Apple’s Repair Program Creates ‘Excruciating Gauntlet of Hurdles’, iFixit Says

On Monday, Apple expanded its DIY repair program to include MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops equipped with M1 chips (including the Pro and Max). At least, in theory. The repairability experts at iFixit, who regularly dissect Apple’s gadgets, have taken a look at the new program, and their outlook is…mixed. iFixit’s Sam Goldheart writes that the new MacBook Pro guides “threw us for a loop.” The issue: the documentation “makes MacBook Pros seem less repairable” than they have been in the past. From a report: The repair manual for replacing the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s battery, for example, is a whole 162 pages long. (One of the first steps, of course, is “Read the entire manual first.”) The reason the guide is so long, it turns out, is that replacing these batteries isn’t just a matter of popping the battery out. A user needs to replace the entire top case and keyboard in order to replace the battery. Needless to say, it is unusual for a laptop battery replacement to require a full-computer teardown.

And then, as Goldheart points out, there’s the matter of the money. The “top case with battery” part that you’ll need to purchase for the 2020 and 2021 MacBook Pro models is not cheap — after rooting around Apple’s store, Verge editor Sean Hollister found that you can expect to pay well upwards of $400 for the top case with battery after the repair credit. “Apple is presenting DIY repairers with a excruciating gauntlet of hurdles: read 162 pages of documentation without getting intimidated and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an overkill replacement part, decide whether you want to drop another 50 bucks on the tools they recommend, and do the repair yourself within 14 days, including completing the System Configuration to pair your part with your device,” Goldheart writes in summary. “Which makes us wonder, does Apple even want better repairability?”

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Apple Might Remove the Headphone Jack From Its Next Entry-Level iPad

Apple’s upcoming entry-level iPad is rumored to cut the 3.5mm headphone jack, joining the iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and the entire iPhone lineup. The Verge reports: MySmartPrice says the CAD renders are sourced from a case maker working on accessories for what will be the 10th-generation iPad. It’s a substantial redesign from the classic iPad design that has been left largely untouched for years; Apple increased the display size slightly in 2017 and has made other internal hardware upgrades, but the overall look has remained consistent. It appears that’s about to change, with the new iPad sharing the same flat-sides aesthetic as recent iPhones, iPads, the 14-inch / 16-inch MacBook Pro, and 2022 MacBook Air. Both 9to5Mac and MacRumors reported on the renders. But as always, treat these easily faked images with a healthy amount of skepticism.

The home button remains present, which means so do the sizable bezels above and below the display. MySmartPrice reports that the screen should be larger than the current 10.2-inch model, and there’s a redesigned camera on the iPad’s back reminiscent of the module from the iPhone X. The revamped iPad has a USB-C port, which would complete the transition for Apple’s tablet line. These renders also include quad speakers, and that’s where I get somewhat doubtful of what we’re seeing: only the iPad Pro is currently outfitted with four speakers, so if this pans out, the base-level iPad would be leapfrogging both the iPad Air and Mini in the audio department. That strikes me as unlikely, but it could also serve as Apple’s justification for nixing the headphone jack from a product used in many classrooms and other scenarios where support for affordable wired headphones has been meaningful.

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Apple Plans To Launch An ‘Extreme Sports’ Apple Watch With a Larger Screen, Metal Casing: Report

Apple is reportedly planning to launch an “extreme sports” version of the Apple Watch this year, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. TechCrunch reports: The extreme sports Apple Watch is expected to have the company’s largest smartwatch display to date, along with a bigger battery and rugged metal casing. The display will measure in at almost two inches diagonally, Gurman says. The extreme sports model will have about 7% more screen area than the largest current Apple Watch. The display will also have a resolution of about 410 pixels by 502 pixels. Gurman speculates that the larger screen could be used to display more fitness metrics or information on watch faces.

In addition, Gurman says the extreme sports watch will use a stronger metal than aluminum and have a more shatter-resistant screen. The watch is also expected to have a larger battery in order to accommodate longer workout times. Gurman also says the watch is expected to have improved tracking metrics, such as the ability to detect elevation when hiking. As with the Apple Watch 8, the extreme sports model is expected to have the ability to detect fevers by taking the wearer’s body temperature. The extreme sports model is reportedly going to be announced later this year, alongside two other models, the Apple Watch Series 8 and an updated version of the low-end Apple Watch SE.

Gurman says the Apple Watch Series 8 will retain its 1.9-inch diagonal screen size, while the Apple Watch SE will stick with its current 1.78-inch screen size. The extreme sports version of the Apple Watch is expected to cost more than the standard stainless steel Apple Watch, which is currently priced at $699. All of the new Apple Watches will use an S8 processor with similar performance to the S7 chip in the Apple Watch Series 7, Gurman says. Apple typically announces its new watch models in September alongside its new iPhone launches.

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IDC: ‘All Eyes Will Be On Apple’ As Meta’s VR Strategy ‘Isn’t Sustainable’

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A recent media release from market research firm IDC predicts that Meta (the parent company of Facebook) may not be able to compete in the mixed-reality business in the long run if its strategy remains unchanged. The media release offers a bird’s-eye view of the virtual reality hardware marketplace. In the release, IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani said that, while “Meta continues to pour dollars into developing the metaverse, [the company’s] strategy of promoting low-cost hardware at the expense of profitability isn’t sustainable in the long run.”

A similar concern was raised by tech industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo late last month. Kuo predicted that Meta would make moves to scale down investment in virtual reality, creating an opening for Apple and other competitors. He also wrote that Meta’s practice of selling VR headsets at a loss is unsustainable. Currently, Meta owns 90 percent of the VR headset market, according to the IDC release. In distant second is ByteDance’s Pico, at just 4.5 percent. Overall, VR headset shipments jumped 241.6 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2022. But the industry faced significant supply issues in Q1 2021, contributing to “a favorable comparison” for this year’s Q1.

Like Kuo a couple of weeks ago, IDC research director Ramon Llamas said that “all eyes will be on Apple as it launches its first headset next year.” Apple’s headset is expected to be much more expensive than Meta’s offerings, driving up the average unit price for the product category across the board, and Llamas believes Apple’s offering “will appeal primarily to a small audience of early adopters and Apple fans.” In other words, don’t expect the first Apple headset to ship vastly more units than Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 right out of the gate. It’s just a first step in a long-term plan to own the mixed-reality market.

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What Apple’s AR/VR Headset Could Look Like

Render creator Ian Zelbo has shared a trio of high-quality product renders of Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset that’s expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2022. “The renders are based on earlier reporting from The Information and showcase the device in crisp 8K images,” reports Screen Rant. “Zelbo’s previously done renders for AirTag, iPhone 13, and other Apple gadgets leading up to their release — all of which have been incredibly representative of the final product.” From the report: Assuming Apple’s headset actually looks like this, it could be one of the best-designed gadgets in the niche so far. The front of the headset is taken up entirely by curved glass, with the frame touting a sleek (likely aluminum) construction. Behind that glass is a mesh fabric cushion — not unlike the cushions used for the earcups on AirPods Max. That AirPods Max inspiration is also seen with the oval button on top of the headset.

Moving to the headset’s strap, there’s clear inspiration taken from the Apple Watch’s sport band. It appears to have the same silicon design, loops, and metal clasp. The back of the headband also bears a resemblance to Apple’s AirTag Loop accessory thanks to its open design. Not only does the whole package look good, but it should also result in a very comfortable wearing experience. If the face cushion and head strap are even half as comfortable as the products they’re inspired by, that’s worth getting excited for.

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