Apple’s chief design officer, Jony Ive, is picking his old management duties back up again, 9to5Mac reports. Back in 2015, Ive was upgraded to chief design officer from senior VP and day-to-day management was taken over by Alan Dye and Richard Howarth. Earlier today, 9to5Mac noted that Dye and Howarth were no longer listed on Apple’s leadership page and now word’s out that Ive is back at the management helm. In a statement to Bloomberg, an Apple spokesperson said, “With the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design.”
*APPLE’S IVE RETAKES MANAGEMENT OF DESIGN TEAM AFTER 2 YEARS
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) December 8, 2017
Apple has come under fire for some of its recent design choices, like the way its Pencil and Mouse charge, the lack of ports in the MacBook and, of course, that iPhone X notch. That may or may not have anything to do with Ive’s return, but as 9to5Mac notes, the writing may have been on the wall. Dye and Howarth haven’t really been in the spotlight much since becoming senior VPs while Ive has retained a fair amount of public exposure.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and we’ll update this post when we hear more.
The legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm is even hotter than you might have thought — so hot they were suing each other on the same day. While Apple was busy suing Qualcomm over Snapdragon chips on November 29th, Qualcomm was filing its own lawsuit claiming that phones ranging from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X violate 16 patents, including power-saving methods, interfaces and even camera autofocus. There’s a matching complaint with the US International Trade Commission that would ban imports (and thus sales) of the iPhone X and other models over five of the patents.
As with Qualcomm’s previous ITC tussle, the new ITC case is conspicuously focused only on those iPhones that use Intel’s wireless chipsets.
Apple has declined to comment. With these back-to-back lawsuits, though, it’s clearer than ever that the companies are trying to force each other’s hand. Qualcomm in particular rejects Apple’s claim that its royalty demands are excessive, and it could use the threat of bans on cutting-edge iPhones as a strong bargaining chip. Even if the lawsuit and ITC complaint take a while (ITC cases are usually faster), there’s a good chance that bans on the iPhone 8 and X could do tangible damage to Apple’s bottom line and push it to the negotiating table. Not that Apple is likely to buckle — in addition to its own lawsuits, it has the support of the FTC’s investigation into Qualcomm’s alleged antitrust practices.
Huawei has a history of trying to beat Apple at its own game (it unveiled a “Force Touch” phone days before the iPhone 6s launch), and that’s truer than ever now that the iPhone X is in town. At the end of a presentation for the Honor V10, the company teased a depth-sensing camera system that’s clearly meant to take on Apple’s TrueDepth face detection technology. It too uses a combination of infrared and a projector to create a 3D map of your face, but it can capture 300,000 points in 10 seconds — that’s 10 times as many as the iPhone X captures.
It’s secure enough to be used for payments (unlike the OnePlus 5T), and almost as quick to sign you in as the company’s fingerprint readers at 400 milliseconds. Even the silly applications of the tech promise to be better. The company showed off a not-so-subtle Animoji clone that could tell when you were sticking out your tongue in addition to tracking the usual facial expressions.
There’s one major catch to this system: it’s not actually part of a product yet. Huawei’s Honor team showed the system without mentioning what phones would use it, let alone when they would ship. This was a spec announcement to show that Huawei would eventually have an answer to Apple’s 3D face detection, not something tangible you could buy in the near future.
Apple has made no secret of its interest in augmented reality (AR) — in interviews CEO Tim Cook gives it as much attention as sales growth. Now, it’s rumoured that the company’s 2019 iPhone release will come with a rear-facing 3D sensor, potentially turning the model into a leading AR device.
People familiar with the plan have revealed that the sensor would complement, not replace, the existing TrueDepth sensor on the front of the iPhone X, Bloomberg reports. The current technology, which supports Apple’s Face ID, works by projecting a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto the user’s face, measuring distortion to generate a 3D image for authentication. The proposed sensor would use a “time-of-flight” method instead, calculating the time it takes for a laser to hit surrounding objects, creating a 3D image from that.
Apple released ARKit this year, a software tool that helps developers make AR-based apps for iPhone. It’s proven successful with basic AR tasks, but struggles with more complex visuals and lacks depth perception. It’s thought a rear-facing 3D sensor would help mitigate these issues. However, sources say that the tech is still in its infancy, and might not be used in the final version of the phone. But there’s certainly no shortage of companies manufacturing time-of-flight sensors, so if it doesn’t make it into the 2019 model, it’s likely that it — or some kind of incarnation of the technology — will follow soon after.
While initial pre-orders for the iPhone X are still a week away from opening, some Apple die-hards will be able to get started early. Apple’s installment-based Upgrade Program that lets customers get a new phone every year will, just like it did with the launch of the iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, allow members to get their loan paperwork in order starting on Monday. Combined with the recently added mail-in return option for their old iPhones, it should make staying up to date easier than ever, even if it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be able to purchase the new OLED-screened device right away. For that, they’ll have to stay up until 3 AM ET Friday morning just like everyone else.
It’s safe to assume that the face recognition system in the iPhone X will eventually reach other devices, but which ones are next in line? KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo might have an idea. The historically accurate analyst expects the next generation of the iPad Pro to adopt the TrueDepth camera and, by extension, Face ID. This would unify the experience across Apple’s mobile devices, the analyst says, and would spur developers knowing that they could use face recognition across multiple Apple devices, not just one handset. The new iPads would ship sometime in Apple’s fiscal 2018, which ends in September of next year.
There’s another question to be answered: if this happens, will the Touch ID fingerprint reader go away? It’s not so clear. Apple clearly took advantage of eliminating the home button to expand the iPhone X’s screen size, but that’s not as necessary on devices that already have large displays. Also, Apple has typically kept larger bezels on the iPad due to its size — you need at least some space for your thumbs on a device that you can’t easily hold in one hand. We’d add that it could complicate multitasking, since Apple already uses an upward swipe on the iPad’s bottom edge to bring up the app dock. How would you handle that while also using a swipe to go to the home screen?
Whatever happens, it would make sense for the iPad Pro to get face recognition. Apple has made a habit of bringing relatively new features to its higher-end iPads (such as upgraded displays and the Smart Connector), and TrueDepth might be one more reason to spring for a Pro instead of sticking to the base model. And if Apple is going to continue pushing augmented reality, it’ll want tablets that particularly well-suited to the task regardless of the camera you’re using.
Some Reddit users reported yesterday that Apple has increased its screen repair prices for certain iPhone models. Fixing a broken iPhone 6s or 7 screen will now cost $ 149, up from $ 129. And repairs for iPhone 6s Plus and 7 Plus screens has increased from $ 149 to $ 169, according to Apple’s service pricing page.
Those prices are for phones not covered under an AppleCare+ warranty. Screen repairs on phones that are covered under the extended warranty will still cost $ 29. But AppleCare+ has gone up as well, with larger phones like Plus models costing $ 149 and the new iPhone X warranty priced at $ 199.
The new iPhone 8 models are priced under the new screen repair plan — the 8 will cost you $ 149 and the 8 Plus, $ 169 for a new screen. There’s no price on Apple’s site for an X screen repair, but we can probably expect it to be even higher. We’ve reached out to Apple about the new pricing and we’ll update this post if we receive any additional information.
Men’s Health writer Ben Court got to take a look around Apple’s not-so-secret-anymore exercise lab and the company’s director of fitness for health technologies had some bold claims about the work the lab has done. Apple’s Jay Blahnik told Court, “Our lab has collected more data on activity and exercise than any other human performance study in history. Over the past five years, we’ve logged 33,000 sessions with over 66,000 hours of data, involving more than 10,000 unique participants.”
We’ll just have to take his word on those stats, but with dozens of researchers and medical professionals studying even larger numbers of exercising employees every day for years, it becomes easy to see how Apple can log those sorts of numbers. And those efforts should be visible in the upcoming WatchOS 4, which will reportedly include high-intensity interval training and the ability to pair with cardio machines.
Apple’s smartwatch has done well for the company, which is a major leader in the wearables industry, sporting around 50 percent year over year growth of its wearables sector during this year’s second quarter. The next version of the Apple Watch will reportedly have built-in cellular network support, meaning you won’t have to tote around your iPhone to use it. The launch date for WatchOS 4 is expected to be announced at Apple’s September 12th event.
Japan Display’s reluctance to embrace OLED manufacturing has cost it dearly. The firm took a net loss of ¥31.5 billion ($ 287,185,500) from April to June. “We have decided to make a strategic change as we would have no future in the smartphone business without OLED,” CEO Nobuhiro Higasgiiriki (above) said. The iPhone screen supplier has shed 30 percent of its employees (3,700 people according to Phys.org) and is reorganizing for what it says is the last time.
“We find ourselves in a very regrettable situation,” Higasgiiriki said. “Our biggest task is to build a management system that generates profits by keeping in mind that this is our last chance to restructure.” Its current OLED prototype won’t go into full production until 2019 — a year later than previous estimates.
According to Reuters‘ sources, the display supergroup was hoping to raise 100 million yen ($ 911,400) to pay for the restructuring. The company started in 2012 as a joint venture between Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba, with a focus on making small to mid-sized LCD screens.
Japan’s Innovation Network Corp helped fund the venture back then, and could come to its rescue once again with a ¥75 billion ($ 683,147,250) investment, Reuters reports. That should cover the restructuring costs. But, if the rumors are true, Apple needs OLED screens now, not in two year’s time.
Apple unveiled its Siri-powered HomePod speaker hub at WWDC back in June, and despite a hefty $ 350 pricetag and the inevitable comparisons to Alexa devices, it actually sounds pretty good. In the lead up to its release this December, Apple pushed out the hub’s firmware, revealing that it runs on iOS — basically like a screenless iPhone or iPad. But in its current incarnation, the HomePod won’t support third-party apps and programs, according to developer Steve Troughton-Smith’s analysis.
Just to cut off speculation: there doesn’t seem to be any kind of provision in the HomePod OS shell for installing apps or extensions. Zip
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 28, 2017
Obviously, that’s not to say the device never will. Since it runs on a full iOS stack through a shell app called “Soundboard,” they could always patch in the ability for third parties to load up their software later. If things don’t change before launch, it’s an odd move to make, especially given how late the HomePod is to the voice-controlled assistant game. Both Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices allow and encourage companies to make apps that enable custom interactions (Alexa has 15,000 of these “skills” and counting). It would also be a huge surprise if the HomePod didn’t integrate at launch with the IoT HomeKit system Apple keeps trying to make happen.
Otherwise, the firmware reveals a few things about the HomePod’s interactions. In keeping with Apple tradition, the device will support accessibility features including VoiceOver. Troughton-Smith believes the top touch surface is an LED matrix that could display shapes and symbols, not just big LED lights. Onboard controls are limited to activating Siri, adjusting volume and alarms on the HomePod — the bulk of which we discovered during our hands-on back in June.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will report if we hear back.