Monday Morning News
CNBC gives us a peek behind the curtain into the world of App Store review. Their piece tells us about the Executive Review Board reporting to Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller, whose job it is to review difficult decisions regarding App Store submissions. In meetings every week, the Executive Review Board discusses new or existing apps and their status on the App Store, and it was the Executive Review Board that was likely behind many of the higher-profile app removals that you hear about on the news. Besides that, App Review is mostly what you already know: while there’s certainly some automated review, much of the review process is performed manually by a staff of over 300 reviews, many of which are multi-lingual and work out of one of Apple’s less-glamorous offices in Sunnyvale, California.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Recall program affects 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Apple claims affected units are at risk of the battery overheating and being a potential fire risk. Finding if your machine is affected is as easy as putting your serial number into Apple’s website, upon which you’ll be able to have the battery in your laptop replaced. Apple’s support page the program runs worldwide, although does not extend the standard warranty coverage of your laptop.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s predictions for next year’s iPhone lineup includes OLED devices across the board, 5G for the more premium models, and otherwise a similar lineup to what we have now: a lower-priced 6.1-inch device, along with a 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch regular and "Max" model. While support for both kinds of 5G tech is coming with the 2020 iPhones, Apple’s own in-house 5G tech won’t be ready until 2022, so Apple will be dependent on Qualcomm modems for the first few years of 5G adoption.
Rumours of a 5.4-inch device raise hopes for an iPhone SE successor, or at least a device that has a smaller form factor than the current iPhone X/XS, which comes in at 5.8 inches. 9to5Mac might be grasping at straws when they point to Apple’s reintroduction of the slab/straight-edged form factor in the iPad Pro as possible reasons they may re-introduce an iPhone SE device, but their reasoning is otherwise sound enough.
A new rumour claims Apple is in talks with Samsung for OLED displays for future iPads and laptops. The idea has been floated as a potential way that Apple could pay back Samsung after Apple missed minimum OLED purchase targets, although AppleInsider says that a parts supplier punishing a customer for not fulfilling a contract is exceedingly rare. It’s possible that OLED technology isn’t there yet for Apple laptops and other portables, despite moderate adoption by a number of other laptop manufacturers.
Last week saw the release of two patches for Mozilla Firefox, both of which resolved zero-day vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to execute unsigned code. Security researchers have found that the malware was actively being used to attack targets, with cryptocurrency exchange site Coinbase saying its employees were targeted. Interestingly enough, investigation of the malware points to the fact that only Mac users were targeted by the now-patched Firefox zero-day security exploits, with Windows users apparently going unscathed.
Reports claim an internal team at Apple has been tasked with investigating moving between 15 to 30% of iPhone, iPad, and AirPod production out of China to avoid current and any future US/China tariffs. While an internal team working on finding additional financial efficiencies isn’t that unusual for a company of Apple’s size, several major Apple suppliers have confirmed that Apple has asked them to look into moving and restructuring production. With anywhere up to 90% of Apple’s products currently manufactured in China, moving any part of that is a significant undertaking.
Foxconn founder Terry Gou has added his voice to the rumours claiming Apple is investigating moving production out of China, saying that Apple should move production from China to Taiwan. Foxconn already manufactures many of Apple’s iPhones, and Gou seems to think that Taiwan is a likely candidate for Apple production, even though previous reports listed India and Vietnam as the most likely choices.
As for how likely Apple is to move production of its products out of China to other countries, at the end of the day 15-30% might be too small a chunk to move the needle in any appreciable direction. But the upcoming 25% tariff on phones originating from China is significant, and will impact Apple. How much remains to be seen, and for now, Apple has requested that their products be exempted from the tariff or have the US face the consequences of a less-competitive Apple on a global economy scale.
Over in the US, Apple is now warning customers that App Store gift cards cannot be used to pay taxes. While both Apple and the ATO have benny telling people for years that you can’t pay tax using iTunes Gift Cards, Apple in the US are going one step further by making anyone who purchases iTunes Gift Cards at Apple Stores acknowledge that they cannot be used outside of the iTunes or App Stores, and specifically not as a method for paying taxes. App Store gift cards in the US also have a new red line of text that says they cannot be used outside of the US App Store or iTunes Store, just in case you didn’t get the memo the first time.