In 2017, the Apple Watch became the most important wearable in the world

Apple is victorious in the wearable wars at least for now.
Image: bob al-greene/mashable

The Apple Watch conquered all comers and became the most important wearable in the world in 2017.  

The iPhone maker flexed its muscles to take over the young wearable space in a relatively short period. Apple only released its first smartwatch in April 2015, and its latest, the Series 3, is just the third iteration of the device. 

“Apple has shipped 34.4 million smartwatches worldwide since it entered the category in 2015,” said Canalys analyst Vincent Thielke in an email to Mashable. “In other words, Apple accounts for 51.6 percent of all smartwatches ever shipped.” 

These numbers comes from Canalys’ estimates, not an official tabulation from Apple itself, since the company doesn’t publicize total Apple Watch sales — but the estimates still point to dominance in the wearables space, where smartwatches currently reign supreme

The Apple Watch’s success is certainly a result of the company’s status as one of the most popular (and valuable) brands in the world, but it wasn’t Apple’s branding presence alone that made it the wearable king in 2017. 

Third time’s the charm

The biggest reason Apple won the wearable war this year was the realization of the Apple Watch’s potential as a standalone device. 

The addition of LTE connectivity finally showed skittish consumers that the company was willing to cut the link between the smartwatch and the iPhone. Standalone functionality has long been a point of contention for those who couldn’t justify such an expensive device that only served as an extension of the smartphone in their pocket.

That new feature appears to have paid off. Demand for the new Series 3 devices has reportedly outpaced supply, and Apple is primed to sell even more in 2018 as it brings more devices to market. 

Apple isn’t the first with smartwatch with LTE connectivity — LG and Samsung have both released their own standalone devices — but Apple’s market clout helped the feature make more of an impact. Thielke thinks the brand was helped by its strong ties with all of the major wireless carriers, which he said has been essential to showcase the new functionalities.

The Apple Watch Series 3.

Image:  LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Another of the keys to Apple’s success has been its ability to expand its focus beyond fitness and into wider health categories. 

“We’re flipping the page and looking at health,” IDC Research Manager Ramon Llamas told Mashable on a phone call. “People want to know more about themselves and how they can lead a better life.” 

Llamas said an industry-wide focus on health features is giving consumers more value and functionality than the simplistic fitness trackers that once dominated the market, and Apple is leading the charge.

The company teamed up with Stanford researchers for a heart health research study, and the FDA just cleared a mobile electrocardiogram (EKG) band accessory for the Apple Watch from AliveCor. Apple’s top-secret health facility is centered around collecting data for the smartwatch, and rumors about Tim Cook sporting a special glucose-tracking prototype could hint at even more revolutionary features.  

Thinning of the herd

But the Series 3 isn’t perfect. The device is expensive, and a monthly data plan costs extra on top of the already steep purchase price. Apple even admitted in a rare moment of fallibility there was a glitch in how the service worked at launch, although the issue has since been fixed.

The Apple Watch’s shortcomings were trivial compared to the issues faced by other wearable makers during 2017. Competitors faced bigger challenges throughout the year, and some were eliminated from the space entirely. 

Fitbit began the year with layoffs and didn’t release the smartwatch CEO James Park promised until October, while old stalwarts like Jawbone, Motorola, and TomTom totally killed off their operations at various points. Android Wear, meanwhile, is a mess that got no better with version 2.0, which was released in February.

More skirmishes on the horizon

Just because Apple won the war in 2017 doesn’t mean that other companies are totally eliminated from relevancy. Llamas isn’t fully convinced of Apple’s dominance, or if its reign will be permanent. 

“We’re still only talking about a couple million units quarter in and quarter out,” he said. The war might be over, so to speak, but there’s room for other companies to carve out their own space and take a shot at the king.

Apple wasn’t always on top this year, showing that there is space for other makers. Xiaomi topped the wearables market twice during the year with its cheap fitness trackers, and Fitbit clung on stolidly though its ups and downs.

Fitbit Ionic

Image: Raymond Wong/Mashable

Fitbit’s Ionic smartwatch didn’t drop until October, but it just received a slick new OS update that could actually give consumers a reason to check it out. The company, like Apple, is working to develop health-focused technologies for its smartwatch. 

Samsung’s Gear watches could find their own audience, and if Google can find a way to make Android Wear better, other makers like LG could still have a shot at success. The rise of AI could be a major boon here, since Assistant is becoming more ingrained in consumers’ lives through Google’s most recent round of hardware products, and it would make sense for users in the Google ecosystem to open up a spot for it on their wrists.  

For now, though, Apple is on top. 2017 was a good year for the company’s wearable efforts, and the future looks bright. 

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/12/apple-watch-won-the-wearable-war/

You can get that $29 battery replacement, regardless of your iPhones health

Apple hasn’t been super specific when it comes to those $29 iPhone battery replacements. After all, the company would no doubt like to the whole business behind it. What precisely it would take to qualify one’s out-of-warranty handset for the $50 discount hasn’t been spelled out, but it seems to be easier than anticipated. 

The company had previously mentioned the threshold of “anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced,” which seemed to apply to the in-house diagnostic tests it was running on handsets, recommending a replacement once the battery drops below 80-percent its initial capacity. The actual bar, however, is apparently quite a bit lower, with the company allowing for replacement regardless of testing.

The news was first spotted by iGeneration by way of an internal memo, and has since been confirmed by MacRumors. We’ve reached out to Apple as well, and will update as soon as we hear something official. It seems likely the company’s simply looking to cause as little friction as possible, in the wake of bad publicity surrounding its policy of slowing down older handsets to preserve battery.

Many of its chief competitors jumped on the news — Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola all issued statements noting that they had not implemented similar policies. iFixit, meanwhile, offered its own $29 battery replacement, which, unlike Apple’s apology offering, is good on phones older than the iPhone 6.

Apple’s own offering runs through this December. More details are available on Apple’s site, where you can also schedule a trip to the Genius Bar. 

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/02/you-can-get-that-29-battery-replacement-regardless-of-your-iphones-health/

When Your Activity Tracker Becomes a Personal Medical Device

Fitbit spent its first decade selling activity trackers. With its latest moves, the company is starting to look less like a gear maker selling pricey accessories to fitness buffs and more like a medical-device company, catering to hospitals, patients, and health insurers. The company’s business-to-business arm, called Health Solutions, is now addressing four health conditions—sleep disorders including sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular health and mental health—for employers, health insurers, healthcare providers, and researchers.

Fitbit has deals with insurers like UnitedHealthcare, which pays its clients up to $1,500 a year for hitting step-count goals. United has done years of research to calculate its return on these payouts, says Fitbit CEO James Park. “The business models are finally catching up to the data we have been collecting.” The next stage is to add in heart rate data, he says.

Fitbit’s newest product, the Ionic smartwatch, uses a blood-oxygen sensor to screen for sleep apnea and detect a type of heart arrhythmia. The company has completed clinical trials on the use cases and will submit them to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval. If it receives approval, Fitbits could replace expensive chest patch scanning to perform initial screenings for atrial fibrillation on some patients, Park says. The company’s data has been popular with cancer researchers.

There are plenty of reasons behind the company’s transition: For one, Fitbit will always battle high abandonment rates. (“Fitbit? More like Quitbit,” The Atlantic once quipped.) Fitbit’s sales of fitness trackers, and in turn, its stock price, have reflected that fatigue; revenue fell 22% last quarter and its stock is trading at a 77% discount to its opening price in 2014. But most important, the company needs to differentiate its offerings from the Apple Watch, which debuted in 2015 and has studies that address some of the same areas Fitbit is chasing. Fitbit beat Apple in the third quarter in terms of devices shipped, taking 13.7% of the market, according to IDC. Apple, which took 10.3% of the market, experienced a dramatic increase in sales, while Fitbit continues its decline.

Fitbit believes its position as a neutral player that works with any phone makes it desirable to insurance companies and hospitals. Apple Watches only work with iPhones; if an employer, hospital or insurer wants its clients to use them, it won’t be able to reach people who have Android phones.

Fitbit’s push into medicine is not without risks. Park agrees that over time the company’s products will become a form of medical device, but he’s reluctant to call them that outright. The company’s brand is valuable because of its association with fitness and self-improvement, and consumer psychology is a critical component in making sure something like a step tracker is successful, he says.

“There is a dramatic difference in consumer acceptance and engagement when you say, ‘Hey, here is a medical device from Medtronic, go wear it,’ versus, ‘Here’s a Fitbit, wear this instead,’ ” Park says. “One is aspirational, the other implies that you’re sick. Consumers just go in with a different mentality based on how it’s portrayed and that is actually really, really important.”

That’s why Fitbit is participating in a new FDA precertification program aimed at digital health products, announced in September. “The FDA recognizes that there is this potentially new class of devices that’s not a consumer device and not a traditional medical device, but somewhere in between, and that there needs to be a new regulatory pathway,” Park says. Fitbit’s rival, Apple, is also a participant.

CORRECTION, 12:55PM: Fitbit plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use data from its devices to screen for atrial fibrillation. An earlier version of this article said Fitbit was awaiting FDA approval.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/when-your-activity-tracker-becomes-a-personal-medical-device/

Apple apologizes for not telling customers iPhones with older batteries would slow over time

Apple has today posted a letter on its website and a technical article in its Knowledge Base apologizing for not being more transparent about how it handles performance on iPhones with older batteries. Last week, Apple issued a statement that made it clear that changes it made a year ago were indeed slowing down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries.

It will now also offer a battery replacement for older devices affected for a reduced $29.

“We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process,” the letter reads. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.”

Apple is now apologizing for not being clearer about how the changes it made to eliminate sudden shutdowns of iPhones would affect iPhone performance. When I published my piece on this last week, even though I clearly, and forcefully, noted that Apple must be more transparent with its users on this issue, readers were incensed over the fact that a long-held conspiracy theory appeared to be confirmed. Apple was slowing down old iPhones and the reason didn’t matter. It is clear that some people will still feel that the reason Apple is giving here is not enough, which is understandable given the intense passion people have for their phones and how much they use them.

Interestingly, Apple says that it has attributed feedback about iPhone slowness to the process of updating to a new operating system and some bugs that were evidently present in iOS 11 that caused slowdowns.

“Over the course of this fall, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations,” Apple says. “Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps, and minor bugs in the initial release which have since been fixed.”

Apple says that it now believes, in addition to these other factors, that slower older iPhones are also being negatively affected by aged batteries which trigger their power smoothing.

“We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical aging of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries.”

A year’s worth of issues with no reason given from Apple on this also makes it difficult for the company to re-build trust with its users. It’s much easier to be as transparent as possible up front about complex technical fixes than it is to try to explain the adverse effects of those fixes later. That’s a consequence Apple will have to live with.

And they were right, as I noted, that Apple should have been very direct and forthcoming with them as a consumer — person to person, so to speak. The effects of the shutdown fix were not explained fully to the press or the customer.

Apple is doing three things in response to customers concerned that older batteries are making their iPhone run slower.

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

The letter explains that Apple will be adding ‘visibility’ in the the health of their iPhone’s battery, a fix I suggested in my original article. Though it is not  specific about what that visibility will mean. An age indicator? A notification of some sort, like this mockup we made last week, that tells you when the ‘smoothing’ kicks in?

We don’t know yet. But I’d assume we’ll see it in testing in early January.

Apple will also lower the cost of battery replacements to $29 for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later beginning in January. I don’t know if this battery replacement policy will be quite enough, I’d imagine that it would depend on the success or failure of the various class action lawsuits that has sprung up in the week since the original revelation. I think a free replacement might be an option, especially for older devices.

But I’d love to see this be permanently implemented as an ongoing policy for all iPhones. I don’t know what Apple’s margins are on this but given that independent facilities often charge this I’d assume that it can swing this amount with official replacement parts. This could extend the life of iPhones and mitigate a lot of the complaints about battery replacement costs that cause people to call for user replaceable batteries.

Apple’s position on the performance issues, as outlined in the letter, is that it felt that limiting the peak performance of iPhones and spreading out processor load over time was worth preventing iPhones from shutting down suddenly.

“About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE,” reads the letter. “With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.”

Apple says that this had the intended effect, reducing the amount of times that older iPhones suddenly shut off. Nonetheless, there has been some criticism regarding the way Apple handles aging lithium-ion batteries, the shortcomings of which are very well known in engineering circles.

Indeed, Apple is now reportedly working on its own power management controllers for iPhone, perhaps to have a better handle on how CPU and battery components work together. Apple notes that iPhones return to full performance once the batteries are replaced.

Apple’s Knowledge Base article goes deeper into both the expected behaviors of lithium-ion batteries and what, exactly, is and is not affected by the shutdown fix that came with iOS 10.2.

A TL;DR and a little meta commentary here: Apple will soon warn you when your battery is so old it starts affecting performance. It will not change the behavior that smooths out power curves and slows down iPhones with older batteries because this would cause them to shut down and it believes it’s the right thing to do. Battery replacements for these phones will cost a reduced $29 temporarily, though I think there’s a strong argument to make this the permanent price. The reasons Apple gives here and its response are reasonable, but it will take a reputational beating over this and has lost an amount of user trust that it will have to regain.

Here is the full letter:

December 28, 2017

A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

How batteries age

All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Time and the number of times a battery has been charged are not the only factors in this chemical aging process.

Device use also affects the performance of a battery over its lifespan. For example, leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can cause a battery to age faster. These are characteristics of battery chemistry, common to lithium-ion batteries across the industry.

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

To help customers learn more about iPhone’s rechargeable battery and the factors affecting its performance, we’ve posted a new support article, iPhone Battery and Performance.

It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don’t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.

Preventing unexpected shutdowns

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

Customer response to iOS 10.2.1 was positive, as it successfully reduced the occurrence of unexpected shutdowns. We recently extended the same support for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.2.

Of course, when a chemically aged battery is replaced with a new one, iPhone performance returns to normal when operated in standard conditions.

Recent user feedback

Over the course of this fall, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations. Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps, and minor bugs in the initial release which have since been fixed.

We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical aging of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries.

Addressing customer concerns

We’ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible. We’re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors’ devices.

To address our customers’ concerns, to recognize their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions, we’ve decided to take the following steps:

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

At Apple, our customers’ trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support — and we will never forget that or take it for granted.

The Knowledge Base article on iPhone battery performance is here.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/28/apple-apologizes-for-not-being-clearer-about-slowing-down-iphones-with-older-batteries/

Back At The Helm: Steve Jobs Returned To Work At Apple Today After The Holistic Medicine He Was Taking Kicked In

It was a sad day in Silicon Valley when Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO in 2009 for health reasons. His road to recovery has been long and bumpy, but luckily this story now has a happy ending: Steve Jobs returned to work at Apple today when the holistic medicine he was taking finally kicked in and cured his cancer.

The visionary genius behind the MacBook and iPhone is back where he belongs!

When Jobs stepped down to concentrate full time on fighting pancreatic cancer, many questioned his decision to focus mainly on alternative medicine treatments. Well, the critics are eating their words now, because even though it took eight years for his vegan diet, acupuncture treatments, and meditation to take effect, they have clearly paid off. Today Steve Jobs is looking more spry than ever, and it’s all thanks to the careful regimen of special juices, bowel cleanses, and being legally dead for six years that gradually brought him back to health. In a world dominated by hospitals and the promise of the quick fix, Jobs deserves credit for sticking with his spiritualistic treatments that have him back at the helm of his company.

Employees at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters gave their boss a round of applause after a speech Jobs gave this morning, where he took back the mantle of CEO from interim leader Tim Cook and thanked everyone for their stellar performance while his lifeless body sat in a grave, waiting for the herbal remedies his guru gave him to do their thing. During one especially inspiring moment, Jobs reminded his employees to always tune out the naysayers, because he is living proof that even though it took nearly a decade to fully realize the effects, enlisting a psychic for medical advice ultimately worked out for him.

Wow! What an amazing personal journey! Welcome back, Mr. Jobs. We can’t wait to see what ideas you’ll dream up for Apple next.

Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/back-helm-steve-jobs-returned-work-apple-today-aft-7050

Apple and GE announce deep partnership

While Apple has had its share of enterprise partners in recent years including IBM, Cisco and SAP, today’s announcement that it will be working directly with GE feels a bit different with the two companies more closely intertwined than in previous deals.

Apple and GE have committed to build a set of development tools and to develop apps together using Apple’s design sensibility and deep understanding of iOS, but the deal doesn’t stop there. Apple’s sales team will also push the GE Predix platform with its industrial customers when it makes sense, and GE has committed to standardizing on the iPhone and iPad for its 330,000 employees, while offering the Mac as a computer choice. All of this adds up to a level of cooperation we have not seen in Apple’s previous enterprise partnerships.

For starters, the two companies announced an iOS software development kit (SDK) for GE’s Predix platform, which is a set of cloud services designed to help industrial customers track the health of the huge industrial equipment GE sells and services. It can help predict failures before they happen and bring down this expensive equipment such as jet engines, wind turbines and train locomotives.

The key here is that the new SDK gives both external developers and those inside GE the ability to build native apps on top of the Predix platform, allowing them to take advantage of the full Apple ecosystem whether that’s iBeacons, the internal gyroscope sensor inside iPhone or even augmented reality in the latest iPhones.

To prime that software development pump, GE has built a new Applications Performance Management case management app built on top of Predix. Using this tool, customers can see the health of their industrial equipment on an iPad and collaborate more easily, sharing information like last action taken, notes and photos; all designed to provide the data to make decisions in real time.

Susan Prescott, VP for apps, markets and services at Apple was clearly charged by the possibilities that this partnership brings. “For the first time, we’re unlocking incredible new potential for industrial workers by giving them access to native apps that tap the functionality of iOS devices in exciting ways. Now employees can make better informed decisions through the native capabilities of the apps right at their fingertips,” Prescott told TechCrunch.

She offers some examples of how this could work: “A technician can now use the iPhone’s built-in camera to capture a thermal image of a piece of equipment to diagnose an issue or iBeacons and built-in location services can push critical information to a nearby worker’s iPhone or iPad in real time to help quickly flag an issue. We’re essentially closing the feedback loop between the employee in the industrial environment and the analytics and data that’s stored in the cloud,” she said.

Surely GE, an industrial company that was launched by Thomas Edison in 1888 couldn’t be more different than Apple, a computer company launched almost a 100 years later in 1976, but there is more in common than you might imagine.

There are the strong charismatic and demanding founders in Steve Jobs and Edison. There was also an internal mission to change the world with technology. GE has done it with giant industrial equipment like wind turbines and airplane engines, while Apple has gone smaller with phones, computers and watches.

In recent years, GE has been making a hard push to modernize and this partnership is clearly part of that.

The SDK and the APM app will be available for download on October 26th as part of GE’s Mind + Machines conference.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/18/apple-and-ge-announce-deep-partnership/

The iPhone 8 might cost up to $1,200

The iPhone 8 (or Edition or X, take your pick) could weigh down your bank account.
Image: loris ravera/mashable

Apple is finally slated to reveal the highly-anticipated deluxe anniversary iPhone on Sept. 12, and you will want to buy it immediately — but the sticker price could wind up dampening your excitement for the phone’s next-gen features. 

Rumors claim the iPhone 8 (or Edition or X, depending on who you trust) will be much more expensive than any of its predecessors, pushing the starting cost up to at least the $1,000 mark. That means the top-of-the-line model will cost a whopping $1,200, for anyone who wants more than just the basic level of storage on their deluxe device. 

Leaker Benjamin Geskin tweeted out a pricing tier for the new iPhones, citing information from a friend who has a friend at Apple. 

The sourcing sounds sketchy, but Geskin is far from the first to suggest that the next iPhone will cost more than $1,000. Apple insider John Gruber suggested the deluxe new device would debut at the price point back in July, speculating that Apple could justify the cost by showcasing next-level tech that will be common in future iPhones in a premium device today. 

A New York Times report also backed the idea of a starting price “around $999,” for the iPhone, citing anonymous sources who had been briefed on the device. That’s a much more reliable report than just the whispers of friend of a friend — but others aren’t so convinced that Apple will ask such a high price for a phone.

UBS analysts Steven Milunovich and Benjamim Wilson wrote in an investors note that they “questioned the logic” of Apple putting such a premium on an iPhone. They claim instead that the company will roll out the deluxe device at a $900 starting point for a 64GB model, with a 256GB version eclipsing the $1,000 mark. 

The analysts also noted that Apple typically takes some cues from its competitors, and with Samsung’s latest offerings starting well under $1,000 — the new Galaxy Note 8 starts at $930 unlocked — there’s little incentive for Apple to set the bar any higher.   

None of these projections questioned the features expected in the deluxe iPhone, which include a new edge-to-edge OLED display, a nearly bezel-free screen with no home button, and a new sensor system for facial recognition. 

Speculation over the price of the iPhone is nothing new for the rumor cycle, with reports flying about the extra costs for as long as there have been rumors about a new OLED screen. Now that we’re a week away from the big reveal, however, those projected costs are all the more pressing, since we’re finally closer to getting a shot to put down the cash for one of our own.  

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/05/iphone-8-price-tier-rumors-/

Everything we expect to see at Apple’s big iPhone 8 reveal

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple’s next iPhones are almost here.

We’re just days away from what will be Apple’s most anticipated reveal in recent memory. On Tuesday morning, CEO Tim Cook will take the stage at the company’s Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino and show off three new iPhones. 

We’ll also get our first look at the next Apple Watch, Apple TV, and hear the latest updates on iOS and macOS High Sierra.

Beyond that, the event carries special meaning for Apple. Not only is it the company’s first public event in the theatre named for its storied founder, it’s also the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone launch. Given that extra significance, we could be in for a tribute to that original launch or to Jobs himself. 

iPhone 8 or iPhone Edition?

There’s no question this is Apple’s most anticipated iPhone yet. The company’s been trying to keep its exact details under wraps, so of course we have a pretty solid idea of what it’s going to look like, thanks to a never-ending stream of leaks and rumors.

Physically, it’s expected to be about the same size as an iPhone 7, but with an edge-to-edge OLED display that’s bigger than what is currently on the iPhone 7 Plus. It won’t have a home button or Touch ID, and will likely use some kind of facial recognition tech to unlock.

A mockup of a new ‘copper gold’ color Apple is rumored to be introducing for the iPhone 8.

Image: mashable/raymond wong

Wireless and rapid-charging will be supported, and it will have dual rear-facing cameras — likely equipped with a depth sensor to better enable all those new augmented reality apps. It will probably come in a new color and cost at least $1,000, maybe much more

One thing we still aren’t sure of, though, is the name. 

Though most people, us included, have been calling it the iPhone 8, there’s a good chance Apple will eschew its typical naming conventions given that this phone marks the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone. iPhone X, iPhone Edition, and iPhone Pro have all been posited. 

As we get closer to the reveal, iPhone Edition is looking more and more likely but, as with so many Apple rumors, it’s hard to say with any certainty (my favorite dark horse candidate is still, simply, iPhone.) 

iPhone 7S + iPhone 7S Plus

Again, we can’t be sure of the name as some reports have indicated the iPhone 7’s immediate successor will be called “iPhone 8.” Regardless of what it’s called, this pair of phones will be much closer to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are expected to look much like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus .

Image: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock

The displays will likely be the same as the iPhone 7 line — no edge-to-edge display here. Though it’d be tempting to think of these phones as the compromise buy compared with the third ultra-premium iPhone, there will be some noticeable improvements.

The 7S and 7S Plus are expected to ship with the same rapid and wireless charging as the iPhone 8, but other than that it’s unlikely to be a major departure from the iPhone 7. It will have an LCD display, a home button, dual rear-facing cameras, and a starting price similar to that of the iPhone 7. 

It probably won’t come in any new colors, and may not even be available with a rose gold or jet black finish.

Apple Watch Series 3

While the three new iPhones will likely hog much of the spotlight on Tuesday, there’s other new hardware to look forward to, including what is likely a new Apple Watch. While it’s not usually the company’s sexiest product, Series 3 sounds like it’s set to be a big revamp.

Series 3 sounds like it’s set to be a big revamp

Most significantly, Apple is expected to add LTE connectivity to its wearable, marking the first time the Apple Watch can truly be independent of your iPhone. This could also have big implications for its fitness-tracking abilities, which we learned more about when Men’s Health visited Apple’s testing lab.

Apple will launch watchOS 4 alongside its new wearable, and it features a new mode for high intensity interval training. The new OS will even be able to connect directly to some types of gym equipment. 

On the outside, the new Apple Watch could have a new screen design, if Apple-watcher John Gruber’s sources are to be believed (Gruber himself says he “wouldn’t bet the house” on the rumor, so, grain of salt). But if turns out to be correct, it’d be the first major redesign since Apple first launched its watch in 2015.

4K Apple TV

As if a new Apple Watch and three-piece set of iPhones isn’t enough, we’re also due for a new Apple TV. Here, it’s not the design of the set-top box that has us excited (though expect it to at least be slimmer and speedier than the current 4th gen model released back in 2015).

The latest box will finally add support for 4K and HDR content. Given that there’s more 4K content available than ever (and HDR is slowly gaining ground), this will be a very welcome (and, frankly, overdue) update.

macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

Apple’s fall launch isn’t all about the hardware. MacOS High Sierra, which comes with a nicely revamped Photos app and a ton of under-the-hood improvements, will likely make its official debut.

Likewise, it looks like iOS 11 will finally be ready for everyone. We know most of what’s in the update, thanks to months of beta builds, but there are still a few unknowns. Apple has yet to reveal the specifics of its P2P messaging service for its Messages app, beyond what we briefly saw on the WWDC stage. 

Apple’s new P2P payments feature for Messages.

Image: apple

And while we we’ve seen a lot of ARKit-enabled augmented reality apps, there’s still a lot we haven’t heard about yet. Exactly how the new iPhone cameras will enhance iOS’ augmented reality features is also unclear. 

As always with Apple, nothing is certain until Tim Cook steps onto that stage. A few surprises are always on the table. Check back this Tuesday for Mashable’s live coverage from Cupertino.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/09/apple-iphone-8-event-what-to-expect/

Apple reportedly in talks with Aetna to bring the Apple Watch to millions of customers

Apple and Aetna have held several secret meetings to discuss offering the Apple Watch to Aetnas 23 million customers, according to CNBC.

These meetings, held on Thursday and Friday of last week in Southern California,reportedly involved top executives from both companies, including Myoung Cha, who is in charge of Apples special health projects, and hospital chief medical information officers from across the country.

Aetna could roll out the plan as early as next year, according to a CNBC source.

Weve reached out to both Apple and Aetna and will be sure to update you if and when we hear more. So far Aetna has declined to comment.

This is not the first time Apple has joined up with the health insurance company. Aetna already offers the Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees. Aetna also announced last September it would be offering the Apple Watch to select large employers and these talks could be an extension of that announcement.

Aetna now reportedly has ambitions to offer it to a wider field adding large swaths of new health data to pull from and giving the health insurance company insight into the activities of its customers.

The deal also would be beneficial to Apple, which heavily promotes the Apple Watch for health and fitness and briefly became the top wearable vendor this year, beating out Fitbit before Xiaomi took the top spot in Q2.

Apple also has been secretly hiring biomedical engineers and beefing up work on sensors for tracking blood sugar levels and detection of other diseases, which would come in handy for any health insurer wanting data-driven insights into its customer base.

Of course, whether customers will be willing to give up that information in exchange for the Apple Watch remains to be seen.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/14/apple-reportedly-in-talks-with-aetna-to-bring-the-apple-watch-to-millions-of-customers/

Apple continues to push into healthcare, this time with developers

Developers working on healthcare will be involved at WWDC this year.
Image: christian BRUNA/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Working with Apple every day, as Apple sees it, could help keep the doctor awayor at least well informed.

Apple’s push into healthcare is readying its second gear, and this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference is just the start.

Apple started its push into healthcare when it introduced the Apple Watch in 2015. The wearable device made fitness, and then health software, and then medical research, more central to Apple’s mission.

Since then, Apple introduced ResearchKit in 2015 and CareKit in 2016. The two open-sourced platforms, both included under Apple’s HealthKit category, let nontraditional developers without total coding expertise build apps for both medical research and consumer health. Projects so far have included an app from Penn Medicine for the rare disease Sarcoidosis, an app from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study postpartum depression, and even end-to-end encryption tools available to health apps on the platform.

This year, more of them than ever could be developers working in healthcare, helping to build Apple’s toolsand its growing reputationas a platform for medical research, health management, and caregiving.

There could also be something big in store for this year’s WWDC. Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted wearing a wearable device that tracked blood sugar a sign of Apple’s continued interested in the healthcare space.

Apple likes to talk up its developer community. The tech giant claimed last month that it had created 2 million jobs1.5 million of which were jobs in the “App Store ecosystem,” aka not exactly working for Apple. A few days ago, Apple touted that developers had earned $70 billion through the App Store.

Apple won’t provide those kinds of numbers just for its HealthKit apps just yet. The company says that “millions of people” have used “hundreds of ResearchKit apps.”

But moving into healthcare certainly has an upside for Apple. Wearables and health apps give the company a foothold on a $2.8 trillion industryand access to more data from millions of consumers. It also helps Apple sell more of Apple’s core products.

“Their participation in the market is still fringe. It’s mostly about trying to make devices more attractive to people,” said Andy Hargreaves, an Apple analyst at Pacific Crest Securities.

Penn Medicine’s Sarcoidosis app represents exactly how Apple hopes its platform will work. Dan O’Connor, a medical student at Penn at the time, developed the app in partnership with Misha Rosenbach, an assistant professor of dermatology at Penn Medicine. O’Connor had taught himself a few programming languages and developed apps in the healthcare space before using ResearchKit for this project.

The app has had about 900 downloads and drawn about 500 consented participants for a study. Those numbers might sound miniscule compared to the reach of Apple, but it’s already one of the largest studies ever for the rare disease, O’Connor said. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition that affects the lungs, skin, eyes, heart, and brain, and is diagnosed in 11 to 36 of every 100,000 Americans each year.

Through the app, researchers are studying both whether a digital study of a rare disease with patients spread throughout the country and the worldcan even work, as well as the disease itself. The app provides its users information about Sarcoidosis that their local doctors might not be able to give them and then asks them to take surveys about their condition and general health.

“ResearchKit, compared to what we were envisioning initially, enabled us to do more than we ever imagined we could do,” O’Connor said (in what is probably Apple’s dream blurb for the ResearchKit website). “Our initial vision of the app was very simpleto do mostly mobile and web-type programming, simple pages with information and a survey or two. ResearchKit enabled us to tap into data.”

Apple hasn’t revealed any of its specific healthcare plans before WWDC starts on Monday. Most of the conference probably won’t focus on medical research… unless it convinces more people watching to buy a new Apple Watch.

“The data is important, but it’s not important in the way it would be to Google, Facebook, or Amazon,” Hargreaves said. “The Apple business is built around making devices and software.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/05/apple-healthcare-wwdc-apps/