Apple Expected to Switch to All-OLED iPhone Line-up by 2020

Apple could drop LCD displays for its 2020 iPhones in favor of an all-OLED line-up, a new report today claims. From the Wall Street Journal (paywall):

Apple is likely to drop LCD displays altogether in its 2020 iPhone lineup in favor of organic light-emitting diode displays that allow for more flexible handset design, people familiar with the production plans have said.
This isn't the first time we've heard that Apple is considering dropping LCD models from its line-up in order to make a complete shift to OLED displays in 2020.

WSJ suggested the possibility earlier this month, but today's report gives the rumor more clout by claiming that Apple LCD panel supplier Japan Display is seeking investor help that will put it on firmer ground before the switch to OLED-only iPhones takes place.
Japan Display Inc. is in advanced talks with Taiwan's TPK Holdings Co. and Chinese state-owned Silk Road Fund about an investment that would include a stake of about 30% with the possibility of greater control later, people familiar with the matter said.
The bailout is also said to be partly in response to less-than-stellar sales of iPhone XR, which uses the liquid-crystal displays that Japan Display specializes in. More than half of Japan Display's revenue in the year ended March 2018 came from Apple, so the supplier is acutely sensitive to sales that fall short of the tech giant's expectations.

Multiple reports claim Apple has recently asked its partners to cut down on all iPhone production. Apple has also dropped the price of iPhone XR in China to try and spur additional sales.

The price drops and the production cut follow a recent Q1 2019 guidance downgrade, with Apple expecting revenue of $84 billion during the quarter. That's a year-over-year decline and a drop from the $89 to $93 billion revenue guidance Apple provided in November.

A report in May 2018 claimed Apple's transition to a full OLED iPhone line-up would be complete in 2019, but a group of analysts quickly responded to the report and argued that the 2019 timeframe was likely inaccurate.

Apple has been working to bolster its OLED display supply chain for diversification purposes and to cut down its reliance on Samsung, the company that has supplied displays for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.

Apple has reportedly pushed LG Display to build out its OLED display production facilities, and has even purchased equipment to build an OLED panel research and development site in Taiwan.

Rumors point to a similar iPhone lineup in 2019 as last year, perhaps with a continuation of both the iPhone XS and XR devices, with rumors suggesting we'll see 5.8 and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones along with a 6.1-inch LCD iPhone.

Related Roundups: iPhone XR, 2019 iPhones
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XR (Buy Now)

This article, "Apple Expected to Switch to All-OLED iPhone Line-up by 2020" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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WSJ on 2019 iPhones: Triple-Lens Rear Camera on Next iPhone XS Max and Dual Rear on Next iPhone XR

Apple plans to release three new iPhone models later this year, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal today:

  • iPhone XR successor with a LCD display and dual-lens rear camera
  • iPhone XS successor with an OLED display and dual-lens rear camera
  • iPhone XS Max successor with an OLED display and a triple-lens rear camera
  • All three models may lack 3D Touch
Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the same thing back in October, but there's a few new details here. Let's recap.

First, we've been hearing rumors that at least one new iPhone in 2019 will feature a triple-lens rear camera for quite some time, and it makes sense that it might be a feature exclusive to the highest-end, highest-priced successor to the iPhone XS Max.

The third lens could allow for advanced 3D sensing, improved optical zoom, and other functions. Earlier this week, we saw a render of what the triple-lens camera array may look like, and the design is quite polarizing:

Image Credit: OnLeaks/Digit

A triple-lens rear camera on the next iPhone XS Max, whatever it is named, would increase its differentiation with the iPhone XS. The two smartphones are very similar as they exist now, with the iPhone XS Max's sole differences being a larger 6.5-inch display versus the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and longer battery life.

Meanwhile, this is the first we've heard that the iPhone XR successor may feature dual rear cameras, up from a single lens currently.

Apple has been aggressively marketing the iPhone XR, a lower-priced alternative with most-but-not-all features of the flagship iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models. A dual rear camera could increase the $749 starting price of the iPhone XR, or eat into Apple's profit margins slightly if pricing remains unchanged.

Apple may remove 3D Touch from its entire 2019 iPhone lineup, according to the report. This is a rumor we've heard before and likely means that Haptic Touch would extend from the iPhone XR to the next versions of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

Last, the report claims Apple is considering dropping the LCD model and making a complete shift to OLED displays in 2020. We've heard this rumor before, but some initially believed the transition to all-OLED would happen in 2019. This means the iPhone XR could be discontinued or upgraded to OLED next year.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

This article, "WSJ on 2019 iPhones: Triple-Lens Rear Camera on Next iPhone XS Max and Dual Rear on Next iPhone XR" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Reportedly Plans to Cut Price of iPhone XR in Japan Due to Poor Sales and Restart iPhone X Production

Apple plans to discount the price of iPhone XR models in Japan by offering subsidies to Japanese carriers, according to a new report out this morning.

The Wall Street Journal said the price decreases on the $750 iPhone models could come as early as next week, citing sources familiar with Apple's sales strategy in the region.

"A price cut within a month off the release is rare not just for Apple but for smartphone makers in general," said a senior official at a wireless operator, who monitors sales.

Analysts say weaker-than-expected demand for iPhone XR may mirror what happened with the iPhone 5c in 2013, where sales picked up the following year. Apple's higher-priced XS and XS Max models, released a month earlier, appeal more to tech's early adopters who typically fuel initial sales of new iPhones.
The decision comes in the wake of a WSJ report earlier this week that claimed Apple has slashed production orders for its latest iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models due to lower-than-expected demand.

Part of the problem for Apple is that the iPhone 8 is apparently still hugely popular in Japan because of its affordability, given that it's cheaper than the XR and was still available when Apple launched the XS and XS Max.

According to WSJ's sources, Apple suppliers have also resumed making the iPhone X, the 2017 model that Apple no longer sells at its own stores. If Apple plans to sell the older model in Japan, it wouldn't be the first time the company has produced previously discontinued models for regional markets where it sees sufficient demand for cheaper devices. The strategy also allows Apple to benefit from lower-cost components and depreciated production line machinery.

However, supply chain sources who spoke to WSJ claim the resumption of iPhone X production is partly due to Apple's need to use OLED panels ordered from Samsung – panels that were previously earmarked for use in the iPhone XS and XS Max devices that have since been hit by swingeing production cuts.

Related Roundup: iPhone XR
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XR (Buy Now)

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Vision-Focused Accessibility Efforts Made by Apple, Amazon, and Others Highlighted in New Report

A new article published last night by The Wall Street Journal takes a look into how accessibility-focused technology has the "potential to fundamentally change the mobility, employment and lifestyle of the blind and vision-impaired." The piece looks at advancements made by Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and other companies, including hardware and software like Amazon's Echo, Microsoft's Seeing AI app, and Apple's Siri.

One blind individual, Mike May, discussed using dedicated accessibility technology like Aira, which provides users with special glasses that connect them to a human representative in real time who proceeds to describe the user's surroundings to them as they move around. Aira ranges from $89 for 100 minutes per month to $329 for unlimited access per month.


While important for blind users to have technology focused entirely on their daily needs, advocate Mark Riccobono pointed out that introducing accessibility into existing devices, like Apple does, "may be an even bigger need."
He points to the iPhone, which had accessibility built into it from the beginning.

“I can go down to the Apple store and pay the same price and triple-click the home button and I have VoiceOver,” says Mr. Riccobono, referring to a feature where the phone will describe aloud what is happening on the screen. “That’s built in, it’s great, it doesn’t cost a penny extra.”
Apple's devices have numerous features aimed at visually impaired users, including VoiceOver, display accommodations, the magnifier and zoom, resizable text options, and more. These features are available across the Apple ecosystem on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. One user, Erik Weihenmayer, mentioned using Siri to send texts to family members, which is also a functionality of HomePod.
Of course, many of the voice-activated devices that have become powerful aids for the blind, such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, weren’t specifically designed for them, or with philanthropy in mind.

Mr. Weihenmayer, for example, uses Comcast ’s voice remote to find TV shows, Apple’s Siri to send texts and Amazon’s Alexa to cue up his favorite music.
The article ends with a focus on the next potential "life-changing" technology for the blind: the driverless car. Apple's own progress in this field is now reportedly focused entirely on an autonomous driving system that would be integrated into an existing manufacturer's vehicle.

As Apple works on an autonomous system to launch on a wide scale in the future, it has already ramped up self-driving initiatives around its corporate campuses, recently signing a deal with Volkswagen to use Volkswagen vans as self-driving shuttles to transport employees in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Transportation can be a very large barrier in the lives of blind people,” impeding everything from employment to education, says Eric Bridges, executive director of the American Council of the Blind. “Having the ability to have one of these vehicles come and take you where you want to go, when you want to go, and not be constrained by the paratransit system or the fixed-route system,” promises a greater level of independence and freedom, he says.
Other companies have beaten Apple to market in this field, most notably including Alphabet's Waymo, which is planning an autonomous car service for a wide launch in 2018. For its part, Waymo says it will put audio tools and Braille labels in its self-driving cars so that blind riders can perform tasks like requesting the car to pull over or calling a Waymo operator.

For Apple, the company on May 17 highlighted a wide range of its accessibility features on its website in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The updated Apple.com accessibility page includes a short commercial from 2016 about real people with disabilities who use Apple products in everyday life, narrated by Sady Paulson, who uses Switch Control on a Mac.

Otherwise there are dedicated sections on the webpage for different types of disabilities, including Vision, Hearing, Physical and Motor Skills, and Learning and Literacy. At the top of the page Apple explains, "Technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone."


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Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine Transitioning Into ‘Consulting Role’ This August

Following rumors of his plans to leave Apple earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal today reported that Jimmy Iovine will transition into a "consulting role" with Apple Music this August. Iovine won't completely leave Apple and his involvement with Apple Music behind, but will step back from daily involvement, people familiar with his plans stated.

At the time of the original rumor, Iovine denied he would leave the company: "I am committed to doing whatever Eddy [Cue], Tim [Cook] and Apple need me to do, to help wherever and however I can, to take this all the way. I am in the band." As of now, it's unclear what exactly he will be doing in his consulting role with the streaming music service, but upon his transition he will no longer be the public face of Apple Music.


Iovine reportedly plans to spend more time with his family while at the same time supporting Apple Music and Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue "as needed." According to people close to Iovine, the transition from Beats' "edgy culture" to Apple's focus on "appealing to the masses" proved to be a challenge.

While Iovine was the public face of Apple Music and held meetings with employees and artists in Los Angeles, in recent years "most of Apple Music's operations" had been designated to Robert Kondrk and Jeff Robbin, overseeing business and engineering sides respectively. Cue is said to now be deciding on whether to continue divvying up responsibilities between Kondrk and Robbin, promoting one to a more public role, or hiring someone outside of Apple to become the new Iovine.

Iovine has been with the Apple Music team since 2014, when Apple acquired Beats Electronics and the Beats Music streaming service, both of which were co-founded by Iovine and Dr. Dre. Before that acquisition, Iovine has had a long history with Apple, first pitching a subscription music service to Steve Jobs in 2003.

Iovine's transitioning this August will be timed with the vesting of stock he acquired when first joining Apple. In January, he said that the bulk of his stock "vested a long time ago," and while a tiny portion remains unvested, it's "not what [he] thinks about." Still, the people familiar with his plans have now confirmed that the timing of his transition is in some part "linked" to the Apple shares he received in the Beats acquisition.

According to the WSJ, Iovine's stepping back from leadership makes him "one of the last" of the Beats team that Apple gained following the acquisition in 2014.
Mr. Iovine is one of the last of a team of prominent music executives Apple gained when it bought Beats Electronics LLC in 2014 for $3 billion. Former Chief Executive Ian Rogers, Beats co-founder Dr. Dre and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, another top Beats executive, have all left or distanced themselves from the company since the Apple deal, people familiar with the business said. Beats President Luke Wood, who oversees the headphone business, remains.
In his time at Apple, Iovine grew Apple Music to amass 36 million subscribers as of March 2018, while also pushing for the service to include more than just music and helping to launch shows like Carpool Karaoke. Before the launch of that show, as well as Planet of the Apps, Iovine said he hoped Apple Music would be "an entire pop cultural experience."


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