AWT News Update: May 18, 2016

Image via MacRumors. 

Image via MacRumors

In today's AWT News Update, a familiar voice may soon be on Mac, an Apple Watch rival will be trying to bring contactless payment to its product line, and former mobile phone brand giant is resurrected:

  • Siri for Mac is leaked in screenshots
  • Fitbit buys coin in hopes of adding Apple Pay-like payments to its devices
  • Microsoft sells off the Nokia feature phone division, and Foxconn and a Finnish startup hope to revive the Nokia brand.  

The text version of this podcast can be found below.

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for May 18, 2016. Our sponsor this week is Elgato Eve Energy, providing Apple HomeKit-compatible control of your home through Siri.

Speaking of Siri, MacRumors is reporting that one of the features of the next version of OS X will be Siri for Mac. Now we’ve been expecting this for quite a while; the dictation feature of OS X is quite powerful already, and adding the full functionality of Siri to the Mac would bring the virtual digital assistant to another line of Apple products. MacRumors had screenshots of a supposed round Dock icon that features the wave patterns seen on iOS screens when Siri is listening, and there’s also a menu bar icon. Siri for Mac will supposedly support “Hey Siri”, although it’s disabled by default.

Although Fitbit devices are still more popular than Apple Watches, there’s a lot they can’t do that the Watch can - for example, let the wearer make purchases with Apple Pay. Well, Fitbit announced today that it is acquiring Coin, a company that makes a smart credit card that lets users combine multiple credit cards digitally onto a single device. They’re not buying the Coin device, however; instead, Fitbit wants all of Coin’s intellectual property pertaining to wearable payment systems. The Coin credit card, which never really caught on anyway, will be discontinued and the devices will no longer work after their one-year life battery dies.

This story really doesn’t have anything to do with Apple, but it’s a sobering reminder of how quickly a former major player in the world of mobile phones can fall from relevance. Nokia never really recovered from the popularity of the iPhone and other smartphones, and the company’s mobile phone operations were sold to Microsoft in 2013 for $7.2 billion. Microsoft wanted to use the hardware to improve its Windows Phone division, something it’s still trying to do. Well, the feature phone part of the former Nokia business is bring sold again. This time, the buyers are a division of Foxconn called FIH Mobile Limited and a new Finnish company called HMD Global. The latter company has been given an exclusive license to bring Nokia-branded phones and tablets back to the market. The deal is worth only $350 million dollars and there’s no guarantee that the Nokia brand has the same cachet that it used to, but it’s interesting to see that the Nokia label will soon be seen on mobile phones again.

We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.