What's Up With Apple: iOS 14.5 in the Wild, New Apple Silicon and More

The long-awaited update to iOS has finally been released into the wild. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) on Monday officially released iOS 14.5, an update to the operating system the company first released to the public less than a year ago in September. A new iPad OS 14.5 was released at the same time.

The most publicized change in the new operating system is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature that requires apps to ask for and receive permission from people to track their movements among apps. Other features include a Face ID upgrade that will work for people wearing masks, new voices for Siri, support for hardware tracking gizmos called AirTags, and a host of other changes and improvements in various Apple apps.

A report in Nikkei Asia claims that Apple has begun producing its next-generation M2 silicon. Apple, of course, has said nothing one way or the other, but the rumored chip could begin quantity production in July, just in time for the typical fall product announcement. The odds-on favorite now is the new M2 chip will be used in the company’s MacBook line, most likely in the MacBook Pro. By the way, M2 may not even be the official name.

According to a report from 9to5Mac, additional connections for Thunderbolt and for more than one external monitor are among the features that will be added to the next-gen chip. Apple could also increase the number of computing and graphics cores from eight each in the M1 chip to as many as 20. The M2, like its predecessor, would have integrated CPU, graphics, and neural engine capabilities.

Also on Monday, Apple announced that it had increased its planned five-year goal set in 2018 of spending $350 billion on U.S. investments to $430 billion. The company said that the investments include “tens of billions of dollars for next-generation silicon development and 5G innovation” in nine states.

The headline feature is a new Apple campus in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina that the company said eventually would include at least 3,000 new jobs. Apple reported 147,000 total employees last year, about 90,000 of which are spread across all 50 states. In its announcement, Apple claims it supports 2.7 million American jobs through “direct employment, spending with US suppliers and manufacturers, and developer jobs in the thriving iOS app economy,” and that the company “is the largest taxpayer in the US and has paid almost $45 billion in domestic corporate income taxes over the past five years alone.”

The Financial Times reported Tuesday morning that, by the end of this week, the European Union’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, plans to charge Apple with using anti-competitive practices in violation of EU law. The report cited “several people with direct knowledge of the announcement.”

The rumored charges would be the result of a 2019 complaint from music streaming company Spotify, alleging the same sorts of charges Apple faces in the United States in a lawsuit brought by Fortnite developer Epic Games.