AWT News Update: December 12, 2016

Steve's back from his longest vacation ever...and it turns out that the cruise ship he was on had faulty satellite internet equipment so he wasn't able to do any podcast uploads. Well, we're back to work and here's a sampling of what we have to talk about:

  • How the iCloud Calendar spam "Report Junk" link works
  • Scottsdale, Arizona may be the future home of a new Apple flagship store
  • Apple may be investing up to $1 billion in a SoftBank emerging technology fund

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for December 12, 2016.

It’s been a while since I have done this podcast; I was out of the country and spent most of that time aboard a cruise ship with a faulty satellite internet connection so I was not able to upload podcasts at all. I apologize for the long hiatus, and expect that the podcast will be available most days from now on.

Earlier today we reported on a new feature that will allow users to report iCloud Calendar spam, a problem that’s been happening with increasing frequency. Here’s a bit of detail on how this all works. The Report Junk link only works at this point on iCloud.com, although it’s expected that it will be added to iOS and macOS in upcoming updates. When you receive a calendar invitation that doesn’t come from one of your contacts, you’ll now have a Report Junk link to click. Once you report the invitation as junk it is automatically deleted from your calendar. We also expect that Apple is using the Report Junk results to create a blacklist that will prevent the spam from being sent in the first place.

Apple has flagship retail stores in a number of big cities around the world; today comes word that the company may be looking at building a flagship store in Scottsdale, Arizona. The store is expected to be built in the Scottsdale Fashion Square, a trendy mall in the very trendy and high income suburb of Phoenix. That mall has the second-highest profit per square foot of any mall in the US, so it would be a prime location for a store. Apple already has a store in Scottsdale and others in the Phoenix area, but the popularity of the mall would be a big draw for Apple if it can negotiate a lease to its satisfaction. Flagship stores are usually larger than the usual retail outlets and include design features that are not available in smaller stores, like groves of trees and dedicated areas for concerts and events.

Apple has a ton of cash just laying around, and it looks for acquisitions and investments that will help it out in the future. Today, word is out that Apple held talks with Japan’s SoftBank about investing up to $1 billion in the SoftBank Vision Fund. While SoftBank isn’t well known to many outside of Japan, the company owns US carrier Sprint and expects to invest about $25 billion of its own money in the fund. The Saudi Arabian government will also pledge up to $45 billion. The fund will be used to invest in firms working on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and connected devices. Following a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said he would invest $50 billion of that fund in the US, expecting to create 50,000 new jobs in the country.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.