It’s been another huge week as we approach the launch of the Apple Watch, with none other than Cupertino’s WWDC being announced. Let’s take a look back at the 10 biggest technology stories of the past week.
Apple announces WWDC 2015
This week, Apple announced its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for 2015, and this year, the conference is scheduled to take place from June 8–12 at San Francisco, California’s Moscone West. The all important keynote, of course, is scheduled for June 8, and during the presentation Apple is expected to unveil iOS 9, OS X 10.11, and perhaps even a software update for its incoming wearable, the Apple Watch.
Apple’s Phil Schiller said:
The App Store ignited an app ecosystem that is simply amazing, forever changing the lives of customers and creating millions of jobs worldwide. We’ve got incredible new technologies for iOS and OS X to share with developers at WWDC and around the world, and can’t wait to see the next generation of apps they create.
We can’t wait.
There’ll be no Apple Watches in retail stores on April 24
April 24 might be Apple Watch launch day, but according to Apple, no Watch units will be available for customers to purchase in retail stores this coming Friday. The news came from Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail at Apple, and in a memo to retail staff she explained:
due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I’ll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May.
As such, Apple’s website no longer advertises April 24 as launch day for the wearable. Instead, Apple merely notes that “The Watch is coming,” and offers customers the option of preordering the smartwatch through the Apple Online Store. Of course, the vast number of configuration options available for the Apple Watch means it was always going to be difficult for Apple to maintain a proper launch day stock for each device, but according to Ming-Chi Kuo (noted Apple analyst), there could be another reason for the retail move …
Ming-Chi Kuo on the Apple Watch launch
Before the news of Apple’s Watch retail strategy surfaced, Ming-Chi Kuo offered his insight into Apple Watch preorders. He noted that by May, preorders for the wearable could top 2.3 million, and added that the device’s haptic feedback feature, which is powered by Apple’s Taptic Engine, could be causing a delay in production.
Trouble with the Taptic Engine, which brings a more precise vibration system to Apple’s smallest device yet, could be the reason why Apple is choosing to keep the Watch out of retail stores for the time being, according to Kuo. If production bottlenecks are absent, the analyst expects sales of the Apple Watch to top 2.5 million by May, however whether Cupertino is able to overcome its delays and ramp up production remains to be seen.
Apple partners with IBM on new medical research platform
This week, IBM announced Watson Health, a new analytics platform aimed at advancing health and wellness. In announcing the new platform, however, the company also noted that it’ll be supporting both HealthKit and ResearchKit, and Apple launched ResearchKit for developers and researchers soon after the announcement was made.
Indeed, both frameworks are very well suited to IBM Watson Health. And by linking to HealthKit and ResearchKit, IBM Watson Health can capture large amounts of health data from iOS device owners, strip them of the identity of the users, and store them along with data from other sources in a secure hub that allows access to and sharing among medical researchers.
The move sees IBM continue to work closely with Apple; the two companies announced a partnership for enterprise last year, and this has seen the release of several MobileFirst iOS apps from Apple and IBM.
Apple releases iOS 8.4 beta 1 featuring an all-new Music app
It looks like a Beats Music-inspired streaming service could indeed be set to come from Apple later this year. Because iOS 8.4 beta 1, the company’s first beta for its upcoming iOS 8.4 mobile operating system, has introduced a brand new Music app – seemingly in preparation for such a move.
In the release notes for the update, Apple explained:
The iOS 8.4 Beta includes an early preview of the the all-new Music app. With powerful features and an elegant new look, enjoying your music is easier than ever. This preview provides a sneak peek into what we’ve been working on, and what’s to come — the music is just getting started.
“The music is just getting started,” indeed. I’m sure we’ll hear more at WWDC later this year.
HBO only pays Apple a 15 percent cut for Now sign-ups on the Apple TV
In a bid to attract content providers to its Apple TV platform, it seems Cupertino’s usual 30 percent cut doesn’t apply to the set-top box. According to a recent report, HBO Now sees the network pay Apple just 15 percent when users sign up to the service using their Apple TV. The same rate also goes for Netflix, Hulu, and MLB.TV, the same report added.
Apple unveils custom Sport Bands for its Apple Watch
This week, Apple also unveiled a selection of custom Sport Bands for its Apple Watch, and former pro rugby player Will Carling posted a picture of one red band to Twitter. He also provided Brits with a sneak peek of how the Apple Watch charger is going to look for U.K.-based owners of the wearable; the mains charger features a fold-out plug allowing for easier, safer transportation, and it looks great.
Indeed, Carling seemed more excited about the charger than the band, and we don’t blame him. Though we’d hypothesised that the pictured band might rather be a (RED) product, it seems a selection of further custom bands were previewed by Apple later that day in Milan.
Tim Cook features in Time’s list of ‘100 most influential people’
Once again, Tim Cook has appeared in Time Magazine’s annual list of the “100 most influential people,” and an entry penned for the magazine, congressman John Lewis celebrated several aspects of Cook’s character and conduct as CEO of Apple. It read:
It could not have been easy for Tim Cook to step into the immense shadow cast by the late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. But with grace and courage and an unabashed willingness to be his own man, Tim has pushed Apple to unimaginable profitability – and greater social responsibility.
Though Jony Ive didn’t feature in the list this year, he did write an entry for Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb. Ive said of Chesky, “his obsession with detail and practicality doesn’t confine or compromise his dreaming but rather makes what could so easily be noble but abstract ideas functional and real.”
Apple Pay is headed to Canada before November
If a recent report has it right, it seems Apple Pay could be set to launch in Canada later this year. Apple is reportedly in negotiations with Canada’s six biggest banks over the service, which allows iOS device and Apple Watch owners to pay for purchases without using a card.
According to The Wall Street Journal, no agreement has yet been reached between Apple and the banks, and it seems the banks aren’t pleased with current fee proposals or security risks.
Apple introduces Apple Watch Basics workshops
Finally this week, we heard that Apple is planning on offering a new workshop on “Apple Watch Basics” in retail stores starting April 24. The course is due to take place in one-hour intervals and aims to teach customers the basics of the Apple Watch platform. It seems certain stores are offering extended hours in order to host the classes, too, and these are now available to reserve from Apple’s website. This is a smart move on Apple’s part, since certain reviewers noted that the Watch software takes some getting used to.