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.
Christmas is cancelled
We're in a Sheriff of Nottingham mood this week. "Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!"
Our festive woes, to be honest, have been coming for a while. The global semiconductor shortage started way back in 2020, caused by COVID-19, the US/China trade war and several other factors, and while Apple managed to ride it out for a while - securing preferential treatment from suppliers thanks to its size and market leverage - that was never going to last. At the company's blockbusting Q3 earnings call last month, CFO Luca Maestri warned of imminent supply constraints.
And this week the chickens started roosting. We heard that the iPhone 13 shortage is likely to last until February, while delivery times started to stretch on the new MacBook Pro: UK consumers are being told to expect a wait of 22-29 days (up from the usual 2-6), while US customers may not get their laptops until the New Year.
This is all coming at the worst possible time, with the deals season well underway (it's nominally centred on Black Friday on 26 November, but in reality takes up the entire month) and the crucial Christmas buying period looming. But of course that isn't coincidental: when demand is at its highest is when the supply chain is stretched the most.
Cash-rich Apple will weather the storm, and even the considerably less wealthy third-party retailers should be able to get through what is likely to be a difficult winter. So we will instead focus our sympathies and advice on consumers.
With demand massively outweighing supply, retailers are under very little pressure to offer genuinely good-value deals: they are likely to sell out of most Apple products no matter what price they charge. What they are under pressure to do, given the circumstances, is maximise their margin per unit, which means prices are likely to stay high.
So please be vigilant this deals season. There will be some good offers, but there will be far more stinkers. Check, check and check again, for example, that the "original price" being quoted is real and recent, and isn't the old RRP before Apple cut the price for everyone; make sure the device you're buying is new enough to be worthwhile, and isn't ancient stock being flogged off to clear space in a warehouse.
We will be providing large volumes of detailed and expert deals advice from now until Christmas, and will do our best to guide you through the minefield. But the first thing we should all do is admit that this might not be a particularly good season for Apple deals. And remember that the beheadings are going to be the painful kind.
News in brief
More ups and downs in the rollercoaster-esque Apple vs Epic Games legal dispute: after declaring "resounding victory" and then appealing (slightly bizarrely), Apple has had its request for a stay denied and will now have to allow external app payments by 9 December. That's assuming no more ups or downs get in the way before then.
Two years after Apple TV+ and Disney+ launched we have news that Disney already has more than 118 million paying subscribers worldwide. There is a debate over whether Apple even has 40 million subscribers, as we explain in Disney+ is so far ahead of Apple TV+ it's embarrassing.
Readers may recall Apple's notorious Polishing Cloth, a 16x16cm wiping rag for which customers were charged the extraordinary sum of £19/$19, and which against all reason and logic sold out in record time. Samsung, in a brilliant piece of lampooning, has given away a bunch of 20x20cm cloths for free! That's one in the eye for ol' Tim Cook, who is presumably crying all the way to the bank.
Image courtesy of Apple.
Forget the Apple Car, Samuel Nyberg this week told Apple in our Different Think column, and revolutionise health instead. (Samuel, or Negative Nyberg as he may soon become known, has previously poured water over the idea of a touchscreen Mac.)
Tim Cook has given a cautious thumbs up to cryptocurrencies as part of a balanced diet... sorry, I mean part of a diversified investment portfolio. Cook has invested in crypto himself, so could hardly denounce it as an environmentally ruinous pyramid scheme.
In the past, Apple has 'paused' the App Store over the Christmas period, making developers wait before rolling out any updates or price changes. But that's all in the past, we learned this week. It's a Christmas miracle!
Software, bugs & problems
A zero-day vulnerability in macOS Catalina was used to hack Hong Kong web users back in August, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group. Researchers believe the attack was likely state-backed - or, as security expert Patrick Wardle puts it, China or somebody wanting to look like China.
Several owners of the new MacBook Pro have reported crashes when they watch an HDR video on YouTube. It's not been easy for Apple's premium laptop; this follows a previously reported issue that caused menu bar items to hide behind the notch, and was followed by complaints that 'MagUnsafe' is not doing its job.
More news about iOS 15.2, which is being beta-tested right now. This week we discovered that the new version will be able to scan for devices (like AirTags) that may be tracking you via a new 'Items That Can Track Me' function. Plus in iOS 15.2 it will be possible to specify who will be allowed to access one's accounts in the event of death, thanks to the new Legacy Contact feature that didn't make it into iOS 15 in time for launch. For more information about the new features coming to your iPhone read: What's coming in iOS 15.2.
Similarly, Apple and beta testers are working on macOS Monterey version 12.1. New features coming (probably) before the end of the year include: SharePlay - so you and your friends will be able to watch series and movies together at your different locations; you'll be able to use the iCloud+ Hide My Email feature within the Mail app; and there will be support for AMD's Radeon 6600XT GPU. Read more here: macOS Monterey 12.1 beta brings SharePlay and more.
Apple has also released an important Monterey fix for Macs with a T2 chip, which could be bricked by a bug.
Apple has released a new version of iCloud for Windows, including support for ProRes video and ProRAW images, and strong password generation.
The rumour mill
Apple will move to a 3nm production process as early as 2023 for both Mac and iPhone processors, according to the latest report. This will enable it to "easily outperform" Intel's future processors.
As 2022 looms on the horizon we've got out the crystal ball to update our predictions story to include every new Apple product coming in 2022. We are definitely most excited about the MacBook Air and the replacement for the 27in iMac.
Speaking of the MacBook Air, it might not even be called the MacBook Air, it might just be named MacBook. We think that idea makes a lot of sense, as we explain in our MacBook Air 2022 rumour roundup.
Is Apple working on a drone? Probably not - despite the discovery of more drone-related patent activity - but can you imagine?
Apple deals of the week
We're getting ever closer to Black Friday (which is on 26 November, so mark your calendars), but you don't need to wait that long to save money on Apple products. Retailers started rolling out their Black Friday sales at the start of the month, and we've been seeing some appealing deals - if you're able to grab them before stock runs out.
Remember the warning from the beginning of the article. Not every deal out there is worthwhile, and it's worth taking the time to research whether the product, and the price, are really as strong as they sound. KRCS's 10% discount on the new MacBook Pro is an example of what you should be looking for: a solid discount on a device that's only a month old.
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 Shopping Event
Now: Get a free gift card worth up to £160
Apple's Black Friday Shopping Event means you'll get a gift card worth £20, £40, £60, £80 or £160 when you buy selected products including iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and AirPods over Cyber Weekend. Apple's newest products aren't included, but if you're after an older model this deal might be for you.
2. Apple iPad Air (64GB, 4th Gen, Wi-Fi + Cellular)
Now: £599 (£110 off)
Amazon has £110 off the cellular iPad Air with 64GB storage, bringing it down to a particularly tempting price.
3. Apple Watch Series 7
Was: From £369
Now: From £349 (£20 off)
4. Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)
Now: £289 (£90 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 less than £300!
5. Apple iPhone 12 (64GB)
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.
6. Apple iPhone 13 mini with iPad (2021)
Now: From £40 per month, no upfront cost
Pick up the latest iPad and iPhone 13 from Virgin in this Black Friday bundle.
7. Apple iPad Air with Apple Pencil
Now: £24.50 per month (2GB data)
Get an Apple Pencil with the iPad Air for just £2 more per month compared to Virgin's price for the iPad Air alone.
8. Apple iPad Pro (2021, M1, 11in)
Now: £699 (£50 off)
9. Apple 16in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 10-Core CPU/16-Core GPU, 2021
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 again (as it did earlier in the week!)
10. pCloud Cloud Storage - Lifetime 2TB
Now: £209.30 (75% off)
pCloud's Black Friday offer slashes 75% off Lifetime Access with 2TB cloud storage. The service is one of the best cloud storage platforms around.
11. Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 8-Core CPU/14-Core GPU, 2021
From: John Lewis
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.
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.
12. MacPaw CleanMyMac X (1 Year) - 30% off
Was: From £34.95
Now: From £20.97 (Up to £125.79 off)
Get 30% off CleanMyMac X from MacPaw this Black Friday. You can also get up to £47.45 off MacPaw's ClearVPN which launched earlier this month.
13. Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case
From: John Lewis
Now: £185 (£54 off)
14. Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm, Cellular)
Now: £369 (£110 off)
Save £110 on the 40mm Apple Watch 6 with GPS + Cellular connectivity. There's also £110 off the 44mm option.
15. Apple AirPods 3 (2021)
From: Laptops Direct
Now: £159 (£10 off)
Laptops Direct is doing some mathematical acrobatics here - how this can be a £25 saving when the RRP is quite clearly £169 is a mystery - but this remains a good price on the new AirPods.
In fact, barring some distinctly dodgy-looking websites we wouldn't recommend you use, this is the only site we can find offering a discount at all.
16. Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)
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.
17. Apple 27in iMac, 3.1GHz six-core, 10th-gen Intel, 256GB SSD (2020)
Now: £1,569.97 (£229.03 off)
You can get a decent amount of money off the entry-level 27in iMac introduced in August 2020 from LaptopsDirect (although we have seen it for less in the past).
18. Apple Mac mini, 3.6GHz quad-core, i3, 256GB (2018)
Now: £579 (£220 off)
This is the Mac mini that Apple used to sell for £799 before it introduced the M1 Mac mini. for £579. Just remember that the M1 Mac mini starts at £699 now, which isn't that much more.
Apple sells this model in the refurbished store for £589, but it's out of stock right now.
19. Apple Mac mini, M1, 8-Core CPU / 8-Core GPU, 256GB
Now: £629 (£70 off)
This Black Friday deal will save you £70 on the price of the M1 Mac mini.
And that's not all. The £899 Mac mini model is £809.10 at KRCS. Get that KRCS deal here.
20. Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac
Now: £55.99 (20% off)
Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is available at a discount of 20% as a part of the Black Friday Sale. If you're upgrading to version 15 the price drops from £39.99 to £31.99.
For more information read our Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac review, in which the software was awarded 4.5 stars out of 5.