Well, there's always the September music event
When Google announced their new Google Music All Access service at I/O 2013 the other day, many began to wonder whether Apple’s eagerly anticipated iRadio service was all that far behind or not. Many have held out hope that Apple would finally announce the new service at this year’s WWDC event, however a new report by The Verge reveals that Apple will be unable to complete negotiations with the labels by the time WWDC rolls around. Apple will be unable to announce or release anything unless they have the full support of the music labels.
In the article, The Verge writes that the reason for the delay is because Apple’s “iRadio” service will be substantially different from the current streaming services, including Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music. “iRadio” is said to be an “on-demand” recommendation system, unlike Pandora which systematically selects music without much input from the user. Such a system has reportedly yet to be tried before, requiring Apple to start from zero in an effort to make terms with the labels, something they have to date been hesitant to do.
Apple has reportedly already completed a deal with Universal Music and Sony Music, meaning that the delay would be coming from Warner Brothers and the remaining big labels.
Source: The Verge
The labels will not be pleased
A new security hole discovered today allows users to download any pre-release album streaming from iTunes entirely free of charge. Though we won’t get let you in on a step by step tutorial on how to pull this off here, we will say that the security hole is incredibly easy to pull off, requiring nothing but iTunes and a free application to snoop on HTTP requests.
The resulting file is a high quality, 256 kbps, DRM free file of the entire album, equipped with nothing but an iTunes FairPlay wrapper to stop people from playing this on anything other than i-devices. Anyone who pulls this off will be able to put the album on any Mac or Windows PC running iTunes, as well as an iPod, iPhone, or AppleTV.
Remember – doing this is most definitely illegal (or at the very least, a major breech in your agreement with Apple), and takes away any profits an artist might have otherwise made on a purchase – so we’re definitely not suggesting you all go out and try this out for yourselves. Musicians are incredibly gracious allowing users to stream their entire albums for free days and weeks before the actual release, so we wouldn’t want to take advantage of their good will, would we?
Apple doesn't appear interested
I’m going to let you in on a little secret – The iTunes ecosystem is the most massive and influential media ecosystem in the world. Whether a person has an iPod, an iPhone, a Mac, an AppleTV, and these days even just your run of the mill Windows PC – they’re very likely connected in some way to Apple and iTunes. For this reason, it shouldn’t be at all a surprise that, according to Windows CFO Tami Reller, Microsoft has been actively trying to convince Apple to release a version of iTunes native to Windows 8′s new “Metro” (or Modern or whatever you want to call it) environment. In an interview with CNN Money, Reller says that “iTunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.”
However, it appears that Apple is reluctant to embrace Microsoft’s new Metro filled future, apparently denying Microsoft’s requests for a Windows 8 native version. Apple may not be yet convinced that allocating resources to a product makes sense – Windows RT tablets have been under performing badly, and the traditional iTunes for Windows app works fine on Windows 8 on the classic “Desktop” interface.
Rumor has it
As we get closer to iOS 7 and the release of the 2013 iPhone (expected to be the iPhone 5S), our time table consisting of when to expect what is beginning to get sharper and sharper and more in focus; while rumors originally pegged the release of the iPhone 5S alongside the launch of iOS 7 this summer, perhaps even at WWDC, a recent report that indicates Sharp has yet to even begin production of the iPhone 5S’s display suggests that the iPhone 5S will not launch until August at the earliest, just as we heard not too long ago.
The report indicates that both Sharp and LG have been pegged to produce the displays for the new iPhone 5S, which could see a spec bump to one of Sharp’s fancy new IGZO displays, which should bring a better, sharper, more accurate image to iPhones. Apple has reportedly already begin mass production of other aspects of the iPhone 5S, indicating that a launch isn’t too far away – if I were a betting man, I’d wager we’ll see a release earlier than last year’s iPhone 5.
Improves speakerphone performance
Apple has just released a minor update to the iPhone 5 in the form of iOS 6.1.4 that reportedly improves speakerphone performance for the handset. The update is not available for any other iOS device as of yet, suggesting this is an iPhone 5 specific release. iOS 6.1.4 identifies itself as Build 10B350 and can be nabbed over iTunes or through an OTA update.
There’s no word as of yet as to whether or not this update brings any other improvements, but we’ll let you know if we learn more.
Bet BlackBerry's CEO is a bit embarrassed
Just yesterday we reported that BlackBerry’s CEO Thorsten Heins said that he thinks that tablets are “bad business” with no future, and now we’ve got some data to really prove him wrong – according to data released by IDC, cumulative sales of all tablets has grown by 142.4% since the first quarter of 2012. What does that mean? People are buying a crap ton of tablets, which is pretty much the polar opposite of the rest of the rapidly declining PC industry.
Most notably, Apple (predictably) lead the charge with the iPad line pushing a record 19.5 million tablet sales this quarter, up 65.3% from this time last year. In second comes Samsung with their Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab line, which sold 8.8 million devices, up a whopping 282.6% from this time last year. Third was ASUS with 2.7 million up a massive 350.0% (thank you very much, Nexus 7), with Amazon’s Kindle Fire line coming in fourth with 1.8 million sales resulting in a 157.1% increase, and finally Microsoft with a puny but notably 0.9 million Surface tablets shipped. All of the other tablets made by other manufacturers result in a combined 15.5 million tablet sales.
What can we learn from this data? Well, two things – one, despite what Heins said, tablets are absolutely not bad business, BlackBerry just had a bad experience with developing and selling a bad tablet. And two, tablet growth is rapidly increasing whilst the rest of the PC market has been going down in flames. While nobody is saying that this data suggests that the tablet market will one day be bigger than the PC market, it does suggest that it has something the netbook market never had: momentum.
Making a repeat performance
The Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg has today announced that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook will be headlining the All Things Digital Conference again this year, offering his second interview in two years. Cook spoke about everything from the Mac, to the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, to Apple’s rumored entry into the television hardware market and beyond at last year’s conference. Though we wouldn’t expect Cook to make any significant product announcements or plans at the event, the interview should reveal some fascinating insight into the inner workings of a very secretive company, as well as Tim Cook himself.
Tim Cook rarely makes public appearances or does interviews, however he seems to be taking to the All Things Digital Conference just as his predecessor, Steve Jobs, had. Jobs spoke at All Things D six times in the last decade prior to his death in 2011.
More iOS features make their way to OS X
Last year prior to the release of OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion”, the company said that they were planning on releasing at least one new major update to OS X every year, putting the product on an annual update cycle similar to the company’s other major platform, iOS. That really hasn’t panned out – “Mountain Lion” was revealed in February of 2012 – but today a new rumor helps ease our long wait. 9to5Mac, which has been very accurate in the past, claims that OS X 10.9 – which is internally codenamed “Cabaret” – will focus primarily on new features for power users, something that should please the “core” Apple users who have been around since the beginning of OS X.
First, 9to5Mac claims that OS X 10.9 will include a totally redesigned Finder experience centered around tabbed browsing, a la Safari / most other modern web browsers. A tabbed Finder is something that power users have been clamoring for for years now, with hacky-mods such as TotalFinder bringing this to brave souls willing to sacrifice a little bit of security and stability for such a powerful tweak. Apple is also working on “re-working Safari” to get more performance and speed increases out of the popular browser. Mission Control is also said to be getting a little tweak in the form of a big, long requested feature that will allow users to put individual “Spaces” and full-screen apps on individual monitors in a full screen setup. You know what that means, folks – dedicated Twitter screens!
Finally, in what seems to be the biggest change, OS X 10.9 will rework how the operating system handles “background applications”. Currently OS X treats all apps the same, allowing even those open but idle in the background to take up basically as many resources as the app currently in use. 9to5Mac suggests though that 10.9 will give the operating system the ability to “pause” background applications in the same way that iOS currently does. This will improve both the performance of the application in use as well as the battery life of the machine, however will render applications less powerful whilst idling. 9to5Mac does not note as to whether or not this feature will be mandatory or optional, however we’d imagine such a large change in the inner workings of OS X would not be mandated.
There are no words
That’s right; WWDC at Moscone Center, which used to sell out in hours, is now selling out in under 2 minutes. Tickets to Apple’s developer conference are clearly becoming one of the most highly sought after items in the tech industry; BUILD 2013, the flagship developer conference at Microsoft also being held in Moscone Center this year, took almost an entire day to sell out of tickets.
Were you lucky enough to snag yourself a ticket? Probably not; but if so, be sure to leave a comment!
Ticket sales start tomorrow @ 1 PM EST
Apple has just announced their annual WWDC developer’s conference, which will take place on June 10th – June 14th this year at its usual place of Moscone West in San Francisco. Contrary to Apple’s usual habits, the company has also announced that ticket sales will begin tomorrow at June 10th. Traditionally, Apple has put tickets up for sale as the conference has been announced. This change was likely made to give everyone a better chance of procuring a ticket, despite differences in time zones.
Apple has traditionally announced major new hardware and software at WWDC; some speculate that Apple could potentially introduce iOS 7, and perhaps even the 2013 iPhone, rumored to be the “iPhone 5S”.
iPad up, iPhone up, Mac steady
Apple today posted their quarterly results for the Q2 2013 financial quarter, and things continue to look good for a certain fruit company in sunny California. Apple posted revenue of $43.6 billion and an impressive (albeit slightly lower than last quarter’s record breaking number) net quarterly profit of $9.5 billion. That means that Apple managed a gross margin of 37.5%. Although lower than last year’s 47.4% gross margin, these impressive numbers should provide a much needed morale boost to investors.
As for product performance, Apple continues to enjoy high sales all around. Sales of the iPhone product category rose 6% from 35.1 million iPhones to 37.4 million since this time last year, while iPad sales rose a whopping 65% from 11.8 million to 19.5 million. Though Apple doesn’t announce how individual products in a product category perform, it is safe to assume that the more inexpensive iPad mini significantly helped iPad sales. Meanwhile, Mac sales remained mostly flat, going from barely over 4 million Macs last quarter to barely under 4 million Macs this quarter.
Data is reportedly anonymized
An Apple spokesperson told Wired magazine today that the company does indeed keep records of user’s Siri data for a fairly lengthy period of time – two years, to be precise. Of course this is nothing unusual in the industry – Google, Microsoft, and other companies and services keep sensitive data for similarly long periods of time.
What is important to note here is that Apple promises that all data is anonymized, saying that neither your Apple ID nor your email address are ever associated with the data. Instead, Apple’s servers randomly generate numbers that represent your account, minus the identifying information. Apple reportedly keeps this number attached to the voice clips for six months, and then the clips are stored on servers with absolutely no organization for another year and a half.