The next Apple Watch might not need an iPhone for data

Well, Apple Watch fans have more to look forward to than just a new operating system. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple will release a version of its Watch with cellular network support built-in by year’s end, relieving users of the need to carry their iPhones around. Three words: it’s about time.

Rumors of a cellular Apple Watch are nothing new, and the whole concept should sound very familiar by now. After all, Samsung and LG have had LTE-enabled smartwatches for years, and the latter developed one such wearable to help launch Android Wear 2.0 earlier this year. While it’s not yet clear what Apple plans to let people do with these mobile data connections, it’s likely that users will be able to send messages and make phone and FaceTime Audio calls without being tethered to an iPhone.

Interestingly, Intel is said to be providing the modem for the new Apple Watch, which isn’t a huge surprise — Apple tapped the chipmaker for modems used in certain versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Given the Watch’s small size, Apple and Intel may opt to use a digital “eSIM” rather than a traditional plastic SIM card as well. That could signal a similar decision for future iPhones, which would have potentially huge ramifications for how such smartphones (and their data plans) are sold.

If nothing else, though, use of an eSIM would likely preserve the Apple Watch’s compact footprint. Consider LG’s flagship Watch Sport: it was the more powerful of the two smartwatches that debuted alongside Android Wear 2.0, and the space required to fit a physical SIM card inside helped make it big and somewhat unwieldy. That’s not really Apple’s style, especially since the company’s new Watch is said to benefit from an all-new form factor.

If true, Apple’s next step in wearables may be an iterative one. Still, if the company’s most recent earnings release is any indication, demand for the Watch is still going strong. According to CEO Cook, Watch sales grew 50 percent year over year — seriously, Tim, would some hard numbers now and then really kill you?

Source: Bloomberg

Engadget RSS Feed

Shopify goes after Square with a new mobile credit card reader

Shopify just released its new card reader that makes it easy for merchants to complete credit or debit card-based sales on the go. The reader accepts chip dips or swipes and works with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. It connects wirelessly to Android and Apple phones via Bluetooth and at full charge can carry out 400 chip dips and 700 swipe transactions.

Shopify’s reader is an alternative to the popular version sold by Square, which just introduced a prepaid debit card that lets users tap into their Square Cash while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. PayPal and Intuit also have mobile card readers, while Amazon’s short-lived version is no more. Shopify unveiled its new reader in April and began taking select pre-orders last month. Today, the reader is available to all Shopify merchants.

To use Shopify’s card reader, you’ll have to have nothing older than an iPhone 5 or iPad Gen 3 running iOS 9 or higher or an Android device running version 4.4 at minimum. It’s only available in the US and is being offered to new Shopify point-of-sale merchants for free. Everyone else can snag one for $ 29.

Source: Shopify

Engadget RSS Feed

Glittery iPhone cases recalled after reports of chemical burns

Smartphone cases are normally as harmless as can be, but that sadly isn’t always true. MixBin has recalled 263,000 iPhone cases after 24 reports of skin irritation and chemical burns when the cases broke, leaking glitter and liquid everywhere. And these aren’t obscure cases, either. They’ve been sold at retailers like Amazon, Nordstrom Rack, Tory Burch and Victoria’s Secret as recently as June, so there’s a real chance you picked one up.

If you have one of the cases, you can contact MixBin to get a refund.

This isn’t exactly a common occurrence when most cases are really just creatively-styled silicone or rubber, but it does suggest that elaborate cases aren’t always better. Ultimately, a case is meant to protect your phone against scratches and drops — it’s not doing its job if it poses a threat to you after your phone tumbles to the floor.

Via: Consumerist

Source: CPSC, MixBin

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple iPad sales grow year-over-year for the first time since 2013

This time of year isn’t usually great for Apple’s hardware sales, but the company’s newly released Q3 earnings has at least one pleasant surprise. In addition to raking in $ 45.4 billion in revenue over the past three months, Apple also said it sold 41 million iPhones and 11.4 million iPads. That works out to tepid growth of 1.5 percent for iPhones over last year, but the iPads? We’re looking at a jump of nearly 15 percent since last August. This also marks the first time iPad sales have grown year-over-year since the halcyon days of 2013. (Yes, Apple’s fiscal Q1 2014 earnings showed a yearly lift in iPad sales, thanks to all the iPads sold during the 2013 holiday season.)

That iPhone sales basically stayed flat is little surprise — Tim Cook himself said last quarter that incessant reports about new models stymied sales, and we’re now about a month away from new iPhone announcements. Meanwhile, iPads — and the tablet market in general — have been looking anemic at best for a while now. This quarter’s notable lift is thanks to the launch of multiple new models this year, from a pair of new iPad Pros to a low-cost, $ 329 model meant to help new customers and upgraders with old ‘Pads experience what new versions of iOS can offer. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t mention whether this surge in tablet sales was mainly attributable to those beautiful new Pros or its rock-solid cheap tablet.

Mac sales, meanwhile, remained essentially flat with just about 4.3 million units sold. People clearly weren’t too thrilled about the refreshed machines Apple showed off at WWDC, but the big stuff hasn’t arrived yet. We’ll see what happens when that sleek new iMac Pro goes on sale later this year.

The seasonality of Apple’s fortunes is well understood — Q3 is generally pretty quiet as people gear up for the announcement of new products in September. (The financial party really kicks into high gear in Q1, when Apple the results of its typically-bonkers holiday sales period.) Since lulls like this are relatively easy to foresee, Apple has to be proud that its service revenue — the money it makes off things off iTunes and App Store purchases, Apple Music subs, iCloud and more — is also up. Altogether, those purchases add up to $ 7.26 billion, up 22 percent since this time last year. Apple CFO Luca Maestri specifically pointed to Apple Music and iCloud storage as two areas that saw notably strong growth.

And then there’s all those other products, like AirPods, Watches and more, that Apple handily lumps into a single category called “Other Products.” This time, the company reported $ 2.75 billion in revenue, which is up a whole lot from last year but not so much from last quarter. The year-over-year jump is to be expected since Apple’s surprisingly popular AirPods weren’t available until the winter of 2016; the very slight decline since last quarter could mean people aren’t buying AirPods quite as rapaciously as before, or that Apple is (still) having trouble producing in large enough quantities.

CEO Cook did, however, point out that Watch sales were up 50 percent year-over-year. Sadly, Apple is still more than happy to avoid breaking down revenue into slices for its wearables and accessories, so it’s hard to say for sure which products contributed most to this segment’s growth.

Engadget RSS Feed