Appleviews – 17th February 2023
Apple’s Super Bowl halftime show – did you see it? I didn’t watch it live this year, but caught up on it the following morning. The spectacle, and show was ever so impressive, right? I’m not much in to Rhianna, but what a performance.
In fact, let’s start off this week’s Appleviews, with a little look behind the curtain of that Apple epic.
Too good to miss
When Apple were approached about taking on the halftime slot at last weekend’s Super Bowl, they didn’t hesitate to grab the opportunity, quickly, firmly, and with both hands.
Pepsi dropped out last year, and Apple almost immediately signed up on the dotted line – handing over $250 million for the multi-year deal. The Super Bowl halftime show is probably the most valuable 12 minutes of media in the world, and was a perfect match for the brand.
Oliver Schusser, vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said;
“It felt like a no-brainer, to be honest. It felt really natural for us, and it felt like the right moment for us. There’s not much more science behind it than that.”
Of course, being Apple, they have managed to milk the opportunity dry. The plan had always been to take the actual halftime build up, and stretch it out over as many weeks as possible. In the run-up, to the game, they featured Rhianna on podcasts, exclusive wallpapers, radio shows on Apple Music, remixes galore, and featured her on the Apple owned Shazam too.
Oddly, this was a better musical opportunity than the Grammy’s that had taken place only one week before. Only 12.4 million people tuned in to that – compared to the 113 million that watch Rhianna do her thing at the Super Bowl!
Jony back at it
A few weeks back, I mentioned here, that the former Apple design head-honcho, Jony Ive, had been commissioned to design a red nose, for the UK telethon charity, Comic Relief.
Well, the next project to come out from his design consultancy, Love From, is the official emblem that’ll be used for the coronation of King Charles, in May.
Although Ive, officially left Apple in June 2019, many believe he had lost interest in working with Apple, long before that. Having been accused of latterly designing devices that favoured form over function, his latest design briefs, could not be further, or more distant, from technology.
The design was revealed in a Tweet by the Royal Family. The coronation emblem will be used throughout the historic events in May, including street parties, community gatherings and on official merchandise.
More headset news
The troubled release of Apple’s AR/VR headset, has once again been delayed, it would seem.
Coming in to this year, Apple had hoped, finally, to showcase the headset at a spring event. But, sources close to the project said this week that the reason to delay the launch again, was after product testing showed that both hardware and software issues still needed to be ironed out.
I’d imagine, this could now bring in to doubt, whether, there’ll still be an event in early spring.
The headset, was always going to be the show-stopper. Without that, it is really only the Mac Pro, and that could feasibly be released via a press release, rather than a full, expensive, in-person, event.
The intention now, is to reveal Apple Vision at WWDC, in June, instead.
The economy bites
I have previously written how Apple had managed to avoid major job losses, and, in so doing, had bucked the trend in the tech space.
Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft have all laid off thousands of employees over the past few months. But, possibly, Apple are not as impervious to the tech, economic climate as we had first thought.
This week, stories have emerged, claiming that Apple is laying off hundreds of contractors, with immediate effect.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently said that lay-offs were viewed as “a last resort kind of thing.” Technically, contractors are employed by another company, and merely assist Apple employees on projects. So, to the letter of the law, they aren’t actually laying off their workforce.
However, instead of waiting for contracts that are typically renewed every twelve to fifteen months to expire, Apple is firing contractors outright, sources said. This flies in the face of what many contractors were recently assured that all jobs were safe.
Letting contractors go, is an easy way to thin out the workforce since Apple won’t have to pay severance or face potential litigation from employees alleging wrongful termination.
The AI bus comes to a standstill
AI is certainly a hot topic right now.
Apple recently launched some audiobooks, in their Apple Book service, which used AI as voices, rather than trained voice actors. The books are clearly marked as being narrated by artificial intelligence, to allay any confusion.
To help speed the process along, Apple has been working with Findaway Voices. Findaway is a leading audiobook distributor which provided Apple access to its files for the training of machine-learning and voice models.
Clearly, this was as muddy area, as voice actors, felt, possibly fairly, that their voices were now being used, to help dig their own graves. President of the US-based National Association of Voice Actors, Tim Friedlander, dubbed the practice “literally taking the words out of our mouths without our consent.”
After complaints from SAG-AFTRA – which represents recording artists, actors and other creatives, Apple & Findaway, have now agreed to stop uploading audio files of books, for the purposes of machine learning.
Findaway was acquired by Spotify in June 2022.
We all love our Apple gear, right?
It seems we’re not alone, and even elected members of Parliament, can’t help themselves from getting their hands on the latest tech from the Californian company.
Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, this week, got pulled up on the fact she’d bought AirPods and an iPad Pro on expenses. In an interview with Times Radio, Rayner denied that buying these high-end Apple products with taxpayers money, was in any way wrong. Her rebuttal was;
“This is what I’m using to do my job – in fact, I think it’s three years old now – to do my work as an MP, and it’s totally transparent. I don’t think the £1,600 on that is the same as millions of pounds that is being used on these credit cards in an inappropriate way.”
Glad that’s been cleared up then!
Happy Birthday Lisa
The Apple Lisa, Apple’s original GUI-based computer and the precursor to the Macintosh, turned 40 this week. The landmark was recently celebrated at the Computer History Museum.
The event was full of features, and presentations from original team members of the project.
That computer was a completely new take on desktop computing, using a mouse as the graphical interface – which was a notable first. It seems unreal to think, The Lisa cost $9995, that’s around $23,000 in today’s money on release!
The slow 5MHz processor, and problems with the drives generally, meant that Lisa was met with a very muted response.
Despite those drawbacks, the Lisa made a giant impact on the industry back in 1983 thanks mainly to the bitmapped graphical operating system that utilised icons, and drop-down menus.
Large display delays
There have been numerous stories doing the rounds about Apple adding to their range of displays.
The main focus, had been stories about a new, large, mini-LED display. The hopes of it being launched by spring, have been dashed this week, in a series of tweets from panel expert, Ross Young.
Young said there are absolutely no signs of the new display entering mass production, now, or any time soon. That’s a shame, as the rumoured specs for the display sound juicy – with ProMotion support for refresh rates up to 120Hz.
Where the panel will slot in to the line-up is a little unclear. Could it be a new Pro Display XDR or a 27-inch iMac that is yet to get the Apple silicon treatment?
Young thinks the earliest we’ll now see the panel, whatever it ends up being, will be late this year.
We are used to a glitzy show, or ebullient press release when Apple launches a major new product. This time, though, it appears that something big is brewing, that’s quietly slipping under the radar.
The company is trippling it’s data centre capacity this year, making sure their servers and systems, are up to the task. All well and good, but Apple is also beefing up their power capacity. They are about to increase it by 233 percent, reaching a desired capacity of a whopping 2GW.
Now, it could just be that Apple wants to ensure that all the data on iCloud is future proofed, but that much power could also suggest something way bigger, and sexier is planned.
Is it possible that Apple has plans to launch a service to rival ChatGPT?
And with that teaser, I shall totter off in to the distance, and allow you to enjoy your weekend, whatever you happen to be up to.
Me? Well, I will be settling down to the latest episodes of Shrinking, and Truth Be Told. I may even make time to take a look at Apple’s first major movie release of the year – Sharper, which stars Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, and John Lithgow.
Catch ya back here Monday.
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