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Apple drops hint firm is developing a car
Apple's operations chief Jeff Williams has dropped the biggest hint yet that the firm is developing a car.
Speaking at the Code Conference, he was asked about industries Apple might pursue with its large cash hoard.
His answer: 'The car is the ultimate mobile device.' Williams then quickly added: 'We're exploring a lot of different markets.'
He said that the deciding factor in choosing new businesses is not the opportunity for revenue growth, but 'which ones are ones we think we can make a huge amount of difference.'
The answer comes a few months after claims that Apple has several hundred employees working secretly toward an Apple-branded electric vehicle.
However, when pressed, Williams referred to the potential for Car Play, a service introduced by Apple last year to allow drivers to access Apple services like iTunes music, maps and Siri through a vehicle's dashboard information system.
Williams also revealed Apple will next month will take a step toward making the Apple Watch more independent of the iPhone.
He said Apple will offer a developer kit to allow non-Apple apps to run apps natively on the Watch and access the device's sensors.
Until now, third-party apps have run on the iPhone, not directly on the Watch.
Williams said there are more than 4,000 apps available for the Watch.
The kit will be unveiled at Apple's developer conference starting June 8.
Williams said the new Watch apps will appear in the fall.
However, he refused to be drawn on how many devices had been shipped.
'Demand divided by supply is greater than one. That's all I've got. It's a lot,' he told interviewer Walt Mossberg.
He also revealed that over the recent holiday quarter, Apple shipped 74 million iPhones - so many that, if stacked they would reach the International Space Station.
'They were built, produced and shipped in 90 days,' Williams said.
He also hit back at questions about labour conditions at factories in China, and revealed that following a spate of suicides at one Foxconn facility in 2010, he and CEO Tim Cook personally investigated the issue.
'We learned it had nothing to do with working conditions,' Williams said, echoing an observation Apple co-founder once made about the suicide rate at Foxconn.
'[The factory had a] lower suicide rate at their biggest cluster than any place in the US.
'By that standard, it's the happiest place on earth.'
Williams also revealed Apple will next month will take a step toward making the Apple Watch more independent of the iPhone. Photo / AP
The interview can amid claims Apple has several hundred employees developing its own electric car at a secret lab.
Apple-owned cars was spotted fitted with Street View-style cameras.
'Dozens of Apple employees, led by experienced managers from its iPhone unit, are researching automotive products at a confidential Silicon Valley location outside the company's Cupertino campus,' the FT claims it was told by sources close to Apple.
It says the Apple research lab was set up late last year - meaning any car could still be years away.
It is believed Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive is overseeing the lab, and the Bentley owning designer is known to be a car enthusiast.
The FT says one of its sources initially believe the project was Apple's in-car entertainment system, known as CarPlay - but now believes it is something more.
'Three months ago I would have said it was CarPlay. Today I think it's a car.'
The Wall Street Journal says that hundreds of employees are working on the project, codenamed Titan.
It says CEO Tim Cook approved the project close to a year ago with product design Vice President Steve Zadesky leading the group.
His LinkedIn page reveals he was previously an engineer at Ford.
'I love helping to create new product spaces and delivering challenging new technologies,' his biography says.
'At Apple I have been lucky enough to help build and lead the teams for the first iPod, first iPhone, all subsequent iPhones and iPods as well as hundreds of Apple branded accessory products.'
Zadesky 'was given permission to create a 1,000-person team and poach employees from different parts of the company.'
'The project, code-named 'Titan,' has an initial design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan,' its sources claim.
Apple also recently hired former Mercedes-Benz R&D head Johann Jungwirth, who joined Apple as a Mac systems engineering leader last fall.
A source claiming to be an Apple employee has hinted that the giant is developing a vehicle as part of a project that 'will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.'