AWT News Update: December 19, 2016

Steve apparently picked up the flu on his trip to South America and is feeling rather under the weather, but he managed to make it all the way through today's podcast recording without having a coughing fit. The news?

  • Apple sets up a mini-site to market Apple Watch to corporate wellness groups
  • There's now proof from an Australian runner that even hot, sweaty and hilly 10K runs and sprints in wind are no match for AirPods, which stayed in his ears the entire time
  • Facebook Messenger for iOS, Android and Web is updated with a new video chat feature
  • Nintendo's big app -- Super Mario Run -- is getting downloaded a lot but isn't putting a lot of coins into the company's coffers

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 19, 2016. I’m recording this podcast with a mild case of the flu, so excuse me if I start coughing. And yes, I did get my flu shot but apparently it doesn’t work for the strains found in South America where I spent the last month…

The competition between the Apple Watch and Fitbit’s fitness trackers is heating up, with Apple publishing a new section on its website that markets the Apple Watch for corporate wellness programs. The mini site, which can be found at http://www.apple.com/watch/corporate-wellness/, highlights partnerships that Apple has already made with companies like Aetna and IBM. For companies that already use a competing fitness tracking system like Virgin Pulse, Apple points out that employees can continue to use their existing system with the Apple Watch. Apple also touts the fact that the Watch can do much more than a simple fitness tracker by helping with nutrition, breathing, and mindfulness as well as keeping employees tied to their jobs with the Calendar and Messages apps and third-party apps like HoursTracker. Companies with less than 100 employees can get deals through a local Apple Store, while larger corporations need to contact the Apple Corporate Wellness unit via email.

Speaking of wellness, I’m sure that a lot of potential AirPod owners have been wondering if the wireless buds will stay in their ears during vigorous exercise. A YouTube video by marathon runner Daniel Garcia should set those minds at ease, as Garcia took the AirPods on a one hour run on a hilly course. He initially thought the AirPods were going to fall out, but they stayed in with no problems despite heat and wind, and even sprinting. Garcia pointed out that he felt like the AirPods “wiggled” a bit when he was talking, but they never budged. After an hour of running, the AirPods were at 84% of full charge, which shows that the 5-hour estimated battery life is very close to reality.

Facebook fans who can’t make it to Grandma’s house for Christmas can still join in on the fun after today’s update of the iOS, Android and Web versions of Facebook Messenger. The app now provides group video chats with up to six people, or audio chats with up to 50 people for those big families. The iOS app also provides 3D masks similar to those found on Snapchat, and that feature will be added to the Android app soon. You can start a video chat by calling participants directly or tapping a new video icon from within an existing group chat.

Finally, we take a look at the financial impact of Nintendo’s widely downloaded new iOS app, Super Mario Run. The app was downloaded 10 million times at launch, but has only made the company $4 million so far. Apparently not may people are choosing to drop $10 for the in-app purchase, which provides full access to worlds 1 through 6. Reviews are showing an average of two and a half stars, but those folks who are giving it 4 and 5 star reviews note that the the challenge is getting all of the coins on each level — apparently people aren’t being patient or don’t find the gameplay to be enthralling.

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