Welcome to our monthly Apple News Roundup. This column recaps the top 10 biggest Apple news announcements from each month. This edition features the highlights from December of 2021.
1. Apple raises nearly $270 million for the fight to end AIDS
On December 1—World AIDS Day—Apple began offering new ways to support (RED)’s critical work to combat HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Over the past 15 years, Apple customers have played a role in (RED)’s fight to end AIDS through support to the Global Fund, which provides critical access to healthcare services in communities in need in sub-Saharan Africa. This year, Apple is offering more ways for customers to support (RED) through (PRODUCT)RED devices and accessories, a donation program via Apple Pay, and special service collections. A portion of the proceeds from every (PRODUCT)RED purchase goes directly to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, and half of the eligible proceeds will be redirected to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 response.
2. Apple CEO reportedly signs 5-year deal with Chinese officials
Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer at Apple, reportedly signed an agreement with Chinese officials, estimated to be worth about $275 billion, to placate threats that would have hobbled its devices and services in the country. According to The Information, The five-year agreement was made when Cook paid visits to China in 2016 to quash a host of regulatory actions against the company. Some of Apple’s investment in China would go toward building new retail stores, research and development centers, and renewable energy projects.
3. Epic vs Apple ruling put on hold after an appeals court
On November 5, Apple hired former Tesla Autopilot software engineer, Christopher Moore to boost its car-development efforts. Moore will be reporting to Stuart Bowers, another Tesla ex-pat and previous vice president of engineering. Reuters reported that Apple was moving forward with its self-driving car technology—and targeting a 2025 release of a passenger vehicle (see more in the story below.) According to The Verge: “Apple’s electric car project, codenamed ‘Project Titan,’ remains shrouded in secrecy.”
4. Apple Fitness+ to feature Prince William on Time to Walkr
On December 6, a new episode of Time to Walk featuring Prince William became available to Fitness+ subscribers and for free as a special airing on Apple Music 1. Time to Walk is an audio experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers designed to encourage people to walk more often. In his Time to Walk episode, Prince William talks about the importance of keeping mentally fit and reflects on a personal experience that led him to prioritize mental health.
5. Apple to reportedly make more of its own chips
Apple is reportedly working to design more chip components in-house and to be establishing a new office to replace components that the company currently sources from Broadcom and Skyworks, according to Bloomberg. The new office will focus on “wireless radios, radio-frequency integrated circuits, and a wireless system-on-a-chip,” in addition to “semiconductors for connecting to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi,” said Bloomberg. Building its own chips could help Apple alleviate supply issues in the future.
6. Apple closes several stores due to COVID-19 outbreaks
Several Apple stores closed in December in both the US and Canada—due to rising COVID-19 infections among staff members. According to a Bloomberg report, shutdowns are usually called when 10% of the store’s staff has tested positive. These spikes are occurring as the CDC reports omicron has become the dominant strain of the virus spreading throughout the US. Apple’s response has included reinstating its mask policy and delaying plans to resume office working for all of its workers.
7. Apple sues Ericsson over a pricing dispute for patent licensing
9TO5Mac reported that Apple is firing back at Ericsson amid an ongoing dispute over pricing for patent licensing in regards to technology deemed “critical” for mobile telecommunications. This came after Ericsson sued Apple in the same court, accusing the company of negotiating in “bad faith.” Apple and Ericsson have been engulfed in legal battles for years, and while negotiating this licensing deal in 2015, the two companies sued one another. This is what ultimately led to Ericsson attempting to have the iPhone banned from US sale over a patent dispute.
8. Apple rebuilds Apple Music as a full native app
On December 16, Apple released the first beta of macOS Monterey 12.2 just a few days after the release of macOS 12.1 to all users. As a part of this release, Apple is finally rebuilding the Apple Music app as a full native macOS app—which includes some big changes to the Music app backend. Mac users will now be able to search for new songs in Apple Music much faster, as the results pages are displayed with a native interface instead of as a web page. Scrolling between elements has also become smoother with the beta app, and trackpad gestures are now more responsive.
9. New features rumored for the Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 is set for a 2022 release, and will likely be announced next September. One of the biggest selling points of the Apple Watch is its many health-tracking features. Although health advancements were not made with the Apple Watch Series 7, they are rumored for the Apple Watch Series 8 release. Both Bloomberg and Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple is developing new body-temperature sensor technology for the Apple Watch—this technology could debut as soon as the Apple Watch Series 8. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Apple is planning blood pressure monitoring technology, additional advanced sleep tracking, blood glucose technology, and more.
10. Apple partnership brings coding opportunities to Boys & Girls Clubs of America
In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, Apple and Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched a new program that will bring coding with Swift to Boys & Girls Clubs in more than a dozen US cities. This collaboration was built upon Apple’s existing partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America through the company’s Community Education Initiative—which supports its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. “At Apple, we believe education is a force for equity, and that all learners should have the opportunity to explore and develop coding skills for their future,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives.