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Tim Cook: Apple Watch on Schedule to Ship in April

During today's earnings call covering the first fiscal quarter of 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared some new details on the prospective launch date of the Apple Watch. According to Cook, Apple Watch development is currently on schedule, and the company is planning to ship the device in April.

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Development for Apple Watch is right on schedule, and we expect to begin shipping in April.
When the Apple Watch was announced, Apple gave a vague "early 2015" launch date for the device, making it unclear when it would actually ship. Several rumors recently pointed towards a March launch date for the device, but it appears it will actually begin shipping out to consumers a month later, in April.

Cook confirmed that the Apple Watch's April shipping date was within the expected range of early 2015, which Apple considers to be the first four months of the year. Cook also said there are some amazing apps in the works for the device, and he mentioned that he couldn't live without the Apple Watch.
My expectations are very high on it. I'm using it every day and love it and can't live without it.
Now that we know when the Apple Watch is expected to launch, the only unknowns about the device are battery life and its cost. Rumors have suggested that battery life will be somewhat disappointing, lasting approximately 19 hours during "mixed use."

Cost is also up in the air, aside from a known starting price of $349 for the lower-end device. Pricing on the middle tier version is unclear, as is pricing for the high-end gold Apple Watch, which rumors suggest could sell for thousands of dollars.

Related roundup: Apple Watch

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Brought More Android Switchers, New Customers Than Prior Models

During today's earnings call covering the first fiscal quarter of 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about the sales split between the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. He declined to provide specific numbers on the split, but he did confirm that the iPhone 6 was the most popular device.

"Obviously to sell 74.5 million devices, they were all popular," Cook said. "Both did incredibly well. We're really proud of them, along with the iPhone 5s and 5c."

According to Cook, there was some clear geographical preference for the iPhone 6 vs the iPhone 6 Plus. Some locations skewed higher to iPhone 6 Plus preference, while others preferred the iPhone 6. He didn't specify which regions preferred which devices, but data has suggested Asian countries favored the iPhone 6 Plus.

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During the call, Cook also mentioned that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus brought the highest Android switcher rate over the course of the last three years and that there's still a lot of opportunity to see growth as only a "small fraction" of existing iPhone users (in the low teens) have upgraded to a new device. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have brought the highest number of customers new to iPhone than in any prior iPhone launch. "We saw more new customers to iPhone than we've ever seen before," said Cook.

Cook said the company is getting "great feedback" about the quality of the products that they're shipping, and that in emerging markets, iPhone growth was "absolutely stunning." The company is very bullish on the iPhone going forward, expecting to see a lot of new adopters in Q2 2015 as well.

"We believe that it's the best smartphone in the world," said Cook.

Apple managed to reach supply/demand balance on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in January, when shipping dates finally hit 24 hours. Before that, iPhone supplies remained somewhat constrained throughout the holiday season.

Today's earnings report revealed record iPhone sales, at 74.5 million, or 46 percent growth year over year. The iPhone makes up an impressive 69 percent of Apple's revenue, which hit $74.6B during the quarter.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015)

Apple Reports Record Earnings and iPhone Sales: $18B Profit on $74.6B in Revenue for Q1 2015

Apple today announced financial results for the first fiscal quarter of 2015, which corresponds to the fourth calendar quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $74.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $18 billion, or $3.06 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $57.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, or $1.98 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 39.9 percent compared to 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 65 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.47 per share, payable on February 12 to shareholders of record as of February 9. The company currently holds $178 billion in cash and marketable securities.

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Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the quarter, up from 51 million a year earlier, while Mac sales were also strong with 5.5 million units sold, up from 4.8 million units in the year-ago quarter. iPad sales were down, however, falling to 21.4 million from 26 million.
“We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our revenue grew 30 percent over last year to $74.6 billion, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal.”
Apple's guidance for the second quarter of fiscal 2015 includes expected revenue of $52-55 billion and gross margin between 38.5 and 39.5 percent.

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Apple will provide live streaming of its fiscal Q1 2015 financial results conference call at 2:00 PM Pacific, and MacRumors will update this story with coverage of the conference call highlights.

Conference Call and Q&A Highlights are available in reverse chronological order after the jump.

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Hands-On With the Reach79 Signal Boosting Case - Does It Work?

Earlier this month, we shared an iPhone case called the Reach79, which debuted at CES. The Reach79 case claimed to boost the signal strength and performance of the iPhone, improving battery life, reducing dropped calls, and improving download speeds, statements that were quite controversial in our forums.

Readers were understandably skeptical of the Reach79's promise that it could deliver up to 2x stronger signal strength, so MacRumors decided to go hands-on with the Reach79 case to see if we could prove the company's claims.

reach79iphone6We've been extensively testing the Reach79 case on an iPhone 6 Plus for more than a week in various areas around the San Francisco Bay Area, but after several days of use, it remains difficult to conclusively say that the case improves signal in a meaningful way due to mixed test results. For a quick summary of what we found, scroll down to the "Bottom Line" section, or read on for our full results.

Our Testing


We used the Reach79 case on an iPhone 6 Plus connected to the AT&T network on multiple days, at multiple times, and in multiple locations, both indoor and outdoor. The phone was put into Field Test mode so that signal strength could be viewed as a raw decibel number rather than as dots or "bars," in order to better determine if and when the case was improving signal. All testing was done in the hand or up against the head, which is how the case is designed to work.

We also tested with the Ookla Mobile Speed Test app to see if the case improved data speeds, but we were told that this is not a particularly reliable testing method due to the many factors that can affect data transfer.

If there's one word that sums up our testing, it's inconsistent. At times, when the Reach79 case was placed on the iPhone, signal definitely improved as evidenced by the raw numbers and speed tests, but just as often, putting the case on did nothing to improve signal, or even seemed to degrade it somewhat.

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Apple Releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 With Security Fixes, iCloud Drive Browsing Options in Time Machine

os_x_yosemite_round_iconApple today released OS X Yosemite 10.10.2, marking the second update the operating system has received since its October release. Testing for OS X 10.10.2 began in late November, with Apple seeding six betas to developers before releasing the update to the public.

The OS X 10.10.2 update can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.
- 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
According to the release notes, OS X 10.10.2 solves lingering issues with Wi-Fi, fixes issues with Safari web pages loading slowly, improves VoiceOver, improves audio and video syncing when using Bluetooth headphones, and adds the ability to browse through iCloud Drive in Time Machine.

The update also fixes several notable security flaws, including an issue that caused Spotlight to load remote email content even when the Mail preference was disabled, vulnerabilities detected by Google's Project Zero, and the "Thunderstrike" hardware exploit affecting Thunderbolt-equipped Macs.

- OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update (554.3 MB)
- OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Combo Update (840.3 MB)

Update 10:47 AM: OS X 10.10.2 includes Safari 8.0.3, but Apple has also released standalone Safari updates for OS X Mavericks (7.1.3) and OS X Mountain Lion (6.2.3). Security Update 2015-001 is also available for Mavericks and Mountain Lion.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3 With Bug Fixes, Storage Size Reduction

Apple today released iOS 8.1.3 to the public, with a range of bug fixes including a fix for an issue that prevented some users from entering their Apple ID passwords for Messages and FaceTime, a bug that caused Spotlight to stop displaying app results, and a problem that prevented multitasking gestures from working on the iPad.

iOS 8.1.3 also reduces the amount of storage space required to perform an iOS update and adds new configuration options for education standardized testing.

iOS 8.1.3, much like iOS 8.1.2, was a minor release that was not seeded to developers before being released to the public. The software is available immediately as an over-the-air download.

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The first hints of iOS 8.1.3 first appeared in early December after devices running the updated operating system began visiting the MacRumors website, and usage picked up last week after iOS 8.1.3 was seeded to Apple retail employees for testing purposes. Apple appears to be expanding its OS X employee testing program to iOS, and iOS 8.1.3 marks the first iOS beta that's been tested by retail workers.

iOS 8.1.3 is a minor update that includes largely under-the-hood bug fixes, but Apple is also working on iOS 8.2, which will bring more drastic changes to the operating system as it contains both the WatchKit SDK and features that will allow the iPhone to integrate with the Apple Watch. It is not clear when Apple plans to release iOS 8.2, but it could come alongside the launch of the Apple Watch, which is currently rumored to be in March.

Update 10:38 AM: iOS 8.1.3 does not fix the recently publicized "GMT bug," which causes calendar syncing issues and time zone confusion for some affected iOS users.

Apple has also released a 7.0.3 software update for the third-generation Apple TV.

Related roundups: iOS 8, iOS 8 Features

Apple Predicted to Report Record-Breaking First Quarter on Strength of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Apple is set to report its financial results this afternoon for Q1 2015, a three-month period spanning October through December that directly followed the launch of the highly-anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Despite offering guidance of between $63.5 to $66.5 billion in total sales, many analysts are predicting that Apple outpaced those numbers in what could amount to a record-breaking quarter.

Fortune has averaged the estimates of 35 analysts, including 20 professionals and 15 amateurs, and determined that expectations are for Apple to report earnings of $2.68 per share, a nearly 30% year-over-year increase, and revenue of $68.7 billion, about a 20% increase from the year-ago quarter and $2.2 billion higher than Apple's high-end forecast.

Apple Q1 2015 Forecast
The first quarter has historically been the most lucrative for Apple, as the company typically launches new or refreshed products in the fall ahead of the busy holiday shopping season. Apple has posted record-breaking first quarter earnings results for over a decade, a span in which it announced several iconic products such as the iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Analysts believe that Q1 2015 will be a home run for Apple on the strength of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The larger screen sizes of the new smartphones were a major draw for many existing iPhone users looking to upgrade, and enough of a reason for some Android users to make the switch. Apple also launched a few other noteworthy products in the quarter, including the iMac with Retina 5K Display and new iPads.

Apple Q1 2015 Analysts
MacRumors will be providing live coverage of Apple's financial results as they are reported around 1:30 PM PT (4:30 PM ET), including the subsequent earnings conference call with CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri at 2 PM PT (5 PM ET). At that time, we'll have a clearer picture of just how well Apple managed to perform in the quarter.

iCloud.com Photos App Gains New Zoom, Email Features

Apple's iCloud.com Photos app was quietly updated over the weekend, adding a new zoom option to the toolbar that lets users zoom in on photos that have been uploaded to iCloud Photo Library.

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As noted by German site iFun.de, Apple's web-based Photos app has also gained a new feature that allows users to send photos via email directly from the website, making sharing photos easier than ever before.

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The addition of new zoom and email features follows a major November update to the iCloud.com Photos app, which began allowing users to upload photos to iCloud for the first time. Before the addition of the uploading tool, the standard iCloud.com site only allowed users to view, download, and delete iCloud Photo Library images.

With the uploading tool and new sharing features, iCloud is slowly becoming a viable and useful storage option for users who wish to upload and manage entire photo libraries. Still in beta, iCloud Photo Library was initially introduced alongside iOS 8.1, letting users sync and access all of their photos on all of their iOS devices and Macs via the web.

Apple is working on a Photos app for the Mac, which will work alongside both the Photos app on iOS and the iCloud.com Photos app on the web. Photos, which will replace both Apple's iPhoto app and Aperture, is supposed to be launching in the early months of 2015. There's been little word on its development since its initial June introduction, however.

OS X 10.10.2 Includes Fix for 'Thunderstrike' Hardware Exploit Affecting Macs

Apple is readying a fix in OS X 10.10.2 for the so-called "Thunderstrike" hardware exploit targeting Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, iMore has learned. According to the report, Apple patched the vulnerability by making code changes in the upcoming software update that prevent a Mac's bootrom from being replaced or rolled back to a previous state in which it could be attacked.
To secure against Thunderstrike, Apple had to change the code to not only prevent the Mac's boot ROM from being replaced, but also to prevent it from being rolled back to a state where the attack would be possible again. According to people with access to the latest beta of OS X 10.10.2 who are familiar with Thunderstrike and how it works, that's exactly the deep, layered process that's been completed.
Thunderstrike is a serious vulnerability discovered earlier this year by security researcher Trammell Hudson, enabling an attacker to replace a Mac's bootrom with malicious code without a user knowing. Since the malicious code is stored in a low level inaccessible to the user, the problem would remain even if the bootrom was replaced.

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The proof-of-concept attack is limited in scope, however, as an attacker would require physical access to the Mac or savvy social engineering skills in order to trick a user into attacking his or her Mac themselves. Apple has already addressed the issue in its latest hardware, including the iMac with Retina 5K Display and new Mac mini.

OS X 10.10.2 has been in pre-release testing for over two months and should be made available to the public in the coming days. The most recent OS X 10.10.2 beta was seeded to developers for testing last Wednesday. In addition to the Thunderstrike fix, the upcoming software update addresses security vulnerabilities exposed by Google's Project Zero security team last week.

According to 9to5Mac, the latest OS X Yosemite release will also add iCloud Drive in Time Machine and resolve issues related to Wi-Fi, VoiceOver and security. In particular, a recently identified glitch causing Spotlight on OS X to expose system information to spammers through remote content loading will reportedly be patched. Safari will also gain improved performance and security.

No public instances of Thunderstrike attacks have yet to be reported.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Rumored 'iPad Pro' and Companion Stylus Imagined in New Renderings

Following an influx of rumors surrounding the "iPad Pro" and a possible stylus accessory launching around the same time, well-known 3D modeler and designer Martin Hajek has created a series of concept renderings for each device on his blog.

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Hajek's models include several details rumored for the iPad Pro, which has been claimed to carry a 12.2 - 12.9 inch display and fall in line with the rounded design of the current iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. The renderings are based on some design drawings that surfaced last November, with Hajek noting the design brings back the larger bezels seen in earlier-generation iPads. Consistent with the schematics and other rumors, he also places speakers on the top and bottom and edges of the device, allowing for stereo sound when used in landscape orientation.

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Otherwise, the iPad Pro sticks by most of the current-generation standbys, including volume rockers on the right side of the device, a lock button on the top right, a Lightning charger on its bottom center, and a Touch ID capacitive home button sitting in its normal central position.

Beyond the iPad Pro itself, Hajek also imagines a possibility for Apple's rumored in-house stylus. Borrowing "the design language of the iPad Pro", he added in a capacitive +/- slider for additional operations, and also elements of the Apple Watch as well, including biometric sensors and a digital crown. While the stylus renderings are interesting, a lack of leaks or even specific details about the accessory means the images are not based on any actual information.

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The new renderings show off the iPad Pro mostly in the Silver option, though it's likely to receive the other two usual color options of Space Gray and Gold. The latest rumors suggest the iPad Pro may launch sometime in the late spring or early summer of this year. The full suite of renderings featuring the iPad Pro and stylus can be found on Hajek's blog.

Related roundup: iPad Pro

Apple's AuthenTec Acquisition Left Nexus 6 Without a Fingerprint Sensor

The dimple on the back of Motorola's Nexus 6 would have featured a Touch ID-like fingerprint sensor if Apple had not acquired sensor firm AuthenTec in 2012, according to former Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Woodside states the company had plans to include the finger-sensing feature in the Nexus 6, which was launched late last year, but due to Apple's poaching of "the best supplier" for the technology and other suppliers not meeting quality expectations, Motorola decided to remove the feature before launch.

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“The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier. So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet,” says Woodside. Nonetheless, he adds, the addition of fingerprint recognition, “wouldn’t have made that big a difference.”
Woodside, now COO of Dropbox, expresses relief at freedom from these "uncontrollable market forces" in his new position. "We're not trying to serve ads or sell hardware," he told The Telegraph.

Apple's introduction of AuthenTec-based Touch ID on the iPhone 5s sparked much interest in fingerprint-sensing technology, and the company continues to work to improve upon the technology. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus introduced a more sensitive version of the sensor and it is now being used to authenticate purchases made with the company's new Apple Pay mobile payments service.

Samsung to Produce Majority of Apple's A9 Chips for Next-Generation iPhone

Samsung will be the main supplier of Apple's upcoming A9 chip that will power the next-generation iPhone, reports South Korean newspaper Maeil Business (via Reuters). The newspaper notes that Samsung will supply around 75% of chips for the next iPhone, and that the processors will be produced at the company's factory in Austin, Texas.

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Apple's A8 chip

Last month, a report from Korea's ET News said that Samsung had begun work on the processor in Texas. Previous reports noted that Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) would be producing the A9 chip, although Samsung was chosen to be the primary supplier in a deal that was said to be worth billions. BusinessKorea reported last month that Apple would be relying more heavily on Samsung for iPhone 6 and Apple Watch components including RAM, NAND flash storage, and batteries.

Apple's A9 chip is expected to power the iPhone 6s and presumably the next-generation iPad Air and iPad mini. Apple is also expected to launch a larger-screened iPad Pro at some point this year, although that device has been rumored to utilize Apple's A8X processor.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015)