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How Apple’s secret Exploratory Design Group makes magic happen


The Exploratory Design Group works at Tantau 9, this building on the Apple campus.
The Exploratory Design Group works at Tantau 9 on the Apple campus.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Few outside of Apple have ever heard of the company’s secretive Exploratory Design Group. However, the team includes many of Apple’s brightest minds — and is developing some of its most innovative products.

Despite the secrecy, the XDG made headlines recently when its project to add blood glucose monitoring to Apple Watch leaked out. Now more details on the group and its moonshot projects have come to light.

Apple ramps up R&D spending like there’s no tomorrow


One of Apple's shiny R&D investment centers where it invents the future.
Photo: Apple

Apple spent more money on research and development in the past quarter than it spent in any three-month period in the company’s history. Q3 2019 R&D spending also accounted for the largest proportion of Apple revenue since 2003, back when the iPod ruled as Apple’s biggest seller.

At a time when the iPhone no longer accounts for most of Apple’s revenue, this level of investment suggests that there are some big things in the works in Cupertino.

Apple spent close to $3 billion on R&D last quarter


One of Apple's many R&D centers. (This one is in Japan!)
Photo: Apple

Apple spent a whopping $2.94 billion on research and development last quarter, according to a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Apple R&D spending represents an increase of 6 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

While Apple keeps its plans close to its chest, it invests a tremendous amount of money on research and development to create the products we’ll be buying a year or more from now.

Tim Cook talks R&D, future collaboration with Japan’s prime minister


Tim Cook and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must be talking about the Note 7.
Photo: Sourikantei/Facebook

Apple CEO Tim Cook made a pit stop Friday at the office of Japan’s prime minister to talk about Apple’s growth in the country.

Cook told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Apple’s new R&D facility in Yokohama will be completed by December, well ahead of the projected date of March 2017. Apple says it hopes the new R&D facility near Tokyo will help it forge more local partnerships to source parts for future Apple products.

Apple has a secret ‘Project Titan’ R&D lab in Germany


What will the Apple Car look like? And, more importantly, what will it do?
Ich bin ein Apple Car user.
Photo: Motor Trend

It seems that research for Apple’s automotive “Project Titan” is picking up speed, with a newly published report claiming Cupertino has opened a small R&D office in Berlin — with the sole purpose of inventing the electric car of the future.

The new Apple car facility employs between 15 and 20 “top-class” employees, many of whom have previously worked in Germany’s buoyant automotive industry. Skills include everything from creating software to mechanical engineering and sales expertise.

How Apple’s super-secret Industrial Design team really works


Apple's Industrial Design team at the Apple Watch unveiling.
Apple's Industrial Design team at the Apple Watch unveiling.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

This feature is adapted from my book, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products. It offers a rare look inside one of Apple’s most secretive institutions: the Industrial Design studio.

Where do Apple’s great products come from?

For the last 18 years — since Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 — most of them have come out of Apple’s Industrial Design studio, a small and secretive group of creatives headed up by celebrated British designer Sir Jony Ive.

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Apple’s R&D spending proves innovation isn’t all about money


Apple hQ
Apple's building a new office in San Jose.
Photo: Apple

When it comes to innovation, Apple is proving that it’s not all about the money.

While competitors like Google, Facebook and Qualcomm dump huge percentages of their revenue back into R&D on projects like autonomous cars and Internet drones, a recent Bloomberg report highlights how Apple has gotten the biggest bang for its buck in R&D, despite spending less than any other major tech company.

From hobby to hero: The history of Apple TV


Apple TV
Apple TV was a hobby for years. Until it wasn't.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple just keeps trying to crack the lucrative nut known as your living room. From a gimmicky Macintosh TV in the 1990s to a “hobby” Apple TV in the mid-2000s, Cupertino keeps trying to come up with ultimate digital hub for our homes.

So far, Apple has failed to deliver a magical device that will tame all our televisions. Here’s a brief history of Apple’s TV efforts — a two-decade push aimed at ensconcing an Apple machine at the center of our domestic universe — ahead of next week’s likely Apple TV refresh.

Apple revs up R&D spending amid iCar rumors


Apple raked in the cash last quarter.
Apple is splurging on R&D.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Amid continuing rumors that it might be building an electric car, Apple revealed that is has boosted its research-and-development spending by $1.5 billion this year.

While Apple is dumping more money into R&D, it’s been able to trim costs in other areas. In its Securities and Exchange Commission filing for the fiscal quarter that ended June 27, Apple lowered its capital-spending projections for the year by 8 percent, which could amount to $1 billion in savings.

Apple’s Japanese R&D center will focus on materials, vehicles and health research


Apple's shiny new Japanese R&D center.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s upcoming R&D center in Yokohama will allow the company to tap into the materials, vehicles and health expertise that exists in Japan, according to a new report.

The R&D facility — which will be Apple’s biggest in Asia — will join similar offices in the U.K., China and Israel.