With 2014 drawing to a close, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) last week released its annual top apps lists. The three categories, Top 10 Paid Apps 2014, Top 10 Free Apps 2014 and Top 10 Highest Grossing Apps 2014, were topped by Heads Up!, Facebook Messenger and Clash of Clans respectively. Nine of the top ten highest grossing apps were "freemium" games, meaning they are free but offer in-app purchases.
According to the results of a Piper Jaffray survey that were released last week, demand for the iPhone 6 is higher now than it was pre-launch. Of the 1,004 consumers surveyed in December, 40 percent indicated that they were interested in purchasing the new iPhone. A similar survey conducted pre-launch showed 33 percent interest.
Despite holiday shopping being in full swing and the high demand for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) supply appears to have caught up. According to AppleInsider, shipment time for the two devices has dropped to just one day as of last week. Additionally, the Retina 5K iMac ship time has dropped from one to two weeks to a couple of days.
Apple seeded iOS 8.2 beta 3 last Thursday. Though iOS 8.2 mostly deals with WatchKit and Apple Watch support, it also has added blood glucose tracking to the Health app. iOS 8.2 is expected to be released to the public at the same time as the Apple Watch launch, which will likely be sometime in February 2015.
A jury on Tuesday unanimously found Apple not guilty in the decade old antitrust suit that accused Apple of creating a monopoly through iTunes updates that disallowed music purchased from competitors.
At issue were iPods issued from 2006 through 2009, which the plaintiffs argued would only play music purchased on iTunes or downloaded from CDs, not music purchased from competing services. Apple argued that its updated iTunes version found on the devices aimed to increase security and create a better experience for iPod users.
No major news came out of Cupertino last week, but there were several noteworthy items. Topping the list was the release of iOS 8.1.2 on Tuesday, which fixed a bug that caused purchased ringtones to disappear from people's devices. Although Apple has not divulged the update's security content (if there was any), it apparently did not patch the TaiG jailbreak.
A day after the 8.1.2 update, Apple released the iOS 8.2 beta 2 to developers. The update mainly pertains to the WatchKit SDK, including some new features for the API and some bug fixes.
Apple and IBM first joined forces in July, when they announced their partnership in an effort to "transform enterprise mobility" by building and expanding industry specific iOS applications and supporting cloud services.
Described by Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of IBM World Business Services, the collaboration "aims directly at the new quest of business—smart technologies that unlock new value at the intersection of big data and individual engagement, [and] combines IBM’s industry expertise and unmatched position in enterprise computing, with Apple’s legendary user experience and excellence in product design to lift the performance of a new generation of business professionals.”
Apple officially released iOS 8.1.1 last week. The update improves performance on older hardware like the iPhone 4s and iPad 2, but it also patches some of the exploits used by Pangu's jailbreak.
Pangu, however, is working on an iOS 8.1.1 jailbreak, and currently has one that works on 30-pin devices (which predates the lightning connector). The team demoed it on an iPad 3.
With Black Friday just two weeks away, many retailers last week started announcing holiday shopping deals on Apple products. Walmart, Best Buy, Staples and Target, among others, will be offering discounts on select iPhone and iPad models, as well as Beats products for the biggest shopping day of the year. Aside from discounts, many of the chains will also offer rebates in the form of gift cards.
According to a Thursday report from the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice has had a program in place since 2007 that uses fake cell phone towers to locate people. The fake towers are actually Boeing-made devices know as "dirtboxes" that are mounted on small aircraft. By flying around and picking up a signal from the target's cell phone, the target's location can quickly be triangulated. According to the DoJ, non-target signals are "let go."
The biggest news of last week (well actually the previous Friday) was Pangu's release of a jailbreak for iOS 8. If you had a jailbroken iOS 7 iPhone or iPad, now you can get back all of your favorite tweaks, as it is fully integrated with Cydia as of Thursday. If you plan to jailbreak, now is the time, as Apple released iOS 8.1.1 beta on Monday, which includes a patch that blocks the jailbreak.
A mysterious Apple webcrawler was discovered last week by developer Jan Moesson. The bot can be traced back to October 15th, and it seems to only request HTML pages. Its purpose is currently unknown, but there has been speculation that it has to do with improving Spotlight.
Last Thursday, brand consulting firm Interbrand released its annual list of the world's most valuable brands, and for the second consecutive year, Apple topped it. The list valued the Apple brand at $118.9 billion, 21% more than it was valued last year. With a value of $107.4 billion, fellow tech giant Google was the only other brand to be valued over $100 billion. Coca Cola, IBM and Microsoft rounded out the top five.
Apple also received some noteworthy praise in the form of a letter from billionaire investor Carl Icahn to CEO Tim Cook. Titled "Sale: Apple Shares at Half Price," the note urges Apple to buy back more of its shares at a faster pace. Icahn believes Apple shares are currently trading at about half their value. By his estimates, Apple shares should currently be worth $203 a share.
There weren't many notable Apple headlines last week, but one that stuck out was Apple's scheduling of an October 16th media event, to be held at the company's Cupertino campus Town Hall Auditorium.
It is widely expected that the next generation iPad Air (iPad Air 2?) will be announced. It will almost certainly be powered by the A8 processor found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and it will likely have a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Rumor has it that it will also be available in gold, like the new iPhones. Apple will also introduce a 27 inch Retina display iMac, and, though there has been little talk of it, possibly the next generation iPad mini. OS X Yosemite will likely launch on that Thursday as well.