Apple’s response to its iPhone slowdown controversy is good — and a lesson to be more proactive about communicating

In the meantime, here’s a $ 30 battery swap.

Apple’s latest iPhone controversy — that the company was caught slowing down some old iPhones to prevent them from shutting off unexpectedly — has become its biggest stain in years.

But Apple’s response today is a good one. In an unsigned letter to customers posted on its website, the company:

  • Apologized in the first paragraph.
  • Stated on the record that it has “never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”
  • Provided a transparent, believable explanation of why it was slowing down old phones, including a timeline of the changes and a complete list of the affected devices.
  • Announced it was cutting the cost of getting an old iPhone battery replaced out-of-warranty to $ 29 (seems reasonable) from its previous price of $ 79 (kind of a lot).
  • Announced it would provide more visibility into the health of your iPhone’s battery in an iOS update early next year.
  • Promised its team was “working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.”

Clear and good.

And noticeably different than, say, “Antennagate” in 2010, when Steve Jobs’s Apple first responded by telling users they were holding their phones wrong, then changed the way the iPhone’s antenna signal bars looked, then later scrambled to invite a handful of friendly reporters to Apple HQ for a tour of the company’s antenna-testing facilities, and finally offered all iPhone 4 buyers free cases to help fix the problem.

But: Different times, different leaders, different markets.

Apple had only sold about 60 million iPhones at that point. Since then, it has sold more than a billion.

The iPhone is a truly mainstream product, and little smartphone quirks — and the conspiracy theories that go along with them — are now everyone’s reality and daily obsession. It’s not just tech-nerd Twitter that discusses these problems today. Even a short Uber ride in Los Angeles last weekend exposed me to Top 40 radio for long enough to hear the DJ talking about Batterygate, assuming the worst of Apple for slowing down old phones.

So, how to avoid this in the future? In this case, a little proactive communication could have gone a long way, and should be Apple’s big lesson here. If Apple had noted to individual iPhone users that their batteries were getting old — and that it could lead to reduced performance — this probably would have never been an issue.

A simple one-time alert that effectively says hey, your battery is losing its potency so we’re going to manage your phone a little more to keep it stable would have been a good start, in hindsight. Or at very least, the battery info tool that Apple is now building.

It might have spurred some frustration, or complaints, or even some reluctant battery replacements or iPhone upgrades. But it wouldn’t have caused an uproar like this, where Apple’s entire hard-won reputation is being debated for what’s really a pretty minor thing.


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Soon you’ll have no excuse to ignore one of the best games about love and infidelity

If you missed Atlus’ punishing puzzle game, Catherine, the first time it came around, good news: Atlus is releasing a remake of the romance-thriller for PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. The new edition, Catherine: Full Body, will include a new love interest, more puzzles, and online content.

Catherine first launched for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in 2011. Visually, it has the vibe of a modern day Persona game (and notably, featured longtime series artist Shigenori Soejima as its art director). Narratively, it explores adult relationships and their complications: infidelity, lust, sexuality, and so on. Vincent Brooks, the game’s hero (and I use that term loosely), is torn between the pressure to marry his longterm girlfriend Katherine and…

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Let’s talk about containers at the edge

Alexandros Marinos, CEO and founder of Resin.io

If the internet of things is to scale to millions of devices and embrace millions of different use cases it’s going to need developers. And to broaden the number of developers who can program edge devices, the tech industry needs to make platforms and languages that are easier to use. Resin.io is one company that hopes to make that possible.

Resin.io is building software that it hopes will provide that leap for developers. It hopes to move from fragmented and complex IoT programming frameworks and languages to tools that developers can use to manage and deploy software on what could be millions of connected devices.

Resin’s leap was building a form of a Docker container on ARM-based silicon used by many connected devices. Containers allow a developer to build a self-contained version of an app or service and then replicate it across many different servers. Or in the case of IoT, light bulbs or microprocessors.

Containers help with the problem of scale, allowing IT staff to treat an application as a resource that can be managed and deployed in any sort of infrastructure. But when thinking about computing at the edge of an industrial or enterprise network, containers aren’t enough. Alexandros Marinos, CEO and founder of Resin.io, says that in the four years since Resin.io’s founding a lot of work has gone into making the containers resilient enough for the edge.

For example, the connectivity inside a digital sign or an edge sensor can be sporadic, as can power. So Resin.io has taken steps to store data in a way that preserves it in case of power or data connection loss. But because data must travel back to the cloud on limited or unreliable networks, Resin.io also tried to minimize the container size and the way it transfers information to limit the use of bandwidth.

The software also puts guardrails in place so a machine that is operating can’t get a software update or perform certain functions. For example, if your light bulb got a security update while you are reading, you probably want it to wait until you flip the switch off before it performs an update. Today those updates are generally scheduled for a time when you aren’t likely to be using the device or when the device is first turned on after the patch has been released.

As someone who has flipped a switch only to have to wait for an update, neither is ideal.

“Some of what we have learned comes from the embedded world and some of it from the cloud,” says Marinos.

This philosophy makes sense when it comes to building what is essentially a new computing architecture for the internet of things. Now bring on the developers.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Leeroy Jenkins creator releases never seen before cut to raise awareness about net neutrality

Leeroy Jenkins has returned once more to ruin World of Warcraft raids, but this time for a good cause. The creators of the infamous meme released a never-before-seen dry run of the botched attack, this time with the hopes of raising awareness about net neutrality.

The original video was published on May 10, 2005, but has enjoyed enduring popularity and places in pop culture, from Jeopardy to The Daily Show. YouTube channel Anf Pal published a video dubbed “Leeroy Jenkins First Take/Dry Run,” in which the group runs through their plan just before Leeroy (aka Ben Schulz) starts his infamous charge. “I’ve been holding onto this for over a decade waiting for the ‘right’ moment to make it public,” the description on YouTube reads, “and then…

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Google Glass and Segway failed because they forgot about humans


Our relationship with technology, and social media, in particular, is ripe with irony, impulse, and irrational behavior. We have a love/hate with Facebook and our smartphones, which seem to offer us a mixture of both freedom and servitude. The average American spends over 50 minutes a day on the world’s largest social network while touching their phone well north of a hundred times. As social animals, we long for the warmth of friendship and prospect of love that is a swipe or click away. At the same time, as thinking beings, we are prone to navel-gazing about a nagging loss…

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