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April 6, 2021
🎈 Good morning! Up up and away on this Tuesday.
Tim Cook talks Apple Car
apple cook confused

The excellent Kara Swisher had Apple CEO Tim Cook on her New York Times Sway podcast, which covered ground from Apple’s privacy push, AR headsets, the power Apple has over app developers, Apple TV Plus, and Apple Car mentions, along with Facebook discussion. 

There’s a lot of ground covered quickly but Cook mostly doesn’t get drawn in too much other than rarely being unenthusiastic about future ideas — while caveating “[w]e investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day.”

On Facebook:

  • Cook did get drawn on Facebook, dismissing Facebook’s aggressive stance against Apple’s approach to privacy and tracking. 
  • Cook said he was “shocked that there’s been a pushback to this degree” from Facebook, said he was “appalled” by silent data hoovering by online companies, and with Swisher pushing on some angles, Cook eventually said “Yeah, Kara, I’m not focused on Facebook.” 

Aside from that, ground was covered on two other spaces.

On AR:

Here’s the transcript of this interesting part, a quite revealing quote:

  • Kara Swisher: It’s rumored that Apple is expected to announce the first major new device since 2015, a mixed-reality headset. Can you talk about AR and this mixed-reality headset?
  • Tim Cook: Well, I can’t talk about anything that may or may not be in the pipeline. But in terms of AR, the promise of AR is that you and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear. And your audience would also benefit from this, too, I think. And so when I think about that in different fields, whether it’s health, whether it’s education, whether it’s gaming, whether it’s retail, I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future.
  • Swisher: But it’s a critically important part of Apple’s future?
  • Cook: It is.

On cars:

Ok some interesting hints here — once again let’s go with the transcript here because there’s good back and forth, and each sentence here tells us something:

  • Kara Swisher: Mm-hmm. Last question on innovation, self-driving cars. One of the companies you acquired is Drive AI, a self-driving startup. Apple is testing autonomous vehicles. It was, reportedly. Last year, Elon Musk said he offered to sell Tesla to Apple for 1/10 its value. And he said you wouldn’t even take a meeting with him.
  • Tim Cook: You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built. I think Tesla has done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead, but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the EV space. So I have great appreciation for them. In terms of the work that we’re doing there, obviously, I’m going to be a little coy on that. The autonomy itself is a core technology, in my view. If you sort of step back, the car, in a lot of ways, is a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And so there’s lots of things you can do with autonomy. And we’ll see what Apple does. We investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that one will not.
  • Swisher: Would it be in the form of a car or the technology within a car?
  • Cook: Yeah, I’m not going to answer that question.
  • Swisher: I think it has to be a car. You can’t just do the tech — you’re not going to let — you’re not Google.
  • Cook: We love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs. And so that’s what we love to do. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that.

Thought:

  • Cook stepping up to a podcast probably isn’t exactly his favorite thing to do in a week, so exploring the reasons he would do it are interesting. 
  • Certainly, the podcast dives into the Facebook issue a lot, along with the App Store and Epic case as well, and Cook felt the need to be on the front-foot with it again telling us how we should think about the issue.
  • And as for the Apple Car, there are hints. 
  • There’s nothing unusual about Cook declining to detail plans for Apple’s automotive play, but the hints there are pretty strongly towards a whole car, not just software. Hardware, software, and services together plays into Apple’s own ecosystem ambitions.
  • And the quote around autonomy in regards to Tesla being a “core technology” reveals a lot, too.
Roundup

⚰️ RIP LG: Remembering the six best LG phones ever made(Android Authority).

🕹 Lenovo Legion 2 Pro’s new cooling system leaks in latest live shots. Pretty weird, but gaming phones are allowed to be weird I guess? (Android Authority).

🔎 Google’s latest acquisition could lead to spatial audio for the Pixel Buds (Engadget).

🤔 A portless phone with wired charging might be on the horizon (Android Authority).

🔋 Samsung’s new India-focused Galaxy F12 packs a 90Hz display and 6,000mAh battery at a low price (Android Authority).

🍎 The long-awaited next Apple TV may support 4K 120Hz gaming, implying HDMI 2.1 support (Engadget).

📺 The major streaming services are starting to run out of shows with limited filming over the past year, and the pre-COVID cupboard looking thin: the number of originals Netflix released so far in ’21 is down 12% year-on-year (Bloomberg).

👍 Over a decade on, and millions in legal fees, Supreme Court rules 6-2 for Google over Oracle in Java API legal war — and the ruling expands fair use in APIs moving forward (The Register).

Yahoo Answers will be shut down forever on May 4th, has sadly become overrun with far-right strangeness but it was once a key part of the internet. I guess now Quora has all the good and bad questions? (The Verge).

🐧 Hipmunk’s founders launch Flight Penguin to bring back Hipmunk-style flight search: $10/m is steep, though (TechCrunch).

🎮 Someone made a giant, playable, TV-sized Nintendo Switch — and is donating it to Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital (YouTube).

🌠 NASA asteroid-sampling spacecraft will go look at ‘the mess it made’ (CNET).

🚁 NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has survived its first Martian night alone (Space).

🧠 “ELI5: Why do we wake up when we hear our names?” (r/explainlikeimfive).

Chart Tuesday

Apple continues to grow its Apple Watch dominance in the smartwatch market, despite a host of cheap and often cheerful competitors now on the market. But it’s not cheap and cheerful that’s growing, which surprised me:

apple watch sales chart vs other brands
  • The data, via Counterpoint Research at Statista, show a market shift towards more expensive watches, “with premium vendors like Apple, Samsung and Garmin helping to shore up the high end”.
  • “2019’s biggest segment ($101-$200) shrank by 7% pts, while the more premium $300-plus segments grew by 8% pts”
  • Anecdotally, I’ve heard more than a few people picking up a device to fight the COVID 15, or the weight put on while stuck at home!

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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