New Apple TV Not Imminent Despite $25 Gift Card Promotion [Mac Blog]

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Earlier today a reports indicated Apple’s $25 gift card with the purchase of an Apple TV promotion could be an effort to clear out stock ahead of an imminent updated Apple TV launch, which notable Apple journalist Jim Dalrymple has just said is not the case.

According to one of his famous “Nope” posts, Apple does not have plans to release a new Apple TV in the immediate future. Specifically, Dalrymple clarified to MacRumors that the company is not on the verge of launching a revamped Apple TV next week, but he does not appear to refute reports suggesting a redesigned box could come in later in the year, possibly ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

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While the promotion led to some chatter about an immediate Apple TV product launch, the majority of Apple TV reports over the course of the last month or two have pointed towards a revamped Apple TV that might be revealed at some point in March or April. Bloomberg has suggested the new Apple TV could be revealed in April with a launch coming later in the year, while the Financial Times has just released a similar report pointing towards a launch ahead of WWDC in June.

Though an updated Apple TV will not come in the immediate future, a launch later in the year has not been ruled out. It is clear that Apple is working on some kind of update to the product, with rumors hinting at the new Apple TV gaining gaming support and possibly a full App Store.

    



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New Apple TV Product Will Include Video Game Support, Launch Date Unclear

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

appletv.pngApple’s much-rumored revamped Apple TV product will be revealed “any week now” according to a new report from the Financial Times, though notable Apple journalist Jim Dalrymple poured water on the report, saying an Apple TV will not be launching soon.

Though a launch date is uncertain, rumors have indicated the redesigned Apple TV product will include support for games, which the Financial Times confirms. It may also include a full-fledged App Store, bringing apps to the set-top box for the first time.

The significantly redesigned hardware will include greater support for video-games, already a popular pastime on its iPhones and iPads, as well as other new features which could include bringing its App Store to the TV set for the first time.

The release, which was delayed from the end of last year, could come “any week now”, this source said. Apple has not commented on the rumours.

Rumors of a revamped set-top box first began appearing in early 2013, with TechCrunch‘s MG Siegler pointing towards an Apple TV product with a focus on gaming. Later in the year, hints of a delay surfaced, and it appears that the product was indeed scheduled for a 2013 launch that was later pushed back to 2014.

A recent report from Bloomberg suggested Apple was on the verge of revealing a new set-top box, possibly at some point in April, but indicated an actual product launch might come somewhat later in the year, which could potentially account for the discrepancy between launch reports from the Financial Times and a “Nope” from Jim Dalrymple.

In addition to games and support for Apple’s iOS 7 controllers, other Apple TV rumors have pointed to a hardware product that combines the Apple TV with the router features of the existing AirPort Express. It has also been suggested that Apple is planning to work in conjunction with cable companies to build an Apple TV interface over existing cable content, essentially replacing the cable box.

Earlier today, Tim Cook told shareholders that the Apple TV generated $1 billion during 2013, counting hardware sales and movie/TV show rentals. He also noted that it was “a little more difficult to call [the Apple TV] a hobby these days” given its ever-increasing growth.

The company has also began offering a $25 gift card with the purchase of an Apple TV, likely in an effort to clear out existing inventory ahead of a new product launch, and the Apple TV has also gained its own product section on Apple’s online storefront.

    



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Tim Cook Says Apple’s Sapphire Facility Is for ‘Secret Project’

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sapphire BouleWhen asked about Apple’s U.S. manufacturing efforts during a question-and-answer session with Apple shareholders today, CEO Tim Cook said the company’s new sapphire production facility was for a “secret project” that he couldn’t talk about, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Cook did not give any more information, but did say separately that the company is working on “extensions of what we’re already doing” and also “things you can’t see”. He reiterated that secrecy is important because Apple is “getting ripped off left, right and sideways” by competitors.

In response to a question about manufacturing in the U.S., Cook pointed to a plant a supplier recently opened in Arizona to produce sapphire exclusively for Apple. There’s been speculation that Apple may use the super-hard sapphire to produce scratch-resistant screens for future iPhones. Cook said the Arizona facility was a “secret project” that he couldn’t talk about.

But then, he said other Apple suppliers “already make” glass for iPhones in the U.S. An Apple spokeswoman declined additional comment.

Apple routinely denies having any particular new project in the works, so it’s possible that a future iPhone model with an ultra-durable sapphire screen is the “secret project” to which Cook is referring, though there are a number of other possibilities for sapphire crystal including a potential smart watch product.

Cook previously confirmed that the plant would make sapphire, but the company has thus far refused to say anything more about it. He also said that investors should plan to hold Apple stock for the long term, saying to investors looking for a quick turnaround, “I encourage you not to invest in Apple.”

    



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Apple to Charge Fees for Out-of-Warranty Chat Support

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Apple is planning to institute fees for users that are seeking online chat support for out-of-warranty products, reports 9to5Mac. The company has reportedly been working on a new web payment system that includes a paid chat support feature as well as a function allowing customers to schedule product repairs and replacements.

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Currently, customers can use Apple Support’s online chat feature at no cost to receive technical support on out-of-warranty products that are not covered by AppleCare, but the new rules would bring chat support under the same umbrella as Apple’s phone support, which does carry fees for products with expired warranty periods.

All of Apple’s products receive 90 days of phone support at purchase, which can be extended to three years with AppleCare. Customers seeking over-the-phone help for out-of-warranty products must pay a fee between $29 and $49. A similar fee of $19.99 will be required for chat support going forward, though users will be able to request an exception to the fee.

Apple has also developed a system that will allow customers to make payments via its support website, and that system will be used to set up hardware repairs and replacements via chat.

Using the new web payment system, we’re told Apple plans to offer the ability to set up hardware repairs via chat that require a hold on a credit card or pay per incident fee. Rather than having to call in, users will be sent a link that’s live for 24 hours in order to complete the payment.

Chat fees reportedly began appearing in August following Apple’s support site redesign that introduced 24/7 live chat, but thus far, employees have been instructed to grant exceptions on all support requests up to the official launch of the paid service.

Apple’s new chat support policies may go into effect as soon as next week, but the company will reportedly be waiving fees for iCloud issues and accidental damage cases where users are requesting to purchase repair or a replacement via chat.

    



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Apple Handles 40 Billion iMessages and 15 to 20 Million FaceTime Calls Daily [iOS Blog]

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

imessage.jpgDuring today’s annual stockholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that 40 billion iMessages and 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls are made daily. That number suggests iMessage has grown exponentially over the course of the last year as usage numbers were at two billion messages per day in January of 2013.

As of mid–2013, Apple had 320 million iCloud accounts with 900 billion iMessages sent, a number that would be significantly higher today, taking into account 40 billion iMessages a day.

In comparison, popular messaging service WhatsApp, which was just purchased by Facebook, processes 50 billion messages per day. BlackBerry Messenger users on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry phones send and receive upwards of 10 billion messages per day.

iMessage and FaceTime have become increasingly important messaging services for Apple over the course of the last year, and the company recently enhanced FaceTime with FaceTime Audio for both iOS devices and Macs, putting the video service on par with other apps like Skype.

During the meeting, Cook also announced impressive Apple TV sales numbers topping $1 billion and said the company had not lost its “innovative DNA.”

    



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Apple Sold $1 Billion in Apple TV Boxes in 2013, Cook Says ‘Difficult to Call It a Hobby’

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

During Apple’s annual stockholders meeting in Cupertino today, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple sold more than $1 billion worth of its Apple TV set-top box in 2013, putting sales at close to 10 million units for the year.

This is a roughly double the 5 million it sold in fiscal 2012, which was double its Apple TV sales in 2011. Cook has traditionally called the Apple TV a “hobby”, but said today that “it’s a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days”. Horace Dediu created a chart showing the impressive growth of Apple TV sales over the past several years, making it the fastest growing device in Apple’s hardware lineup.

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It has been repeatedly rumored that Apple is working on an improved set-top box and also a full-fledged television set. A new set-top box is expected to be introduced in the next couple of months, though it’s unclear when the device itself would go on sale. A recent report said Apple would be introducing an SDK for Apple TV application development with an accompanying App Store launching to the public later in 2014.

Apple also launched a sale on the Apple TV at the company’s online and retail outlets in the U.S., giving out a $25 iTunes Gift Card with purchase of the $99 device — an unusual move for the company which only rarely offers sales on its devices.

    



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Apple Compiles iOS Development Resources in New ‘Designing Great Apps’ Hub [iOS Blog]

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Apple is making it easier for developers to find the resources they need when designing their iOS apps. The company added a new “Designing Great Apps” hub to its developer website that includes both videos and documentation on iOS user interface design, transitioning to iOS 7 and more.

Exceptional user experience is a hallmark of Apple, and a distinguishing feature of apps built for iOS and OS X. Review the resources below to learn how to build the polished, engaging, and intuitive apps that Apple customers have come to expect.

The content in this section is a compilation of existing material that Apple pulled together specifically for its developers. The documentation is available to read without restriction, while videos, which are pulled from previous WWDC developer sessions and iOS 7 Tech Talks, require a developer account to watch.

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Quality apps are the hallmark of the iOS App Store, which had over one million iPhone apps and over 500,000 native iPad apps as of January 2014. iOS owners are active in the App Store, spending over $1 billion and downloading almost three billion apps in December 2013 alone.

    



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