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Apple Car is back, more live activities support, and AirPods lead the way

Appleviews – 09th December 2022

Apple Car
image courtesy of Apple

Is there any such thing as a slow news week?

Apple’s car is back in the news…again – but more of that in a bit.

So, winter has finally hit the UK this week, and I now reminded of what cold is all about. But, even as the chills grip my brain cells, I have still managed to find som tid-bits of Apple gossip. So, let’s start off with that Apple Car news.

Driver required

The last I heard about the future of Apple’s Titan project was in the summer.

At that point, the rumours were that the car would be autonomous. Well, it appears that the powers that be realised that would be a lot longer coming to fruition than they had initially hoped for. With numerous changes in management, and redundancies, the project has certainly not been without its fair share of problems along the way.

The fully autonomous version of Apple Car was to have no steering wheel, or even a brake pedal. Bloomberg News reported this week, though, that the company have now set their sights on first producing a full EV, and then, later, follow that up with their driverless dream.

An autonomous car that is suitable for pedestrian, and obstacle free motorway, or highway driving, is a far easier proposition than creating a car that is suitable for city situations. Also, this style of more traditional EV, should mean it will cost less than $100,000.

The earliest we can expect to see the driverless vehicle is now slated for around 2026…but watch this space!

More apps for Live Activities

If you recall, one of the key features of iOS 16.1, which was released in September, was Live Activities.

The idea was to allow users far easier access to follow real-time activities such as sports games & results. Notifications also appear in Dynamic Island for iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max users.

The plan had always been that third-party apps would come on-board, and support the feature. This week, it seems, that is becoming a reality. At WWDC, Live Activities was shown with support from Nike, Starbucks, and Uber.

In the latest release of both the Uber, and Uber Eats apps, there is now support for Live Activities. Although not on public release, it is thought the functionality is being tested internally. When it is finally fully released, it will make tracking your driver or food delivery, easier, and quicker.

The next companies likely to be ready to support Live Activities are Flighty, FotMob, and Citymapper. No timeframe has yet been revealed for any of these apps to go live, though.

AirPods still the boss

Ever since the first release of AirPods in 2016, they have been a firm favourite. It appears, almost everyone you see using earbuds, are using Apple’s version. It turns out, that vision, may not be far from the truth.

Apple has a 31% share of the global earbud market, which is three times larger than their nearest competitor. And, worryingly, for those other companies, Apple’s steal on the marketplace, only seems to be growing.

The release, and universal praise for AirPods Pro 2 this fall, cemented their position at the top of the earbud stack. The latest AirPods Pro 2 accounted for a further 4.2 million of the units being shipped during September – or 20% of all AirPod shipments in that period.

Including the Beats range of earbuds, Apple shifted 23.8 million units in Q3 of this year. That number represents a 30.9% share of the earbuds sold, and it was a year-on-year growth of 34%.

The next closest company was Samsung, who sold only 7.4 million units in the same quarter. Those sales reflected a 15% drop on annual sales.

Sing your heart out

This week, Apple released Apple Sing. Currently, it is only available to testers in the beta program. Apple Sing is available in iOS 16.2, iPad 16.2, and tvOS 16.2.

With the party season about to hit full swing, consider this new feature to be Apple’s attempt at bringing karaoke to your Apple ecosystem.

The app, which runs on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, will give you realtime lyrics to sing along with. The lyrics will move in time to the music. You’ll be able to duck the volume of the original singer, and there will be a duet option as well.

On launch, 50 playlists will be available for Apple Sing, and they will include those duets, choruses and banging anthems.

When on full release, Apple Sing will work on any iPhone 11, most iPads, and the latest, third gen Apple TV 4K.

End-to-end encryption

I covered this breaking story in full, yesterday.

Apple has added Notes, Photos and iCloud backups to the list of categories that now have end-end-encryption. The Mail, and calendar apps are not yet supported as they need to interoperate with global servers that are not yet updated.

End-to-end encryption means that data can only be decrypted on your trusted device, that is signed in to your iCloud ID. It means that no one, apart from you, has access to the data. You can only recover the data using your device passcode or password, recovery contact, or recovery key.

The new, opt-in system, Advanced Data Protection, offers users the highest level of data, and cloud protection that Apple has yet been able to offer.

The FBI and other crime, and law enforcement agencies have voiced concerns over the national terrorism threat that this could cause. There is no capability for any back door access to data, even for the government. Any such loophole, would leave a general security breach a distinct possibility.

You can read about Advanced Data Protection in full here.

It’s official

It seems as if it has been talked about for months, but yesterday, the EU ratified the whole USB-C mandate. The law has now been signed, and published. It means that all new smartphones sold from December 28th 2024 will have to be sold with a USB-C charging port. The goal of the law is to reduce electronic waste, as many consumers throw away chargers and cables when they upgrade their phones.

The future for Apple, will now be either to charge via USB-C, or go portless, and charge via their proprietary MagSafe cable.

Mark Gurman, and Ming-Chi Kuo have both reported that next year’s iPhone 15 will support USB-C charging. But, with the law stating that only phones sold after 28th December 2024 have to be sold with USB-C, it potentially gives Apple a further year’s grace yet.

What went on…

So, do you recall that Elon Musk, and Apple CEO, Tim Cook met at Apple HQ last week? On the face of it, it was to sort out the Twitter tantrum, and the 30% fee that Musk will need to pay every time Twitter is installed on an iPhone via the App Store.

But, one can’t help but wonder what else may have been spoken about at that meeting. Teslascope, a highly respected Tesla leaker site, reports this week, that Apple Music may finally be coming to Tesla cars.

To date, Tesla has only supported either Spotify, or Tidal as in car, streaming music apps. But, Teslascope have details of a new software update for the cars that includes;

  • support Apple Music
  • MyQ garage improvements
  • New games

If this turns out to be true, it would mean Tesla drivers, would be able to enjoy the high-quality audio of Apple Music, and, Spatial Audio too. Technically, we know Spatial Audio is possible to achieve in cars, as it is soon to be launched in Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Quick on the uptake

It seems us iPhone users love to install iOS updates quickly.

As we approach the 100-day anniversary since the release of the latest iPhone OS, almost 70% of compatible devices now have it installed.

Mixpanel reported that iOS 16 is installed on 68.9% of devices. That uptake is quicker than it was for last year’s iOS 15. iOS 15 is still running on 24.82% of devices, though, with older iPhones that run on older OS, accounting for the other 7%.

iOS 16.2 will be released to the public later this month, and will support Advanced Data Protection, Apple Sing, a refresh to the always-on display, and some new lock screen widgets.

And finally

Changes to AirDrop, that were only enforced in China, now seem likely to be rolled out globally in 16.2.

Until now, you had three choices for AirDrop – Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone. But now, the Everyone setting, which means anyone nearby can send you files, will be restricted. After a 10-minuet window, it will revert to contacts only.

When first launched in China, Apple drew criticism for this change. Protesters in China had been using AirDrop to spread posters and other content in opposition to the Chinese government.

The Chinese government is believed to have made the change request to Apple, and Apple complied with that request.

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