AppleCare+ Is Now Billed Monthly by Default and Costs More That Way


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As its iPhone sales have fallen, Apple has begun focusing on alternative sources of revenue, like its lucrative Services division. Much of the company’s presentation for the iPhone 11 was spent demonstrating games and projects related to Apple TV. Apple wants to be a major media provider and it’s hoping you’ll reward it with lots of content purchases.

One change to AppleCare+ flew a bit under the radar. Up until now, AppleCare was a 24-to-36-month extended warranty available from Apple on various iDevices like MacBooks, iPhones and iPads. The company has typically billed a single flat rate for the service interval, though many repairs still cost money, even if you’ve purchased AppleCare+.

Now, Apple is making a change to the program. The good news is, you’ll be able (in theory) to buy AppleCare+ for a longer period of time. The bad news is, it’s going to cost you more by default even for the period of time that the program normally covers if you choose to pay by the month.

AppleCare-Pricing-Watch-XR

Image credit: 9to5Mac

The screenshot above by 9to5Mac shows pricing for AppleCare+ for the Apple Watch Series 5 and the iPhone XR. Paying month-to-month (you’ll be re-upped automatically) is essentially a subscription, even if Apple isn’t calling it that. But if you do the math, you’ll see that the month-to-month program costs significantly more. Over two years, you’ll pay $95.76 instead of $80 for AppleCare+ if you slap it on the Apple Watch. As for the iPhone XR, the two-year fee comes out to $191.76, up from $150. That’s roughly 1.2x more over the same period of time. The up-front pricing on the iPhone 11 is $149, while up-front cost on the iPhone 11 Pro is $199.

Apple’s legal document states:

For Monthly Plans, your Plan Term is one (1) month. Your Plan will automatically renew each month unless cancelled as set forth in the “Cancellation” Section 9 below, including in the event that Apple is no longer able to service your Covered Equipment due to the unavailability of service parts, in which case Apple will provide you with thirty (30) days’ prior written notice of cancellation, or as otherwise required by law.

There’s no more option to buy a fixed-term service plan and then pay for it at a monthly reduced rate. Instead, you can pay for 24 months of coverage upfront at one price or simply go on the month-to-month program. While the end result of this is that people will be able to have AppleCare+ for longer periods of time on the same device, it’ll also mean paying Apple more money for the privilege of doing so.

If anything, we suspect this change is a nod to the fact that users often keep their devices for longer periods of time these days. Reports have suggested that Americans now only replace their iDevices closer to every three years, rather than every two. Converting customers to a small monthly fee for AppleCare+ gives Apple a steady monthly revenue stream that replaces some of the sales revenue it loses when it sells fewer iPhones. The fact that customers are being billed monthly would also help smooth revenue quarter-over-quarter — people only buy a new device every few years, but if they pay you $8 a month, that’s revenue you can count on. Multiply that by some millions of customers, and you’ve got a hefty chunk of reliable income. Apple, these days, is all about reliable income.

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Apple Watch Series 5 hands-on – gpgmail


The new Apple Watch is even harder to distinguish from its predecessor than the new iPhone. Given the fact that Fitbit’s smartwatches appear more and more Apple-like with every new generation, however, maybe the company’s onto something here. Like the iPhone, Apple hasn’t touched the Watch’s design for a while now, leading one to wonder if there’s much to be done on that front.

The new titanium and ceramic cases are nice to look at, but they’ll cost you. There are some nice new magnetic straps, as well, and Apple’s new in-store customization options will go a little ways toward helping wearers stand out from the crowd.

On the whole, the Series 5 doesn’t feel like a huge step forward. There’s nothing on here that’s quite as radical a shift as the addition of LTE from a while back. The addition of sleep tracking, meanwhile, appears to have been put on the back burner for a bit — owing perhaps to battery constraints. The truth of the matter is that 18 hours is more than enough to get you through a day, but wearing the watch to sleep is another matter.

That said, there has been some battery improvement. The listed battery life is the same as the last model, but that time now factors in the always-on display. That’s probably the useful day to day addition for the new device. Even when you’re not actively engaging with it, the screen stays on.

Apple Watch Series 5

Like other smartwatches, it accomplishes this with the low-energy display. But the switch is less radical than on, say, the new Fitbit Versa. Instead, the faces invert while keeping complications and other features visible. I got a demo of the feature, which was triggered when either covering the light sensor with a hand or, more naturally, swinging your arm down to the side.

I’ve been using always on with the Fitbit and find it to be kind of a mixed bag. It sucks when sleeping (you’re better off turning it off at night) and would probably be a pain in, say, a movie theater. That said, there are plenty more instances when you just want to check the time without actively engaging the watch. Among other things, Apple appears to be laying the ground work for battery improvements and, hopefully, the aforementioned sleep tracking.

The inclusion of the compass is nice. It’s easy to see how developers can leverage it, going forward. The best demo I got was Night Sky. The familiar star gazing app is neat when you can move the watch around to get a full spherical look at the constellations.

The Series 5 starts at $399 for the standard version and $499 for LTE. Titanium is around $700. Like the iPhone, they hit stores September 20.


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Apple Announces New 10.2-inch iPad, Apple Watch Series 5, and More


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Apple’s annual product refresh has just wrapped up, and it was a big one. Apple announced new online services, and updated versions of several mobile devices. We’ve already got a full rundown of the new iPhone 11, but here’s everything else Apple announced including the new iPad, Apple Watch, and more. 

The new iPad

Apple’s fall event usually focuses on the iPhone and Apple Watch, but the company also squeezed in a new tablet: the 10.2-inch iPad (above). Surprisingly, this device keeps the physical home button and larger bezels than the current iPad Pro models. 

Apple is notoriously bad at providing details and specifications in events, so it’s unclear if the new iPad has a Lightning port, but that seems likely. The device will have a Smart Keyboard case and support for the first-gen Apple Pencil. The new one charges wirelessly on the iPad Pro, so it won’t work with this tablet. Inside, the new iPad has the A10 Fusion chip, which is just a bit less powerful than the A10X Fusion in the iPad Pros. 

This device will replace the current 9.7-inch entry-level iPad, which sold for $329. This tablet will cost the same, but education customers can get it for $299. It will sit between the iPad Mini and the iPad Air in Apple’s lineup. It’s also the first iPad made from 100 percent recycled aluminum. You can pre-order the new iPad today, and it will ship at the end of the month. 

In addition, Apple announced its redesigned iPadOS (above) will launch on Sept. 30. Original revealed earlier this year, iPadOS will add tons of new features to make Apple’s tablets feel more like a “real” computer. There’s a desktop version of Safari, a more power files app, and better multitasking. iPadOS will launch on the new 10.2-inch iPad, but it will come as an update to all iPads from the iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4, and fifth-gen iPad or later. 

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple might have been late to the wearables game, but the Apple Watch has effectively crushed the competition year after year. The Series 5 has the same measurements as the Series 4, but it adds an always-on display mode. So, you can see the time without lifting your wrist. This is one of the few features that the Apple Watch lacked compared with its competitors. 

Apple says the Series 5 watch has the same 18-hour battery life rating as the Series 4, and that’s with always-on mode activated. This substantial battery life improvement is apparently thanks to a new low-temperature polysilicon and oxide display and low-power display driver. 

This is also the first time Apple has offered an Apple Watch made from recycled material. You can get the device in recycled aluminum or titanium, in addition to the stainless steel and ceramic options carried over from the Series 5. 

The Series 5 starts at $399 for the standard model and $499 for LTE. They go on sale Sept. 20. The Series 3 will stick around at a lower $199 price, and the Series 4 is going away. 

TV and games

Everyone seems to be launching their own streaming service lately, and Apple is no different. Today’s event also included the final launch details for the company’s Apple+ streaming video platform. It’s launching on November 1st for just $4.99 per month. 

Apple TV+ focuses on original content like Jason Moma’s See and Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s The Morning Show. The catch, however, is that you’ll need an Apple device like the Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or a Mac at launch. The Apple TV+ app will come later to Samsung TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and others. If you buy a new Apple device, it will come with a year trial of Apple TV+ as well. 

The event also included more information about Apple’s iOS game subscription service, known as Apple Arcade. The service launches on Sept. 19 worldwide and includes more than 100 games, all of them exclusive to iOS. It too will run you $4.99 per month. There will be no ads, and you can share a subscription with up to six family members. 

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Apple will now let you pick your own band color with launch of ‘Apple Watch Studio’ – gpgmail


Apple is doubling down on personalization to help better sell its latest products. In addition to an expanded array of iPhone colors — hello mint green, lilac, etc. — the company today announced the launch of Apple Watch Studio, which will allow consumers to create the Apple Watch case and band pairing that they want, instead of having to choose one designed by Apple.

Before today, Apple would pair its Apple Watch cases with select bands. If you didn’t like the band that came with your Watch, however, you’d have to buy another at your own expense either from Apple or a third-party seller.

Apple Watch Studio will change that by allowing you to pick the case and band style you prefer, when shopping.

“Apple has always been the best place to help you customize and personalize your products. And now we’re going to take it even further with Apple Watch,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail + People, speaking at the Apple press event in Cupertino this morning.

The experience will be available starting with the launch of Apple Watch Series 5 at Apple retail stores and online.

O’Brien said the new experience will offer “over 1,000” different ways for customers to customize their Watch, thanks to the many variations of case and band styles now available.

The Series 5, also announced at today’s event, will offer aluminum models that come in silver, gold and space gray. Its stainless steel models will come in gold, silver, and space black and a ceramic model will come in white, plus an all-new titanium model. Apple has also now launched a range of new band styles, some which complement the new colors of the iPhone 11 line.

Effectively, it debuted a fall collection of bands, with bands featuring deeper jewel tones like pine green, midnight blue, and aubergine (purple), alongside a few brighter colors like lemons and oranges and of course some classic blacks and browns, among others.

While Apple will still sell Apple Watch case/band pairings on its site, if you scroll down the page you can try out the new Apple Watch Studio starting today. The site displays an image of an Apple Watch that you customize it by selecting the size, case, and band. These options appear in a horizontal scroll bar, so you can easily tweak the design by clicking over to the next option on the right or left.

Screen Shot 2019 09 10 at 3.32.34 PM

When finished, you just click “I’m Done” and complete the checkout process.

It’s a small change but one that could see more customers sporting bands made by Apple instead of knockoffs, as they’ll get one they actually like at purchase.


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Watch Apple unveil the new iPhone live right here – gpgmail


Apple is set to announce new iPhone models today. The company is holding a keynote on its campus at 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris). And you’ll be able to watch the event right here as the company is streaming it live.

Rumor has it that the company plans to unveil three new smartphones. The iPhone 11 should replace the iPhone XR in the lineup, while the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max should replace the iPhone XS and XS Max respectively.

Apple could also update the Apple Watch with a new titanium version. You can also expect to get the release date of iOS 13, iPadOS 13, tvOS 13, macOS Catalina and watchOS 6. Let’s see if Apple announces the launch dates of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade as well.

When it comes to less likely announcements that could still happen, Apple has been working on new MacBooks, a new Apple TV with a more powerful system-on-a-chip and new iPads. All eyes are on the new iPhone, but Apple could use today’s conference to announce those other products.

You can watch the live stream directly on this page. For the first time, Apple is streaming its conference on YouTube.

If you have an Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old ones. The app icon was updated a few days ago for the event.

And if you don’t have an Apple TV and don’t want to use YouTube, the company also lets you live-stream the event from the Apple Events section on its website. This video feed now works in all major browsers — Safari, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Of course, you also can read gpgmail’s live blog if you’re stuck at work and really need our entertaining commentary track to help you get through your day. We have a team in the room.


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Apple patents Watch band that could ID you from your wrist skin – gpgmail


It looks like Apple is playing with the idea of making the Apple Watch’s band a bit smarter.

As spotted by PatentlyApple, the company was granted a handful of patents this morning, all focused on bringing new tricks to the Watch by way of the band.

The first patent describes a sensor built into the Watch or the watch’s band that could use infrared to build a thermal image of your wrist and its identifying traits (like skin texture/arm hair) to identify who is wearing it — sort of like a fingerprint, but from your wrist.

Unlike most of Apple’s other devices, the Apple Watch doesn’t currently have any sort of built-in biometrics for unlocking — there’s no thumb print sensor for Touch ID, or camera for Face ID. Unlocking your Apple Watch means poking at the screen to punch in a PIN (or, if you’ve configured it to unlock when you unlock your phone, doing that.) A sensor setup like this could make the unlocking process automatic without the need to unlock your phone.

apple watch band

The second granted patent describes a Watch band that can adjust itself on the fly — think Nike’s self-tightening shoes, but on your wrist. If the Watch detects that it’s sliding while you’re running (or if the aforementioned thermal sensors need a closer look at your wrist skin) tensioners in the device could tighten or loosen the band on command.

apple watch meters

Finally, a third granted patent tinkers with the idea of a Watch band with built-in light up indicators — like, say, a notification light for incoming texts, or a meter that fills up to tell you at-a-glance how much distance you’ve got left on your run, or a stripe that glows yellow when you’ve got something on your calendar in the next hour. All of this can already be done on the Watch’s screen, of course — this would just allow for it without having to power up the entire display.

As always, it’s worth noting that patents being granted doesn’t guarantee that such any such features will make it to the final product — just that Apple found something cool in its R&D labs, and decided to lock it down.

Apple has kept its bands relatively simple so far for the sake of keeping them swappable; they come in all sorts of materials and colors, but the electronic bits are contained within the Watch itself. Adding sensors and indicators to the band complicates that. As the user you’d have to decide: do you want the band you like the most on your wrist, or the one with the fancy notification lights?


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The next Apple Watch could feature sleep tracking – gpgmail


Details have surfaced about one of the potentially key features of the next Apple Watch — sleep tracking. Bloomberg originally reported that Apple has been working on a sleep tracking feature, and 9to5mac now details how the implementation could work.

The new feature would work on the next Apple Watch. The new device could be unveiled at Apple’s iPhone event next week or at a later event this fall. It’s unclear whether existing devices will also support the new feature.

You don’t need any extra hardware to enable sleep tracking — an Apple Watch strapped on your wrist is enough. When enabled, the Apple Watch will track your movements using the accelerometer. Apple also plans to take advantage of the heart rate sensor. Interestingly, the company could also leverage the microphone to listen for noises.

When you wake up, you can check the quality of your night in the Health app on your iPhone. According to 9to5mac, there will be a new Sleep app on the Apple Watch as well.

As most people use their phone as an alarm clock, Apple would mirror your alarm on your Apple Watch. This way, the alarm would play on the Apple Watch first and use the iPhone as a backup. You could limit the alarm on the Apple Watch to vibration only. This feature would be particularly handy for couples who don’t have the same schedule.

When it comes to battery life, Apple could send you a notification to remind you to charge your Apple Watch before going to bed. Remember that the Apple Watch has a tiny battery, so it charges in no time. You could easily get enough battery life in just a few minutes.

That feature would work particularly well with the next iPhone. Rumor has it that Apple will add reverse wireless charging to the new iPhone. It means that you would be able to put your Apple Watch on the back of your iPhone to charge it directly from your iPhone.

And if you’ve been a long time Apple Watch user, Apple could also let you pick a second Apple Watch and turn it into a dedicated sleep tracker. You’d just have to switch from one Apple Watch to another when you go to bed.


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Did your aluminum Apple Watch mysteriously crack itself? Apple might replace the screen for free – gpgmail


So your aluminum Series 2 or Series 3 Apple Watch is suddenly cracking around the edges… but you don’t remember bumping it on anything, or being particularly rough with it.

Surprise! It might not be your fault at all.

Apple says that they’ve determined that “under very rare circumstances”, the displays on aluminum Series 2 and 3 are developing cracks that can wrap around the rounded edges.

The good news? If Apple determines your display crack is caused by this newly discovered issue, they’ll replace the screen for free. The bad news? It’s not the kind of thing they can fix at the Genius Bar, so getting it patched up means shipping the Watch to Apple and being without it for 5+ days.

(It sounds like the kind of cracks they’re looking for are pretty specific — they’re looking for cracks that developed around the rounded edges, as pictured above. So if you really just dropped something on the watch and the display got obliterated, you probably aren’t gonna be able to pull a fast one here.)

As spotted by MacRumors, Apple has a full list of watches that are going to be covered under this new screen replacement program here. The company says that all eligible aluminum Series 2 and 3 watches will be covered under this new screen replacement program for 3 years from its original retail purchase date, or one year from today — whichever is longer.


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Next Apple Watch could include new ceramic and titanium models – gpgmail


Apple’s next Apple Watch revision could include new materials for the case, including titanium and ceramic. That’s according to new assets pulled form the latest watchOS beta release, as uncovered by Brazilian site iHelp.br (via 9to5Mac). The new screens discovered in the beta show graphics used to pair the Apple Watch during setup, and list “Titanium Case” and “Ceramic Case” alongside model size identification info.

Apple has previously offered a ceramic Apple Watch, alongside its Series 2 and Series 3 models, with a premium price and white and black case options. The company hasn’t previously used titanium, but the lightweight, durable metal is popular among traditional watchmakers because it can really significantly reduce the heft of a watch case, while still providing a premium look and feel.

Last year’s Apple Watch Series 4 was the first significant change in body design for the wearable since its introduction in 2015, so it seems unlikely that Apple will change that this year again. The new physical design includes larger case sizes (40mm and 44mm, respectively, vs. 38mm and 42mm for previous generations), a thinner profile and a display with rounded corners and slimmer bezels.

Offering new materials is a way for Apple to deliver new hardware that is observably new on the outside, in addition to whatever processor and component improvements they make on the inside. Apple will likely also offer these alongside their stainless steel and aluminum models, should they actually be released this fall, and would probably charge a premium for these material options, too.

The Series 4 Apple Watch proved a serious improvement in terms of performance, and added features like the onboard ECG. Splashy new looks likely won’t be the extent of what Apple has planned for Series 5, however, especially since the company is revamping watchOS to be much more independent of the phone, which would benefit from more capable processors.


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Apple brings contactless student IDs to a dozen more universities – gpgmail


Ahead of the upcoming school year, Apple this morning announced it’s bringing contactless student IDs in Apple Wallet to several more U.S. universities. The expansion will allow over 100,000 college students to carry their student ID on their iPhone or Apple Watch, where it can be used for a variety of tasks including paying for their meals, snacks and for entry into buildings, like the student’s dorm and other campus facilities.

The expanded list of universities includes: Clemson University, Georgetown University, University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, University of San Francisco, University of Vermont, Arkansas State University, South Dakota State University, Norfolk State University, Louisburg College, University of North Alabama and Chowan University.

These join the previously supported schools like Duke University, University of Oklahoma, University of Alabama, Temple University, Johns Hopkins University, Marshall University, and Mercer University.

Apple had first announced its plans for contactless student IDs at WWDC 2018, then rolled out to its debut schools last October.

The contactless IDs not only serve as a means of student identification, but also work as a payment mechanism for on-campus transactions — like meals at the cafeteria or textbooks and supplies at the college’s bookstore, for example. Contactless entry into buildings is also now common on college campuses, and these digital IDs can work to open doors, too, as an alternative to swiping an entry card.

Apple brings student IDs to iPhone and Apple Watch university of san francisco student ID screen 081319

Support for college student IDs is only one way that Apple is trying to replace the physical wallet. The company also support the ability to add your debit and credit cards, transit and loyalty cards, tickets, and even paper money through Apple Pay Cash. And now it’s launching its own credit card, too, which rewards you with cashback for shopping Apple and using Apple Pay.

“We’re happy to add to the growing number of schools that are making getting around campus easier than ever with iPhone and Apple Watch,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services, in a statement about the expansion. “We know students love this feature. Our university partners tell us that since launch, students across the country have purchased 1.25 million meals and opened more than 4 million doors across campuses by just tapping their iPhone and Apple Watch.”

Related to this launch, Apple says it’s also adding support for CBORD, Allegion and HID — solution providers for campus credentials and mobile access. With these technologies on board, Apple will be able to reach other schools integrated with these systems in the future.


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