Apple focuses on what’s next amid coronavirus outbreak

March 28, 2020, 1:30 PM UTC

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Apple continues to plan new devices and components, even as the COVID-19 outbreak shows little sign of slowing down.

The tech giant still intends to release a new high-end iPhone this year, according to reports this week, but there’s debate over whether it will ship when most expect it to.

Meanwhile, Apple is considering changing the processor that it uses in its Macs, and a leaked memo says the company is considering opening its retail stores in April. Oh, and don’t bend the new iPad Pro.

Here are this week’s Apple news highlights

Apple’s $1 trillion market cap

Apple’s market capitalization, a measure of the value of the company’s value, slipped below $1 trillion this week. After reaching an all-time high of $327.85 in February, the company’s shares have declined 25%. Those shares rebounded 9% from Monday and Wednesday, closing at $247.74 on Friday, at a market value of $1.08 trillion.

Apple’s new COVID-19 app

Apple partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force on a new COVID-19 website and app. The tools will let users answer the app’s questions about their risk factors for contracting COVID-19, as well as the symptoms they are experiencing. Apple will also share relevant information about COVID-19 and guidance about how users can protect their health. The free app is available to Mac, iPhone, and iPad users. People who are Windows or Android can access the information through an Apple website.

An iPhone debate

Will Apple’s next high-end iPhone, believed to be called the iPhone 12, actually be available in September, as expected? It’s unlikely, a Nikkei report said this week. The Japanese news outlet’s sources said that Apple may delay the iPhone 12 to October or November over fears consumer demand will still be sluggish in September, when the company typically releases new high-end phone. However, a report by Digitimes this week said the company still plans a September release. As always, only Apple knows the truth—and it’s not saying anything.

Aiming for a move to ARM

Apple plans to replace Intel processors in its Mac with chips designed by processor-architecture company ARM, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors this week. Kuo expects Apple to start shifting to the new chips in 2021 and include them in more Mac models as time goes on. ARM-based chips, which Apple already uses in its iPhones and iPads, are substantially cheaper than Intel processors, according to Kuo. By switching to ARM in Macs, Apple could reduce its processor costs by as much as 60%.

Don’t bend the iPad Pro

Apple unveiled its new iPad Pro last week that comes with a more powerful processor than the previous model, released in 2018. However, in a YouTube video this week, video creator who goes by the name EverythingApplePro put the iPad Pro through a bendability test and found that if users bend the tablet from the sides, it could cause the frame and screen to crack. EverythingApplePro was able to crack the iPad Pro with only the force from the tester’s hands.

Another problem in Apple’s supply chain

Now struggling with the COVID-19 outbreak, India has instituted a three-week lockdown to slow its impact. As a result, Apple has been forced to shutter its India operations, and its manufacturing partners that are producing iPhones will need to shut down too. The moves will limit Apple’s already constrained supply of iPhones. Apple hasn’t commented.

Apple’s retail store push

With nearly 500 Apple stores closed worldwide, all eyes are on when they will reopen. In a leaked memo to staff obtained by 9to5Mac this week, Apple retail chief Deidre O’Brien said the company will begin reopening its retail stores in the first half of April. However, O’Brien cautioned that the timeline is fluid and that the stores will reopen on a “staggered basis.” Apple’s retail stores in mainland China are already open.

One more thing…

Apple CEO Tim Cook said this week that Apple was able to source 10 million N95 masks from its supply chain and has donated them to the medical community. N95 masks are critical to healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.

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