AWT News Update: May 19, 2015

Today the news is all over the map... literally and figuratively:

  • Apple Pay picks up more than 30 new participating card issuers from across the USA
  • Watch OS 1.0.1 is rolled out, bringing fixes and performance improvements to Apple Watch
  • Wall Street analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray issues a note about the demise of his beloved Apple-branded television
  • Dutch company TomTom renews its licensing agreement with Apple for mapping data
  • Mesa, Arizona will see more Apple employees than originally anticipated

The full podcast script is located below for your reading pleasure.

Text Version

I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for May 19, 2015.

Apple Pay has picked up another 34 participating card issuers in the United States, bringing the total number to nearly 300. It’s expected that several hundred more will be added to the list in the future, providing coverage to most US consumers. Apple is still committed to rolling out the mobile payments service in Canada, China, and the United Kingdom, with some industry pundits saying that Canada could be added as soon as November of 2015. Clothing retailer Express also announced today that it has begun accepting Apple Pay at all of its US stores. [A list of the banks and credit unions added to Apple Pay can be found here].

As we announced earlier today on Apple World Today, Apple pushed out the first update to the Apple Watch operating system. While many of the updates were performance improvements for fitness functions, Siri and third-party apps, Apple also fixed some issues in accessibility features on the Watch. Apple confirmed that VoiceOver bugs were fixed in Watch OS 1.0.1, including clearing notifications, getting “stuck” in Glances, and deleting emails.

Whenever the rumors of an Apple-branded HD television came up, one Wall Street analyst could be counted upon to get excited — Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster. Well, yesterday the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Apple had considered a TV set but dropped the plans about a year ago. Munster had been sure that Apple was going to launch a television set since early 2011, and he was always sure to ask a question about the mythical TV during Apple’s quarterly earnings calls. Well, today he issued a note titled “Facing The Reality of No Apple Television”, statinng that “Our latest thinking prior to this story was that Apple would launch a television in 2016. Based on this report, we no longer expect a television to launch indefinitely.” It’s nice to see that a man who appeared to be almost obsessed with the idea of a large screen TV from Apple has woken up to the reality that it’s not going to happen.

TomTom today reported that it has renewed a licensing agreement with Apple for the consumer electronics company to continue using the Dutch mapping firm's data in Apple Maps. The companies have been working together since 2012, when Apple released iOS 6 with Apple Maps to replace the former map and navigation provider -- Google Maps. TomTom provides a good deal of the street-level mapping data for Europe and North America, which are two of Apple's largest markets. The terms of the agreement between TomTom and Apple are unknown, nor is it clear if Apple will continue to use TomTom's information in the future. Apple has been operating a fleet of minivans in the United States that are equipped with ultra-precise GPS equipment and high-resolution laser scanners, ostensibly for creating its own street-level mapping database. It could very well be that the Apple information will be used to add to the data provided by TomTom and the OpenStreetMap project, or perhaps add Google Street View-like imagery.

The Phoenix Business News says that Apple will be adding between 300 and 500 more employees than originally expected at the new global command center being built on the site of the former GT Advanced Technologies sapphire plant in Mesa, Arizona. Original plans called for 150 executive-level positions at the site, but the new plans expect the number to be closer to 650 employees in total. Construction on the command center will begin next year, and the facility is expected to take up only about half of the 1.3 million square foot property. Apple has not announced what it may do with the remaining vacant land.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another AWT News Update.