Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes Apple’s FaceTime Problems, iPhone 14 Pro camera broken, severe power issues with haptic keyboard, Apple’s secret repair upgrade to the iPhone, Apple Maps turns ten, Apple’s support of App Association, and the ongoing saga of a folding iPhone takes a new twist.
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).
Apple Confirms FaceTime Problems
iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro owners who have purchased the new handsets are experiencing issues with FaceTime and iMessage. Even with an update to iOS 16.0.1 the apps are inoperable. As yet there is no news of a complete fix, but Apple has confirmed the problem:
“…the company has confirmed additional problems with iMessage and FaceTime. In a new support document, Apple has also admitted that “iMessage and FaceTime might not complete activation on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro” and acknowledges that issues may still occur, even after updating to iOS 16.0.1.”
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Audible Grinding Plagues iPhone 14 Pro Camera
That’s not the only issue. Some users are reporting that the phone is making grinding noises and vibrating when they try to take photos with third-party apps like SnapChat and TikTok, severely distorting the camera images and, in some cases, damaging the camera’s hardware. The issue doesn’t appear to be universal, but MacRumors has gathered complaints from users across multiple social media sites and its own forums, as has The Guardian. Some YouTubers have also documented the phenomenon:
“The distortion and vibration is most likely being caused by the camera’s optical image stabilization gyroscope, which when working normally corrects for shaking and hand motion so that the camera can take in a bit more light without taking blurry images (although the iPhone cameras do feature a kind of “optical” zoom, it’s achieved using different physical lenses and not one lens with mechanical parts that can physically zoom in and out).”
Apple has confirmed that further software fix is on the way to deal with the camera shake issue. Until then, Apple’s own apps are not causing any audible issues.
Battery Impact On Haptic Keyboard
Problems of course always come in threes, so the third iPhone problem this week is here, and it’s to do with the haptic keyboard. The improvements in iOS 16 to the keyboard’s feedback can have an adverse impact on battery life, confirms Apple:
“In the support document, Apple outlines how the new keyboard haptics feature changes your iPhone: “Your iPhone keyboard can make a sound or vibrate as you type.” As we’ve explained in the past, you can enable this feature in the Settings app under the “Keyboard Feedback” option in the “Sounds & Haptics” menu.
“At the bottom of the support document, however, Apple has a small warning for users who enable keyboard haptics: “Turning on keyboard haptics might affect the battery life of your iPhone.””
Repair Secrets Inside The New iPhone
The team at iFixit have performed their annual teardown of the new iPhone models to find out how they are constructed, what components and techniques have been used, and perhaps most importantly, how easy third-party repairs will be.
The iPhone 14 may feel utterly similar to the iPhone 13 on the outside, but there’s been a significant redesign of the internals. The handset is now built so both the front and the back of the phone can be opened to perform repairs. It’s fair to say the team are impressed:
“The back glass is simply secured with two screws and a single connector… And as a bonus, removing the exact same screws as the back glass gets you access to the screen. Just two screws, and both screen and back glass are immediately accessible. Incredible. This is a dramatic rethinking of the phone, and the new approach impacts most aspects of the design. Adding a whole new opening surface introduces a world of engineering challenges. There’s twice as much perimeter to seal against water, lots of radio frequency complications, and a whole world of parts changes.”
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are, unfortunately, a different story… because the hardware tells the same story as the last few years of repair-hostile awkward internal designs:
“This is the same familiar process as the 13—and the last five years of iPhones, for that matter—and entirely different from the brand new procedure we uncovered in the iPhone 14. Apple left its innovative new design out of its flagship phone completely. …the problem with this is the borderline-ridiculous difficulty of repairing the rear glass. Apple’s price for rear glass repair on the 14 Pro Max is $549, a price that seems absurd but actually reflects the difficult process.”
Apple Maps Turns Ten
Launching in a state that felt slapdash at best, Apple Maps has always been catching up to the competition. Ten years since its launch, the disaster of a launch is behind it as Apple works to improve the app. Is it at the level of Google Maps? Mostly, if you ask the American market, but it has a way to go elsewhere in the world:
“I’m also lucky to use Apple Maps while living in a major US metropolitan area. One of my colleagues in Europe isn’t happy that Apple still doesn’t offer bicycle directions in Amsterdam, the cycling capital of the world. And Apple’s redesigned maps are only available in a handful of countries outside of the US, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, even though Apple first started talking about the new maps in 2018. “
Apple And The App Association
Bloomberg’s Emily Birnbaum is reporting on claims that Apple is contributing to the App Association (ACT) which represents small business app developers. Given Apple’s App Store is one of the key routes to market, this support is worth noting:
“The group, known as ACT, says it’s not beholden to Apple, but confirmed that it derives more than half its funding from the company. The former employees say the actual percentage is much higher.
“…ACT executives defended the role of the company. ACT President Morgan Reed said in an interview that it “doesn’t pass the laugh test” to say the association is fronting for Apple. “Our job is to make sure we’re paying attention to the way that government can have an impact, unintended or otherwise, on all of those small businesses making cool software products,” Reed said.”
Apple’s latest patent filing is a curious one. Yes it continues Apple’s R&D efforts around a folding iPhone, but it also discusses a new protective screen covering which is marked up as “self-healing”:
Apple proposes that while the display could stretch over the whole device, it may be made of three elements. Two would be regular, fixed screens, while the third would be a flexible part that connects these together… Apple proposes that this flexible layer may itself “include a layer of elastomer,” and this is the self-healing element. Elastomer is stretchable, but can be made to return to its original shape — an analogy would be the memory foam in certain mattresses. Typically, that ability to return to a previous shape is triggered by heat, such as body heat from a person sleeping on a mattress.
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.