New Profile Delves Into Background of Jony Ive Successor Jeff Williams

When Jony Ive announced that he is leaving Apple to start his own design firm, Apple confirmed that chief operating officer Jeff Williams is set to oversee many of the product design responsibilities previously held by Ive. In a new profile today by The Wall Street Journal, Williams' history at Apple is highlighted, including his potential as a future successor to CEO Tim Cook.

According to people who work closely with Williams, he has been "more visible" in the development of Apple products than Cook. Williams has displayed interest in the look and feel of certain products, and helped pivot the Apple Watch away from its fashion-focused launch to one predominantly concerned with health and fitness features that can be achieved without a connected iPhone.

Additionally, Williams was on the product development team that was responsible for the iPhone 4, and his contributions reportedly "quieted doubters" within Apple about his ability to contribute to the design stage. One unnamed source described Williams' knowledge in a thermal-engineering meeting: "It was impressive for a negotiator, and spreadsheet guy, and it just came naturally to him."

Yet, some people wonder if Williams' executive skills are enough to lead Apple product design, and live up to Ive's legacy.
Mr. Williams is an operations executive at his core, the people said, and his skills at logistics and planning make him more implementer than inventor. “He sees where we are, not where we need to be in years to come,” said a former colleague, who also praised Mr. Williams’s leadership, versatility and encyclopedic memory.
Apple chose to promote from within instead of finding outside blood to replace Ive, which analyst Bob O'Donnell said would have been almost impossible anyway. "What they're doing is saying, 'let's reallocate how we think about this and put someone else overseeing a few young designers to give them leeway.' It’s time for fresh blood. The last few iPhones have looked really similar."

Many of WSJ's sources wondered about Apple's future and what its next major product invention will be, and how that will be achieved without Ive's leadership. "You could have looked at Jony and said: 'He's the soul of Steve Jobs,'" said Ensemble Capital president Sean Stannard-Stockton. "I just wonder about their ability to invent the future now."

Ive is set to leave Apple sometime later this year.


This article, "New Profile Delves Into Background of Jony Ive Successor Jeff Williams" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple COO Jeff Williams ‘Very Aware Of’ Concerns Over Apple Product Cost

Apple COO Jeff Williams spoke at Elon University on Friday, Feb. 22 and spoke of his history in joining Apple in 1998. The Times News covers his talk in detail. Williams also took questions from students in the audience. One student asked Williams if Apple had any plans to reduce prices considering the seemingly large margins on Apple products based on analyst reports.

Williams dismissed those reports, suggesting the actual cost of development isn't considered:
“The stories that come out about the cost of our products [have been] the bane of my existence from the beginning of time, including our early days,” Williams said. “Analysts don’t really understand the cost of what we do and how much care we put into making our products.”
He goes on to explain that to build the Apple Watch's activity tracker, Apple built a physiology lab with 40 nurses and 10,000 participants. Still, Williams conceded it's an area that they are paying attention to:
“It’s something we’re very aware of,” he said. “We do not want to be an elitist company. That’s not — we want to be an egalitarian company, and we’ve got a lot of work going on in developing markets.”
The Times News article goes on to cover Williams' talk about his reasons for joining Apple back in 1998, as well as how it feels to be part of a company that has been so successful.

Pricing on Apple's flagship phones has been cited as a factor in iPhone sales underperformance in the last quarter. Apple's flagship iPhone has increased in price over the years with the most recent iPhone XS Max starting at $1099.

Related Roundup: iPhone XS
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XS (Neutral)

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Apple Watch Chief Jeff Williams Says ECG App is ‘Huge Opportunity’ to Empower People About Their Health

Apple today announced that its ECG app will be available on the Apple Watch Series 4 today as part of watchOS 5.1.2. Alongside that news, TIME has published a new interview with Apple's CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams.


The article begins with a story about 46-year-old Texas resident Kevin Foley, who was having trouble breathing normally during a movie. Fortunately, since he was wearing an Apple Watch and participating in the recent Apple Heart Study, he was alerted to signs of an irregular heartbeat and went to the emergency room.

At the hospital, doctors hooked Foley up to an ECG machine and found signs of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke and other potentially fatal complications. Foley spent the next few days in the hospital while doctors worked to return him to a normal sinus heart rhythm and is doing fine now.

"We have tens of millions of watches on people's wrists, and we have hundreds of millions of phones in people's pockets," said Williams. "There's a huge opportunity to empower people with more information about their health. So this is something we view as not only an opportunity, but a responsibility of ours."

"Apple's largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people's health and well-being," Cook boldly proclaimed.

The report says a traditional hospital ECG is often referred to as a "12-lead" machine, as its 10 different electrodes provide information on 12 different areas of the heart. The new Apple Watch is the equivalent of only a single-lead device, but research suggests the ECG app is still very accurate.

In a press release, Apple said the accuracy of its ECG app was validated in a clinical trial with around 600 participants. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying atrial fibrillation:
Rhythm classification from a gold standard 12-lead ECG by a cardiologist was compared to the rhythm classification of a simultaneously collected ECG from the ECG app. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6 percent specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. In the study, 87.8 percent of recordings could be classified by the ECG app.
"The FDA has been very rigorous, and they should be," said Williams, referring to the Apple Watch's heart health features.

The article goes on to claim that some cardiologists and other experts have raised concerns that the Apple Watch's ECG feature is "unnecessary for the general population" and "could cause problems," including false positives.

"If everybody with an Apple Watch and an alert from an Apple Watch went to a heart-rhythm doctor that was super comfortable with this, then I think it would be O.K.," said Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist. "But there are going to be millions of people going to the doctor that in many cases will be just fine."

Apple responded that no medical test is 100 percent accurate, so some false positives are inevitable, according to the report. Moreover, the Apple Watch will only alert users to a potential heart-related problem if it detects five instances of what it considers a cardiovascular episode, including arrhythmia.

Importantly, in an internal document obtained by MacRumors, Apple cautioned that the ECG app is "not intended to be a diagnostic device or to replace traditional methods of diagnosis," and "should not be used to monitor or track disease state or change medication without first talking to a doctor."

To take an ECG reading from the Apple Watch, users will need to place a finger on the Digital Crown while wearing the watch. The reading is completed in 30 seconds, allowing users to determine whether their hearts are beating in a regular pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation.

Irregular heart rhythm notifications will also be available on Apple Watch Series 1 through Series 4 models in watchOS 5.1.2.

Apple says the setup process for these heart health features will include details about who can use the features, what the features can and cannot do, what results users may get and how to interpret them, and instructions for what to do if users are feeling symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

watchOS 5.1.2 should be available through the Apple Watch app on a paired iPhone around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time as usual. At launch, the ECG app will be limited to the U.S., but Apple is likely working to get regulatory clearance elsewhere.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Apple’s Jeff Williams Speaks About Artificial Intelligence and More at TSMC’s 30th Anniversary Ceremony

Apple's operating chief Jeff Williams was in Taiwan today to attend the 30th anniversary ceremony of Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation, more commonly abbreviated as TSMC.


Williams first reflected on how Apple and TSMC began working together seven years ago. Today, TSMC is the exclusive supplier of the A10X Fusion and A11 Bionic processors in the latest iPhones and iPads.
First off, thank you. It's a real honor to be here with this distinguished group, and we're here of course to celebrate TSMC's 30 years. And it's amazing as you've seen in the slides, how far technology has been driven over that time. TSMC got its start shortly after the introduction of the legendary Cray II supercomputer, and 25 years later we put this same processing power in people's pockets with an iPhone 4 in 2010. It really is remarkable, and it was actually 2010 that the first seeds of our partnership between Apple and TSMC were planted.

I had flown to Taiwan and had dinner with Dr. Chang and Sophie at their house. It was a wonderful dinner. We were not doing business with TSMC at the time, but we had a great conversation. We talked about the possibilities of doing stuff together, and we knew the possibilities would be great if we could take leading edge technology and marry it with our ambitions. And what seems obvious now, wasn't then, because the risk was very substantial.

The nature of the way Apple does business is we put all of our energy into our new products, and we launch them, and if we were to bet heavily on TSMC, there would be no backup plan. You can not double plan the kind volumes that we do. We want leading edge technology, but we want it at established technology kind of volumes, and so that may be want Dr. Chang is referring to when he says "intense."
Williams said Apple and TSMC have gone on to ship over half a billion chips as part of a "wonderful partnership" between the two companies, in which billions of dollars has been invested to fulfill Apple's significant production demands.
…Together we decided to take the bet, take the leap, and Apple decided to have 100 percent of our new iPhone and new iPad chips, application processors, sourced at TSMC. And TSMC invested $9 billion and had 6,000 people working 'round the clock to bring up a Tainan fab in a record 11 months. And, in the end, the execution was flawless. And we've gone on together to ship over half a billion chips together in that short window. And I think TSMC has invested $25 billion. $9 billion on that first venture — there are very few companies in the world that $9 billion in capital across everything, not a single bet. So for that, we thank you, Dr. Chang, and everybody at TSMC. It's been a wonderful partnership.
Williams was asked to describe his vision of the next ten years in silicon, but he chose to reframe the question as "do we have enough processing power in our silicon to match our ambitions?" and answered accordingly.
It's interesting, when we look back a decade ago, the question we had was "do we have enough processing power in our silicon to match our ambitions?" The big challenge we had as we moved into the mobile revolution was this tradeoff between performance and power, and the view at the time is you had to choose — you've got one or the other.

Largely as a result of what the fabless model has done, what TSMC has done, what many people in this room have done, Simon and his organization from ARM — we have reached a point where those tradeoffs are not necessary. We have performance in thermally constrained environments. And so this opens up for the next decade a whole new world. So for the next decade, the question is not so much "Do we have enough processing power to meet our ambitions?" Though we need to keep working, of course we need to drive better lithography — don't slow down! — but I think the question for us is "Do we have the right ambitions to go utilize this technology in front of us?"
Williams went on to say that Apple thinks artificial intelligence and on-device processing will be key to the future of the semiconductor industry. He believes these advances will help to "revolutionize healthcare" for one example.
We at Apple are not concerned about the talk of a slowing semiconductor industry. Not the case at all. We think the potential is huge. We believe strongly in both the cloud side, but the future will be a lot of on-device processing. We believe this is the best way to deliver great features without sacrificing the responsiveness and the privacy and the security. We see in our brand-new A11 Bionic chip, which is made right here at TSMC, every time somebody takes a photo, there's over 100 billion operations. That's just mind-boggling. In a single photo, over 100 billion operations. The potential is limitless.

We put a neural engine on the chip, and I won't repeat some of the things that Jensen shared, but we have the same view and vision of the potential of AI to deliver a much safer and efficient autonomous system. The neural engine on our chip has already enabled Face ID, processed locally. And so we view that the next ten years is about the ambition to do what Simon's daughter is asking for, to make life better. And probably one of the most significant examples of this is our opportunity to use transistor technology advances and power scaling to revolutionize healthcare. We think the industry is ripe for change. We think there is tremendous potential to do on-device computing, to do cloud computing as well, and to take that learning, and through machine learning, deep learning, and ultimately artificial intelligence, change the way healthcare is delivered. And we can't think of anything more significant than this.

So I think the question in front of us is "Do we have the right ambitions, and can we go do this?" And there is no such thing as autonomous innovation. Human beings dream it. Human beings drive it. And sure, we'll have deep learning, but there's not autonomous innovation, so it's up to us, this generation over the next ten years, to take advantage of what is in front of us in the silicon world. We at Apple are really inspired, for those of us who started many years ago on a green monochrome computer screen, we're super inspired with the state we're in, and I'll just say this: If in the next ten years, from a society standpoint, we just do a few "gee-whiz" things like flying car kind of dreams, and then the rest of the time we're using the faster chips to do the same things we're doing faster, we will have squandered one of the biggest opportunities in front of us. I think we're at an inflection point, much like my colleagues, with on-device computing, coupled with the potential of AI, to really, really change the world. And we couldn't be more excited about it at Apple, and thank you for your time.
China's Economic Daily News reported that Williams also met with iPhone assembler Foxconn's chairman Terry Gou, but no further details were shared. An earlier report speculated that iPhone X production issues could be one focus.


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Apple COO Jeff Williams and Foxconn Chief Will Reportedly Meet Amid iPhone X Production Issues

Apple's operating chief Jeff Williams will reportedly meet Foxconn chairman Terry Gou later this month, following several reports about ongoing iPhone X production issues, according to Nikkei Asian Review.


While the report did not say which topics Gou and Williams will discuss, it said the two executives will presumably look at ways to deal with the manufacturing bottleneck for Apple's new high-end smartphone.

Williams will be visiting Taiwan for the 30th anniversary of TSMC, the sole supplier of the A11 Bionic chip in the latest iPhone models, the report said. A ceremony marking the celebration is scheduled for Monday.

Apple's suppliers are still struggling to perfect manufacturing of the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera and 3D facial recognition system, according to the report. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo highlighted the issues last month.

Multiple reports have claimed it has taken more time to assemble the TrueDepth system's so-called "Romeo" module than the "Juliet" module.

The "Romeo" module reportedly includes the dot projector that beams more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face, while the "Juliet" module includes the infrared camera that analyzes the pattern. Together, they help power new iPhone X features such as Face ID and Animoji.

Foxconn is the sole assembler of the iPhone X, while its subsidiary Sharp and LG Innotek are reportedly responsible for assembling the 3D sensor modules.

Today's report cited an industry executive who said that while the yield rate has improved, it has not yet reached a satisfactory level. The executive believes it's unlikely the yield rate will reach a level that will enable Apple's suppliers to churn out the iPhone X at their full capacity by the end of October.

Jeff Pu, an analyst with Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, recently cut his forecast of the number of iPhone X devices that will be produced this year from 40 million units to 36 million. It was the second time he has revised down his estimate, which originally totaled 45 million earlier this year.

iPhone X pre-orders begin one week from today in the United States and more than 55 other countries. The device launches November 3.

Related Roundup: iPhone X

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