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Tales form the Orchard: What to expect from Apple’s September 12 ‘Gather round’ event

 

 

By Christian de Looper of Digital Trends

It’s that time of year again. Apple has sent out invitations for its annual September event, where we’ll likely see a new set of iPhone devices, a new Apple Watch, and possibly a range of other devices too. The event itself is set to take place on September 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, though no matter where you live you should be able to live-stream it for yourself.

What exactly will Apple announce? We’ve been following rumors surrounding all the upcoming products for the past year, and we’ve rounded them up into this short, handy guide. Here’s everything we expect to see at Apple’s “Gather Round” event.

THREE IPHONES

Last year, Apple unveiled the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. This year, rumors suggest it will announce three different models again. Apple is expected to fully adopt the edge-to-edge design seen on the iPhone X for all models of the iPhone (including the notch). Thankfully, they won’t all cost $1,000. Apple will reportedly release two successors to the iPhone X, dubbed the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and they will be sized at 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches. Apple will also release a 6.1-inch model, which is expected to be the cheapest of the lot. It will also have an edge-to-edge display with a notch, but the main difference will stem from the use of a LCD screen instead of OLED used on the other two.

The new iPhone XS devices are expected to arrive in a new gold color model, alongside an updated processor, eSIM support, a potential Lightning to USB Type-C cable, and more. The prices are rumored to range from $650 to $1,000.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4

Just like it did last year, Apple is expected to release a new Apple Watch alongside the new series of iPhones. The Apple Watch Series 4 will retain many of the features of the Apple Watch Series 3, but it’s expected to include a display that’s larger by as much as 15 percent — making it an edge-to-edge display, like that on the iPhone X.

Other rumors about the watch indicate Apple may do away with the Wi-Fi model altogether — leaving only the LTE model (you will likely still be able to use Wi-Fi without paying for LTE with this model). It may also feature a UV sensor, and will run Apple’s latest version of watchOS 5.0.

MACBOOK AIR

Apple has long been expected to release a new low-cost MacBook, and rumors indicate the company will introduce a refresh of the MacBook Air. The new device is expected to feature Intel’s 8th-generation processors, along with a larger display. The updated computer will reportedly get a 13-inch Retina display, and will likely feature modern ports, like USB-C.

Not much else is known about the new laptop, except for the fact that it will most likely come at a starting price of around $1,000. It’s also not totally certain the new MacBook Air will be released at this September event. Instead, it could show up in October.

MAC MINI

Apple may also be planning a long-awaited refresh of the Mac Mini — and it’s about time, considering the computer was last updated in 2014. There will likely be quite a few performance upgrades. Apple will probably adopt Intel’s eighth-generation chips for the computer, and may do away with outdated hard drives in favor of only solid-state options. On top of that, while Apple may not completely revamp the design, it will likely at least update the port selection on the computer to include a few USB-C ports.

When it comes to pricing, the new Mac Mini may start in the $1,000 price range, and will range up from there. Like the MacBook Air, however, there’s no certainty that the Mac Mini will show up at the September 12 event — it may well instead be released later in the year.

IPAD PRO 2018

Another rumor to have popped up in recent days is that Apple will update the iPad Pro. It’ll be more than just a spec-bump too — rumors indicate Apple will give the iPad Pro the iPhone X treatment, with slimmer bezels around the screen, as well an updated A-series processor, and perhaps even a little more RAM.

With the new design, there may be no more home button, which means Face ID may replace Touch ID. That may be a double-edged sword, though, as rumors suggest Face ID might only work in vertical mode — meaning you won’t be able to dock the iPad to a keyboard and unlock it with your face. Apple may move the Smart Connector to the bottom of the iPad, so manufacturers may need to build new keyboards.

AIRPOWER

Apple officially announced the AirPower charger almost a full year ago, but the charger has yet to be released. When it is, AirPower will be able to charge up to three devices at a time — meaning in the evening you can plop down your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods to charger — and they’ll be good to go in the morning. It’s using unique technology that will be able to identify the products and provide the correct amount of energy needed.

While we’re not completely certain AirPower will see the light of day at Apple’s upcoming event, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see it.

OPERATING SYSTEM RELEASES

Alongside new hardware, Apple will also release new software to the public. A few of those releases are all but definite. There’s iOS 12, which will be released likely on September 12 itself. You can check out our hands-on review for all the details on what’s new.

Next up is watchOS 5, which is also likely to be pushed to Apple Watch users on September 12 or soon after. The new operating system boasts a few improvements to watchOS and how it works, including better health and fitness tracking, Walkie Talkie mode, Siri Shortcuts, and more. On top of that, Siri will be better at listening to your needs — you’ll no longer need to say “Hey Siri” to activate her. Instead, simply hold your wrist up to your mouth, and Siri should be listening.

Last but not last is macOS, which is being updated to macOS Mojave. It’s expected that the new macOS will be released alongside new Apple computers — meaning it’s not a certainty that the new operating system will be released at this event. Still, if it is, macOS users will enjoy a number of new features, including a new Dark Mode, a revamped App Store, and Stacks, which are automatically arranged groups of files on the desktop.

 

What are you looking forward to the most from Apple’s upcoming Media Event? Sound off in the comments below!!

Tales from the Orchard: Band of Apple Store Thieves Taken Down By Regular Customers

 

By Mike Peterson of iDropNews

Thieves who raided an Apple Store are now in custody after customers helped take them down during a robbery in Southern California.

The incident began like many Apple Store heists. Three men entered the Apple Store in Thousand Oaks at about 3:17 p.m. on Sunday and began to take several items, including iPhones and Macs worth about $18,000 in total, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office report.

But unlike the majority of Apple Store capers, the robbery in Thousand Oaks ended quite differently.

As the thieves attempted to flee the store, they ran into a “juvenile female customer causing her to fall to the ground,” authorities said.

Two of the bandits were then tackled by regular Apple Store customers — who held them down until police arrived.

The third suspect, who managed to escape the store, was arrested separately when his car was pulled over by authorities. Two other alleged accomplices were in the getaway vehicle and were also detained.

All in all, five suspects were arrested. They were charged with burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary, police said.

Police believe the band of thieves may be tied to other Apple Store robberies across California, including a heist in Northridge earlier that same day, KCAL reported.

Four of the five suspects are from Northern California, while the fifth was from Fresno.

Brick-and-mortar Apple locations have been hit across the state of California since the spring — including a recent one in Roseville, California earlier this month in which thieves made out with $20,000 of electronics.

Apple Stores have become popular targets for robberies in recent years, likely due to the expensive electronics within. Bandits regularly pilfer upwards of $20,000 worth of products from these locations.

Most of these robberies play out the same way. Thieves will rush into a store, take Apple products by severing the security tethers, then flee just as rapidly. While sometimes caught on surveillance footage, the speed and aggressiveness of the robberies have made catching the suspects difficult for police departments.

While the Fresno robbery could have played out the same way, the Good Samaritans who were present quickly put a stop to that.

Tales from the Orchard: Kickstarter campaign offers nostalgic Apple pillow collection without saying so …

 

 

 

By Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac

I wouldn’t have foreseen much overlap in the market for Apple memorabilia and that for throw pillows, but one Kickstarter campaign seems to be proving me wrong …

The Iconic Pillow Collection is a set of throw pillows mimicking the designs of five key Apple products through the years:

• The Apple II (1977)
• Macintosh (1984)
• iMac G3 (1998)
• iPod (2001)
• iPhone (2007)

It smashed through its admittedly modest funding goal on the first day.
Creator Roberto Hoyos is clearly concerned about Apple’s lawyers having a thing or two to say about the project, as he manages to describe the pillows without once using either the brand name or the names of any of the products.

Remember your first computer? Your first time using a GUI? Your first glimpse of that candy-colored desktop? Your first MP3 player? Your first smartphone? No matter what age you are, one of these things has impacted your life in some way. And to think, they all came from the same beloved company!  These devices let us realize our creative potential, connected us to each other to form meaningful relationships and of course… Changed. Our. World. At Throwboy we chose to pay tribute to these 5 iconic and important products that shaped our favorite technology company.

As MacWorld notes, even the Apple logo is missing, replaced with a rainbow-colored outline of a pillow. All the same, all five products are instantly recognizable.

Hoyos told MacWorld that his company works officially with Twitter, Microsoft, Patreon, Netflix and Google – but that Apple wasn’t interested.
You may want to consider the risk of Hoyos receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Apple prior to production, but if you want to give it a go, individual pillows cost $39 while the complete set runs to $165, with shipping expected in January.

Tales from the Orchard: Hear Steve Jobs nail the future of mobile a decade ago

An audio recording of an interview with the former Apple CEO comes to light.

By Marrian Zhou of CNet

“The phone of the future will be differentiated by software.” A decade later, in the era of iOS and Android, that prediction by Steve Jobs has come true.

Jointly published Wednesday by The Information and The Wall Street Journal, an audio interview from 2008 reveals the Apple CEO’s thoughts on the future of mobile phones when Apple’s App Store was barely a month old.

“I think there are a lot of people, and I’m one of them, who believe that mobile’s going to get quite serious,” Jobs told reporter Nick Wingfield, then at the Journal and now at The Information. “They can be mighty useful and we’re just at the tip of that. That’s going to be huge, I think.”

The App Store turned 10 this year on July 10, and it’s evident that our lives are vastly different from 2008. Today, 500 million people from 155 countries visit the App Store every week, choosing from more than 2 million apps available for download, according to Statista.

The Apple co-founder, who passed away in October 2011, also got it right when it comes to mobile games.

“You’ve got everything from games to medical software to business analytics software to all sorts of stuff on it,” Jobs said in the 2008 interview, “but games is the single biggest category … I actually think the iPhone and the iPod touch may emerge as really viable devices in this mobile gaming market this holiday season.”

Today, the games category of apps available on the App Store tops the platform with a 25 percent market share, according to Statista. The second largest category is business apps, with a 10 percent market share.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can listen to the full interview at The Information or The Wall Street Journal.

Tales from the Orchard: Apple’s retail challenge

An increasingly complex relationship with public spaces

 

By Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac

“We will know we have done really great if it feels like a town square,” explained Apple’s SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts in May 2016. Ahrendts was specifically referring to Apple’s flagship Union Square store in San Francisco, but the goal was part of a broader initiative to reimagine the experience of all Apple retail stores.

With more people shopping online than ever before, the success of the town square strategy is critical to Apple’s continued relevance in a changing space where other well established brands have struggled. Yet even for Apple, the road hasn’t been without bumps. The push to move closer to the hearts of communities is increasingly met with skepticism and even hostility from residents. Apple is faced with a significant and growing long-term challenge that it will need to tackle in order to fully realize its retail strategy.

Town squares have been revered meeting and trade spaces since ancient times, so it’s no surprise that any changes to their fabric evoke strong feelings from communities. As public commons, these spaces reflect the values, priorities, culture, and preferences of those that occupy them. In a contemporary context, Apple and popular culture are inseparably bound by the ubiquity of iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. This makes Apple’s pitch for modern-day town squares relatively straightforward: help people get more out of the lifestyle they’ve already embraced by providing spaces to meet up, learn, and get inspired.

If only it were that simple.

In each new city where Apple attempts to establish a significant contemporary store – typically adjacent to public space or inside a culturally notable building – a pattern of resistance is emerging. While every case is as unique and nuanced as the cities themselves, the broader sentiment is the same: citizens are wary of Apple’s reach.

At a time when advertising and branding proliferate every corner our digital lives, perhaps Apple is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Residents may see allowing a new store as the surrender of their last sanctuary from commercialism. But commercial presence around cultural centers is far from new. Chicago’s Millennium Park is just three blocks from the city’s largest shopping district, the Magnificent Mile. New York’s Central Park is home to several upscale restaurants. Quasi-public facilities like sporting venues are routinely named after large corporations, and urban public markets have been embraced by communities of all sizes.

“Some people may rejoice that they will have access to such a beautiful piece of architecture, but others will be clearly out of place,” writes Carlos Carmonamedina, a Washington D.C.-based artist, referring to Apple’s ambitious plan to restore the city’s historic Carnegie Library. Critics have argued that allowing a retail presence inside the library building, set to open later this year, undermines the original intent of the space as a public facility for learning. Apple’s answer is Today at Apple, a series of educational and community-driven sessions held at every store around the world. While the sessions are free and open to the public, signing up to attend still requires an Apple ID, and with the exception of live performances, getting the most out of a session often requires having your own devices.

Louder but sometimes less articulate are concerns raised over Apple’s proposed flagship store in Melbourne’s Federation Square. The project would be one of the company’s largest retail investments to date, placing a store not adjacent to public land, but on it. Construction would also come at the expense of the Yarra building, home of the Koorie Heritage Trust and numerous historic artifacts, all of which would be relocated. Apple says the proposal will improve the visibility and accessibility of the nearby Yarra River. The concerns of Melbourne citizens are justified, but difficult to parse amidst a wash of impassioned arguments that often devolve into attacks on Apple’s products and practices rather than the project itself.

Much of the momentum against Apple in Federation Square has been spearheaded by the “Our City, Our Square” movement, a campaign organized by Citizens for Melbourne. Last week, Apple revised their plans for the square after several months of continued unrest. Despite receiving approval from Federation Square’s original architect, the design changes have so far done little to quell the concerns of detractors, indicating that disapproval is less about the store’s architecture and more a matter of principle. Citizens of Melbourne did not respond to a request for comment.

In Sweden, a similar situation is unfolding. Apple and architecture firm Foster + Partners have revised renders depicting a retail presence at the head of Kungsträdgården, a historic park in Stockholm. Initial plans for the store were deemed too large and disruptive for the square. Even after redesigning the building with a more subdued footprint, nearly 80% of over 7,500 people surveyed in a recent Swedish poll viewed the store unfavorably.

“Personally, I think it would be a huge step up aesthetically from the (TGI) Friday’s restaurant that currently occupies the space, but I do think there could be even better use of the location than an Apple Store,” Stockholm-based software developer Andreas Hassellöf told me. In early July, public consultation began on the project, with hopes to facilitate similar civil discourse about the best use of the space.

Even Apple’s newly completed amphitheater in Milan, Italy has not gone without criticism. An unfavorable review in one Milanese newspaper called the store “an invasion.” Built underneath the historic Piazza Liberty, the space was formerly home to the Apollo Cinema.

In cities where town square-format Apple locations have already been established, communities have embraced the stores warmly, dissolving initial skepticism. Apple Michigan Avenue has quickly become an architectural destination and photography landmark in downtown Chicago. Apple Williamsburg in Brooklyn routinely draws crowds to star-studded live performances. So why are new projects so polarizing?

Apple’s earliest stores received little criticism, since most conformed to standard storefronts inside existing shopping malls throughout the United States. Even later and more ambitious projects were generally well received, with only a few exceptions like “there goes the neighborhood” concerns over New York’s Upper East Side store. Apple’s retail projects have long been lauded for their careful restoration and painstaking attention to detail.

Even the idea of Apple retail functioning as a gathering place isn’t entirely a new concept. Stores like Puerta del Sol in Madrid and Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona bordered public areas long before the rollout of Today at Apple. Widespread skepticism didn’t begin until Apple started explicitly promoting their stores as modern community hubs. A new wave of negative press coverage lamenting the privatization of public space followed when Angela Ahrendts used the words “town square” during an Apple keynote. Customers hear a message that Apple is trying to replace, not complement their cherished public spaces.

Misaligned expectations may also contribute to skepticism. Anyone who has been to a contemporary Apple store with the latest design elements, video wall, and Forum will immediately recognize how dramatically different the spaces feel compared to “classic” locations. But in Australia, only one store has been refreshed with the new design. In Sweden, none. Globally, only around one fifth of all locations can offer the full Today at Apple experience. Without visiting a new store or taking a Today at Apple session, it’s difficult for concerned citizens to form an accurate picture of how Apple will impact their community.

“Gadget store can’t be the best possible use—not in the District,” writes Kriston Capps for CityLab in an argument against an Apple store in Mount Vernon Square. The perception of Apple stores as simply electronics outlets – no different than a shiny Best Buy – is not uncommon, and it speaks to a need for more thorough communication from Apple to the communities they prepare to enter.

While Apple can’t send every Stockholm citizen to Milan to see what’s in store for Kungsträdgården (although a few local journalists were offered a preview), they can take a proactive role in the community before construction even begins. Hosting Today at Apple-esque events and sessions in local venues – even without an accompanying store – would reap goodwill and offer residents a preview of what they can look forward to. Projects like the former Apple Music Festival come to mind. “…After seeing what they have done here in Milan, I’m not particularly worried that it will be bad in Stockholm,” writes Feber.

History has shown that commercial activities and public space can live hand in hand when executed in way that provides a perceived value to every party involved. Broader acceptance of modern-day town squares will continue to be a significant challenge for Apple as their retail ambitions trend toward increasingly grand architecture projects. The success of a store can’t be measured only by completion and profitability, it must also be valued as a resource by those who live and work around it. An upfront effort to set the stage and educate people about a significant store wouldn’t be a frivolous expense, rather it demonstrates a long-term investment in a community that’s about to do the same.

How do you feel about Apple’s plans for it’s retail stores? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: Leaked internal Apple videos detail iPhone X, iMac Pro, MacBook Pro repairs

 

 

By Michael Potuck of 9to5Mac

Update: Earlier this morning Apple pulled the videos from YouTube. As noted by users on Reddit, the videos can still be downloaded – at your own risk – on torrent site Mega.

A slew of Apple internal repair videos have leaked, with detailed descriptions and walkthroughs on how to repair everything from the iPhone X to iMac Pro.

As spotted by Reddit user turnby, the 11 internal Apple repair guides showed up on YouTube recently. Motherboard got in touch with the YouTuber who uploaded them about a month ago that were first discovered on Twitter. However, they were likely kept as privately listed on YouTube until recently as Apple would have taken action to pull them long before now.

“When I saw these videos I downloaded them out of curiosity, and when his account got suspended, I wanted people to still see them, so I uploaded them to YouTube,” Haji told Motherboard in an email.

Notably the videos go in depth in describing the repair processes for the iPhone X, MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, and more.

These videos won’t be live for too long, but check them out below while you can.

The authenticity of the videos is all but certain with Apple copyrights, as well as footage of diagnostic tools and documentation.

As Motherboard notes, one impressive revelation these leaks bring is how well third-parties like iFixit reverse engineer the repair processes and offer very close walkthroughs and similar tools for sale to handle seemingly complex, detailed procedures.

What do you think of Apple’s new “training” strategies for it’s technicians? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: Apple’s App Store marks 10 years of third-party innovation

The revolution Steve Jobs resisted

 

By Stephen Silver of Apple Insider

The first iPhone saw release in 2007 with a fairly barebones selection of apps, none of which were made by outside developers. That changed when Apple opened the gates to developers a year later with iPhone OS 2.0, invigorating a sector and forever changing what it meant to be an “Apple developer.

The App Store officially launched on July 10, 2008, after it was announced the previous fall; the first software development kit was released in February of 2008.

As Apple demonstrated in an “oral history” it released a few days before the anniversary, the App Store has not only grown exponentially in its ten years of existence, but it’s also been at the forefront of all sorts of innovations in technology, culture and entertainment over the course of the decade.

The App Store has helped facilitate major growth in the content streaming revolution, as well as geolocation, e-commerce and even online dating, while also forever changing what it means to be a software developer.

All that, and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was reportedly resistant to the idea at first.

The App Store-free iPhone

When the first-generation iPhone arrived in 2007, it came with apps, but all of them were made by Apple. It had Mail, Safari, iTunes, Photos, Messages, Visual Voicemail, weather, camera, the calendar, the clock, and a few others that were Apple’s own, without any non-Apple apps, or user choice for alternative versions.

According to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, the tech guru was opposed to allowing third-party to run natively on iPhone — and when pressured to do so by developers and others, he had a simple answer: Develop your own web apps that will work on the new platform.

“The full Safari engine is inside of iPhone,” Jobs said at WWDC in 2007. “And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, they can send an email, they can look up a location on Google Maps. And guess what? There’s no SDK that you need!”

Developers in attendance didn’t exactly rise to their feet with roaring applause. Instead, they gave the equivalent of a golf clap, a rare miss for a “Jobsnote.”

However, after the backlash from developers continued, it soon became clear that keeping native apps out was not tenable for long.

Others in the know disagree with Isaacson’s story and contend third-party apps were always on the iPhone roadmap; Jobs and company were simply not comfortable with releasing an SDK at launch.

In any case, web apps came first, with native software to follow. Apple announced the release of an SDK in October of 2007, with the software shipping out to developers the following February.

“Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February,” Jobs wrote in a letter that October. “We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users.”

Jobs, in adding that the SDK would also allow the creation of apps for the iPod Touch, ended the letter by promising that “we think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.” Apple also announced that developers could set the price of their own apps — including free — with the devs keeping 70 percent of sales revenues.

The SDK was officially released on March 6, 2008. Less than a week later, Apple announced that the SDK had been downloaded more than 100,000 times in the first four days.

The Store opens

Shortly after the iPhone 3G was released, the App Store officially came online on July 10, 2008. There were 500 apps available at launch.

The store was a hit with consumers almost immediately, as it was easy to use and figure out even for less-tech-savvy customers, and it brought life-changing technologies in all sorts of realms.

By early 2009, Apple had released a memorable TV commercial that introduced the phrase “there’s an app for that” to the lexicon:

Indeed, the App Store very soon after its launch changed life for its users in all sorts of ways, providing them with apps for fitness, gaming, navigation, book-reading, e-commerce and much more. The live-streaming revolution, with Netflix leading the way, was made possible by App Store apps. And thanks to Tinder and other geolocation-based apps, dating was never the same again.

Changes would come to the Store as time went on. When the iPad and later the Apple Watch came along, apps were part of those as well. Apple introduced in-app subscriptions for the first time in 2011, and a huge redesign debuted in the summer of 2017.

There were 500 apps available at the time of launch, a number that would grow to 3,000 by that September and 15,000 by the following January. The growth was exponential in the ensuing years, as the App Store hit 1 million apps in the fall of 2013, and reportedly reached 2 million earlier this year.

Just as the iPhone has grown from a product that didn’t exist 11 years ago to something that’s a ubiquitous part of life in the 21st century, apps are now an indisputable part of most people’s everyday existence.

 

Tales form the Orchard: Apple may release new iPhone colors this year, including red, blue, and orange

 

 

 

  • Apple is expected to release three new iPhone models this fall.
  • The least expensive model could come in a variety of colors, including blue, red, and orange, according to an analyst.

By Kid Leswing of Business Insider

Apple could release an iPhone later this year with gray, white, blue, red, and orange color options.

The colorful new phone would be a less expensive model that has facial recognition and an edge-to-edge screen, according to details from the TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared by 9to5Mac.

The iPhone 8 is available in silver, black, gold, and red. The iPhone X comes in silver and black.

Apple watchers are expecting three new iPhones this year: one that looks like the iPhone X but with updated components; a supersize version of the iPhone X; and a less expensive, colorful iPhone with an edge-to-edge LCD screen and facial recognition that costs $650 to $750.

The supersize iPhone X could come in another new color — gold — according to the note shared by 9to5Mac.

Apple most recently released a lower-cost iPhone model with the iPhone 5c in 2013. That too came in a variety of colors, but it was not as strong a seller as Apple had hoped, and the model was discontinued soon after its release.

Kuo is a well-regarded analyst who often reveals new details about Apple’s production plans before they are public. While he was at another bank last November, he shared this graphic with his prediction about the 2018 iPhone lineup:

 

How do you feel about the potential colors for the new iPhone lineup? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: Apple’s Screen Time feature proves you’re addicted to your iPhone

 

 

By Heather Kelly of CNN Tech

I spent 36 hours and 23 minutes on my iPhone last week. That’s almost an entire work week frittered away on Netflix, Twitter and Slack.
Clearly, I have a problem.

And the odds are, you do too. Because, face it — we all spend too much time staring at our phones.

Apple wants to help us with that.
Beginning today, anyone with an iPhone 5S and later can glean detailed information about just how often, and for how long, they interact with their device. On Monday, Apple (AAPL) released the public beta of iOS 12, the latest version of its mobile operating system. It includes a suite of features designed to track your phone usage and help you cut down on screen time.

Apple is the latest company to address a mounting issue created by its own products. “Time well spent” is the hot catchphrase in Silicon Valley as tech titans like Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) roll out features to help people make better use of their time. I’ve spent two weeks using iOS 12, and although it hasn’t changed my habits just yet, I am much more aware of — and anxious about — my relationship with my phone.
Related: Tim Cook reveals his tech habits: I use my phone too much

The new operating system is available now as a beta (which almost certainly includes bugs and isn’t recommended for most users) and coming to everyone later this year. It includes performance improvements, group FaceTime calls, customizable Animoji’s that look like you, and new augmented reality powers. But the central feature is Screen Time.

The tool, found under settings, tallies the time you spend on your phone by day and week, and breaks it down by app and category. It shows how many notifications you receive and how often you pick up your phone (I grab mine every six minutes). You receive all this info in a convenient weekly report that makes it hard to deny you just might have a problem.

 

“Each person has to make the decision when they get their numbers as to what they would like to do,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNN when he announced the feature last month.

After reading my reports, I decided to cut down on social media, which sucked up six hours of my week. I used the Screen Time tools to limit my daily time on Twitter (TWTR) and Instagram and all the rest to just 15 minutes. I soon upped it to one hour, because Screen Time takes its job very seriously. Hit your self-imposed limit and the screen goes gray, making it impossible to see the app. You have the option to extend your time by 15 minutes or waive the limit for the day.

I quickly formed a habit of repeatedly hitting the snooze button while thumbing through Twitter, and eventually just turned off the feature entirely.

Another feature, called “Do Not Disturb,” lets you shut down all your notifications and calls. You can schedule regular blackouts, or simply let your phone shut them down automatically based upon your location, your calendar, and more. I opted to schedule my executive time from 6pm to 9pm, when I’m usually ignoring my phone anyway. That still didn’t stop me from peeking at the screen. I couldn’t help it. You probably can’t, either.

“The biochemistry of your brain is urging you to check in. That’s really hard to change,” said Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychologist and author who focuses on how people use technology.

Stop looking at your phone, he says, and your anxiety mounts. It’s called nomophobia, the fear of being without your phone, although you might know it as FOMO–fear of missing out.

Apple isn’t alone in trying to help people with this. Google unveiled similar features for Android, and Facebook is testing time-tracking and alarms in its apps. Such features are the first baby steps toward changing how people use technology. They won’t solve the mounting problem of tech addiction, but Rosen says they’ll make people aware of the problem.

He’s got a point. Seeing just how much time I spend thumbing my phone was sobering, if not entirely helpful. Screen Time, like the Android features, doesn’t provide any context for the data, no suggestions for how I might change my behavior, no clues to what’s normal or even acceptable. It’s hard to know, looking at my weekly report, if 36 hours and change on my phone is dangerously high, or just mildly excessive.

Rosen says his research shows that young adults spend about five hours a day on their devices and glance at them 50 to 60 times. A survey from Deloitte put that figure at 47 times daily.

As for me, Screen Time tells me I pick up my iPhone X a whopping 75 times a day. That shocked me almost as much as learning I look at the damned thing every six minutes. But without knowing where I sit on the bell curve of phone use, it’s hard to know what to do.

“If we want to change how people are habitually interacting with their phone, just giving them more numbers is not going to cut it,” said Ramsay Brown, a neuroscientist and COO of Boundless Mind. His company makes software designed to change user behavior, including a tool called Space that forces you to wait for apps to launch.

If you want to make the jump from being aware of your behavior to changing it, Brown suggests starting with fewer notifications. Apple has new features to help with that. iOS 12 provides more granular control over silencing notifications from some apps, or grouping them in a “stack” so one alert notifies you of the 25 comments left on your latest Instagram post. Siri also will suggest changes to your settings based upon your behavior.

All of that should help, because those infernal notifications trigger half of all phone pickups, Rosen says. If you want to do more, weed out the apps you’re most likely to waste time on (Goodbye, Twitter! See you later, Slack!) by burying them inside a folder or deleting them entirely.

And finally, go easy on yourself. Don’t try to make radical changes all at one. I tried limiting myself to 15 minutes on Twitter, than an hour. That plan that quickly fell apart. Rather than beat myself up, I’ll try using it just a little less, paying more attention to the people around me, and maybe deleting a few apps.

It may not work. But at least Screen Time has made me aware of the problem. That’s the point.

Do you have any tips for curing tech addiction? Tell us in the comments below!

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