Apple is crushing the Swiss watch industry — and one brand is particularly vulnerable

Smartwatches are taking over our wrists, and it’s likely to get worse for traditional Swiss watchmakers, according to UBS.

The Apple Watch is bigger than every Swiss watch brand except Rolex, analysts at the bank said in a note on Monday. And Swatch is most vulnerable in this environment, according to Helen Brand and her colleagues.

Swiss watchmakers recognize the demand for wearables, but are reluctant to dive in because they would need to rely on the tech companies that make the microprocessors that replace the mechanical parts, UBS said.

Also, the high-end companies could hurt their status when they sell wearables cheaper than they would traditional timepieces. That puts Swatch at the most risk because it leans more heavily towards entry-level products than its peers, Brand said.

“Market share may be further eroded for the Swiss industry as smartwatches improve in functionality,” Brand said. “The wider wearables market is now likely 30-40 million in volumes in total with Swiss watches industry volumes at 28m.”

Swatch’s biggest threat is from China.

“This has been a region where we have seen strong momentum, notably for Tissot and Longines driven by the emerging Chinese middle class,” Brand said. “If this consumer prefers the Apple Watch over these brands it could be a threat to Swatch’s medium-term growth prospect.”

Bloomberg reported that Swatch was working on a smartwatch to launch around the end of 2018.

US watchmaker Fossil has already entered the smartwatch market, but its foray has not prevented a sales decline. Kosta Kartsotis, Fossil’s CEO, cited “a watch category undergoing significant change” when the company reported weaker-than-expected earnings in the first quarter.

This chart shows that traditional watchmakers’ sales peaked right as the first-generation Apple Watch launched in Q2 2015.

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More wearables are shipping than Swiss watches.

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A redeeming factor for Swiss watchmakers is that their products are essentially jewelry, meaning they are timeless and can hold emotional value when gifted. A smartwatch, however, would become obsolete after a few years if the battery goes flat or its maker stops providing operating-system updates.

Also, there remains the perception that the Apple Watch is a smartphone on your wrist, which it arguably isn’t. UBS’ survey of nearly 8,000 smartphone users in May found that the biggest reason why people didn’t want an Apple Watch was that they thought it wasn’t needed.

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iOS 11 turns your iPad into a completely different machine

iOS 11 turns your iPad into a completely different machine

iOS has been around for 10 years. It’s hard to keep innovating after so many iterations. And yet, in many ways, iOS 11 feels like a completely new beast on the iPad. For the first time in years, it feels like Apple is taking risks with its operating system update.

I’ve been playing with a beta version of iOS 11 on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro for the past few weeks. While the final version of iOS 11 is not coming until later this fall, Apple just launched the public beta. Here’s a preview of what you can expect.

If you’re using an iPad, get ready to be disoriented by the update because the iPad simply doesn’t work the same way. Apple has completely changed the user experience with a big emphasis on multi-tasking. Everything seems more fluid and connected. For instance, you can drag and drop app files between multiple apps, drag an icon from the newly introduced dock to open a windowed app on top of your full-screen app and more.

More importantly, if you were using an iPad a few years ago and you’ve abandoned it in favor of your smartphone and laptop, iOS 11 is a fresh start and you should plug your old iPad and try it out.

I’m not going to list all the new features in iOS 11. You can go on Apple’s website to see them all. Instead, I’m going to focus on some of the most important changes.

With iOS 11, you’re going to end up holding your finger on a file, pulling up the dock with your other hand and use your iPad like you’re in Minority Report

When you install iOS 11, the first thing you’re going to notice is that the bottom row on your screen has been replaced by a macOS-like dock. You can put a dozen apps in that dock, and you can pull up that dock by swiping your finger from the bottom edge of the screen. It works even if you’re using an app already.

You can tap on an app icon and drag it on the side of the screen to open a narrow version of it. For instance, you can tap and drag the Messages icon to open up the Messages app. Once you’re done checking your new messages, you can dismiss the app and go back to your full-screen app. It works just like Slide Over in iOS 9 and iOS 10, but with a new presentation.

And if you need to use two apps at the same time, you can still open both of them using split view. You can easily replace one of the apps by dragging an icon from the dock and dropping it on one side of the screen.

With this new dock metaphor, you rarely go back to the home screen. It feels more like using a computer as you don’t go back to the desktop to open an app — you switch between apps using Cmd-Tab, the dock or the task bar.

The other massive change is the new app switcher. If you drag your finger from the bottom edge of the screen even more, you get an Exposé-like view with thumbnails of your most recent apps and spaces. For instance, you can switch between a space with Safari and Tweetbot opened side by side and a space with Ulysses filling up the screen.

This new app metaphor is just an example of a much bigger change under the hood. Apple has implemented a system-wide drag-and-drop gesture that lets you drag files and app icons from one place to another. Folders, app icons and menu items are all spring-loaded. While we’ll have to wait until the fall to see how it really works with third-party apps, it’s already quite impressive to see it in action. For instance, you can drag a photo from the Photos app, hover over the Notes app icon, navigate to a specific note while holding the photo and then drop it.

I can’t stress this enough. With iOS 11, you’re going to end up holding your finger on a file, pulling up the dock with your other hand and use your iPad like you’re in Minority Report.

And you can see that Apple is willing to switch things up as the company finally introduced a proper Files app. It’s going to support cloud services, such as Dropbox, Box and iCloud Drive.

Let’s list some of the other smaller changes. You can access numbers and punctuation on the main iPad keyboard by swiping down on keys. The Notes app feels more like Evernote because you can now scan documents. Your handwriting is also indexed so that you can search for it later and more.

I’m not going to lie to you. It takes time to get used to those new gestures. I’m not there yet, and I often find myself thinking about what I’m supposed to do to pull up Spotlight, look at my Today widgets and find an app that I don’t use very often.

iOS 9 introduced Split Screen and Slide Over. It was the first time Apple introduced new features for the iPad in particular. But with iOS 11, the company is going one step further and finally considers the iPad as a capable device that can be so much more than a bigger iPhone.

The iPhone learns new tricks

If you don’t have an iPad and don’t ever plan to get one, this year is a different update. While there are a few user-facing features, the most promising changes are going to take time. Developers will have to embrace new frameworks.

But first, let’s start with the main difference with iOS 10. Control Center has been completely redesigned. Instead of having two or three different cards, everything is now on one screen. Some shortcuts, such as volume control and AirDrop are tucked away. You need to use 3D Touch to expand controls and access these features.

Control Center is now also configurable, or at least a bit. For instance, you can add a shortcut to Low Power Mode or the Notes app.

The second thing you’re going to end up using a lot is the new annotation feature. When you capture a screenshot, iOS shows you a thumbnail in the corner so that you can use this screenshot instantly. You can crop it, draw stuff and share it right away. When you’re done, you can instantly delete the screenshot from your photos so that it doesn’t clutter your pretty photo library.

But the major changes are under the hood, starting with ARKit. Your iPhone camera just got much smarter. This augmented reality framework can detect a table and project a 3D object on this table. You can move around, put your phone closer and the 3D object reacts just like you’re looking at a real object. There is a ton of potential for games and apps. iOS developers have become AR experts overnight thanks to this framework.

Core ML is the other big technological update. Apple has been working on smart features for the Photos app for years. The company has turned that work into a general purpose framework so that you can build and execute machine learning models on the device.

All the other small and big changes

With this preview post, I’m just scratching the surface of the new features in iOS 11. So here are everything else you didn’t know but you actually want to know:

  • The notification screen has been redesigned and looks like the lock screen. It’s confusing at first.
  • There’s a new app drawer in the Messages app. I’m not a fan of the new design as there hasn’t been any killer iMessage app so far. But you can now send money to your friends using Apple Pay in a conversation thread.
  • Siri has a more natural voice. More importantly, you can type your query if you’re in a loud environment or it’s late at night and everybody is asleep.
  • The Photos app now supports GIFs! You can even create GIF-like looping videos and Boomerang-like videos. The Memories tab and face detection are getting a big update.
  • If you have an iPhone 7 or an iPhone 7 Plus, you’re going to capture photos and videos in HEIF and HEVC. It means that you’ll be able to store a ton more photos and videos on your device. If you share something, iOS will convert the file to JPG or H.264 (unless you’re sharing it with someone running iOS 11).
  • There will be indoor maps for airports and malls in Apple Maps. The company is slowly adding those maps right now.
  • You can’t test AirPlay 2 just yet as there isn’t any speaker with AirPlay 2 support. But it still works the same way — your phone sends lossless audio to your speaker using your Wi-Fi network. Apple has improved latency, added multi-room support and phone calls are no longer going to interrupt your music.
  • The redesign of the App Store looks great. But let’s see if it improves discovery and developers are happy about it.
  • If you’ve enabled iCloud, the iMessage database automatically gets uploaded to iCloud — your messages stay encrypted. Some users have 5GB or 10GB of messages, photos and videos, so it should free up some space. But iOS backups are still not end-to-end encrypted on iCloud. Apple still has the key.
  • Similarly, if you don’t have a ton of space on your phone, iOS can automatically purge your unused apps. Your settings and data stay on your device. But the next time you’re going to open a purged app, your device is going to re-download it first.
  • If somebody tries to join your Wi-Fi network and has an iOS device, you get a prompt asking if you want to share your Wi-Fi password.

It’s hard to cover everything about iOS 11 in just one post as your experience with this update is going to be very different if you’re using an iPad or just an iPhone. On the iPad, iOS 11 feels like a brand new operating system. Some things will need to be revisited and adjusted, but it’s an encouraging step for the tablet space.

On the iPhone, you’ll get a ton of small refinements. But the most promising changes are going to come from third-party developers taking advantage of new frameworks.

While iOS started as a constrained operating system with each app living in its own sandbox, Apple has been opening it up to third-party developers. It’s never been easier to build an app that competes directly with one of Apple’s default apps. Eventually, iPhone and iPad users benefit from Apple’s open approach.

New Siri icon tells a lot about rumoured iPhone 8 virtual home button

Apple is rumoured to drop the iconic iPhone’s home button with its next flagship.
New Siri icon spotted by Apple Insider on iPhone 7 Plus display while testing iOS 11.

 New Siri icon spotted by Apple Insider on iPhone 7 Plus display while testing iOS 11.

A new graphic for Siri spotted during iOS 11 tests has hinted on Apple’s new virtual home button rumoured to come with the iPhone 8.

Since Samsung ditched the physical home button for an “all screen” Galaxy S8 smartphone, Apple is in rumours to drop the iconic iPhone’s home button with its next flagship. And the new Siri icon spotted on iOS11 appears to confirm such rumours.

In the course of testing, performed by Apple Insider, a different Siri “please wait” graphic appeared. Located at the bottom centre of the device, the new icon was “animated, pulsing and oscillating swirl, and renders in exactly same spot where a home button would be on an edge-to-edge iPhone,” reported Apple Insider.

The current Siri icon is an animated wave that runs back and forth and gets activate only when the physical home button is pressed.

KGI Securities analysts Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most reliable Apple seers around, had earlier said Apple may replace the Touch ID sensor to bring a zero-bezel iPhone design.

(Photo: Apple Insider)(Photo: Apple Insider)

The iPhone 8 is known to be featuring an edge-to-edge OLED display, orders for which have already been placed with Samsung Display unit, and according to Apple Insider, “the iOS 11 presentation of Siri’s icon in that specific size and location in relation to the edge of the iPhone 7 Plus display could be,” confirming Apple’s plans on going ahead with it.

Google Pixel 2 smartphones: Taimen, Walleye’s specifications revealed in report

Google Pixel 2 smartphone’s bigger version will come with a 5.99-inch screen, and a new design. Specifications of the upcoming Google Pixel 2 smartphones, which are code-named ‘Taimen’ and ‘Walleye’ have been revealed in a detailed post by XDA-Developers.

Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2, Google, Google Pixel Taimen, Google Pixel 2 specs, Google Pixel 2 Walleye, Google Pixel 2 full specs, Google Pixel 2 leaked, Google Pixel 2 launch, mobiles, smartphonesGoogle Pixel 2 smartphone’s bigger version will come with a 5.99-inch screen, and a new design. (Representational Image of original Google Pixel XL. Image source: AP)

Google Pixel 2 smartphones are code-named ‘Taimen’ and ‘Walleye’ if we go by the reports that have been floating around. The code names were leaked online earlier, though Google Pixel 2 series was also supposed to include a device with the code name ‘Muskie’. This would have been the successor to the Pixel XL smartphone. However, it looks like Google is going to introduce a Pixel 2 XXL smartphone with a 5.99-inch screen. Specifications of the upcoming Google Pixel 2 smartphones have been revealed in a detailed post by XDA-Developers.

According to the report on XDA-Developers, they’ve got the specifications of the smartphone from a source, which has spent time with one of the devices. It looks like the bigger Google Pixel 2, which is code-named ‘Taimen’ will feature a 1440p OLED panel with a 5.99-inch display size. It will have a smaller bezel, though it doesn’t look like this will come with a totally bezel-less display just yet. Of course, Google’s new Pixel phones will come with Snapdragon 835 processor clocked at 2.45Ghz coupled with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage.

XDA-Developers also indicate the design of the Google Pixel 2 might not change so drastically, and it will continue with the glass and metal finish, but the glass will be near the top of the phone. It also claims Google will likely stick with a single rear camera with dual LED flash, rather than adding a dual-rear camera setup.

The smaller ‘Walleye’ Pixel 2 will have 4.97-inch display, but Google will leave the resolution at 1080p, just like it did with the earlier Pixel smartphone. This will also come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage along with stereo speakers. Additionally Google could ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack on this phone. It is unclear if both versions of the phone will get rid of the headphone jack.

Earlier reports have indicated Google Pixel 2 smartphones could be manufactured by LG. Google is reportedly investing in LG’s Display unit, and has called for first dibs on OLED panels. With Apple placing a massive 70 million order for OLED units for the upcoming iPhone 8, these display panels are going to be in high demand for 2017.

A recent concept video has showcased a version of the Google Pixel 2 with slim bezels, along with a metal and glass body. Interestingly the concept video had also eliminated the headphone jack on the phone, so there’s a chance this could happen on the Pixel 2 for sure.

While Google Pixel 2 series will come with some changes, the search giant will stick with the premium pricing on these smartphones. Google sees the Pixel as a challenger to the Apple iPhone series, and is pitching it as the ultimate, premium Android experience for users.

Ex-NASA scientist calls Goop’s ‘healing stickers’ a load of BS

No, those ‘healing stickers’ aren’t made of NASA tech, like what their creators claimed.

You’re probably used to ignoring all those overpriced New Age-y therapies and miracle cures Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop tends to promote. Remember that time when it suggested inserting jade eggs into the vagina to “increase chi?” No? Well, you can’t make this stuff up. One of its latest recommendations, wearable stickers by a company called “Body Vibes,” is pretty hard to turn a blind eye to, though, because its creators claimed that it uses NASA technology. Goop wrote that the body stickers are capable of rebalancing “the energy frequency in our bodies,” since they’re made of the “same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line spacesuits” to “monitor an astronaut’s vitals during wear.” Except, as a NASA rep told Gizmodo, that’s not true — at all.

Here’s the meat of Goop’s writeup for your reading pleasure:

“Human bodies operate at an ideal energetic frequency, but everyday stresses and anxiety can throw off our internal balance, depleting our energy reserves and weakening our immune systems. Body Vibes stickers (made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut’s vitals during wear) come pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances.”

Spacesuits have complex structures and are made of several layers of various materials like nylon, spandex, Kevlar and a number of other synthetic fabrics. They do not, however, use any conductive carbon material lining to monitor an astronaut’s vitals or any other purpose, the spokesperson said. Former NASA human research division chief Mark Shelhamer backed what the agency’s rep said and added that the product is “a load of BS.” The ex-NASA scientist didn’t pull any punches: “not only is the whole premise like snake oil,” he said, “the logic doesn’t even hold up.”

Despite the criticism, Body Vibes wouldn’t explain the research and development behind the product, as it’s apparently confidential. The company at least apologized for the “communication error,” though it insisted that the stickers, which will set you back $120 for a pack of 24 (of course), work as advertised:

“We apologize to NASA, Goop, our customers and our fans for this communication error. We never intended to mislead anyone. We have learned that our engineer was misinformed by a distributor about the material in question, which was purchased for its unique specifications. We regret not doing our due diligence before including the distributor’s information in the story of our product. However, the origins of the material do not anyway impact the efficacy of our product. Body Vibes remains committed to offering a holistic lifestyle tool and we stand by the quality and effectiveness of our product.”

I guess the lesson here is, you can sell products with the most outrageous promises, but you can’t drop NASA’s name and expect to get away unscathed.