Written by Stephen Niles
CupertinoApple announced Monday that it will integrate its software more deeply into car driving systems, while the iPhone maker rolled out a slew of payments and business collaboration features and a pair of new laptops.
Announcements at Apple’s annual developer conference showed a company that was once an outsider steadily making its way into the mainstream for nearly every screen in everyday life.
The company, whose transformation in the late 1990s meant promoting itself as a rebel brand, spent Monday talking about how it uses iPads to collaborate on business presentations and how its software will eventually help showcase fuel economy on car dashboards. Notably absent were any hints of Apple’s expected next big product, a mixed reality headset that can overlay digital objects over a view of the real world. Optimistic fans got a few tidbits about the new augmented reality technology in a tech talk.
And Apple announced Apply Pay Later, a service that allows users to make interest-free installments. The company, which will operate across the MasterCard Inc network where Apple Pay is accepted, will work against Apple in competition with payment providers such as Affirm Holdings Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc.
But mostly Apple has doubled down on existing products. The MacBook Air laptop has been redesigned around the new M2 silicon processor, which he says is 35% faster than the previous M1 chip. The new laptop will weigh 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg) and have a 1080p HD camera to provide better images on video calls. MacBook Air will start at $1,199, Apple announced at its show WWDC 2022 conference.
The M2 chip will also power the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which will start at $1,299 and be available next month. Both chips will use the second generation of 5nm chip manufacturing technology. Apple did not say who would make the chip, but manufacturers are likely to include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a longtime partner of Apple, which has been struggling with delays in newer technology.
“They have to deal with the scale” with the new laptops, said Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. “This is the safer option,” he said of the 5-nanometer chips.
But Apple broke with its tradition of not changing its hand about future technology when it showed off a new car dashboard that it said would be able to display data from key gadgets such as speed, fuel levels and mileage. Apple said it was in talks with automakers such as Ford Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co, Mercedes-Benz and Honda Motor Corp. Vehicles containing the program will not be announced until late next year.
The software connects more deeply to basic driving systems than in previous versions that were limited to in-vehicle infotainment screens to play music and display maps. Although Apple’s vehicle software has been in cars since 2014, it’s currently available on more than 600 models—even including some motorcycles—it’s largely separate from the vehicle’s operating systems. Vehicle owners must leave the system even if it has basic functions such as adjusting the vehicle’s climate control, a flaw the updated system is designed to address.
Polestar spokesman JP Canton said Polestar, the maker of luxury electric vehicles owned by Geely and China’s Volvo Cars, is installing the current version of Apple CarPlay in its Polestar 2 vehicles through an over-the-air update later this month. He said that which Polestar cars will get the latest version that Apple announced on Monday is under discussion and no further information is available.
A spokeswoman for Ford, which announced a software deal with Alphabet’s Google last year, declined to comment on Apple’s announcement. Automakers remain wary of allowing tech giants unfettered access to data generated by connected cars, or letting them replace carmakers’ brands with their own in dashboard screens.
Apple’s iPad also received a revamp to make it easier for users to juggle multiple apps and screens and collaborate on business-focused documents like presentations. The company has also previewed an app called Freeform, which will serve as a virtual whiteboard that many users can click to share ideas during video meetings via Apple’s FaceTime service. Productivity features put Apple in more direct competition with Microsoft, whose Surface tablets are popular with business users.
Apple also added an edit button to iMessage for sent messages, beating Twitter in the long-awaited feature.
The tech giant is also adding a tool called Security Check to stop people’s sensitive information from being accessed in abusive situations.
Apple introduced a new technology called Passkeys to replace passwords on websites. Apple said passkeys are more secure than traditional passwords because passkeys are never stored on a web server. The company said it is working to enable passkeys to be used with non-Apple devices.
Apple shares closed less than 1% higher, similar to their level at the start of the show.