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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Walgreens joins Apple Card’s rewards program to offer 3% Daily Cash on purchases – gpgmail


Apple Card’s rewards program, Daily Cash, is expanding today with the addition of Walgreens. The retailer joins Uber and Uber Eats to become the latest merchant to offer 3% Daily Cash to Apple Card customers who use Apple Pay at checkout. This includes purchases made in both Walgreens and Duane Reade retail stores, as well as on the web at walgreens.com, and in the Walgreens mobile app.

Daily Cash is the Apple Card’s big incentive, as it offers a percentage back on every purchase when cardholders pay with Apple Pay, or when they pay with their titanium Apple Card when Apple Pay isn’t available.

Initially, only purchases made directly with Apple — including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services — would qualify for the 3% Daily Cash. Apple Pay purchases earned 2% Daily Cash and those made with the physical card earned 1%.

This Daily Cash is paid out with every qualifying purchase and can be used right away for other Apple Pay purchases. It can also be put towards the Apple Card balance or sent to friends and family through iMessage.

But when the Apple Card launched in August to all customers in the U.S., Apple surprised users by expanding its 3% Daily Cash program to more merchants. Uber and Uber Eats were only the first of “many popular merchants” who would join the program in the months ahead, the company said at the time.

For the merchants, participation in the rewards program means better access to Apple’s sizable customer base, and a way to increase customer loyalty with their own businesses. After all, why not shop Walgreens over CVS, when there’s 3% Daily Cash to be had?

Apple hasn’t yet said what other merchants may be joining the program in the future, but an obvious place to look would be at the big list of Apple Pay merchants who accept Apple Pay in their stores already, as Walgreens does.

 


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Apple TV+ will cost $5.99 in Canada, £4.99 in the UK and INR 99 in India – gpgmail


At its big press event yesterday, Apple announced that its TV+ streaming service would cost $4.99 per month and a launch date on November 1. But it’s supposed to be available in more than 100 countries, so what does that pricing look like outside the United States?

The Streamable has rounded up TV+ pricing in different countries — and you can verify the number yourself by checking out the country–specific versions of Apple’s announcement.

The service will cost $5.99 CAD ($4.54 US) in Canada, £4.99 ($6.15) in the United Kingdom, 4.99€ ($5.50) in the rest of Europe, A$7.99 ($5.48) in Australia, 600 JPY ($5.57) in Japan and INR 99 ($1.38) in India. That’s significantly cheaper than Netflix or Disney+ across-the-board — though in India, it’s still more expensive than Disney-owned Hotstar.

And if that’s not affordable enough for you, you’ll also get a year of free access when you purchase select Apple hardware.

The launch titles should include “The Morning Show” (a drama set in the world of morning TV and starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell) and “See” (a post-apocalyptic series starring Jason Momoa).


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Apple hid a secret message in its latest YouTube video – gpgmail


Shortly after Apple’s iPhone 11 event yesterday, the company posted a drastically condensed “supercut” of everything they announced. Taking the two hour event and boiling it down to a little over two minutes, they still manage to cover just about everything — from new iPads, to new Watches, to new iPhones. And they tucked a little Easter egg in there, while they were at it!

Here’s the video:

First spotted by Gcarsk on the r/apple subreddit, it’s very much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kinda thing. Hell, you might miss it even if you don’t blink, as it’s only on screen for a few tenths of a second. I had to rapid-fire hammer the space bar to pause the video long enough to grab the screenshot below. The frames flash on screen riiiight after the narrator says “the best-selling PC” at around the 1:23 mark.

The frames jab at the classic Blue Screen of Death that you might see when something goes real wrong on a Windows computer, announcing that “Error 09102019” (a nod to the event’s September 10th, 2019 date) has occurred:

See all the numbers at the bottom? If you recognize that as binary, you probably see where this is going. A hidden message within the hidden message!

Pop those into a binary-to-ascii converter, and a new bit of text is revealed. Don’t feel like typing out all those ones and zeroes? Here’s the full text of the message:

Error 09102019

This is just a thought. But it might be nice to have some sort of easter egg message in here for the hard core Apple fans that will stop the video.

01010011 01101111 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110100 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101001 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110100 01110010 01100001 01101110 01110011 01101100 01100001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00111111 00100000

01010111 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00101110″

And — spoiler alert — the translated/decrypted text:

“So you took the time to translate this? We love you.”


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Apple’s HomePod set to gain some long overdue functionality this fall – gpgmail


It’s no secret that the HomePod’s software updates have been a bit sluggish, which made it all the more alarming that the device was barely touched on in yesterday’s Apple event.

Well, even as pre-launch promises are still getting ironed out, by the fall Apple says that its home smart speaker will be gaining new functionality including multi-user support, live radio and a relaxing “ambient sounds” mode, according to an updated product page on the company’s website. Some of this functionality was detailed at Apple’s June services event.

Multi-user support is “coming this fall” assumedly after the release of iOS13. This is one of the most egregious missing features from the device at the moment, something both Alexa and Google Home devices have pushed forward more quickly on.

The product page for the HomePod details that multi-user voice recognition will allow the device to recognize up to six individual voices. This feature will allow users to ask the device to play music catered to their interests while also asking the device to carry out commands related to personal data like recent iMessages or upcoming meetings.

The live radio features is part of iOS13’s functionality and will be arriving at the end of the month with support for iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn. More than 100,000 radio stations will be available to users who ask Siri to pop on a station.

Alongside the new radio stations, in the fall Apple will be adding a relaxing Ambient Sounds mode “featuring the soothing sounds of ocean waves, forest birds, rainstorms, and more.”

Apple hasn’t proven the HomePod to be all that capable in meeting consumer-facing software update deadlines so we’ll see how that goes, but they’re saying all of these features will arrive by fall.


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Apple unveils new iPhones – gpgmail


The Daily Crunch is gpgmail’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Here’s everything Apple announced today at the iPhone 11 event

The biggest announcement was a new lineup of iPhones, including the iPhone 11, with a new dual-camera system, as well as two iPhone Pro models with three cameras each. Cameras galore!

In addition, the company announced new iPads and Apple Watches, as well as pricing and launch dates for Apple Arcade (launching September 19) and Apple TV+ (November 1).

2. California passes landmark bill that requires Uber and Lyft to treat their drivers as employees

The bill says that if a contractor’s work is part of a company’s regular business, then they must be designated as employees. And thus, these workers will get access to more protections such as minimum wage, the right to unionize and overtime.

3. Peloton plots $1.2B Nasdaq IPO

In an amended S-1 filing released Tuesday afternoon, the developer of internet-connected stationary bikes and treadmills announced a proposed price range of $26 to $29 per share, allowing the company to raise as much as $1.2 billion in its public offering.

4. Uber lays off 435 people across engineering and product teams

Speaking of Uber, the company laid off about 8% of the workforce, with 170 people leaving the product team and 265 people leaving the engineering team.

5. Mozilla launches a VPN, brings back the Firefox Test Pilot program

The Test Pilot program allows users to try out new features before they are ready for mainstream usage.

6. Aerospace Corp CEO Steve Isakowitz to talk how to raise non-dilutive capital at Disrupt SF

Aerospace Corp is not that widely known outside space circles, but its 59-year-old R&D legacy is remarkable. The nonprofit works with the U.S. Air Force and other government space programs to identify emerging technologies from the commercial sector that could apply to future space programs.

7. What the iPhone 11 says about Apple’s present — and future

Let’s wrap this up with some thoughts on what yesterday’s announcements mean for Apple’s strategy — particularly the company’s growing focus on content and services, and its new thinking on how to position the iPhone. (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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The weird things after closing a venture round, iPhone 11, AI ad errors, and Cloud Foundry – gpgmail


Annual Extra Crunch members get 100,000 Brex Rewards points upon credit card signup

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All the weird stuff that happens to you after you close your round

There is nothing like the excitement of closing a venture round, but what happens immediately after the money hits the bank? Well, apparently, nothing really good: a deluge of scams, requests, appointments, and more from every professional service and fly-by-night operation imaginable.

Matt Rodak, the founder and CEO of FundThatFlip, compiled the emails and other messages he got after closing his $11 million Series A financing, offering us a peek inside the world of a post-close founder:


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AirDrop gets an upgrade in iPhone 11 – gpgmail


AirDrop, Apple’s proximity-based, built-in file sharing feature and home to teen meme exchanges, is getting an upgrade with the new iPhones. At Apple’s iPhone press event on Tuesday, the company introduced the iPhone 11 line of devices, which include a new Apple -designed U1 chip that uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness. This will offer a number of improvements to the iPhone’s capabilities, but Apple is starting with upgraded AirDrop functionality as a more practical use case.

With the U1 chip and iOS 13, you’ll be able to point your iPhone 11 towards someone else’s and AirDrop will prioritize that device in the list of possible AirDrop recipients. This will help to speed up the AirDrop process, which today can still be uncumbersome at times — especially at places where there are a lot of people gathered, like a concert or business convention, for example.

The additional capability was first spotted by MacRumors in the updates to Apple’s website that rolled out after the iPhone event.

What’s particularly interesting about the U1’s ultra wideband technology is that it’s also what’s rumored to power the forthcoming Apple Tag devices, which were not announced at yesterday’s event.

Apple Tag, it’s been reported, will be a competitor to the lost item tracker Tile which allows you to attach a small tag to items you need to keep up with — like your keys, wallet or bag, for example. Tile leverages Bluetooth and a crowdsourced network of Tile owners running its app on their device to help find missing items. Apple Tag is said to work similarly, via Apple’s Find My app, but will also feature ultra wideband tech.

More recently, references to Apple’s Tile competitor were also spotted in iOS 13 code by MacRumors.

Though Apple didn’t make any announcements about the product, it does seem to hint on the website that AirDrop upgrades are only the first of many enhancements that will come about thanks to the U1 chip, by saying: “And that’s just the beginning.” 

Presumably, whatever that statement is actually referring to will be released further down the road, perhaps as soon as its next big press event.

 


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iFixit gives Fairphone 3 a perfect 10 for repairability – gpgmail


Here’s something the hermetically sealed iPhone can’t do: Score a perfect 10 for repairability.

Smartphone startup and social enterprise Fairphone’s latest repairable-by-design smartphone has done just that, getting 10/10 in an iFixit Teardown vs scores of just 6/10 for recent iPhone models.

The Fairphone 3, which was released in Europe last week with an RRP of €450, gets thumbs up across the board in iFixit’s hardware Teardown. It found all the internal modules to be easily accessible and replaceable — with only basic tools required to get at them (Fairphone includes a teeny screwdriver in the box). iFixit also lauds visual cues that help with disassembly and reassembly, and notes that repair guides and spare parts are available on Fairphone’s website.

iFixit’s sole quibble is that while most of the components inside the Fairphone 3’s modules are individually replaceable “some” are soldered on. A tiny blip that doesn’t detract from the 10/10 repairability score

Safe to say, such a score is the smartphone exception. The industry continues to encourage buyers to replace an entire device, via yearly upgrade, instead of enabling them to carry out minor repairs themselves — so they can extend the lifespan of their device and thereby shrink environmental impact.

Dutch startup Fairphone was set up to respond to the abject lack of sustainability in the electronics industry. The tiny company has been pioneering modularity for repairability for several years now, flying in the face of smartphone giants that are still routinely pumping out sealed tablets of metal and glass which often don’t even let buyers get at the battery to replace it themselves.

To wit: An iFixit Teardown of the Google Pixel rates battery replacement as “difficult” with a full 20 steps and between 1-2 hours required. (Whereas the Fairphone 3 battery can be accessed in seconds, by putting a fingernail under the plastic back plate to pop it off and lifting the battery out.)

The Fairphone 3 goes much further than offering a removable backplate for getting at the battery, though. The entire device has been designed so that its components are accessible and repairable.

So it’s not surprising to see it score a perfect 10 (the startup’s first modular device, Fairphone 2, was also scored 10/10 by iFixit). But it is strong, continued external validation for the Fairphone’s designed-for-repairability claim.

It’s an odd situation in many respects. In years past replacement batteries were the norm for smartphones, before the cult of slimming touchscreen slabs arrived to glue phone innards together. Largely a consequence of hardware business models geared towards profiting from pushing for clockwork yearly upgrades cycle — and slimmer hardware is one way to get buyers coveting your next device.

But it’s getting harder and harder to flog the same old hardware horse because smartphones have got so similarly powerful and capable there’s precious little room for substantial annual enhancements.

Hence iPhone maker Apple’s increasing focus on services. A shift that’s sadly not been accompanied by a rethink of Cupertino’s baked in hostility towards hardware repairability. (It still prefers, for example, to encourage iPhone owners to trade in their device for a full upgrade.)

At Apple’s 2019 new product announcement event yesterday — where the company took the wraps off another clutch of user-sealed smartphones (aka: iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro) — there was even a new financing offer to encourage iPhone users to trade in their old models and grab the new ones. ‘Look, we’re making it more affordable to upgrade!’ was the message.

Meanwhile, the only attention paid to sustainability — during some 1.5 hours of keynotes — was a slide which passed briefly behind marketing chief Phil Schiller towards the end of his turn on stage puffing up the iPhone updates, encouraging him to pause for thought.

“iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 are made to be designed free from these harmful materials and of course to reduce their impact on the environment,” he said in front of a list of some toxic materials that are definitely not in the iPhones.

Stuck at the bottom of this list were a couple of detail-free claims that the iPhones are produced via a “low-carbon process” and are “highly recyclable”. (The latter presumably a reference to how Apple handles full device trade-ins. But as anyone who knows about sustainability will tell you, sustained use is far preferable to premature recycling…)

“This is so important to us. That’s why I bring it up every time. I want to keep pushing the boundaries of this,” Schiller added, before pressing the clicker to move on to the next piece of marketing fodder. Blink and you’d have missed it.

If Apple truly wants to push the boundaries on sustainability — and not just pay glossy lip-service to reducing environmental impact for marketing purposes while simultaneously encouraging annual upgrades — it has a very long way to go indeed.

As for repairability, the latest and greatest iPhones clearly won’t hold a candle to the Fairphone.


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What the iPhone 11 says about Apple’s present — and future – gpgmail


No matter how much polish and Apple magic the company put on today’s big event, there was one unshakable truth that colored the event: phones just aren’t selling like they used to. And unlike other industry-wide trends, Apple isn’t immune. The large scale slowdown of smartphone sales has had an undeniable impact on the company’s bottom line.

Casual observers may not have noticed, but that harsh truth impacted nearly every mobile announcement on stage today at the Steve Jobs theater. Two elements in particular really stood out, however:

  1. Content and services taking center stage
  2. Apple rethinking how the iPhone is positioned.


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