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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An avalanche in a walled garden
A couple of months back, following the quick-fire announcement of multiple concessions to developers, we posted an analysis piece arguing that the App Store was under pressure and
Apple was cracking. There was a real sense of momentum: it felt like complaints about Apple’s unyielding stewardship of the App Store stretching back for years were finally hitting the critical mass needed to effect real change. Walled garden, meet avalanche.
I experienced a similar sensation this week, when Apple revealed plans for a
Self Service Repair programme, under which repair manuals for the company’s products will be made available for free, and authorised parts and tools will be sold online. This was shockingly unexpected, but perhaps shouldn’t have been: it was the final result of years of mounting pressure from the
Right To Repair campaign.
In these two aspects of its business – mobile software distribution and hardware repair – Apple has followed the same template. Resist reform as long as possible, then just before an external body forces its hand (such as the EU drafting
home repair legislation), make the mildest possible version of the reforms ‘voluntarily’ and present it as a PR win in hopes of avoiding something worse.
So let’s look again at the repair programme Apple has announced. It is limited: only the 12- and 13-series iPhones are included initially, with M1 Macs to follow “soon”. It is distant: the programme won’t start until an unspecified point early in 2022 in the US, and other countries will have to wait longer still. There is no indication that the actual design of the phones will change to make them easier to service. And it could and almost certainly will be a more expensive way of sourcing parts than going to third-party sellers.
The press release also reeks of reluctance, with constant reminders that, in Apple’s view, getting your device repaired at an authorised repair store is still the best solution for the vast majority of people. Indeed Tech Advisor’s Dom Preston, in a
podcast I took part in this week, raised the smart point that those free repair manuals are hardly going to be incentivised to make the procedure look easy: they will represent another opportunity to convince readers that home repairs are for experts only.
So overall it is easy to be cynical about the Self Service Repair programme, and see it for what it probably is: a goat tied to a stick to distract a T-Rex. But let’s also give Apple its due. On this front at least it is leading the way. Discounting niche players like
Fairphone, no major Android manufacturer has announced a similar initiative.
Perhaps, when you think of the number of handsets for which detailed repair manuals would need to be created, none of them realistically could. But Apple is often a useful pioneer, giving cover and motivation for rivals to follow suit. And whether or not the intentions that lead to it are pure, we may yet come to enjoy the financial and environmental benefits of a repairs-friendly phone industry, and look back on this week as an important milestone.
Apple’s controversial app adverts
A Forbes exposé has revealed an Apple business practice that the company claims is standard for the industry, but may come as a surprise to some readers: it buys Google adverts for iOS apps with high-value subscriptions (such as HBO and Plenty of Fish), and then directs people searching for that app to the App Store rather than the app owner’s website, in order to capture a 15-30% revenue cut. One anonymous developer described the practice as
David Price was unimpressed by Apple’s response to the article, denouncing the company’s “shabby greed” in this week’s
Different Think column and comparing its supposed rebuttal to the hollow cynicism of Captain Renault in Casablanca: harsh words indeed. The Macalope, meanwhile, argued that Apple had
hit a new low.
News in brief
Way back in 2013 Apple Store employees in California complained they were subject to bag searches off the clock, which in some cases could add 45 minutes of unpaid time to their working day. The class-action lawsuit was thrown out in 2015, but revived last year, and Apple has now agreed to
pay out nearly $30m to the staff affected.
Whatever replaces the iPhone as the industry’s defining product,
Apple Silicon will be crucial for the company’s next breakthrough, says Samuel Nyberg.
Hard times for electronics manufacturers, which according to iPhone maker Foxconn face a continuing chip shortage stretching
into the second half of 2022. Not even Apple is immune to such factors, and those who intend to buy an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch over the next six months (and maybe more!) can expect short supplies and long waits. More discussion of this in the video of the week, below.
accelerating plans to make a fully self-driving car, according to a new report.
Defence lawyers in the ongoing Kyle Rittenhouse court case have sought a mistrial, complaining that video evidence sent to them by the prosecution was
compressed by the Mail app on a prosecutor’s iPhone.
If Apple keeps letting its software slip,
the next big thing won’t matter, reckons Dan Moren.
Don’t believe those lying Alder Lake vs M1 Pro benchmarks, advises the Macalope.
Apple’s Focus mode is too complicated. Jason Cross explains
how to make it better.
The M1 Mac mini is a great device, but should you hold out for the next model instead? Martyn Casserly offers
detailed buying advice.
Video of the week
The ongoing chip shortage and supply chain disruption continue to disrupt tech buyers, and the Christmas/holiday season is likely to further complicate the issue. Tech buyers should expect stock shortages and longer delivery timelines.
While some retailers, like Apple, are beginning to catch up with hardware demand, customers are waiting longer for their devices than in previous years. Even though it might take a while to receive your device, there’s still some good news: if it breaks, you’ll be permitted to fix it yourself. Apple will roll out its Self Service Repair programme in 2022, allowing iPhone 12 and 13 users to buy tools and ‘genuine’ replacement parts and fix their devices themselves.
Michael Simon and Ken Mingis join Juliet Beauchamp to discuss what tech buyers need to know ahead of the shopping season, including predicted deals, availability and delivery problems. They also explain what they know about Apple’s new Right to Repair programme and how it could change the repair process.
Three new reviews this week. We would heartily recommend that you feast your eyes upon them:
We’ve also written two new head-to-head comparisons:
The work goes on, and there’s always more to do. Next week you should be able to look forward to, at long last, our Apple Watch Series 7 review.
Software, bugs & problems
iOS 15.2 software update, expected to roll out within a month, will put a stop to a feature/bug on the iPhone 13 that stopped Face ID from working if the system detected a third-party replacement screen. You’ll still see a warning message that it’s “unable to determine if your iPhone display is a genuine Apple part”, but at least
Face ID will work.
At the start of this month we covered the
‘memory leak’ bug in macOS Monterey, which caused applications to suddenly gobble up vastly more memory than expected. We may now have a culprit, and a cure: users have spotted than
changing the colour of the mouse pointer can get things back to normal.
Also in fix news, Apple has shipped iOS 15.1.1 to iPhone 12 and 13 owners; it should
solve the dropped-call problem those handsets had previously experienced.
The rumour mill
Looking forward to the
second-gen AirPods Pro, which most of us have been expecting to finally arrive in the spring of 2022? Time to wipe that smile off your face, because the latest rumour says they won’t be here until
the autumn of next year, a full three years after the original launch.
Early days to be talking about the iPhone 14, admittedly, but nobody can stop the rumour mill spinning. And this week it spun up a tasty tale about the faster, more stable
Wi-Fi 6E standard.
Apple deals of the week
We’re getting ever closer to
Black Friday (which is on 26 November, so mark your calendars) and there are some appealing deals out there already. To give you an idea of what’s likely to appear next week, Karen Haslam outlines the
Apple deals to expect this Black Friday.
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, enjoy your weekend, and stay Appley!
Top 10 Apple Deals
Apple 11in iPad Pro (2021, M1, 2TB) – Wi-Fi + Cellular
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
£39.95 per month
Adobe’s slashed 20% off its Creative Cloud subscription prices. The offer ends 14 April.
Apple AirPods 3
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
£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)
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
For some time a gang of retailers have been offering the entry level MacBook Air for £889, but this month John Lewis has dropped the price to £887, RRP £999. Very has the same deal.
You can also get the £999 MacBook Air with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU in gold for £889 from Currys or Amazon, and AO.
Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)
Bag the last gen Watch 6 for under £300 at Amazon’s Spring Sale!
Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, Cellular)
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)
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
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.
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)
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
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
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)
Get a great saving on last year’s Apple Watch SE from Amazon.
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)
The 256GB iPhone 12 mini has over £100 off from Amazon.
Apple iPad mini (2021, 6th gen)
From: Currys PC World
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)
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)
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.