Amazon expands its assortment of Apple inventory, including the latest devices

Amazon has signed a new deal with Apple that will allow the retailer to increase the selection of Apple products on its site, according to a report from CNET, which Amazon also confirmed. The deal will give Apple-authorized resellers the ability to sell a wide range of devices on Amazon — including Apple’s recently launched iPad Pro, iPhone XS and XR, and Apple Watch Series 4, in addition to Beats headphones.

Previously, these products were only available through Amazon’s third-party marketplace sellers at various price points, or not available at all, CNET noted.

Amazon confirmed the deal to TechCrunch in a statement.

“Amazon is constantly working to enhance the customer experience, and one of the ways we do this is by increasing selection of the products we know customers want,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We look forward to expanding our assortment of Apple and Beats products globally.”

Apple, so far, has not responded to a request for comment.

CNET said the deal will impact the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India.

The deal will also see Amazon removing the listings of Apple products from independent sellers, the report said.

The expansion is not surprising. Apple already allows Amazon to sell some of its devices, including MacBook laptops and Beats headphones.

The companies had been fierce rivals for years, but have been working together more amicably in recent months.

Before, the two had a number of issues between them. Notably, Amazon had stopped allowing the sale of Apple TV on its site, in order to promote its competing product, Fire TV. But Apple CEO Tim Cook announced at WWDC 2017 that Apple and Amazon had come to an agreement, which would also allow Amazon’s Prime Video app to arrive on Apple TV.

The Apple TV also later returned to Amazon. This year, Amazon launched a version of its FreeTime Unlimited service for Apple’s iOS devices, as well.

However, there is one notable exception to the new agreement: Amazon won’t sell Apple’s HomePod.

The HomePod competes with Amazon’s Echo smart speakers, which is a growing opportunity in terms of Amazon’s entry into voice computing and virtual assistants. The retailer also doesn’t sell Google Home speakers at this time.

This magician brings some serious tricks to the iPad Pro

TechCrunch editor Matthew Panzarino’s more conventional iPad Pro review is a must-read if you’re thinking of forking out for the device — tricks not included.

The iPhone is reportedly getting 5G in 2020

The first 5G phones are set to start arriving next year. Motorola plans to bring next-gen connectivity via a Mod for the Z3, and companies like LG and OnePlus have promised to deliver the tech baked into handsets at some point in 2019. iPhone users, on the other hand, may have to wait a bit longer.

The technology is, of course, an inevitability for Apple (along with everyone else, really), so it’s just a question of when. A new report from Fast Company (via the Verge) puts the timing around a year and half out.

The “source with knowledge of Apple’s plans” put the 5G iPhone’s arrival at some point in 2020, with Intel supplying the tech this time out. Apparently Apple and Intel are going through a bit of a rough patch of late, courtesy of heat/battery issues with the 8060 5G modem. Of course, things aren’t rough enough for the company to hit up Qualcomm again.

Given the on-going battle between the two companies, that’s probably a bridge too far. Instead, Apple’s holding out for Intel’s 8161 chip. 5G presents a solid opportunity for Intel to regain some of the substantial ground it ceded to Qualcomm in the mobile market the last time out.

Apple News will launch a real-time election results hub on November 6

Apple is preparing to launch a new way for its customers to track election results. The company, on 8 PM ET on November 6, will swap out the existing Midterm Elections section in the Apple News app, and replace it with a new Election Night section instead. This section will also replace Apple News’ Digest tab at the bottom-center of the app, in order to lead users directly to the special section where they’ll be able to track the live results, updates on key races, latest developments and more.

The company is partnering with the Associated Press for its real-time election results, as do many news organizations thanks to AP’s history and experience with verifying results.

Here, Apple will use that AP data to inform a number of dynamic infographics as well as offer a complete list of federal election results in every state, including House and Senate seats.

These results will update every minute, or you can just “refresh” the page manually to force the update at any time.

If the balance of power in either the House or the Senate is determined by way of the incoming results, Apple News will publish a special alert at the top of the feed and a pop up notification, as well.

The Key Races section, meanwhile, offers another set of live updating infographics, showing the live results from the most interesting House, Senate or Gubernatorial races.

Another section will focus on the latest developments – meaning breaking news headlines and stories related to election night coverage. This will feature news from a variety of sources including Axios, Politico, The Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, The New York Times, CBS, and others.

CBS News, CNN, and Fox News will also contribute video clips to the Election Night hub, while ABC will offer a live video feed. Another live video feed from NBC News will appear in a widget alongside the Live Results infographic.

Apple says users won’t have to authenticate with their TV provider on election night to watch the videos in the hub.

A diversity of news sources was important to Apple, which wanted to have a range of options for people to read, as well as a way to present the news so people could see how it’s being processed across the ideological spectrum.

More importantly, all the news coverage in the hub isn’t being driven by algorithms. For Apple News’ team, Election Night is an all-hands-on-deck type of situation involving real human editors. In fact, human editorial oversight is a key difference between Apple’s approach to news aggregation and curation, compared with competitors like Google, Twitter and Facebook – all of which have come under fire for their outsized roles in the spread of information, and, at times, disinformation.

Apple has been taking the opposite approach, by staffing up an editorial team of former journalists, insteading of leaving news curation to technology.

Apple News is available across iPhone, iPad, and as of this year, Mac devices.

 

 

 

Apple will stop sharing numbers on how many devices it’s selling

Apple shared its latest quarterly earnings report today, but during its call with investors the company’s CFO Luca Maestri also delivered an unexpected announcement: it won’t be sharing unit sales of its iPhone, iPad or Mac anymore.

This gives analysts (and the public) one less item to determine the health of the company, but according to Apple’s leadership, devices sold aren’t a very good indication of the company’s financial health anymore because the company is selling devices at so many price points.

“Our product ranges for all the major product categories have become wider over time and therefore a unit of sale is less relevant for us at this point compared to the past because we’ve got these much wider sales prices dispersion,” Maestri said in the call. “So unit of sale per se becomes less relevant”

The move perhaps reflects just how much Apple’s pricing has stretched toward the high-end in the past year.

The iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099, the Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, the new iPad Pro starts at $799 and the new MacBook Air starts at $1,199. The company is keeping prices pretty consistent on the low-end for iPhone and iPad as it continues to sell older units; that isn’t as true of Mac, which has seen a fairly uniform price bump in the most recent generations of devices (with a $4,999 iMac Pro rounding out the high end).

Unit sales tell a small part of the story. While Apple shipping 46.89 million iPhones this quarter represented flat unit growth, the company’s iPhone revenues jumped 29 percent. That’s because the average sale price of the iPhone went from $793 versus $618 a year ago.

Maestri noted in the call that some of the company’s biggest competitors in smartphone and tablet sales (Google, Samsung) do not break out unit sales in their quarterly earnings reports either. Nevertheless, more data on a company’s performance is better for analysts, so the lack of transparency from Apple here leaves some room for speculation on why they’re making this change now.

Apple beats on Q4 earnings thanks to price hikes, stock still falls 7% after hours

Despite a beat on its Q4 quarterly earnings, Apple shares still managed to take a beating Thursday.

Shares are down 7 percent in after-hours trading after the company released its Q4 quarterly earnings report, detailing $62.90 billion in revenue beating analyst expectations of $61.57 billion, with earnings per share hitting $2.91 beating an expected $2.78 EPS. The results represent a 20 percent year-over-year growth in revenues at the company.

The reason for the after-hours drop? Apple forecasted weaker than expected earnings for the holiday quarter. While analysts were expecting revenue guidance to hit $93 billion, Apple forecasts between $89 billion and $93 billion with a midpoint of $91 billion according to Reuters.

Apple shipped 46.89 million iPhones this quarter, with unit sales staying flat but revenue jumping 29 percent, a result of Apple’s strategy this past year to hike prices of their most high-end devices. The average price of each unit was $793 versus $618 a year ago.

The company shipped 9.7 million iPads (a 6 percent decrease YoY with a 15 percent revenue decrease) and 5.3 million Macs (a 2 percent decrease YoY). Revenue on “Other Products,” which includes Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod, AirPods and Beats headphones, climbed 31 percent.

The company surprisingly announced on its investor call that in subsequent quarters it would stop breaking out unit sales of iPhone, iPad and Mac and would only report revenues. They will also be renaming “Other Products” to “Wearables, Home and Other Accessories.”

Beyond wrenching more money from users with hardware upgrades, Apple has continued the trend of pulling more revenue from user services like Apple Music, Apple Care and iCloud. The company reported that its Services division reached “an all-time-high of $10 billion in revenue” (well, actually $9.98 billion), climbing 17 percent year-over-year. That’s a slowdown in growth rates from last quarter where Services revenue climbed 31 percent year-over-year, though Apple notes this quarter’s numbers included a one-time accounting adjustment of $640 million.

Among the big geographical segments there was pretty unified growth in revenues. The Americas region jumped 19 percent, Europe popped 18 percent and Greater China went up 16 percent year over year. Apple saw more substantial growth in Japan (34 percent).

It’s been a rough past few weeks for the Nasdaq; tech stocks have been floundering, though Apple has weathered the storm far better than most on the heels of several new hardware announcements. Earlier this week, the company introduced new models of the iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini at an event in New York. This comes on the heels of the release of three new iPhone models and a redesign of the Apple Watch.

Over the past several months, the company has been bumping the prices of its newest devices, promoting a broader spread between their older releases and newest devices. The iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099, the Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, the new iPad Pro starts at $799 and the new MacBook Air starts at $1,199.

The original version of the article has been updated to correct Apple’s revenue and analyst forecasts

Nomad releases a stunning wireless charging pad with Apple Watch dock

With Apple’s AirPower still missing in action, the Apple accessory ecosystem has been attempting to fill the need with similar products. Some of these third party products are better than others, and the new Base Station from Nomad looks to be the best of them all.

The Base Station does two things. One, it wireless charges up to three mobile devices. Two, it charges an Apple Watch through an integrated Apple MFi-certified Magnetic Apple Watch charger. More so, it looks great.

A padded leather surface covers three charging coils allowing the unit to recharge up to three devices — or one device laying horizontally across the pad. Each of the coils are Qi-certified and output at 7.5W. As for the Apple Watch, it can only be recharged using the included magnetic charger unless Apple activates Qi-compatibility through a software update.

The Nomad Base Station is available now for $120. Don’t have an Apple Watch? The same charging base is available for $20 less and still supports up to three devices.

Siri Shortcuts app gets updated with weather, alarms, timers and more

Alongside today’s announcements of new iPads and Mac, Apple also rolled out an updated version of its Siri Shortcuts app. The app, first introduced at WWDC, arrived with iOS 12 as a way to unlock Siri’s potential by allowing users to create their own custom voice commands and workflows. Now, it can do a few new things, too – including setting alarms and timers, getting the latest weather, and more.

The weather actions should be especially useful for those who have created custom morning routines with Siri Shortcuts, as you’ll now be able to use the latest weather in your shortcuts with the new “Get Current Weather” and “Get Weather Forecast” actions. Being able to ask for this sort of information is already among the top use cases for voice assistants, like Alexa and Google Assistant, so it makes sense to offer these sorts of commands to Siri Shortcuts users, as well.

Also helpful are the new “Create Alarm,” “Toggle Alarm,” and “Start Timer” actions, which addressed another notable hole in the Shortcuts app at launch. Many people were confused about how to use alarms within the app because these actions weren’t available, and the request often came up on Apple’s own support site, too. The new release, Siri Shortcuts 2.1, addresses this problem.

Other new actions include the ability to convert between a variety of units from the “Measurement” and “Convert Measurement” actions, and the ability to get the most recent set of imported photos from the Photos app using the “Get Last Import” action.

The app also fixes a problem with using Siri Shortcuts with HomePod. It will now automatically play back media from the HomePod over AirPlay, when you run the shortcut from HomePod via Siri – which just makes more sense.

Siri Shortcuts version 2.1 is the first major update following the app’s release with iOS 12. However, the app today still largely appeals to iOS power users – those who were already comfortable using its predecessor, Workflow, and who understand how to build routines.

More mainstream users are likely being exposed to Siri’s expanded powers through their favorite apps. With iOS 12, a number of top developers updated their apps with “Add to Siri” buttons that point out special tasks their apps can perform by way of voice. Early adopters on this front included Pandora, The Weather Channel, Sky Guide, Citymapper, Google News, TripIt, Trello, Monster, and others.

The updated version of Siri Shortcuts is available for download from the App Store.

Up close and hands-on with the new iPad Pro

The new Pro marks what is arguably the single largest design change to the iPad line in its eight and a half year existence. In fact, the new slate is almost unrecognizable as an iPad from the front, on.

That’s probably a good thing, of course. The tablet-defining line was long overdue do for a rethink. After nearly a decade in existence, it’s time to shake off the cobwebs. And naturally, most of the design upgrades on the new product will ultimately filter down to the rest of the line.

As a starting point, however, Apple took a good, long look at the iPhone for a few insights into to how remove some of that unsightly bezel. Not altogether, of course — after all, the user needs somewhere to put their hands.

Anyone who’s ever held the iPhone X in their hands can tell you that your fingers and the edges of your hands still have the tendency to accidentally come into contact with the screen, which is a perfectly fine way to mess yourself up, mid-game. As such, there’s still the remnants of black bezel around the edges here.

The loss of the home button feels like a big deal, from a legacy standpoint, at least. The iPad marks the last stand for the familiar design flourish. As someone who’s been carrying around an iPhone XS for some weeks, however, I can attest to the fact that you won’t ultimately miss it.

The key is getting used to the new interactions in iOS, swiping down from the bottom to close an app, for example. The iPad, however, marks the intersection between the iPhone and Mac experience, so there are a lot more options here for interaction, including, notably, the menu bar borrow from MacOS. The much larger screen real estate, meanwhile (11 and 12.9 inches), means gestures don’t have to do nearly as much heavy lifting as with the iPhone.

The device is certainly thing, as advertised, leaving the edges — while rounded — feeling a bit sharper than on their predecessor. The rear of the device, with its brushed, space gray aluminum, meanwhile, brings nothing to mind more than the latest MacBooks, marking an interesting sort of aesthetic consistency that we really haven’t seen at this level between iOS and MacOS devices.

You’ll find the camera at the top of the device — the thinner design does mean it juts out a bit here, so as ever, you’ll probably want to nab a case to keep that bit safe. Along the bottom are a trio of magnetic connectors for the optional keyboard case, which will also help orient the device when it’s time to put it back.

Along the bottom edge, you’ll find the USB-C port. Far and away the most surprising change here, as Apple abandons its long standing proprietary connector in favor of something far more universe — and, as it happens, something that sends power both ways, making it possible to charge your phone and smaller devices with the iPad itself.

Something Apple didn’t mention during its keynote, however, is the sad, inevitable end of the headphone jack. RIP, little buddy.

On the top edge is a small gray patch. That’s where the new Apple Pencil connects magnetically on its single flat edge (which has the added bonus of making sure it doesn’t roll away when it’s on a table). Apple’s added a nice touch to iOS here, which pops up a charging status for the pencil when it’s connected to the top of the device.

Apple Fall Event 2018

Apple adds 60 more ‘Today at Apple’ sessions covering Pro tools, Siri Shortcuts, AR and more

Apple is expanding the number and types of classes it hosts at its retail stores, under the banner of “Today at Apple.” The company says it’s adding 60 more sessions at its stores, including those focused on using its newer apps, like Siri Shortcuts and Clips, as well as those focused on AR, art, music, family photo-taking and more.

According to Apple SVP of Retail, Angela Ahrendts, Apple has hosted over 18,000 sessions per week, since the launch of the “Today at Apple” program 18 months ago. It also updated the Apple Store app in the latest release to better highlight sessions tailored to individual users based on the devices they own, as well as other signature programs.

Now, it’s expanding the lineup.

The focus of the newly designed sessions will be on using Apple’s latest technologies, like Siri Shortcuts and augmented reality, Ahrendts said.

It’s also creating its first video lab called “Small Screen Magic” in partnership with video creator Zach King where people will learn how to shoot and edit videos using Apple’s Clips app.

Another session will be a photo lab called “Fun Family Portraits,” which will feature the use of Live Photos, filters and Apple Pencil.

Meanwhile, a new design lab called “Drawing Treehouses” has been co-created with architects Foster + Partners – which collaborated with Apple on Apple Park. The course will teach architectural principles through the lens of fantasy.

A new Pro series will cover skills for Mac owners, like a video lab that teaches Final Cut Pro and a music lab involving Logic Pro.

The company says it’s also expanding spaces for sessions, by adding Forums at over 70 stores per year.

Apple Fall Event 2018