Maccast 05.01.2013 - Show #442
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V News
V Apple's latest quarterly results
* $43.6 billion in revenue and a net profit of $9.5 billion.
V The news was mixed because while Apple had a revenue up 11 percent their net profit was down 18 percent from 11.6 billion last year.
* This was the first profit loss for Apple in 10 years.
V Still Apple did manage to ship 37.4 million iPhones, 19.5 million iPads, 5.6 million iPods, and just under 3.95 million Macs
* So Mac sales were down 2 percent year over year, but Apple's CFO Peter Oppenheimer pointed out that the drop is significantly lower the the over all 14 percent decline in PC sales according to the latest IDC numbers.
* And even more positive is that despite selling fewer Macs for the quarter revenue on those sales was up. Apple earned $5.45 billion in Mac sales vs. $5.07 billion for the same period last year.
V A big reason for the slide is probably reduced profit margins on products like the iPad mini and the older reduced price iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 sales.
* In the Q and A Cook did cite that he felt that iPads cannibalized some Macs sales and that iPads are causing some people to extending their upgrade cycle, but that he felt that was more of a factor for PCs then Macs
* Apple's gross margin was 37.5 percent compared to 47.4 percent in the year-ago quarter.
* Part of that could be the iPads. Digitimes says their sources say 64% of all iPads shipped in the last quarter were iPad minis.
V Highlights from the call:
V Tim Cook said, "Our teams are hard at work at some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014."
V So seems like Apple might be back weighting product releases. What's unclear is why?
* There are problems with next gen products and software causing delays?
* Don't perceive a threat from competition so they feel they can take more time?
* Want to have more new products in the lineup for the heavy back to school and holiday buying seasons?
* Also, specific mention of services could indicate the rumored iTunes streaming music service
* Cook stressed that the Mac market was still important, that Apple would continue to innovate on Macs, and that ultimately they see tablet growth helping the Mac (I assume by the halo-effect of the iPad on PC buyers)
* Mentioned potential growth in new product categories, without mentioning what the categories were of course.
V Apple would not ship a larger screen iPhone while they feel "tradeoffs" exist.
* Basically Apple won't sacrifice resolution, color quality, white balance, reflectivity, power consumption, compatibility of apps, or portability just to ship a larger screen device.
V Big growth in iTunes, App Store, and iCloud
* iCloud added 50 million users and now is three times the size it was a year ago. Now at 300 million users
* iTunes revenue was up 30 percent bringing in a record $4.1 billion in revenue
V Apple also announced they would significantly up the dividend they pay to shareholders
* Apple announced its plan to increase its quarterly dividend to $3.05 per share. Up from their current $2.65/share dividend.
* The next payout will happen on May 16th
* In addition Apple has plans to increase their stock repurchasing plan. Increasing its share repurchase authorization from $10 billion to $60 billion.
* The programs are expected to use up $100 billion of Apple's cash by 2015, up from $45 billion under their prior initiatives.
V More interestingly, rather than get that money from the $145B cash war chest Apple will be taking on debt by issuing $17 billion in bonds
* It might seem odd, but a big reason is that most of their cash hoard is outside the US and the tax burden to bring it into the country would cause Apple to lose about one-third the cash value to the government (from what I've read).
* It's also more attractive for Apple to borrow because bond rates are are trading near 10-year lows.
V iPhone 5 Retina screen has met it's match
* Over the past few years the display testing company DisplayMate has tested, rated, and issued reports on the quality and accuracy of smartphone (and other) displays
* Most of the recent reports have tended to favor the iPhone's screen as the one to beat. Now it looks like Samsung may have finally caught up.
V You can read the full detailed comparison on the DisplayMate site, but basically:
* The iPhone 5 was brighter and offered better color calibration.
* The Galaxy 4S was said to have more accurate whites and darker blacks with better uniformity across the display than the iPhone
* The Galaxy 4S also is bigger, higher resolution, and has more Pixels per Inch
* In the end the study claimed that, "both displays are quite good and comparable overall – so it’s currently a tie"
V How'd they do it?
* Samsung uses a PenTile Display. Basically OLED displays have only 2 sub-pixels in each pixel instead of the standard 3 Red, Green, and Blue sub-pixels of an LCD
* This means that in OLEDs half the pixels have Green and Red sub-pixels and the other half have Green and Blue sub-pixels, so Red and Blue are always shared by two adjacent pixels.
* It makes the displays cheaper and easier to make and works well for photo and video images, but typically the Red and blue sub-pixels could be seen in fine text and graphics.
* The key to overcoming the bad effects was resolution. They packed in more pixels and used a diamond rather than square or stripe shaped Red and Blue sub-pixel to squeeze more in. They also varied the sub-pixel size. Blue have lower efficiency so they are larger with green being smaller because it's the most efficient.
V Display Mate's reports said that, "In a span of just three years OLED display technology is now challenging the performance of the best LCDs"
* They noted that the biggest challenge for OLED is matching the power efficiency of LEDs, but also said the technology is gaining ground.
V According to the report LCDs apparently still have some ticks up their sleeve that may help them maintain their edge on OLED
* Increase in resolution and Pixels Per Inch
* IGZO technology and more advanced Metal Oxide backplanes which significantly improve efficiency and performance
* And Quantum Dots, which allow for and enlarged Color Gamut to allow them to provide more accurate color and image contracts in bright light situations
* Finally the study notes that both technologies should strive to provide better color management and color calibration. Basically using technology to dynamically adjust the Color Gamuts and Intensity Scales of the displays to compensate for outside influences that impact display quality. Things like reflection, glare, and ambient lighting conditions.
V So should we expect an update to Apple's display in the iPhone 5S?
* As noted early Tim Cook said in the conference call that they wouldn't be updating unless it's without compromise, so I would;t expect a new screen this year.
* That said, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek claims Cook's comment might have been a ploy to keep us from skipping the iPhone 5S to wait for the iPhone 6
* Misek claims Apple has worked out a way to build a larger display into the iPhone 6 without the "tradeoffs" and he expects that Phone will be here in June of 2014.
* I won't be waiting. 😉
V So what's the latest roundup of updates for the iPhone 5S?
* New color options
* An upgraded processor (I think modded A6, but some say A7).
* A better camera, probably 8-12MP with updated processing and optics.
* A fingerprint scanner, maybe? That may also be used to enable a new mobile payment system that some say will leverage Apple’s Passbook service. I think it may also combine in some of Apple's EasyPay technology they use in their Retail Stores. That's if it even happens.
V WWDC the hottest ticket in tech
* This year tickets for Apple's World Wide Developer's conference sold out in a record 2-minutes.
* It's practically become a joke and one that to most developers is not funny.
V One of the key features of WWDC is developers having direct and hands on access to Apple engineers and experts. For that to work though they need to control the size of the event which means limited access.
* I think currently the limit is around 5,000 developers
* They trouble is that more and more it seems casual, would-be, and even non-developers are competing with serious developers just to attend the event.
* Technical issues have also added to the aggravation. With that many people trying access the system all at once the system goes down and many miss the window of opportunity. Developers have even resorted to crafting elaborate scripts to help monitor, notify, and aid in procuring a seat at the event.
V Apple has a problem, that even they seem to recognize:
* After the sell out Apple reportedly reached out to some developers who tried to get tickets, but couldn't
* They told the developers that they saw they attempted to purchase tickets but couldn't and that Apple had reserved a ticket in the developers name and would send instructions on how to pay for and recieve their tickets.
* It's not clear on which, how many, or how developers were selected to get the special treatment.
V Apple also quickly announced a number of "alternate" opportunities for Developers who couldn't get in:
* They will post the WWDC videos during the conference. In the past they came out day, weeks, or even moths after the conference
* In the fall they will offer developer "Tech Talks" in select cities world wide. They didn't announce where yet, but in the past they've done tech talks in New York, Seattle, Austin, Berlin, London, Rome, Bejing, Seoul, and Sao Paulo.
V There are lots of ideas about how to fix WWDC with different advantages and disadvantages
* Increasing the size of the show. But that would reduce access to Apple engineers
* Raising the $1,600.00 USD ticket price, but that could make it unaffordable for smaller developers
* Use a ticket lottery system. This seems the most fair, but could block out key developers and teams
* Weight access to tickets by some measure. Seniority (how long you've been a developer), popularity (number of app sales or downloads).
* There has also been talk of some way, like a test, to validate that the attendee is actually a developer.
V And trying to turn a negative into an opportunity the folks at Appsterdam announced #altWWDC
* A free alternative conference running along side WWDC and taking place just down the street at the SF State Downtown Campus
* The conference is first come, first serve and RSVPs can be made on the altWWDC site
* The event will not have direct access to Apple engineers or Apple-developed courses, but will feature talks, food, co-working, and mingling with other developers.
* They have an impressive line up of speakers including, Mike Lee, Victor Agreda, Jr., Brett Terpstra, Brent Simmons, Saul Mora, and others.
* They will also have a breakfast for those who couldn't make it into the keynote.
V Macbook's share growing, more coming
V Digitimes reported that their supply chain checks indicate a possible 10% increase in Macbook shipments in the second quarter.
* Since first quarter sales were weak this might not mean much and year over year shipments are still expected to be down.
* A product refresh could help, but even Apple recognizes that they will see continued slowing of notebook sales as many supplement or replace Mac purchases with iPads.
V If the latest rumors surrounding WWDC are true I think DigiTimes numbers could be conservative
* KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is at it again with his predictions, but this time he is focusing on the Mac.
* Ming-chi claims that Apple ma y be set to announce new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines based on Intel's latest Haswell processors at WWDC in June.
* Beyond the updated specs most don't see any major design changes for the line-up.
* Better yet, he has gone back on a prediction that Apple would discontinue the non-retina version of the MacBook Pro line, main due to the popularity of the 13-inch non-retina Macbook Pro model.
* While the announcement of the new notebooks may happen during WWDC, the analyst say not all the updated models will be shipping immediately. Kuo thinks that production constraints could slow the release of the updated Retina models, but that non-Retina version could start shipping soon after WWDC.
* The Macbook Airs should also get and update with new processors and specs, but they are not expected to go Retina just yet, meaning that they too should have availability soon after WWDC.
V What's coming in iOS 7 and OS X 10.9?
V I already told you that on the design side of iOS the rumors are that Jony Ive is going on a skumorphic killing spree
* Most of the details are coming from Mark Gruman from 9to5 Mac and his sources
* iOS 7 is supposedly codenamed "Innsbruck," and the rumors are to expect the heavier textures, skumorphic themes, and even heavy gradients and shadows to be a thing of the past
* The key word here is "flat" with some claiming the new UI may be very "Windows" phone like. I'm thinking also very much like Google's new Google Now interface (which was recently added to the iPhone app if you want to see what I mean).
V As for specifics:
* An all-new icon set for Apple's native apps
* Newly designed tool bars, tab bars, and other fundamental interface features across the system.
* Also, the software will reportedly have polarizing filters to decrease viewing angles of on-lookers.
* Apple is supposedly testing other features, like more "glance-able" information and system options panels, but those might not make the final cut.
V Might not be in iOS 7, but a Reddit Q&A with Swype Vice President Aaron Sheedy revealed that they have at least talked with Apple about licensing the technology
* For those who don't know, Swype is a gesture typing technology that is popular on non-Apple devices and Swype is owned by Nuance.
* Apple uses Nuance technology in their dictation features and for Siri
V 9to5 Mac reports their sources telling them that Apple is looking to more deeply embed Siri and iOS Maps integration into your cars dash
* They say Apple has been working aggressively to partner with auto makers .
* They want you to be able to plugged an iPhone into a car and have an optimized, redesigned version of Apple Maps appear car’s built-in display instead of a proprietary GPS system.
* Siri could then be used to give the drive control for Map and iOS functions.
V For OS X, again, 9to5's Mark Gurman (a fairly reliable source) says that his birdies tell him Apple will focus more on Power User features
* Sounds like good news to me.
V Some goodies in his report include:
* Finder enhancements like tags and tabbed browsing modes.
* An updated Safari engine to improve page loading, speed, and efficiency.
* The ability to keep a different "Space" or full-screen app open on a different monitor (in multiple monitor setups) - Please, oh please be true.
V On the UI side the source says there will be some enhancements and refining, but don't we probably should expect a whole lot of eye-candy. A good thing in my book.
* I do wonder if we'll see some of Ive's influence in flatter designs of Apple's built in apps, like Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, etc. May be too soon though.
V While the iOS influence in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was mostly about visual things like apps and notifications expect the 10.9 influences to be more subtle.
* The source claims Apple might include a new multi-tasking system similar to iOS's quick app switcher. Including the ability to "background" or pause apps in the background to free up additional resources for foreground apps.
* They may also leverage the technology to optimize the battery life on notebooks.
* It's expected that both OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 will be previewed at WWDC in June.
V iPad competition rising
V Strategy Analytics' latest numbers on tablet shipments are in and show volume is up for Android and Windows, taking shipment marketshare away from Apple.
* It's important to note that these are worldwide shipments number of tablets and not sales to consumers
* Apple has reportedly shipped 19.5 million tablets in the first quarter and increase of 7.5 million units year over year.
* Android tablet shipment rose 11.2 million units in the same period to 17.6 million and Windows came into the market with 3 million.
* Percentage-wise that means Apple's devices account for 48.2% of global tablet shipments, down 14.9% from the 63.1% share last year
* Android shipments accounted for 43.4% for the quarter, with Windows garnering 7.4% of first quarter 2013 shipments.
* Again this really doesn't indicate much other than Apple is shipping tablets at a lower rate than their competitors, something that happens naturally when you have a mature product. Apple also didn't have an iPad update in the first quarter.
V Apple's market share gains in mobile phones also seems to be slowing
* The latest Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker data from IDC showed that worldwide Apple's share of the mobile phone market grew just 6.6 percent year over year.
* That puts Apple at 8.9 percent, in third place behind Nokia with 14.8% and Samsung with 27.5%.
* In the US Apple still has a slight lead over Samsung. The latest comScore numbers showed Apple with a 38.9 percent share of the smartphone market vs. Samsung with a 21.3 percent share.
* Now the comScore numbers look at just Smartphones in the US and the IDC data is all mobile devices worldwide, but the indication is that Apple could be struggling in price sensitive and developing markets.
* This is likely the reason we are seeing Apple up efforts in some areas to promote iPhone sales with payment plans and buy-back programs. Most recently they did this in India with good results.
* It's also probably a big reason we are hearing so many rumors of Apple exploring a "low-cost" iPhone.
V It's not all doom and gloom for the iPhone though. At least one analyst thinks long term the iPhone may beat out Android.
* The Yankee Group recently conducted a survey of buyers intents regarding upcoming smartphone purchases and found that three times as many Android phone owners said they would be switching to an iPhone vs. the other way around.
* The actual numbers were that 6 percent of iPhone owners said they were going to move to an Android device, with 18 percent of Android owners saying the would be switching to iPhone.
* If the study holds true that's good news for Apple because Apple owners tend to be more "sticky".
* The switch will be gradual though. The study predicts it will take until 2016 before Apple can surpass Androids US smartphone market share.
V iTunes tops in Video on Demand
* NPD group has numbers that show iTunes is the preferred platform of choice when it comes to buying and renting movies and TV shows.
* Interestingly XBox Live was next nearest competitor followed by Amazon Instant Video
* In 2012 NPD says iTunes sold 67 percent of electronically distributed TV content vs. just 14 percent for XBox Live
* There were similar numbers for full length movie downloads with Apple getting 45 percent of video on demand movie downloads vs just 18 percent for the next closest competitor Amazon
* The study doesn't include video on demand streaming services like Netflix or Redbox Instant Video.
* Some studies that include streaming services have show Apple's video content share more around 5 percent which is why I think we continue to hear rumors of Apple eventually wanting an iTunes streaming video and TV service of it's own.
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V Feedback, Comments and Commentary
V Odd bug truncates iMessages
* It first showed up in a Twitter post, but looks like some folks are noticing their iMessages being prematurely truncated.
* Basically what seems to be happening is that with certain phrases the last word is dropped off after the messages is sent.
* One such phrase is "I could be the next Obama". With "Obama" being cut off.
* Don't worry though this is not some conservative Apple iMessage Developer making some sort of covert political statement.
* The issue seem to be more related to the length of the phrase vs. the actual content according to some testing done by Jacqui Cheng over at ArsTechnica.
* What appears to be going on is that the message text is wrapping just the last word of a phrase, but when displayed in Messages the "chat bubble" isn't expanding to reveal the wrapped word.
* I'm sure at this point Apple is aware of the bug and and plans to issue a fix hopefully in the next iOS update.
V Cloning the OS X Recovery Partition
* Despite what I might have said in episode 440 it looks like Carbon Copy Cloner CAN clone and create the hidden OS X recovery partition
V Both Ian, Bill, Doug, and few others pointed out to be the app does have this ability
* I'm a carbon copy cloner user and wanted to fill you in on some 'hidden' features of the application that i think you've missed.
* Using the disk centre section (found under the window menu or ⌘2) it is possible to both create a recovery partition on a disk and nondestructively enable file vault. I've used both these options and am very impressed.
V Other tips on Finder Column widths
V Got some great feedback on Bradley's question including this follow-up from him
* Play comment
V Larry wrote to point out an app called XtraFinder
* I have not tried it, be he says it allowed him to set default column widths.
* It also adds features to the Finder like tabs, dual panels and windows, "Make Symbolic Link", Light text on dark background, Display folder item count in List view, and more
* It also seems to add a lot more control over setting user/group and file permissions on folders and files.
V Actually I would also put in a recommendation for Pathfinder which is a Finder alternative with many advanced features.
* I've been a Pathfinder fan for years and the developer Cocotech was a long time sponsor of the show.
V Keeping RAW out of Photostream
* JP want's to use his iPad as a way to pull images off his digital camera in the field, but is having an issue with Photostream
* Play comment.
* This would seem to be an issue because when you import via the Camera Connection kit the images go in to the Camera Roll on the device.
* If you've enabled Photostream then any images in the camera roll get uploaded. This includes RAW images.
* My first thought was you could turn off Photostream when you do the import, move the images to the Photo app (library), remove the RAW images from the Camera Roll and then turn photostream back on.
V This didn't work seem to work
* I tried going to the Photo app, selecting the Camera Roll Album, selecting an image and adding it to another Album, say "RAW Images"
* That worked great, but when I went back to the Camera Roll and tried to delete the image it warned that it would delete the image "everywhere". Sure enough deleting the image from the Camera Roll also deleted it from my Album.
V One workaround I found on Apple's discussion forums:
* Import your JPEG+RAW images using the camera connection kit
* Open the "imported" Album in iPhoto on the ipad.
* Choose to copy them to the camera roll.
* Now go back into the photos app and delete all the photos from your "imported" Album. It will say that it is going to delete them everywhere but really it doesn't because it leaves the JPEG in the camera roll. The result is that you will only have your JPEGs that you imported in your camera roll and the RAW images get deleted.
* I have NOT tested this.
V Another option may be to get an AirStash
* This acts as a wireless SD card reader and file server.
* You can connect via the iPad app an browse the SD card, then simply just copy over the JPEGs to the Camera roll leaving the RAW behind on the card.
* The AirStash app will even convert RAW to JPEG on import if you want.
* Maybe one of you knows of an App or another way to do what JP wants.
V Unmounting drives before disconnecting
* David asks, Do I have to manually disconnect the Thunderbolt drive every time I disconnect it from my Mac to avoid the error saying that I did not unmount my drive before disconnecting?
* He also adds, "For PCs this is not an issue. So I am not sure why this is an issue for macs?"
* The reason it's no an issue on PCs is that PCs just hide the option in the system tray. In addition, Windows disables write caching on external drives because thy know users might just yank the drive at any time.
* On Macs and Linux they use write caching on drives, so ejecting a volume first becomes the safest way to remove a drive as it helps avoid corruption.
* The trouble come into play if you were to disconnect a drive while it was in the middle of a read or write operation.
* Ejecting or unmounting first allows the OS to make sure the drive isn't busy doing something before you disconnect it.
* So, on the Mac if you are sure the drive isn't reading or writing you are perfectly fine to simply disconnect it, I DON'T recommend it though
* No matter what it will give you the warning and I don;t know of a way to disable that message although someone listening might know.
* We used to joke that real-men don't eject external volumes first. The question is how sure are you that it's not doing something?
* And even though Windows hides the "Safely Remove Hardware" option in the task bar I would still recommend 'ejecting' drives first on Windows too.
* There is that App Jettison that will auto eject volumes when you put your Mac to sleep.
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