Here’s what analysts expect Apple to announce today: revenue up 8.5 percent, earnings up 18 percent

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With Fortune having now filled in the blanks in its analyst roundup, above are the final numbers Wall Street expects Apple to announce at around 1.30pm PT/4.30pm ET this afternoon.

With all 34 analysts having revealed their predictions, the consensus view is for year-on-year revenue to have grown by 8.5 percent, with earnings up 18.1 percent …  Read more

Apple releases Yosemite Developer Preview 4 with redesigned iTunes 12

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As expected, Apple has released OS X 10.10 Yosemite Developer Preview 4. It is available via the Mac App Store Software Update tab for developers running earlier versions of Yosemite. Apple has also released a revamped iTunes 12 to developers (full gallery here). Previous updates previously brought various design tweaks and feature enhancements, and Preview 4 is likely to do the same thing. Yosemite launches this fall with updated Mail, Messages, and Calendar apps, in addition to a system-wide redesign and improved integration with iOS Devices. We’ll be updating this post as new changes are discovered, and you can let us know what you find at tips@9to5mac.com.

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New iTunes Pass credit refill service now available in United States and several other countries

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Yesterday Apple rolled out its new iTunes Pass service to Japan, allowing users to use a Passbook card to add credit to an iTunes account from an Apple Retail Store. Starting today, the offer is also available in the United States and Australia. Users in Canada, Germany, and the UK are also reporting seeing the feature, though it’s not officially listed on Apple’s website for those countries just yet.

To take advantage of this new program, you need to use the iTunes Store app on an iOS device to obtain an iTunes Pass. You can get one of these by tapping the “Redeem” button at the bottom of the home page within the app. To use the card, you can visit an Apple Retail Store and ask a specialist to help you add credit to your account. The specialist can then scan the barcode on the Passbook card to immediately add credit to your account.

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Apple debuts iTunes Pass in Japan, allows Passbook-based iTunes credit refills at Apple Stores

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Apple today has launched an interesting new service for iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore users in Japan with iPhones and iPod touches. The new service, called iTunes Pass (no, not that iTunes Pass), allows users to go to an Apple Store in Japan, purchase credit in-store for the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, and have that money immediately applied to the Apple ID account instead of needing to receive a gift card and enter a redemption code…

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National Federation of the Blind says ‘Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company’

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Last week, inaccurate reporting emerged in regards to Apple’s work on making its products accessible to all consumers. As many Apple customers are aware, and as CEO Tim Cook takes extremely seriously, Apple works hard to ensure that Macs, iPhones, iPods, and iPads can be used to their full extent by people who are deaf or blind, for example. In response to the reporting (Philip Elmer-DeWitt has a good summary of the original reporting and takedowns at Fortune), Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, has published a comprehensive blog post describing Apple’s work on accessibility, the technology industry as a whole, the resolution regarding iOS device accessibility, and what can be done to improve accessibility of third-party apps into the future.

The full blog post can be read here, but here is a key line that should further dispute last week’s inaccurate reports: “Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises.” The blog post goes on to explain that the Federation believes Apple could work further with App Store developers on making all of the more than one million App Store apps more accessible to all users. “We simply want Apple to continue to discuss with us what measures the company can put in place to ensure accessibility,” the blog post reads.

It is also worth watching Cook’s speech regarding human rights and accessibility, below:

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Apple China denies location tracking claims: we’re ‘deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers’

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This past week, Chinese State TV called the iPhone a “national security concern” because of its location tracking capabilities. The iPhone’s operating system utilizes location for several applications, including Maps and Weather. iOS 7 also introduced a new feature that utilizes a customer’s location in order to provide improved traffic and route information. Now, Apple has quickly responded via a concrete and comprehensive message on its website for China. The message is advertised on the homepage, and is a direct response to the allegations from China State TV.

Apple denies the claims by stating that “privacy is built into [its] products and services from the earliest stages of design. We work tirelessly to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world.” Apple also explains that it uses industry leading encryption to protect location data, and says that all location data is stored solely on the iPhone, not on Apple’s servers.

Apple goes on to, once again, explain that it does not work with government agencies to spy on its customers: “Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about.” Apple goes on to list specific work it does for individual services in order to protect customer privacy.

On Maps:

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Apple brings iTunes Extras to Apple TV, HD Extras to Macs today & iOS 8 in fall

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Apple today released iTunes version 11.3 and with it is making its iTunes Extras feature available for HD movies on Macs.  Apple also announced today that the feature is now available for Apple TV with update 6.2 and will arrive on iOS 8 this fall.

While we’ll have to wait for iTunes Extras to arrive on iOS with the release of iOS 8 this fall, the Apple TV OS 6.2 update rolled out late last month to users alongside iOS 7.1.2.

iTunes Extras offers an interactive experience for some video content on iTunes that often includes behind-the-scenes videos, image galleries, commentary from the creators, cast interviews, exclusive clips, short films, and more. Content creators decide whether or not to offer the iTunes Extras feature and create the experience using templates provided by Apple. Apple also notes that “new iTunes Extras will be automatically added to your previously purchased HD movies as they become available- at no additional charge.”

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Capo touch brings music learning to iOS, Mac version adds iCloud Sync and more

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Earlier this year we showed you Capo, the software that turns your iTunes library into songs you can learn to play on guitar, when version 3.0 of the music learning software for Mac was released. Today SuperMegaUltraGroovy is releasing the first mobile version of that powerful software for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and the developers are updating the Mac version with brand-new features as well.

Using Capo touch on iOS is as simple and easy as you would expect featuring super fast access to music stored locally on your device with cool features like the ability to speed up and slow down music as well as suppress the vocals of a song to focus on the music. Read more

Decline of music downloads continues as on-demand streaming audio up 50 percent

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Apple’s presumed plans for an on-demand music service as part of its Beats acquisition is looking increasingly well-timed as Nielsen data shows that U.S. on-demand music consumption climbed 50.1 percent year-on-year, while music downloads fell by 12 percent in the same timeframe.

“With On-Demand streams surpassing 70 billion songs in the first six months of 2014, streaming continues to be an increasingly significant portion of the music industry,” says David Bakula, SVP Nielsen Entertainment …

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Apple’s annual Back to School promotion to start tomorrow

As we reported two weeks ago, Apple’s annual Back to School promotion will begin tomorrow, according to sources. The program will be similar to last year’s offering, which provided $100 Mac App Store gift cards alongside Mac purchases and $50 cards with iPhone and iPad purchases. Apple will be re-decorating its stores overnight with a new education theme to go along with the new promotion. Earlier today, Apple unveiled upcoming iTunes U updates for the iPad, and the timing seems like anything but a coincidence.

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Apple releases iOS 7.1.2 with iBeacon, Mail attachment, third-party accessory fixes & Apple TV OS 6.2

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Apple has released iOS 7.1.2 to end users today over-the-air with the following changes:

• Improves iBeacon connectivity and stability
• Fixes a bug with data transfer for some 3rd party accessories, including bar code scanners
• Corrects an issue with data protection class of Mail attachments

The update is available over-the-air or via iTunes for the latest iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. The fix for Mail addresses a well-publicized security problem regarding attachments. Apple has also released OS X 10.9.4 with various bug fixes and security enhancements.

The build number is 11D257 and it comes in at approximately 30 MB over-the-air on the iPad and 32 MB on the iPhone. The update is approximately 1.4GB for a complete download via iTunes.

In addition, Apple has released Apple TV software version 6.2 (build number 11D257c) without any major changes. The update addresses stability and performance issues:

  • Includes general performance and stability improvements.

Download links below:

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