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Apple denies iOS “back door” access in new report

After denying a report earlier in the week that iOS is prone to “back door” access, Apple has put forth a new document outlining three diagnostic capabilities, and how they’re used. “Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer,” the report states. “Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer.”

This comes after Apple issued a denial to the Financial Times, stating it “has never worked with any government agency to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.”

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2014 earnings call

Apple’s conference call after announcing its Q3 2014 financial results kicked off with Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing Yosemite, iOS 8, and Swift. Cook also touched on CarPlay, HealthKit, HomeKit, in addition to the company’s new partnership with IBM.

Getting to the financial results, Cook announced that Apple set a June quarter record, with iPhones also setting a new third quarter record. “iPad sales met our expectations but we realize they didn’t meet many of yours,” Cook said, noting an overall decline in the tablet markets while moving on to citing surveys in which customers expressed satisfaction with iPad.

Cook expressed excitement with Apple’s acquisition of Beats, citing Beats’ subscription service, “access to rare talent,” and a growing lineup of products. As he’s done in the past, Cook briefly referenced upcoming new products and services.

Apple CFO Luca Maestri talked about the iPhone and its impressive results in the quarter. As for the iPad, he announced increased sales in the Middle East, China, and India, while adding that such growth was offset by lower sales in “more mature markets.” iTunes revenue was up to $2.6 billion. Apple expects $37 billion to $40 billion in revenue next quarter, with a gross margin between 37 and 38 percent. Maestri said he expects a busy fall, as Apple is “very excited” about what’s in the pipeline.

When asked about decreased tablet sales, Cook said that “significant innovation” can still come to the iPad, “and we plan on doing that.” Cook believes there’s a “substantial upside” in iPad sales within business, which led him to remark on the recently announced IBM partnership. “I honestly believe the opportunity is huge,” he said.

On sales in China this quarter, Cook said, “We thought it would be strong, but it well went past what we thought.” He noted that unit growth was “off the charts.”

Asked about trade-in programs for iPhone, Cook said trade-ins are “hugely beneficial for our ecosystem,” as those phones often go to “price sensitive” customers. Cook also believes the cannibalization factor is low due to that price sensitivity, while pointing out the high resale value of Apple products. But he also noted, “It’s very different to quantify with certainty.”

Cook said iPhone 5c had the highest growth of the current three iPhone tiers in the quarter.

When asked how Apple is changing, in reference to the Beats acquisition and the IBM partnership, Cook said that although the company is always on the lookout for acquisitions, “we don’t let our money burn a hole in our pocket.” Again, Cook referenced Beats’ subscription service and products, while taking the time to note that Beats has “a very rare set of talent that we think can do great things in Apple.”

Apple Q3 2014: 35.2M iPhones, 13.3M iPads, 2.9M iPods, $37.4B revenue

Apple reported its third quarter 2014 financial results today, selling 35.2 million iPhones, 13.27 million iPads, and 2.9 million iPods. The company posted quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. In Q3 2013, Apple had revenue of $35.3 billion and net profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 59 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”

“We generated $10.3 billion in cash flow from operations and returned over $8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the June quarter,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said. “We have now taken action on over $74 billion of our $130 billion capital return program with six quarters remaining to its completion.”

Despite the year-over-year increase in iPhone unit sales, the results notably included a year-over-year decline in iPad sales, and a modest 6% sequential increase for iPods. iTunes/Software/Services and Accessories categories both posted healthy 12% gains.

Simpsons World, FXNOW coming to Apple TV?

Simpsons World and FXNOW will be coming to the Apple TV, according to recent reports. TV writer Jason Lynch tweeted that FXNOW, the on-demand video service for FX, FXX, and FXM, would debut on Apple’s set-top box “in the next 12 months.” The recently announced Simpsons World digital channel — which launches in October and will feature all 522 episodes of The Simpsons along with additional content — will also be coming to the set-top box, HitFix reports. HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall told iLounge via Twitter that Simpsons World would be a separate app from FXNOW on Apple TV. Both FXNOW and Simpsons World will require cable authentication. Simpsons World is set to launch in October, and it will be limited to FXX subscribers in the U.S, though it’s unclear if the Apple TV channel will launch at the same time as the also-announced iOS app.

Update: Lynch subsequently posted that Simpsons World will not be a separate iOS app, but rather will be incorporated into the FXNOW app.

WSJ: Apple asking suppliers to make 70-80M new iPhones this year

Apple is asking its suppliers to manufacture between 70-80 million units of its upcoming two new iPhones combined by Dec. 30, The Wall Street Journal reports. As noted in the report, this represents a significant step up from last year’s initial order of 50-60 million units for the iPhone 5s and 5c. It still appears there could be a delay with the larger model, as display makers are “struggling to improve the production of the larger 5.5-inch screens.” The in-cell technology used to create a thinner, lighter display is reportedly causing the complications, and using sapphire instead of glass could also present more issues. Additionally, sources said that Apple is asking component makers to prepare enough parts for 120 million new iPhones by the end of the year, in case the displays have a high failure rate.

Apple ‘iTime’ patent includes wristband sensors

Apple was granted a patent today for an electronic wristband that can be coupled to an electronic wristwatch. The wristband, which can interact with the watch, can include digital sensors, wireless hardware, and other electronics, and could respond to gestures such as shaking and tapping. Within separate embodiments of the patent, the watch could be integrated into the wristband, or the two pieces could be removably secured together. The device shows “iTime” on the watch face in one illustration.

The device is shown as being able to interact with a mobile phone, portable computer, and desktop computer. This new patent, which was filed in 2011, is simpler than Apple’s other well-known “wearable accessory device” patent published last year. [via Apple Insider]

Tips app debuts in iOS 8 beta 4

Apple’s new Tips app has debuted within the fourth beta of iOS 8. The app shows people how to use the device with a list of tips, each consisting of around a paragraph of text plus an animated image. A list of six tips is shown initially, with the first being “Quickly respond to a notification.” Users can like/unlike tips and share tips, as well. All of the tips at this point are iOS 8-specific.

iTunes 12 makes its first appearance with iOS-style design

Alongside the latest OS X Yosemite beta preview, Apple has issued the first beta of iTunes 12. This represents the first time the app has been seen at all, although a new red icon was visible in the dock during Apple’s Yosemite presentation at WWDC. iTunes 12.0 includes a new “streamlined,” iOS 7/8-style design, Family Sharing, improved playlists, and a redesigned info window. The app has shifted to using black and white iOS-influenced iconography, and lets you view device media and other content (“Apps,” “Music,” “Photos”) in vertical lists rather than with horizontal tabs.

The app is available to registered developers through the Mac App Store.

Apple releases fourth beta of iOS 8

As expected, iOS 8 beta 4 has been released to registered developers, and is available as an over-the-air update as well as a download from Apple’s developer portal. This release comes two weeks after the third beta. We’ll update this story if any major changes are found.

Forensic scientist notes iOS ‘back doors’

Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist and the author of five iOS-related books, has posted slides from a recent conference talk titled “Identifying Back Doors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.” Zdziarski’s talk, which he gave at the recent HOPE/X conference in New York, reveals an overview “of a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on every iOS device,” including “suspicious design omissions in iOS that make collection easier.” While Zdziarski characterizes iOS devices as “reasonably secure,” there are undocumented services that can bypass backup encryption, and can be accessed via USB and wirelessly — over WiFi and “maybe cellular.” He notes the “personal nature of the data” is carried in a raw format, which would make it useless for tech support.

Notably, Zdziarski claims that commercial forensic software manufacturers are taking advantage of these backdoor iOS services to develop forensic tools that law enforcement agencies can use to easily extract data from seized devices. He notes that Apple is allowing packet sniffing without permission and is “dishing out a lot of data behind our backs.” Although Zdziarski raises suspicion to the nature of these services and notes that they “shouldn’t be there,” several of the services he identifies are in fact well-known internal Apple processes for handling things such as device activation, background iCloud and iTunes backup, and iTunes synchronization—processes that by design need to function without requiring the user to first unlock their device. For more details, the slides are available here. [via ZDNet]

Eighth annual iTunes Festival announced

Apple has announced the eighth annual iTunes Festival, a concert series held in London at the Roundhouse. There will be 30 days of concerts throughout September, which will be broadcast live to an iOS app, iTunes on the desktop, and Apple TV. This year’s artists include Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, Beck, and Blondie. Apple held its first ever U.S. edition of the iTunes Festival at SXSW in March. More information is available on iTunes.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Bio Inc.

Bio Inc. ($2) is a new game from DryGin Studios that’s being billed as a “biomedical strategy simulator.” The game challenges players to create the ultimate illness. It is decidedly not for everyone.

Some have compared Bio Inc. to Plague Inc., for obvious reasons. But where Plague Inc. tasks you with developing a plague to bring about the end of humanity, Bio Inc. is focused on one patient at a time. You name a person, see his health weaknesses, and set about trying to kill him by assailing him with a wide range of ailments. It’s a morbid premise that becomes more macabre as the game progresses.

EU criticizes Apple for in-app purchases (Update)

The European Commission said that Apple has “provided no concrete and immediate solutions” to in-app purchase problems, Reuters reports. Payment approvals within the App Store are still a sticking point for the EU. Google, on the other hand, was praised by the commission for taking measures to improve their in-app payment issues. “Over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked,” an Apple spokesman said. “We will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.” Apple drew heat from Italian authorities in May for advertising free apps that required in-app purchases for continued use. The company could face legal action if the company is seen as breaking EU consumer protection law.

Update: Apple issued a response to Engadget, in which the company points out the strides it has made regarding clarifying in-app purchases. The statement concludes: “Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.”

Sue Wagner joins Apple board of directors as Bill Campbell retires

Apple has announced the retirement of one of its longest-serving members on its board of directors, Bill Campbell, and the election of Susan L. Wagner of BlackRock to the board. Campbell has been with Apple since 1983, and is behind only Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula in length of tenure on the board.

Wagner co-founded BlackRock, an asset management company, where she served in various roles including vice-chairman. She’s on the board of several companies, including BlackRock, DSP BlackRock, Swiss Re, Wellesley College, and Hackley School. “Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors,” Tim Cook said in Apple’s press release. “We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world.”

Apps of the Week: Overcast, Ingress, Endless Numbers 1.2 + more

New Apps

Google Analytics (free) — Google has released a new Google Analytics app that allows users to access their web and app data from an iOS device. For those not in the know, Google Analytics is a popular service that offers website owners detailed site traffic statistics. The app offers Real Time reports, which lets users monitor recent changes.

Overcast: Podcast Player (free) — There is no shortage of thoughtfully designed podcast apps made to replace Apple’s own app, which has been through many ups and downs since it was released. The latest, and perhaps most hotly anticipated, is Marco Arment’s Overcast. The app is currently iPhone-only, available as a free download. It’s fully usable as-is, although a $5 in-app purchase unlocks a number of features that enhance the experience, such as cellular downloads, a sleep timer, and unlimited playlists. The key features that help differentiate this one from the others on the market, apart from aesthetic design, are both audio engineering tricks that get unlocked when you spend the money. Smart Speed is a really cool tool; rather than increasing the speed of the podcast and making the speakers sound like chipmunks, it’s able to detect gaps and edit out the silence, saving you time in listening. Voice Boost does just what its name says, making it easier to listen to podcasts in cars or other environments where there’s background noise, without having to pump up the volume. Both Smart Speed and Voice Boost can be used for five minutes at a time before you decide to buy.

New Games

daWindci Deluxe ($3) — Mimimi Productions has released a new version of its popular, Apple Design Award winning daWindci game with daWindci Deluxe. The upgraded game — in which players paint wind, hurricanes, and lightning on screen to guide a hot air balloon through levels — now features full Retina support and new wind drawing mechanics. All new particle effects, crisper textures, and post effect shaders have also been added to the game. Considering the original daWindci is still $4, this is the one you want.

iPhone 6: 1810 mAh battery, improved color 13MP camera?

Two new reports claim the iPhone 6 will be getting an upgraded battery and camera. NowhereElse located a picture of the alleged iPhone 6 4.7” model battery, which has a stated capacity of 1810 mAh. The iPhone 5s had a 1560 mAh cell, so this would be a reasonable upgrade, albeit offset by the likely greater power demands of a larger display. It’s still unclear how much of an effect the expanded capacity would have on overall battery life due to factors such as A8 chip power consumption.

Another report, sourced from a Chinese web forum, claims the iPhone 6 will have a 13MP Sony Exmor sensor. The report claims the Sony Exmor RS IMX220 sensor will be used, however, iLounge’s research suggests that Sony’s Exmor RS IMX220—a 20MP sensor—is likely too large to fit inside the new iPhone, and the 13.1MP IMX214 is a more likely possibility. Relative to the iPhone 5s, the new camera would offer 4208x3120 resolution, improved color accuracy and less visual noise in low-light conditions, as well as support for high-resolution HDR videos, 4K videos, and full-resolution HDR panorama images. [via G for Games]

iTunes Pass service extends to U.S., other countries

After launching in Japan on Tuesday, Apple’s new iTunes Pass credit system has been rolled out in the United States, as well as Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The system allows iTunes customers to refill their iTunes Store balance by having an Apple Store Specialist scan a QR code on a pass in Passbook; once payment is issued, the credit is automatically applied. To add iTunes Pass to Passbook, one must open the iTunes Store app on an iPhone or iPod touch, scroll down to the bottom, and then tap Redeem.

NFL Sunday Ticket to stream on iPad, iPhone with no satellite subscription (Update)

A DirecTV promotional page for NFLSundayTicket.TV reveals a plan in which iOS and Mac users can receive the NFL Sunday Ticket package without a satellite subscription for the 2014 NFL season. An NFLSundayTicket.TV Digital package allows users to stream live, out-of-market NFL games to a computer, tablet, or phone for $200, with a student discount available. More expensive plans allow for console streaming and additional features. Curiously, a list of compatible devices references a number of iPhones, but not iPhone 5s or 5c, and a number of iPads, but not the iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display. It seems obvious that this is an oversight, and the new devices should support this new NFL Sunday Ticket plan. [via Apple Insider]

Update: It appears that not all addresses are eligible for NFLSundayTicket.TV — a pop-up form verifies eligibility. Although it seems the service is limited to apartment dwellers, university students, and other locations which are unable to get DirecTV, we even found some apartment residences as being deemed ineligible. At this point it’s not completely clear who is eligible without filling out the form, as the site’s FAQ only claims the service is “available to people in select areas, residence types, and enrolled in select universities.”

Apple agrees to $450 million settlement in e-book case

In the latest chapter of the e-book price fixing saga, Apple has agreed to pay a settlement of $450 million to resolve U.S. state and consumer claims, pending appeal in New York State, [via Reuters reports. Of that amount, $400 million is intended for consumers. Though the settlement was announced in June, the terms were not disclosed until now. If the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reverses the ruling, the settlement amount could drop to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or be eliminated altogether.

Paul McCartney re-releases five classic albums as iPad apps

Five classic Paul McCartney albums have been re-released as standalone iPad apps by Concord Music Group. All five albums include remastered audio and extra content, including interviews, photos, and video clips. The albums are: McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney, and the follow-up Ram, which also credits Linda McCartney; two McCartney/Wings albums — Band on the Run and the live Wings over America; and McCartney’s second official solo album, 1980’s McCartney II. All of the apps are $8 — a less expensive price than all of the respective albums within the iTunes Store. [via The Guardian]

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