Overnight, Apple unveiled some major changes to the iOS 6 beta version of the App Store, and the tweaks seem to be heavily inspired by Chomp. Chomp, a search and app discovery startup, was acquired by Apple earlier this year.
The new Chomp-inspired App Store search features a considerably larger tile-based display of results, making comparatively poor use of both small and large iOS device screens, a point that has already inspired complaints from some App Store developers. Notably, the redesigned App Store features remain in beta form and subject to considerable change before iOS 6 is released next month. In other updates to the App Store, Genius and Purchased sections have been added, and the iTunes Store has been updated to again include a Podcast search function. [via MacRumors]
XtremeMac has introduced two new speakers, the Soma Frame and Tango Air. Soma Frame ($300) wraps around the iPad, resembling Apple’s classic iMac G4 computer, only in black. It includes a 2.1 audio system based upon two pieces: a portable speaker frame with its own rechargeable battery, plus a dock that acts as a subwoofer. Impressively, the frame can automatically switch left and right speaker channels depending on the iPad’s orientation, and recharges via a Mini-USB connection. Soma Frame fits all iPad models, and features up to six hours of playback time.
The Tango Air speaker ($300) is a handsome black and silver tower featuring AirPlay technology, capable of being positioned horizontally or vertically. It includes two tweeters, two full range drivers, one subwoofer and one passive radiator. The speaker also features a rear USB slot for device charging, and an auxiliary line-in. Neither product has a release date yet.
According to The Telegraph, Apple plans on improving its AirPlay technology so that an iPhone, iPod or iPad can connect directly to speakers without use of a Wi-Fi network. AirPlay currently enables iOS devices to wirelessly perform audio, photos, video, and sometimes screen sharing through AirPlay-equipped accessories on the same Wi-Fi network. The report suggests the enhanced feature may solely be for music streaming, rather than for all forms of media, and has been developed under the working title “AirPlay Direct.” It also notes that the new feature could be announced alongside the next iPhone, though no specific products have apparently been signed off on yet. Further, it’s unclear as to whether AirPlay Direct will be compatible with older AirPlay accessories and Apple devices, or possibly require new hardware features such as dual-band Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4/Smart.
Users frustrated with the Federal Aviation Administration’s long-standing restrictions on in-flight access to iPods, iPhones, and iPads can now easily petition the government and airlines to change the regulations, thanks to a call for comments. The FAA has requested comments on policies regarding the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) during flight. As the FAA notes about recent PEDs, “Some devices do not transmit or receive any signals but generate low-power, radio frequency emissions,” which might interfere with aircraft navigation and communication systems. However, the FAA plans to assess whether widespread use of PEDs will actually cause any safety issues.
Under current regulations, all PEDs are actually prohibited from use during flight, except for voice recorders, hearing aids, pacemakers and electric shavers. However, operators are permitted to allow the use of PEDs that do not cause interference with navigation or communication systems on the aircraft.
The FAA seeks comments from passengers, in addition to aircraft operators, pilots, PED manufacturers, and PED designers. To register your views or provide information, email your comments to PEDcomment@faa.gov or send them online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
- August 28, 2012
Photos of a supposed fifth-generation iPod touch case have been published online. Giz-China has posted two pictures of the case, revealing what appears to be an elongated hole by the rear-facing camera, as well as a second hole in the rear bottom left corner. The elongated camera hole could leave room for an LED flash, not previously included on the iPod touch, while the second hole appears to be large enough for a second camera or unknown, similarly-sized circular element.
Changed curves suggest that the overall design may be flatter than the previous iPod touch, as well, harkening back to the shape of the first-generation iPod touch released in 2007.
Facebook has released a major update to its iOS app focused on improving performance. In Facebook 5.0 major portions of the app have been rewritten in iOS native Objective-C code, rather than relying on the HTML5 code used for the browser-based Facebook mobile site. The result is an app that now performs significantly faster when loading and scrolling through news feeds and timelines. Several smaller user interface improvements have also been made in the new version, including the integration of Facebook Messenger features, the ability to open and close photos more quickly using upward and downward swipe gestures and a banner notification for new stories and comments, along with a few other minor cosmetic changes. Facebook 5.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
New photos showing purported next-generation Dock Connector cable parts have appeared online. Nowhereelse.fr (Translated Link) has posted the images, which it claims are of the new Dock Connector as seen on the next-generation iPhone. Notably, the connectors in the photos appear to sport eight gold pins and to be capable of insertion in either orientation, consistent with iLounge’s prior report. [via MacRumors]
Apple’s most recently released version of the iOS Simulator developer tool suggests that iOS 6 already contains support for 1136x640 displays. 9to5Mac reports that when using a tweaked version of the iOS Simulator application, iOS 6 fully supported the expected next-generation iPhone resolution, offering up five complete rows of icons, not including the dock. When the current public release of iOS 5.1 was used, the Simulator instead displayed the Home screen with a stretched set of four rows of icons. Notably, the report claims that the simulator will not correctly display five rows of icons at resolutions other than 1146x640, instead scaling icons to an “iPad-like” Home screen layout, and not at the proportions and scaling of the current iPhone and iPod touch display. Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPhone at a special media event on September 12.
A couple of noteworthy changes have been made to iOS 6 as of the fourth beta update. Perhaps most notably, Apple has removed YouTube from the list of built-in apps. YouTube was a last-minute pre-launch addition to the iPhone in 2007, and has remained a built-in app across all iOS devices since. Apple has recently moved to distance its mobile platform from Google in iOS 6, however, replacing the latter’s Maps service with an in-house solution. The YouTube app had not been updated in some time; Apple may simply be leaving its development up to Google, which will presumably be able to release a new YouTube app as a free download from the App Store.
In addition, a new “Bluetooth Sharing” menu has appeared inside the Settings app. Found under the Privacy heading, it lists apps that have requested the ability to share data via Bluetooth. While its exact purpose is currently unknown, it is possible that this menu could tie-in to the Bluetooth 4 linking feature revealed by iLounge in a report last week.
Update: Apple has released a statement regarding the removal of the YouTube app. “Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”
Apple has released the fourth beta version of iOS 6 to developers. As with prior iOS 6 beta updates, beta 4 is available as an over-the-air software update or as a direct download from the iOS Dev Center, and is accompanied by a new beta version of the Apple TV software, as well as an updated version of Xcode and the iOS 6 SDK. The new version is listed as build 10A5376e; it is unclear what changes may be contained in the release. iOS 6 beta 4 is available now to registered iOS developers.
Parrot has released an update to its FreeFlight app for the AR.Drone iOS-controlled Quadricopter introducing AR.Drone Academy, a new online component allowing users to track flight information, watch and share their videos and more. Users can create an online pilot profile from within the app and can then take advantage of a collection of new tracking, mapping and sharing features, including the ability to track flight data such as altitude, speed and duration of flights. Tracking data can be reviewed as graphics or text alongside playback of recorded in-flight video.
AR.Drone Academy also allows users to view their flights geolocated on a map from which they can browse flight locations, watch recorded videos and view pictures and flight data. A Hotspots feature also helps users find ideal places to fly as reported by other AR.Drone users along with tips on both ideal conditions and dangerous spots. Users can upload videos and pictures to the service for online access, backup and sharing via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Picasa. A social component within the AR.Drone Academy also allows users to mingle with other AR.Drone pilots to view their shared content and compare stats. FreeFlight is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and an AR.Drone and is available from the App Store as a free download. More information on the AR.Drone Academy can be found on Parrot’s web site at http://ardrone2.parrot.com/ar-drone-academy.
Epic Games and Chair Entertainment have released another new content update for the critically acclaimed iOS game Infinity Blade II. The new content pack, dubbed Skycages, expands upon the storyline of the Deathless with new areas to explore and relics to discover along with new enemies, weapons and other items. The update also includes a completely new weapon type to master—the Solar Transport Energy Blades along with a collection of 30 new other weapons, magic rings, shields, helmets and armor. New Achievements have also been added, as well as new gems and treasure maps and exclusive ClashMob challenges. Infinity Blade II is a universal app requiring an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad and is available from the App Store for $3.
Apple is expected to hold a special media event on the week of September 12, according to two new reports. Citing sources who have been accurate in the past, iMore first reported that Apple will hold an event on September 12, and AllThingsD has since “confirmed” with unnamed sources that Apple is currently planning an event for that week. While the latter report simply speculates that the event will include the introduction of the next-generation iPhone, iMore claims that the handset will be unveiled at the event—ahead of a September 21 release—alongside a smaller iPad. Notably, iLounge reported earlier that the iPad mini will not be ready to ship as the same time as the new iPhone, and as such may see its debut moved to a separate event; our report also mentions that the fifth-generation iPod touch is likely to debut at the same event as the new iPhone.
Google has released a major update to its Google Earth iOS app adding support for 3D cityscapes along with a new Tour Guide feature. Google Earth 7.0 now allows users to access a 3D flyover view of select cities; 3D imagery currently is currently available for Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Geneva and Rome with new cities said to be added in the coming weeks. A new Tour Guide feature in the latest version also allows users to virtually explore new places with tours of major cities, historic landmarks and natural wonders. Google Earth 7.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. The new 3D imagery feature requires an iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or third-generation iPad.
Rovio has released another free content update to Angry Birds Space, the latest instalment in its popular game franchise. The new update expands upon the food planet Utopia series introduced in May, adding two new characters and 20 additional levels. The Orange Bird gets a superhero makeover in this edition and a brand new space egg character is introduced. The update also includes 10 new bonus levels that can be unlocked by achieving three stars on the prior levels and a gigantic new boss fight to test players’ skills. Angry Birds Space is available in separate iPhone/iPod touch and iPad versions: Angry Birds ($1) and Angry Birds HD ($3).
Apple has released updates to Pages, Numbers and Keynote for compatibility with the new iCloud Documents features in Mountain Lion and the corresponding Mac OS X updates released yesterday. The three apps, now at version 1.6.1, simply now list that they work with iCloud to make documents, spreadsheets and presentations automatically available between iOS devices and the corresponding Mac OS X applications, with changes made on one device now being “instantly available” on the other. The three iWork apps for iOS were originally updated to add iCloud support last fall with the initial debut of iCloud in iOS 5, allowing users to share documents, spreadsheets and presentations between multiple iOS devices. However, iCloud support did not come to iWork for the Mac until yesterday’s release of OS X Mountain Lion; these latest iOS updates appear to be primarily focused on ensuring compatibility with iCloud on the Mac. Pages, Numbers and Keynote 1.6.1 are universal apps and require iOS 5.1 or later. Each is sold separately from the App Store for $10.
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.”