Enthusiasts have been anticipating an Apple TV refresh for quite some time now, yet Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been very quiet on that front recently. It's possible that they are waiting for the dust to settle from the seemingly endless negotiations between content providers and cable/satellite companies. A report from re/code last week says that Apple is in talks with content providers, and may be looking to put together "bundles of programming - but not the entire TV lineup that pay-TV providers generally offer," to sell directly to consumers over the web, bypassing the cable companies altogether (though most cable providers also provide internet access, so that could quickly become a leverage point for them depending on what happens with net neutrality).
Some other items of note from last week:
Apple last week admitted its connection to the camera-equipped minivans that have recently been spotted throughout the country. The slew of sightings has many speculating that Apple is testing autonomous "iCars," but AppleInsider offers some compelling arguments that the vans are contributing data to Apple's 3D FlyOver feature.
If Abby Lee Miller were an iPhone app she would be CARROT Hunger -- the calorie counter from hell. For those who do not know, CARROT is an A.I. construct that made its debut as a "to-do list with a personality," and since has morphed into an alarm for lazy meat bags and a "judgmental fitness overlord." CARROT's latest form is a not-so-friendly calorie counter, and it just may be the best calorie counter ever created.
CARROT Hunger allows you to keep track of your daily calories consumed by turning your iOS device into an easy to use food database and barcode scanner, but what makes CARROT great is her constant witty verbal punishment. For example, when you open the app, CARROT will greet you with sayings like, "Hopefully you are here to record some exercise." Things get really interesting when you dare to go over your recommended daily calories which are assigned to you when you set up the app. This is when CARROT really brings the kick ass by sound alarms, threatening to post your crimes on Twitter and killing your avatar. CARROT never seems to run out of things to say, and will even attempt blackmail by offering you the chance to to pay for bribes.
This week Verizon launched new data plans along with reduced pricing on select plans for a limited time. There are now 12 shared data amounts to choose from, starting at 500 MB and going up to 20 GB. According to Re/code, the move was associated with a graphic depicting the move as a price cut.
Company representatives have downplayed calling the revised plans a discount, instead framing the plans as delivering additional data for the same cost. In any case, the battle for mobile subscribers has escalated with T-Mobile and Sprint challenging the largest carriers in the market to lower data plan pricing and add features. AT&T recently launched Rollover Data, responding to T-Mobile's Data Stash.
As any photography hobbyist knows, slowing the shutter speed can produce some interesting effects. The technique is also useful in low light situations, to capture more light. The iOS app Slow Shutter! simulates this on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with a simple interface. Apple is running a promotion until March 28, offering free downloads of the app.
Normally, Slow Shutter! runs $1.99 on the App Store. In order to get a free copy, iOS users must redeem a gift code through the Apple Store app. The Apple Store app is free, and provides access to Apple products and mobile shopping directly on iOS devices. Once installed, follow these steps to take advantage of the promotion and download Slow Shutter! for free:
Hot on the heels of Apple's home button with joystick mode patent comes another gaming-related concept. The company has been awarded a patent titled "Accessory for playing games with a portable electronic device," which describes several gaming hardware configurations.
The basic idea revolves around an external accessory that would add physical buttons, joysticks and d-pads to mobile gaming without obscuring the iPhone display. The iOS device would slide or snap into place, filling a recess at the center of the accessory to make for more comfortable gaming. While this may look remarkably familiar, the patent was filed in 2008, well before the days of MFi controllers.
Shiro Games' Evoland is an action adventure title that takes players though the history of RPG gaming starting with 2D monochrome graphics and ending in full 3D. Players begin their adventure in an 8-bit world and must open chests to unlock new abilities and upgrades such as directional movement and better music. The game literally evolves adding color and better graphics while borrowing different playing mechanics from classic RPGs such as The Legend of Zelda. The game even allows players to unlock a variety of combat styles like a Final Fantasy inspired turn based system.
Evoland made its debut to positive user reviews on Steam in 2013, and it currently holds a 61 Metascore (6.6 user rating) on Metacritic. Most of the reviews and comments seem to agree that the game is a fun trip down memory lane with plenty of inside jokes and nostalgia for Zelda and Final Fantasy fans. Most of the criticism seems to be aimed the relatively short playing time, but that may have been because Evoland is $9.99 on Steam. The recently released iOS version is only $4.99.
While Apple fans wait for the Apple Watch to start shipping in April, Samsung fans will get their first look at the South Korean giant's new handset on March 1st. Samsung sent out invites for its yearly Unpacked event, which will take place in Barcelona, Spain during the Mobile World Congress.
The all black invite features the profile of a curved device and the tagline “What’s Next”. The invite doesn't specify what Samsung will unpack at the press conference, but rumors have pointed to the company unveiling two devices -- the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.
AAPL Financial News Weekly Roundup: Apple Announces Record Quarter, Shares Hit All Time High and More
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares bounced back and reached a record high last week after the company announced its record breaking Q1 FY15 earnings last Tuesday, just after the closing bell. Stock prices jumped 5.5% on high volume trading on Wednesday, and hit a record high of $120 on Friday, though by closing time they were down to $117.16.
Apple's record quarter included a record revenue of $74.6 billion, a 30% increase over the year ago quarter. This resulted in a record quarterly net profit of $18 billion. Revenue was driven by record iPhone sales of 75.4 million units. The company also offered guidance for the second quarter - revenue between $52 and $55 billion, a gross margin of 38.5% - 39.5% and operating expenses of $5.4 to $5.5 billion.
Apple has chosen ProCam 2 as its App of the Week, in the Featured section of the iOS App Store. ProCam offers a variety of souped up photography tools that normally cost $1.99. Officially titled ProCam 2 - Camera and Photo / Video Editor, users have rated all versions of the app with a total of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
ProCam is iOS 8 ready, with an extension for its custom editing tools to be used directly in the stock Photos app. The list of features is extensive, including a slew of shooting modes, manual camera controls, lenses, filters, adjustment tools and a frame by frame video timeline. To top it off, the iPhone 5s and later can get 4K video support with a $4.99 in-app purchase.
The official Outlook email client has arrived on iOS. This all-in-one free app provides access to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, iCloud, Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Calendar and attachment access is fully integrated, with easy access to Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and other accounts.
Microsoft Outlook is based heavily on the former Acompli app, which the company acquired in December. Like Acompli, Outlook promises to unify calendar, contacts and attachments with email to improve mobile productivity. To top it off, Quick Filters and recent contacts make it easy to search for emails, meetings and files.