Apple announced its Self Service Repair program this week and, of course, Dave and I have different views on the topic. We talk about the pros and cons of the program and who will benefit. We also talk about a feature in Google Maps called “busyness,” and some the TV shows we’re currently watching.
Starting with watchOS 8, Apple introduced a new accessibility feature called Assistive Touch. The cool thing about this feature is that it allows you to control the watch via gestures and your arm movements. Meaning, now you don’t even need to touch the Apple Watch screen to use it.
Using on-device machine learning, the feature makes use of the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart rate sensor to read how your muscles and tendons move. The result is that the watch can tell when you’re pinching your fingers or clenching your fists. You can also enable a motion-based cursor that works like a mini-mouse when you tilt your arm.
Great post, love the animated GIFs that show various gestures at work.
This appears to be a cause for celebration in right-to-repair circles, but I don’t see it as a big deal at all. Almost no one wants to repair their own cracked iPhone display or broken MacBook keyboard; even fewer people are actually competent enough to do so.
Not sure how big the audience for right-to-repair is, but I do count myself in its number. And if it was easier to do, I suspect that number would be much larger. Imagine if repairing a cracked display was a simple, five minute operation. Wouldn’t you rather order the new display and make the swap yourself?
It used to be relatively easy to customize and repair your gear. As parts have given way to part assemblies (glued/soldered assemblies that become a single replaceable requirement, even if a single part fails) and the quest for smaller makes devices harder to open, harder to take apart, the ability to repair your own gear has become harder, almost impossible.
So those small numbers John points out are real. But should this be the way it is? Again, wouldn’t you love the ability to swap out a display as easily as you used to be able to swap out RAM on your old Macs?
More from Gruber:
Nothing announced today changes the fact that Apple still requires Apple genuine parts for all authorized repairs, no matter who does the repairing.
Today’s announcement, to my eyes, is about nothing more than reducing regulatory pressure from legislators who’ve fallen for the false notion that Apple’s repair policies, to date, have been driven by profit motive — that Apple profits greatly from authorized repairs, and/or that their policies are driven by a strategy of planned obsolescence, to get people to buy new products rather than repair broken old ones.
Going into an Apple Store with a problem has never felt like a money grab scheme to me. I’ve always felt like the support staff wants me to leave satisfied. If they can find a way to get me a fix without spending money, they’ll do so. But when there’s no way but to replace a parts assembly for $900 on an out-of-AppleCare device, that’s what they do.
Don’t get me wrong: this program is nice, and perhaps a bit surprising given Apple’s public stance on the issue in recent years. We’re better off with this Self Service Repair program in place than we were without it. (Making service manuals available might actually help extend the lifetime of older devices for which Apple no longer sells parts.) But to me it clearly seems to be a small deal, not a “big deal”, as Chen claims.
I agree. It’s a big deal for folks who want to do their own repairs, but for the vast majority, it doesn’t change a thing.
Questions: Will Apple expand the parts they offer for Self Repair beyond those offered in their existing Independent Repair Provider program. For example, will we be able to repair, say, charging ports? Might we be able to buy parts for our devices and bring the part and device to an independent repair shop (perhaps bringing the shop a part they cannot get from Apple)?
If you follow the Right to Repair movement, you are certainly familiar with Louis Rossman. He’s made passing Right to Repair legislation his life’s work.
As you are no doubt aware, yesterday Apple announced their Self Service Repair program. Louis Rossman’s take on the program, laced with a healthy dose of skepticism, is embedded below.
In a nutshell, Louis lays out his issues with Apple’s existing Independent Repair Provider program, and expresses concern that this new Self Service Repair program will suffer from those same issues. If you care about Right to Repair, take the time to watch the video. Louis does make his case about the IRP program pretty clearly.
And he does make this statement:
Do this right, and we can start from scratch, let bygones be bygones, and I will give you all the credit in the world. No shade. I am serious. I have no problem giving Apple credit. Do this right. If they do this right, I will buy and use a Macbook as my daily driver. Not even meming.
I do not see the same downsides in this new program, which is focused on individuals and not shops. No inventory issues (repair shops need to stock parts which, according to Louis, Apple prevents), since individuals will just order what they need. And waiting for a part is no different than waiting for Apple to ship out your device, and does not require a trip to the Apple Store.
One question that Louis does raise, that we won’t know for some time, is how granular a repair Apple’s new program will allow. Can I order just the part I need (say, a $100 MacBook LED display vs a $900 display assembly)? If so, that would be a home run for do-it-yourselfers.
Back in August, Apple said that it would pay out $100 million and make several changes to the App Store to settle a class-action lawsuit brought about by developers, and the settlement offer received preliminary approval yesterday
How much will developers get?
Developers who earned $1 million or less through the U.S. storefront for their apps in every calendar year between June 4, 2015 and April 26, 2021 can receive between $250 and $30,000.
Sounds like a floor of $250. Not nothing.
As to the timing?
Going forward, briefs, papers, and memoranda in support of the final approval of the settlement must be filed by April 29, 2022, and a Fairness and Final Approval Hearing will take place on June 7, 2022. If and when final approval is granted, developers will begin to receive money from Apple.
Apple yesterday released the third developer and public betas of iOS 15.2, and in addition to the changes reported yesterday, the update also includes a notable tweak to the Music application. For the first time, you can now search within a playlist for a specific song.
This does deserve a “finally”. Especially if you put effort into building a playlist of favorites that you listen to regularly.
In typical Apple fashion, the search bar is hidden within the user interface. To find the new search field, open a playlist in the Music app on your iPhone, then swipe down from the top to reveal the new “Search” field.
That pulldown to reveal the search bar is low discoverability but, to be fair, it is a device used pretty consistently throughout iOS.
Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.
The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.
Big news for the right-to-repair movement and for folks (like me) who like fixing their own stuff.
And, on Apple’s just announced Self Service Repair Online Store:
To ensure a customer can safely perform a repair, it’s important they first review the Repair Manual. Then a customer will place an order for the Apple genuine parts and tools using the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store. Following the repair, customers who return their used part for recycling will receive credit toward their purchase.
The new store will offer more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers to complete the most common repairs on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.
You order a replacement part from Apple, return the used part for credit. The only thing missing is the ability to use parts from 3rd parties for repairs.
As the announcement says, Self Service Repair will open up early 2022 in the US. I’ll definitely be giving it a try.
Discovering they had to get on the phone to cancel a subscription they signed up for online rankled several respondents in our survey looking at why people canceled their news subscriptions. The reaction to the call-to-cancel policy ranged from “an annoyance” and “ridiculous” to “shady” and “oppressive.”
A study of 526 news organizations in the United States found that only 41% make it easy for people to cancel subscriptions online, and more than half trained customer service reps in tactics to dissuade customers who call to unsubscribe.
There are many examples of this heinous practice, something the FTC refers to as “Negative option marketing”.
ROSCA requires negative option sellers to provide a simple, reasonable means for consumers to cancel their contracts. To meet this standard, negative option sellers should provide cancellation mechanisms that are at least as easy to use as the method the consumer used to initiate the negative option feature.
In addition, negative option sellers should provide their cancellation mechanisms at least through the same medium (such as website or mobile application) the consumer used to consent to the negative option feature.
That last bit is critical. If, say, a service lets me sign up on a web site, they can’t make me use a different medium to cancel. So if I sign up on the web, they can’t make me cancel on the phone, they have to allow me to cancel on the web.
Whether you’re heading to your hometown or exploring a new city, you can use Area Busyness, a new feature that combines live busyness trends to help you instantly spot when a neighborhood or part of town is near or at its busiest.
Want more info? Tap on a neighborhood to see how busy it is at different times of day, along with the restaurants, shops and recreational places (like a museum) within it, so you can decide if you want to visit.
And for malls, airports, train stations, etc.:
To help you find your way around large buildings fast, we’re expanding the Directory tab globally on Android and iOS for all airports, malls and transit stations around the world. Now, when we have this data available, you can quickly see what types of stores are in a building (like toy stores or jewelry boutiques), airport lounges, car rentals, parking lots and more. And within each category, you can see a list of the relevant businesses, in addition to helpful information about whether it’s open, its rating and what floor it’s on.
And “pickup with Google Maps”:
Once you place your order from the retailer, pickup with Google Maps lets you track your order status, share your ETA and let the store know you’ve arrived, all from the app.
As of today, it’s now available in over 2,000 store locations in more than 30 states across the U.S. People who use pickup with Google Maps typically wait less than five minutes for their groceries, meaning you can grab exactly what you need and get right back to your day.
This all feels like a challenge for Apple Maps, especially the funneling of store order pickup relationships to Google Maps.
It’s no secret at this point that Apple is becoming more interested in the sports segment, as the company has been investing and hiring related professionals to work in its TV division. 9to5Mac has now found evidence to support these rumors, including a new “SportsKit” framework for iOS and tvOS apps.
The “SportsKit” home screen widget includes the ability to receive real-time updates of sports matches. Right now, Siri can already show sports scores, so Apple probably wants to expand this interaction to other parts of iOS and tvOS.
Apple has been reportedly building its own sports platform to be part of the company’s Apple TV+ streaming service.
I’ve noticed a fair number of notifications (for quite some time now, not new) about live sporting events on Apple TV. Watching a show, and we’ll see something like “Close game, 76ers vs Bucks, tied, 4th quarter”, with the ability to click for more info, or to watch the game.
I can imagine a customizable dashboard, tracking all my favorite teams, with live scores and links to channels carrying the games, maybe even supporting picture-in-picture so I could flip between the tracked games and keep the scores and highlights on the screen.
I suspect fans would pay for a better sports experience, too, much in the way they pay for the NFL Red Zone channel. Feels like an opportunity for Apple.
Qualcomm is looking to seriously beef up its PC processors, with the company announcing plans for a next-generation Arm-based SoC “designed to set the performance benchmark for Windows PCs” that would be able to go head to head with Apple’s M-series processors.
The new chip will be designed by the Nuvia team, which Qualcomm had bought earlier this year in a massive $1.4 billion acquisition. Nuvia, notably, was founded in 2019 by a trio of former Apple employees who had previously worked on the company’s A-series chips.
Taking this with a grain of salt.
Qualcomm doesn’t expect their first of the new generation of chips in consumer machines before 2023, and I’d expect Apple to be at least one generation further along by then (with the M2 rumored to drop in 2022).
The video embedded below starts with an Intel version of Reason, running on a specced out M1 Max MacBook Pro, duplicating tracks until the app stutters and then fails.
If time is short, jump to about 3:54 in to start with 5 tracks (details in the upper-right corner). The tracks are duplicated 5 at a time. At 40 tracks, the performance hit starts to become obvious.
Frankly, I was surprised by this result. Rosetta 2 is such an incredible piece of engineering, I just expect it to succeed at every task.
Now we switch over to the same track, but running in the M1 native Logic Pro. Go to 6:11 to start with 5 tracks. Take a guess how many tracks it processes before the Mac comes to its knees. No spoilers. Worth watching.
Continue to watch your favorite movie, TV show or a live event via Picture-in-Picture (PiP) while interacting with other apps or websites.
Rent or buy new-release movies and popular TV shows (availability varies by marketplace). Multi-user profiles allow creating personalized entertainment experiences.
Go behind the scenes of movies and TV shows with exclusive X-Ray access, powered by IMDb.
Watch on iPhone and iPad by downloading the separate iOS app (requires iOS 12.1 version or later).
Watch on Apple TV by downloading the separate tvOS app (requires Apple TV 3rd generation or later).
To me, this app is a huge improvement over watching Amazon Video on the Amazon web site. It’s miles more focused, without the retail clutter (do I want to buy a DVD of a movie or just watch it?) and search and show management is much better than the Apple TV interface.
This is also a big step for the Mac, a sign of recognition that a native app is worth the investment.
It seems that Apple has quietly added a new tool in macOS Monterey for measuring your device’s Internet connectivity quality. You can simply call the executable networkQuality, which executes the following tests:
Upload/download flows, this seems to be the number of test packets used for the responsiveness tests
Upload/download responsiveness measured in Roundtrips Per Minute (RPM), which according to Apple, is the number of sequential round-trips, or transactions, a network can do in one minute under normal working conditions
The advantages of networkQuality tool:
While these tools measure a few more metrics like latency to a target server, they both only measure capacity, and do this only in serial mode (the download and upload speed tests are done sequentially one after the other).
On the other hand, networkQuality measures the upload/download capacity and responsiveness in parallel by default
To test this yourself, fire up Terminal (it’s in Applications > Utilities) and type networkQuality (don’t sweat the cap Q in the middle, either will work). I’ve found that there are significant differences between the upload/download speeds reported by networkQuality and web-based tools like speedtest.net.
The Apple Network Responsiveness test reports its results using a measure called Round-trips Per Minute (RPM). The RPM is the number of sequential round-trips, or transactions, a network can do in one minute under normal working conditions.
Guessing the differences are the measurement metrics, as well as a different destination server for each. Please do ping me with any insights.
The metaverse (a portmanteau of “meta-” and “universe”) is a hypothesized iteration of the internet, supporting persistent online 3-D virtual environments through conventional personal computing, as well as virtual and augmented reality headsets.
As Mark says in his post, the Metaverse is the next big battleground, not yet here, but definitely coming in the next few years, much as 5G loomed big, was massively hyped, and is now baked in, expected.
To get a sense of the current state-of-the-metaverse, watch the video embedded below, as Joanna Stern straps on a headset and dives in deep. It’s obviously early days still, but I found this a great intro into what the fuss is all about.
And don’t worry about the lack of legs. They’ll be here soon enough.
Watch Andrew Huang showing off the quality of the built-in mic in the new M1 MacBook Pro. Don’t miss that bit right at 1:35 where he gives a sense of the mic’s location under the left hand speaker grill.
A few weeks back, I posted a tweet showing how macOS Monterey lets you customize your mouse cursor pointer color. If you did that, might want to go back and tap the reset button (it’s just to the right of the color wells).
Here’s Howard Oakley on why:
You will no doubt have heard of the claimed memory leak in macOS Monterey 12.0.1. Thanks to the work of the engineers at Mozilla, its cause has now been identified.
The cause has now been isolated to a single group of settings in one preference pane, Accessibility. All Macs which appear to suffer this leak are using custom pointer controls in the Pointer tab of the Display, specifically a larger than normal Pointer size and custom outline and fill colours.
Guessing this’ll soon be fixed, but good to know. Read Howard’s post for more detail.
When the Pixel 6 was announced, one of the most intriguing features that Google highlighted was the ability to digitally remove people and things from a photo. Dubbed as Magic Eraser, the option can “clean” your pics from passersby, random strangers, and unwanted objects that take away the attention from the main subject of your shot. It’s a neat trick, and many of us have been putting it through its paces to see how well it performs.
This is a feature I’d love to see built in to iOS and iPadOS, in the same way as Live Text is baked right in, available everywhere (mostly). There are apps that do this sort of trickery, but it’d be nice to see this built into Photos, as part of the photo editing toolkit.
Follow the headline link, check out the examples. I find they all suffer from the uncanny valley effect, a feeling that something is not quite right. Guessing part of the issue is the fact that shadows are left behind, even as the object is erased, and there’s also a feeling of uneven edges, perhaps due to fingers being used, rather than a fine line tool like an Apple Pencil or a mouse.
This week, Dave and I talk about fixing contact pronunciation in the contacts app, as well as using the new Apple Maps released in iOS 15.2 beta with CarPlay. Dave gives us his thoughts on Tom Hanks’ new movie Finch, and Dexter is back.
With the release of iOS 15, looks like that old way is gone, making way for a new, dedicated phonetic-pronunciation field in the Contacts app.
Follow the headline link for the walkthrough but, in a nutshell:
Open a contact, tap “Edit”
Scroll down towards the bottom, tap “add field”
Tap a new field to add, type in a pronunciation
There are fields for “Phonetic first name” and “Pronunciation first name”. Not clear to me what the difference is, but I can tell you that when Jim Dalrymple texts me, Siri tells me it’s Beardy McBeardyFace, so I know it works. Very satisfying.
With the iOS 15.2 beta that was released today, Apple has added enhancements to the Find My app. There’s a new feature that’s designed to let users scan for AirTags or Find My-enabled items that might be tracking them.
When opening the Find My app after installing the beta and going to the “Items” tab, there’s an option for “Items That Can Track Me.” Tapping on this allows users to search for nearby items that might be used to track their location.
It’s in the beta, no guarantee that this makes it into the next public iOS 15 update.
Apple today announced Apple Business Essentials, an all-new service that brings together device management, 24/7 Apple Support, and iCloud storage into flexible subscription plans for small businesses with up to 500 employees. The company also unveiled a new Apple Business Essentials app that enables employees to install apps for work and request support.
On configuring users:
Within Apple Business Essentials, Collections enable IT personnel to configure settings and apps for individual users, groups, or devices. When employees sign in to their corporate or personally owned device with their work credentials, Collections automatically push settings such as VPN configurations and Wi-Fi passwords. In addition, Collections will install the new Apple Business Essentials app on each employee’s home screen, where they can download corporate apps assigned to them, such as Cisco Webex or Microsoft Word.
You can also enforce File Vault encryption on employee Macs, and enforced Activation Lock for all devices.
There’s a dedicated iCloud account with automated backup for iOS and iPadOS devices, as well as for all data/documents stored in iCloud. Not clear to me how that backup is managed for Macs, beyond documents the user stores in iCloud.
Core to the setup is Collections, which let the admin set up app collections for, say, design, engineering, sales, and all employees.
Create a smart user group based on rules like location, role, or team. Then assign Collections to that group to set up their devices. And when you import users from Microsoft Azure Active Directory, they automatically receive their apps and settings when they’re added to the group.
On users being able to use their personal devices:
User Enrollment makes it easy for employees to enroll their personal devices — and get them set up for work. Personal data on their devices stays private, and everything stays secure.
There’s also onsite repairs (“in as little as 4 hours”):
Each plan with AppleCare+ for Business Essentials includes up to two repairs that refresh annually, but they’re not tied to any one device or user. You can apply them to any device enrolled in an AppleCare+ for Business Essentials plan.
Single Device: $2.99/month, 50GB storage
Multi-device: $6.99/month per user, Up to 3 devices/user, 200GB of storage.
Multi-device, more storage: $12.99/month per user, Up to 3 devices/user, 2TB of storage.
While Apple isn’t generally transparent about audience number specifics, insiders said that the Miguel Sapochnik-directed apocalyptic drama became Apple TV+’s most watch film by eclipsing Hanks’ previous Apple film, the WWII thriller Greyhound. Apple would not divulge specific numbers but sources said that Finch premiered in over 100 countries, more than doubled its opening day audience as the weekend progressed, and generated the largest opening weekend ever on the two-year old Apple TV+.
Tom Hanks and Apple TV+ were made for each other. Finch is worth watching on a number of levels, including the transparent perfection of Tom Hanks’ acting (he becomes the character, flaws and all) and the immersive special effects (the world is seamless and believable, great CGI).
Know going in that Finch is more a character study than a classic sci-fi action film, so if you’re cool with that, go watch it.
When iOS 15 was first introduced in June, Apple outlined a new Digital Legacy feature that’s designed to let you set a person as your Legacy Contact, giving the person access to your Apple ID account and personal information in the event of your death.
The Legacy Contact option can be accessed by opening up the Settings app, tap on your profile picture and then select “Password & Security.” From there, choose “Legacy Contact” from the list and you can select a trusted person to access your account after you pass away.
Been waiting for this. My Mom died last year and, try as we might, we were never able to get Apple to give us access to her phone to get her pictures and notes.
I do appreciate the privacy protection, but if we had the legacy contact feature when she was still alive, we’d definitely have used it. Really happy to have this.
As it’s getting towards the end of the year, I’ve been on the look out for nominations for the title of the most improved utility of the year. I’m delighted to announce not just a nomination, but an outright winner: Disk Utility 21.0, bundled with Monterey. After four years in which it had offered frustratingly limited support for the new features of APFS, Disk Utility is now complete: this version has excellent support for snapshots, no matter which app created them.
If you’ve got Monterey installed, fire up Disk Utility (it’s in Applications > Utilities). Take a look at the various menu items, most importantly:
To engage its new powers, select a volume and use the Show APFS Snapshots command in its View menu. This opens a new table view in the lower part of the main view in which the selected volume’s snapshots are listed.
Those snapshots will appear in a new section at the bottom of the main pane. Jump back to Howard’s walkthrough to get a sense of what you can do with these.
Following an Android launch last week, Netflix has now launched its new Games initiative on iOS. Netflix subscribers can now enjoy the following games on iPhone and iPad: Stranger Things 1984, Stranger Things 3, Shooting Hoops, Card Blast, and Teeter (Up!).
Interestingly, the Netflix PR implies that the games will be in the Netflix app itself, as shown in this tweet:
Netflix Games is coming to iOS! Starting tomorrow, you can access Netflix Games through the Netflix app on any mobile device, anywhere in the world. pic.twitter.com/LoHYFi4xBX
The games did not require me to login to Netflix to get started, so guessing they somehow see my Netflix login validation somehow. It’ll be interesting to follow the growth of Netflix games, see how it changes over time.
Soon after the iPhone 13 launched, repair experts found that swapping out iPhone 13 screens would break Face ID unless you also moved over a tiny control chip from the original screen. It’s a complex process that makes one of the most common types of repairs prohibitively difficult for independent repair shops.
More to the point:
Apple-authorized repair shops, on the other hand, have access to a software tool that can make a phone accept a new screen.
So what’s changed?
Apple tells The Verge it will release a software update that doesn’t require you to transfer the microcontroller to keep Face ID working after a screen swap.