An Apple Byte : Stolen Device Protection Update Rolled Out

Apple iPhone users are being urged to use a new feature called ‘Stolen Device Protection’ which was rolled out in a recent update to iOS.

As the new feature’s name suggests, it can help prevent someone who has stolen your device and knows your passcode from making critical changes to your account or device. It means that certain actions will have additional security requirements when your iPhone is away from familiar locations, such as your home or workplace.

The feature protects by including factors like a security delay and the need to authenticate Face ID or Touch ID before certain actions can be taken on a device.

The opt-in Stolen Device Protection feature can be turned on in Settings but requires the use of two-factor authentication for your Apple ID and setting up or enabling the following on your iPhone: a device passcode; Face ID or Touch ID; Find My; and Significant Locations.

An Apple Byte : Apple Launches $3,500 Pro Vision VR Headset

Apple has launched its $3,500 (starting price) Pro Vision Virtual Reality (VR) headset in the US with Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, appearing at its Fifth Avenue New York store to mark the significance of the occasion.

The Pro Vision VR Headset allows users to blend digital content with their physical space and users can navigate just by using their eyes, hands, and voice. The headset can, for example, be used to arrange and use apps, browse the web (in Safari), chat in Messages, play games, watch films and shows, and more.

Apple says the headset has been made for personal and enterprise usage and it joins the Apple Watch and AirPods in the company’s growing wearables category.

An Apple Byte : Apple Tests Contingent Pricing To Retain Developers

To keep its App Store appealing to developers after they gain the right to distribute apps through their own channels when the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) comes into force, Apple is introducing a pilot test of “contingent pricing.”

This means that developers can bundle subscriptions for two apps at a discounted price in the Apple App Store. Apple says that developers can offer customers a discounted subscription price as long as they’re actively subscribed to a different subscription. It can also be used for subscriptions from one developer or two different developers.

Apple says it hopes the move will help developers attract and retain subscribers and that developers interested in offering contingent pricing in their app should start planning now and sign up to get notified when more details are available in January.

An Apple Byte : Apple Makes EU Concessions To Avoid Antitrust Fine

It’s been reported that The European Commission is now seeking feedback from Apple’s rivals and customers over concessions agreed by Apple relating to its tap-and-go mobile payment systems, based on the independent technology called Near-Field Communication (NFC).

Following an antitrust investigation and the threat of a fine, Apple had agreed to open up these systems to third-party developers for their own apps, which would work independently from the Apple ones. This would make it easier for rivals to develop other payment options for iOS-based devices and compete with Apple Pay and Wallet apps.

Rivals and customers have one month to come back with their feedback. Apple has assured them (and the regulators) that it would stick to its agreed concessions saying: “We have offered commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area with an option that will enable their users to make NFC contactless payments from within their iOS apps, separate from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.” 

Tech News : Microsoft Now More Valuable Than Apple

Worries about smartphone demand have been blamed for Microsoft’s stock market value ending a trading session higher than Apple’s last week for the first time since 2021.

How Much? 

Microsoft adding 1 per cent to its stock value compared to just a 0.2 per cent rise from Apple saw Microsoft’s value (market capitalisation) reach an eye-watering $2.887 trillion, compared to Apple’s $2.875 trillion value. LSED data reported that this was Microsoft’s highest-ever valuation.

What Smartphone Demand Worries? 

Apple’s iPhone is still its main cash-cow and a recent cooling in demand for it has worried investors, affecting its market value. Most notably, recent demand worries over Apple’s iPhone can be attributed to:

– Apple facing increased competition from companies like Huawei in China at the same time as China’s economy is making a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Market saturation in the US, meaning a slower pace of customers switching to the newer iPhone models. Analysts predict that Apple’s sales in the U.S. will struggle, experiencing a year-over-year decline.

– Global challenges to the smartphone industry in recent times, such as component shortages, inventory build-up, and lengthening replacement cycles, all compounded by an uncertain macroeconomic environment.

– Internal (but very public) Apple issues, e.g. the (temporary) pause in sales of its latest smartwatch models due to a ruling by the International Trade Commission, and the huge payouts due to those affected by the iPhone throttling scandal.

What Is Microsoft Doing Right? 

Microsoft’s stock value overtaking Apple’s isn’t just down to Apple underperforming. Things that Microsoft has done that have had a positive impact on its own stock value are mainly related to it being a major player and investor in AI. For example:

– The incorporation of OpenAI’s technology (with whom it is an investor and partner – a strategic relationship) across its suite of productivity software (Copilot) that also boost its cloud-computing business in the July-September quarter.

– Its move into AI and incorporating it in its products and Bing helping to challenge Google’s dominance of web search.

– The monetisation of Microsoft’s AI products and services, helping to drive its share value upwards.

– Diversification and growth in cloud computing and gaming. For example, the acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard has helped Microsoft to control popular titles.

– Substantial investments in AI infrastructure, including a $3.2 billion investment in expanding its AI data centre infrastructure in the UK, thereby strategically enhancing its AI capabilities, and asserting dominance in the AI sector.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Microsoft has been a dominant force in the technology world for over four decades but Apple, which has also been around over four decades became the first £3 trillion dollar company last summer. However, with Apple still reliant on its iPhone, which has been around since 2007 as its main cash cow, a slowing in demand (and slump in China), coupled with Microsoft’s gains in cloud computing with its Azure and its major investment in AI has resulted in Microsoft’s significant creep ahead.

Microsoft’s leadership by CEO Satya Nadella (who took over in 2014), its ability to adapt and innovate, and its strategic partnership with OpenAI has all played major roles in its resurgence. That said, it’s facing an antitrust investigation over its apparent closeness to OpenAI which could be a threat to Microsoft’s momentum.

For Apple, all this could signal a need to further innovate and diversify its product offerings and strategies to maintain its competitive edge. Broadly speaking then, Microsoft overtaking Apple’s value for the first time since 2021 could be viewed as reflecting the growing importance and impact of AI and cloud computing in the tech landscape.

An Apple Byte : Apple To Allow Sideloaded EU App Stores

In compliance with the regulations in the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), and following the iOS 17.2 update, it’s been reported that Apple will soon be allowing iOS users to sideload app stores in the EU.

This means that iOS users will be able to download and install apps from sources other than its official Apple App Store, which has previously been the only source for downloading apps on iPhone and iPad.

It’s been reported that sideloading from app stores in the EU could be available to iOS users in the first half of 2024. This opening up of competition to something that Apple has had full control over could affect the company’s revenue if users choose non-Apple channels for app payments.

An Apple Byte : Apple Pays After Throttling iPhones Settlement

Following a US case dating back to 2017 which led to Apple admitting that it has deliberately slowed down some older models of iPhones (throttling), a settlement for compensation payments to affected iPhone owners has been reached.

After agreeing in 2020 to pay, this settlement of the lawsuit means that each of the 5.5 million complainants will receive £72 from Apple’s agreed £394m ($500m) total payout pot.

Unfortunately for Apple, it is still facing another class action lawsuit led by market researcher Justin Gutmann on behalf of 24 million British iPhone users over a similar throttling issue following an update. If it loses, Apple could face an £853 million ($1.03 billion) payout.

An Apple Byte : Apple Watches Back On Sale After Ban

The latest version of the Apple Watch has gone back on sale in the US after being removed from sale by the US Government from 26 December 2023.

Its removal from sale followed claims by medical technology company Masimo that the watch’s pulse oximetry sensors (used to measure how much oxygen is in the blood) violated its patents.

The ban, which applied to the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, has now been halted and the watch has gone back on sale while a court considers Apple’s motion for a longer-term pause during the appeals process. The court has given the US International Trade Commission (ITC) until 10 January to respond to Apple’s request.

An Apple Byte : Push Notification Policy Change

Following U.S. Senator Ron Wyden revealing that governments can secretly force Apple and Google to hand over the contents of push notifications sent to customers’ phones, Apple has said it’s changed its policy and will no longer do so without a valid judge’s order. This will be either a court order or a search warrant.

Push notifications are the pop-up messages that are sent to phones to alert users to new messages, news, and app-based updates. However, since these notifications are routed through Apple and Google servers, Apple and Google can disclose them to governments as part of surveillance about how people are using certain apps.

Apple’s policy change was made to a passage in its guidelines without an official statement although Google issued a statement saying it had always required judicial approval to hand over this kind of information.

An Apple Byte : $4 Jobs Cheque Sells For $46,063

A single 1976 $4.01 cheque from (and signed by) Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has been sold at auction for a whopping $46,063.

The cheque, written just four months after Apple was founded, was written for a purchase at Radio Shack, where co-founder Steve Wozniak famously bought a TRS-80 Micro Computer System.

The components from the computer were used by Wozniak to help build the ‘blue box’ which could enable users to make free long-distance phone calls. Beginning in 1972 the pair reportedly sold around 200 of the blue boxes for $150 each and this was the first commercial collaboration between Jobs and Wozniak.

Steve Jobs is quoted as saying: “If it hadn’t been for the Blue Boxes, there would have been no Apple. I’m 100% sure of that.”