MarketWatch takes a look at the state of the repair industry for the iPhone 5, noting that costs for display replacements remain very high eight months after the device's launch in the United States. The report points to Apple's tight control over components as being the major contributor to high costs, even as the device's new design makes it simpler to replace the display than on previous models.
There is a tight control on iPhone 5 components in the market, [repair firm iCracked founder AJ] Forsythe says. “Market forces determine the price,” he says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”
“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. As the iPhone 5 is larger than the 4, the cost for replacement parts rises, he says.
The display is the most frequently cited repair item on the iPhone, given the frequency with which users break the glass front of the device, and it is also the most costly component.
For the iPhone 4S, repair firm iFixit currently sells the display assembly for $95, with users needing to follow a difficult 37-step guide to perform the repair. On the iPhone 5, iFixit is charging $200 for the corresponding part, with the white version not even available at this time. But for those who can get their hands on the part, the replacement process requires only a 23-step guide judged "moderate" in difficulty.
The report notes that many repair firms have even not yet begun offering iPhone 5 display replacements, due to both the shortage of parts in the market and the high costs. Apple itself frequently performs repairs by swapping out the user's device, then putting the damaged device through a refurbishment process and reselling it at a discounted price.
Recognizing the prevalence of accidental damage issues with its mobile devices, Apple rolled out an AppleCare+ extended warranty plan alongside the iPhone 4S in October 2011. The $99 plan extends warranty coverage to two years and includes coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage with $49 deductibles. The plan is not, however, universally available throughout Apple's global sales footprint yet.
Apple is said to be planning to revamp its AppleCare offerings later this year, with Apple reportedly moving to perform more repairs on iPhones rather than simply swapping them out. The company is also said to be transitioning AppleCare into a subscription agreement that would cover multiple devices owned by a customer, rather than having to purchase coverage separately for each device.
Shazam was one of the early App Store success stories, offering users the ability to easily identify music by capturing a snippet of the song and matching it against a database to provide title and artist information. The service has since expanded to integrate with the iTunes Store, YouTube, lyrics, and more, with TV shows and ads even adopting Shazam to allow users to easily learn more about the show or product.
Shazam has offered separate apps for the iPhone and iPad since 2010, but the company today unveiled a universal version of the iPhone app that includes a completely rebuilt experience for the iPad. A number of new features have shown up in the iPad version of Shazam, most notably a background tagging feature that allows users to have all matching incoming audio tagged even while using other applications on their devices. TechCrunch explains a bit more about how it works:
[A]fter downloading the updated version, users will be walked through a brief tutorial that explains what Auto-Tagging is all about, then allowing users to switch it on, if desired. If they do so, the app will run in the background, listening for anything it can identify, and loading those items into a carousel at the top of its homescreen.
From here, users can interact with the content much as before – sharing it on social media, buying the song, show or movie from iTunes or Amazon, or in the case of TV shows, learning more about the cast and episode, viewing a playlist of songs in the broadcast, or heading off to sites like Wikipedia, IMDb, the official website and/or store, and more.
Other new features arriving in Shazam 6.0 include a mapping system that allows users to see popular music on a city-by-city basis, Rdio integration, streamlined sharing, and automatic resubmission of tags for users in areas with poor reception. The iPad app is also adding for the first time Shazam's LyricPlay feature that shows lyrics on-screen in sync with the music.
Popular email app Mailbox, which launched for iPhone in early February with a reservation system that saw well over one million users sign up before the company eliminated reservations last month, has now gone universal with a native interface for the iPad.
ReadWrite has more on the development, including a brief interview with Mailbox founder Gentry Underwood about how designing for the larger tablet screen was actually more difficult than for the iPhone.
"[Tablets] are these weird hybrid devices that sit in between," said Underwood. "They're part luxury mobile phone, and they're part makeshift desktop experience."
That made it harder, not easier, he said.
"Constraint is the friend of design," Underwood said. "It's easier for us to create a simple mail experience [for the phone]. We have to resist the temptation to take all these pixels and put in all these bells and whistles."
Mailbox is currently compatible only with Gmail, allowing users to intuitively triage their incoming mail through a simple swipe system supporting delete, archive, and a "snooze" function that dismisses email for the time being before reappearing to be dealt with.
The Mailbox team, which is now part of Dropbox, is also moving forward with plans to develop and Android version of its app, but no details on that effort have yet been released.
As noted by The Verge, Microsoft has released a new Windows 8 tablet ad that uses Siri to highlight a few of the iPad's shortcomings, depicting the ASUS VivoTab Smart tablet as a robust productivity machine while implying that the iPad is more suited to entertainment.
In the ad, which is entitled "Less Talking, More Doing," an iPad is depicted next to the aforementioned VivoTab Smart, showing off the system's multitasking capabilities and its built-in office apps. A Siri voiceover points out that the iPad does not support multiple windows at once and does not offer Microsoft Office apps. "I'm sorry, I can only do one thing at a time," Siri laments. "I guess PowerPoint isn't one of those things."
The ad ends on a humorous note, poking fun at a previous Apple commercial that depicted an iPad and iPad mini piano duet in GarageBand. The iPad is shown operating GarageBand next to the hardworking Windows 8 tablet, and Siri asks "Should we just play chopsticks?"
Microsoft also focuses on the price difference between the two tablets in the ad, pointing out that the 64GB WiFi iPad costs $699 while the 64GB Asus VivoTab Smart is $250 cheaper at $449.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has on a number of occasions offered accurate information about Apple's product plans, issued a new research report this week outlining his expectations for Apple's rumored smart watch device, informally dubbed "iWatch". Despite some expectations that the device could launch later this year, Kuo believes that both hardware and software issues will result in the iWatch making its debut in the second half of 2014.
Apple may not have adequate resources to develop an iWatch version of iOS because it may require big changes to iPhone and iPad iOS this year. In addition, wearable device components aren’t mature. For these reasons, we think mass production of the iWatch is more likely to begin in 2H14, not 2H13 as the market speculates.
Sony SmartWatch (left) and Pebble e-paper watch (right)
On the hardware front, Kuo projects that the iWatch will use a 1.5-2.0 inch display and unsurprisingly believes that Apple will draw on the iPod nano when it comes to components, particularly with respect to the main processor and the touch technology.
Currently, the iPod nano uses the same GF2 touch technology as used by the iPad mini. Since the size and computing ability requirements of the iWatch are similar to those of the iPod nano, we think iWatch will use iPod nano’s GF2 touch technology and AP [application processor].
Further, Kuo believes that biometrics will be a key feature for the iWatch, allowing for increased security and opening the door to broader health-related applications. The biometric support should also aid in building out the cross-device integration many expect to see from the iWatch.
Rumors regarding Apple's smart watch project have been relatively quiet over the past few months, although a report from earlier this week claimed that Apple is testing 1.5-inch OLED displays for the device, with Foxconn said to be gearing up for a trial run of 1,000 devices.
Realmac's gesture-based list making iPhone app Clear has been updated to version 1.2.2, adding a feature that allows users to email their lists to other people. When viewing a list, Clear users can shake their phones to bring up the new emailing option.
Emails sent from Clear contain the app's lists plus a link that provides the option to open the sent lists within the app. The Clear update also provides additional secret themes and comes with an announcement that an iPad version of the app is currently in the works.
One of the biggest feature requests we've had has been the ability email lists. So we added it to our Clear list, and here it is!
Shake-to-Email: just shake your phone to bring up the all-new-super-handy email option. Emails contain your lists (of course) as well as a file that whoever receives the email can open in Clear.
We probably shouldn't tell you this, but there's a couple of secret new themes. Enjoy :)
If you've read this far, we'll reward you with the news that Clear will be coming to the iPad. More news soon!
Clear for the iPhone can be downloaded from the App Store for $1.99. [Direct Link]
OtterBox will keep LifeProof's San Diego location and employees will remain in their current locations. OtterBox global headquarters remain in Fort Collins, Colorado. The companies are not disclosing any terms for the transaction.
Much like OtterBox, LifeProof is a rapidly growing, multi-million dollar business with a strong global brand, comprehensive product offering, impressive intellectual property and thriving company culture. Over the next 30 days, OtterBox will begin incorporating the LifeProof brand into the OtterBox family. More information about product availability and alignment will be determined at the completion of the integration.
“The joining of OtterBox and LifeProof is a way to combine two great brands and provide customers with even more great products, services and choices for smartphone accessories,” OtterBox CEO Brian Thomas said. “Both companies are successful because we foster an environment where everyone takes pride in being part of a culture that knows how to identify opportunities and grow them quickly. Our goal in this acquisition is to create more value for our customers than we ever could have generated while operating individually.”
OtterBox, with more than 600 employees, makes cases for a variety of different phone and tablet models, including the iPhone and iPad. The company claims it current holds 23% market share in the case market and is approaching $1 billion in yearly sales.
Following Apple's adoption of sapphire crystal as a strong and durable covering for the rear cameras on the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch late last year, rumors of expanded uses for the material have gained some traction. Back in March, we covered a report suggesting that sapphire could see wider adoption as coverings for displays on mobile devices, and just last week a sketchy rumor claimed that Apple is planning to use a sapphire-covered capacitive home button with integrated fingerprint sensor for the iPhone 5S.
Amid these discussions of the potential of sapphire, Corning has published a feature outlining why its latest Gorilla Glass 3 is in fact already a better option than sapphire for mobile device displays, citing greater strength, lower weight, less energy cost in production, and significantly lower pricing. And with those features has come widespread adoption, with Corning reporting that over 1.5 billion devices have been made with Gorilla Glass.
Jeffrey W. Evenson, [Corning] senior vice president, remarked, “Discussion seems to center around sapphire as an obvious solution for a cover material. What would people say if someone invented a cover that was about half the weight, used 99 percent less energy to make, provided brighter displays, and cost less than a tenth of sapphire? I think they’d say that sapphire was in real trouble. It so happens that we at Corning already invented that cover – and it’s called Gorilla Glass.” Evenson added that the company’s tests so far indicate Gorilla Glass requires about three times more force to break than sapphire after both materials have received similar wear and tear.
Corning also discusses its latest work with Gorilla Glass, noting that the company has already trimmed the materials thickness to the point where it can be curved and shaped without losing strength. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Apple was working on a curved glass smart watch, a product that could potentially take advantage of Corning's latest Gorilla Glass advancements.
Going even further, Corning lays out its future plans for Gorilla Glass, sharing that the company is working hard on new versions that reduce reflections for better visibility in bright sunlight and which incorporate antimicrobial technology to minimize the germs which are prevalent on mobile devices.
Google has announced plans to roll out an update to the iOS version of Chrome that will enable voice searching. The feature will function similarly to Siri on the iPhone, requiring a tap on the microphone to bring up the interactive search interface.
Touch the microphone, say your search query aloud and see your results (in some cases spoken back to you), all without typing a single letter. Try these queries with the update (coming soon to the App Store):
- "How many miles from San Antonio to Dallas?" - "What's the weather in Rome?" - "Who stars in The Internship?"
Google currently includes voice search in its Google Search app through Google Now integration and has also begun offering conversational voice search with the release of Chrome 27.
Google notes that the upcoming iOS update will also bring faster reloading of web pages in addition to implementing an option for third party apps to open links in Chrome and then return back to the original app. The update will be available "over the coming days."
Forbes reports that former Gartner research director Michael Gartenberg has joined Apple. While his exact position at Apple hasn't been revealed, Gartenberg is said to be working under Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller.
This isn’t Gartenberg’s first time jumping into one of the technology companies he tracks — though his last foray lasted less than a month. In Feb. 2007, he joined Microsoft as an “enthusiastic evangelist,” a job he described at the time as being designed to “engage and work with enthusiasts and other influencers and show them all the cool stuff that Microsoft is doing. In short, it’s our job to act as the bridge between Microsoft and end users.” But he left Microsoft in March 2007 and resumed his role as a tech analyst, saying “at my core, I am an analyst. It’s what I do and I do it well and after much thought, I realize I’m just not ready to stop doing that job just yet.”
Gartner is one of the highest-profile technology research firms tracking, and the firm's estimates of product sales are commonly cited by Apple in its presentations. Gartenberg has long been a fixture in the research and analysis community, and has served as an occasional contributor to Macworld and other publications.