Apple announces ‘biggest ever’ holiday for App Store with $1.1 billion sales in two weeks

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Apple on Wednesday announced that its App Store has had the biggest holiday ever with a record-breaking $1.1 billion revenue in the two weeks ending January 3, as customers increased their spending on apps and In-App Purchases, setting back-to-back weekly records for traffic and purchases.

“January 1, 2016 marked the biggest day in App Store history with customers spending over $144 million,” said Apple. “It broke the previous single-day record set just a week earlier on Christmas Day.”

“The App Store had a holiday season for the record books. We are excited that our customers downloaded and enjoyed so many incredible apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV, spending over $20 billion on the App Store last year alone,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

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“We’re grateful to all the developers who have created the most innovative and exciting apps in the world for our customers. We can’t wait for what’s to come in 2016.”

Since its inception in the summer of 2008, the App Store has now paid developers nearly $40 billion, and that’s after Apple’s 30 percent cut. One-third of that revenue was generated in the last year alone, emphasizing the power of the ecosystem.

The year’s most popular App Store categories across Apple products? Gaming, Social Networking and Entertainment, according to Apple.

“Games and subscription apps dominated this year’s top grossing titles including Clash of Clans, Monster Strike, Game of War – Fire Age and Fantasy Westward Journey, as well as Netflix, Hulu and Match,” said the firm.

In the Apple TV’s App Store, which launched in October 2015, the most popular apps include Rayman Adventures, Beat Sports and HBO NOW. As for the Apple Watch, the most popular apps include Nike+ Running and Lifesum in the Fitness category, and iTranslate and Citymapper in the Travel category.

Source: Apple

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What to expect from Apple’s Event this Wednesday?

Apple executives will take the stage in San Francisco on Wednesday for a special media briefing, during which we expect them to announce next-generation iPhones, a refreshed Apple TV, and provide updates on iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

Wednesday’s event is likely to bring the debut of the”iPhone 6s” and “6s Plus”, mid-cycle updates to make what is now Apple’s flagship product faster and more useful.

The primary upgrades will come internally, with a new “A9” processor and an increase in base RAM from 1 gigabyte to 2 gigabytes on tap. Capacity is unlikely to change, however, starting at 16 gigabytes and topping out at 128 gigabytes.

The camera systems are also likely to get a makeover, bumping the shooters to 12 megapixels around back and 5 megapixels up front. That larger rear component might add a new white subpixel — helping with low-light performance — while some rumors have suggested that the selfie cam could gain its own flash and the ability to capture slow-motion video at 60 frames per second.

Speaking of new features, many believe that Force Touch will make the leap from the Apple Watch to the iPhone 6s-series. There’s no word on how it will be used, but Apple would almost certainly take advantage of the added “depth” to clean up some user interface cruft.
iOS9Externally, the new handsets may be marginally thicker than the current versions, but consumers shouldn’t notice the difference. One change they will notice is a new rose gold color option to match the Apple Watch, though it’s unknown if rose gold will replace or augment the current champagne gold hue.

Given previous product timelines, it’s likely that the new iPhone 6s series will find its way into the hands of consumers for a Friday, Sept. 18 launch date.

Apple TV 4

Apple TV’s existing gaming capabilities are limited to AirPlay streams of iOS games.

The first Apple TV hardware change in more than 3 years is reportedly centered around improving the puck’s gaming credentials, a bid to bring iOS’s casual gaming dominance to the living room. To that end, the upgraded set-top box is thought to pack an all-new remote control with a built-in microphone and touchpad, alongside possible support for third-party, Xbox-like gamepads.

An App Store would accompany revised internals, bumping the built-in processor at or near the iPad Air 2’s A8X with internal storage that would likely eclipse the current model’s 8 gigabytes of space. Support for 4K video output might also appear, though rumors surrounding that feature have been sparse.

Everything We Know About Apple's iPhone Unveiling This WeekIn terms of media content, Apple is unlikely to showcase its long-rumored web television service on Wednesday as numerous reports have painted talks with networks and content owners as ongoing and somewhat contentious. The company may introduce a revamped content discovery interface, however — one based on Siri which allows users to search for titles across every service available on the Apple TV.

The hardware upgrades are thought to have driven a cost increase, bumping the price of an Apple TV from its current $69 to as high as $149.

iOS 9 & OS X 10.11 El Capitan

Apple’s next-generation mobile and desktop operating systems were announced at WWDC this summer, and the company is likely to announce details of final availability on Wednesday. Both will be free upgrades for existing users.

iOS 9 is a major update, bringing proper multitasking to the iPad alongside transit directions in Apple Maps and an all-new, Flipboard-style News app. Other headline features include expanded search functions and new Siri commands that complement more proactive notifications and suggestions.

Efficiency improvements will bring better battery life to iOS devices, and smaller, scheduled upgrades will make it easier for users to keep their devices up to date.

OS X El Capitan is somewhat more restrained, focusing on refinements to OS X’s user experience and improving performance across Apple’s range of desktop and notebook computers. Front and center is a change from Helvetica to Apple’s in-house San Francisco typeface for the user interface, while several built-in apps have been upgraded.

Spotlight has an expansive new list of data resources, for instance, and Safari adds pinned sites for the first time. Mail gains a new two-up fullscreen view, while new window management features will allow users to easily snap apps to different portions of the display.

Given Apple’s past launch strategies, it’s likely that iOS 9 will launch to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 16. The debut of El Capitan is less clear — in recent years, Apple has launched OS X upgrades in October.

iPad Pro

Industry insiders are split as to whether or not Apple will unveil the so-called “iPad Pro” at this week’s event. Apple traditionally holds an iPad-centric event in October, which would seem a more likely venue for the new jumbo tablet.

If Apple does show off its new device on Wednesday, it is likely to sport a Retina display that extends over 12 inches on the diagonal alongside additional speakers, all in a chassis more svelte than the current iPad Air 2. A pressure-sensitive stylus would allow for more precise input for professional users.

Others

It’s not clear what Apple will do with the iPhone 5c, but the debut of a so-called “iPhone 6c” at Wednesday’s event seems unlikely. Very few details of the device have leaked in the run-up to the briefing, and some Apple watchers have gone as far as to note that evidence of such a device has disappeared from the supply chain.

The story is much the same with an “iPad Air 3,” though that device will almost certainly see an update later this year.

The “iPad mini 4” could bow on Wednesday, but it might also be held until the later iPad event and announced alongside the iPad Air 3 and iPad Pro. When it does see the light of day, the new mini is rumored to be essentially a shrunken version of the Air 2.

How to Watch

Apple will stream the event live to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and second- and third-gen Apple TV units on Wednesday starting at 10 a.m. Pacific (8:00 PM Beirut Time). For the first time in years, Windows users will be able to join in, provided they are running Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

Of course, we’ll be covering the Event on Wednesday, so keep an eye on ElieChahine.com!

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WWDC 2015: What to expect from Apple tomorrow?

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As it does every year around this time, Apple is getting ready to host its Worldwide Developers Conference. The popular conference will take place between June 8 and June 12, and will give developers a glimpse at the future of iOS and OS X.

To kick off the event, Apple will give a keynote address on the 8th, where it will make all of its most significant announcements. As usual, it’s been fairly quiet about its plans, but there are several things we’re expecting to see come Monday.

OS X

Rumor has it that Apple is using this year’s OS X release (believed to be 10.11) to shore up major features like Handoff and polish the new design introduced in Yosemite. Think Snow Leopard. Apple has been widely criticized for OS X 10.10, which has been riddled with Wi-Fi issued and other bugs since its release. It’s expected to fix a lot these issues in 10.11, as well as introduce a new system-wide font and security features such as Rootless and Trusted Wi-Fi.

iOS

Like OS X, the next version of iOS (likely iOS 9) is expected to be more of a Snow Leopard-like release, with less of the focus on new features and more on refinements. iOS 8, too, has been criticized for bugs and stability issues, and it sounds like Apple means to squash those bugs in iOS 9.

That doesn’t mean we won’t see any new features, though. Rumors indicate that Apple is working on a new Google Now-like feature called Proactive, which will make Siri smarter and more contextually-aware, as well as the ability to run apps side-by-side on iPad, and access to public transit information in its Maps app. We’re also expecting design tweaks, and various other enhancements.

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Music

Apple is expected to talk about the overhaul of two major services on Monday: Beats Music and iTunes Radio. Let’s discuss the former first. It’s been reported that Apple is rebranding the streaming music service, which it acquired as part of its $3 billion Beats purchase last year, to simply ‘Apple Music’ and has rebuilt it from the ground up. Rumored features include a $10/month subscription fee, a 3-month free trial to make up for the fact that there’s no free tier offering, exclusive content, and a focus on music curation and discovery.

As for iTunes Radio, it hasn’t really made the splash that Apple had hoped for in its short tenure, so it’s expected to get refreshed next week as well. Rumored features for the radio service have been more scarce, but we have heard that Apple has been hiring up ‘celebrity DJs’ like Drake, Pharrell and French DJ David Guetta.

Apple Watch

We know of at least one major Apple Watch-related announcement coming next week—Apple itself confirmed it already. The company plans to give developers a preview of its new SDK at WWDC, which will allow them to develop native apps for the wearable. Since its launch in April, Apple Watch has been criticized for its slow and clunky third-party app experience, and the new SDK is expected to remedy that.

Other potential Apple Watch announcements include new security features like Find My Watch, and talk of third-party bands as part of the newly-launched ‘Made for Apple Watch’ initiative. We also expect Apple to talk about how well the Watch has been selling over the last 2 months, and the upcoming expansion to 7 more countries.

Apple TV

For months, reports have been pointing to a new Apple TV set-top box and possibly a new streaming TV service making appearances at WWDC, but sadly, that talk has been put to rest. Within the last week, multiple credible outlets have claimed that Apple has decided to delay the announcement of its new TV hardware because it’s “not quite ready for prime time.” Like-wise, we’ve heard the same thing about the TV service.

Prior to the news, we were expecting Apple to show off a slimmer, more powerful set-top box at WWDC, with a much improved remote control and an operating system that would support native apps (it’s possible Apple could still announce an Apple TV SDK). For the service, reports suggested that Apple was putting together a cheap, web-based alternative to cable with a slimmer channel lineup and unique mix of live and on-demand content. Learn more about Apple’s TV plans below.

Apple Pay

There hasn’t been much talk about Apple Pay in the run-up to WWDC, outside of one New York Times report that claims the mobile payment service is likely getting a rewards program soon. The program, reportedly, will allow retailers to offer customers coupons, store cash and other promotions for making purchases using Apple Pay.

HomeKit

There has been lot of talk about HomeKit in recent weeks, as multiple companies have announced products that will support the smart home platform. Announced at last year’s WWDC, HomeKit acts as a unifying bridge and dashboard for various accessories. The goal is to allow users to control products made from different manufacturers with touch and voice controls, and rumor has it that there is an app coming in iOS 9 called Home that will help achieve that objective.

And that should just about cover all of our expectations. Of course, while it seems like we know a lot about what’s going to be announced on Monday, it’s possible this is all way off. Apple is known for secrecy and misdirection, so you have to expect surprises.

Apple’s WWDC keynote begins at 10am Pacific Time on Monday, and a live stream will be available on the Apple TV, and iOS and Mac devices via Safari. We will be covering the event live on iDB, as well as subsequent announcements throughout the day.

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WhatsApp Calling is now rolling out to iPhone users, here’s how to get it!

Android users have been making free calls using their data connections over WhatsApp for weeks now but on Tuesday, the feature was finally made available to iPhone users.

A new version of WhatsApp is now available on the Apple App Store with the following description:

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If you’ve already updated and are madly pecking around WhatsApp settings trying to call someone, though, hold up. WhatsApp Calling is rolling out slowly over the next several weeks, says the update description.

If you don’t see the WhatsApp Calling feature after the update, you have to ask an Android user to call you on WhatsApp, by that the feature will be enabled soon.

First iPhone 6 Buyer Does an Accidental Drop-Test on TV!

iPhone 6 Drop Test

It’s iPhone 6 launch day, which of course means that YouTube will be full of drop tests by lunch time. But the very first buyer, coming out of the iPhone store in Perth, decided to beat them all to it.

According to the local news reporter, ‘Jack’ was so excited to get his shiny new iPhone 6 out of the packaging and into his sweaty paws that it got dropped onto the sidewalk — thankfully, not shattering the screen in the process. Although it might not have the quite the same scientific spirit-level precision as some drop-tests, it does bring a kind of rushed amateurism and unforced emotion to the drop-test genre that I think has been missing thus far.

Official Drop Test:

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