Apple Buying the Happiest Place on Earth Resurfaces, and Updating Our Updates On Apple’s Updates

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Foxconn works to get back to normal, updates and updates on updates, and an icky piece of Apple history hits the auction block.

Foxconn Works to Get iPhone City Plant Back to ‘Normal Productivity’

Foxconn appears ready to welcome workers back to the planet’s biggest iPhone plant. A piece from the South China Morning Post says contract manufacturer and iPhone producer Foxconn is working “to resume normal productivity as soon as possible” at its iPhone City plant in Zhengzhou. Foxconn chairman Liu Young-way seemed to indicate that that will be helped by continued strong demand for high-end iPhones.

You know what’s funny? Every statement from Apple and Foxconn carries the undercurrent, “It’s not you consumer, it’s me.” They’re not breaking up with us though, so… cool. 

Liu made his comments on Foxconn’s third-quarter earnings call. For that quarter, revenue was up 5% versus the same quarter a year earlier. Not surprisingly, revenue’s gonna be down a bit this quarter, “due to the pandemic affecting some of [its] operations in Zhengzhou.”

Oh really? Hadn’t heard. 

The total lockdown for the plant and its immediate surroundings did end as scheduled on Wednesday 9 November. That said, the South China Morning Post piece indicates that containment measures around the plant are still pretty fierce.

Bloomberg: Shorter AirDrop for ‘Everyone’ Going Global in 2023

We may know a bit more about why Apple has changed AirDrop in China, and that change may be coming to everyone. I told you on Thursday of a change in iOS 16.1.1 for iPhones made for the Middle Kingdom. After the update, users in the region could only leave Apple’s data-sharing feature AirDrop open to “Everyone” for ten-minutes at a time. Before the update, AirDrop could be open to “Everyone” all the time. A piece from 9to5Mac had some speculating that regulators in China “required Apple to update iOS as an attempt to prevent anonymous people from spreading harmful content and anti-government material.” Speculation on the latter has grown louder. 

A report from iDownloadBlog highlights a couple of points from a Bloomberg piece. According to that, Bloomberg notes:

… that Chinese users have been using AirDrop to sidestep strict online censorship by letting people share anti-government images, videos and web links between themselves during protests. Specifically, Chinese protesters used AirDrop to distribute posters targeting [China’s leader] Xi Jinping and the [Chinese] government.

iDownloadBlog says Apple has not commented on why it made the change. One wonders whether it’ll say why it’s making the change here when it does. Okay — if it does. Bloomberg indicates that Apple will bring the shorter AirDrop for “Everyone” to “all users globally sometime in 2023.” 

In fairness, one probably shouldn’t have AirDrop open to “Everyone” all the time. Still, it’s neat to have the choice. 

More Vague Updates for AirThings

Apple’s week of mystery updates continues. 9to5Mac ran a piece Thursday saying that the company had rolled out or was rolling out a firmware update for AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max. According to the piece, build 5B58 brings “Bug fixes and other improvements.” 

They’d tell us what they are, but then they’d have to kill us, I guess. Or maybe our puny, mortal minds wouldn’t be able to handle the awesome. 

You can’t prompt the update. Just connecting to your iPhone via Bluetooth should do it eventually. 

Even more shrouded in mystery is this week’s firmware update for AirTag. A separate piece from 9to5Mac says version 2.0.24/build number 2A24e is out to Apple’s device tracker. Sounds like a big jump. The previous version was 1.0.301/build number who cares, it’s yesterday’s news. Actually, it’s last spring’s news. Released near the end of April, Apple said the last build tuned “the unwanted tracking sound to more easily locate an unknown AirTag.” This time, Apple says nothing. 

As with the AirPods, there’s no way to prompt the update for an AirTag. “Instead,” 9to5Mac says, “just make sure your AirTag is in range of your iPhone, and it should automatically update after some time.”

Apple Says Emergency SOS via Satellite Goes Live ‘Later This Month’

If you’re wondering when Emergency SOS via satellite is coming to the iPhone 14 line, Apple’s answer is “coming soon.” The Cupertino-company issued a press release Thursday, extolling the virtues of the service and the  feats of finance and engineering that made the whole thing possible. Or will make the whole thing possible. 

No doubt you know what the service is, but just in case you don’t, Apple says Emergency SOS via satellite “will allow iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.” It’s honestly a neat feature that Apple explained in-depth during its “Far Out” media event back in September.

For the feat of finance, Apple says a “$450 million investment from [its] Advanced Manufacturing Fund provides the critical infrastructure…” Most of the money went to Globalstar, “a global satellite service headquartered in Covington, Louisiana…” The Cupertino-company says its investment:

… provides critical enhancements to Globalstar’s satellite network and ground stations, ensuring iPhone 14 users are able to connect to emergency services when off the grid.

You know … when it gets turned on. The press release says it’ll go live for the US and Canada “beginning later this month…”

Apple Slashes Trade-In Values for Many Old Devices

Some of your old Apple gear lost value in the middle of the week — at least it did as far as Apple’s concerned. MacRumors says the Cupertino-company “lowered its trade-in values for select iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch models in the [U.S.]…” 

Some of the drops were precipitous. At the start of the week, iMac Pro was sporting a trade-in value as high as $1,150. Now, it only goes as high as $600. One MacBook Pro that was taking as much as $850 in trade can now only get as high as $630. 

Changes seem to be all over the map. Trade-in values for many iPhones have gone down, though they’ve actually gone up by $10 for iPhone XR and iPhone XS. Trade-in values for Android phones have gone down, while trading in an Apple Watch Series 3 will now net you zero-dollars. They’re no longer accepted, according to MacRumors. You can see what your stuff is worth to Apple on the company’s site.

Apple Pulls Another Half-a-Million Abandoned Apps from App Store

If you sense a bit of breathing room in Apple’s App Store, it could be due to the half-a-million apps the company sent packing. AppleInsider cites estimates from Finbold that show the number of apps in the App Store at a seven-year low. Don’t worry. There are still plenty — 1.64 million, according to the piece. Still, the report says that represents a decrease of nearly 25% since the June-quarter of this year, with the site figuring Apple sent over 540,000 apps to go live on a farm. 

Does this mean the App Store is doomed? No, it means the App Store is pruned. “Back in April 2022,” the piece says:

… Apple issued a notice to developers saying that it would start pulling apps from the App Store that haven’t been updated for a “significant amount of time.”

Steve Jobs’ Birkenstocks Up for Auction

And finally today — you can buy a bit of Steve Jobs’ history that, I’m sorry, just strikes me as gross. AppleInsider says a “pair of sandals said to have belonged to” the Apple co-founder is up for auction, along with an NFT of those sandals, and a book with Steve Jobs in it.

AppleInsider says Julien’s Auctions is auctioning the footwear. They’re Birkenstock, in case you’re wondering. Arizona, specifically. According to the auction site:

Jobs would wear this particular pair of sandals in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This pair of Birkenstock sandals [was] previously owned by Mark Sheff, the house manager to Steve Jobs. In an article with Business Insider, Sheff states that he acquired these Birkenstocks and other items because, “he [Jobs] kept very few things,” he continues, “We kept some, shared some with the landscapers and friends and brought some to Goodwill. The collection we ended up with is quite random.”

They’re like 50-year-old sandals. It just seems… icky. Julien’s expects the Birkenstocks to go for between $60,000 and $80,000. Bidding currently stands at $22,500. The auction ends Sunday. Good luck, I guess.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast 

As mentioned earlier, China’s new AirDrop limit may go global in 2023. TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts joins me to discuss that. Plus, rumor has people inside Disney hoping that Apple will try to buy Disney. I can see why people inside Disney would like that, but is there enough in it for Apple? That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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