What exactly does coronavirus tracking in iOS 13.5 do? Clearing up the confusion

iOS 13.5 dropped Wednesday, introducing a slew of upgrades — including, most notably, the API for Apple’s coronavirus contact-tracing tool, developed in conjunction with Google.

But, despite what you might hear online, this is neither an “app” or an update that means downloaders are being tracked without their knowledge. Let’s correct a few popular misconceptions.

An app or an API?

The contact tracing system developed by Apple and Google works by using Bluetooth “chirps” to register physical interactions between smartphone users, regardless of whether they are using an Android or iOS device. If a person discovers that they have been infected with coronavirus, they can opt to share this information. The system then notifies other smartphone users who’ve come into close proximity with them. The hope is that this system could help slow the spread of the disease by warning people of potential infections.

The important thing to note is that this new iOS 13.5 feature is not an app. It is an API, meaning that it’s a set of tools that developers can use for building apps. These apps will be built by governments, either on a state or national level. Google and Apple’s approach simply provides the groundwork to power these apps should authorities wish to adopt them. Not every country will. The UK, for instance, is supposedly developing its own. Their disagreement with Apple concerns a decentralized vs. centralized approach to contact tracing. In the U.S., three states have already committed to using Apple and Google’s API: Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina.

That hasn’t stopped this from being reported as an Apple and Google app, though. The UK’s Guardian newspaper, for instance, today features a headline reading “Apple and Google: Companies release phone app to notify users of coronavirus exposure.” Seemingly having been clued in that this is inaccurate, the article now reads “Apple and Google release phone technology to notify users of coronavirus exposure” — although, at time of writing the home page reflected the old headline. Only clicking through to the article itself corrected the record.

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Bluetooth tracing is an anonymous way to assess exposure to COVID-19.
Photo: Apple/Google

No, iOS 13.5 is not tracking you

Apps that use the API developed by Google and Apple don’t — and can’t — track you. Instead they collect randomized tokens, exchanged via Bluetooth, that are not personally identifiable. The system can tell you if you encountered someone who tested positive. However, it does not track who or where that happened.

But there’s nonetheless plenty of concern about tracking. Late Wednesday, Juli Clover, editor at MacRumors tweeted out what appears to be a DM. It reads: “Hey, so I heard if you download the newest iOS you will be automatically tracked for [COVID-19]. I even googled it and I just want to know if it’s true. Says Google and Apple are working together for tracking the virus.”

(Perhaps needless to say, but the API developed by Apple and Google does not diagnose cases of COVID-19. While some researchers are developing tools which claim to spot symptoms based on coughs, that is not the case here.)

Fears about surveillance

A search of Twitter shows a number of other people freaking out over iOS 13.5. One Twitter user highlights the part of the release notes relating to contact tracing, and then writes: “What the actual hell?! I’m not a parcel to be tracked and traced.” Others raise similar concerns about Apple pushing users to download an iOS update that contains tracking tools.

 

Fears about surveillance are not to be dismissed. Plenty of very smart people have raised very valid concerns about how contact tracing could open the door to new types of surveillance.  However, when it comes to iOS 13.5, it should be stressed that tracking users is not something that happens just because you download an update.

The new API feature, which can be found by going to Settings > Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Logging, remains turned off until users install approved apps from public health authorities. As Apple and Google have stressed with their privacy focused approach, engagement in contact tracing is voluntary. Users are not being tracked without permission just because they have downloaded iOS 13.5.

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Tim Cook @tim_cook
 

Technology can help health officials rapidly tell someone they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Today the Exposure Notification API we created with @Google is available to help public health agencies make their COVID-19 apps effective while protecting user privacy.

2,190 people are talking about this

Representing contact tracing honestly

 

A lot of this confusion is understandable. A few months back, barely anyone was having to familiarize themselves with the different approaches to contact tracing or the the ethical dilemma posed by ventilators. The media isn’t infallible. The difference between an API and an app, for instance, isn’t immediately clear to a lot of people. But proper wording is crucial when it comes to a potential healthcare crisis.

In many cases, problems in technology emerge because companies are, either purposely or accidentally, vague about what they are doing. When Apple introduced a new battery throttling feature as part of iOS in 2017 it did so not as a sinister tactic to prompt upgrades, but rather to stop older lithium-ion batteries from unexpectedly shutting down. Unfortunately for Apple, it did this without properly making the public aware of what it was doing. It failed to articulate why this was necessary — and give users a way to stop it — and suffered a backlash as a result.

 

In this case, Apple and Google have been consistent with their messaging since the start. The problem frequently comes down to governments (particularly political point-scoring) and the media. But it shows why Apple and Google must be vigilant and continue to be as open and explanatory about the technology as they can.

It’s not yet clear whether contact tracing can and will work. But, in the interests of a well-informed public, voices with public platforms must make sure that they represent the tools available as best — and accurately — as they can.

Review: The 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 10th generation processor is the one to buy

The 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro with new tenth-generation Intel processors is a powerful machine for the pro on the go, and is an ideal mix of power and portability.

It’s not often that two products under the same umbrella vary so much that they need to be examined separately. But, the 13-inch MacBook Pro lineup for 2020 is that.

The differences, while profound, are not as pronounced as they have been previously. This year’s releases are closer in features than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with function keys and the model with Touch Bar, but the gap is profound.

We’ve already examined the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with eighth-generation Intel processors, and found it lacking. Fortunately, the model with the 10th generation processors is an entirely different story.

Low-end versus high-end MacBook Pro

After that first examination, we’re now looking at the 10th generation 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, the higher of the two tiers. Where the lower tier has that eighth-generation processor and two Thunderbolt ports, the upper-tier has four Thunderbolt 3 ports in total, and better Intel Iris Plus graphics. Thanks to those better graphics, the upper-tier is capable of powering an external 6K display while the lower-tier is limited to only an external 5K display.

Aside from the aforementioned changes, the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro with 10th-generation Intel processors uses much faster 3733MHz LPDDR4 memory, starts at 16GB, and can be updated to 32GB. Internal storage can also be maxed out at 4TB.

Changes are on the inside

Distinguishing the 2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch from the 2019 with the naked eye is difficult. It looks the same as the last generation, and the generation before that. While some may want to wait another year for the 14-inch MacBook Pro to arrive, some users need to upgrade now — and this upgrade is a good one.

It has a gorgeous P3 wide color gamut Retina display, four Thunderbolt 3 ports split between the two sides instead of two on the lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, a headphone jack, the Touch Bar, and the still-unchanged 720p FaceTime camera which we’d really like Apple to replace with something better.

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Closeup of the MacBook Pro logo below the gorgeous Retina display

Another holdover includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi (or, Wi-Fi 5) rather than Wi-Fi 6. For the average user, this isn’t a big deal today, but there are implications for the future. Apple was quick on Wi-Fi 6 adoption on mobile devices but the same can’t be said for the Mac line. A Mac should last six years or more and while Wi-Fi 6 isn’t widely adopted now, it will be in a couple years.

About that keyboard… again

In case you missed it, or have skipped all coverage of it, Apple has updated the keyboard design. After several false starts, Apple’s kicked its butterfly switch mechanisms to the curb in favor of Apple’s latest version of a scissor-switch design.

We have spoken at some length on the updated Magic Keyboard again, and again. It still has a full millimeter of key travel. It still feels more responsive to type on and not all that different from the 16-inch MacBook Pro which also has Apple’s Magic Keyboard embedded into its aluminum body.

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Magic Keyboard on the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) has a scissor switch design, a physical escape key, and an inverted T design for the arrow keys

We truly do like the feel of the updated keyboard. While the extra key travel at times makes us feel like we are slightly slower than on the previous design that we’ve been hammering away on for nearly five years, it is an improvement. It isn’t enough to cause us to trip up while typing that often, and is enough to make the keys feel more responsive when depressed.

Aside from moving to the Magic Keyboard, other changes are also notable. Specifically, Apple has included a standalone physical escape key and also returned the inverted “T” design for the arrow keys. Depending on a user’s work, these may be more impactful than a shift from the previous-gen keyboard.

13-inch MacBook Pro with tenth generation Intel processor performance

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Geekbench scores for the 2019 and 2020 high-end MacBook Pro 13-inch

In terms of performance, our 13-inch MacBook Pro with the 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-1068NG7 garnered a 1311 and a 4862 in the Geekbench 5.1.1 single-and multi-core test. Graphics earned a 8408 in the Metal compute benchmark. The previous-gen, which relied on the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 of the eighth-generation chipset, scored a 7240 in the graphics benchmark.

The old 2.8GHz quad-core i7 which was the high-end processor configuration from the 2019 line only scored a 1076 and a 4038. That’s roughly a 25 percent gain in those single and multi-core tests.

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Cinebench R20 results for the 2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch high-end

Turning to Cinebench R20, we saw scores of 2071. Our entry-level model only scored a 1588 — another 25 percent gain here as well. While testing in Cinebench which does tax the processors, we did have the fans kick on partially through the test but according to Intel Power Gadget, it was easily able to maintain its advertised clock speed after dropping down from its turbo boosted speed.

Disk speeds were consistent, averaging just above 1250 megabytes per second for write speeds and 1600 megabytes per second for read speeds using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test.

For comparison, the 16-inch MacBook Pro at just about any capacity will peak at 3150 megabytes per second read speeds, and about 2900 megabytes per second write speeds. The 2020 MacBook Air delivers about 1250 megabytes per second read, and 1000 megabytes per second write.

Should you buy the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro with tenth generation Intel processors?

There is no doubt — you get more for your money with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 10th generation Intel processors, and by a wide margin.

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The new 13-inch MacBook Pro

If you start with the lower-level 13-inch MacBook Pro and make some basic upgrades such as doubling the RAM to 16GB and the storage to 512GB it puts your total at $1,599. $200 shy of the high-end MacBook Pro that still has a faster processor.

Upgrade that processor too to the quad-core 1.7GHz i7 13-inch MacBook Pro and just like that you are at $1,899 — $100 more than the base high-end 13-inch Pro. Even though you are paying $100 more, you still have an eighth-generation Intel processor instead of a 10th-generation, two Thunderbolt 3 ports instead of four, slower DDR3 RAM, worse graphics, and have no support for external 6K displays.

Not to mention, the eighth-generation lacks higher-end options for RAM or storage.

It makes more sense to opt for the one of the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro models if you’re looking for power and capability. If you don’t need that power, skip the 13-inch MacBook Pro line altogether and buy the MacBook Air. The latter is a bit lighter, thinner, and still wonderfully capable.

The upper-tiered 13-inch MacBook Pro is a solid buy in Apple’s portable Mac lineup. Apple has made some good changes, and even though a rumored 14-inch revamp is upcoming, if you need a powerful Mac laptop now, with more portability than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, this is a great option.

Pros

  • Sleek, aluminum body
  • Great Retina display
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Updated Magic Keyboard
  • Faster 10th-gen Intel chips
  • Faster LPDDR4 RM
  • 6K display support
  • Support for 32GB RAM
  • Upgradable to 4TB storage

Cons

  • No 14-inch redesign
  • No dedicated graphics cards
  • 720p FaceTime camera is still poor quality

Source: https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/05/21/review-the-13-inch-macbook-pro-with-10th-generation-processors-is-the-one-to-buy 

What to expect from Apple in 2019

Expect 2019 to be a big year for Apple’s iPad tablets. And for professional-grade Macs, too. The next 12 months won’t be as significant for the iPhone and Apple Watch lines, though there will certainly be some improvements.

Services and software are as important to Apple as hardware, so expect the long-awaited video service to arrive, and we predict a resurgence in augmented reality games too.

Most of these are based on information that already leaked out. In these cases, we’ll link to articles on the topic. Others are pure speculation, with some wishful thinking mixed in.

iOS 13 makes iPad Pro far more useful

Way back in 2017, iOS 11 brought important improvements to iPad. Last year’s iOS 12 focused on the iPhone, so we think 2019’s version will concentrate on tablets again.

iOS 13 will supposedly bring the ability to work with multiple windows from the same application side-by-side. This is already possible with Safari, but all software may get this feature.

A change we’re hoping for will be additional benefits from the USB-C port in the 2018 iPad Pro. Possible improvements include the ability to copy all types of files to and from external drives, greater support for external displays, and mouse/trackpad support.

An iPad with a trackpad might stop being just a dream this year.
Photo: Brydge

These changes will benefit everyone who’s already purchased the current tablet, and set off a surge of sales. But don’t anticipate a replacement in 2019, as Apple has a pattern of releasing new iPad Pro models every 18. months. But the long-awaited iPad mini 5 could launch this year, alongside a larger budget iPad.

Everything the iPhone won’t have in 2019

Apple is going to skip the two biggest trends for smartphones in 2019. But we’re still expecting some improvments, of course.

Android-based 5G phones will be common by the end of the year, but Apple can’t get a 5G iPhone out before 2020 because it’s depending on Intel for the necessary modem. Making its own won’t speed things up either.

That’s not necessarily a disaster. Carriers will still be building out their 5G networks for years, and so the users of the early Android models won’t get much benefit from them for quite some time.

Also making headlines in 2019 will be a handful of models with folding displays. Investigation into a folding iPhone started in at least 2016, but the company isn’t likely to have anything before 2020. If then. It’s not clear yet whether there’s a market for foldable phones. Apple is apparently going to wait and see what happens with the Android offerings.

So we shouldn’t expect big hardware changes at all, as Apple is reportedly going to stick with the same iPhone screen sizes this year: 6.5, 6.1, and 5.9 inches.

Which isn’t to say there won’t be some enhancements. We’ve already heard about faster Face ID, and the addition of a third camera lens could bring better pictures. All of the 2019 models might have OLED displays, one with an integrated touchscreen. 

There’s been speculation that the 2019 iPhone will have a USB-C port, rather than a Lightning connector. If so, then these handsets will also benefit from the aforementioned improvements coming in iOS 13 for the iPad Pro.

Long-overdue Mac Pro desktop appears

Apple flat-out promised that it’s going to introduce an updated Mac Pro in 2019. The wait has been very long, as it’ll replace a model introduced in 2013.

So far, Apple hasn’t said much specific about this desktop, other than it’s going to be modular and upgradeable.  The goal is to make a computer for “visual effects and video editing and 3D animation and music production,” according to John Ternus, Apple VP of Hardware Engineering.

The processor, RAM, and storage options will surely surpass 2017’s iMac Pro. Other changes will be simple updates for 2019. The current Mac Pro model doesn’t even have USB-C, for example.

The next Mac Pro is being “completely rethought” so it probably won’t look anything like this.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple also intends to release a new new high-end pro display this year.

Apple Watch, AirPods and AirPower, oh my!

2018 was a big year for Apple’s wearable, with screen sizes increasing and the addition of ECG. That suggests this year’s model isn’t going to bring dramatic hardware changes, as Apple typically rests on its laurels the year after a redesign. So far, there have been no rumors of significant improvements coming down the pike, either.

Numerous unconfirmed reports point to updated AirPods coming soon. These are expected to offer noise cancellation and water resistance. Adding “Hey Siri” support is also possible. Expect AirPods 2 to cost more than the originals, though. A complete redesign is expected in 2020.

Apple couldn’t meet its promise to have the AirPower wireless charger out by the end of December, just as it couldn’t get this multi-device charging mat on store shelves in 2017. Third year’s the charm?

Apple TV becomes a service, not just a device

Expect 2019 to be a watershed year for Apple TV. Not so much for the hardware, but for Apple’s streaming video service, which will reportedly launch in the first half of the year. The company created dozens of television programs at the cost of over a $1 billion, and will reportedly make these free to customers who already own an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.

Expect this to spur sales of the Apple TV device. Whether there will be new models to go along with the service is not yet known.

ARKit 2.0 and Augmented Reality go big

The biggest change in last year’s ARKit 2.0 update is shared experiences, a fancy way of saying that two people playing the same augmented reality game can look at the same virtual objects simultaneously. This is going to make AR games far more interesting in 2019.

Lego already introduced an app that embraces this technology, and the next version of Pokémon Go apparently uses it as well. These could be joined by a wave of AR games in 2019.

Whether the preferred platform for AR will be the iPhone or iPad is still up in the air. Phones are lighter but tablets have far larger displays. The next generation iPad could get a new type of scanner that will gave it better AR performance than iPhones. That said, it’s not clear if the first iPad with a Time of Flight (ToF) scanner will be out this year or 2020.

Apple ‘rolling the dice’ on its upcoming products

Apple CEO Tim Cook is very upbeat about where his company is going. He told investors today that upcoming products will “blow you away.”

Cook also indicated that these aren’t going to be just more of the same. Apple is branching out.

The executive didn’t use his speech during today’s annual Apple shareholders meeting to making any specific revelations. Instead, he talked about “planting seeds.”

And he’s feeling very positive about the fruit these will eventually bear. Cook said he’d “never been more optimistic” about Apple’s future.

Some short-term plans

Cook was a little more open about what to expect in the near future. In talking about the Apple Watch, Cook said they’re “pulling the string between wellness and health.” He mentioned the ECG in the latest version, but also the exercise tools built into this wearable. More health-related features are likely going forward.

He said there’s a “long, great roadmap of fantastic” products in its category that includes both Apple Watch and AirPods. An improved version of this company’s wireless earbuds are expected very soon.

In a bit of good news for laptop fans,  Apple’s CEO says they’ve made lowering the cost of the latest MacBook Air a goal. It currently starts at $1,199, after replacing an earlier model that started at $999.

After one investor complained that he couldn’t transfer a movies off his iPad Pro via the USB-C port, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi stepped in to say that new functionality is coming, but he wouldn’t get any more specific. This could be a hint that this fall’s iOS 13 will include more robust file management capabilities. something users have been asking for.

What’s over the horizon?

Apple’s executive team is hardly going to use a public shareholders meeting to discuss the unannounced products that Tim Cook was obliquely referring to. Still, there have been enough leaks that we already know what they’ll be, at least in broad terms.

One of Tim Cook’s “seeds” being germinated is a video-streaming service to compete with Netflix and Hulu. Apple has been paying to have TV shows and movies produced for months, but has so far kept quiet about its plans. That could change later this month.

A long-term project is a self-driving car. Development of this hit a speed bump recently, but the company still has thousands of people working on it. A shipping product is likely still years away, though.

Apple allegedly has a secret team developing a set of augmented reality (AR) glasses. These would take advantage of the ARKit development tools that have been part of the recent iOS versions. When this seed will burst into flower is unknown.

MacFly Pro’s suite of apps keeps your Mac decluttered

Despite the clean lines and sleek exteriors of our Macs, the insides often look like a real mess. Cluttered photo libraries; old web caches; broken extensions; unused configuration files — the list of data that can gum up our Macs is long. That makes staying on top of it all nearly impossible, unless you’ve got time and energy to spare.

MacFly Pro (not to be confused with that guy from Back to the Future) aims to simplify this process. Many Mac users receive a dreaded “Startup Disk almost Full” message before they ever think about Mac cleaning software, but MacFly Pro made a suite of Mac applications that can prevent that message from ever showing up again.

It can take many separate tasks, not to mention a long attention span, to keep a Mac tidy. The MacFly Pro suite also includes an adaptive Smart Assistant that automates most of those steps. It’s at the core of MacFly Pro, watching your system and notifying you of new opportunities to clean your Mac and maximize performance. Automatically and continuously assessing the data stored on your Mac, when it sees a way to reclaim space or improve Mac performance, it notifies you.

MacFly Pro does its work based on background scans that the Smart Assistant conducts. You’ll see a general breakdown of what the software found — system files, duplicates, etc. — along with the option to view the files in detail. Then, you can clear them out with just a click. MacFly Pro never deletes or alters anything without permission.

MacFly Pro also serves as a sentry for resources being consumed in ways you might not think to check.  It targets rarely used applications and configuration files, serving up a report on how much space they’re taking up. That means opportunities for clearing out space you probably wouldn’t spot. Additionally, the Smart Assistant offers an assessment of the overall condition of your Mac, monitoring the system state.

Call in the cleanup crew for better Mac performance

With MacFly Pro, you also get a powerful Cleaner module that removes system junk and file waste that it collects on your hard drive. Temporary files and other common data can sneakily gum up the works of any Mac. Cleaner will check your operating system and send notifications offering a one-click cleanup.

This offers a way to stay on top of Mac file accumulation without having to put in much effort at all. Cache and log files, broken login items and preferences, application data and localization files are just some of the esoteric file types you probably wouldn’t even know to look for. But Cleanup keeps an eye on these and a bunch of other file types, so you can focus on things like, you know, typing.

The right Mac cleaner tools for the job

MacFly Pro’s Tools module deals with big files on your Mac. It manages and can remove application files and documents, music, photos or archives. Just as with the other MacFly Pro modules, you can clean all of it out with several clicks.

The Tools feature also presents an estimated time frame for every task. It marks files that are most likely to hog disk space. That helps you quickly sort out junk data from the stuff you want to keep. That makes it easy to plan around big cleaning jobs.

MacFly Pro’s range of tools prove useful when you need them, and stay out of your way the rest of the time. You could buy the app for a month to see if you like what it does, then spring for the full year if you do.

There is also the download page where you can get a free trial without entering any credit card info. Either way, keeping a clean Mac shouldn’t be taking up your free time. MacFly Pro will save you both space and time.

iPhone X took over two years to develop, marks new chapter in iPhone design, says Jony Ive

In a brief interview with Japanese design magazine Casa Brutus, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive dropped a few interesting tidbits about the development, future technological implications and public reception of iPhone X.

According to Ive, who was interviewed by Casa Brutus in Cupertino, Calif., after last month’s iPhone event, iPhone X represents one of the most difficult projects Apple has undertaken, with an incubation period of more than two years.

That the product was ready in time for iPhone’s 10th anniversary in 2017 was a “wonderful coincidence,” Ive said.

Discussing the inner workings of iPhone X, Ive said the inclusion of Face ID is the culmination of years of work toward a non-contact user interface. From a user’s perspective, features that do not require physical interaction make a device feel simpler, yet at the same time more robust. Ive goes on to say the replacement of Touch ID, a capacitive fingerprint reading solution included in all iPhone models since iPhone 5s, equates to a heightened user experience.

On the handset’s design, Ive said previous models felt like a combination of many different parts, the most obvious being the chassis and display. With iPhone X, the design feels contiguous and integrated. It took may years to achieve that level of fit and finish, Ive said, adding that Apple is already working on next-generation designs.

Looking back to the first iPhone, Ive said multitouch, a feature smartphone users now take for granted, was both its most important feature and the biggest design challenge. Building a new hardware platform meant miniaturizing and incorporating cutting edge components, but also required a rethinking of human interface guidelines.

Over the past ten years iPhone has transformed from a simple telephone/internet/music device to become something much more integral to daily life. That transition continues today, as Ive remembers first using iPhone for phone calls, then video calls with FaceTime and later emoji in iMessage. With iPhone X and the depth-sensing TrueDepth camera system, owners can communicate with Animoji, Apple’s marketing term for emoji characters that animate based on a user’s facial expressions.

Instead of thinking of iPhone X as the ultimate expression of “iPhone,” Ive said the device represents a new chapter in the platform’s history.

Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported on the Casa Brutus interview earlier today.

Planned Obsolescence – How Products are Designed to Fail

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in our world where our technology never failed? A world where our smartphone batteries didn’t eventually give up the ghost? A world where our laptops didn’t get temperamental after their 5th birthday? A world where the technology we depend on – and pay good money for – was built to last?

Unfortunately, this marvellous imagined world full of dependable technology with true longevity is not likely to become a reality any time soon. That’s because much of  technology we use today, including our smartphones, has been designed with a limited shelf-life, all thanks to a concept known as “planned obsolescence” (and more than a small dose of corporate greed).

What is planned obsolescence?

Also known as in-built obsolescence or programmed obsolescence, planned obsolescence refers to the practice of designing and manufacturing products with a limited useful life. In come cases this means products are deliberately designed to fall out of fashion after a certain period, more commonly it means that products (particularly tech products) are designed to break, slow down and become difficult to use after a set point.

The purpose of planned obsolescence is simple – to force consumers to buy replacement products as frequently as possible without becoming disenfranchised by the brand responsible for the initial product. In corporate circles, this process is known as “shortening the replacement cycle”. In short, companies build obsolescence into their products in order to sell more products and make more money.

Does planned obsolescence affect my smartphone?

It’s almost guaranteed that planned obsolescence is at play within your smartphone right now. For example, it’s not possible for many smartphone users to simply take off the back of their phone to replace their batteries anymore, which naturally become weaker over time. This means that they will usually buy a fresh phone in order to enjoy restored battery life once their current battery starts to have less longevity.

In other cases, brands like Android stop making software upgrades for specific handsets after a certain period. This means users must buy a new handset in order to access the fresh upgrade for their smartphone.

There are also other, subtler ways in which planned obsolescence speeds up the “replacement cycle”, which depend on omission rather than deliberate sabotage.

The fact that a spilt cup of coffee or an unfortunate case of butterfingers can consign our phones to telephone heaven seems remarkable given the types of technology and materials now available on the market. Waterproofing and reinforcing smartphones would be inexpensive and straightforward, but it doesn’t really make sense for technology businesses. After all, the more we break, the more we buy.

The environmental cost

Of course this is very bad news for consumer pockets, especially since all major tech companies are at it. If one quality alternative which offered longevity came to market, the jig would be up for other manufacturers, but today planned obsolescence is a crucial part of business models.

But it’s also very bad news for our planet. In a recent post we explored some the problems we face as a result of electronic waste (also known as e-waste). From the 65.4 million tonnes of e-waste likely to be tossed away in 2017, to the human cost of exporting e-waste illegally and irresponsibly mining for manufacturing materials in countries with few workers’ rights, the accepted strategy of planned obsolescence doesn’t just cost us money, it costs human lives and the future of our planet.


Do you think your smartphone features planned obsolescence? How long was your last phone’s lifespan? Share your thoughts below and escape the cycle by
getting your phone fixed by the iMonkey’s specialists.

6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your iPhone

6 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOUR IPHONE COULD DO

6. Use Camera Flash as Flashlight

We are sure a lot of people are aware of this feature, but at the same time, there are plenty of people who are not, which is why we decided to include this on the list. You can do this by opening up the iPhone control center, and then tapping the button on the bottom left side of your screen to turn the camera flash on. You can now use it as a flashlight and change back to the default settings when you are done.

5. Make TouchID Work Faster

There have been some complaints about the TouchID on the phone not responding fast enough, and we have a solution to the problem. The best way to speed up TouchID on your iPhone is by saving the print of the finger that you use the most to access the phone multiple times. By saving it as a different print, you reduce the time it takes TouchID to process your fingerprint when you want to access your phone.

This feature works better when you can see what you are doing, which means that you will have a tough time if you try to do it with an iPhone that has a cracked screen.

4. Take Pictures with Your Headphones

This is a pretty neat feature because it allows you to take pictures by simply using the volume buttons on your headset when you are in camera mode.

3. Make Your Camera Blink When You Have New Messages

This is a very useful feature which allows your phone to notify you of a message with the blink of your camera flashlight. You can turn this feature on by going to your general settings, going to accessibility, and then scrolling down to LED Flash for Alerts, and turning it on. Just make sure you turn it back off when you’re in a movie theater or trying to sleep.

2. Easy Access to the Top of the Display Screen

When you try to access the top of the screen on your iPhone, you usually need one hand to hold the phone, and another to scroll down on the screen. There is an easier way to do that, all you have to do is double touch the home button twice, and the screen will briefly shift downward, allowing you to access the top of the screen pretty easily.

1. Charge Your Phone Faster

Okay, this is technically not a feature, but it is still very useful information. It is no secret that the battery life of the iPhone isn’t very long, and using the charger that comes with the phone takes some time. Instead of using the adapter, switch to an iPad charger, because they charge the iPhone faster, so you don’t have to wait too long before it’s fully charged.

Force Touch: What it is and Why it Matters to iPhone Users

WHAT IS FORCE TOUCH?

Apple developed Force Touch as a way to sense the difference between a tap and a harder press on the phone. Force Touch can then relay that information to the phone and correspond specific actions to the type of force you put on the phone. You can see Force Touch in action right now on three different devices: the Apple Watch, the 2015 MacBook and the 2015 MacBook Pro. Force Touch on the Apple Watch allows the user to press down on the screen to change the watch face, or press a little harder to bring up a secondary menu. It’s necessary for this small smart device since there is very little screen space, but it seems as though Apple has realized the potential for including this technology in all of its devices.

WHAT WILL FORCE TOUCH BRING TO THE IPHONE 6S?

There are a few ways we envision Force Touch being a super useful addition to the iPhone 6s. The first being navigation — by allowing a second dimension to the way users can touch and interact with the phone, the developers can build in so many extra navigational options and menus. Maybe a light touch will pause a video, while a heavier touch will rewind or fast-forward it. Perhaps a light touch will open a basic menu, while a heavier touch will open a detailed menu. The opportunities are endless!

Another interesting application for Force Touch is gaming. By adding this additional haptic element, game and app developers can build in so many more functionalities within their apps. While there are no real reports of developers planning ahead for this feature, we have a feeling that it will be a huge change for the app and game developers out there.

7 Things to Try Immediately With Apple Music

The much-anticipated Apple Music has finally been unveiled! Users concerned with pricing don’t have to worry as it offers a free three-month trial period, so you can decide whether it’s the right streaming music service for you. The service is available for iPads/iPhones running on the latest version of iOS and Macs/PCs that have the most recent version of iTunes. Here are some great features of Apple music you ought to try out.

APPLE MUSIC FEATURES TO TRY TODAY

1. CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE GENRES AND ARTISTS.

Head over to the accounts section and choose ‘Artists for you’ in the top left corner. You will be greeted with bubbles with the names of the different artists. To choose your artist, tap on the bubble or double-tap your favorite artists. For genres that you don’t like, press and hold to get rid of them.

2. CHECK OUT APPLE MUSIC’S RECOMMENDATIONS.

This feature is listed under ‘For you’ and is based on your selected genre and artists. Apple Music understands that you may not always remember all your favorite songs, and this list is a good way to keep your playlist fresh. You may find a few forgotten treasures in here.

3. CONNECT WITH YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS.

Get to know what your favorite artists are up to by following them. You automatically follow the artists that you selected before but Apple Music gives you the chance to connect with more. This will give you an updated view of the artist’s feeds, videos and photos.

4. LISTEN TO THE SONGS IN YOUR LIBRARY.

It’s not all about streaming with Apple Music; the service also lets you access songs in your library by tapping on the ‘My music’ icon. Here, you can access all the songs you have in your playlists and any new song that you may have downloaded.

5. SAVE SOME TRACKS FOR LATER.

This is one feature you will appreciate when you cannot access internet and stream. Save your favorite songs for later by choosing to make them available offline.

6. CREATE A RADIO STATION.

Proving just how cool Apple Music is, it lets you create your very own radio station. If you are listening to a track and you want something similar, just click on the ellipses in the bottom right corner and choose ‘Start Radio’. Apple music will queue up similar songs that you may like. This is a great way to explore more music and find new favorites.

7. ADD CURATED PLAYLISTS TO YOUR MUSIC

Apple Music ensures its users are always taken care of by providing a wide variety of playlists. Click on the ‘plus’ icon to add the playlist to your music library.

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