Apple Should Address Youth Phone Addiction, Say Two Large Investors ( 159

Two large Apple shareholders, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, are urging Apple to take steps to address what they say is a growing problem of young people getting addicted to Apple's iPhones, Jana partner Charles Penner said. From a report: Jana, a leading activist shareholder, and CalSTRS, one of the nation's largest public pension plans, delivered a letter to Apple on Saturday asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents to limit children's phone use, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Sunday. Jana and CalSTRS also asked Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on mental health, according to the publication. Jana and CalSTRS together control about $2 billion worth of Apple shares, the Journal reports.

Some Smartphone Salesmen Aren't Sold on the iPhone X ( 230

A CNET reporter visited four carrier stores to ask their salesmen if they'd recommend an iPhone X. But after visiting stores for Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, "I couldn't even find a salesperson to tell me it was the best iPhone I could buy." So he finally tried asking three salesmen at Apple Stores -- and still got equivocal answers. An anonymous reader quotes CNET's report: "Well, it depends on what you like," the salesman said, somewhat coyly. "The biggest problem I have with it is using Face ID for Apple Pay. You really have to put the phone at a certain angle or it doesn't work." He started with a problem. I was already suspicious. I was in something of a hurry, but I asked him: "So are you selling a lot more of these than other phones?"

He turned into a high-ranking member of a political party. "All our phones sell well," he said. Which sounded not entirely reassuring. Indeed, it sounded like a "no."

Chatting next with an Apple store "Genius" (who was testing his iPhone 6), CNET's reporter was told that "The X and the 8 are the same phone... Inside, I mean. With the X, you're just paying the extra money for the design." Unfortunately, that salesman's $999 iPhone X was wrapped in an ugly pink case, because after four weeks he'd already cracked it. And a third Apple salesman -- who touted the glories of an OLED screen -- also kept his iPhone X in a case at all times "It's glass," he explained. "You'll definitely need a case."

"But what about not being able to see the lovely phone?"

"Get a see-through case," he replied with a smile.

Apple Will Replace Old iPhone Batteries Regardless of Diagnostic Test Results ( 191

After apologizing to customers for slowing older iPhones down as the batteries degrade, Apple has started offering battery swaps for $29. This has led to some confusion as Apple did not clarify how it qualified batteries as eligible for the discounted replacement, as the Apple Genius Bar uses a diagnostic test to check whether a battery can retain 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles. According to Mac Rumors, Apple has confirmed that they will replace the battery if your iPhone 6 or later even if it passes a Genius Bar diagnostic test. From the report: Apple has since independently confirmed to MacRumors that it will agree to replace an eligible battery for a $29 fee, regardless of whether an official diagnostic test shows that it is still able to retain less than 80 percent of its original capacity. The concession appears to have been made to mollify the anger of customers stoked by headlines suggesting that Apple artificially slows down older iPhones to drive customers to upgrade to newer models. Anecdotal reports also suggest that customers who paid $79 to have their battery replaced before the new pricing came into effect on Saturday, December 30, will receive a refund from Apple upon request.

Apple's iPhones Were the Best-Selling Tech Product of 2017 ( 88

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: Once again, the iPhone was the best-selling tech product of 2017, selling more units than the No. 2 through No. 5 products combined. According to Daniel Ives, an analyst with GBH Insights, who compiled the chart for USA TODAY, Apple will sell 223 million iPhones in 2017, up from 211 million phones the previous year... Apple took a risk in introducing three new iPhones for 2017...but all in all, Apple sold more iPhones total, although fewer than the peak year of 2015, when it moved 230 million units. (That was the year of the iPhone 6...)

The global market share for smartphones is dominated by Google's Android system, which owns 85%, compared to 15% for Apple's iOS, according to researcher IDC. But the iPhone is the most popular smartphone brand, having opened a huge gap compared to No. 2 Samsung's Galaxy phones at 33 million. However Samsung, which has a broader portfolio of phones, sells more overall. Indeed, in 2016, Samsung shipped over 320 million phones, most lower-priced phones sold outside the United States, like the J3, On8 and A9 lines.

Apple's strong performance through September earned CEO Tim Cook a $9.3 million bonus on top of his $3.06 million salary -- plus vesting of $89.2 million more in Apple stock. Here's the complete list of the five best-selling tech products of 2017:
  • Apple iPhones: 223 million
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones: 33 million
  • Amazon Echo Dot connected speakers: 24 million
  • Apple Watch: 20 million
  • Nintendo Switch video game console: 15 million


Slashdot Asks: How Should Apple Have Responded To the Battery Controversy? 177

Yesterday, Apple officially apologized for slowing down older phones in order to compensate for degrading batteries. In a letter to customers, Apple said, "We apologize," offering anyone with an iPhone 6 or later a battery replacement for $29 starting in late January through December 2018 -- a discount of $50 from the unusual replacement cost. They're also promising to add features to iOS that provide more information about the battery health in early 2018.

Apple's response has left many wondering whether or not it is enough. Even though they are discounting the cost of a battery replacement, for example, they are still profiting from each battery replacement. At the end of the day, "Apple only came clean after independent investigation, giving the whole situation an air of underhanded secrecy," writes Macworld. Should Apple have responded differently to the battery controversy? In the first place, should Apple even issue a software update to older devices to purposefully throttle the CPU and prevent the phones from randomly shutting down when experiencing rapid power draw?

Quinn Nelson via Snazzy Labs explains the controversy and how it is largely exaggerated.

Apple Apologizes For iPhone Slowdown Drama, Will Offer $29 Battery Replacements ( 254

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Apple just published a letter to customers apologizing for the "misunderstanding" around older iPhones being slowed down, following its recent admission that it was, in fact, slowing down older phones in order to compensate for degrading batteries. "We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down," says the company. "We apologize." Apple says in its letter that batteries are "consumable components," and is offering anyone with an iPhone 6 or later a battery replacement for $29 starting in late January through December 2018 -- a discount of $50 from the usual replacement cost. Apple's also promising to add features to iOS that provide more information about the battery health in early 2018, so that users are aware of when their batteries are no longer capable of supporting maximum phone performance.

HTC, Motorola Say They Don't Slow Old Phones Like Apple Does ( 133

After Apple confirmed last week that it reduces the performance of older iPhones to improve battery life, it has left many wondering whether or not other smartphone manufacturers do the same. HTC and Motorola are the two most recent OEMs to say they don't throttle their phones' processor speeds as their batteries age. The Verge reports: In emails to The Verge, both companies said they do not employ similar practices with their smartphones. An HTC spokesperson said that designing phones to slow down their processor as their battery ages "is not something we do." A Motorola spokesperson said, "We do not throttle CPU performance based on older batteries." The Verge also reached out to Google, Samsung, LG, and Sony for comment on whether their phone processors are throttled in response to aging batteries. A Sony spokesperson said a response would be delayed by the holidays, and a Samsung spokesperson said the company was looking into it. The responses begin to clarify whether or not throttling processor speeds is typical behavior in smartphones -- as of last week, we knew that Apple was doing it, but not whether it was common practice among competitors. HTC and Motorola's responses start to suggest that it's not.

That '70s Show: the Conference That Predicted the Future of Work ( 40

theodp writes: Over at Wired, Leslie Berlin writes about Futures Day at the 1977 Xerox World Conference, an invitation-only demonstration of the Alto personal computer system developed at Xerox PARC. It's an excerpt from Troublemakers: How a Generation of Silicon Valley Upstarts Invented the Future. Both Berlin's book and Brian Dear's recent The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture are shedding light on groundbreaking systems of the '70s that were ultimately done in by the less-featured but low-cost Apple II (yes, $2,638 for a system with 48 kB of RAM was 'low cost'!) and other personal computers. Interestingly, Dear notes that the Xerox Parc and PLATO teams sent people out to see and learn and exchange ideas with each other over the years. Their interactions included 'tremendous battles' over the advantages and disadvantages of mouse interfaces [Xerox] vs. touch screens [PLATO], as well as plasma displays [PLATO] vs. other, cheaper display solutions [Xerox]. As is the case with many debates, both teams proved to be "right." Apple wouldn't introduce the masses to a mouse interface until 1984 [Macintosh] and a touch screen interface until 2007 [iPhone].

Analysts Cut iPhone X Shipment Forecasts, Citing Lukewarm Demand ( 168

According to Bloomberg, analysts have lowered iPhone X shipment projections for the first quarter of next year, citing signs of lackluster demand at the end of the holiday shopping season. From the report: Sinolink Securities Co. analyst Zhang Bin said in a report Monday that handset shipments in the period may be as low as 35 million, or 10 million less than he previously estimated. "After the first wave of demand has been fulfilled, the market now worries that the high price of the iPhone X may weaken demand in the first quarter," Zhang wrote. JL Warren Capital LLC said shipments will drop to 25 million units in the first quarter of 2018 from 30 million units in the fourth quarter, citing reduced orders at some Apple suppliers. The drop reflects "weak demand because of the iPhone X's high price point and a lack of interesting innovations," the New York-based research firm said in note to clients Friday. "Bad news here is that highly publicized and promoted X did not boost the global demand for iPhone X," according to the note. Apple is said to have trimmed its first-quarter sales forecast to 30 million units from 50 million, Taiwanese newspaper Economic Daily News reported, citing unidentified supply chain officials. It also said Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.'s main iPhone X manufacturing hub in Zhengzhou, China, stopped recruiting workers. The company also known as Foxconn is the sole iPhone X assembler, and also makes the handsets in Shenzhen and Chengdu.

Samsung Could Make $22 Billion Off Next Year's iPhones ( 43

According to a report by Korean outlet ETnews (via The Investor), Apple placed an order for 180 million to 200 million OLED displays from Samsung's manufacturing branch, Samsung Display, for the next round of iPhones. Each display is estimated to cost $110, which could mean the deal is worth up to $22 billion. CNET reports: The recently released iPhone X was Apple's first phone to feature an OLED display, rather than an LCD panel. Samsung, on the other hand, has been using OLED displays in its phones for quite some time. Currently Samsung holds a near monopoly on the world's manufacturing of OLED screens. As a result, Apple had little choice but to turn to its rival for this type of screen. This isn't the first deal of its kind. Earlier this year it was reported that Apple bought 60 million OLED displays from Samsung, apparently for what would later become the iPhone X. According to the report, Apple's next order is up to four times larger than this previous order. Demand is so high that Samsung considered opening a new manufacturing plant to process Apple's order, the report said, but has been able to manufacture enough of the panels to fill Apple's order.

Apple Hit With Class Action Lawsuit After Admitting To Slowing Down Old iPhones ( 244

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: A day after Apple acknowledged slowing down iPhones with degraded batteries, a Los Angeles man is pursuing a class action lawsuit in the matter. Owners didn't agree to the prospect, and it hurts the devices' value, according to a filing by plaintiff Stefan Bodganovich, cited by TMZ. The case is said to be particularly concerned with the impact on iPhone 7 users. The suit asks that Apple stop throttling older devices, and pay compensation to affected people. Over the course of December, a number of people on Reddit and elsewhere have speculated that iPhones perform faster after battery replacements, mostly citing anecdotal evidence. Apple effectively confirmed that situation on Wednesday, but with the provision that it only throttles phones to prevent sudden, potentially damaging shutdowns. UPDATE: A second lawsuit has been filed against the company. Chicago Sun-Times reports "five customers have filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago against the tech giant for what they're calling 'deceptive, immoral and unethical' practices that violate consumer protection laws."

Apple Says Apps Must Now Disclose Odds For Loot Boxes ( 88

Apple has revised the guidelines for its App Store, including a provision that loot boxes must be transparent about their odds. "Apps offering 'loot boxes' or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase," reads the new rule, which will affect the most popular games on iOS, including Hearthstone, The Simpsons Tapped Out, and Clash Royale. Kotaku reports: Loot boxes, which have always been common in the world of iOS gaming, are virtual grab bags that can give players a host of items ranging from common to rare. Most of the time, you can buy these loot boxes not just for in-game currency but for real money, which has led some players to classify them as gambling -- a label that the Entertainment Software Rating Board doesn't acknowledge. As rage over these practices gets louder and louder, Apple's move is the first of what may be many steps that game publishers and distributors voluntarily take in an attempt to avoid regulation from outside bodies.

Apple's iPhone Throttling Will Reinvigorate the Push for Right To Repair Laws ( 158

Jason Koebler, writing for Motherboard: The news that Apple throttles iPhones that have old batteries will reinvigorate the right to repair debate as the movement enters a crucial year. Third party repair shops say they've already seen an uptick in customers asking for battery replacements to speed up their slow phones, and right to repair activists who are pushing for state legislation that will make third party and self repair more accessible say Apple's secrecy about this behavior will give them a powerful rallying message. "If Apple were serious about battery life, they'd market battery replacements," Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of, told me in an email. "Apple clearly has a big financial benefit when people decide their phones are too slow and head to the Apple Store for a new phone." is a right to repair advocacy group that is made up largely of small, third party repair shops, which is spearheading the effort to get states to consider legislation that will make it easier to repair electronic devices.
Operating Systems

Slashdot Asks: Should Tech Companies End the One-Year Software Update Cycle? 187

Software giants Google, Microsoft, Apple and others release a major software update to their desktop and mobile operating system (and OS for other platforms they have) each year. This model seemed viable -- to a consumer -- until a few years ago -- the days when shiny new features were exciting -- but of late the number of bugs that companies are failing to patch before shipping these operating systems has seemingly gone off the roof. For instance, Apple has released more than 10 software updates since seeding out iOS 11 in September this year (up from seven last year). Similar is the case with macOS.

The situation has gotten so dire that IT admins in many corporate environments are waiting for as long as six months before they are certain that it is fine to get the staff to move to the "newer" major software update. For companies like Apple, new software update also means a business opportunity. Several of the new features that they ship with the new update doesn't work with older iPhone and iPad models. And as we learned this week, new major software updates could hinder the performance of old gadgets. With these things in mind, should industry at large consider prolonging the duration between two major software updates? Or should they stick with a one-year software cycle model?

Apple Confirms iPhone With Older Batteries Will Take Hits On Performance ( 172

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Reddit users have noticed that Apple appears to be slowing down old iPhones that have low-capacity batteries. While many iPhone users have experienced perceived slowdowns due to iOS updates over the years, it appears that there's now proof Apple is throttling processor speeds when a battery capacity deteriorates over time. Geekbench developer John Poole has mapped out performance for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time, and has come to the conclusion that Apple's iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates introduce this throttling for different devices. iOS 10.2.1 is particularly relevant, as this update was designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. Apple's fix appears to be throttling the CPU to prevent the phone from randomly shutting down. Geekbench reports that iOS 11.2.0 introduces similar throttling for low iPhone 7 low-capacity batteries.

When reached for comment, Apple basically confirmed the findings to The Verge, but disputes the assumed intention: "Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components. Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."

Desktops (Apple)

Apple Plans Combined iPhone, iPad and Mac Apps To Create One User Experience ( 247

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Apple's iPhone and iPad introduced a novel way of interacting with computers: via easy-to-use applications, accessible in the highly curated App Store. The same approach hasn't worked nearly as well on Apple's desktops and laptops. The Mac App Store is a ghost town of limited selection and rarely updated programs. Now Apple plans to change that by giving people a way to use a single set of apps that work equally well across its family of devices: iPhones, iPads and Macs. Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it's running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter. Developers currently must design two different apps -- one for iOS, the operating system of Apple's mobile devices, and one for macOS, the system that runs Macs. With a single app for all machines, Mac, iPad and iPhone users will get new features and updates at the same time.

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Alternatives To Android Or iOS? 304

An anonymous Slashdot reader is asking whether or not there are any alternatives to Android or iOS smartphones: Like most of us, I've owned a few smartphones over time, ranging from a Nokia E71 to a Samsung Android phone and now, an Apple iPhone. It is close to phone upgrade time, and I've been reviewing the features that I use on my phone. When I think honestly about it, the only features I really need are:

1. Phone calls (loads of conference calls, for which I use a wired headset with a microphone)
2. SMS Messaging (unlimited on my plan)
3. Navigation (very important, and is probably the most-used app on my phone)
4. Occasional internet browsing

All of this could be done by the Nokia E71, when Nokia Maps was a thing. If I want to move away from Apple, Google and the like, do I have any options now? Are there any trustable (and by trustable, I mean avoiding unknown Chinese manufacturers) phones in the market today that could do all four and (ideally) have better battery life than one day?

Apple Seems To Have Forgotten About the Whole 'It Just Works' Thing ( 242

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, writing for ZDNet: "It just works." This is the phrase that Steve Jobs trotted out year after year to describe products or services that he was unveiling. Well, Steve is now long gone, and so it the ethos of "it just works." 2017 was a petty bad year for Apple software quality. Just over the past few weeks we seen both macOS and iOS hit by several high profile bugs. And what's worse is that the fixes that Apple pushed out -- in a rushed manner -- themselves caused problems. A serious -- and very stupid -- root bug was uncovered in macOS. The patch that Apple pushed out for the root bug broke file sharing for some. Updating macOS to 10.13.1 after installing the root patch rolled back the root bug patch. iOS 11 was hit by a date bug that caused devices to crash when an app generated a notification, forcing Apple to prematurely release iOS 11.2. iOS 11.2 contained a HomeKit bug that broke remote access for shared users. And this is just a selection of the bugs that users have had to contend with over the past few weeks. And it's not just been limited to the past few weeks. There's no such thing as perfect code, and sometimes high-profile security vulnerabilities can result in patches being pushed out that are not as well tested as they could be. But on the other hand, Apple isn't some budget hardware maker pushing stuff out on a shoestring and scrabbling for a razor-thin profit margin.

Geekbench Results Visualize Possible Link Between iPhone Slowdowns and Degraded Batteries ( 135

Earlier this month a post on social media which suggested that Apple might be deliberately downgrading performance on iPhone models with degraded battery was widely circulated. Benchmark Primate Labs' Geekbench has looked into the matter and is corroborating the claims. From a report: Primate Labs founder John Poole has plotted the kernel density of Geekbench 4 scores for iPhone 6s models running iOS 10.2, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.2, visualizing an apparent link between lower performance and degraded battery health. The charts show that on iOS 10.2, the vast majority of iPhone 6s devices benchmarked similarly in performance. However, Poole explains that the distribution of iPhone 6s scores for iOS 10.2.1 appears multimodal, with one large peak around the average and several smaller peaks around lower scores. In other words, after iOS 10.2.1 was released last January, the performance of a percentage of iPhone 6s devices began to suffer.

Google Reveals the Most-Trending Searches of 2017 ( 49

"Google's annual list of the most popular searches is here, offering a peek into what people are really thinking about," writes CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report: This year, you wanted to know more about one of the most powerful storms on record, the devastating Hurricane Irma. But you were also curious about [hip hop artist] Cardi B. and Unicorn Frappuccinos... Like 2017 itself, this year's top searches skew a little darker than usual, but are punctuated with some whimsy and positive moments. The top trending searches in the U.S. were Irma, Matt Lauer, Tom Petty, the Super Bowl and the Las Vegas shooting.

To determine the most popular trending searches, Google looked at its trillions of queries, filtered out spam and repeats, and identified searches that had the highest uptick in traffic compared with the previous year. It breaks them into categories like news, memes, and recipes (beef stroganoff was a hit).

Surprisingly there were more searches for 'iPhone 8" than for 'iPhone X," though those were the top two most-searched consumer technology products. (Followed by Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Xbox One X.) Other top searches this year included "What is net neutrality?" as well as questions about what bitcoin is, how to buy it, and the latest bitcoin prices. And one of the 10 most-searched phrases of the year was "fidget spinner."

Google uploaded an inspiring video to YouTube stating "This year more than ever we asked how." To dramatic music, the examples it gives include "How to calm a dog during a storm," "How to help Puerto Rico," "How to make a protest sign" -- and "How to move forward."

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