Fresh off a shift on the Observation Deck, there’s plenty to talk about. A report out of Asia shows Apple diversifying where it assembles its headphones, we’ve got new betas to test out, and Siri’s learned a new trick. Plus we see folks criticizing recent App Store price hikes in several countries, a site redesign for developers and a third-season announcement for one more Apple TV+ series. Let’s dive right in.
Nikkei Report Has Apple Moving Beats and AirPods Production to India
An interesting and sort of surprising story out of Nikkei Asia midweek. The Japanese business site says Apple has asked suppliers about shifting production of AirPods and Beats headphones out of China and into India.
That Apple wants to spread manufacturing past the Middle Kingdom is not the surprise. Between the COVID follies and persistent tension between China and the US, that’s been a thing Apple’s wanted to do for a while. But it was just a couple of weeks ago that a JP Morgan analyst said that Apple wanted to move 65% of its AirPods production to Vietnam by 2025.
The piece goes from surprising to kind of weird. A read of the Nikkei report makes it seem as if most AirPods and Beats produced today are already made in Vietnam. And yet this same piece says the move to India is part of diversifying out of China.
I am the shrug emoji.
Of course, moving almost all of your eggs from one basket to another is still having almost all of your eggs in one basket. Maybe Apple wants to spread the sources. Or maybe Apple wants to produce AirPods and Beats in India to sell them at domestic prices, rather than tacking on import tariffs.
Whatever the reason — for India, it’s all gravy. Nikkei Asia has IDC tech analyst Joey Yen saying:
India is learning from China’s success over the years, and it has a similar potential to become a very meaningful player in the global supply chain. It has young engineering talent and a big workforce, and a massive domestic market as a foundation…
Bouncing Fun Beta Ball
We’re still in the middle of a beta cycle, so a couple of news ones just released. We’re looking at macOS Ventura’s public beta as well as watchOS 9.1 playing catch-up.
Developers Get Fourth Beta of watchOS 9.1
The whole big beta ball rolls on. I told you yesterday that Apple had new betas of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS out to developers. Missing from that mix was a developer beat for watchOS.
Better late than never. A piece from MacRumors says Apple has seeded a fourth beta of watchOS 9.1 to developers. Kind of funny that a watch beta can’t keep time with the rest, but there it is. Well, there it is now, anyway.
Public Testers Get New macOS Ventura Beta
Developers haven’t had all the fun this week. Another piece from MacRumors says Apple’s public testing program got its hands on the eighth beat of macOS 13 Ventura on Wednesday.
If you have but one Mac on which you rely you probably don’t want to run a beta on it. If you’ve got a spare Mac, or just don’t mind living on the edge, you can find out more and get started on Apple’s public testing program at beta.apple.com.
Siri Shazams Now Added to App Library and Music Recognition History
News of an update about which I am unreasonably happy. According to yet another piece from MacRumors, Apple’s audio recognition app Shazam now adds songs identified by Siri to both the Shazam App library and the Music Recognition History.
Gotta be honest — didn’t realize it wasn’t there, which is odd. I ask Apple’s virtual assistant, “What song is this,” pretty frequently. Anyway, the feature is in the app now, which makes me unreasonably happy. Heads up though — the piece says users have to be running iOS 16 to take advantage.
Apple Music Lets Musicians Personalize Their Profiles
From updates for music listeners to updates for music makers. Still another piece from MacRumors says Apple is now letting musical acts “personalize their Apple Music profile page” with personal information. According to the piece, available personalizations include:
…a custom bio and the option to add their hometown, birth date or year formed, and more. Artists can also quickly add lyrics for their songs on Apple Music.
The new features sail in under the Apple Music for Artists platform. MacRumors says that “provides stats like how many streams a song or album has received, average daily listeners, iTunes Store sales, Shazam data, and more.” It’s “available to every artist on Apple Music,” according to the report.
Apple Tweaks Developer Account Page Design
I feel like I should apologize for saying that that’s less sexy, though I’m not sure to whom I would be apologizing. Anyway, the piece says the page now has “a cleaner look that provides access to more information at a glance.”
I could tell you what’s changed but non-developers probably don’t care, while developers are going to see the change soon enough, whether they care or not. It’s “cleaner” and “provides access to more information at a glance.”
Epic CEO and Coalition for App Fairness Bag on App Store for Price Increases
Trolls gonna troll, yo. AppleInsider says the Coalition for App Fairness and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney have both taken swings at Apple — this time over the App Store price increases being seen outside the U.S. According to the report:
Apple increased App Store prices for many non-US customers without giving a direct reason. The increase affects any market that uses the euro as well as Chile, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, and Vietnam.
Prices went up about 20%, according to AppleInsider. While Apple didn’t say why it was happening, the site figures it has to do with weakening foreign currencies against the dollar.
While nature may abhor a vacuum, Sweeney and the Coalition probably love it in this case. Apple not saying why it was increasing prices leaves them free to say whatever they want. The executive director for the Coalition for App Fairness was quoted as saying:
These increases were made without the input or consent of app developers, which highlights the extent of Apple’s market power… In no other industry can a business single-handedly increase the prices of another business’ products.
Meanwhile, the piece says Epic’s Sweeney “compared Apple to a landlord adjusting rent without giving tenants any say in the matter or anywhere else to go.” Sweeney says:
Developers don’t want to raise their app prices in the EU and UK… Consumers don’t want app price increases in the EU and UK. Central banks fighting inflation don’t want app price inflation.
Apple TV+ Shares Season-Three Trailer and Release Date for ‘Ghostwriter’
And finally today, it really does feel like a traditional fall TV season for Apple TV+. The Cupertino-streamer issued a press release Wednesday, teasing the third season of the kids’ series Ghostwriter with a premier date and a trailer. “Featuring an entirely new cast and adventure,” the release says, “the latest installment dives into stories inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Charlotte’s Web, Bayou Magic and more.”
That “more” is particularly strange. The series still takes place in a bookstore that’s still haunted by a ghost that’s still unleashing characters from fiction on the real world. None of that’s the strange part. No, the strange part: One of the characters is inspired by the Mick Jagger/Keith Richard’s song “She’s A Rainbow.”
You kind of wonder whether Apple got a deal on that song. It was central to a second season episode of Ted Lasso.
The third season of Ghostwriter hits Apple TV+ on Friday 21 October. If you want to get a feel for the newness before it begins, you can catch the season three trailer on YouTube.