Apple Updates and Bing Chat Might Go Mobile [U]

The Daily Observations

What Apple’s most expensive phones cost Apple, an Apple supplier plans expansion in India, and Apple issues many minor OS updates.

Update: A new version of Google Photos is out to resolve the crashes users experienced after the iOS 16.3.1 update. It is available now on the App Store.

Counterpoint Research Estimates BoM on iPhone 14 Pro Max at $464

In praise of Apple’s business acumen — Counterpoint Research has published an estimated bill-of-materials for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. You’ll no doubt be surprised to find, making one costs Apple significantly less than buying one costs you. 

Cult of Mac has written up the Counterpoint findings. According to that, pieces and parts for a 128GB iPhone 14 Pro Max cost Apple ~$464. That’s about three-and-a-half-percent more than a comparable 13 Pro Max from the last cycle, but way lower than the $1,099 the device would run the average John or Jane. 

Running down parts prices:

  • The most expensive bits are the A16 processor and the 6.1-inch, always-on display. Each of those accounts for about 20% of the total bill-of-materials.
  • Pieces for cellular connectivity account for 13%. 
  • The camera accounts for 11%.
  • Then there’s the “Other” category, making up 36%. Cult of Mac says that category includes the casing, the battery, the storage, the Taptic Engine, and… well… “other” stuff. 

So what? The rest is gravy? No, of course not. Not included in the bill-of-materials are assembly costs, marketing, R&D, software, and likely so much more that would never occur to us mere mortals. Not that they’re running at break-even either. Last quarter — the one where the company didn’t have nearly enough units to meet demand… “During the fourth quarter of 2022,” Cult of Mac has Counterpoint pointing out that “Apple took in 48% of the revenue of entire smartphone market, and made 85% of the total profit…” 

Finnish iPhone Component Supplier Growing Presence in India

While Apple is fond of saying that iPhone is made everywhere, “everywhere” seems to be converging on India. AppleInsider says Finnish Apple supplier Salcomp is looking to significantly grow its presence on the subcontinent. 

According to the report, Salcomp makes chargers as well as parts for smartphones. It’s already got a plant in Chennai, employing ~12,000. But that number could more than double in the next three-years. 

Sasikumar Gendham, managing director of Salcomp Manufacturing India, says the move is being driven by various issues with China. Those include the years of tension between China and the U.S. as well as the difficulties tied to COVID lockdowns. According to the exec:

The whole supply chain is now kind of looking at an alternative… India is poised to be one of the best alternatives. Everyone knows that the whole world has been depending on this one nation (China) over the last few decades and it’s time to really diversify and decluster.

Though the piece includes no comments from Apple, Salcomp’s Ghendam says his company holds a “significant role” in Apple’s supply chain. To that end they are making a significant investment in the region. “Under Salcomp’s plans,” the piece says:

…the firm will be setting up a housing complex for approximately 15,000 people, one that will include entertainment and education facilities for the workers.

It’ll also include a chance to make more scratch for Salcomp. AppleInsider has Salcomp Manufacturing India expecting revenue to grow from today’s half-a-billion dollars to the billion-dollar level “within years.” 

Apple Issues Many Minor OS Updates

A slew of small but mighty updates from Apple to start the week. We’ll start with the updates for iOS and iPadOS. For iOS 16.3.1, a piece from MacRumors has Apple saying the update:

…provides important bug fixes and security updates for your iPhone including:

  • iCloud settings may be unresponsive or incorrectly display if apps are using iCloud
  • Siri requests for Find My may not work
  • Crash Detection optimizations on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models

The Crash Detection optimizations will undoubtedly be welcomed by emergency services in ski country. First responders in parts of the U.S. and other snowy patches on the planet have been burdened with erroneous crash calls from devices on people who’ve not crashed, but are in fact skiing or snowmobiling. 

As for iPadOS 16.3.1, it does the same stuff the iOS update does — minus the Crash Detection stuff. Otherwise, a piece from iDownloadBlog says it has the same iCloud and Siri fixies as its iPhone-centric counterpart.

On the surface, macOS Ventura 13.2.1 does not seem to do a lot. A piece from iDownloadBlog says it brings “important bug fixes and security updates for your Mac.” It turns out though, the security fixes for the three operating systems mentioned so far are kind of a big deal.  

The Fixes (and a Break) Are In

A piece from MacRumors says the fixes in the iOS, iPadOS, and macOS updates fix one security problem that may already be a target of ne’er-do-wells. “According to Apple’s security notes,” according to MacRumors:

…the software fixes a WebKit issue that could allow maliciously crafted web content to result in arbitrary code execution. Apple says that it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.”

So, you’ll probably want to jump on those updates, unless you’re heavy into the Google Photos App. Yet another piece from MacRumors says the iOS 16.3.1 update spent the day borking Google Photos on iPhone and iPad. Anyway, that’s the word from people on the street. The piece says:

Multiple reports on social media complain about the issue, which The Verge also highlighted. It appears that the Google ‌Photos‌ app is crashing instantly when ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌ users attempt to open it after upgrading to the latest software.

So, you want to be safe from a vulnerability that appears to be under active exploit, At the same time, you want access to your photos in Google Photos. I guess you’ll have to decide which weighs more. MacRumors says:

There is no word on when the problem will be fixed, and whether a fix requires an update to the Google ‌Photos‌ app or can be done server side.

‘sup HomePod?

HomePods new and old, big and small got update love on Monday. Again we turn to MacRumors, which had Apple releasing HomePod software 16.3.2. According to Apple:

This update addresses an issue where asking Siri for smart home requests may fail, and also includes general performance and stability improvements.

And the Rest…

Rounding out the updates, there is little info available on the watchOS 9.3.1 update, nor on tvOS 16.3.2. One piece from MacRumors says the former includes “bug fixes and important security updates,” while a piece on the latter says even less. While Apple had apparently said nothing about the update by the time MacRumors wrote about it, a visit to the tvOS support doc had the company saying that tvOS 16.3.2 “includes general performance and stability improvements.”

And what of the security side? Hard to say whether the tvOS update will have any, though there’s no reference to security in Apple’s tiny note. While the watchOS note does mention a security fix or fixes, such fixes were not up on Apple’s Security Updates site as of this writing.

Microsoft Working on ChatGPT Integration for Mobile Apps

And finally today, if you’re wanting to get chatty with Bing on your iPhone, your chance is apparently coming “soon.” Last week, Microsoft announced the planned integration of some ChatGPT functionality into the Edge browser as well as the Bing search engine. That announcement was followed by a waitlist, which seems to have started moving. While “the first users are getting access to the capability,” it is currently traditional computer-only, it seems. A piece from 9to5Mac has Mr. Softy indicating that support for iOS and Android is not “ready yet.” 

But — you know… go ahead and go mobile anyway! The piece quotes the company’s message to early adopters, saying:

We don’t have a mobile experience ready yet – – we are actively working on it and will have it ready soon. Until then, please continue to use the new Bing on desktop and download the Bing app from your favorite app store to ensure you are ready for the best experience when mobile is ready.

Of course, lots of people are already there. 9to5Mac points out that last week’s AI announcement sent Microsoft’s iOS apps straight to the top of Apple’s App Store. Might sound like a bait-and-switch, though it could actually be a way for Microsoft to gage interest and reward those who are interested. According to the report, “Microsoft is allegedly giving users who download the Bing app or set Bing as their search default on a PC priority.” And interest does seem to be strong. Mr. Softy has said that “millions” of people-in-waiting will be admitted to the functionality “over the next few weeks.”

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts joins me to hit a few points in Apple’s Monday updates. Plus: Why it is way too early to talk about Apple going for the rights to the NBA. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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