Apple World Today News Update: March 20, 2018

screenshot-30.jpg

We're stirring it up topic-wise on this Tuesday, the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere, with stories about autonomous vehicles, tvOS 11.3, a mock home setting where you can test HomeKit devices, and Apple's plans for even more office space in the South Bay Area:

  • Apple has doubled its autonomous car fleet since January; we also look at the cause of Sunday's Uber autonomous car fatality
  • Apple has released the sixth -- and probably final -- beta of tvOS 11.3 to developers
  • London shoppers can try out a large HomeKit mock home setup at a new store in the Westfield London shopping center
  • Think Apple Park and Apple Campus 3 are it for the company's real estate expansion? Just wait -- the company's plans in San Jose, California are unreal

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 Tuesday, March 20, 2018. 

Two days after one of Uber’s autonomous test vehicles was involved in an accident in Tempe, Arizona in which it collided with and killed a pedestrian, word is out that Apple has doubled the number of vehicles in its test fleet since January. At this time, Apple is only testing its vehicles in California, and it has the second largest fleet next to General Motors. It is planning to start testing vehicles in Arizona, but after the Uber test car crash and pedestrian fatality, there may be a regulatory reaction that will slow the expansion of testing and the ultimate deployment of autonomous cars. By the way, police viewed video from the Uber car’s cameras and found that the victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was walking her bicycle outside of the crosswalk while crossing the street in Tempe. She “abruptly walked from a center median into a lane of traffic”, and Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir said that “it’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode — autonomous or human-driven — based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway. 

Apple today released the sixth developer beta of tvOS 11.3. The initial beta of tvOS 11.3 added AirPlay 2 to the set top box, but it was later removed. Other changes that may make it to the final release which is expected soon include adding rating-based content filtering options to device management, improvements to content matching, and the addition of automatic mode switching to the fourth-generation Apple TV. That last feature has already been enabled on the Apple TV 4K.

Have you ever wanted to try out Apple’s HomeKit home automation framework without needing to actually go and buy and set up all of the equipment? Shoppers in London will soon be able to do so at a huge new 230,000 square foot John Lewis retail store in the Westfield London shopping center. Apple partnered with John Lewis on the mock home setup, and visitors can try using Siri to command lights to turn on and off, drapes to open and close, set a thermostat, change colors on Hue Lights, and even run a HomePod. John Lewis decided to partner with Apple on home automation since  the retailer’s mobile traffic analytics showed that 77 percent of their shoppers were coming from iOS devices. Sin Grieve of John Lewis noted that “We know Amazon are going after this space, we know Google are going after it in a big way. This is our chance to bring that to life in an iOS setting.”   Apple is also starting to include interactive HomeKit displays in some of its Apple retail outlets. 

Yesterday we mentioned how Apple Campus 3 in Sunnyvale, California is nearing completion and occupancy, but that’s not the only plans Apple has for larger facilities. Apple bought 85 acres of land in northern San Jose, about 10 miles northeast of Apple Park, several years ago. That land is located right next to the San Jose airport and includes the former headquarters building of chip maker Amtel Corporation. The company that owned the land, Ellis Partners, filed paperwork to change the name of Amtel Way to “Orchard Place”, a nice touch for a plot of land destined for Apple. A few years ago Apple got approval to build 4.15 million square feet of office space at the site over the next fifteen years, which is nearly 1.5 times the floor space of the Spaceship building at Apple Park. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

That’s all the news for today - join me tomorrow afternoon for another edition of the AWT News Update.