Apple Releases iTunes 12.1 with Notification Center Widget

iTunes 12.1

Earlier today, Apple released its first major update for iTunes 12 (released alongside OS X Yosemite), which among other improvements, introduces a new iTunes widget for the Notification Centre. With iTunes 12.1 for OS X Yosemite,  you can skip songs, purchase music while listening to iTunes Radio, and more right from the Notification Center. The update also includes performance improvements when syncing with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iTunes is one of my most used apps on the Mac, and I constantly use the Notification Center to perform basic tasks, this integration has me rather excited. I’ve also been facing some sync issues with my iPhone 6, so I am intrigued to test the claimed improvements in syncing as well.

As always, you can get iTunes 12.1 via Software Update in the Mac App Store.

Changelog

This update introduces a new iTunes widget for Notification Center in OS X Yosemite. See what’s playing, skip ahead, and even buy songs while listening to iTunes Radio – right from Notification Center. This update also improves performance when syncing with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. 

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Reflections on Apple’s Q1 2015 Financial Results

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Yesterday, Apple published its financial results for Q2 2014, reporting $74.6 billion in revenue (which is a 30% increase YoY), and $18 billion in net profit (representing a 38% YoY increase). In terms of sales, the company sold 21.4 million iPads, a record 74.5 million iPhones, and 5.5 million Macs.

Highest Quarterly Profit Ever

Apple’s $18 billion profit for the 1st quarter of 2015 is the highest quarterly profit recorded by a company. Apple surpassed Gazprom (a Russian oil company) who had recorded a profit of $16.24 billion in 2011.

It’s safe to assume that the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus had something to do with this. iPhone sales exhibited a YoY increase of 44%. The success Apple has seen during this quarter can also partially be attributed to the Mac, which saw a YoY increase of 14.5%, touching a record 5.5 million units in sales.

iOS Dependence – Is It A Weakness?

Apple sold an incredible 74.5 million iPhone’s during the quarter, breaking their previous quarterly record by a whopping 24 million units. Apple’s iPhone and accounted for 69% of the company overall revenue. The iPad, didn’t fair as well and actually registered a negative growth (YoY), but still ended up contributing 12% to Apple’s overall revenue.

When put together, the two segments accounted for 81% of Apple’s overall revenue. For any other company, this dependence would come across as a critical area of concern, but when you consider the fact that Apple manages to make $14.1 billion from other segments of its business, its clear that too much should not be made of this dependence.

Improved Margins and Earnings

As I mentioned earlier, Apple’s revenue for the 1st quarter exhibited a YoY increase of 30%, however the company saw its profit register a YoY growth of 38%. Gross margin was 39.9 percent compared to 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. This resulted in earnings per share going up by 48% to $3.06, an all-time quarterly record.

The Role of China and Other Emerging Economies

Apple has seen huge growth in China, with overall revenue from the Greater China region going up by an impressive 70%. The role of China and other emerging economies is evident when you look at the sales of the iPhone in the BRIC countries, which exhibited an unprecedented YoY increase of 97%. To build on this momentum Apple will be expanding its retail presence rapidly in these countries (with India being the obvious exception).

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Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3 and OS X 10.10.2

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.48.47 PM

Earlier today, Apple released updates for both its desktop and mobile computing operating systems. In OS X Yosemite 10.10.2, Apple has improved loading of webpages in Safari, issues with dropped WiFi connections, and has also added the ability for users to browse iCloud Drive content on a Time Machine hard-disk.

OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Change Log

- Resolves an issue that may cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
- Resolves an issue that may cause web pages to load slowly
- Fixes an issue that caused Spotlight to load remote email content when the preference was disabled in Mail
- Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
- Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
- Improves VoiceOver speech performance
- Resolves an issue that causes VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
- Addresses an issue that may cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
- Improves stability and security in Safari

iOS 8 Released

iOS 8.1.3 mainly introduces bug-fixes related to Messages and FaceTime, Spotlight, and multitasking on the iPad. With iOS 8.1.3, Apple has also reduced the amount of storage required to perform the update.

iOS 8.1.3 Change Log

- Reduces the amount of storage required to perform a software update
- Fixes an issue that prevented some users from entering their Apple ID password for Messages and FaceTime
- Addresses an issue that caused Spotlight to stop displaying app results
- Fixed an issue which prevented multitasking gestures from working on iPad
- Adds new configuation options for education standardized testing

Both of the updates are available through Software Upgrade.

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All Things Apple Weekend Update – 25th January 2015

WeekendUpdate15_Revised

Weekend Update is a weekly dose of All Things Apple. We curate the best Apple related articles that have been published throughout the week. These include news pieces, guides, editorials and even reviews. Here is this weeks curation of Apple related articles, by us and others that you cannot afford to miss –

All Things Apple Weekend Update – 25th January 2015

How To Quickly Switch Between Audio Outputs on your Mac

Bigger than Hollywood – Asymco

Apple Acquires Media Analytics Company Semetric Ahead of Beats Music Relaunch – MacRumors

This is the difference between Microsoft and Apple – Quartz

The End of Trickle-Down Technology – stratechery

Logic Pro X for Mac Gets Major Update With New Drummers, Tools for Electronic/Hip Hop Music Creation – MacRumors

Video promoting Apple’s opening of the West Lake store in Hangzhou, China – Loop Insight

Home Screens: John Siracusa – MacSparky

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How To Quickly Switch Between Audio Outputs on your Mac

I recently purchased a pre-amp/soundcard called Focusrite 2i2. Based on a recommendation I read online, I ended up routing the audio output on my Mac through the 2i2. This arrangement works out fine most of the time, however there are times when I’d rather have the audio output for my Mac go through the internal speakers. Going into “System Preferences” each time to switch the output can be rather annoying. Luckily you can switch between audio sources directly from your menubar within seconds, here’s how –

Step 1

Ensure that you have the volume level manager running on your menubar. If you don’t, you can easily activate it by going into “System Preferences”, selecting “Sound”, and then clicking on the checkbox next to “Show volume in menu bar”

Step 2

Switch audio output mac

Once you have the volume manager running in your menubar, simply hold down the option button on the keyboard and then click on the sound icon in the menu bar – this will allow you to quickly switch between various input and output devices.

via iMore

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All Things Apple Weekend Update – 18th Jan 2015

Weekend Update

Weekend Update is a weekly dose of All Things Apple. We curate the best Apple related articles that have been published throughout the week. These include news pieces, guides, editorials and even reviews. Here is this weeks curation of Apple related articles, by us and others that you cannot afford to miss –

All Things Apple Weekend Update – 18th Jan 2015

CES 2015: Favorites

Thoughts on Apple’s Success in India During 2014

Taking CarPlay for a spin - Six Colors

The Compass Stand for iPad - Tools & Toys

How Your Favorite Apps Will Look On The Apple Watch - Fast Company Design

Apple Home Kit - MacSparky

Overcast’s 2014 sales numbers – Marco

PC Leaders Continue Growth And Share Gains As Market Remains Slow, According to IDC – Business Wire

Apple adds refurbished Retina 5K iMac to online store, prices start at $2,119 - 9to5 Mac

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Thoughts on Apple’s Success in India During 2014

iphone-6s

The launch of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus has been a rather successful one for Apple, in its primary markets such as the US, Europe, China, and Australia among others. Owing to the exuberantly high prices of the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus, I was a bit skeptical of how the new iPhone’s would perform in India.

A report published by CounterPoint Research, claims that Apple has sold over 5,00,000 iPhone’s during the 4th quarter of 2014. Personally, I’d take that number with a grain of salt, because I think that it is extremely difficult to estimate the number of iPhone’s Apple sells in a country like India (I work as a Research Analyst in my day job and as such am aware of the limitations).

What we can assume to be true is that there has definitely been an increase in the sales of iPhones in India, when you compare the shipments for 2013 with 2014. A major factor causing this increase can be attributed to the larger sized displays in the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Consumers in India prefer smartphones with larger displays, and the fact that Apple finally has a product to cater to this need, has definitely played an important role for them in achieving this exponential increase in sales.

Beyond the new iPhone’s, with their larger displays, I think another factor behind the sales growth are the aggressively priced older iPhone’s that Apple sells in India. For a country whose per capita income is approximately $1,500, the iPhone 6 which retails for $861 in India, isn’t necessarily a viable option. The older iPhone’s (which start at $300) help Apple cater to consumers who want to use an Apple product, but aren’t looking to spend too much.

I foresee Apple’s share in the Indian smartphone market gradually increasing over the next few quarters, as their products strike an ideal balance with regards to price and form-factor.

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CES 2015: Favorites

Apple doesn’t participate in the The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any exciting product launches/announcements related to the Apple eco-system. I’ve kept a close eye on this years show, and with the trade-show coming to an end last week, I thought I’d do quick rundown of my favorites, for those of you that didn’t have the time to keep up with the developments taking place at CES 2015. Here are my favorites from this years show –

DIRECT POWER STRIP by Incipio

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The Incipio “Direct Power Strip” can power up to three standard devices and create one smart device over WiFi. The strip integrates with Apple’s HomeKit solution which means you can remotely control devices. You can even use Siri, to power on or power off a device plugged into its “DIRECT Smart Port”. I can think of several use cases for this device, most of which are centered around charging. (For example, I could plug in my iPad or the batteries from my Magic Trackpad for charging while leaving for work and turn the Smart Port off in a couple of hours, instead of having it charge my devices all day).

Read more here

Blue Spark ‘TempTraq’ Wearable Thermometer

product-box

I don’t know if this would be of use to me personally, but I really liked this concept. Monitoring a sick child can be a gruesome ordeal for a parent, and this smart wearable thermometer aims at changing that. The thermometer (or the soft patch), needs to be simply applied under the arm like a band-aid, post-which it sends live readings to your registered smartphones using Bluetooth. This means you can constantly send readings not just to yourself, but also to your babysitter, or your even your doctor.

TempTraq is currently being reviewed by the FDA.

Read more here

Connected Cycle’s “Pedal”

Connected-cycle-anti-theft-pedal_dezeen_468_1

For those of you who read my post on Cobi, a smart biking system, my enthusiasm for smart technologies related to cycling is probably very evident. One of my favorite announcements from CES 2015 is from a French startup called Connected Cycle who have introduced a new smart bike pedal, which can record the speed, route, incline, and calories burned on each bike trip. Besides this, the Pedal also provides a simple solution against bike theft.

Read more here

Philips Lightning-Based Fidelio NC1L Headphones

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At work, noise-canceling headphones go a long way, helping you detach from all the chaos around you and simply focus on your work. The Fidelio NC1L headphones plug directly into iOS devices via the Lightning connector and use their own integrated 24-bit digital-to-analog converter instead of the one built into Apple’s devices.

The headphones will retail for $299 when the release.

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All Things Apple Weekend Update – 11th Jan 2015

WeekendUpdate15_Revised

Weekend Update is a weekly dose of All Things Apple. We curate the best Apple related articles that have been published throughout the week. These include news pieces, guides, editorials and even reviews. Here is this weeks curation of Apple related articles, by us and others that you cannot afford to miss –

All Things Apple Weekend Update – 11th Jan 2015

Apple Begins Selling Unlocked iPhone 6 & 6 Plus in The U.S.

How HoursTracker earns five figures a month on the App Store – Medium

Watch This: The first iPhone keynote was eight years ago today – The Verge

Two Scenarios for the Smart Watch Market – Creative Strategies

The 2014 Panic Report – Panic Blog

The Most Popular Cameras on Flickr in 2014 – Peta Pixel

Apple and Eras of Flux – Daring Fireball

The Software and Services Apple Needs to Fix – Glenn Fleishman

Confessions of a smartphone thief – CNET

A Teenager’s View on Social Media – Medium

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Apple Begins Selling Unlocked iPhone 6 & 6 Plus in The U.S.

iphone-6s

As was reported yesterday by 9to5Mac, Apple has begun selling SIM-free, unlocked versions of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus through its online store and at its retail locations. The 16/64/128 GB versions of the iPhone 6 selling for $649/$749/$849 respectively, while the 16/64/128GB versions of the iPhone 6 Plus will be available for $749/$849/$949.

Prior to this, Apple was selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the U.S. either via a carrier contract or unlocked on T-Mobile. Now American consumers can buy the latest iPhone models with no SIM-card, allowing them to use the purchased phone with any supported carrier in the world.

I’ve always preferred buying contract-free, unlocked iPhone’s and although a significant number of people people prefer to buy a subsidized (40%) iPhone, the majority (60%) still prefer unlocked variants, if you go by this poll taken by iDownload blog.

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