Leaker: HomePod ‘Mini’ Close to Launch, But No Second-Generation HomePod This Year

Apple is expected to unveil a smaller, lower-priced HomePod at its digital-only event next week, which has led to speculation about the possibility of a second-generation ‌HomePod‌ also arriving. This morning, however, serial Apple leaker l0vetodream poured cold water on that idea, claiming there will be no “HomePod2” launching beside the rumored “mini” model this year.


Earlier this year, Apple began allowing employees to purchase up to 10 HomePods at a 50 percent discount, up from the previous limit of two. Some observers had suggested that the larger purchase limit could be part of Apple’s efforts to clear out inventory of the current ‌HomePod‌ ahead of a new model.

Apple may continue to sell the current ‌HomePod‌ alongside the smaller, more affordable version, but it may cut future supply orders for the premium model, which reportedly hasn’t sold very well. Apple has never disclosed ‌HomePod‌ sales, instead grouping the speaker under its “Wearables, Home, and Accessories” category, but the price of the speaker is thought to have been its biggest obstacle.

Apple launched the ‌HomePod‌ in February 2018 with a $349 price tag, but then reduced its price to $299 in April 2019. The ‌HomePod‌ also has several low-priced competitors on the smart assistant front, including Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo ($90) and the recently announced Google Nest ($90).


Apple has been steadily making the ‌HomePod‌ more useful by adding features such as Handoff support, multi-user voice detection, ambient sounds, and multi-room audio. Apple is also expected to add third-party music support to the ‌HomePod‌ in a future software update. The latter feature will presumably allow Spotify and other music services to be set as the default music service, letting users ask Siri to stream

Slack’s next phase is to close productivity gaps between humans and software

CEO wants to increase integrations so users never have to leave the collaboration platform to get work done.

slack-events.jpg

At the company’s Frontiers 2020 conference, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said his vision for the next iteration of the platform will connect the productivity gaps between humans and software.

Image: Slack

Slack is steering into the idea that there’s no going back to the old way of working and taking on the more challenging element of remote work. The collaboration platform is building new features to make it easier to onboard new employees and work with outside partners.

Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Slack, opened the two-day Frontiers conference on Wednesday. He said that the company’s next phase will focus on closing the gaps between productivity software and building new workflows instead of reinventing old ones. He described the familiar task of taking a screenshot of a graph or image from one system and pasting it into presentation software and then emailing the document for review.

“Sometimes the task will be improving step 3 and sometimes the goal is skipping from step 1 to step 11,” he said. 

SEE: Software as a Service (SaaS): A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

He also used the example of a recruiter hiring a new employee and then completing a workflow that spans several business systems and requires email updates as well. 

“These productivity gaps are everywhere and whenever we find one we think there are opportunities for improvement,” he said.

Another focus is creating tools that allow synchronous processes to be asynchronous. He used the example of a daily check-in and showed a series of video updates. The idea is that team members could post a video update wherever it’s convenient and other people could consume that update when it is convenient for them

Vanguard to close most of its institutional business in Australia; focus on retail

FILE PHOTO: People are seen at a booth of Vanguard Group at a fair during the INCLUSION fintech conference in Shanghai, China September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Cheng Leng

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Vanguard Group Inc said on Wednesday it will close most of its business managing money for institutional investors and large pension funds in Australia and New Zealand, and focus on serving retail clients.

The U.S. investments giant, which has roughly A$164 billion ($118 billion) in assets under management in Australia, will stop offering customised products called segregated mandated accounts (SMA) to large institutional investors.

The exit comes as Australia’s pension funds, which make up the world’s third-largest pool of pension assets, have moved towards managing a larger portion of their investments internally to lower costs. This has intensified competition for investment mandates and forced the closures of several funds.

The Pennsylvania-headquartered manager will continue to offer some investment products that are “pooled” rather than customised, a spokeswoman said in an email.

It will work with existing SMA clients in Australia and New Zealand to ensure a smooth transition that is expected to take between 12 and 24 months, she added.

Vanguard declined to disclose the value of the assets managed in those SMAs.

In April, Vanguard launched an Australian platform for retail investors providing access to a range of its managed funds, listed ETFs and shares. It has also registered a superannuation product with the regulator, which hasn’t launched yet.

Vanguard said in August will close its Hong Kong and Japan operations and cut jobs across both locations as it shifts its Asian headquarters to Shanghai.

Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Source Article