Apple has been staging its first online Worldwide Developer Conference, with the keynote presentation streaming as I’m finishing off writing this newsletter . . . so please excuse my stream of consciousness summary of the highlights:
Software is naturally front and centre each year as this is a conference aimed at developers. Apple began with news on the next version of the iPhone’s operating system, iOS 14. The interface looks much improved — App Library will allow you to organise those many windows of apps you accumulate so you can group and find them more easily. There are also lots of customisable widgets coming that allow you to make the most of a larger-screen iPhone. Picture-in-picture will keep a video window on screen when you’re using other apps.
Apple showed off a new Translate app and App Clips, mini-versions of apps that can be installed on the spot to handle something like paying for a parking spot. It also revealed a digital version of car keys — tap the iPhone on a 2021 BMW 5 Series car to gain access, and share that access easily with friends and family.
The presentation continued with updates unveiled for iPadOS (Scribble allows you to write with Apple Pencil and see it convert to text in Search fields and other apps), Watch (including the ability to share faces) and MacOS (it will be known as Big Sur).
Big Sur will be the operating system that gets the chance to run on Apple’s own Arm-based processors — this hardware announcement was much anticipated and last to arrive in the keynote. Tim Cook came on to describe it as a “huge leap forward for the Mac”. The first machine will arrive by the end of 2020, but Apple’s chief said Intel-based Macs would still be around for years. The developers’ big question was answered with Apple showing how native apps were developed specifically for the new processors. They were created using Xcode, Apple’s software development tools, while Rosetta 2 software will translate apps that have been developed for Intel processors.
The presentation has just ended after nearly two hours. You can catch up with all the news from WWDC here.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Wirecard fights for survival
German fintech Wirecard warned on Monday that €1.9bn of cash on its balance sheet probably does “not exist”. Its shares resumed their precipitous fall — down 33 per cent and more than 80 per cent since the collapse began on Thursday. Wirecard also said it was examining steps to keep its operations running.
2. Racism in the Valley
Black venture capitalists in Silicon Valley have been sharing stories of racism in their industry since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis three weeks ago. Often the conversations circle back to the limited partners, or LPs — university endowments, pension funds and wealthy individuals — that invest in the venture capital funds which in turn invest billions into promising new start-ups.
3. Rebels with a cause
The latest upsurge in social protest appears more of a sea change than a passing squall, writes John Thornhill. Young entrepreneurs are powering a “tech for good” movement and some VCs argue that purpose-driven start-ups are more likely to attract the best staff and gain the most traction with consumers, making them better bets. “You can build value as well as having values,” one venture capitalist tells him.
4. Checkout.com checks out US listing
Checkout.com is considering a US listing after raising new funding that nearly tripled the payments start-up’s valuation, making it one of the UK’s most highly valued private tech groups. The funding round led by Coatue Management valued Checkout.com at $5.5bn, including $150m of new cash.
5. Japan takes lead in supercomputing race
The US and China have been battling it out between themselves for the title of world’s fastest supercomputer for the past eight years, but both have been leapfrogged by Japan in the new international rankings. Fugaku, a machine built at the Riken Center for Computational Science in Kobe, is the first with processors designed by Arm to reach the top spot and can outperform Summit, the former number one, based at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, by a factor of 2.8x.
Tech week ahead
Monday: Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference just started with a keynote presentation giving the latest on forthcoming software. Developer sessions continue online for the rest of the week.
Tuesday: Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, holds its annual meeting — the first for company chairman Young Liu since founder and former chairman Terry Gou stepped down to pursue a political career.
Wednesday: After the New York market closes, BlackBerry reports on its quarter to the end of May. The UK regulator Ofcom publishes its BBC Performance Tracker, measuring audience opinion on performance against the broadcaster’s four public purposes, which include quality of output and impartiality.
Thursday: Shareholders may want to ask SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son about the $18bn loss on Vision Fund bets, while pay was boosted for the head of the fund, at its 40th annual meeting. The company is seeking approval for three new directors, while Alibaba founder Jack Ma will resign from the board.
Saturday: Semicon China begins. The three-day trade show for the chip industry was postponed in March because of coronavirus. Last year, it attracted a record 100,000 industry executives and participants.
Tech tools — Chrome’s Link to Text Fragment
Once the text is highlighted, just right-click and choose Copy Link to Selected Text from the menu that appears. Then paste the link that has been created into an email or message to someone. They simply click on it to be taken to the web page and highlighted text. So, I can provide you with a link for example direct to a down-page Tech Tool from last week.
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