Apple Orders Are Fine, Mixed Reality Is Slightly Delayed and New Fitness+ Options

The Daily Observations

Calling shenanigans on the Nikkei story, Ming-Chi Kuo talks mixed-reality, and new features for Fitness+.

Reuters: Multiple Sources Note No Weakening for Apple Orders

Who are you going to believe: An unnamed source for Nikkei, or a few unnamed sources for Reuters

I told you earlier this week of a Nikkei piece that dragged down Apple shares, which dragged down the market. That report said:

…Apple has notified several suppliers to build fewer components for AirPods, the Apple Watch and MacBooks for the first quarter, citing weakening demand, according to Nikkei Asia’s supply chain checks with several component suppliers.

It also had an unnamed manager at an Apple supplier saying:

…Apple has alerted us to lower orders for almost all product lines actually since the quarter ending December, partly because the demand is not that strong… 

That is apparently the first one of Apple’s manufacturing partners has heard of it. On Thursday, Apple 3.0 highlighted a Reuters report that had Apple partner Luxshare Precision Industry saying it has seen no reduction in orders. 

While Luxshare doesn’t seem to mention Apple by name, the company is said by the piece to make AirPods — one of the products singled out in the Nikkei report, as well as connector cables for some Apple devices. Saying that it wanted to “clarify a recent report from a Taiwanese media outlet,” Luxshare said in a statement:

There are no special changes or impact to the relevant business of the company mentioned in the report… Currently the company’s cooperation with existing customers is progressing normally and the business is moving forward in an orderly manner according to the work plan.

Reuters goes on to say:

Another supplier, Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing (002384.SZ), which makes printed circuit boards for Apple, said on Thursday in response to a query about the same media reports on its investor Q&A platform that the orders of its core customers were stable. It did not name Apple.

Working along a similar line, a piece from AppleInsider has Foxconn saying everything is hunky-dory. Which is really hard to imagine. Quoting AppleInsider:

A source inside Foxconn claims that December 2022 iPhone orders were unchanged, refuting claims that Apple is cutting back after weak demand.

That’s a secret source who couldn’t say anything on the record, though Foxconn did offer a statement of its own. According to another report from Reuters:

…[Foxconn] said on Thursday output at its iPhone plant in China had “basically returned to normal” and December revenue, down 12.3% year-on-year, marked the start of a recovery.

So, they’re still playing catch-up, but orders have not changed. That’s bound to be good news for investors, though I don’t remember anybody saying that iPhone orders had been cut. The Nikkei piece said orders had been cut for AirPods, MacBooks, and Apple Watch.

Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple MR Headset Could See Spring/Summer Announcement

It’s not quite right to call this “news” about Apple’s mixed reality headset, though a couple of Twitter posts from TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo are probably the closest thing to it. In the first part of December, the analyst posted to Twitter about software issues that he said would push back the release of Apple’s AR/VR offering. He had been expecting that to hit in the second-quarter of 2023, though the software worries shifted that expectation to the second-half of 2023. Now he’s got word of a new issue, though it doesn’t seem to have shifted the timeframe. 

In a Twitter post on Thursday, the analyst said:

Apple’s AR/MR headset development is behind schedule due to issues with mechanical component drop testing and the availability of software development tools, meaning that mass shipment of this device may postpone from the original 2Q23 to the end of 2Q23 or 3Q23.

And that’ll mean a longer wait for an announcement. In a follow-up post, the analyst said the chance that Apple will hold a media event for the device this month is looking “increasingly unlikely.” Based on the “current development progress,” he’s now expecting such an announcement either as part of a spring media event or at this year’s WWDC. 

CES Sees Self-Heating Mug Fitted with ‘Find My’

News of a thing at CES that makes me sad that Macworld Expo is no longer a thing. AppleInsider has word of the Ember Travel Mug 2+. According to the report:

…Ember Travel Mug 2 lets people set an exact drinking temperature and maintain it for up to three hours. A touch display on the mug can increase or decrease the temperature…

Sounds OP. So what’s the plus? Ember Travel Mug 2+ works with Apple’s “Find My.” Or will work with Apple’s “Find My” when it comes out. According to the piece:

…the new mug will have an integrated speaker that can play a sound to help people find it when it’s lost — much like the AirPods Pro 2. It will appear in the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac thanks to updated firmware, and it will also work with the Find Items app on Apple Watch.

When I said it sounded OP I meant “over powered.” You’d be forgiven, though, if you thought I meant “over priced.” The Ember Travel Mug 2+ is expected to see release this spring. It’ll run buyers $199 — same price as the previous generation that can hide from you. 

Apple Adds New Features to Fitness+

There’s more to Apple’s New Year Fitness+ push than just shame. Cult of Mac highlights a press release from the Cupertino-company, highlighting a lot of fresh features coming for the fitness service. 

New stuff hitting this Monday, Jan. 9 includes: 

  • A new set of kickboxing workouts
  • A new Meditation theme aimed at helping users sleep
  • A new artist spotlight featuring the music of Beyoncé
  • The start of a new season of “Time to Walk.” Featured walkers this season include:
    • Golden Globe-nominated actor Jamie Lee Curtis
    • Late-night talk show host Amber Ruffin
    • Olympic champion figure skater Nathan Chen
    • German actor Nina Hoss

All of that, plus two new Fitness+ Collections and three new trainers. Fitness+ costs $9.99-per-month. There’s a reduced price annual plan available for $79.99. It’s also available as part of some of the Apple One service bundles.

Apple Drops Season-Three Trailer for ‘Truth Be Told’ Ahead of January 20 Premier

If you’re looking for something creepy to watch, the third-season of the Apple TV+ series “Truth Be Told” is due out in a couple of weeks. I’ve never seen the show, but Apple’s press release on the new season says it “offers a unique glimpse into America’s obsession with true crime podcasts…” so… sounds creepy. “In season three,” the release says:

…[lead character] Poppy [Scoville], frustrated by the lack of media attention for several young missing Black girls, teams with an unorthodox principal to keep the victims’ names in the public eye, while chasing down leads to a suspected sex trafficking ring that may have ensnared them.

I’m gonna go ahead and stick with “creepy.” 

Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer stars as Poppy Scoville. The part of the “unorthodox principle” will be played by series newcomer Gabrielle Union. The first two seasons of “Truth Be Told” are available to stream now on Apple TV+. The first episode of season-three hits Apple TV+ on Friday, Jan. 20, with one new episode a week through March 24. If you want to see what’s in store, you can see the season-three trailer on YouTube.

Apple Books Hosts Titles Read by Robots

And finally today, if you’re looking for something creepy to hear, how about an audiobook read by a person who isn’t? MacRumors says Apple Books has started offering audiobooks read by robots. Not really. Rather, the piece says:

Apple has now launched Apple Books digital narration, offering a new way for publishers to automatically generate high-quality AI-narrated audio from written text.

Apple is offering the service to authors and publishers, pitching it as a way to reduce the complexity and cost of audiobook production. According to the Apple Books for Authors webpage:

More and more book lovers are listening to audiobooks, yet only a fraction of books are converted to audio — leaving millions of titles unheard. Many authors — especially independent authors and those associated with small publishers — aren’t able to create audiobooks due to the cost and complexity of production. Apple Books digital narration makes the creation of audiobooks more accessible to all, helping you meet the growing demand by making more books available for listeners to enjoy.

That same webpage has audio samples for authors to check out. Honestly, the only thing that makes them sound creepy is knowing the people reading the text aren’t actually people. If you didn’t know it was machine generated, you’d just think the reader was a little stiff. Just like a lot of audiobook readers. 

Sometimes the future is neat. Sometimes the future is creepy. Occasionally, it gets to be both.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

As mentioned earlier, a few suppliers have called shenanigans on Nikkei‘s story about Apple reducing orders. TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I talk that over. Plus — considering the robots reading us books… That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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