New report partially reiterates earlier IDC analysis on record holiday quarter
While significantly disagreeing on the shipment or sales numbers of its rivals, analysis firms IDC and Gartner have agreed that Apple surpassed all expectations in a number of areas with its record-shattering calendar Q4 performance, with Gartner awarding Apple the crown of top smartphone seller in the world. An earlier report by IDC had Apple barely missing the top spot, claiming that Samsung shipped 75.1 million units, despite a sharp drop in profits and revenue.
clean installs, contact access and more
Yesterday in the MacNN forums, one Fresh-Faced Recruit was asking other members how they might go about doing a clean install of the OS on a 2010 MacBook Pro that they don't have a system install disc for. A discussion about giving Apps access to contacts was started by Mac Elite "jeff k" earlier this week, after he asked about a specific app that was requesting such access.
Man claims battery spontaneously exploded, lit his leg and pants on fire
An iPhone has reportedly exploded in a Long Island, New York man's pocket, sending him to the burn ward for 10 days. Erik Johnson was given a swath of third-degree burns on his left thigh after he bent over to get keys, when he heard a pop and, according to Johnson's claims, the battery burst and caught on fire, burning the man severely. An iPhone 5c belonging to a MacNN editor isn't seeing any bulging or any signs of problem, nor have we heard any previous claims for this model, but Johnson has photographic proof of the explosion.
A series of circular key sets that claim to save three feet every tweet
Hero Keyboard by Corey Stone is a keyboard app that arranges the letters based on the frequency of use in the English language, to make it easier for the user to type with both of their thumbs. The keyboard consists of three concentric rings surrounding a circular "space" button. More frequently-used letters displayed larger and more centrally than less popular letters. As a result of this configuration, the letters at the top of the first ring spell out "HERO," hence the name of the keyboard.
That's Remind Me At, not Remind Meat
Deep in the recesses of Southern California is a path, in a park, that splits to the left and the right. The left path leads to a duck pond, and the right does not. Once upon a time there was a child, who would always get her family lost in the park, because every time she would forget they had to go left to get to the duck pond. Every. Single. Time. She would think, "this time, I'll get it right. This time we go right!" And every time, she was wrong. If only smartphones existed back then, she could have used RemindMeAt to set up a note that would appear when she arrived at the park, reminding her to go left.
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
Fittingly enough for a racing game, let's get this out front: AG Drive ($4) is a Wipeout clone. That isn't a strike against it – the developer admits it, the Wipeout series has plenty of fans, and many worthy titles have followed the same template. But a game can hew close to that template or build a unique identity, and execution, ultimately, is everything.
Daily deals for Friday February 27, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the time when we search for deals, offers, discounts, and sales on hardware, software, and other technology for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Alongside our usual recap of still-active deals, the new batch of offers include an omnibus deal on Rosetta Stone, a battery case for the iPhone 6, and a heads-up on the OWC garage sale.
Ericsson source of latest barrage, court filings made in Eastern District of Texas
On February 26, Ericsson filed two complaints with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and seven complaints in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Apple, asserting 41 patents covering many aspects of Apple's iPhones and iPads. The patents include standards-essential patents related to the 2G and 4G/LTE standards, as well as other patents that are critical to features and functionality of Apple devices, such as the design of semiconductor components, user interface software, location services and applications, as well as the iOS operating system.
Windows Phone holds steady at one percent; BlackBerry not counted in survey
The latest Good Technology Mobility Index Report on the mobile enterprise space, based on a survey of Good's customer base for its own enterprise-level email services, shows iOS gaining ground by taking away share from Android in calendar Q4 2014, with the former growing by four percentage points to hit 73 percent share of global enterprise activations. Android fell by the same amount to 25 percent, while Windows Phone held steady at one percent.
Chain has had NFC compatibility previously, will upgrade new locations as well
In addition to sandwich chain Panera Bread and Subway, and fast food king McDonald's, some 860 branch locations of sub sandwich chain Firehouse Subs will now officially begin accepting Apple Pay starting today. Apple Pay allows users to pay for food by simply holding the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to a terminal while holding the Touch ID button on the devices. The franchise is hoping to more than double the number of locations it has in the US to over 2,000 by 2020.
Ridiculously easy way to edit relationship data into Contacts
This week's Pointers tip is short and sweet, and one of those head-slapping "of course!" moments. It's a far simpler way of adding your family into Siri so that she (or he) will understand who you mean when you say "send a text to my wife" or "read me the last email from my father." You can do this manually in Contacts (or the previous version, known as Address Book), but its a bit labor-intensive that way. Using this easier method, you can eliminate the dreaded "which John did you mean?" when you know more than one, and meant the one you're related to.
Samsung grabs lion's share of shipments, but Apple takes 90 percent of profits
Based on shipment data, analyst firm IDC has determined that Apple and Samsung have effectively gained full control of the smartphone market, splitting 96.3 percent of all smartphones shipped -- up nearly a full percentage point from the same period last year. All Android phones combined account for 81.5 percent in 2014, a slight increase from 2013. The percentages flip, however, when talking about money rather than units -- with Apple said to get 90 percent of the profits in the industry.
Current boost to stock may render estimates irrelevant even as they are published
A number of analysts revised their expectations for Apple's stock last week -- only to watch those year-end estimates melt in the face of the stock's current performance, which ended trading on Monday at yet another all-time high of $133 per share. The combination of much better-than-expected sales in the holiday quarter and the increasing interest in Apple's other initiatives -- ranging from Apple Pay to forthcoming products like the Apple Watch and a possible-but-far-off car design -- has sent the stock skyrocketing.
Redesigned calculator app gets excellent new features
You need a pretty compelling reason to ditch the calculator that Apple supplies on iPhones -- and the new Calcbot 2, from TapBots, offers several. Weirdly, Apple still doesn't provide a default calculator on the iPad, so at some point you're going to want one, and when you eventually need it, you'll find this app compelling.
Move possible, but would require re-think by Apple of existing OS security
According to "sources familiar with the matter," Apple is intending to launch more public beta releases of upcoming system software, starting with a revision to iOS8 in mid-May. The move may be intended to help deflect criticism of recent, high-profile bugs in releases of both Apple's iOS, as well as in its desktop operating system, OS X.
Move could be temporary, with iPhone 6 permission coming from Sprint
While other Sprint mobile network resellers -- such as Ting and Straight Talk -- are preparing to finally be allowed to offer the latest iPhone 6 models, one company appears to have gone in the opposite direction. Virgin Mobile USA, which has continually had inventory issues with its current offerings of iPhone 5/5c/5s models since the launch of the iPhone 6, has now removed all mention of Apple products from its online storefront -- though this could be a temporary measure.
false accusations, trash warnings and more
This week in the MacNN Forums, members have been giving useful advice and helping others solve a variety of problems. Yesterday one angry Fresh-Faced Recruit turned to the forums to seek an explanation for a situation where the Apple store has allegedly falsely accused them of tampering with their iPhone, and refuses to fix it under warranty.
Apple expected to shoulder $1.7 billion construction cost of new facility
Manufacturer Japan Display is reportedly in advanced discussions with Apple to bring more of its screens to Apple devices, beyond the 50,000 raw-material panels it supplies now. As part of the deal, the Japanese company is asking Apple to bear most of the $1.7 billion it would take to build a new plant, with a requirement of screen production in 2016. The iPhone maker may be a little gunshy on the deal, given how badly its financing arrangement for the GT Advanced sapphire-producing plant turned out.
Beats headphones, iOS devices, MacBook all leaders in their respective categories
A new survey measuring customer loyalty and engagement has picked several categories of Apple products as the best in their field, at least in the minds of consumers. Beats headphones were the top most-liked headphone brand, the combined MacBook lines took best laptop, and the iPhone and iPad unsurprisingly won best smartphone and tablet, respectively. The Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index measures how well a product meets -- or exceeds -- consumer expectations.
win 1 of 2 copies of Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut
Late last year, Harebrained Schemes released their latest title Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut. This RPG game features 17 missions, intuitive touch interface, team customizations options and more. Last week, our staff completed a Hands On review, and also obtained two iOS App Store redemption codes to give to our readers.
Company's iPhone 6 lineup took country by storm, reflecting other markets
Research firm IDC has reported that the established order of dominance in the Chinese smartphone market has crumbled, with Apple's iPhone 6 lineup pushing the Cupertino manufacturer into second place in the market, a doubling of its position from 2013. Low-cost Chinese maker Xiaomi took first place with just slightly better performance than Apple, while Samsung -- previously the unchallenged top seller -- fell to fifth place in marketshare.
Re-engineering of keyboard apparently not enough for Canadian phone maker
As widely expected, BlackBerry has launched another lawsuit over Ryan Seacrest's Typo keyboard, this time versus the second iteration of the product. A new complaint, filed yesterday, claims that the iPhone keyboard manufacturer has yet again "slavishly copied down to the smallest detail, including the layout of the keyboard itself, the shapes of the keys, and the surface sculpting of the keys" in the new version of the clip-on keyboard.
The handiest To Do tool you're not using
The very best To Do apps on iPhone don't want you spending time using your To Do app. Get in, see what's next or add a new task, then get out and actually, you know, do things. This makes iOS 8's Notification Center a boon -- yet its handy features come with constraints that developers are having to overcome. We're looking at three main apps that use significantly different approaches: Apple's own included Reminders, OmniFocus and Things.
win 1 of 5 copies of Workflow 1.1
What is Workflow 1.1? Is it really an "essential" tool to add to your tool kit? What's new in version 1.1? Last week MacNN explored these questions in a complete Hands On review. We discussed who this software title would be good for, and who it might not be so good for. We also secured five promo codes to give away copies of this software to our readers.
The MacNN Podcast for February 16, 2015
The MacNN Podcast hits its second episode and engages on a wide variety of topics! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, reviewer William Gallagher, and news writer Malcolm Owen as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.
Initiative launches in September, massive transaction volume expected
At today's Cyber Security conference at California's Stanford University, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage. As part of the appearance, the White House and Cook announced that Apple Pay would be enabled for users of federal payment cards, including all benefits that are paid out through debit cards. Additionally, the Apple payment service would be accepted at National parks and similar venues.
Making the fiddly easy
Look, we're writing this as much for ourselves as for you. Every time we hanker to add a new sound effect to our text messages or a whole new ringtone to our iPhones, we sweat through the steps and end up seriously wondering if Apple deliberately makes this hard. So that you and we have one place we can look up when we want to do this, here's this Friday's Pointers tutorial on making yourself wish you'd never bothered -- we mean on getting through this as quickly as you can.
Airline becomes first to take mobile payment system for in-flight purchases
JetBlue has announced that, starting next week, passengers will be able to pay for items such as food and beverages in-flight using Apple Pay. Items range from amenities like headsets and food items, to upgrading to a premium seat. The service will begin with cross-country flights between New York and California, then expand to other routes. Flight attendants will use Apple's iPad mini, which will be specially encased to take credit cards as well.
FreedomPop, Ting, Virgin Mobile, more preparing to offer iPhone 6, latest Androids
New reports indicate that Sprint has dropped a previous requirement that resellers of its network -- FreedomPop, Straight Talk, Boost Mobile, Virgin, and some others -- wait more than a year before offering support for the latest models of Android and iOS devices. The change allows the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to immediately begin offering the current iPhone 6 line from Apple, the top-selling smartphone worldwide.
Carriers must now unlock consumer's cellphones, with caveats
The deadline for wireless carriers to fully comply with the CTIA's consumer code regarding cellphone unlocking, mandated by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has arrived. Starting today, carriers must unlock consumers' devices on request, assuming certain provisions on ownership time or contract fulfillment have been completed.
Initiative praising Apple, Samsung for strides in anti-theft measures
Smartphone thefts have precipitously declined in three major cities that spearheaded an anti-theft initiative that they claim has driven industry trends. According to a joint press release from New York, San Francisco, and London, iPhone thefts alone have fallen 25, 40, and 50 percent, respectively -- the law enforcement group claims that device "kill switches," known in the Apple world as "Activation Lock" and "Remote Wipe," are credited for the drop in stolen devices.
Bringing your 'brains' with you, safely and efficiently
You may have noticed that people rarely use the term "getting away from it all" when they talk about vacations anymore. Unless you are going camping in the middle of absolutely nowhere, or trying to do a cruise ship on the cheap, chances are you are in fact bringing some of "it" with you -- probably in the form of your iPhone, iPad or Mac (or all three) and a connection to the Internet. As jet-setting journalists, we have come up with a few tips for this over the years, which we now pass on to you.
Predictions hardly fearless, new devices likely to have improvements annually
Analyst firm KGI has published a new report, expecting to see a revised Apple-equipped Touch ID module, as well as a dramatic increase in Touch ID sensors shipped, before the end of the year. Additionally, the firm believes that while there are patent filings for touchscreen integration with thumbprint ID sensors, that the technology is not likely to be seen in 2015 in Apple devices.
Bluetooth stylus brings pressure sensitivity to iPad
Bluetooth styluses are a relatively new development for the iPad. They all offer some level of pressure sensitivity, ranging from 16 in the very cheap ones, to thousands of levels in the more expensive models, sometimes running well over $100. Seeing a market, big name developers like Wacom have entered the arena to design accessories to work with tablets. We checked out FiftyThree's Pencil -- one of the earlier entries into the field, and designed to go specifically with the company's Paper drawing app, though it can be used elsewhere.
problems with Landscape and big fat Chrome
This week in the MacNN Forums, members discuss a wide range of topics from problems with landscape mode, and how to deal with an out-of-control Chrome browser. Moderator "ibook_steve" is having trouble with landscape mode on his iPhone 5s, and has turned to the forums asking for advice. "RobOnTheCape" has noticed that Chrome has reached 1GB on his system, and wonders if there is any way of slimming it down.
Health data from the 'worried well' can help identify problems early
Apple's HealthKit API and the apps that utilize it aim to take data collected from the iOS 8 Health app and others, and allow the user the option of sending it securely on to the user's healthcare provider (complying with HIPAA as required by law). Of the 23 top hospitals surveyed by Reuters, 14 of them -- or 60 percent -- responded that pilot projects involving HealthKit were either in place or being worked out.
Rival beats TSMC to 14-nanometer process, said to win contract
Numerous reports appear to confirm that Samsung will return to a larger role in helping Apple manufacture its next-generation A9 chip, which will be used in future iOS devices. Apple primarily uses Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for its A8 chips seen in the iPhone 6 and current iPad lines, but still used Samsung for manufacturing the chips to some extent due to demand. Sources say Samsung has beaten TSMC to a 14-nanometer process, giving it the edge.
Package built for iOS 7, runs on iOS 8; limited possibility of spread
Security researcher Trend Micro has found another malware package that uses Apple's "ad hoc provisioning" feature to install. The software, called XAgent, is part of a phishing attack that harvests contact information from an infected phone, and emails itself to friends of the infected. Users must install the malware themselves, but could be tricked into doing so. Data stolen includes text messages, contact lists, pictures (specifically, screen shots), location information, and a list of installed applications.
Combined leasing plan saves $17 on equivalent separate schemes
Sprint is offering its customers the option of switching over to iOS devices wholesale, with a promotional bundle that leases just Apple products. The carrier is putting together its current iPhone for Life and iPad for Life schemes into one single leasing plan, which will let users have both an iPhone and an iPad all on the same mobile plan for $100 per month.
Mobile payment technology now supported by 70 financial institutions
According to an update on Apple's page listing its Apple Pay partners, another 14 financial institutions have gain support for Apple Pay and the adding of their credit and debit cards into Passbook, bringing the total number of banks and CUs to 70. Among the institutions joining the bandwagon are Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank, which boasts six million customers in multiple states, and INOVA Federal Credit Union, with two million members.
Prediction based on likely development time, Apple Watch timing
Speculators are now predicting, based on the usual development cycle and other factors, that Apple will release the currently-in-testing iOS 8.2 upgrade next month. Conventional wisdom has the release as likely in the second week, approximately a month prior to the Apple Watch rollout, which is estimated for April. In related news, Apple has updated its gauge for iOS 8 adoption, now at 72 percent of users.
Releases enter later testing phase
Apple has released fifth betas of iOS 8.2 and Xcode 6.2 to developers. Both are available through the Dev Center; iOS 8.2 is also accessible as an over-the-air update for people already using beta firmware. Exact changes have yet to be discovered, but Xcode has been updated to include the latest set of WatchKit tools for Apple Watch developers.
wireless docking is the future
This week, the MacNN forums have been abuzz with talk of everything from wireless docking to favorite apps. Yesterday, Moderator "P" shared an article about Broadwell vPro processors and wireless docking, then goes on to explain how he thinks Apple will use this technology. Yesterday, "jeff k" was trying to figure out a problem he was having with Sophos security software and Time Machine, so far a solution hasn't been found.
Strips out recording options, potentially offensive material
Twitter has released a new iPhone app linked to its Vine video-sharing network, Vine Kids. The app offers a curated selection of videos "appropriate for a young audience," and further removes the core client's ability to record new material. Animated characters guide kids through clips.
Largest switch rate in company's record-keeping happened for iPhone 6
During its conference call with analysts on Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook noted that "the current iPhone lineup experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches," which he later clarified was how long the company has been measuring the metric rather than that switching rates were higher in 2011. Further analysis by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners suggests that most of the switching is happening overseas rather in the US.
Facebook Paper rolls out update for iPhone users
Facebook has released an update for its Paper app for iPhone users this week, offering improved photo sharing. Paper is an alternative fullscreen layout for viewing one's Facebook feed, including customization options and gestures. The latest update includes the Camera Roll now organized by the date photos were taken, as well as the new ability to quickly share photos from the Favorites album that was introduced in iOS 8. The app is free to download, and requires iOS 7 or later.
Feature so far limited to iPhones, New York City
Facebook has introduced a new feature to its iPhone app, called Place Tips. These appear at the top of a News Feed while on the go; tapping on an entry expands it, and shows not just related posts and images from friends, but popular menu items and any upcoming events. Tips are triggered based on location tracking, and Facebook is currently testing them only in New York City areas, including Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and JFK Airport.
Giants cross paths with different trajectories
The timing of Apple's surge during the last quarter and Samsung's respective slump has put the two corporations in a dead heat in terms of smartphone marketshare, according to Strategy Analytics. The research firm estimates that the companies each shipped about 74.5 million smartphones worldwide; while only Apple has announced that figure specifically, Samsung says that of the 95 million handsets it shipped in total, the number of smartphones went into the "high 70 percent range." That could mean anything between 71 and 75 million units.
Apple holds five of the top 10 best quarters ever reported
In addition to being the best quarter in the company's history, Apple's Q1 results also blew away quarterly revenue and profit figures for any company ever, according to credit rating analysts Standard & Poor's. Even more remarkably, CFO Luca Maestri noted repeatedly that fluctuations in major currencies (such as the Russian ruble and the unusually-strong US dollar) actually cost the company a potential five percent -- or $3.73 billion -- in additional revenue.
Apple credits TaiG team in release notes
Yesterday's iOS 8.1.3 update sabotages the TaiG jailbreak tool, users say. The hack was functional through iOS 8.1.2, outdoing Pangu, which stopped working as of v8.1.1. Although the TaiG team itself hasn't confirmed the problem, Apple's notes for v8.1.3 actually credit the group with finding four security vulnerabilities.