Apple's AI Push

it's getting real.

Welcome back! 🍎
Here’s what’s new with Apple.

  • Apple acquired another AI company

  • AirPods are about to get a significant upgrade

  • More big changes to sideloading

  • Apple vs Epic (continued)

  • & more!

📖 Read time: 4.1 minutes

📊 Poll

In the last poll, I asked: When did you first upgrade to an M-series Mac?

Shocked at how many don’t have one!

Here are some of my favorite replies:

M1 - “The M1 MacBook Air was my first introduction into Macs and only ever used Windows PCs before this. Probably the best laptop I’ve ever used in my life, and tempted lately to upgrade to the new M3 MacBook Air.”

I don’t have one - “Oh man, are we ever due, but for the “Average Joe” I feel Apple computers can last a long time! Amongst close family members we’re getting by on a 2010 + 2011 iMac, 2011 MBP, and 2018 iMac 5K as the primary. It’s unreal that a 14yr old computer is still useful! Always maxed out specs when we purchased. M3 MBA may be our first Apple silicon. Holding out for the M3 Pro Mac Mini to replace the 6yr old 5K iMac.”

This week: Would you purchase an iPhone 16 if it was the only iPhone compatible with Apple’s upcoming generative AI features? Why or why not?

Would You Buy iPhone 16 for the AI features alone?

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🗞️ The Latest

⚙️ Apple Buys Another AI Company

Reuters

Apple has acquired Canada-based startup DarwinAI to further build out its AI team.

  • According to Bloomberg, the sale occurred earlier this year but was not made public until this week.

  • Dozens of DarwinAI’s employees have joined Apple’s artificial intelligence division.

  • One of DarwinAI’s core technologies is “making artificial intelligence systems smaller and faster. That work could be helpful to Apple, which is focused on running AI on devices rather than entirely in the cloud.”

Tim Cook has said that Apple will “break new ground” in AI this year, and we’re expecting to see the first of that progress in June at WWDC.

Bloomberg previously reported that some of these generative AI features will be exclusive to the iPhone 16 models, thanks to their "significantly upgraded Neural Engine.”

However, I would still expect the iPhone 15 series to get some of the new AI features.

🎧 AirPods Upgrade

iOS 18 will be unveiled in June and aside from the AI features, the AirPods Pro could walk away as a big winner as well.

  • Bloomberg reports that the AirPods Pro will be receiving a major new feature with the upcoming release of iOS 18 this Fall: a hearing aid function!

  • They didn’t mention if this feature will be specific to the AirPods Pro 2, but I would assume so given the more powerful H2 chip inside.

  • Regardless, this feature is likely to be shown off at WWDC 2024 in June.

The WSJ reported on this feature back in 2021, citing Apple’s plans for an upcoming AirPods Pro model that functions as a hearing aid and would also be able to monitor body posture & body temperature.

We haven’t heard anything further on posture or temperature tracking, but that could come with the next gen AirPods Pro.

  • Hearing aids are already very expensive, so if Apple can add this feature to existing AirPods Pro models, that will be a major selling point moving forward.

  • Even if this feature is limited to an upcoming model of AirPods Pro, I see it being a very compelling option for many users who weren’t even interested in AirPods before.

📲 Sideloading, Enhanced

Sideloading made its debut with iOS 17.4, but with the upcoming iOS 17.5, it will become even more useful to those living in the EU.

  • This week, Apple announced that users will soon be able to download apps directly from websites!

  • According to the eligibility requirements, the company/developer will need to: “Be a member of good standing in the Apple Developer Program for 2 continuous years, and have an app that had more than 1 million first annual installs on iOS in the EU in the prior calendar year.”

  • So, more gatekeeping. I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU made Apple open this up to a broader range of companies.

  • They also announced that as of today, 3rd party app stores are allowed to offer apps solely from their own catalog.

  • And when directing users to complete a transaction on their website, developers can also now choose how to design promotions, discounts, and other deals. The Apple-provided design templates are now optional.

All of these changes are part of Apple's Digital Markets Act (DMA) compliance plan.

What’s Coming Next

  • iOS 17.4.1 is coming as early as Monday since Apple was rushed (by the EU) to release iOS 17.4 last week. This will be a bug fix and security fix update that will be released to everyone.

  • Many features were left out of the final version of 17.4, most of which I’d expect to return in iOS 17.5. We should see the first Betas roll out next week.

  • macOS Sonoma 14.4 has caused USB hubs to stop working for many users. Expect Sonoma 14.4.1 to address this.

  • Gurman just reiterated that Apple is preparing a special build of iPadOS 17.4 for the new iPads coming at the end of March/early April.

🥊 Apple vs Epic (continued)

Last week, we discussed how the whole Apple vs Epic Games feud got reignited. Now, there’s more drama.

  • Apple banned Epic’s developer account last week, but ultimately reversed the decision and allowed Epic to retain their dev account.

  • Now, Epic Games is accusing Apple of violating a court ruling that requires them to allow developers to link to outside payments.

  • Epic also says that Apple requires developers to use a specific “Plain Button Style,” which Epic says “is not a button at all” and violates the injunction on Apple forbidding developers from steering.

  • In addition, they say Apple has imposed new rules and a new 27% fee on developers for some purchases, which make the links "commercially unusable."

  • A key thing to note here is that the judge’s original injunction didn’t specifically mention steering, so this is far from a slam dunk for Epic. It does still seem to be a solid case, though.

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