Every month, we’ll bring you a handful of gratuitously gifted, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be explanations of potential Apple product strategy moving forward, reflections on the long-lasting legacy of a departing Apple staffer, or speculation about what the future holds for Mac software from the developers that build the apps you know and love. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- As June was drawing to a close, famed designer Jony Ive announced his departure from the company he’s been at for a long time. While Apple’s Chief Design Offer has given no official timeline for his departure, there’s plenty that has been said about Ive’s legacy and the lasting designs he’s leaving behind. The New Yorker writes that, for better or worse, we now live in Jony Ive’s world, whether that’s the iPhone that you carry with you every where you go, or the overwhelming sense that with every physical iteration of smartphones or other technology, we get further away from the physical world altogether.
The smooth, minimalist Ive aesthetic will make its appearance among other products in the world, to the extent that all of those products haven’t been already subsumed by Apple products.
The transcript of yesterday’s post-earnings call from Apple CEO Tim Cook and other Apple execs tell us about the things that we don’t get from figures alone. Services continues its upward trajectory, with over 1 billion Apple Pay transactions per month, with Apple’s Services category accounting for 21% of revenue but 36% of gross margin. Cook also had a bit to say about how the iPhone trade-in program was going well, the best-ever June quarter from Apple Retail, and a few other bits and pieces.
Today at Apple sessions at Apple Stores now offer a new experience in the form of augmented reality experiences. They’re called [AR]T Walks, and are comprised of an outdoor interactive walk featuring contemporary artists, as well as an in-store component that teaches AR using Swift Playgrounds and an AR art installation viewable in every Apple Store worldwide. Apple’s newsroom post has more details on how the AR experiences were created in partnership with a New York art museum, and [AR]T Walks become bookable at your local Australian Apple Store starting August 10.
Over the weekend, The Guardian published a story revealing how third-party contractors listen to audio recorded by Siri as part of quality control. While that’s not too surprising in and of itself, the internet was up in arms about the fact that this kind of analysis isn’t completely disclosed by Apple anywhere, and the fact that there’s no way to opt-out of having your audio recorded and sent onto third parties for analysis. While Apple released a statement to The Guardian saying that it took every precaution to anonymise recordings so they couldn’t be associated with specific individuals, the content of the recordings often gave those details away anyway. The bottom line is, people seem to be uncomfortable with other humans listening to audio recorded by their devices, even though that’s a major part of improving these kinds of systems.
And just like that, Apple has announced its acquisition of the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business. If you’re wondering how much One Instagram, or US $1 billion is worth in 2019, it’s equivalent to 2,200 Intel employees, intellectual property, and equipment, and leases, once the transaction closes in Q4 2019. The arrangement will still allow Intel to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, and as Apple’s SVP of hardware technologies Johnny Srouji says, "will help expedite our development on future products and allow Apple to further differentiate moving forward".
A report from the Wall Street Journal claims Apple is in the final stages of negotiating a deal to buy Intel’s modem chip business. As part of the deal, rumoured to be around the US $1 billion mark, Apple will secure a number of cellular-modem related patents and technology from Intel, as well as some personnel transfers, providing a shot in the arm to Apple’s own own modem efforts. In the long run, Apple making their own cellular modems will reduce their reliance on third parties, whether that’s paying less royalties, or being less bound to their release schedules and cadences, so it’s not hard to see where Apple benefits from this deal.
A Bloomberg profile of Apple COO Jeff Williams says he’s much more like current Apple CEO Tim Cook than he is like the late Steve Jobs. Williams is now the second most important person at Apple after Cook, and although he comes from the same operational background as Cook, his hands-on approach to product development means he’s been positioned as Cook’s successor for a number of years now, according to several Apple sources within the company.
A rumour claims Apple will start sourcing OLED displays from LG soon, perhaps even starting with this year’s iPhones. As reported by MacRumors, Samsung is currently believed to be Apple’s sole supplier for OLED displays, which can cause problems if anything ever goes wrong. Apple is believed to be investigating LG for OLED displays as early as this year, with Chinese company BOE also on the cards for supplying OLED displays.
A new rumour from the Apple supply chain has Digitimes claiming that next year’s iPhone will feature a time-of-flight 3D sensor as part of the rear camera array. This new tech, similar to the Face ID sensors on the front of current iPhones, will allow for better 3D image capturing, which, among other things, will power even better augmented reality experiences. While Face ID is optimised to work at a certain short distance, a rear-facing implementation would need to work at ranges of many more metres to be useful.
New emoji are coming to the iPhone in Spring, which means they’ll either arrive with iOS 13, or one of its more minor updates later in the year. Apple highlights new emoji which allow for more inclusive and diversity in emoji, new disability-focused emoji, as well as plenty of updates for existing emoji categories like food, smileys, clothing, and animals.