Amazon today has Apple's AirPods Pro 2 available for $199.99, down from $249.00. This price is just about $2 away from the best price we ever tracked on the accessory, and this is only the second time in 2023 that we've tracked this deal.

airpods pro 2 thumbnailNote: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Although they were around $197 on Woot for Black Friday, that sale was very rare and disappeared quickly. The $199.99 price tag has been the most consistent deal on the AirPods Pro 2, and Amazon is estimating a delivery window of mid-February for most orders placed in the United States.

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 earphones feature better noise-canceling technology, improved Transparency mode, and an H2 chip. Head to our full Deals Roundup to get caught up with all of the latest deals and discounts that we've been tracking over the past week.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later.

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple
In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year. In today's edition of his newsletter, however, he suggests Apple might instead release the Ultra as a new highest-end, higher-priced model next year at the earliest.

"But instead of renaming the Pro Max 'the Ultra,' Apple could add an even higher-end iPhone above both Pro models," said Gurman. "Internally, the company has discussed doing just that — potentially in time for the 2024 iPhone release."

It's unclear how the new high-end model would differ from the Pro and Pro Max, but Gurman speculated that the device could feature additional camera improvements, a faster chip, a larger display, and perhaps a portless design without Lightning or USB-C. He said the device would be "pricier" than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which starts at $1,099.

A new version of the Mac Studio with the "M2 Ultra" chip is unlikely to arrive in the near future, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

mac studio pink
In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that since the upcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is "very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio," Apple may wait until the release of M3- or M4-series chips to update the machine, or simply never refresh the device at all:

I wouldn't anticipate the introduction of a Mac Studio in the near future. The upcoming Mac Pro is very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio — and adds the M2 Ultra chip rather than the M1 Ultra. So it wouldn't make sense for Apple to offer an M2 Ultra Mac Studio and M2 Ultra Mac Pro at the same time. It's more likely that Apple either never updates the Mac Studio or holds off until the M3 or M4 generation. At that point, the company may be able to better differentiate the Mac Studio from the Mac Pro.

To date, little has been rumored about the next-generation Mac Studio, so Gurman's latest remarks are the firmest indication yet that a new version of the machine is unlikely to arrive any time soon.

Last month, it emerged that Apple reportedly scaled back its plans for the first Apple silicon Mac Pro, scrapping the "M2 Extreme" chip and falling back on non-user-upgradable memory and the same design as the 2019 model. The device is now expected to offer the M2 Ultra only – a chip that would also have logically come to the next-generation Mac Studio.

The M2 Ultra chip is almost certain to double-up the capabilities of the recently introduced M2 Max chip, which is currently only available in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. With reduced modularity and similar performance on the upcoming Mac Pro, Apple's move to hold off on updating the Mac Studio's hardware may make sense until it can work out a better strategy for the machine's positioning going forward.

Related Roundup: Mac Studio
Buyer's Guide: Mac Studio (Neutral)
Related Forum: Mac Studio

Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink.

ipad air purple
Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00 pricing, and is by far the lowest price we've ever tracked for these current-generation models. Both models are listed as in stock and should ship the next business day.

For those who prefer cellular connectivity, the 64GB M1 iPad Air is similarly discounted to $391.99 from $749.00 in Purple and Pink. The Starlight color option is also listed at this price but described as "available for pre-order" and thus not in stock for immediate shipping. The Starlight model also requires a $9.99 shipping fee, whereas the other colors come with free shipping.

If 64GB isn't enough storage, TigerDirect is also heavily discounting some cellular 256GB models down to $469.99 from $899.00. This pricing is available in Blue, Purple, and Pink, but as with the Starlight 64GB cellular models, these configurations are listed as available for pre-order and will incur a $9.99 shipping fee.

With discounts this steep, we can't rule out the possibility that this is a pricing error and orders could be canceled by TigerDirect, but this is an excellent opportunity for those willing to take a chance on a fantastic deal on the current iPad Air. For those unfamiliar with TigerDirect, it is a longtime computer retailer that was merged with MacMall and which also absorbed online assets and operations of notable now-defunct brick-and-mortar retailers Circuit City and CompUSA.

For even more Apple-related products and accessories, be sure to visit our full Deals Roundup to shop.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

This week saw the launch of the final product from Apple's January hardware announcements, with the second-generation HomePod making its way into customers' hands.

top stories 4feb2023
Other news and rumors this week included signs of an interim iOS 16.3.1 bug fix update in the works as we await a fresh round of beta testing for a more significant iOS 16.4 update, a report on the potential dangers of using AirTags to track your pets, and Apple's earnings release for the December quarter, so read on for all the details on these stories and more!

New HomePod Reviews Offer Hands-On Look at Sound Quality and More

Apple's second-generation HomePod became available on Friday, several weeks after its unveiling and the start of pre-orders. Ahead of the launch, the first reviews of the smart speaker were shared by select media publications and YouTube channels, offering a hands-on look at the device.

HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Orange
Priced at $299, the new HomePod features a virtually identical design as the full-size HomePod that Apple discontinued in March 2021, but with two fewer tweeters and microphones. Reviews tested the new HomePod's sound quality compared to the original model and more.

And if you're just getting your new HomePod, make sure to check out our comprehensive guide with all sorts of tips and how-tos to help you make the most of your new smart speaker.

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

A pair of Apple employees discussed the new HomePod this week in a series of wide-ranging interviews, revealing some fresh details about the speaker.

HomePod 2 iPhone Feature Blue Orange
Apple explained why it decided to release a full-size HomePod again after discontinuing the original model a few years ago, and addressed some of the new model's limitations, including Wi-Fi 4 support and incompatibility with the original HomePod for stereo pairing.

Apple Smart Home Display: Everything We Know

Apple is working on a new iPad-like accessory that is designed to serve as a central hub for smart home management. The Apple TV and the HomePod are already home hubs, but Apple is reportedly designing an all-in-one home management device.

iPad iOS 16 WP Display Feature eric edit
To learn more, check out our new guide that aggregates everything that we know so far about Apple's planned smart home device, including potential features.

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February.

iOS 16
In the meantime, the wait continues for the first beta of iOS 16.4, which will likely be a more significant update with new features. See: When Will iOS 16.4 Be Released?

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Apple's AirTag may provide a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. For example, there have been some incidents of dogs swallowing an AirTag, which can cause harm.

dewey airtag
Following the launch of the AirTag in 2021, Apple stressed that the accessory is designed to track items, not people or pets.

Apple Reports 1Q 2023 Results: $30.0B Profit on $117.2B Revenue Amid 'Challenging Environment'

Apple on Thursday released its financial results for the quarter ending in December, reporting a roughly 5% decline in revenue compared to the year-ago quarter. Apple cited a "challenging environment" that included iPhone supply issues which hampered its ability to ship devices to customers.

Apple Logo Cash Blue
As part of its announcement, Apple revealed that its user base has surpassed two billion active devices worldwide and that its Apple Pay Later installment service will be launching "soon." Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri touched on a number of other topics in their earnings conference call as well.

MacRumors Newsletter

Each week, we publish an email newsletter like this highlighting the top Apple stories, making it a great way to get a bite-sized recap of the week hitting all of the major topics we've covered and tying together related stories for a big-picture view.

So if you want to have top stories like the above recap delivered to your email inbox each week, subscribe to our newsletter!

Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports.

webkit vs chromium feature
The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process.

Apple's ‌App Store‌ rules dictate that browser apps on iOS and iPadOS must use its own WebKit browser engine. This means that while browsers like Chrome and Microsoft Edge are built with Chromium on macOS and Windows, their iOS counterparts are forced to use Apple's WebKit, making them behave similarly to Safari.

Based on the visible code commits, the app purportedly looks like the start of an alternate browser build and is still missing some key features at this early stage. Google claims that the app is merely "an experimental prototype [...] with the goal to understand certain aspects of performance on iOS," and "it will not be available to users and we'll continue to abide by Apple's policies."

Even so, Google's experimental iOS browser project could be a sign that the company is anticipating changes to Apple's platform rules that would enable it to release a truly home-grown browser. Apple's browser engine restriction is the subject of growing antitrust scrutiny, most recently by the Biden administration, which has recommended the passing of new legislation to ban "gatekeeper" companies like Apple from banning alternative browser engines on its platform.

Similar recommendations have been made by antitrust authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. The European Union's Digital Markets Act is expected to compel Apple to allow third-party app stores and lift its browser engine restrictions as soon as next year. At minimum, the active project means Google would have a considerable head-start on developing a Blink-based browser for iOS if one is able to be distributed in the future.

Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original ‌HomePod‌ that Apple discontinued in 2021.


Design wise, the second-generation ‌HomePod‌ looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh fabric. It's ever so slightly shorter, and the main external change is the swap to a new recessed edge-to-edge touch display.

The display makes a notable aesthetic difference as it feels more integrated into the speaker, but it has the same general function as the display on the original ‌HomePod‌. It lights up and changes with Siri requests, and various tap gestures can be used for play/pause, volume adjustments, and swapping songs.

With the S7 chip (which is an Apple Watch SoC), ‌Siri‌ activates quicker on the new ‌HomePod‌ model, but you probably won't notice much else in terms of performance differences. As for sound quality, it's remarkably similar to the original ‌HomePod‌ even though Apple has cut down on the number of tweeters. There are five beamforming tweeters inside, down from seven tweeters, and there are also just four microphones instead of six. Despite that, the new ‌HomePod‌ seems to respond just as quickly to ‌Siri‌ commands.

Apple says that it remade the HomePod after discontinuing the first model because it started seeing customer interest for the "acoustics of a richer larger speaker" and because the ‌HomePod‌ team loves the shape and form factor of the original.

For those who want something that outperforms the HomePod mini, the second-generation ‌HomePod‌ is worth picking up, and Apple has priced it at $299, the same price as the former ‌HomePod‌ before it was discontinued.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

We're just over one week away from Valentine's Day, which falls on Tuesday, February 14 this year. Similar to years past, many third-party Apple resellers and accessory companies have opened up notable discounts on Apple products and accessories to coincide with the holiday.

Flurry Valentine DealNote: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Additionally, there are a few solid discounts on Apple products like the iPhone 14, AirPods, Apple Watch Series 8, and iPad Air. In this article you'll find deals on Apple devices collected first, followed by special Valentine's Day sales from companies like Belkin, Pad & Quill, JBL, and more.

iPhone

AT&T

AT&T is offering up to $1,000 off the iPhone 14 Pro Max and other iPhone 14 devices with eligible trade in and purchase on qualifying installment plan. You can get an iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro at no cost under this deal.

iphone 14 red

You can get up to $1,000 in bill credits with smartphone trade-in value of $230 or higher; up to $800 in bill credits with trade-in value of $130 to $229; and up to $350 in bill credits with trade-in value of $35 to $129. Credits start within three bill cycles.

Verizon

Verizon is still hosting its "Welcome Unlimited" deal from the holiday season, where you can get $25/line per month for four lines when signing up for Verizon Unlimited, with this price guaranteed to be locked in for three years. You'll need to add four new smartphone lines and a $180 credit will be applied per smartphone over 36 months.

Otherwise, you'll find Verizon matching AT&T's iPhone 14 deals. You can save up to $1,000 when you trade in an older smartphone and purchase any iPhone 14 device on a Verizon Unlimited plan. If you're buying two, you can buy one iPhone and get another at up to $800 off as well.

Visible

Visible is offering new customers a gift card worth up to $200 with the purchase of select iPhone models. You'll need to join Visible and transfer your number from an eligible carrier to get this deal.

After three full months of service payments, you'll get an email with a code to redeem your virtual gift card. You can browse the list of compatible smartphones on Visible, including the iPhone 14 Pro, Pro Max, Plus, and more.

AirPods 2

Apple's AirPods 2 are back down to $99.00 on Amazon, from $129.00, which remains one of the best prices we've tracked so far in 2023 and is overall a second-best price on the headphones. Shipping is delayed as of writing, but there's always a chance to get the AirPods sooner if you place your order today to lock in the savings.

AirPods Valentine Deal

iPad Air

Amazon has the 64GB Wi-Fi iPad Air at $499.99, down from $599.00. This is an all-time low price on the tablet and it is available in four colors: Blue, Purple, Space Gray, and Starlight.

iPad Valentine Deal

If you want the 256GB Wi-Fi iPad Air, you'll find it also on sale at a record low price or $649.99, down from $749.00. There are also both models of the 2022 iPad Air with cellular connectivity at $99 off and all-time low prices on Amazon.

Apple Watch Series 8

Lastly for Apple products, Amazon is discounting the 41mm GPS Apple Watch Series 8 to $349.00, down from $399.00. This is only available in (PRODUCT)RED and it's a match of the best price we've ever seen on this version of the Series 8.

watch heart valentines deal

Additionally, a few cellular models are available at a discount today on Amazon. You can get the 41mm cellular Apple Watch Series 8 for $449.00 and the 45mm cellular for $479.00, both of which are $50 discounts.

Pad & Quill

Pad & Quill has kicked off its Valentine's Day sale, offering 25 percent off select leather goods. This includes savings on iPad cases, AirPods cases, Apple Watch bands, iPhone cases, AirTag keychains, travel organizers, bags, and more.

Belkin

Belkin has 20 percent off must-have accessories for your Apple products, including savings on screen protectors and wall chargers. You'll need to enter the code SPWC20 at checkout to see these savings.

In this sale you'll find Tempered Glass screen protectors for iPhone 14 Pro, 65W Dual USB-C Wall Chargers, and more. It'll last through February 5 at 11:59 p.m. PST, so be sure to use the promo code before these deals expire.

Casely

Casely's Valentine's Day promotion has 25 percent off everything in the retailer's "V-Day Shop" with the code BESTIES used at checkout. Casely's shop includes colorful iPhone 14 cases, charging accessories, and more.

JBL

JBL is providing up to 67 percent off select Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones for Valentine's Day. We've collected a few items on sale below, none of which require coupon codes, and you can find the full list on JBL's website.

Speakers

Headphones

Other Sales

  • Moment - Get up to 50 percent off camera accessories
  • Otterbox - Get 25 percent off select products

Be sure to visit our full Deals Roundup to shop for even more Apple-related products and accessories.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

Emergency dispatchers continue to raise awareness about Apple's Crash Detection feature causing an influx of false 911 calls from skiers and snowboarders.

Apple Crash Detection Skiing
Crash Detection launched last year for all iPhone 14 models and the latest Apple Watch models, including the Series 8, Ultra, and second-generation SE. The feature is designed to detect a severe car crash and automatically call emergency services if a user does not respond to the device within 20 seconds, but it appears that iPhones and Apple Watches sometimes mistake a skier or snowboarder taking a tumble as a car crash.

A report from The New York Times today focused on Colorado's Summit County, where several ski resorts are located. There, a dispatcher and a police officer complained that responding to false 911 calls triggered by iPhones and Apple Watches has been a time-consuming task and threatens to divert resources away from legitimate emergencies.

The report quotes dispatcher Trina Dummer:

"My whole day is managing crash notifications," said Trina Dummer, interim director of Summit County'’s emergency services, which received 185 such calls in the week from Jan. 13 to Jan. 22. (In winters past, the typical call volume on a busy day was roughly half that.) Ms. Dummer said that the onslaught was threatening to desensitize dispatchers and divert limited resources from true emergencies.

Mark Watson, a sergeant with the local sheriff's office, also said the situation is impacting his ability to carry out his duties effectively.

In response to the report, an Apple spokesperson said the company is "aware that in some specific scenarios these features have triggered emergency services when a user didn't experience a severe car crash or hard fall." The spokesperson noted that Apple optimized Crash Detection with iOS 16.1.2 and watchOS 9.2 last year to reduce the number of false calls, and said the feature has "already contributed to saving several lives."

The report notes that Apple also sent four representatives to the Summit County call center to observe Dummer and her team for a day.

There have been several reports about the issue in other skiing areas like Colorado, Utah, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and British Columbia, Canada since Apple introduced the feature last year. It's unclear if the optimizations that Apple made have led to a reduction in false 911 calls from skiers and snowboarders; in any case, it will likely take some time before all users update their iPhone or Apple Watch to the latest software versions. It's also unclear if Apple plans to make any further optimizations.

When a severe car crash is detected, the iPhone or Apple Watch displays an alert, which users have 10 seconds to act on. If the user is unresponsive, the device begins another 10-second countdown while sounding an alarm and aggressively vibrating or tapping, and then calls emergency services if the user remains unresponsive. But since skiers often wear thick outerwear, some are unaware when the feature is triggered.

Apple says the feature relies on sensors like the accelerometer and gyroscope in the iPhone and Apple Watch, along with "advanced Apple-designed motion algorithms trained with over a million hours of real-world driving and crash record data" for increased accuracy.

Apple did not respond to our request for comment.

Sonos has kicked off its annual Super Bowl sale, offering discounts on speakers, subwoofers, and soundbars. This event will run through February 12 and offers up to $280 in savings on these Sonos products.

sonos greenNote: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Sonos. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

The sale is split between solo products and bundles; we've listed all of the individual products on sale below as well as a few of the bundles. You can find the full list on Sonos' website, and note that no coupon codes are required as all sales have been automatically applied.

Be sure to visit our full Deals Roundup to shop for even more Apple-related products and accessories.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

On this week's episode of The MacRumors Show, we focus on Samsung's newly announced Galaxy S23 lineup, reviews of the new HomePod, and the latest rumors around Apple's first foldable device.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos

Following Samsung's announcement of the Galaxy S23, S23+, S23 Ultra, and Book3, we weigh up how some of the devices compare to the iPhone and MacBook Pro. We also look at the recent reactions to the new ‌HomePod‌'s audio quality, how it compares to the original, and the controversy around it continuing to leave white rings some wooden surfaces.

Finally, we take a look at this week's rollercoaster of rumors about Apple's plans for foldables. On Monday, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple is planning to launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand in 2024. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman then said that he had not heard of any such device in the pipeline for next year. Display analyst Ross Young reiterated Gurman's sentiments, but added that Apple was working on a notebook with a 20.5-inch foldable display for 2025. Amid these reports, we try to get to the bottom of what is really going on with Apple's first foldable device.

Listen to The MacRumors Show in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Castro, Google Podcasts, or your preferred podcasts app. You can also copy our RSS feed directly into your podcast player. Watch a video version of the show on the MacRumors YouTube channel.


If you haven't already listened to the previous episode of The MacRumors Show, be sure to catch up for a discussion with Tyler Stalman about first impressions of the new Mac mini and MacBook Pro models, as well as iPhone 15 camera rumors.

Subscribe to ‌The MacRumors Show‌ for more episodes, where we discuss some of the topical news breaking here on MacRumors, often joined by exciting guests like Jon Prosser, Sam Kohl, Quinn Nelson, John Gruber, Federico Viticci, Sara Dietschy, Luke Miani, Thomas Frank, Jonathan Morrison, iJustine, Ross Young, Ian Zelbo, Jon Rettinger, Rene Ritchie, Andru Edwards, and Mark Gurman. Remember to rate and review the show, and let us know what subjects you would like the podcast to cover in the future.

The latest version of macOS Ventura breaks compatibility with Pioneer's lineup of USB-connected CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives for the Mac.

Ventura Macs Feature Yellow
Apple released macOS 13.2 in late January with support for a new Security Keys for Apple ID feature and various bug fixes. Unfortunately, users who have installed the update have said that their Pioneer disc drives are no longer recognized by their Mac, with complaints about the issue found across the MacRumors Forums, Reddit, Twitter, Apple Support Community, and elsewhere online over the past two weeks.

The root cause of the issue is unclear at this time, but Pioneer has acknowledged the matter on its website and says it is investigating.

"We have confirmed that our optical drives are not recognized by macOS Ventura 13.2 released by Apple on January 23, 2023," reads a notice on Pioneer's optical drive product listings. "We are currently investigating this symptom. We would like to ask our customers who are using our optical drives to refrain from updating to macOS Ventura 13.2."

We have reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story if we receive a response.

Related Roundup: macOS Ventura
Related Forum: macOS Ventura

Amazon today has a new Gold Box sale on Beats headphones, with multiple discounts matching all-time best prices we've ever seen on select headphones. In total, you'll find deals on Beats Studio Buds, Beats Fit Pro, and Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones.

Starting with earbuds, Amazon has the Beats Studio Buds in all colors for $99.95, down from $149.95. This is ultimately a second-best price on the Beats Studio Buds, but still a solid deal at only $10 higher than the previous low price.

beats studio buds blue gradientNote: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Both versions of the Beats Fit Pro are discounted on Amazon right now: the regular Beats Fit Pro are $149.95 ($50 off) and the Beats Fit Pro x Kim Kardashian are $179.95 ($20 off). For the regular model, all colors except white are available at this all-time low price.

beats fit pro blue gradient


Finally, the over-ear Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones are available for $199.99, down from $349.95. This one is available in three colors: Matte Black, Midnight Black, and Shadow Gray.

beats studio3 blue gradient

Be sure to visit our full Deals Roundup to shop for even more Apple-related products and accessories.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

Have you picked up a new HomePod? Perhaps it's your first. Then it might surprise you that Apple doesn't include an extensive manual in the box. That's why we've compiled this list of how-to articles to help you make the most of your new smart speaker.

HomePod 2 and Mini feature 1
Below, you'll find help on how to set up your new HomePod and master the basic controls, as well as how to get the best out of the many audio functions. We've also covered some of the more advanced features that Apple's latest speaker is capable of. Click the links to learn more, and be sure to bookmark this post.

Get to Know the Basics

Controlling Audio Functions

Using Other HomePod Features

How are you getting on with your new ‌HomePod‌? Are there any other functions missing in our list that you'd like help with? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: HomePod mini, HomePod

A report commissioned by the Biden administration this week recommended new legislation to make major changes to Apple's platform restrictions and App Store policies.

apple logo us flag smooth
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is the president's main advisor on telecommunications and Internet policy. In April last year, the NTIA announced that it had launched an investigation into competition in mobile app ecosystems. The investigation was triggered by an executive order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy from July 2021, with the aim of making recommendations for improving competition, reducing barriers to entry, and maximizing user benefit.

Months after its contents were shared with the White House, the NTIA this week published the "Competition in the Mobile Application Ecosystem" report – the first such report into Apple's ecosystem by a federal organization. On the basis of the investigation's findings, the report recommends:

  • Third-party app stores should be permitted and users should not be prevented from sideloading apps outside a gatekeeper's own app store. Legislative and regulatory measures should prohibit restrictions on sideloading, alternative app stores, and web apps.
  • Requirements that ban developers from using alternative in-app payment systems should be banned.
  • Third-party web browser apps should be able to offer full functionality and not face browser engine restrictions.
  • Pre-installed apps, default options, and anticompetitive self-preferencing should be limited, including in search results.
  • Users should be able to choose their own apps as defaults and delete or hide pre-installed apps.
  • App store review processes should be more transparent.

The report says that new legislation and additional antitrust enforcement actions will likely be necessary to remedy existing issues and boost competition in mobile app ecosystems. See the NTIA's full report for more information.

Apple's ecosystem has come under intense scrutiny by governments around the world in recent years, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the European Union, South Korea, Japan, and more, with a clear appetite from global regulators to explore platform restrictions around issues such as app sideloading, browser engines, and interoperability.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

After years of discussions with local authorities, Apple Pay in South Korea has been approved by the financial regulator, paving the way for the mobile payment system to launch in the first half of this year (via The Korea Herald).

Apple Pay Feature

"Having taken into consideration relevant rules and regulations and their interpretations, we confirm that credit card companies can push for the introduction of the Apple Pay service as they have obeyed necessary procedures," the Financial Services Commission (FSC) said in a release.

The FSC emphasized that credit card firms should not transfer fees arising from the use of ‌Apple Pay‌ to customers or shops, while calling for measures to ensure customer protection from such risks as the theft of personal information.

Market watchers initially expected the service to be launched late last year. But according to the report, experts now say that ‌Apple Pay‌ could be launched in the middle of the first half of this year.

Initial discussions on bringing Apple's digital payment system to the country began way back in 2017, but Apple struggled to gain registration as an electronic financial business operator while regulators investigated whether ‌Apple Pay‌ runs counter to local regulations and laws.

Negotiations around a possible launch also hit technical roadblocks because of South Korea's lack of wide NFC terminal adoption in retail stores at the time.

Adoption has increased since then, although the preponderance of Samsung smartphones in the country has allowed Samsung Pay to become the dominant payment method, therefore the launch of ‌Apple Pay‌ is expected to strengthen competition in the local mobile payment market.

Ever since its launch in the United States in 2014, ‌‌Apple Pay‌‌ has slowly expanded to more countries worldwide while at the same time expanding the list of financial institutions that support the feature. With ‌‌Apple Pay‌‌, users can easily add their credit or debit cards from supported banks to their iPhone and Apple Watch to make purchases at contactless payment terminals around the world. ‌‌Apple Pay‌‌ is also available on the Mac for web purchases.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

Apple's second-generation HomePod launches today, with the new smart speaker available for pickup at Apple Stores in the U.S. and select other countries. Online pre-orders also begin arriving to customers today, and pre-ordering is no longer required.

HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue
Apple customers can use the Apple online store or App Store app to order a ‌HomePod‌ for Apple Store pickup. Simply select the "I'll pick it up" option at checkout, enter your ZIP or postal code, and select the most convenient ‌Apple Store‌ location. Customers can then select a pickup date and 15-minute check-in window.

Priced at $299 and coming‌‌ in Midnight and White color options, the new ‌HomePod‌ looks very similar to the original ‌HomePod‌ that Apple discontinued in 2021, but there are some subtle design changes and several new features.

The second-generation ‌HomePod‌ has a refined design with a larger backlit touch surface and a removable power cable, while inside there are five tweeters (as opposed to seven in the original model), four far-field microphones (as opposed to six), and new temperature and humidity sensors.

The new ‌HomePod‌ is powered by Apple's S7 chip, and comes with Thread support, a U1 Ultra Wideband chip to support music handoff, and Wi-Fi 802.11n connectivity. It also supports Spatial Audio. Two HomePods can be used together to form a stereo pair, but original ‌HomePod‌ owners should note that the new ‌HomePod‌ can't be stereo paired with the first-generation model.


The new $299 ‌HomePod‌ is available from today in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, the US, and 11 other countries.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

Apple will not launch a second-generation AirPods Max until at least the second half of next year, and could possibly wait until the first half of 2025 to refresh the headphones, according to Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

airpods max spring blue
In his latest series of tweets outlining industry expectations, Kuo said he believes Apple's "next important acoustic product refresh time" will be between the second half of 2024 and the first half of 2025. Kuo lists three products due for a refresh in this window of time, including a second-generation HomePod mini, ‌AirPods Max‌ 2, and a "low-cost version" of Apple's AirPods.

As for what we can expect in AriPods Max 2, Kuo did not offer any additional details about Apple's premium over-ear noise canceling headphones, although features that would make sense for the next-generation pair include a USB-C port instead of Lightning, improved noise cancelation, longer battery life, new color options, a U1 chip for Precision Finding in the Find My app, and more. ‌AirPods Max‌ were first released in December 2020 for $549.

In a previous prediction, Kuo said that Apple is aiming for a $99 price for the more affordable standard AirPods. Currently, the $129 second-generation AirPods are the cheapest option from Apple, while the third-generation AirPods are priced at $169 with a Lightning charging case and at $179 with a MagSafe case. Analyst Jeff Pu has also predicted the arrival of lower-priced AirPods next year.

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