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AAPL Stock: 117.6 ( + 8.46 )

(1)

Cook proclaims 'Year of Apple Pay'; Apple cash stockpile now $178B

Now taking two-thirds of mobile payments; cash grows despite payouts

If you are making a contactless mobile payment in the US based on a Visa, MasterCard or American Express account, odds are that you're doing it from an iPhone 6 model. During the conference call with analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company's Apple Pay mobile payments system -- only in its fourth month -- now accounts for more than $2 of every $3 of money paid in that manner. In addition, CFO Luca Maestri updated analysts on the still-growing (but more slowly) cash stockpile Apple has, now at $178 billion.

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(3)

Hands On: PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7 (OS X, iOS)

You'll want to use PDFs more when you've got one of these

Right, here's the thing: by the time we're done here, you really must own PDFpen for Mac . It's just a question of which version -- and it's a more complicated question than it might be. For while there's now a new version 7 and it introduces some excellent features, it introduces them in two editions -- PDFpen and PDFpen Pro -- yet its very best abilities are already right there in version 6. Plus, there is the iPad version which we've already said we rate very highly.

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(7)

Cook still bullish on iPad despite softening demand

Cites high customer satisfaction, enterprise opportunities among reasons

Apple's iPad tablet is continuing to see growing declines in sales, as noted in the most recent quarterly results. As expected, the iPad dropped 18 percent year-over-year in sales, though new models and the holiday season provided a substantial boost from the previous quarter. Although Apple only sold 21.4 million iPads this holiday season compared to 26 million last year, sales were up strongly from the previous quarter , leaping from September's 12.3 million iPads.

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(0)

Apple Watch in April, Apple Pay coming to 200K self-service stations

Flagship product gets pushed beyond rumored window

The Apple Watch will ultimately ship in April, the company has confirmed through a quarterly results call hosted by CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri. The company didn't go into any other details, such as a specific release date. April, however, is even later than the March timeframe mentioned in recent rumors , which themselves suggested a delay from February. Until now Apple has only ever promised an "early 2015" date.

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(8)

Apple posts $74.6B in Q1 revenues based on iPhone, Mac sales

Company mum on iPad results in official press release

Apple has posted the results of its first fiscal quarter for 2015, which actually ended on December 27. The company says it achieved record quarterly revenue of $74.6 billion, and similarly record-setting net profits of $18 billion, or $3.06 per share. The figures compare against $57.6 billion, $13.1 billion, and $2.07 in Q1 2014; gross margins increased from 37.9 percent to 39.9 percent. Apple notes that international sales made up 65 percent of the recent quarter's revenues.

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(2)

OS X 10.10.2 leaves beta, brings predicted changes

Upgrades Time Machine with iCloud Drive browsing

Simultaneous with the launch of iOS 8.1.3 , Apple has also released the finished version of OS X 10.10.2. As anticipated , the one feature addition is the ability to browse iCloud Drive items from within Time Machine. Elsewhere, the update is dedicated solely to squashing bugs, such as Wi-Fi disconnects, webpages loading too slowly, and various security and stability problems in Safari.

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(4)

Apple's iOS 8.1.3 goes live, reduces space needed for OTA updates

Generally directed at bugfixes

Apple has released iOS 8.1.3 via iTunes and as an over-the-air download. Though primarily a maintenance update, it does make one important change: reducing the amount of storage that will be needed for future over-the-air upgrades. The amount of space iOS 8 required for an OTA update was a common complaint by users; on 16GB iPhones and iPads, there is frequently too little room left, forcing people to use iTunes instead. Apple hasn't said how much storage will be needed in the future.

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(0)

Analysts: China iPhone sales outpace US, Apple gaining on Samsung

Remarkable reversal in Korean maker's fortunes benefitting Apple

On Tuesday, Apple will reveal its latest figures on its overall sales and general health, but analysts will again focus on one key segment -- Apple's best-selling device, the iPhone -- as the only metric that matters . Two key aspects of that metric, however, may have larger implications than just the quarterly revenues, or a temporary change in Apple's stock value. According to analysts, it is now likely that Apple is selling more iPhones to China now than it is in the US market (where it is market leader by a long way) -- and even more remarkably, that Apple is close to rivaling the total smartphones sales of rival Samsung.

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(0)

Apple Store in Hangzhou, China opens over weekend

First of five new Chinese Apple Stores to open before Lunar New Year

A new Apple store based on its latest two-story designs (as seen in San Francisco and elsewhere) has opened in Hangzhou, China . As is typical for such openings, lines of enthusiasts trailed around the block to experience Asia's largest and latest Apple Store, the second in a series of five that will open around China by the start of the official Chinese New Year on Thursday, February 19. The first new store was opened in Zhengzhou earlier this month to similar acclaim and excitement.

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(0)

Hands On: Alfred 2 (OS X)

Powerful, hugely customisable application launcher for Mac

It's only right and proper to review Alfred 2 in a column called Hands On, because that's its entire point: with this installed, you can do just about anything on your Mac without ever once taking your fingers off the keyboard. As much as the mouse and the trackpad changed the world, every time you use them you are losing time. Yes, it's probably only about a second, but that's enough: your concentration moves to where-is-the-mouse and then where-is-the-cursor before it can get back to the work at hand. With Alfred 2 , your fingers will remember keyboard shortcuts like muscle memory, and you will feel you are hugely faster at everything.

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(3)

Apple poaches second Burberry exec for Watch rollout

Chipperfield was VP of Digital and Interactive Design, now on 'Special Projects'

Apple has once again lured a top executive from UK fashion retailer Burberry: following the hiring a year ago of former CEO Dame Angela Ahrendts, the company has brought in former Vice President of Digital and Interactive Design Chester Chipperfield from Burberry to work with the "Special Projects" group at Apple, which is likely to involve the forthcoming Apple Watch . The company also recently hired one of Burberry's social media executives, Musa Tariq, as it continues to build a team of expert fashion merchandisers.

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(3)

Apple takes majority of US phone activations in Q4

Nearly doubles rival Samsung's sales, equals all combined competition

Apple's share of the US mobile phone market has nearly doubled following the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 in October, a new study has revealed. The report, by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners , finds that the iPhone went from 28 percent of the market in the July-to-September quarter to just over 50 percent in the final three months of the year, an improvement even over the same time the year before, when the iPhone 5s was released.

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(4)

Apple, Google, Rdio, Sony sued over pre-1972 music royalties

Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying

A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.

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(0)

Alleged 12-inch MacBook Air photos appear online

Smaller unit still longer than 11-inch MBA; no info on alleged new port

A set of photos purporting to show the assembled display of the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air has emerged from a Chinese enthusiast site. The pictures are claimed to be a 12-inch Retina display assembly, but feature an iOS-device like metal Apple logo rather than the usual translucent plastic lighted Apple logo, potentially undermining the credibility of the images. The display is seen to be thinner than a typical MacBook Pro, albeit thicker than an iPad Air.

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(0)

Apple outlines compatibility with non-HomeKit gear

Wide compatibility with third-party equipment; no Wi-Fi bridging

Apple on Thursday clarified its guidelines on its HomeKit home automation platform and its ability to "play well with others" in terms of third-party automation products and their own connectivity platforms. The iPhone maker will allow HomeKit products to be compatible with some competing protocols such as Zigbee or Z-Wave , but there are limits to the compatibility allowed. In addition to requiring an Apple TV for outside-the-local-network remote appliance control through Siri, the unit can act as a bridge to third-party devices.

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(0)

Hands On: Opinion podcasting app (iOS)

Good entry-level app that makes the basics easy and fast

It's harder to make podcasts than you might imagine. No, strike that: it's easy to make bad podcasts, to make the kind of audio that makes grown NPR and BBC radio producers sob and listeners disappear. What's harder is to make anything worth listening to, and that's chiefly a mix of your talent and your technology. The new Opinion Podcast Recorder & Editor app won't make a scrap of difference to your talent -- except that it will let you concentrate on getting better, because it sets out to make the technical side of podcasts simple. It aims to be the one place you record your podcast, edit it, and then distribute it.

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(0)

Hands On: Djay Pro (OS X)

DJ tool adds Spotify, better MIDI support

Thanks to numerous technological advances over the past 40 years, the tools -- and skills -- needed to cut and mix music together in a live environment has been drastically reduced. What used to require multiple record decks, crossfaders, and not to mention a large library of vinyl records, has been reduced down to a single piece of software that can run on a laptop. Algoriddim, a company that has become well known for its iOS DJ apps, recently released a new Pro version of its desktop app Djay. Built specifically for OS X, Djay Pro takes full advantage of 64-bit processing, multi-core track analysis, and Retina displays, but does it do so in a way that is accessible to anyone? We have spent the last few weeks digging around the app to find out.

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(0)

Hands On: Notability (OS X, iOS)

Excellent iOS note-taking app is equally good on Mac

It's not like there's a shortage of note-taking apps on either iOS or Mac: however, it is particularly good to see the familiar stubby-pencil icon of Notability on Mac because it's a boon to know your notes are with you everywhere. Although if you're a die-hard Evernote fan, currently thinking about reading a different review, hang on just one sec: The most important reason to use Notability is how it feels as you write in it. However, it also comes with a killer feature -- but it's a feature that specifically kills your desire to use Evernote.

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(0)

Pointers: Five quick and dirty iPhone battery tips

Ways to save power can return you to 'all-day' battery life

You've got to hand it to Apple. We were in an Apple Store, trying to decide between an iPhone 6 and a 6 Plus, as you do, and naturally a salesman came over. We mentioned that one thing that's really drawing us to the Plus is the battery life -- and you know what would have then happened in any other store selling any other phone. Of course the salesman would have immediately evangelized that feature. He'd somehow make it sound magical, how long you can go without charging the phone and yet, simultaneously, sold us some extra battery pack. Except this was Apple, and the guy didn't do any of that. Instead he asked us how long we were able to go without recharging our current iPhone, he tested our battery, and then he talked us through how to make it last longer.

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(3)

Hands On: Audio Hijack 3 (OS X)

Major update for already-superb audio recording app

When Audio Hijack 3 was announced, one of us actually squealed in delight. It wouldn't be right of us to mock him, but you can . In fairness, many people who had heard of the software -- and certainly every one who had used it -- was pleased too. For this is one of those applications that isn't just a regular part of your toolbox, it's one that reminds you every time why it is just so much handier working on a Mac than a PC.

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(1)

Logic Pro X gets major update; drum features overhauled

Mail Drop, Air Drop supported in latest update; many features improved

On Wednesday, Apple released a major update to its flagship digital audio workstation program, Logic Pro X . Not unlike the fictional band Spinal Tap, the main focus in the new version 10.1 is a significant change in Drummers, bringing 10 new options covering more styles, particularly for dance and electronic music. In addition to the extra styles, the sound quality has been upgraded, controls have been re-worked, and the Drum Machine Designer plug-in has been revamped.

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(0)

Apple buys out UK media analytics firm Semetric

Takeover reportedly linked to Beats Music relaunch

Apple has bought out a media analytics firm from the UK called Semetric, according to the The Guardian . The acquisition is said to have been discovered through Companies House filings, which show for instance that earlier this month, Semetric changed its address to that of a London lawfirm, Baker & McKenzie; the space is also registered to Apple Europe Limited. An Apple attorney, Gene Levoff, was assigned to a director position at Semetric in October of last year.

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(5)

Hands On: iDatabase (OS X, iOS)

Quick and fairly easy-to-use database, but with serious flaws

The best database you can buy for the Mac or iOS is Filemaker Pro -- if by "best," you mean the most powerful. It's also comparatively easy to use, at least when what you're comparing it with is Microsoft Access for Windows. But even so, there is a market for a database that is so simple even non-technical users can get a benefit from it. For some years, that database was Bento, from the makers of Filemaker Pro, but it was discontinued in 2013. One alternative has been iDatabase , and on the surface it has a lot going for it.

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(1)

Pointers: Location-aware Reminders

Built-in OS X, iOS utility has extra dimension for added usefulness

Even if you're particularly good at making a note about tasks you need to accomplish, you often get tasked with something only when people think to tell you -- and if the job is some time away, you may completely forget that you were asked to do it at all, apart from that nagging feeling that you've forgotten something important. Apple's built-in Reminders app (along with Siri) can make it easy to create a to-do or reminder item, but a lesser-known feature leveraging Location Services can make it nearly impossible to forget.

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(3)

Apple intensifies attempts to influence Washington politics

Company lobbying numerous US federal bodies

Apple has been accelerating its attempts to gain sway in Washington DC during the last year, Bloomberg notes. Lobbyists representing Apple approached the White House, Congress, and some 13 departments and agencies through to the third quarter of 2014, according to data collected by OpenSecrets.org . A more recent example is CEO Tim Cook's meeting with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch . Another development last year was the hiring of Amber Cottle -- former chief of staff for the Senate Finance Committee -- as the head of Apple's lobbying office.

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(0)

Hands On: Where To? (iOS)

Find out what's around you and the quickest way to get there with this handy app

Think of Where To as a kind of Yelp for absolutely everything: instead of just looking for restaurants, this app will find you libraries, gas stations, lawyers, theaters, shops, and more. It's called Where To, but you will never call it that in real life, for its icon is of a freeway exit sign, and the word Exit is so prominent that you'll think that's its name. This is only a problem when you're trying to recommend it to someone -- but that means it is going to be a regular problem.

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(2)

Apple reminds developers of iOS 64-bit requirement

All new iOS 8 software must be 64-bit compatible by February 1

A new reminder email has gone out from Apple to all registered iOS developers reminding them that, beginning February 1, all app new submissions to the App Store must support 64-bit architecture. For existing programs, updates must support 64-bit no later than June 1. The move will not prohibit apps from running in 32-bit mode, but must contain support for 64-bit operation, which may "prune" some apps that are no longer being developed.

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(2)

Developers in Crimea tossed from Apple program over annexation

Part of sanctions imposed by US, Europe against Russian aggression

The tiny region of Crimea, recently annexed by Russia, has fallen victim to sanctions imposed against Russia by the US and European Union -- one aspect of which has been Apple's new notification to developers in the region that they are now suspended from the developer program and no longer allowed to sell programs in the App Store. The developer agreement have been terminated, effective immediately, in compliance with a US executive order , though there is a potential workaround.

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(1)

Apple remembers MLK on federal holiday in rare honor

Image comes from famous 'I Have a Dream' speech in 1963

Apple has given over its US "landing page" on its website to the memory and commemoration of assassinated civil right leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the rare times the company has honored an individual. Using an #MLK hashtag, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted the theme of the image, which is taken from King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered in Washington, DC a little over 51 years ago: "Honoring the life and legacy" of Dr. King, one of Cook's oft-named inspirations.

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(0)

Hands On: Unread RSS reader (iOS)

Quick RSS news app a pleasure to read, now freemium

Go on, tell the truth. Were you tempted to stop reading after the word RSS or did you last all the way to 'news'? It's not that RSS divides people, it's more that people either love it or they have simply never heard of the thing. Similarly, there are those of us who are news junkies and want to know what's happening in the world, and there are others who just watch Fox News instead. Unread for iOS is not going to be the app that makes you an evangelist for RSS, but if you're already a newsreader fan, you may love the app. Plus, its new freemium model could help when you go around telling everybody how great it is.

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