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Apple offering battery replacements for iPhone 6s models with ‘unexpected shutdown issues’ (Updated)

Apple is offering free battery replacements for some iPhone 6s users whose phones are unexpectedly shutting down. The program is limited to certain devices manufactured from September to October 2015, and phones are subject to an inspection prior to the repair to make sure the serial number is within the correct range. Customers can contact Apple technical support, an Apple retail store or an authorized Apple service provider to find out of their phone is eligible for the repair. Owners of an iPhone 6s who have paid to replace their battery to remedy the shut down problem are also urged to contact Apple about a possible refund. Before customers take their phone in for service, Apple recommends backing up all personal data.

Update: Apple has added a serial number checker to the program page, allowing users who suspect they may be affected by this problem to enter their iPhone 6s serial number online to see if their device is eligible for replacement under the program.

Apple releases fourth betas of iOS 10.2, watchOS 3.1.1 to developers

Apple has seeded the fourth betas of iOS 10.2 and watchOS 3.1.1 to developers today. It’s now likely that iOS 10.2 will get its full public release soon, possibly next week. We’ll update with any noteworthy findings from the betas.

WSJ: Apple weighing cost of OLED iPhone, considering ‘more than 10 prototypes’

Apple is asking suppliers to scale up their production of OLED displays and submit samples for a curved-screen iPhone that could debut next year, The Wall Street Journal reports. But people familiar with the discussions said the OLED iPhone is far from a done deal, claiming the model is just one of more than 10 prototypes under consideration, and that there are growing concerns that the cost of the new screen might outweigh the benefits. Analysts think an OLED iPhone could cost up to $50 more to produce, and while the screens are thinner and more flexible than traditional LCD displays, other rigid internal components make it unlikely that the screen’s bendability will make much of a difference. Sharp President Tai Jeng-wu seemed confident that Apple would use OLED screens in at least some iPhone models next year during a speech last month, but isn’t bullish on the move being a game changer, saying, “We will make sample OLED screens, but I can’t see them having the potential to become a big market.”

Analyst says all 2017 iPhones will feature wireless charging

In a note to investors, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believes all of the 2017 iPhones will feature wireless charging functionality, making a bolder claim than earlier sources who said the feature could be limited to certain models — if Apple could make it work at all. Kuo said the rumored all-glass chassis design coming next year will facilitate wireless charging, but he’s still unsure whether Apple will include a wireless charger in the box or sell it separately. Apple is said to be outsourcing the wireless charger’s construction to ensure it receives “comprehensive testing before production.” Other reports have been less certain that Apple will end up including wireless charging, citing concerns about the ability to manufacture wireless charging modules profitably. [via AppleInsider]

tvOS, iOS betas gain Single Sign-On support for DirecTV

Users running the latest tvOS and iOS betas are seeing DirecTV being added to the list of Single Sign-On partners. Apple’s initial press release listed DirecTV as a partner, but when the TV app first landed on devices, Dish Network and its Sling TV spinoff were the only major TV providers listed. On the Apple TV, the setting to enable Single Sign-On will be found under Accounts in the Settings app, while on the iPhone and iPad it can be found in the main Settings app, below the settings for social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo. Enabling the feature makes DirecTV programming available through the TV app, but will also remove the need to log in again for users who are still watching TV through DirecTV’s own app. [via MacRumors]

Apple launches repair program for iPhone 6 ‘Touch Disease’

Apple has launched a new Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus, intended to address complaints about a problem dubbed “Touch Disease” that was brought to light by iFixit back in August. The issue, believed by iFixit to be the result of a design defect in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, resulted in a problem where touch functionality would become glitchy or unresponsive and flickering gray lines would appear at the top of the iPhone screen. With many of the affected iPhones out of warranty, Apple Stores generally refused to recognize the problem as being a real issue, prompting a class action lawsuit to be filed against Apple.

Report: Apple exploring possibility of manufacturing iPhones in U.S.

Apple has been asking its suppliers to study the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S., according to a new report by Nikkei Asian Review. Back in June, Apple reportedly approached both of its major iPhone assemblers, Foxconn and Pegatron, asking them to look into making iPhones in the U.S.; Foxconn agreed, but Pegatron declined due to cost concerns. Sources for the report indicated that although Foxconn has been working on outlining a plan for Apple, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou had been “less enthusiastic” about it as production costs would inevitably rise — the cost of producing an iPhone in the U.S. would be expected to more than double. The move from Apple appears to be due to concerns about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to push U.S. based companies back to domestic manufacturing, promising to slap a 45 percent import tariff on any goods made in China. In addition to increased costs, however, moving full iPhone production into to U.S. may not even be feasible due to a lack of skilled workers and a cluster of domestic suppliers of components.

Report: Apple storing iPhone call logs in iCloud

A new report from Elcomsoft, a company that develops iPhone cracking tools, reveals that Apple is storing user’s iPhone call log histories in iCloud, according to Forbes. According to Elcomsoft’s CEO Vladimir Katalov, the call logs are stored separately from iCloud Backups, and cannot be disabled without switching iCloud Drive off entirely. Katalov also explains that the scope of logging has increased with iOS 10’s new CallKit support, logging not only calls made within the Phone app, but also calls made with third-party apps such as Skype that are CallKit-compatible — an understandable scenario considering iOS 10 CallKit apps log their call history in the Phone app’s Recent Call list alongside traditional phone calls. Katalov goes on to note that this data is stored in “almost real-time” and that it could be valuable to law enforcement looking to gain access to a user’s iPhone data, and also claims that Apple hasn’t properly disclosed just what data is being stored in iCloud in this case.

Report: Three new iPhones next year; two with dual camera, one with OLED screen

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is doubling down on previous rumors that Apple will release three new iPhones next year — two phones with dual-camera setups and one without. He foresees two large phones in the 2017 lineup boasting dual cameras: A deluxe redesigned model with an OLED screen, and one more like the current iPhone 7 Plus with the same type of LCD display. The smaller 4.7” model, also featuring a more traditional LCD display, will keep the single camera, possibly as a result of size constraints limiting the space for components inside the phone.

Apple releases third beta for iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released new betas for iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 to developers today. The company seems to be keeping up a weekly schedule of new beta releases at this point. We’ll update if any major changes are found, but it’s more likely these updates will offer minor tweaks from last week’s betas. A public iOS beta release should follow shortly.

Report: Apple to release curved 5”, 5.8” iPhones without bezels next year

Researchers from Barclays are predicting Apple will release new 5” and 5.8” iPhones next year that have a curved, bezel-free design, MacRumors reports. Citing sources in Apple’s supply chain, the analysts said the move to a borderless design will let the screens of both the iPhone and iPhone Plus “extend vertically as well as horizontally” while allowing the devices to maintain the same overall size as the current models. While other reports have suggested Apple will be eliminating the home button to expand the iPhone’s screen size, Barclays doesn’t think the home button is going to be replaced by a version embedded inside the screen.

Apple begins selling refurbished iPhones in online Apple Store

Apple’s online store has begun selling refurbished iPhone 6s models, allowing customers to save money on last year’s iPhone models by purchasing certified refurbished versions. A variety of colors and capacities are available, with prices starting at $449 for a 16GB iPhone 6s — about $100 less expensive than a brand new entry-level iPhone 6s, although it’s worth keeping in mind that Apple has doubled storage capacities on this year’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models, making the refurbished iPhones arguably less of a deal — a brand new 32GB iPhone 6s sells for $549. All refurbished iPhone models currently being sold appear to be unlocked and SIM-free, meaning they can be used on any carrier.

Apple releases second betas of iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, and watchOS 3.1.1 to developers

Apple has released its second betas of iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, and watchOS 3.1.1 to developers today. The first betas were released a week ago, and Apple also later added the Single Sign-On feature for Apple TV and iOS beta users.

Report: Apple won’t update iPhone SE in early 2017

In a letter to KGI investors, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple isn’t expected to introduce an updated iPhone SE in early 2017. Kuo said Apple’s reluctance to release an improved SE is aimed at boosting the profit margins on the current model and avoiding offering more competition for its higher-end iPhone 7 models. Kuo was specific in saying that we probably won’t see a new SE by March, leaving the door open for a new model to debut later in the year. He also said Apple is eyeing other ways to get its profit margins back up, putting pressure on its manufacturing partners to bring component prices down. [via Apple Insider]

Apple adds new capabilities for MFi hearing aids in iOS 10

Apple has improved Bluetooth streaming to hearing aids, with a new support page detailing several new capabilities in iOS 10. Apple’s iOS devices have been compatible with MFi hearing aids since iOS 7, but the latest update adds a Live Listen feature to helps the iPhone’s microphone focus in on conversations in loud environments and allows for streaming calls, FaceTime conversations, movies, and other audio without using intermediary devices. Upgrading to iOS 10 also allows users to view the battery life of their hearing aids, adjust volume levels for each hearing aid independently, and adjust bass, treble and left-right balance to create an ideal listening experience. New presets for settings like concerts and restaurants make it easier to adjust volume levels on the fly, and a “find my hearing aid” feature makes it easier to locate a device that’s gone missing. [via Apple Insider]

Apple adds Single Sign-On in tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2 betas

Apple has quietly enabled its promised Single Sign On feature on its back-end servers for users running the iOS 10.2 or tvOS 10.1 betas. A new TV Providers option began appearing recently for U.S. users of the Apple TV and iOS betas. On the Apple TV, the setting is found under Accounts in the Settings app, while on the iPhone and iPad it can be found in the main Settings app, below the settings for social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Vimeo.

Apple releases iOS 10.2 public beta

Following yesterday’s release of the first iOS 10.2 developer beta, Apple has now released a public beta version of iOS 10.2 through its Apple Software Beta Program. The iOS 10.2 public beta notably adds the full Unicode 9.0 emoji approved earlier this year, along with a new Preserve Settings feature that allows users to determine whether modes, filters, and Live Photo settings in the Camera app persist across launches or reset to default values. iOS 10.2 also adds three new wallpapers for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users, a new widget for the Videos app, new “Press and Hold to Speak” options under Accessibility settings, star-based ratings support in the iOS 10.2 Music app, and new Activity reporting in the Health app for Apple Watch users. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

Report: Foxconn working on wireless charging modules for next iPhone

Foxconn is in the process of building wireless charging modules for at least some of next year’s iPhone models, Nikkei Asian Review reports. An industry source familiar with the matter said Foxconn is building the modules specifically for use with an iPhone, but couldn’t say if the wireless charging feature will be in all the 2017 iPhones or exclusive to certain models. The source also said inclusion of wireless charging will be contingent on Foxconn being able to “boost the yield rate to a satisfactory level later on” — implying that the company is currently struggling to make enough successful units in each batch to make the process profitable.

Apple seeds first betas of iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1.1 to developers

Apple has released the first betas for iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, and watchOS 3.1.1 to developers today. This follows today’s earlier public release of iOS 10.1.1.

Apple releases iOS 10.1.1 with Health data fix

Apple has released iOS 10.1.1 to the public today, providing a number of bug fixes — most notably, a fix for users who couldn’t view Health data in iOS 10.1. The update comes just one week after the release of iOS 10.1, which added the beta version of Portrait camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users, transit support in Maps, new wheelchair tracking workout summary information in Activity for Apple Watch users, and improved Bluetooth connectivity.

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