AWT News Update: October 10, 2017

 SmartHalo

SmartHalo

Steve's in a grumpy mood today, so we have a personal opinion piece wedged between two news items as a snarky sandwich:

  • Measure almost anything with your iPhone or iPad with AR Tape Measure from this week's sponsor, It's About Time Products
  • The innovative SmartHalo bike accessory is showing up in Apple Stores
  • RANT: Why is Apple making deals for questionable TV shows that nobody is watching, while ignoring its key products and services?
  • Did you know that Google is buying Apple? It isn't, but if you had seen the Dow Jones Newswires this morning that's what you would have heard

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for October 10th, 2017. Our sponsor this month is It’s About Time Products, and this week we’re focusing on a free iOS app that takes advantage of Apple’s ARKit framework and iOS 11 — it’s called AR Tape Measure, and it lets you measure distances, angles and areas directly from your iOS device. Check out the sponsorship post on Apple World Today for more information.

Apple doesn’t allow many third-party accessories into its retail stores, and when it does, it’s because they’re very special in terms of functionality and style. Today we got notice that an iPhone-compatible bicycle accessory called the SmartHalo is available in the stores. SmartHalo locks to a bike handlebar, and then talks to an iPhone app through Bluetooth 4.0. Atop the SmartHalo is a light ring that lights up to tell riders how to get to their chosen destination with turn-by-turn indications or a compass style pointer. While riding, a blue dot lights up when a phone call is coming in, and a front light illuminates or turns off depending on the time of day and whether or not the bike is in motion. SmartHalo also collects data on estimated calories burned by the rider and syncs that info with Apple’s Health app. If someone tries to remove SmartHalo, it sounds a loud alarm. The device is weatherproof and made to stay on a bike, but it must be unlocked with a special key and plugged into a charger via USB after about 20 hours of riding. The SmartHalo runs $149.95 and should start being available at Apple retail outlets today.

OK, time for a personal opinion. I’m getting really irritated with Apple making deals for TV shows and content, while seemingly ignoring its mainstream product line. The thing that got me going today was the announcement that Apple “nabbed” the reboot of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” TV show from the 1980s. Everyone is jumping up and down about Apple’s acumen in getting the show, which I remember as being rather awful. The show got some attention at the time because Spielberg’s buddies, ranging from Bob Balaban, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, and Martin Scorsese, did guest stints as directors, and many of the actors were big name as well. However, Amazing Stories pulled in poor ratings in the two years that it was on the air — in the premiere season of 1985-86 it ranked #40 out of all TV shows, while dropping to #52 in Season 2 before being dropped by NBC. Apple still doesn’t have a solid way of distributing the shows it wants to create, and it’s been rumored that the company wants to spend about $1 billion a year on content. Why not spend even half of that amount making sure that the products it has remain the best that they can be, with features that work flawlessly all the time instead of some of the time? Let’s hope that Apple comes to its senses and quits trying to be the next Hulu or Netflix.

It’s amusing when news that is obviously fake has an effect on stock prices. This morning, the Dow Jones Newswires ran a series of six headlines — most likely test material that was accidentally made live — that said in order “Google to buy Apple for $9 billion, Google Says Yay, Google to get 9 Apple Shares for Each Google Share, Google Says Steve Jobs Suggested this in His Will, Google Will Takeover Apple Headquarters, and Google Says Deal Expected to Close Tomorrow. What’s funny is that Apple’s share price jumped up about $0.50 per share after the pseudo-news was sent out. Dow Jones later sent out a note saying “Please disregard the headlines that ran on Dow Jones Newswires between 9:34 a.m. ET and 9:36 a.m. ET. Due to a technical error, the headlines were published. All of those headlines are being removed from the wires. We apologize for the error.” Whoops. 

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