Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes details on Apple’s iPhone 12 launch event, the latest iPhone 12 images, the iPhone’s sneaky price cut, the future of the iPhone SE, a dangerous MacOS exploit discovered, the House Judiciary calls out Apple’s monopoly, why track and trace apps don’t work on older phones, and Spotify catches up with Apple Music.
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).
iPhone 12 Launch Event On October 13.
Apple has confirmed that it will be hosting an online event next week, with the long-expected iPhone 12 family set to be revealed on October 13. Apple is expected to launch four iPhone 12 models using the new A14 processor, the geo-location AirTags trackers, the AirPods Studio headphones, and possibly a HomePod mini. Along with the key image, Apple has tagged the event that will celebrate the delayed launch with the phrase “Hi, Speed!”. Stephen Warwick for iMore speculates on the event artwork:
“The event logo is orange and blue, with a mix of different sized circles. There isn’t much to glean from it, except that whatever Apple plans to announce is fast! Of course, the news also confirms that Apple’s iPhone 12 event will be fighting for bandwidth with Amazon’s Prime Day event, to be held on October 13 and 14.”
The Kremlinology is strong this week, but John Gruber might have the best analysis:
One Last iPhone 12 Prediction
Ahead of the upcoming event, the teams at Let’s Go Digital and Concept Creator have taken everything we know about the new iPhones (which as it stands is pretty much everything) to put together one final render of the iPhone 12 5G, which is expected to be pitched as the ‘core’ iPhone the other models are derived from. Perhaps we’ll have a nice surprise with the screen?
“It remains unclear whether Apple is also able to give the screens a 120Hz refresh rate, as has been used by many other smartphone manufacturers in recent months. According to the rumors, Apple would be short of driver ICs, making it necessary to choose 60Hz screens this year as well.”
iPhone 12’s Sneaky Price Cut
Will Apple see a spike in iPhone sales with the inclusion of 5G in the handsets for the first time, matching the spike when it moved to a larger screen with the iPhone 6 Plus? That’s certainly the expectation in the industry. Match that up with a lower than expected retail price on the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 12 and Apple could see a big financial win with the new handsets. Just remember you’ll need to buy your own AC adaptor and headphones; these are going to be removed from the box to bring the retail price down – and I’d expect to see a rise in peripheral sales counterbalancing that price cut. Gordon Kelly reports:
“Multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley has revealed that the iPhone 12 series launch will be the “most significant iPhone event in years,” with sales skyrocketing 22% next year to 220 million units. And price is going to be a huge factor.
“…Morgan Stanley highlights the all-new iPhone 12 mini starting from $649 ($50 less than the entry-level iPhone 11 last year), and the top of the range 512GB iPhone 12 Pro Max selling for $1399 ($50 less than the 512GB iPhone 11 Pro Max).
The iPhone SE Will Be Left Behind
The launch off the second-generation iPhone SE earlier in 2020 allowed Apple to maintain overall iPhone sales in the face of the economic whirlwind of the coronavirus pandemic. The SE was advertised as having the same power as the current iPhone 11 line-up. With the iPhone 12 launch, there’s going to be a clear performance difference between the iPhone SE and the presumptively-named iPhone 12 Mini. Will that be equalised with an iPhone SE update in 2021? The latest leaks suggest the SE is going to be left behind at the bottom of the ladder.
“The report from Mizuho Securities suggests that the latter. The next generation of the iPhone SE is not starting a new spring cycle of iPhone launches, instead those waiting for a third generation of the SE are going to have to manage their expectations for another year.”
Apple Faces Dangerous Mac Security Issue
The Mac community is also facing up to security issues around the T2 chip from a team of researchers that have been hard at work examining Apple’s T2 security chip that is prevalent in the modern Mac ecosystem (an explanatory timeline is here). Lily Hay Newman takes a closer look at the exploit’s impact:
“Combined with another T2 vulnerability that was publicly disclosed in July by the Chinese security research and jailbreaking group Pangu Team, the jailbreak could also potentially be used to obtain FileVault encryption keys and to decrypt user data. The vulnerability is unpatchable, because the flaw is in low-level, unchangeable code for hardware.
“The T2 is meant to be this little secure black box in Macs—a computer inside your computer, handling things like Lost Mode enforcement, integrity checking, and other privileged duties,” says Will Strafach, a longtime iOS researcher and creator of the Guardian Firewall app for iOS. “So the significance is that this chip was supposed to be harder to compromise—but now it’s been done.”
More at Wired. Apple has been approached for comment, but Cupertino has not made an on the record statement regarding this security breech. While the security issue applies to every Mac with the T2 chip, because the attack requires physical interaction with the computer, the MacBook family is more at risk than the desk-bound Mac machines. That’s one more danger for corporate IT departments to add to the risk register.
Does Apple Have A Software Distribution Monopoly?
Following a 16-month investigation, the US’ House Judiciary Committee has reported on the potential ‘monopoly power’ that Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon’ have in the tech space. Kari Paul reports:
“Companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple have amassed too much power and should be reined in, US lawmakers concluded in a major report resulting from a 16-month inquiry into America’s largest tech platforms. These companies “wield their dominance in ways that erode entrepreneurship, degrade Americans’ privacy online, and undermine the vibrancy of the free and diverse press”, the House judiciary committee concluded in its nearly 500-page report.
“…Apple is accused of dominating the distribution of software by controlling what apps are allowed on iOS devices. The investigation cited that Apple favors its own services by pre-installing them on to iPhones and disadvantages its competitors by charging them as much as 30% in commission fees.”
Track And Trace, Security, And OS Updates Explained
The rise of ’Track and Trace’ applications in your smartphones has been part of public health strategies around the world during the coronavirus pandemic. The recent launch of England’s app has drawn the ire of many with its requirement for iOS 13 (or Android 6). Why can’t this app run on older phones? Which brings us back to the issue of smartphone OS updates and the shorter windows they operate on compared to the life of the phone. Kate Bevan reports:
“The news is slightly better with iPhones: Apple supports its phones for up to five years. The general rule of thumb with iPhones (and iPads) is that if you can’t install the current version of iOS, then it’s time to replace your device. For the record, the oldest iPhone that can install iOS 14 is the iPhone 6S.
“Apple does occasionally put out updates for devices it’s no longer officially supporting: the last update it put out to iOS 13 was to roll out the underlying software framework (the ‘API’) that allows the NHS Covid-19 app to work. If your phone can download and install iOS 13.5, you can run the NHS Covid-19 app.”
What happens when you have a musical lyric stuck in your head? Unlike hearing a snippet of music on the radio, you can’t use the likes of Shazam. Spotify now has the answer, although it’s one that Apple users may already be familiar with. Michael Potuck reports:
“…it’s common to search the web for the lyrics before heading to your music service to play or add the track. Now Spotify has simplified that problem as the service on both iOS and Android has added the handy option to type in lyrics to search for songs.
“The update catches Spotify up to Apple Music, as the latter gained search by lyrics back in 2018 with iOS 12.”
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.