This new weekly Apple news roundup format is, admittedly, a bit selfish. It’s simply a way for me to stay abreast of the current Apple news events and ensure I know what I’m talking about.

I hope, however, that you’ll find these musings on the latest happenings from the Cupertino spaceship campus interesting. That would be a nice consequence of spending time diving into this stuff myself each week.

It’s been a relatively busy week in Apple Land. From smart rings to the potential death of the Apple Card, there’s plenty of Apple news to talk about.

Let’s start with some news about Vision Pro. No, not the expensive one – the one that’ll be made for a much wider audience. Hopefully.

A more affordable Vision Pro is in the works

It’s nearly 2024, which means we should soon know more about when we can drop $3,499 on Apple’s first tentative steps into spatial computing.

Apple’s mixed reality headset is launching first in the United States, in “early 2024”. How long we’ll have to wait to get our mitts on it in the UK is anyone’s guess, but I’m not going to let that stop me from experiencing it as soon as possible. I plan to head to the US to grab Vision Pro before it hits the UK market. If I can convince my bank manager and mortgage provider that it’s a good idea.

However, despite the fact we’re still waiting for Vision Pro, there’s already talk about the follow-up product which, we’re told, will be a “more affordable, cut-down model”.

Apple is allegedly attempting to cut the production cost of the headset in half to create a version that will appeal to a much broader audience. Unfortunately, these whispers from California don’t include any details of what the cut-down features might look like, or how significant the retail price reduction would be.

It sounds like Apple is going to follow Vision Pro with a two-tier product structure: one expensive and ‘Pro’, the other cheaper and more mass-market. This is where the gold at the end of the rainbow is for Apple’s spatial computing dreams. Getting visionOS into the hands of as many people as possible is how Apple will make this new paradigm something that is capable of replacing the iPhone. Which it almost definitely will, one day.

Goodbye, Apple Card?

Reports suggest that Goldman Sachs, the financial powerhouse behind the Apple Card, is likely to pull out of its partnership with Apple in early 2025.

If the rumours are to be believed, while the Apple Card has been a success for Apple, the top brass at Goldman Sachs aren’t quite as satisfied. This isn’t surprising for a partnership that has been troublesome from the start. Apple Ads suggesting that the card wasn’t from a bank will have irritated Goldman Sachs, and arguments over bill dates for customers, and regulatory scrutiny probably didn’t result in a joint Christmas party for the two companies.

Apple has apparently sent a proposal to Goldman Sachs to enable the bank to pull out of the contract in 12 to 15 months, but little is known about how that has gone down. Equally, there are no meaningful details about a potential successor if the partnership does indeed come to an end.

We never got the Apple Card in the UK, although the troublesome relationship between Apple and Goldman Sachs might explain why it never got any further than the US.

Apple puts a ring on it (but not just your finger)

A newly filed patent by Apple for an ‘electronic system with ring device’ suggests that Apple is probably going to enter the smart ring category at some point in the future. Just don’t expect the new device to be solely destined for your finger.

The patent demonstrates the device being worn on a finger, but calls out that use case as purely an “example”. According to the patent, the ring device “may have a ring shape that allows the ring device to be worn on a body part of a user,” says the patent, “(e.g., around a user’s wrist, arm, leg, ankle, neck, head, and/or other body part).”

Stop laughing at the back.

Apple also suggests that the new device could work in harmony with “companion devices” where the user could use “hand gestures, pointing input… involving the position of the user’s body.”

Sounds a bit like the way one interacts with visionOS, doesn’t it?

The filer of the patent also paints scenarios of users walking through buildings filled with NFC tags with which the smart ring can interact and “take suitable action”. They also nod towards potential privacy concerns relating to the ring’s ability to hold personal information and location data, thus enabling the wearer to potentially be located precisely by a third-party.

It sounds like this device could be a cross between a wearable AirTag and a sensor-laden extension of the iPhone. Given the meteoric success of the Apple Watch, it’s likely to offer a significant focus on health, too, just like the other smart rings that are currently on the market.

That’s also its biggest challenge, in my book. Why would an Apple Watch owner need a smart ring, too? Those NFC-based features and the possibilities of wearing the device elsewhere on one’s body will need to be serious differentiators.

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