Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes new iPhone features in the boring design, some colorful options, 5G modem issues, the impact of ZombieLoad on macOS, iOS 12.3 details, App Store legal woes continue, and a look at the Apple Card.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
New iPhone Features Packed In Tired And Boring Design
Android users will note that many of the new features on 2019’s iPhones such as reverse wireless charging and a wide-angle lens are already established features in flagship Android handsets. Apple may be catching up in specs, but in the fast moving market for fashionable phones, the new iPhones are going to remain old and out of date, thanks to retaining all the hallmarks of the 2017 iPhone X design. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly:
Bad news? Bloomberg confirms all three iPhone models will indeed look identical to the two-year-old design of their predecessors, except for their new bulbous square hump which will house the rear cameras (yes, even on the dual lens iPhone XR2). Apple is also making them “about half a millimeter thicker”, but optimists will hope that means larger batteries.
But There Will Be More Colors!
When you have a design you are not sure about, the best way to address it is through a bit of color. As more manufacturers realise fashion is as important as features, the new iPhones for 2019 may return to the classic color schemes of the 5C and the iPods. Gordon Kelly reports:
On the flipside, to make up for its bizarre camera styling, Gurman says Apple will introduce two new colors to the iPhone XR line-up: lavender purple and green. They will replace the current blue and coral finishes but, while this is subjective, mock-ups (below) suggest the decision is divisive at best.
Apple’s 5G iPhone Issues
Apple may have sourced 5G modems from Qualcomm – presumably for the 2020 iPhone handsets – but 5G is going to cause problems for Tim Cook’s team for many years to come, reports Aaron Tilley at The Information. Moving all-in with Intel, and having to return to Qualcomm has left Apple weakened and handed a supplier a key piece of economic leverage, as I noted earlier this week:
A slice of humble pie saw Apple back down from its legal fight with Qualcomm earlier this spring and negotiate a deal for 5G modems. Even with Qualcomm’s strength, it’s unlikely that the iPhone family will see a 5G device announced until late 2020, and it could be that significant volumes will not be available until well into 2021.
In the short- and medium-term, Apple is tied to Qualcomm for the next few years and Tim Cook’s team has virtually no leverage over 5G modem technology (it’s unlikely that Apple would pick up Huawei’s offer to supply 5G modems). While there are in-house efforts to design a modem (in a similar approach taken to the system on chip design for the Axx chips), these are not elected to bear any fruit until 2025.
MacBook Users Face Up To ZombieLoad
Apple has addressed the ‘zombie load’ flaw found in Intel’s chips for macOS. The recommendation is to disable ‘hyper threading’ but this is leading to a significant hit on performance. Roland Moore-Colyer has more.
The recently-uncovered Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) exploits found in Intel’s Core processors dating back as far as 2008 have to lead to Apple, like Google, recommending that customers disable the CPUs’ Hyperthreading feature.
But when Apple put this to the test using public benchmarks and tests on multi-threaded workloads – think video encoding, for example – it found that a significant drop in processor performance could occur.
Apple being Apple didn’t say what type of Mac would suffer such a performance drop, but we’d hazard a guess and say it’s probably one of the firm’s machines with a powerful multi-core processor rather than the dual-core chip-equipped MacBook Air.
iOS 12.3 Available With Key Features Updated
The recently released iOS 12.3 update may have the usual bug fixes and security changes, tbut there are a number of new and improved features. Adam Mills has the highlights, including the Apple TV modifications:
The UI changes include sections for kids content, movies, TV shows, sports, and kids content. You’ll also notice a new bottom bar for library, search, and Watch Now.
You’ve still got the classic “Watch Now” and “Up Next” section, but Apple’s included a brand new learning-based recommendation engine that suggests content you might like based on your preferences and viewing history.
There’s also a brand new “Channels” feature in the TV app. Channels are subscription-based services you can sign up for and watch in the TV app without having to open another application.
App Store Legal Case Continues
The Anti-Trust case against Apple’s App Store has passed a vital hurdle as the US Supreme Court announced that customers were purchasing applications direct from Apple when using the App Store, and therefore they have standing to bring an Anti-Trust case (although the merits of their claims were not commented on). Adi Robertson reports:
Apple had claimed that iOS users were technically buying apps from developers, while developers themselves were Apple’s App Store customers. According to an earlier legal doctrine known as Illinois Brick, “indirect purchasers” of a product don’t have the standing to file antitrust cases. But in today’s decision, the Supreme Court determined that this logic doesn’t apply to Apple.
The court is careful to note that this is an “early stage” of the case, so there’s no ruling on whether Apple actually does have an unlawful monopoly in the App Store. But its decision could have larger ramifications for customers who want to sue any app seller for antitrust violations, and it sets the stage for a major battle between Apple and some angry customers.
More at The Verge.
The Apple Card is going through testing, and that means a number of employees have received the credit card, presumably for real world testing to be carried out. Thanks to Ben Geskin, we have our first look:
Some Apple employees are getting Apple Card, so I received this photos, edited the name to protect the source and this also works as a watermark
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.