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Apple’s STUNNING AR/VR Headset IS coming, HomePod mini price hikes, and OLED iPads in ’24

Appleviews – 20th January 2023

Apple's AR/VR headset price

Well that was a shock!

Apple caught us out there, huh?

So, there was me naturally enough assuming that I’d be struggling to find new content in January, and then…

Yup, it has been quite the week, hasn’t it? I was almost expecting the Mac Pro to be released on a press release too! So, as we catch our collective breath, let’s take a look at what other news has been doing the rounds this week.

The headset IS coming

According to DigiTimes, crucial components for the long-awaited headset, are due to be shipped to Apple as early as next month. If this is the case, it would suggest that the headset is entering its final stages of production.

Genius Electronic Optical (GSEO), are responsible for making the lens module for the AR/VR headset. According to DigiTimes report;

“GSEO will supply lens modules for VR head-mounted devices, to be launched by Apple in 2023, with shipments to begin in February-March 2023, according to GSEO’s supply chain makers.”

With all the product releases this week, it makes me think that it has cleared the way for a big product reveal, may be in March, or latest in June at this year’s WWDC.

Whilst the development of Apple Glasses has been put on hold, the crazy specs on the AR/VR headset are getting more, and more heady day by day.

With carbon fibre, Sony 4K lenses, and a digital crown letting you drift in and out of VR, the price for this headset, could now be as high as $4000.

A more affordable second generation, designed for more mainstream use, is expected in 2024 or 2025.

Remember HomePod mini?

Apple has been so busy with new products this week, including the new HomePod, that it is easy to overlook some hum-drum details, such as price hikes.

Behind all the glitz, and glamour, Apple has increased the price of HomePod mini, in the UK at least, from £89 to £99. Apparently, there have been similar hikes in other countries such as Austria, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

But, it is hard to work out the pattern here – for instance, in New Zealand the smart speaker jumped from NZ$159.00 to NZ$179.00, but in Australia, there was no change. In the US, the speaker has remained priced at $99 since the day of release.

I can’t remember when Apple last increased the price of hardware, without there being a new model, or version released.

Speaking of HomePod…

Do you recall, in December, the announcement of the end-to-end encryption system – Advanced Data Protection?

Well, there is a problem, that even Apple has admitted to. If you have enabled it, HomePod cannot be set up, or even updated, if the speaker is not running HomePod 16.2 or later. The good news is, though, that there is a fix.

Trying to set up or update an older full-size HomePod may cause issues, and even new HomePod minis, could be affected too. The new HomePod 2 will be on its way to customers soon, and it could be shipping with the older 16.1 software, depending on how long they’ve been boxed up.

It’s unclear for now if the bug will be resolved with the public release of iOS 16.3.

But here is Apple’s support document, explaining how to overcome the issues.

HomeKit news

Bloomberg this week reported that Apple is working on a range of new devices for the smart home market, including new displays and a faster Apple TV set-top box.

The device is expected to be wall-mounted, and will be similar to a low-end iPad, which is being designed to control HomeKit, as Apple attempt to become ever more involved in smart-homes.

This device is being designed to control things like thermostats, lights, show video and work with FaceTime chats and calls. Bloomberg also says that Apple has considered the idea of creating smart home displays – effectively a large iPad.

Apple is also possibly developing an upgraded version of Apple TV. The new model is expected to feature an upgraded processor inside but, retain the same design as the current model. It’s expected to come to market in the first half of 2024.

The delays that these products have faced are due to the challenges posed by the pandemic on the supply chain and the difficulty in finding the right components for the devices.

Apple & Spotify at odds again

Spotify, this week published an open letter on their website, citing, what they believe to be unfair, and anti-competitive practices.

The letter, which has been sent to European regulators, asks for the company to be brought to task over the App Store. Spotify believes, Apple’s behaviour is stifling innovation. They go on to add that Apple “has imposed unfair restrictions, and that those restrictions not only prevent it from launching products but also harm their users.”

Among other issues raised, Spotify says that those restrictions “include the tying of the App Store to Apple’s proprietary payment system, with its excessive commissions for app developers. The creation of these artificial obstacles prevent our businesses from freely communicating with our customers.”

Later in the letter, it goes on to say that Apple applies “restrictions to developers’ access to data of their own users, while also making capricious changes to terms and conditions.”

The letter is written with the full support of Deezer, and Basecamp, who all claim that “the time has come for urgent action from the EU to end Apple’s abusive behaviours.”

AirTag to the rescue

Apple’s AirTag has saved the life of a dog swept away by floodwaters in San Bernardino County, California.

The one-year-old Australian Shepherd, was wearing an AirTag, along with a conventional ID tag, when he fell into the rapid floodwaters that swept him away from his home & owner.

The local fire department found Seamus a mile away from where he went missing. Apple’s Find My network and the AirTag on his collar helped track his owners.

OLED displays next year?

Korea’s ET News has reported that Apple is continuing development of OLED panels for new iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models to be announced in 2024 and 2026, respectively.

The report claims that Samsung, one of Apple’s screen partners, has started working on OLED panels for an 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro and a 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. This corroborates with earlier claims that the first iPad with an OLED display will launch in 2024.

Ross Young, thinks the first iPad Pro with OLED panels will have larger 11.1-inch and 13-inch displays compared to the current generation models.

Following the iPad’s transition to OLED, it’s expected that the first Mac with an OLED panel will come in the form of a 13-inch MacBook Air as soon as 2024.

Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working on custom-designed displays to use in the iPhone and Apple Watch starting next year.

The first device with a custom Apple-designed microLED display is expected to be the Apple Watch Ultra towards the end of 2024. Apple will then reportedly expand its custom-made microLED display to other products in the following years, including the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Apple TV outage

Apple’s TV+ service was down for around 90-minuets yesterday evening (Thursday 19th January).

All Apple’s devices were affected, including the Mac. Apple has acknowledged an intermittent outage impacting both Apple TV Channels and Apple TV+ on its system status page.

The iOS app often only displayed the option to view a user’s existing library. If users can access the Apple TV+ tab, it shows the content unavailable message.

The issue has since been resolved.

And that is it for this week’s Appleviews guys & gals. I am off to build some new furniture for the YouTube set – wish me luck!

Have a fantastic weekend, and I shall catch you all next week.

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