Health questions swirled around Apple this week, from coronavirus to a heart study partnership

February 29, 2020, 2:30 PM UTC

It’s hard to talk about Apple and its upcoming plans without first acknowledging the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on its business. Apple’s supply chain is constricted, its China stores are operating on limited hours, and industry experts wonder whether this year’s new iPhones could be delayed.

Despite that, Apple CEO Tim Cook said this week that he believes China has the coronavirus under control. And he shared no sign that Apple’s 2020 could be hobbled by the global outbreak.

Also this week, Apple signed on with Johnson & Johnson on a new heart health study. And more signs are pointing to Apple releasing new wireless headphones. We even heard from famed investor Warren Buffett about his take on Apple.

Read on for more on all of that as well as other Apple news from the past week:

Cook talks coronavirus

Tim Cook tried to quell investor concerns this week that the latest coronavirus outbreak is significantly impacting Apple’s business. In an interview with Fox Business, Cook said he believes “China is getting the coronavirus under control.” He said Apple’s manufacturing partners have reopened factories in China and things are “getting back to normal.”

Two major departures

Apple lost two veteran executives this week, according to a Bloomberg report. Apple’s vice president of manufacturing design, Nick Forlenza, has retired, and a vice president of operations, Duco Pasmooij, is expected to leave the company soon, according to Bloomberg’s sources. Forlenza played an important role in Apple’s supply chain, which has taken a hit since in China thanks to the coronavirus. Pasmooij was working on Apple’s augmented reality efforts, according to the report. Cook has said on numerous occasions that augmented reality will be an extremely important part of Apple’s business in the coming years.

Apple teams with Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson division Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies announced a new heart health study this week called Heartline. The study, which will be conducted in partnership with Apple, will aim at identifying atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heart rhythm that can cause stroke or heart attack. Participants will wear an Apple Watch that will track their heart rhythms. Researchers hope Apple Watch will be a useful tool for identifying AFib and reduce serious cardiac events. But whether Apple Watch can get the job done is debatable.

Warren Buffett talks Apple

Warren Buffett said in an interview with CNBC this week that Apple is “an incredible company,” and he wishes he had “appreciated it earlier.” He added that Berkshire Hathaway considers Apple its third-most-important investment behind insurance and railroads. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Buffett has given up his flip phone for an iPhone.

Powerbeats in the works?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week published Apple filings for Powerbeats 4 wireless headphones. The FCC filing says the headphones will work with Hey Siri, so users can say “Hey, Siri” to activate the virtual personal assistant to place calls, send messages, and more. It could also use the same H1 wireless communications chip Apple bundles in its AirPods. The chip improves wireless connectivity with Apple hardware. There’s no word when the Powerbeats 4 will be released.

Apple’s boring shareholder meeting

Apple held its annual shareholder meeting this week, and there wasn’t much news to report. According to reporters in attendance, Apple didn’t discuss any new products or the impact coronavirus is having on its business. Apple shareholders did, however, reelect all board members, approve executive compensation packages, and ratify the appointment of the company’s public accounting firm. A proposal to tie executive compensation to Apple’s sustainability efforts was rejected.

An Eero improvement

Amazon’s Eero routers were updated this week with Apple HomeKit compatibility. The feature gives Eero router owners more control over the connections HomeKit-enabled smart home devices can make throughout their abodes. Three settings let users decide whether connections between devices, the Internet, and other devices should be limited.

One more thing…

If you’re an Apple history collector, listen up. RR Auction is holding a “Steve Jobs auction featuring The Lifetime Collection of Apple Product Design Engineer, Jerrold Manock.” The collection includes a document Steve Jobs signed, a Macintosh design patent plaque, and more. You can see the full slate of items here.

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