Apple World Today News Update: April 5, 2018

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Just a note - we'll be taking a "sick day" tomorrow to go to a MLB game, so there will not be an Apple World Today News Update podcast tomorrow (April 6). Today we have a few stories about some of Apple's future directions:

  • Apple's Pro Workflow Team could be one of the most important and useful groups for the near future, working on fine-tuning Mac hardware and software for the creative pro market
  • We take a look at MicroLED technology, where it's most likely to be used first at Apple, what companies Apple is partnering with, and talk about a product about two years out that could benefit from this display tech

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.

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Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Thursday, April 5th, 2018. Please note that there will not be a podcast for tomorrow, April 6th — I’m taking the day off to go to the season opener of my local MLB team, the Colorado Rockies.

Today’s big news, as you read on Apple World Today, is that the Mac Pro will not be coming out until next year. Reading between the lines of the post by Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch, who was invited to Apple Park to get the news, the really big news isn’t the hardware that will be delivered to creative professionals next year in some sort of modular format, but that Apple is planning on totally revamping all of the Pro products. Apple has put together an internal Pro Workflow Team that will guide and improve the products that are targeted towards creative pros. John Ternus, the Apple VP of Hardware Engineering, oversees the group. The team is charged with learning the workflows of real pro users so that they can optimize Apple hardware and software to work more efficiently. To do so, Apple began hiring many top creatives right into Apple, some on a part-time basis and others as full-time employees. So there are award-winning artists and technical types who are brought in to work on real projects, then put the hardware and software to use to point out issues that cause problems for pro users. The company has started by focusing on visual effects, video editing, 3D animation and music production, and has plans to expand from there. The Pro Workflow Team’s efforts should benefit Apple’s pro-related hardware and software, and it’s expected that Apple will share its finding with third-party software developers as well.

Apple appears to be moving towards MicroLED technology for future products, with the first recipient most likely being the Apple Watch. MicroLED isn’t cheap, which is why working with smaller displays first would be a good way for Apple to test the technology. It’s supposed to enable brighter, thinner and more efficient displays, and MicroLED displays could also be used in Apple’s rumored augmented reality headset that might come out in 2020. The thinness of MicroLED would be of extra value in a headset, where light weight and creating extra space for batteries would be extra important. Given a few years to test the technology and producing test displays at a new secret facility close to Cupertino could give Apple an edge with this new technology. Apple’s primary partner in MicroLED production could be TSMC, which manufacturers Apple’s A-series processors for iPhones and iPads. Another company, Taiwan’s PlayNitride, has just been named as another possible Apple partner for the MicroLED initiative. Would MicroLED ever be used on iPhones and iPads? Perhaps eventually, but OLED displays are just starting to make it into Apple products — the iPhone X in particular — and their extra cost not only impacts sales but profit margins as well. Apple’s rumored augmented reality headset would be a great product to start using MicroLED in. That product would run independently of an iPhone, using Siri, head gestures and a touch panel in the earpiece for control.

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