Well that escalated quickly. A month ago, we were in the desert of nothing but iPhone 8 rumors, and now we have more Apple stories covering everything from WWDC, to the new campus, to new iPad Pro rumors, to Apple acquisitions (the real kind), and of course, even more iPhone 8 rumors. Let’s get right to some of the best of the last week.
Apple goes on a Buying Spree!
Last week, we talked about Apple putting down a cool $200 million to buy sleep tracking hardware and software company Beddit. Since then, Apple has also given Corning $200 million out of its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund and bought “dark data” analytics company, Lattice. Unlike all of the proposed or rumored large acquisitions for Apple, such as Disney, Netflix, or Tesla, these expenditures are perfectly targeted in areas of focus for Apple. They are now the leading manufacturer of wearables, and sleep tracking is a big part of that sector, and also an area where they’ve been lacking. As such, Beddit makes perfect sense. Corning has been a partner with Apple on screens since the first iPhone. The purchase of Lattice shows that Apple is committed to strengthening their standing in AI and Machine Learning. None of these stories is Earth-shattering alone, but taken together, it shows Apple being shrewd and smart with its money.
The PGA Tour Commissions Artists to Submit Work Using the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil
The PGA Tour followed up an earlier commission for iPhone photography a couple of year ago with a new one showing off the artistic capabilities of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Some of the work is VERY impressive. I’m not an artist, so I won’t critique further, but I would highly recommend that everyone go take a look.
AppleInsider Had A Great Article Breaking Down How Apple “Works From Behind” So Effectively
AppleInsider writer Daniel Evan Dilger absolutely knocked it out of the park with his editorial, When Apple is 2 years behind you, put your house in order. He systematically goes through all of Apple’s conquests from “behind”, from 2007 on down the list until today. It’s a great read that puts the weight of fact and hindsight behind the arguments that all of us Apple fans love to lean on.
Apple Will Require App-Specific Passwords for Apps Connecting to iCloud Starting June 15
This will probably annoy or anger many iOS users, but believe me, its for our collective own good. Rather than give us rope to hang ourselves with, especially those among us who are less technically oriented, Apple is choosing to force this change on users. This stands in contrast to Apple allowing users to choose convenience over security, as with two factor authentication. However, this change will add a lot of protection against hacking, as having a password compromised will only affect one app or connection, rather than your ENTIRE iCloud database.
Apple May Be Targeting Former HBO Head of Programming, Michael Lombardo
If Apple can pull this off, it will bring much-needed direction to their video and original content efforts. Right now, they are obviously in an experimental phase, but the lack of direction and overall vision or organization is obvious. Apple needs an experienced hand to guide them, and Mr Lombard has a formidable track record. He would bring a lot of experience and credibility, and is the kind of guy I could see doing big things with Apple’s resources.
Apple Has Been Granted a Patent for a Bezel-Less Screen with Embedded TouchID
Hopefully this patent relates to features we will see THIS year. There were a lot of negative rumors and sensational articles about Apple putting the iPhone 8’s TouchID sensor on the back just a few weeks ago, but those seem to have subsided. I have absolutely no doubt that Apple has prototyped such designs as a “just in case” measure if the embedded TouchID tech just isn’t ready for such a big rollout. However, they aren’t going to backtrack on a feature that everyone expects unless they just can’t make it fly. That is a decision that could come as late as month before final assembly, so it’s FAR too early to make any solid predictions about whether we will get the cool new toy or Plan B yet.
One thing to consider is that the timing of this patent could relate to the coming iPad Pro. Patents often tend to be granted right before the release of a device to cut down on leaks. We also know that this new 10.5″ Pro is supposed to have a bezel-less design, like the iPhone 8. It is not inconceivable that the new Pro could debut the embedded TouchID sensor. If it does, you can guarantee that it will be in the iPhone 8 later this Fall.
Siri within iMessage
Apple was also granted a patent relating to the use of Siri within iMessage. While it may seem disjointed for us iOS users to think of Siri’s functionality spread out in different places, this follows the pattern of Facebook Messenger and Google Allo and their respective implementation of chat bots and Google Assistant. In my opinion, one of Siri’s biggest weaknesses is it’s almost compete dependence on voice input because it limits when and where you can use it. Apple has added some of Siri’s basic search functionality to Spotlight and there are bits of Siri “intelligence” embedded in other places, such as the iOS keyboard’s Predictive Text. However, there is still no way to enter the same queries as we do using voice with typed text. If this feature comes in iOS 11, then Siri will become more flexible and more useful, no matter where the user finds themselves.
Google Assistant Lands in the App Store
Like Amazon and Microsoft before them, Google is now bringing its latest voice assistant to iOS to take on Siri head-to-head. It can actually do a surprising amount of things, such as place phone calls, send texts and emails, and set calendar appointments and reminders. There are some system-level tasks, such as setting alarms, that Assistant is prevented from doing, and you can’t trigger it using an iOS device’s Home Button. However it is still pretty useful, and certainly more powerful than I initially expected. It should be usable enough, if you prefer it to Siri.
Apple’s iPhone Scores 92% Loyalty Rate
There have been surveys over the last two years indicating that Apple and the iPhone’s high customer service and satisfaction marks may be eroding. However, ahead of what looks to be a massive iPhone 8 upgrade cycle, Apple’s flagship device is scoring very high marks again. According to an article on AppleInsider, a recent Morgan Stanley survey put the iPhone’s loyalty rate at 92%. This should make for a BIG end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 for Apple.
Tim Cook is Doing a Bit of Product Testing at Apple’s Campus
CNBC is reporting that Tim Cook himself has been test-driving a blood sugar tracking device that integrates to Apple Watch. Now, we don’t know any specifics about this device. It is possible that it is a Bluetooth-enabled sensor from a medical vendor, but we know that Apple is committed to research in this area, so it is also possible that this is an Apple prototype. This is something to keep an eye on later this year and early next year, as we get close to the likely launch of the next Apple Watch. It will be interesting to see if Apple integrates such technology into a future Watch, or chooses to keep it separate from the Watch like the device that is being tested now.
Like I said, this has been a BUSY week for Apple News, This certainly isn’t all of it, but it is a healthy serving of some of the best stories around at the moment. However, as we get close to WWDC, the pace will only increase, so stay tuned for lots more over the next three weeks. Do you have any thoughts on the week’s news? If so, let us know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.