Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.
Spring is cancelled
Given the unflagging interest of the media and general public, I sometimes wonder why Apple doesn’t hold a press event every month. Let’s be honest, we’d still watch even if it was just Craig Federighi making humorous observations about airline food in front of a brick wall.
Perhaps 12 events a year would be pushing it. But we’ve heard nothing since December and the unreleased products are piling up – and yet it’s looking increasingly likely that there won’t be a spring event this year.
Sources this week claimed that a new iPad Pro will launch on 13 April, but there won’t be an event to announce it. Presumably Apple will send out a discreet press release and we’ll all go about our day.
The iPad Pro was only one of the new products expected to launch at an event in April, of course (the other obvious candidates are a new Apple TV and the AirTags object tracker – we think the new AirPods will have to wait until the autumn), but it would now be extremely odd if Apple holds an event for those other items and didn’t think to roll the new iPad into the same presentation.
Maybe the new stuff simply isn’t exciting enough? Cynics might point out that such considerations never stopped Apple in the past, but that would be a little unfair. And based on leaked photos of updated iPad dummies, there isn’t much to write home about in terms of exterior changes.
Image courtesy of Sonny Dickson
Adding to the confusion, Apple did do a small announcement this week, and it too undercut the portfolio of products we thought would be announced at a proper event. The company announced that its Find My app will soon work with third-party object trackers… so who needs an AirTag?
Tim Cook’s 10-year plan
Talking of Tim Cook, a big podcast interview was released this week with Apple’s likeable and famously hard-working CEO. As ever the nuance of his wide-ranging comments was lost in the excitement of the headline soundbite, so let’s get this out of the way: Cook doesn’t think he’ll still be Apple boss in ten years’ time.
Upon a moment’s reflection that doesn’t seem especially surprising. Cook will be 70 at that point; he’s been doing this for nearly a decade already; and the pace at which he works is unrelenting, and the pressure intense. Remember too that he isn’t a founder running on passion, but a logistics man brought in to keep the ship steady. Call me a quitter but I don’t want to be writing Apple Breakfast when I’m 70.
(As an aside, our colleagues on Macworld US this week asked readers to vote on who should be Apple’s CEO when Cook finally stands down. The results will shock you!)
Anyway, aside from the news that Tim Cook doesn’t plan on doing this forever, the key takeaways from the interview are his obvious interest in AR and autonomous vehicles, and his instinctive reticence when discussing Apple’s plans in those areas. “We’ll see what Apple does,” he said unyieldingly in response to a question about the Apple Car.
Batting questions away must get tiring after a while, and who could blame him for making (distant) retirement plans.
Apple facing legal heat
Troubling news for Apple this week on the legal front, as the judge presiding over the ‘Flexgate’ class-action lawsuit appeared to agree with one of the plaintiffs’ most salient arguments. Judge Edward Davila sided with dissatisfied MacBook owners who claimed Apple must have known about the fault with their laptops, and carried on selling them anyway.
This all stems from a display problem that afflicted MacBook Pros made between late 2016 and early 2018, whereby the backlights of some units stopped working entirely, while others experienced unwanted bright areas along the lower edge of the screen. It turned out that the problem was caused by a flex cable that was slightly too short (hence the name) but Apple didn’t acknowledge this for a long time – and the firm may now be punished for its response.
While we’re on the legal beat, the dispute with Epic Games continues, and Apple got its chance this week to make some arguments of its own.
According to lengthy internal documents presented by Cupertino lawyers, Epic hatched a plan to attack Apple (and Google) as early as 2008, under a scheme later known as Project Liberty. If true, this would prove two things: that Fortnite being kicked out of the App Store was a convenient pretext rather than the real reason behind the two firms’ animosity; and that tech companies have never-ending supplies of pomposity and self-regard.
“Project Liberty.” I bet Laurence Fox wishes he thought of that one.
News in brief
This could be a great year for Apple. An analyst has predicted that the company will sell up to 250 million iPhones in 2021, beating its 2015 record. (Perhaps it could improve sales by not making an iPhone 13 mini.)
Because key components are soldered directly to the motherboard, it was thought impossible to replace the RAM and storage of an M1 Mac. But a Chinese engineer has proved that it can be done. It sounds risky, and we wouldn’t recommend you try it at home.
Snap, the owner of Snapchat, has reportedly been looking at ways to bypass Apple’s new privacy rules.
A whopping 9 out of 10 iPhone users are running iOS 14, giving another demonstration of Apple’s astonishing ability to herd its user base on to a consistent platform. (Those software nags probably help.)
Forget Hey Siri. You’ll soon be able to say “Hey Spotify” to trigger that service on your iPhone – and some users already can.
Bugs & problems
The production of new iPads and Macs has been delayed as a result of worldwide chip shortages, reports Nikkei.
The rumour mill
A mysterious tweet from a usually reliable leaker has sparked a rumour that the next iMac will have the biggest screen yet. The leaker then appeared to claim the whole thing was a joke, but the last time they walked back a prediction it turned out to be completely accurate.
You’d be forgiven for feeling confused about the iPhone 13‘s notch – some say it’s staying, some that it’s going, and others that it’s changing size. And even that last group are split between the ones who say it’s getting narrower and those who say it’s getting shorter.
The latest leak, confusingly, says it will be significantly narrower but a tiny bit taller. We’re talking half a millimetre, so try not to fret.
As for the iPhone 13’s A15 processor, we don’t know much about the technical details, but we do know it’s happening. Supply-chain sources expect the chip to go into mass production as early as next month.
We’ve got yet another clue that there will be a new Apple TV soon. This time code in the latest tvOS beta indicates that a 120Hz model is coming.
There’s a giant iPhone SE in the works, but it won’t launch until 2023.
Patent activity suggests that future iPhones and Apple Watches could remind you to charge them.
Apple has also patented a keyboard-free MacBook. What an idea!
And that’s it for this week. Stay Appley!