A back-to-business Apple news briefing

So you’re back to work after the long holiday break? As we dive into 2023, these slices of Apple-related news should prep you for the year ahead as we wait to see what Apple achieves in 2023.

iPhone, Mac, iPad and hardware rumors

Across the season, the following tidbits of speculation began to circulate:

  • The iPhone 15 rumors envision this year’s smartphones with cutting-edge A17 3nm chips for better performance and much lengthier battery life, a slight improvement in performance, 48MP rear cameras across the entire range, haptic buttons and titanium frame. In related news, Apple may cancel or delay plans for iPhone SE4.
  • The first 3nm chips should arrive in Macs this year, possibly with new M2-branded processors, according to 9-5Mac.
  • TSMC has commenced production of 3nm chips in Taiwan. Apple currently relies on chips produced using the foundry’s 5nm process.
  • Apple is working on a new version of iPad mini equipped with a new processor for launch this year. It may eventually launch a foldable tablet, but not before 2025.
  • Apple is reportedly working on AirPods Lite, a lower-cost version of its earbuds designed to compete with all those inexpensive AirPod-like sets you see around.
  • The company is planning a new 27-in. 120Hz display with Mini-LED.
  • Perhaps the most interesting snippet relates to Apple’s new Apple Pencil patent. This describes a device that can sample real world colors and textures to use on an iPad.

Good news, bad news in the Apple supply chain

Apple’s challenges with manufacturing in China have been well documented, but a change in the national approach to COVID-19 mitigation seems to have enabled its manufacturing partners to return to more normal production, albeit at significant cost.

These changes mean Foxconn met 90% of its original production target, Reuters reports. This is translating into improved hardware availability across multiple regions.

Apple continues to diversify its manufacturing base and has brought LuxShare in to manufacture iPhone 15 Pro Max. However, the reverberations of rapidly increasing numbers of infections are being felt downstream across the component supply chain so long-term hardware availability remains hard to assess.

Apple continues investing in production facilities outside China, with India’s government working to capture MacBook and iPad production and Vietnam about to open production locally.

There was more reporting that Apple is seeing some weakness in sales of iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models, and is allegedly considering a price cut on the latter. It is interesting that Amazon is now selling that model at $50 less than sticker price, even as Apple warns of even more expensive battery replacements for iPhones, Macs, and iPads, starting in March. All this occurs against a backdrop of worsening economic performance across the US, Europe, and China.

Apple’s quest for CSR

Cynics may call it greenwashing, but the truth is that if every company made the same degree of effort, we’d have a chance of meeting climate targets. Sadly, they don’t. The good news from Apple is that it seems to be advancing previously disclosed plans to harvest heat from its iCloud data centers to warm nearby homes. What’s important about this move is that it sets a precedent for corporate social responsibility elsewhere.

Amazon and Microsoft are already making this shift. Just consider how much energy these spaces use. Can this fuel also be used in other ways, rather than disappearing to drive your Tweets?

While Apple allegedly intends to loosen its controls around the App Store, it is also searching for points of resistance beyond which it need not budge. In December, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to talk App Store regulation and his company’s multi-billion investments in supply chain business there. Bottom line? It’s possible some expectations will turn out to be over-blown.

Farewell to Dark Sky

Raise any remaining glass of the good stuff to the memory of the excellent Dark Sky app, which Apple acquired in 2020 and has now closed. You’ll find most of its features in the company’s own Weather app, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Dark Sky. Farewell, and thanks for the weather warnings.

Good for stress…?

Frontiers for Digital Health published research that shows “very promising” signs you can use the Apple Watch and ECG readings to monitor stress. A seemingly appropriate place to sign off as we enter the Post-holiday-New-Normal-Is-Not-Terribly-Normal times.

Happy New Year!

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