Apple Reportedly Advised Technicians to Push iPhone Upgrades to Customers With Out-of-Warranty Devices

Last month, Apple lowered its revenue guidance for the first quarter of its 2019 fiscal year by up to $9 billion due to fewer iPhone upgrades than it anticipated, primarily due to economic weakness in the Greater China region.


A few months prior to the announcement, Apple began heavily promoting iPhone XR and iPhone XS trade-ins with a limited time promotion, prominent banner on its website, emails to older iPhone users, store signage, App Store editorials, and other uncharacteristically aggressive tactics aimed at boosting sales.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously reported that Apple reassigned some of its marketing staff to focus on bolstering sales of its latest iPhone lineup in late October, around the time the iPhone XR launched. The report cited an unnamed source who described the efforts as a "fire drill."

In a report this week about Deirdre O'Brien succeeding Angela Ahrendts as Apple's retail chief, Gurman elaborated a bit more on Apple's tactics to promote its latest iPhones, claiming that the company advised its technicians to "push iPhone upgrades to consumers with out-of-warranty devices."

Senior retail staff were also tasked with making sure other employees were suggesting upgrades, according to Gurman:
In December, as Apple executives worried about demand, the company asked retail employees to promote the new iPhones using methods not seen before. Technicians were told to push iPhone upgrades to consumers with out-of-warranty devices. Senior sales staff had to make sure other retail workers were suggesting upgrades, and easels offering generous trade-in deals for the iPhone XR were erected in stores. Apple's online homepage was also replaced with reduced iPhone pricing that required a trade-in of older models.
We presume this refers to Genius Bar technicians at Apple Stores, but there is also a network of Apple Authorized Service Providers, some of which double as authorized resellers that offer the latest Apple products for sale.

It's unclear if the tactics had any influence on Ahrendts stepping down from her position. Unlike her short-lived predecessor John Browett, who reportedly pushed Apple retail employees to aggressively upsell products, Ahrendts focused on the experience with free Today at Apple creativity sessions and more.

Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that "customers are holding on to their older iPhones a bit longer than in the past." In a letter to shareholders, Cook said Apple is undertaking and accelerating initiatives to improve its results, such as making it simple to trade in a phone at its stores.

Apple's reported efforts to push iPhone upgrades creates an interesting juxtaposition. On one hand, the company's environmental chief Lisa Jackson recently said customers using its devices longer "is the best thing for the planet," and on the other hand it is more aggressively encouraging customers to buy a new iPhone.

Skip to 1:23:51 mark for Lisa Jackson's comments

Whether the tactics are effective will be harder to gauge going forward, as Apple no longer discloses unit sales in its quarterly earnings report. Apple forecasted revenue between $55 billion and $59 billion in the current quarter, which would be down from $61.1 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR

This article, "Apple Reportedly Advised Technicians to Push iPhone Upgrades to Customers With Out-of-Warranty Devices" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple-Branded Over-Ear Headphones Said to Launch as Early as Second Half of 2019

Apple is planning its own over-ear headphones for as early as the second half of 2019, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.


Gurman briefly mentioned the more specific timeframe in a report claiming that Sonos is also developing a high-end pair of wireless, over-the-ear headphones that could be launched by next year. He previously said the Apple headphones could debut as early as this year, so the "second half" distinction is new.

Gurman previously reported that the headphones will use Apple branding and be positioned as a higher-end alternative to the company's line of Beats headphones. He also said Apple originally intended to introduce the headphones by the end of 2018, but faced development challenges causing a delay.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was first to report about Apple's plans to release high-end over-ear headphones that are "as convenient as AirPods with better sound quality." They are also said to feature noise cancellation.


This article, "Apple-Branded Over-Ear Headphones Said to Launch as Early as Second Half of 2019" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Gurman: Apple Considered Removing Lightning Connector on iPhone X

As a side note in his report about technical challenges facing the AirPower, expected to be released by September, well-connected reporter Mark Gurman also noted that Apple considered removing wired charging from the iPhone X.


From his Bloomberg News story:
During the development of the iPhone X, Apple weighed removing the wired charging system entirely. That wasn't feasible at the time because wireless charging was still slower than traditional methods. Including a wireless charger with new iPhones would also significantly raise the price of the phones.
Just to be absolutely clear, Gurman confirmed to me that this would have included removing the Lightning connector from the device. In fact, his report notes that Apple designers eventually hope to "remove most of the external ports and buttons on the iPhone," although this is likely multiple years away.

A few years ago, it was reported that Apple's design chief Jony Ive's end goal is for the iPhone to resemble a "single sheet of glass," while Apple has repeatedly expressed its ambitions to "create a wireless future," so the eventual removal of the Lightning connector should perhaps come as no surprise.

Apple is already well on its way towards that wireless future, with products and technologies ranging from AirPods and AirPower to its W1 and W2 wireless chips. Apple also made the controversial decision to remove the headphone jack from iPhone 7 models a few years ago, pushing users towards wireless earphones.

Still, removing the Lightning connector would certainly be another controversial decision, given it is not only used for wired charging, but also for audio and data transfer, such as syncing an iPhone with iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Removing the Lightning connector would also prevent an iPhone from directly connecting to a wide range of peripherals, including many adapters, docks, battery cases, power banks, keyboards, game controllers, audio cables, wired headphones, and other accessories authorized under Apple's MFi Program.

In many cases, however, wireless alternatives would be available. It's possible to sync an iPhone with iTunes over Wi-Fi, for example, while wired headphone users can go wireless, Bluetooth-enabled game controllers are available, and upright-positioned wireless chargers can double as a docking station.

Of course, there would be some friction with this transition, just like when Apple switched from its 30-pin dock connector to Lightning in 2012, and removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. In both of those cases, however, the controversy eventually died down as many users came to accept the new reality.

It's also worth noting that Apple considers a lot of different ideas internally that might never materialize in a public-facing product.

At this point, it appears like the Lightning connector on iPhones should live on for at least a few years. Rumors suggest Apple will bundle a faster 18W charger with a USB-C port with iPhones released in 2018, which would connect to the devices with a Lightning to USB-C cable included in the box.


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Gurman: WWDC 2018 to Have Software Focus, New Macs, iPad Pros, and Larger-Screen Apple Watches Coming Later

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference commences on Monday with an opening keynote, where the company previews the next major versions of its software platforms, and usually shares some other announcements.


Ahead of the keynote, Bloomberg's well-sourced Mark Gurman has outlined what he expects Apple to discuss on stage:
  • A series of Digital Health tools in the Settings app on iOS 12 that will help users monitor how much time they spend using their devices and individual apps, helping to address concerns about smartphone addiction.
  • ARKit 2, including a new mode that allows for a multiplayer mode in augmented reality games. Another mode is said to allow objects to be dropped into an area and virtually remain in place.
  • Apple could reveal its reported plans to allow iOS apps to run on Macs as early as this year. The wording suggests it's not entirely clear if Apple plans to discuss the project at WWDC or later.
  • Minor new features for snoozing notifications, tracking the stock market, making video calls, and sending Animojis via FaceTime.
Overall, Gurman expects this year's software updates across iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS to be more "muted," with "bigger changes later," as Apple has decided to focus more on the quality and stability improvements this year, according to an internal meeting the company reportedly held earlier this year.

Planned new iOS 12 features that have been shelved until 2019 are said to include a redesigned home screen with more information, an artificial intelligence upgrade to the Photos app, and new file-management tools for iPads.

Unfortunately for those hoping to see Apple refresh its product lineups at WWDC, Gurman suggests that "a suite of new gadgets is unlikely," although a surprise hardware announcement or two cannot be entirely ruled out. Hopefully, an update will also be provided about Apple's AirPower charging mat.

Gurman claims Apple is working on refreshed MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and Apple Watch models, and a new low-cost MacBook, but he doesn't expect any of those devices to be ready until "later this year."Gurman outlined most of these expectations in his previous reporting over the past year.

WWDC's opening keynote begins on Monday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. MacRumors will be in attendance at the keynote, with live coverage both here on MacRumors.com and through our @MacRumorsLive account on Twitter.

MacRumors will also have pre-event coverage, beginning around 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time, and post-event hands-on coverage if applicable.

Related Roundup: WWDC 2018

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Apple Expected to Launch Subscription News Service Within Next Year Following Texture Acquisition

Apple plans to offer a subscription-based news service within the next year, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News. Apple declined to comment on the report, as it has not announced the plans publicly.


The service is said to be based on subscription-based digital magazine app Texture, which is expected to be integrated into the Apple News app on iPhone and iPad, pending approval of Apple's agreement to acquire the company.

Texture provides unlimited access to over 200 digital magazines for $9.99 per month. Available magazine titles include People, Vogue, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, GQ, Sports Illustrated, Wired, Maxim, Men's Health, GQ, Bloomberg Businessweek, ESPN The Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly.

"We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users," said Apple's services chief Eddy Cue, on Apple acquiring Texture.

The service would essentially be like Apple Music, which provides unlimited streaming of over 45 million songs for $9.99 per month, but for news and magazines. The revenue would help boost Apple's growing services division, including the App Store and iCloud, while a cut would also go to publishers.

The premium tier would likely complement the existing ad-supported content available within the Apple News app, which is currently available in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom on iOS 9 and later.

Apple previously offered a Newsstand app with digital magazines and newspapers, but subscriptions were only available on a title-by-title basis.


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Apple Planning iPhones With Touchless Gesture Controls and Curved Screens to Launch Within Three Years

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has a new report out this morning, claiming that Apple is working on future iPhone models that will incorporate "touchless gesture control" as well as curved screens. The company is said to be looking at how it can differentiate its flagship product in a smartphone market that's becoming increasingly saturated with devices.

According to people with knowledge of Apple's plans, the touchless control feature is described as a hover-like gesture system that would let future iPhone owners navigate iOS "by moving their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it." This technology would be advanced enough to take into account the proximity of a finger to the screen and is predicted to still be around two years away, if Apple chooses to move forward with it.


Gurman also compared Apple's gesture design to Samsung's Air Gestures in Android smartphones and Google's Project Soli. In comparison, Apple's future iPhone "would require gestures to be closer to the screen than with Project Soli," and be based on technology built in the display rather than some kind of motion sensor added to the iPhone's bezel, as it is with Air Gestures.

Secondly, Apple is in the works on an iPhone display that curves inward "gradually from top to bottom," unlike Samsung's smartphones that curve down and away at the edges of the screen. Gurman's sources said that this major iPhone upgrade is around two to three years away. The company has been connected to curved display rumors in the past, and in October 2017 was said to be working with LG Display on an iPhone with a foldable display.

The new report also quickly corroborates many of the current rumors for the 2018 iPhone lineup:
While the Apple projects aren’t imminent, the company has near-term plans to expand OLED technology to more devices, according to other people familiar with the matter. It will release a second iPhone with that type of screen later this year; a larger model with a 6.5-inch screen, up from the 5.8-inch size in the current iPhone X. The company is also working on an update to the iPhone X’s size and a new, lower-cost LCD model.
Earlier in February, another one of Gurman's reports focused on the launch of iOS 12 later this year, which is believed to feature Animoji in FaceTime, deeper Siri integration, and an overall focus on quality rather than the introduction of many new features.


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Apple Plans to Ditch Intel and Use Custom Mac Chips Starting in 2020

Apple is planning to transition from Intel chips to its own custom made Mac chips as early as 2020, reports Bloomberg.

Apple's initiative, reportedly code named "Kalamata," is part of an effort to make Macs, iPhones, and iPads work "more similarly and seamlessly together" according to unspecified sources that spoke to Bloomberg. Apple already designs its own A-series chips found in iPhones and iPads.


The Mac chip plans are said to be in the early stages of development and the transition from Intel chips to Apple chips could involve multiple steps, starting with the "Marzipan" initiative coming in iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 to allow developers to create a single app able to run on both iOS and macOS.

With its own chips, Apple would not be forced to wait on new Intel chips before being able to release updated Macs, and the company could integrate new features on a faster schedule.
The shift would also allow Cupertino, California-based Apple to more quickly bring new features to all of its products and differentiate them from the competition. Using its own main chips would make Apple the only major PC maker to use its own processors. Dell Technologies Inc., HP Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd., and Asustek Computer Inc. use Intel chips.

By using its own chips, Apple would be able to more tightly integrate new hardware and software, potentially resulting in systems with better battery life -- similar to iPads, which use Apple chips.
Apple has already begun using custom designed T1 and T2 chips in its MacBook Pro and iMac Pro machines, and the company is said to be planning to integrate additional custom co-processors in Macs coming later this year. The custom chips will also be used in the upcoming Mac Pro, which is in development.

The T1 chip, included in the MacBook Pro, powers the Touch Bar and authenticates Touch ID. The T2 chip, in the iMac Pro integrates several components including the system management controller, image signal processor, SSD controller, and a Secure Enclave with a hardware-based encryption engine.

Previous rumors have suggested Apple is interested in creating its own ARM-based core processor chips for its Mac lineup in order to reduce its dependence on Intel. Apple is also rumored to be pursuing development of its own modem chips to also reduce reliance on both Intel and Qualcomm.

A move away from Intel would have a major impact on Intel, with Apple providing approximately five percent of Intel's annual revenue. Intel stock has already dropped following the news.

Related Roundups: Mac Pro, MacBook Pro

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Mark Gurman: New MacBook in Works, Likely Replaces MacBook Air With Price Below $1,000

Apple is working on a new, lower-priced notebook that will likely replace the MacBook Air with a starting price below $1,000 in the United States, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News.


At first glance, it would appear that Gurman is referring to a lower-priced 12-inch MacBook, as many people believe that Apple will eventually phase out the MacBook Air. However, the "MacBook laptop" wording is perhaps intentionally vague, in case it does end up being a cheaper MacBook Air.
A new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than $1,000, but it probably won't be ready in time for next week, the people said. The MacBook Air, introduced about a decade ago, hasn't seen a major change since 2010, the same year the iPad came out. Although the laptop is popular with college students, it has languished as Apple focuses on more expensive Macs.
Earlier this month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple plans to launch a more affordable MacBook Air in the second quarter of 2018, which essentially runs between next week and the end of June. WitsView researcher Yubin Qiu estimated the notebook could start at $799 to $899 in the United States.

Gurman said the new MacBook "probably won't be ready in time for next week," suggesting it might not be unveiled at Apple's education-themed event on Tuesday at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. Of course, Apple could still announce the notebook at the event, even if orders begin at a later date.

Gurman nor Kuo have elaborated on what we can expect from the new MacBook or MacBook Air, whichever it ends up being, but it's reasonable to assume that we'll see a bump to the processors and graphics. If it's a new MacBook Air, a Retina display is also a possibility, but that may go against the sub-$1,000 price.

The rest of Gurman's report corroborates widespread rumors about Apple's plans to introduce its lowest-priced iPad, and more educational software, at its Chicago event. We'll find out on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Central Time.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook

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Apple Developing Its Own MicroLED Displays for Future Devices

Apple has a secret manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California, where it is designing and producing test samples of its own displays, reports Bloomberg. The company is reportedly using MicroLED technology in an effort to replace Samsung's OLED displays in future devices.

Apple's MicroLED facility in Santa Clara (Bloomberg)
The technology giant is making a significant investment in the development of next-generation MicroLED screens, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. MicroLED screens use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and promise to make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.
Apple's desire to expand its supply chain beyond Samsung has been extensively rumored, with Apple reportedly spending billions of dollars to help LG get its own OLED production up to speed and LG displays rumored to be making their way into this year's "iPhone X Plus" device.

Looking beyond OLED, many believe MicroLED will be the next display technology to appear in mobile devices, and Apple's interest in the technology was revealed in its acquisition of MicroLED firm LuxVue back in 2014. Apple has reportedly been working to first bring MicroLED to the Apple Watch, with some rumors pointing to that happening as soon as this year.

Bloomberg's report suggests, however, that it will likely be a few years until Apple's MicroLED displays will appear in shipping products, perhaps two years for the Apple Watch and three to five years for the iPhone. Apple will likely also outsource full-scale production of the displays.
The California facility is too small for mass-production, but the company wants to keep the proprietary technology away from its partners as long as possible, one of the people says. “We put a lot of money into the facility,” this person says. “It’s big enough to get through the engineering builds [and] lets us keep everything in-house during the development stages.”
Apple had reportedly been working on MicroLED display technology at an R&D center in Taiwan, but late last year the company was reported to have scaled back its efforts at that center. In light of today's news, it's possible Apple elected to concentrate its efforts at a facility closer to its headquarters.


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iOS 12 Said to Feature Animoji in FaceTime, Deeper Siri Integration, and Do Not Disturb Improvements

Apple's alleged plans to double down on the quality of its iPhone, iPad, and Mac software platforms, rather than rush to introduce new features, have been revealed in more detail by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg News.


The report claims that Apple's software engineers will have more discretion to delay features that aren't as polished, with the company essentially shifting to more of a two-year roadmap for iOS and macOS, rather than trying to release major feature-packed upgrades every single year without question.
Instead of keeping engineers on a relentless annual schedule and cramming features into a single update, Apple will start focusing on the next two years of updates for its iPhone and iPad operating system, according to people familiar with the change. The company will continue to update its software annually, but internally engineers will have more discretion to push back features that aren't as polished to the following year.
The report describes Apple's new strategy as a "major cultural shift," and an admission that its recent software updates have suffered from an uncharacteristic number of bugs, ranging from a critical root superuser vulnerability on Mac to iMessages appearing in the wrong order across Apple devices.

Apple's commitment to a fast-paced iOS release schedule already led some features to be delayed regardless, including Apple Pay Cash and Messages on iCloud, so the new strategy would likely involve not announcing or testing those features in beta until they are much closer to being ready for public release.

Despite the increased focus on under-the-hood refinements, iOS 12 is still expected to include some significant new features, including Animoji in FaceTime, which will enable people to place virtual faces over themselves during video calls.

Additionally, in iOS 12, Apple is planning deeper Siri integration in the iPhone's search view, Do Not Disturb improvements that will give users more options to automatically reject phone calls or silence notifications, a redesigned version of its Stocks app, and a multiplayer mode for augmented reality games.

As previously reported, Apple is also expected to make it possible for developers to release apps that work across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, starting with iOS 12 and macOS 10.14, which should be introduced at WWDC 2018 in June.

Last month, Gurman reported that developers will be able to design a single third-party app that works with both a touchscreen, and a mouse or trackpad, depending on whether it's running on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Apple would presumably also streamline its own apps on the desktop and mobile.

The report didn't reveal exactly how the process will work, but Apple could be planning to release a new SDK with new APIs that enable true cross-platform functionality. Right now, Apple's UIKit and AppKit frameworks provide the required infrastructure for iOS and macOS app user interfaces respectively.

Today's report reiterates other features that are delayed, including redesigned home screens on iPhone, iPad, and CarPlay, tabbed apps on iPad, and the ability to view two screens from the same app side by side on iPad.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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