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Apple releases second watchOS 4.3 developer beta alongside new public iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 betas

Apple has released a second watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the second developer betas released yesterday. While the release notes are sparse, it appears from the betas that watchOS 4.3 will be bringing iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation.

2017 iPhone models less susceptible to performance throttling

It appears that Apple may have made hardware improvements in its 2017 iPhone models to mitigate the need for the controversial performance throttling experienced by users of iPhone 6, 6s, and 7 series models. A new section in an updated support document on “iPhone Battery and Performance” referenced in the second beta of iOS 11.3 notes:

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models use a more advanced hardware and software design that provides a more accurate estimation of both power needs and the battery’s power capability to maximize overall system performance. This allows a different performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown. As a result, the impacts of performance management may be less noticeable on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

The support document doesn’t go as far as saying that performance won’t suffer as batteries age in these newer models, but it does suggest that the level of throttling may not be as severe, indicating that Apple was likely able to solve some of the power consumption issues that previously resulted in unexpected shutdowns from older iPhone batteries.

Apple seeds iOS 11.3 beta 2 to developers with promised ‘Battery Health’ feature

Apple has released the second beta of iOS 11.3 to registered developers (a public beta is likely to follow soon), incorporating the promised Battery Health feature that should provide users with more insight into performance throttling that occurs on older batteries. As one might expect, the new feature can be accessed from the Battery section of the iOS Settings app, and provides a percentage indicator showing the battery’s relative health compared to when it was new, along with a section on “Peak Performance Capability.” A note at the top points out that batteries come less effective as they age, and provides a link to an Apple support article on iPhone Battery and Performance.

Report: Apple to ditch Qualcomm chips completely for Intel versions in 2018 iPhones

Amid Apple’s ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is now saying the company may be ditching Qualcomm’s baseband chips all together, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo said he expects Apple to use Intel’s chips exclusively in its 2018 iPhones since Intel chips now meet Apple’s technical requirements at a more competitive price, but he added Apple may be forced to return to Qualcomm if it turns out Intel can’t get ready for 5G networks fast enough. Previous reports claimed Qualcomm’s current 5G chips offer more specialized features, but sources said since many of those features won’t be widely adopted by carriers it’s likely Intel’s 5G modem will be more than sufficient for future iPhones.

Some iPhone X users unable to answer calls as screen fails to wake

Some iPhone X users are unable to answer calls because their phone displays aren’t waking up when a call comes in, The Financial Times reports. Users report that the ringtone will play for an incoming call, but the screen won’t wake up for several seconds, sometimes resulting in a missed call. A restart seems to resolve the problem temporarily, but after 15 to 20 calls the problem reappears. Users who have had their iPhone X replaced by Apple are reporting the same issues with the replacement units, but it’s still unclear whether a hardware or software problem is to blame. Apple is “looking into these reports,” but hasn’t provided any further information on a fix.

Apple providing free repairs for ‘No Service’ problem on some iPhone 7 models sold in US

Apple is offering free repairs to certain iPhone 7 models that are showing “No Service” in the status bar even when cellular coverage is available. The company has admitted a component on the logic board on some of the devices manufactured between September 2016 and February 2018 is prone to failure, and users have taken to Twitter to complain that their cellular service and Bluetooth capabilities suddenly stopped working. Models A1660, A1779, and A1780 qualify for the free repair and can be taken to Apple Authorized Service Providers or Apple retail stores to be sent back to the company for repair.

Apple now selling refurbished iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple TV 4K units

Apple has now begun selling refurbishing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and Apple TV 4K models on its U.S. online store for the first time, offering customers a chance to pick up these units at about a 10 percent discount as compared to the prices of brand new models.

Apple reports strong Q1 2018 results, iPhone X overwhelmingly popular

Apple has reported its financial results for Q1 2018, reflecting a strong holiday quarter and dispelling recent negative hype about underperforming iPhone X sales. Apple CEO Tim Cook declared it “the biggest quarter in Apple’s history” and emphasized that not only did Apple see “the highest revenue ever from a new iPhone lineup” but that the iPhone X was also the top-selling iPhone every week since it first shipped in November.

Report: Apple supplier to begin assembling iPhone 6s in India

Apple manufacturing partner Wistron has almost completed a land deal that would see it open a new plant in India, Reuters reports. A source close to the deal claims the plant would at least in part be responsible for producing Apple’s iPhone 6s, as Apple looks to expand its presence in India. The company began producing the iPhone SE in India last year as part of a larger effort to gain access to the Indian market, allowing Apple to sell the entry-level device to customers looking for an affordable iPhone. The 6s — launched more than two years ago — is another good fit in that regard and would give customers in India a more affordable larger screen option that has come into favor in much of the rest of the world. Wistron has already gained federal approval to import machinery from China to India that can be used to set up new assembly lines, and local assembly will save Apple money on import taxes and allow the company to offer the phones for a lower price in a market obsessed with cost.

DOJ and SEC both investigating Apple’s efforts to slow down older iPhones

The US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are both investigating whether Apple broke securities laws by not disclosing that it was intentionally slowing down older iPhones with aging batteries, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the investigations said the government has requested information from Apple and has investigators examining public statements the company has made about the issue. While much attention has been paid to how the move irritated customers, the government seems to be looking at whether the company misled investors as well.

Analyst casts doubt on updated iPhone SE appearing in 2018

While rumors about an update to the iPhone SE have been swirling since early 2017, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t think we’re going to see a new version of the four-inch device any time soon, MacRumors reports. Apple released the smaller device in 2016 to fill the gap in its line up felt by users who didn’t want the larger size (and price tag) of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but Kuo now says with Apple developing both LED and LCD versions of the larger iPhones for this fall, the company doesn’t have the development resources to focus on another iPhone. “We think the firm will do all it can to avoid repeating the mistake of a shipment delay for the three new models,” Kuo wrote, referencing the delay in launching the iPhone X last year. “As such, we believe Apple is unlikely to have enough spare resources to develop a new iPhone model for launch in 2Q18.”

Update in iOS 11.3 will let parents approve ‘Ask to Buy’ purchases with Face ID

After leaving exhausted iPhone X-owning parents everywhere on the hook for entering their Apple ID password for every “Ask to Buy” App Store purchase request last Christmas, Apple appears to have taken mercy on them in iOS 11.3, finally allowing Face ID to be used to authorize the purchases,9to5Mac reports. Up until now, the “Ask to Buy” feature has allowed Touch ID to be used to approve the requests, but not Face ID. Users testing the iOS 11.3 beta have found that the first purchase request still requires entering the password, but now iOS asks if the user wants to enable Face ID for approving future requests, so those who aren’t too worried about their kids breaking into their phones using their similar face will soon be free to simplify the process again.

Report: Apple delaying home screen, photo editing and core updates in iOS until 2019

Apple is delaying a home screen refresh, improvements to core apps and updates to photo taking/editing processes in iOS until next year, Axios reports. During a meeting earlier this month, software head Craig Federighi told employees the company will be focusing on making its iPhones more secure and responsive in an effort to combat recent criticism over security problems and lagging performance because of the company intentionally slowing down devices. Augmented reality, digital health and parental controls are also still receiving attention in 2018, but improvements to Mail and Camera apps, changes to Apple’s in-car interface and a home screen refresh have all been pushed to 2019.

Apple releases first watchOS 4.3 beta, iOS 11.3 + tvOS 11.3 public betas

Apple has followed up the release of the first iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 developer betas earlier this week with the first beta of watchOS 4.3. Featuring a build number of 15T5165e, the very sparse release notes list only basic background information and “No known issues” providing no insight into what’s actually changed in the newest version.

Apple releases first iOS 11.3, tvOS 11.3 developer beta

Apple has released the first betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 to registered developers, with the improvements previewed earlier today, specifically new Animoji and the promised improvements to battery health monitoring resulting from the recent iPhone slowdown controversy. iOS 11.3 also brings back the Messages in iCloud feature that was promised for the initial iOS 11 release, with the release notes indicating that it’s currently “for testing and evaluation purposes” and adds that the feature will be automatically enabled — in the beta at least — for users who already have two-factor authentication and iCloud Backup enabled. In addition, the new iOS version also adds a new security protocol that will require users to re-enter their device passcode to authorize a Lighting-connected USB accessory if it has not been connected to the device for more than a week.

Preview of iOS 11.3 reveals new Animoji avatars, ARKit improvements, battery monitoring and more

Apple has released a preview of the new features in its iOS 11.3 software ahead of beta releases to developers and the public. The updated operating system’s Messages app will add new Animoji options — dragon, bear, lion and skull — as well as a Business Chat feature that lets users “have a conversation with a service representative, schedule an appointment or make purchases using Apple Pay” with select business partners, including Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo. Addressing the outrage over slowing down iPhones with older batteries, Apple has added a way to see the device’s battery health and a way to shut off the power management features that slowed down devices to preserve battery life.

Reports shed new light on Apple plans for 6.1” LCD iPhone

A new story from The China Times seems to back up well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s claims about Apple’s upcoming 6.1” LCD iPhone, expected to sport an edge-to-edge display like the iPhone X (including the camera notch) but only a single rear-facing camera. Where Apple offered one LED iPhone last year as the high-end model, this year’s three-iPhone lineup is expected to feature only one LCD model, aimed at users who don’t want to fork out for the more expensive flagship iPhones. The stripped down device is expected to come with an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel and only 3GB of RAM where the other two will have 4GB.

Apple releases iOS 11.2.5 with HomePod support, Siri news, enhanced audio control

Apple has released iOS 11.2.5, an update that brings support for the company’s new HomePod speakers along with Siri’s audio news feature and support for remote control of Apple Music playback. The new iOS update will be required to configure the HomePod when it’s released on Feb. 9, allowing users to automatically transfer their Apple ID, Apple Music, Siri, and Wi-Fi settings to the new speaker, likely similar in the way that an Apple TV can be automatically configured from an iPhone or other iOS device. The update also adds the ability to remotely control Apple Music playback on Apple TV and (presumably) HomePod speakers; selecting an audio destination from the Music app or Control Center widget will now display additional compatible playback destinations as separate panels, which can be used to start and control playback on that device directly from Apple Music, independently of whatever is playing on the iPhone itself.

Cook apologizes for lack of clarity on iPhone slowdowns, promises transparency in coming iOS update

In an interview with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for Apple’s failure to more effectively communicate its reasoning behind slowing down older iPhones with deteriorating batteries. When asked about the incident, Cook explained that Apple’s motivation behind the move was entirely on the user experience of ensuring users’ iPhones wouldn’t unexpectedly shutdown during seemingly normal usage such as making an emergency call, waiting for an important message, or wanting to “capture that moment that is fleeting with your camera,” and that Apple “felt it would be better to take something off of the performance to prevent that from happening.”  Cook added that when Apple released the iOS update that eliminated unexpected shutdowns last year, “we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention,” adding that “maybe we should have been clearer as well.” He went on to “deeply apologize for anybody who thinks that we had some other kind of motivation” and reiterated that “our motivation is always the user” and that “the user is at the centre of everything we do.”

Cook went on to add that Apple has been listening to the recent feedback very carefully, and in addition to “giving everybody a very very low price” on battery replacements, Apple has “thought through this whole thing and learned everything we can” and will be releasing an iOS update in the near future that will provide users with “the visibility of the health of their battery, so it’s very very transparent.” He added that iOS will also begin notifying users when performance throttling is occurring as well as providing the option to turn it off. However, in closing Cook added “we don’t recommend it, because we think that people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent and so — you know, our actions were all in service of the user, I can’t stress that enough. You know, maybe we should have been clearer at a point in time, but out actions were always the purest, but again if anybody out there believes we did something nefariously, we apologize for any kind of thing that we did or didn’t do.”

Chinese consumer group joins others demanding information about iPhone slowdowns

A Chinese consumer group has joined the growing list of private citizens and government entities demanding information about why and how Apple decided to slow down older iPhones without informing users, Reuters reports. Chinese state news agency Xinhua said the Shanghai Consumer Council has demanded a reply from Apple by Friday about how the company plans to rectify consumer complaints that their old iPhones became sluggish after the iOS 10.2.1 update. Apple has already lowered the price of battery replacements for users with certain iPhones and promised software changes to let users monitor the health of their batteries, but the company is still facing multiple class-action lawsuits and demands from lawmakers to provide more information about the situation.

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