Wednesday Morning News

A report from Cnet gives us a little more of the Qualcomm vs Apple story, with Apple COO Jeff Williams providing testimony about Apple’s rocky relationship with Qualcomm. Williams says Qualcomm refused to provide 4G LTE chips for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, which all use Intel chips for their mobile connectivity. Williams also claims that Qualcomm’s demanded royalties of $7.50 per iPhone was too high, although without point of comparison, it’s hard to say whether this is just a COO wanting to reduce spending, or actually high compared to the industry average. Maybe a little bit of both.

John Gruber shares the statistic that Apple replaced 11 million batteries during the year-long cheap iPhone battery replacement program, a number that would have normally been 1-2 million over the same period. It’s a extraordinary number, far higher than Jean-Louis Gaseé’s original estimate of hundreds of thousands of batteries. Apple should have accounted for this in its financial estimates, but like Gruber says, perhaps this wasn’t entirely evident until the new iPhones were out there. Either way, 11 million batteries instead of the same number of new devices has something of an impact on Apple’s revenue.

Speaking of batteries, Apple has launched its Smart Battery Case for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Apple says its Smart Battery Case is compatible with wireless chargers, and will extend the talk time up to 33 hours, internet usage up to 21 hours, and video playback up to 25 hours for the iPhone XS, with other models having slightly different numbers. While it doesn’t look like you can navigate to the product page for Apple’s Smart Battery Case from the homepage, it does turn up via search, retailing in Australia for $199 Australian dollarydoos for any of the three models available in black or white.

Apple’s back to school promo is now live in Australia and New Zealand. Similar to previous years, eligible Mac or iPad Pro purchases offer a free pair of Beats Solo3 headphones, along with the education discount of up to $290, and 20% off AppleCare+, the latter of which I think is new this year.

Apple has announced it will start selling the HomePod in China and Hong Kong starting January 18. TechCrunch comments on the relatively high price of the HomePod, which will retail for 2799 yuan in a market that already has plenty of wireless speakers. But hey, if you’ve ever wanted to talk to your HomePod in Mandarin or Cantonese, and/or support for popular Chinese music services, then it might be a good idea after all.

It’s a day of ups and downs for Apple in the courts. The US Court of Appeals has ruled that Apple must pay VirnetX $440 million for infringing on FaceTime-related patent held by the company. Apple owes VirnetX $942 million in total, in a legal battle dating back to 2010, but given that the patents in question have already been ruled invalid, Apple says they will continue to appeal the judgement. Meanwhile, a German court has thrown out a Qualcomm case against Apple, saying Apple did not violate a Qualcomm patent by installing Qualcomm chips in its devices.

Apple’s mobile-only website is now promoting the 2018 iPad Pro. Visiting the website from a mobile device shows four interactive tabs, labelled screen size, Face ID, thinner, and Apple Pencil, all showing off four key selling points of the iPad Pro over tablets and even other iPads.

AppleInsider goes hands-on with the HyperDrive USB-C dock for the iPad Pro, calling it the best iPad Pro dock yet. Offering a headphone jack, USB-A, SD, and microSD ports, it’s definitely one of the most functional hubs you’ll come across. Now funded on Kickstarter, you can purchase your own over on Indiegogo for about AU $100, with delivery sometime in February.

MacRumors posts examples of the awful FaceTime HD camera on the 2018 MacBook Air. Both the camera itself and what Apple has done to make it so bad in comparison to earlier models or the FaceTime HD camera on other MacBook Pros is unclear, but the comparison photos clearly show a darker image, although it’s also unclear whether this is something that affects all models or just certain batches.

The most cost-effective way to make some old speakers compatible with AirPlay is to get a Raspberry Pi and turn it into an AirPlay receiver. It’s easy enough to do, and if you have all the parts, could easily be accomplished over a weekend with plenty of time left over to listen to those sweet, sweet tunes.

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