Picked up by The Verge, Apple has warned iPhone users that it will be pushing iOS updates in the next few days which will change core functionality in their phones. And, unlike normal updates, these changes are not about making things better.
What Apple is changing is how users will be able to resize pictures and manage applications on their iPhones. How will these functions be altered? Apple hasn’t said, other than to confirm the update and describe this functionality as “minor” when it is clearly anything but.
So what is going on? In short: Apple is trying to win favour with judges and iPhone users are the test subjects for this.
In its ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm (which has already cost iPhone owners 5G), Apple has been found to infringe Qualcomm copyrights on image resizing and application management which risks a sales ban in China. Apple’s response has been to push software updates to millions of iPhone users making unspecified changes to the functionality in the hope judges are impressed and the ban is not imposed.
Will iPhone owners want to upgrade? It appears they will have no choice as Apple needs all iPhones to be running the changes which will also push them to the latest version of iOS 12.
And the problem is this is unlikely to work.
Qualcomm responded to the action by saying “Apple continues to disregard and violate [court orders]”, which means iPhone owners may remain the test subjects of this case with further compliance changes (for better or worse) until the case is resolved.
Looking for good news? Currently, the case is limited to China and the iOS update will only apply to iPhone owners in that country at this time. But Qualcomm’s case is global and covers dozens of lawsuits so wider implications and more legally-motivated updates to iPhones and iPads are likely to follow.
All of which sets Apple up for a tough 2019. Leaks have already revealed Apple’s next iPhone designs are conservative and 5G is off the table while (predictably) Qualcomm has rivals 5G-ready now. What does Apple have up its sleeve? Potentially the return of a fan-favourite feature along with Samsung’s help to supply innovative display technology.
More likely, however, is a simpler strategy not usually associated with Apple: the price cuts will continue…
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