Apple Now Offers Training to Become an IT Professional

Apple’s courses will teach you how to deploy, support and manage Apple products in the workplace.

Apple has introduced new professional training and certification programs to train IT workers, or anyone who wants to make a career change. The courses explain how to deploy, manage and support iPhones, Macs and other Apple devices used in the workplace. You can sign up for the courses here.

Apple named the courses Apple Device Support and Apple Deployment and Management, and the courses are sequential.

The Apple Device Support course covers tools, services and best practices for Apple products, and the company said the course has about 14 hours of content to cover. Once completed, you will have to take an exam to earn certification and to advance to the next course.

The Apple Deployment and Management course will show you how to configure, manage and secure Apple products using Mobile Device Management. Apple estimates there is about 13 hours of content in this course. Once the course is complete, you can take the certification exam.

Each exam costs $149. Apple said it will offer scholarships covering the cost of the exams to students in its Community Education Initiative. Anyone with financial difficulties can also apply for vouchers from the Mac Admins Foundation.

“Apple Professional Training helps anyone with an interest in technology… pursue high-paying IT jobs with certifications that will stand out to potential employers,” Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Enterprise and Education Marketing, said in a release. “The new courses are self-paced and freely available, and we are working to ensure ability to pay isn’t a barrier to earning Apple certification.”

Apple is also offering in-person preparatory courses at community colleges and universities. A version of these courses was offered at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas, in 2020. Maricopa Community Colleges in Chandler and Mesa, Arizona and Ed Farm, an education nonprofit based in Birmingham, Alabama, will offer the courses soon.

Apple Quietly Allows Apps to Automatically Charge You More

This policy change could allow the price of your app subscriptions to double in just two years.

If you’re an Apple customer and have an app subscription on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, your app could charge you more without your consent. Apple updated its App Store policy Monday and now allows some apps to charge more for auto-renewable subscriptions without requiring customers to take any action. However, there are some conditions to the policy update.

“The specific conditions for this feature are that the price increase doesn’t occur more than once per year, doesn’t exceed US $5 and 50% of the subscription price, or US $50 and 50% for an annual subscription price, and is permissible by local law,” Apple wrote.

This means a developer can’t incrementally raise the price of a subscription two or three times in a year. It also means if you subscribe to a service and the monthly fee is $10, the subscription can increase to $15 a month without asking you to opt in. Over a year, the cost of that subscription would inflate from $120 to $180.

If a price increase violates either the $5 or 50% conditions, Apple said, customers will have to opt into the price changes. If the increase is too high, Apple said it will let customers know how to view, manage and cancel subscriptions. Customers can also request a refund or report issues through Settings under Purchase History, on Apple’s website or in the App Store.

Apple said its current policy requires developers to message customers, asking them to opt into price increases before the increase is applied. Some customers would miss these messages, according to Apple, causing the service to be interrupted and for those customers to have to go through the signup process again. The new policy seems to be designed to prevent unintended interruptions.

But while this new policy might be more convenient for some customers, it also makes it easier for apps to increase prices without the need for subscribers to do anything. Apple said it will send customers messages about price increases in advance by email, push notification or in-app messages. However, the new message is meant to notify customers, rather than call on them to act. If the price increase falls within the $5 and 50% parameters, it will happen automatically unless you cancel or otherwise change your subscription.

The policy places a bigger burden on customers to monitor their subscriptions. If a subscription costs $10 per month, it could rise to $25 per month in three years. That’s an extra $180 per year. Now imagine you have two other apps that follow the same price increase. You’re now paying $75 per month for three apps that cost a fraction of that years prior.

With this new policy, you will now have to be more vigilant about price increases and what subscriptions to keep and which to delete.

Apple iOS 15.5 Is Available Now

The update brings new features for Wallet and Apple Podcasts.

After releasing iOS 15.5 to developers last Thursday, Apple launched the new update more widely on Monday.

Most of the changes coming with 15.5 are minor, mainly tweaks to apps and updates that seem to lay the foundation for larger changes in the future.

The update includes two main enhancements: The Apple Cash card in the Wallet app will now allow customers to send and request money, and a new Apple Podcasts setting will allow users to limit episodes stored on devices and automatically delete older ones, according to Apple’s release notes.

This may be Apple’s last update to the iOS 15‌ operating system, considering the company is expected to announce iOS 16 at its Worldwide Developers Conference next month.

For more, check out our roundup of everything we know about iOS 15.5.

Facebook Accused of Deliberately Causing Havoc in Australia Over News Law — Read The Whistleblower Files

Facebook whistleblowers accused the social network of intentionally blocking Australian government and emergency health official pages last year to influence a proposed law. CNET has obtained and is publishing the whistleblowers’ disclosures provided to Congress.

Filed with US and Australian authorities in March and April, the documents describe alleged internal efforts at Facebook to break a February 2021 standoff with the Australian government. Australia was considering a bill that would force online platforms, including Facebook, to pay publishers for news items posted on their sites. Facebook responded to the proposed law by blocking Australians and publishers from sharing or seeing news on the social network. (CNET was among the news publishers affected by this move.)

The whistleblower disclosures, which include redacted passages from internal Facebook communications, allege the news blackout was intentionally broad so that it would prevent access to government and health services pages. At the time, Facebook blamed those mistakes on problems with its computer systems.

The 67-page disclosures, parts of which have been reported by The Wall Street Journal, include Facebook’s internal plans to take down “news content” as Australian lawmakers considered voting on the new law. A senior congressional staffer, who requested anonymity because the disclosures haven’t been released publicly, provided them to CNET. The whistleblowers aren’t named in the disclosures for fear of retaliation.

The disclosures are among a growing string of whistleblower leaks from Facebook, which renamed itself Meta last year. Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, provided a different cache of Facebook documents that prompted hearings in Congress and the UK Parliament. The new disclosures could generate similar governmental investigations in Australia.

Together, the whistleblower disclosures portray the company’s aggressive and sometimes deceptive business practices. In response, lawmakers and regulators, who were already skeptical of the tech industry’s immense power over global communication, have raised new concerns about the motivations of Facebook executives and their willingness to correct problems on the platform.

In one case, The Journal reported that Meta’s Instagram social network had been aware of negative impacts on younger users of its app but failed to act. In another, Haugen accused the company of putting profits ahead of user safety.

Some of Haugen’s whistleblower documents, which were also shared with CNET and a consortium of publications, detailed how Facebook struggles to rein in harassment in its next big technology, virtual reality.

Now, the new whistleblowers are accusing Facebook of exerting its power over another government — and at a time when British, Canadian and US lawmakers are considering similar rules as those in Australia. The whistleblowers have urged the Department of Justice to investigate.

The whistleblower disclosures claim Facebook hadn’t followed its standard processes when it began blocking news in Australia. The complaint accused the company of attempting to influence Australia’s political process “to maximize the company’s negotiating leverage.”

In a summary of the disclosures transmitted to authorities, Whistleblower Aid, which is working with the “multiple whistleblowers,” wrote: “Facebook Inc. deliberately and knowingly over-blocked critical Australian emergency, health and government online resources as part of a criminal conspiracy to obtain a thing of value, namely favorable regulatory treatment.”

Whistleblower Aid is a nonprofit legal organization that helps “individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law breaking.” The organization also works with Haugen, the earlier Facebook leaker.

Erin Miller, a spokeswoman for Meta, said in an emailed statement on May 5 that the whistleblower documents “clearly show that we intended to exempt Australian government Pages from restrictions in an effort to minimize the impact of this misguided and harmful legislation. When we were unable to do so as intended due to a technical error, we apologized and worked to correct it. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically and obviously false.”

Miller declined to provide additional comment about the new disclosures.

The disclosures show that at least three Facebook employees raised concerns about blocking pages that weren’t managed by news publishers. The employees also proposed solutions, such as proactively finding all the pages that have been mistakenly blocked and restoring them. The whistleblower disclosures note the team in charge of rolling out the news blackout ignored them, the complaint says.

Congress is considering a bill that would expand whistleblower protections for people reporting potential or suspected violations of any law, rule or regulation enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC Whistleblower Protection Act would also offer financial incentives to encourage potential whistleblowers “to take the significant risk of coming forward would substantially enhance the FTC’s ability to detect and combat deceptive trade practices,” the National Law Review wrote after the bill was introduced last year. “An FTC whistleblower reward program could spur whistleblowers at social media and technology companies to disclose data privacy and security practices that harm consumers.”

The senior congressional staffer who provided the document to CNET expressed concern that Congress is losing its appetite to push investigations and pursue potential laws that would rein in the tech industry.

“This is another in a long line of pieces of evidence that show that the regulatory oversight of social media is inadequate,” the staffer said.

iPod Creator Tony Fadell Isn’t Buying the Metaverse Hype

We need to fix the problems that already exist on today’s social platforms, he says.

If anyone has an eye for where the tech industry is headed, it’s probably Tony Fadell.

During his time at Apple, he led the team that developed the iPod (RIP) and the first three generations of the iPhone. Then, he co-founded the now Google-owned smart home company Nest, which raised the bar for how connected appliances should look and feel. With that kind of track record, it’s no surprise he has a strong opinion on the metaverse — a nebulous term that tech executives have used to describe the future of the internet.

But his opinion might not be the one you’d expect from someone as closely tied to progress in the tech industry as Fadell. His exact words when recently speaking with Wired’s Steven Levy were “fuck the metaverse,” an opinion that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

It’s not that simple. He sees potential in the technologies that are often brought up in the context of the metaverse, like augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality (XR), which falls in between the two. He just doesn’t think the metaverse is the social internet revolution it’s being made out to be.

“I’m not against the technology,” Fadell said in an interview with CNET following the launch of his new book, Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making. “I’m against the application; the way it’s been buzzed about. It’s not a problem that needs solving.”

The metaverse is a catch-all term that generally refers to online spaces where people can gather virtually, typically through digital avatars. You might be wondering what makes the metaverse so different from a Zoom call or a video game. My colleagues Scott Stein and Andrew Morse describe it best. Unlike a video call, spaces in the metaverse don’t disappear when you log off. Many have pointed to games like Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite as being examples of how the metaverse exists today.

Tech giants see the metaverse as being a critical component of the next phase of the internet, impacting how people work, play and socialize. But Fadell thinks there should be a bigger focus on fixing the problems plaguing today’s social networks before moving on to what’s next. Meta is already struggling to combat harassment on its virtual reality platform, as CNET’s Queenie Wong reported.

“I don’t want to hear about a new social hangout without hearing [about] the new content moderation that’s going to happen,” Fadell said. “And let’s fix the ones we have.”

The idea of the metaverse isn’t new, but tech companies have been making it a larger part of their businesses recently. In October, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta to reflect its larger focus on building the metaverse. CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it “the next frontier” and has evangelized the metaverse’s potential to make virtual interactions feel more intimate. Microsoft agreed to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard in January to “provide building blocks for the metaverse.” Samsung has also started holding events in the metaverse.

Companies in other industries have also started to take notice. A recently announced partnership between Kraft Heinz and Microsoft will allow the food and beverage giant to create “digital twins” of its manufacturing facilities to test processes before they hit the plant floor. Microsoft’s Judson Althoff used the term “industrial metaverse” in a press release detailing the partnership. Disney also appointed an executive to oversee its metaverse strategy in February.

Fadell thinks there are more important problems to solve besides the metaverse — such as the climate crisis — but there’s another reason why he isn’t buying into the hype. Many of today’s metaverse experiences put users in the shoes of an avatar, resulting in social interactions that don’t feel authentic. “I can’t see your facial expressions,” Fadell said. “I can’t connect with you.”

He’s not the first to cast such doubts. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel recently said the word “metaverse” is never used in the company’s offices because it’s “ambiguous” and “hypothetical,” according to The Guardian. But companies like Snap are investing heavily in augmented reality, which blends digital graphics with the physical world and is often associated with the metaverse. Snap unveiled a pair of AR glasses last year, and Apple is rumored to be working on augmented reality eyewear as well.

Android 13 Arrives at Google I/O: Here Are the New Features

The Google I/O preview for Android 13 included a revamped Google Wallet, RCS and more.

At Google I/O on Wednesday, we got a fresh and detailed look at Android 13. The new operating system was announced back in February, but will debut this fall. It builds on the changes that came with Android 12 and offers more Material You personalizations, increased tools for privacy and security, more RCS messaging support, a revamped Google Wallet and better integrations with Chromebooks, watches, TVs, cars and smart home devices. The new software makes Android and Google’s vast software ecosystem more competitive with Apple’s wide portfolio of software and services. The proof is in the numbers.

For the first time ever, Google shared the number of Android phone activations, which in 2021 exceeded 1 billion devices. And there are more than 3 billion active Android devices monthly according to Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Android and Google Play.

Those statistics, combined with things like Samsung offering four years of major Android OS updates, put Google in a unique position. It has to support a diverse array of old and new phones as well as tablets and foldables. Luckily, Android 13 is proof that Google is ready and eager to keep its crown jewel OS customizable and up to date while giving Android phone owners a more seamless experience across multiple devices. Some of the features Google highlighted are improvements to existing features or support for features in more countries.

Android 13 is currently in beta. For more information check out Google’s Android Beta website.

End-to-end encryption for RCS group chats in Messages
Google worked with carriers and phone manufacturers over the last several years to roll out Rich Communication Services as a feature-rich alternative to SMS and MMS text messaging. This provides support for high-quality photos, messaging over Wi-Fi, a better group messaging experience and typing indicators, which let you know when someone is typing. The app already supports end-to-end encryption for one-to-one conversations automatically, and support for encrypted group chats will roll out later this year.

Google notes that its RCS-powered Messages app — the default texting app on many Android phones — already has half a billion monthly active users on Android phones. While the RCS standard could eventually become universal, for now it remains unsupported on iOS and other phone operating systems.

Google Wallet and Wear OS
Google Wallet, which originally debuted in 2011, gets a number of updates and new functionality. Google Wallet can store digital versions of your essential documents, including payment cards, transit passes, office badges, vaccine records, car keys, boarding passes and student IDs. The idea is to provide a faster, more secure alternative to physical cards. Google is working with US states and international governments to support digital IDs, something Apple Wallet started to support in several US states back in March.

Google Wallet will also allow you to share a digital card over either NFC or a QR code, which could be a faster way to share a card’s information instead of physically handing your phone over to the person checking it.

Google Wallet also supports integrations with other apps that you can opt into. For example, if you have a transit card in Google Wallet, your card and balance will automatically show up in Google Maps when you search for directions. That way, if your balance is low, you can add more money for the fare before you arrive at your station or stop.

In terms of controlling your privacy, Google Wallet stores everything securely on your phone and doesn’t share data with Google services.

Later this summer more than 40 countries that currently use Google Pay will be upgraded to Google Wallet. The exceptions are India, which will still use Google Pay, and the US and Singapore which will have both Google Wallet and Google Pay. Any device running Android 5 (Lollipop) or Wear OS will support it.

Emergency SOS is coming to Wear OS
When there’s an emergency, our phones become even more vital. As part of Android 12, Google rolled out Emergency SOS which lets you get help, contact a trusted person and share your emergency information without unlocking your phone. Google is working to bring Emergency SOS to Wear OS.

Emergency Location Services, which is already built into Android, helps first responders find you when you call for help. ELS is now available to more than 1 billion people worldwide.

Early Earthquake Warnings via Android are already in place in 25 countries, and this year Google will launch them in more high-risk regions around the world. In places that don’t have official early warning systems, Android can crowdsource indications of an earthquake from phones. When devices first detect waves generated by quakes, Google analyzes the data from phones and sends an early warning alert to people in that area.

Android 12L and the future of tablets and foldables
Google says that there are 275 million active users on large screen devices such as tablets and foldable phones. In March, Android 12L launched to help developers design apps for these larger screens. Android 13 continues where 12L left off and introduces better multitasking from the toolbar for split screen apps as well as support and optimizations for more than 20 Google apps including YouTube Music, Google Maps and Google Messages.

More Material You
One of the most obvious changes in Android 12 was Material You. Android essentially adapts the way your home screen and app icons look based on colors found in your wallpaper image. For Android 13, Google is introducing premade color sets for those who want something a little different. You choose the color scheme and it’ll be applied across the entire OS.

Themed icons will no longer be limited to system apps. There’s now a toggle in Settings that lets you turn themed icons on for all apps on your home screen.

Media controls also get a boost from Material You. When you’re listening to music, the player window will adopt the color of the album artwork. There’s also a new waveform progress bar that moves along to the audio.

Better privacy and security features
The App Language Settings now allows you to set different default languages for different apps. For example, your bank app can be set to English while your messaging app is in Hindi. Like the cameras on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, this is another example of Google being more inclusive and equitable with its software and design.

The Android Photo Picker adds a great privacy feature that originated in iOS: You can limit which photos and videos an app has access to. Instead of granting an app access to your complete photo library, you can choose specific images for that particular app.

Android already notifies you when an app accesses your copy and paste clipboard. But Android 13 goes even further and automatically deletes your phone’s clipboard history after a short period of time.

Later this year, Google will add a unified Security and Privacy settings page that puts all your phone’s data privacy and security front and center. There will be a color-coded indicator showing your safety status and offering guidance to make your phone more secure.

Android 13 works better with your other devices
Google says the average US household has 20 connected devices. Earlier this year Google revealed its vision for how Android will work better with your TV, cars, speakers and laptops. Android 13 will support fast pairing for setting up new devices with your phone, automatic audio switching between devices for your headphones and copy-pasting between devices. It’ll also let you stream messages and other apps from your phone to your computer.

The Chromecast will support more devices from companies such as Bose, TCL, Sony, Vizio and LG. It will also extend casting capabilities to new products, such as to Chromebooks and even your car.

Wear OS has new apps from Spotify and Adidas. It will support turn-by-turn directions for biking and walking using haptic feedback, like the Apple Watch does.

The Google Play Store gets a visual overhaul. The app looks cleaner. The store is easier to navigate and apps are easier to find.

A big yearly Android update vs. smaller regular updates
Android 13 brings more functionality, security and privacy to your phone. And while yearly major Android updates aren’t going anywhere, Google’s made it clear that features such as Google Wallet and RCS messaging are likely to be updated as needed across devices. This could be particularly beneficial for phones that might not receive Android 13, but will still get the improvements from updates to the Wallet and Messages apps. I’m excited to try Android 13 out and see what the final version looks like later this year.

Apple loses position as most valuable firm amid tech sell-off

Apple has lost its position as the world’s most valuable company amid a broad sell-off of technology stocks.

Saudi Arabian oil and gas producer Aramco has reclaimed the top spot from the iPhone maker for the first time in almost two years.

Investors have been selling shares in technology firms as they move into what they see as less risky assets.

Bitcoin, other major cryptocurrencies and digital assets have also continued to fall sharply.

Shares in Apple fell by more than 5% in New York on Wednesday to end the trading day with a stock market valuation of $2.37tn (£1.94tn).

That meant it lost its position as the most valuable company in the world to oil and gas producer Aramco, which was valued at $2.42tn.

It is the first time that Aramco has held the top spot since 2020. Shares in energy producers have risen this year as the cost of crude oil and natural gas have gone up.

Meanwhile Apple’s shares have fallen by almost 20% since the start of the year after a sell-off in technology stocks.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq closed 3.2% lower in New York on Wednesday after official data showed that US inflation remained near a more than 40-year high.

Rising prices have been the single biggest threat to the recovery of the global economy as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Central banks around the world have responded to the problem by raising interest rates, which has triggered a move out of riskier investments over concerns that the higher cost of borrowing will slow down economic growth.

On Thursday Japan’s SoftBank Group reported a record loss of $26.2bn at its Vision Fund business as the value of its technology investments slid.

The loss was a stark contrast to a year ago when the company posted record annual profit.

Since then a number of companies SoftBank has stakes in, including ride-hailing firms Didi and Grab, have tumbled in value.

The move out of what are seen as risky assets also helped to push the price of Bitcoin below $27,000.

The world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency has now lost about 60% of its value since hitting a record high in November last year.

Ether, the digital coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, also fell sharply again and has now lost more than 40% of its value in the last week.

Here’s How Apple’s iPod Lasted for 20 Years

Commentary: The gadget survived music streaming, rival players and the iPhone.

Editor’s note, May 11, 2022: This commentary originally ran in October 2021 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the iPod. We’re rerunning it today following the news that the iPod is finally being put out to pasture.

For a long time, the iPod and Apple were synonymous — entities that were constantly morphing and shaping, rather than reacting to, the whims of users. Yet while Apple’s fortunes are still on the rise, the iPod’s light has dimmed and the iPhone commands the lion’s share of attention. But the device that jump-started Apple’s modern fortunes is still on sale after 20 years.

No, seriously.

After its release in 2001, the iPod, helped along by the iTunes music store, became one of the most iconic gadgets of all time, spawning a host of imitators and legitimizing the market of MP3 players that it dominated. The iPod has evolved and radically changed over time: It’s now an iPhone without the cellular radio. But you can still buy an iPod Touch on Apple’s website (you need to dig for it at the bottom of the home page), a testament to its remarkable longevity in an industry where last year’s gadget is quickly forgotten.

Is the iPod still relevant in the 2020s? Let’s look back at the iPod’s history and examine what has contributed to its staying power, and where, if anywhere, it might be going.

Nostalgia is an emotion that keeps coming up when people talk about the iPod, but as any neuroscientist will tell you it’s because music and memory are intrinsically linked. Tony Fadell, the former Apple executive who designed and built the iPod, was in a reflective mood as the music player’s 20th anniversary approached.

“A lot of people still remember those iPod days,” Fadell told CNET in an interview. “It was truly a superpower.”

Fadell grew up listening to the Sony Walkman and, as fate would have it, was recruited by Steve Jobs 20 years later to craft what would be its digital replacement. The iPod soon became so ubiquitous it’s easy to forget that Apple didn’t actually invent the digital music player. The first MP3 players — including the Rio PMP300 — preceded the iPod by three years, but back then MP3 was a mostly illegal and highly litigable format.

Fadell and his colleagues labored to create the iPod, which was unveiled on Oct. 23, 2001, barely a month after the events of Sept. 11. This was a portable music player with a 5GB hard drive, an easier way to load and buy songs, and the memorable tagline of “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Apple was able to offer a portable music device — a physical object like the Walkman and the turntable before it — that combined with its digital iTunes platform. It could also play people’s carefully pirated curated MP3 collections.

Nowadays, Fadell likens his iPod to a time capsule that he likes to visit from time to time: “You kind of jack in and you’re like, ‘I’m just right back to early 2000s music and the music before that.'”

Read more: ‘Whoa whoa’: iPod’s inventor looks back on Apple’s ‘really big risks’

It’s good to be the king

The iPod helped transform Apple from a struggling computer manufacturer to the world’s biggest company. Fadell told CNET the team was flying by the seat of its pants when it put together the iPod. But producing the first model was only half the battle.

As with Apple itself, the secret to the iPod’s longevity has been reinvention. The iPod went through multiple design changes in its lifetime — from a “dumb” music device packing a hard drive, to a screenless fob, all the way to what is now essentially a cut-down iPhone. While the focus has been predominantly on music, the device gained a series of features over time.

Fadell said the designers kept adding a little bit of capability each year so they “didn’t overwhelm the users.”

“You start with music, add some photos and podcasts and videos and games,” he said. “So keep layering on and giving them something new.”

This branching-out led to dozens of models over the years from the Nano to the Mini and ultimately to the Touch. To a modern eye, the most inscrutable of these is the iPod Shuffle — a player without a screen and just a simple set of controls — but its philosophy of “running your own radio station” has also driven streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. Even with all of these variations, the one that looms largest is the iPod Classic, with its iconic scroll wheel and chunky, clutchable shape.

Despite its evolution, Apple’s principle of keeping listeners in its closed ecosystem has been the key to the popularity of not just the iPod, but modern devices like the iPhone and iPad. As part of this process, Apple funnels any third-party purchases through its own lucrative App Store. Fadell said that in the early days this was done to improve compatibility.

“It really all stemmed from iTunes and iPod and making them work incredibly seamlessly well.”

See also
Apple event recap: AirPods 3, new MacBook Pro and more
Apple unveils new AirPods at $179
Apple’s MacBook Pro display features a new notch, faster refresh rate
The iPod also led to a number of inventions, including the Bluetooth speaker. The Bose SoundDock 10 was one of the first devices to incorporate both Bluetooth and an iPod dock. Then when Apple changed from the 30-pin plug to the Lightning connector — effectively killing the iPod dock — it was Bluetooth that proved to be the winning feature.

We also wouldn’t have podcasts without the iPod — it’s in the name — and it’s an understatement to say that the format is raging right now. When septuagenarian comedian Steve Martin makes a TV show about them you know podcasts are a fully established part of the zeitgeist.

For a decade, the iPod and its many facets captured the public’s imagination — the often-parodied, silhouetted iPod ads were seemingly everywhere — but the device’s popularity was constantly tested, with the biggest threat coming from within Apple.

Pretenders to the throne
The music player has weathered a number of threats in its time, most of which were described as “iPod killers,” from Microsoft’s Zune to Sony’s reinvented Walkman to high-end models from the likes of Pono.

None of these took off in the way their inventors hoped, with the iPod regularly grabbing roughly 80% of the market during its heyday. No, it wasn’t other MP3 players that were the greatest threat to the iPod, but an even more talented type of type of device.

“The real competition came when cellphones started getting data — cellphones starting to be 2.5G, starting to look like Sidekicks and starting to put on MP3,” Fadell said.

Apple flirted with these so-called “feature phones” by helping to create the infamous Motorola Rokr in 2005 — but that product wasn’t a great phone and it was an even worse MP3 player. It was, however, the precursor to something that would become much more influential than the iPod.

In 2007, Apple launched its first iPhone on AT&T as an exclusive, and it was the logical evolution of the company’s ideas. It was so much more than an iPod with an antenna in it. This device was simple to use and it could play music, browse the web and make phone calls. It wasn’t until the iPhone 3G, which benefited from lower pricing, a faster cellular connection and the newly introduced App Store, that people began flocking to buy the device.

Pockets and pocketbooks are only so deep, and so Apple’s fans reached the point where they had to choose between the two devices. “People are only going to carry one device. Which one is going to be their go-to device — communication or media?” Fadell said.

Despite new and more convenient shapes and sizes, including sports-friendly clips, the iPod’s days were now numbered, and the company itself was the one to blame. Even Apple recognized that.

“We expect our traditional MP3 players to decline over time as we cannibalize ourselves with the iPod Touch and the iPhone,” Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer said in July 2009, as reported by MacWorld.

The slow decline
When I spoke with Roger Cheng, CNET’s head of news, about writing this piece, he responded with: “Is the iPod still alive? Oh damn it is.”

After 2010, the rate of iPod releases slowed as more people spent their money on iPhones and rival Android phones instead. The various models started disappearing from the company’s lineup. We said goodbye to the iPod Classic in 2014 and, more recently, the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle.

The introduction of streaming music services in the early 2010s were the final dagger in the heart of the iPod. Users no longer had to load phones with songs beforehand when they could listen to music anywhere with a cell connection. With an iPod Touch you either had to remember to download songs for offline listening or, more likely, stay tethered to a Wi-Fi network to stream your Spotify playlists.

The most recent version of the iPod came out in 2019 and it was a chance for the company to attempt another reinvention. The iPod Touch’s launch coincided with the release of the Apple Arcade, the company’s first gaming subscription service, and the iPod was now pitched as a complementary gaming device.

The issue was that the iPhone was always a more popular gaming device than the Touch, and at prices between $199 and $399, gamers were more attracted to the shiny, new Nintendo Switch instead. Of course, the Switch can’t take photos or browse the web, but in his review of the 2019 iPod Touch CNET’s Patrick Holland called it “the most adorable piece of nostalgia you don’t need.”

In one interesting footnote to the iPod’s 20 years, the device has outlasted the MacOS program that launched it — Apple iTunes — as it was replaced with Music once Catalina debuted. (iTunes does still exist on Windows.)

Apple didn’t respond to my requests for comment on this story, and when I contacted market research firm NPD for sales data, the company said that sales had been “pretty minimal over the last 5 years or so.” The fundamental question remains: Is it a matter of when, and not if, the iPod Touch will be the next to go?

What is the future for the iPod?
Despite the powerful feelings that nostalgia evokes, it’s unlikely that the iPod can enjoy another renaissance in the way that other products have. Single-use devices like the Switch and the iPod Classic are now becoming rarer, and many electronic gadgets can do a bunch of things reasonably well. The problem for Apple is that there are many devices that can do what the Touch can do, and they can work as a telephone too.

For 10 years, Apple and the iPod were inexorably linked — one’s fortunes were tied to the other. Those days have passed now thanks to the iPhone, a resurgence of Macs and a slew of accessories. Nowadays, the iPod’s legacy is more substantial than its sales.

Yet the iPod Touch still hangs around the site, even if it takes a bit of work to find it. It’s unclear why Apple keeps it around — respect? nostalgia? — but what’s more certain is the legacy that the iPod created and that informs new products such as the AirPods 3.

It’s been two years since the last version of the iPod, which will likely be the last. If this model disappears quietly with another site redesign, as did the iPods before it, we’ll go rooting through the bottom drawer for a 30-pin adapter to remind us of the good times. Ours and Apple’s.

Intel Doubles AI Chip Power to Expand the Revolution

Intel took the wraps off a highly anticipated AI accelerator chip on Tuesday, a key part of the chipmaker’s effort to reclaim ground lost to Nvidia and other rivals in the hot computing area.

The Gaudi2, designed by Intel’s Israel-based Habana Labs, is twice as fast as its first-generation predecessor, the chipmaker said at its Vision conference for Intel customers and partners. The chip should be in servers that ship by the end of the year, said Eitan Medina, Habana’s chief operating officer.

AI chips like the Gaudi line accelerate the particular math calculations at the heart of today’s artificial intelligence technology. A third-generation Gaudi3 is already being developed with higher performance, more memory and better networking abilities, Medina said.

The Gaudi2 and similar chips, like Nvidia’s new H100, are designed to boost the artificial intelligence revolution that’s sweeping the computing industry. The powerful chips are behind efforts to train AI models, which learn by processing complex real-world data to find patterns, more quickly and economically. They promise improved voice recognition for auto generating captions, as well as more involved operations, such as self-driving cars. (Mobileye, Intel’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, trains its AI systems with first-generation Gaudi processors, Medina said, but the company has other automotive customers, too.)

AI technology spending will surge 20% to $433 billion in 2022, IDC predicted in February. “AI has emerged as the next major wave of innovation,” analyst Ritu Jyoti said in a statement.

Competing on price could be a winning strategy as AI spreads beyond giants with deep technical expertise like Amazon and Google, which use the technology for tasks like cutting shipments’ packaging and showing search results. At a lower price tag, AI will likely spread to newer applications, such as screening for fraud, monitoring crop health and flagging trouble spots on medical scans.

“From the business penetration of AI,” Medina said in an interview, “we are in the very early phases.”

Intel trying to catch up
Along with new graphics processing units, Gaudi2 is a centerpiece of Intel’s effort to reclaim computing leadership it’s lost over the last two decades. During Intel’s heyday, central processing units, the all-purpose brain of every computing device, were the stars of the computing show. GPUs, which Nvidia specialized in designing, were dedicated to speeding up video games.

Over time, GPUs took on important computing tasks that had been the domain of CPUs and expanded into AI. Investors noticed, giving Nvidia a market cap of $424 billion, more than double Intel’s $181 billion.

Although AI-specific accelerators are a hot area, Nvidia is sticking with GPUs, which can also be used for supercomputer calculations and other high-performance computing tasks. That flexibility is a selling point, said Ian Buck, vice president of Nvidia’s hyperscale and high-performance computing group.

GPUs’ flexibility advantage
“You don’t know where your AI model is necessarily going to go,” Buck said about the flexibility of GPUs. “If you’re an AI startup, your productivity is everything.”

Cruise, General Motors’ self-driving car subsidiary, seems to agree with that approach. The company rents Nvidia GPUs on Google’s cloud computing infrastructure because GPUs have more mature AI software and “extreme amounts of flexibility,” said Hussein Mehanna, head of Cruise’s AI work.

“There’s always something new,” and GPUs and GPU software can rapidly be adapted to cope, Mehanna said. “There’s always a new architecture, some new types of layers that we’re adding, merging [AI] models and separating models.”

Plenty of startups, including Graphcore, SambaNova Systems, Tenstorrent and Cerebras, are, like Intel, working on more specialized processors to accelerate AI. In the view of Cerebras Chief Executive Andrew Feldman, GPUs were better than CPUs for AI, but now it’s apparent their graphics origins are holding them back, and AI accelerators will prevail.

With AI accelerators now on the market to challenge the GPU approach, “the battle will be over the next five years,” Feldman said.

Intel’s two-pronged approach
Intel is betting both on AI-specific accelerators and flexible GPUs. Its Ponte Vecchio GPU is an enormously complicated processor that powers the Argonne National Laboratory’s Aurora supercomputer, which is expected to be powered up this year. In 2023, Intel will sell Ponte Vecchio to the broader market and develop successor chips that are cheaper and made in larger quantities, says Raja Koduri, who worked on GPUs at two Intel chip rivals, AMD and Apple, before joining Intel in 2017.

Koduri also leads the new Arc line of conventional GPUs that accelerate video games in Intel PCs. The first of those products, code-named Alchemist, are now shipping, with more powerful products arriving later this year for laptops and gaming PCs. With a road map stretching to 2025, Intel also is working on successors called Battlemage and Celestial.

In other words, Intel is attacking Nvidia on all fronts. “The market is really hungry for a third player” besides Nvidia and AMD, Koduri said.

For AI customers, it’s potentially confusing for Intel to offer both AI accelerators and general-purpose GPUs. Server processor chief Sandra Rivera, who oversees Intel’s AI work, says Intel opted for a wider product range instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. The idea is to meet customers where they are, she said.

Expect Intel to take advantage of its position as a seller of CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators that can be linked tightly together so customers don’t have to assemble their own collections of IT gear.

“It’s a playbook we’ve run for a long time,” Rivera said. “Innovate and integrate.”

Apple to discontinue the iPod after 21 years

Apple has announced it is discontinuing its music player, the iPod Touch, bringing to an end a device widely praised for revolutionising how people listen to music.

When the first iPod was launched in 2001, it could store 1,000 tracks. Today there are more than 90 million songs on Apple’s streaming service.

The iPod Touch was designed by the same team that later invented the iPhone, which quickly overshadowed the iPod.

Apple last updated the iPod in 2019.

There have been various iPod models over the years – including the Nano and Shuffle – but the iPod Touch, which was released in 2007 is the last model to be discontinued.

Apple says it will remain available to buy “while stocks last”.

The gadget had “redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared”, Greg Joswiak, the senior vice-president of worldwide marketing at Apple said.

iPod fans have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the news and their memories connected with the music devices.

The first model of the iPod was revealed by Apple boss Steve Jobs in typical Apple style in 2001 – with much fanfare, anticipation and in his trademark jeans and black turtleneck.

There had been rumours the company was going to announce a new music player after the invitation for the launch event read: “Hint: It’s not a Mac.”

“Music’s a part of everyone’s life. Music’s been around forever. It will always be around,” Jobs said during his hour long presentation.

The big headline for the night was simple: “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Over the years, many celebrities have thrown their star power behind the iPod, including John Mayer, U2 and Oprah Winfrey. BMW introduced the first car entertainment system with a built-in iPod system, and within a few years, most car manufacturers had followed suit.

But tech analysist say it was inevitable the iPhone would one day replace the iPod.

“When Apple created the iPhone it knew that it would ultimately mean the beginning of the end of the iPod,” Ben Wood, chief analyst at technology advisory firm CCS Insight, told the BBC.

Carolina Milanesi from Creative Strategies said the decline of iPod sales was connected to the rise of iPhone sales – like the move from digital sales to streaming.

“The demise of the iPod is probably the best example of Apple not being concerned about cannibalising its own products,” she said.

The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player on the market, just like the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone – but that unique Apple design proved to be the push digital music needed to start to tempt people away from CD and cassette players – and file-sharing.

In 2001 the music industry was fighting for survival against illegal file-sharing as tunes were ripped and shared on platforms faster than record labels could issue legal threats.

The launch of iTunes, and the iPod shortly afterwards, provided it with a lifeline in the form of revenue for legitimately purchased downloads.

It also revived the fortunes of Apple, which was languishing in a market dominated by Windows PCs.

It was introduced on stage by the late Steve Jobs at an event on 23 October 2001.

“With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again,” he said. And in many ways, he was right.