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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'Our soul is our people'

It's been a difficult year PR-wise for Apple, which has proved it is rather better at making money than making friends. And while rival companies, developer partners and customers have made their feelings known about various of its business practices, the company faces almost as much criticism from within.

Apple employees and former employees speaking to The Verge this week reported "untenable" working conditions on the front lines (by which we mean retail, support and sales, as opposed to the higher-paid corporate employees who have raised issues of their own). Staff criticised pay, support, performance evaluation and career progression.

Some complained about the distribution of leftover T-shirts from a cancelled event as a "gift"; others said they felt that they were being managed by algorithm, and victimised by bullying bosses and a system that failed to tackle such behaviour. Most troublingly, one member of the support team recalled an incident when a customer became stressed and held a razor to her wrist on camera, and said they were offered just half an hour to recover before getting back to work.

Even now Apple has an enviable public image, and always talks a good game about changing the world for the better: as Steve Jobs phrased it, putting a dent in the universe. But activism isn't just about big causes. The company stands at a crossroads, and needs to decide what really matters: its staff, or its profits.

"They say our soul is our people but it really didn't feel like that to me," said one former employee. Apple bosses would do well to take note.

News in brief

Legal relief for Apple this week, which secured a postponement of the injunction requiring it to allow alternative app payment systems. "We want to thank the court for granting this stay while the appeals process continues," a company spokesperson said.

Apple is running out of time, and may not be able to deliver on its 2021 promises, says Dan Moren.

But next year could make up for 2021's disappointments. Bloomberg oracle Mark Gurman has posted a detailed prediction of 2022's Apple launches, and it includes no fewer than five new Macs.

It's beginning to look a lot like the iPhone is doomed, sings a festive Macalope.

In this week's Different Think column, Samuel Nyberg argues that the rumoured AirPower revival is about beating the EU, not providing convenience for customers.

AirTags are being used to steal cars, according to local police in Canada. Thieves attach an AirTag to an expensive car, then follow the tag and steal the car from the owner's driveway at a more inconspicuous time. (Glenn Fleishman explains how to stop this happening to you.)

Gorgeous AirPods CT scans show Apple's earbuds in a whole new light.

Video of the week

Apple levelled up its Mac game in 2021 by adding M1 chips to new devices and introducing the M1 Pro and Max chips to its users. In 2022, even more Macs, such as the Mac Pro, may get the Apple Silicon treatment and receive the next generation of M-series chips - perhaps an M2? Users can also likely expect a lower-cost, 5G-powered iPhone SE, a new Apple Watch, the iPhone 14 and maybe even some AR glasses.

In the video embedded below, Ken Mingis and Michael Simon join Juliet Beauchamp to discuss what business users and consumers alike can expect from Apple in 2022, and consider whether the company can maintain its 2021 momentum in the new year.

Software, bugs & problems

On 7 December Apple released the Release Candidates of both macOS Monterey 12.1 and iOS 15.2, suggesting that the final versions of both will be available for us all to download very soon.

iOS 15.2 will no doubt be eagerly awaited, bringing such features as SharePlay, an Items That Can Track Me option in Find My for those who are concerned about stalking, parental controls in Messages, and the Digital Legacy feature that will make it easier to access your loved ones' devices after they die. For more information about the new features in iOS 15.2 read: What's in iOS 15.2.

The arrival of the software updates will also bring the Apple Music Voice Plan, which Apple announced back in October. It'll be half the price of current Apple Music subscription, at £4.99/$4.99 per month, but it will be feature-limited and you'll be reliant on Siri to use it.

The macOS update will introduce a number of new features including (like iOS 15.2) SharePlay, iCloud+ Hide My Email, Legacy Contacts and various bug fixes. For more information, read about the features coming in macOS Monterey 12.1.

Those bug fixes will hopefully provide a solution for those users who reported at the end of November that they were finding that their M1 Max MacBook Pro was not charging.

This week some new MacBook Pro owners were reporting issues with certain SD cards not being read by their new Mac - it's not clear if that will get fixed in macOS 12.1, though.

In a move that will be a relief to visually impaired iPhone users, Apple appears to have reversed a controversial change it made to Siri's functionality. One MacRumors reader said that for many fully blind people, the change made their phone "almost unusable, because they can't ask Siri who has called, and they can't ask Siri if they have voicemail".

The rumour mill

Apple's upcoming mixed-reality headset will focus on games, media and communication, according to the latest report. It will not, repeat will not, replace any existing Apple products.

There are not one but two new iPhone SE models in development, according to the trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

And the iPhone 14 might see Apple switch from the notch to a pinhole camera (on the Pro models).

The M2 isn't even here yet, but we are seeing reports that the 3nm process will be used for the M3 and A17 chips that will be released in the first quarter of 2023, with production starting at the end of 2022. The M3 chip is likely to bring a significant increase in performance - offering up to 40 CPU cores! If you're interested in reading more about the future Apple chips, we've collected everything we know about the M2 and M3.

By the end of 2022, apparently, Apple is going to show us its AR glasses, although they won't be on sale until 2023 - this is according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Kuo thinks the AR glasses will be able to interpret our hand gestures. It will work in a way similar to how the true-depth camera works and how the Apple Watch is able to interpret gestures (if you have the required accessibility setting turned on).

Looking forward to tucking into a tasty new set of AirPods Pro early in 2022? Not so fast: it looks like they won't be here until the fourth quarter of next year. Sorry.

For more information about what we might see in 2022 read our guide to what Apple will launch in 2022.

Apple deals of the week

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 iPhone 13

From: Music Magpie

Was: £779

Now: £662.99  (£116.99 off)

The brand new iPhone 13 already has £117 off over at MusicMagpie when you buy refurbished. The phone is graded 'Pristine' in condition.

2. Apple iPhone 12 (256GB)

From: Amazon

Was: £829

Now: £749  (£80 off)

Amazon's price on the iPhone 12 (256GB) has reached historic lows, now with up to £200 off the launch price. This is the best around right now. See the best iPhone 12 deals here.

3. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 256GB) - Refurbished

From: MusicMagpie

Was: £999

Now: £799.99  (£199 off)

This 2020 MacBook Air with the M1 chip costs £999 from Apple, but you can pick up a refurbished model in Pristine condition with roughly £200 off.

4. Apple iPad Air 2020 (64GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, 4th Gen)

From: OnBuy

Was: £709

Now: £669  (£40 off)

Amazon has slashed £40 off the iPad Air with 64GB storage and cellular connectivity.

5. Apple AirPods Max

From: Laptops Direct

Was: £549

Now: £399  (£150 off)

This £150 saving on the AirPods Max is the best around. It only applies to the models in pink and green, but you can find discounts across the other colour finishes too, with £120 off the silver version and £49 off the blue version.

6. Apple Magic Mouse 2

From: Smartfone Store

Was: £79

Now: £59.99  (£19.01 off)

Apple may have discontinued the Magic Mouse 2, but you can pick it up from the Smartfone Store with £20 off. Very has the second-best price at £64.99.

7. Apple AirPods 3 (2021)

From: John Lewis

Was: £169

Now: £159  (£10 off)

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

8. Apple Watch SE (44mm, GPS + Cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £349

Now: £301.37  (£47 off)

The Apple Watch SE may not have all the bells and whistles of the Series 7, but at £301 with a 44mm case and cellular connectivity, it's a tempting buy. 

9. Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £509

Now: £329  (£180 off)

Save £180 on the 44mm Watch 6 with cellular connectivity from Amazon. It's the lowest price we've seen for this variant.

10. Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case

From: Laptops Direct

Was: £239

Now: £179  (£60 off)

This is an excellent saving on the AirPods Pro, Apple's excellent true-wireless earphones with ANC, but look out for the delivery fee. John Lewis is charging £189 but charges less for delivery and includes a 2-year guarantee.

11. Apple iPhone SE with iPad 10.2in (2021)

From: Virgin

Now: From £29 per month (2GB)

If you were looking to buy the new iPad along with a new iPhone ahead of Christmas, why not pick this offer from Virgin where both come bundled together.

See our dedicated articles on the best iPhone SE deals along with the best iPad (2021) deals.

12. Apple iPad Air 4 (64GB, 2020) Wi-Fi Only - Refurbished "Good"

From: Music Magpie

Was: £579.99

Now: £509.99  (£70 off)

Music Magpie has £70 off a Space Grey refurbished iPad Air 4 (2020) in "Good" condition. It's not the best price it has ever been, but it includes a free 12-month warranty for peace of mind and free delivery too. 

13. Apple iPad Pro (2021, M1, 12.9in)

From: Amazon

Was: £999

Now: £956.92  (£42.08 off)

Apple's super-powerful flagship tablet is a bit less expensive if you buy from Amazon, but note that this has gone up since the turn of the year. The same retailer had it for £899 before Christmas.

14. Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, GPS + Cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £469

Now: £440.86  (£28.14 off)

The Apple Watch Series 7 offers a larger, brighter display, slimmer bezels and more. Right now you can nearly £30 from Amazon on the 41mm cellular option.

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

From: Amazon

Was: £1,249

Now: £1,099.97  (£149 off)

Amazon 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.

When we checked it was out of stock, but it's worth checking in case Amazon gets more in.

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

From: Amazon

Was: £1,299

Now: £1,159  (£140 off)

This is a decent saving on the entry-level 13in MacBook Pro with M1.

 

17. Apple Mac mini, M1, 8-Core CPU / 8-Core GPU, 256GB

From: Amazon

Was: £699

Now: £648.97  (£50.03 off)

Amazon has a decent discount on the M1 Mac mini. If it sells out, you can also find it for £657.66 from the BT Shop.

18. Apple iPad Air with Apple Pencil

From: Virgin

Now: £26 per month (2GB data)

Get an Apple Pencil with the cellular iPad Air from Virgin – a great bundle if you were already after the Apple Pencil! It's a £19 upfront cost and £26 per month with 2GB of data to play with.  

19. Apple iPhone 12 with Watch SE (GPS, 40mm)

From: Mobile Phones Direct

Now: £79.99 upfront, £55 per month (60GB)

This bundle from Mobile Phones Direct includes a 40mm Watch SE (GPS) and 60GB of data. You also get free next day delivery.

20. 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, which is still available in December 2021.