Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our Saturday-morning roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.

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An avalanche in a walled garden

A couple of months back, following the quick-fire announcement of multiple concessions to developers, we posted an analysis piece arguing that the App Store was under pressure and Apple was cracking. There was a real sense of momentum: it felt like complaints about Apple's unyielding stewardship of the App Store stretching back for years were finally hitting the critical mass needed to effect real change. Walled garden, meet avalanche.

I experienced a similar sensation this week, when Apple revealed plans for a Self Service Repair programme, under which repair manuals for the company's products will be made available for free, and authorised parts and tools will be sold online. This was shockingly unexpected, but perhaps shouldn't have been: it was the final result of years of mounting pressure from the Right To Repair campaign.

In these two aspects of its business - mobile software distribution and hardware repair - Apple has followed the same template. Resist reform as long as possible, then just before an external body forces its hand (such as the EU drafting home repair legislation), make the mildest possible version of the reforms 'voluntarily' and present it as a PR win in hopes of avoiding something worse.

So let's look again at the repair programme Apple has announced. It is limited: only the 12- and 13-series iPhones are included initially, with M1 Macs to follow "soon". It is distant: the programme won't start until an unspecified point early in 2022 in the US, and other countries will have to wait longer still. There is no indication that the actual design of the phones will change to make them easier to service. And it could and almost certainly will be a more expensive way of sourcing parts than going to third-party sellers.

The press release also reeks of reluctance, with constant reminders that, in Apple's view, getting your device repaired at an authorised repair store is still the best solution for the vast majority of people. Indeed Tech Advisor's Dom Preston, in a podcast I took part in this week, raised the smart point that those free repair manuals are hardly going to be incentivised to make the procedure look easy: they will represent another opportunity to convince readers that home repairs are for experts only.

So overall it is easy to be cynical about the Self Service Repair programme, and see it for what it probably is: a goat tied to a stick to distract a T-Rex. But let's also give Apple its due. On this front at least it is leading the way. Discounting niche players like Fairphone, no major Android manufacturer has announced a similar initiative.

Perhaps, when you think of the number of handsets for which detailed repair manuals would need to be created, none of them realistically could. But Apple is often a useful pioneer, giving cover and motivation for rivals to follow suit. And whether or not the intentions that lead to it are pure, we may yet come to enjoy the financial and environmental benefits of a repairs-friendly phone industry, and look back on this week as an important milestone.

Apple's controversial app adverts

A Forbes exposé has revealed an Apple business practice that the company claims is standard for the industry, but may come as a surprise to some readers: it buys Google adverts for iOS apps with high-value subscriptions (such as HBO and Plenty of Fish), and then directs people searching for that app to the App Store rather than the app owner's website, in order to capture a 15-30% revenue cut. One anonymous developer described the practice as "not ethical".

David Price was unimpressed by Apple's response to the article, denouncing the company's "shabby greed" in this week's Different Think column and comparing its supposed rebuttal to the hollow cynicism of Captain Renault in Casablanca: harsh words indeed. The Macalope, meanwhile, argued that Apple had hit a new low.

News in brief

Way back in 2013 Apple Store employees in California complained they were subject to bag searches off the clock, which in some cases could add 45 minutes of unpaid time to their working day. The class-action lawsuit was thrown out in 2015, but revived last year, and Apple has now agreed to pay out nearly $30m to the staff affected.

Whatever replaces the iPhone as the industry's defining product, Apple Silicon will be crucial for the company's next breakthrough, says Samuel Nyberg.

Hard times for electronics manufacturers, which according to iPhone maker Foxconn face a continuing chip shortage stretching into the second half of 2022. Not even Apple is immune to such factors, and those who intend to buy an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch over the next six months (and maybe more!) can expect short supplies and long waits. More discussion of this in the video of the week, below.

Apple is accelerating plans to make a fully self-driving car, according to a new report.

Defence lawyers in the ongoing Kyle Rittenhouse court case have sought a mistrial, complaining that video evidence sent to them by the prosecution was compressed by the Mail app on a prosecutor's iPhone.

If Apple keeps letting its software slip, the next big thing won't matter, reckons Dan Moren.

Don't believe those lying Alder Lake vs M1 Pro benchmarks, advises the Macalope.

Apple's Focus mode is too complicated. Jason Cross explains how to make it better.

The M1 Mac mini is a great device, but should you hold out for the next model instead? Martyn Casserly offers detailed buying advice.

Video of the week

The ongoing chip shortage and supply chain disruption continue to disrupt tech buyers, and the Christmas/holiday season is likely to further complicate the issue. Tech buyers should expect stock shortages and longer delivery timelines.

While some retailers, like Apple, are beginning to catch up with hardware demand, customers are waiting longer for their devices than in previous years. Even though it might take a while to receive your device, there's still some good news: if it breaks, you'll be permitted to fix it yourself. Apple will roll out its Self Service Repair programme in 2022, allowing iPhone 12 and 13 users to buy tools and 'genuine' replacement parts and fix their devices themselves.

Michael Simon and Ken Mingis join Juliet Beauchamp to discuss what tech buyers need to know ahead of the shopping season, including predicted deals, availability and delivery problems. They also explain what they know about Apple's new Right to Repair programme and how it could change the repair process.

Reviews roundup

Three new reviews this week. We would heartily recommend that you feast your eyes upon them:

We've also written two new head-to-head comparisons:

The work goes on, and there's always more to do. Next week you should be able to look forward to, at long last, our Apple Watch Series 7 review.

Software, bugs & problems

The iOS 15.2 software update, expected to roll out within a month, will put a stop to a feature/bug on the iPhone 13 that stopped Face ID from working if the system detected a third-party replacement screen. You'll still see a warning message that it's "unable to determine if your iPhone display is a genuine Apple part", but at least Face ID will work.

At the start of this month we covered the 'memory leak' bug in macOS Monterey, which caused applications to suddenly gobble up vastly more memory than expected. We may now have a culprit, and a cure: users have spotted than changing the colour of the mouse pointer can get things back to normal.

Also in fix news, Apple has shipped iOS 15.1.1 to iPhone 12 and 13 owners; it should solve the dropped-call problem those handsets had previously experienced.

The rumour mill

Looking forward to the second-gen AirPods Pro, which most of us have been expecting to finally arrive in the spring of 2022? Time to wipe that smile off your face, because the latest rumour says they won't be here until the autumn of next year, a full three years after the original launch.

Early days to be talking about the iPhone 14, admittedly, but nobody can stop the rumour mill spinning. And this week it spun up a tasty tale about the faster, more stable Wi-Fi 6E standard.

Apple deals of the week

We're getting ever closer to Black Friday (which is on 26 November, so mark your calendars) and there are some appealing deals out there already. To give you an idea of what's likely to appear next week, Karen Haslam outlines the Apple deals to expect this Black Friday.

I've embedded a list of the best current Apple deals below, but other than that, we're done for this week. See you next Saturday, enjoy your weekend, and stay Appley!

1. Apple HomePod Mini

From: John Lewis

Was: £89

Now: £69  (£20 off)

Apple might've lowered the price of the HomePod mini, but John Lewis slashes off an additional £20 and throws in an extended two-year warranty for good measure. 

2. Apple 16in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 10-Core CPU/16-Core GPU, 2021

From: LaptopsDirect

Was: £2,399

Now: £2,199.97  (£199.03 off)

Laptops Direct has almost £200 off the 16in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip, it's not as big a saving as KRCS, but it's an option if KRCS runs out of stock.

3. Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 8-Core CPU/14-Core GPU, 2021

From: John Lewis

Was: £1,899

Now: £1,799  (£100 off)

John Lewis has £100 off the 14in MacBook Pro and it's in stock, you also get a free 2-year guarantee.

Also offering a discount and with the model in stock are: Amazon and Currys.

UK reseller KRCS is discounting the 14in MacBook Pro more than anyone else right now, but they often run out of stock. They say to order now to secure your stock as soon as it becomes available.

4. Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, cellular, Stainless Steel) - Refurbished

From: Music Magpie

Was: £699

Now: £289.99  (£409 off)

The Stainless Steel, 44mm cellular Apple Watch 6 is the most premium option you can buy - but not if you buy refurbished from MusicMagpie, where it currently costs less than £300 with a massive £409 discount for Black Friday.

5. Apple Watch Series 7

From: Amazon

Was: From £369

Now: From £349  (£20 off)

The Apple Watch Series 7 offers a larger, brighter display, slimmer bezels and more. Right now you can save £20 from Amazon, John Lewis, Currys and Very!

6. Apple iPad Air with Apple Pencil

From: Virgin

Now: £24.50 per month (2GB data)

Get an Apple Pencil with the iPad Air for just £2 extra per month compared to the iPad Air alone.

7. Apple iPad Air (64GB, 4th Gen, Wi-Fi + Cellular)

From: Currys

Was: £709

Now: £669  (£40 off)

Amazon has £29 off the cellular iPad Air with 64GB storage. It's nowhere near the £110 discount it had over Black Friday, but still a welcome price cut. Currys outdoes Amazon's price by £10 and also offers free next-day delivery!

8. Apple 13in MacBook Pro, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 256GB (2020)

From: Amazon

Was: £1,299

Now: £1,159  (£140 off)

Amazon's price is good, and on Black Friday it went down £10 more to make it even more competitive!

 

9. Apple iPad Pro 11in (2021, M1, 256GB)

From: Amazon

Was: £849

Now: £799  (£50 off)

Save £50 on the brand new M1 iPad Pro 11in from Amazon 

10. Apple iPhone 12 (64GB)

From: Amazon

Was: £679

Now: £649  (£30 off)

Pick up the 64GB iPhone 12 in any colour on Amazon for £30 cheaper than going to Apple directly. The price is also £150 cheaper than the handset's launch price.

11. Apple iPhone 13 mini with iPad (2021)

From: Virgin

Now: From £40 per month, no upfront cost

Pick up the latest iPad and iPhone 13 from Virgin in this Black Friday bundle.

12. Apple iPad Pro (2021, M1, 11in)

From: Currys

Was: £749

Now: £699  (£50 off)

Apple's exceptionally powerful M1-equipped iPad Pro for 2021 has a chunky price tag to match. But it's less chunky if you go to Currys - or Amazon, which is matching the deal.

13. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB (2020)

From: Currys

Was: £1,249

Now: £1,099.97  (£149 off)

Currys has a great deal on the 512GB MacBook Air with M1. This price means it's only £100 more than the entry-level model would usually cost, plus you get twice as much storage and that all important extra graphics core.

14. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB (2020)

From: Currys

Was: £999

Now: £889  (£110 off)

You can get the £999 MacBook Air with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU in gold with a great discount from Currys or Amazon.

The next best deal is from KRCS who has it for £898. Get the KRCS deal here.

 

15. Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case

From: John Lewis

Was: £239

Now: £185  (£54 off)

A solid saving on the AirPods Pro, Apple's excellent true-wireless earphones with ANC. Amazon and AO are both matching the deal, but we'd go with John Lewis because of the firm's longer guarantee.

16. Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)

From: Amazon

Was: £379

Now: £319  (£60 off)

Following its official discontinuation in September 2021, retailers have continued to sell the Apple Watch Series 6 at a discount.

It cost £379 when new, so this is a generous saving; bearing in mind that the Series 7 does not represent a huge step forward, this is a decent option at just over £300. That said, it was cheaper on Black Friday itself at just £289.

17. Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm, Cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £479

Now: £369  (£110 off)

Save £110 on the 40mm Apple Watch 6 with GPS + Cellular connectivity. There's also £110 off the 44mm option.

18. Apple AirPods 3 (2021)

From: AO

Was: £169

Now: £159  (£10 off)

Considering how new they are, this £10 discount on the new AirPods is well worth having. Amazon is matching the deal.

19. Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)

From: Amazon

Was: £119

Now: £99  (£20 off)

The second generation Apple Pencil for iPad has £20 off for Black Friday on Amazon, in a price that beats the retailer's Prime Day offer.

20. pCloud Cloud Storage - Lifetime 2TB

From: pCloud

Was: £850

Now: £209.30  (75% off)

pCloud's Cyber Monday offer slashes 75% off Lifetime Access with 2TB cloud storage. The service is one of the best cloud storage platforms around.