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AirPods get firmware update, a shorter Siri, & problems for iPhone 14 Pro

Appleviews – 11th November 2022

AirPods firmware updates
image courtesy of author

Round 1

I love my AirPods…and I will get to this in just a brief moment.

Welcome back folks, as we round the corner in to the weekend, I have been busy, as ever, looking out the juiciest joints of news that would make the final edit, on this week’s Appleviews.

Buckle-up, and let’s start this week with a bit of my fav tech…AirPods.

Firmware update time

Not that you’d ever know, but Apple, yesterday, pushed out a firmware update, catchily named 5B58, for the AirPods 2, the AirPods 3, the original AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max. The last update for these devices was in May.

I couldn’t find any support pages, or specific documents pertaining to what was in this update, other than to say it was bug fixes and other improvements. There is no right way to physically install these firmware updates, with the only advice being, that the updates are installed over-the-air. The best practice is to pop them in their case, and attach them to a device to charge.

To check if your firmware is up-to-date, on an iOS device, with the AirPods connected, go to Settings > General > About > AirPods. From there, check the number next to Firmware Version.

Ventura gets updated too

I woke up today, to both my Macs asking me to restart, which is always a sign that an update has been pushed out.

With Ventura only a few weeks old, this update – 13.0.1 – is a minor one, which addresses two security vulnerabilities. They were to do with code execution and app termination. Although minor, and not too urgent, I’d still urge you to update over the weekend.

An abbreviated Siri

It seems the boffins at Cupertino, are hard at work making the wake command for Apple’s voice assistant, even shorter.

They are trying to drop the ‘hey’ part, making the command, purely, Siri. It sounds simple, but, seemingly, it is far from. They have already been hard at work for months on this abbreviated wake-word, having tested it on numerous employees, with varying accents and dialects.

The single word approach, mimics other voice assistants from Amazon & Google. It is thought it will help make back-to back requests easier for Siri to accommodate.

Mark Gurman, in his newsletter, suggested that he’d even like to see Siri developed to the point, where you can specify which device you want to trigger Siri.

Happy birthday

There was a minor celebration this past week.

It was 7th November 1997 that Apple released the final version of their Newton MessagePad. It featured a 480×320 display, with a whopping 4MB of RAM. The digital, personal assistant, which was reportedly, disliked by Steve Jobs, in an odd way, was the forerunner of Job’s baby – the iPad.

Running on NewtonOS, it had a fairly well-developed handwriting recognition engines, and used a stylus as its input. It could also be used with a keyboard too.

If you are an avid viewer of All Mankind, you may even have noticed a cameo appearance of one, in the third season of the Apple Original, hit show.

Happy Christmas

With the holiday season fast approaching, the generous souls among you, may be thinking about presents for your loved ones. Well, if those thoughts centred around getting an iPhone Pro as a gift, then tread with caution.

Last week, there were warnings, that due to temporary COVID-19 restrictions at the Zhengzhou, China Foxconn factory where the handsets are assembled, there may be supply shortages in the run-up to Christmas.

The story was covered on the Apple Newsroom page:

‘COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily impacted the primary iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly facility located in Zhengzhou, China. The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity. As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prioritising the health and safety of the workers in our supply chain.

We continue to see strong demand for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models. However, we now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated, and customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.

We are working closely with our supplier to return to normal production levels while ensuring the health and safety of every worker.’

On November 2, the Chinese government ordered a one-week lockdown for an industrial area where the Foxconn factory is situated following a COVID-19 outbreak.

I’ll get them AirPods Pro 2 instead…

Great idea, but, may be that idea won’t pan out either!

Ming-Chi Kuo has reported on a notice received by Goertek, an AirPods Pro 2 supplier, from a major overseas client to “suspend the assembly production for a smart acoustic product.”

It is unlikely that lack of demand is the reason behind the halving of production, in the lead-up to one of the busiest periods of the year. Kuo, thinks it far more likely, due to production issues. To further justify that belief, Luxshare ICT has had to expand AirPods Pro 2 production and will be the only assembler for Apple.

AirDrop restrictions

Quietly rolled out in iOS 16.1.1, was a change to the use of AirDrop – but only if the phone is owned by someone in China.

Seemingly, it is an attempt, to limit the feature’s use by Chinese protestors who are potentially sharing anti-government materials. Rather than having the option to share with everyone, users in China will be greeted, instead, with the choice of ‘Everyone for 10 minutes’.

In the past, protestors have used AirDrop in an effort to evade government censorship. While the feature could still be used, every user would have to keep re-enabling AirDrop to receive anything, thereby, making its use far less appealing.

It is not the first time that Apple has buckled to pressure from the Chinese Government. On at least two occasions, Apple have removed apps from the app store in China, and allegedly reduced security for users in the country as well.

SOS coming soon

This iPhone 14 feature was lauded at the September Far Out event. Indeed, even the name of the event, took a steer from the new satellite function.

At the time, it was not clear precisely when Emergency SOS would launch, but, this week, Apple announced it would be rolled out in the US and Canada, later this month. So far, the cost to develop this feature is estimated to be around $450 million including facilities, technology, and staff.

The service will work by allowing stranded & distressed users with no cell coverage, to send short SOS text messages via a network of low-level satellites. The calls will be handled by staff at Apple appointed call centres dotted over the US and Canada.

It will, eventually also be available in other countries too, but for the moment, is limited to just the US and Canada.

Continuity Camera

Since installing Ventura on my two Macs, I have been keen to try out the full extent of this nifty feature.

The theory is, that it gives users the ability to use, probably the best camera they have, their iPhones (XR or later), as a webcam on desktop & laptop Macs. But, to get full use of Continuity Camera, including the desk view, you needed to mount the camera on a specific mount.

The mount, made by Belkin, is available from Apple’s website, and guess what? Mine arrived today! So, sometime this weekend, I will test it and give you my findings. For something so small, I’ve heard it is quite fiddly, and awkward to use. Looking at the tiny box, for the life of me, I can’t think why, but I will let you know my findings.

Sing along

Apple is working on bringing their online, web player for Apple Music, in line with the native, Mac-based player, by adding lyrics to songs being played.

The feature is already running on the latest beta version. There, clicking the speech bubble icon when a song is playing will reveal lyrics that appear in time to the music. You’ve had the ability to do this since iOS 13 on iPhones.

Apple Music on the web was launched two years ago, giving subscribers access to content libraries and curated playlists without needing a dedicated app.

Slashed trade-in’s

Lastly this week, and still with an eye on the holiday season, Apple this week has dramatically lowered the trade-in values across the range.

iMac Pros were badly hit. Prices there were cut from a high of $1150 to $600. A MacBook Pro, that was worth up to $850, is now only valued at $630. And iPhones were not exempt either. A 13 Pro, that last week was worth up to $720, is today fetching only $650.

The full list of values can be found on Apple’s trade-in website.

Right, folks, that’s me done for the week. I am off to London this weekend, and that fabulous food emporium – Borough Street Market. I dare say, a visit to the Regent Street Apple Store might be on the cards as well…but not before playing with the Belkin stand, of course.

Oh, and I am about to edit the next Minus Sixteen podcast now, which will be up Saturday morning. It’ll be available as an audio version on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and also on my Minus Sixteen channel as well.

Have yourselves a great weekend, and I will be back with you Monday.

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