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Apple Roundup: WWDC, HomePod, EU Tax, Samsung Infringement

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With WWDC announcements making headlines, other news gets pushed to the backburner. So here are the highlights from Apple’s (AAPL - Free Report) big event for developers, as well as a brief recap of other events-

WWDC

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference included a number of important announcements-

iOS 12: The new OS focuses on speed improvements (even for 6S owners), probably inspired by the user discontent of slowdown in older iPhones and the growing role of its services business, which will require faster speeds to be effective. So apps are now expected to get 40% faster, with the camera launching up to 70% faster.

It introduces Group FaceTime for iPhone, iPad, Mac and in audio mode on Apple Watch. Up to 30 people can join in (targeting enterprise users).

ARKit 2.0 brings improved face tracking, more realistic rendering, 3D object detection and continuous experiences that can be shared. So multiplayer AR games are facilitated across different Apple devices (doesn’t include Android devices for now at least).

Photos get better search and share options.

It brings new animojis and a new concept called memoji, which is basically and animoji that has lends itself to personalization by the user.

Screen Time and Reports apps that allow the user to track when and how time is spent on the device so users can better manage time.  Updated parental controls allow parents to track their kids’ time and create allowances for chosen apps and time limits, after which the device will become inactive.

New Mac OS Called Mojave: The new OS has dark mode so you can reduce the glare. It also comes with better curation, featuring some original content. There will also be better synchronization with iPhone, for example, you can turn on your iPhone camera from your Mac with the picture subsequently taken appearing automatically on your Mac.

Apple is also creating the framework necessary (including things like trackpad support and window resizing) to start bringing iOS apps to Mac. The first apps coming will be Stocks, News, Home and Voice Memos. The feature will be available to developers in 2019.

Siri: Apple’s personal assistant is somewhat handicapped with respect to Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) and Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) because the company doesn’t consume as much user data, but it’s now doing a catchup with a feature called Shortcuts. This is a single command that sets off a cluster of routine activity surrounding the command.

Watch: The device is getting more sensitive with respect to automatically identifying your activity while adding new activity forms like yoga and hiking. You can now also set targets/challenges between friends and compare notes. The connected device also doubles as a walkie talkie, if you want it.

CarPlay OS for autos is getting support for third-party apps like Google Maps, Waze, Google Play Music, Spotify, NPR and iHeartRadio, as well as Siri support.

Apple TV is getting Dolby Atmos audio. Also, a single sign on to the service allows access to all the apps, removing the headache that comes from remembering passwords for the different apps. There’s also a new video of Earth in the background for Apple devices.

Encouraging numbers: Apple said that the App Store now has 20 million registered developers on iOS, collectively making about $100 billion in revenues from around 500 million visitors per week. Over 350,000 of iOS apps have been written in Swift. Apple Watch sales grew 60% in 2017. Apple TV users have grown 50% over the past year, as it now offers more than 100 video channels including several new live news and sports channels.

HomePod Update and Expansion

Apple’s HomePod that launched amidst mixed reviews will launch in Canada, France and Germany on June 18 following its launch in the U.S., UK and Australia.

The device is also getting a software update that will support both multi-room audio (by pairing with some model speakers from Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Marantz and Sonos using Apple’s AirPlay 2 streaming tech) and stereo audio playback (by pairing two or more HomePods across the house). Just ask Siri.

The HomePod will also let users hear upcoming calendar appointments.

Apple Allows Updates to Telegram Messaging App

Russian authorities have been trying to crack down on messaging app Telegram, which has been IP hopping to remain in operation while requesting its 14 million users in Russia (it has 200 million across the world) to use VPNs to avoid detection. Russian law requires that all data from apps be stored in servers inside the country and be shared with authorities.

Apple has prevented updates to the app after the authorities reportedly wrote to it to remove the app from the App Store and prevent push notifications. Apple didn’t do either. So it isn’t clear what prompted Apple to block updates globally, or whether at all it was related to the problem in Russia and what caused the change of heart. But Apple generally plays by the rules: it earlier pulled NYT from the App Store in China when required by the government.    

Apple Won’t Attend EU Hearing

Apple has said that it didn’t want a public hearing on its tax evasion issue in Ireland, because the court is set to rule on its appeal on June 21 and a public hearing at this juncture could be detrimental to its case. Apple was ordered to pay 13 billion euros (11.4 billion pounds) in back taxes to Ireland. Both Apple and Ireland have appealed the court’s decision, although after much delay, Ireland has finally created an escrow account into which Apple could deposit the disputed taxes and last month, Apple deposited the first instalment into it.

Samsung Must Pay Apple $539 Million

The jury has ruled that Samsung must pay Apple the above amount, around $140 million more than the previous order, for infringing on some of Apple’s design patents. At issue here was whether Apple deserved compensation on the basis of end value of the device or the value of components that were copied. The jury appears to have gone with the latter. This brings a long-awaited end to a case that has been dragging on since 2011 on designs (like rounded corners) that don’t seem particularly patent-worthy today.

 

Recommendations

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