It’s been a quiet start to 2018 for Apple. But there are some signs of that changing soon.
This week, we heard reports that Apple is planning a March event that could play host to new iPads and at least one new accessory: its AirPower wireless charging mat. Meanwhile, Apple could be delivering a major update to its AirPods wireless earbuds, and it appears poised to control a sizable portion of the smartwatch market for the next several years.
Still, as in previous weeks, much of the Apple news over the past several days has centered on rumors and reports from unidentified sources. Actual news from Apple has been limited, to say the least.
Could that spell a big second half of 2018 for Apple? Or might this year be a rather dull one? Of course, Apple isn’t saying. So all we’re left with is speculation.
Read on for a dose of that speculation and other news surrounding the tech giant:
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- Apple is working on a major update to its AirPods, according to a Bloomberg report this week. The AirPods, which could be released this year, will come with full support for the company’s virtual assistant Siri, according to Bloomberg. With Siri’s help, AirPods owners will be able to control smart home devices and play music with vocal commands. Apple could also release a second version next year that would be water-resistant.
- The Apple AirPower wireless charging mat that the company unveiled last year will be released next month, according to a report. The mat, which will allow users to charge their iPhones, Apple Watches, and AirPods wirelessly without needing to plug them in to a wall, will be available at both Apple stores and Best Buy retail locations. It’s believed Apple will reveal final pricing and availability at a March event, where it will also showcase new iPads and MacBooks, according to reports.
- Apple is said to be in talks with cobalt miners about acquiring the metal directly from them. Cobalt is a required ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries Apple uses for its iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, among other devices. Cobalt is in high demand, but has limited supply. By buying cobalt directly, the company could ensure it has access to the precious metal for its future devices.
- The HomePod has captured 3% share of the U.S. smart speaker market since its release earlier this month, according to researcher Loup Ventures. The company’s survey of 520 U.S. consumers found that Amazon’s Echo owns 55% of the smart speaker market. Amazon is followed by Google’s Home, which has 23% market share.
- Apple sold 8 million Apple Watch units in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to data from market researchers Canalys and IDC. It was the best quarter ever for Apple Watch, according to the researchers. Apple Watch sales were up 32% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016 and were enough to top all Rolex, Omega, and Swatch sales combined.
- In an interview with Fast Company this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he wishes public company quarterly earnings reports would be eradicated. He said that companies shouldn’t be measured by the past 90 days of performance, since the average corporation’s “investments are long term.” He added that quarterly earnings will sometimes not provide a full picture of the company and what its future chances of success are because investors don’t know everything going on behind the scenes that can’t be announced at that time.
One more thing…Apple’s HomePod might soon have another competitor. This week, Spotify posted job postings for an unidentified hardware project. Most industry watchers think the music-streaming provider could be working on a HomePod alternative.