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What to Expect at WWDC 2014

Apple will be holding its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, 2 June at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. As in previous years, the rumour mill has been in overdrive in the past few months leading up to the event, with countless reports chiming in about what will be unveiled. The following is a round-up of all the rumours and speculation so far:

iOS 8

In line with previous WWDCs, Apple will be unveiling its next-generation mobile operating system - presumably called iOS 8 – at the event. Not much changes are expected to the OS design-wise, as the company had carried out a major overhaul last year with iOS 7, eliminating skeuomorphic elements from the interface and incorporating a generally “flatter” look. As such, any design changes to the OS would likely be minor refinements to iOS 7′s existing visual interface and possible additional functionality to enhance the user experience.

Several reports have pointed to improvements for Maps and Siri, with a few floating the possibility of public transit directions for the Maps app. Apple will of course be paying close attention to the incorporation of any new features into the app, especially after the iOS 6 Maps debacle that generated a significant amount of negative publicity for the company.

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Apple Officially Appoints Luca Maestri as New CFO

Apple has officially appointed Luca Maestri as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a filing to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday reveals. Maestri will also be promoted to one of the company’s Senior Vice Presidents.

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Maestri succeeds Peter Oppenheimer, who has been Apple’s CFO for the past 10 years. Prior to his position as CFO, Oppenheimer held various roles at the company, including corporate controller, Worldwide Sales controller and controller for the Americas.

Earlier this year, Apple issued a statement announcing Oppenheimer’s retirement from Apple by the end of September and that the transition of duties and responsibilities to Maestri would take place in June. It was also revealed that Oppenheimer had joined the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs.

According to Apple’s SEC filing, Maestri will continue to serve as the company’s Principal Accounting Officer, a position that he has held since he joined the company in March last year. Prior to his joining Apple, Maestri had formerly served as the CFO of Xerox and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Compensation-wise, Maestri will receive a US$1 million annual salary and 6,337 restricted stock units (RSUs) under Apple’s 2014 Employee Stock Plan. The RSUs are scheduled to vest in several tranches over the next four years. Maestri is also eligible to participate in Apple’s performance-based cash bonus program for executive officers for its fiscal year 2014.

Update: Apple has updated its Apple Leadership page with a profile of Maestri.

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Source: Apple Magazine

Goldman Sachs Adds to Sea of Optimism, Raises AAPL Price Target to US$720

Yesterday, UBS analyst Steve Milunovich raised his price target for Apple’s shares to US$700 from US$625, citing possible strong demand for Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6. Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope has added to the sea of optimism, revising his AAPL price target to US$720 from US$635 in a new research note released today (via Appleinsider).

Source: Apple Magazine
Source: Apple Magazine

With shares of Apple repeatedly setting new 52-week highs, analyst Bill Shope increased his price target from $635 to $720 this week in a note to investors, a copy of which was provided toAppleInsider. He expects big things out of Apple’s WWDC next week, where he believes the company will show off groundbreaking advancements to its software offerings.

According to Appleinsider’s report, Shope believes that Apple’s software announcements at its WWDC event on Monday could serve as “positive catalysts” for the stock, possibly generating the same level of excitement as Apple’s hardware announcements. The analyst cites rumoured iOS platform enhancements such as mobile payments, a new interconnected ‘smart home’ system and an all-new ‘Healthbook’ personal fitness monitoring application as areas that could enhance the “stickiness” of Apple’s ecosystem.

Image via Appleinsider
Image via Appleinsider

“Overall, while the event will be light on new hardware, we believe the potential for substantial platform enhancements at WWDC and throughout this year should serve as positive catalysts for the stock,” he said. Indeed, these platform enhancements, upcoming iPhone and iPad refreshes, and Apple’s continued installed base expansion should allow for multiple expansion and upward earnings revisions.”

Apple’s shares hit a new 52-week high of US$625 earlier this week ahead of an impending 7-for-1 stock split and the company’s WWDC event on Monday. The shares closed at US$633 today and is up by approximately 40 cents in after-hours trading.

Katie Cotton (left) with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple’s PR Chief Katie Cotton Officially Retires After 18 Years

Following reports earlier this month that Apple’s longtime PR chief Katie Cotton was set to retire, Re/code’s Kara Swisher has published a report revealing that today is Cotton’s last day with the firm after 18 years.

Katie Cotton (left) with Apple CEO Tim Cook
Katie Cotton (left) with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Today, Katie Cotton, perhaps the most powerful communications exec in tech, is retiring from Apple after 18 years. As Code/red columnist John Paczkowski noted in reporting the departure earlier this month, the VP of worldwide corporate communications at Apple “helped steward the announcement of some of tech’s most transformative products” and “played a key role in shaping the mystique and exclusivity surrounding the Apple brand.”

In her almost two decades with Apple, Cotton oversaw Apple’s public relations, managing the company’s announcements of everything from its first iMac in 1998 to the iPad in 2010. Swisher notes that Cotton has been “tough” and “relentless” at her job, always putting the “interests of Apple and its business at the forefront of her communications strategy”.

Cotton had told Re/code earlier that leaving Apple was “hard for me” and that the company was a “part of my heart and soul”. According to an earlier report by The Verge, Apple’s long-time spokesman Steve Dowling is seen as a likely candidate to replace Cotton following her departure.

Source: Chitika Insights

iOS 7 Adoption Rates Hit New Highs Ahead of iOS 8 Announcement

Ahead of Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), iOS 7 adoption rates for iPhone and iPad users have hit new highs, according to a report by online advertising network Chitika Insights. iOS 7 adoption is now at 89.7% for iPhone users and 84.8% for iPad users.

With iOS 8 expected to be at least partially unveiled at next week’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), we revisited overall iOS version distribution on each respective device type. Expectedly, the latest data indicate continued usage share growth for iOS 7 across both iPhones and iPads in North America.

The statistics covers users in the United States and Canada only and is based on online ad impressions from iOS devices generated through the period of May 22 to May 28, 2014. The figures represent respective increases of 5.4 percentage points and 6.3 percentage points for iPhone and iPad users from the firm’s last study conducted in February.

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Source: The Verge

New Banner Points to “Yosemite” As Possible Name for Next-Generation OS X

As Monday’s WWDC event draws nearer, Apple has begun hanging up banners at the Moscone Center, one of which provides a glimpse of iOS 8 - the company’s next-generation mobile operating system expected to be unveiled on Monday. The Verge has posted an extensive gallery of photos taken at the event’s venue, with another photo showing off a banner of OS X featuring what appears to be the Yosemite national park in California.

Source: The Verge
Source: The Verge

With the announcement of last year’s OS X Mavericks, Apple stated that it was embarking on a new naming convention of future OS X releases based on famous places in California. With the unveiling of the banner, it appears that Apple could possibly be using the name “Yosemite” for the upcoming version of OS X.

In separate news, Apple has lodged trademark filings for several OS X names with Trinidad and Tobago’s Intellectual Property Office, with filing documents first spotted by MacRumors. The names included in the filings are “OS X Sequoia,” “OS X Mojave,” “OS X Sonoma,” and “OS X Ventura”.

Apple will be unveiling both iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 at Monday’s WWDC, with OS X said to be the major focal point of the event. The new version of OS X will reportedly feature an end-to-end redesign, similar to last year’s major overhaul of iOS with iOS 7.

Source: The Verge

iOS 8 Banner Unveiled at Moscone Center Ahead of WWDC

Following news that Apple is almost done with decorations at Moscone Center for Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), users have begun posting photos of banners being hung up at the event’s venue. A tweet by Business Insider’s Jay Yarow was the first to show off a banner of iOS 8 – Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system expected to be unveiled at the event.

Source: The Verge
Source: The Verge

The banner shows off the number ’8′ amidst an aquatic background, with the figure appearing to be both above and under water. Not much else can be gleaned from the banner, so we will have to wait until Monday to see what Apple has in store.

iOS 8 is heavily rumoured to come with several improvements, including enhancements to Maps and Siri, and an all-new ‘Healthbook’ application that will serve to aggregate and analyse health and fitness data collected from Apple’s upcoming ‘iWatch’.

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Apple to Ramp Up Mobile Advertising Efforts for iTunes Radio

Apple will be stepping up its mobile advertising efforts for iTunes Radio later this year, with plans to deploy locally-targeted ads and promote content via its iAd advertising network, according to tech site The Information (via Appleinsider).

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In a move that strikes at the heart of Pandora’s advertising business, iTunes Radio is expected to enable locally targeted advertising later this year, according to ad buyers who have spoken to Apple. Apple may begin promoting iTunes with “house ads” on its iAd mobile advertising network, an unusual move for the company.

The report, which cites ad buyers involved in discussions with Apple, claims that Apple is also looking to work with radio stations to beef up its iTunes Radio content offerings. The company had earlier this year added news station National Public Radio to its streaming service.

The news comes shortly after Apple’s announcement this week that it had acquired headphone maker Beats Electronics for a whopping US$3 billion (S$3.8 billion), of which less than US$500 million went towards Beats’ streaming music service – Beats Music.

In a note to employees, CEO Tim Cook lauded Beats Music as the “first subscription service to really get it right”. Going forward, Apple will keep Beats Music as a separate service, allowing it to serve as a complement to iTunes Radio, rather than a substitute.

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Free ‘App of the Week’: Infinity Blade II

Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade II is the App Store’s Free ‘App of the Week’. The game is available for free for one week and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 4.3 or later.

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The God King has been defeated, an unlikely hero has emerged and now you must discover the truth behind the secrets of the Infinity Blade. The continuing journey of young Siris unfolds as you delve deeper into the world of the Deathless tyrants and their legion of Titans. Can you unlock all the mysteries and successfully wield the power of the Infinity Blade in this timeless swordplay adventure of champions and villains?

Download it for free here!

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Free ‘Single of the Week’: Sam Smith – Life Support

This week’s free Single of the Week on the iTunes Store is “Life Support” by British singer-songwriter Sam Smith.

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Cambridgeshire native Sam Smith had his breakthrough as the featured vocalist on Disclosure’s international hit, “Latch”. In the months since, he’s developed an unstoppable momentum, earning a BRIT Critics’ Choice Award, offering a stunning performance on Saturday Night Live and selling out engagements at increasingly larger venues on both sides of the Atlantic. The singer/songwriter’s debut album, In the Lonely Hour, is a tour de force featuring Smith’s heart-wrenching croon and gorgeous songs (some co-written with Adele collaborators Ed White and Fraser T. Smith). None is more chilling than the limber “Life Support”, which finds Smith’s nimble falsetto floating over a production of sleekly contemporary, electro-infused soul.

Download it for free here.