Apple Reportedly Building High-Speed Network For Better Content Delivery


Apple aims to build a high-speed data network in an effort to provide enhanced content delivery and user experience to users of its various services, including iTunes, Siri and iCloud. The move is also seen as the company’s response to the increasing competition in the cloud computing industry against huge rivals such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

Up until now, Apple has been relying on traditional network providers and technology suppliers when it comes to delivering their services. These include iCloud for storing user photos and a additional content; iTunes for delivering music and movies; and its voice-activated assistant, more popularly known as Siri. While Apple intends to upgrade the company’s current infrastructure, it also plans to keep most of its existing vendors.

“User experience is very important to Apple, but delivery of its content is the one part of that experience it doesn’t control,” said analyst Andrew Schmitt of IHS Infonetics Research. “If they want to control and maximize that user experience, they’re going to have to control that last piece.”

During the company’s upcoming developer conference slated to begin in less than a week, Apple plans to unveil a streaming music service along with TV that is intended to become publicly available later in the year. For these reasons, the company will need a type of infrastructure that is faster and more efficient in order to provide a glitch-free delivery. It needs to be able to control the medium it will use in the delivery of its services.

In addition to building a faster network system and upgrading the current infrastructure, Apple also plans to focus on newer technologies in order to gain faster and more efficient data centers. Such a project is said to cost billions, but Apple is determined to spend that money and move forward with the plan.

The process would involve moving the network pipes that are used to connect the company’s various data centers in Oregon, North Carolina, Nevada, California and other locations much closer to Internet hubs in areas that are more populated. Apple will deliver its content to consumers through cellular towers and broadband network providers. Moreover, the company has been working on a way to provide data using fiber lines at a speed of hundreds of gigabits for every second.

“Apple has slowly built out its data centers in the past five years,” said analyst Tavis McCourt of Raymond James Financial Inc. “As they serve up more things from the cloud to more and more customers, they’re going to need to scale up.”

Weather Underground lets Apple Watch wearers help report current conditions

If you have an Apple Watch, you can now be an amateur meteorologist, thanks to a recent update to the popular Weather Underground app. Weather Undergound is already powered by more than 100,000 weather stations, providing “the world’s most accurate hyper-local weather forecasts, radar, maps, and severe weather alerts,” according to the service’s Web page.

With the new feature in the Apple Watch app, Weather Underground is poised to add even more weather stations, even if those additions are limited. Apple Watch wearers can take part in “crowd reporting, because your watch is waterproof, your phone is not. Tell us it’s raining from your wrist.” The update to Weather Underground also provides for animated radar on Apple Watch, bug fixes, and improvements to the app’s load time and reliability.

The update also brings a returning feature and some enhancements to existing features on the iPhone app. Weather Underground’s notification center widget can once again toggle between graph and sky conditions. You can also can set the widget’s location in the app’s settings. Weather Underground also fixed a problem with the app not wanting to change units, and stopped the software from its tendency to “throw a hissy” if you choose not to allow it to use your current location.

What is most interesting to me, though, is the crowd reporting feature on Apple Watch, or perhaps it should be called “cloudsourcing.” Hyperlocal weather information relies on real-time reports from sensors and people, and adding the ability to report on the weather from your wrist is an important step towards greatly improving notifications about current conditions.

Weather Underground is a free download on the App Store, with in-app advertisements that are well-placed and mostly unobtrusive. If you want to get rid of the ads altogether, Weather Underground offers in-app purchases to remove them. A year of ad-free weather will cost $1.99. Weather Underground requires iOS 8.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch.

An updated iFixit teardown of the current-generation Apple Watch (via iDownloadBlog) claims that the smartwatch, which launched on the market back in April, appears to feature hardware capable of measuring blood oxygen saturation levels.

In its Apple Watch teardown article, iFixit explains that the heart rate monitor in the wearable “is actually a plethysmograph – it looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn’t claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level.” As such, iDownloadBlog goes on to suggest that a software update could enable this functionality at some point in the near future, allowing the Apple Watch to calculate more precise calorie burns through measuring the oxygen saturation levels in users’ blood.

At present, the Apple Watch calculates the number of calories users burn using heart rate data, activity data, and the individual wearer’s age, weight, height, and gender. Though calorie estimates are said to be surprisingly accurate, there’s of course always scope for improvement, and blood oxygen saturation data could provide a route towards even more accurate resting and active calorie estimates.

It could also be that the Apple Watch is already implementing this technology in order to determine users’ heart rates and calorie data, though as the publication adds, if this is the case, Cupertino hasn’t highlighted the feature in any of its marketing materials for the Watch.

FDA approval could be what’s holding Apple back from activating the hardware feature through a software update. We’ll keep you updated with further information as we receive it.

Philips Hue this fall, will work with current light sources

According to Philips, all existing Hue light sources will be made compatible with HomeKit. The company plans to provide more detailed information on the upgrade in September.

Philips also said that the company will help existing users to upgrade their system. It was not indicated whether a software or firmware update would add HomeKit compatibility, or if a new hub to control the Hue lights will be required.

Currently, Philips Hue bulbs are connected to a wireless hub, which itself connects to a router via Ethernet. From there, connected apps from Philips and third-party developers can control the bulbs, while users can also access controls from the Philips website.

The first wave of official HomeKit-sanctioned devices were announced last week. The smart home controls are available in any Apple device running iOS 8.1 or later.

HomeKit aims to simplify control of smart home accessories, using Siri’s voice control technology to give users the ability to do things like turn off lights, lock a door, or close a garage.

Such controls can even be accomplished when a user is away from home, thanks to the use of the Apple TV as a bridge between mobile devices and an iPhone or iPad away from home.

Much more on HomeKit is expected to be announced later today at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. AppleInsider will be there live with full coverage, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.