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If there’s one certainty in life where Apple is concerned, it’s that it targets the premium end of the market. Apple would tell you that it aims to make the best products, and that these cost money to make. A more cynical observer might say that Apple aims to make the highest margins and makes the products (and adds the marketing) it takes to achieve this.
But either way, the company has always targeted those customers willing to pay the big bucks for premium products. That approach has meant that while Samsung sells almost twice as many smartphones as Apple, it’s the Cupertino company that hoovers up almost 80% of the total profits in the industry.
But there are signs that Apple may be broadening its horizons …
In a way, Apple has long aimed to have a range of products to appeal to consumers at different price points. In Macs, for example, we had the Mac Pro versus the iMac for the desktop market, and within the iMac range we have the 27-inch 5K flagship and the 21.5-inch 4K option at the more affordable end. For laptops, there’s the now very expensive MacBook Pro range at the top end while the MacBook Air still hangs in there at $999.
But the company has more recently been more actively targeting mid-market smartphone buyers by specifically designing products for them. There was the failed iPhone 5c initially, and the iPhone SE today. The latter also emulated the iPad mini in targeting both budget-conscious consumers as well as those of us who prefer a more pocketable device.
The iPhone SE has been a big success for Apple. It became the third best-selling smartphone in the U.S. and achieved even higher satisfaction ratings than later and more expensive models. It’s almost certain we’ll see a new model next year.
And just this year Apple launched a low-cost 9.7-inch iPad costing just $329, less than half the cost of the cheapest iPad Pro model, and roughly a quarter of the cost of the most expensive one. The company’s recent earnings reports strongly indicate that this has been a massive hit.
Finally, we come to services revenue. Tim Cook noted in the company’s Q2 earnings call that Apple’s services business was ‘well on the way‘ to the size of a Fortune 100 company in its own right – and confirmed that it hit this milestone in Q3.
Services revenue climbed 22% year-on-year to total $27.8B in the last 12 months. That’s not just a Fortune 100 sized business, but – as the WSJ noted – more than Facebook’s total revenue for 2023. As the above Business Insider chart shows, services are now worth more to Apple than either Mac or iPad.
The WSJ again:
“The business is really impressive when you think about it in terms of scale compared to other publicly traded companies out there,” said Jeff Dillon, chief executive of Jackson, Mich.-based Dillon & Associates, which counts Apple among its largest holdings. “There’s a long runway to go there.”
That ‘long runway’ is another way to say that the more hardware devices you sell, the more money you stand to make from services. Apple’s 30% share of app sales is a big chunk of it, of course, but there’s also its take from other iTunes sales, Apple Pay, iCloud storage, Apple Music and its doubtless profitable AppleCare business.
In fact, if you look at the trends in Apple’s income, growth in iPhone, iPad and Mac sales is all below that seen in 2023. But services revenue is soaring.
That’s not to say that Apple is going to head too far downmarket. The App Store makes twice as much money as Google Play despite a much smaller market, and that’s precisely because Apple targets better-off consumers who are willing to spend more on apps and other services. But targeting the mid-market should significantly increase its market for services income.
And the killer feature of services revenue is that it’s recurring – and even does so reliably in the case of subscription services like iCloud storage, Apple Music and Apple’s cut of in-app subscriptions. That’s particularly important at a time when people are holding onto hardware longer.
And there’s one especially attractive element of the mid-market: students, and those early in their careers. There’s a decent chunk of these people who would like to buy Apple kit but can’t quite manage or justify it at present. If you can bring them into the ecosystem now, they will become premium product customers in the future.
So it makes perfect sense for Apple to broaden its target customer base. It will never go after the budget market – the hardware margins are too slim, and the prospect of significant services sales too poor. But going after the mid-market is a gain in the short-term, and likely a far bigger win in the long-term.
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The European Union warned us this week not to expect a speedy conclusion to the long-running investigation into the legality of Apple’s tax arrangements in Europe. The delay follows a decision back in December to expand the scope of the investigation.
But while the wheels of EU tax investigations may grind exceedingly slowly, I’d be willing to wager quite large sums of money on the final outcome. It looks to me increasingly clear that Apple’s tax arrangements with the Irish government are going to be declared illegal, and that Apple is going to be faced with a significant bill for unpaid tax …
Let’s start with the basics of how the whole situation arose in the first place. You can skip this section if you’re already up to speed on the background.
In a simple world, one of two things would happen when I buy an iPhone in the UK. Either the Apple Store in London sends the money back to Cupertino, and Apple pays U.S. tax on it there, or the money is paid into an Apple UK bank account, and Apple pays tax on it in Britain. In reality, however, neither of these things happens – and there are two reasons for that.
First, every country in the world sets its own corporate tax rates – the percentage tax a company pays on its profits. In the USA, the federal corporate tax rate is 35%. In the UK, it’s 20%, so Apple would already be better off paying UK tax on British sales. But it realized it could do better than that if it shopped around.
Ireland has one of the lowest rates of corporate tax in Europe, at 12.5%. By establishing a European headquarters in Ireland, and sending all the money from sales across Europe there, it could pay a lot less tax. But it doesn’t end there.
Ireland sets its corporate tax so low because it wants global companies to establish their European headquarters there. That creates jobs, and pumps money into the local economy. The bigger the company, the greater the benefit to the economy. So for very large companies – like Apple and Google – Ireland offered them a special deal (reportedly brokered by Steve Jobs). ‘Choose Ireland for your European HQ,’ it said, ‘and you only have to pay 2.5% tax.’ That’s five times lower than the rate paid by most companies.
So rather than pay 35% for sending the money back to the USA, or 20% for keeping it in the UK, Apple funnels all sales from European countries into Ireland – and pays just 2.5% tax on the lot.
I should stress that all this is perfectly legal … for Apple. Apple’s legal obligation is to pay the tax each country demands from it. If Ireland demands only 2.5%, Apple’s only duty in law is to smile broadly and write the check. (Ok, it isn’t actually legally required to grin as it does so, but it would be hard not to, right?)
This was what allowed Tim Cook to truthfully tell a Congressional hearing into Apple’s tax affairs that “we pay every dollar that we owe.” Apple does indeed pay every dollar, or Euro, it is required to. The company has broken no laws.
But the same is probably not true of the Irish government. Ireland is a member of the European Union, and there are laws determining what member states can and cannot do where corporate taxes are concerned. Precisely because the EU knows countries might be tempted to offer special deals to large companies, and because it doesn’t want a race to the bottom where those companies end up paying next to nothing in tax, it specifically outlaws them.
Special deals offered only to certain companies are known as state aid, and that’s illegal.
While we’ll need to await the outcome of the investigation before we know whether Ireland’s deal with Apple is formally found to be illegal state aid, it’s hard to see how it could not be.
‘through state resources’ – check. The deal was struck with the Irish tax authorities.
‘on a selective basis’ – check. Apple got a deal, as did other large companies like Google and Microsoft. Mama and Papa’s Pizza Place, not so much.
‘distort competition and trade’ – check. When one company pays one fifth of the tax rate paid by competitors, that massively distorts competition.
And similar deals in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have already been declared illegal. So the case that Ireland broke the law seems to me cut-and-dried: it did.
I said earlier that Apple hasn’t broken the law, which means it’s not on the hook for penalties or charges. But it is on the hook for the difference between the tax it actually paid and the tax it should have paid. Which is the difference between 2.5% and 12.5%. On all of the revenue Apple funnelled through Ireland from the whole of Europe. For ten years. That’s a lot of money.
Apple last year told shareholders that it was unable to say just how much money that would amount to, only that it would be a ‘material’ amount – where ‘material’ is finance-speak for ‘a shedload.’
If the European Commission were to conclude against Ireland, the European Commission could require Ireland to recover from the Company past taxes covering a period of up to 10 years reflective of the disallowed state aid. While such amount could be material, as of March 28, 2023 the Company is unable to estimate the impact.
But that hasn’t stopped others doing the sums. Bloomberg estimated the total tax liability at more than $8B.
But Apple’s potential European tax liabilities don’t necessarily end there. A number of European countries have questioned the legality of Apple funneling profits from sales in their country back to Ireland. Those countries believe Apple should be paying tax in the country where the sales were made.
Some European countries have done more than question the arrangements: they have flat out rejected them. Italy, for example, last year accused Apple of failing to declare more than $1.3B of income earned from 16 Italian Apple Stores, and presented the company with an additional tax bill for €318M ($347M). Apple paid up.
If other European countries do the same, it could face similar bills from countries across Europe, with the total potentially running into more than a billion dollars, taking that $8B estimate to upwards of $9B.
Finally, if you’re in any doubt about the eventual outcome of the investigation, you need to consider the politics. At a time when European economies are – like the U.S. one – still struggling, there is enormous public anger at the idea of large companies being able to get away with paying less than their fair share of tax.
A deal struck between Google and the British government, where the company paid just £130M ($185M) for back taxes covering ten years was roundly condemned not just by the public but by Britain’s own public spending watchdog – and is itself likely to be investigated by the European Commission. Starbucks had to change its own accounting system so that it stopped funneling most of the profits from its UK coffee shops back to offshore accounts after being faced by customer boycotts. Amazon too had to agree to pay UK tax on sales to UK customers in the face of public anger.
So my view is that both the law and the public mood is clear. Apple is likely on the hook to hand over more than $9B in back taxes – or around three times the amount it paid for its largest ever acquisition, Beats. That’s got to sting. But with cash reserves of around $200B in the bank, perhaps not too much.
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Apple’s Mac sales shot up 50 per cent year-on-year in April, driving a 46 per cent spike in revenue, according to the NPD Group.
NPD also revealed that – far from slowing down – iPod sales also jumped 15 per cent that month. And Lehman Brothers analyst Ben Reitzes reckons new Mac laptops – equipped with MacBook Air-type touch technology – are on the way. (And maybe more).
“Checks are indicating that the attractive look of the Air may make its way into other models in terms of slimmer, metallic designs. We believe these notebooks will be popular for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons,” the analyst said. Oddly, that’s what we were saying last week…pegging the date as July-ish…(We predicted the iMac intro a month early too, fact fans).
It’s just the latest in a string of industry trend-beating news from Apple Inc. As 9 to 5 Mac reported (before the majority of the Mac web) earlier this week, NPD figures show Apple to be the brand of choice in the high-end laptop market. An astonishing 66 per cent of laptops sold in the US costing $1,000 or more are made by Apple. While Apple’s share falls to just 14 per cent in the sub-$1,000 bracket, it’s an incredibly significant figure all the same. (And yeah, we know those Windows Fanboys will begin to chunder on about how the only Mac we can buy for under $1,000 is the Mac mini, get over it, those cheap PCs just don’t offer the same degree of utility, usability or features as a Mac, and run a second-rate OS).
Apple’s making market gains through a combination of factors: superior operating system, better-featured and aesthetically-designed Macs, a world-class retail store chain, and the increasingly vapid WIndows market. Apple’s iPod and iPhone have put the corporate brand into consumer minds, meaning that 50 per cent of Macs sold through Apple’s retail stores are going to users new to the platform.
High-tech also counts: I think many experienced industry watchers missed the significance of the MacBook Air when it shipped: but the whole notion of a computer you can put inside an envelope has caught on on the streets, people remember this. Which is why Apple’s recent 10Q noted: “The increases in Mac net sales and unit sales were driven primarily by sales of the new MacBook Air, introduced in January 2008, and higher sales of the iMac and other Mac portable systems.”
Proof of the pudding’s in the eating: Mac unit growth reached 51 per cent and 48 per cent in the second quarter of Q2 and first six months of 2008 respectively – exceeding the industry average.
Apple’s laptop sales climbed 61 per cent, with 2.29 million Macs sold in Q2, 1.433 million of Macs sold were laptops.
Surging Mac sales caused Apple CEO Steve Jobs to reflect last October: “The question is, are we headed for a tipping point, it sometimes feels like that.”
IDC claims 23.5 million computers were sold in the first quarter of 2008 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, which is equivalent to 19 per cent sales growth over Q1 2007. Apple’s overall Mac sales in Europe climbed 45 per cent in the March quarter.
And the effect? Apple accounted for 7.58 per cent of all US Internet users in March, up near 15 per cent, year-on-year. And Apple is now the leading supplier of laptops within the US education markets.
So while those inexpensive PCs may dominate the market share numbers, when it comes to users looking to make a serious computing investment in order to actually, you know, do stuff, Apple’s growing share and dominance in the $1,000-plus category promises great things…
….and isn’t the Mac mini due an upgrade soon? With near $20 billion in the bank, is there any real reason now Apple can’t ramp-up its competitiveness at the lower end of the market? (Not one they’ve traditionally played in, I agree).
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Most computer keyboards have a total of 104 buttons or keys.
These can differ slightly between different keyboard manufacturers, as well as depending on the country in which the keyboard is designed for. However, in most cases, the number of keyboard keys will stay around this number.
If you’re looking for a new keyboard and are looking on Amazon or eBay for a regular-sized piece of equipment to use in an English-speaking country, the keyboard will most likely have 104 keys.
Of course, not every country uses the same alphabet, though. Some countries are very similar to English but also include accents, umlauts, cedillas, and more. Some keyboards will include extra keys for these characters, whilst others require shortcuts to access them.
Other languages are non-alphabetic, such as Chinese, which is based on characters, or Japanese, which is based on syllables. These again require different keyboard hardware or software to write on a computer.
Let’s explore further to find out the different types of keyboards we have, how they are laid out, and some uses of the F keys on the keyboard.
There are many types of keyboards, and they don’t just vary by language. Keyboards can be used for a wide range of tasks, from programming to gaming to flexible portability.
These are the common keyboards you’re probably accustomed to seeing and using in the English-speaking world. QWERTY keyboards are so named because starting from the top left and moving right in the letter section spells out QWERTY.
So, if you want something comfortable and familiar to you and millions of others, a QWERTY keyboard is probably the way to go.
When typing with this type of keyboard, people achieve very high word-per-minute rates while putting no strain on their fingers or brain.
They’re also ideal for a shared computer because they’re easy for children to use and will be familiar to other adults as well.
Many people are slowly switching from laptops to tablets as they later become more powerful and provide many of the same functions that a laptop can.
The one thing clearly missing from the screen-only device, however, is the keyboard. For those looking to spend long periods of time typing, the on-screen keyboard is often too much of a pain. The software was designed for quick Internet searches or for sending and receiving instant messages, not serious word processing.
These are where portable keyboards come in handy. Much like tablets, they are easy to carry around to keep your work or fun going whilst on the move.
However, portability commonly comes at the expense of size and, thus, an insufficient range of keys. The second set of number keys and the function keys that run along the top of standard keyboards are frequently missing from portable keyboards.
This means the keyboard can take up less space and fit in your backpack or possibly even your pocket!
However, with modern technology, even more inventive methods of making keyboards portable have emerged. It is no longer necessary to cut sections of traditional keyboards to make room. Some people are already altering keyboard materials to make them foldable or even rollable.
This means that a piece of equipment that would normally be longer than your forearm can be rolled up and put in your pocket like a newspaper. So, your keyboard could have a full range of keys and still be perfectly portable.
That’s right, 104 keys are fitting snugly in your back pocket!
Be warned, however, that these foldable and rollable keyboards are often lacking in terms of consistency once they’re fully laid out. Key hits are not as easily registered, and you’re unlikely to have the same ease of use as you would with an everyday QWERTY keyboard designed for use at home.
Some keyboards are built without any number keys, meaning you’ll have at least ten fewer keys. These are often built for portability so that you could miss 30 or even more keys.
This means they’re smaller and easier to carry around but can become a pain if you want to sit down and get some serious work done, which often includes regularly needing numbers.
Numeric keyboards are nifty little additions you can get your hands on that usually have between 9 and 18 keys. These can be plugged in or wirelessly connected alongside your numberless main keyboard so that you can have a full set-up.
Some lines of work may even be so number-intensive that the tiny numeric keypad can be your solitary keyboard in some cases. It’s likely to be even more portable than any portable “normal” keyboard that you’d otherwise carry around.
Either way, these can be seen as a useful set of keys to have on their own or a sometimes essential addition to an otherwise incomplete keyboard set you may have.
The main function of ergonomic keyboards is to allow you to type with as little physical strain as possible. These still usually retain the overall QWERTY layout of a regular keyboard but will be laid out in different shapes.
Ergonomic keyboards are designed so that your hands can rest and type in a more comfortable way, and in the long term, will have less wear and tear on your hands and fingers.
If you spend a lot of time with your keyboards or are concerned about the strain on your hands, wrists, and posture, then ergonomic keyboards are worth looking at.
In most cases, you will still have access to the full range of 104 keys and are also less likely to develop medical conditions that are usually related to typing, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Sometimes they are split into two separate pieces that can be moved for your preferred way to type. Often, the left piece is smaller and may hold around 30 to 40 of the overall keys, but this varies between different designs.
You will usually have to spend a little bit of extra money to get an ergonomic keyboard, but you will still have access to all of the keys you would get on a regular keyboard and have an even more comfortable time using all of them.
Gaming keyboards are in some ways similar to ergonomic keyboards in that they have utility in mind.
Gamers often spend hours frantically hitting away at buttons, and so it’s crucial they have a well-made piece of tech so they don’t strain themselves and can play well.
These bits of hardware will have all the keys you need and more. Often there is thought put into the aesthetic design of gaming keyboards and the function so that you may see keys included that change the backlight or provide shortcuts to screen-capturing tools.
Portable gaming keyboards also exist, although they are a rarity come by. These will have fewer keys but will still be designed to let you navigate the core tenets of the game in a non-strenuous way and hopefully look good whilst doing so.
The pieces of tech that they lead up to, such as everyday keyboards, are still undoubtedly useful but can be a bit of an eyesore.
They are also not always ideal for traveling, with wires getting tangled, taking up extra space in your suitcase, and possibly getting in other people’s way on your journey.
The introduction of wireless keyboards has threatened to end much of that.
If you were previously tired of all the space on your desk is taken up by wires, then you may feel more comfortable getting a fully-keyed keyboard if it operates wirelessly and doesn’t make your working space look like a mess.
If you’re willing to risk running out of charge every now and then or are happy to trust in your ability to charge your keyboard regularly, then picking a Bluetooth piece of equipment is a great shout.
They’re also much better for many portable devices, which are often low on USB slots and so may not always be a reasonable choice for typing with a wired keyboard.
Both wired and wireless keyboards can be found with the full 104 keys or less.
Portable keyboards are more and more frequently also wireless, and so these are more likely to have less than the full 104 keys, but it should always be possible to check before making a purchase.
These two keyboards come with very similar shapes and layouts, but there’s a different feel between them when you’re typing.
Membrane keyboards are produced so that there is no space between each key. Each button is pressure sensitive since the keyboard’s surface is flat, meaning there’s no physical differentiation between each key.
These are usually very cheap but come with another big benefit that makes people choose them over a mechanical keyboard sometimes, regardless of the price.
Pressing a key on a membrane keyboard is silent, meaning you can type away to your heart’s content without worrying about disturbing anyone else.
Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, are designed more like old-fashioned typewriters. They still use the QWERTY layout in most cases, as is the case with membrane keyboards, and are what most adults today will be most familiar with.
They’re more expensive than membrane keyboards on average but are reliable when it comes to recognizing when a key has been hit, and they are usually durable.
The space between keys and the feel of individual springs and switches that make up the distinctive feel of a mechanical keyboard also allows many writers to find a comfortable rhythm when using them and hit their highest words per minute rates.
As you can see, there are many different ways that keyboards are made, but did you know there’s actually a great deal of variety in how the keys are placed on them too?
Even within languages that use the Latin alphabet, you can find different designs of how the keys are laid out. The main ones are the QWERTY layout, which we’ve already discussed, and the QWERTZ and AZERTY layouts.
The QWERTZ layout is mainly used in central Europe and, like the QWERTY layout, is named after the first six letters of the top left of the keyboard. It’s the primary layout of choice in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, and others.
The main difference this has the QWERTY keyboard is that the Z and Y keys are switched, mainly due to patterns in the German language. These include Z coming up much more frequently than Y, and Z and U spelling Zu, meaning ‘to’, making them ideal candidates to be placed next to each other.
The AZERTY layout is often used in countries such as France, Belgium, and Russia, although it is not necessarily always the main layout in those countries. There are variations within the AZERTY layout depending on the country in which it is produced for.
This layout goes back almost as far as the QWERTY layout, first being used at the end of the 19th century in France. That country still spends much time deliberating over the ideal layout for typing its language.
These countries still normally have 104 keys, with normal variations between different types of keyboards, such as portable and numeric devices.
Different combinations of keys are used, too, such as the Alt Gr T being used to put an accent above a typed E.
Some people also use the Dvorak keyboard layout. This was invented in the 1930s by Dr August Dvorak; his intention was to make typing as fast and efficient as possible.
This was done by putting the consonants and vowels that are most common on the home (middle) letter row, aside from U.
It is hard to measure accurately just how fast typists can churn out words using this layout since there is not a wide enough pool of users to compare it to QWERTY typists accurately.
However, the evidence that is available suggests that people who are used to the Dvorak keyboard can type as fast, if not faster, than those using QWERTY keyboards. There are also indicators that can help with the accuracy of typing.
The problem is encouraging the transition; with so many people already used to QWERTY keyboards, the teething period of trying to introduce a new layout widely would be painful for many keyboard users.
However, it’s easy enough to see if you like a different layout from the comfort of your own home. Almost all keyboards can be adjusted with the right software to change what appears on the screen with the same inputs.
It is easy to buy sticker sets online of all 104 keys that let you essentially remap the layout of your keyboard. With these, you could turn your QWERTY keyboard into a Dvorak keyboard or any other layout you wish.
If you’re really willing to commit, you cannot even buy keycap pullers, which let you remove the tops of your keys and place them down as you see fit.
If you’ve been typing for years, don’t expect the transition to be easy or quick. It will take a long time for your muscle memory to readjust, but you may get even better results when using a different layout.
However, expect a lot of complaints from unsuspecting people who come to use your keyboard if they’re suddenly faced with a completely different layout from what they are used to.
With most keyboards designed for desktops, you can be quite confident that there will be 104 keys available to you.
With laptops, however, there is a lot more variation as manufacturers are forced to consider how well the keyboard matches the screen whilst keeping things easy to use and providing you with enough functional capability.
Often, it’s the numeric keyboard that ends up missing out. On full-sized keyboards, this runs along the row above the letters and lets you also type symbols and punctuation. This means that you’re looking at ten or so fewer keys.
In many cases, the function keys will be integrated with the number keys so that one can be accessed by holding the FN key.
You may also still have the number keys to the right of your keyboard, which you may not be used to using but are just as simple to utilize once you get used to their position.
For the smallest laptops, you may just have access to the letter keys and a few more essentials. These could have as few as 50 keys, though one way or another, you should still be able to carry out all the same tasks, even if it requires a few extra steps.
The F keys, also known as Function keys, provide you with some handy ways of navigating and making the most of your computer.
They are usually lined across the top of your keyboard and labeled F1 through to F12. Their use can change depending on your computer or what program you’re using. Let’s have a look at some of the most commonly used and helpful function keys.
F2, F3, and F4 – On many computers, these are used to mute the volume, turn the volume down, and turn the volume up, respectively. Sometimes you’ll also have to hold the Fn key to access these functions. This is usually much easier than opening the taskbar or settings to change the volume.
F5 – This is mainly used as a shortcut for refreshing a browser page. Almost all modern internet browsers include this function. Holding the Ctrl key simultaneously will force a complete refresh, meaning the cache is also cleared, and everything is loaded from scratch.
F8 – Often used to enter the Windows start-up menu or access Windows Safe Mode, depending on what part of your computer’s software you’re currently navigating.
F10 – Used to enter BIOS set-up when the computer is booting, this key is indispensable to anyone who’s looking to fix a seriously damaged computer or is hoping to create a split partition or install a new operating system on their machine.
F11 – Allows you to enter full-screen mode on most modern browsers and many other programs. So don’t worry if the X in the top right corner suddenly disappears; you can still use this key to return to safety whenever you want!
F12 – Used both alone and in conjunction with other keys for a vast array of functions in Microsoft Word, such as opening, printing, or saving a document.
This is a long way from the full list of potential uses you can get out of the function keys. If you’re really confident, you can even map out your own uses for them.
Most new programs you see nowadays will also include a guide that lays out what keys can be used for. From speeding up your work tasks to improving your gaming performance, the function keys are just as important as many of the other keys on a keyboard!
That’s all there is to it. A detailed explanation of the number of keys on a computer keyboard.
Even though 104 keys are the most common number of keys on a computer keyboard, keep in mind that not all keyboards are made the same, so the number of keys on some keyboards may vary.
We hope you found this guide to be as useful as possible.
In April, I decided to give Spotify a try over Apple Music. As an Apple Music subscriber since day one, I always wondered how it was using Apple’s most important competitor in the music streaming war. After almost a month, I finally decided whether I’m going to stay as a Spotify subscriber or switch back to Apple Music.
To avoid rehashing what I’ve written in the past, here are some links to my previous coverage on the comparison between Apple Music and Spotify.
Without further ado, I’m moving back to Apple Music, here’s why:Apple One, Apple Watch app, and music library
Three things will keep me using Apple Music over Spotify and, for me, they are a pretty big deal.
Starting with Apple One, I think is more convenient to pay one subscription for a lot of services rather than paying only Spotify for one service. With the Apple One Family plan, I have 200GB of iCloud storage, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music, and I can share all of these services with my family. For $19.95 a month, I have way more benefits instead of paying $9.99 per month for Spotify individual plan or $16.99 for a family subscription that only includes the music service.
Another big deal is the Apple Watch app. I’m used to exercising without my iPhone nearby and the Apple Music app is way more useful. I can easily select my playlists and search among all the artists, albums, and songs that I have. I can even download playlists and albums for offline listening, which is currently unavailable on the Spotify Apple Watch app.
I also found the Spotify app a bit clunky. After two years without offering an Apple Watch app, Spotify still needs to make some improvements over its recently-launch app.
Finally, during this month, I really missed the ability to check my library with all my songs. Rather than just choosing a playlist, or album, or an artist, I just love having all my downloaded songs in one place. I also noticed how weird is the fact that I can’t download/add a single song on Spotify. I have to add or download the entire album. Can I just enjoy one song? Do I have to like all of them?Spotify: The good, the bad, and what I’ll miss the most
Now I have to go back and talk about Spotify. It is indeed a really great service and anyone who is already subscribed to it is for sure happy. The thing I enjoyed the most about using Spotify was its macOS app.
I don’t listen to a lot of songs with the Music app on the Mac but with Spotify I did. It’s an easy interface to use, I can check what my friends are listening to, and I just enjoyed it a lot. In fact, this is the place where I listen to music the most.
I’ll also miss the playlists created by artists. I know Apple Music has the same feature, but Spotify gives you additional ways to connect with artists and learn about their favorite songs and inspirations.
One thing that I didn’t appreciate about Spotify, apart from the lack of a proper library with my songs, is how much it wants me to try its playlists. Over my one month with Spotify, I felt like I was listening less to the things I already like because of Spotify’s emphasis on discovering new music.
And every time I listened to a different artist, Spotify tried hard to give me a playlist with the band and another one hundred similar artists. Again, this meant that I started listening less and less to albums and songs I already enjoyed and stayed on a loop with the same three to four everyday artists.
Two other things I felt were missing from Apple Music were a private listening mode and collaborative playlists. I always complained about Apple Music was the lack of a private listening option and creating playlists with my friends. It may have been related to the pandemic and not going out, but I actually didn’t use either of these features.
In a way, it feels like Memoji or the Slofie thing Apple promoted a few years back: it’s good to know they exist, you may try them once or twice, but with time you just forget about them. Of course, I’d be happy if Apple Music implemented these features, but now I know they’re not as important as I initially thought.
Also, I don’t think is a great idea to combo music and podcasts in the same area. I don’t know if anyone ever created a playlist with Taylor Swift songs and Office Ladies podcast episodes. It just feels weird. What about if I don’t like podcasts at all? Do I have to receive all these recommendations every day?Wrap-up
Again, I enjoyed using Spotify a lot and I think the HiFi subscription tier is going to be a great addition to the service – I hope Apple Music follows the same path. I also found it was funny how different I experience music with distinct services.
Apple Music feels more personal while Spotify seems like “Here’s what everybody is listening to, you should try it too.”
In the long term, there’s not a right or wrong answer about what is the best music streaming service. You have to think about the devices you use to listen to music, how much are you willing to pay, and how you like to experience music.
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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced today it added Apple and Nordic Semiconductor to its board of directors. According to a statement, both companies were appointed for two years by unanimous vote of the current board of directors and will officially begin on July 1, 2011. Nordic Semiconductor is well-versed in wireless health sensors, a fit for the lower power requirements of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard.
Apple, of course, has a penchant for industry verticals such as medical where its iPad has become the physicians’ favorite tool (especially in Australia). Apple’s appointment to Bluetooth SIG’s board of directors might also help popularize dedicated wireless accessories for iOS devices, such as this dongle that lets you take your own electrocardiograph readouts. Full release below.Bluetooth SIG Adds Apple and Nordic Semiconductor to Board of Directors Industry Leaders Support Expansion of Bluetooth Technology into New Markets
Kirkland, WA – June 21, 2011 – The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today announced two new members to its board of directors from Apple and Nordic Semiconductor. Leaders in their perspective markets, Apple and Nordic join household names Intel, Motorola, Lenovo, Nokia, Microsoft, Ericsson AB, and Toshiba on the Bluetooth SIG board. These companies, plus the more than 14,500 additional Bluetooth SIG member companies, will drive Bluetooth technology’s expansion into platform and sensor markets.
“We see the importance of platform development and ultra-low power sensor silicon for Bluetooth technology and believe guidance and board participation from Apple and Nordic, industry leaders in these perspective fields, is essential,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “We have set the ambitious goal of shipping five billion devices in 2023 – to get there we must continue to build a technology that will offer a simple and secure solution that can be found everywhere, in every type of device. These additions to our board will ensure we succeed in new markets we have targeted for growth.”
The way consumers utilize digital devices is undergoing a fundamental shift – mobile phones, laptops and tablets, TVs and even cars now stand to serve as hub devices that capture data from small sensors monitoring everything from footsteps, heart rate activity, blood pressure and sugar levels to house temperature. Hub devices turn that data into useful information at the application layer, then may push that information to the cloud. Apple and Nordic understand this shift; insight from Apple on platform development and Nordic for sensor silicon demands will ensure a smooth growth trajectory of Bluetooth v4.0 into these new areas.
Nordic Semiconductor’s Svein-Egil Nielsen brings extensive experience in R&D as well as his entrepreneurial spirit to the Bluetooth SIG. Nielsen’s vast understanding of the ultra-low power space and its demands will help guide continued development of the Bluetooth v4.0 specification.
“Bluetooth technology has been the main R&D focus at Nordic for the last six years and we are now in a position to enable new and exciting products for consumers,” said Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO Nordic Semiconductor. “ With our success in ultra-low power wireless technology, we know the market, applications and the customers. Nordic is proud to have the opportunity to extend this knowledge to the Bluetooth community.”
Apple and Nordic’s two-year appointments were agreed upon by unanimous vote of the current board of directors and will officially begin on July 1, 2011.
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