Home a Major Issue for Apple

The Daily Observations

Home is a “Major Issue” for Apple, Apple leads on smartphone sustainability, and sticking the year of the rabbit in your ear.

Reports Put Problems with Home Architecture on ‘Major Issues’ List

Apple’s Home architecture problem has apparently gone big-time. I told you about this issue last week. According to a report from iDownloadBlog, Apple rebuilt the Home app in iOS 16.2 as part of the smart-home application’s transition to the Matter smart-home connectivity standard. When the app was first opened in iOS 16.2, users saw “a banner or splash screen offering to upgrade their smart home.” 

For some people, there was no problem. For others, there were error messages, trouble with sharing options, devices that could no longer communicate, and more. And, it seems, it hasn’t gotten any better. A report from The Mac Observer lists a few more issues affecting effected users, including:

  • HomeKit devices getting stuck in an “updating” or “configuring” status.
  • HomeKit devices disappearing from the Home app completely.
  • HomeKit Secure Video not working.
  • Invitations to share a Home with other users failing.

While it sounds like a major issue for some, “major issue” is actually a thing. Like — a category of issues for Apple. According to The Mac Observer:

reports indicate that Apple has added the Home app update to an internal database of major issues, a rare move for a software-related problem. This list, which is used by Apple, Apple Stores, and authorized service providers, typically only includes widespread issues faced by customers, mainly hardware problems.

“Apple has provided instructions for working around some of the issues,” according to TMO. No word on when (or how) Apple will offer a more complete fix.

Counterpoint Research: Apple and Samsung Lead in Smartphone Sustainability

Every smartphone out there will reach “end of life” at some point. Which smartphone maker does the best job driving toward sustainability? The answer will not shock you. A new report from Counterpoint Research shows Apple leading by a long shot, Samsung a respectable second, and everybody else kind of stinking up the sustainability joint. 

The report, “Smartphones and Circular Economy: Creating a Sustainable Future,” lists three major stages of a smartphone’s life:

  • Production
  • Usage
  • End of Life

Production is the biggest of the three, according to the firm, with making the phones accounting for 80% of a device’s carbon footprint. Counterpoint sings the praises of Apple, Samsung, and OPPO on the production side, pointing to the employment of “eco-friendly components” over “newly sourced materials.” They also highlight water saving measures in the manufacturing process and the normalization of “biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging…” 

Usage is kind of a funny category where sustainability is concerned. In the name of quality, manufacturers want to make their devices energy efficient and long-lasting. At the same time, they’d like to push people along to upgrading. But who’s gonna wanna upgrade if the phone’s a piece of crap? Counterpoint seems to see this category as a tug of war between Apple and Samsung. According to the firm:

While Apple scores high on overall longevity, updates, and innovations toward sustainability, Samsung scores higher in repair, energy efficiency and after-sales networks. In the end, it depends on how long a consumer chooses to use a device.

The definition of “your mileage may vary.” 

As for End of Life, Apple and Samsung devices fare best, though that seems to have little to do with the companies themselves. I mean they do play a large part, in that they make phones that people are happy to buy used and use. But, while those companies lead in the renew/reuse space, Counterpoint says, “most of the reclaiming and refurbishing is done by the other players in the secondary ecosystem.”

For all of the major players, Counterpoint thinks the full smartphone lifecycle is something they all need to consider very carefully. While the phone makers already have reputations for their devices, the research firm says “their sustainability initiatives will either make or break their perception in the years to come.” 

Taiwanese TSMC Plant Starts Mass Production of 3nm Processors

From a look at keeping old phones alive, to the processors powering the phones of tomorrow — A piece from Bloomberg (via Yahoo! News) says TSMC ended the old year by starting mass production of 3nm processors, while making such processors seem old already. 

Not really. 3nm is currently the state-of-the-art in processor technology. And yet, the piece says:

On Thursday, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu expressed confidence in the longer-term outlook for chip demand and promised to build future generations of 2nm chips in the Taiwanese cities of Hsinchu and Taichung.

Well now the 3nm processor I don’t even have yet feels bulky and dumb.

The new facility is situated in southern Taiwan, according to Bloomberg. While the company has pledged to produce 3nm processors here in the states, it’ll be a few before that happens. TSMC’s 4nm processor plant in Arizona is expected to go live sometime in 2024. A 3nm plant is planned for Arizona as well, though Bloomberg says that one isn’t expected to go live until sometime in 2026.

Apple Honors Pelé on Brazilian Homepage

No doubt you’ve heard that Pelé died last week. Even if you’re not much of a soccer fan — and I have to say, I’m not huge on the sport — if you came of age in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, you have some idea who the man was. 

He was, in decades past, soccer’s biggest star. A piece from 9to5Mac says he “won three World Cups with Brazil [his home country],” and many other titles. “But more than that,” the piece says, “Pelé was known for being an ambassador against racism and for supporting organizations to fight poverty.”

To offer another illustration of the man’s stature, when he died last week, Apple replaced the usual iPhones, Macs, and so-on on its Brazilian site with “an emoji of a soccer ball with a crown on it as a tribute to Pelé.” It also darkened the usually white background for the site. It is the kind of thing Apple has done for the likes of John LewisNelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, and — of course — Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, again — illustrating the man’s stature.

Indications are that he died from “multiple organ failures as a result of colon cancer.” He was 82-years-old. 

Apple Outs ‘Year of the Rabbit’ AirPods Pro 2 for Chinese Region

Finally today, the year of the rabbit draws nigh, and Apple has special edition gadgets with which to celebrate. I told you last week of the 30,000 rabbit AirTags being made available in Japan. Now, a piece from MacRumors says the Cupertino-company is selling limited-edition, year of the rabbit, second-generation AirPods Pro in and around China. According to the piece:

The limited-edition AirPods Pro have a specially-designed rabbit engraving on the wireless charging case, with a larger version of the graphic printed in red on the box they come in… 

Otherwise, they are normal AirPods Pro “2,” shipping with the usual functionality and the usual price. They’re available now in Apple retail stores and Apple’s online store in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Lunar New Year begins this year on 22 January. No word in the piece on how long the special-edition AirPods Pro will be available. 

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I are kicking around iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max availability. Plus: Apple missed a stated deadline and an anticipated deadline in 2022. We’ll talk classical music and the Apple Silicon Mac Pro on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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