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HomePod latest news, problems, sales figures and projections

In February 2018 Apple finally entered the smart home speaker business with the HomePod. Apple’s smart speaker is competing with the likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, successful smart speakers which have also driven popularity for those company’s Siri-rivalling voice assistants.

Much like its rivals, the Siri-enabled HomePod speaker is able to respond to voice commands and play music, set alarms, control smart devices and search for information online. What’s different – Apple claims – is that the device will blow the competition away on sound quality, so you don’t have to sacrifice your audiophile credentials for the sake of smartness. From our tests we’d say that this is a fair statement – the HomePod truely does sound spectacular. It’s main issues relate to the capabilities of Siri, but luckily the speaker has gained some new features via a software update.

Plus, there are already rumours about the next generation HomePod and a suggestion that a cheaper model could be in the pipeline. We have the latest rumours about HomePod 2 in a separate article (here).

HomePod release date

HomePod pre-orders started on Friday 26 January and then the actual HomePod started shipping on 9 February. The HomePod was initially available just in the US, UK and Australia.

Apple has confirmed it will soon hit the shelves in Canada, France and Germany.

New features coming to HomePod

HomePod was criticised for its lack of support for some features that are seen as crucial for a smart speaker.

Actually, as we discovered when we compared the voice assistant on the HomePod with the assistants on Google Home and Amazon Echo we found that it wasn’t only HomePod that lacks certain features. Each smart speaker excels in some areas and fails in others.

However, Apple’s HomePod has got some new features thanks to an update to the HomePod OS. Read more about the new features coming below (here’s how to get the HomePod software update.)

Calendar support

When we first got our hands on a HomePod we expected that Siri would be able to access our calendar, but Siri told us: “I can’t access your calendar here, sorry about that.” Given that Google had no problem adding an event to our Google calendar, and Alexa was able to add an event to a calendar once we had set it up in the Alexa app, Siri’s inability to access our calendar was a real failing.

The good news is that the HomePod gained calendar support when iOS 11.4 was released (the HomePod is updated via the iPhone app, so you need to be running the latest version of iOS).

Once updated, users will see that the HomePod setup interface now shows Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Notes, where it used to just show Messages, Reminders and Notes.

Multi-room & stereo audio support

Despite the launch delays, the HomePod shipped without support for multi-room audio and stereo pairing. This lead to criticisms as other competing products (such as the Sonos One) already offered this feature. 

Now that iOS 11.4 is available, the AirPlay 2 update is here that will power this feature. Read about the latest version of iOS 11 here.

Obviously in order to benefit from the feature users will need to own two HomePods. This would be an expensive option, especially since if you opted instead for the Google Home or Amazon Echo you could achieve multi-room or stereo audio at a much cheaper price point; you can buy three £89.99 Echoes with change for the same price as a HomePod.

HomePod Problems

Along with the lack of some of the features mentioned above, there have been other issues that may go some way to explain why the speaker appears to be selling poorly. We look at some of the issues with the HomePod below:

Price

The HomePod costs £319 in the UK and $349 in the US. You can order a HomePod from Apple’s online store and also buy one in one of Apple’s high street stores. You can also expect to be able to buy one from the likes of John Lewis and other Apple Resellers.

For all its audio excellence, this is an exceptionally high price – markedly higher than those for the HomePod’s nearest competitors. The Amazon Echo is priced at £149.99/$179.99, and its cheaper Echo Dot is available for £49.99/$49.99, while the Google Home is £129/$129. Sonos has also unveiled a smart speaker – the £199 Sonos One – and Samsung is working on a Bixby smart speaker. If you’d like to read a more detailed comparison of HomePod and its main rivals, take a look at Apple HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo.

In April 2018 KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a note, obtained by MacRumors, where he explained his thoughts about why the HomePod isn’t selling more. He put this down partly to its high price, which “could undermine demand despite the excellent sound quality.” He also criticised Siri for providing an “uninspiring user experience” compared to the competition (we discuss this below).

Deutsche Bank also thinks Apple priced the HomePod too high. Analysts at Deutsche Bank published a note in April 2018 stating that the HomePod is a “huge missed opportunity” for Apple.

The note, obtained by Business Insider, stated that Apple “had a real opportunity to become a major player in the smart home with its introduction of the HomePod smart speaker… However, poor reviews and a significant fall-off in demand post the launch suggest the company has missed the mark.”

“Apple decided to stick with its premium pricing strategy, introducing the HomePod at $349,” wrote Deutsche Bank in the note. This “essentially limits the product’s market appeal to Apple fans who will pay anything for a new Apple device and to consumers with high disposable income.”

Siri disappointments

Also in April, Bloomberg published a report quoting veteran Apple analyst Shannon Cross who believes consumers assumed the HomePod would be able to do many of things the Echo and Google Home can do and were disappointed.

Another factor affecting the desirability of HomePod for the failings, noted Kuo, is the lack of additional language versions of Siri.

Kuo notes the lack of additional language versions of Siri and suggests that Apple is “facing challenges in AI/voice assistant development spanning the globe”. Something that “will cap the shipments momentum of HomePod”.

Kuo believes that if Apple is to compete with Amazon and Google in the smart speaker market, Apple needs to improve Siri’s capabilities and increase language support.

However, Kuo notes that “for most users worldwide, Siri is not a must-have function.”

Read our list of questions you can ask Siri on the HomePod here

‘Just an accessory’

The other issue with the HomePod is Apple sees it as: “Just an accessory”.

Apple never saw the HomePod as anything more than an accessory, like the AirPods earphones, according to people who worked on the product, notes Bloomberg in the April 2018 report referenced above.

It’s one of Apple’s music hardware products, which in 2018 will include upgraded AirPods and as yet unannounced over-ear, studio-quality headphones (read about the Apple StudioPods here.)

Too late to the smart speaker market?

Back in July 2017 analyst firm Raymond James was predicting great things for the HomePod, noting that 14 percent of surveyed iPhone owners said they plan to buy the device. The corresponding figure for the Apple Watch in the months before that product launched was just 6 percent.

However, there has been a lot of change in the market since the summer of 2017, not least the fact that Apple didn’t meet its self-imposed deadline to launch the HomePod in time for Christmas.

Because Amazon and Google are offering smart speakers priced as impulse buys, it is likely that a number of the potential HomePod customers have already purchased competitor models.

One thing is clear, smart speakers are going to be big in 2018. According to a Canalys report, the global smart speaker market is “poised to grow to 56.3 million shipments in 2018”. How much of this market Apple will be able to nab remains to be seen, although Canalys notes that Amazon and Google “are expected to remain in the lead”.

Despite all of this, history has taught us that Apple doesn’t have to be the first or the cheapest to eventually gain ownership of a market. It is possible that the HomePod will popularise the smart speaker in the same way as the Apple Watch, iPhone and iPod all popularised those markets. Only time will tell.

HomePod sales data

Apple sold fewer HomePods than anticipated and cut orders with suppliers according to a Bloomberg report from April 2018.

That report mentions research from Slice Intelligence that suggests that when it went on sale in February 2018, HomePod sales started well, taking around a third of the US smart speaker market, but within three weeks sales had slipped to about 4 percent of the market.

Overall, between January – March 2018, the HomePod took 10 percent of the smart speaker market, compared to Amazon Echo’s 73 percent and Google Home’s 14 percent. The other competitor in the smart-speaker area, Sonos, achieved 2 percent of the market in the same timespan.

By May 2018 we had some more data about HomePod sales, as per this Fortune report, which mentioned Strategy Analytics research that indicated that Apple shipped 600,000 HomePod smart speakers in the first quarter of 2018.

The HomePod went on sale on 9 February 2018, so those figures are for three months, where the other manufacturers included in Strategy Analytics data benefitted from the full four month’s worth of sales. Not that an extra month would not have shot Apple into the same league as its rivals Amazon and Google.

In the same quarter, Amazon sold 4 million Echo speakers. While Google sold 2.4 million Home smart speakers.

Also ahead of Apple was Alibaba, who sold 700,000 speakers during that quarter. Chinese manufacturer Aibaba sells the Small Genie smart speaker. Had Apple launched the HomePod a month earlier it is possible it would have been in third place.

According to the Bloomberg report, Apple store workers revealed that HomePod inventory was piling up, with some Apple Stores selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day.

The reports make Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster prediction in February 2018 that Apple would sell 7 million HomePods in 2018, look a little excessive. Other sales estimates have been more stark, with KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying he believes that Apple may only sell 2 – 2.5 million HomePod units in 2018.

Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang also had high hopes, before launch he predicted that Apple could sell 10 million HomePod units in 2018.

UK sales data

YouGov published a Smart Speaker report in April 2018, stating that Smart speaker ownership among Britons has doubled since autumn 2017.

According to the YouGov report, only 2% of Brits with smart speakers have a HomePod.

Amazon smart speakers, such as the Echo, make up three quarters (75%) of the smart speakers market, down from 88%.

According to the research, 9% of smart speaker owners have a Google Home Mini while 7% have a Google Home.

The Sonos One is owned by 1% of smart speaker owning Brits, according to YouGov.

What does the Apple HomePod do?

Apple’s HomePod is first and foremost a music speaker. This is how the company is positioning it: superior audio to justify the high price.

This is despite the fact that the smart speakers already on the market are predominantly focused on voice-activated capabilities. While Apple has its own voice-activated assistant in the form of Siri, our suspicion is that Siri’s role in the HomePod is primarily as a DJ: it can do much more than that, as we discuss in the Siri features section below, but it simply isn’t as good a voice assistant at the moment as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

Below we look at the Music and Siri elements of the HomePod. Read our How to use the HomePod guide here

Music

The speaker will boast excellent audio quality, according to the company. It features a 4in, Apple-designed upward-facing woofer paired with an array of seven beam-forming tweeters, each with its own amplifier.

Apple compared the HomePod to the Sonos range of wireless speakers, suggesting that Apple is confident the HomePod is of a similar audio quality. (Since Apple revealed its plans for HomePod, Sonos has launched its own smart speaker).

There more to the capabilities of the speaker than sound though. The HomePod uses spatial awareness technology, powered by an A8 chip to analyse the room it’s in and optimise audio output for the surroundings. This is essentially beam-forming, a technology that directs sound around the room for a 3D effect.

It apparently works even better if you have two or more HomePods in the same room, as they’ll work together to create the best sound possible. But this feature wasn’t available at launch and is delayed to a later software update.

Even so, buying more than one £319 HomePod for multi-room audio is already becoming a financial stretch.

HomePod release date & UK price rumours: Internal design

HomePod release date & UK price rumours: Internal design

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Apple has made its own speaker. Apple used to sell the iPod HiFi, a product that launched in 2006 (also costing $349). iPod HiFi was discontinued a year and a half later.

The company also promoted the iPod HiFi as having superior audio.

The iPod HiFi may have died, but Apple didn’t completely give up on its audio ambitions. A team of people at Apple has been working on the HomePod idea since 2014. Initially, it was a side project to create a speaker that sounded better than anything Bose, JBL, or Harman Kardon made (according to a Bloomberg report).

These engineers wanted to create a speaker that would appeal to audiophiles. However, the market has changed a great deal since work on the project started in 2014. People now expect much more than good quality audio from a speaker thanks to the growing popularity of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo.

Siri

Siri launched as part of iOS in 2011, three years before work began on the HomePod. However, according to the Bloomberg report, which is based on interviews with insiders, “the Siri team was told that the HomePod was about music and quality sound… Yes, the speaker would be voice-activated, but it wouldn’t be positioned as a personal assistant.”

Amazon launched the Echo in 2014 – after Apple had started work on the HomePod. The Bloomberg report states that Apple was “blindsided” by the Echo. Apparently the Apple engineers “jokingly accused one another of leaking details of their project to Amazon”.

Apple’s decision to focus on the sound quality seems to be a direct reaction to the fact that they deemed the sound quality of the Echo to be inferior, suggests Bloomberg.

Smart speaker features

For all its focus on audio quality, Apple may be behind the game in terms of other ‘smart speaker’ capabilities.

The Amazon Echo offers voice-activated apps that do a range of things, from shopping on Amazon, to adjusting your thermostat, turning off the lights, telling you about the weather and filling you in on the latest news headlines, plus it has the ability to play music from Amazon Prime, TuneIn Radio and more.

Besides its music capabilities (which won’t be much use if you don’t have an Apple Music subscription), Apple’s HomePod speaker will allow you pull up news, traffic and weather information, dictate and send messages, set reminders and edit to-do lists, take calls and control the HomeKit-enabled accessories around your smart home. Which is a solid enough feature set – but Alexa and Google Assistant are so advanced now, and so embedded into the market, that we can’t see Siri competing in terms of pure voice functionality.

And where Amazon’s Echo taps straight into the cloud to access all this information, the HomePod will have to piggyback the iPhone in order to perform these tasks. It’s a little like the way apps on the Apple Watch need a companion app on the iPhone in order to work.

That’s not to say that Siri has been completely neglected by the HomePod team. There are six microphones built into the top ring of the device so that it can pick up your voice from anywhere in the room, even with music playing, and a Siri waveform will appear on the top section (which doubles as touch controls) when she’s responding to one of your queries.

What apps are available for HomePod?

Generally the HomePod is a closed device, unlike the iPhone no third-party apps are currently available, although some apps that use SiriKit can be used with HomePod.

The smart functionality is similar to what you’re already used to from Siri. The HomePod can be used to set reminders, answer questions, or check the weather. It can also integrate with all your HomeKit-compatible appliances to become the hub of your smart home.

There may be more functionality coming though. Back in November 2017 Apple started asking developers to create Siri apps that will work with HomePod – but only for messaging, lists and notes apps.

Apple encouraged developers to: “Make sure your SiriKit integration is up to date and test your apps voice-only experience today.”

Music apps

When it comes to Apple Music, HomePod will be able to do things like play a certain song, album, artist or genre on command; let you know information such as when a song was recorded or who the drummer was; and even just “play more like this”.

If you were hoping to be able to do anything other than listen to Apple Music with your HomePod you may be disappointed.

For example, you won’t be able to browse Spotify via your HomePod, because SiriKit for HomePod won’t offer support for music apps that aren’t Apple Music. That said, there is nothing to stop you streaming Spotify playlists from your iPhone or iPad to your HomePod speaker via AirPlay.

Messaging, lists and notes apps

You will be able to access your Notes, Messaging and Reminders via the HomePod.

Developers have been encouraged to “Make sure your SiriKit integration is up to date and test your apps voice-only experience today,” suggesting that there may be some integration with third-party apps in the future – but only those used for messaging, lists and notes. 

Podcasts and news

iOS 11.2.5 brought a news headlines feature to the iPhone, and the same feature allows the HomePod to read a Podcast powered news summary.

If you ask: “Hey Siri, give me the news” you should get the option to hear a podcast. Currently, the default podcast is a news summary from The BBC, but you can also choose Sky and LBC in the UK. In the US the Washington Post is the default, but Fox News, NPR and NCC are also options.

Amazon Alexa offers news headlines in the form of flash briefings.

Phone calls

You can make and receive calls on with the audio fed via the HomePod.

You won’t be able to place a Skype call via your HomePod, though.

Language support

Appropriately for those initial target markets, the HomePod is slated to offer only English-language support at first; Siri, of course, is far more versatile, supporting dozens of languages, so it shouldn’t be difficult for Apple to expand into other territories.

HomePod design

Apple has opted for a cylindrical design for the HomePod. Available in either white or Space Grey, the HomePod stands just under 7 inches tall, and is covered almost head to toe in a “seamless 3D mesh fabric”.

There’s space at the top for the Siri interface, a small screen that lights up with a Siri waveform when he or she is assisting you with something.

HomePod release date & UK price rumours

HomePod release date & UK price rumours

HomePod specs

Apple has talked up the HomePod’s audiophile credentials. The tech specs are still pretty impressive:

  • A8 chip
  • High-excursion woofer with custom amplifier
  • Seven horn-loaded tweeters
  • Six microphones
  • Internal low-frequency calibration microphone for automatic bass correction
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi?Fi with MIMO; AirPlay 2 with multi-room support
  • Available in white or Space Grey
  • 172mm high; 142mm wide; 2.5kg

A firmware update for the HomePod indicated that it will have 1GB of RAM and a 272-by-340 pixel screen.

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How to unlock an iPhone

If you purchased your iPhone within the past few years, it’s likely to be unlocked, and free to use with any SIM. If your iPhone is older than that, it might be locked to a particular provider. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that provider forever.

You should be able to get your network to unlock your iPhone for you – often for free. In fact, you might even be able to unlock your iPhone yourself without ever needing to contact the original provider.

In this article we show you how to unlock all iPhone models, either through an unlock code from the network itself or by using a third-party service. If you’re looking to unlock an iPad instead, we have a guide for that too.

Is iPhone unlocking legal?

It’s completely legal to unlock your iPhone if you’ve finished paying for your contract or you purchased it outright unsubsidised. However, if you’re still in the process of paying for your contract it means you don’t fully own the iPhone yet, so you’re best to check with your carrier before unlocking it.

If you’re not sure whether your iPhone is locked or not, we have a guide to help you find out. The issue usually occurs if you’ve purchased your iPhone second-hand or inherited one from a friend or family member who has updated to a newer model. If it’s locked, you’ll find that the iPhone isn’t working on your mobile network, and that’s because it’s tied to a different network.

If you discover that it definitely is locked, read on to find out how to unlock it.

How to unlock your iPhone

  1. Contact your provider and request an unlock using the contact details and online tools listed below.
  2. If you’ve not got the original SIM, you’ll need to reset the phone before it can be unlocked.
  3. Power down the phone, then replace the old SIM card with a SIM from a different network.
  4. Check that the iPhone is able to connect a phone call over the new network.

That’s the shortened version, but let’s go through those steps in a bit more detail.

Contact your network provider

We’ve separated the article by the UK’s most popular carriers to talk you through how to go about getting your iPhone unlocked if it’s restricted to that network. Scroll down to your carrier to find out their specific process for unlocking a device.

EE

If you’ve had your EE account for at least six months and have paid all of your bills to date, EE will unlock your iPhone for you. It’ll cost you £8.99 if you’re still within the contract, though, and it could take up to seven days, which is not ideal.

If you’re a Pay as You Go customer and have enough credit to pay the £8.99 admin fee, EE will unlock your iPhone for you at that price.

However, if you’re not an EE customer and you’ve got an iPhone that’s locked to EE, you’re going to need to do some digging and if you got it from eBay the chances are it’s not going to be easy. You’ll need to find out the original owner’s name, EE phone number, and maybe some additional account information.

Of course, it’s not always going to be possible to find out the information you need, in which case you might need to use a third-party unlocking service as described later in this article.

Vodafone

Similarly, Vodafone requires you to have an account or know the details of the person who did. If those details are already available, you can go straight ahead and use Vodafone’s online unlocking form.

It’ll take up to 48 hours for the company to get back to you and up to 10 days to unlock it, and it’s free to do so.

Three

Three makes things much simpler, you’ll be pleased to hear. On its website, the carrier states that any iPhone purchased after 1 January 2014 from Three is automatically unlocked as soon as you connect it to WiFi or connect it to iTunes.

But even if you purchased your iPhone before that, you simply need to connect the iPhone to iTunes and restore the device to unlock it. You’ll want to back up your content first, though, as restoring it is going to wipe all of its data.

Alternatively, you can fill out Three’s online form.

O2

If your iPhone is locked to O2, you’ll have to fill in an online form to unlock it. If you’re a Pay Monthly customer you can unlock your phone at any time, but you’ll still be required to finish paying for the rest of your contract.

Pay & Go O2 customers are required to wait for 12 months before they can unlock their iPhone. That’s according to O2’s website, which also claims that it’ll cost £15, but when we spoke to an O2 representative they said they could unlock all O2 iPhones for free.

The same representative also told us that, if you’re not an O2 customer, you can simply put a non-O2 SIM card into the iPhone, plug it in to your computer and then open iTunes to unlock the iPhone, but we haven’t tested whether this works.

We would recommend trying this before filling out O2’s online form, even if you are an O2 customer, as it could save you a lot of time. (It takes up to 72 hours for O2 to unlock it for you.)

Virgin Mobile

Virgin says any iPhone purchased from the company within the past few years will be unlocked already, but some older iPhones might not have the same luck.

The good news is that all you’ll need to do is update your iPhone to iOS 8 or later and it’ll be unlocked for you. (Note that updating iOS will install the most recent version that your device is capable of running, so at time of writing most active iPhones will get iOS 11. This is fine for these purposes, and has lots of nice new features too.)

If your iPhone isn’t compatible with a sufficiently recent version of iOS – that is, if it’s an iPhone 4 or older – you’ll be able to perform a full restore of your iPhone to unlock it. Don’t forget to back up your data first, though.

Tesco Mobile

If you’ve been with Tesco Mobile for 12 months or more, or if you’ve completed your contract, you’ll be able to get an unlock code from Tesco for free by calling 0345 301 4455 and choosing “unlock your mobile”.

Giffgaff

Giffgaff has a handy tool that helps you figure out how to unlock your Apple iPhone from its network, which you’ll find here.

Using a third-party unlocking service

An alternative to contacting your carrier and asking them to unlock the iPhone is to use a mobile phone unlocking service. There are many retailers in most areas who will arrange an unlock code for a small fee (usually around £25).

Although they aren’t always reputable, you can also find online services that will unlock your iPhone, but we would advise against it. If you do decide to use one, please make sure that you read all of the small print before you buy, because they can surprise you with extra bills at the end of the process.

We’ve tried Doctor SIM, which promises to refund you if the unlock is unsuccessful, so that could be an option if you’ve tried all of the methods listed above. Doctor SIM successfully unlocked our phone with no problems and no hidden fees, so we feel confident in recommending them.

How much should I pay?

Ideally you shouldn’t pay anything to unlock your iPhone, because your carrier should unlock it for you for free. But some carriers are still setting admin charges of up to £20. Third-party companies seem to charge between £10 and £25, and we wouldn’t pay more than that. Shop around if anybody quotes you a higher price than that.

How to tell if the unlock worked

Once your phone has been unlocked you will receive a confirmation from the carrier. Now follow these steps:

  1. Power down the phone: hold down the Sleep/Wake button and swipe your finger across as directed.
  2. Use the SIM card tool (or a straightened paper clip) to eject the SIM card holder from the side of the phone.
  3. Remove the old SIM card from the card holder. Place your new SIM – from a different network – into the card holder.
  4. Reinsert the SIM card holder into the iPhone.
  5. Make a phone call, and check that the iPhone is able to connect over the new network. If so, it’s unlocked!

How to update an unlocked phone without the SIM card

If you’ve requested an unlock from your carrier, but have not got the original SIM card, you will need to reset the phone before it will be unlocked. First, ensure you have requested an unlock from the carrier. Now follow these steps:

  1. Back up your iPhone. Either using Backup (Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Back Up Now) or by connecting the iPhone to a computer and Using iTunes to perform a backup.
  2. Erase your iPhone. Click on Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  3. Complete the setup assistant and restore from your backup.

The phone should now be unlocked.

When you turn the iPhone back on, complete the setup assistant and restore it from the backup you created. Then you can insert the new SIM card and it should now work.

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MacBook Pro 2018 release date, price, features, specs

The MacBook Pro lineup was updated on 7 June 2017 at WWDC 2017. At the time, Apple’s Pro laptops gained faster Kaby Lake processors, but not everyone was happy with the update. Read on to find out why people were disappointed, and how Apple could be addressing the complaints with new features in the 2018 update to the MacBook Pro range.

One thing we know for sure is that Apple is aware of the complaints: In November 2017 Apple’s head of design Jony Ive admitted to being aware of the disappointment and criticism regarding the MacBook models.

Speaking at Smithsonian Magazine’s Future of Design event in Washington DC in December, (listen to the recording here), Ive said: “Absolutely, all of your feelings and feedback around the MacBook you use, we couldn’t want to listen to more… And we hear – boy, do we hear.”

So, with that revelation in mind, it seems likely that Apple will be focused on fixing the criticisms of the MacBook Pro range in 2018. But how soon will the new models arrive? (Possibly as soon as WWDC, as shipping dates on the online store seem to indicate).

Read on to find out what might be in store for the MacBook Pro in 2018 – including the possibility of 6-cores in the 15in models and changes to the problematic keyboards.

You can read more about the current MacBook Pros here – 2017 13in MacBook Pro review and 2017 15in MacBook Pro review. We also have a comparison of the two models and a comprehensive Mac buying guide. In this article, which will be regularly updated, we examine some of the rumours about the 2018 MacBook Pro.

We also have some news of a future Mac that may run from an Apple processor, rather than Intel.

2018 MacBook Pro: Release date

We think it’s likely that Apple will update the MacBook Pro in June 2018, to coincide with WWDC. We may see new MacBook Pro models during the WWDC keynote on 4 June. Read all about the next Apple event here.

In fact, even Apple’s online store – at least in the UK – seems to indicate that there may be an update in store. If you look at the 13in MacBook Pro page, the entry-level 13in model is listed as shipping from 6-8 June,

However, all the other models are listed as shipping from 30 May.

However, we may not see a major update in 2018 – despite Apple head of design Jony Ive stating that he was aware of complaints about the models (as referenced above).

The suggestion that Apple has no exciting plans for the MacBook in 2018 came from Digitimes sources in January 2018, who claimed that: “Since Apple has not had a major upgrade to its MacBook product line since the releases of its new MacBook Pro devices at the end of 2016 and has no plan for one in 2018, the US-based vendor is planning to shift orders for models that are already in mass production to Foxconn to save costs and reduce risks.”

Following this report though, there have been further reports in Digitimes suggesting that a new 13in MacBook model is going to launch this year. So, we think that something is definitely in the works.

2018 MacBook Pro: Price

It’s likely that the 2018 range of MacBook Pro laptops will have a similar price to what they retail at currently. There are four 13in models ranging from £1,249/$1,299 to £1,949/$1,999 and two 15in models from £2,349/$2,399 to £2,699/$2,799 (there is also an additional older 15in model still sold at £1,899 which is likely to be discontinued soon).

With regard to the rumour that Apple is going to launch a cheaper 13in MacBook (read about Apple’s new 13in MacBook plans here), it’s not clear whether this 13in MacBook will be an update to the MacBook or MacBook Air range, but as a result of its introduction the price of the entry-level 13in MacBook Pro could increase.

The cheapest 13in model is currently the non-touch pad, 2.3GHz Processor, 128GB Storage model that costs £1,249. The new 13in MacBook is said to be priced at less than £1,000.

2018 MacBook Pro: Design

Looks-wise we’d be very surprised if Apple made any significant departures from the new look unveiled in 2016. However, it’s possible Apple may tinker with the colour options.

The MacBook Pro series currently comes in two colour finishes: silver and Space Grey, while the MacBook series is available in Gold and Rose Gold as well. Is the MacBook Pro ever likely to adopt the gold colour?

It’s a possibility. But our prediction is that Apple will continue to offer gold (there’s actually a new shade that mutes the pink tints of Rose Gold down subtly to a shade referred to as Gold – as seen on the new iPad and iPhone 8) as an option on its consumer-focused laptops, while keeping the more business-like silver and space-grey for the professional machines.

2018 MacBook Pro: 4K Screen

The current MacBook Pro models have impressive Retina displays: 2880 x 1800 on the 15.4in model, and 2560×1600 on the 13.3in one.

However, there are calls for Apple to increase the pixel count on the 15in MacBook Pro and offer a 4K display – something that Dell, HP, and Asus are already offering. Apple is lagging in this area. To be 4K the display would need to be more than 4,000 pixels wide, right now it’s a 2.8k display. The 4K 21.5in iMac has 4,069 x 2,304 resolution, for example. This would require fitting as many pixels on to a smaller space – and having the capacity to power them all. But it can be done.

In addition, while the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro can output the full DCI P3 colour space used for films for digital cinema output, as our colleague on Digital Arts notes in his review: “It’s the Adobe RGB colour space that really matters as this is what’s used internally by tools from Photoshop to Illustrator to Premiere Pro – and again here the MBP is lacking. In our tests with a DataColor Spyder5Elite colourimeter, we found that the MacBook Pro’s screen can output 91 percent of the colours in the Adobe RGB.”

In their tests, Dell’s Precision 5510 and the Wacom MobileStudio Pro could output 91 percent of the colours in the Adobe RGB. In the next version of the MacBook Pro we’d like to see an improvement here.

Another desirable addition to the screen would be touchscreen capabilities, something much of the competition also shares. While Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs said that he felt that touch screens were a bad idea (because they would make your arm ache) there is some value in being able to touch a screen rather than use a mouse or track pad when you are in cramped conditions, such as those in which our colleague on Digital Arts wrote his review.

Apple may have a solution to the touch screen wishes in mind. Apparently the company is looking at hooking an iPad Pro up to a Mac to use it as a Cintiq-like device, according to OSnews.

2018 MacBook Pro: Processor

It seems likely that the next generation of MacBook Pro will run on Intel’s Coffee Lake processor – unveiled by Intel on 3 April 2018. This means that the 13in MacBook Pro could finally move from dual-core to quad-core – and that the 15-inch model could gain a 6-core processor.

Currently, only the 15in MacBook Pro is available with a quad-core processor.

If Apple uses the new Core i7 processor from Intel it could bring 6-core (in 12-thread configurations) to the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

One of Intel’s six-core i7 chip has a base clock speed of 3.7GHz, and Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.7GHz, according to Intel.

Coffee Lake will apparently deliver more than a 30 percent performance boost over the current Kaby Lake processors.

Coffee Lake should also offer performance improvements and a reduction in power consumption (so the new models should offer better battery life).

That sounds promising, but unfortunately, these new processors don’t include support for LPDDR4 memory (we had expected that they would). This may scupper plans to make 32GB RAM possible in a MacBook Pro (read more about the calls for 32GB RAM below).

It seems that Apple may have had to settle for Coffee Lake chips because the Intel processor capable of supporting LPDDR4 RAM – Cannon Lake – has been delayed. Cannon Lake was originally supposed to launch in 2017, then in early 2018, but now it’s looking like it might be delayed until the end of 2018. Cannon Lake is Intel’s first chip to be built using the 10-nanometer manufacturing process (apparently this new process is what’s causing the hold up).

In the future, Apple could move away from Intel chips and look at what’s on offer from other companies – or start making processors itself. This wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has switched chip supplier. The company made the switch to Intel in 2006, despite having to rewrite its operating system to prepare for the new processors.

Read on to find out about Apple’s plans to design its own chips…

An Apple-designed processor

Apple has long been rumoured to be building its own processor chips. A number of these chips have already appeared in iPhones, iPads and Macs.

In the case of the MacBook Pro a T1 chip powers the Touch Bar, while in the iMac Pro a T2 chip includes a Secure Enclave coprocessor that brings encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities to the iMac Pro, along with other components such as the image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.

There were hopes in 2017 that a new Apple-designed chip would replace the T1 chip which arrived with the 2016 MacBook Pro models and offer an improved low-power performance mode. However, the T1 chip remained.

This was despite a report from Bloomberg, which predicted in February 2017 that the new MacBook Pro would feature an Apple-designed chip to handle simple tasks such as email and updates while the laptop is asleep, citing “people familiar with the matter”.

“The chip, which went into development [in 2016], is similar to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard’s Touch Bar feature,” Bloomberg wrote. “The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer’s low-power mode functionality.”

By building a dedicated low-power processor, Apple may be able to reduce battery consumption. Another reason why Apple might want to make its own chips is to be in control of the silicon – and not fall foul of issues like Meltdown and Spectre – vulnerabilities that were related to the Intel chips being used.

According to a Bloomberg report in January 2018, Apple is indeed developing more of its own coprocessors – like the T2 chip in the iMac Pro and the T1 chip in the MacBook Pro. That report claims the new chips will be used in a desktop Mac as well as an updated Mac laptop, although it doesn’t specify which laptop.

It seems likely that a new MacBook Pro scheduled to be introduced at WWDC 2018 could feature a new, Apple-designed chip.

Eventually ditching Intel…

But there may be even more exciting things in store from Apple’s chip development labs. Another report from Bloomberg, this time in April 2018, claimed that Apple is “planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel Corp”, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

“The initiative, code-named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones, and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people,” according to Bloomberg.

“By using its own chips, Apple would be able to more tightly integrate new hardware and software, potentially resulting in systems with better battery life,” suggests Bloomberg.

A May 2018 report from 9to5Mac suggest that an ARM-based processor is being built by Pegatron on behalf of Apple. The processor is currently in prototype stage but could be used in a future Mac.

According to 9to5Mac’s report, supply chain sources revealed the details of the project, codenamed Star, to them. “We do know that it has a touch screen, a sim card slot, GPS, compass, is water resistant and it also runs EFI.”

The mention of a touch screen, SIM, and water resistance may suggest an iPhone or iPad rather than a Mac. However, 9to5Mac points out that EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) is the boot system used by Macs.

9to5Mac suggests it could be the: “First ARM-based Mac, with a ship date as soon as 2020.”

The site suggests this new chip will be used for a brand new device family that it will “run a derivative of iOS”.

A small number of units have already been shipped to Cupertino for testing by Apple employees, according to 9to5Mac.

2018 MacBook Pro: RAM

As we said above, there was some hope that the next generation of MacBook Pro would offer 32GB RAM at the high-end. However, it looks like the new generation of processors from Intel won’t include support for LPDDR4 memory. This is likely to scupper plans to make 32GB RAM possible in a MacBook Pro.

Currently, all the 13in models offer 8GB RAM (although there is a build-to-order option for 16GB RAM). The 15in models ship with 16GB RAM as standard.

There have been calls for Apple to offer up to 32GB RAM in the MacBook Pro for some time. Pro customers, such as video editors, were so disillusioned with the 2016 update to the MacBook Pro that in November 2016 Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller spoke out in defence of Apple’s decision not to offer more RAM, saying that this would be detrimental to battery life and require a power-hungry memory controller unsuitable for use in portable machines.

In an email to MacDaddy’s Benedict Slaney, Schiller said: “To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board, which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.”

The problem lies with the CPUs. These processors support up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz. There are processors capable of addressing more than 16GB of memory, but these rely on less efficient DDR4 RAM and are usually deployed in desktops because they can be plugged into mains power. Understandably Apple does not wish to hinder the battery life of its laptops in this way.

The calls for a 32GB RAM version of the MacBook Pro have grown loud enough for Apple to make a statement regarding it, but this doesn’t mean that a RAM update is imminent. Even the Kaby Lake processor upgrade for the MacBook Pro could not break the RAM cap of 16GB because the Kaby Lake processor doesn’t support LPDDR4 RAM and Apple is not expected to engineer a new RAM controller that does any time soon.

An Intel processor capable of supporting LPDDR4 RAM – Cannon Lake – isn’t expected until the end of 2018 (having been delayed due to difficulties with the manufacturing process). Cannon Lake is Intel’s first chip to be built using the 10-nanometer manufacturing process.

Beyond LPDDR4 RAM is LPDDR5 RAM. This newer standard will double the speed of DDR4 RAM while offering greater power efficiency.

It is likely to be some time before DDR5 RAM goes mainstream.

Despite this, Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicted that Apple will start to manufacture a 15in MacBook Pro with 32GB RAM in the fourth quarter of 2017, and he thinks Apple would adopt desktop RAM in order to do so. So perhaps a new MacBook Pro with 32GB RAM could be announced at WWDC after all.

In the meantime, Dell’s Precision 5520 laptop is directly comparable to the MacBook Pro and has a 32GB RAM build-to-order configuration.

2018 MacBook Pro: New keyboard

When Apple introduced the redesigned butterfly mechanism keyboard with the MacBook Pro in 2016, it seems that a number of people had problems with keys repeating characters and other keys not working. Others claimed the keys on the keyboard made a high pitched sound.

The issue with the keys on MacBook Pro intermittently stopping working seems to be caused by dust getting in between the keys. The problem with the keyboard design currently is that dust and small particles can get stuck under keys and the spacebar making them unresponsive.

One report explained how a tiny spec of dust could render a keyboard useless so that the whole front of the MacBook needed to be replaced.

If you eat at your desk then there is a strong likelihood that crumbs are going to end up falling onto your keyboard, and maybe getting stuck under the keys causing problems, so this could be a big issue.

There’s even a parody song about the problem.

And now you can sign a petition calling for Apple to recall the faulty Mac laptops and replace the keyboards free of charge, or even join a lawsuit and attempt to get damages from Apple. Read all about the problems with the MacBook Pro here.

So, what’s Apple doing about it?

It used to be the case that you could take keys out and clean the keyboard, but this isn’t possible with the new keyboards. The only solution right now is to turn the MacBook upside down and puff a can of compressed air over it, in fact that’s exactly what Apple advises here

If that doesn’t work a trip to the Apple Store is necessary – and if you are no longer in warranty it could cost you.

It seems likely that there have been a number of Macs turning up at the Genius Bar with just this issue, because Apple has been looking into ways to avoid the problem – and has the patents to prove it.

Apple filed a patent to avoid this problem. Published in March 2018, Ingress Prevention for Keyboards outlines ways to stop spilt fluid, crumbs and dust from blocking key movement and damaging the circuitry.

One of Apple’s suggestions is that flaps could block the gaps around keys so that dust and liquids couldn’t get in. It also suggests that there could be bellows that “blast contaminants” away from keys with pressurised gas.

A protective membrane made from a waterproof material like silicone could be used.

Another solution is for the crumbs to be crushed. Apple’s solution: “key assembly movement mechanism may include one or more crushing components, such as knobs, spikes, and the like.”

Once crumbs are crushed, then the pieces would be blasted out with forced gas. Alternatively, fans inside the keyboard could provide the means to puff out the debris, or vibrations from transducers, haptic actuators, or speakers could be used for the same purpose. In fact, “Acoustic devices may resonate at frequencies that break up lodged contaminants and/or drive contaminants away from key assemblies,” Apple writes.

2018 MacBook Pro: Battery

With Apple pointing to battery life as the reason it won’t offer more RAM in the MacBook Pro you might be wondering whether there is room for improvements to battery life in the next model, or if battery life could (or should) suffer if Apple is to offer a truly pro-level machine.

The new Cannon Lake chips mentioned above could account for some reduction in power consumption.

Apple claims a reasonably impressive 10-hour battery life for the MacBook Pro – but given that the MacBook Air, at three years old, has a 12-hour battery life, it does look like there is room for improvement here.

2018 MacBook Pro: Graphics

The MacBook Pro graphics differ depending on whether you have a 13- or 15in MacBook Pro. The 15in models currently offer the Radeon Pro 555 or 560 (replacing the Radeon Pro 455). We expect a similar bump from the 2018 generation of MacBook Pro.

2018 MacBook Pro: Touch Bar

Will all the MacBook Pro models offer a Touch Bar in 2018? If Apple fails to roll out the touch-sensitive bar across the top of the keyboard to any other Macs, we feel it will be an indicator that the Touch Bar isn’t a popular feature.

In fact, we’re quite confident when we say that if Apple doesn’t add the Touch Bar to other Macs, or at least the complete line up of MacBook Pros, then its days are limited.

Even those who have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar probably feel it is a pointless feature.

We feel that the Touch Bar is a gimmick, and the fact that Apple hasn’t rolled it out to any other Macs to date means that developers aren’t updating their apps to support it.

2018 MacBook Pro: Ports

When Apple launched the new MacBook Pro many of the familiar ports disappeared replaced by USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. The headphone jack remained despite being lost from the iPhone. Will it remain in the next version of the MacBook Pro? Possibly, although Apple could choose to swap it for Lightning or another USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port in the future.

Another possibility is that if Apple is able to reduce the size of the circuit board inside the MacBook Pro it could add more ports. Apple may be looking to integrate faster and more versatile circuit boards into the MacBook design – according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, this could save a lot of internal space, making it possible for Apple to add USB 3.2 and other I/O connections to its MacBooks.

2018 MacBook Pro: Hinge

We think patent it unlikely to be used in a future MacBook Pro, but we will still note it here.

The patent, discovered by Patently Apple, suggests that Apple is working a “Living Hinge” design. According to the patent, the chassis would be made out of a single piece of material that bends in the middle thanks to a “flexible portion” which it refers to as a “living hinge”.

Apple describes how: “An enclosure for a laptop may be created from a rigid material having a flexible portion defined around approximately a midpoint of the material. The flexible portion may allow the rigid material to be folded in half and thus acts as a laptop clamshell.”

This flexible portion – referred to as the Living Hinge – would have a geometric pattern, according to Apple’s illustration.

Apparently, “A top portion may support a display screen and a bottom portion may support a keyboard, track pad, and the like, while an interior defined by sidewalls of the rigid material may house a variety of electronic components in accordance with conventional laptop computing devices. In this manner, the enclosure (or a portion thereof) may be created from a single rigid material, while still providing flexibility and bending for the enclosure.”

Patently Apple compares the described device to the Microsoft Surface Book.

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How to install the iOS 12 beta on iPhone or iPad

iOS 12, the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhone & iPad, will be announced and demonstrated at WWDC 2018 in June, but most of us won’t actually get to run the software until the official launch in the autumn. If you’d like to try out the new features before then you’ll need to install a beta: one of the pre-release testing versions that are made available to those who join the developer or public beta programme.

The developer beta for iOS 12 will be available in summer following WWDC. A public beta will follow shortly after, and the final version should come in mid- to late-September 2018.

In this article we explain how to join the programme, and how to install and run an iOS beta on your iPhone iPad.

The risks of installing an iOS beta

There is a major downside to grabbing a beta version of iOS early: it can break your iPhone or iPad.

The key thing here is to remember that if you take part in the public iOS beta programme you need to be willing to install a pre-release testing version of the next iOS update on you devices, bugs and all, and provide feedback on any bugs and issues that need to be ironed out.

We can’t stress how important it is to back up your device before you download and install a beta version of iOS, or better still, use a secondary device that isn’t your main iPhone or iPad to try the beta. Not only will that mean you won’t lose everything if something goes wrong while the beta is installing, it also means you’ll be able to go back to the last version should you find that you don’t like the new software after all, or that it’s too buggy.

We talk you through this process here: how to back up an iPhone or iPad.

It’s a risky operation, but getting the iOS beta will give you some serious bragging rights among your Apple-loving friends, and let you decide for yourself whether you like the new features, so maybe its a price worth paying…

How to get the iOS 12 public beta

Once it becomes available in summer 2018, signing up for the public beta of iOS 12 will require you to follow these instructions:

  1. Click Sign Up on the Apple Beta page and register with your Apple ID
  2. Log in to the Beta Software Program
  3. Click Enroll your iOS device
  4. Go to beta.apple.com/profile on your iOS device
  5. Download and install the configuration profile.
  6. That will make the beta version available in the Settings app, under General, Software Update.

How to get the Developer Preview of iOS 12

Apple gets app developers to try out beta versions of iOS for a few months before it unleashes the final software on the public, and since the launch of iOS 9 it’s also allowed the public to try a beta. As we said above, these betas are test versions – unfinished versions of iOS with pretty much all the features that will make it into the official build, but probably with a few cosmetic differences… not to mention some glitches and problems that will need to be fixed.

In other words, don’t expect a perfect user experience. In particular, don’t expect existing apps (ones that you may rely on, and which may worked great with the previous version of iOS) to work perfectly with the new version. A huge issue for beta users of iOS 8, for example, was that WhatsApp was unusable, crashing upon opening.

But it could be worse than just a couple of apps not working right. Sometimes people find that certain models struggle to cope with a beta OS in any meaningful way, and you may find that your device is effectively bricked until the next beta comes out and fixes the problem. Experienced beta users always advise you to install a beta version of iOS on a secondary or spare device – an older (but still compatible) iPod touch rather than your main iPhone, say.

Anyway. If you know what you’re getting into and still want to join the beta programme to get the most up-to-date beta versions, you can register as an Apple developer and join the iOS Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.

To sign up for and install the Developer Beta of iOS 12 once it becomes available you’ll need to follow these instructions but, as before, we recommend that before downloading the beta you back up the device you’re going to install the beta on. That way you can restore it fairly easily if something goes seriously wrong.

  1. Go to Apple’s developer site and enrol using your Apple ID.
  2. Sign into the iOS Dev Center using the Apple ID you used in the previous step.
  3. Register your Apple device’s UDID (the easiest way to find out your UDID is to plug the device into iTunes, click on the device’s icon in the top right-hand corner, view the Summary tab and click on the Serial Number entry to get it to change to the UDID). Now you’ll be able to download the appropriate version of the iOS beta for your hardware – select the exact iPhone, iPod touch or iPad model you’re using from the list.
  4. Unzip the file that downloads to your Mac (this should produce a .IPSW file). Connect your device to iTunes (if it isn’t already).
  5. Hold Alt (on a Mac – it’s Shift on a PC) and click the Restore iPhone button on the device’s Summary tab (next to Check for Update). Select the .IPSW file from the previous step. The iOS beta will be installed on your iPad or iPhone after a few minutes.

How to install the developer beta if you’re not a developer

The beta version you’ll get on your device if you’re using the public beta discussed below won’t be the most up-to-date version that developers have been testing. If you’re desperate to have the latest build, there is another option available. Before we begin the how to, it’s worth noting that once you update, none of the personal data accumulated on the firmware will be restorable if you later decide to downgrade again.

An easy way to get around this issue is to manually back up your device via iTunes before you upgrade, then exclusively use iCloud for backup once the upgrade is complete. This way, if you need to downgrade, you’ll have a backup available – granted, it won’t be the most up-to-date backup, but it’s a better option than completely losing everything.

Step 1: Download the latest beta. These are usually released via the Apple Developers Portal, but you have to pay $99 a year to access this service (as discussed above). However there are also other sources that will supply users with the betas, with UDID.Co being one of the most popular online resources. It’s important to consider carefully whether signing up to the Developer Beta this way is the right thing for you to do.

There are many versions of the beta available, and it’s important to download the corresponding beta for your device – if you download the wrong beta, iTunes will first wipe the old version of iOS from your device before informing you that it’s unable to install the selected iOS beta, which forces the device into DFU mode and requires a complete restore to fix. Some sites provide a service that uses your devices serial number to identify the correct beta to download.

Step 2: Download the latest version of iTunes. This is fairly straightforward – it’s important to make sure that you’re running the latest version of iTunes. You can download the latest version of iTunes via the Apple website, the App Store Updates tab on Mac or click Help > Check for Updates within iTunes for PC.

Step 3: Register your devices UDID. The UDID, or Unique Device Identifier, of your device has to be registered for developer use before installing the iOS beta. There are some reports that it isn’t needed, but we think it’s better to be safe rather than having to deal with UDID-related issues down the line.

You can either get an iOS developer friend to register your devices’ UDID, or you can pay for it via UDID.co. If you’re unsure of how to find the UDID of your device, you can follow our tutorial here.

Step 4: Back up your device. As mentioned earlier, we advise that you back up your device before installing the iOS beta because:

A) If anything goes wrong during the installation of the beta, you’ll have a backup available – no harm done.

B) You won’t be able to use any backups made with the new version of iOS with the old version, so if you downgrade with no backup, you’ll have to completely wipe your iPhone.

This can be done by plugging your iPhone or iPad into iTunes, selecting the iPhone/iPad icon from the menu and then selecting ‘Back Up Now’. It’s also advised that you select ‘iCloud’ under the Backup menu as your automatic backup option as we don’t want your backup being overwritten.

Step 5: Restore your device. Once you’ve followed the above steps and backed up your device, it’s time to restore your iPhone to its factory settings. You can do this by clicking ‘Restore iPhone/iPad’ within iTunes with the device connected.

Although this step is advised by many publications online, we’ve installed the iOS beta on several of our devices without restoring our devices prior to the install and encountered no issues along the way.

Step 6: Install the beta. To install the iOS beta on your device, make sure it’s plugged in to your computer and select it within iTunes. Next, while holding the Option (Alt) key on Mac/Shift key on Mac, click the ‘Check for Update’ button.

This should open a window where you can browse for the iOS beta .IPSW file that you downloaded earlier. Navigate to wherever you chose to save the .IPSW file, select it and click open. iTunes may display a notification informing you that you’re installing the new version of iOS – just click OK, then the installation process should initiate.

Step 7: Wait. The install process can take a while – the important thing is to not unplug/turn off your device during the install, as it may corrupt the operating system and ‘brick’ your device.

Step 8: Slide to upgrade. Once the upgrade process is complete and your device has restarted, you’ll be prompted with a ‘Slide to upgrade’ screen. Swiping this will again reboot your iPhone, but don’t panic – it’s normal. Once it has rebooted, you’ll be greeted with the familiar ‘Hello’ welcome screen. Follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll be successfully running the iOS beta on your iPhone or iPad.

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iPhone SE 2 release date, price & tech specs

If you prefer your iPhones to be smaller and cheaper – and many do – then you may be pleased to hear that there are rumours pointing to a new version of the 4in iPhone SE launching in 2018.

Want to know more? In our iPhone SE 2 rumours article, we collect and analyse the clues, hints and evidence pointing to the release date of Apple’s follow-up to the iPhone SE, as well as the iPhone SE 2’s tech specs, design, leaked images and concept videos, new features and UK pricing – so you’ve come to the right place!

This page will be updated whenever new information emerges relating to the launch of an updated iPhone SE, so check back regularly for the latest iPhone SE 2 rumours. For buying advice related to the current range, take a look at our roundup of the best iPhone SE deals as well as our iPhone buying guide.

iPhone SE 2 release date

Lots of rumours point to a new version of the iPhone SE being launched early or relatively early in 2018. The latest report, by the Japanese blog Macotakara, points to a May 2018 launch – the site bases this on conversation with a case maker who is apparently in the know.

A FocusTaiwan report in August 2017 suggested that a new iPhone SE would launch in the first quarter of 2018, while another report, this time by the Taiwanese market research company TrendForce, believes a new iPhone SE 2 is coming in the first half of 2018.

It’s possible that the iPhone SE 2 could launch at Apple’s WWDC event in June, and this theory was backed up by the discovery by the French site Consomac that the company has just registered a bunch of new phone models with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC).

Model numbers A1920, A1921, A1984, A2097, A2098, A2099, A2101, A2103, A2104, A2105 and A2106 have all been added to the EEC database, and none apply to currently available iPhones. They are listed as devices running iOS 11.

Furthermore, a report from a Chinese website at the end of February 2018 suggested that the iPhone SE 2 (with a 4.2in screen – more on that below) will launch at WWDC. There are a few reasons why this may not happen, however:

  1. Apple hasn’t introduced an iPhone at WWDC since June 2010.
  2. Apple is said to be working on three new full-screen phones due to launch in September – one of which is rumoured to be a lower-cost option (read more about that below), making it unlikely that an even cheaper iPhone SE would be introduced a couple of months sooner.
  3. WWDC is a developer conference with a particular focus on software and high-end products rather than entry-level devices.

The real update to the iPhone SE may not come until September, if analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is correct. He believes that along with updates to the iPhone X and a bigger version of that full-screen iPhone with an OLED screen, Apple will launch a cheaper full-screen iPhone with a 6.1in LCD screen. This may be the true successor to the iPhone SE.

However, this rumoured LCD handset is larger than the iPhone SE, which would suggest that Apple may not continue to sell a smaller handset…

Will the iPhone SE be discontinued?

Several analysts have suggested that there won’t be a new iPhone SE at all.

In January 2018 Ming-Chi Kuo wrote a research note arguing that Apple had “used up its development resources” and would not be able to produce a new SE for the spring launch window.

“The announcement of three new iPhone models in the same quarter in the second half of 2017 was the first time Apple made such a major endeavour,” he wrote.

“We believe the delay of iPhone X, which had the most complicated design yet, shows that Apple doesn’t have enough resources available for development. With three new models in the pipeline for the second half of 2018, we believe Apple may have used up its development resources.”

And back in July 2017 China’s Huaquang Research analyst Pan Juitang predicted that Apple wouldn’t update its 4in phone, arguing that there isn’t enough demand for smaller devices as many consumers opt for larger displays for watching movies, playing games and browsing the web. The vast majority are accustomed to 5in or bigger displays, he added.

iPhone SE 2 availability

Even if the SE is updated, it may not launch where you live. Some reports suggest that the new SE handset might not be available everywhere.

According to the Economic Daily, a Chinese-language site, Apple is working on a low-end iPhone codenamed Hangzhou. This low-end, lower-priced model will apparently be launched in an attempt to “seize the low-end market” in China and India.

That report suggests that this low-end model could launch in the second half of 2018.

Another report claims that the SE 2 will launch in India prior to launching in other territories. This sounds dubious to us, although it might fit with Apple’s plans to offer a cheaper handset to certain territories (normally Apple does this by offering an older version of the iPhone to certain countries).

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours

iPhone SE 2 price

The iPhone SE is currently available in 32GB and 128GB versions. In the UK the 32GB model costs £379; 128GB is £479. (For comparison, in the US the iPhone SE costs $399 for 32GB and $449 for 129GB.)

We expect the iPhone SE 2 to be similarly priced when (and if) it launches.

iPhone SE 2 design

While the iPhone SE looks similar to the iPhone 5s, there is an expectation that the iPhone SE 2 will look more like the iPhone 8, although may have different dimensions.

A Chinese report from February 2018 says the iPhone SE 2 will have a similar design to the current iPhone SE. However, it will have a larger 4.2in display, apparently. The bigger display won’t be due to it having an all screen display like the iPhone X, though. The report states that it will still maintain the classic iPhone shape and the front Home button to support fingerprint recognition.

Another (relatively) radical prediction comes from the Macotakara report cited earlier, which says that the headphone port is going to disappear. Again, this is based on assertions by a case maker – and ports are exactly the kind of thing that case makers need to know about.

The idea that Apple would redesign the iPhone SE so extensively doesn’t get a lot of support from analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo who believes that Apple is so busy with the successors to the iPhones X and 8 that it won’t have the time or resources to focus on this entry-level handset.

A complete redesign aside, one thing that is likely to change is the colour options.

The iPhone SE is currently available in silver, gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold options. The iPhone SE 2 is likely to be available in silver, gold, and Space Grey – like the iPhone 8. The Rose Gold and gold version have kind of merged in the iPhone 8 and it is likely that the new iPhone SE will also offer this new brassier gold colour option rather than two gold options.

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Colour options

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Colour options

Another possibility – if Apple is working on an extensive redesign of the handset, us that it may also feature a glass back – allowing for wireless charging, a feature introduced with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. This could mean the new iPhone SE 2 will look more like the all-glass iPhone 4.

There are theories that the iPhone SE 2 could have an all-screen design, like the iPhone X; many publications and analysts are referring to it as the iPhone X SE. However, while this is something that could appear in the future, we think it will be some time before the home-button-free design makes its way down to the entry-level iPhone.

Leaked photos and concept illustrations

We’ve seen a number of iPhone SE 2 leaks. The latest, appearing on 26 April 2018 shows a design featuring a new glass back for wireless charging – and a 3.5mm hole for a headphone jack. The latter news will come as a surprise to some, given that just days earlier another image appeared that appeared to show no headphone jack.

The images appeared on a Chinese social network site, and it’s not clear how trustworthy they are.

Slashleaks has posted an image allegedly showing the chassis of the iPhone SE 2 in two colours – gold and Rose Gold. And they fairly clearly have glass backs, which suggests support for wireless charging.

iPhone SE 2 release date: Slashleaks leaked photo

iPhone SE 2 release date: Slashleaks leaked photo

Concept illustrations

Beyond that, we move into the realm of concept illustrations: images and videos created to explore design concepts rather than actual leaks.

The case maker Olixar has created a render of the iPhone SE 2018 for a screen protector product it plans to sell; the image was provided to us by Mobile Fun. The firm says this is based on information from the supply chain.

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Olixar render

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Olixar render

Here’s a idea of what we could expect from Concept Creator, imagining what the iPhone SE 2 might look like if Apple was to give it an iPhone X-like redesign and some vivid new colour finishes:

Concept Creator previously made another iPhone SE 2 video with an iPhone X remake theme:

iPhone SE 2 dimensions

Currently the iPhone SE has a 4in screen (that’s 4 inches measured diagonally). The handset itself measures 123.8mm by 58.6mm and it’s 7.6mm thick. It weighs 113g.

The new iPhone SE dimensions may slim down further. For example, the phone might be as thin as the iPhone 8 at 7.3mm. If Apple was to ditch the iPhone 5s-esque design for the iPhone SE, in favour of mimicking the iPhone 8 design, this could be feasible.

It’s also possible that the new iPhone SE – or entry-level iPhone – won’t be a smaller handset at all. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is working on a low-cost version of the iPhone that will feature an LCD-TFT screen, fewer pixels, and will cost between $649 and $749. This iPhone screen will measure 6.1in diagonally so the new handset could be even larger than the iPhone 8 is.

A Chinese report in February claimed that the new iPhone SE 2 will feature a larger 4.2in display, but the bigger display won’t be due to it having an all screen display like the iPhone X, though.

iPhone SE 2 screen

As per KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s theory, Apple could introduce a 6.1in LCD-TFT screen on its new low-cost iPhone, while the other iPhones will feature OLED screens like the iPhone X does now. Shown below.

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Screen size

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Screen size

There has also been a suggestion that the iPhone SE could have a 4.2in screen rather than the current 4in. The extra .2in being made possible by reducing the size of the bezels. Although unlike the iPhone X, which has a screen that stretches to the base of the phone – and thus no Home Button (read about the iPhone X here) – the Home Button is expected to remain on the iPhone SE 2.

The naysayers suggest that Apple wouldn’t extensively change the design of the iPhone SE for such a minimal change in the dimensions of the screen. It would involve a lot of research and development for little noticable difference to the consumer.

New features

The new iPhone SE won’t be a flagship, so you shouldn’t expect any totally new features – it’s more a question of which features will trickle down from the top-end iPhone X and 8 Plus.

Face ID

This is the biggie, and if we are looking at an iPhone SE with Face ID it would imply that we’re also getting an edge-to-edge screen and no Home button.

According to Ming-Chi Kuo the ‘iPhone X SE’ (the LCD version of the bigger iPhone coming in the autumn) will indeed get Face ID, the same controversial but impressive biometric tech as on the iPhone X, which also means Animoji and, we presume, Portrait Mode on front-facing selfies. (Oddly enough, since the analyst predicts a single camera lens on the rear of the X SE to keep costs down, we could end up in the situation where Portrait Mode is available on front- but not rear-facing shots.)

However, if Apple is going to launch an update to the existing SE model then the Touch ID Home button is likely to remain.

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Face ID

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours: Face ID

Enhanced NFC capabilities

Since 2014, iPhones have been equipped with NFC chips, but these have historically been less functional than those in rival devices, essentially limited to Apple Pay for security reasons. But it’s believed that WWDC 2018 will see Apple ‘unlock’ the capacities of these chips and allow iPhones to perform commonplace NFC tasks such as interacting with badge readers (to identify a user, open security doors and so on).

According to The Information, citing sources familiar with the matter, the move is so far along that Apple’s own staff are already using it internally.

“The change to the near-field communication, or NFC, chip, which is expected to be announced [in June 2018], could pave the way for people to use iPhones for other security-sensitive interactions, from paying transit fares and opening car doors to verifying their identity in other ways,” the site writes.

Wireless charging

The new iPhone SE 2 (or iPhone X SE) could offer wireless charging thanks to the rumoured glass back. Tekz24 claims that it received a tip from a “very reliable source” that the new iPhone SE 2 “will have a glass back panel” and that it “might support wireless charging.”

3D Touch

Apple’s 3D Touch screen tech has been around for a while, and it feels logical to add it to the SE. But sources say this will not be the case: Ming-Chi Kuo has given it the thumbs down. As Tech Times observes, this runs the risk of the feature being seen “as nothing more than a gimmick that only customers who purchase the more expensive iPhones may enjoy

iPhone SE 2 specs

According to a Tekz24 report (on which the FocusTaiwan report mentioned above was based), the new iPhone SE 2 will offer an A10 Fusion chip (as seen in the iPhone 7). It currently offers an A9 chip, as used in the iPhone 6S.

This Chinese report also suggests that the new iPhone will use a newer A10 Fusion chip, rather than the A9 in the current model, but sport 2GB of RAM and 32GB or 128GB capacities, as currently.

In addition we could see a 5Mp or 7Mp FaceTime camera with Retina Flash replace the 1.2Mp FaceTime camera in the current model.

Other than that, it is likely to keep many of the features of the current iPhone SE, such as:

  • 12Mp camera: The current SE offers 12-megapixels with an ƒ/2.2 aperture.The iPhone 8 has an ƒ/1.8 aperture.
  • No bump: One key difference between the iPhone SE and 8 is the lack of camera bump on the bigger model. Hopefully the new iPhone SE camera on the back of the iPhone will also be flat.
  • 2GB RAM: The iPhone SE already offers 2GB RAM and it’s unlikely that we’d see any more than that.
  • 32GB or 128GB storage options.

The battery will also have a slightly raised rating from 1,640mAh to 1,700mAh – this might be necessary to power the slightly larger display, if that happens.

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours

iPhone SE 2 release date rumours

You may also be interested in our iPad Pro 3 rumours.

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How to Open a Windows 10 Command Prompt with Administrator Privileges

For many of us, the command prompt is one of most oft-used features in Windows. But I was surprised recently when someone that I consider to be fairly savvy with computers was unaware that you could open a prompt with administrator privileges — thereby eliminating the frustration caused when running certain prompts only to be told you can’t access that feature, file, or execute that command.

hero

As such, I thought it was probably worth a quick tutorial showing others a feature that’s hiding in plain site that you may have not realized was there.

Here are the two ways to find this not-quite-hidden feature.

  1. In the Cortana search field, type in Command Prompt, or just CMD.
    cmd
  2. Right click the top result, and select Run as Administrator.
    admin
  3. Click Yes on the popup to allow the app to make changes to your device.
    yes

If successful, you’ll be able to tell you’re in an “elevated command prompt” — a Command Prompt with administrator privileges — by checking the title of the window. In the elevated prompt, it’ll say administrator, while other prompts will not.

Compare this image with the one atop the piece, for example.
admin-example