Apple Signals Return to Growth This Holiday Season After 9-Month Slide

apple-christmas-hatApple today forecasted between $76 billion and $78 billion in revenue for the first quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, reflecting a three-month period between September and December, signaling the company's return to growth in the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Apple's lower-end guidance of $76 billion would be enough to eclipse the $75.9 billion in revenue it reported in the year-ago period, putting an end to the company's downturn after its first annual revenue decline since 2001 and three consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Apple's decline through the first nine months of 2016 was in line with the iPhone's first-ever drop in sales, while iPad and Mac sales also shrunk during the year. However, the strength of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, alongside Apple's growing services category, should help reverse that trend over the next three months. In the quarter just ended, Apple's revenue from services like the App Store, Apple Music, and iCloud grew 24% to an all-time record of $6.3 billion.

Tag: earnings

Civilization VI Now Available for Mac via Steam, Mac App Store Version Coming Soon

Aspyr tonight announced the launch of Sid Meier's Civilization VI for Mac, which is available just three days after its October 21 PC launch. Civilization VI for Mac is currently limited to Steam, but Aspyr plans to bring it to the Mac App Store in the near future.

The newest game in the Civilization series, Civilization VI builds on the gameplay mechanics introduced with Civilization V and was designed by the same team that made many of the Civilization V expansions.

Tweaks have been made to AI, diplomacy, unit behavior, city building through the addition of city unstacking and districts, the research system, and more. Some of the new features:
EXPANSIVE EMPIRES: See the marvels of your empire spread across the map like never before. Each city spans multiple tiles so you can custom build your cities to take full advantage of the local terrain.

ACTIVE RESEARCH: Unlock boosts that speed your civilization's progress through history. To advance more quickly, use your units to actively explore, develop your environment, and discover new cultures.

DYNAMIC DIPLOMACY: Interactions with other civilizations change over the course of the game, from primitive first interactions where conflict is a fact of life, to late game alliances and negotiations.

COMBINED ARMS: Expanding on the "one unit per tile" design, support units can now be embedded with other units, like anti-tank support with infantry, or a warrior with settlers. Similar units can also be combined to form powerful "Corps" units.

ENHANCED MULTIPLAYER: In addition to traditional multiplayer modes, cooperate and compete with your friends in a wide variety of situations all designed to be easily completed in a single session.
Minimum system requirements for Civilization VI on Mac include an Intel Core i5 2.7GHz, processor, 6GB RAM, 15GB of storage space, and a Radeon HD 6790, Nvidia GeForce 775M, or Intel Iris Pro graphics card with 1GB VRam.

Civilization VI can be purchased on Steam for $59.99. A Digital Deluxe version is also available for $79.99.

Tags: Aspyr, Steam

Apple Sponsoring Annual Fashion Met Gala for Second Year Running

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has shared details on its annual 2017 Gala and Costume Institute exhibition, where Apple will be a sponsor for the second year running.

The 2017 event, which will take place on May 1, will have a focus on fashion designer Comme des Garçons's Rei Kawakubo, who will also co-chair the event, alongside Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Proceeds from the event go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute.

met gala
Image via Vogue

Last year's fashion/tech themed event was co-chaired by Apple design chief Jony Ive, alongside Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, and others. The intersection of technology and fashion was a fitting choice for Apple's co-sponsoring the 2016 event, as the company came out with its first fashion item, the Apple Watch, in 2015.

Apple's continuing support for the gig outlines its deepening ties with the fashion industry, with the company's timepieces turning up on the wrists of celebrities and in glitzy magazines, Apple stores taking a page out of Burberry's fashion playbook thanks to Apple retail head Angela Ahrendts, and even audio accessories like Beats headphones becoming fashion statements.

Apple's Thailand Website Honors King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Death

Apple has made its Thai website black and white to honor the death of Thailand's king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away last week at the age of 88. Bhumibol Adulyadej had served as the ninth monarch of Thailand since 1946, making him the world's longest-serving head of state at the time of his death ahead of Queen Elizabeth II.

The monochrome website reflects Thai citizens who have dressed in pure black or black and white to mourn the loss of Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was a highly revered figure in the country. Thai TV stations have also provided footage of the king in black and white, colors that represent grief and purity respectively in the country.

Tag: Thailand

Macy's Becomes First U.S. Department Store With Dedicated Apple Section

Macy's today opened a new hub dedicated to Apple products at its flagship Herald Square store in Manhattan, becoming the first U.S. department store with a shopping area devoted to the brand, reports The Associated Press.

The store-within-a-store concept, similar to those found in Best Buy and Walmart stores, has four light wood tables featuring a wide range of Apple products, including the Apple Watch, iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and MacBooks.
"This is one of the most sought-after products," Terry Lundgren, the outgoing CEO of Macy's, told The Associated Press. "We really cater to women better than most retail stores do. I do think that we are going to end up creating a business that is more female-friendly.
Macy's new Apple partnership, in the works for years, comes as the department store chain aims to reverse six straight quarters of declines for a key sales measure. Macy's is collaborating with other brands to create a so-called mini-mall.

The dedicated Apple section, located near the main 34th Street entrance, will be densely staffed to accommodate the 35,000 to 40,000 customers, and up to 75,000 during the holidays, that visit Macy's Herald Square location each week.

Tim Cook Confirms Yokohama Facility in Japan Will Be Completed by December

tim_cook_headshot_glassesWhile on a trip that's taken him to Shenzhen, China and Nintendo's offices in Kyoto, Japan, Apple CEO Tim Cook today met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussing topics related to the importance of the country in Apple's ongoing market strategy. Specifically, Cook was said to confirm that an advanced R&D center in Yokohama was on track to complete construction by December (via Xinhua).

The Yokahama facility has been two years in the making, and was originally reported to "center around health." During the meeting, Cook said he and Abe discussed "doing great things together," and reiterated "how important the country is to Apple."
"We talked about the future and doing great things together. I shared with prime minister Abe our love for Japan and how important the country is to Apple," Cook, who is currently on a tour of Asia, was quoted as saying at the prime minister's office following their meeting.
Abe said that he hopes Apple will continue to generate relationships with other companies and manufacturers in Japan, in order to contribute to the overall technological boom in the country. On the same topic, Cook mentioned that Apple is aware of "a number of manufacturers of all sizes" that could result in a mutually beneficial partnership moving forward.

After the original announcement in 2014, Abe described the upcoming Apple facility as "among the largest in Asia," where Apple plans to "conduct the most advanced research and development in Japan." According to sources near the site's development, Apple's plans for Yokohama "are evidence the maker of the ubiquitous iPhone has plans connected to Japan that extend well beyond just end user sales."

Tag: Japan

Doubt Cast on 'Dash' Developer's Defense Against Apple's Claim of Review Fraud [Updated]

dash-256Last week, popular API documentation browser Dash was removed from the App Store after Apple accused the app's developer of "fraudulent conduct," including almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews detected across two accounts and 25 apps.

The two accounts were linked together by common credit card, bank account, developer ID login, and bundle ID, according to iMore.

Dash developer Bogdan Popescu responded with his side of the story the next day, claiming the secondary account exists because he helped a relative get started by paying for her Apple Developer Program Membership using his credit card.
What I’ve done: 3-4 years ago I helped a relative get started by paying for her Apple’s Developer Program Membership using my credit card. I also handed her test hardware that I no longer needed. From then on those accounts were linked in the eyes of Apple. Once that account was involved with review manipulation, my account was closed.
Popescu said he "was not aware" his developer account was linked to another until Apple contacted him two days after removing Dash from the App Store.

However, the developer community has presented compelling evidence suggesting otherwise -- which we present as speculation.

Earlier this week, developer Steven Troughton-Smith appeared to have discovered the secondary account, belonging to Mihaela Popescu. A cached iTunes page shows a list of 19 apps belonging to this account, tied to the same com.kapeli bundle identifier, all of which have since been removed from the App Store.

MacRumors forum member frumpsnake dug further and discovered some of those apps were at one time promoted on his website, including iGuard and moveAddict. Kapeli, the name of Bogdan's company, also tweeted about moveAddict, and there is even a moveAddict press release tied to his name.

A cached version of Bogdan's website shows moveAddict and iGuard

From the press release:
Bogdan Popescu, a Software Engineering student at Coventry University, took this as a challenge from Apple - moveAddict is the result of one month's work.
MacRumors reader architect1337 subsequently discovered the screenshot file below, which has a date of Sunday, January 12, 2014, belongs to a user called "bogdan."

Select the next image. We can examine the image and see the file owner is a user called 'bogdan'. This would indicate that when these screenshots were taken, a user called 'bogdan' owned files on that mac and created this file on this date (creation date).

I'm sure there are circumstances where the original author gave all his old software to Mihaela and that she continued to sell and update the entry (on this site) for his (and perhaps others) software.
Apple had agreed to reinstate Dash on the App Store if Bogdan agreed to acknowledge fraudulent activity occurring between the two linked accounts, but he refused. Apple then commented on the matter publicly, at which point Bogdan disclosed a private phone call with the company, so it's unclear if that offer still stands.

Update: Bogdan Popescu has provided his side of the story in a statement given to iMore, explaining that the secondary account belonged to his mother and that he had transferred over some apps to focus his attention on Dash.

(Thanks, Alastair!)

Tags: App Store, Dash

Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 15 With Bug Fixes and Feature Tweaks

safaripreviewiconApple today released another update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 15 includes bug fixes and updates for fetch API, JavaScript, CSS, web APIs, Web Inspector, media, accessibility, URL handling, and Safari Extensions.

Starting with release 14, Safari Technology Preview includes regular updates and bug fixes for Safari's WebDriver implementation.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Versions are available for developers running both macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple's goal with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can be run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.

Adobe Releases Critical Security Update for Flash Player on Mac

Adobe-FlashAdobe has released security updates for Flash Player that address critical vulnerabilities that could put Mac users at risk.

Flash Player version and earlier, Flash Player Extended Support Release version and earlier, and Flash Player for Google Chrome version and earlier are affected on macOS Sierra and OS X.

Mac users should update to the latest Flash Player version through the built-in update mechanism, or by visiting the Adobe Flash Player Download Center.

Mac users running Flash Player 11.3.x or later who have selected the option to "allow Adobe to install updates" will receive the update automatically. Likewise, Google Chrome will automatically update Flash Player to version

Safari on macOS Sierra deactivates Flash by default, only turning on the plug-in when user requested. Chrome, Firefox, and most other modern web browsers also have web plug-in safeguards in place due to repeated security risks.

Similar critical security updates were issued in March, for example, while Adobe released an "emergency" Flash Player security update in April to address ransomware attacks affecting Flash-based advertisements on Mac and other platforms.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user's hard drive and demands payment in order to decrypt it. These type of threats often display images or use voice-over techniques containing instructions on how to pay the ransom.

The latest vulnerabilities, discovered by Palo Alto Networks, Trend Micro, Tencent, and other researchers, could lead to nondescript "code execution." Adobe gave the Flash Player updates its top priority rating, meaning that users should update immediately.

(Thanks, rshrugged!)

Western Digital Announces Redesigned My Passport Portable Hard Drives

Western Digital yesterday refreshed its popular portable and desktop hard drive range with a more colorful line-up and increased capacities.

As part of a "reimagined" design that WD says better reflects how data is now "much more of a personal commodity", the company's portable USB 2.0/3.0 My Passport drives are available in six vivid colors – Black, Yellow, Red, White, Orange and Blue. The Black color is available pre-formatted for Mac systems, while all the others need reformatting to HFS + Journaled Mac to work with Apple hardware.

Western Digital My Passport
The My Passport drives can be had in 1TB ($79.99), 2TB ($94.99), 3TB ($129.99), and 4TB ($139.99) storage capacities.

Meanwhile, the company's redesigned My Book USB 3.0 desktop storage solution will soon be available in 3TB ($129.99), 4TB ($129.99?), 6TB ($199.99), and 8TB ($249.99) capacities, and is compatible with Mac and Windows systems out of the box.

All the WD drives come with an Auto backup schedule feature as part of the Time Machine-compatible WD Backup software, as well as password protection, 256-bit AES hardware encryption tools, and a two-year warranty.

In conjunction with the new HD drives, for the first time Western Digital also announced a range of internal SSD drives for desktop and laptop PC computers.

Apple Announces New R&D Center in Shenzhen, China to Attract Software Developers

Apple announced tonight that it would open a new research and development center in Shenzhen, China, continuing attempts to boost its presence in the country, reports Reuters. The move comes a couple weeks after Apple opened a Beijing R&D center, which was announced in August.

Shenzhen's High-Tech Industrial Park, Photo by Brucke Osteuropa

Cook announced the new Shenzhen plan during a meeting with officials from the city. The Apple CEO is reportedly attending a "nation-wide innovation" event.
"We are excited to be opening a new Research and Development center here next year so our engineering team can work even more closely and collaboratively with our manufacturing partners," Cupertino-based Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said in emailed comments.
Apple is interested in attracting talented software developers in Shenzhen to its platform. The Cupertino company told Reuters that the new Shenzhen and Beijing centers are aimed at "strengthening relationships" with local partners and universities across the country.

The new centers are also seen as the company's response to concern about its future in China, where consumers are opting for low-cost alternatives to the iPhone. Additionally, Apple has experienced a number of road blocks in its China plans, including the closure of the iTunes and iBooks stores.

Apple has also set up R&D centers in Japan, Israel and the U.K, and is reportedly planning similar centers in Canada, India, Vietnam and more.

Tag: China

Google Chrome 55 Will Have Memory-Optimization Features for Faster Browsing

Google_Chrome_Material_Icon-450x450Google has announced that an update coming to its website browser, Chrome, will include an upgraded JavaScript engine to aid in reducing the memory usage on websites that were programmed using JavaScript (via CNET).

Planned for launch on December 6, Chrome 55 will see performance improvements predominantly if a device doesn't have much memory to start with (such as low-cost smartphones), and if a user runs Chrome with multiple tabs or other apps open at the same time.

Google's V8 JavaScript engine team said it has "significantly reduced the memory footprint of several websites," helping to improve performance on the browser. These websites include The New York Times, Reddit, YouTube, and others, and were all picked to gauge Chrome's specific enhanced performance features. The team discovered that Chrome used a total of 50 percent less of a device's RAM on average in comparison to Chrome 53, which updated in September to emphasize HTML5 content over Adobe Flash.
Most noticeably, the average V8 heap memory consumption of the mobile New York Times benchmark reduced by about 66%. Overall, we observed a 50% reduction of average V8 heap size on this set of benchmarks.

Another optimization introduced recently not only reduces memory on low-memory devices but beefier mobile and desktop machines. Reducing the V8 heap page size from 1M to 512KB results in a smaller memory footprint when not many live objects are present and lower overall memory fragmentation up to 2x. It also allows V8 to perform more compaction work since smaller work chunks allow more work to be done in parallel by the memory compaction threads.
As it moves forward with more updates to the web browsing software, the focus for the Chrome team appears to be on entry-level devices that have between 512MB and 1GB of RAM.

Still, users who are conscious about performance issues with multiple tabs and apps open -- or who own a system with a lot of memory -- are likely to see less of a difference with Chrome 55. Chrome is available to download for iOS, Mac, Windows, and Linux systems, and users should see the new performance-enhanced update on December 6.

Tag: Chrome