David Lewis Talking Tech & Audio

Apple NOT buying Man Utd, iPhone 15 news, and is Lossless coming to AirPods?

Appleviews – 25th November 2022

Apple to buy Manchester United FC
image courtesy of author

Welcome to Black Friday

Yup, it’s that weekend of the year, when we are supposed to go shopping mad, and bag endless goodies with massive discounts. I don’t know about you, but I never seem to have that luck! Guess I must be shopping for the wrong stuff then, huh? But, I can tell you about one sale that will not be happening…

It’s a no from Apple

Yesterday, British tabloid, The Daily Star, ran a story that Apple were on the brink of buying Premiere League football team, Manchester United, for around $7 billion.

The club has been majority owned by the Glazer family since 2005. The story emerged, as the board released a statement in which they said they were to “explore strategic alternatives”.

According to a source at MacRumors, who is familiar with the matter, the story is not true. Apple this year made it’s first major move in to the sports arena, with their Friday night coverage of live baseball.

Let the rumours begin

With iPhone 14 only two months old, of course, that opens the flood gates for rumours to start about next year’s iteration of the ever popular, flagship iPhone – the 15.

On Twitter, leaker ShrimpApplePro, who was the first to ever mention the new island cutout on this year’s iPhone, has news on the design of the body on the 2023 model.

If you ever owned an iPhone 5C, it is going to bear some resemblance to that model, with a beveled, or curved rear edge. It would look similar to the bottom part of the new MacBook Pros. Although the phone will still have a glass back, Apple is experimenting with a Titanium body. Apple recently used Titanium in the Apple Watch Ultra, so has some experience with the material. It’s beneficial because it is so much stronger than stainless steel, and less likely to scratch, or bend. But, its strength, also poses a problem as it is harder to polish. Apple is working on a technique, that would still allow for a high gloss finish.

The leaker rounded out his tweet, by reminding us how early in the development cycle this is, though.

Still the leader

American company, SellCell, carried out a survey of 2500 iPhone users. In it, they asked them what Apple product would they be most likely to but this holiday season? iPhone remained top of the list, followed by AirPods, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac.

The union stories rumble on

Another Apple Store, this time the one in Reston, Virginia, has made the news over unionisation. It is claimed that anti-union messages are being heavily promoted in their daily download staff meetings. It is in an attempt to prevent any further unionisation from taking place.

Some Apple stores have already become members of a union, and Apple is keen to halt that march. The download meetings are mandatory for staff members who are on shift, and management have been taking that opportunity to drive home the notion, that unions are not the best way forward.

In an email that has leaked out, it mentions ‘shaming’ tactics are being used about staff having union discussions. Management allegedly went on to say, ”If you are having secret talks about things, it’s probably not a good thing to be doing.”

One of the main thrusts of the managements’ defence, is that being part of a union makes it tougher for workers to get benefits, and warned that promotions would become seniority-based rather than performance or merit-based. They have also been citing the closure of several Starbucks stores that have recently closed after unionisation as negative examples.

In the same week, The Apple store in St Louis, that had petitioned to unionise, has now withdrawn its plan. This marks at least the second store, Atlanta being the first, to petition, then change course.

Apple Shopping Event

I wrote earlier this week about this and some of the other great Black Friday deals around on Apple gear. Just a reminder though, that although Apple marketing would never allow the words Black Friday, to ever be uttered in their marketing material, they are running a four day ‘event’ this weekend.

When buying eligible devices, you will get a gift card back ranging from £25 – £250.

Lossless coming to AirPods?

Well, not quite yet, but there has been some more light thrown on the matter this week.

Esge Anderson, an Apple engineer who is part of the companies acoustic team, gave a rare interview with What Hi-Fi, and discussed where Apple is at, with bringing Lossless to AirPods.

Currently, with Apple Music, you can stream music at 24-bit and up to 48KHz, and high-res lossless which goes up to 192KHz which requires an external digital-to-analog converter.

Interestingly, Apple does not believe that current Bluetooth technology is a limiting factor in audio quality for AirPods. They believe that even with the current codec restrictions, there can still be significant improvements made.

He went on to say, ”it is important to understand that we can still make big strides without changing the codec. And the codec choice we have there today, it’s more about reliability. So, it’s about making something robust in all environments.”

“We want to push the sound quality forward, and we can do that with a lot of other elements. We don’t think that the codec currently is the limitation of audio quality on Bluetooth products.”

Possibly, the most interesting thing to come out of the interview, though, was the very ‘rustic’ manner in which Apple develops the soundscape for the range of AirPods. It all comes down to a simple panel of sound experts, that provide feedback to Apple engineers.

An example of that, was the massive improvements made in the Active Noise Cancelling with the latest AirPods Pro 2. Anderson said of that, “we wanted to give everybody an AirPods Max in their pocket.”

HBO issues

As you know, I am a huge lover of Apple TV. In fact, yesterday’s blog, was all about some of the highlights I have watched this year on it.

If you are an HBO Max viewer on the Apple TV 4K set-top box, there has recently been an issue with an on-screen error message saying ‘can’t play title’.

The Verge were the first to cover the story. Many users have reported this issue on forums, and it seems to be wide-spread across all generations of Apple TV 4K, running tvOS 16.1, and the latest version of the HBO Max app (52.50.1)

The problem seems to be on the HBO side, and their SVP, Chris Willard said to The Verge “they are aware of the issues and working on a fix that will be included in an upcoming update to the app”.

The best workaround for the moment, is to turn off HDR support, and change the format to SDR and disable Match Content, Match Dynamic Range, and Match Frame Rate options. Finally, try changing the resolution from 4K to 1080p or 720p.

Close, but no cigar

It appears Apple Pencil very nearly came to iPhone.

The rumour started from a source with no previous track record, so it may need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. But, in this leak, which I found on the Asian website Weibo, one million units were produced, in readiness for the Far Out event in September. For unspecified reasons, the release was then halted at the last moment.

There was to have been no pressure sensing tech to it, relying instead on an onboard chip, which would have powered the ‘Marker’ through the iPhone. The price would have reflected the simpler tech, as it was alleged to have been priced at $49.

That’s all folks

So, with the weekend within sniffing distance, I will leave you in peace.

Next on my to-do list is record this week’s video newsletter. It’s FREE and lands every Sunday at 2pm GMT. It’s just me rambling on for a few moments and letting you know what is going on behind the curtains as it were. If that sounds of interest to you, you can sign up below.

Have a fantastic weekend, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday weekend! I’ll catch you Monday.

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