Apple Pay Demos

Apple Pay, the company's new payment system for iPhones and iPads, rolled out in the US today with iOS 8.1, and Kyle Russell has a nice demo video of the feature in action:

Holding my thumb to Touch ID and my phone to the payment terminal, it took about a second and a half to register at Walgreens and the same amount of time at McDonald’s. Don’t expect it to change the entire experience however: you still have to sign for the amount shown at the drug store and get a receipt to show to the cashier when picking up your order at a fast food joint.

Jason Snell shared a similar experience at Six Colors:

I pulled the iPhone 6 out of my pocket and before I could even move it closer to the payment terminal—newly festooned with a Now Accepting Apple Pay tag—Apple Pay appeared on my phone and asked me to verify my purchase via Touch ID.

Below, a few demo videos from YouTube as well, showing the simplicity of Apple Pay with contactless payments.

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Apple Q4 2014 Results: $42.1 Billion Revenue, 39.3 Million iPhones, 12.3 Million iPads Sold

Apple has published their Q4 2014 financial results for the quarter that ended September 27, 2014. The company posted revenue of $42.1 billion. The company sold 12.3 million iPads, 39.3 million iPhones, and 5.5 million Macs, earning a quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion.

“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”

A new 'Other' category for Apple Watch in 2015

As noted by Bloomberg, starting next year, Apple will create a new 'Other' category for their financial results which will combine the sales of the new Apple Watch, iPod, Apple TV, Beats products and other accessories. The move will make it difficult to break out exact sales figures for the Apple Watch and is also different to how Apple treated the iPhone and iPad which from the first quarter received their own category.

“This gives Apple cover for the early months of Apple Watch sales at least,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst and founder of Jackdaw Research. “If they’re low, the results will be buried with other product sales and hard for analysts to back out. But if they’re good, then Apple can still crow about them and split out results on an ad-hoc basis.” (via Bloomberg)

 

Notably, Apple's gross margin was slightly higher at 38%, compared to 37% in the year-ago quarter. International sales also accounted for 60% of all Apple's revenue. You can see all our usual earnings call charts below.

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Yosemite HIG

I missed the updated OS X Yosemite Human Interface Guidelines document when it was posted by Apple last week following the public release of the OS. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

People love OS X because it gives them the tools and environment they need to create, manage, and experience the content they care about. A great OS X app integrates seamlessly into this environment, while at the same time providing custom functionality and a unique user experience.

Before you dive into the guidelines that help you design a great app, take a few moments to explore how OS X Yosemite uses simplicity, consistency, and depth to give users a content-focused experience.

The HIG is always a recommended read for developers and designers who want to craft software for Apple's platforms. The Yosemite HIG includes an in-depth explanation of Apple's focus on context, clarity, and content on the desktop, and it's available here.

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Apple Releases iOS 8.1 – Here’s What’s New

Following an official announcement at a media event last week, Apple today released iOS 8.1, the first major update to iOS 8, which was originally launched in September.

As Apple's Craig Federighi noted last week, Apple uses the launch of major new versions of iOS to collect “feedback” and quickly release bug fixes, address questions and concerns, and ship improvements that didn't make the cut for the first release.

iOS 8.1 brings bug fixes, speed improvements, and interface changes, but it also enables Continuity features such as Text Message Forwarding and Instant Hotspot, allowing iOS devices to better integrate with each other and Macs running OS X Yosemite. With iOS 8.1, Apple is opening access to its iCloud Photo Library beta – an iCloud service that stores all your photos from all your devices, in a single library that relays changes to every device. And last, iOS 8.1 marks the debut of Apple Pay, the company's new payment service that rolls out in the US today.

iOS 8.1 is available through Software Update now. You can find a list of the most notable changes below; you can read our previous iOS 8 coverage here.

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Spotify Announces Family Subscriptions

From the Spotify blog:

Are you currently sharing your Spotify account with the entire family? Want to keep your 60s soul classics playlist separate from your kids’ Frozen soundtrack and save money in the process?

Well, great news! With Spotify Family you can now invite up to four family members and share one billing account whilst keeping your listening history, recommendations and playlists completely separate.

Family subscriptions were one of the main reasons my girlfriend and I used Rdio with a family account. Now, we'll be able to give Spotify a try and see if it works better for her (understandably, she doesn't care about trying every single streaming service like I do) – and plans will also be cheaper for two users (Rdio starts at $17.99 for two members, Spotify Family will be $14.99).

Spotify Family subscriptions will be available soon.

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The Utility of Twitter Cards

The Audio Card is the latest entry in Twitter’s line-up of interactive cards. The feature was announced earlier this week by Twitter, with SoundCloud being the first partner:

The world’s most influential musicians and media producers already share unique audio content through Twitter every day. Today we’re introducing a new way for you to experience audio directly on Twitter.

With a single tap, the Twitter Audio Card lets you discover and listen to audio directly in your timeline on both iOS and Android devices. Throughout your listening experience, you can dock the Audio Card and keep listening as you continue to browse inside the Twitter app.

Musicians, podcasters, and other producers of audio content are on board with SoundCloud cards that can be played without leaving the Twitter app. In a separate blog post, Twitter also announced compatibility with iTunes Music:

Now, when you listen to music from select iTunes artists, it’ll only take a few taps to pre-order unreleased music and purchase your favorite songs directly from iTunes.

Foo Fighters are already using the Audio card to promote their new song, Something From Nothing.

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Retina iMac Questions Answered

There's a lot to consider about Apple's new iMac with Retina 5K Display. Marco Arment has a comparison of the new iMac vs. the Mac Pro (on paper) – here's what he writes about 4K and 5K displays:

This difference is much bigger than it sounds. It’s the same, proportionally, as the difference between typical 21- to 24-inch and 27- to 30-inch monitors: “4K” computer monitors have 8.3 megapixels, while “5K” has 14.7 megapixels. Without software scaling to simulate higher density, the “right” size for a 4K monitor tops out at 24 inches, while a 5K monitor looks right at 27 to 30 inches.

It’s a huge difference.

Make sure to read the entire post as he makes some solid points with interesting technical observations.

Christina Bonnington also published a great FAQ on the new iMac at Wired, and I liked her explanation of why 5K is actually useful:

For most of us, a 5K display is just an extravagance, a high-end computing machine with specs that make our friends’ jaws drop. But for professionals in some industries, such a high pixel density is quite important.

For example, 5K resolution is great for those working on 4K content. “You can view all of the images at their true native 4K resolution, which is very important, and then have a fair amount of leftover screen space all around it for controls, icons, and even a generous 3.2-inch high text area at the bottom for commands and text input,” Displaymate’s Ray Soneira told WIRED. This actually ends up being better and more efficient than using a second monitor because you can keep your eyes on the images while working on them, instead of having to glance off to the side.

IHS Technology’s Rhoda Alexander points out that in addition to those in graphics-related fields like CAD and CG, healthcare imaging (like radiology) also has need for displays with a very high resolution.

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A Look at the New Mac mini

Brian Stucki of Macminicolo:

For home users, the increased Graphics will be a very welcomed upgrade. In a data center, that will be useful for those who process a lot of images and will likely help when screen sharing. (Speaking of screen sharing, these HDMI adapters have been very useful. I’ll be interested to see if they’re still needed for the 2014 Mac mini.)

We've been running MacStories on Macminicolo for two years now – one of the best decisions we ever made. Once properly configured, the Mac mini can be a little beast of a machine – I was so happy with our setup at Macminicolo, I now use a second Mac mini just to automate tasks remotely. And with yesterday's refresh, it looks like I may have a serious candidate for my next Mac.

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