On Apple Watch Ultra in China, Apple TV+ and Butterfly Keyboards

Observation Deck Featured Image 4

Ultra growth for Apple Watch in China, settlement emails are out for the Butterfly effect, and a couple of Apple TV+ stories.

Apple Helps Smartwatches Grow in China as Basic Counterparts Shrink

No predictor of consumer markets am I. No accurate predictor, anyway. If you’d asked me whether Apple Watch Ultra was likely to move the needle for any region or regions I’d have guessed “no.” New data from analytics firm Canalys indicates that I’d have been wrong. 

AppleInsider has written up some of the firm’s latest data covering wearables in China. According to the firm, wearables declined in China last quarter — smartwatches not included. Those rose 17% year-over-year, with an estimated 3.4 million units moved. 

To be clear, that is smartwatches across the board, not Apple Watch specifically. For Apple’s wearable, Apple Watch shipments are thought to have come in at around one-million. That makes Apple huge in the smartwatch category in China, though small in the bigger “wearable bands” category, in which Apple Watch is lumped. The Cupertino-company commands a little less than 9% of the wearable bands category, only enough for fourth behind XTC, Xiaomi, and Huawei in the top-spot. 

As for Apple Watch Ultra, the needle it moved was at the high-end. AppleInsider says Apple’s rough-and-tumble wearable “drove sales in the premium segment, meaning devices that cost $700 and over.” 

While Apple Watch sounds like a small fish in a bigger pond of wearables, the pond is getting smaller around it. In China, both “basic watches” and “basic bands” shrank last quarter versus the same quarter a year earlier. 

Process Begins for Butterfly Keyboard Settlement

Emails are going out to people covered by an Apple settlement over Butterfly keyboards, though not to all of them. I told you a few weeks ago that Apple had received preliminary approval for a settlement over the troublesome bit of tech. From the time the keyboards were introduced in 2015, a piece from MacRumors says:

Thousands of people ran into problems with repeating keys, sticky keys, and keys that otherwise failed when dust and other particulates got into the butterfly mechanism. The complaints led to a huge controversy over the butterfly technology, and Apple ended up launching a keyboard repair program in June 2018.

The approval last month had Apple agreeing to pay $50 million. That’s “$1.4 million in settlement administration costs,” “up to $2 million in litigation costs,” and “$13.6 million in attorney fees…”

You kind of wonder what the administrators are doing for that $1.4 million though. A piece this week from MacRumors says emails are going out to affected MacBook Pro owners, with some of those getting paid automatically. Some… of those. According to the report, folks who had “at least two topcase replacements from Apple within four years of purchase” will get automatic payments as part of Group 1. Group 2 — people who only had one topcase replacement, “will need to submit a claim form to get compensation…” Same goes for folks who had a keycap replacement, according to the piece.

I can’t tell for certain, but the MacRumors report makes it sound as if it’s not just the automatic payments Group 2 will miss, but the email as well. The wording’s not 100%, though it sounds like it’s only Group 1 receiving the email. To be on the safe side — if you had a topcase or keycap replacement due to the Butterfly effect, you can learn more at the website KeyboardSettlement.com.

Public Betas Hit for iOS/iPadOS 16.2 and macOS 13.2

No rest for the folks developing operating systems for Apple, no rest for folks developing for those operating systems, and now — no rest for the public people testing them. 

Earlier this week, Apple released OS updates for just about everything it makes. Just a day later it released the first developer betas of the next round of OS updates. Now, MacRumors has run a couple of pieces, one saying that the first betas of iOS and iPadOS 16.3 are out to public testers, while another report says the same for the first public beta of macOS Ventura 13.2.

No rest for anybody. 

One new feature for one of the upcoming operating systems has gotten a fairly significant test. Yet another piece from MacRumors says Apple on Thursday “released a Rapid Security Response update for the macOS Ventura 13.2 beta…” While a few Rapid Security Response tests were released for iOS ahead of this week’s 16.2 update, MacRumors says this is the first time the feature has been activated for the Mac. It’s unknown whether Thursday’s activation was a test, or carried an actual fix for Macs in the beta program. 

Revamped Apple Maps Go Live for Five European Countries

A better Maps experience for some European countries. iDownloadBlog says Apple’s revamped Maps app hit Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. These are the improvements that started rolling out in the states in 2019. If you’ve forgotten what was new, the piece says:

A list of improvements includes 3D models of significant landmarks and buildings (…), enhanced navigation, turn-by-turn directions in augmented reality, more detailed roads, Siri natural language guidance, indoor maps for airports and shopping malls and more.

Tim Cook Meets Prime Minster of Japan

When in Japan, be sure to meet the Prime Minister. Apple CEO Tim Cook did. Of course, it’s probably easier for him. AppleInsider wrote up some of the trip taken by the CEO and Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak. In a Twitter post, Mr. Cook said:

@kishida230 is the Twitter handle for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

London Apple Store Votes for Union

Apple’s got another retail union with which to deal. AppleInsider says:

The White City, London Apple Store location is signing up with the United Tech & Allied Workers Union to seek improved employee benefits, better training, and more pay.

Crazy how quickly things move. While we in the states will hear for months that a location is thinking union, giving Apple tons of time to… digest the information, not so across the pond. According to AppleInsider, “UK law says Apple has ten days to recognize the union and respond.”

Holy cow.

Apple TV+ Announces ‘Mythic Quest’ Spinoff

The Apple TV+ comedy series Mythic Quest is getting a serious spinoff. I mean… it probably won’t be serious. But seriously — it’s getting a spinoff. Apple issued a press release Thursday announcing the series Mere Mortals

The show sounds interesting. While the streamer says the series will explore the lives of Mythic Quest employees, players and fans who are impacted by the game, it’ll draw inspiration from such MQ departure episodes as “A Dark Quiet Death,” “Backstory,” and the amazing standalone episode “Mythic Quest: Quarantine.” 

The show has been picked up for an eight-episode season with many of the same creatives riding herd. No word on when Mere Mortals will make the scene. 

Holiday Film ‘Spirited’ Biggest Movie Yet for Apple TV+

And finally today, bringing back Christmas seems to have been a good idea for Apple TV+. Or, maybe it was who they brought it back with. 9to5Mac highlights a Deadline report that has the Cupertino-streamer saying that the musical comedy film Spirited is its most popular film to date. “Apple does not release specific viewership numbers,” according to the report, “other than to suggest that the Ryan Reynolds—Will Ferrell movie broke records for the service.”

Yeah, Octavia Spencer’s in it too. Just sayin’. 

It’s a comedy. It’s the holidays. The stars are huge. All of that could make the movie hard to beat, though it does have stiff competition aiming for it. 9to5Mac says the Antoine Fuqua-directed Will Smith starrer Emancipation is “reportedly performing well, bringing 27% new viewers to Apple TV+.” Plus, the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower Moon starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio should come out some day. Other notable titles on the slate include the Henry Cavill/Bryce Dallas Howard film Argylle, the Chris Evans/Ana de Armas film Ghosted, and the Ridley Scott-directed Joaquin Phoenix-led Napoleon.

Yeah, okay. But none of those are bringing back Christmas! 

Spirited and Emancipation are both available to stream now on Apple TV+.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

A study by the U.K.’s Office of Communications shows surprise benefits of smart speaker use. That prompted TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and me to talk tech that disappoints and tech that delights. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WIN an iPhone 15 Pro Max!

Enter our epic giveaway for a chance to win the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max!