AWT News Update: October 6, 2015

Artists, Wi-Fi calling, and taxes are all on the AWT News Update today:

  • A group of Disney artists give the iPad Pro a test-drive
  • AT&T gets the legal waiver needed to start implementing Wi-Fi calling
  • Apple has a lot of cash just sitting around overseas

And in case you're not willing to spend three minutes to listen to our podcast (shame on you!), the text version is just below, complete with a link to a video of one of those Disney artists sketching on an iPad Pro. Pretty cool stuff...

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for October 6, 2015.

Last week we told you about how Apple let a group of Pixar artists try out the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. The company appears to be trying to corner the market for animator workstations as word comes today from Disney project manager Paul Hildebrandt on Twitter, who lamented that he couldn’t get the artists to put them down so he could get a turn drawing on an iPad Pro. Mickey made an appearance as one of the artists sketched him on the Pro with Adobe Sketch, while Jeff Ranjo even went to Periscope to make a sketch live with a special version of ProCreate. He was impressed with the pressure sensitivity, the drawing clarity, the palm rejection, and the rougher surface that’s on the screen — giving it a more paper-like feel. The video can be seen here, and it’s quite impressive to see how well the iPad Pro works as a sketchpad.

MacRumors is reporting that AT&T has been granted a special waiver by the Federal Communications Commission that will allow the company to legally implement Wi-Fi calling. Wi-Fi calling allows iPhone users to send and received calls over Wi-Fi using their carrier account, often receiving much better voice service than is available on the carrier’s LTE network. The company had called out Sprint and T-Mobile several weeks ago for setting up Wi-Fi calling without getting the waiver, and in a statement to the website, noted that they’re “left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint.” AT&T has not yet set up a timeline for rolling out the service, but we hope that it will be soon.

If you are Apple and you’d like to avoid paying $59.2 billion dollars in corporate taxes, you hold your cash overseas in tax havens. The company holds an estimated $181.2 billion offshore, which would be taxed at a rate of 32.6% if it was repatriated into the United States. What Apple does instead of bringing that money back to the States is borrow money to fund things like its stock buyback program. Apple CEO Tim Cook has made several public comments decrying the high US tax rate and noting that the company should restructure the corporate tax code. Several senators and members of the House have also called for a tax holiday for companies holding money overseas, saying that doing so would provide an influx of cash that could be used to stimulate investment and job creation in the country. At this time, the largest 500 American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in profits overseas. Apple’s treasure chest overseas is the largest, followed by GE at $119 billion, Microsoft at $108.3 billion, and drug company Pfizer with $74 billion.

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