AWT News Update: May 16, 2017

Image tweeted by SetteB.IT

Image tweeted by SetteB.IT

Today's educational and entertaining Apple-related news:

  • The winning bidder of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights auction for lunch with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple Park will pay $688,999 for the privilege
  • Smartphone buyers are avoiding the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus in droves
  • Apple has officially launched the new "Today at Apple" sessions that will be held at Apple retail outlets around the world
  • Belkin has apparently reversed a decision announced last year, and now says it will support HomeKit in its line of WeMo home automation products

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 May 16th, 2017.

The charity auction for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has ended, and the winning bidder for lunch with Apple CEO Tim Cook has paid $688,999 for the privilege. THat’s the highest amount ever raised in one of these auctions, with the anonymous winner and a guest getting a one-hour lunch with Cook at the new Apple Park campus. The winners also get the opportunity to pay for their own travel and accommodation, although we’re guessing that anyone who could afford a bid like this would likely have his or her own private jet. It’s thought that the high bidding on the event was prompted by the excitement of being one of the first visitors to Apple Park.

It appears that smartphone buyers are avoiding the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. The Korean manufacturer today reported that first month sales of the two phones have reached 5 million units. Now that sounds impressive, until you realize that the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge from last year sold an estimate 7 to 9 million units in their first month, and in 2013 the Galaxy S4 sold 10 million units in the first month.

Apple has officially launched the “Today at Apple” education and entertainment sessions that will be held at Apple retail outlets with a new website for viewing available events by location and signing up for them. The site is available at apple.com/today and will show events that are happening in your area. The sessions are categorized by Photo & Video, Music, Art & Design, Coding, Business, Kids & Parents, Teachers, and Products. For example, I narrowed down a search to my local store (Apple Aspen Grove), afternoon sessions only, and for all categories. Available for me during the next week were Photo Walks: Portraits and People, How To: Edit Video on Mac, Basics: VoiceOver for Mac, Basics: Using Mac with Hearing Loss, Basics: Using Mac with Vision Loss, How To: Make Music on iPad and iPhone, Photo Walks: Manipulating Light and Shadow, Basics: Apple TV, Basics: Mac, How to: Sketch, Draw and Paint with iPad, and Studio Hours: All Projects. The sessions are designed to educate and entertain, giving new or seasoned Apple device owners a new perspective on their hardware and software while emphasizing the new focus on Apple retail locations as a meeting place for communities. All of the sessions are free; all you need to do is pick one or more and get a reservation in advance.

There’s good news today for those who were unhappy to find out last year that Belkin’s WeMo devices would not be supporting Apple’s HomeKit platform. The company told 9to5Mac’s Jordan Kahn that “WeMo is committed to bringing HomeKit support to our line of smart home solutions and will be providing more details soon.” Last year, the company dropped HomeKit plans after mentioning that it could not update existing WeMo devices to work with HomeKit. It’s unknown why Belkin changed its tune on HomeKit — perhaps the company has decided that it will move into HomeKit compatibility for future WeMo products, or perhaps the company has figured out a way to create a “bridge” that will work with older products. The Belkin WeMo line is quite complete, using apps to control smart plugs, light switches, light bulbs, Crock Pots, coffee makers, and other products. Being able to use Apple’s Home app and Siri to control those products would be a winning combination that could benefit Apple, Belkin, and millions of consumers.

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