Headset chatter continues, the problem of iPhone theft, and one kid AirDrops himself to juvie.
Dueling Analysts Fuel Apple Headset Chatter
I can no longer remember where various rumors around Apple’s anticipated mixed reality headset began. Some thoughts around it are just sort of being taken for granted these days. Like the new headsets coming out in 2024 or 2025, after the one Apple watchers are expecting sometime this year.
Last week, Nikkei Asia ran a report saying that development of the mixed reality headset expected this year had shifted or was shifting from Pegatron to Luxshare, with Foxconn being brought in on the second round of headsets, expected in a year or two.
That report got support Friday when TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the same things. ish. Posting to Medium, Young MC said the project is actually shifting from Pegatron to a company owned by both Pegatron and Luxshare, with the latter doing the heavy lifting. As for round two, that Luxshare/Pegatron venture will make a high-end version, with Foxconn coming in for the more cost-conscious model. Ming-Chi Kuo has the second-round units hitting in 2025.
For his part, the analyst seems worried on Apple’s behalf. Quoting part of his post:
Despite repeatedly stating that [Apple] is optimistic about AR, why can it not make suppliers willing to continue cooperating with Apple to develop this product? In the past two years, why have some Apple suppliers been more willing to invest in new businesses, such as electric vehicles, than cooperate with Apple’s expansion/investment?
A Hint of Optimism to Temper the Possible Bad News
More optimistic is Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Gurman had lots to offer in this weekend’s Power:On newsletter, starting with what the headset will need to pair with: nothing. While users will be able to transfer info and data from an iPhone or iPad, no additional equipment will be required, according to the report.
Text input is said to be virtual. According to Gurman:
…in-air typing — is available on the latest internal prototypes, I’m told. But it’s been finicky in testing. (…) The hope within Apple is to make rapid improvements after the device is released.
The plan is still for the device to be announced at WWDC with release coming later in the year. Gurman’s also heard talk of a second round of devices coming in 2024 or 2025. Similar to Ming-Chi Kuo’s assertion, it’ll be one high-end model and one with lower specs at a lower price, according to Gurman.
WSJ Looks at iPhones, Thieves, and Public Safety
The Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern has done a piece on an iPhone problem that’s kind of an iPhone problem, though it’s maybe more of a public safety issue. 9to5Mac writes up the report, which has Stern warning of bad people watching for public use of passcodes on iPhones, then stealing those iPhones, then stealing from the phone’s owner through the iPhone. “Instead of just looking to snatch devices,” the piece says the miscreants “are watching for passcodes so they can immediately get into iPhones, change Apple ID passwords, access financial accounts, and more.”
One person with whom Stern spoke had that happen. Three-minutes after her iPhone was taken, the thieves had changed the password on her Apple ID. That done, they “stole thousands of dollars through Apple Pay,” and “opened an Apple Card to make fraudulent charges…”
See what I mean? It’s kind of an iPhone problem. We all — good guys and bad — know how iPhones work. We know what to look for. The things that make the Apple ecosystem great for users can also lead to serious problems for users if bad guys get access. 9to5Mac says there are three things Stern would like to see Apple do to stymie the bad guys:
- Add further protection to iOS to change an Apple ID password
- Add stronger password protection for iCloud Keychain
- Add more account recovery options
That said, there is plenty users can do to help keep themselves safe. Four steps suggested by 9to5Mac include:
- When in public, use Face ID or Touch ID as much as you can
- If you have to enter a passcode in public, cover your screen so no one else can see
- Drop the 4-digit or 6-digit passcode for a custom alphanumeric passcode
- Take sensitive account passwords out of iCloud Keychain, or use a third-party password manager that’s not opened by your iPhone’s passcode
Not surprisingly, the Cupertino-company treads sort of a fine line on the issue. Responding to Stern, an Apple spokesperson said:
We sympathize with users who have had this experience and we take all attacks on our users very seriously, no matter how rare. The thefts described are uncommon and require multiple physical steps – stealing a user’s device is not enough.
…we will continue to advance the protections to help keep user accounts secure.
Bad Idea Theater: Kid Grounds Plane with AirDrop Prank
And now — a story with many, many bad ideas. According to a piece from 9to5Mac, a kid on a plane that was meant to go from Texas to Pennsylvania had that plane grounded. This he did by sharing threatening messages through AirDrop.
Well… the message wasn’t threatening. But the name on his iPhone was. According to the piece, the kid “changed his iPhone name to I have a bomb,” which I think is a bad idea. Then, as the plane was taxiing to the runway, the piece says he “initiated an AirDrop photo share with other passengers,” who got the message, “I have a bomb would like to share a photo.”
That was either bad idea number two or three. The thing is, Apple changed the way AirDrop works in iOS 16.2. It used to be you could leave AirDrop open to “everyone” all the time. That changed with the release of iOS 16.2. Once that hit, iPhone users could only leave AirDrop open to “everyone” for 10-minutes at a time. They could (and can) leave it open to people in their Contacts all the time. And, of course, they can leave AirTag open to no one.
Not Sure Which of Two Bad Ideas Is Worse
So the other bad idea in this story (number two or three — you decide) was/is not updating the device’s firmware on the regular. I understand not updating on day-one. Updates can be slow on release days because lots of people update then. Additionally, an update might have unintended consequences. But the people who got the “I have a bomb” message haven’t updated since who knows when — sometime before last October to be certain. That’s left them open not only to this idiot kid, but also various security vulnerabilities and exploits that Apple has since patched.
The worst idea was really the kid’s, though. According to the piece, after the message was sent:
The plane was immediately pulled off the runway and back to a gate where a bomb squad searched passengers and cargo for explosives. The FBI determined that there was “no known credible threat” following the search.
And what happened to the little rascal who started it all? He ended up in juvenile detention in El Paso County, awaiting charges “for a false alarm or report…”
Bad idea, man. Bad idea.
Gurman: Scheduling Changes Ahead for Apple Store Employees
Talk of future headsets wasn’t all Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman had in store over the weekend. The Power: On newsletter also had word of changes for Apple Retail employees. Reportedly made to address employee “concerns about pay, benefits and working hours,” the piece says changes coming include:
- A maximum of five consecutive workdays, down from the prior limit of six.
- More weekend time off for part-time employees.
- A consistent weekend workday or day off for full-time employees.
For some, this may mean no change. Gurman says select stores saw these changes as long ago as last June as the company tested them out. Testing done, the changes are reportedly set to go into effect for Apple’s roughly-300 stores in the US and Canada at the end of April.
Though theoretically addressing concerns, the changes raise concerns of their own. Among them:
- Retail workers have to ask for time off four-weeks in advance now, rather than “about three.”
- Part-timers will be required to take weekend work. No such requirement existed before, according to the piece.
Additionally, Gurman says some part-time employees are being asked to work more hours these days than used to be required. If these changes don’t start until the end of April though, it’s hard to say whether the extra hours are part of the planned shift.
Apple Hire Stirs Talk of Ads for Apple TV+
Apple has reportedly hired a new ad exec. The Verge cites a report from The Information that says the Cupertino-company has hired advertising veteran Lauren Fry “to help build a video advertising business for its Apple TV Plus streaming service…”
That Apple TV+ would be Fry’s focus makes sense. Another piece on the hire from Engadget (via Yahoo! Life) says she brings experience from digital advertising firm Simulmedia, as well as time spent in ad sales positions at AT&T and Comcast. Then again, an ad-supported tier for Apple TV+ feels weird. Not that Apple’s not into ads. They’re selling ads for MLS Season Pass. The company added more ad placements in the App Store last year, and — as The Verge points out, the company is said to want to slot ads into “apps like Maps, Books, and Podcasts.”
Four Annie Awards for Apple TV+ Title ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’
And finally today — Awards season is in full swing, and one Apple TV+ title picked up a few over the weekend. AppleInsider says the Cupertino-streamer’s holiday offering, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” received four Annie Awards Saturday, which is neat. One for each of the title characters.
Hand-drawn and pretty magical, Apple TV+ released the animated story on Dec. 25. The Annie Awards honor animation, making the wins make sense. The awards won by “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” included:
- Best Editorial — TV/Media
- Best Special Production
- Best Character Animation — TV/Media
- Best Direction — TV/Media
This was not Apple’s first turn at these awards. AppleInsider says the Cupertino-streamer took home five Annie Awards in 2021 for the animated feature Wolfwalkers.
The bigger award show of the weekend was the Screen Actors Guild awards. Held Sunday night, actors in Apple TV+ titles including “Black Bird” and “Severance” were up for a few. Unfortunately, none of the Cupertino players walked away with a trophy, which I will choose to call a SAGgy.
Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast
Thieves are stealing iPhones, punching in passcodes, and ruining people’s lives. Is it an iPhone problem or a people problem? TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts joins me to sift through it. Plus, the first weekend of MLS on Apple TV and that dopey kid who AirDropped himself into juvie. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.