Apple’s 10 biggest wins, fails, and WTF moments of 2015

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Continues To Showcase Its Own Apps In The App Store’s Top Charts.

The 100 apps cover the gamut of 60 professional roles across 14 industries and include iPhone, iPad, iPad Pro, Apple Watch and even Apple TV apps, Katharyn White, Vice President of IBM and Apple Partnership for IBM Global Business Services told TechCrunch.It seems Apple is continuing to use the App Store’s “Top Charts” section to promote its own applications, by allowing apps like iMovie and those from its iWork suite to appear in the Top 10 Free apps on users’ iPhones. And yet 2015 was one of Cupertino’s biggest years ever in terms of innovation, with product refreshes almost across the board (sorry, Mac Pro), a new device category (hey, Apple Watch), and a streaming service to rival Spotify.

The announce shows that Apple and IBM are making progress with their blockbuster alliance, which is intended to make their products more attractive to business customers. From the weird staggered rollouts of the Apple Watch in spring and Apple Pencil in fall to Apple Music’s iCloud disaster, Apple wasn’t without its missteps in 2015. By working together, they hope to leverage each others expertise—Apple’s consumer know-how, and IBM’s deep ties to corporate IT departments—to be stronger than going at its alone. Apple made $32.2 billion by selling 48 million iPhones in the last quarter of 2015, capping off what CEO Tim Cook called Apple’s “most successful year ever.” The company’s revenue grew to almost $234 billion in the fiscal year, which included just two days of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sales. Apple AAPL -1.10% and IBM IBM 0.54% released 48 apps in December alone that cover sectors like the auto, chemical, petroleum, retail, and healthcare industries.

The partnership works because each company can draw upon its unique strengths, Maribel Lopez, principal at Lopez Research explained. “I think [Apple] brings the concept of simplicity (direct to task) and beauty to enterprise apps. Has Apple effectively turned its App Store’s Top Charts section into a way to market its own software – stealing the top ranks from deserving developers in the process?

Apple sold 13 million iPhones during that launch weekend, and is expecting to make between $75.5 billion and $77.5 billion when it reports holiday quarter earnings at the end of January. Or are Apple’s own apps, in reality, the most popular apps in the store and Apple pulls them out of the Top Charts as a means of suppressing this information, in order to give the spots to third-party developers? One new iPhone app targets the energy and utilities industry by allowing workers who inspect infrastructure for storm-related damages to quickly share information with their colleagues and customers. It also appeals to customers, says Gartner analyst Van Baker. “The Apple IBM partnership combines the dominant enterprise device vendor with a dominant enterprise software vendor which is inherently appealing to [customers],” he said. Another new iPad app for eldercare workers lets those professionals keep better tabs of their elderly clients who live alone by letting them more easily access patient files.

These apps can do so much more than simply mobilizing a task from a PC because a mobile device and all it brings can change the way people work, Lopez explained. “Partnerships like this help companies create apps that were better than their PC predecessors because they can use more functions of the device — camera, voice, messaging, location — and they can do it anywhere since it’s [portable],” she said. Many of these tools work in conjunction with back-end systems like ERP, CRM and content management; and IBM can bring its enterprise expertise to bear to help customers connect the apps developed with Apple to these systems.

Customers pay monthly fees based on the number of users as well as an initial fee to wire up the new software to its internal databases and infrastructure. IBM also has plans to tap into Watson, its cognitive intelligence platform, across the partner apps, bringing a set of analytics and intelligence to the back end. The new iPhone’s flagship features include 3D Touch and a revamped camera; the iPad mini 4 is now as powerful as an iPad Air 2, the new MacBook is the most portable laptop around; and the Apple TV has a full-fledged App Store and Siri integration. It could also generate some interesting technology combinations from the two partners. “Combining a Siri front end with a Watson back end could be a very powerful offering,” Baker said. Apple waited three years to overhaul the TV, and in that time it was left in the dust by rivals Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and even Google’s Chromecast streaming stick.

While obviously this partnership is part of the broader IBM transformation process, White says from her perspective that is not her primary motivation here. “My motivation is to change the lives of people at work. Software sales have been a weak point for IBM in recent quarters as the company transitions from selling software licenses to a so-called software-as-a-service model similar to companies like Salesforce.

It can even support games, with the touchpad remote substituting for a game controller (unless you want to shell out more for an MFi game controller like this one). Apple Music ran into trouble before it even launched (and then some more trouble afterward, which we’ll get into later), but the company managed to get the world’s biggest pop star on its side. Who knows.) Another firm, appFigures, pulled today’s ranking data for the iWork apps and found that neither Pages, Numbers or Keynote were ranking for anything other than the “Productivity” category on iPhone. ICYMI: Apple was planning to withhold royalties during the free 3-month trials offered to Apple Music subscribers, and when Taylor Swift caught wind of this, she took to Tumblr to post a gently admonishing open letter to the company. In fact, the Pages chart shows that Apple’s Microsoft Word competitor had actually dipped in its category over the past few days – which is not what you would expect from a supposedly Top 10 application.

Apple rolled out Apple Music on desktops with iTunes 12.2, bundling its streaming library with your iTunes purchases with the help of iCloud Music Library. In other, more serious circumstances, iTunes wiped or corrupted thousands of tracks from some libraries, resulting in hundreds of angry Apple support forum complaints and one very high-profile rant. No one knows exactly how Apple’s algorithm works, other than it takes into account some combination of downloads and velocity – or for Top Grossing applications, revenue. Apple Music managed to rack up 15 million listeners in spite of the ruckus, though who knows how many more subscribers would’ve stuck around if their libraries had remained intact? It’s also worth pointing out that the apps in question are odd in and of themselves because they are listed as paid applications, but are actually available for free to most users.

So when the iPad Pro went on sale and its accessories, specifically the long-awaited Pencil, were in short supply, Pro buyers were more than a little unhappy. Apple announced some time ago that iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and iTunes U would be free for those who activated or purchased a device on or after September 1, 2013 running iOS 8. Apple won’t explain how its algorithm works, of course, but when Apple’s own software appears one day at the very top of the App Store then disappears entirely the next day, you know that something that not entirely above-the-board is going on. Buyers couldn’t line up at Apple stores to snag an Apple Watch at the height of the hype, and some watch models were on back-order for weeks after launch. Not being able to buy Apple’s latest device anywhere but online at was a bit of a shock for buyers used to finding the latest gadgets in retail stores, too.

In fact, as Macworld columnist Jason Snell said, the real Apple Watch party didn’t start until six months after its release, when Apple finally was able to fulfill demand in launch countries and widened the watch’s availability to include third-party retailers. 2015 will be remembered as the year malware finally penetrated the iOS App Store, proving that Apple’s walled garden isn’t impervious to infection. Apps infected with malware managed to bypass the company’s security safeguards by using a modified, sketchy version of Xcode, the code used to write apps for iOS, OS X, watchOS, and tvOS. XcodeGhost didn’t have a huge impact on apps, but it proved that sometimes developers will take shortcuts that Apple didn’t foresee, jeopardizing the safety of your devices in the process. That will change in the future, but people who drop $1300 on the 12-inch MacBook will face struggles that buyers of other MacBook models don’t, at least for awhile longer.

Of course, Apple hasn’t come out and said, “Hey, world, we’re building an electric car!” But all signs point to a secret auto project in the works at 1 Infinite Loop. It’s unclear if Apple is exploring an electric car or a self-driving one, but over the summer, documents revealed that Apple was on the hunt for a private facility to test something—presumably a car, since that facility is a former naval station where other self-driving vehicles have been tested. Apple has been interested in cars for some time—that’s why the company developed CarPlay, which puts the iPhone experience in your car’s dashboard.

The display is still a 7.9-inch, 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution, LED backlit display, but Apple now uses laminated displays with anti-reflective coating. And it’s much easier to see the display in bright light—there’s still a small amount of glare, but it’s so minor compared to the previous iPad mini models.

This test is a lot more strenuous than my video test (it has an option to dim the screen, which I turned off), and I imagine it might be tougher on the battery that what most people do as work. Now, I don’t usually use any kind of iPad to take pictures, but there’s an old saying that goes something like, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” And sometimes, when you’re using your iPad, a photo moment appears, and, hence, the best camera you have is the iPad’s. With iOS 9, Apple released app slicing, which will help owners of 16GB iPads by installing smaller apps, but I would play it safe and get more storage.

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