Apple World Today News Update: January 5, 2018

The rather unattractive Vuzix Blade AR Sunglasses, being worn inside by a nerd.

The rather unattractive Vuzix Blade AR Sunglasses, being worn inside by a nerd.

The first Friday of 2018 arrives with stories about ugly smart sunglasses, a tiny and fast Thunderbolt 3 SSD, and how Apple's App Store is making a huge amount of money:

  • Vuzix will be showing its Blade Augmented Reality Sunglasses at CES, which run Alexa and are...well...butt-ugly
  • Plugable announced the new Thunderbolt 3 4b0GB NVMe SSD, which is a perfect accessory for video editors on the move
  • Sensor Tower data shows just how large app sales have become for both Apple and Google 

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 Friday, January 5th, 2018.  

Apple isn’t usually the first to market with an innovative product, but the company usually is the first to make money in the market with a well-built and implemented product. That’s the case with augmented reality headsets, where the company has been researching smart glasses since 2015. Expect to see a lot of demoes of an early and rather clunky looking competitor next week at CES with the Vuzix Blade Augmented Reality Sunglasses, which run Amazon’s Alexa AI and are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2018 for about $1000. As you can see in the photos that accompany the show notes, the glasses are really quite ugly — so it will most likely take Apple to create something that is both stylish and functional. The Blade sunglasses have very thick earpieces to accommodate the electronics that are required to listen to a user’s requests and then display information from Alexa inside the wearer’s field of view.  Like Google’s ill-fated Glasses, the Blade sunglasses also include an embedded camera, which is sure to make them unpopular with privacy advocates. Vuzix notes that the devices will link with iOS devices as well as Android, and the company aims to get the price down to under $500 by 2019. Hopefully Apple will have a product by then that isn’t quite as ugly.

Another CES entry that was announced today was from dock and accessory producer Plugable, which introduced the Thunderbolt 3 480GB NVMe Solid State Drive. The drive, for which pricing is not available, is pretty impressive. By using NVMe, the drive interfaces directly with PCI3 controllers instead of connecting through a SATA III interface. The drive can be up to five times faster than a SATA III equivalent drive connected over USB 3.1 Generation 2. Speeds of more than 2,400 megabytes per second for reading and 1,200 megabytes per second for writing are expected, although actual transfer speeds are dependent on the host system the drive is connected to . This drive is tiny and would be perfect for fast backups of mobile systems as well as storing large video files for editing. The Plugable 480GB Thunderbolt 3 Drive is expected to ship this quarter.

The first App Store was created by Apple in 2008, with very small revenues from app sales in that year. App intelligence firm Sensor Tower measures paid apps, subscriptions, and in-app purchases from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, and in 2017 total revenue from apps for those stores reached $58.7 billion. That’s up about 35% from 2016’s total. Of that mammoth amount, Apple is gathering the most revenue — $38.5 billion in 2017 compared to Google Play’s $20.1 billion. Those numbers are in line with Apple’s own figures that were announced yesterday; Apple said that iOS developers had earned a total of $26.5 billion in 2017, which is money paid out to the developers after Apple takes its 30 percent cut. 

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