Gadgets – TechCrunch Sarah Buhr

Google hopes to add a few digital wellness features to its latest desserted update, Pie (out today) but Apple is already on this health track with its latest update for iOS 12.

Digital wellness allows users to keep track of time spent on and unplug from your digital device when needed. Google announced the new wellness features coming to Android at I/O in May, including a dashboard for digital wellness, or the ability to track just how much time you spend on your device, an app timer that lets you set time limits on apps, a new Do Not Disturb feature which silences pop-up notifications and Wind Down, a feature to help you switch on Night Light and Do Not Disturb when it’s time to hit the hay.

Apple is also making digital wellness a focus. New features in this space were announced during its WWDC conference earlier this summer and the company has included an updated ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature in the iOS 12 update, also out today.

Several studies have suggested the importance of unplugging and breaking our addictions to our smartphones for our sanity’s sake and it seems Google would like to help us do just that with these new features. However, the new digital wellness features aren’t quite available in the latest Pie update, out today. We’ve asked Google why not and will update you when and if we hear back on that.

Meanwhile, Apple continues to roll ahead, adding its own controls to help iPhone owners curb their app and screen time usage. Similar to Android’s future offerings, iOS 12 includes a dash with a weekly report on how you spend time on your device. A feature called Downtime helps you schedule time away from your screen (versus just leaving your phone somewhere, seeing a notification and being tempted to pick it up), a feature to set time limits on apps and a way to block inappropriate content from reaching your screen as well.

Apple beats Android in this department for now but those features will supposedly be made available to everyone with a Google phone eventually. For those wanting to check out the new digital wellness features for Android, you can still do that today but only if you happen to have a Google Pixel — and only if you’ve signed up for the beta version.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Josh Constine

For being the richest company ever with $243 billion in cash, Apple sure cuts corners in the stingiest ways. The hardware giant became the first trillion-dollar company week. Yet it’s tough to reconcile Apple earning $11 billion in profit per quarter with it still screwing us over on cords and keyboards. The “it just works” philosophy has slipped through the cracks of the money-printing machine. It’s not that Apple couldn’t afford to fix the problems, it’s just ensnared in hubris such that it doesn’t see them as important.

We still turn to Apple because it makes the best core products. But the edges of the customer experience have frayed like the wires of a Lightning cable. The key to Apple’s fortune is obviously selling high margin iPhones, not these ways it nickels and dimes us. But the company has an opportunity to raise its standards after this milestone, and win back the faith that could push it to a $2 trillion market cap.

1. Frayed Charging Cables

Apple gives you that tingly feeling in the worst way. Can it not build Lightning cables and MacBook chargers a little sturdier? If you avoid losing one long enough to put in some serious use, it inevitably ends up splittling where the cord meets your iPhone or exits the laptop power supply. Whether it’s wrapping them in electrical tape or the spring of a retractable pen, people have come up with all sorts of Macgyver methods to make their Apple chargers last. It got so bad that Apple was sued into offering a MacBook charger replacement program, but that expired years ago. If these are what allow us to play with the fancy devices it invents, shouldn’t they get the same quality of industrial design?

Image via Sophia Cannon

2. Buried iTunes Subscriptions Cancellation

Want to cancel your Apple Music subscription or some other service you got roped into with a free trial? It’s SUPER easy. First, click the totally unlabeled and generic circle with a blotch in it that’s supposed to be a profile picture icon. You should see a “Manage Subscriptions” option…but you don’t. Instead, you’ll have to know to tap “View Apple ID”. Once you auth in with the same face or thumbprint that opened your phone in the first place you’ll find the option to cut them off. And as thank you for this convenience, you’ll get to pay 30 percent extra on some subscriptions if you pay through Apple. It’s clearly exploitative dark pattern design.

3. Keyboard Claptrap

The MacBook keyboard is the on-ramp to the information superhighway, yet a single grain of sand can cause a pile up. Renowned Apple pundit John Gruber called it “one of the biggest design screwups in Apple history”. The new butterfly key design Apple rolled out in 2016 can get jammed by dust, requiring a lengthy disassembly process often requiring a professional to fix. Suddenly your work grinds to a halt. Apple wouldn’t always cover this repair, even under warranty. It took a lawsuit and tons of public backlash for Apple to offer free fixes, and that still typically leaves you without a laptop for a few days. I’m typing this article on a cracked-screen 2013 MacBook Pro because I refuse to upgrade until they make the keyboard design more resilient.

4. Killing Affiliate Fees Blogs Rely On

Apple benefits from a legion of blogs obsessing over its hardware and software, hyping up everything it sells. Just this week it returned that favor by announcing it will cut off one of their core sources of revenue. Websites would previously earn a 7 percent commission from Apple in exchange for affiliate link clicks leading to purchases on the App Store. But over the past few years, Apple has begun to sell ads inside the App Store too, competing for advertisers with those external blogs. It’s also built up its own editorial team that curates what’s featured, and apparently doesn’t want competition in being a king-maker. So in October Apple is shutting down the affiliate program that app review sites like TouchArcade and AppShopper depend on, potentially spelling their doom.

5. Dongle Hell

What’s the opposite of “it just works”? Paying extra to lug around a slew of gangly cord connectors you need just to plug things into your laptop or phone. Dongles are the emblem of Apple’s abandonment of the user experience. A Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 dongle runs $50 while it will cost you $9 to plug in any pair of headphones from the past half-century once you’ve inevitably lost the Lightning dongle you’re allocated. Apple loves pushing us towards its vision of tomorrow, like Bluetooth headphones (that it sells) and USB-C fast-chargers (that it sells). But ditching headphone jacks and old school USB ports makes Apple’s latest devices incompatible with sanity. Even its own commercial shows musician Grimes struggling with her dongles. Sorry you can’t pass me the aux cord. I’m from the future.

Image via Notebookcheck

[Featured Image via Instructibles]

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

It happened. Apple won the race to $1 trillion in market capitalization. Following this week’s earnings release, Apple shares (NASDAQ:AAPL) briefly traded at $207.05, which values the company sightly over $1 trillion based on the most recent share count of July 20.

While the smartphone market is more or less saturated, Apple managed to increase its margins and the average selling price thanks to the iPhone X.

iPhone sales grew by 1 percent, but revenue jumped by 20 percent. With $53.3 billion in revenue, the company managed to grow by 17 percent year-over-year.

iPad sales are more or less flat while Mac sales are down. For the past few years, Apple has been saying that services are going to become a key part of the company’s bottom line. All various services (Apple Music, iCloud, Apple Pay, etc.) now represent $9.6 billion in revenue.

But let’s be honest. Apple is killing it on the iPhone front, and it’s all that matters.

Big tech companies have been performing incredibly well for the past year. Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Microsoft now all have a credible shot at crossing the $1 trillion mark.

It’s a meaningless milestone, but an impressive one — $1,000,000,000,000.

Apple has been the biggest company in the world when it comes to market cap for years. It might not remain the case forever, so the company can celebrate this moment.

Now that tech companies have become so big, it raises a ton of questions. Do they cause antitrust issues? Is there enough regulation to make sure they don’t hold too much economical and political power?

Apple (and Tim Cook) are more powerful than many countries and political leaders. Let’s hope they use this power for good.

Apple shares are now slightly below today’s high:

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

Apple has been performing incredibly well on the stock market for the past few days (NASDAQ:AAPL). While Yahoo Finance says that Apple is now worth over $1 trillion, this hasn’t yet happened. The company sent a filing to the SEC with an updated share count.

While everyone thought the magic number was $203.45, it was based on an outdated number. According to the filing, there are 4,829,926,000 Apple shares in circulation. Apple is going to hit $1 trillion when shares are worth $207.04.

That’s why I posted a post earlier today claiming that Apple already hit $1 trillion — I’m sorry for the confusion. Shares are currently trading at $205.62. So Apple shares still need to jump by 0.7 percentage point to reach the market capitalization of $1 trillion.

Public companies don’t always have the same number of shares over time. Some companies, such as Apple, frequently buy back some of its own shares. It’s a vote of confidence as it means that you think your shares are going to keep going up in the future. It also reduces the number of outstanding shares, which mechanically increases the value of each share. Executives at bigger companies also get paid in shares. Sometimes, companies also issue new shares to raise capital.

For all these reasons, public companies need to send updated share counts. And it can take a bit of time before websites, such as Yahoo Finance, update their data set. In all cases, you should keep an eye on Apple shares today and see if they hit $207.04.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei is now the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world according to new reports from IDC and Canalys, as The Verge initially spotted.

In IDC’s latest report, the firm says that the overall market has shrunk by 1.8 percent in Q2 2018. But the biggest surprise is that Huawei now has a 15.8 percent market share with 54.2 million smartphones shipped in Q2.

It doesn’t mean that Apple is performing poorly. The company is shipping slightly more smartphones this year compared to last year. Apple also has a slightly bigger market share with 12.1 percent of the market.

Samsung is shipping 10.4 percent less smartphones but still remains the leader with 20.9 percent market share, or 71.5 million smartphones. In other words, many Samsung buyers are now buying Huawei devices, or other Android devices.

Canalys confirms this trend with the same order — Samsung, Huawei and then Apple. But the firm also highlights that Apple suffers from seasonability compared to its competitors.

Samsung and Huawei sell many different devices and release new phones all year long. Apple usually releases new devices in September, which creates a huge spike during the last quarter of the year. Apple will likely overtake Huawei and maybe even Samsung in a couple of quarters.

It’s interesting to see that Huawei is performing so well while the company has had issues with the U.S. government. If you browse the smartphone category on Amazon, Honor devices usually appear near the top of the list — Honor is Huawei’s brand for cheaper devices. The Huawei P20 Pro is also a solid device for those looking for a premium device.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

Apple released the fifth beta of iOS 12 a few days ago. 9to5mac discovered strings in configuration files that reference dual SIM devices. You should expect at least one new iPhone model with two SIM trays.

Apple is said to unveil three new iPhone models in September. In addition to an updated iPhone X, the company should announce a bigger second generation “iPhone X Plus”.

Apple also plans to bring the notch to more devices with a replacement to the iPhone 8. This iPhone will feature a 6.1-inch LCD display with a notch as well as a single camera on the back of the device. It should be as expensive as the iPhone 8 today.

There have been rumors in the past that Apple was looking at selling iPhones with two SIM cards. It was unclear if Apple wanted to put a normal SIM tray and a second e-SIM card like on the Apple Watch.

But according to these configuration files, this model will let you add two physical SIM cards — there are references to “second SIM status” and “second SIM tray status”.

Apple could limit dual SIM support to some models in particular. For instance, it could be limited to the rumored iPhone X Plus, or maybe the high-end OLED models.

Many users don’t need two SIM slots. But it’s an essential feature for some countries. For instance, in India, cell carriers are regional companies. If you travel back and forth between Delhi and Mumbai, you need two SIM cards and two plans.

Frequent travelers could also use a second SIM slot to avoid expensive roaming fees. It’s usually cheaper to buy a local SIM card. By using two SIM cards, you get the best of both worlds because you can still receive two-factor text messages, keep your phone number for iMessage and more.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

Several dummy units of future iPhone models have leaked over the weekend. It gives a good idea of what you should expect to see in September when Apple introduces the next iPhone.

Most likely, the iPhones on these photos aren’t actual iPhones. They are just dummy units. Every year, a few manufacturers create objects that look exactly like future iPhones.

They are based on leaked design schematics and usually look just like the real thing. Case manufacturers and other accessory makers buy those dummy units to get ready before Apple’s announcement.

Ben Geskin shared photos of two different phones — a bigger iPhone X and a new iPhone that looks a bit like the iPhone X but with a single camera lens. These devices line up with previous rumors.

As you can see, the bigger device looks just like the existing iPhone X, but bigger. It’s a 6.5-inch second-gen iPhone X Plus. It has two cameras at the back and the familiar notch at the top of the display.

According to rumors, the second-gen iPhone X Plus could cost $999, or the same price or the iPhone X today. Apple could also update the regular 5.8-inch iPhone X with better components and a lower price — $899.

But what about that mysterious 6.1-inch iPhone?

Apple wants to offer a more affordable iPhone with a notch for $700. Unlike the second-gen iPhone X and iPhone X Plus, this new iPhone could feature a slightly bigger bezel and an LCD display. OLED is still much more expensive than LCD, so it’s hard to roll it out across the entire lineup.

Apple could also put a single camera at the back of the device and use aluminum instead of stainless steel on the borders. Dimitri12 also shared photos of dummy units on Slashleaks that look like Geskin’s dummies:

When it comes to colors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the cheaper model should come in many different colors — grey, white, blue, red and orange. The second-gen iPhone X and iPhone X Plus should come in black, white and gold.

Apple is expected to announce new iPhones in early September. So you should take those dummy units with a grain of salt.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

Many people have talked about the performances of the new MacBook Pro over the past few days. But Apple focuses on the A11 Bionic chip in its new TV ad.

Named ‘Unleash’, this ad shows a young man walking down the streets of a Chinese city filled with Mobike and Ofo bikes. He’s playing a game on his phone, receiving text messages and watching a live stream on YouTube Gaming.

The game quickly becomes bigger than his phone. He fights monsters and virtual characters in the real world. The tagline says “Unleash a more powerful you”.

If you opened up the App Store today, you may have seen a promotion for Vainglory in the Today tab. That’s because this ad is all about Vainglory, a multiplayer game that works more or less like League of Legends or Dota 2.

Apple has been updating its system-on-a-chip every year to make it more performant. For the first time, Apple designed its own GPU with the A11 Bionic.

This is one of Apple’s competitive advantage against generic Android manufacturers. The company now has a clear advantage when it comes to benchmarks and gaming performance.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

The new MacBook Pro has a thermal issue. YouTuber Dave Lee found out that the top-performing MacBook Pro can’t operate at full speed for a long time because it gets too hot.

According to him, a video export in Adobe Premiere Pro is taking longer on a brand new MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i9 CPU than on a 2017 MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i7 CPU (previous Intel generation).

Sure, if you look at benchmarks, the new MacBook Pro destroys previous models, and even many iMacs. But Apple is throttling the speed of the CPU so that it doesn’t get too hot under heavy load.

Apple Insider tested the performance of the new MacBook Pro with a Core i7 and Core i9 model. In both instances, the clock speed of the CPU started to drop drastically after a while.

For the i9, the CPU dropped from 4.17 GHz to 2.33-2.9 GHz after some tests. The i7 dropped from 3.8 GHz to 2.3-2.6 GHz under load.

Some users on Reddit also got a new laptop and noticed the same issue:

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and didn’t hear back.

If all those benchmarks are true, the MacBook Pro might have a ventilation problem. You will never get perfect CPU performances on a laptop compared to a desktop computer due to size contraints. But it becomes an issue when you buy a laptop expecting great performances and it doesn’t deliver.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

An internal Apple document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacGénération and MacRumors confirms that there’s a membrane under the keyboard to “prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism”. This is the first time Apple acknowledges that the third generation butterfly keyboard tries to fix unreliability issues.

“The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model,” the internal document says.

When Apple introduced the updated MacBook Pro, the company told everyone that the keyboard had been updated for quieter typing. But iFixit found out that the company actually added thin silicon barriers under each keycap.

It’s clear that Apple didn’t want to publicly state that there is a reliability issue with its recent 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro models. The company doesn’t want to fuel those lawsuits.

But if you’ve been using a MacBook Pro or a 12-inch MacBook, you know that the butterfly keyboard isn’t ideal. While some people love typing with it, the main issue is that it’s not reliable. Sometimes, keys become stuck, you can’t use a letter, or it inserts two letters every time you press that key.

Even worse, if you try to bring it to an Apple Store to get it fixed, it’s an expensive process that involves replacing a good chunk of the computer. Dust, sand or hair can render your computer unusable.

It’s still too early to say if the 2018 MacBook Pro is more reliable. But Apple needs to update the 12-inch MacBook right away because it’s outrageous that they still sell a laptop with a broken keyboard.