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Motorola's New P30 Smartphone Blatantly Copies iPhone X

Motorola's latest P30 smartphone is making headlines this week, but not for an impressive feature set or a unique design. As it turns out, Motorola has opted to copy the design of the iPhone X, resulting in an Android smartphone that's nearly identical to Apple's flagship device.

The P30, which features a 6.2-inch display, is by far the most iPhone X-like Android smartphone that we've seen yet, with a frontal design that includes rounded corners, a notch that's similar to the iPhone X notch in size and shape, and an edge-to-edge design. There's a small bezel at the bottom, which is the only feature that distinguishes the P30 from the iPhone X.

At the back, the P30 features a dual-lens camera setup in a vertical orientation much like the iPhone X, and it replaces the Apple logo with a Motorola logo that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The colorful metallic body of the device is reminiscent of the Huawei P20, making the rear of the smartphone look like a P20/iPhone X hybrid.

Black and white versions look a little more like the iPhone X, and Motorola has even been marketing the device with iPhone-style wallpapers.

Motorola's P30 is available in China and isn't being distributed in the United States just yet, and while it has an iPhone X-style design, it is positioned as a mid-range device that's more affordable, perhaps attempting to lure customers who want the iPhone X look but aren't able to shell out $1,000.

Inside the Motorola P30, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chip, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3,000mAh battery. The two rear cameras feature 5 and 16-megapixel sensors while there's a 12-megapixel front-facing camera. Despite the notch, there's no front-facing facial recognition system.

As The Verge humorously pointed out, the P30 looks so similar to the iPhone X that when doing a Google image search based on the P30, Google guesses that it's an iPhone X.

Since the iPhone X launched last November, many Android smartphone makers have adopted the notched design to allow for maximum screen space to compete with the iPhone lineup. Smartphones from manufacturers that include LG, Leagoo, Huawei, OnePlus, Asus, Vivo, Oppo, and others have adopted the notch design. Even Google is set to copy the iPhone X's notch with the upcoming Google Pixel 3 XL, based on leaked images.

Apple is planning to unveil three additional smartphones that use the notch design introduced with the iPhone X, and we're just a few weeks away from their debut. Based on rumors, we can count on a second-generation 5.8-inch iPhone X with an OLED display, a larger-screened 6.5-inch OLED iPhone that can be thought of as an "iPhone X Plus," and a 6.1-inch device with an LCD display and a lower price tag.

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All three will feature an edge-to-edge display with a notch that houses a TrueDepth camera system, doing away with the Home button in the iPhone lineup. Apple is expected to introduce the new 2018 iPhone lineup right around the second week of September, perhaps on September 11 or September 12.

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Posted on 17 August 2018 | 1:17 pm

Apple Says No Personal Data Was Compromised in Australian Teenager Hacking Incident

In a statement, Apple has confirmed that no personal data was compromised by a 16-year-old student from Melbourne, Australia who admitted to hacking into Apple's internal servers on multiple occasions over one year.

The Guardian:

At Apple, we vigilantly protect our networks and have dedicated teams of information security professionals that work to detect and respond to threats.

In this case, our teams discovered the unauthorized access, contained it, and reported the incident to law enforcement. We regard the data security of our users as one of our greatest responsibilities and want to assure our customers that at no point during this incident was their personal data compromised.
Australian publication The Age reported that the teen downloaded some 90GB of confidential files, and accessed customer accounts, storing information in a folder on his computer named "hacky hack hack." It's unclear exactly what he downloaded during the series of network intrusions.

The student, who cannot be publicly named due to his age and notoriety in the hacking community, reportedly pleaded guilty to his actions in an Australian Children's Court this week, with sentencing deferred until next month. His lawyer later told police that the teen "dreamed of" working for Apple.

The teen reportedly had a method of accessing Apple's servers that "worked flawlessly" on multiple occasions—until he was caught.

The international investigation began when Apple detected the unauthorized access, contained it, and alerted the FBI. The allegations were passed on to the Australian Federal Police, which executed a search warrant on the teen's home last year, and found the software that had enabled the hacking on his laptop.

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Posted on 17 August 2018 | 6:02 am

'Entry-Level' 13-inch MacBook, Redesigned iPad Pros With Faster 18W USB-C Charger Coming in September, But no New iPad Mini

Apple will launch its much-rumored "entry-level" MacBook in September, according to a report by DigiTimes outlining Apple's upcoming product launches. The website says the new MacBook will be priced at $1200, according to industry sources, and will be powered by 14-nanometer Kaby Lake CPU architecture, following delays to Intel's 10-nm rollout.

Earlier this year, DigiTimes said that Apple will release the first MacBook Air with a Retina display in the second half of 2018, and claimed that it will be a 13-inch model in a separate report. It also recently said Quanta will assemble new "inexpensive notebooks" for Apple in the fourth quarter. However, the idea of a $1200 MacBook Air leaves the question of a sub-$1000 MacBook offering wide open.

TrendForce believes Apple will release a new MacBook Air in September or October, while both Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman expect Apple to release a new entry-level notebook later this year. Whether that's a MacBook or a MacBook Air remains unclear, but Gurman expects at least one of them to have a $999 starting price.

Today's DigiTimes report also claims Apple will use the September event to announce the "launch schedule" for its wireless AirPower charger, costing in the region of $160-$190. Apple previewed its multi-device AirPower charging mat at its iPhone X event last September, and confirmed that it will be released at some point in 2018, but it has yet to reveal how much it will cost. An earlier rumor citing "industry insiders" has suggested a price point of around $149.

Apple is expected to announce two new iPad Pro models this September measuring in at 11 and 12.9-inches, featuring slimmer bezels and a TrueDepth camera with support for Face ID. DigiTimes claims the two redesigned iPad Pros will sit alongside Apple's 9.7-inch iPad and iPad mini 4 to complete its tablet lineup, but notably the report also claims Apple has "no further plan" for the iPad mini.

Elsewhere in today's round-up, DigiTimes claims Apple's next-generation iPad Pro models will come with a newly designed 18-watt USB-C power adapter for faster charging. Apple is rumored to be including the more powerful charger with its new trio of iPhones coming this year, but this is the first time we've heard that it could also feature as part of Apple's iPad lineup. The adapter would presumably connect to the iPads with a Lightning to USB-C cable, also included in the box.

Apple's iPads have traditionally come with 10–12W adapters, so including the 18W USB-C power adapter would make sense as it would allow for faster charging without requiring users to purchase separate charging accessories at additional cost. Apple's current iPad Pro models already support fast charging using one of Apple's USB-C charge adapters paired with a Lightning cable. With this setup, a 2017 iPad Pro can be charged in half the time.

Lastly, today's DigiTimes report reiterates previous rumors surrounding Apple's new 2018 iPhone lineup, which is expected to include two OLED models measuring in at 5.8 and 6.5 inches, and a 6.1-inch lower-cost LCD model. All three will feature Face ID and edge-to-edge displays.

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Posted on 17 August 2018 | 3:05 am

Twitter Explains API Changes to Employees as Limits for Third-Party Apps Go Live

Twitter's API changes went live today, disabling key features for third-party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific.

The new API removes timeline streaming, preventing third-party apps from refreshing timelines automatically, and it limits push notifications and other features. Twitter is also charging exorbitant fees for access to its new activity APIs, with access starting at $2,899 per month for up to 250 accounts.

All third-party Twitter apps are affected by these changes. Tapbots yesterday updated the Tweetbot for iOS app to cripple multiple features popular with Tweetbot users. Timeline streaming over Wi-Fi is no longer available, for example, which means Twitter timelines will now refresh more slowly.

Push notifications for Mentions and Direct Messages are delayed by several minutes, and push notifications for likes, retweets, follows, and quotes have been disabled entirely. The Activity and Stats tabs, which were reliant on now-deprecated activity APIs, have been removed from the app, and because the Apple Watch app was heavily dependent on Activity data, it too has been eliminated.

Similar changes were introduced in Twitterrific in July, and as of today, the Twitterrific app is no longer able to receive and display native notifications. Twitterrific's Today center widget and Apple Watch app relied on these features, and have been removed.

Twitterrific recommends Twitter users download the official Twitter app to receive their notifications, while using the Twitterrific app for everything else.

As the changes went live, Twitter today sent out a company-wide email to employees that starts out by acknowledging the huge impact that third-party Twitter clients have had on growing the Twitter service before pointing towards "technical and business constraints" that prevent it from continuing to offer the APIs necessary to keep these apps working as before.

Today, we will be publishing a blog post about our priorities for investing in Twitter client experiences. I wanted to share some insight into how we reached these decisions and how we're thinking about 3rd party clients moving forward.

First, some history: 3rd party clients have had a notable impact on the Twitter service and the products we built. Independent developers built the first Twitter client for Mac and the first native app for iPhone. These clients pioneered product features we all know and love about Twitter such as mute, the pull-to-refresh gesture, and many more.

We love that developers build experiences on our APIs to push our service, technology, and the public conversation forward. We deeply respect the time, energy, and passion they've put into building amazing things using Twitter.

However, we haven't always done a good job of being straightforward with developers about the decisions we make regarding 3rd party clients. In 2011, we told developers (in an email) not to build apps that mimic the core Twitter experience. In 2012, we announced changes to our developer policies intended to make these limitations clearer by capping the number of users allowed for a 3rd party client. And, in the years following those announcements, we've told developers repeatedly that our roadmap for our APIs does not prioritize client use cases -- even as we've continued to maintain a couple specific APIs used heavily by these clients and quietly granted user cap exceptions to the clients that needed them.

It's time to make the hard decision to end support for these legacy APIs -- acknowledging that some aspects of these apps would be degraded as a result. Today, we are facing technical and business constraints we can't ignore. The User Streams and Site Streams APIs that serve core functions of many of these clients have been in a "beta" state for more than 9 years, and are built on a technology stack we no longer support. We're not changing our rules, or setting out to "kill" 3rd party clients; but we are killing, out of operational necessity, some of the legacy APIs that power some features of those clients. In addition, it hasn't been realistic for us to invest in building a totally new service to replace all of the functionality of these APIs, which are used by less than 1% of Twitter developers.

We've heard feedback from our customers about the pain this causes. We review #BreakingMyTwitter quite often and have spoken with many of the developers of major 3rd party clients to understand their needs and concerns. We're committed to understanding why people hire 3rd party clients over our own apps, and we're going to try to do better with communicating these changes honestly and clearly to developers.

We know we have a lot of work to do. This change is a hard, but important step forward. Thank you for working with us to get there.
Twitter has continually said that just 1 percent of Twitter developers use its now-deprecated APIs, but as these changes seem to impact most of the major Twitter clients, it's not clear how the 1 percent figure is being calculated.

As TechCrunch points out, Twitter's email insists that the APIs were "legacy technology" that needed to be eliminated for "operational necessity," but it's Twitter, not an outside force, that has refused to maintain or redevelop the APIs third-party apps are using or transition existing apps over to the new API platform.

The sad thing is they did build a service to replace most of this, they just priced access to it so high that it might as well not exist. pic.twitter.com/ylfG6lHbQp

— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) August 16, 2018

Twitter has further explained its decision to remove the APIs in a blog post that says the "best Twitter experience" it can provide is through its own "owned and operated Twitter for iOS and Android apps, as well as desktop and mobile twitter.com."

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Posted on 16 August 2018 | 11:10 am

Verizon Subscribers With Unlimited Plan Can Now Sign Up for Six Free Months of Apple Music

Verizon and Apple last week announced a partnership that provides six free months of Apple Music service to new and existing customers with a Verizon Unlimited plan, and as of today, Verizon customers can sign up for their free Apple Music subscriptions.

Verizon subscribers who have an unlimited plan can visit the Apple Music section on the Verizon website to begin the sign up process. Logging in with a Verizon subscriber account is required, and from there, customers will receive a text message with a link that needs to be opened on a mobile device.

For iPhone and Android users that already have the app installed, it will open it up with subscription options. If the app isn't already installed, the App Store or Google Play store will open with instructions to download the app.

Apple Music is available to all Verizon Unlimited subscribers, including Verizon Plan Unlimited, Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, and Above Unlimited. Customers who have one of Verizon's original Unlimited plans (from earlier this year) can also sign up, and there have been some reports from Reddit users that other Verizon subscribers have been presented with the offer.

Verizon customers who already subscribe to Apple Music can activate the free trial offer, but will be prompted to cancel their existing Apple Music subscriptions through Apple to avoid double billing.

Apple Music subscribers who recently renewed will want to wait for a few weeks to activate their Verizon trials to make sure to get the full six months of free service. Annual subscribers may be able to cancel via Apple and get a prorated refund.

Each individual Verizon line is able to sign up for a free Apple Music trial, but it does not work with the family plan. Customers with an existing Apple Music family plan will need to cancel it, with each person in the family signing up for the free Verizon trial separately. The same goes for current student plans -- cancel with Apple and resubscribe through Verizon to get the free six months.

It appears the Apple Music subscriptions will be billed through Verizon following the conclusion of the six month trial rather than through iTunes like a standard Apple Music subscription.

Customers who sign up for the six month free trial and who do not want to pay for a subscription afterwards can cancel at any time, including right after signing up. Access to Apple Music remains available for the full six month period after cancelling through Verizon.

Subscriptions redeemed today will expire in February 2019.

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Posted on 16 August 2018 | 10:31 am

Another Report Says Second-Generation iPhone X and iPhone X Plus Will Support Apple Pencil

Apple's second-generation iPhone X, and a widely expected 6.5-inch model dubbed the iPhone X Plus, will both be compatible with the Apple Pencil, according to Taiwanese publication Economic Daily News.

Image: EverythingApplePro on YouTube

The report, citing "industry insiders," claims that Apple Pencil support will be limited to those OLED models, meaning that Apple's upcoming lower-cost 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD will not work with the drawing tool. Taiwanese research firm TrendForce shared the same prediction earlier this week.

Apple Pencil launched in November 2015 alongside the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and it works with all other iPad Pro models released since. Last March, Apple expanded the tool's compatibility to the new sixth-generation iPad, a lower-cost, 9.7-inch model targeted at students and the classroom.

If these rumors prove to be true, this would be the first time Apple releases its own stylus for the iPhone in the device's 11-year history.

When introducing the original iPhone in 2007, Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs quipped that "nobody wants a stylus" with a smartphone, but Apple has played the semantics game in insisting that the Apple Pencil is a drawing tool. It's also been over a decade since Jobs made that comment—things change.

It's unclear if Apple will release a smaller Pencil for the iPhone, as the current version could be rather unwieldy for use with an iPhone. Apple has yet to update the Pencil's design since it first launched three years ago.

A stylus on a mobile device is nothing new, but only a handful of modern smartphones have one, including the Samsung Galaxy Note with the S Pen, which can be used to draw on the screen, handwrite notes, annotate documents, and more.

Designed to mimic the feel and sensation of using a pen or a pencil, the Apple Pencil has built-in sensors to determine orientation and angle, and to detect a range of forces for pressure-sensitive drawing and writing. On the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil is sampled at 240Hz for minimal latency.

Apple is expected to unveil a trio of new iPhones at its usual September event at Steve Jobs Theater, and Apple Pencil support would surely be a headline feature if true. A new Apple Pencil altogether is certainly a possibility too.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Posted on 16 August 2018 | 5:43 am

Apple Seeds Eighth Beta of iOS 12 to Developers After Pulling Seventh Beta Earlier This Week [Update: Public Beta Available]

Apple today seeded the eighth beta of an upcoming iOS 12 update to developers for testing purposes, just a few days after seeding the seventh beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12 beta from Apple's Developer Center or over-the-air after installing the proper certificate.

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iOS 12 beta 8 comes just two days after the release of iOS 12 beta 7, which Apple was ultimately forced to pull a few hours after it was released due to performance issues.

Many people who downloaded the seventh beta reported problems when launching apps, with serious delays between when an app icon was tapped and when the app opened.

Most users said that the delay disappeared after five or 10 minutes of using the iPhone, but it was a serious enough bug that Apple pulled the update until a fix was available, and some users also saw continual delays, crashes, and freezes.

Apple removed the over-the-air update first and then later also pulled the download from the Apple Developer Center. No public beta was released due to the performance issues, but now that an updated beta has launched, a public beta should be available soon.

iOS 12 beta 7 removed the Group FaceTime feature that has been present in iOS 12 since the update was first introduced in June. Apple has decided to delay Group FaceTime for now and reintroduce it in an iOS 12 update set to be released later this fall.

Group FaceTime, one of iOS 12's major new features, is designed to allow users to chat with up to 32 people at once.

Though Group FaceTime will no longer be available when iOS 12 launches, the update will bring Screen Time for monitoring time spent on iOS devices, new Animoji and Memoji, a new Effects camera in Messages and FaceTime, Siri Shortcuts, grouped notifications, and more.

Update: Apple has released a new version of iOS for its public beta testers. iOS 12 Public Beta 6 is identical to the eighth developer beta.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 10:04 am

Apple Expected to Release New MacBook Air at End of Third Quarter: September or October

Apple will release a new MacBook Air at the end of the third quarter, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. That lines up with either September or October, depending on how the wording is interpreted.

TrendForce also refers to a new MacBook Pro in future tense, but it is surely referring to the models released in July, when the third quarter began:

The second quarter was the transition period when Apple was preparing for the releases of the upcoming new MacBook devices for the year. TrendForce therefore expects MacBook shipments to again post a large QoQ increase in 3Q18, as Apple will be releasing a new MacBook Pro at the start of the quarter and a new MacBook Air at the end of the quarter.
The report does not provide additional details, but both Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg News reporter Mark Gurman expect Apple to release a new entry-level notebook later this year, and they are two of the more reliable sources as it relates to Apple's upcoming product plans.

TrendForce specifically says it will be a new MacBook Air, but Kuo and Gurman have not identified what branding the notebook will have.

Earlier this year, DigiTimes claimed that Apple will release the first MacBook Air with a Retina display in the second half of 2018, and noted that it will be a 13-inch model in a separate report. This week, it said Quanta will assemble new "inexpensive notebooks" from Apple in the fourth quarter.

Whether it turns out to be a MacBook, MacBook Air, or something else, Gurman expects at least one of the entry-level notebooks, if there are more than one, to have a starting price of $999 or less in the United States.

The current MacBook Air hasn't seen any substantial updates in over three years. Since that time, Apple has discontinued the 11-inch model, while the processor on the base 13-inch model received a minor bump in clock speed, but it's still a Broadwell chip from the 2014–2015 timeframe.

Apple could announce availability of a new MacBook Air via press release at any point this fall, or save it for a September or October event. At this point, we lean towards an October release, as the September event should be busy, with a trio of new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 4 models, new AirPods, and more.

With refreshes to other Macs expected later this year, including the iMac and Mac mini, and a widely expected iPad Pro with Face ID, Apple may have enough in its pipeline for an October event, which it last held in 2016.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 9:49 am

Happy 20th Launch Anniversary, iMac

On August 15, 1998, Apple officially released the first iMac, the candy-colored gumdrop-shaped iMac G3, launching a desktop machine that has continued to be updated and revised over the years.

Designed by Apple design chief Jony Ive, the iMac G3 was unique among computers at the time for its unusual shape, the use of translucent plastics that allowed the internals to be visible, and the bright colors that Apple adopted.

"This is iMac. The whole thing is translucent. You can see into it. It's so cool," said Jobs when introducing the iMac G3.

Apple's first iMac, which sold for $1,299 at launch, came equipped with a 233 - 700MHz PowerPC 750 G3 processor, 4GB of storage, a 15-inch CRT, a CD-ROM drive, and an ATI graphics card, components that don't sound impressive today but made for a powerful, well-rounded machine, that, in combination with the design, made the iMac a best seller.

At launch, and in the years following its release, Apple released the iMac G3 in a slew of shades that include the famous Bondi Blue, Blueberry, Grape, Graphite, Indigo, Lime, Sage, Strawberry, Ruby, Snow, Tangerine, and two patterned colors, Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power.

If you live near Michigan, all 13 colors of the original iMac G3 are on display at the Henry Ford Museum in a popup collection called "Looking Through Things," which has been introduced in celebration of the iMac's anniversary.

The iMac G3 was introduced just a year after Steve Jobs returned to lead Apple, and it came at a time when the company was still struggling and trying to find its footing. By 1999, Apple saw its first quarter profits more than triple, with the jump attributed to sales of the new iMac.

Apple in May celebrated the anniversary of the debut of the iMac G3, which, while launched in August, was first introduced by Jobs in May 1998.

20 years ago today, Steve introduced the world to iMac. It set Apple on a new course and forever changed the way people look at computers. pic.twitter.com/GbKno7YBHl

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 6, 2018

Since the iMac G3's 1998 debut, Apple has introduced several revisions to the desktop machine, launching design revisions in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2015.

Today, the iMac is available in 21.5 and 27-inch size options, with 4K and 5K Retina displays, respectively. Kaby Lake chips, AMD graphics, and super fast SSDs are included.

We also have an iMac Pro, a workstation class machine aimed at Apple's professional users with a unique Space Gray body, Xeon processors with up to 18 cores, Radeon Pro Vega graphics, and up to 4TB of SSD storage.

We're still expecting refreshed iMac models in 2018. There's no word on when the next design change is coming, but in 2018, Apple is expected to add 8th-generation Coffee Lake chips and other internal improvements that make a great desktop machine even better.

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer's Guide: iMac (Don't Buy)

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 3:00 am

Kuo: Apple to Launch Apple Car in 2023 to 2025

Apple will earn its two trillion dollar market cap through its services business, an augmented reality headset, and an Apple Car, according to reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who now works for TF International Securities and today sent out a new note for investors outlining products that he expects to see in Apple's future.

According to Kuo, Apple will launch an Apple Car sometime between 2023 and 2025, with the car set to be positioned as "the next star product." Kuo foresees the Apple Car revolutionizing the automobile market much as the iPhone did back in 2007.

Kuo believes there are "huge replacement demands" in the auto sector because it's in the process of being redefined with new technologies. Apple's technology advances, such its work in augmented reality, would redefine cars and "differentiate the Apple Car from peers’ products."

Apple, says Kuo, can do "better integration of hardware, software and services" than current competitors in the consumer electronics sector and potential competitors in the auto sector. Apple's services category will also grow significantly through its entrance into the "huge car finance market" after Apple launches the Apple Car.

We expect that Apple Car, which will likely be launched in 2023–2025, will be the next star product. The reasons for this are as follows: (1) Potentially huge replacement demands are emerging in the auto sector because it is being redefined by new technologies. The case is the same as the smartphone sector 10 years ago; (2) Apple’s leading technology advantages (e.g. AR) would redefine cars and differentiate Apple Car from peers’ products; (3) Apple’s service will grow significantly by entering the huge car finance market via Apple Car, and (4) Apple can do a better integration of hardware, software, and service than current competitors in the consumer electronics sector and potential competitors in the auto sector.
Kuo's suggestion that Apple is planning to launch a full Apple Car is interesting, because rumors have suggested that while that was Apple's initial plan, focus has since shifted to autonomous driving software for cars rather than an Apple-branded and designed vehicle.

Work on Project Titan, Apple's autonomous vehicle program, has been ongoing since 2014, but it was said to be plagued with leadership issues, internal strife, and other problems, with Apple opting to shelve the idea of a car for the foreseeable future.

Hundreds of employees were laid off and leadership was transferred to Bob Mansfield, who transitioned the team's work to an autonomous driving system that could allow Apple to partner with existing car manufacturers. Apple has been testing and developing its autonomous driving software out on the streets of Cupertino in Lexus SUVs outfitted with autonomous driving equipment since early 2017.

Some recent hirings, including that of Doug Fields, who spent five years as Tesla's lead engineer, have, however, led to speculation that Apple may be reconsidering the idea of building its own vehicle. If Kuo is correct, Apple's current autonomous software research could be built into an actual Apple-branded car at some point.

Prior to when the project was shelved, Apple was said to be developing a self-driving electric vehicle. Apple early on met with manufacturers like Magna Steyr and BMW, and explored a range of technologies, including silent motorized doors, car interiors sans steering wheel or gas pedals, augmented reality displays, an improved LIDAR sensor that protrudes less from the top of a car, and spherical wheels, but it's not clear if any of these concepts will be revisited if the car project has indeed shifted back to a full car.

Kuo did not share additional information on the Apple Car project beyond a prospective launch date, but he did also comment on the future of AR, another market where he expects Apple to see significant revenue growth in the future.

Kuo believes that Apple is planning to introduce AR glasses in 2020, expanding on its existing augmented reality market. AR, says Kuo, is the "next-generation revolutionary UI," with Apple planning to redefine the UIs of its existing products by offering an AR experience created by the augmented reality glasses that are rumored to be in the works.

Multiple past rumors have suggested Apple is experimenting with a variety of AR and VR headsets, and augmented reality smart glasses seem to be one of the most persistent rumors. The smart glasses are said to include a dedicated display, a built-in processor, and a new "rOS" or reality operating system based on iOS.

Related Roundups: Apple Car, Apple VR Project

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Posted on 14 August 2018 | 6:25 pm

Hands-On With 6.1-Inch and 6.5-Inch 2018 iPhone Dummy Models

Before every new iPhone release, we're often inundated with rumors, part leaks, mockups, and dummy models, giving us a clear picture of what to expect when the new devices come out.

This year is no exception, and we've managed to get our hands on dummy models that are said to resemble the rumored 6.1-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones that are coming in 2018, both of which offer up a look at the sizes and designs we can expect from the 2018 iPhone lineup.

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Apple's 2018 iPhone lineup, like the 2017 lineup, will include three phones, but the lineup's composition is unlike anything we've seen before. Apple is planning to introduce a 5.8-inch OLED iPhone that's a follow up to the iPhone X, a 6.5-inch OLED iPhone that can be thought of as an "iPhone X Plus," and a 6.1-inch LCD iPhone that's going to have a much lower price tag than the two OLED iPhones.

We don't have a dummy model of the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone to go along with dummy models of the upcoming 6.1 and 6.5-inch iPhones, because it's going to look identical to the existing iPhone X, so we've used a real iPhone X to compare to the two dummy models.

iPhone X (left), 6.1-inch iPhone dummy (center), 6.5-inch iPhone dummy (right)

All three of the 2018 iPhones feature an edge-to-edge display that adopts Face ID and a TrueDepth camera system, marking the official end of Touch ID for new iPhones. To house the TrueDepth camera, there will be a notch on all three iPhones, just as there was on the iPhone X.

The middle-tier 6.1-inch iPhone uses an LCD display instead of an OLED display to keep costs down, which means that the bezels of that device are slightly thicker than the bezels of the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones. The 6.1-inch iPhone dummy also features a single-lens camera, in line with rumors that Apple will stick with a single camera for cost purposes.

6.1-inch iPhone dummy model

A dual-camera setup is expected for both the second-generation 5.8-inch iPhone X model and the 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus" model, and we can perhaps expect some camera improvements, as Apple typically introduces new camera features with each iPhone upgrade.

Rumors have also suggested the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone will have an aluminum frame rather than the more durable stainless steel frame expected in the two more expensive devices, but other than the frame, the camera, the slightly thicker bezels, and the screen sizes, these devices are expected to be nearly identical.

6.1-inch and 6.5-inch iPhone dummy models

All will include Apple's next-generation A12 processor, according to rumors, along with faster Intel-made LTE chips. RAM could be a differentiating factor, though, with the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone offering 3GB RAM and the OLED iPhones offering 4GB RAM.

We have absolutely no idea what Apple is planning to name its next-generation iPhones given the current iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X naming scheme. Most of the possibilities sound a little off, such as "iPhone Xs" or "iPhone X Plus" or "iPhone 9" or "iPhone XI." The naming of the 2018 iPhone lineup is perhaps the biggest mystery, given the myriad rumors and part leaks we've seen so far.

iPhone X with 6.5-inch iPhone dummy model

Pricing for the 2018 iPhones could start somewhere right around $600 to $700 for the entry-level 6.1-inch LCD model, based on rumors, while the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone could cost between $800 and $900, and the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone could cost between $1,000 and $1,100.

For a complete rundown on all of the rumors we've heard about the 2018 iPhone lineup, make sure to check out our 2018 iPhone roundup.

What do you think of the iPhones Apple is planning to introduce this year? Which one will you buy? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Posted on 14 August 2018 | 2:26 pm

Inside the iPhone Repair Ecosystem: Where Do Replacement Parts Come From and Can You Trust Them?

There's a thriving market for unofficial, aftermarket iPhone parts, and in China, there are entire massive factories that are dedicated to producing these components for repair shops unable to get ahold of parts that have been produced by Apple.

The entire Apple device repair ecosystem is fascinating, complex, and oftentimes confusing to consumers given the disconnect between Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers, third-party factories, and independent repair shops, so we thought we'd delve into the complicated world of Apple repairs.

The Aftermarket Factories

Our exploration of the repair ecosystem was inspired by a video sent to us by a trusted source that MacRumors has worked with in the past, who captured footage inside one of the many facilities in China that are dedicated to creating aftermarket iPhone parts.

This is a small scale operation where workers appear to be creating an aftermarket touch screen digitizer for the iPhone, a thin plastic component that attaches to the LCD through a flex cable and allows physical touch on the screen to be transformed into digital input, allowing the iPhone's processor to translate your touch into system commands.

In addition to producing touch screen digitizers for the iPhone, given the clean room setup, the facility pictured in the video likely also attaches them to LCDs sourced from other factories to produce a full iPhone display assembly that can then be sold to iPhone repair shops around the world.

While this is a small facility, our source tells us that the factory, which employs approximately 10 people, is able to produce up to 10,000 display components per month, with setup and equipment for a factory this size costing approximately $90,000, a minor investment for a major return.

iPhone X display assembly with touch screen digitizer visible, via iFixit

Larger factories, such as those that produce aftermarket LCDs for iPhones and other smartphones, are huge operations that can output millions of components per month. Companies like Tianma, Longteng LCD, Shenchao, and JingDongFang are well-known in the repair world for producing the aftermarket LCDs used by many repair shops. If you search for display components on auction sites like Alibaba, these are the names that pop up over and over again.

These are not small, no name factories producing LCDs - these are major operations creating components by the millions, which should give you an idea of the kind of demand there is for aftermarket components across the globe. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the kind of equipment needed to produce aftermarket LCDs.

"It's a crazy industry that involves millions of dollars, probably into billions a year. It's just absolutely nuts," said our source.

The Demand for Aftermarket Parts

Companies that produce aftermarket LCD components are doing so because there's significant demand for these parts in repair shops around the world. Shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers are not able to source parts from Apple because Apple limits OEM parts to the repair shops that it partners with.

With no way to purchase components from Apple, sourcing parts from third-party suppliers is the only option for independent repair shops that want to be able to offer iPhone repairs to their customers.

There are more than 15,000 independent repair shops in the United States, all of which are sourcing components from suppliers that receive them mainly from these factories in China. In the South Bay Area alone, where Apple's Cupertino headquarters is located, there are hundreds of non-AASP locations that can fix a broken iPhone. And that's just the United States. There are thousands more independent repair shops around the world.

An independent iPhone repair shop near Cupertino, California

Aftermarket Parts Quality

When thinking of third-party components, you might assume that the parts produced in facilities like the one in the video are far inferior in quality to actual Apple components, which is also the viewpoint of the source that sent us the video.
[The Chinese factories] are basically dishing junk out into the world. Apple's own screen may fail only if you've dropped it. Won't even fail up to 5, 10 years. But the fake screens usually fail between two to three years. Usually.
That's not always entirely true, though, according to many of the repair shops that we spoke with.

Kyle Wiens, who runs repair site and store iFixit, says there's a wide range in quality when it comes to third-party components. Some are "total crap" and are inferior to what Apple produces, but other components are a fairly close match. "Not quite as good as Apple," Wiens says, "but close." Some components are "indistinguishable" from Apple parts "unless you have Apple testing equipment."

An iPhone with an original display (right) and a replacement display (left) via Disc Depot

That's a sentiment that was echoed by several other repair shops. Mansoor Safi, who runs the iFixers repair shop in the Bay Area, said there are generally four display grades: Premium, Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C. iFixers, says Safi, uses "Premium" grade screens, which are considered top tier aftermarket display replacements because the lower grades are indeed rubbish.

"If you drop from premium, you will see day and night in terms of responsiveness, color, quality, and how quickly it will break again," said Safi. "If I use anything Grade A, I'll get the same customer coming back again, and it's an inconvenience for the customer to come back."

Even with what's considered one of the better aftermarket displays, you're going to see differences between the repaired device and a non-repaired device. We asked Safi what difference we'd see between a standard iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 that had been repaired with a high-quality aftermarket display.

The repaired device, he said, might be 5 percent blueish or 5 percent yellowish, depending on the display used, but it's not a disparity noticeable without a reference point. "Unless you put the two phones together, you won't see the difference," he said.

Apple components are superior, according to Safi, but for reasons that include cost and time investment (some people need immediate repairs), sometimes "close" is good enough.

Cupertino iPhone Repair's Laxmi Agrawal said that a lot of cheap, low-quality LCDs coming out of China can have a multitude of problems: poor polarization, broken 3D Touch, yellow screens, and bleeding of the LCD when the frame isn't tight enough. "We don't use the Chinese LCDs," he said, and customers need to watch out for "bad tactics at a lot of repair companies."

uBreakiFix co-founder Justin Wetherill says that the repairs done at his shops around the country are "comparable to those of an AASP."
Because we're diligent about where and how we're sourcing parts and testing our components thoroughly, we are confident that our repairs are comparable to those of an AASP. Our technicians are professionally trained, and we have systems and processes in place to ensure we're always doing right by the customer. We pride ourselves in customer service and receive less than 1 customer escalation per day on average across more than 425 stores and have a warranty rate of less than 2%.
Based on the number of repair shops we spoke to and the different answers that we received, there is, unfortunately, no universal grading system to work with. As Wiens says, it's a "completely free market where there are no standards." And it's true -- there are no agreed upon guidelines, there's no oversight from Apple, and there's no one who regulates aftermarket part quality.

Jim from San Jose's Cellular Repair Center, for example, said that the best quality screens are those that can be described as "original" grade, and he didn't mention the Premium grading system we'd heard earlier.
Strictly speaking, all screens are "aftermarket" and we inform our customers as such. The only truly original screens either go to Apple, AASP, or removed from an actual iPhone. What most vendors include in their offering is something best described as "original grade". This is a screen that is very VERY comparable to the screen that came on the iPhone. Many repair shops offer an "original" option but we think they are misleading their customers.
In a nutshell, as with the aftermarket automotive part industry, there are good quality components and there are bad quality components, which is something that customers who might seek third-party repairs need to be aware of.

Recycled and Reused Components

There's also a big market for reused iPhone components. Some repair shops will take the LCDs from broken iPhones that are repaired and sell them in bulk to a company that refurbishes them and attaches new digitizer components so they can be reused again.

The refurbishing company then sells the displays back to the repair shops for use in future iPhone repairs, but there's limited supply. Most of the repair shops that I spoke to told me that they do buy these upcycled genuine iPhone components when possible, but supply is limited.

According to iFixit's Kyle Wiens, much of the repair market has shifted from OEM parts sourced through reuse to aftermarket parts over the course of the last two years.

"We stuck to OEM parts as long as we possibly could, and we sell OEM parts when we can get them, but aftermarket quality got so good and the price was so much cheaper, it made more sense," he said.

Apple Authorized Service Providers

The only way for a repair shop to get access to genuine Apple components for repairs is through the Apple Authorized Service Program. While there are many thousands of independent repair shops in the United States, there are far fewer AASPs -- approximately 4,800 worldwide.

Shops that want to become Apple Authorized Service Providers need to meet Apple's requirements, and Apple doesn't approve all shops that apply. Training courses and exams are involved, which can cost thousands of dollars, and shops are required to "meet Apple's standards at all times" with Apple conducting audits and reviews to ensure compliance.

AASPs in the Bay Area

There are benefits to being an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Customer trust, for example. At an AASP, Apple customers know that the repairs they're getting are the same repairs that Apple would offer, which can draw in more foot traffic. Apple also directs customers to its AASPs through its Customer Support website.

AASPs have access to parts that can be ordered directly from Apple for repairs using genuine components, along with comprehensive product, repair, service, and troubleshooting guides. Apple also offers reimbursement for labor, parts, and travel for repairs to developers covered by Apple's warranties, so there's guaranteed business involved in being an AASP.

AASP training courses

There are negatives, though. AASPs must follow Apple's repair guidelines, which can involve long checklists of steps, and Apple limits the repairs its service providers can do in-house. For a lot of repairs, devices must be sent to Apple, for a repair turnaround time that can span days.

Longtime Apple Authorized Service Provider Mac-O-Rama told MacRumors that Apple's AASP program is worthwhile because it offers access to Apple parts, training resources, and Apple's processes for repair. While most Mac repairs can be done in-house, Mac-O-Rama says the same is not true of iPhone repairs, which can be challenging.
We don't have the equipment or authorization to perform iPhone display replacement in-house, so our only option is to mail in that particular repair to the Apple service depot, which takes longer than most people want to be apart from their phones.
Despite these delays, Mac-O-Rama prefers working with Apple because it results in fewer repair issues. The company says it has seen many repairs fail because of low-quality third-party parts or improper installation.
For example, clients come in with a 3rd party display replacement and the bezel is heavily damaged. If you try to take the display off and replace the battery and then try to reassemble the phone, the display will crack due to the uneven bezel. Other times we will start a battery replacement and find a previously installed battery that has been installed incorrectly, so we can't even get it out of the phone without creating a fire hazard. It's scary when you have so many untrained "technicians" out there handling this equipment.
For the most part, Apple Authorized Service Providers need to send iPhones back to Apple for repair when the display is involved. Mac-O-Rama is able to replace some iPhone components like the camera and the battery, but other issues require a long turnaround time.

The reason for this is a replacement and calibration process that's done with something called the "Horizon Machine," which up until last year was only available to Apple retail stores and repair warehouses.

Apple's Horizon Machine, via Reuters

Starting last summer, Apple began providing some AASPs with Horizon Machines, allowing them to do more repairs in-house for faster turnaround times. Apple gave 200 AASPs access to the Horizon Machine in San Francisco, London, Shanghai, and Singapore.

Apple is continuing to roll out Horizon Machines to its service partners, but in some countries like Australia, we've been told that there are very few repair shops that have been provided with one of the Horizon Machines. None of the Apple Authorized Service Providers we spoke to had one of these machines, so the availability still appears to be quite limited.

Sans Horizon Machine, a lot of broken iPhones must be sent to Apple for display issues and other problems. In many cases, Apple also does device replacements rather than repairs, which further limits the components that AASPs can fix in house.

Independent Repair Shops

Most repair shops are not affiliated with Apple, and there are myriad reasons why repair outlets choose not to become Apple certified.

Laxmi Agrawal from Cupertino iPhone Repair said that he spoke with Apple about becoming an AASP, but it wasn't feasible for his business.
We decided not to continue with the AASP. Apple doesn't pay very much. They have restrictions that you can't do screen repair at your shop. You have to collect the device, go to a center, and wait for it to be repaired. Turn around time is too long.
Agrawal said that Cupertino iPhone Repair gets a lot of foot traffic and works with major companies like Facebook and Zynga, so business is good without Apple. "We just can't work with Apple at that price," he added.

Image via Cupertino iPhone Repair

iFixer's Mansoor Safi said that Apple's program isn't convenient for small businesses. "Everything gets dictated by Apple," he said. "Pricing, what needs to be done, parts. And Apple pays such a small fee."

Safi also explained that Apple only really repairs two components in the iPhone -- the battery and the screen. For everything else, Apple does total device replacements. His shop, and other repair shops, can take care of water damage, speaker issues, problems with the charging port, and other problems at a cheaper price than Apple charges customers for a total device replacement.

Multiple Apple Authorized Service Providers that we spoke to (all of whom wished to remain anonymous) confirmed Apple pays a limited amount of money for iPhone repairs. With mail-in repairs, for example, one shop told us that compensation does not cover administrative expenses, while another told us it charges a premium to cover the expenses that Apple does not.

"If iPhone repair were our only function, I'm not sure that we could survive on the compensation received from Apple, especially for mail in repair," said one source.

Jim from San Jose's Cellular Repair Center told us he's reached out to Apple two or three times about the Apple Authorized Service Provider program and hasn't heard back. He has an open mind about joining, but is a little lukewarm on the idea.
Our understanding is that there are restrictions on certain types of repairs that we would not be allowed to perform and we would balk at that. We are one of the few shops in the area that are good at micro-soldering and we would need a pretty big carrot to give that up.
Micro soldering is a skill that can fix sensitive iPhone problems that require a lot of precision, such as backlight failure, "Touch Disease" resulting in multi-touch issues, and problems from water damage. AASPs can't address these issues and instead must send devices to Apple for replacement.

Image via Cupertino iPhone Repair

Apple is said to be selective about the shops it chooses for the Apple Authorized Service Program, especially in the Bay Area, and while we're not able to confirm it, some repair shops said that Apple isn't accepting new AASPs in certain areas.

Without Apple certification, independent repair shops have no access to components that are manufactured by Apple and thus have two options: aftermarket components produced by third-party companies, or refurbished parts that have been taken from broken iPhones, revamped, and purchased in bulk.

Apple's Philosophy on Repairs

Apple encourages all of its customers to visit an Apple retail store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for repairs because they use Apple training materials and Apple-produced components, so a device repaired from an AASP is indistinguishable from an original, undamaged iPhone.

Apple's general point of view seems to be that repairs made by independent shops are unsafe, and with the number of repair shops out there, iPhone customers do indeed run into bad repairs and real safety issues.

An iPhone with a separating display after a repair from an independent repair shop

When Apple repairs a device, it goes through a mini factory testing process with the aforementioned Horizon Machine. All of the features need to be calibrated precisely to the meet the specification it was at when it first came out of the factory, and this is testing that only Apple (and select service providers) can perform.

Only by using an Apple Authorized Service Provider can customers be sure that a device is functioning 100 percent the way it was intended to when it left Apple's factory.

According to Apple, there are a lot of issues that can arise when getting an iPhone repair from a non-Apple Authorized provider, such as nonfunctional Touch ID buttons, display dead spots, gaps around display edges, poor quality sound, excessive battery consumption, and more. Apple also warns against counterfeit parts on its support website.

Apple sees AASPs as an important part of Apple's repair ecosystem, providing repair options in areas where there are no Apple Stores and in dense urban areas where demand is high and Apple retail stores might have long wait times.

The Cost Difference

Repairs from independent shops are often cheaper than the prices Apple charges, and that's one of the reasons why some customers choose to eschew Apple repairs.

With higher-quality aftermarket or OEM repair components used in repairs on newer devices, prices aren't always much different from what Apple charges, but on older devices, independent repair shops almost always beat Apple on price. The same is true of repairs where Apple might scrap the entire device and require customers to pay an out-of-warranty replacement cost. Repair shops can sometimes fix these issues without writing off the entire iPhone.

Jason Yin of QuickStart Cellular said he charges $60 to $90 for iPhone 6 to iPhone 8+ repairs. An out-of-warranty screen repair from Apple for iPhone 6 to iPhone 8 costs from $129 to $169, so it's understandable why some customers choose more affordable options. "Other damage" that isn't limited to the display can cost anywhere from $299 to $399 from Apple.

Apple's repair prices for several iPhone models

Cupertino iPhone Repair charges $129 to fix an iPhone 7 screen, and $149 to fix an iPhone 8 screen, which is not far off from Apple's pricing at all. On older devices, though, the savings are much more significant.

Well-known repair site iFixit sells an iPhone 7 LCD screen with digitizer and all of the tools necessary to make the fix for $90, a good $60 less than Apple's asking price. You'll need to follow iFixit's tutorials for these kinds of repairs, so it's not for everyone, but it's a good savings for those technically inclined.

iFixit's iPhone 7 repair kit

Repair shops charge a range of different prices, and a lot of time, price dictates quality. We were told by multiple repair shops that a higher price unsurprisingly generally translates to a better quality component.

Are Aftermarket Repairs Safe?

In a free market with no regulation and no accountability, you don't know what you're getting when you walk into a third-party repair shop, which isn't something the average person seeking a repair likely thinks about. Still, with some vetting, aftermarket repairs can potentially be a good option for some people and in some situations.

iFixit's Kyle Wiens doesn't believe independent repair shops should be avoided in favor of AASPs. He likens the independent repair market to the aftermarket car repair market. There are good mechanics and bad mechanics out there, and the key is to find someone that you trust.

iFixit, for example, travels to Asia to find the best quality components to sell to customers looking to repair their own devices, and employs a testing facility to make sure the aftermarket options are of the best possible quality.

"We provide factories with extensive quality guidelines," said Wiens, with iFixit dictating parameters like acceptable number of dead pixels, necessary display brightness, and more, to best match what Apple offers.

When seeking a repair, there's no standardized nomenclature to let you know about the grade of a component a repair shop might be using, so Wiens recommends reading Yelp reviews, having conversations with shop owners, and when initially choosing, going for the more expensive repair shops. "Find a repair shop you can trust that will stand by their work," said Wiens.

Almost every repair shop we spoke with said the thing. Check the Yelp reviews. Read what people are saying. Ask questions. Make sure there's a warranty that the repair shop will stick by.

Be aware that many independent repair shops are using aftermarket components and while the quality can be nearly as good as an Apple repair, it's not an Apple repair. Aftermarket repairs that result in damage to an iPhone can void the device's warranty, which is also something to be aware of, and there are multiple problems that can result from lower quality parts or shoddy work, as mentioned above.

It's a good idea to ask repair shops to tell you about where they get their components from. The repair shops that we spoke to were forthcoming about their suppliers and the components they're using in repairs. All of the repair shops stressed the importance of a good supplier relationship, vetting the supplies, trial and error to get the best components, and in some cases, even having a quality control team overseas with suppliers.

If you want an Apple-quality repair that's guaranteed to be of the best quality, go with Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Apple charges a premium, but sometimes it's worth it for peace of mind. You can get almost top-tier quality from aftermarket parts, but there's no match for Apple's own components even at the best repair shops.

What Independent Repair Shops Can't (or Shouldn't) Repair

If your iPhone or other Apple device is under warranty, either the one year manufacturer's warranty or AppleCare+, it's best to go with Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

It makes sense to shell out more money for a device that's newer, and in some cases, when it comes to newer devices, repair shops don't have the necessary aftermarket components to make reliable repairs.

For example, there are no companies that are able to manufacture aftermarket OLED displays for the iPhone X. The technology is too new and OLED manufacturing is limited to a few major companies like Samsung. Some repair shops have been replacing iPhone X OLEDs with LCDs, and the much poorer quality isn't worth the cheaper repair price.

There are no independent repair shops that can repair a broken Touch ID button for security reasons, so that's a repair that has to go through Apple. We've also been told that repair shops aren't able to repair the back glass of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X for lack of replacement chassis.

It's older devices that seem best suited for repair by independent repair shops. Even for older devices, Apple charges quite a lot for repairs and replacements, and many of these repairs are out of warranty. Independent shops charge less and are able to fix non-display issues that Apple would charge a replacement fee for.

It wouldn't be advisable to take an iPhone X to an independent repair shop, but an iPhone 6s with a non-functional speaker? Absolutely. Many customers use their iPhones for multiple years without replacing them, and despite Apple's preference for AASPs, there is a genuine need for more affordable repair options for older iPhones.

Right to Repair and the Future of the Independent Repair Market

Over the course of the last few years, Right to Repair advocates have been pushing for legislation that would require tech companies and other manufacturers to provide specifications on device components, easier access to repair parts, and detailed instructions on device repair, leveling the playing field for repair shops and making it easier for customers to seek quality repairs from Apple, AASPs, or non-affiliated repair outlets.

Apple and other tech companies have been lobbying against Right to Repair legislation, and the general argument is that by restricting repairs, tech companies are protecting their intellectual property, keeping customers safe, and maintaining device security.

Many independent repair shops, of course, back Right to Repair legislation.

"If we could get parts directly from Apple, I'd do it," said Cupertino iPhone Repair's Laxmi Agrawal. "I'm already paying a high price, I would like to buy from Apple. I would buy from Apple. They just won't give it to us."

There are fears that Apple is moving towards a stricter repair philosophy that would shut out independent repair shops entirely. Touch ID repairs are an example - as mentioned above, a Touch ID repair requires authentication via a specialized machine, and some repair shops worry that Apple might keep other repairs under lock and key in the future.

Disassembled iPhone 8, via iFixit

iFixer's Mansoor Sufi, for example, referenced a recent issue that caused third-party displays to stop working after an iOS update. Apple fixed the issue, but it's not the first time it's happened.
Apple is teasing us with these small issues, like a few weeks ago, there was an update that would make your screen unresponsive if it had a third-party display. Apple will keep doing this, and eventually, everything will need to be Apple parts.
According to iFixit's Kyle Wiens, the market would be improved for everyone with competition and access to OEM and aftermarket parts, with repair shops able to provide better quality components through access to Apple part specifications.

Wiens does not believe there is a scenario where Apple device repairs will all be done with Apple-produced components even if Apple was forced to provide parts, simply because of the cost.

"The prospect of OEM parts is a nice idea, but it's not practical. 1. Apple won't sell the parts to people. 2. The pricing would be so astronomical you wouldn't want to pay it. You have to have an aftermarket option," he said.

The source that sent us the factory video was not without an agenda. The person in question hopes that a peek inside the factories that are producing aftermarket iPhone components will spur Apple to provide more affordable parts with less markup so consumers won't need to seek repairs with lower quality components, but that may be a lofty goal.

Apple does not break out how much it makes in repairs, which fall under the "Services" category in financial statements, but analysts estimate repairs for all products rake in $1 billion to $2 billion per year, a not-insignificant chunk of money.


Looking at the iPhone repair ecosystem holistically, there's a disparity between what repair shops want and what Apple is offering. It's a fascinatingly complex situation where all involved parties feel their way is the better way, and it's easy to comprehend why.

Apple understandably does not want independent repair shops repairing iPhones with less than optimal parts and work that might not be up to Apple standards, but at the same time, Apple is running a repair authorization program that many repair shops find too restrictive, too expensive, and too wasteful.

Demand for cheaper, more accessible repairs has led to a thriving independent repair community and a huge market for third-party components that's entirely unregulated, ultimately creating this strange, confusing web of repair options that can be difficult for consumers to navigate.

With no access to genuine parts or Apple component schematics, independent repair shops are going to keep doing repairs with what's available, and despite Apple's warnings, some customers are going to keep choosing what's cheap.

Right to Repair legislation makes the entire mess more interesting, because the repair ecosystem seems to be heading for some major changes. Either these Right to Repair laws are going to pass, or the legislation will all fizzle out, giving Apple a clearer path towards proprietary repairs and the eventual phasing out of the independent repair shop.

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Posted on 14 August 2018 | 11:58 am

AirPods Wireless Charging Case Said to Work With Any Qi-Certified Charging Mat

At its iPhone X event last September, Apple previewed a new wireless charging case for AirPods, for use with its upcoming AirPower charging mat. The new case looks similar to the current version, which charges via Lightning cable, but it has a built-in induction coil that also enables wireless charging.

Conveniently, it appears that the AirPower won't be the only way to wirelessly charge AirPods placed in the new case.

Chinese publication Chongdiantou, citing unnamed sources within Apple's supply chain, claims that the wireless AirPods case supports the Wireless Power Consortium's universal Qi standard, implying that it will be compatible with any Qi-certified charging mat from companies beyond Apple.

This would differ from the Apple Watch, which uses a modified version of the Qi standard that only works with Apple's official magnetic charging cable and dock, and MFi-certified third-party docks with magnetic chargers. (Apple Watch Series 3 models technically work with select non-MFi chargers too.)

Chongdiantou has made headlines recently after leaking photos of what is claimed to be an engineering prototype of Apple's new 18-watt USB-C power adapter for 2018 iPhones. The website, citing unnamed industry insiders, also claimed that the AirPower should be released this September for around $149 in the United States. Overall, the publication lacks an established track record.

According to Bloomberg, Apple aims to release the AirPower by the end of September, so there's a good chance its pricing and availability will be detailed at Apple's usual iPhone event next month, which hasn't been announced yet. The wireless AirPods charging case should be released simultaneously with the AirPower.

Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said the wireless charging case will be optional, so customers with the original AirPods will be able to purchase it separately. Pricing has not been disclosed. Apple is also expected to announce second-generation AirPods with "Hey Siri" support at its September event, but it's unclear if the wireless charging case will be standard, or also be optional for those.

AirPower can charge multiple devices at once, including the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3 models, and AirPods placed in the new wireless charging case. Apple said it would work to have its proprietary technology become part of the universal Qi standard supported by many companies.

Related Roundup: AirPods
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Caution)

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Posted on 14 August 2018 | 9:46 am

HomePod Sales May Be Closer to 1-1.5 Million Than 3 Million Since the Speaker Launched

HomePod shipments totaled an estimated 700,000 units in the second quarter of 2018, giving Apple a roughly six percent share of the worldwide smart speaker market, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics previously estimated HomePod shipments totaled 600,000 units in the first quarter of 2018, suggesting that worldwide shipments have reached 1.3 million units since the speaker became available to order in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom in late January.

That figure is much lower than one shared by research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, which recently estimated Apple has sold three million HomePods in the United States alone since the speaker launched.

The significant variance in the datasets stems from the fact that Apple doesn't disclose HomePod sales, instead grouping the speaker under its "Other Products" category in its earnings reports, alongside the Apple Watch, Apple TV, AirPods, Beats, iPod touch, and other Apple and third-party accessories.

Apple reported revenue of $3.74 billion from its "Other Products" category last quarter, up 37 percent from $2.73 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Shipments aren't sales, either, so it's impossible to know exactly how many HomePods ended up in the hands of customers.

If we had to guess, we'd say the Strategy Analytics numbers are probably more within the ballpark, as the HomePod is a niche product. The speaker is also available in just six countries, after launching in Canada, France, and Germany in June, with no indication when availability may expand to other regions.

Versus the Competition

HomePod was the world's fourth most popular smart speaker in the second quarter, behind the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Chinese company Alibaba's Tmall Genie, according to Strategy Analytics.

Amazon remained the leader in the category last quarter, with the Echo commanding an estimated 41 percent market share, while the Google Home finished runner-up with an estimated 27 percent market share, according to Strategy Analytics. Alibaba took third place with an estimated seven percent market share.

While the HomePod has made somewhat of a dent, Apple still has significant ground to make up, which is to be expected given its smart speaker launched around two to three years after its biggest competitors.

It may be tough for Apple to gain further market share unless it releases a more competitively priced model, as the HomePod at $349 is considerably more expensive than the Amazon Echo, priced from $50, and the Google Home, $129.

To that end, rumors suggest Apple may have a lower-priced HomePod or a Siri-enabled Beats speaker in its pipeline.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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Posted on 14 August 2018 | 7:40 am

2018 iPhones Could Start at $699, May Include Apple Pencil Support, 512GB Storage Option for OLED Models

Apple may introduce its upcoming 6.1-inch LCD iPhone with a starting price of around $699 to $749, according to industry analysis by TrendForce. The pricing strategy is said to be partly a response to lower than expected iPhone sales last year, and partly a result of competition from Chinese brands that have expanded their market shares with devices that offer high performance at affordable prices.

Three new iPhone models are expected to form Apple's 2018 lineup: two OLED models measuring in at 5.8 and 6.5 inches, and a 6.1-inch lower-cost LCD model. All three models will feature Face ID in lieu of a Home button, but TrendForce predicts the "budget" LCD device will be Apple's main device in terms of production share.

Image via TrendForce
The specs upgrades would make new iPhones more favorable in the competition with Android phones. On the other hand, the cost of this model has been approaching that of iPhone 8 Plus due to the upgrades. However, the 6.1-inch LCD model would be positioned by Apple's main product this year, with a production share of around 50% in the new iPhone series. Apple is bound to adjust the prices of this model to meet the market expectation and to further expand its market share. Considering the cost reduction of components, TrendForce estimates the starting price of this LCD version at around $699-749.
As for the new OLED models, TrendForce expects the 5.8-inch device will have a lower starting price of $899 to $949, while the current-generation iPhone X, which starts at $999, will enter its "end of life" process due to the similarity in the specs of the two models. Meanwhile, the upcoming 6.5-inch device will target the "premium business segment" with a starting price of $999.

TrendForce believes Apple could introduce a 512GB storage option for the OLED models. In addition, Apple Pencil support may feature with the new iPhones, although it's unclear whether this also relates to just the OLED models. Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously suggested that Apple Pencil support for a future iPhone is a possibility, although he doesn't believe iPhones will support Apple Pencil until 2019 at the earliest.

Apple is said to have been bargaining with its supply chain partners to reduce the cost of components, especially those which have been used in earlier generations of iPhone. That view tallies with earlier reports claiming Apple wants Samsung to reduce the price of its OLED display panels so it can cut the cost of current and future iPhone X models.

Price cuts to the display and other components would help Apple lower its bill of materials for the new models, with the savings potentially passed on to customers. For example, in line with TrendForce's prediction, RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani believes the second-generation iPhone X will start at $899, down from $999.

TrendForce expects the production volume of the three new iPhones to be around 83-88 million units, potentially taking a larger share of the company's annual sales volume compared with the three models it released last year. Sales volume of iPhones in 2018 meanwhile is expected to remain flat or grow marginally by 2 to 3 percent, owing to the saturated smartphone market and the longer replacement cycle of phones globally.

TrendForce believes the two OLED models have been assembled by manufacturers since late July, while the assembly of the LCD models is scheduled for mid-September. Apple is expected to launch the trio of new iPhones in September.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Posted on 14 August 2018 | 3:25 am

Apple Pulls iOS 12 Beta 7 Update Due to Performance Issues

If you haven't updated to the new iOS 12 beta 7 on your iOS device as of yet, you may notice that the over-the-air update option is no longer available, and that's because Apple has pulled the download.

Apple appears to have removed the beta 7 update because of performance issues.

On the MacRumors forums, there are multiple reports of problems when tapping on an icon, which can result in a very noticeable pause before the app launches. As MacRumors reader OldSchoolMacGuy explains:

I'm seeing apps take 10 seconds or more to launch on my X. Restarted and still seeing the same issue.
Some users have said that the pausing issue disappeared for them after five or 10 minutes of using the iPhone, while others appear to be having continual problems.

Prior to when Apple pulled the update, several MacRumors readers had warned other users against installing the update on their iPhones. There have also been reports of other issues, such as apps freezing, Notification Center freezing, Lock screen freezing, and in-app functions refusing to load.

Apple was planning to release a public beta of iOS 12 today, but that may be delayed until these issues have been addressed in an updated release.

iOS 12 beta 7 is a significant update because it removes the Group FaceTime feature that has been present in iOS 12 since launch. Apple now says Group FaceTime will launch in an update coming later this fall.

Update: Apple has also removed the update from the Apple Developer Center.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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Posted on 13 August 2018 | 1:52 pm

Google's iOS and Android Apps Track and Store Location Data With Location History Disabled

Some Google apps on iOS and Android devices continue to store location history even with the setting disabled, according to a new AP report citing data collected by computer science researchers at Princeton.

Location History, a feature available in Google apps like Google Maps, is an option that allows the app to display the locations that you've visited in a timeline. Princeton researcher Gunnar Acar turned off the Location History option in his Google account, but his devices continued to record the locations he had visited.

Data collected from a Princeton researcher on an Android phone with Location History disabled

It appears that even with Location History paused, some Google apps are ignoring the setting and continue to store time-stamped location data, due to confusing data collection policies that allow other app features to also store location information.
For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies," or "kids science kits," pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude -- accurate to the square foot -- and save it to your Google account.
While Princeton's research focused on Android devices, independent AP testing confirmed that iPhones are exhibiting the same behavior when used with Google apps.

In response to a query about the Location History tracking, Google said that it is clear about its location policies. As it turns out though, the way Google collects location data is confusing and misleading.
"There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. "We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time."
According to Google, users need to turn off "Web and App Activity," a setting enabled by default, to prevent all location data on iOS and Android devices from being saved to a Google account. Leaving "Web and App Activity" enabled while turning off "Location History" prevents Google from adding movements to the built-in timeline, but it does not stop Google from collecting other location information.

This location data collected by Google can be found under myactivity.google.com, but as the AP points out, this information is scattered under different headers often unrelated to location.

To be clear, Google is not illicitly collecting location data, but it is obfuscating its location data policies and collecting data through features that do not mention location information. Many people may not know these Google features are enabled at all, as it's a default setting.

Google's only mention that it may continue storing some location data is in a popup that appears when Location History is disabled through the Google account settings. This popup states that "some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps."

On iPhone, when Location History is disabled via settings in Google apps, it says "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History." As the AP points out, this statement is true but misleading, because while location data isn't stored in Location History, it's still stored under "My Activity."

Location information stored in "My Activity" is used for ad targeting purposes.

Both "Web and App Activity" and "Location History" need to be disabled to prevent Google from collecting any location data, which can be done through the user settings of a Google account. On iOS devices, not using Google apps and disabling location services for Google apps is also an effective method for preventing Google from collecting location data.

Tag: Google

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Posted on 13 August 2018 | 12:18 pm

Apple Removes Group FaceTime From iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Says It'll Launch Later This Year

Apple today removed Group FaceTime from the latest iOS 12 and macOS Mojave betas, which were released this morning, and has instead decided to release the feature at a later date.

One of the key features of iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Group FaceTime is designed to allow up to 32 people to chat together at one time via FaceTime audio or FaceTime video.

The feature has been available in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave since the first betas became available in June, and it's not clear why Apple has decided to push the feature back to a later date. Group FaceTime worked well in our testing, but we also did not push the limits with a large group of people.

In release notes for both macOS Mojave and iOS 12, Apple says the feature has been removed from the initial releases of macOS Mojave and iOS 12 and "will ship in a future software update later this fall."

With the release of iOS 11, Apple also ended up delaying several features that were initially announced as part of the update until later in the year, including Apple Pay Cash, AirPlay 2, and Messages in iCloud, three significant iOS 11 features that did not come out until months after iOS 11 launched.

Apple Pay Cash later launched in December as part of the iOS 11.2 update, while Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 were delayed until the launch of iOS 11.4 in May. Apple has said the Group FaceTime feature will come later in the fall, which means it should come in one of the first or second iOS 12 updates.

Related Roundups: macOS Mojave, iOS 12

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Posted on 13 August 2018 | 10:09 am

Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of iOS 12 to Developers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming iOS 12 update to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the sixth beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12 beta from Apple's Developer Center or over-the-air after installing the proper certificate.

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iOS 12 introduces several major new features, with Apple revamping the operating system from top to bottom to make iPhones and iPads, especially the older models, faster and more responsive.

On the iPhone X, there are new Animoji characters along with "Memoji," which are customizable, personalized, humanoid Animoji that can be used both in Messages and in FaceTime. Messages and FaceTime have also gained fun new camera effects, and Group FaceTime support allows for video chats with up to 32 people.

Siri is smarter in iOS 12 with a new Shortcuts feature that lets you create multi-step customized automations using first and third-party apps that can be activated with Siri voice commands. Shortcuts can be created through the Shortcuts app, available as a beta from Apple's Developer Center.

Apple built comprehensive time management and monitoring tools into iOS 12 with Screen Time, allowing you to keep track of how much time you're spending in apps on your iPhone and iPad. App limits can help you cut back on iOS device usage, and robust parental controls are included for families.

Updated Do Not Disturb options make activating Do Not Disturb more intuitive and simple, and a new Do Not Disturb at Bedtime feature cuts down on nighttime distractions and sleep interruptions.

Grouped Notifications make incoming notifications easier to view and manage, while a new Instant Tuning feature lets you tweak your notification settings right on the Lock screen on a notification-by-notification basis.

Apple News has a new Browse feature, the Stocks app has been redesigned and brought to the iPad, iBooks has been overhauled with a new look and a new name -- Apple Books -- and Voice Memos has been revamped with iCloud support and an iPad app.

ARKit 2.0 introduces new capabilities like shared experiences that let two people see the same AR environment on separate devices, and persistence, which allows AR experiences to be saved across multiple sessions. There's also a new Apple-built Measure app for measuring objects using AR capabilities.

iOS 12 includes a revamped and rebuilt Maps app that uses a new Apple-designed Maps engine that will display foliage, pools, buildings, pedestrian pathways, and other map elements more accurately. The new Maps also includes significant improvements to traffic, real-time road conditions, construction, and more, plus it will enable Apple to push out changes and fixes more quickly.

The updated Maps app is available in the Northern California area during beta testing. After iOS 12 launches, Apple will continue rolling out the new maps to additional U.S. locations across late 2018 and 2019.

Tons of other small tweaks and features have been added to iOS 12, so make sure to check out our dedicated roundup for additional detail on what's new in iOS 12.

Early betas of new operating system updates always introduce tweaked features and new functionality, and we'll be outlining what's new in the seventh beta below. We also rounded up all of the changes that were introduced in the previous betas: beta 2 and beta 3, beta 4, beta 5, and beta 6.

iOS 12 is available for developers and public beta testers, with a public launch planned for September alongside new iPhones.

Update: According to Apple's release notes, today's beta removes the Group FaceTime feature, which is no longer slated for release when iOS 12 launches. Apple says Group FaceTime will be coming in an iOS 12 update "later this fall."

Apple has removed some Screen Time workarounds that children were using to get around app limits, and after updating to the new beta, Apple suggests parents change the Screen Time passcode to prevent children from signing out of iCloud or changing the system time.

There is a bug with Apple Pay in iOS 12 beta 7, which could cause Apple Pay to become unavailable. Apple recommends retrying Apple Pay or restarting the device to fix it.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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Posted on 13 August 2018 | 10:05 am

Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of macOS Mojave to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave update to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the sixth beta and more than two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

macOS Mojave introduces a new method of installing software updates, so after you've installed the initial beta using the appropriate profile from the Developer Center, additional betas can be downloaded through opening up System Preferences and choosing the "Software Update" icon.

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Apple's macOS Mojave update introduces a systemwide Dark Mode, with Mojave users able to choose between a light theme or the new dark theme, which changes the color of the dock, menu bar, apps, and other elements. Dark Mode is accompanied by Dynamic Desktops, aka wallpapers that subtly change throughout the day. Additional wallpapers were introduced in the fourth and fifth betas.

Stacks, a new desktop organization system, keeps all of your desktop files neat and organized, while Finder has been enhanced with a Gallery View, a Sidebar, a revamped Quick Look option and Quick Actions, so you can do more in the Finder window than ever before.

Screenshots can now be edited using Markup tools and a new management options that also allow for easy screen recording, while Continuity camera, a new feature, allows you to import photos and document scans directly from an iPhone or iPad to the Mac.

The Apple News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos apps have been ported from iOS to macOS as part of a multiyear project Apple is working on to make it easier to bring iOS apps to Macs, and Apple has introduced several new privacy protections to keep your data safer than ever.

Apple is also making it harder for websites to track you with a range of new Safari tools, and it's also easier to make and store secure, hard-to-guess passwords for each and every website.

Apple has added an entirely revamped Mac App Store to macOS Mojave that makes it easier to discover apps with a featured section and specific categories for games, creative apps, productivity apps, apps for developers, and more.

macOS Mojave is available to developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of an upcoming fall public release.

Update: According to Apple's release notes, today's macOS Mojave beta removes the Group FaceTime feature, which is no longer slated for release when macOS Mojave launches. Apple says Group FaceTime will be coming in an update set to be released "later this fall."

Update 2: Apple has also seeded a new beta of macOS Mojave for public beta testers.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave

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Posted on 13 August 2018 | 10:04 am