Zac Hall

@apollozac

Editor at 9to5Mac + 9to5Google

Zac covers Apple news and product reviews for 9to5Mac. Zac also contributes to 9to5Google.

Email tips, typos, and any feedback to: zac@9to5mac.com

Tweet and follow: @apollozac

Zac Hall's Recommended Gear

Today

AAPL: 94.19

-0.99
Stock Chart

May 3

AAPL: 95.18

1.54
Stock Chart

We’re now more than a year and a half out from the launch of Apple Pay — Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch-based mobile payment system — in the US, and we’re still seeing additional banks across the country regularly join the roster of participating partners. More than 20 new banks have added Apple Pay support in this round, and a new prepaid card launching in the UK today has also made the list. These are the latest banks to work with Apple Pay:

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Adobe’s two Photoshop apps for iOS — Fix and Mix — have both been updated with a handful of new features for iPhone and iPad users. Fix and Mix both gain a new enhancement that should make living with low storage devices much easier, and both apps can now import full resolution images from Lightroom in addition to other new features.

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9to5toys 

May 2

AAPL: 93.64

-0.10
Stock Chart

Last fall we learned that Apple would sponsor this year’s Met Gala with Jony Ive serving as a co-chair for the event. Today the Chief Design Officer at Apple is in New York City speaking before an audience ahead of the annual fundraising event tonight.

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April 28

AAPL: 94.83

-2.99
Stock Chart

Despite Apple’s $50 billion quarter with $10 billion in profit, the January to March period marked Apple’s first quarter in 13 years without growth including year-over-year iPhone sales declines for the first time. Apple set the expectations back in January, but its stock still took a beating after this week’s earnings report. Now activist investor Carl Icahn, who has been very noisy about what he thinks Apple should do in the past, tells CNBC he has sold his massive share of Apple stock. Icahn once owned nearly 1% of Apple’s shares, and publicizing that he’s out of the stock will likely influence other investors to follow.

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9to5google 

Like a lot of new technologies from Apple these days, HomeKit isn’t perfect but the parts that work well are really useful. Apple’s home automation framework connects smart accessories from various companies all under the control of Siri and HomeKit apps like Home or Hesperus. But HomeKit is relatively young still and there’s plenty of low hanging fruit in terms of ways the framework could improve with iOS 10 and beyond. Here are a few ideas I hope we see with HomeKit this year:

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August Home unveiled its second-generation Smart Lock with an updated industrial design and Siri control through HomeKit last October. Starting this week, August’s Bluetooth-connected deadbolt is available to purchase from Amazon and Best Buy after a lengthy pre-order period (although stock appears slim so far).

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electrek 

April 27

AAPL: 97.82

-6.53
Stock Chart

I’ve been using Philips Hue white and color ambience lights around my house since they gained HomeKit support last fall, but the mobile apps that control the lights have never felt top notch. Earlier this week, Philips moved its Hue mobile apps to legacy status with a name change and icon tweak, and today Hue users are finally getting their hands on the latest and greatest Philips Hue apps for iOS and Android. The design improvements alone are dramatic and worth the wait, but Philips packs in some new features and tricks as well.

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Apple sent out an email blast this week marketing the Apple Watch as a Mother’s Day gift recommendation:

Help her do it all and look great, too. Whether she’s working or playing, Apple Watch is the perfect Mother’s Day gift to help her stay connected and active throughout the day.

The email was fine as far as marketing messages go. It featured the message above plus a nice photograph of a woman wearing an Apple Watch Sport with a band color-matched to her jacket. “Celebrate her with a gift she’ll love” and “Finally, something that can keep up with her” cleverly nudged you into making Apple Watch the fashionable fitness tracker gift for the May 8th holiday.

But it also reminded me of a recent experience I had in an Apple Store and a realization about Apple Watch right now. Agree or disagree, I believe the window on buying the first-gen Apple Watch has closed, and in almost every situation potential customers should wait for Apple Watch 2.

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April 26

AAPL: 104.35

-0.73
Stock Chart

Apple just posted its official Q2 2016 earnings report and we’ve broken down how that compares to previous quarters. Next up on the schedule is Apple’s quarterly conference call with analysts where CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri typically recap the numbers and field questions about Apple’s financial situation.

To recap the big numbers from today’s report, Apple counted $50.6b in revenue, $10.5b in profit, 51.1m iPhones sold, 10.2m iPads sold, and 4m Macs sold during the final three months of last year. Apple Watch numbers aren’t broken out at this point and instead included in the Other category with iPods, Apple TVs, and other accessories.

We’ll be tuned in to the call as it plays out, and update this post with up-to-the-minute details while highlighting major updates. The call is scheduled to kick off at 2 pm PT/5 pm ET so stick around.

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Apple has officially posted its Q2 2016 earnings results with $50.6 billion in revenue and $10.5 billion in profit from the January to March quarter. Apple’s guidance last quarter first pointed to a year-over-year decline in iPhone sales for the quarter following the holiday season citing global economic issues and inflated iPhone 6 demand due to supply constraints the year earlier. Apple’s updated 4-inch iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro launched at the end of March.

Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2016 second quarter ended March 26, 2016. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 40.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 67 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Here’s Apple’s breakdown of iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales from the quarter:

  • iPhone: 51.1 million units
  • iPad: 10.2 million units
  • Mac: 4 million units

For iPhone sales, that’s an 18% year-over-year drop and a 19% drop for iPads.

Apple CEO Tim Cook had this to say:

“Our team executed extremely well in the face of strong macroeconomic headwinds,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are very happy with the continued strong growth in revenue from Services, thanks to the incredible strength of the Apple ecosystem and our growing base of over one billion active devices.”

And Luca Maestri, chief financial officer, said this:

“We generated strong operating cash flow of $11.6 billion and returned $10 billion to shareholders through our capital return program during the March quarter,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “Thanks to the strength of our business results, we are happy to be announcing today a further increase of the program to $250 billion.”

Apple’s Q2 results compare to the prior quarter’s $75.9 billion in revenue, 74.8 million iPhone sales, 16.1 million iPad sales, and 5.3 million Mac sales. In the same quarter a year ago, Apple reported $58 billion in revenue, 61.1 million iPhones sold, 12.6 million iPads sold, and 4.5 million Macs sold. Apple reported $18.4 billion in profit in the prior quarter and $13.6 billion in profit in the year ago quarter.

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9to5toys 

Popular peripheral maker Satechi is launching a new compact hub for Macs called Aluminum Mini Docking Station. The new hub expands one USB 3 port into four USB 3 ports plus adds access other networking and audio/video ports. Like a lot of other Satechi hardware, Aluminum Mini Docking Station is color-matched in silver to fit in with an iMac or Mac mini too.

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Microsoft is getting serious with the Mac today with its new Skype for Business preview for OS X. The new business-focused version of Skype for Mac runs on OS X El Capitan and focuses on creating an enterprise-friendly experience. IT professionals can request access to the new Skype for Business Mac Preview starting today.

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9to5google 

April 25

AAPL: 105.08

-0.60
Stock Chart

I touched on my thoughts on a cellular Apple Watch 2 briefly when detailing WSJ’s report, but I want to expand a bit further and think out loud about the possibility. In short, I think an untethered Apple Watch with built-in cellular connectivity is inevitable, but in the short term there are other problems I suspect will be solved first. That’s not to say that Apple couldn’t introduce cellular and fix other issues, but having an embedded data connection is low on my list of requests this year.

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Apple Watch has been on the market for a year now, and The Wall Street Journal has a new report in which it compares the product’s estimated sales to the original iPhone’s in its first year. Apple has never released hard Apple Watch sales numbers as it does for iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but WSJ says twice as many Apple Watches have been sold during the first year as iPhones during its first year. Apple sold just over 5.8 million iPhones during its first four quarters on the market.

Obviously that’s not an apples to apples comparison, but it’s one way to paint Apple Watch positively as iPhone has taken off with quarter after quarter growth until now. Tomorrow Apple is scheduled to release its quarterly earnings report covering the January through March period where Tim Cook is likely to reflect on the first year of Apple Watch in some degree.

Looking forward, the WSJ’s report includes one nugget about what to expect about the Apple Watch 2 likely to launch later this year:

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electrek 

Apple doesn’t include a Home app for HomeKit like it does a Health app for HealthKit, but Matthias Hochgatterer’s Home app is a worthy solution for anyone diving into Apple’s Siri-controlled home automation platform. In testing various HomeKit-compatible smart accessories, Home for iOS has been a critical piece of the puzzle in making everything work correctly and reliably.

Siri controls HomeKit, but third-party apps from various accessory makers are needed for creating scenes and triggers that really make home automation come to life. Eve does the best job of making one app for all HomeKit accessories, but a dedicated HomeKit app with excellent support for all accessories is ideal. Home, which costs $14.99 but is available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, is a rather essential purchase for having a good experience with Apple’s HomeKit.

Last week we shared the latest HomeKit app on the market, Hesperus, which features an approachable design and customization options at no cost but lacks iPad and Apple Watch apps and Notification Center widgets for now. I mentioned Home for iOS, which is obviously pricier up front, and noted how its Settings-like design can feel cold in comparison. Over the weekend, however, Home for iOS reached version 1.6, which includes tweaks to how accessories are organized plus some nice iconography that I think really enhances the overall design.

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