Apple has just published its financial results for Q4 2017. The company posted revenue of $52.6 billion. Apple sold 10.3 million iPads, 46.7 million iPhones, and 5.4 million Macs during the quarter.
“We’re happy to report a very strong finish to a great fiscal 2017, with record fourth quarter revenue, year-over-year growth for all our product categories, and our best quarter ever for Services,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With fantastic new products including iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple TV 4K joining our product lineup, we’re looking forward to a great holiday season, and with the launch of iPhone X getting underway right now, we couldn’t be more excited as we begin to deliver our vision for the future with this stunning device.”
In an update released for its iOS shopping app, Amazon has introduced a new way of viewing items from the online retailer: AR View. Built on Apple's ARKit technology in iOS 11, AR View provides shoppers with a better understanding of how products will look when placed inside their homes.
AR View is accessed inside the Amazon app by tapping the camera button, then selecting AR View from the assortment of camera options. You'll then get to browse through a limited selection of product categories, such as Living Room, Kitchen, and Electronics; there's also a Top Picks section. Unlike the similar AR experience from IKEA Place, only one product can be previewed in Amazon's AR View at a time. After placing a product in AR, you can move its position or rotate it, and pressing the button with three dots will take you to the full product page for initiating a purchase.
Amazon claims that thousands of items are available in AR View, but currently only a fraction of that estimate appears for me inside the app; we should except the number of AR-compatible items to grow over the coming holiday shopping season. It also wouldn't be surprising to see AR View roll out to other parts of the app in the future, such that if you're viewing the product page for an Amazon Echo, for example, there will be a button that allows you to instantly view the item in AR.
Today's version of AR View is a first step toward enhancing the Amazon shopping experience with AR. There's plenty more work to be done, but it's exciting to see a glimpse into how transformative AR can potentially be for online shopping.
After a miscommunication in August, IKEA has added Alexa and HomeKit support to its Trådfri smart lighting system, which it originally promised back in May. The lighting system includes a gateway, remote controls, and LED lightbulbs that can be mixed and matched in different configurations at prices that are competitive with rival systems. For example, two Trådfri bulbs, a remote, and the required gateway costs $79.99 compared to two similar Philips Hue bulbs and a gateway for $69.99. Each gateway controls up to 10 lightbulbs using one of IKEA’s remotes, an iOS app, Amazon’s Alexa App, Apple’s Home app, or your voice via Amazon and Apple’s smart assistants.
The addition of Alexa and HomeKit support means the Trådfri lighting system can be integrated with smart home accessories from other companies and controlled with any Alexa or Siri-enabled device. The IKEA Trådfri app, which can be downloaded for free from the App Store, lets users control their Trådfri lights, customize settings like the warmth of the the light, and set timers.
The release of HomeKit-enabled devices has accelerated this year. An increasing number of manufacturers like IKEA are also hedging their bets by integrating Alexa support alongside HomeKit support, which is good for consumers who benefit whether they’ve chosen one system over the other or assembled a hybrid Alexa/HomeKit environment.
As part of its earnings report, Nintendo announced today that its iOS game, Super Mario Run, has not yet reached ‘acceptable profits.’ At this point, nearly a year after the game’s debut, it’s hard to imagine when, if ever, that point will be reached barring a major shift in the game’s business model.
Super Mario Run took the App Store by storm in December 2016 breaking download records and topping the charts around the globe. But the game, which is free to download costs $9.99 to unlock all the levels. That’s a steep price by App Store standards for games. About a month later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Super Mario Run had been downloaded 78 million times and earned $53 million in revenue.
In contrast, Nintendo says that Fire Emblem, which was released in February and features a free-to-play model, has met its profit objectives. The same in-game consumables model has been adopted for Animal Crossing: Pocket Park, which is available in Australia and New Zealand but won’t debut in the rest of the world until late November.
I’m not a fan of free-to-play games in general, although they can be done tastefully. Perhaps Nintendo’s profit expectations for Super Mario Run were too optimistic from the start, but it’s hard to argue against free-to-play for a company like Nintendo when even its most beloved franchise is perceived a failure on mobile platforms.
Today Apple released the latest software for Apple Watch: watchOS 4.1. This update includes the previously announced Apple Music streaming, including over cellular, plus the introduction of a brand new Radio app.
In past versions of watchOS, independent music playback was limited to the small assortment of songs and playlists that could be stored locally on Watch hardware. Due to how slow music syncing was, I always considered it too much of a hassle to keep my favorite music accessible on the Watch. Today's update lifts those prior restrictions, though, in a big way. Now Watch owners who are also Apple Music subscribers can stream music, not just from their own library, but also from the service's full catalog of over 40 million songs. This works over cellular on the latest Series 3 models, but it also can be done over Wi-Fi with non-cellular models. Even if you don't plan to stream music sans-iPhone, watchOS 4.1 still includes the added benefit of restoring access to your full iCloud Music Library on Series 3 models: past versions of watchOS allowed this, but watchOS 4 limited your selection to synced music only.
Independent music streaming from the Apple Watch is made even better by the addition of a new built-in watchOS app: Radio. The Radio app enables streaming content from Beats 1 or select other radio stations, such as ESPN, NPR, and genre-based stations. While I would have been more excited by a Podcasts app, it's great to see more of Apple Music's features make their way to the Watch.
For owners of the Series 3 Watch with cellular, there's one last notable update: a new toggle in Control Center for activating and deactivating Wi-Fi on the Watch. So if your Watch gets stuck on a slow or unreliable Wi-Fi connection, you can easily disconnect and fall back to LTE.
For most users watchOS 4.1 is a fairly minor update with little to get excited about – but for those sporting a Series 3 Watch with cellular, it's simply transformative. Paired with AirPods, the Apple Watch can now serve as a powerful and worthy successor to the iPod line. There's something downright liberating about going iPhone-free while staying connected and available, and bringing 40 million songs along with you.
Ahead of the iPhone X’s launch on November 3rd, Apple today released iOS 11.1, the first major update since the OS’ debut in September. While iOS 11.1 doesn’t sport noteworthy enhancements to the iPad’s multitasking and drag and drop experience – arguably, the marquee functionalities of version 11.0 – it still contains welcome additions and fixes for every iPhone and iPad user.
iPhone X first impressions and reviews were published today. Some reviewers have had Apple’s latest iOS device for about a week, while others have had it less than 24 hours. Here’s our roundup of the most interesting insights from what has been published so far.
Over the summer, Microsoft introduced a new Skype app for iOS with a multitude of new features that seemed designed to maintain its relevance in a social media-dominated world. At the time, Microsoft also introduced a preview version of the Skype desktop app that incorporated some of the same features. Today, Microsoft announced that the desktop app has exited preview mode and is being rolled out across several platforms.
The new Skype desktop app includes a lot of new features, but one of the most fundamental that should be welcome to all users is the unification of messaging across platforms. That means messages you receive through Skype will be available whether you’re using the app on a Mac, iOS, Windows, an Xbox, or another device.
In addition, Skype now includes cloud-based file sharing of up to 300 MB of data, customizable themes, and different ways to organize your chat list. Notifications have also been centralized with reactions to your messages, @mentions in group chats, and instances where you have been quoted available in one place. To jump to the spot in the conversation where the notification appears, just click on it. There’s a chat media gallery where you can access all photos, links, files, and other items sent to you too.
Microsoft has added many other bells and whistles. Chat conversations can take advantage of add-ons like event scheduling, sending money to friends and family, searching for GIFs, and more. Video calls and text-based messages can include reactions to let others know your mood, status updates, Twitter-style @mentions, and bots from third parties too. If there was any doubt that Microsoft wants to expand beyond simple voice and video calling, the latest updates to Skype’s apps should put that to rest.
The new version of Skype has begun rolling out to users. If you don’t want to wait for the update to show up, you can manually download it from Skype.com now.
In an update on its developer site today, Apple announced that SiriKit support will be included in the forthcoming HomePod device.
iOS 11.2 introduces SiriKit for HomePod, the powerful speaker that sounds amazing, adapts to wherever it’s playing, and provides instant access to Apple Music. HomePod is also a helpful home assistant for everyday questions and tasks. With the intelligence of Siri, users control HomePod through natural voice interaction. And with SiriKit, users can access iOS apps for Messaging, Lists, and Notes. Make sure your SiriKit integration is up to date and test your app’s voice-only experience today.
When the HomePod was first unveiled at WWDC in June, there was no word regarding whether it would support third-party apps through SiriKit. While some expected further details on HomePod to arrive in September's keynote, that event came and went with no news. Today marks the first time we've learned anything new about HomePod from official sources since its initial introduction.
Messaging, Lists, and Notes are the only SiriKit domains that will work with HomePod at launch, but it's likely we'll see more added over time. This means the HomePod will be able to do things like send messages in Telegram, create tasks in Todoist or Things, and create notes in Evernote.
Information about how SiriKit on HomePod will work is included on Apple's full SiriKit site, which contains the following detail:
Siri recognizes SiriKit requests made on HomePod and sends those requests to the user’s iOS device for processing.
This means SiriKit support on HomePod will take a fundamentally different path than that of competing products like the Amazon Echo. In most cases the Echo's set of third-party Alexa skills can be operated completely independent of another device. For the time being at least, third-party support on HomePod will rely on a nearby iPhone or iPad.
There are still many HomePod details that remain unclear. For example, we don't yet know if SiriKit requests or iCloud requests will be tied to a single user's device, or if a family will be able to interact with the device in a user-specific way. Time will bring the full story into view, but for now, knowing that HomePod will launch with at least some third-party app support is good news.