Apple Working on Fix for iPhone XR Users Experiencing Issues on UK’s O2 Network

Apple has confirmed that the iPhone XR is not working as it should on the O2 network in the U.K., reports BBC News.

"We are aware of an issue causing intermittent network connectivity effecting some O2 customers, and we will have a fix in an upcoming software release," the company said.
The statement from Apple comes after reports emerged yesterday of multiple ‌iPhone XR‌ users who have O2 as a mobile provider and are unable to maintain a reliable signal.

Customers have been unable to make and receive calls and send and receive text messages, as well as get a reliable 4G internet connection for using apps on the go.

O2 has declined to say exactly how many users are affected by the issue, but said turning the phone off and on again will temporarily fix the problem.

One O2 customer told BBC News he had first noticed a network issue on December 16.

"I've had virtually no signal at all since," he said. "It may come with a weak signal for a few minutes once or twice a day then go again."

The customer said O2 had told him Apple had introduced the issue with a recent update to the iPhone's iOS software, but this has yet to have been publicly confirmed by either company. The last software update Apple released was iOS 13.3 on December 10, 2019.

According to the report, O2 and Apple are telling customers seeking answers on Twitter to direct message them for help.

Related Roundup: iPhone XR

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iPhone XR Users Experiencing Difficulties on UK’s O2 Network

The iPhone XR is not properly functioning on the O2 network in the UK, according to the BBC. Based on multiple reports on Twitter, XR users who have O2 as a mobile provider have been experiencing multiple signal outages per day.

Customers have been unable to make and receive calls and send and receive text messages, as well as maintain a reliable LTE connection for using apps.


An O2 spokesperson told the BBC that it is working closely with partners to resolve "an intermittent issue affecting some of our customers using ‌iPhone XR‌." O2 did not clarify how many customers are affected, but said that turning the iPhone off and on again can temporarily fix the issue.

According to one customer with an affected device, he was told by an O2 customer service representative that Apple caused the issue with a recent iOS update, though that information has not been confirmed. He was given a free month's line rental as compensation.

A MacRumors reader who is experiencing issues with the ‌iPhone XR‌ was able to receive a free upgrade to the iPhone 11 plus a £20 refund due to the signal issues.

Apple told him there was indeed a problem and that under consumer law in the UK, the handset had to be replaced regardless of warranty. There have been no other reports of free ‌iPhone‌ upgrades, but other ‌iPhone XR‌ owners who are experiencing issues on O2 may want to contact Apple support to see what can be done.


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UK Telecoms Regulator Plans to Ban Sale of Locked Mobile Phones to Make Switching Networks Easier

U.K. telecoms regulator Ofcom has drawn up plans to ban the sale of locked smartphone handsets that can't be used on other mobile networks until the owner pays for them to be unlocked.


The proposal is part of a consultation document published today that aims to achieve fairer treatment and easier switching for broadband and mobile customers in the U.K. The document reads:
Some providers sell locked devices so they cannot be used on another network. If customers want to keep using the same device after they switch, this practice creates additional hassle and can put someone off from switching altogether. We are proposing to ban the sale of locked mobile devices to remove this hurdle for customers.
Ofcom notes that, currently, BT Mobile/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone sell devices that are locked and cannot be used on other networks until they are unlocked. Meanwhile, O2, Sky, Three and Virgin Mobile choose to sell unlocked devices to their customers.

The regulator's research found that just under half of mobile customers experience some sort of problem, such as a long delay before getting the code they need to unlock their device, being given a code that doesn't work, a loss of service if they didn't realize their device was locked before they tried to switch.

Meanwhile, to make broadband switching easier, Ofcom plans to require a customer's new broadband provider to lead the switch, and offer a seamless switching experience, regardless of whether they are moving across different fixed networks (for example, between Virgin Media and a provider using the Openreach network) or between providers of ultrafast broadband services on the same fixed network. The plan comes as there are currently no regulated processes in place for these types of switches.

If the consultation period goes smoothly, the proposals could become law in the first quarter of 2020 or 2021. The plans are a response to changes to the European regulatory framework. The Government consulted earlier this year on how to reflect these changes in UK law.


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Disney+ Likely to Cost £6.99 Per Month in UK, €7.49 in France

Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that Disney+ will launch in the United Kingdom and other select European countries on March 31, 2020.


Iger didn't mention how much European customers would have to pay to access its 500 feature films and over 7,500 shows, including the entire Pixar library and a raft of original content.

However, one MacRumors reader appears to have discovered the British and French pricing plans ahead of time, simply by switching between Apple accounts on his iPhone.

Jean-Marc first downloaded the Disney+ app from the US App Store using his US Apple ID, and then switched to his French Apple ID, followed by his British Apple ID. The Disney+ subscription screen subsequently presented him with the following monthly and yearly pricing plans.


  • France: €7.49 per month or €75.99 per year.

  • UK: £6.99 per month or £68.99 per year.
Of course, these prices haven't been officially announced by Disney and could be subject to change before the service launches in Europe next year.

However, given that Disney+ costs $6.99 per month in the U.S. (or $69.99 per year), it was pretty much expected that the dollar price would be mirrored in pound sterling.

As for the price in Euros, it's unclear if this applies only to France or to other Euro-using countries as well. We do know that Disney+ costs €6.99 in the Netherlands (€69.99 per year) because of its early trial there, so perhaps we can expect some variation between EU territories.

Otherwise, the annual prices given are equal to 12 months at €6.33/month and £5.75/month, respectively, offering a 16 percent saving over the monthly plan.

(Thanks, Jean-Marc!)


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BritBox UK Streaming Service Launches for £5.99 per Month

Britbox, a streaming service offering shows from ITV, the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5, has launched in the United Kingdom (via BBC).


Priced at £5.99 a month, the joint-venture between ITV and the BBC is being pitched as an additional streaming service for viewers who want to view classic British television programs and films, rather than as a direct competitor to Netflix.

Britbox will mostly feature classic series like Cracker, Prime Suspect, Brideshead Revisited, Ashes to Ashes, with comedies including Absolutely Fabulous, Extras, Blackadder and Fawlty Towers. Some archive programs that have been on services like Netflix will now move to BritBox.

More than 600 classic episodes of Doctor Who will be available to stream by Christmas, while shows and movies from Channel 4 and Film4's back catalogue will be available in 2020, and original shows from Comedy Central UK will also feature.

Other shows available on the service include Downton Abbey, Gavin & Stacey, Wolf Hall, Love Island and Broadchurch, but it will also include new shows, starting with the drama Lambs of God, which stars The Handmaid's Tale's Ann Dowd, The End of the F****** World's Jessica Barden, and Essie Davis from The White Princess as nuns living on a remote island.

However, some of ITV and the BBC's biggest hits of recent years, such as Killing Eve, Peaky Blinders, and Bodyguard, will not be on it at first either due to deals with other streaming platforms or because they are still on the broadcasters' own catch-up platforms.


The Guardian reports that the streaming venture has been given a major boost through deals with BT, Channel 4, and mobile company EE.

One of the deals will make BritBox available to tens of millions of EE mobile customers across the U.K., while a wide deal with BT – which owns EE – will make Britbox available to the millions of customers who subscribe to its pay-TV service.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 will provide thousands of hours of TV and film content to BritBox as part of a three-year deal, meaning shows from all the U.K.'s main TV channels will be available on one catch-up platform for the first time.

Britbox enters a streaming market quickly flooding with rival services jostling for attention, with Apple TV+ having launched last week and Disney+ due to arrive on November 12.

BritBox is available in the U.K. via iOS and Android apps, ‌Apple TV‌, web browsers, and "smart" Samsung TVs released in 2017 or later. BritBox launched in the U.S. two years ago with a different catalogue of content that has attracted 650,000 subscribers.


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PSA: HomePod Supports Live Radio Requests, But Even UK Users Can’t Stream BBC Radio Stations

Apple has been rolling out HomePod support for live radio requests to Siri over the last few months, and now users in several countries are reporting success when asking their Apple smart speaker to play live radio stations.


After announcing the feature at WWDC in June, Apple said it would launch on September 30, but the company recently removed the date from its HomePod product page, suggesting an official global rollout is basically complete.

Apple began testing the live radio request feature in July, starting in Germany, but station requests to Siri on HomePod are now being routinely fulfilled in many countries including the U.S. and the U.K. HomePod owners should have around 100,000 radio stations to choose from, according to Apple, with the broadcast catalog drawn from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn.

MacRumors has been testing the Siri feature on HomePod after updating to iOS 13.1.2, but it's still a bit finicky. Radio requests have to be specifically worded – without key words like "radio station" in the question, Siri will often revert to an Apple Music search. Also, only some users appear to be seeing a new Broadcast Radio section in the Music app's Radio tab that lists available stations.

In addition, HomePod owners in the United Kingdom who were hoping to listen to BBC Radio will be disappointed to learn that the British broadcaster has removed its flagship stations from the TuneIn catalog, after the U.S.-based radio app refused to share information on its listeners.


The BBC now wants people to access its content through BBC apps and via Alexa so that it can collect analytics and better understand what people are consuming, but unfortunately that has left only a handful of local BBC stations and the BBC World Service accessible through HomePod.

According to Apple's website, additional HomePod features specific to iOS 13, including multi-user support, music handoff, and Ambient Sounds, will not launch until "later this fall."

Related Roundups: HomePod, iOS 13, iPadOS
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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‘Hey Beeb’ – BBC Developing Voice Assistant for iPlayer App and Website

The BBC has announced its intention to launch its own voice assistant next year to help users find their favorite programs and interact with online services hosted by the public broadcaster.


The voice assistant's working title and wake-word is currently "Beeb," and it will be built into the BBC's website, its iPlayer app and other mobile apps, and made available to manufacturers who want to incorporate the British broadcaster's software.

The BBC said it had no plans to launch a Beeb hardware device, but the voice assistant is being designed to work on existing smart speakers and smart TVs that include the iPlayer app.

BBC staff around the UK will be recording their voices to help train the assistant to recognize different British accents, something that U.S. voice assistants have been known to struggle with.

The BBC said having its own assistant would enable it to "experiment with new programs, features and experiences without someone else's permission to build it in a certain way."

"Much like we did with BBC iPlayer, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programs and services - in a trusted, easy-to-use way," said a BBC spokesman.

According to The Guardian, from the end of the month BBC radio stations will no longer be available on the popular TuneIn radio app, which is also used by Amazon's Alexa, because the U.S. company refused to share information on listeners of BBC stations.

Instead, the BBC wants people to access its content through BBC apps or via Alexa, in the hope that people log in and it can better understand what people are consuming.


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Amazon’s Alexa to Offer NHS-Verified Health Advice to Britons

From this week, users of Alexa devices in the United Kingdom will be able to get expert health advice from the voice-activated smart speakers, thanks to a partnership between Amazon and the National Health Service.


When health-related queries such as "Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?" or "what are the symptoms of flu?" are put to the devices, Amazon's algorithm will use information from the NHS website to provide answers.

Britain's NHS says the technology will help patients the elderly, blind and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means, to get professional NHS-verified health information in seconds, potentially reducing the pressure on the NHS and GPs, specifically when it comes to providing information for common illnesses.

Currently, Alexa gets its answers to health-related questions from a number of sources, including the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. As a point of contrast, Apple's Siri currently retrieves answers to health-related queries from Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock offered the following comments on the new Amazon-NHS partnership:
We want to empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare and technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists.

Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we want to embrace the advances in technology to build a health and care system that is fit for the future and NHSX will drive this revolution to bring the benefits to every patient, clinician and carer.
In addition, Hancock told Sky News there are "privacy rules" in place to prevent peoples' information being sold on, and that the government was "up for doing this sort of collaboration with other tech companies".

The Royal College of GPs welcomed the move, but warned that independent research will be needed to ensure the advice given out is safe.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the RCGP, told Sky News:
"This idea is certainly interesting and it has the potential to help some patients work out what kind of care they need before considering whether to seek face-to-face medical help, especially for minor ailments that rarely need a GP appointment, such as coughs and colds that can be safely treated at home.

"However, it is vital that independent research is done to ensure that the advice given is safe, otherwise it could prevent people seeking proper medical help and create even more pressure on our overstretched GP service."
NHS experts believe half of all health-related searches will be made through voice-assisted technology by 2020. The U.K. government has set up a unit called NHSX to boost the use of digital technologies in the health service over the next few years. Measures already being pursued include an expansion of electronic prescribing and the use of artificial intelligence to analyze scans.


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BBC Sounds App Updated With Apple CarPlay Support

The BBC Sounds mobile app has been updated with CarPlay support, meaning users can now listen to the broadcaster's extensive library of live and on-demand radio, music, and podcasts from their in-car infotainment systems and dashboards.

As noted by Pocket-lint.com, CarPlay and Android Auto support was originally available for iPlayer Radio, which the Sounds app replaced, but this version has extra options and an improved in-car experience.

From the BBC Sounds website:
Here's what you'll see in the new car-friendly view of the BBC Sounds app:
  • Browse: Have a look through our simplified Podcasts, Music Mixes and Recommended for You menus

  • Stations: Listen live to all of the BBC’s national and local radio stations across the UK

  • My Sounds: Easy access to all of the radio programmes, podcasts and music mixes you're subscribed to or added to your Bookmarks

  • Downloads: Offline playback of programmes you've downloaded onto the app
    BBC Sounds was launched in June last year to introduce a more personalized listening experience and bring a new look and feel to the site.
BBC Sounds was launched in June last year to introduce a more personalized listening experience and bring a new look and feel to the site.

The BBC app is designed to learn from the user's listening habits and introduce them to shows and podcasts that they might not otherwise know about.

BBC Sounds is available to download on iPhone and iPad for free from Apple's regional U.K. App Store. [Direct Link]


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O2 Mobile Network Now Offering Apple Watch Cellular Contracts to UK Customers

O2 has became the latest network carrier in the United Kingdom to offer the cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 4. iPhone users can now order the LTE-enabled smartwatch through the O2 website, which is offering several personal pay-monthly plans that let users make calls and use a data connection from their wrist, even if they're untethered from their smartphone.


O2 has launched plans on its website for both Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 4 LTE models, and is offering customers six months of free airtime for the first six months if they sign up to a plan between now and Wednesday, December 18, 2019.

For example, customers who take up the time-limited offer for a 40mm Apple Watch Series 4 must pay a £20 upfront fee and can then expect to pay £19.50 a month for 36 months, and when their free airtime runs out after six months, they pay £5 a month for the data contract.

Apple Watch is available to O2 Pay Monthly customers with an iPhone 6 or newer. New O2 customers and customers who don't have a compatible iPhone can also buy a new iPhone from O2, then add an Apple Watch. The network's full range of plans are available on the O2 website.

EE was the exclusive mobile network in the U.K. to offer a tariff for the Apple Watch when Apple debuted the first LTE-capable Apple Watch (Series 3) in September 2017. Vodafone announced its own Apple Watch LTE tariffs about a year later, and now O2 has joined the eSIM ranks. Out of the big networks in the U.K., that leaves Three as the only carrier yet to offer Apple Watch cellular contracts.

(Thanks, Edward!)

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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