Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our Saturday-morning roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.
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App Store under siege
The iOS App Store has consistently sat among Apple’s biggest earners, but it’s debatable to what degree this success can be ascribed to the company’s own strategic brilliance: after all, the store’s popularity depends on the ingenuity of the third-party app developers who create the vast majority of its huge library of software.
There are questions, too, over whether Apple’s governance of the App Store(s) is ethically sound, with numerous developers and political figures within recent years questioning the firm’s allegedly monopolistic behaviour. And the complaints are starting to make a difference.
Hoping to appease unhappy developers and create a more positive image, Apple first allowed devs to appeal against App Store rulings, and then made it easier for them to do so. It also lowered fees in some cases.
But in the past couple of weeks it has made two more concessions, letting developers tell users about alternative payment methods and letting ‘reader’ apps such as Spotify and Netflix direct users to external websites where they can sign up for subscriptions and manage their accounts. In both cases it feels slightly weird that the rules were ever that strict, although tight control of payments is one of the ways Apple safeguards its revenue stream.
(For balance, or perspective, let’s also link to the Macalope’s argument that Apple’s App Store changes are spin-deep.)
Each time it makes a concession Apple will hope it’s won back popular support, but the signs are not good. It got more bad news this week, with the announcement that South Korea’s National Assembly has passed a bill prohibiting app store owners from banning developers from using alternative payment systems in their apps (a law that will affect Google too, of course). And new figures suggest that developers are losing interest in the Mac App Store, even if the iOS version remains popular.
That’s the problem with giving ground: it signals to your opponents that you’re willing to make concessions. And it’s unlikely that this will be the last time we talk about pressure on the App Store.
News in brief
Apple published an advisory this week detailing ways to ensure that your MacBook screen doesn’t crack. You’d be forgiven for thinking that such a document would be unnecessary, but it seems that it might have been in response to reports that M1 MacBook Pro and Air screens are breaking rather too easily. As we reported at the beginning of August here: Users reporting that cracks are inexplicably appearing on M1 MacBook screens.
Tim Cook has been Apple’s CEO for ten years, and has spoken publicly about the limits he has placed on his tenure: he won’t be here in another ten years, Cook says, triggering feverish speculation about the likely timing and circumstances of his departure. This week we learned that the feeling within Apple is that he wants to announce one more major category launch – in other words, an entirely new product for the company, rather than another phone or watch – before resigning. Could the much-anticipated AR glasses, or the mysterious Apple Car, be just the ticket?
Apple has decided to delay its controversial iCloud Photo CSAM scanning, following widespread criticism of the plan.
In Different Think, our regular Tuesday column for unusual and awkward opinions, Simon Lohmann curses Apple for trapping him with its ingenious marketing.
We also ask the question Is the M1 MacBook Pro any good for gaming? – and you may be surprised at the answer.
Jason Snell offers some simple advice for Apple and app developers: it’s not about you.
The future of Apple isn’t the iPhone, reckons Dan Moren.
Software, bugs & problems
Is your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro experiencing sound issues? It may qualify for a free Apple repair programme.
Apple has rolled out another firmware update for the AirTag, and we’re not sure why.
The rumour mill
Lots of last-minute rumours about the iPhone 13, which is expected to launch within a couple of weeks. We heard this week that it will feature satellite calling capabilities, although later reports suggested this would only be offered for emergencies, and might not make it into this year’s models at all.
The Apple Watch Series 7 has always been slated for launch alongside the iPhone 13, but production problems at Apple’s suppliers mean it may yet be delayed. The new watch should be worth the wait, however: among other upgrades, it will offer screens that are 14% bigger.
David Price rounds up all the exciting products Apple will launch in September.
Apple deals of the week
I’ve embedded a list of the best current Apple deals below, but other than that, we’re done for this week. See you next Saturday, and stay Appley!
Top 10 Apple Deals
Apple 11in iPad Pro (2021, M1, 2TB) – Wi-Fi + Cellular
Now: £1,314.16 (£584.84 off)
We’re not sure if Amazon will bring back the £639 discount we saw in October on this iPad Pro M1 variant, but almost £600 off is still an excellent deal. See our review of the 11in iPad Pro with M1.
Adobe Creative Cloud – All Apps (1 Year)
Was: £49.94 per month
Now: £39.95 per month (£119.88 off)
Adobe’s slashed 20% off its Creative Cloud subscription prices. The offer ends 14 April.
Apple AirPods 3
Now: £159 (£30 off)
The AirPods 3 offer better battery performance, an updated design, and support for Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ. Save £30 from Amazon.
Smarty 12GB data SIM-Only
Was: £8 per month
Now: £4 per month (50% off for 3 months)
Grab three months of 12GB data for just £4 per month. If you’re after more data, you can see all its plans here. You can cancel anytime.
Apple iPad mini (2021, 6th gen, 64GB, Cellular)
Now: £464 (£155 off)
This is the best deal we’ve seen on the iPad mini you can get the 64GB Cellular (RRP £619) for just £464 – which is less than the RRP for the Wi-Fi model!
Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB (2020)
From: John Lewis
Now: £887 (£112 off)
Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)
Now: £229 (£90 off)
Bag the last gen Watch 6 for under £300 at Amazon’s Spring Sale!
Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, Cellular)
Now: £349 (£160 off)
Amazon’s just slashed £160 off the Watch Series 6 with Cellular connectivity as a part of its Spring Sale.
Apple 10.2in iPad (2021, 256GB, Wi-Fi)
Now: $429 ($50 off)
Save $50 on the latest regular iPad. It’s a great affordable slate that’s perfect for web browsing or video calls.
Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard for iPad Pro 11
Now: £115.99 (£74 off)
Save an excellent £74 on this Logitech keyboard for the iPad Pro 11 – this is currently the best discount we can see. The Combo Touch works with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd gen models.
Now: £79.60 (£19.40 off)
Grab this set of Apple AirTags for just under £80 – that’s a saving of roughly £9 per AirTag, which costs £29 separately.
Apple Watch Series 7 (GPS, 41 mm)
Now: $279 ($120 off)
The Apple Watch Series 7 has a solid $120 discount in Amazon’s Prime Day sale, making it one of the best prices around.
Beats Solo 3 Headphones
Now: £99 (£80 off)
Get £80 off the Beats Solo3 Wireless on-ear headphones (which we gave four stars in our review). They’re available in a range of colours.
Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case
From: John Lewis
Now: £189 (£50 off)
Amazon’s excellent £64 saving on the AirPods Pro from March is no longer available. Multiple sites are selling for £189 (a £50 saving), including AO and Laptops Direct – but we’d go with John Lewis on account of its two-year guarantee.
Apple Watch SE 2021 (44mm, GPS)
Now: £239 (£60 off)
Get a great saving on last year’s Apple Watch SE from Amazon.
Now: £53.99 (£11 off)
Want a more affordable alternative to the Apple Pencil? Check out the Logitech Crayon, which works with all iPads from 2018 and later.
Apple iPhone 12 mini (256GB)
Now: £619.99 (£109.01 off)
The 256GB iPhone 12 mini has over £100 off from Amazon.
Apple iPad mini (2021, 6th gen)
From: Currys PC World
Now: £464 (£15 off)
A handy saving on Apple’s new iPad mini model for 2021, but note that this price applies to the Starlight colour finish only. eBuyer is matching the deal on certain colours.
Apple iPad Air (2022, 256GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular)
Now: £557.62 (£11.38 off)
KRCS has knocked money off the 2022 iPad Air. You will find savings across the whole range.
Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB (2020)
Now: £1,099 (£150 off)
An excellent deal, this. Save money on the MacBook Air with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU from Very. The discount applies to the silver version only.
This deal is only slightly better than Currys who has the silver model for £1,099.97. John Lewis had the same deal, but it is currently out of stock there.