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Number of lawsuits against Apple grows as US, French officials inquire about iPhone throttling

US Senator John Thune has entered the fray around Apple’s admitted slowing down of older iPhones, sending the company a list of questions about how it came to the decision to throttle performance on its devices without informing users, The Wall Street Journal reports. As Senate Commerce Committee chairman, Thune is looking for information on “how Apple has tracked customer complaints of processing performance and if Apple has explored offering rebates to customers who paid full price for a battery replacement before the company offered discounted rates last month,” noting that customers have complained that the battery replacements weren’t offered for free. Reuters reports a French prosecutor has also opened an investigation into the company’s actions after a complaint by a consumer organization alleging deception and “planned obsolescence of its products.” All the while Patently Apple has been tracking the number of class-action lawsuits over the move, which has now reached 30 — although some have more merit than others.

Apple, Intel downplay performance cost of fixing Meltdown, Spectre vulnerabilities

After addressing vulnerabilities in processors that left iOS and Mac devices open to security issues nicknamed Meltdown and Spectre, Apple is now convinced than the fixes rolled out to remedy the problems will have “little to no performance impact,” Reuters reports. Apple admitted that its devices were vulnerable to exploits that “abuse speculative execution to access privileged memory —including that of the kernel — from a less-privileged user process such as a malicious app running on a device,” but said fixes in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 already help defend against Meltdown — even though there have been no documented exploits affecting customers. Since the exploits would require a malicious app to be downloaded, the recommended course of action is to scrutinize apps before downloading and only download from trusted sources. Intel — the company that produces the affected microprocessors — said Apple had seen no significant performance drop off from security updates and that any impact should be mitigated over time with future updates.

Apple issues clarification to Apple Stores after some seeking $29 battery replacements were denied

After some Apple users with an iPhone 6 or later reported being refused a $29 battery replacement at Apple Stores, Apple has issued new guidance to its retail locations instructing employees to honor all replacement requests, iGeneration reports. Following outrage over Apple’s admission that the company had been slowing down older iPhones to conserve battery power without informing users, the company agreed to replace the batteries in iPhone 6, 6s, SE or 7 devices for $29 — a substantial discount over the usual price for out-of-warranty battery replacements.

Face ID can’t be used for ‘Ask to Buy’ purchases on the App Store

Many users who bought the iPhone X this year got an unwelcome surprise at Christmas time, finding that they couldn’t use Face ID to authenticate “Ask to Buy” requests that require kids to ask for parental approval to make iOS purchases and downloads, Ars Technica reports. The “Ask to Buy” feature allows Touch ID to be used to approve the requests, but not Face ID, which has led to speculation that Apple knows there’s a risk of family members — especially children without fully formed features — being able to access another user’s iPhone X with Face ID and approve purchases without permission.

Apple facing class action suits over slowing down older iPhones

After last week’s admission from Apple that the company has been intentionally slowing down older iPhones without informing users, at least eight lawsuits have been filed in various federal courts seeking compensation and a reversal of the policy, CNBC reports. Apple has admitted that iOS updates since “last year” sent out to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” the power supply from batteries that are old, cold or contain a low charge. Apple claims without that software, an iPhone could just shut off suddenly because of another safety feature to keep internal components from getting fried when there are battery issues. One of the lawsuits — filed by attorney Jeffrey Fazio, who won users a $53 million settlement in 2013 over Apple’s handling of iPhone warranty claims — claims that, “Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect.”

Apple invests $390M in Finisar, company that makes lasers for iPhone X

Apple has announced a $390 million investment in Finisar, the company that produces lasers used in the iPhone X’s Face ID technology, according to a press release. The money is expected to be spent on research and development and high-volume production of the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers that power Face ID, Portrait mode selfies and even the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. Finisar will be remodelling a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas to add more than 500 jobs for engineers, technicians and maintenance teams to dramatically increase production. This is the second grant from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which previously invested $200 million in Corning’s “revolutionary glass production methods.”

iOS 11.2 released over the weekend with fix for Dec. 2 crash bug, Apple Pay Cash

After online reports of a bug that appeared to be crashing iPhones just after the date rolled over to December 2, Apple rolled out the iOS 11.2 on Saturday, the first time the company has ever released an update on a weekend. Time-based notifications for certain apps began crashing or respringing the devices at 12:15 a.m. on December 2, specifically apps that issue repeated reminders throughout the day. Apple took the unusual step of releasing its iOS update on the weekend to remedy that issue, but seems to have rushed it out with some parts not operational. Apple Pay Cash, the method for using Messages to send person-to-person payments, is included in the release but not yet functional. Users have also reported problems with Face ID in iPhone X after updating, but most have found a reboot after installation clears up the problem.

Apple applies for foldable iPhone patent

Apple has applied for a patent for a foldable iPhone, Patently Apple reports. The patent expands on others filed by Apple, using advanced carbon nanotube structures to prevent corrosion in the foldable section of the display. While delicate internal components have made it impossible to create a folding device in the past, Apple’s latest patent covers a device that simply bends in the middle instead of being flexible all over, possibly side-stepping the internal component problem by allowing the two sides themselves to be mostly rigid. This is also the first Apple patent to list micro-LED as a possible display type, and also lists liquid metal as a component in the structure, saying “The material that forms layer 14-1 may be a shape memory alloy (e.g., nickel titanium) or a bulk metal glass (sometimes referred to as amorphous metal).”

iPhone X shipping time down to 1-2 weeks as production speeds improve

Well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors Apple has substantially increased its iPhone X production to meet high demand for the device, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo said Apple’s assembly partners are churning out anywhere from 440,000 to 550,000 units a day, up sharply from the 50,000 to 100,000 being shipped each day a month or two ago. Production yields have also improved at component suppliers’ facilities, and shoppers ordering the iPhone X have seen shipping times drop to 1-2 weeks because of the supply stabilization, down from the 5-6 week estimates that were seen shortly after pre-orders opened.

Apple rumored to be releasing second-generation iPhone SE next year

After rumors about an updated iPhone SE went nowhere this year, China’s Economic Daily News is again claiming that there will be a second-generation version of the device coming, this time in the first half of 2018. The new assembly plant in Bangalore, India that helped Apple get its foot in the door in India is now rumored to be the likely site to produce the new model as well. While Apple skipped updating the iPhone SE in 2017, markets like India and China still have high demand for a smartphone at a lower price point than the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. Last month a questionable report from Tekz24 speculated about the hardware inside a new SE, including an upgrade to the A10 Fusion chip and slightly larger battery than the current device.

Freedom Mobile to begin offering iPhones on Dec. 8

Freedom Mobile is set to begin offering new iPhones for the first time, MobileSyrup reports. Freedom will provide the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X at all of its retail locations across Canada, alongside other older models in its western stores. Network upgrades have hindered the roll out of the older devices in eastern Canada, with Freedom promising to support those by “early 2018.” All of the iPhones are available for no money down and Freedom’s monthly payments amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the outright price of the devices.

Apple looking to Intel for 5G modems as fight with Qualcomm continues

As Apple slugs it out in court with longtime modem supplier Qualcomm, the company is cooperating with Intel to prepare its devices for the switch to 5G technology, Fast Company reports. Qualcomm’s current 5G chips offer more specialized features, but a source 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. The source claims Intel has “multiple thousands” of employees working on the technology, calling the iPhone contract a “must-win” for the company. Apple first started splitting orders between Qualcomm and Intel with the iPhone 7 in 2016 and Intel has proved more than willing to customize its products for Apple. With Verizon abandoning the older CDMA networks that required Apple to keep some of its modem business with Qualcomm, Apple has one less reason to split orders for future devices.

Apple reportedly integrating streaming sports into TV app next month

Apple’s TV app is set to gain live streaming sports from ESPN next month, 9to5Mac reports. A source from a “major sports network” confirmed the launch date, claiming the update will arrive as part of iOS 11.2 on or around December 4, as well as being enabled on tvOS 11.2 at the same time. The app will gain live games from ESPN along with live scores and game clocks in a single interface. The app also includes the ability to receive live alerts for close games so users can switch back and forth. The feature is not yet live in any of the iOS 11.2 apps we’ve seen so far.

iOS 11.1.2 update released, fixing cold temperature problem with iPhone X screen

Apple has released the iOS 11.1.2 update, which contains a fix for the iPhone X’s screen becoming unbresponsive in cold weather. The update also fixes distortion problems in Live Photos and videos recorded by the iPhone X along with other minor bug fixes.

10-year-old boy unlocks mom’s iPhone X with Face ID

In the latest case of mistaken Face ID verification, a video showing a 10-year-old boy unlocking his mom’s iPhone X underscores previous reports that even non-identical family members may be able to access the devices, WIRED reports. While hackers using sophisticated 3D mapping to create elaborate masks might not be of much concern to the average iPhone X owner, knowing that a child could fool the device and scroll through their texts or order food off GrubHub may give some pause. In an interview with WIRED, Attaullah Malik puzzled over his son’s ability to unlock his wife’s iPhone X reliably but not his, since “People generally say he looks more like me.”

Report: Apple working on 3D sensors for 2019 iPhone’s rear-facing camera

Apple is working on bringing a 3D sensor system to the iPhone’s rear camera as early as 2019, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the plan said the sensors would likely be different than those that power the iPhone X’s TrueDepth sensor system in the front-facing camera, which powers Face ID and other features. Instead of using the structured light technique that projects thousands of laser dots onto the user’s face, the rear-facing sensor would use time-of-flight measurements that calculate the return time for laser light projected off objects and use that to create a 3D image of the environment. Sources said Apple has already reached out to prospective suppliers for the new sensors.

Report: iPhone 8 production may decrease as a result of iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus popularity

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple’s production of the iPhone 8 may decrease by over 50 percent this quarter due to strong consumer preference for the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X models. According to a research note obtained by MacRumors, demand for the iPhone 8 has been lower than expected and could result in fewer orders for Apple’s supplier Pegatron. While Apple doesn’t disclose iPhone sales on a per-model basis, CEO Tim Cook noted recently that the company was surprised by how fast iPhone 8 Plus sales took off after the new model was released, citing it as “the fastest start of any Plus model.” Research firm Canalys also noted that the iPhone 8 Plus outpaced the iPhone 8 last quarter, making it the first 5.5-inch iPhone to beat out it’s smaller sibling in shipments.

Apple updates Clips app with iPhone X exclusive ‘Scenes’ feature

Apple has released a major update to its Clips app for the iPhone X, adding a new Scenes feature that takes advantage of the TrueDepth camera to place you in animated, 360-degree scenes with matching selfie filters to transform your appearance. Some of the scenes include the Millennium Falcon with a Star Wars style holo effect filter, a sketchbook scene with a filter that provides a charcoal drawing effect, and a scene that puts you into an 8-bit video game setting. Since Scenes require the TrueDepth camera, they’re only available to iPhone X users, however Clips 2.0 adds plenty of additional enhancements for users of other iPhone models as well, including a completely redesigned user interface, a collection of new stickers, posters, and titles, featuring Star Wars characters and Mickey and Friends along with retro Apple-designed stickers, four new artistic effects, a selection of new filters from the Camera app, and 21 new royalty-free soundtracks. Clips also now sync via iCloud so you can view and edit your work from any of your iOS devices.

iPhone X teardown reveals most efficient device yet; some drop tests find it to be very breakable

In its full teardown of the iPhone X, iFixit found the device to be drastically reconfigured inside to maximize performance in the smallest space possible. The stacked logic board is of special interest, taking up only around 70 percent of the space of the iPhone 8 Plus’ board but cramming in even more chips and connectors by being folded in half. That design leaves more room for the two battery cells that give the iPhone X a small edge on the iPhone 8 Plus despite coming in a much smaller footprint. Internal brackets, spot welds and foam hold the front-facing cameras firmly in place so they can pull off delicate features like Portrait Mode, and the rear-facing Face ID camera technology comes out of the display when it’s separated, making the OLED display replaceable without fiddling with the cameras embedded within it.

Siblings who aren’t even twins finding ways to break Face ID; other methods are hit or miss

Apple admitted from the start that its one-in-a-million figure for the odds that someone other than you could unlock your iPhone X with Face ID comes down substantially when you start facoring in twins and siblings, and users have wasted no time putting it to the test. One Reddit video shows that even non-identical siblings who just look enough alike can fool the face scanning technology. While the second brother’s face wasn’t able to open the iPhone X on several failed attempts, after repeated tries and passcode entries after failure, the second brother adding a pair of black-rimmed glasses did the trick, allowing him to unlock the device. That leaves the question open as to whether the iPhone X was actually fooled or whether it was trained to recognize the second brother’s face as close enough by all of the repeated failures, and Apple hasn’t shed any light on whether the Face ID technology can be taught to accept a greater degree of variation. Another video shows two half-brothers breaking Face ID, but one of the brothers is 14 and Apple has warned that kids who don’t have “fully developed facial features” will be somewhat problematic for the Face ID scans as well, so that could be a contributing factor.

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