Posts tagged with "Apple"

Snapchat’s trippy new brand campaign aims to answer the question, what is Snapchat for?

January 27, 2023

When former Wieden+Kennedy executive Colleen DeCourcy joined Snap last year as the company’s chief creative officer, she said it was “the best known, least understood” social platform, reports Fast Company.

A new brand campaign, called “Wait’ll You See This,” is aimed at remedying that problem.

Whether it’s Apple pulling heartstrings or Amazon getting a bit celebrity silly with Alexa for the Super Bowl, we’re now accustomed to seeing tech brand advertising that includes very elaborate product demonstrations. Snap’s new ad is no exception—except that it feels more like a product demo inside a fever dream.

People with horse heads, dogs with three butts, the dead-eyed goofy gaze of fellow commuters on the subway: It’s all in there. For some, it will be the stuff of social media dystopian nightmares—for others, a peek into the funhouse of creative possibility. The brand is aiming for the latter.

DeCourcy says one of the primary goals is to start a conversation between people who use Snapchat and those who don’t. “As a non-broadcast platform, which is the beauty of it, if you’re not there, you don’t know. So, we’re trying to get people there,” DeCourcy says. “We’re trying to punch a little hole in the Snapchat box and let it leak out into the world so that people can see what it does.”

This is not just a one-off campaign, but the start of what DeCourcy says will be an ongoing brand platform. It was created in-house, under Snap Executive Creative Director Eric Baldwin, who joined the company last August, and previously worked with DeCourcy as ECD at Wieden+Kennedy.

New brand work already has started to trickle out, with a New Year’s Eve billboard in Times Square and a float in the Rose Bowl parade. This work will get its national TV debut during the NFL’s AFC Championship game on Sunday, January 29. “It’ll hopefully be this moment, with people watching a game together, where those who know will get excited and show the others in the room what it’s all about,” Baldwin says.

Snap reports that more than 250 million people engage with augmented reality (AR) on Snapchat every day, with more than 6 billion daily AR plays. The platform has 300,000 AR creators and developers who’ve built more than 3 million AR Lenses for the platform.

“There is this Super Bowl-sized audience on the platform every day,” says DeCourcy. “In a very cynical world, though, people have to experience it to get it. I don’t want to make things about the platform; I want to make things with the platform.”

That’s where this new work gets most interesting. Baldwin and DeCourcy’s creative team worked with Snapchat’s Arcadia Creative Studio to make the spot fully integrated with the app’s AR lenses. Every single frame of the spot, whether you view it online, as a screen shot, or during an NFL game, is scannable and will take you to a new suite of lenses, with a few surprises like a limited edition merch drop mixed in.

Arcadia Creative Studio’s Global Director Resh Sidhu, says Snap’s AR technology is world-class, and the spot itself is the perfect platform to show off how it all works. “We wanted AR to be at the heart of this campaign, and this was the perfect way to do that,” Sidhu says. “What excites our AR team is how this creates a platform for us to continue to share our work with the world. It’s all about getting it in the hands of people and allowing them to experience it.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Apple rolls out iPhone emergency SOS satellite alert service for when you’re off the grid

November 16, 2022

Apple is trying to give iPhone users a measure of safety—even when they find themselves in place without cell service, reports CNBC.

On Tuesday, November 15, the company launched emergency SOS via satellite, which enables users to text emergency services when they’re off the grid, whether camping in the mountains or driving in a remote area at night. The service is available for iPhone 14 customers and is free for the first two years.

Apple announced the emergency feature in September, when it debuted the iPhone 14 lineup. To enable the service, Apple said last week it would spend $450 million with U.S. companies, with the majority of the money going to Globalstar, a Louisiana-based satellite operator.

It will work for all iPhone 14 users. All a user has to do is point his or her phone at the sky in order to connect to one of 24 Globalstar satellites in low Earth orbit.

Apple doesn’t want users testing the service out for non-emergencies. The company offered me a demonstration last week so I could explain how to use it.

Here’s how it works:

  1. In the event of an emergency, try calling 911. If you don’t have cell service, your phone will try to connect to another carrier’s tower. If that doesn’t work, an option to “Emergency Text via Satellite” will pop up.
  2. You can also go to iMessage to text 911 or SOS; then tap Emergency Services.
  3. An option will populate, allowing you to tap to report an emergency.
  4. Emergency questions will populate to help you best describe your situation. The first prompt will say “What’s the emergency?” You’ll then be able to select from options like “Car or vehicle issue,” or “sickness or injury.” Next, you’ll be led through a series of more in-depth questions.
  5. You’ll be given the option to notify your emergency contacts to let them know you reached out to emergency services, along with your location and the nature of your emergency. You also can use the Find My app to share your location with friends and family via satellite.
  6. To connect to a satellite, your phone will ask you to point it towards the sky. As long as you have a clear view, you should be able to connect to a satellite, but it could take up to 15 seconds for your messages to go through. If you don’t have a clear view of the sky, because of trees or another obstruction, the texts may take a minute to go through. And because satellites orbit the earth quickly, you’ll have to move your phone slightly to stay connected throughout the conversation.
  7. Once you’ve connected to emergency services via satellite, they’ll immediately know your location and the nature of your emergency, but you’ll be asked a few more questions to help emergency personnel to locate you and to come prepared.
  8. If you have your medical ID set up through your iPhone’s health settings, emergency services will be able to see important personal information, like what medications you’re taking and the names of your emergency contacts.

To try out emergency SOS via satellite, Apple has a demo option:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Tap Try Demo. You’ll then be led through the same prompts you would get in a real emergency. You’ll also be able to turn off your cell service and connect to a satellite so you can get a feel for it. You’ll get haptic feedback when you’re not pointing in the right direction.

For now, emergency SOS via satellite is only available in the United States and Canada.

Research contact: @CNBC

Facebook parent Meta will notify employees of large-scale layoffs, starting this week

November 9, 2022

Meta Platforms is planning to begin large-scale layoffs this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in what could be the largest round in a recent spate of tech job cuts after the industry’s rapid growth during the pandemic, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The layoffs are expected to affect many thousands of employees and an announcement is planned to come as soon as Wednesday, November 9. Meta reported more than 87,000 employees at the end of September. Company officials already told employees to cancel nonessential travel beginning this week, insiders said.

The planned layoffs would be the first broad head-count reductions to occur in the company’s 18-year history. While smaller on a percentage basis than the cuts at Twitter this past week—which hit about half of that company’s staff—the number of Meta employees expected to lose their jobs could be the largest to date at a major technology corporation in a year that has seen a tech-industry retrenchment.

A spokesman for Meta declined to comment, referring to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent statement that the company would “focus our investments on a small number of high-priority growth areas.

“So that means some teams will grow meaningfully, but most other teams will stay flat or shrink over the next year,” he said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call on October. 26. “In aggregate, we expect to end 2023 as either roughly the same size, or even a slightly smaller organization than we are today.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that Meta was planning to cut expenses by at least 10% in the coming months, in part through staff reductions.

The cuts expected to be announced this week follow several months of more targeted staffing reductions in which employees were managed out or saw their roles eliminated.

“Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,” Zuckerberg told employees at a companywide meeting at the end of June. 

Meta, like other tech giants, went on a hiring spree during the pandemic as life and business shifted more online. It added more than 27,000 employees in 2020 and 2021 combined; and added a further 15,344 in the first nine months of this year—about one-fourth of that during the most recent quarter.

Meta’s stock has fallen more than 70% this year. The company has highlighted deteriorating macroeconomic trends, but investors also have been spooked by its spending and threats to the company’s core social-media business. Growth for that business in many markets has stalled amid stiff competition from TikTok; and Apple’s requirement that users opt in to the tracking of their devices has curtailed the ability of social-media platforms to target ads.

Last month, investment firm Altimeter Capital said in an open letter to Zuckerberg that Meta should slash staff and pare back its metaverse ambitions, reflecting the rising discontent among shareholders.

Much of Meta’s ballooning costs stem from Zuckerberg’s commitment to Reality Labs; a division of the company responsible for virtual- and augmented-reality headsets, as well as the creation of the metaverse. Zuckerberg has billed the metaverse as a constellation of interlocking virtual worlds in which people will eventually work, play, live, and shop.

The effort has cost the company $15 billion since the beginning of last year. But despite investing heavily in promoting its virtual-reality platform, Horizon Worlds, users have been largely unimpressed. Last month, the Journal reported that visitors to Horizon Worlds had fallen over the course of the year to well under 200,000 users, about the size of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I get that a lot of people might disagree with this investment,” Zuckerberg told analysts on the company’s earnings call last month before reaffirming his commitment. “I think people are going to look back on decades from now and talk about the importance of the work that was done here.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Steve Jobs’ daughter aims a not-too-subtle dig at Apple’s new iPhone 14

September 9, 2022

The daughter of the late Steve Jobs, a founder of Apple, has thrown some not-so-subtle shade at the company’s new iPhone 14, unveiled on Wednesday, September 7, at a product-launch event, dubbed Far Out that showcased the device’s features along with other “new and improved products,” reports Fortune magazine.

 Following the launch, Eve Jobs, 23, shared a meme to her Instagram site—showing the image of a man gleefully buying the same shirt that he is currently wearing, with the caption “Me upgrading from iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 after Apple’s announcement today.”

The mocking meme shared by the former Apple CEO’s youngest child aligns with an opinion shared widely on social media—that the company is offering an upgrade that is too similar to the previous model, yet still wants consumers to drop hundreds of dollars on it. 

 Users who buy the pro version of the new model will get the most advantages, including a 48 megapixel camera, a faster A16 processor and a redesign of the notch at the top of the screen—in essence transforming it into an interface called the Dynamic Island. It also features an “always-on display,” meaning notifications can be viewed even when the phone is locked.

 The standard version has a new action mode feature to stabilize videos, a car-crash feature similar to the latest Apple Watch, and satellite connectivity to allow users to send SOS messages in an emergency. Consumers also can purchase a plus version of the phone with a larger, 6.7-inch display, but there’s no mini version available. 

 Among the other improvements on the iPhone 13, the new model boasts a longer battery life and a larger light sensor for low-light photography.

Expanding on Eve Jobs’ dig, critics have pointed out that the standard iPhone 14 still has the same screen size, refresh rate, storage, CPU, and cameras as the iPhone 13, while the larger version of the model is still the same size as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Those who aren’t willing to splash out on the Pro will also have to put up with the previous model’s A15 processor for a while longer.

The iPhone 14 can be purchased starting September 16, and the iPhone 14 Pro will be available on October 7.

 Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Timex takes a witty swipe at Apple: ‘Know the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails’

August 18, 2022

Apple may be the leader in the smartwatch market, but an old-school player wants to remind us of the joys of analog watches, reports Business Insider.

Timex is promoting a new watch with a New York City billboard. The $140 watch, a collaboration with the Brooklyn-based clothing company Adsum, is currently sold out. But the ad’s message lives on.

“Know the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails,” reads the sleek, minimalist billboard, apparently referring to Apple’s Watch that displays your notifications on your wrist.

Timex was founded in 1854 and has become a global household name for traditional watches. But Apple gave consumers a very different product with its series of smartwatches starting in 2015.

However, there is something that traditional watches haven’t given us that smartwatches may have: notification anxiety.

Smartwatches deliver a slew of real-time health data like heart rhythm to you right to your wrist and can cause obsessive self-monitoring, as Digital Trends reported in late 2021.

But that hasn’t stopped Apple watch from being a hit, even though it wasn’t always: It struggled to appeal to people for the first year or so into its presence on the market.

Then Apple changed its strategy to gear the Watch more towards fitness—a tool to track one’s physical health while also staying on top of regular iPhone alerts—instead of mere fashion or luxury. The Watch Series 2, for example, rolled out in 2016 and came with GPS that you could use without your smartphone.

The fitness focus caused the Apple Watch to skyrocket in popularity, and it leapfrogged Rolex as the number one watch in the world in mid-2017.

Apple has since blown past legacy Swiss watch companies, like Swatch, TAG Heuer, and others, which are struggling to compete with the phone giant’s hit fitness-oriented smartwatch.

Apple shipped an estimated 31 million units in 2019, versus the 21 million shipments from Swiss watch brands, research firm Strategy Analytics said in an early 2020 report.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

NFL launches subscription streaming service

July 26, 2022

The National Football League debuted its new subscription streaming video service on Monday, July 25—NFL+, for $4.99 a month or $39.99 annually, reports Axios.

Why it matters: The service will help the NFL reach a wider audience of younger fans who don’t watch traditional TV.

Details: For the first time in the NFL’s history, the service will make all NFL games, including local matches, widely accessible on-the-go via streaming.

But there’s a catch: In an effort to respect its live television partnership rights, the live local and primetime regular and post-season games are only available on phone and tablet.

  • Live local and national audio of every game, however, is available on the app, as well as live video coverage of all out-of-market pre-season games.
  • In addition to live games, the regular tier of the app includes NFL Network shows on demand, NFL Films archives and other content.
  • Users can also buy a premium package for $9.99 a month or $79.99 annually, which includes game replays and other features, such as access to the All-22 Coaches Film, which essentially provides video for those looking to study game plays.

Be smart: The premium version of NFL+ essentially replaces a product called NFL Game Pass in the United States. It’s meant to cater to the more intense NFL fan and will include full-game replays across all devices, including streaming television.

What they’re saying: “Today marks an important day in the history of the National Football League with the launch of NFL+,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

The big picture: The NFL has been aggressive in its efforts to bring more of its games to streaming without cannibalizing its lucrative live TV contracts with various TV networks.  It has already brokered a deal to make Amazon the exclusive broadcaster of its Thursday night games, and it has awarded ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service, an exclusive game to stream.

The league is expected to soon announce the winner for its last remaining multi-season rights package for Sunday Ticket. That package is widely speculated to go to a streaming service like Apple or Amazon.

Research contact: @axios

Apple ends production of its iconic iPod

May 12, 2022

RIP to the iconic iPod. Apple announced  on Tuesday, May 10, that it’s discontinuing the iPod Touch—the last iPod model produced by the company—marking an end to the gadget that helped shape the music listening experience for 20 years, reports NBC News.

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry; it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, said in a statement.

The company first introduced the iPod in 2001—boasting about the device’s “1,000 CD-quality songs” capacity. It launched the iPod Touch, which looked like an iPhone, in 2007.

Apple introduced the most recent iPod Touch model in 2019. With an Internet connection, the latest iPod Touch can send iMessages and make FaceTime calls. Apple said the iPod Touch will still be available for purchase online and at Apple Store locations “while supplies last.”

Many on Twitter mourned the product, which one person noted was the first gadget he ever owned.

“You changed the game,” one user wrote.

“Thank you for making Music and consumer electronics fun!” said another Twitter user, who linked to images of the iPod over time. One image included the iPod ads that featured dark silhouettes, holding iPods in their hands, dancing to upbeat music with bright backgrounds.

“Thank you for 20 years of service,” wrote one Twitter user. “We still miss that click wheel and the tactile buttons.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Apple opens self-repair store with $300 iPhone screens, 19-cent screws

April 28, 2022

Apple is making it easier for customers and independent repair technicians to “perform surgery” on some iPhones and Macs, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After years of resisting DIY repairs, Apple opened a new online store on Wednesday, April 27, where anyone can view repair manuals and order replacement parts and tools for certain recent devices.

The new Self Service Repair Store sells screens, batteries, cameras, and other parts to fix some issues with iPhone 12 and 13 models and 2022’s updated iPhone SE. Later this year, it will stock parts and tools to fix Macs that have Apple silicon chips.

Just don’t expect to save much money doing repairs yourself. Buying parts to fix an iPhone 12 Mini on your own would cost only $3 less than having your out-of-warranty device fixed at an Apple Store, for instance. And you’d still have to pay for tools.

Apple has been known for its tight control of the repair process. For years, you needed to go to an Apple Store or authorized service provider for Apple-approved fixes that were often more expensive than repairs at independent shops. Taking your device to an independent repair technician—or cracking it open yourself—could void whatever warranty you had left.

With the self-service program, Apple is keeping ahead of possible “Right to Repair” regulations by the federal government, including the Fair Repair Act introduced in Congress.

While anyone can buy the parts and tools, Apple expects them to mainly be used not by consumers, but by technicians who have experience repairing electronic devices.

Research contact: @WSJ

TikTok ousts Google to become world’s favorite online destination

December 29, 2021

Move over Google; TikTok now is the world’s most popular online destination. The viral video app gets more hits than the American search engine, according to Cloudflare, a U.S.-based IT security company.

The rankings show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot in February, March, and June of this year, and has held the number one position since August, reports the BBC.

Last year Google was first, and a number of sites—among them, TikTok, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Netflix—were in the top ten.

Cloudfare said it tracks data using its tool Cloudflare Radar, which monitors web traffic. The company surmises that one of the reasons for the surge in Tiktok’s popularity is the ongoing worldwide COVID pandemic—as lockdowns meant people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment.

By July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than three billion times, according to data company San Francisco-based Sensor Tower.

The social network, which is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, headquartered in Beijing, now has more than one billion active users across the world, and that number continues to grow.

In China, to comply with the country’s censorship rules, the app is called Douyin, and runs on a different network. Douyin originally was released in September 2016. This year, China ruled that users under the age of 14 would be limited to 40 minutes a day on the platform.

Research contact: @BBC

iPhone 13: Apple reveals new version of its smartphone

September 16, 2021

Apple has revealed the iPhone 13. From the front, the new iPhone looks largely like its predecessor, the iPhone 12, with the same flat edges. But it does appear a little different on the back, where the cameras have been rearranged in a diagonal, The Independent reports.

And on the front, the “notch” that is cut into the top of the display is 20% smaller, Apple said. The company accomplished this by re-engineering the sensors in the top to enable them to take up less space.

The display itself also has been improved, Apple said, to be as much as 28% brighter when the iPhone is taken outside.

The phone also comes in a range of colors, including a new pinkish hue.

On the inside, the iPhone has been “completely re-architected”, Apple said—with new features and a bigger battery. The battery should last for 1.5 hours longer on the Mini, and 2.5 hours on the bigger iPhone 13, Apple said.

It is powered by the “A15 Bionic” chip, which, Apple claims, is the “fastest CPU in any smartphone”—although it compared its performance with its “leading competitor” rather than the existing processor in the iPhone 12.

The phone also has a new camera system that includes “vastly improved low-light performance,” Apple said.

For videos, Apple is introducing a new feature called “Cinematic Mode”, which will allow the focus to change quickly and dynamically in a way that the tech firm suggested would recall Hollywood films. It does that automatically, by using artificial intelligence to allow the device to create “cinema-grade videos”.

The normal, non-Pro version of the iPhone 13 will come in the same sizes as the iPhone 12—a medium-size model and a “Mini.” Like the iPhone 12, the 13 has 5G. But it has more antenna bands, which should allow it to work both more quickly and in more places. Apple also has  doubled the storage in the phones, meaning they now start at 128GB and go up to 512GB.

The Mini starts at $699, and the normal iPhone starts at $799, the same pricing as the iPhone 12. Some rumors had suggested that the price could be increased, as a result of processor shortages that have hit the entire technology industry.

Pre-orders will open on Friday, and they will go on sale a week later.

Research contact: @independent