Virtual Reality Coming to iOS Within 2 Years, Claims Gene Munster

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes Apple plans to put iOS at the center of several forthcoming augmented reality and VR innovations set to launch within the next two years.

In a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Munster claims a timeline of recent purchases and hires by the company suggests that iOS support for „mixed reality“ applications could be set for launch as soon as 2018.

The analyst points to a LinkedIn search which reveals at least 141 Apple employees with a background in AR, although it should be noted that the same search returns 425 and 267 people with similar experience working at Microsoft and Google, respectively.

Of particular interest to Apple is the concept of „mixed reality“ wearables, or advanced optics that use embedded cameras and sensors to blend holographic imagery with real-life objects, claims Munster.

Intellectual property gained via research and development projects as well as strategic acquisitions, such as Apple’s purchase of 3D body sensing firm PrimeSense, are said to be behind the recent drive.

We believe 10 years from now Generation Z will find reality inefficient. We believe the concept of an ‘inefficient reality’ is evident through smartphone use today — the precursor to mixed reality — offering users the ability to find more information as needed.

The analyst goes on to suggest a natural progression in the personal technology market from smartphones to AR/VR and believes Apple is looking at VR as an iPhone peripheral, much like the Apple Watch. The prospect of Apple releasing hardware on this front in the near term is seen by Munster as unlikely, although by 2018 Apple may be ready to offer developers an official software framework for licensed third-party hardware solutions, similar to the company’s MFi Program for iOS devices.

Munster has made questionable assertions in recent years, with predictions such as Apple’s rumored television set having failed to materialize. Still, the note does follow a recent report by Financial Times claiming that Apple has built a „secret research unit“ in which hundreds of employees are experimenting with AR and VR technologies. The team is said to be made up of, among others, experts plucked from Microsoft and live-action VR company Lytro.

Apple’s interest in virtual reality has gained pace over the last few years, with the filing of multiple patents for VR-related products, like video goggles, motion-sensing 3D virtual interfaces for iOS devices, and 3D „hyper reality“ displays. More recently, Apple has made a spate of AR/VR-related acquisitions, including Metaio, Faceshift, Emotient, and image-recognition app creators Flyby Media. Last month, the company hired Doug Bowman, said to be one of the leading VR experts in the United States.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
Tags: Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster
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iOS Keyboard Maker SwiftKey Acquired by Microsoft for $250M

SwiftKey, the company behind the popular third-party SwiftKey Keyboard for iOS and Android devices, is being acquired by Microsoft, reports Financial Times. Microsoft is said to be purchasing SwiftKey for $250 million in a deal that will be announced imminently.

The SwiftKey keyboard has been available on Android devices since 2010, expanding to iOS in January of 2014 through the SwiftKey notes app. When Apple included support for third-party keyboards in iOS 8, SwiftKey was one of the first companies to produce a keyboard replacement app.

SwiftKey’s keyboard is notable for its word prediction tools, incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning to make custom word predictions based on what a user has previously written. Microsoft will likely use SwiftKey’s technology to bolster its own AI-based products, including its Word Flow keyboard and virtual assistant Cortana.
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European Probe of Apple’s Irish Tax Policies Extended to 2016

A decision in the European Commission probe of Ireland’s alleged „sweetheart tax deal“ with Apple will likely be delayed until after the Irish elections in early 2016, as Financial Times reports the executive cabinet has now requested supplementary questionnaires in the lengthy investigation.

The European Commission began Apple’s Irish tax probe in June 2014, and the Brussels-based executive body formally accused the iPhone maker of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland in September 2014. A decision was originally expected earlier this year, but the additional information requested will likely cause further delays.

Apple’s tax policies have been scrutinized on numerous occasions over the past three years, as the company is said to utilize multiple subsidiary companies located in the Irish city of Cork to move money around without significant tax penalties. Apple continues to deny any wrongdoing, and Ireland vows to take the European Commission to court over any negative ruling, according to the report.

Apple’s Irish tax probe is part of a larger crackdown by the European Commission on possible corporate tax avoidance in EU countries. Earlier this month, the commission reportedly accused McDonald’s of „benefiting from arrangements that allowed it to pay no tax on European royalties in Luxembourg,“ and Fiat and Starbucks were ordered in October to repay up to €30 million in back taxes.

Tags: Apple, European Union, corporate tax, European Commission, Ireland
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Key Apple Music Executive Ian Rogers is leaving the company two months after service’s launch

Key Apple Music Executive Ian Rogers, responsible Apple Music and the Beats1 radio station, is departing the company in a surprising move only two months after the service launched in late June. Read more…

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Beats 1 Lead Executive Ian Rogers Leaves Apple

Apple Music senior director and former Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers has resigned from Apple nearly two months after the launch of Apple’s streaming music service, the company confirmed to the Financial Times today.

Rogers was among a group of executives that joined Apple last year when the iPhone maker acquired Beats for $3 billion. Rogers’s official title was Senior Director of Apple Music, a position he held since August 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Rogers, who served as Beats Music CEO between January 2013 and August 2014, departed Apple to join an undisclosed „Europe-based company in an unrelated industry“ on the west coast. He is credited for hiring Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe, who worked at BBC Radio 1 from 2002 to 2015.

Beats 1 is a 24/7 streaming radio station built into Apple Music, featuring a mix of the latest music and guest appearances from artists such as Drake, Dr. Dre, The Weeknd, Eminem, Pharrell Williams and others.



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Apple plans to kill its 70/30 split for in-app subscriptions

Apple and Google boasted that they paid over $17 billion to app developers over the last year. What they left out is that they also made a tidy $7.3 billion off those sales thanks to the 30/70 split pioneered by…Read more ›



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Upcoming ‘Apple Music’ Streaming Service to Include Three-Month Free Trial

Ahead of the introduction of Apple’s new streaming music platform, Financial Times has shared some key details about the service, confirming it will be called simply „Apple Music.“ With the launch of the service, Apple will be largely abandoning its iTunes branding, using the name only for the online store.

As has been previously shared, Apple will not be offering a freemium ad-supported listening tier like Spotify, and will charge $9.99 per month for the service. Apple plans to draw customers in by offering a three-month free trial, much longer than the 30 days competing services offer.

Apple’s new music service is built upon Beats Music, its existing subscription service that it acquired last year. Apple executives heavily lauded Beats Music’s emphasis on human curation and customization, with many of the features in Beats Music remaining in the new streaming service. For example, the new music service will continue to ask users to select favorite musical genres and styles, and paired with recommendations from artists, Apple hopes to help listeners discover songs.

Apple’s iTunes Radio is also being revamped and potentially renamed, as it is being positioned as a free companion service to Apple’s streaming music offering. We have previously heard that Apple’s new version of iTunes Radio will be aimed primarily at users who are not in the United States, serving as a gateway service to entice people to pay for music.

Apple plans to use well-known DJs and celebrities to present music on its new radio service, and has hired several BBC Radio DJs like Zane Lowe to market the service in Europe.

Some of the celebrities who were photographed wearing Apple Watches ahead of its launch earlier this year, such as rapper Drake, will soon be acting as DJs on Apple’s new radio service, which will emphasise the personal tastes of artists over using algorithms to curate music, as Pandora does.

Apple plans to unveil its new music service at its WWDC keynote, taking place on Monday. The new streaming service and the new radio service will both be built into the revamped Music app introduced in iOS 8.4.





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European Commission ‘Concerned’ About Apple’s Streaming Music Plans

European regulators are scrutinizing Apple’s discussions with record labels for its much-rumored streaming music service, according to Financial Times. The report claims the European Commission has contacted several labels and digital music companies to request information about their agreements with Apple, although these actions do not guarantee it will launch a formal antitrust investigation.

The report, citing people familiar with the matter, claims that the European Commission is „concerned“ that Apple will use its size and influence to persuade the music groups to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify. Apple has nearly 1 billion iTunes users, and the company could face hefty fines and be required to change its business practises if committed of wrongdoing.

Apple is expected to launch a revamped streaming music service at WWDC in June, and its rumored price tag of $7.99 per month would be a few dollars cheaper than rivals such as Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music. The service will reportedly be deeply integrated into iTunes on Mac and the stock Music app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and apps will also be available for Apple TV and Android.




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Apple devised a new kind of gold for Apple Watch

Jony Ive’s interview with the Financial Times this morning is packed with nerdy details on the Apple Watch and Jony’s life. Slipped in among the juicy design bits, Sir Jonathan also hinted that Apple may have invented an entirely new…Read more ›



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