Apple, the juggernaut just keeps on ticking
The world of technology appears to have come to a standstill in the past months. For obvious reasons, having millions of people working from home means that collaborative projects can’t continue in the same way they did before this crisis began. The net result is that for many tech firms, product launches have either been canceled or postponed indefinitely. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Apple. The world’s biggest tech company has sent most of its staff away to work from home, but it appears to be pressing ahead with the launch of most of its 2020 range anyway.
This was always going to be a huge year for Apple. In many ways, they started it off last year with a statement of intent by launching Apple Arcade in September 2019. The aim of the gaming portal is to become the equivalent of an online slots service for traditional gamers. Online slots websites like Dove Casino work by gathering hundreds of games together in one place, and allowing users to play them using almost any device that has a screen and can connect to the internet. While Google was expected to become the online slots equivalent for video-gamers, the launch of Stadia has been a total disaster for the firm. Apple Arcade didn’t capture quite as many headlines upon launch, but it’s winning players over slowly and has so far been trouble-free in terms of performance.
With that slowly-building success carrying on in the background, the company raised a few eyebrows more recently by acquiring Dark Sky, the weather app. This wasn’t an expected move and has been interpreted by some industry voices as a means of taking another swipe at Google. The Dark Sky app – which offers localized and accurate weather reporting – was popular with Android users, and had been downloaded from Google’s Play Store millions of times. All Android users are now going to lose access to the app by the middle of summer. This isn’t consistent with the way Apple has dealt with previous acquisitions of apps that were popular on Android (Shazam, for example), and has prompted some outcry from users of the Android app. It does, however, allow the company to replace the tired-looking iOS weather app.
New products like Apple Arcade, and new acquisitions like Dark Sky, are one thing. New versions of existing products are quite another. Nobody would complain if Apple slowed down a little in the face of the unprecedented situation that the world is currently facing, but all signs point to the idea that they’re looking to do the complete opposite. If Bloomberg’s reporting is to be believed – and we have no reason to suspect that it isn’t – this is going to be a bumper year for Apple product fans, with several new pieces of hardware that we didn’t know about appearing alongside those that we did. Bloomberg’s sources have apparently said that new versions of the iMac, HomePod, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and MacBook Pro are all in advanced testing stages, and are still on schedule to reach users this year. That’s in addition to the Apple Ring, which was tentatively slated for a late 2020 release last time anyone saw any reliable information on the matter.
If there’s going to be any delay at all, it’s likely to be to the iPhone 9. Although there’s never been any confirmation from Apple, many independent news sources believed that the phone might make an appearance as soon as April 5th. Given that the announcement of a new iPhone is usually accompanied by a major press call – a press call of the kind that it’s impossible to hold at the moment – the company might hold back on the launch. Even if they were to announce the phone through promotional videos instead of an in-person party, the current rules regarding social distancing and lockdown that cover most of the world would prevent people from going out and buying it. Whether or not we were originally going to see the iPhone 9 in early April, it now seems more likely that it will be held off until May at the earliest. There seems to be little point in releasing a phone that nobody can go out and buy.
While the rest of the world has been using Zoom or Houseparty to communicate – with some regrettable results in both cases when it comes to privacy concerns – it’s understood that Apple’s key employees have been in regular contact through FaceTime, which remains the company’s default video calling tool. Because of these FaceTime sessions, the development of new Apple software is also believed to have carried on unimpeded by the global lockdown. IOS 14 is at or approaching the point of completion, and a further announcement should be made regarding that shortly. The next generation of Apple Watch software, watchOS7, is also close to being ready for release, and we should know more about that in the near future, too. As the software can be pushed through to devices without the need for anyone to endanger themselves by going outside to upgrade, there should be no implementation issues as soon as both projects are complete.
We could all use a distraction from world news at the moment, and so the more positive news about new Apple products we can bring to you, the better. It remains to be seen whether Bloomberg has been too optimistic with its forecast of what sounds like a busy production schedule for Apple, or whether Apple is going to surprise us all by pushing out product after product during a time when most of their rivals are doing nothing at all. If there are a few more surprise buying decisions in the pipeline – and after the shocking purchase of Dark Sky, it’s impossible to rule that out – then this might be Apple’s busiest year in living memory. We’ve come to expect the unexpected off this company. Setting new productivity records during the most unproductive period that most of us can remember would surely be one of the most unexpected things we’ve ever seen from Apple, but we wouldn’t put it past them.