Apple World Today News Update Podcast: January 3, 2018

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Augmented Reality isn't proving to be "the next big thing," Apple adds a news podcast feature to Siri in the newest iOS 11.2.5 beta, and Mophie creates a product that can keep a USB-C MacBook running for up to 15 hours over what the internal battery can offer:

  • A recent survey from Apptopia shows that developer interest in AR appears to be nearly nonexistent, with AR apps making up only about 0.03% of all apps in the App Store
  • Soon, you'll be able to ask Siri to "Give me the news" and get a short news digest podcast in return
  • Mophie's new Powerstation AC is going to be very popular with MacBook owners, as it can give the little laptop a total of over a day of battery life

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 January 3rd, 2018.  

Based on the hoopla surrounding the announcement of ARKit at last year’s WWDC, I think we all expected that augmented reality was going to be the big thing after the release of iOS 11. Once again, the public appears to think that AR — like virtual reality — is a lot of fluff and not very useful, and a survey by Apptopia is showing that developers have really cut back on their creation of new iOS apps integrated with ARKit tools. Less than 1,000 apps have been developed with ARKit, and I may be so blunt, probably about 80% of those are junk. Developers rushed to market in September with about 300 mostly poorly designed and implemented apps that made use of augmented reality, but the numbers have been falling sharply. In October, just over 200 new ARKit-related apps were added to the App Store, while dropping to a low of about 150 new apps in November. There was a slight rebound to about 170 new ARKit apps in December. With more than 3 million apps available on the App Store, having less than 1,000  augmented reality apps shows that public and developer interest in AR still isn’t there — that’s a barely detectable 0.03% of all apps. Apple CEO Tim Cook still believes that augmented reality is “the next big thing”, but the numbers — at least at this point — tell another story.

For the past 9 days, Apple World Today has been featuring our Accessible Apple 12 Requests of Christmas — a series of posts outlining accessibility features that our Accessibility Editor Alex Jurgensen and several other contributors would love to see Apple add to future versions of its products. Although it’s not one of the requests, Apple did add a feature to the iOS 11.2.5 beta that became available today that will certainly be useful for those who cannot read from their devices. In the new beta, asking Siri to “give me the news” will instantly stream a news podcast to your device. While the feature defaults to a daily news recap podcast from The Washington Post, users can switch to Fox News, NPR or CNN shows. This new feature will be useful not only for the sight-impaired, but for users who would just like to hear a quick news update, who want a news report while using CarPlay, and when using the upcoming Apple HomePod. In fact, it’s probably the delayed HomePod that this Siri feature is for. Amazon’s voice controlled products offer a similar feature called Daily Briefings, so it’s not surprising that Apple would get this capability into Siri before HomePod ships.

Need to stretch the battery life on your MacBook through that little USB-C port? You’re going to love this new product from Mophie, the company best known for its iPhone cases that add hours to the useful battery life of Apple’s smartphones. The product is called the Powerstation AC and it’s pretty amazing. It contains an inverter to convert battery power to alternating current for higher-drain devices to be run or charged with their own power adapters. It also has USB-A and USB-C plugs. Now that single USB-C port provides 30W of power to a connected MacBook or other USB-C laptop, and Mophie says that the PowerStation AC can deliver 15 hours of extra battery life to Apple’s tiniest laptop. For the higher wattage MacBook Pro, the figure is only about one hour. The Mophie Powerstation AC will still charge the 60W 13-inch and 87W 15-inch MacBook Pro while the computer is off through USB-C, but will not maintain full power while either laptop is actively being used. It can also be charged by USB-C when connected to a computer connected to another source of power with a button-press. The $200 Powerstation AC is available now.

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