Top Stories: iOS 14.4, Record Apple Earnings, Apple Watch Series 7 Rumors

This week saw a good mix of Apple news and rumors, led by the release of iOS 14.4, a blockbuster earnings report from Apple, and a fresh report that the next Apple Watch might be able to monitor blood glucose levels.

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We also went hands-on with Apple’s new “Time to Walk” feature for Apple Watch, while AirPods Max owners can now purchase standalone ear cushions to mix and match colors. Read on for all of the details!

Everything New in iOS 14.4

Apple publicly released iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 this week with a handful of new features and bug fixes for iPhone ad iPad users.

iOS 14.4 introduces a notification on iPhone 12 models with non-genuine cameras, the option to classify Bluetooth device type in Settings for correct identification of headphones for audio notifications, and more.

Apple also released watchOS 7.3, which expands the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 and newer to Japan, Mayotte, Thailand, and the Philippines, and introduces a new “Unity” watch face based on the Pan-African Flag. tvOS 14.4 is out too, while macOS 11.2 remains in beta.

Apple this week announced that its App Tracking Transparency privacy measure will be required starting with the next beta versions of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, meaning that apps will need to request permission to track users and collect their device’s random identifier for advertising purposes. Apple says the software updates will be publicly released in the early spring.

Apple Reports Record-Breaking Quarter With $111B in Revenue

Apple this week reported its earnings results for the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year, which corresponds with the fourth quarter of the 2020 calendar year.

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The quarter was a blowout for Apple, which reported an all-time quarterly revenue record of $111.4 billion, with strength across all product categories, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and more.

Apple has thrived financially during the pandemic as many customers work, learn, and connect with others from home. Apple launched many new products and services during the quarter, including the entire iPhone 12 lineup, rave-reviewed M1 Macs, a redesigned iPad Air, the HomePod mini, the AirPods Max, Apple Fitness+, and Apple One subscription bundles.

Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored to Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring

The Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor, according to a report this week by ETNews.

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The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor.

Apple has been gradually expanding the health monitoring capabilities of the Apple Watch, most recently adding the ability monitor blood oxygen levels in the Apple Watch Series 6 introduced last September.

Hands-On With the New Apple Fitness+ ‘Time to Walk’ Feature

Apple this week officially introduced Time to Walk, a new feature that allows Apple Watch users who subscribe to Apple Fitness+ to listen to audio stories from celebrities, musicians, athletes, and other influential guests while they walk — similar to podcasts. For wheelchair users, the feature is named Time to Push.

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Time to Walk episodes are automatically downloaded to the Apple Watch with a Fitness+ subscription, and users can start an episode directly from the Workout app. New episodes ranging from 25 to 40 minutes in length will appear in the Workout app from a different guest each Monday through the end of April, according to Apple.

The first guests include musicians Dolly Parton and Shawn Mendes, NBA star Draymond Green, and actress Uzo Aduba, known for her role as Suzanne Warren on the Netflix original series “Orange Is the New Black.”

We took a quick look at Time to Walk in one of our latest YouTube videos to see what it’s all about and whether it’s a worthwhile addition to Fitness+.

Apple Now Selling Standalone Ear Cushions for AirPods Max

Apple is now selling AirPods Max ear cushions on a standalone basis, priced at $69 for a set, allowing customers to mix and match colors, including silver, black, sky blue, green, and red.

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‌AirPods Max‌ ear cushions attach to the ear cups magnetically and can be popped right off, so making a swap to a new color is simple.

MacRumors mocked up all of the AirPods Max color combinations that are possible, so if you’re wondering how a particular color might look with your ‌AirPods Max‌, the article is a valuable resource. The replacement ear cushions were initially estimated to ship in one business day, although delivery of colors other than silver and black quickly slipped into late March or early April. The first orders are, however, already arriving in customers’ hands.

In other product news, Apple this week announced that it will be releasing a limited-edition “Black Unity” version of the Apple Watch Series 6. This special model will be available throughout February in honor of Black History Month and comes with a “Black Unity” Sport Band based on the Pan-African Flag.

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