Apple executives previewed a large set of privacy and speed-focused changes to the company’s phone and computer software Monday, some intended to help it diversify to offset eroding sales of its bedrock product, the iPhone.
Apple CEO Tim Cook began his keynote by recapping services Apple announced earlier this spring, including a news reading service and an arcade service for games. He also previewed one of the original shows Apple is producing for its new video-streaming service, “For All Mankind,” set in an alternate history where the Soviets were first to land a man on the moon.
The software showcase is an annual rite. This year, however, Apple is grappling with its biggest challenge since its visionary co-founder, Steve Jobs, died nearly eight years ago.
Although still popular, the iPhone is no longer reliably driving Apple’s profits the way it has for the past decade. Sales have fallen sharply for the past two quarters, and could suffer another blow if China’s government targets the iPhone in retaliation for the trade war being waged by President Donald Trump.
Apple’s keynote focused largely on minor feature updates to its flagship software, but hinted at its shift toward a services-focused company.
Apple emphasized its privacy protections during the keynote — following along with Facebook, Google and other major tech companies’ scripts this year.
In its new operating system iOS 13, the company is introducing “Sign in with Apple” to let users sign into apps without using similar sign-in services from Facebook and Google. The sign in will let you hide your actual email address if you choose. Apple is also making it easier to only show your location to apps once and not continually.
Another potential problem looms for Apple. Regulatory complaints and a consumer lawsuit both question whether Apple has been abusing the power of its iPhone app store to thwart competition and gouge smaller technology companies that rely on it to attract users and sell their services.
Apple is trying to adapt by squeezing money from digital services tailored for the more than 900 million iPhones currently in use.
Of course, the company hasn’t totally abandoned the iPhone. The newest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS 13, will feature a dark mode and faster tools. For instance, the company said a new version of its Face ID system will unlock your phone 30 per cent faster.
The biggest remake of a single app is a makeover of Apple Maps, which will debut this fall. It includes more granular street and place data that Apple says it collected with street and aerial footage — tactics its largest mobile app rival Google has been using for years.
Apple also unveiled several new apps for its smartwatch, including independent apps that don’t rely on the iPhone. The App Store will be available on the watch, making it possible for people to find and download apps right on their watch — expanding the availability of purchases that generate commissions for Apple.
In its laptop and desktop businesses, Apple is breaking up its iTunes software for computers into three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. Apple debuted iTunes 16 years ago to sell and manage digital music for the iPod, which paved the way for the iPhone.
Apple has already phased out the iTunes from the iPhone and iPad, but now it’s expected to do the same on the Mac and other personal computers. Instead of iTunes, separate apps for music, video and podcasts are expected to be offered for computers, mirroring how Apple already handles those services on mobile devices.
Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press