Third Week of Apple’s ‘Get Stuff Done’ Promotion Features Utility Apps [Mac Blog]

The third week of Apple’s “Get Stuff Done” Mac App Store promotion began today, dropping prices on a new set of apps. During the first week of the promotion Apple discounted several task management apps, and last week, several organizational apps went on sale.

This week Apple is highlighting apps that fall into the Mac Utility category, such as login-saving app 1Password and popular calendar app Fantastical. Here’s a full list of this week’s sale apps along with pricing information:

1Password: $24.99 down from $49.99 [Direct Link]
Fantastical: $9.99 down from $19.99 [Direct Link]
PopClip: $2.99 down from $4.99 [Direct Link]
Soulver: $12.99 down from $19.99 [Direct Link]
Snagit: $24.99 down from $49.99 [Direct Link]
Clarify: $14.99 down from $29.99 [Direct Link]
mSecure: $9.99 down from $19.99 [Direct Link]
Dropzone: $1.99 down from $4.99 [Direct Link]
Yoink: $1.99 down from $2.99 [Direct Link]
Keycard: $4.99 down from $6.99 [Direct Link]

The sale on these apps will last from February 7 to February 14, which will mark the end of Apple’s three week promotion.

Apple Issues Statement About Returning Cash to Shareholders

Apple has issued a press release reiterating its commitment to return some of its extremely large cash pile to shareholders, saying that Apple management and the Board of Directors are in “active discussions” about how to return cash to shareholders.

This follows letter sent to Apple shareholders this morning by Greenlight Capital [PDF], a major Apple shareholder, arguing that the company “must examine all of its options to unlock the growing value of its balance sheet”.

Apple’s statement:

By early last year, Apple’s cash balance had built to a point beyond what we needed to run our business and maintain flexibility to take advantage of strategic opportunities, so we announced a plan to return $45 billion to shareholders over three years. As of next week we will have executed $10 billion of that plan.

We find ourselves in the fortunate position of continuing to generate large amounts of cash, including $23 billion in cash flow from operations in the last quarter alone.

Apple’s management team and Board of Directors have been in active discussions about returning additional cash to shareholders. As part of our review, we will thoroughly evaluate Greenlight Capital’s current proposal to issue some form of preferred stock. We welcome Greenlight’s views and the views of all of our shareholders.

Apple’s stock price rose sharply in the minutes following the release.

Apple Releases Airport Utility 6.2 with Guest Wi-Fi and Printer Improvements [Mac Blog]

airport_utility_iconApple has released an updated version of its AirPort Utility wireless network manager, bringing it to version 6.2.

The update contains the usual improvements and bug fixes, but Apple mentions three specific changes:

– The ability to extend the Guest Wi-Fi network on a network that is configured with multiple AirPort Base Stations

– The ability to add a WPS-capable Wi-Fi printer

– Improved international support

The update weighs in at 20.64MB and is available through Apple’s software update website.

Update: Apple has also released AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6.3 for updating the units themselves.

Finally, the AirPort Utility app for iOS has also been updated to add the new functionality.

Florida Is Swamped with Foreclosures – And Deals on Distressed Homes

Ah, Florida. It’s celebrated as the land of sunshine, snow birds, theme parks, and beaches. This year, it’s also considered the hottest state for snatching up foreclosed homes on the cheap. For deals on distressed homes, look south. According to a new study from the foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, Florida was home to 8 of the country’s top 20 metropolitan areas for highest foreclosure rates last year. By no small coincidence, 5 of the top 10 “Best Places to Buy Foreclosures in 2013″ also just so happen to be in Florida. To come up with its “Best Places”—one of the few “Best Places” lists cities would prefer to not be associated with—RealtyTrac uses data points including the number of months of inventory of foreclosure homes, the percentage of total sales that are foreclosures, and the average foreclosure discount percentage. Tally up the numbers and the hottest market for scooping up distressed properties at major discounts is the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area of Florida. RealtyTrac summed up the market’s top-ranking data this way: Topping the list of best places to buy foreclosures in 2013 was the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area in Florida with a total score of 394: 34 months’ supply of inventory, foreclosure sales representing 24 percent of all sales, average foreclosure discount of 28 percent, and a 308 percent increase in foreclosure activity in 2012 compared to 2011. (MORE: Want to Buy a Foreclosure? Here’s What You Need to Know) By contrast, overall foreclosure activity nationally appears to have peaked in 2010, and has decreased since then in the majority of U.S. markets. Las Vegas, for instance, was named one of the worst cities for buying foreclosed homes in 2013 mainly because the market has been so hot in previous years; while a whopping 42% of home sales in Vegas are foreclosures, foreclosure filings fell 57% in 2012, and there is “only” a seven-month inventory of foreclosures currently. With the Orlando-Kissimmee, Lakeland, Jacksonville, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Melbourne areas of Florida, meanwhile, all have at least 28 months’ worth of foreclosed properties

Coming Soon for Our Own Good: Restrictions on Big Retirement Account Payouts

Why don’t more retirees convert at least some of their nest egg to lifetime income? It’s a question that vexes financial planners and has policymakers scrambling for solutions. For many years, traditional defined-benefit pensions provided millions of people with an income stream they could not outlive. Along with Social Security benefits, this pension income covered all the basics and possibly then some, for as long as you lived. Personal savings was gravy. Such pensions largely have been replaced with defined-contribution plans like the 401(k), which may provide a sizable kitty at retirement. But now it’s up to the retiree to decide how to make that money last for 20 or 30 years. Most people aren’t very good at it, and their eroded Social Security benefits don’t offer much of a backstop. So the focus of retirement planning has shifted in recent years. How can retirees get the kind of lifetime income that traditional pensions once provided? The answer doesn’t seem so complicated. All you have to do is take a portion of your 401(k) and purchase an annuity, which is an insurance contract that agrees to pay a monthly benefit for life or some other specified period. (MORE: Is the Post Office Breaking the Law by Eliminating Saturday Delivery?) Yet “annuitization” is not happening on a large scale. There are many reasons. As Nevin Adams of the Employee Benefit Research Institute writes in his blog: “A number of explanations have been put forth to try and explain this reluctance: the fear of losing control of finances; a desire to leave something to heirs; discomfort with entrusting so much to a single insurer; concern about fees; the difficulty of understanding a complex financial product; or simple risk aversion—all have been studied, acknowledged, and, in many cases, addressed, both in education and in product design, with little impact on take-up rates.” As Adams suggests, annuities have been made simpler and their fees have been cut. Some have been reshaped to include survivor benefits. Schwab just introduced an easy-to-understand low-cost retirement income variable

Intuitive Email Management App ‘Mailbox’ Now Available in App Store [iOS Blog]

Mailbox, the highly anticipated email management app from Orchestra, launched today. The app is designed to work with Gmail + iPhone and uses a simple design that incorporates intuitive touch gestures.


A quick swipe to the right removes emails from the inbox and archives them, while a longer slide deletes them. A swipe to the left activates a “Snooze” function, which puts emails out of sight and out of mind until later, and drag gestures make reorganization of the inbox a simple task.

Mailbox is a mobile-first email experience that challenges the archaic assumptions about how email should work and reimagines the inbox for a world on the go. It’s a new way of looking at your email, but when you use Mailbox for the first time, we believe you’ll say “of course.”

Because the Mailbox app received an overwhelming amount of interest after it was announced in December, a reservation system was implemented to handle demand and to prevent server overload.

Reservations are currently being filled on a first-come first served basis. Users that have not already signed up to use Mailbox can download the app to reserve a spot in line. Users who did reserve a spot can enter reservation information into the app, and all users can see their place in line in real time. At this time, there are no estimates on how long the wait to use the app might be.

Mailbox is a free app that can be downloaded from the App Store. [Direct Link]