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Apple AR glasses release date rumours, features & patent news

The rumour that Apple is developing an AR headset (or AR glasses) isn’t new; claims that the company had its sights set on such a device have been circulating for a few years now. But things heated up in June 2017, when the announcement of ARKit at WWDC 2017 made it clear that Apple is deeply interested in this area. And no wonder: with Google and Microsoft developing AR devices, it seems like a party Apple can’t afford to miss.

It also hasn’t escaped our notice that Apple’s latest mobiles – the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and especially the iPhone X – are well equipped for AR, thanks to the A11 bionic chip, which enables AR processing. And, in the case of the iPhone X, the TrueDepth camera, which can detect users’ facial expressions and gather 3D data.

Apple certainly looks like it is gearing up to be a big player in the AR field, but what exactly does it have up its sleeve? Is Apple making a pair of AR glasses? And what would such a pair of glasses look like? In this feature, we look at all the latest Apple AR rumours, patents and possible release date rumours.

What is augmented reality?

First, a quick refresher on terms, as many get AR and VR confused. VR headsets are mounted on the head in a similar way to Ski goggles, and completely block your view of the outside world. The VR headset tracks your head movement, and the 3D image displayed inside the headset moves accordingly. This makes it appear as if you’re wholly inside a 3D ‘virtual’ world.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, is where the glasses are see-through and you can still see the world around you, but an image is displayed in front of your eyes.

AR hit the headlines in recent years, first thanks to Google Glass (which displays 2D images) and more recently with a headset developed by Microsoft called HoloLens that embeds 3D images in the world around you.

Microsoft’s HoloLens glasses are already available for developers – although anyone can buy one. However, it costs the astronomical price of $3,000, or $5,000 for the Commercial Suite which includes enterprise features.

As for Google Glass, development was halted back in 2015, but Google announced in 2017 that the Google Glass Enterprise Edition would be available for $1,828.

Apple AR & VR: Microsoft Hololens Augmented Reality

Apple AR & VR: Microsoft Hololens Augmented Reality

Apple is known to be a trailblazer, but it’s still part of the Silicon Valley tech industry (albeit a more secretive one). If Google and Microsoft are all working on AR products, you can bet your bottom dollar that Apple also has an AR headset prototype in its labs.

Plus, Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on record discussing the big possibilities he sees for AR, as we discuss below.

However, it’s an industry that is in it’s infancy. As Chief Design Officer Jony Ive said to a tech panel in October 2017: “There are certain ideas that we have and we are waiting for the technology to catch up with the idea,” which could very well include AR and VR.

So, with that in mind, when can we expect to see Apple’s AR headset or glasses?

Apple AR headset: Release date

Assuming that Apple is working on an AR headset or AR glasses (we look at the evidence that Apple is working on an AR headset below) when is such a device likely to launch?

We don’t think Apple will release its AR glasses in the immediate future. A (paywalled) story from the Financial Times in March 2017 claimed that even though Apple was “stepping up” its augmented reality efforts, and that it’s the most important development project within the company, the launch was “still at least a year away, perhaps even longer”. 

DigiTimes on 3 April 2018 claimed that Apple is working on microLED screens in small and large sizes, and that the small ones will be used in AR glasses as well as future Apple Watch updates. Analyst Luke Lin says that those small panels may enter mass production in late 2018 or 2019. That could indicate a 2019 launch date.

Another report (from June 2017) based on a Foxconn insider, suggests that the Apple AR glasses project might have been pushed back until 2019, or scrapped altogether. The insider claimed that there’s a 65 percent chance that the project has been shelved.

However, it’s looking like the release is on the “even longer” end of the scale. A report from Bloomberg in November 2017, suggested that Apple won’t have its AR headset ready to ship until early 2020.

The Bloomberg report predictions were backed up by a cnet report in April 2018, which also suggests that 2020 will be the launch date, according to ‘sources’. 

A ‘delay’ won’t be too much of a problem. This way developers will have enough time to experiment with ARKit in iOS 11 and iOS 12 and develop useful AR apps. Apple will need a lot of content to draw consumers in; content that could be based on iOS apps that run ARKit. If it’s a choice between buying AR glasses with no available apps right now compared to AR glasses with a library of apps, we know which we’d go for.

However long we have to wait, Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster believes that augmented reality will be the next big thing for Apple.

He also expects that Apple will release Apple Glasses in late 2021. Something he says we aren’t yet ready for, “but eventually we will be”.

Apple’s AR device is here already!

We don’t actually have to wait for Apple to launch an AR headset. The company already sells an AR device – the iPhone.

For most people their first taste of AR came when they started playing the popular Pokemon Go app on their iPhone in the summer of 2016.

Now, thanks to the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, and the A11 bionic chip, in the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 models, and iOS 11 – which Apple describes as “the world’s largest augmented reality platform,” the iPhone is taking augmented reality to the next level.

And it’s only going to improve. Loop Ventures analyst Gene Munster, mentioned above, believes that the 2018 iPhone models will offer advanced optics for AR (VCSEL arrays). 

The 2017 iPhone’s AR credentials weren’t a surprise, a Bloomberg report back in March 2017 claimed that AR would be introduced on the iPhone first, with glasses coming later down the line.

That report claimed that there are “hundreds of engineers devoted to the cause” including a number of people from Apple’s iPhone camera team working on AR-related features for the iPhone.

The Bloomberg report was supported by a claim from a Business Insider source (in November 2016) that Apple has teams from several acquired startups working on iPhone AR, and this reflects Apple’s short-term desire to put AR into the hands of consumers.

By adding AR capabilities to the iPhone Apple allows consumers to point the phone at a real-world object, like a statue or a car, and be offered contextual information overlaid onto the real world.

Integrating AR into a smartphone that millions of people already have introduces the concept of AR, and may make them more likely to buy Apple-made glasses once they go on sale.

Speaking of which…

Evidence that Apple’s making AR glasses

Claims that an Apple AR headset is in the works at Apple stretch back some years and a number of reports have appeared presenting evidence that the project is well underway at Apple. In fact the project even has a code-name – T288.

In-house team

There have been rumours that Apple has been making AR/VR related hires some time. In November 2016 a Business Insider source claimed that Apple has hired an expert in head-mounted displays (HMDs).

In November 2016, a Bloomberg report claimed Apple had ordered a small number of “near-eye displays” for internal testing displays.

Citing people with knowledge of the project, in a March 2017 report, the FT claimed that Apple had started to assemble a team of augmented reality experts a year previously. Apparently, more resources have been devoted to the AR project than Apple’s rumoured driverless car.

Then in April 2017, more evidence of some sort of AR project came from leaked Apple employee injury reports obtained by Gizmodo. While they’re mostly about mundane workplace injuries like cafeteria burns, there were two that stand out:

One involved someone testing an unknown prototype device who “experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash at several points during the study.” She was later referred to an optometrist.

Another involved an employee who “reported eye pain after working with new prototype, thought it may be associated with use”.

While these could reflect either an AR or VR device, an internal source told Gizmodo that the injuries were likely linked to an AR prototype Apple is working on, speculating that it could be “something like glasses with an overhead display”.

A newer Bloomberg report, from November 2017, claimed there is a team of several hundred engineers working on AR-related projects, according to its sources.

The team, led by Mike Rockwell, who previously ran engineering at Dolby Lab, is working on several hardware and software projects under the umbrella code name of ‘T288’, according to Bloomberg. 

The team also worked on ARKit. The tool that lets software developers build AR apps for iPhone and iPad. We discuss ARKit in more detail below.

Acquisitions

Back in May 2015 Apple acquired a German company. Metaio was a relatively well-known company with regards to augmented reality, powering many of the popular AR applications being used today – including Ikea’s virtual catalogue, and Ferarri’s AR showroom app.

Since being bought out by Apple, Metaio has gone quiet – heading to its website will offer you a brief overview of the company, a contact email address and not much else. Mysterious.

Apple has confirmed the acquisition of Flyby Media, a company well-known for developing technology that allows smartphones to ‘see’ the world around them. Notably, the company has worked with Google in the past to develop the image-recognition abilities found in Google’s Project Tango.

Though the website is now down (typical of an Apple acquisition), Flyby Media described itself as “dedicated to building new technology that can elevate, rather than replace, our real-world experiences.” and boasted a team with knowledge in the areas of large-scale SLAM, indoor navigation, sensor fusion, image recognition as well as 3D tracking.

Apple at CES

Another Bloomberg report, in January 2018, presented more evidence that Apple has plans in the AR space, claiming that, despite not exhibiting at the show, Apple was present at CES, with execs meeting suppliers to discuss AR glasses, according to people familiar with the meetings.

Apple’s Tim Cook on AR

There is yet more evidence that Apple is working on something in the AR space – this time coming from Apple itself.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an August 2016 interview with The Washington Post that Apple is “doing a lot of things” in the augmented reality space. He didn’t stop there though, as the Apple boss went on to claim that he thinks of it as a “core technology” for the company.

“I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology” Cook stated during the interview. “So yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain we talked about.”

Following on from these comments, Cook took part in a rare interview session at Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Utah Tech Tour in Salt Lake City in October 2016 where he again discussed augmented reality, although this time he gave us a better idea on what Apple may be working on.

“AR I think is going to become really big,” said Cook. “VR, I think, is not gonna be that big, compared to AR … How long will it take? AR gonna take a little while, because there’s some really hard technology challenges there. But it will happen. It will happen in a big way. And we will wonder, when it does [happen], how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our [smartphones] today.”

It’s interesting that Apple is focusing more on augmented reality than virtual reality, although it does make sense – especially with the booming popularity of apps that feature the technology like Pokemon Go, and the introduction of ARKit in iOS 11 which makes it much easier for developers to offer AR capabilities in their apps.

Cook sees AR as becoming something that a huge part of the population will use on a daily basis, going on to state that he thinks “that a significant part of the population, of developed companies, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day”.

Speaking to The Independent during a trip to the UK in February 2017, Cook said that he prefers AR over VR because it “allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently.”

Considering that VR seems to provide the more immersive and enjoyable experience of the two platforms at the moment, why does Cook believe that AR is the future? People don’t want to be cut off from the world, apparently.

“Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it,” he said, discussing virtual reality. “With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”

Cook even went as far as to liken it to the smartphone, and how that has changed the world. “I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone” he claimed. “The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge.”

Tim Cook also addressed AR and ARKit during the Q3 2017 earnings call. When asked a question about how people will be using ARKit, Cook replied “I could not be more excited about AR and what we’re seeing with ARKit in the early going.” He continued to explain the variety of ways he has already seen AR used, and that he thinks “AR is big and profound and this is one of those huge things that we’ll look back at and marvel on the start of it.”

Apple ARKit

Yet more evidence that Apple is interested in AR: Apple announced ARKit as part of iOS 11 at WWDC 2017 in June. ARKit allows developers to offer high-end augmented reality capabilities in their apps without having to develop the AR system, and improves existing AR solutions too – for example, Pokemon GO running ARKit looks much smoother than it did previously.

Per Apple’s ARKit page on its website, it claims that ARKit is a “cutting-edge platform for developing augmented reality apps for iPhone and iPad” and it offers “powerful capabilities for positional tracking and scene understanding”.

It makes sense for Apple to offer AR as part of the iPhone and iPad experience, as it’s a device already in the hands of millions of consumers. It also encourages developers to create AR apps that could in future be ported to an AR headset, if that’s the route that Apple decides to go down.

Plus, it’ll make iOS the biggest AR platform in the world on day one. Not too bad for emerging technology!

Apple’s AR headset: Price

We expect that when it launches Apple’s AR headset will have a high price, as is Apple’s custom. But we hope that the price will be a little more down-to-earth than that offered by the competition currently.

As we said above, Microsoft’s HoloLens glasses cost $3,000 (approx £2,193), or $5,000 (approx £3,655) for the Commercial Suite which includes enterprise features.

As for Google Glass, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition costs $1,828 (approx £1,336).

Apple’s AR headset: Design

A iPhone Hacks report in June 2017 claimed that Apple’s smart glasses will have a unique design, according to their source.

Their insider provided details on the design – featuring a bone conduction earpiece, a microphone, an accelerometer and a capacitive frame for navigation and interaction, the glasses sound impressive.

Some creative people have already come up with potential designs for Apple’s glasses. For example, this YouTube video (which enthusiastically claimed that the specs could launch in 2018) has some neat designs.

Apple’s AR headset: Specs

We don’t know much about the technologies being used in Apple’s AR specs (get it) but there are a few rumours circulating that could give an indication about what to expect.

Display

According to a cnet report in April 2018, Apple’s AR headset will offer an 8K display for each eye.

The 8K displays will make the VR and AR images look more lifelike and will help avoid the nauseous feeling that can be the result of using AR/VR headsets.

An older report from June 2017 suggested that the smart glass being used in Apple’s AR headset was being manufactured using a Kopin NED Acetate frame. 

There were also claims that Apple is looking to sell it’s AR glasses with prescription lenses or even polarised lenses in partnership with Zeiss.

Processor

The cnet report suggests that the AR glasses won’t require a computer or smartphone to run. That conflicts with the earlier predictions of KGI analyst Kuo, who believed that the iPhone could provide the building blocks for a full-blown AR solution.

Cnet’s source claimed that the headset will require a dedicated box powered by a custom Apple processor to which it will connect via a “high-speed, short-range wireless technology”. The box will use the wireless technology 60GHz WiGig, according to cnet’s source. The 60GHz WiGig signal cannot typically penetrate walls but it can propagate off reflections from walls, ceilings, floors and objects using beam-forming. This may not matter if the headset is used in just one location.

This does mean that users won’t be required to install various base stations around a room to enable to headset to determine their location (as is the case with HTC Vive). Everything will be included in the one box and headset.

According to cnet, the box will feature a 5-nanometer processor. Apple is designing the chip in-house and the chip will be similar to the chips Apple is said to be developing for its Macs, with a switch from Intel planned for 2020.

Apple’s AR headset: Features

Bloomberg’s sources claim that the glasses will wirelessly connect to an iPhone and will display not only information but images and other data directly in front of the wearer’s field of view.

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple could integrate AR to redefine key product lines. For example, an AR-powered interface could change the way that users interact with small-screen devices like the Apple Watch, eliminating issues with clunky controls.

Apple’s AR headset: Software

A new operating system, dubbed rOS (r for reality), is being built for the AR headset. It is based on iOS, according to Bloomberg.

rOS will power the AR headset. Apparently the ‘rOS’ software group is headed by Geoff Stahl, formerly a software manager for games and graphics at Apple. 

As for how you will get apps, Apple has discussed pairing the headset with its own version of the App Store, where users would be able to download content, just as they do with the iPhone, Watch, Apple TV and Mac, according to Bloomberg. 

Apple AR Patents

In January 2017, Apple was granted a pair of patents that could give us a glimpse at the company’s AR aspirations. Patent no. 9,560,273 details the hardware framework of an AR device that can understand its environment thanks to enhanced computer vision capabilities, while patent no. 9,558,581 details the method of overlaying virtual information on a physical environment.

Apple AR & VR: Patent

Apple AR & VR: Patent

Both patents were filed back in 2015 by German AR specialist Metaio shortly before Apple acquired the firm, and transferred to Apple in November 2016.

Patent 273 describes a “wearable information system having at least one camera” but goes further and discusses the possibilities of having more cameras, a screen, a UI and even internal components dedication to computer vision. The patent details a head-mounted display as the primary platform for AR, but it also suggests that a smartphone (aka the iPhone) could serve as a decent stand-in.

However, on the whole, the patents deal more with object recognition than it does the visualisation of the AR data. The issue of object recognition is a barrier in the AR industry on the whole, as existing solutions require a large amount of power and thus, aren’t ideal for real-world use.

In Apple’s case, the ‘invention’ maintains a low-power scanning mode for the majority of its operation, with high-power modes triggered in relatively short bursts.

Then, in May 2017, a patent surfaced depicting the head-mounted display of Apple’s upcoming augmented reality headset. The patent details a device and techniques for projecting a source image in a HMD comprised of left and right displays, suggesting that they may look more like standard glasses than Google’s failed Glass.

Apple AR & VR: Patent

Apple AR & VR: Patent

In the filing, Apple notes that some HMDs can be used to view a transparent image imposed upon a real world view. Sound familiar to augmented reality? We think so too.

Another Apple patent filing, discovered in July 2017, describes how a pair of AR-enabled glasses could interact with a smartphone. The user is said to be able to interact with the objects that appear on the glasses using their smartphone. Of course, the phone would need to be equipped with the necessary hardware and software to be compatible with the glasses, and we’re unsure if the tech is already featured on the iPhone 7 or not.

Apple AR glasses release date rumours, features & patent news: Patent

Apple AR glasses release date rumours, features & patent news: Patent

Another concept in the patent describes how the user can interact with objects that appear on the AR glasses by pointing at them – a similar mechanic is used by Microsoft in its HoloLens glasses, so it’s not a far-fetched idea. The patent claims that it’ll be possible via an array of cameras attached to the glasses, as the cameras will map and track the user’s finger as it moves towards the on-screen object.

Apple AR glasses release date rumours, features & patent news: Patent

Apple AR glasses release date rumours, features & patent news: Patent

With more advanced patents appearing, it suggests that Apple is taking augmented reality very seriously, and we might be seeing Apple’s AR-enabled device on the market sooner than originally thought.

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors that he believes that Apple’s track record of delivering innovative and high-quality user experiences will help the company move into – and succeed – in the AR market.

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iPhone X problems, complaints and fixes

The iPhone X was unveiled at an Apple event in September 2017 and eventually went on sale on 3 November 2017, joining the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in Apple’s iPhone lineup.

While we think that Apple’s flagship iPhone is great – as you can see if you read our iPhone X review – there have been a few issues with the new handset. In this article we will bring you everything you need to know about the iPhone X’s problems and faults.

There have been a few complaints from users, from unresponsive screens (for which a software update has been issued), to issues with buzzing speakers, and reports that a few handsets are experiencing a problem with Face ID not working. The latest issue to be revealed seems to affect the camera, with reports claiming is is easily cracked.

We’ve also learned that Apple had intended to launch a Gold version of the iPhone X. The phone is currently only available in Silver and Space Grey, unlike the iPhone 8 models, which also come in Gold. An Apple filing with the FFC prior to the beginning of October 2018, showed a gold version of the iPhone, more on that below.

If the problems listed below don’t put you off – and they shouldn’t as they are few and far between – you can buy direct from Apple, or peruse our roundup of the best iPhone X deals.

iPhone X complaints

There have been a few complaints from users, including claims that the camera lens is easy to crack. But by far the most random one is “The iPhone X is pulling my hair” – read more about this below. People have also criticised unresponsive screens (for which a software update has now been issued), Face ID security, buzzing speakers, and a green line. And Apple is investigating claims of delays affecting incoming calls.

We will look at these issues, and other criticisms below, some are much more concerning than others. It’s worth noting that some of these complaints are few and far between, even for the most popular smartphone on the market right now, so it may well be the case that you would experience none of these issues with the handset.

iPhone X Price

One of the first complaints about the iPhone X was its high price.

In the month that followed the release fans who couldn’t quite stretch to the £1,000+ price have been wondering if the iPhone X will come down.

If you’re hoping that the price of the iPhone X is going to drop, you may not have a long wait. Apple is likely to introduce three new iPhones in September 2018, and among them it’s rumoured there will be a cheaper version of the iPhone X with an LCD display. Read about the rumoured new iPnone 2018 models here.

At the same time as those phones are introduced, the existing iPhone X could see a price drop, should Apple decide to keep selling that model (there are rumours that it will be discontinued). Perhaps Apple will be rebadging the iPhone X with the current components as this new cheaper model with the LCD display. Either way, you can expect to be able to buy an iPhone X-style for less money this autumn. 

Cracking camera lens 

It seems that the camera lens on the back of the iPhone X may be easy to crack.

And, according to the iPhone X users complaining on Apple’s support forums, they haven’t even dropped their iPhones to cause the damage.

Some suggest that cold weather has caused the lens to crack, but iPhone owners in warmer climates have also reported cracks in the camera glass.

The iPhone X camera lens is made from Sapphire glass, which is supposed to be very hard (twice as tough as normal glass).

It’s being reported that Apple is refusing to offer replacements under warranty, so customers are having to foot the bill for a device replacement.

iPhone X Overheating

Some iPhone X users have complained that the handset overheats.

A Reddit poster claims that: “My wife’s iPhone X overheated last night and failed.”

Over on the Apple Support Communities, one poster writes: “When I watched several videos on my Facebook app and then went on to Safari and watched some videos. It drained the battery quickly and got very hot.”

There is even a YouTube video, published in November 2017, which you can watch below:

No gold iPhone X

If you were hoping you might be able to get the iPhone X in a colour other than silver or Space Grey, you may be interested to learn there was nearly a gold iPhone X.

It appears that Apple was all set to release a gold version of the iPhone X but had to shelve that version ahead of release for some reason.

Apple made a filing with the Federal Communications Commission for a gold iPhone X before the beginning of October 2017, we know this because it is necessary for more than 180 days to have passed, since that’s the confidentiality period, and that time has now elapsed.

The company filed number of images showing a gold iPhone X. This version of the iPhone X would have shared the same, new gold tone that appeared on the 2017 iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and the 2018 iPad.

There were reports that Apple was working on a gold variant of the iPhone X, however only the Space Grey and silver versions are on sale.

The gold version may have been ditched due to manufacturing problems. There were rumours before the release of the 2017 iPhones that suggested that Apple was having some problems building the gold version.

Back in September 2017, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that a “blush gold” version may go on sale at a later date due to the issues.

MacRumours suggests that the issue may have been due to the stainless steel frame used by the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 has an aluminium frame.

There may still be a gold iPhone X, rumours have suggested that a the new colour may be introduced to boost sales of the device. We could see this at WWDC in June. Read about what we expect to see at WWDC here.

Initially the alleged “Blush Gold” iPhone X rumour came from Ben Geskin, who’s a notable leaker. He tweeted a photo back in early March 2018 that appeared to show a gold iPhone X and it’s accompanying SIM tray.

No PRODUCT RED iPhone X

So, how about a red version of the iPhone X? Apple has introduced a (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Will the company introduce a red version of the iPhone X?

It looks unlikely. The company has, however, introduced a red case for the iPhone X, which you can see here.

Face ID failure

If your iPhone X is refusing to recognise you using Face ID, Apple may replace your iPhone.

An Apple Insider report suggests that an issue occurs with both the front and rear cameras on the iPhone X, which refers the camera only partially functional, and stops Face ID from working.

Reports indicate that Apple is replacing these iPhones with new iPhone X models free of charge, although the company may initially try to replace the TrueDepth camera, and then the rear-facing camera.

The fact that this issue links the front and rear cameras suggests that there is a relationship between the TrueDepth system used by the Face ID camera and the camera on the back of the iPhone.

Apple Insider has spoken to a number of Genius Bar staff and says that the problem is “extremely rare”. That site highlights that: “The policy doesn’t represent a new repair program, or the discovery of a widespread fault with TrueDepth cameras. Instead, it is a modification of a support procedure, something that happens relatively frequently.”

Hair pulling

This has to be one of the more random complaints.

Apparently some users are complaining that the iPhone X is catching and pulling at their hair: there are threads about this on MacRumors and Reddit.

It seems that the iPhone X is particularly attracted to beards and long hair with hair getting caught in the gap between the bezel and display.

It’s not a problem unique to the iPhone X, though – similar issues have been experiences with older iPhones. If you are getting your hair pulled by your iPhone the best solution seems to be to put it in a case.

Incoming call delays

Multiple – if still limited – reports gathered by the Financial Times (subscriber link) in February and piunikaweb back in January suggest some users are having problems with incoming calls.

What users have described is this. A call comes in, and the ring alert is heard. The screen is supposed to light up and show accept and decline options – but it doesn’t, for around 5 to 10 seconds, which means the user cannot take the call for some time and often misses it entirely.

Apple is taking this at least fairly seriously: MacRumors quotes the company as saying it is “looking into these reports”. No updates have been issued at time of writing.

Touch screen not working

Some people have found that their iPhone X touch screen stops working. In some cases it has become unresponsive in cold weather. In response Apple issued a iOS 11 update that addresses the issue.

Initially a thread on Reddit claimed: “It literally takes 2 seconds from going inside to the cold outdoors and my screen stops being very responsive.”

According to a report on The Loop, Apple confirmed that it is aware of the issue. The company said: “We are aware of instances where the iPhone X screen will become temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid change to a cold environment. After several seconds the screen will become fully responsive again. This will be addressed in an upcoming software update.”

That software update has now been issued. According to the release notes iOS 11.1.2 fixes an issue where the iPhone X screen becomes temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid temperature drop. It also addresses an issue that could cause distortion in Live Photos and videos captures with the iPhone X.

Apple has always advised that iPhones may not function in temperatures below 0º or above 35ºC (that’s 32º to 95ºF).

Face ID hacked

There have been a number of stories appearing claiming that people have been able to fool Face ID so that it will unlock someone else’s iPhone X.

There were a number of videos where identical twins were able to unlock each others phones. Apple has already confirmed here that someone who looked like you might be able to unlock your iPhone (a twin or just another family member.)

However, the most likely scenario in cases where a twin or family member unlocks an iPhone X is that at some point in the process the passcode had been entered, telling Face ID to start to learn that the new face was in fact the old face.

We tested this theory with some identical twin friends and found that twin two couldn’t open the phone when it was set up with twin one’s Face ID. However, all twin two needed to do was enter the passcode and then Face ID updated itself to recognise them as well as their twin. From then on Face ID could be unlocked by both twins.

There is one case where a 10-year-old boy was able to unlock his mother’s iPhone X. Apparently within seconds of the boy looking at his mother’s new iPhone X it unlocked. In the statement on Face ID Security linked to above Apple said that it doesn’t recommend that children use Face ID as their facial features are still developing, and the company has also warned that people with similar features may be able to unlock your iPhone X, but it seems strange that the boy, who’s face is so much smaller than his mother’s would be able to unlock the iPhone.

Apple claimed that it had thoroughly tested Face ID and found that it was impossible to fool it with the use of a mask. However, a Vietnamese security firm is claiming it has bypassed Face ID using a silicone mask, a 3-D printed frame, and 2-D images of the eyes and mouth.

The security firm has shared this video of the hack.

While it’s unlikely that anyone would go to such lengths to hack into your iPhone X, it could be a threat to the privacy of a celebrity, or anyone whose iPhone would be in demand (someone who ran a company or a country, for example).

As for whether it would work the other way round, someone has tested that theory by making themselves up to look like celebrities.

Makeup artist Promise Tamang is already famous for using makeup to make herself look like celebrities, so she put the iPhone X to the test by making herself look like Kylie Jenner and Mariah Carey. Obviously she didn’t have their iPhones to find out if she was able to fool them, but she wasn’t able to fool her own iPhone X which unlocked straight away as it recognised it was really her all along.

Speaker buzzing, not working

Apparently some iPhone X users are experiencing distortion and buzzing sounds from the iPhone X speaker.

iPhone X owners posting on Reddit and Twitter are reporting crackling sounds that can be heard when using the iPhone X speakerphone at high volumes.

Although, one Redditor claims that the issue happens even at just 50% volume.

Another poster claims that Apple replaced his iPhone X due to the issue, but that the new unit was also affected by the issue.

The iPhone 8 also suffered from an earpiece cracking issue and this was fixed with a software update.

Face ID not working

After installing the iOS 11.2 update some iPhone X users found that Face ID was no longer working. Apparently turning the device on and off again fixed that issue. (If you are wondering how to turn off and restart your iPhone X here’s a tutorial).

iPhone X headaches

Some users have complained that the device is particularly prone to cause eye fatigue and headaches; indeed, a member of the Macworld team who uses an iPhone X full-time says he’s been having more headaches than usual since buying the handset.

Because the reports are anecdotal at this stage it’s impossible to be sure if the problem truly stems from the phone. But it could be related to Apple’s use of pulse-width modulation to dim the brightness of the display. This can produce a flickering effect that some people are sensitive to.

If you’re experiencing similar issues, you could try adjusting some of the settings on your iPhone. We found that some of the new features in iOS 11 made us feel sick – you can find out how to turn nausea inducing iPhone effects here.

iPhone X green line

Some iPhone X units are developing a green line on the side of the display.

Twitter user mixOmatOsis was one of a number of iPhone X users to experience the issue. He tweeted this photo of the problem to Apple Support:

The line tends to run vertically either down the right or left side of the device’s OLED display.

Some iPhone X handsets are slower than others

Because Apple doesn’t use the same components in all of its iPhone X handsets, some are apparently slower than others.

According to a SpeedSmart, this is because Apple is using different suppliers for the baseband modems inside the iPhone X. Either a Qualcomm or Intel modem.

In November, SpeedSmart claimed that the data that it has obtained from users of its app shows that there are big differences in speeds depending on which modem is in the iPhone.

Apparently Intel’s modem is the faster option. However, Apple has artificially limited the Qualcomm modem, says BGR in its report.

In December a further study by Cellular Insights seemed to suggest the opposite findings.

According to that study, the iPhone X models with a Qualcomm modem “get consistently better LTE speeds than Intel’s on America’s most common LTE band”.

PC Mag suggests that “most consumers will feel the difference in very weak signal conditions, where every dBm of signal matters”.

How to find our which modem your iPhone X uses

Want to find out which modem your iPhone X uses?

  1. Open Settings on the iPhone
  2. Go to General > About
  3. Scroll down until you see Model
  4. Tap on Model to change from part number to model number

A1865 model number = Qualcomm iPhone X

A1901 model number = Intel iPhone X

Qualcomm trying to sue Apple over iPhone X

Speaking of Qualcomm, that company has a bit of an issue with Apple’s apparent use of technology that’s described in patents that were previously owned by Palm until Qualcomm bought the patents in 2014. Qualcomm has filed three complaints against Apple regarding 16 patents.

Qualcomm just wants the iPhone X banned.

Apple had already filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm, claiming that the company is using its own battery management technology in the Snapdragon processor.

Not selling

Finally, there have been a los of reports claiming that Apple is planning to discontinue the iPhone X because demand has been lower than anticipated.

For example, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) research suggested that one in five (20% of) iPhones bought in the last quarter of 2017 was the iPhone X, via MacRumors.

In fact, Apple’s Tim Cook confirmed that the iPhone X has been the best selling handset since it went on sale.

Apple’s Q1 and Q2 2018 financial results were pretty healthy, and Tim Cook said X sales were strong.

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Apple subscription movie & TV on-demand service rumours

Are Netflix and Amazon’s offerings enough for you, or are your evenings still empty and in need of entertainment? The good news is that Apple is gearing up to take on Netflix, Amazon and UK services such as Now TV, with its own TV shows and movies which will be available to watch via subscription on the Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.

With many new shows in the works, we may soon hear news about the new subscription service being planned by Apple, perhaps as early as WWDC on 4 June.

You can already stream some Apple’s shows, as long as you subscribe to Apple Music for £9.99 a month (details of these below). It is thought that when it launches the new subscription service will either be available via a re-branded Apple Music or via the TV app. It’s not clear whether Apple will include the content as part of the Apple Music monthly subscription, but it looks likely. The company says that there are now 38 million subscribers to Apple Music.

One of Apple’s series of content related hires is the ex controller of BBC One & chief creative officer of Channel 4. Jay Hunt is expected to commission programmes on behalf of Apple for Europe and the UK market. Read more about Apple’s team of execs working on the streaming project here.

We have information about all of Apple’s new shows below, including a series from La La Land director and writer Damien Chazelle, news that Apple has signed up a show by Bob’s Burgers creator staring Frozen’s Kristen Bell and Josh Gad, and a show by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who co-wrote The Big Sick.

Apple is also reported to be planning to offer movies two to three weeks after cinema release, in a move that could threaten cinema chains, find out more below

Why is Apple trying to get in on TV and video content? According to Bloomberg (in October 2017), Apple CEO Tim Cook wants to double revenue from its services business by 2020. That includes iTunes, Apple Music, and the TV app (read about how to use the TV app here).

The company is said to plan to spend $4.2 billion on original programming by 2022, including $1 billion in 2018.

According to Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster (famous for his predictions that Apple would launch an actual television), Apple will spend more on original content than any other tech giant, with a budget of $8.3 billion, compared to Netflix’s $6.8 billion. 

Apple’s Eddy Cue says the company isn’t going to buy Netflix or Disney though, despite rumours. Read more about why Apple might buy Netflix here.

It is likely that if you want to watch this content on your TV you will need an Apple TV to do so – read all the rumours about the 2018 Apple TV here.

Apple’s team of TV and film execs

Apple’s Eddy Cue has been building a video team for some time. He says that the team is now made up of more than 40 people.

The video team is based in Los Angeles and is lead by two ex-Sony Pictures execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt, have worked at Sony for 15 years (Amburg) and 20 years (Erlicht).

When he was given the job in June 2017, Erlicht said: “It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team. We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products — unparalleled quality.”

Van Amburg added: “Apple has a relentless focus on delighting customers with their products. We will bring that same intention to Apple’s programming and we could not be more excited about what lies ahead,” according to a report on Deadline Hollywood.

In September 2017, in Erlicht and Van Amburg’s Apple’s TV content team was joined by Matt Cherniss, president of US TV broadcasting company WGN. He was behind shows such as Manhattan and Salem and has previously worked for Sony, Warner Bros. Pictures and Fox.

And in late October 2017 Apple added the former controller of BBC One and chief creative officer of Channel 4 to its team of creatives working on video content.

Jay Hunt was behind shows like Sherlock, Luther, and then helped Channel 4 buy The Great British Bake Off. In her new role at Apple she will be creative director Europe, worldwide video. It is thought that she will be commissioning programming on behalf of Apple.

In February 2018 Apple hired Gaumont Television executive Carol Trussell as Head of Production at its Worldwide Video Programming division.

When at Gaumont, Trussell was responsible for Narcos and Hannibal amongst other shows. She was previously a producer for HBO’s True Blood

Apple has also hired The Paramount Network’s Dana Tuinier as creative executive for comedy. Before Paramount, Tuinier worked at Fox on shows including New Girl, Almost Human and Glee.

The company had been said to be taking out a lease on The Culver Studios – a studio where The Matrix was shot – to be its base in Hollywood, however, according to Variety, Amazon has taken over those studios. Apple is said to be signing a lease on another property in Culver City (which is about eight miles from Hollywood), it’s a four story building offering 128,000 square feet of office space, and is expected to be ready in 2019.

The TV shows Apple’s making

Wondering what shows the team at Apple is making? The company has been unable to keep rumours and snippits of information getting out about it’s plans here, so we already know about quite a few of the shows the company is working on. With so much information about the shows that are coming from Apple there can be no doubt that the company intends to extend its own offering beyond iTunes rentals very soon.

And it’s not skimping. Apple is said to have invested at least $1 billion in 2018 buying and producing its own video content in a bid to compete with Netflix and Amazon, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg claim that the investment could translate to 10 new shows, but there are more than 10 shows listed below.

According to Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, speaking at the South by Southwest conference in March 2018, Apple plans is to produce a small number of quality shows rather than focus on quantity.

Back in January 2017, Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine confirmed that Apple had plans to offer original video content via its Apple Music service. Speaking at a Television Critics Association event, Irvine said that Apple is working towards creating “an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video,” via the Apple Music service.

Don’t expect to see anything like Game of Thrones coming from Apple’s studios though. Apparently the company isn’t looking for sex or violence. According to Bloomberg: “Apple wants comedies and emotional dramas with broad appeal, such as the NBC hit ‘This Is Us,’ and family shows like ‘Amazing Stories.’”

Top executives don’t want kids “catching a stray nipple,” the report claims.

Apple has launched two shows so far, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, and you can find out more about them below. Those shows are currently distributed via the £9.99 a month Apple Music subscription service, but it is likely a new service would be launched to host the new movie and TV content, perhaps Apple Movies.

However, the new shows in the pipeline aren’t all about music. We have details on some of the other new shows that Apple is working on:

Little Amerca

This one is being co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who wrote the Big Sick. It’s about American immigrants and will be produced by Master of None co-creator/executive producer Alan Yang.

M. Night Shyamalan show

All we know is that a psychological thriller written by Tony Basgallop is in the works and that the first episode will be directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation

Apple has landed a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel trilogy Foundation.

According to a Deadline report, the project from Skydance Television will be produced by David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as well as Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.

Goyer’s credits include The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Ghost Rider, and more. He co-wrote the upcoming Terminator reboot.

Friedman’s credits include Avatar 2, the War of the Worlds remake and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Top of the Morning/Morning Show

Apple has also bought a new drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

The company beat others in a bidding war for the two-season show, based on the book Top of the Morning. Ellenberg’s book looked at the lives of morning TV presenters.

Aniston and Witherspoon are co-owners and executive producers along with Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res company, which will produce the show. The series was to be written and executive produced by Jay Carson (who was behind House of Cards).

However, there’s already been a bit of drama regarding this show. The creator Jay Carson has left the project due to “creative differences” according to Variety. That site suggests that Apple may be closing a deal with Kerry Ehrin to head up the project in Carson’s absence. Ehrin was creator, executive producer and showrunner for Bates Motel.

Central Park

This will be an animated musical comedy series staring Kristen Bell and Josh Gad (who last worked together on Frozen), as well as Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom Jr and Daveed Diggs, Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Transparent actress Kathryn Hahn and Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, according to Digital Spy.

The series is based on a family of Central Park caretakers who have to save the world.

It’s from the creator of Bob’s Burgers, Loren Bouchard and is being co-written with Josh Gad and Nora Smith. Apple is committed to 26 episodes over two seasons.

The Obamas

It was reported that Apple, Netflix and Amazon were apparently in a bidding war over a show that would star former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama, hosting conversations on topics ranging from health care to climate change. However, in May 2018 it was revealed that Netflix had won the rights to the show.

Swagger

Swagger is a drama series based on the life of Kevin Durant, a Basketball player. It will be written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood who wrote Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious.

Untitled drama from La La Land writer

La La Land’s Damien Chazelle has been signed up by Apple to write and direct a drama series for Apple.

House of Cards studio MRC is also involved with the show.

Untitled: ‘You Think It, I’ll Say It’

Staring Kristen Wiig and produced by Reese Witherspoon, this comedy series is based on Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection titled You Think It, I’ll Say It.

Comedian Kristen Wiig used to appear on Saturday Night Live.

J.J. Abrams Si-Fi drama

Apple is said to be in a bidding war with HBO for this one (January 2018), reports Variety.

See

Described as an “epic, world building drama”, See is directed by Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and written by Steven Knight.

Untitled: ‘Space drama’

As yet unnamed, this drama comes from Star Trek veteran Ronald D. Moore.

Are You Sleeping

This crime drama, based on a novel by Kathleen Barber, sees a murder case reopened after a Serial-style podcast publicises it.

The series is being written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, who also wrote The Good Wife.

Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, is co-producing it for Apple.

Amazing Stories

Apple has also bought Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, which was being executive produced by Spielberg in partnership with Bryan Fuller, however Fuller departed the show in February 2018.

Apparently that drama will transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers.

In May 2018 it was revealed that ‘Once Upon A Time‘ co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis would be the executive producers on the show.

It’s thought that Fuller’s ideas for the show weren’t family friendly enough for Apple, according to a Variety report.

Apple Movies

As yet we aren’t aware of any movies in the works at Apple. However, movie studios are said to be working with Apple on plans to release movies for rental just two or three weeks after cinema release, according to a Bloomberg report.

Apparently these PVOD (premium video on demand) rentals would be available to download months before they hit services like Netflix and Now TV, but they would have a higher price than Apple’s usual rental deals. According to the Bloomberg report, if rented from iTunes the movies could cost between $30-$50, while the average price of a cinema ticket is $8.84. ($30 is about £24).

It’s normal for digital rentals of movies to be available around three months after cinema release.

This move could be a threat to cinema chains, although the high price of the iTunes rentals is likely to put most customers off – although the price of taking a family of four to the cinema might turn out to be higher than the rental price of the movie.

4K movies

4K titles are already available to watch on the 4K Apple TV and these new titles are available at the same price as HD titles are currently. In fact, announcing the 4K content at the September iPhone X launch event, Apple confirmed that if you have already purchased a HD title you will be able to automatically get the 4K version.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will both support 4K on Apple TV.

Older Apple TVs will not be able to play the 4K content.

How will Apple deliver the content?

This isn’t clear, yet. But there are a few possibilties:

Merging Apple Music and the iTunes Store

Apple may expand the remit of Apple Music to include TV and movies, as was the case when iTunes expanded to include TV and movies back in 2005. Back then Apple introduced iTunes 6 and added support for purchasing and viewing video content from the iTunes Music Store.

Initially the iTunes Music Store offered Music Videos and a small selection of TV shows, including Lost and Desperate Housewives. Since then, the collection has expanded to include content from numerous television networks and movies.

Eventually the iTunes Music Store dropped the word music, as it’s focus was much more…

However, the main complaint many have with the iTunes Store as it stands is that content can either be bought or rented, you can’t sign up for a all-you-can-eat style subscription service such as Netflix offers.

Loop analyst Gene Munster claims that Apple will rebrand Apple Music within the next two or three years, launching the new content under that banner, reports Variety. 

In a 22 November research note Munster wrote: “Apple should be able to quickly expand their sub base given they have a running start with just over 30 million Apple Music subs that will have access to the video offering for the same $10 per month.”

Apple TV app

To date Apple’s TV app is the closest Apple has come to offering customers all the shows and movies they might want to watch in one place. It pulls the information about all the content from all the different content apps you might have on the Apple TV and your other Apple devices into one place so that you can make a choice about what you want to watch without having to go into all the different apps – although once you make that choice, you will currently be transferred to the other app to watch the content.

It seems likely that Apple plans to release its first few content projects to everyone with an Apple device via its TV app.

A Bloomberg report in May 2018 suggested that Apple could change the way its TV app works to accomodate this. Currently the TV app, which is found on iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV, is able to direct users to subscription content, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV, but you cannot actually subscribe or watch the content through the Apple TV app. It looks like this is set to change, with Apple’s TV app being able to play the content without kicking you out into a separate app to consume it.

The Bloomberg story suggests that the updated TV app could be available in 2019, and that with the new functionality, Apple could be opening the TV app up to allow its own content to be streamed.

The Apple TV app launched in the UK in December. At launch it offers content from My5, ITV Hub, iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. Netflix was later added to the offering. Read about how to use the TV app on iPhone or iPad here and how to use the TV app on Apple TV here.

On a subscription basis?

Apple currently has an extensive library of movie and TV shows available via iTunes. Rather than being available on a subscription basis, as with Netflix and Amazon, you can only choose to rent of buy movies, or buy individual episodes or series passes for TV content.

Since Netflix took off there have been calls for Apple to offer content via a subscription service.

Apple’s willingness to offer shows to Apple Music subscribers, and it’s hires in the TV and movie production field, does seem to indicate that this is something it plans to do, but it isn’t clear whether it will only offer it’s own content via subscription, or if it will offer all the content available on iTunes. People want the latter, but Apple will need necessary deals with the content providers in place before it can do so.

One thing is clear, Apple is unlikely to offer an commercial-based model in order to cut the subscription cost to consumers. Speaking at Recode in February 2017, Apple’s Eddy Cue said of such models: “I’m not saying we’ll never do it.. I don’t think it’s the direction we should be going. I don’t think that’s what our customers are asking for.”

What shows has Apple already made?

The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2017 that Apple has been talking to producers about creating premium programming and movies. So far we know only of the following programmes that have been made for Apple’s streaming service:

Carpool Karaoke

A popular spot on CBS’s The Late Late Show, 16 episodes of Carpool Karaoke will be available to stream via Apple Music – though not all will star original host James Corden, and the majority will instead feature a variety of celebrity pairings.

The show was set to start streaming in April, but eventually premiered in August 2017. You will need a Apple Music subscription in order to watch the episodes.

Bloomberg has revealed that the reason for the delay was the “Foul language and references to vaginal hygiene,” that had to be removed from some episodes.

Apple is showing a pair of ads for upcoming episodes, one of which will feature Queen Latifah, and the other featuring Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, plus the rest of their family. This time the presenter is Jada Pinkett Smith rather than creator James Corden.

Here’s the ad for the episode featuring the Cyrus family.

Previous episodes have included Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane…

…and “Game of Thrones” co-stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner.

If you have signed up for Apple Music, or if you sign up for the free three month trial, you can watch the first episode here.

Planet of the Apps

Hosted by Will.i.am this is a sort of Dragon’s Den for App developers. It features celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba mentoring app developers. App developers have the length of a escalator ride to pitch their apps.

Apple posted this trailer:

Planet of the Apps is available on Apple Music – you can watch it here.

Unfortunately the show didn’t impress. according to Variety’s Maureen Ryan it was a: “Bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of Shark Tank.”

Vital Signs

Backed by Apple, Dr Dre’s semi-autobiographical six-part series was rumoured to be in production in February 2016. However, little has been revealed about this show since those reports appeared regarding it.

How can I watch Apple’s TV shows?

Currently you can only watch Apple’s own TV shows via the Apple Music app (which means you need to subscribe to that). However, according to Bloomberg, the shows Apple is making will not be placed on Apple Music, which will limit its focus to music-related video.

The shows that are currently live are available for Apple Music subscribers for £9.99 a month. You can also sign up for a free trial for three months here.

As of February 2017 there were 20 million paid subscribers to the Apple Music service. Subscribers are able to stream the shows on their Apple devices including the newest Apple TV model, the iPhone and iPad, and the Mac.

When will I be able to watch Apple’s TV shows in the UK?

iTunes tends to be region specific so it is possible that there may be a delay in content being available in the UK, and some content may never be made available in the UK. However in terms of the Apple Music shows those programmes were be available in the UK at the same time as they went live in the US, so that may be the case with at least some of the content available on Apple’s Movie & TV streaming service.

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss Apple TV-streaming plans in episode 52, starting at 24 minutes.

Background to Apple’s Movie & TV streaming service plans

There have been rumours for years that Apple planned to work with the networks to distribute content via its own streaming service. Here is a run down of the various rumours that have emerged, as well as some of the hurdles Apple is said to have encountered along the way.

Why has it taken Apple so long to offer a streaming service?

Back in 2015 Apple was said to be negotiating deals with networks. At the time, ESPN’s boss John Skipper confirmed that he was working on a deal with Apple for its rumoured streaming service, but revealed that Apple was having more trouble convincing other networks to join in.

However, it appears Apple hit a bit of a brick wall with the negotiations because by August 2015 talks with CBS, Fox, and NBC were said to have stalled. And then, in December 2015 it was claimed that Apple was putting its plans for the streaming service on hold because the cable companies and networks were proving too resistant to the idea.

By February 2016 CBS CEO Les Moonves had confirmed that talks with Apple had stopped following months of conversations with content providers: “We had conversations awhile back, and we haven’t had recent conversations with them,” Moonves said. 

Why did Apple fail to come to an agreement in these negotiations? One report claimed that Apple was looking to collect a 30% fee from all subscriptions and the network operators weren’t happy about this.

Having failed to negotiate content deals will Apple instead seek to acquire companies that have content available for distribution? There are claims that the company could buy Disney, for example, more on that below.

For now the company seems to be distancing itself from the idea. Speaking at Recode, Apple’s Eddy Cue said that Apple isn’t “trying to buy a bunch of shows,” indicating that Apple isn’t planning to make any content acquisitions, and back in June 2016 Apple’s Eddy Cue said that Apple wasn’t interested in becoming a Netflix competitor.

Is Apple going to launch a television?

The short answer: no. Rumours that Apple would launch a TV were circulating for some time, spurred by the fact that Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to hint in his biography that he intended to reinvent television. This spurred a long running rumour that Apple would launch an actual television set.

Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson: “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use… It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to share Jobs’ TV dreams. Over the years he has suggested both that the TV experience needed to be bought up to date, and that Apple might revolutionise television. He stated back in September 2014: “Think how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that have changed, and yet TV, when you go into the living room to watch TV or wherever it may be, it almost feels like you’re rewinding the clock and you’ve entered a time capsule and you’re going backwards. The interface is terrible, I mean it’s awful. You watch things when they come on unless you remember to record them.”

Analyst Gene Munster was probably the most vocal in his predictions that Apple would launch an actual TV, he may even have been correct, as there were reports that Apple did have a team working on an actual TV, but it appears that the company eventually ditched the idea.

Instead of launching an actual television, the company launched Apple’s tvOS and the re-imagined Apple TV in 2016, both of which could be seen as the culmination of Steve Jobs vision for TV. However, those who were hoping for the reinvention of television, with a fancy TV set and a Netflix-style streaming service were disappointed.

Read our review of the 2015 Apple TV here.

Will Apple buy Netflix?

One rumour that’s been doing the rounds for some time, is that Apple could buy Netflix. However, Apple’s Eddy Cue has quashed that rumour by saying that Apple isn’t looking to buy a content company: “We might be better buying somebody or doing that, but that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Cue said at the Recode conference in February 2017.

Cue reiterated this at the South by Southwest conference in March 2018, saying that Apple isn’t going to buy Netflix or Disney, instead Apple will make its own original content. 

One reason for the rumours that Apple could buy the likes of Netflix is the fact that due to US tax reforms it should now be easier (and less expensive) for Apple to repatriate its $200+ billion dollars held overseas back to the US – and that could pave the way for some big spending on acquisition.

Will Apple buy Netflix? We think it’s unlikely given Apple’s recent spending to create its own team of executives to develop shows for its platform. But, given Netflix’s 115 million subscribers and it’s excellent collection of shows and movies, it would certainly be an attractive buy. Not to mention the fact that buying Netflix would keep it out of the hands of Amazon, Google and Apple’s other competitors.

Will Apple buy Sony, Paramount…

Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior vice president Eddy Cue have been talking with TV and film producers in Hollywood.

The New York Post source told the paper that Apple “Is looking for a transformative acquisition and not just a deal to buy TV shows”.

The Apple execs have met with execs Paramount Pictures and with Sony TV and film.

The outcome of discussion with Sony execs might be the eventual hiring of Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt. These ex-Sony Pictures execs will help Apple with its programming plans.

Could Apple buy Disney?

Apple could probably buy a whole country if it wanted to, it has so much money in the bank. As to whether it might buy Disney, there are reasons to think that such a deal wouldn’t be completely surprising: to do so would bring content, excellent co-branding potential, and a 30% share of Hulu.

There is also the fact that Steve Jobs was Disney’s biggest shareholder following his sale of Pixar to the company, and the fact that Disney CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple’s board.

With all that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the rumour has been circulating.

However, Apple’s Eddy Cue has said that Apple is not going to buy Disney, putting pay to any rumours that Apple could be interested in the Mickey Mouse house.

Could Apple buy HBO? Time Warner?

There was a rumour that Apple was considering buying HBO, the home of Game of Thrones as part of an acquisition deal with Time Warner.

Back in early 2016 a New York Post report even claimed that Apple might even buy Time Warner, Inc. That purchase would include HBO, CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. However, no such deal emerged.

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Apple subscription movie & TV on-demand service rumours

Are Netflix and Amazon’s offerings enough for you, or are your evenings still empty and in need of entertainment? The good news is that Apple is gearing up to take on Netflix, Amazon and UK services such as Now TV, with its own TV shows and movies which will be available to watch via subscription on the Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.

With many new shows in the works, we may soon hear news about the new subscription service being planned by Apple, perhaps as early as WWDC on 4 June.

You can already stream some Apple’s shows, as long as you subscribe to Apple Music for £9.99 a month (details of these below). It is thought that when it launches the new subscription service will either be available via a re-branded Apple Music or via the TV app. It’s not clear whether Apple will include the content as part of the Apple Music monthly subscription, but it looks likely. The company says that there are now 38 million subscribers to Apple Music.

One of Apple’s series of content related hires is the ex controller of BBC One & chief creative officer of Channel 4. Jay Hunt is expected to commission programmes on behalf of Apple for Europe and the UK market. Read more about Apple’s team of execs working on the streaming project here.

We have information about all of Apple’s new shows below, including a series from La La Land director and writer Damien Chazelle, news that Apple has signed up a show by Bob’s Burgers creator staring Frozen’s Kristen Bell and Josh Gad, and a show by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who co-wrote The Big Sick.

Apple is also reported to be planning to offer movies two to three weeks after cinema release, in a move that could threaten cinema chains, find out more below

Why is Apple trying to get in on TV and video content? According to Bloomberg (in October 2017), Apple CEO Tim Cook wants to double revenue from its services business by 2020. That includes iTunes, Apple Music, and the TV app (read about how to use the TV app here).

The company is said to plan to spend $4.2 billion on original programming by 2022, including $1 billion in 2018.

According to Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster (famous for his predictions that Apple would launch an actual television), Apple will spend more on original content than any other tech giant, with a budget of $8.3 billion, compared to Netflix’s $6.8 billion. 

Apple’s Eddy Cue says the company isn’t going to buy Netflix or Disney though, despite rumours. Read more about why Apple might buy Netflix here.

It is likely that if you want to watch this content on your TV you will need an Apple TV to do so – read all the rumours about the 2018 Apple TV here.

Apple’s team of TV and film execs

Apple’s Eddy Cue has been building a video team for some time. He says that the team is now made up of more than 40 people.

The video team is based in Los Angeles and is lead by two ex-Sony Pictures execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt, have worked at Sony for 15 years (Amburg) and 20 years (Erlicht).

When he was given the job in June 2017, Erlicht said: “It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team. We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products — unparalleled quality.”

Van Amburg added: “Apple has a relentless focus on delighting customers with their products. We will bring that same intention to Apple’s programming and we could not be more excited about what lies ahead,” according to a report on Deadline Hollywood.

In September 2017, in Erlicht and Van Amburg’s Apple’s TV content team was joined by Matt Cherniss, president of US TV broadcasting company WGN. He was behind shows such as Manhattan and Salem and has previously worked for Sony, Warner Bros. Pictures and Fox.

And in late October 2017 Apple added the former controller of BBC One and chief creative officer of Channel 4 to its team of creatives working on video content.

Jay Hunt was behind shows like Sherlock, Luther, and then helped Channel 4 buy The Great British Bake Off. In her new role at Apple she will be creative director Europe, worldwide video. It is thought that she will be commissioning programming on behalf of Apple.

In February 2018 Apple hired Gaumont Television executive Carol Trussell as Head of Production at its Worldwide Video Programming division.

When at Gaumont, Trussell was responsible for Narcos and Hannibal amongst other shows. She was previously a producer for HBO’s True Blood

Apple has also hired The Paramount Network’s Dana Tuinier as creative executive for comedy. Before Paramount, Tuinier worked at Fox on shows including New Girl, Almost Human and Glee.

The company had been said to be taking out a lease on The Culver Studios – a studio where The Matrix was shot – to be its base in Hollywood, however, according to Variety, Amazon has taken over those studios. Apple is said to be signing a lease on another property in Culver City (which is about eight miles from Hollywood), it’s a four story building offering 128,000 square feet of office space, and is expected to be ready in 2019.

The TV shows Apple’s making

Wondering what shows the team at Apple is making? The company has been unable to keep rumours and snippits of information getting out about it’s plans here, so we already know about quite a few of the shows the company is working on. With so much information about the shows that are coming from Apple there can be no doubt that the company intends to extend its own offering beyond iTunes rentals very soon.

And it’s not skimping. Apple is said to have invested at least $1 billion in 2018 buying and producing its own video content in a bid to compete with Netflix and Amazon, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg claim that the investment could translate to 10 new shows, but there are more than 10 shows listed below.

According to Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, speaking at the South by Southwest conference in March 2018, Apple plans is to produce a small number of quality shows rather than focus on quantity.

Back in January 2017, Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine confirmed that Apple had plans to offer original video content via its Apple Music service. Speaking at a Television Critics Association event, Irvine said that Apple is working towards creating “an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video,” via the Apple Music service.

Don’t expect to see anything like Game of Thrones coming from Apple’s studios though. Apparently the company isn’t looking for sex or violence. According to Bloomberg: “Apple wants comedies and emotional dramas with broad appeal, such as the NBC hit ‘This Is Us,’ and family shows like ‘Amazing Stories.’”

Top executives don’t want kids “catching a stray nipple,” the report claims.

Apple has launched two shows so far, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, and you can find out more about them below. Those shows are currently distributed via the £9.99 a month Apple Music subscription service, but it is likely a new service would be launched to host the new movie and TV content, perhaps Apple Movies.

However, the new shows in the pipeline aren’t all about music. We have details on some of the other new shows that Apple is working on:

Little Amerca

This one is being co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon who wrote the Big Sick. It’s about American immigrants and will be produced by Master of None co-creator/executive producer Alan Yang.

M. Night Shyamalan show

All we know is that a psychological thriller written by Tony Basgallop is in the works and that the first episode will be directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation

Apple has landed a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel trilogy Foundation.

According to a Deadline report, the project from Skydance Television will be produced by David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as well as Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.

Goyer’s credits include The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Ghost Rider, and more. He co-wrote the upcoming Terminator reboot.

Friedman’s credits include Avatar 2, the War of the Worlds remake and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Top of the Morning/Morning Show

Apple has also bought a new drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

The company beat others in a bidding war for the two-season show, based on the book Top of the Morning. Ellenberg’s book looked at the lives of morning TV presenters.

Aniston and Witherspoon are co-owners and executive producers along with Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res company, which will produce the show. The series was to be written and executive produced by Jay Carson (who was behind House of Cards).

However, there’s already been a bit of drama regarding this show. The creator Jay Carson has left the project due to “creative differences” according to Variety. That site suggests that Apple may be closing a deal with Kerry Ehrin to head up the project in Carson’s absence. Ehrin was creator, executive producer and showrunner for Bates Motel.

Central Park

This will be an animated musical comedy series staring Kristen Bell and Josh Gad (who last worked together on Frozen), as well as Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom Jr and Daveed Diggs, Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Transparent actress Kathryn Hahn and Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, according to Digital Spy.

The series is based on a family of Central Park caretakers who have to save the world.

It’s from the creator of Bob’s Burgers, Loren Bouchard and is being co-written with Josh Gad and Nora Smith. Apple is committed to 26 episodes over two seasons.

The Obamas

It was reported that Apple, Netflix and Amazon were apparently in a bidding war over a show that would star former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama, hosting conversations on topics ranging from health care to climate change. However, in May 2018 it was revealed that Netflix had won the rights to the show.

Swagger

Swagger is a drama series based on the life of Kevin Durant, a Basketball player. It will be written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood who wrote Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious.

Untitled drama from La La Land writer

La La Land’s Damien Chazelle has been signed up by Apple to write and direct a drama series for Apple.

House of Cards studio MRC is also involved with the show.

Untitled: ‘You Think It, I’ll Say It’

Staring Kristen Wiig and produced by Reese Witherspoon, this comedy series is based on Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection titled You Think It, I’ll Say It.

Comedian Kristen Wiig used to appear on Saturday Night Live.

J.J. Abrams Si-Fi drama

Apple is said to be in a bidding war with HBO for this one (January 2018), reports Variety.

See

Described as an “epic, world building drama”, See is directed by Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and written by Steven Knight.

Untitled: ‘Space drama’

As yet unnamed, this drama comes from Star Trek veteran Ronald D. Moore.

Are You Sleeping

This crime drama, based on a novel by Kathleen Barber, sees a murder case reopened after a Serial-style podcast publicises it.

The series is being written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, who also wrote The Good Wife.

Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, is co-producing it for Apple.

Amazing Stories

Apple has also bought Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, which was being executive produced by Spielberg in partnership with Bryan Fuller, however Fuller departed the show in February 2018.

Apparently that drama will transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers.

In May 2018 it was revealed that ‘Once Upon A Time‘ co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis would be the executive producers on the show.

It’s thought that Fuller’s ideas for the show weren’t family friendly enough for Apple, according to a Variety report.

Apple Movies

As yet we aren’t aware of any movies in the works at Apple. However, movie studios are said to be working with Apple on plans to release movies for rental just two or three weeks after cinema release, according to a Bloomberg report.

Apparently these PVOD (premium video on demand) rentals would be available to download months before they hit services like Netflix and Now TV, but they would have a higher price than Apple’s usual rental deals. According to the Bloomberg report, if rented from iTunes the movies could cost between $30-$50, while the average price of a cinema ticket is $8.84. ($30 is about £24).

It’s normal for digital rentals of movies to be available around three months after cinema release.

This move could be a threat to cinema chains, although the high price of the iTunes rentals is likely to put most customers off – although the price of taking a family of four to the cinema might turn out to be higher than the rental price of the movie.

4K movies

4K titles are already available to watch on the 4K Apple TV and these new titles are available at the same price as HD titles are currently. In fact, announcing the 4K content at the September iPhone X launch event, Apple confirmed that if you have already purchased a HD title you will be able to automatically get the 4K version.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will both support 4K on Apple TV.

Older Apple TVs will not be able to play the 4K content.

How will Apple deliver the content?

This isn’t clear, yet. But there are a few possibilties:

Merging Apple Music and the iTunes Store

Apple may expand the remit of Apple Music to include TV and movies, as was the case when iTunes expanded to include TV and movies back in 2005. Back then Apple introduced iTunes 6 and added support for purchasing and viewing video content from the iTunes Music Store.

Initially the iTunes Music Store offered Music Videos and a small selection of TV shows, including Lost and Desperate Housewives. Since then, the collection has expanded to include content from numerous television networks and movies.

Eventually the iTunes Music Store dropped the word music, as it’s focus was much more…

However, the main complaint many have with the iTunes Store as it stands is that content can either be bought or rented, you can’t sign up for a all-you-can-eat style subscription service such as Netflix offers.

Loop analyst Gene Munster claims that Apple will rebrand Apple Music within the next two or three years, launching the new content under that banner, reports Variety. 

In a 22 November research note Munster wrote: “Apple should be able to quickly expand their sub base given they have a running start with just over 30 million Apple Music subs that will have access to the video offering for the same $10 per month.”

Apple TV app

To date Apple’s TV app is the closest Apple has come to offering customers all the shows and movies they might want to watch in one place. It pulls the information about all the content from all the different content apps you might have on the Apple TV and your other Apple devices into one place so that you can make a choice about what you want to watch without having to go into all the different apps – although once you make that choice, you will currently be transferred to the other app to watch the content.

It seems likely that Apple plans to release its first few content projects to everyone with an Apple device via its TV app.

A Bloomberg report in May 2018 suggested that Apple could change the way its TV app works to accomodate this. Currently the TV app, which is found on iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV, is able to direct users to subscription content, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV, but you cannot actually subscribe or watch the content through the Apple TV app. It looks like this is set to change, with Apple’s TV app being able to play the content without kicking you out into a separate app to consume it.

The Bloomberg story suggests that the updated TV app could be available in 2019, and that with the new functionality, Apple could be opening the TV app up to allow its own content to be streamed.

The Apple TV app launched in the UK in December. At launch it offers content from My5, ITV Hub, iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. Netflix was later added to the offering. Read about how to use the TV app on iPhone or iPad here and how to use the TV app on Apple TV here.

On a subscription basis?

Apple currently has an extensive library of movie and TV shows available via iTunes. Rather than being available on a subscription basis, as with Netflix and Amazon, you can only choose to rent of buy movies, or buy individual episodes or series passes for TV content.

Since Netflix took off there have been calls for Apple to offer content via a subscription service.

Apple’s willingness to offer shows to Apple Music subscribers, and it’s hires in the TV and movie production field, does seem to indicate that this is something it plans to do, but it isn’t clear whether it will only offer it’s own content via subscription, or if it will offer all the content available on iTunes. People want the latter, but Apple will need necessary deals with the content providers in place before it can do so.

One thing is clear, Apple is unlikely to offer an commercial-based model in order to cut the subscription cost to consumers. Speaking at Recode in February 2017, Apple’s Eddy Cue said of such models: “I’m not saying we’ll never do it.. I don’t think it’s the direction we should be going. I don’t think that’s what our customers are asking for.”

What shows has Apple already made?

The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2017 that Apple has been talking to producers about creating premium programming and movies. So far we know only of the following programmes that have been made for Apple’s streaming service:

Carpool Karaoke

A popular spot on CBS’s The Late Late Show, 16 episodes of Carpool Karaoke will be available to stream via Apple Music – though not all will star original host James Corden, and the majority will instead feature a variety of celebrity pairings.

The show was set to start streaming in April, but eventually premiered in August 2017. You will need a Apple Music subscription in order to watch the episodes.

Bloomberg has revealed that the reason for the delay was the “Foul language and references to vaginal hygiene,” that had to be removed from some episodes.

Apple is showing a pair of ads for upcoming episodes, one of which will feature Queen Latifah, and the other featuring Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, plus the rest of their family. This time the presenter is Jada Pinkett Smith rather than creator James Corden.

Here’s the ad for the episode featuring the Cyrus family.

Previous episodes have included Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane…

…and “Game of Thrones” co-stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner.

If you have signed up for Apple Music, or if you sign up for the free three month trial, you can watch the first episode here.

Planet of the Apps

Hosted by Will.i.am this is a sort of Dragon’s Den for App developers. It features celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba mentoring app developers. App developers have the length of a escalator ride to pitch their apps.

Apple posted this trailer:

Planet of the Apps is available on Apple Music – you can watch it here.

Unfortunately the show didn’t impress. according to Variety’s Maureen Ryan it was a: “Bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of Shark Tank.”

Vital Signs

Backed by Apple, Dr Dre’s semi-autobiographical six-part series was rumoured to be in production in February 2016. However, little has been revealed about this show since those reports appeared regarding it.

How can I watch Apple’s TV shows?

Currently you can only watch Apple’s own TV shows via the Apple Music app (which means you need to subscribe to that). However, according to Bloomberg, the shows Apple is making will not be placed on Apple Music, which will limit its focus to music-related video.

The shows that are currently live are available for Apple Music subscribers for £9.99 a month. You can also sign up for a free trial for three months here.

As of February 2017 there were 20 million paid subscribers to the Apple Music service. Subscribers are able to stream the shows on their Apple devices including the newest Apple TV model, the iPhone and iPad, and the Mac.

When will I be able to watch Apple’s TV shows in the UK?

iTunes tends to be region specific so it is possible that there may be a delay in content being available in the UK, and some content may never be made available in the UK. However in terms of the Apple Music shows those programmes were be available in the UK at the same time as they went live in the US, so that may be the case with at least some of the content available on Apple’s Movie & TV streaming service.

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss Apple TV-streaming plans in episode 52, starting at 24 minutes.

Background to Apple’s Movie & TV streaming service plans

There have been rumours for years that Apple planned to work with the networks to distribute content via its own streaming service. Here is a run down of the various rumours that have emerged, as well as some of the hurdles Apple is said to have encountered along the way.

Why has it taken Apple so long to offer a streaming service?

Back in 2015 Apple was said to be negotiating deals with networks. At the time, ESPN’s boss John Skipper confirmed that he was working on a deal with Apple for its rumoured streaming service, but revealed that Apple was having more trouble convincing other networks to join in.

However, it appears Apple hit a bit of a brick wall with the negotiations because by August 2015 talks with CBS, Fox, and NBC were said to have stalled. And then, in December 2015 it was claimed that Apple was putting its plans for the streaming service on hold because the cable companies and networks were proving too resistant to the idea.

By February 2016 CBS CEO Les Moonves had confirmed that talks with Apple had stopped following months of conversations with content providers: “We had conversations awhile back, and we haven’t had recent conversations with them,” Moonves said. 

Why did Apple fail to come to an agreement in these negotiations? One report claimed that Apple was looking to collect a 30% fee from all subscriptions and the network operators weren’t happy about this.

Having failed to negotiate content deals will Apple instead seek to acquire companies that have content available for distribution? There are claims that the company could buy Disney, for example, more on that below.

For now the company seems to be distancing itself from the idea. Speaking at Recode, Apple’s Eddy Cue said that Apple isn’t “trying to buy a bunch of shows,” indicating that Apple isn’t planning to make any content acquisitions, and back in June 2016 Apple’s Eddy Cue said that Apple wasn’t interested in becoming a Netflix competitor.

Is Apple going to launch a television?

The short answer: no. Rumours that Apple would launch a TV were circulating for some time, spurred by the fact that Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to hint in his biography that he intended to reinvent television. This spurred a long running rumour that Apple would launch an actual television set.

Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson: “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use… It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to share Jobs’ TV dreams. Over the years he has suggested both that the TV experience needed to be bought up to date, and that Apple might revolutionise television. He stated back in September 2014: “Think how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that have changed, and yet TV, when you go into the living room to watch TV or wherever it may be, it almost feels like you’re rewinding the clock and you’ve entered a time capsule and you’re going backwards. The interface is terrible, I mean it’s awful. You watch things when they come on unless you remember to record them.”

Analyst Gene Munster was probably the most vocal in his predictions that Apple would launch an actual TV, he may even have been correct, as there were reports that Apple did have a team working on an actual TV, but it appears that the company eventually ditched the idea.

Instead of launching an actual television, the company launched Apple’s tvOS and the re-imagined Apple TV in 2016, both of which could be seen as the culmination of Steve Jobs vision for TV. However, those who were hoping for the reinvention of television, with a fancy TV set and a Netflix-style streaming service were disappointed.

Read our review of the 2015 Apple TV here.

Will Apple buy Netflix?

One rumour that’s been doing the rounds for some time, is that Apple could buy Netflix. However, Apple’s Eddy Cue has quashed that rumour by saying that Apple isn’t looking to buy a content company: “We might be better buying somebody or doing that, but that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Cue said at the Recode conference in February 2017.

Cue reiterated this at the South by Southwest conference in March 2018, saying that Apple isn’t going to buy Netflix or Disney, instead Apple will make its own original content. 

One reason for the rumours that Apple could buy the likes of Netflix is the fact that due to US tax reforms it should now be easier (and less expensive) for Apple to repatriate its $200+ billion dollars held overseas back to the US – and that could pave the way for some big spending on acquisition.

Will Apple buy Netflix? We think it’s unlikely given Apple’s recent spending to create its own team of executives to develop shows for its platform. But, given Netflix’s 115 million subscribers and it’s excellent collection of shows and movies, it would certainly be an attractive buy. Not to mention the fact that buying Netflix would keep it out of the hands of Amazon, Google and Apple’s other competitors.

Will Apple buy Sony, Paramount…

Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior vice president Eddy Cue have been talking with TV and film producers in Hollywood.

The New York Post source told the paper that Apple “Is looking for a transformative acquisition and not just a deal to buy TV shows”.

The Apple execs have met with execs Paramount Pictures and with Sony TV and film.

The outcome of discussion with Sony execs might be the eventual hiring of Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who have shows such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul under their belt. These ex-Sony Pictures execs will help Apple with its programming plans.

Could Apple buy Disney?

Apple could probably buy a whole country if it wanted to, it has so much money in the bank. As to whether it might buy Disney, there are reasons to think that such a deal wouldn’t be completely surprising: to do so would bring content, excellent co-branding potential, and a 30% share of Hulu.

There is also the fact that Steve Jobs was Disney’s biggest shareholder following his sale of Pixar to the company, and the fact that Disney CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple’s board.

With all that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the rumour has been circulating.

However, Apple’s Eddy Cue has said that Apple is not going to buy Disney, putting pay to any rumours that Apple could be interested in the Mickey Mouse house.

Could Apple buy HBO? Time Warner?

There was a rumour that Apple was considering buying HBO, the home of Game of Thrones as part of an acquisition deal with Time Warner.

Back in early 2016 a New York Post report even claimed that Apple might even buy Time Warner, Inc. That purchase would include HBO, CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. However, no such deal emerged.

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Help Me, Laptop: Can Kaby Lake G Play Overwatch in 4K?

Some people buy big, powerful gaming laptops to play all kinds of games. Not reader alphatoronado, though. They just want to play Overwatch, and they want to play it at 4K.


Our dear reader doesn’t like the bulk or the black-and-red color scheme of many gaming notebooks, so they were looking at the HP Spectre x360 15t with Kaby Lake G. But, alphatoronado asked, has anyone tested it with Overwatch?

I’ve spent hours researching but can’t seem to get a clear answer on whether the HP can play Overwatch nicely,alphatoronado wrote. Specifically, they want it to play at 60 frames per second and 100-percent render scale. They’d prefer high settings but will drop to low if it means they can get those other measurements.

So I decided to answer with some testing. We still had our Spectre x360 15t review unit in-house, so I dug it out of the closet and installed Overwatch. The unit has a 512GB SSD (alphatoronado wanted this), a 4K display (which is good, because we needed that to test the game at 4K), 16GB of RAM and a Kaby Lake G Core i7-8705G CPU with AMD’s Radeon Vega graphics. As of this writing, that will run you $1,569.99.

Good news: This machine will play Overwatch. Bad news: It won’t do it at the exact settings alphatoronado wants.

Here’s what happened when I tried it:

  Render Scale Resolution Frame Rate
High 100 percent 4K 20-30 fps
Medium 100 percent 4K 24-30 fps
Low 100 percent 4K 26-31 fps

Even on low settings, it didn’t stay consistently above 30 fps. But Overwatch can run better on this chip. Overwatch should run better on this chip. So I modified just one variable: I changed the render scale from 100 percent to automatic. Now look:

  Render Scale Resolution Frame Rate
High Automatic 4K 47-52 fps
Medium Automatic 4K 49-63 fps
Low Automatic 4K 58-60 fps

It is possible to play Overwatch in 4K with Kaby Lake G. It can run extremely well! Part of the fun of PC gaming is to see what you can get to do with your specs. I’d argue that for Overwatch, you don’t need to worry about the render scaling option. It’s a game that focuses more on being optimized and playable on lots of systems rather than looking amazing just on the high end. And since Overwatch is a competitive shooter, your main concern should be achieving a smooth 60 fps rather than trying to boost the detail as high as possible.

MORE: The Best Gaming Laptops

The alternative, of course, is to drop the resolution. While alphatoronado didn’t want to turn down the scaling, they really only wanted to play in 4K. But just for fun, I played on Ultra settings at 1080p with an automatic render scale setting; I was always over 60 fps and sometimes running over 70 fps. The game still looked and played great.

But if alphatoronado needs the settings exactly as they described them and is unwilling to compromise, they’ll probably need to pay for a much more expensive laptop with a high-end, gaming-focused graphics card. Check out our favorites here.

Credit: Blizzard

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman,
Andrew joined Laptopmag.com in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE.
Andrew E. Freedman, on
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HP EliteBook 840 G5 Review

Let HP swoop you off your feet with a powerful and luxurious business notebook that embraces productivity and security just as much as it does its multimedia capabilities. The 14-inch EliteBook 840 G5 ($1,182 starting; $2,295 as reviewed) delivers solid performance with its 8th-Gen Intel Core processor and a comfortable keyboard to speed up your workflow. The Bang & Olufsen speakers will make you feel like you’re at a concert, and the bright privacy display will immerse you in your own private theater. The EliteBook trips up only in its webcam and its base model display.

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Design

With the EliteBook 840, you can work in style. The full aluminum exterior presents a minimalist silver finish accompanied by HP’s stylish slash logo. There’s a lightly engraved EliteBook logo on the hinge, and toward the top of the lid is a gray line dividing the lip of the laptop. I love that the hinge is at an angle, giving the notebook some flair compared to the plain, rectangular chassis of many other business laptops. The design is quite neat and simple.

As the laptop opens, you see a classy, backlit, island-style keyboard with a pointing stick. There’s a sleek power button in the top left corner, and above that is an elegant, triangle-pattern lid for the Bang & Olufsen speakers. The display’s chin is a little thick, but it’s proportioned well with the slim bezels to make it look seductive.

The EliteBook 840 features several ports for business use. The left side features a secure lock slot, one USB 3.0 with always-on charging and a Smart Card Reader. On the right, you’ll find one USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt, an HP UltraSlim dock connector, an RJ45 port, an HDMI port, one USB 3.0 port, a combo headphone/microphone jack and a WWAN SIM card reader.

At 3.4 pounds and 12.8 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches, the EliteBook 840 is slightly bigger than most of its competition. It matches the Dell Latitude 7490‘s 0.7-inch thickness but just beats that machine’s weight of 3.5 pounds. The Huawei MateBook X Pro is lighter and thinner than the HP machine, at 3.5 pounds and 0.6 inches, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) wins all the marbles, at 2.5 pounds and 0.6 inches.

Security and Durability

Need something to survive your next work trip? Easy. The EliteBook 840 has gone through MIL-STD-810G certification, which means it can endure extreme humidity, extreme temperatures, vibration and high altitude.

For some extra cash, you can choose from multiple configurations that increase the security of this laptop. There’s the Sure View privacy screen, which protects the information on your display with a bright light that’s visible to anyone that isn’t directly in front of the laptop. This is activated by a simple click on one of the function keys. Our configuration (Intel Core i7-8650U) comes with Intel vPro for remote management as well as an IR camera to access Windows Hello.

One thing that you’ll notice right away is HP’s Privacy Camera, which contains a slider that physically blocks the webcam’s lens. Additionally, there’s a subtle fingerprint reader underneath the rightmost arrow key. HP’s Sure Recover feature can reimage your PC even if the hard drive gets wiped. HP also built in an Endpoint Security Controller, which is a physical chip that powers the company’s Sure Start software, a self-healing BIOS. BIOS is the first software run by all IBM-compatible PCs when turned on.

Display

The 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS LED display on the EliteBook 840 base model was lackluster and too dim to enjoy. As I watched the most recent trailer for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the display spoiled the lighting in every scene with a blue tint. Watching Henry Cavill and his Superman muscles march across a bathroom to beat someone to death was designed to be an intense and joyful experience. Instead, it felt trivial as the bathroom lights faded out the color in the characters’ clothes and faces. Superman’s magnificent bod and mustache meant nothing to me.

On the other hand, the config with the 1920 x 1080 integrated privacy screen produced bright and vibrant images. I was mesmerized as Tom Cruise fumbled with his seat belt and had a confused, then panicked expression as a military helicopter tumbled down a bright, snowy mountaintop toward him. From the sunset shading Cruise’s complexion to the different hues in the blue sky, the colors were dynamic.

MORE: Laptops with the Best Display Brightness

According to our colorimeter, the base display covers a measly 70 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which pales in comparison to the 114 percent category average. However, the privacy display hit a very good 119 percent.

The base display produced a dim 217 nits of brightness, crashing below the 305-nit category average. The HP’s privacy display, however, annihilated the competition, with a whopping 619 nits. This surpasses even the result from the HDR-ready ThinkPad X1 Carbon (469 nits), as well as our 293-nit standard. The MateBook X averaged 458 nits, and the Latitude 7490 missed the average with 277 nits.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Pointing Stick

The EliteBook 840’s backlit keyboard is tight; it sharply sinks into the chassis, and the keys feel substantial and clicky while you’re typing. The backlighting has only two settings, which is disappointing for a laptop of this price. For business users, however, HP included three useful keys to present, answer and hang up calls via Skype.

The keys have somewhat short travel (1.4 millimeters) but require strong actuation force (77 grams). We usually look for travel between 1.5 and 2 mm and actuation force above 60 grams. The keyboard is incredibly comfortable, allowing me to sail past my 60-words-per-minute average with 68 wpm on the 10fastfingers typing test.

For pointing stick users, the nub has plenty of room to work with, cutting a decent chuck off the G, H and B keys. There are two discrete mouse buttons for it at the top of the touchpad, but unlike the Latitude 7490 and ThinkPad X1, this HP doesn’t have a scroll button.

The keyboard is incredibly comfortable, allowing me to sail past my 60-words-per-minute average.

The 4.2 x 2.3 touchpad is smooth and responsive, with a decent pair of clickers. It captures all of the key Windows 10 gestures, from two-finger window scrolling to three-finger task swiping.

Audio

The EliteBook’s Bang & Olufsen speakers are a blessing to my ears. While listening to “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots, I heard every single entracing beat from the percussion to the keyboard as they creatively intertwined with Tyler Joseph’s vocals. These echoed loud enough to fill a medium-size conference room.

While listening to ‘Stressed Out’ by Twenty One Pilots, I heard every single entracing beat from the percussion to the keyboard as they creatively intertwined with Tyler Joseph’s vocals.

The balance of bass and treble allows each instrument to shine, creating a surprisingly intense experience. Bang & Olufsen provides its own equalizer app, so you can customize the sound to your specific needs. Options are tailored for voice, movies or music, but if that doesn’t satisfy, you can perform a full manual equalizer setup.

Performance

Why you would need 30 Google Chrome tabs playing the same 1080p SNL skit all at once is beyond me. But with the EliteBook 840, you can do it all without a hint of lag. Our config is loaded with a quad-core Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and an Intel UHD Graphics 620, which allowed the notebook to perform this multitasking with ease.

On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the EliteBook 840 scored an excellent 13,253. It soared past the 10,483 premium laptop average, the Matebook X’s 12,913 (Intel Core i7-8550U) and the ThinkPad X1’s 13,173 (Intel Core i5-8250U). The Latitude 7490 was able to speed past all of the competition with a score of 14,458 (Intel Core i7-8650U).

MORE: Laptops with the Best Overall Performance

The EliteBook 840 took 15 minutes and 50 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our Handbrake test, which completely destroys its competitors’ results. The average premium laptop takes 22:05; the MateBook X slugged behind at 27:18; the Latitude 7490 beat the average, with 21:35, and the ThinkPad X1 took 19:00.

Copying 4.97GB of data was a breeze for the EliteBook 840’s 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, taking only 10 seconds (for 509 megabytes per second). The category average is nearly half that speed (286 MBps).

The integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 (upgradable to AMD Radeon RX 540 2GB) maintained a solid 55 frames per second while running Dirt 3. While that is well above a playable 30 fps, the EliteBook’s competitors ran the game at higher frame rates.

Battery Life

The EliteBook 840 will last an average workday. While web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the laptop lasted for 8 hours and 31 minutes. It narrowly beat the 8:20 average but fell behind the Latitude 7490 (8:55) and MateBook X (9:55), and it didn’t come close to the ThinkPad X1 (11:01). It’s important to note that the EliteBook 840 lasted only 6:17 while Sure View was turned on.

Webcam and Mic

While the Privacy Camera feature is neat, malicious hackers wouldn’t be able to make out much anyway. As I pulled my face toward the webcam, it could barely capture any details, whether it be the hairs on my head or the freckles on my face. This camera does handle contrast rather well, as the light from the office windows didn’t overwhelm the photo, but the colors were dull.

HP’s noise canceling, world-facing microphone can filter background noise decently, but voices not so much. I placed the back of the laptop toward my editor, who sits two chairs away from me, and the microphone could pick up her voice clearly as she spoke on the phone. Even though the microphone couldn’t remove background voices, the quality itself was relatively clear.

Heat

The EliteBook 840 can run a little warm, but nothing too extreme. After I ran an HD video for 15 minutes, the HP’s undercarriage measured 99 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s slightly above our 95-degree comfort threshold. Meanwhile, the touchpad and center of the keyboard hit a cooler 87 and 98 degrees, respectively. The hottest temp was 101 degrees, which came from the lower left side of the undercarriage.

Software and Warranty

HP jam-packs a ton of its own apps into the EliteBook 840. The most useful one is HP’s Recovery Manager, which can perform maintenance, reinstall drivers and manage backups. HP Support Assistant manages warranty and computer updates. On the security side, HP Client Security takes care of fingerprints, Sure Recover and other features.

HP JumpStart provides tutorials and download suggestions for people who need help with their PCs. HP PhoneWise allows you to connect your phone to your PC to take and make phone calls as well as send and receive text messages. HP WorkWise provides a way to manage your PC’s performance and security via a phone app with the same name. There’s also HP’s own download manager, a malware scanner for web browsers and a printing manager.

MORE: Best Hard Drive Speed

Along with all of those apps, comes a decent amount of bloatware, starring Candy Crush Saga, Cooking Fever, March of Empires: War of Lords and so much more.

The EliteBook 840 comes with a three-year limited warranty that can be downgraded to a one-year warranty. See how HP performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Configurations

The EliteBook 840 I tested cost $2,295 at the time of this review and comes with an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and an Intel UHD Graphics 620.

The lowest possible config costs $1,182 and features an Intel Core i5-7200U, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB M2 SATA-3 TLC SSD. This config removes the webcam.

The ultimate version costs a meaty $3,319.50 and is capped out with an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD, an AMD Radeon RX 540 2GB graphics card and the 700-nit Sure View privacy display.

Bottom Line

Power, security, productivity and entertainment: The EliteBook 840 excels at it all. From its keyboard and privacy display to its speakers and performance, every aspect of this business laptop is high quality. Just avoid the dim display on the base model of this system if you can, particularly if you like to watch movies on your laptop.

If your main priority is battery life, go for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (starting at $1,519), which lasts a couple of hours longer on a charge and has a stunning (but pricey) optional HDR display. But overall, the EliteBook 840 provides everything you could want from a well-rounded business notebook.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag

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Jury awards Apple $533.3M from Samsung in latest iPhone patent retrial (Jeremy Horwitz/VentureBeat)

Nearly six years after a federal jury awarded Apple over $1 billion in damages against Samsung for infringing on iPhone design patents, a jury retrying the case has reached a unanimous verdict, modifying the figure to $538,641,656. The verdict comes after years of damages-only retrials and appeals, including a visit to the United States Supreme Court.

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. began in April 2011 with Apple’s allegation that certain Samsung smartphones infringed on iPhone intellectual properties including patents and trademarks. Apple won the trial in August 2012, receiving an initial award of $1.049 billion, but was forced back into court for subsequent disputes over legal questions and damages. Following the first verdict, Samsung paid Apple $548 million in damages, $399 million of which was at stake here.

During the latest retrial, the key issue has been the appropriate definition of the phrase “article of manufacture” — specifically, whether to calculate the damages Apple suffered based solely on the specific value of iPhone innovations Samsung infringed, or upon the total value of a phone containing those innovations. If a $600 phone contained $300 of infringed Apple parts, Samsung might argue that it owed Apple damages only for the $300 portion, while Apple might say that its $300 of innovations enabled sales of $600 phones.

The retrial has been looming since December 2016, when the U.S. Supreme Court returned the case to a lower federal court for a jury to determine whether the entire phone or its components were the correct “article of manufacture.” Last October, the federal court ordered a jury retrial on that issue, using a new test focused on four factors:

  • “[T]he scope of the design claimed in the plaintiff’s patent, including the drawing and written description,”
  • “[T]he relative prominence of the design within the product as a whole,”
  • “[W]hether the design is conceptually distinct from the product as a whole,” and
  • “[T]he physical relationship between the patented design and the rest of the product… [whether] the design pertains to a component that a user or seller can physically separate from the product as a whole” and “the design is embodied in a component that is manufactured separately from the rest of the product, or if the component can be sold separately.”

Not surprisingly, each side polarized its measure of damages to persuade the jury to fall somewhere in the middle. Samsung suggested damages of $28 million, while Apple asked for $1 billion, telling the jury to “put it in context: Samsung infringed millions and millions and millions of times.” The jury’s verdict included $533,316,606 for infringement of Apple’s design patents, and $5,325,050 for infringement of its utility patents, totaling just over $538.6 million. That figure sits roughly in the middle of the companies’ extremes, but is higher than the $399 million that was originally at stake in the retrial, a victory for Apple.

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The Best VR-Ready Laptops

Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive promise incredibly immersive experiences, including 360-degree games, apps and videos. But before you can take a walk on the virtual side, you’ll need a laptop with the proper specifications such as Nvidia’s 10-series GPUs or the company’s new Max-Q GPUs, which essentially make even the smallest laptops a virtual reality powerhouse.

Here are the minimum specs you’ll need to experience virtual reality:

1. Intel Core i5-6300HQ processor
2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, 1060, 1070 or 1080 GPU
3. 8GB of RAM
4. Two USB 3.0 ports
5. HDMI 1.4
6. 1920 x 1080 display
7. Windows 8 or 10

On the Horizon
For now, VR users are tethered to their laptops thanks to the myriad of cables the headsets require to run. However, DisplayLink has started showing off DisplayLink XR, its wireless module solution, which will allow you to walk around your virtual space without a bunch of wires tethering you to an expensive desktop or laptop. Attached to the back of a VR headset, the company’s network display technology can support a pair of 4K monitors with a 120-fps frame rate over Wi-Fi of WiGig (wireless Gigabit).

Microsoft has also thrown its hat into the VR arena with its new MR headsets like the Acer Mixed Reality AH101 Headset. Partnering with major laptop manufacturers (Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo), these headsets will be available in two tiers. The entry-level headsets will start at $299 and have the ability to work with integrated graphics whereas the ultra version of the devices will top at $499 and work with discrete graphics.

The following are the best VR-ready laptops on the market based on size, price and use case.