Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a classic iPhone going back on sale, new iPhone features leak, FaceTime security addressed, a sneaky 5G secret, new health features for AirPods 2, iPad special offers, and saying goodbye to an Apple executive.
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).
Classic iPhone X Goes Back On Sale
Apple’s iPhone sales are down, and with little to be excited about in the pipeline for the 2019 handsets, Tim Cook and his team will be looking at other avenues to increase the volume of smartphone sales. One of those avenues is to put the iPhone X back on the market. I covered the (re)launch here:
Like many handsets before it, the iPhone X has arrived in the quiet corner of the Apple website reserved for reconditioned units. That means the 64GB iPhone X can be purchased with a $130 discount in the original price… naturally while stocks last.
This isn’t the first time in this product cycle that Apple has brought back a cancelled iPhone to the market. Although it was removed from sale when the new iPhones were announced, the iPhone SE captured the headlines when clearance stock was advertised on the Apple website. At the time I argued that this would provide Tim Cook and his team with data about the ongoing popularity of the smaller iPhone in the same market as the XR, XS and XS Max:
More here on Forbes.
Apple Leaks New iPhone Feature
One returning feature for 2019’s new iPhones could be TouchID. The fingerprint reading technology was taken out of the latest iPhones with FaceID picking up the biometric security role… but that could be about to change. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports on the latest patent from Apple:
With the snappy name of ‘Acoustic pulse coding for imaging of input devices’, Apple shows-off an in-display Touch ID fingerprint reader which can operate when a fingerprint touches anywhere on the screen. Furthermore, it’s built on the real-world, cutting edge technology of rivals.
…If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is very similar to Qualcomm’s Ultrasonic technology which creates 3D maps of fingerprints using acoustic vibrations from the display. This is both faster and more secure than any previous fingerprint technology, and it will debut in Samsung’s Galaxy S10 this month.
More here on Forbes.
iOS Beta Addresses FaceTime Flaw
The second public beta of iOS 12.2 is now available for iOS users enrolled in the beta program. As well as including client side fixes for the massive Group FaceTime eavesdropping security hole, Cupertino is putting the focus on four new Animoji. Anthony Karcz has the details:
As anticipated, the emergency iOS 12.1.4 fix is part of Public Beta 2. All you folks worried about FaceTime eavesdropping while running the beta can rest easy.
…we’ve got new animojis in Public Beta 2! Four of them to be exact. Now your dreams of being represented by an animated giraffe, shark, warthog, and owl in Messages can finally be realized.
Read more on the beta release here, and expect a public release in March.
Apple’s ‘Not Quite 5G’ Update For iPhone
Also hiding in the iOS beta is a new AT&T icon for ‘5G E’ coverage. This is for AT&T’s 5G Evolution service. While it may use some of the same back-end technology as 5G, the user connection is essentially a 4G LTE connection. That’s going to lead to an interesting conversation in September, when Apple’s new handsets are expected to launch without ‘true’ 5G hardware, as I noted during the week:
[5G is] going to be a key discussion point at this month’s Mobile World Congress, and premium handsets from Samsung, Huawei, and OnePlus all expected to feature true 5G in partnership with US carriers.
When Tim Cook takes to the stage in September to launch 2019’s new iPhones, they will not support true 5G, and will be outgunned by the premium handsets from the competition. But the handsets will support AT&T’s “5G Evolution” network.
Certainly “The new iPhone with 5G Evolution” sounds like something that would be uttered from the stage, and I would expect most people to lock onto the ‘5G’ part of the phrase and associate that with 2019 handsets.
I’ve taken a closer look at the branding here on Forbes.
Your Health Will Welcome The AirPods 2
Apple Health is one of the many services that Tim Cook and his team will be leaning on in the near future to increase the company’s revenue. While the iPhone is a gateway device for collecting data, the jewel in the crown (or is it the ear) could be the second-generation of AirPods. William Gallagher reports:
The only thing we know for sure is that AirPods 2 will have a wireless charging case. But, there is so much more that Apple appears to be planning.
Through the company’s latest hiring and its filed patents, we can get an idea of where the AirPods are going. So much of this is to do with medical functions, though, that it looks like Apple is concentrating on health at least as much as it is, say, audio quality.
More at AppleInsider.
A Run On iPad Pricing
A funny thing is happening to iPads on sale around the world. They are all getting notable price cuts in various sales and offers. Leif Johnson reports for MacWorld:
If you’ve avoided buying the new iPad Pro because of the high price, then you’ll want to head over to B&H Photo or Amazon right now. As part of one of its Flash Sales, B&H is selling the 256GB 11-inch iPad Pro with Wi-Fi for an impressive $150 off. That’s enough to bring the price to $799, down from the ordinary price of $949. You can also get it for the same price at Amazon, so long as you select a $100 coupon box under the price.
It’s almost as if there are new iPads on the way and inventory needs to be cleared….
Apple announced the departure of Angela Ahrendts this week. She was hired to oversee and transform Apple’s retail experience:
After five transformative years leading the company’s retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts plans to depart Apple in April for new personal and professional pursuits.
Apple’s Deirdre O’Brien will take on the retail responsibilities left by Ahrendts’ departure. Noted Apple commentator John Gruber has raised an eyebrow over the timing:
Ahrendts lasted a lot longer than John Browett, but in Apple’s executive culture, five years is not a long run. Interesting that they’re putting O’Brien in charge of retail. With 30 years at Apple, she’s an insider, not an outsider like Browett or Ahrendts.