TIME Apple

Tim Cook Just Teased a Huge New Apple Product

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, on March 9, 2015
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook attends an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, on March 9, 2015

Something for the Apple blogs to go nuts over

Apple’s earnings call was full of interesting numbers and nuggets. The company is on a tear, with massive iPhone and Mac sales. After years of trying, it seems to have finally understood what Chinese consumers really want. And though details were sparse, CEO Tim Cook sounded a positive note about the early results of its initial Apple Watch sales. (Not everything is going so well; iPad sales continue to flag as laptop and larger iPhone sales cut in.)

After months of waiting and speculating about what Apple’s next all-new product—the Apple Watch—would actually be like, Cook seemed to throw a small bone to Apple fans and analysts wondering what might be coming down the pipeline post-wearables. Here’s what he said on the subject of television, in response to a question about the recently launched HBO Now service on AppleTV:

Cook: It’s about giving customer something they want. Giving it with Apple’s classic ease of use. I think HBO in particular has some great content. We are marrying their great content and our great ecosystem. There is a lot [of] traction in there. Where could it go? I don’t want to speculate, but you can speculate… We’re on the edge of major major changes for media and I think Apple can be a part of that.

The world may get a glimpse of that future at the company’s World Wide Developers Conference early this summer.

TIME Retail

Apple Pay Is Coming to Your Favorite Store

Best Buy
Scott Olson—Getty Images The Best Buy logo hangs above a store on April 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

The electronics retailing giant is going to work with Apple's digital payments

Electronics retailer Best Buy is joining competitors in supporting Apple Pay. The company released an update to its iOS app that allows customers to buy items with Apple’s digital payments service. Later this year, the firm will let shoppers pay by iPhone or Apple Watch at checkout counters in its stores. Apple CEO Tim Cook talked up the news during his company’s record earnings call.

Best Buy, as well as retailers such as Walmart, Sears, and CVS, is a member of the Merchant Customer Exchange, which backed an alternative payments system. So far, that service, dubbed CurrentC, has had trouble gaining traction. Apple Pay, in contrast, has had a strong start. It will soon have the support of all four major credit card brands.

Best Buy indicated it was still supporting the rival plan but that it had to support its customers’ preferences. “Today’s consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible,” a Best Buy spokesperson said in a press release.

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 Nepal

What Mount Everest Victim Dan Fredinburg Said About Visiting Nepal in 2013

dan-fredinburg
Dan Fredinburg

The Google executive, who died in an avalanche in Nepal, spoke to TIME.com two years ago

Dan Fredinburg, the Google executive who was killed over the weekend by an avalanche on Mount Everest following the massive earthquake in Nepal, spoke to TIME.com two years ago about braving extreme altitude, mudslides and earthquakes to make the views from the planet’s highest peaks available to everyone with an Internet connection.

“Different adventurers and people who want to explore from the comfort of their homes have the opportunity to explore and see these different corners of the world,” Fredinburg told TIME in March 2013, when Google Maps’ Street View launched a collection of interactive galleries featuring the world’s tallest mountains — such as Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Argentina’s Aconcagua — for which he helped collect images. “The goal as a team is to make sure we had the opportunity to provide users with maps that are more accurate and usable,” he said.

Fredinburg’s sister Megan announced Saturday on Instagram that he had suffered a fatal head injury during an avalanche caused by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Fredinburg was the privacy director for Google X, but he also told TIME about his work as a Google Adventurer — an unofficial title for Google employees whose love of the outdoors led them to turn their international trips into data-gathering opportunities for Google Maps.

The late executive described surviving a 6.9-magnitude earthquake while collecting data for the Everest Base Camp Street View map that he said gave him a new perspective on life:

“As I was out in the dark, you could hear people screaming and running for cover. That is an eye-opening experience … These people accept their fate as predetermined. To see them panicking and fearing something, it tests your own ability to stay calm in situations like that and not panic as well.”

TIME Apple

This is Rush Limbaugh’s Absolute Favorite Apple Watch Feature

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
George Gojkovich—Getty Images Radio talk show host and political commentator Rush Limbaugh looks on from the sideline before a National Football League game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 6, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

No, it's not the share-your-heartbeat feature

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh got his hands on an Apple Watch, and he has a fairly positive opinion of the device.

Limbaugh wasn’t bowled over by the smart watch—”there’s no question it’s cool, but I’m just gonna tell you it’s exactly as I thought,” he told listeners Monday. However, he is extremely impressed with Apple’s digital assistant Siri, which he says has been improved from previous Apple devices.

Here’s Limbaugh’s Siri praise in full:

I’ll tell you one thing where the watch is better. Siri. I am convinced, and there’s been a couple of news stories about the new back end that Apple’s used. They’re on the third iteration of Siri it turns out, software wise. I’m telling you the dictation on this watch is flawless. It has yet to make a mistake since I set it up and paired it Friday afternoon. It has yet to make an input mistake. It has translated everything I’ve said 100 percent correctly.

No word on how much experience Limbaugh has with Google Now or Microsoft’s Cortana — maybe he can review them next.

TIME Internet

You Can Now Use Emojis in Hashtags on Instagram

emojis instagram new filters
Lionel Bonaventure/AFP—Getty Images

The update also includes three new photo filters

This Instagram update will make emoji lovers :-) .

The social network has announced that emojis will now show up in hashtags and in the app’s search function, bringing us one step closer to a society that does not have to use words to communicate.

The photo-sharing site is also rolling out a few new filters called “Lark,” “Reyes” and “Juno” (named after Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger’s dog). According to a description of these filters in a blog post:

Lark desaturates reds while punching up blues and greens to bring your landscapes to life. Reyes brings a dusty, vintage look to your moments. And finally, Juno tints cool tones green while making warm tones pop and whites glow for vibrant photos of people.

Read next: Google Removes Illustration of Android Robot Urinating on the Apple Logo in Google Maps

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME facebook

You Can Make Video Calls in Facebook’s Mobile App Now

Facebook Messenger is taking on FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangout

Facebook is adding video calling to its Messenger app starting Monday, allowing users to chat with their friends via a button in the app.

The feature, which already exists on desktop, allows video chats over both LTE and Wi-Fi and will compete with Google Hangouts, Microsoft’s Skype, and Apple’s FaceTime.

Messenger has more than 600 million monthly active users who are making 10% of all internet-based phone calls and video calling should help it build momentum.

According to Messenger’s head of product, Stan Chudnovsky, developers aimed to make video work well even on low-bandwidth cell networks.

TIME Social Media

How Facebook Is Helping Emergency Responders in Nepal

Facebook logo shown on an iPhone 5s.
Lukas Schulze—AP Facebook logo shown on an iPhone 5s.

The tragic earthquake shows how social media helps people connect after chaos

A massive earthquake struck Nepal, parts of India and Mount Everest over weekend, claiming at least 4,000 lives and injuring thousands more. As heartbreaking as the devastation is, it reminds us that social media has the potential to help in big ways.

On Saturday, Facebook activated a feature called Safety Check to help people track their friends and family in the region. The feature, which was announced last October, works like this: Based on the location of a Facebook user, it tags that user as being in the region affected by the earthquake and informs the user’s friends. When that user checks his Facebook, he can mark himself as ‘safe,’ which is also communicated to his friends. Google has a similar tool, too. Having lived in Kathmandu for a time, it was comforting for me to know which of my friends in the area were safe — more or less in real time.

Nepal’s recovery efforts have only begun. And while officials are struggling with numerous challenges, it’s worth noting that the simplicity of Facebook’s feature suggests a much wider arena of development for social media that can be valuable for both users and emergency responders.

Take the example of a fire in an apartment building. A local fire department could set up a special page that users can connect to. By comparing your home address on Facebook with a tip about a fire in its response area, the fire department could send you a personalized alert the moment someone calls 911 or a smoke detector goes off. If you happen to be in your apartment and are unaware of a fire in your building, a Facebook alert might well save your life. If you’re out, you could be warned to stay away. Modern buildings usually have a loud fire alarm to alert tenants, but a Facebook alert could still be a valuable backup if perhaps your kids are listening to music on their headphones and fails to hear the alarm.

What’s more, a feature like Safety Check has the potential to let the fire department know if you’re safe and whether there’s anyone still left in your apartment. That would enable firefighters to do potentially life-saving triage. When firefighters go into a burning building, their priority is to rescue people who may be trapped inside. If they know which apartments are empty (because the tenants checked in through Facebook and informed the fire department that they were out of harm’s way), they could focus their efforts on other parts of the building – which are more likely to contain people who are running out of time – first.

While currently people receive emergency alerts from government agencies during bad weather or a forest fire, for instance, these usually cover broad areas like a county or at most a city; and that’s the point. The value of such an application lies in the localization that social media can provide. Emergency response is enhanced tremendously by information, especially about people’s whereabouts, and social media is uniquely equipped to provide that to first responders.

It’s true that in order for such targeted features to work, users have to feel comfortable sharing personal information with Facebook, but the reality is they already do that. Users routinely share highly personal updates on social networking sites including their exact location at a particular point in time, and ultimately it would be their choice to participate or not. There are also potential security issues, such as the need for authorities to restrict information from being publicized during a terror attack or a hostage situation, or the desire of victims’ families for privacy, but these could be mitigated via technological safeguards or negotiations between Facebook and law enforcement in the best interests of the public.

Nevertheless, beyond logistical nuances, what the application of Facebook’s new feature during the Nepal earthquake indicates clearly is that social media can be used effectively to aid emergency management, whether it’s for users’ peace of mind or to enhance the ability of authorities to provide rescue and relief to victims of a disaster.

Even though the primary goal here should obviously be the good of society, the opening up of a new arena of growth is positive from a business perspective as well. Emergency management could give social media a raison d’etre and a compelling value proposition for the public beyond the more frivolous aspects of the medium (such as sharing information about the bagel you just ate or random inspirational quotes).

The power of Facebook for social good was illustrated during the Arab Spring (where it facilitated democratic protests), the earthquake in Haiti (where it facilitated fundraising for relief efforts), and in Amber Alerts for missing children, but active emergency management is yet another level that could turn Facebook from a ‘good to have’ tool to a ‘must have’ tool. In addition, if social media becomes a vehicle for personal safety, it would entice users to check their updates more frequently, which could help its business model.

Sanjay Sanghoee is a business commentator. He has worked at investment banks Lazard Freres and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, as well as at hedge fund Ramius Capital. Sanjay does not own shares of Facebook.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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