Apple releases iOS 11.3 with new Animojis

Apple just released an iOS update for your iPhone and iPad. 11.3 introduces a ton of bug fixes but also a bunch of new features. If you forgot about Animjois, today is your lucky day as Apple is adding four new Animojis — a dragon, a bear, a lion and a skull.

But that’s not all. Apple already shared a preview of iOS 11.3 a couple of months ago. There’s a big ARKit update to ARKit 1.5. It can recognize more objects and surfaces.

And iOS 11.3 is also the battery update we’ve all been waiting for. There’s some new info in the settings about the status of your battery. It tells you the overall capacity and if it’s time to change your battery.

You can also choose to disable Apple’s controversial decision to throttle performance with old batteries. Apple says it’s a beta feature for now.

Apple is also introducing a new feature in the Health app. You can now centralize all your health records in the app. It’s only limited to a handful of clinics for now.

Apple is adding customer support conversations to Messages. You can initiate a conversation with a business to order something, book a table and more. Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo are already on board. Health Records and Business Chats are only available in the U.S. as a beta for now.

You’ll also see a new privacy icon across the operating system. A new website to export all your data is coming in May as well. Apple needs to add those features to comply with GDPR.

Finally, Apple Music is getting a new video clips section, the App Store Updates tab now shows you the size of each update and more tiny little things. And if you care about security, it’s always a good thing to update to the latest version of iOS. Unfortunately, iOS 11.3 still doesn’t include iMessage in iCloud.

Back up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud or your computer using iTunes before updating. You can then head over to the Settings app, then ‘General’, then ‘Software Update’. macOS, watchOS and tvOS updates are also available today.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/29/apple-releases-ios-11-3-with-new-animojis/

Apple apologizes for not telling customers iPhones with older batteries would slow over time

Apple has today posted a letter on its website and a technical article in its Knowledge Base apologizing for not being more transparent about how it handles performance on iPhones with older batteries. Last week, Apple issued a statement that made it clear that changes it made a year ago were indeed slowing down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries.

It will now also offer a battery replacement for older devices affected for a reduced $29.

“We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process,” the letter reads. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.”

Apple is now apologizing for not being clearer about how the changes it made to eliminate sudden shutdowns of iPhones would affect iPhone performance. When I published my piece on this last week, even though I clearly, and forcefully, noted that Apple must be more transparent with its users on this issue, readers were incensed over the fact that a long-held conspiracy theory appeared to be confirmed. Apple was slowing down old iPhones and the reason didn’t matter. It is clear that some people will still feel that the reason Apple is giving here is not enough, which is understandable given the intense passion people have for their phones and how much they use them.

Interestingly, Apple says that it has attributed feedback about iPhone slowness to the process of updating to a new operating system and some bugs that were evidently present in iOS 11 that caused slowdowns.

“Over the course of this fall, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations,” Apple says. “Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps, and minor bugs in the initial release which have since been fixed.”

Apple says that it now believes, in addition to these other factors, that slower older iPhones are also being negatively affected by aged batteries which trigger their power smoothing.

“We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical aging of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries.”

A year’s worth of issues with no reason given from Apple on this also makes it difficult for the company to re-build trust with its users. It’s much easier to be as transparent as possible up front about complex technical fixes than it is to try to explain the adverse effects of those fixes later. That’s a consequence Apple will have to live with.

And they were right, as I noted, that Apple should have been very direct and forthcoming with them as a consumer — person to person, so to speak. The effects of the shutdown fix were not explained fully to the press or the customer.

Apple is doing three things in response to customers concerned that older batteries are making their iPhone run slower.

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

The letter explains that Apple will be adding ‘visibility’ in the the health of their iPhone’s battery, a fix I suggested in my original article. Though it is not  specific about what that visibility will mean. An age indicator? A notification of some sort, like this mockup we made last week, that tells you when the ‘smoothing’ kicks in?

We don’t know yet. But I’d assume we’ll see it in testing in early January.

Apple will also lower the cost of battery replacements to $29 for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later beginning in January. I don’t know if this battery replacement policy will be quite enough, I’d imagine that it would depend on the success or failure of the various class action lawsuits that has sprung up in the week since the original revelation. I think a free replacement might be an option, especially for older devices.

But I’d love to see this be permanently implemented as an ongoing policy for all iPhones. I don’t know what Apple’s margins are on this but given that independent facilities often charge this I’d assume that it can swing this amount with official replacement parts. This could extend the life of iPhones and mitigate a lot of the complaints about battery replacement costs that cause people to call for user replaceable batteries.

Apple’s position on the performance issues, as outlined in the letter, is that it felt that limiting the peak performance of iPhones and spreading out processor load over time was worth preventing iPhones from shutting down suddenly.

“About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE,” reads the letter. “With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.”

Apple says that this had the intended effect, reducing the amount of times that older iPhones suddenly shut off. Nonetheless, there has been some criticism regarding the way Apple handles aging lithium-ion batteries, the shortcomings of which are very well known in engineering circles.

Indeed, Apple is now reportedly working on its own power management controllers for iPhone, perhaps to have a better handle on how CPU and battery components work together. Apple notes that iPhones return to full performance once the batteries are replaced.

Apple’s Knowledge Base article goes deeper into both the expected behaviors of lithium-ion batteries and what, exactly, is and is not affected by the shutdown fix that came with iOS 10.2.

A TL;DR and a little meta commentary here: Apple will soon warn you when your battery is so old it starts affecting performance. It will not change the behavior that smooths out power curves and slows down iPhones with older batteries because this would cause them to shut down and it believes it’s the right thing to do. Battery replacements for these phones will cost a reduced $29 temporarily, though I think there’s a strong argument to make this the permanent price. The reasons Apple gives here and its response are reasonable, but it will take a reputational beating over this and has lost an amount of user trust that it will have to regain.

Here is the full letter:

December 28, 2017

A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

How batteries age

All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Time and the number of times a battery has been charged are not the only factors in this chemical aging process.

Device use also affects the performance of a battery over its lifespan. For example, leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can cause a battery to age faster. These are characteristics of battery chemistry, common to lithium-ion batteries across the industry.

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

To help customers learn more about iPhone’s rechargeable battery and the factors affecting its performance, we’ve posted a new support article, iPhone Battery and Performance.

It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don’t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.

Preventing unexpected shutdowns

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

Customer response to iOS 10.2.1 was positive, as it successfully reduced the occurrence of unexpected shutdowns. We recently extended the same support for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.2.

Of course, when a chemically aged battery is replaced with a new one, iPhone performance returns to normal when operated in standard conditions.

Recent user feedback

Over the course of this fall, we began to receive feedback from some users who were seeing slower performance in certain situations. Based on our experience, we initially thought this was due to a combination of two factors: a normal, temporary performance impact when upgrading the operating system as iPhone installs new software and updates apps, and minor bugs in the initial release which have since been fixed.

We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical aging of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries.

Addressing customer concerns

We’ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible. We’re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors’ devices.

To address our customers’ concerns, to recognize their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions, we’ve decided to take the following steps:

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

At Apple, our customers’ trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support — and we will never forget that or take it for granted.

The Knowledge Base article on iPhone battery performance is here.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/28/apple-apologizes-for-not-being-clearer-about-slowing-down-iphones-with-older-batteries/

Apple and GE announce deep partnership

While Apple has had its share of enterprise partners in recent years including IBM, Cisco and SAP, today’s announcement that it will be working directly with GE feels a bit different with the two companies more closely intertwined than in previous deals.

Apple and GE have committed to build a set of development tools and to develop apps together using Apple’s design sensibility and deep understanding of iOS, but the deal doesn’t stop there. Apple’s sales team will also push the GE Predix platform with its industrial customers when it makes sense, and GE has committed to standardizing on the iPhone and iPad for its 330,000 employees, while offering the Mac as a computer choice. All of this adds up to a level of cooperation we have not seen in Apple’s previous enterprise partnerships.

For starters, the two companies announced an iOS software development kit (SDK) for GE’s Predix platform, which is a set of cloud services designed to help industrial customers track the health of the huge industrial equipment GE sells and services. It can help predict failures before they happen and bring down this expensive equipment such as jet engines, wind turbines and train locomotives.

The key here is that the new SDK gives both external developers and those inside GE the ability to build native apps on top of the Predix platform, allowing them to take advantage of the full Apple ecosystem whether that’s iBeacons, the internal gyroscope sensor inside iPhone or even augmented reality in the latest iPhones.

To prime that software development pump, GE has built a new Applications Performance Management case management app built on top of Predix. Using this tool, customers can see the health of their industrial equipment on an iPad and collaborate more easily, sharing information like last action taken, notes and photos; all designed to provide the data to make decisions in real time.

Susan Prescott, VP for apps, markets and services at Apple was clearly charged by the possibilities that this partnership brings. “For the first time, we’re unlocking incredible new potential for industrial workers by giving them access to native apps that tap the functionality of iOS devices in exciting ways. Now employees can make better informed decisions through the native capabilities of the apps right at their fingertips,” Prescott told TechCrunch.

She offers some examples of how this could work: “A technician can now use the iPhone’s built-in camera to capture a thermal image of a piece of equipment to diagnose an issue or iBeacons and built-in location services can push critical information to a nearby worker’s iPhone or iPad in real time to help quickly flag an issue. We’re essentially closing the feedback loop between the employee in the industrial environment and the analytics and data that’s stored in the cloud,” she said.

Surely GE, an industrial company that was launched by Thomas Edison in 1888 couldn’t be more different than Apple, a computer company launched almost a 100 years later in 1976, but there is more in common than you might imagine.

There are the strong charismatic and demanding founders in Steve Jobs and Edison. There was also an internal mission to change the world with technology. GE has done it with giant industrial equipment like wind turbines and airplane engines, while Apple has gone smaller with phones, computers and watches.

In recent years, GE has been making a hard push to modernize and this partnership is clearly part of that.

The SDK and the APM app will be available for download on October 26th as part of GE’s Mind + Machines conference.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/18/apple-and-ge-announce-deep-partnership/

WWDC 2017

Its that time of year again. Thousands of developers are set to descend upon the South Bay to get their software on. And the rest of the Apple watching world will have their eyes glued to the screen on Monday morning for the big WWDC keynote, as Tim Cook and company parade the latest upgrades to the companys various operating systems.

From the sounds of the early leaks, the show is also set to be more hardware focused than most World Wide Developer Conferences, with some refreshes to a number of key product lines and the reported addition of an Echo competitor that will finally, truly bring Siri to the living room. In fact, most of the rumors and speculation arriving ahead of the event are device related.

Well be there on June 5, of course, liveblogging the events as they unfold, starting at 10AM PT/1PM ET. Meantime, heres some of what we expect to see on display at the big event.

Hardware

Hardware isnt always a given at WWDC, but this year could well be an embarrassment of riches.

That Siri Speaker: This has been grist for the rumor for at least a year now. Apple has reportedly been quietly (or, not so quietly, really) working on its own version of the Amazon Echo/Google Home, along with some key tweaks to its long-standing smart assistant, Siri. The company has been eyeing the connected home for a while now, through Home Kit and the iOS 10 Home app, but what it really needs to seal the deal is a piece of hardware to tie all of that together.

At the moment, Apple TV is about as close as it comes to have an in-home hub. But while the system does feature voice integration, its not an ideal alternative to an always-listening speaker hub like the Echo or Home. Details about the device beyond that are pretty few and far between, but you can probably expect the system to be a much more premium product relative to the competition, because, well, Apple is still Apple.

Early reports have pointed to things like virtual surround sound, suggesting that unlike Echo and Home, Apple will be focused on things like speaker quality, instead of just making a product where sound is secondary to the task of inserting a smart assistant in the home. It also follows that we can expect some key updates to Siri, which seems to have fallen out of focus at Apple in recent years.

iPad Pro 10.5: Another persistent rumor ahead of the event has Apple going adding yet another screen size to its iPad line, after seeming to streamline things a bit in recent months. The supposed 10.5-inch iPad Pro is said to be arriving with a similar footprint as its 9.7-inch sibling, courtesy of dramatically reduced bezels. Apple is still banking on the Pro to take on two-in-ones like the Surface line, a rare bright spot in a lackluster tablet market.

MacBook Pro and Air Spec Bumps: It hasnt even been a full year since Apple made its first meaningful MacBook refresh in some time, so it follows that any upgrades to the line will most likely be internal-only. According to pre-show rumblings, Intels Kaby Lake processors are the flavor of the day, meaning faster speeds and better battery life. The chips are also reportedly coming to the MacBook Air, marking a long-awaited (albeit minor) upgrade to Apples long neglected laptop.

Software

Lots of it. So much software. All the software. All of Apples operating systems are said to getting a meaningful update this time around. But specific features are pretty few and far between ahead of the event.

iOS 11: Siri speaker stuff aside, iOS will likely be the centerpiece of the keynote, this being a developer conference and all. While the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 almost certainly wont be debuting until at least the fall, it seems likely that well be getting our first real taste of iOS 11. What shape that will actually take is pretty up in the air at the moment, but a few leaks have popped out here and there. Siris a no-brainer, of course, given the expected hub announcement, along with Apples bid to stay ahead of Alexa, Assistant and the like. Expect Apples AI to take center stage on Monday. And along with the new iPad Pro, the tablet version of the operating system is said to be getting some pro-level updates like multi-user login and expanded support for the Apple Pencil. A revamped version of Music also seems a likely bet, especially as Apple pushes for more video content.

macOS/watchOS/tvOS: All three operating systems are expected to get big refreshes this time out, though again, details are pretty scant here. Expect the most dramatic changes on the watchOS and tvOS front. As for watchOS, The Apple Watch is a rare bright spot in the floundering wearables category, and the company is no doubt hoping to make a splash ahead of the new devices arrival later in the year. Of particular note is Apples recent fixation with all things health on the device.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/03/what-to-expect-from-wwdc-2017/