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 February of 2022.
1. Apple lands first-ever Best Picture Oscar nomination
Apple Original Film, CODA, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and secured six Academy Award nominations including Best Actor for Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth, and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur in CODA. CODA is the first motion picture to receive a Best Picture nomination starring a predominantly Deaf cast. Additionally, Writer/director Siân Heder earned her first-ever Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The winners for the 94th Annual Academy Awards will be revealed on Sunday, March 27, in Los Angeles, CA.
2. Apple event targeted for March 8
Apple plans to hold its first event of 2022 in early March, according to a Bloomberg report. The target date is rumored to be on or near March 8 for the virtual event, which will focus on a new iPhone SE 3, an updated iPad Air 5, and the release of iOS 15.4. Bloomberg reports that the event will kick off a “potentially record-setting year for product launches.” The report also says that Apple is “planning a new Mac with Apple-designed chips,” and new accessories may be in store for this event.
3. Apple empowers businesses to accept contactless payments
Later this year, US merchants will be able to accept Apple Pay and other contactless payments by using iPhone and a partner-enabled iOS app. On February 8, Apple announced plans to introduce Tap to Pay on the iPhone. This new capability will empower merchants across the US, both small and large, to use their iPhones to easily and securely accept contactless payments—with just a simple tap.
4. Apple releases watchOS 8.4.2
This update came shortly after Apple announced changes related to AirTags due to stalking concerns. According to the release notes, this version brings security updates and bug fixes for Apple Watch owners. Alongside watchOS 8.4.2, Apple is also seeding iOS 15.3.1, iPadOS 15.3.1, and macOS 12.2.1 to all users. Additionally, Apple has been running tests with watchOS 8.5 beta and iOS 15.4 beta.
5. Apple Music finds its “own” sound
Spatial Audio has become a hit since its release last year, and in a Billboard article, Apple mentioned it has seen a 50% increase in its listeners since September. This immersive new listening experience was created to provide a “theater-like sound,” and it has become quite the differentiator between Apple Music and its biggest competitor, Spotify. “We now have more than half of our worldwide Apple Music subscriber base listening in spatial audio and that number is actually growing really, really fast,” says Oliver Schusser, VP of Apple Music and Beats.
6. Apple hits record iPhone sales in India
Apple Inc. had its strongest quarter for iPhone sales in India yet and finally made progress in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market. Sales increased to 2.3 million units in the fourth quarter, up 34% from the previous year. Apple pulled in more revenue than any of its rivals due to the iPhone’s high price tag, taking in an estimated $2.09 billion for the quarter, followed by Samsung at about $2 billion.
7. Apple Al Maryah Island opens in Abu Dhabi
Apple’s new waterfront store debuts special programs for creatives, local businesses, and families. On February 24, Apple previewed Apple Al Maryah Island, a new retail destination elevated above steps of cascading water in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The new store delivers shoreline views amid the city’s prestigious financial district. When customers enter, they find a unique ceiling made of stretched gold fabric, and glass walls bring in the natural light, with ficus trees adding greenery to the interior. The store’s first visitors were invited on February 25.
8. iPhone 14 Pro rumored to have the most RAM yet
In about seven months, Apple will unveil the next generation of iPhones. With that, a new rumor suggests the company will add 8GB of RAM to the iPhone 14 Pro. This next iPhone is also rumored to feature its highest megapixel camera sensor ever. There are also talks of an all-new design feature with a hole punch and pill cutouts (instead of the regular notch) as Apple plans to hide some sensors under the display.
9. Apple releases third beta versions of tvOS 15.4 and HomePod 15.4
Public beta testers can now download the third test version of tvOS 15.4, while HomePod 15.4 is still limited to selected developers to try. According to Apple, tvOS 15.4 will add captive Wi-Fi network support, allowing you to use your iPhone or iPad to connect the Apple TV to networks that need additional sign-in steps. Additionally, the Apple TV video player now has an “Up Next” queue that can be viewed from the “Now Playing” screen. The app starts playing the movie or series you choose with just a tap.
10. Apple acquires AI-based music soundtracks
Bloomberg reports that Apple has acquired AI Music, a British company focused on creating dynamic and adaptive music using artificial intelligence. The technology enables music to auto-adapt to a user’s heart rate, environment, or other forms of interaction, making it suitable for exercise and other physical activities. This user-led audio tech could be a perfect fit for Fitness+ and other Apple services.