TIME Apple

Apple Is Making Watches As Fast As It Can

US IT INTERNET LIFESTYLE APPLE
Don Emmert—AFP/Getty Images A new Apple Watch on display at the Apple Grand Central Station store on April 24, 2015 in New York.

"Right now, demand is greater than supply"

Apple is desperately trying to make enough Apple Watches to meet demand, according to CEO Tim Cook.

“Right now, demand is greater than supply, so we’re working hard to remedy that,” Cook said of the Apple Watch in an earnings call Monday.

Cook’s comments came after Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Bloomberg the company is “working very, very hard to catch up from a supply standpoint — “keep in mind this is not only a new product but it’s an entirely new category.”

Apple didn’t give an official count for how many Apple Watches it has sold so far, but one estimate by research firm Slice Intelligence says shoppers pre-ordered 1.7 million units.

The Apple Watch launch has been an unusual one for the company. A two-week online preorder period began April 10, with the earliest shipping date advertised as April 24. However, many early orderers have reported considerably longer wait times for their shipments. And unlike with new iPhones, which are available on launch day in Apple’s retail locations and through mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T, the Apple Watch is almost exclusively being sold through Apple’s online store.

Still, Apple has been apparently been playing a game of under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to Apple Watch shipment times. Many shoppers have reported via social media that their orders are shipping much earlier than Apple initially said would be the case.

“We were able to ship more watches during this past weekend than we had anticipated,” Cook said Monday.

TIME Earnings

Apple Is Totally Killing It in China

Hangzhou Opens Second Apple Store
ChinaFotoPress—ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images Apple Store assistants celebrate the second Apple Store open at the Mixc Mall on its first day open on April 24, 2015 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province of China.

After years of trying, the company has finally found its footing in the world's largest market

Apple has officially made it big in China.

Sales of Apple devices in China hit $16.8 billion in the second quarter, up 71% year-over-year, according to Apple’s Q2 earnings release published Monday. Chinese sales now account for nearly 30% of Apple’s total revenue.

Much of that growth in what Apple refers to as “Greater China,” which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, comes from the recent release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Those devices’ bigger screens are proving very popular with consumers in those countries, analysts say.

Apple’s Q2 China numbers also got a nice lift from February’s Chinese New Year, when Chinese shoppers typically shower friends and family with gifts.

Apple’s success in China means it may now be the top smartphone seller in the country, according to at least one estimate.

TIME Earnings

Apple’s Insane iPhone Sales Take Pressure Off the Apple Watch

Apple Inc.'s Apple Watch Unboxed As Device Goes On Sale
Bloomberg/Getty Images A man uses an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s smartphone while wearing an Apple Watch Sport smartwatch in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on April 24, 2015.

The iPhone accounts for nearly 70% of Apple's revenue

One thing is abundantly clear in Apple’s second-quarter earnings: Apple is a phone company first and foremost.

The firm sold 61.2 million iPhones last quarter, up a staggering 40% year-over-year. iPhone sales accounted for nearly 70% of the company’s total Q2 revenue. Phone sales are down from the last quarter when Apple sold a record 74.5 million of them, but that figure got a big boost from excitement over new models—the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus—and the holiday shopping season, factors that didn’t apply in Q2.

The iPhone’s stellar Q2 numbers couldn’t come at a better time for Apple. The company has just begun shipping the Apple Watch, its first all-new product under CEO Tim Cook. While Apple has a habit of reviving and then dominating dormant categories (music players, smartphones, tablets, ultra-lightlaptops…), it still isn’t clear if the Apple Watch will be a mainstream hit. Massive iPhone sales provide plenty of cover for Apple in the meantime.

There’s no official word yet on how Apple’s new Apple Watch wearable device is selling; the company did not disclose details. One unofficial estimate suggests Apple sold 1.7 million of the devices in a presale period.

Another bright spot for Apple last quarter were sales of Macs. Apple sold 4.6 million desktops and laptops last quarter, thanks in part to new models. The company recently refreshed the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and introduced a new design for the mid-level MacBook laptop. It also introduced a retina 5K version of the iMac desktop late last year.

All that iPhone and Mac success is helping Apple counter sagging sales for its iPad tablet. Apple sold only 12.6 million iPads last quarter, down 23% year-over-year. Tablet sales have been slowing universally as it becomes apparent consumers aren’t upgrading their devices as frequently as they buy new smartphones. However, Apple and other tablet makers are looking toward enterprise clients as a promising path for growth down the road.

TIME Apple

Apple Bans Fart Apps From the Apple Watch

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

"We do not accept fart apps on Apple Watch"

Apple is pitching the Apple Watch as a time-saver, a fitness companion and a stylish fashion accessory. But it could also be a pretty great office prank tool, if the makers of the “Fart Watch” app had their way.

Essentially, the app turns the Apple Watch and a paired up iPhone into a whoopie cushion for the 21st century. Place the iPhone near your intended target, wait for the opportune moment, then tap the Apple Watch app to release fake flatulence at will.

But unfortunately for the Fart Watch developers, Apple doesn’t see this all as one big gas. The app has been rejected from the Apple Watch App Store, CultOfMac reports. Apple told the developers that “we noticed that your Apple Watch app is primarily a fart app. We do not accept fart apps on Apple Watch.” Clearly, Apple doesn’t want its high-end new gadget associated with such lowbrow use cases. On top of that, Apple historically has a much stricter app approval process than Google, although Google recently began moderating apps before they become available in the Google Play store.

Back to the regular old whoopie cushion it is, then. At least we still get our Burrito Button.

TIME Apple

The 1 Big Thing Holding Back the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Goes On Sale At Handful Of Boutiques Around The World
Chris McGrath—Getty Images Hajime Shimada shows off his newly purchased Apple Watch outside boutique store, Dover Street Market Ginza on April 24, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.

Third-party apps aren't as good as they could be (yet)

The Apple Watch, Apple’s first foray in into the wearable world, is already one of the best smartwatches on the market. But there’s one big thing holding it back.

When you get the Apple Watch, you’ll find it preloaded with a suite of full-powered, Apple-made apps — Messages, Mail, Calendar and more. If those aren’t enough for you, there’s also an Apple Watch app store, already packed with third-party apps from companies like Foursquare, Uber and JetBlue.

However, those third-party Apple Watch apps have a big drawback: They aren’t “native” apps running on the Watch itself. Instead, they’re basically extensions of their iPhone counterparts, with all the code running on your iPhone while the Apple Watch displays their user interface. They also can’t actively utilize some of the Apple Watch’s hardware, like the heart rate monitor.

Read more: Behold the Glory of Unboxing a Brand New Apple Watch

What this means for you as a user is the third-party Apple Watch apps just aren’t as powerful as they could be. That’s a shame, because so much of our digital devices’ functionality comes from full-fledged third-party apps — think about how often you use Facebook or Google Maps on your iPhone.

Still, some of today’s Apple Watch apps make do with the limitations. And Apple has said developers can start making truly native apps sometime later this year.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Apple Watch developers can use the time between now and then to experiment and learn about how people use their Apple Watch. Plenty of today’s Apple Watch apps say “we’re here,” but they don’t offer a compelling use case for a smartwatch app (You have to cut developers some slack, though: Many haven’t gotten much, if any, time with the actual device they were coding for). With lots of Apple Watches out in the wild, developers will learn more about how people respond to them and make their apps better down the road. Some developers, however, will learn a painful lesson: What makes a great smartphone app does not necessarily make a great smartwatch app.

TIME Apple

7 Apple Watch Apps You’ll Actually Want to Use Today

Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015. From London to Beijing, Apple stores saw few customers lined up before opening Friday as pre-orders started. The first new gadget under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is selling in eight countries and Hong Kong, with shipments scheduled to start April 24. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015.

Assuming you actually got one today

The Apple Watch is set to ship today, and assuming you’re one of the lucky buyers actually getting their new wearable sometime soon, you’re probably on the hunt for some new apps.

While truly native third party Apple Watch apps aren’t coming until later this year, there are plenty of Apple Watch apps worth downloading right away. The five apps below are a great place to get started, performing functions that actually make sense for a smartwatch:

Uber

Car-hailing service Uber’s Apple Watch app makes it dead simple to request a pickup where you’re currently standing, which feels very James Bond — assuming Bond needed a ride home from the bar for some reason. Currently, the app defaults to the kind of Uber you’ve got selected on your iPhone (UberX, UberBLACK, UberT and so on).

Dark Sky

The best weather app for iOS is just as fantastic on the Apple Watch. When you’re out on the town and it’s about to rain on your parade, Dark Sky will send you gentle notifications that it’s time to get indoors — or find an umbrella, at least. Dark Sky also gives you more in-depth forecast information when you’re planning your wardrobe for the day.

Fandango

Once you buy movie tickets online or with Fandango’s iPhone app, they’ll appear on your Apple Watch with a scannable code all set for showtime — just flash your wrist, and you’re in. See ya, paper stubs.

Shazam

No more fumbling around your pocket for your phone in hopes you load up Shazam’s music-IDing app before you miss that catchy-but-unidentifiable song. Just let your Apple Watch do the listening for you.

JetBlue

Check your flight status and load up your boarding pass right on your Apple Watch with JetBlue’s app. Plenty of other airlines are boasting similar features, including Delta, American Airlines, WestJet and more.

Starbucks

Craving a venti two-pump vanilla non-fat extra-whip latte? Starbucks’ Apple Watch app lets you find the nearest stores as well as pay for your order via Passbook (Starbucks doesn’t support Apple Pay). You can also see if you’ve got any spending rewards ready to go.

RunKeeper

RunKeeper’s Apple Watch app will let you track your runs while leaving your iPhone at home (unless you want GPS tracking). It’s not clear if RunKeeper will be more useful than the Apple Watch’s built-in fitness apps, but it does boast a feature that blocks all incoming notifications while you’re out on a jog.

TIME apps

This Is Facebook’s Latest Move to Take Over Your Phone

The new Hello app is a Facebook-linked caller ID

Facebook’s newest attempt to infiltrate your daily smartphone use comes in the form of Hello, an app that displays your Facebook contacts’ information on your device’s screen when they call you.

Facebook is pitching the Android-only app as a way to make boring old phone calls a little bit smarter. Hello will tell you, for example, if it’s the caller’s birthday or if he or she is a business contact, as well as display the caller’s Facebook profile image. Those features work even if you don’t have the caller’s number saved in your phone, so long as the caller’s Facebook settings allow people to find their profile via their phone number.

Hello can also help filter out spam calls via an option that automatically blocks numbers frequently blocked by other users, as well as find phone numbers for businesses.

Hello seems simple enough on the surface—it’s a caller ID app at heart—but it also betrays Facebook’s larger mobile strategy: taking over smartphones’ core functions one step at a time. Hello’s introduction comes just weeks after Facebook took steps to turn its Messenger chat software into a full-fledged messaging platform; the company would clearly prefer users chat on Messenger rather than with SMS texting or Apple’s iMessage. Perhaps the earliest incarnation of this strategy, however, was Facebook Home, the company’s now-flatlined effort to more closely tie the social network into the Android operating system.

The idea makes sense: Offering people better apps and services should help Facebook boost user numbers and brand affinity. But if this is indeed Facebook’s plan, it has plenty of rivals. While Apple iPhones come pre-loaded with calendar, mapping and mail apps, many users find they prefer Google’s alternatives. Microsoft has lately been following the same course, recently acquiring popular cross-platform email and calendar apps in a notable break from the company’s former focus on Windows Phone; the former of the two has since been rebranded as Microsoft Outlook for mobile.

Still, the strategy has its pitfalls, as many users choose not to replace or augment their smartphones’ default software with third-party options. For Facebook, Google or Microsoft to be successful here, it has to offer pretty compelling reasons for users to download their apps. While Hello looks useful, it probably won’t see the download rates of Facebook’s primary app. But then again, that’s probably fine for Facebook, which isn’t exactly relying on Hello to be the company’s Next Big Thing—it’s better understood as Facebook’s latest experiment to see how it can get a little bit more involved in your everyday mobile experience.

TIME innovations

You’ll Be Able to Buy Star Wars’ Coolest New Droid

BB-8 will roll onto store shelves

BB-8, the newest droid in the Star Wars universe, is not only real, it’s also coming to your living room.

Sphero, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that makes smartphone-controlled spheres, confirmed Monday it made the bi-spherical rolling robot for December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s also making a toy version of the character destined to become a fan favorite to rival R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Sphero did not reveal a release date or price point for the company’s BB-8 toy, but it is letting interested consumers sign up for updates through a cryptic landing page.

“The experience is going to be king with this thing,” Sphero Chief Creative Officer Rob Maigret told TIME in a Monday interview. Maigret wouldn’t give away the secret sauce behind what makes BB-8 tick (magnets, perhaps?). But he did suggest the BB-8 toy could revive a fondly remembered part of the original Star Wars experience: Kids begging their parents to buy Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker toys letting them recreate scenes from the movies.

“Our real goal here is that this should feel as close to what you just saw on the screen as possible,” he says. “And the relationships that you’ve seen BB-8 have in the film in the world of Star Wars, you can now fill that role. BB-8 is now yours.”

Sphero has plenty of incentive to make sure its BB-8 toy flies — or, more accurately, rolls — off the shelves. Toy sales are by far the most lucrative part of the Star Wars financial empire. Forbes estimated back in 2007 that action figures and plastic spaceships accounted for $9 billion of the franchise’s sales, more than $3 billion more than the movies themselves. Sales of Star Wars toys are also known to get big boosts when new films (or even remastered old ones) hit the silver screen, so being in the business ahead of the Dec. 18 Force Awakens release is a good place to sit.

Maigret wouldn’t divulge how much of the BB-8 toy revenue Sphero will get to keep, but it’s safe to say it isn’t nothing. Still, while he admits “it would be really nice to sell a gazillion BB-8s,” Maigret thinks it would be “even better” if “a lot of fans [were] extremely happy with what we provided them.”

“We’re fans,” he adds. “For the folks here at Sphero, we’re freaking out. Like, we get to make BB-8? Think about that, man. We get to make it!”

TIME Video Games

Watch the Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years

Star Wars: Battlefront is due out this November

Star Wars: Battlefront, an upcoming large-scale multiplayer battle game set in the Star Wars universe, is due out for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on Nov. 17.

Savvy Star Wars fans will notice that’s just about a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next installment in the saga’s film franchise. That isn’t an accident — according to Battlefront’s design director, the game will help bridge the story gap between Return of the Jedi and Awakens.

Watch the new trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront above. You can read more about the game here.

Read more: See the 5 Most Important Scenes in the New Star Wars Trailer

 

TIME Apple

Apple Is Offering Classes to Learn How the Apple Watch Works

Apple Watch Goes On Display At Apple Inc. Stores Ahead Of Sales Launch
ChinaFotoPress—ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images A customer touches an Apple Watch smartwatch at an Apple Store at Lujiazui in Pudong District on April 11, 2015 in Shanghai, China.

It's time for school

Some Apple Store locations will be offering workshops to teach new and prospective Apple Watch owners how their new device works.

The classes, first spotted by MacRumors, are being offered at some Apple Store locations in the U.S. and elsewhere beginning April 24, the day the Apple Watch first becomes available.

It’s unclear, however, how many customers will get an Apple Watch on April 24. Preorders for the device started April 10, and many shoppers received shipping dates in May, June and beyond for their device. A recent memo to Apple Store employees from Apple’s head of retail operations suggested Apple Stores won’t be stocked with Apple Watches until June at the earliest. Meanwhile, a page on Apple’s website listing the Apple Watch as available on April 24 has since been changed to remove that exact date.

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