Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes confirmation of the iPhone 11 launch date, why Apple should not be scared of the Galaxy Note 10, the dangerous 2020 iPhone design, delaying the return of TouchID, FaceID on the MacBook Pro, Apple’s big bug hunt bounty, a sneaky battery hack, and the ASMR audio loophole in ‘Shot On iPhone’
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Major Leak Reveals iPhone 11 Launch Date
Apple traditionally announces the new iPhones in early September, with availability later in the month in key territories before rolling out the handsets around the world. Thanks to Ken Miyauchi – President of Japanese company SoftBank – we now know the key launch date. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly explains:
In answering a question about how Softbank planned to manage the launch of the iPhone, Miyauchi said a new Japanese telecommunications business law coming into effect on October 1 meant the company would be left waiting 10 full days after the launch of the iPhone before it could begin its own sales.
That pins the iPhone 11 launch date to September 20 (a Friday), which ties in perfectly with previous releases: iPhone XS (Friday, September 21), iPhone X (Friday, September 22), iPhone 7 (Friday, September 16), iPhone 6S (Friday, September 25), etc.
Nothing To Fear From The Competition?
Meanwhile, the chief competitor to the XS Max’s upcoming replacement iPhone was launched by Samsung. The Galaxy Note 10 features heavily in this week’s Android Circuit column, but does Apple have anything to fear from the South Korean phablet? I look at a number of issues, including the power of the platform lock-in:
…then there’s the question of soft lock-in. The Galaxy Note handsets all run Android, will primarily use software downloaded from the Google Play Store, and interface with Google’s services. Just like pretty much every Android handset. The price of switching away from Samsung to another Android handset is far lower that the price of switching away from an iOS powered iPhone. Apple’s natural dominance of its own operating system makes iOS a much more defensible (although not impregnable) platform.
More discussion can be found here.
Your New iPhone Is Your Very Old iPhone, But Faster
Meanwhile is the iPhone going back to the future? With news of a change of orientation for the internal circuitry (back to the Steve Jobs design style) is Tim Cook going to rely on ‘the inside is nicer’ as the sales pitch? It’s a subtle change, but one that reflects the old rhythm of a ‘vanilla number’ launch that changed the external design and an ’S number’ launch that changed the internal design. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports on the implications:
The ‘new old’ layout sees the vertically aligned logic board of the iPhone XS returned to its original horizontal position above the battery at the top of the phone. This orientation enables the board to fit a large connector right beside the massive new triple rear camera while also freeing up space for a significantly larger battery.
…And yet here’s the flip side: the iPhone 11 is little more than a bridging device. It will be the last iPhone X-inspired model before Apple’s external redesign in 2020. Next year’s iPhones will also bring new screen sizes, 120Hz refresh rates, camera tech removed from the iPhone 11, a switch to USB-C and the potential return of Touch ID all alongside the aforementioned jump from 4G to 5G.
More here on Forbes.
When A Fingerprint Holds Up All Your Plans
That said, the latest leak suggests that Apple’s quest to reintroduce TouchID to the iPhone (it was removed from the iPhone X) is going to have to wait for twenty-five months. It looks like Tim Cook wants to implement a method “in a way that only Apple can”. Is that the right decision?
For me that argument holds less and less water when the idea of a touchscreen-based fingerprint reader that just works is here and now. The end of 2018 saw a number of handsets debut the technology, and Apple is going to take three years to bring it to its handsets? There’s pride, and there’s a fall.
That’s before you consider Apple already had a perfectly functional TouchID system that could have been moved to the power button, or the rear of the iPhone.
More here on Forbes.
Bringing Automatic FaceID To The Mac
Because of ‘lift to wake’ and FaceID, it’s possible to start a modern iPhone and unlock it simply by lifting it into position. A new patent granted to Apple this week has illustrated a technique that will offer the same magical unlocking to the Mac platform. Ben Lovejoy reports:
With Face ID now supported on both iPhone and iPad, it seems a no-brainer that it will come soon to the Mac too. Whether this advanced functionality will be supported is impossible to tell: as we always note, Apple patents many things it never does. But this would certainly be a cool feature that could wow people at a Mac keynote, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that this one will make the cut.
More at 9to5Mac.
Apple Goes On A Bug Hunt
The annual Black Hat conference in Las Vegas has seen many cyber security and tech announcements, but Forbes’ Thomas Brewster picks up on one from Apple. Cupertino is announcing both a bounty program for macOS bugs, as well as access to security unlocked iPhones for trusted bug hunters:
The iPhones will be given to the rock star hackers that participate in the Cupertino company’s invitation-only bug bounty program, where participants disclose bugs in Apple products in return for monetary rewards. The payments can go as high as $200,000, as announced at the 2016 Black Hat conference.
What makes these iPhones special? One source with knowledge of the Apple announcement said they would essentially be “dev devices.” Think of them as iPhones that allow the user to do a lot more than they could on a traditionally locked-down iPhone.
Further details here. It’s also worth reading this alongside Vice’s March 2019 article on the brisk trade in prototype and security unlocked iPhones in the dark corners of the internet. TO me it feels like Apple is legitimising part of a program that already unofficially exists.
Apple’s Sneaky Battery Hack
Apple has also restricted the functionality of iPhone batteries that are replaced outside of its authorised repair program. Unless the micro controller on the battery is ‘signed off’ in a new handset – even if it is a genuine Apple battery – the Battery Health indicator will not function. Craig Lloyd reports:
By activating a dormant software lock on their newest iPhones, Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple batteries can go in iPhones, and only they can install them.
If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings > Battery, next to Battery Health. The “Service” message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced. The message still shows up when you put in a brand new battery, however. Here’s the bigger problem: our lab tests confirmed that even when you swap in a genuine Apple battery, the phone will still display the “Service” message.
Apple continues to push its “Shot On iPhone” videos, with the latest collection focusing on ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response ) videos, although “Shot on iPhone” doesn’t mean audio recorded on iPhone. Juli Clover has the details:
Apple has these videos labeled as ASMR Season 1 on its YouTube channel, which means more ASMR videos could potentially be coming. Apple also uses the tagline “Apple SMR” when introducing each video, and recommends people use headphones when watching.
These are the oddest of the “Shot on iPhone” videos that Apple has shared, but each one was created using an iPhone (with additional hardware and equipment for the sound) and features impressive visuals to go along with the sound.
More at MacRumors.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.