Apple Talks About Privacy and App Store Sales

January 11, 2020, 2:00 PM UTC

Some weeks, the headlines about Apple are dominated by its plans, or supposed plans, for its next iPhone or iPad. Other weeks, the news about Apple is full of surprises and quirks.

This past week falls into the latter category.

Rather than articles about Apple’s next big thing, there was talk about Apple’s China business growing, thanks to stronger iPhone 11 sales. And in a strange twist, Apple, which has, for years, declined to put executives on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, decided to participate in a panel on privacy.

Meanwhile, a new report said Apple is planning a major overhaul to the Apple Pencil stylus that works with its iPads. And after 40 years of doing business in Ireland, Apple is getting an award there.

Read on for more about Apple this week:

A little help from China

This week, the Chinese government said sales of Apple iPhone had grown 18.7% year-over-year to 3.2 million—mostly because of the iPhone 11. Despite strong iPhone sales, however, overall smartphone sales in China fell 13% in December to just under 30 million.

App Store soars

Apple said this week that its App Store sales hit a record high on New Year’s Day, with global sales topping $386 million. In a statement touting that success, Apple also said that App Store shoppers spent $1.4 billion between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and overall, Apple has shared $155 billion in App Store revenue with developers since the marketplace opened in 2008.

Accusations Against Apple

Apple was sued this week for allegedly stealing secrets from competitors and using the information to power health-related features in Apple Watch. The plaintiffs, healthcare technology companies Masimo and Cercacor Laboratories, allege that Apple hired away the companies’ key employees to steal information related to 10 patents for oxygen monitoring technology and heart rate sensors. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages and an injunction on the sale of Apple Watch Series 4 and Apple Watch Series 5. Apple has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

A CES surprise

Apple doesn’t participate in CES, the technology industry’s biggest annual consumer electronics show. But this year, Jane Horvath, Apple’s top privacy executive, participated in a panel at CES about user privacy and security. Horvath defended Apple’s strict encryption policy and its decision to not help law enforcement decrypt iPhones, saying that “backdoors” used to give law enforcement access to devices during investigations wouldn’t improve police efforts.

Big Apple Pencil improvements

Apple’s Pencil stylus may be getting a major overhaul, if a recently discovered patent is any indication. In a patent application Apple filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the company described a new Pencil version that would interpret user gestures, like double tapping on a screen or sliding a finger along the Pencil. In one example, Apple said one set of taps could tell the software to copy a recently written sentence, and in another, it could be used to paste the sentence elsewhere in a document. Apple also said the Pencil could be equipped with a camera, but exactly what that would be used for is unclear. Currently, Apple Pencil is a rather basic stylus that lets users digitally write and annotate documents on the iPad. But at $99, it’s not cheap. Disclaimer: Ideas presented in patent applications often never see the light of day in products.

Apple’s award

Ireland will give Apple an award later this month to commemorate its 40th year of doing business there, according to Bloomberg. Apple CEO Tim Cook will accept the award. The tech giant’s relationship with Ireland has been scrutinized by the European Union over Apple’s use of Ireland as a tax haven. The company has been forced to pay back 13 billion euros in unpaid taxes to Ireland, which is currently being held in escrow while Apple appeals the EU’s decision. Ireland is also appealing the decision and has said Apple pays its fair share of taxes in Europe.

One more thing…

Apple has partnered with the Red Cross to let users donate to Australia’s efforts to fight its devastating bushfires. Through iTunes or Apple’s App Store, users can donate between $5 and $200 to the Red Cross, Apple said this week.

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