iFixit has decided to pull its revealing Samsung Galaxy Fold teardown. The decision is said to have been made after Samsung indirectly requested its removal from the website, which published the teardown on Wednesday. iFixit provided the following statement on its blog:
We were provided our Galaxy Fold unit by a trusted partner. Samsung has requested, through that partner, that iFixit remove its teardown. We are under no obligation to remove our analysis, legal or otherwise. But out of respect for this partner, whom we consider an ally in making devices more repairable, we are choosing to withdraw our story until we can purchase a Galaxy Fold at retail.
It's unclear why Samsung wanted the teardown removed, but a few possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the company intends to make significant changes to the design of the Galaxy Fold before it's officially launched, and it doesn't want a teardown on the web of a device that's substantially different to the one that eventually goes to market. Or maybe it was simply taking action against a partner that hadn't been given the authority to provide the device to iFixit in the first place.
Another interpretation, offered by The Verge's Dieter Bohn, is that Samsung didn't appreciate the bad press that came with the teardown, after it exposed the design flaw allowing debris to ingress behind the display, which presumably caused so many review units to break, and led Samsung to recall them and then delay the device's launch. Whatever the reason, it doesn't look terribly good for the company.
Samsung has yet to offer a new release date for the Galaxy Fold. In an email sent on Wednesday to pre-order customers about the delayed launch, Samsung said that it will update customers with more specific shipping information in two weeks. In the meantime, anyone still interested in checking out iFixit's teardown can find it on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.
Apple's famous and close-knit industrial design team that works under Apple design chief Jony Ive is undergoing major changes, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
Three longtime industrial design team employees are leaving the team. Rico Zorkendorfer and Daniele De Iuliis both left Apple recently, and another team member, Julian Hönig, is leaving in the next few months. Together, Zorkendorfer and De Iuliis have worked at Apple for a combined 35 years, while Hönig has been on the team for a decade.
Zorkendorfer told The Wall Street Journal that he decided to leave Apple to spend time with his family, while the other two declined to comment.
Apple's industrial design team is made up of approximately two dozen employees and is overseen by Jony Ive directly. These employees are responsible for the look and feel of Apple products, including the iPhone.
According to Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal, it "makes sense" for the team's composition to shift as Apple adopts new products in areas like augmented reality and autonomous vehicles. The industrial design team is described as "all-powerful" at Apple.
This group is all-powerful in Apple," said Neil Cybart, who runs Above Avalon, a site dedicated to Apple analysis. "Industrial designers have the final say over the user experience found with Apple devices, and they really do work like a family in a way. No one would argue, though, that new blood is a bad thing."
The three industrial design team members are departing the company at a time when iPhone sales have slowed and services are becoming more important than ever to Apple. Apple has announced a multitude of new services, including Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Card, and Apple TV+.
Only a few members of the industrial design team have left during the last decade, but it has seen more frequent departures in recent years. Danny Coster left in 2016 to join GoPro, and Christopher Stringer left in 2017 and launched an audio startup currently in stealth mode.
According to one of the designers who left the team, Zorkendorfer, there are "incredible new designers" at Apple. "What we've been able to do the last few decades will continue," he told The Wall Street Journal.
Apple last year signed a deal with DHX Media and its subsidiary Peanuts Worldwide to develop and produce new Peanuts content, including original series, specials, and shorts, which will be released on Apple's TV platform.
At the time the deal was inked, a short featuring astronaut Snoopy was teased, and now that short is nearing a launch. According to Deadline, "Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10" is set to be available through the Apple TV app in May.
Described as a "documentary of sorts," the short aims to solve the mystery of of whether Snoopy was a world famous top-secret astronaut. Director Ron Howard and actor Jeff Goldblum star in the documentary.
Imagine's Ron Howard stars as himself along with Jeff Goldblum as a self-published NASA historian to take on the quest, which lightly spoofs the May 1969 NASA Apollo 10 mission that required the lunar module to skim the moon's surface within 50,000 feet and "snoop around" scouting a site for the upcoming Apollo 11 moon-landing.
On the Apollo 10 mission, NASA and the Apollo 10 crew named the lunar module "Snoopy" and the command module "Charlie Brown." Ahead of the mission, Peanuts creator Charles Schultz had been approached by NASA to incorporate his characters into NASA missions, which is one of the facts that formed the basis for the short film.
Peanuts and NASA in 2018 announced a partnership designed to "share the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with the next generation of explorers and thinkers," which is what led to the Snoopy in space content.
"Peanuts in Space" will be the first original Peanuts content coming out on the Apple platform, and since it's launching in May, it appears it will be available independently of Apple's upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service, which isn't set to roll out until the fall.
It sounds like "Peanuts in Space" will be made available for free to everyone in the Apple TV app, much like "Carpool Karaoke: The Series."
At least one of the iPhones coming in 2019 will feature a triple-lens camera arrangement, and while Apple experimented with multiple layouts, recent information suggests the company will adopt a square-shaped camera bump with three lenses arranged in a triangle shape.
While this design has been shown off previously in renders, OnLeaks' Steve Hemmerstoffer has teamed up with Indian site Cashkaro to share new renders and new information about the iPhones coming this September.
As seen in earlier leaks, these new renders have a wide square-shaped camera bump at the rear with two lenses on the left and a single lens and flash to the right, positioning the three lenses into a triangle.
The renders feature the "iPhone XI," aka the successor to the 5.8-inch iPhone XS. Some sites have been referring to this 2019 device as the iPhone XI or iPhone 11, but we don't have any insight into Apple's naming plans at this time.
According to the site sharing Hemmerstoffer's info, the next-generation iPhone XS continues to feature a 5.8-inch display, but with an "almost indistinguishable" reduction in the thickness of the notch and bezels. The device allegedly measures in at 143.9mm by 71.4mm by 7.8mm, which is quite similar to the size of the current iPhone XS: 143.6mm by 70.9mm by 7.7mm.
The upcoming smartphone is said to feature a "new and unique" rear panel that is made from a single piece of glass that includes the camera bump, a design that could minimize the obtrusiveness of the large rear camera.
The rear microphone is said to be in a different place than it was in earlier leaks (at the bottom of the camera bump) and the iPhone is allegedly going to have a "differently shaped mute button" similar to the mute button on older iPads.
Recent rumors have indicated that both the 5.8 and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones coming in 2019 will use triple-lens camera arrangements, despite earlier rumors suggesting this feature would be limited to the 6.5-inch model.
The 6.1-inch iPhone XR followup that will be sold alongside the two OLED devices is believed to have a dual-lens camera rather than a triple-lens setup, which is still an upgrade over the single-lens camera in the current iPhone XR.
The triple-lens camera setup included in the 2019 iPhones is said to consist of a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens, which is the new addition as current iPhones already feature wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
2019 iPhones are also rumored to include Lightning ports, a new bilateral wireless charging feature that will let them wirelessly charge other devices like AirPods, 12-megapixel front-facing cameras, and faster A13 chips. With the exception of the camera design, no other design or display changes are expected.
Apple states that, in very rare cases, affected Apple three-prong wall plug adapters may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched. These wall plug adapters shipped with Mac and certain iOS devices between 2003 and 2010 and were also included in the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit.
Apple says it is aware of six incidents worldwide and asks customers to stop using affected plug adapters, citing customer safety as a "top priority." Apple will exchange affected wall plug adapters with a new adapter, free of charge.
Affected three-prong wall plug adapters are white, with no letters in the inside slot where it attaches to an Apple power adapter. New adapters are white with gray on the inside portion that attaches to the power adapter.
The recall does not affect any USB power adapters, like those included in the box with iPhones and iPads, according to Apple.
A number of iPhone and iPad users this morning are taking to Twitter and Reddit to report an issue with the App Store that prevents them from downloading or updating apps.
The problem starts when a user taps the Get button on an app listing, whereupon a pop-up informs them that "Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions have changed" and that they must read and accept them to continue.
However, tapping OK and then agreeing to the terms and conditions simply sends the user back to the app's App Store listing where they're asked to read and accept the T&Cs again, thus begetting an endless loop.
The T&C issue is being reported by users in different countries, and also appears to be affecting Apple's communication servers, with some users receiving multiple duplicate emails notifying them of a change in Apple Media Services terms. Yet Apple's System Status page is currently reporting no problems.
One user reported that simply tapping Cancel when the T&C notification first pops up made it go away, allowing them to download or update the app in question, but this hasn't worked for others. Have you been affected by the T&C issue currently besetting the App Store? Let us know your experience the comments below.
The next couple of years will see the rollout of 5G cellular phone networks from companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and it sounds like 5G smartphone plans might not be priced in the same way as current 4G LTE plans.
During today's AT&T earnings call, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said (via The Verge) that he believes the pricing for 5G connectivity could resemble home broadband pricing with different prices for different speed tiers rather than one set price for the fastest connectivity available.
"I will be very surprised if, as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn't look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line. If you can offer a gig speed, there are some customers that are willing to pay a premium for 500 meg to a gig speed, and so forth. So I expect that to be the case. We're two to three years away from seeing that play out."
5G networks are still in the early days, so how pricing will ultimately work out remains to be seen. It's also not clear how variable pricing for tiered speeds would work given the fact that 5G connections speeds are going to vary depending on whether you're in a city or in a more rural area.
The fastest 5G speeds, available through mmWave technology, will be limited to urban areas. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg this week explained that millimeter wave high-frequency spectrum isn't suitable for widespread coverage, a sentiment shared by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, who wrote a blog post on the subject earlier this week.
Some of this is physics - millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn't travel far from the cell site and doesn't penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.
AT&T has launched its 5G network in a handful of markets across the United States, and other carriers, like Verizon, have also been starting their 5G network rollouts.
There are few smartphones that are able to take advantage of 5G networks at the current time, but additional 5G smartphones are expected later in 2019.
Apple continues to dominate when it comes to customer support, according to Laptop Mag's annual tech support showdown, which is designed to help customers determine which companies are offering the most reliable customer service in the tech industry.
Apple received an aggregate score of 91, earning 54 points for its web-based tech support and 37 points for its phone-based tech support. Laptop Mag says that Apple's support staff are among the "fastest and most knowledgeable," offering up "accurate answers" to Mac questions across live chat, social media, and the phone.
In a more in-depth breakdown of Apple's score, Laptop Mag says its editors queried Apple about Dark Mode in macOS Mojave, disabling automatic updates, and turning off the webcams (something not possible).
Live chat was determined to be the best Apple support experience, and it took between 4 and 9 minutes for live chat staff to walk Laptop Mag through answers to its queries. Phone support was also quick, thorough, and helpful.
Larry was surprised when I told him I wanted to disable the MacBook Air's webcam. After saying he typically just puts tape over his webcam, Larry asked me to wait for 3 to 5 minutes while he checked to see if anything else were possible. Two minutes later, Larry was back on the call to walk me through the System Preferences app and show me how to disable webcam access, app by app. He also noted there might be a "fancier" way to disable the webcam via the Library (it's actually in the Terminal program), but that this was easier.
Few companies even came close to beating Apple's score of 91 in the Tech Support Showdown, but Razer, the number two company, scored an 88 and Dell scored a 73. Apple competitor Samsung earned a score of 73, while Microsoft got a 64.
As always, Laptop Mag arrived at these scores by posing as everyday PC and Mac users to get answers to three questions from major laptop manufacturers. Both the online and telephone support systems were tested. 100 points total were possible, 60 from online support because it's a more popular way to get help, and 40 from phone support.
On April 24, 2015, the original Apple Watch launched in nine countries around the world. Four years later and we are now on the fourth iteration of the wearable device, the Apple Watch Series 4. Over the years Apple has worked on improving Apple Watch with a better and bigger display, water resistance, additional health and fitness features, and more.
As the launch neared, multiple reports suggested that Apple was facing battery life, screen, and manufacturing issues while developing the Apple Watch. Battery life was an ongoing issue for Apple when it was creating Apple Watch, since the company's goal was reportedly to create a device that would last for at least four to five days. This never came to pass, and even the brand new Apple Watch Series 4 requires daily charging, although many people do get around two days of life at times.
Apple Watch Edition
At an event in September 2014 Apple finally unveiled the Apple Watch, and then waited until a March 2015 event to set an April 24 launch date for the wearable device. On that day, the Apple Watch launched in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and Japan, priced starting at $349 for a 38mm Sport and $399 for a 42mm Sport. Prices increased to between $549 and $1,099 for the stainless steel Apple Watch models, and then to as much as $17,000 for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition.
At launch, Apple advertised the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory, with the high-end Edition, the Hermés collection (launched September 2015), and similarly expensive first-party bands, like the Link Bracelet ($500+) and Modern Buckle ($250). The Apple Watch was successful, but the company really hit its stride with the smartwatch once it began encouraging fitness features of the device, like when it partnered with Nike for the Apple Watch Nike+ in 2016. Apple has now discontinued the Apple Watch Edition, lowered the price of some of the more expensive bands, and placed the Apple Watch as a more direct competitor to fitness wearables like the Fitbit.
Today, the Apple Watch has grown to become the global smartwatch leader, comprising half of the market in 2018. In total, Apple held 51 percent of the global smartwatch marketshare last year, down from 67 percent in 2017. Despite the drop, Apple remains the "clear market leader" in the U.S. smartwatch market according to the NPD Group. On an earnings call for the first quarter of 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cookdescribed the company's wearables revenue (including products like Apple Watch and AirPods) as "approaching the size of a Fortune 200 company."
As to what's coming this year, the Apple Watch Series 5 might feature a new ceramic casing design when it launches in September 2019. Next year, Apple may add a sleep tracking app to the Apple Watch, encouraging users to wear their Apple Watch while they sleep to track sleep quality and other metrics. The feature is in testing with Apple employees and if the project proves successful, it could be added to the Apple Watch Series 6, accompanied with a low power mode so as to not impact battery life.
Apple Watch Series 4 saw the first major form factor change
In the future, Apple is reportedly looking to launch an Apple Watch that lacks physical buttons and instead adopts support for touch and swipe-based gestures along the sides of the casing. Other future Apple Watch additions include placing hardware into the Apple Watch band, blood glucose monitoring, and an Apple Watch with a microLED screen. The Apple Watch may be the first device to receive an Apple-designed microLED display, but the technology is still a "couple of years" from reaching consumers.
If you're interested in reading more about the Apple Watch, be sure to visit our Apple Watch Roundup.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg shared details on the thousands of employees that Amazon employs around the world to listen to voice recordings captured in the homes of Amazon Echo owners when the Alexa wake word is spoken, with the purpose of improving the service.
There was some concerning information in the report, including employee access to private recordings, recordings that are upsetting or potentially criminal, and an employee tendency to share private recordings in group work chat environments. As it turns out, there's something Alexa owners should be even more worried about -- some of these employees have access to the home addresses of Amazon customers.
In a new report on the team Amazon employs to listen to Amazon Echo recordings, Bloomberg says that employees have access to location data and can "easily find a customer's home address" by typing geographic coordinates into third-party mapping software. The new information was shared by five anonymous Amazon employees who spoke to Bloomberg.
Team members with access to Alexa users' geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program.
While there's no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device's owner.
Bloomberg saw a demonstration where an Amazon team member pasted a user's coordinates (stored on Amazon's servers as latitude and longitude) into Google Maps, finding the address for the user linked to the recording in less than a minute. It's not clear how many people are able to access that system, though two Amazon employees said that until recently, the "vast majority" of workers in the Alexa Data Services group could use the software.
Certain employees on the data team listening to recordings have access to home and work addresses for customers along with phone numbers and access to their contacts if the person has chosen to share contacts with Alexa, all for the purpose of improving requests.
That employees can access specific location data for an individual customer is concerning because after the original report, Amazon had this to say: "Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow."
In a new statement provided to Bloomberg, Amazon said something different, calling access to internal tools "highly controlled."
In a new statement responding to this story, Amazon said "access to internal tools is highly controlled, and is only granted to a limited number of employees who require these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small sample of interactions. Our policies strictly prohibit employee access to or use of customer data for any other reason, and we have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of our systems. We regularly audit employee access to internal tools and limit access whenever and wherever possible."
Amazon, says Bloomberg, appears to be restricting the level of access that employees have to sensitive customer data, and after the original story, some of the workers who transcribe and annotate audio recordings no longer had access to software tools they had previously used.
Alexa users concerned with the data that's being collected and used by Amazon should make sure to enable all privacy features and uncheck the option for letting Amazon save Echo recordings.
Tomorrow marks a month since Apple announced its Apple News+ subscription service, which means if you signed up on March 25 following the event, you're going to start getting charged $9.99 per month.
If you're not happy with Apple News+ and want to avoid the fee, make sure to cancel today. Here's how:
Open up the Apple News app.
On iPad, scroll to the bottom of the side bar. On iPhone, tap the "Following" tab.
Choose "Manage Subscriptions."
Tap on "Cancel Free Trial."
Once you've canceled Apple News+, the free trial ends immediately and you won't be charged. If you don't cancel, your subscription will renew at $9.99 per month going forward. After canceling, you can opt to resubscribe, and you'll be charged $9.99 right away.
An estimated 200,000 people signed up for Apple News+ during the first 48 hours after the service launched, which is more users than Texture had at its peak, but it's not clear how many subscribers will continue to use the service now that free trials are beginning to end.
Apple News+ has been criticized for its confusing layout, lack of clear controls for managing and accessing magazines, poor customization and recommendations, inability to delete downloaded magazines, outdated PDF interface for some magazines, and nearly unreadable content on iPhone and Mac for magazines that aren't digitally optimized.
As for news, what many people may be subscribing for, it's also a bit limited. You can access all of the content from The Wall Street Journal, for example, but Apple is only highlighting a selection of general interest news stories, and to find anything else, you have to search. Apple News+ also only retains three days of archived content.
Aside from The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, no other newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, have agreed to join Apple News+, making it of limited interest to those who don't read magazines. Newspapers have refused to join because Apple takes 50 percent of the revenue from an Apple News+ subscription, splitting the rest between publishers based on how much time is spent on their content.
Canceled my Apple News+ trial before they started charging me tomorrow. Not enough content of interest to me, and the whole user experience is just mind-bogglingly bad. Here’s hoping they get it figured out at some point.
Former Texture users have also expressed displeasure with Apple News+ because the interface is not as streamlined or as easy to use as Texture, there's no Android app, and there's a limited collection of back issues. Texture is shutting down at the end of May.
So sad to report I will cancel my Apple News+ subscription after the trial period. It's just not nearly as good as Texture. Why would I want to read an excerpted version of the New Yorker? I've always been a huge Apple fan (duh), but this product is a stinker. (Nav stinks, too.)
There are customers who enjoy magazines and those who are subscribers to The Wall Street Journal who are satisfied with the experience, but for many, Apple needs to make improvements to make Apple News+ feel more finished, less confusing, and more polished.
A class action lawsuit originally filed against Apple in 2013 over broken iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, and later iPhone 5 power buttons is finally set to proceed to jury trial in San Diego state court beginning October 25, 2019.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple knowingly sold the aforementioned iPhone models with "defective" power buttons and refused to properly remedy the issue. For this, Apple is accused of "deceptive" or "fraudulent" business practices, breach of warranty, and violating multiple California consumer laws.
The proposed class includes California residents who purchased an iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, or iPhone 5 from Apple or a third-party retailer:
iPhone 4 and 4S Class:
All California citizens who purchased one or more iPhone 4 or 4S smartphones from Apple or a third-party retailer, from June 24, 2010 through October 10, 2011 for the iPhone 4, and from October 11, 2011 through September 20, 2012 for the iPhone 4S, and whose sleep/wake (power) button stopped working or worked intermittently during a one year period from date of purchase.
iPhone 5 Class:
All California citizens who purchased one or more iPhone 5 smartphones from Apple or a third-party retailer prior to April 1, 2013, and whose sleep/wake (power) button stopped working or worked intermittently during a three year period from date of purchase.
In April 2014, Apple initiated a program offering free repairs of a "small percentage" of iPhone 5 models with power buttons that may "stop working or work intermittently," but the lawsuit alleges that the program went "unnoticed" and began "ten months after the initial complaint in this matter."
The class action lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be proven at trial, plus restitution, injunctive, and declaratory relief. Apple denies all of the allegations in the complaint, and denies that it did anything improper or unlawful.
As with any class action lawsuit, proposed members can do nothing to remain part of the class, or opt out to retain the right to sue Apple individually.
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