Apple digs deeper into cars and payment systems

Apple says it will deeply integrate its technology into the driving systems of cars as it rolls out new payment and business collaboration features and new laptops.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook (center) holds a newly redesigned MacBook Air laptop during the company’s annual developer conference on Monday.
Photo: AFP

The tech company’s announcement at its annual developer conference showed that a company that was once an outsider has firmly established itself in the mainstream of almost every screen in everyday life.

The company, whose turnaround in the late 1990s exposed its brand image to rebels and troublemakers, spent Monday talking about using iPads to collaborate on business presentations and how its software will eventually help display fuel economy on car dashboards.

Notably absent were any hints of Apple’s anticipated next big thing, a mixed reality headset that can overlay digital objects onto a view of the real world. Hopeful fans were only treated to a few snippets of the new augmented reality technology at a tech conference.

Among the announcements was Apply Pay Later, a service that allows users to make interest-free installments. The company, which will operate on the MasterCard network wherever Apple Pay is accepted, puts Apple in competition with payment providers like Affirm and PayPal.

But above all, Apple has doubled down on existing products. A MacBook Air laptop has been redesigned around a new M2 silicon processor, which it claims was 35% faster than the previous M1 chip. The new laptop will weigh 1.2 kg and have a 1080p high-definition camera to provide better images during video calls. The MacBook Air will start at US$1,199, Apple announced at its WWDC 2022 conference.

The M2 chip will also power the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which will start at $1,299 and be available next month. Both chips will use a second generation of 5 nanometer chip fabrication technology.

Apple hasn’t said who will make the chip, but makers likely include Apple’s longtime partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which is grappling with delays in new technologies.

“They need to make volume” with new laptops, said Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. “It’s the safest choice,” he said of the 5-nanometer chips.

But Apple broke with its tradition of not hinting at future technology when it showed off a new car dashboard that it claims would be able to display data from key instruments such as speed, levels fuel and gasoline consumption.

Apple said it is in talks with automakers including Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and Honda. Vehicles with the software will not be announced until late next year.

The software connected more deeply to the base driving systems than previous versions which were limited to the vehicle’s infotainment screens for playing music and displaying maps.

Apple’s automotive software had been in vehicles since 2014 and was now in more than 600 models – but it was largely separate from the vehicle’s own operating systems. Vehicle owners would have to leave the system to perform even basic functions like adjusting a car’s climate controls, a gap the updated system was designed to fill.

Polestar, the premium electric vehicle maker owned by Chinese companies Geely and Volvo Cars, was installing the current version of Apple CarPlay in its Polestar 2 cars via an over-the-air update later this month, the carrier said. -spoken by Polestar, JP Canton. Which Polestar cars would get the new version announced by Apple on Monday was under discussion and no further information was available, he said.

A spokeswoman for Ford, which last year announced a software deal with Alphabet’s Google, declined to comment on Apple’s announcement.

Automakers remain reluctant to allow tech giants unfettered access to data generated by connected cars, or allow them to replace automakers’ brands with their own in dashboard displays.

Apple’s iPad has also been redesigned to make it easier for users to juggle multiple apps and screens and collaborate on business-centric documents like presentations. The company previewed an app called Freeform, which will act as a virtual whiteboard that multiple users can tap to share ideas during video meetings through Apple’s FaceTime service.

Productivity features put Apple in more direct competition with Microsoft, whose Surface tablets are popular among business users.

And an edit button has been added to iMessage for sent messages, beating Twitter for a long-requested feature. Apple said it added a tool called “Safety Check” to disable access to sensitive information for people in abusive situations.

A new technology called Passkeys has been introduced by Apple to replace passwords on websites. Apple said passkeys are more secure than traditional passwords because passkeys are never stored on a web server. The company said it was working to enable the use of Passkeys with non-Apple devices.

Apple shares closed lower than 1%, a level similar to their level at the start of the presentation.

Reuters

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