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Apple Reports Q4 2014 Year-End Results: $8.5 Billion Profit on $42.1 Billion in Revenue [Call Concluded]

Apple LogoApple today announced financial results for the third calendar quarter and fourth fiscal quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $42.1 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $37.5 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.5 billion, or $1.01 per diluted share in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 38 percent compared to 37 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 60 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.47 per share, payable on November 13 to shareholders of record as of November 10. The company currently holds $155.2 billion in cash and marketable securities.

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For the full fiscal year, Apple generated $182.8 billion in sales, a new record for the firm, with $38.5 billion in net income. In fiscal 2013, Apple made $35 billion on $170.9 billion in sales. In 2014, Apple sold 18.9 million Macs and just shy of 14.4 million iPods, its lowest total for that category since 2004.

It sold a record 169.2 million iPhones on the year, up 150 million from 2012, and the company has now sold more than 590 million smartphones in total. It sold 68 million iPads in 2014 and the company has now sold 237.2 million tablets.
"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.”
Apple's guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2015 includes expected revenue of $63.5-66.5 billion and gross margin between 37.5 and 38.5 percent.

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Apple will provide live streaming of its fiscal Q4 2014 financial results conference call at 2:00 PM Pacific, and MacRumors will update this story with coverage of the conference call highlights.

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Apple Pay With iPhone 6 Demoed in McDonald’s Purchase

With Apple Pay enabled through an update to iOS 8.1 earlier today, users are now able to use Apple's payments service in a variety of retail locations. Apple's Apple Pay launch partner McDonald's is one location that's already accepting Apple Pay payments, as demoed in the video below.

Making an Apple Pay purchase is so simple that giving a food order becomes the most lengthy part of the ordering process. As seen in the video created by YouTube user John Ross, McDonald's payment systems are set up to accept contactless payments.

Ross, who is using an iPhone 6 with iOS 8.1 installed, makes his order and then his credit card (stored within Passbook) opens automatically as he nears the payment terminal. While holding a finger on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, he holds his phone near the point-of-sale system to make the payment for the food. It takes a couple of tries as the cashier appears to forget to press a button, but once a payment is ready to be accepted, it took only seconds for Ross to make the payment.


After the payment was accepted by McDonald's, the Passbook screen displayed a check mark and there was a confirmation beep to let Ross know his payment had gone through. The transaction data was also displayed directly on the Passbook screen after payment was made.

During the transaction, at no point did the cashier see Ross's card or his name, and his card number (replaced with a unique Device Account Number in Passbook) was not stored by McDonald's, keeping the transaction completely private.

Apple Pay is limited to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in retail locations as it requires the NFC chip built into those devices to function. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus along with the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 will be able to make purchases in participating apps, however, and when it is released, the Apple Watch will be able to be used in retail stores to make Apple Pay payments.


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Apple to Continue Offering Public Beta Versions of OS X Software

With the release of Yosemite, Apple introduced a public beta test for the first time, allowing more than a million consumers to sign up for and participate in the Yosemite beta. In past years, beta testing new Mac software has been left up to developers and a select number of Apple Seed members.

It appears that Apple found Yosemite's public beta testing to be successful, as the company today sent out an email that suggests it will continue to offer public beta tests for OS X software in the future. In an email that thanks Yosemite testers, Apple says that members of the OS X Beta Program will continue to be offered beta versions of OS X software updates.

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Thanks for participating in the OS X Yosemite Beta Program. As you know, OS X Yosemite brings an elegant redesign, continuity features for using your Mac, iPhone, and iPad together, and major enhancements to the apps you use every day. And it's now available for free from the Mac App Store.

Please install the release version of OS X Yosemite. As a member of the OS X Beta Program, you will continue to be offered beta versions of OS X software updates on any Mac that you installed the beta on. However, if you prefer to stop receiving beta updates, please click here.
Over the course of the beta testing period, Apple seeded six separate public betas to beta testers. While public beta testers received fewer updates than developers early on, towards the end of the beta testing period, updates became more frequent and the final beta that was sent out mirrored the third golden master sent to developers.

It is unclear if Apple will seed minor OS X updates to the beta testing public, or if the next major public beta test will come in 2015 with the release of the next-generation OS X 10.11 Mac operating system.


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List of Stores and Apps That Accept Apple Pay Payments

While Apple Pay will work in any store that accepts contactless payments, Apple has partnered up with several retailers for the launch of Apple Pay, to ensure the mobile payment service will work smoothly in those locations. In retail stores, only iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users can take advantage of Apple Pay, as payments require NFC.

Retail partners that will begin accepting Apple Pay payments today or in the immediate future include Aeropostale, Babies R Us, BJ's Wholesale Club, Bloomingdales, Champs, Chevron, DuaneReade, Foot Locker (including Lady Footlocker, Run by Footlocker, Kids Footlocker, and House of Hoops), FootAction, Macy's Nike, Office Depot, Petco (and Unleashed), Radioshack, Six:02, Sports Authority, Texaco, Toys R Us, Walgreens, and of course, Apple's own retail stores.

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Fast food locations now accepting Apple Pay include McDonald's, Subway, and Panera Bread, while grocery stores accepting the payments service include Wegmans and Whole Foods Market.

Apple Pay can also be used within apps on devices that support Touch ID, which includes the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple's upcoming iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2. Apple's iPhone 5s does not appear to be compatible according to the Apple Pay website, even though it has Touch ID. Over the weekend, Apple's iTunes chief Eddy Cue said that he expects most initial Apple Pay transactions to take place within apps.

Apple's app launch partners, which will begin accepting Apple Pay payments through app updates going out today, include AirBnB, Chairish, Disney Store, Fancy, Groupon, Hotel Tonight, Houzz, Instacart, Lyft, MLB.com, OpenTable, Panera Bread, Spring, Staples, Target, Tickets.com, and Uber. Apple's own Apple Store app now accepts Apple Pay payments as well.

Apple Pay updates for the above listed apps should be trickling out beginning today now that Apple Pay is live. Bank apps are also being updated with Apple Pay support, and Capital One and Navy Federal Credit Union have already launched apps with Apple Pay updates.


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How to Set Up Apple Pay and Add Credit Cards

Now that iOS 8.1 has been released to the public, we're getting our first look at what Apple Pay looks like on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple Pay isn't immediately obvious when iOS 8.1 is installed -- users will need to open up Settings or Passbook to see various Apple Pay features.

The initial setup for Apple Pay can be done through Passbook. Tapping the "+" icon in Passbook will allow users to add a card. If a card is already associated with an iTunes account, users can tap choose to use that card, or enter another one using the camera.

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The camera roll will capture a card number, expiration date, and user's name, requiring the security code on the card to verify the number with the bank.

The verification process takes just a few seconds for most cards that are currently working with Apple Pay, after which the card can immediately be used for purchases. Some cards require additional verification steps, such as phone calls and emails. All cards stored in Passbook will be stacked on top of each other in Passbook's traditional style, with tap pulling a specific card to the forefront of the app.

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Apple Pay's neatest features are buried in the Settings menu, located under the new "Passbook and Apple Pay" section. Each credit card listed added to Passbook is listed here, along with Transaction Defaults like billing address, shipping address, email, and phone number.

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Tapping on one of the cards provides specific information about the card, allowing users to see the last digits of the card number, the last digits of the Device Account Number that replaces the card number in transactions, and it also provides contact information for the bank behind the card, as well as an app download.

Each card also includes a list of recent transactions that have been made, and with some cards, transactions made in stores that don't support Apple Pay will be listed right alongside Apple Pay transactions. This settings area is also where a card can be removed from Apple Pay.

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After being set up, Apple Pay can be used within stores and within participating apps to make purchases with a single touch. When in a store, making a purchase is as simple as holding an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus near a contactless payment terminal with a finger on Touch ID, can be seen in the demo video below from The Verge.


According to Apple, Apple Pay will work with more than 200,000 stores that support contactless payments, and it has partnered with several retailers like Walgreens, Macy's, and Whole Foods to ensure support in those locations. Apple Pay also works for purchases made in participating apps like Uber, Starbucks, and Apple's own Apple Store app.


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Apple Releases iOS 8.1 With Apple Pay Support, SMS Relay, Camera Roll, and More

Apple today released iOS 8.1, its first major update to iOS 8. First seeded to developers at the end of September, iOS 8.1 brings quite a few significant features to the operating system. The update activates Apple Pay, enables Yosemite users to access Continuity features like SMS relay and Instant Hotspot, offers all iOS 8 users access to iCloud Photo Library, fixes several bugs, and more.

iOS 8.1, build 12B410 for iPads and 12B411 for iPhones, is available immediately as an over-the-air download and after updating, it will allow iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners to access Apple Pay, Apple's new payment service. With Apple Pay, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can be used to make payments in both retail stores that support NFC and participating apps. Apple has also released Apple TV software 7.0.1.

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Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (U.S. only)

Photos include new features, improvements, and fixes
-Adds iCloud Photo Library as a beta service
- Adds Camera Roll album in Photos app and My Photo Stream album when iCloud Photo Library is not enabled
- Provides alerts when running low on space before capturing Time Lapse videos

Messages includes new features, improvements and fixes
- Adds the ability for iPhone users to send and receive SMS and MMS text messages on from their iPad and Mac
- Resolves an issue where search would sometimes not display results
- Fixes a bug that caused read messages not to be marked as read
- Fixes issues with group messaging

Resolves issues with Wi-Fi performance that could occur when connected to some base stations
Fixes an issue that could prevent connections to Bluetooth hands-free devices
Fixes bugs that could cause screen rotation to stop working
Fixes an issue in Safari where videos would sometimes not play
Adds an option to select between 2G, 3G, or LTE networks for cellular data
Fixes an issue in Safari where videos would sometimes not play
Adds AirDrop support for Passbook passes
Adds an option to enable Dictation in Settings for Keyboards, Separate from Siri
Enables HealthKit apps to access data in the background

Accessibility improvements and fixes
- Fixes an issue that prevented Guided Access from working properly
- Fixes a bug where VoiceOver would not work with 3rd party keyboards
- Improves stability and audio quality when using MFi Hearing Aids with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
- Fixes an issue with VoiceOver where tone dialing would get stuck on tone until dialing another number
- Improves reliability when using handwriting, Bluetooth keyboards, and Braille displays with VoiceOver

Fixes an issue that was preventing the use of OS X Caching Server for iOS updates
Also included in iOS 8.1 is support for SMS relay, a Continuity feature designed to allow Macs (running Yosemite) and iOS devices like iPads to receive SMS messages routed through a user's iPhone. Instant Hotspot is also enabled through the iOS 8.1 update, letting Mac users remotely activate the Personal Hotspot capabilities of an iPhone when two devices are near each other.

Along with those major features, iOS 8.1 reinstates the Camera Roll, which was removed with iOS 8, and it gives all iOS 8 users access to iCloud Photo Library, Apple's new cloud-based photo storage solution. The removal of the Camera Roll turned out to be a controversial decision, with Apple opting to re-add it after iOS users asked for the feature to be returned.

iOS 8 has not been Apple's smoothest software release, with users encountering quite a few bugs in the operating system. While multiple issues were fixed with iOS 8.0.2, released in late September, iOS 8.1 fixes several other bugs, including a problem that caused some iOS 8 users to have trouble pairing their phones with their Bluetooth devices. According to release notes, iOS 8.1 also fixes several other complaints users have had about iOS 8, including problems connecting to Wi-Fi and issues with screen rotation.


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Apple’s New Retina iMacs Offer Slight Performance Boost Over Non-Retina iMacs

Apple's new Retina iMacs, released last Thursday, have been showing up in Geekbench benchmarks, giving us a look at how the new machine's performance compares to the non-Retina iMacs released in 2013 and still being sold.

A Geekbench 3 result for the base 3.5GHz Core i5 Retina iMac has been shared by John Poole of Primate Labs, displaying just slight performance increases over the 3.4GHz Core i5 model used in the late 2013 iMac. The 4.0GHz Core i7 Retina iMac has yet to be benchmarked, but should see performance that exceeds that of existing Core i7 iMacs due to its faster processor.

retina-imac-64bit-october-2014-singlecoreIn both single-core and multi-core performance, the new Retina iMac offered moderately faster speeds, which is unsurprising as the machines continue to use Haswell processors that have been clocked slightly higher. More significant performance boosts in the iMac won't be seen until 2015, when Intel's Broadwell chips become available.

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Compared to the 2013 Mac Pro lineup, the Retina iMac offers faster single-core performance, but all 2013 Mac Pro models beat out the iMac when it comes to multi-core performance. Results for the Core i7 iMacs are expected to be similar, but according to Poole, the higher-end Retina iMac may be faster than the 4-core Mac Pro.

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Though the new iMac continues to use Haswell processors, its claim to fame is its Retina 5K display, which has an impressive resolution of 5120 x 2880, and its reasonable price, which starts at just $2,499. Apple's new Retina iMacs are available for purchase from the online Apple Store, with new orders shipping out in 5 to 7 days.


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