Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest iPhone 12 leaks, weak iPhone 11 sales, secrets of the smart battery case, the iPad steals a MacBook Pro superpower, Apple’s missing ports, the latest MacBook Pro boot problems, a demand for AirPods, and why Apple still dominates podcasting.
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).
Key iPhone 12 Details Leak
It may be nine months away, but there’s a lot of anticipation building up around next year’s iPhone, with more leaks on the specs and features this week trying to keep everyone engaged with the idea of Apple as a trend-setter. David Nield reports:
The iPhone 12 is still a long way off, but we’re already hearing details of what to expect – including predictions on the amount of RAM installed in Apple’s 2020 iPhones, and some of the extra sensors on board.
According to analysts Barclays, as reported by MacRumors, the two Pro versions of the iPhone 12 are going to come with 6GB of RAM on board. That’s up from the 4GB packed inside the current models. What’s more, based on conversations with supply chain manufacturers, Barclays says rear-facing 3D sensors and 5G technology are likely to be on board as well.
More at TechRadar.
Weak iPhone 11 Sales Put Pressure On The iPhone 12
Why is the iPhone 12 so important? With Gartner indicating that sales of the iPhone 11 family are not meeting expectations, Tim Cook and his team are looking at the 2020 handset to start a super-cycle of updates thanks to 5G, AR, and the new design. But is that enough to lift sales back to the 100 million plus figure? I argued earlier this was a bit of stretch earlier this week:
Will these increase the sales of the iPhone 12 family? A small tweak to the design will be welcome, but with a dominant screen and thin design there’s not a huge amount of choice to stand out. Neither will the lure of AR be a significant driver of sales. Which leaves 5G as the driver.
Will there be enough demand for 5G on an iPhone that will mean those eager will hold back an Android purchase? Definitely. Will it be enough to raise annual sales by twenty-five percent? I suspect not.
Sometimes A Button On A Battery Is Just A Button On A Battery
If you remember the craze for selfie sticks with shutter buttons on the handle, then Apple’s ‘surprise’ of having a shutter button on its smart battery case is common sense. But how over-engineered is Apple’s solution? Kevin Purdy has a look inside the case, with the help of some X-Rays:
There are no buttons on the iPhone 11 that match up with the camera on the case. Our first guess was some kind of wireless transmission to the phone, but then we saw our patient’s X-rays. It turns out there’s a little circuit board inside the case, which has a thin, flexible circuit running out to connect to the photo button. That circuit board connects the camera button to the phone through the Lightning port “chin” at the bottom of the case. Not totally unexpected, but interesting to see how much hardware design goes into adding just one thing to a battery case.
The iPad, The MacBook, and The Touch Bar
How do you improve the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard Cover? Apple looks to be preparing a raid on the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar to bring it to the Qwerty peripheral, according to recently published patent documents. It’s a good idea to make the cover look shiny, but will it have a practical impact?
Assuming this arrives in retail stores – not all patents make it to products – then it would be another data point on Apple’s quest to move more ‘light computing’ tasks away from the relatively open MacOS to the more closed garden of MacOS.
But the Touch Bar on iPadOS will have the same issues as the Touch Bar on MacOS. No developer can count on 100 percent of the targeted devices will have the Touch Bar available. Any functionality in the secondary display will need to be replicated or not required on the main display.
But Where Are The Ports
Jay Sunny has spotted something curious about Apple’s promotion of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. The usual icus on the I/O ports and the potential for expansion is very much muted. In previous year the glamour shots made a point of highlighting your options. This year, with the limitation to 4 USB-C ports and a headphone jack, the opposite seems to be the case. Is Tim Cook… embarrassed?
The reality of dongles on the MacBook Pro is just as real now, only a few weeks away from 2020, as it was in 2016.
Apple obviously sees the benefit in additional ports enough to include a wide variety of ports in every single one of their desktop Macs, which makes the mobile lineup USB-C lock in seem like a space saving choice rather than a purely ideological one. It is exactly those type of space saving “form over function” type choices that Apple seems to be rethinking the last few year
MacBook Pro Booting Problems Are Fixed
Apple has pushed out a patch for the latest MacBook Pro to fix an issue with the boot loader. While most users will stick with MacOS, many look to install Windows or Linux on another partition of the internal disk. Those installations failed because of a lack of drivers for the new model… but this has now been addressed. Filipe Esposito reports:
Boot Camp Assistant warned that drivers were not available for this particular Mac model. With Boot Camp, users can install Windows on another partition of Mac internal storage to switch between macOS and the Microsoft’s operating system.
The correct drivers are required for the CPU, GPU, USB connections, and other computer components to be recognized by the system.
We Need More AirPods!
Apple is calling on Chinese support to increase the number of AirPods in the retail supply chain. Consumer demand for the wireless accessories has demanded a doubling of the monthly run, as Lauly Li and Chen Ting-Fang report:
In a threat to its usual suppliers, Apple has asked little-known Luxshare-ICT to double production of AirPods Pro earphones at its Chinese facilities to 2 million units a month, sources said. Apple has also asked Luxshare and fellow Chinese company GoerTek to boost production at their Vietnam-based factories of the lower-cost AirPods, the world’s best-selling wireless earbuds.
…”Apple has increased monthly orders for the latest AirPods Pro from 1 million units to at least 2 million units thanks to healthy demand,” said one of the people familiar with the situation. The Pro version wireless earbuds are produced at two Luxshare factories in mainland China, sources added.
This will come as good news for Apple Services are a long way from replacing the income from the iPhone, and the AirPods will do wonders for the ARPU of a new or an existing iPhone user. More at Nikkei Asian Review.
Apple still retains the majority of podcast downloads with just under 6 out of 10 episodes downloaded through the Apple Podcasts ecosystem, according to Libsyn. James Cridland reports:
In the latest episode of The Feed, Libsyn report which mobile apps downloaded podcasts from them in October. Apple Podcasts is the highest, at 58%. Of note: only around 40% of Libsyn shows are published on Spotify (so the app will be under-represented in these figures). Libsyn won’t publish any numbers next month, because of work they’re doing on Spotify passthrough.