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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Apple’s office obsession
Right now, an awful lot of us are having to accept drastic Omicron-induced alterations to our Christmas plans. (RIP, les vacances françaises.) And even the richest tech company in the history of the world is not immune to the effects of the pandemic.
Regular readers of this website may stifle a yawn on hearing the news that, yet again, Apple has postponed its return to the office. Having previously hoped to restore office-based normality by February, the company is now back to “a date yet to be determined”. We heard the same story in the summer, and even that wasn’t the first time.
It sounds like the right decision, of course: the safety of the company’s employees should always come first. But for the same reason it strikes us as odd that Apple has been so repeatedly keen, since early in 2020, to end lockdown restrictions as early as possible. We recognise that in-person interactions are highly valued at Cupertino (if you recall, the horizontal and vertical layout of Apple Park was carefully optimised for exactly this reason) but rushing back too early can only be counterproductive.
Given that Apple is a technology company with its own messaging and videoconferencing software packages, it’s hard to understand what it has against remote working. Maybe there’s a concern about secrecy: product leaks seemed to be more common when designers had to take prototypes home to work on. Or maybe we’re seeing that old-fashioned suspicion that people are not as efficient when they haven’t got a boss looking over their shoulder.
Whatever the reason, Apple’s obsession with onsite working risks further alienating its put-upon workforce, who pushed back against office plans this summer and have this year raised other concerns about working conditions. This year, businesses in every sector have been discovering that employees are perfectly happy to leave if remote-working policies are not to their liking, and the last thing Apple needs right now is an exodus of talent.
News in brief
Apple’s App Store monopoly needs to end, argues Anders Lundberg in this week’s controversial Different Think column.
Private emails released as part of Apple’s lawsuit with Epic Games reveal the lengths Microsoft was willing to go to in order to launch Xbox Cloud Gaming on the App Store. The company even offered several Xbox exclusives to iPhone gamers, but negotiations broke down when Apple insisted that Microsoft would have to package the entire streaming tech stack into each individual game and update thousands of apps over and over again.
Apple’s anticlimactic 2021 was all too predictable, reckons Jason Snell.
An outspoken critic of Apple Music claims to have received a personal response from none other than Tim Cook.
The Apple Music Voice Plan is a small step toward an iPhone-less future, prophesies Michael Simon – although Tamara Palmer, who’s tried it out, describes it as “equal parts fun and frustration”.
Want to know some great ideas for tech presents? Take a look at Hack The Holidays, a new site devoted to gift ideas put together by our colleagues on PC World.
Video of the week
Talking of Hack The Holidays, here’s one of our favourite videos from the site: Gordon Ung unwrapping and demonstrating a cool Star Wars gift for, as Gordon and Princess Leia both put it, the scruffy-looking nerf-herder in your life.
Software, bugs & problems
The iOS 15.2 update was finally made available to the public on Monday 13 December 2021. The iOS 15.2 update allows Apple to address bugs and add some of the previously announced features that hadn’t yet made it into iOS 15. The new features include SharePlay, Apple Music Voice Plan, Legacy Contact, and much more. For more details read: What’s in iOS 15.2.
iOS 15.2 also offers some new protections for children, including a warning about explicit content in iMessage and protection for searches via Siri, Spotlight and Safari. These changes were announced by the company earlier in 2021.The protections mean that in iOS 15.2 parents can activate warnings should their children receive or send explicit content. What the update doesn’t include is a scan of iCloud Photos for pictures that represent child sexual abuse material, which was something Apple said it would be doing, but Apple appears to have backtracked on this following a backlash.
At the same time Apple also made an update to macOS Monterey available, which introduces many of the same new features along with new options in Memories in Photos and changes in the TV app. For more details read: What’s in macOS Monterey 12.1?
Safari also got an update that means that it can support more colours. Read about that in Safari 15.2 brings better pictures.
Unfortunately a bug seems to have prevented some M1 Mac users from seeing the macOS 12.1 update – but there’s a workaround.
Apple also Apple issued security updates for older versions of macOS: Big Sur version 11.6.2 closed 31 vulnerabilities. Another 27 gaps were closed in an update to macOS Catalina.
The Log4Shell bug paralysed IT departments around the world last week, but Apple was quick to patch the vulnerability in iCloud.
The rumour mill
The long-awaited folding iPhone won’t launch until 2023 at the earliest, according to a reliable analyst. At the earliest. And it’s more likely to be 2024. And now we’re depressed.
Apple from 2015 to 2021: We’ll keep the iPhone’s rear-facing cameras at exactly 12MP. There’s no reason to offer more than that. Apple in 2022 (reportedly): GREAT NEWS! WE’RE QUADRUPLING THE NUMBER OF MEGAPIXELS.
Miss the iMac Pro? It looks like we’ll get a new one in the spring. Curious about the even more powerful Mac Pro? Read about how a quadra M1 Max could be used for the Mac Pro.
A few years back we amused ourselves speculating about possible names for the next version of macOS, from Eureka to Shafter. But recent trademark activity suggests that Apple is thinking of something slightly hairier for 2022: Mammoth.
The 2022 Mac generating the most excitement is, arguably, the MacBook Air, which is said to be getting a redesign and a M2 chip. But when will it arrive? Find out more in our roundup of all the leaks and rumours: Everything you need to know about the 2022 MacBook Air.
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, enjoy your weekend, 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.