AWT News Update: April 13, 2017

Friday the 13th is on a Thursday this month, so it's a lucky day for Apple news:

  • Apple is powering 96% of its facilities worldwide with renewable energy, and some suppliers sign on to make it 100% as soon as possible
  • Fitbit's planned smartwatch is not only delayed until fall, but it won't even have an App Store to start out with
  • iTunes Podcasts is now...Apple Podcasts
  • Workflow won't be getting any updates, and that's not surprising
  • NHL Teams are getting iPad Pros and Macs to help out during the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Note to Apple News readers: you’ll 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 for April 13th, 2017.

Apple VP of Environment Lisa Jackson reported in an interview with Bloomberg that the company has achieved a level of 96% renewable energy usage at facilities around the world. The company has already reached its 100% renewable goal in the United States, and is asking more suppliers to join in. The company says it won’t stop until it’s using 100% renewable energy worldwide. That last 4% is from supply chain companies that are not owned by Apple, but three of them — Biel Crystal Manufactory Ltd., Sunwoda Electronic Co. and Compal Electronics Inc. — have pledged to go 100% renewable as soon as possible.

Remember our article earlier in the week about Fitbit’s upcoming Apple Watch competitor being delayed from this spring to possibly fall of 2017? There’s even worse news. The device won’t ship with an app store or any third-party apps, just apps that are created by Fitbit itself. Apparently the company doesn’t have its software development kit for the device done yet, so they’re trying the same route that the iPhone took in its first year. Originally, there was no App Store and the only third-party “apps” were websites that were optimized for the iPhone. Only in 2008 did the App Store finally appear and since then it has really taken off. Fitbit had better get its ducks in a row with this smartwatch, as by the time they get their first-generation device into stores without third-party apps, the Apple Watch may very well be in its third generation.

Today, Apple rebranded iTunes Podcasts as Apple Podcasts. The new name applies to the iTunes podcast directory — excuse me, Apple podcast directory — and the Podcasts iOS app. The company’s marketing guiltiness have a new “Listen on Apple Podcasts” badge that can be used on web pages, social networks and elsewhere — in fact, we’ve started using it today on the Apple World Today website. Apple’s Eddy Cue noted in February of this year that the company is working on new podcast features, possibly including things like adding advertising, offering podcasters more detailed demographics, and maybe even paid subscriptions.

Some Apple customers have received emails telling them that the iOS automation app Workflow will no longer receive significant updates from its new owner…Apple. Updates will only be sent out to fix bugs, with no new features added in. Apple bought the app last month and made it a free download. If Apple follows past precedent, it’s likely that the automation features of Workflow may be folded into iOS and the app will be discontinued. Apple did this with Siri, keeping the app in the App Store after the company bought the intelligent assistant, but then working in as an integral part of iOS. Likewise, the company purchased public transit app HopStop in 2013, keeping it around only long enough for decent public transit directions to be added back to Apple Maps.

We already know that Major League Baseball and some NBA teams have embraced the iPad at the sidelines to help coaches and managers. Now the NHL is providing iPad Pros and Macs to teams and officials in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Three iPad Pros will be on each bench for coaches to use use during games, and all 16 playoff arenas have been outfitted with Macs for video coaching purposes. The NHL and Apple have been talking about partnering together since late 2016, and this is the first fruit of the discussions. Maybe one of these days the National Football League will finally come to its senses and drop the Microsoft Surface for real tablets.

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