has discussed a sale with both Samsung and private-equity firms, but it’s unclear how close the company is to being sold at this time. Nuance’s biggest shareholder is Carl Icahn, who currently has a large stake in Apple. Last July, a report noted that Apple assembled a new team to work on Siri speech-recognition — a team that included a number of members who previously worked for Nuance — in a possible move to reduce its reliance on Nuance’s technology. [via MacRumors]
- June 16, 2014
Tim Cook is the subject of a New York Times profile that attempts to explain how the Apple CEO is reshaping the company in his own ways. While his predecessor Steve Jobs was known for being “maniacal about design,” Cook takes a less hands-on approach, with more decisions delegated to his trusted team. Cook is praised in the piece for his strong values, and how he believes Apple is committed to “advancing humanity.” As he told shareholders in a February meeting, “If you want me to make decisions that have a clear [return on investment], then you should get out of the stock.” Curiously enough, though Apple design chief Jony Ive, Disney CEO and Apple board member Robert Iger, and others were interviewed for the profile, Cook himself declined an interview.
The article points out how Cook’s values can be seen in the development of Apple’s iWatch. Cook is apparently most intrigued by the big picture health implications of the device — how it can change health for the better by monitoring vital measures and reducing visits to doctors. Some space in the profile is given to the recent clamoring for more innovation from Apple, with critics finding Cook “uninspiring,” and claiming that the company’s prior soul has been lost. Growth concerns are also noted; the company’s sales are currently so large that there may not be an opportunity for a big needle-moving increase. Ive, however, doesn’t believe anything has changed within the company when it comes to a desire to innovate. Though the report notes Cook “digests things carefully, with time,” Ive suggested that waiting for such innovations to be revealed has always been a challenge. “It is hard for all of us to be patient,” he said. “It was hard for Steve. It is hard for Tim.”
iOS Bitcoin wallet app Coin Pocket has recently been published in the App Store, as it appears Apple is again allowing such apps in its ecosystem. A recent report noted that Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines to allow for certain virtual currency apps. Coin Pocket is an app that allows users to send and receive Bitcoin from an iOS device. It won’t be a surprise to see more Bitcoin wallet apps pop up in the App Store now — popular Bitcoin wallet Blockchain was pulled in February, but Blockchain CEO Nic Cary has already said he will be resubmitting the app for Apple’s approval. As noted by CoinDesk, a few other non-wallet apps are also now allowing Bitcoin transactions, as well.
Apple has reportedly been removing fake App Store reviews that have improved the chart ranking of certain apps, according to TechCrunch. These rating removals have been going on for an indeterminate amount of time. A recent tweet noted one app saw 20,000 ratings removed “overnight,” and the report claims it was due to Apple’s intervention.
20k ratings gone overnight? Without update ? Mmm pic.twitter.com/fK3R7CS9Gw— Ouriel Ohayon (@OurielOhayon) June 10, 2014
Another recent report noted that Apple has started rejecting apps that offer rewards for video ads and social sharing. It appears as if Apple is once again taking a larger role to step in and adjust what it sees as problems within the App Store.