Apple Retail Chief Angela Ahrendts leaves in April
I have to say this was a bit of shocking news dropped this week.
She's only been at the company five years and has radically reshaped the Apple retail experience.
She oversaw both the introduction of the Today at Apple program and a new design language for Apple's retail stores
Ahrendts repositioned Apple stores as community gathering spaces, focusing on experiential retail design.
Apple says Ahrendts is leaving the company for "new personal and professional pursuits."
There was a lot of speculation as to what Ahrendts was going to do next
She told reporters at the Ralph Lauren fashion show in New York she plans to take the summer off and travel and visit her two children who live in London.
There were rumors she would be taking a role at Ralph Lauren where she serves on the board, but the company denied those rumors.
She's going to be replaced by Apple's current ""Vice President of People", Deirdre O'Brien which seems like an odd pick to me.
Her new title is "Senior Vice President of Retail and People"
Her focus will reportedly be, "focus on the connection between the customer and the people, and the processes that serve them" (that sound's good?)
Deirdre was part of the team that planned and launched Apple's very first online and retail stores.
Apple has more than 35 online stores around the world and 506 retail locations across five continents.
Apple patches Group FaceTime bug
Apple released iOS 12.1.4 and a supplemental update to macOS Mojave to address the embarrassing Group FaceTime bug.
The bug created a situation where someone initiating a group FaceTime call could enable the call to connect before the recipient answered. giving the caller access to audio and possibly video without the recipient's permission.
Apple shutdown the service from the server side last week and with updates there and this new patch Group FaceTime functionality should be restored.
The update appears to not only contain the FaceTime patches, "In addition to addressing the bug that was reported, our team conducted a thorough security audit of the FaceTime service and made additional updates to both the FaceTime app and server to improve security."
They found an unidentified vulnerability in Live Photos feature of FaceTime
The update also contained some additional security patches and vulnerability patches including one for security issue in Shortcuts.
The Group FaceTime bug was discovered by a teenager and Apple plans to compensate him for the discovery under their bug bounty program.
Interestingly, patches were not available to iOS 12.2 beta nor macOS Mojave 10.14.4 betas, so Group FaceTime is still disabled there.
In a separate story Apple also has addressed some apps who are using intrusive analytics services to record all the actions customers are taking when using their apps
The practice was revealed by TechCrunch and were being used in apps from Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and others.
The software called Glassbox, is used to give developers customer experience analytics, by creating screen recording that capture how users interact with the apps.
They capture taps, button pushes, and keyboard entries, and send the data back to developers for analysis.
The issue is none of this is disclosed to the users of the apps.
This week Apple informed app developers that this kind of screen recording analytics code needs to be clearly disclosed to customers or removed from iOS apps.
Apple lands comedy from "Always Sunny" stars
Deadline says the cast is being finalized for an upcoming half hour comedy series Apple ordered from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” stars Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney
The show is said to be a “cutting-edge comedy” set in a video game development studio that "will explore the intricacies of the human condition through hilarious and innovative ways."
Apple reportedly made the The straight-to-series deal back in August of last year
Apple also has a deal in place with Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey's production company to produce original content for their video service
This week The Hollywood reports says Harpo hired Terry Wood to be their executive vice president and oversee production for the project with Apple
Most recently Terry Wood was working on unscripted content and comedies at Netflix, including on the launch of David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
As for the content of Harpo shows, Apple said they would, "create original programs that embrace her (Winfrey's) incomparable ability to connect with audiences."
Given the kinds of content Wood's oversaw at Netflix and and the fact it's Oprah I think it's safe to assume at least some of the shows will be unscripted talk or interview based shows.
Apple cellular modems could be a thing
Reuters claims Apple is moved their in-house cellular modem engineering team under hardware leader Johny Srouji
Currently the team operates under the supply chain, so the report has lead to speculation Apple may be getting closer to designing it's own internal modem chips.
Apple recently had a job listing looking for a cellular systems architect in San Diego.
That would mean Apple moving away from Intel which is Apple's sole modem supplier since they cut ties with Qualcomm
This years iPhone's are still expected to use chips from Intel and are not expected to support 5G.
Could mean that in 2020 we see Apple designed 5G modems.
Some beta testers of iOS 12.2 on AT&T are reporting seeing a "5G e" icon
Indicating AT&T's "upgraded" 4G LTE connectivity
AT&T calls it "evolution", though it's misleading as it's NOT 5G and no iPhone's are 5G capable and AT&T doesn't have a 5G network
According to AT&T, its "5G Evolution" network is live in more than 400 markets, with more to come.
According to an AT&T statement given to MacRumors, "The indicator simply helps customers know when they are in an area where the 5G Evolution experience may be available."
HomePod maintained it's small marketshare
According to the latest data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP)
Looking at the US smart-speaker market for December quarter the research firm says Apple's HomePod represents 6 percent of the total installed base of about 66 million units, or roughly 4 million HomePods.
CIRP's figure is based on a survey of 500 Americans with a HomePod, Amazon Echo, or Google Home.
Not surprising that the space is dominated by the Amazon Echo and Google Home which have 70 percent and 24 percent of the market respectively.
The dominance of lower priced point offerings have caused many in the Apple community to hope and speculate that Apple might expand the HomePod line into lower cost offerings.
A patent surfaced this week that could give clues on Apple's thinking about future HomePod features and enhancements
It describes "voice-controlled assistant device such as a 'countertop speaker'"
Mentions sensors and cameras that could be used to gather hand or other three-dimensional gesture input
Also describes identifying users within the vicinity of the speaker using facial recognition
Describes the device possibly having an emoji based avatar that would adapt to the users moods or actions.
Describes other features like ambient light sensing, displaying a sunshine icon if sunny weather is forecast, displaying the logo of a sports team that wins a game, heart rate sensing, and more
iPhone upgrade cycle four years
Did we really need an analyst to tell us this?
Maybe. Coming from Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. He says the average iPhone upgrade time has increased to four years, up from three years in fiscal 2018.
The reasons, at least for iPhone, devices are lasting longer and prices are higher.
He also thinks as many as 32 percent of the iPhones in use may be second-hand models.
Seems less of an issue to me because these are likely potential new iPhone customers
Thinks some stay in the "used" space as they "upgrade" (new to you)
He also speculates this could be an issue for Services growth, since Apple is not growing it's existing install base.
That base is HUGE and a LOT of them stall aren't using Apple's services.
This is obviously creating a problem for Apple with regards to iPhone upgrades. It's also leading to allegations Apple is getting aggressive at retail when pushing upgrades
Mark Gurman at Bloomberg reported this week that the company has been advising technicians to "push iPhone upgrades to consumers with out-of-warranty devices .
And 9to5 Mac has a source who claims this is the new policy at Apple Retail locations.
Chance Miller reported having an experience with trying to get service on is XS Max where the greeter said, “Have you considered upgrading to a new iPhone recently?” Obviously mistaking his XS Max for a "X?
They say in some stores employees are being told to pitch iPhone upgrades to customers waiting for Genius Bar appointments.
Years ago, back in the mid 90s, I was working at an ad agency and ended up doing a bunch of IT related stuff.
One of my jobs was to find and recommend software and business tools that fit the companies goals and needs.
Back then the internet was just getting started so, researching and finding the right software was incredibly challenging.