Microsoft

Microsoft Is Surprisingly Comfortable With Its New Place In a Mobile, Apple, and Android World (fastcompany.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes: The company that once held a mock funeral for the iPhone -- complete with dedicated "iPhone trashcans" -- now has a very different attitude about the company of Jobs. The Microsoft whose old CEO Steve Ballmer in 2007 famously predicted the iPhone had "no chance; no chance at all" of getting market share, now readily accepts and embraces a world where the iPhone and Android dominate personal computing. Microsoft talked a lot here at its Build 2017 developer conference about extending Windows experiences over to iOS and Android devices. And it's not just about fortifying Windows. Microsoft says it not only wants to connect with those foreign operating systems, but by bringing over functionality from Windows 10 (along with content) it hopes to "make those other devices better," as one Microsoft rep said in a press briefing yesterday. The developers here at Build cheered when Microsoft announced XAML Standard 1.0, which provides a single markup language to make user interfaces that work on Windows, iOS, and Android. In one demo, the company demonstrated how an enterprise sales app could be extended to an iOS device so someone could continue capturing a potential client's data on a mobile device. Windows not only sent over the client data that had already been captured, but also the business-app shell that had captured it.
Medicine

Apple Watch Can Detect An Abnormal Heart Rhythm With 97 Percent Accuracy, UCSF Study Says (techcrunch.com) 102

According to a study conducted through heartbeat measurement app Cardiogram and the University of California, San Francisco, the Apple Watch is 97 percent accurate in detecting the most common abnormal heart rhythm when paired with an AI-based algorithm. TechCrunch reports: The study involved 6,158 participants recruited through the Cardiogram app on Apple Watch. Most of the participants in the UCSF Health eHeart study had normal EKG readings. However, 200 of them had been diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heartbeat). Engineers then trained a deep neural network to identify these abnormal heart rhythms from Apple Watch heart rate data. Cardiogram began the study with UCSF in 2016 to discover whether the Apple Watch could detect an oncoming stroke. About a quarter of strokes are caused by an abnormal heart rhythm, according to Cardiogram co-founder and data scientist for UCSF's eHeart study Brandon Ballinger. Cardiogram tested the deep neural network it had built against 51 in-hospital cardioversions (a procedure that restores the heart's normal rhythm) and says it achieved a 97 percent accuracy in the neural network's ability to find irregular heart activity. Additional information available via a Cardiogram blog post.
Windows

Apple is Bringing iTunes To the Windows Store (theverge.com) 87

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge: Apple is planning to bring its iTunes desktop app to the Windows Store. In a surprise announcement at the Build developer event today, Microsoft revealed it has been working with Apple to get iTunes listed in the Windows Store. It might not sound like an important addition, but iTunes is one of the most searched for apps that's currently missing in the Windows Store. USA Today veteran columnist, summing up the announcement, "Microsoft announces that iTunes (incl Apple Music and full support for iPhone) is coming to the Windows Store. Big get for Microsoft." Microsoft's communication head, summing up the situation, "Didn't see that one coming, did you!"
Google

Slashdot Asks: Which Tech Giant You Can't Live Without? 269

In this week's column of NYTimes, Farhad Manjoo writes about the five largest technology companies in the world: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google. As he notes, these companies have become the most powerful firms of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. This brings us to two questions:
1. Of the five aforementioned companies, tell us one whose services you don't need for work and for personal use. (In short, the company that doesn't matter to you.) Here's a poll where you can cast your vote.
2. On the same note, which company's services and products you can't ditch (for work / personal use)?
Businesses

Apple Becomes First US Company To Top $800 Billion Value (bloomberg.com) 75

According to Bloomberg, "Apple became the first U.S. company with a market value of more than $800 billion as investors bet the next iPhone will spur a resurgence in sales." From the report: The stock rose 1 percent Tuesday to close at $153.99 in New York, giving it a market capitalization of about $803 billion. The shares have gained 33 percent since the start of the year, helped by a buyback program that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook extended to total $210 billion last week, from $175 billion last year. Apple's rise to the top of the world's largest equity market highlights the emergence of mobile technology and the relative decline of the oil industry in recent years. Exxon Mobil Corp.'s value peaked in the fall of 2007, when oil prices climbed toward $100 a barrel. In November of that year, PetroChina Co. briefly became the first global company with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Apple's revenue grew in the most recent fiscal quarter even as iPhone unit sales fell.
Iphone

The Apple Watch Outsold Every Other Wearable Last Quarter (engadget.com) 109

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple has shipped 3.5 million wearables in the first quarter of 2017, which is 59 percent higher than the 2.2 million devices it did in the same period last year. Engadget reports: Cupertino captured 16 percent of the global marketshare and stole the wearables crown from Fitbit, which had a much less stellar quarter. Fitbit only shipped 2.9 million devices in Q1, 36 percent less than the 4.5 million units it moved in the first quarter of 2016. Even Xiaomi sold more devices, putting the beleaguered wearables-maker in third place. Those results are consistent with Apple's latest earnings report. The company said its Watch and TV sales jumped up 31 percent year-over-year, and head honcho Tim Cook said Watch sales have nearly doubled since last year. Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics executive director, said Apple's Watch Series 2 has been selling well "due to enhanced styling, intensive marketing and a good retail presence." Were you one of the 3.5 million customers who purchased an Apple Watch in the first quarter of 2017? If so, how do you like Apple's approach to wearables?
Iphone

Global App Usage Still Rising, and Users in the US Spend 135 Minutes a Day in Them (geekwire.com) 47

An anonymous reader shares a report: There's a reason that everyone you look at it is looking at a smartphone. According to the folks whose job it is to track such things, people can't get enough of apps, and global usage of them continues to increase. In its latest usage report, App Annie takes a look at the average user's app usage for the first quarter of 2017 and reaches the conclusion that mobile apps have become vital to our day-to-day lives. Last year's report found that time spent in apps reached 1 trillion hours. The average smartphone user, in the United States and other countries analyzed, used over 30 apps per month. That's about a third of the number that are actually installed on phones in the U.S. People use about 10 apps every day, the data shows, with iPhone users using slightly more than Android users. Utilities and tools are the most commonly used apps on a monthly basis, thanks to pre-installed apps such as Safari on iOS and Google on Android.
Businesses

Splitting Up With Apple is a Chipmaker's Nightmare (engadget.com) 98

Apple is such a powerful company that, for third-party suppliers, it's hard not to become reliant on the cash that it pays you. Engadget adds: But when Apple says that it's done, choosing to move whatever technology you provide in house, the results can be really painful. Imagination Technologies is one such supplier, famously designing the iPhone's PowerVR graphics as well as pushing MIPS, a rival to ARM. But back in March, Imagination publicly announced that Apple was ditching it in favor of its own graphics silicon. Now, Imagination has revealed that it's going to take Apple to dispute resolution, maintaining that the iPhone maker used Imagination's IP without permission. It's the second chipmaker in recent months who believes Apple isn't playing fair, with Qualcomm counter-suing Apple in its own licensing dispute. Secondly, Imagination is going to have to sell off MIPS and Ensigma, two parts of its business that aren't as profitable as PowerVR. Gamers with long memories will remember that MIPS designed the CPUs that lurked inside the PlayStation, PS2 and Nintendo 64.
United States

Apple Pledges $1 Billion Toward Creating Manufacturing Jobs In US (cnbc.com) 285

Apple announced today plans to create a $1 billion fund to promote creation of advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Cook told CNBC in an interview that Apple will announce the first investment later in May. CNBC reports: "By doing that, we can be the ripple in the pond. Because if we can create many manufacturing jobs around, those manufacturing jobs create more jobs around them because you have a service industry that builds up around them," the CEO said. Apple has already created two million jobs in the United States, and Cook showed no signs of shrinking the tech giant's reach. "A lot of people ask me, 'Do you think it's a company's job to create jobs?' and my response is [that] a company should have values because a company is a collection of people. And people should have values, so by extension, a company should. And one of the things you do is give back," Cook said. "So how do you give back? We give back through our work in the environment, in running the company on renewable energy. We give back in job creation."
Iphone

Qualcomm Is Seeking US Import Ban For iPhones (bloomberg.com) 104

Qualcomm is seeking to block the sale of iPhones in the U.S. after Apple decided to stop paying them billions of dollars in licensing fees for smartphone chips. Bloomberg reports: Qualcomm is preparing to ask the International Trade Commission to stop the iPhone, which is built in Asia, from entering the country, threatening to block Apple's iconic product from the American market in advance of its anticipated new model this fall, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The ITC is a quasi-judicial agency in Washington that has the power to block the import of goods into the U.S. and processes cases more quickly than federal district courts -- the venue in which the companies are accusing each other of lying, making threats and trying to create an illegal monopoly. The escalating legal dispute revolves around patents Qualcomm holds that let it to charge a percentage of the price of every modern high-speed data-capable smartphone, regardless of whether the devices use its chips. Apple argues the system is unfair and Qualcomm has used licensing leverage to illegally help its semiconductor unit.
Iphone

Apple Q2 Earnings: iPhone Sales Fall Flat (reuters.com) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Apple Inc reported a surprise fall in iPhone sales for the second quarter on Tuesday, indicating that customers had held back purchases in anticipation of the 10th-anniversary edition launch of the company's most important product. Apple sold 50.76 million iPhones in its fiscal second quarter ended April 1, down from 51.19 million a year earlier. Analysts on average had estimated iPhone sales of 52.27 million, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet. However, revenue from the smartphones rose 1.2 percent in the quarter. Expectations are building ahead of Apple's 10th-anniversary iPhone range this fall, with investors hoping that the launch would help bolster sales.
IOS

Apple AirPods Customers 'Satisfied' With the Product (techpinions.com) 73

Columnist Ben Bajarin, writing for TechPinions: The big story is customer satisfaction with AirPods is extremely high. 98% of AirPod owners said they were very satisfied or satisfied. Remarkably, 82% said they were very satisfied. The overall customer satisfaction level of 98% sets the record for the highest level of satisfaction for a new product from Apple. When the iPhone came out in 2007, it held a 92% customer satisfaction level, iPad in 2010 had 92%, and Apple Watch in 2015 had 97%. Bajarin notes that the site surveyed 942 AirPods customers.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Is the 'Special Appeal' of Apple Products? 757

Reader dryriver writes: As someone who comes from MS-DOS/Windows PCs background, I've never quite understood the appeal of Apple's products. I don't think Apple's products are terrible or anything, but I just fail to see what is so special and different about Apple's electronics that many Apple users would never dream of switching to a non-Apple product. Where does the 'special appeal' of Apple products reside? And why are Apple users so very loyal to Apple products, even though with Apple's pricing policy, you rarely get the best bang-for-the-buck in a product?
The Almighty Buck

Apple Has a Record $250 Billion In Cash, 90% of It Is Banked Overseas (phonearena.com) 198

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phone Arena: On Tuesday, Apple is expected to report its fiscal second quarter earnings. In that report, the tech titan will reportedly announce that it is holding $250 billion in cash. If you think that this is a lot of money, you're absolutely right. According to Marketwatch.com, this is more than the foreign currency reserves held by the U.K. and Canada combined. Looking at it another way, at current valuations Apple could purchase all of the outstanding shares of Walmart and Procter & Gamble and still have money left over. It has taken Apple only 4 and half years to double its cash hoard. During the fiscal first quarter of 2017, Apple was adding $3.6 million to its cash position every hour. It finished the quarter ending in December with $246.09 billion in cash. 90% of the money is banked overseas, which means that Apple would be one of the companies to benefit the most from President Trump's plan to offer a one time tax break on repatriated funds.
Desktops (Apple)

Modern 'Hackintoshes' Show That Apple Should Probably Just Build a Mac Tower (arstechnica.com) 219

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report written by Andrew Cunningham via Ars Technica: Apple is working on new desktop Macs, including a ground-up redesign of the tiny-but-controversial 2013 Mac Pro. We're also due for some new iMacs, which Apple says will include some features that will make less-demanding pro users happy. But we don't know when they're coming, and the Mac Pro in particular is going to take at least a year to get here. Apple's reassurances are nice, but it's a small comfort to anyone who wants high-end processing power in a Mac right now. Apple hasn't put out a new desktop since it refreshed the iMacs in October of 2015, and the older, slower components in these computers keeps Apple out of new high-end fields like VR. This is a problem for people who prefer or need macOS, since Apple's operating system is only really designed to work on Apple's hardware. But for the truly adventurous and desperate, there's another place to turn: fake Macs built with standard PC components, popularly known as "Hackintoshes." They've been around for a long time, but the state of Apple's desktop lineup is making them feel newly relevant these days. So we spoke with people who currently rely on Hackintoshes to see how the computers are being used -- and what they'd like to see from Apple.

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