What’s Not in the Box

2nd July 2020

If you’re interested in Apple, or you simply follow tech news, then you’ll probably be aware of the rumour that Apple may not include a power adapter and EarPods in the box with the 2020 iPhone models. If you’re somehow in the weird intersection of not following iPhone news, but do read this my blog, then I’d recommend Sam Byford’s piece on The Verge as a brief introduction.

I’ll prefix everything in this post with the fact that this is just a rumour. So while it’s getting a lot of attention, it’s not official. Therefore every reaction to this is purely based on a hypothetical situation.

My opinions on this rumour are predominantly based around the potential lack of power adapter in the box. Not specifically because I don’t care about EarPods. I mean, I don’t care about EarPods. But that’s not the reason I see them as two separate scenarios to be discussed. The obvious distinction is that you need to be able to charge the iPhone to be able to use it, and EarPods are an optional accessory.

I haven’t used EarPods since I got a copy of the very first AirPods. In fact, the pair of EarPods that I got in my most recent iPhone two years ago, the EarPods went straight to my girlfriend. Who incidentally is starting to think about making the switch to AirPods as well. So while my sentiment is more than likely clouded my by own bias, I don’t think not including EarPods with every iPhone is a big deal. Simply because they are not required for typical use, and I bet a lot of people don’t use them at all. And that could also be for a few reasons, maybe they don’t need EarPods because they have a third-party option already, or maybe they already have a pair from their last iPhone, or maybe they just don’t use earphones at all. Nevertheless, I would assume that the people that really want to get a new pair of EarPods when they get a new phone, would most likely be willing to purchase them separately. Or that the amount that would mind, wouldn’t be a large enough of a percentage to matter.

The power adapter, however, is a completely different story. Because without one, you wouldn’t be able to use your phone after the battery ran out. Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Imagine paying a huge amount for a phone, only to find out that you need to buy a power adapter separately. That’s going to get you some bad press. And surely a lot of confused and angry customers. It certainly sounds like a case of Apple being greedy.

However, that reaction would most likely only be the case if Apple didn’t include a power adapter in the box, but offered no reason why, and let customers pay extra for it. And like most situations, there would probably be a lot more nuance that can’t be captured by a headline.

Because let’s face it, most people that buy the iPhone probably don’t need another power adapter. And in a lot of cases, it will be left in the box, which obviously means unnecessary waste. In Dieter Bohn’s piece on The Verge about the situation, he quotes an interview in 2018 between Nilay Patel and Steven Yang, the CEO of Anker, where Yang estimated the level of waste from smartphones that include a charger in the box:

[Say] every smartphone has a charger with it. We had 1.5 billion smartphones that shipped last year. … That’s only for phones. When we have tablets, laptops, power drills, [and more], we estimate a total of four billion chargers (were shipped last year). We estimate about 300,000 tons of e-waste just from these in-box chargers.

So there’s the environmental angle that Apple could push, which to be honest is something that Apple likes to do. But I still think that if they simply said “Most people don’t use the power adapter that we include in the box, so to reduce waste we’re not giving you one”, then they will still get a ton of bad reviews. And for a CEO that loves his “customer sat”, I’m not sure if he would do that. Or at least, I don’t think he would do something as simple as explaining it was better for the environment and leave it like that.

I think the general angle will be on reducing waste, but in my opinion, there are a few different potential benefits:

  • Obviously, the lack of EarPods and power adapters means less waste for people that wouldn’t use them.
  • If the box contains just the iPhone (and all the paperwork), then the box can be really small. That’s a good win for waste reduction, but it also benefits the logistics side of things as more boxes will be able to fit in a smaller area.
  • This may or may not be passed down to the customer, but the costs would be reduced. Meaning higher margins, or lower prices.
  • This is just a thought, but maybe by not including a pair of EarPods in the box, if they do decide they want a pair of earphones/headphones, they may decide to buy something more upmarket. Maybe a pair of AirPods, or even a pair of Beats. The same could also apply to power adapters.

There’s also one more thing that probably isn’t a real benefit to anyone, but I think it makes things simpler. Well, maybe more so for the EarPods. Because if you buy an iPad or Mac, you don’t get a pair of EarPods. I’m not sure if that thought process works regarding the power adapter but is certainly takes the product to it’s most essential form (Apart from going as far as removing the need for a power adapter, but I’ll get to that later).

Alongside the potential benefits, there are also potential drawbacks:

  • First-time buyers will need to purchase a separate power adapter.
  • Even current iPhone owners that are buying a new iPhone may need a new power adapter or EarPods, so they are in the same situation as first-time buyers.
  • Damage to Apple’s reputation. They’re already thought to be a greedy company by some, and the products are expensive. So this will only make that worse.
  • If people have to purchase a separate power adapter and earphones, then that purchase might not be made through Apple. Meaning they lose out on potential revenue.

I’m sure there are more pros and cons to the potential situation, but that’s what’s in my mind. And to be honest, my first reaction to it was a negative one. It seemed like such a fundamentally stupid idea that you could buy a smartphone, and have it not come with a power adapter in the box. Because at the face of it, it’s absolutely a dumb thing to do.

Having said that, I then read other articles about it, including M.G. Siegler’s, and also watched MKBHD’s video, and my mind started to change. I decided to step back and truly take a look at how Apple could deal with the situation, and I’m starting to think that’s there’s a potential to do it well. So I’ve come up with a few things that I think Apple could do to make the best out of it, some of them better than others. They won’t be able to do them all, but maybe just one of them, or even a mix would be beneficial.

Reduce the cost. Simply subtract the retail price of the EarPods and a suitable power adapter away from the cost of an iPhone, and have them available as optional extras on the product page. This one would be difficult to see on its own though, seeing as by subtracting the retail price would be reducing the margins of the iPhone. So it would have to be part of a bigger story about reducing the cost of an iPhone or adjusted slightly to make it possible.

Offer a discount for a power adapter or earphones/headphones. Probably the most obvious idea. But, essentially if Apple wants to sell the iPhone as a device-only package, by offering a discount on EarPods or the power adapter that would have typically come in the box, then at least customers have a less annoying solution if they really wanted one of those. Then the message becomes a bit more friendly, and not as if the decision is purely about trying to make customers pay full price for every accessory.

Don’t change the default configuration but let customers “opt-in” to not having EarPods or a power adapter included. This way no-one is negatively affected. In fact, it only benefits people that don’t want these “extras” and would be happy for them not to be included in the box. Although this would make logistics more complicated, as there would need to be flexibility for the product to come with different things in the box.

Have different configurations of each iPhone. In a similar vein to the previous idea, Apple could have multiple “default” configurations of each iPhone. If they did it this way, you probably wouldn’t be able to have all four options (with/without either EarPods or a power adapter), so it might just be that you get the iPhone as we expect, and a “device only” option.

Differentiate based on the model. One way to try and please more people is to decide on a model-by-model basis. It just allows for slightly finer control and has a chance to give more people a better default. My first thought was that maybe the base iPhone would just be the device, but maybe the “Pro” model would include EarPods and a power adapter. However, I can imagine it wouldn’t be as simple as that. Seeing as you might find that customers that opt for the more expensive model, might also have their alternatives, so you’d be benefitting the wrong side. I’m sure Apple would have more data on this, so if for example they knew that the majority of customers for a certain model threw their power adapters away, then they could make the decision specifically for that model. It has the potential to be messy. But one example that I think may work, is singling out the cheaper model, which right now is the iPhone SE, and having the “main” set of iPhones device only.

Go full-on configurable. One way to ensure each customer gets what they want is to let them configure every part of it. So instead of having one default configuration for the iPhone, or even just having the option to include a power adapter or not. What if, when you went to buy an iPhone, you could choose from the usual model, colour, and storage size, expand that to audio, charging, and maybe even a few other types of accessories. For example, Apple wouldn’t be removing EarPods, they would simply be letting you choose from having nothing, EarPods, AirPods, Beats, and maybe select third-party options. The same applies to charging as well, maybe you don’t need another power adapter, but at the same time, you might want to buy a 5w charger, a fast charger, or even a Qi charger. So instead of the story being Apple removing things from the iPhone box, it becomes a story about Apple giving customers more freedom and flexibility to choose what’s right for them.

After thinking about all of these ideas, and potential ways Apple could handle the situation, I’m not 100% certain what I would do. As it stands now, I think the best solution is to lean into the idea around letting users personalise their iPhone package, and making everything configurable. But that would need to be coupled with discounted options for things like EarPods and power adapters.

However, I am aware that if I was in charge of this decision at Apple, then I’m sure I would have totally different motives behind the decision. For example, if it was to increase the margin on the iPhone, to reduce electronic waste, or even because they want to encourage more people to make the switch to Qi or AirPods. But as I don’t know Apple’s motives, I can only offer an outside perspective on the situation.


It all changes though if the iPhone didn’t need a power adapter, or at least what we expect as a power adapter, a cable and a plug. What if the iPhone only charged via a Qi-compatible For example, what if the iPhone had no ports? And you had to have a Qi-compatible charger. Then it would be a whole new set of circumstances to deal with. And maybe all of this is simply preparing people for that future. But that debate will have to wait another day.

Apple Glass Rumoured To Start at $499 with Support for Prescription Lenses

19th May 2020 | Permalink

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

Front Page Tech host and leaker Jon Prosser today shared several alleged details about Apple’s rumored augmented reality glasses, including an “Apple Glass” marketing name, $499 starting price, prescription lens option, and more.

  • The marketing name will be “Apple Glass”
  • The glasses will start at $499 with the option for prescription lenses at an extra cost
  • There will be displays in both lenses that can be interacted with using gestures
  • The glasses will rely on a paired iPhone, similar to the original Apple Watch
  • An early prototype featured LiDAR and wireless charging
  • Apple originally planned to unveil the glasses as a “One More Thing” surprise at its iPhone event in the fall, but restrictions on in-person gatherings could push back the announcement to a March 2021 event
  • Apple is targeting a late 2021 or early 2022 release

This product has been rumoured for years now, and it’s interesting to hear that they were apparently planned to be announced this year along side the next iPhone announcement. So they’re starting to feel like a possibility.

I used to think that this was a product that I would avoid. But to be honest, if they do cost around $499, and I can get my prescription lenses, then I think I would get them.


You can watch Jon’s video from his Front Page Tech channel to hear the rumours directly.

Addressing Spotify’s Claims →

15th March 2019 | Permalink

So, Apple have now posted their response to Spotifys long list of complaints against them.

It’s pretty huge, and they go against nearly every point they made. I’m hugely biased as I’m an Apple fan, but to me, everything they said makes a lot of sense.

Here are some of the sections that I found the most interesting:

What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.

That’s a dig at Spotify already, and they also go a bit further than their complaints, by mentioning their relationship with artists.

One thing that surprised me, was their response to Spotifys claims about Apple restricting them from platforms such as the HomePod or Apple Watch:

  • When we reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, they’ve told us they’re working on it, and we stand ready to help them where we can.
  • Spotify is deeply integrated into platforms like CarPlay, and they have access to the same app development tools and resources that any other developer has.
  • We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.

That all sounds like Spotify have actually been working with Apple successfully already.

They then went into detail on the number of free apps in the App Store, how different apps make money while Apple not taking a cut (free, ad-supported, external subscriptions, and physical good sales). They turned this at Spotify by stating that only a small fraction of their subscriptions are going through their payment platform, and that their target is to reduce that to zero. So in effect, reducing their contribution to the platform to zero.

They end with a statement about what it means to music, and also how Apple’s approach is to help grow opportunities for artists, businesses, and every person with a big idea:

We share Spotify’s love of music and their vision of sharing it with the world. Where we differ is how you achieve that goal. Underneath the rhetoric, Spotify’s aim is to make more money off others’ work. And it’s not just the App Store that they’re trying to squeeze — it’s also artists, musicians and songwriters.

Just this week, Spotify sued music creators after a decision by the US Copyright Royalty Board required Spotify to increase its royalty payments. This isn’t just wrong, it represents a real, meaningful and damaging step backwards for the music industry.

Apple’s approach has always been to grow the pie. By creating new marketplaces, we can create more opportunities not just for our business, but for artists, creators, entrepreneurs and every “crazy one” with a big idea. That’s in our DNA, it’s the right model to grow the next big app ideas and, ultimately, it’s better for customers.

We’re proud of the work we’ve done to help Spotify build a successful business reaching hundreds of millions of music lovers, and we wish them continued success — after all, that was the whole point of creating the App Store in the first place.

This is going to be really interesting to watch play out. Especially the EU court case.

There is one thing that I agree with Spotify on, and that’s the 30% cut Apple take. But I wouldn’t class that as being anti-competitive, as it’s a rule for the entire App Store. I just want it to be lower.

In general, I’m against Spotify on this one. I was unsure on a few things after the complaint was published, on things like the App Store rejections, their claim that Apple dismissed their Apple Watch app proposals, and Apple apparently not letting them on the HomePod. Apple cleared a lot of this up. And while both sides of the argument will include biases, I feel that Apple have quashed a lot of Spotifys claims.

Apple Covent Garden Is Reopening!

24th October 2018

I just received some good news in an email from Apple. They’re finally reopening their Covent Garden store on the 26th October.

Come and see our brand-new space. Explore a wide range of inspiring Today at Apple sessions taking place every day. And learn new skills in everything from photography to design, music and more.

Join us to see just how far your creativity can take you.

They’ve got some interesting events already lined up:

  • Photo Walk: Capturing Covent Garden
  • Performance: Joncan Kavlakoglu
  • Kids Hour: Draw Along with the Moomins
  • Business Exclusive: Perfect Your Creative Pitch with Hubbub

Maybe I’ll have to start looking at going to some of them. I haven’t been to any events at an Apple store yet.

Apple – Covent Garden Creative Series

Yet More Leaks

30th August 2018

As usual, Apple can’t seem to keep things secret anymore. Leaks are now emerging of the new iPhone XS that will be announced at the event on the 12th September.

I have completely mixed feeling about it this time. It’s a real shame that some of the surprise from the event has been somewhat spoiled. I don’t mind a few bits of information being leaked, but when it’s marketing images of a new product, it feels like someone has really screwed up.

Some people will surely point the blame at the people like 9To5Mac that make these things public, but that’s their job, to release interesting news. And it will certainly interest a lot of people.

I’ve read one article from 9To5Mac which includes an image of the iPhone XS, with new sizes and colour, and I’ve seen a few photos of a new Watch face, but I’m going to try and stay away from anything else. It will be pretty hard, seeing as I follow a lot of blogs that will cover it, and it will be all over Twitter, but I’ll manage.

Guilherme Rambo‏, the main investigator of Apple related leaks nowadays, said that a lot of information is coming from some test streams that Apple clearly didn’t think people were watching:

Apple just can’t seem to keep it in their pants anymore.


I would like to note that I won’t be writing about these leaks, or sharing other links to anything else that may come out. I don’t hold anything against anyone that reads, shares, or does anything with the information. I’ll just try and wait until the official announcement.

What I Want in the Next iPhone

13th August 2018

I started a note a while ago to list out the things I want in the next iPhone, but there’s honestly not much that I can think of. I may really want these things, but there’s not many of them.

Just for some perspective, I’m currently using an iPhone 7 Plus, and I’m still really happy with the device. But I got it on release day, so after two years I think I’m due an upgrade. However, taking into consideration the improvements made in the iPhone X, there are just a few things I’d like the next model (whatever it’s going to be called) to improve upon.

The first has to be the battery. I don’t really ever get a full days use out of a single charge, but I do understand that I am a bit of an edge case. I use my phone a lot, whether it’s at work when I’m using it as a test device, or when I’m travelling and I’m constantly taking photos. I would like the battery life to be great for all types of users, not just when it’s new, or for someone who uses it less than me.

Following on the photography side of my iPhone use, I wouldn’t mind the camera getting a bit better. It’s a pretty good camera, and I get some good shots, but I don’t think there has been any major leaps in a while. I know this isn’t a great metric to use as a comparison, but the iPhone 6 had a 12MP camera, and so does the iPhone X. Sure, quite a lot of other things have changed, and the lens makes a lot of difference on it’s own. But I would like to see an aperture lower than f/1.8, improvements to macro photography, and general improvements to sharpness.

One thing that I expect to see, and I kind of really need in my next device, is the ability to use Face ID in any orientation. I’m still unsure about facial recognition, seeing as how reliable and fast Touch ID is, and the fact the iPhone X has to be in portrait for it to be unlocked would be pretty annoying. But with the rumours of this coming to the iPad, I don’t see why the next iPhone wouldn’t also receive it. Maybe even the iPhone X could retroactively gain support for this as well.

My next wish is something I’ve been wanting for a long time now, and it’s a reason why I’ve been tempted to buy a Google Pixel before, colourful hardware. In the past, Apple have offered multiple colour options for quite a lot of their products, the early iMacs, iPods, the iPhone 5C, and of course the Apple Watch straps. I really want a phone that isn’t just a boring slab of monochrome, (I don’t accept the gold options, and the RED edition takes ages to be launched). Why not something with a bit of character? What about adding a few accents to the side buttons like the Pixel, or going for whole colour changes, like the rumoured orange version (😍). And I don’t want any interesting options to be relegated to the cheaper models. I remember when I purchased a 5S, I really wanted the design of the 5C so I could get a bright colour for once, but I wasn’t going to buy one with old hardware. With a $1 trillion market cap, you’d think there’d be room for some more colour options for arguably their main product.

To round up my wishes, there’s just one more thing (yeah, I wrote that) I want Apple to include. Nothing big or extravagant, just a USB C to Lightning cable in the box as standard. The USB C market clearly isn’t as big as Apple predicted it would be by now, and I’ve written about how the iPad could improve this, but another push would be if the iPhone connected via USB C.

Anyway, I’ll sit back with everyone else, and await what device we’re all going to be purchasing.

Mimeo Photos Offers All Apple Photo Products, Formats & Themes Globally →

2nd August 2018 | Permalink

If you were upset about Apple’s photo printing service no longer being available from the Photos app, you’ll be glad to know that the partner they used, Mimeo, now offer these identical services themselves.

“This is a real opportunity for us to expand our successes as a prominent Apple Photos extension since the beginning,” said John Delbridge, CEO, Mimeo. “We are really excited to see an increase in demand from countries like Australia and Japan in addition to our strong US customer base.”

It’s no longer integrated into the Photos app by default, but there is now the Mimeo Photos app, that will make the service available from Apple’s Photos app.

Developers Share Experiences With Early iOS SDK →

12th July 2018

With all the nostalgia of the early App Store and iOS SDK days, Frederik Riedel tweeted about his experience developing iRedstone:

After he tweeted that, other developers started quoting it, and sharing their experiences. Frederik has compiled a great collection of them over on his blog.

Apple updates MacBook Pro with faster performance and new features for pros →

12th July 2018

Well this is unexpected, Apple have updated some of their Macs:

Cupertino, California — Apple today updated MacBook Pro with faster performance and new pro features, making it the most advanced Mac notebook ever. The new MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar feature 8th-generation Intel Core processors, with 6-core on the 15-inch model for up to 70 percent faster performance and quad-core on the 13-inch model for up to two times faster performance — ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing. – Apple Newsroom

The improvements are to the 13” and 15” models of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and there are also a few extra bits of news. I thought I’d try and extract the key improvements:

MacBook Pros

 Hardware

  • Faster CPUs – Now using 8th generation chips:
    • Quad-core Intel i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7GHz (Turbo Boost to 4.5GHz) for the 13”
    • Hexa-core Intel i7 and i9 processors up to 2.9GHz (Turbo Boost to 4.8GHz) for the 15”
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory in the 15”
  • New HDD options – 2TB for the 13” ad 4TB for the 15”
  • New Apple T2 Chip
  • True Tone
  • Upgraded graphics chips:
    • Intel Iris Plus 655 for the 13”
    • Radeon Pro chips with 4GB of video memory for the 15”
  • The 13” model now ships with 4 USB C ports
  • The keyboard has been replaced with a new 3rd generation butterfly keyboard, which is quieter, and maybe more reliable.
  • Battery capacities have been slightly increased to cope with the newer specs. However, Brian Heater at TechCrunch says that no mechanical changes have been made.

Software

  • “Hey Siri” comes to the MacBook Pro because of the new T2 chip.
  • Also, enhanced security with secure booting, and on-the-fly storage encryption because of the T2.

 Extras

  • There are new colour options for the MacBook Leather Sleeve (13” and 15”) – Saddle Brown, Midnight Blue, and Black.
  • These MacBook Pro’s are also part of the Back to Schoo program, where students can receive a free pair of Beats headphones with eligible Macs.