Your iPhone XS or XR battery case could be due a free replacement from Apple

Apple has launched a new replacement program for its iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR smart battery cases, after charging issues were discovered in some devices. According to the company, some of the cases may have a problem where they won’t charge when plugged into power, or may fail to charge your iPhone. If your model is affected, then Apple or one of its authorized service providers will replace it free of charge.

At $129, the battery cases aren’t cheap, but their tight integration with the iPhone means that they come with a few advantages. iOS will display the charge level of your battery case in its top notification bar, for example, and it can also pass data through the battery case’s Lightning port. If your case is eligible for a replacement, then it might be worth taking it into an Apple Store regardless of whether it’s having problems. You’ll get a newer model, and there should be less chance of it developing problems in the future.

According to Apple, the affected models were manufactured between January and October 2019 (the cases were announced in January). If you want to take advantage of the program, then Apple says you’ll need to take it into an authorized service provider or an Apple store, where it will be examined to make sure it’s eligible. If it is, then Apple says it will dispose of your old model in an environmentally friendly way. Affected cases will be covered for two years following their original sale, according to Apple.

Oprah is yanking an upcoming #MeToo documentary from Apple TV+ over creative differences

Apple TV+ may have just lost a second high-profile project that was set to appear on the streaming platform, just one month after it was announced: the Oprah Winfrey-produced documentary that follows music industry executive Drew Dixon, one of the women who accused Russell Simmons of rape and came forward in an interview with The New York Times.

(Apple also indefinitely delayed the theatrical release of its feature film The Banker two months ago.)

“I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+,” Oprah wrote in a statement issued to several film industry publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and The Wrap.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. We’re not clear what kind of terms Oprah negotiated in her multi-year deal with Apple, but perhaps she has the authority to make this kind of decision? The film was to be “presented by Oprah Winfrey” on the streaming platform, so it could admittedly be a little awkward for Apple to air it if she’s no longer a producer.

Here’s Oprah’s full statement, via Deadline:

I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+. First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women. Their stories deserve to be told and heard. In my opinion, there is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured and it has become clear that the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are talented filmmakers. I have great respect for their mission but given the filmmakers’ desire to premiere the film at the Sundance Film Festival before I believe it is complete, I feel it’s best to step aside. I will be working with Time’s Up to support the victims and those impacted by abuse and sexual harassment.

The statement makes it sound like the film will still appear at Sundance, which kicks off January 24th. Here’s the Sundance Film Festival page for the documentary, which is why we know the film is about Drew Dixon — that wasn’t disclosed in Apple’s original press release.

Tangled Apple EarPods, but make it fashion

Though it seems like most people have fully embraced AirPods, let us not forget our roots, and the fact that all of us were once victims to the wired, messy cable life. These tangled Apple EarPod earrings by artists Aleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland serve as a humbling reminder of from where we came. The statement piece, first put on our radar by XOXO Festival co-founder Andy Baio, sells for $40 on the duo’s merch shop, Beef’s World.

The story behind the earrings tells the sweet moment when the artists were inspired by a stranger on the subway listening to music on his tangled headphones. On the item listing, the duo describes their creation as Chaotic Spiral Headphone Earrings, which is a fair way to describe them.

Along with these beautiful chaos earrings, Beef’s World also sells Mini Magic Wand earrings, if you’re into bold fashion statements. Murawski and Copeland also have a delightful photo and video series in which they chronicle the rich inner lives of snails, which is well worth following on their Instagram.

Headphones as earrings is a concept that’s been thoroughly explored in various ways: there are different variations on Etsy, real Bluetooth headphones that also double as earrings, and one guy who even used his gauge piercings as AirPod holders.

Personally, I don’t think I can ever give up my wired EarPods for AirPods, because I lose everything I touch. I’m like David Blaine, but the disappearing items are unintentional, and I will never see my possessions again. Besides, I kind of enjoy untangling my headphones, especially if I’m standing in front of someone on the subway wearing AirPods. That’s just a fun little thing I like to do to make AirPods owners feel good about themselves.

Some NYC subway riders are accidentally getting double-charged because of Apple Pay

Dozens of subway riders in New York City are being charged extra for their transit rides, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspects that Apple may be partly to blame.

The MTA is not explicitly pointing the finger at Apple, but it appears that some riders may be unwittingly putting their iPhones too close to the system’s new tap-to-pay OMNY readers while simultaneously swiping their MetroCards at the turnstile.

Last spring, the MTA began installing tap-to-pay readers as part of its new fare payment system called OMNY, which stands for “One Metro New York.” Soon after, Apple announced a new feature called Express Transit, which would allow customers to pay for riding the subway without opening an app or unlocking their phone. They simply needed to place their iPhones on the reader and then walk through the turnstile.

The trouble is some people have the Express Transit feature enabled, but are still using their MetroCard to pay for rides. While swiping their MetroCard, their iPhones are somehow coming into contact with the reader, either because they were holding it in their hands or through a pocket or purse, the MTA suspects. However it happens, they are getting charged twice for the ride. Gothamist, which first reported the incidents, highlighted the tweets from some of the people who were doubly charged.

Naturally, many of these people assume the problem is with the MTA, and not their own behavior. But the MTA insists that it is not to blame, and that it’s working with Apple to address the problem.

“We’ve been notified by about 30 customers, out of more than 5,000,000 taps so far, about unintended charges when the Express Transit feature of their iPhones is activated,” Al Putre, the head of OMNY at the MTA, said in a statement. “The system is a popular success that’s working well for the vast majority of people and we’re in touch with Apple about addressing the issue of unintended taps.”

Express Transit first arrived with iOS 12.3 and watchOS 5.2.1 updates. Apple billed it as an easy and convenient way to pay for transit with Apple Pay without having to use Touch or Face ID to unlock your phone. The MTA hopes to have OMNY readers installed in every subway station and on all bus routes by late 2020, at which time they’ll add more fare options.

Initially, Apple customers had to enable Express Transit through the settings on their iPhones. People who live in New York City who add a credit or debit card to their iPhones are asked whether they want to enable Express Transit. Some of these people probably said yes without realizing what the feature did, and then continued to pay for subway rides with their MetroCard.

In addition to New York, Apple’s Express Transit is available to transit riders in Portland, London, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo.

LG’s smart TVs are the latest to add Apple TV, and you won’t have to buy a 2020 model to get it

Even if it’s not a brand-new model, if you have an LG smart TV, you’ll soon have access to Apple’s original TV content. LG announced in a release that its OLED and NanoCell televisions will now support the Apple TV app — and not just the new 2020 models but its 2019 and 2018 versions as well.

That means LG TV users won’t need a separate set-top box to get Apple TV Plus, iTunes, or other original Apple programming. LG’s release said only that those with 2018 and 2019 LG TV models would be able to “enjoy the Apple TV app this year.” The Verge has reached out to LG to find out when the older TVs will have access to the Apple TV app, and we will update when we hear back.

It’s smart for LG to make the Apple TV app available for its slightly older models. As 9to5Mac points out, LG originally restricted support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to 2019 and newer models of its TVs, leading annoyed users of older models to petition LG last January to provide the necessary firmware updates for their TVs. The petitioners pointed out that rival companies Samsung and Vizio offered support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for their older models via firmware updates, perhaps exerting some pressure on LG to make Apple TV available to its recent older models.

The Apple TV app was available on launch day for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and recent Samsung TVs. The app is preinstalled in newer iPhones, iPads, and on devices running macOS Catalina or later. Once activated, Apple TV Plus is free for 12 months on those devices. For everyone else, the service is $4.99 per month after a seven-day free trial. Apple’s original programming, which includes the star-studded The Morning Show, has so far been met with mixed reviews. Apple was completely shut out at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, despite Best Actress nominations for stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

LG announced eight 8K TVs ahead of this week’s CES, and all have Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, and AirPlay 2 included. The TVs range in size from 65 inches for its LCDs up to 88 inches for its new OLED model.

Apple now lets you engrave a poop emoji on your AirPods case

Apple has long offered the option to engrave text on select products purchased through its online store. And now, you’re able to engrave emoji onto the company’s AirPods cases, too (via MacRumors).

Apple only lets you engrave a limited set of emoji, but there are some pretty fun options, including the fist bump, all of the Zodiac animals, and the poop emoji. Here are all of the emoji that you can engrave:

Unfortunately, Apple won’t let you engrave both text and emoji on your AirPods case; you have to pick one or the other. But if you only get text engraved on the case, it appears Apple has made the engraved font significantly larger than it was before.

Hopefully, Apple will add more emoji choices in the future (perhaps the waffle or yawning face emoji?).

Dell will soon let you interact with your iPhone apps from your PC

In 2018, Dell released its Mobile Connect app, which lets you connect your Dell computer to your phone so you can respond to phone calls and texts and receive notifications from apps directly from your computer. Starting this spring, Dell says you’ll be able to wirelessly transfer photos and videos and interact with apps from your iOS device while using the Mobile Connect app, two features that were previously exclusive to using Mobile Connect with Android phones.

App mirroring seems to be pretty straightforward, as shown in a video on Dell’s website. When using the Mobile Connect app on a supported Dell computer, you can scroll through and interact with things in the app, just like you would if you were using the app itself. My colleague Jake said that mirroring worked seamlessly in a demo he saw in 2018 on an Android phone, so hopefully it works just as well when it launches for iPhones.

Since Mobile Connect will only let you transfer photos and videos between your iOS device and your Dell computer, though, you might want to use something like iCloud Drive or Google Drive if you want to transfer other types of files back and forth.

Dell says the new integrations with iOS will work with XPS, Inspiron, Vostro, Alienware, and G Series PCs from January 2018 or later. We haven’t seen any indication that the integrations will work with Dell’s Latitude laptops.

Mobile Connect for iOS is already available without the new features, so you can use it now to get calls and notifications on your Dell PC.

Apple hires former HBO chief to produce TV, film, and documentaries exclusively for Apple TV Plus

Television executive Richard Plepler is credited as the man who helped HBO become the prestige network it is today, helping launch titles like Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies and overseeing HBO’s transition to streaming. Now, after departing HBO earlier this year, he’ll take his talents to Apple where he’s set to produce original TV shows, films, and documentaries exclusively for Apple TV Plus, according to The New York Times.

The five-year contract is with Plepler’s company, Eden Productions. Plepler was in final talks with Apple as of November, The Verge confirmed at the time. The new deal would give Plepler the ability to make the type of entertainment he wanted but that he felt he could no longer do at HBO following AT&T’s purchase of WarnerMedia.

Plepler left HBO nearly a year ago, following a 25-year stint at the company. His decision to part ways with the company felt like foreshadowing for what HBO was about to become and the end of an era. In the time since he’s left, multiple other HBO executives have departed. It’s unclear if any of them will join Plepler in his new venture.

“It was instantaneously clear to me that I had a wonderful and very privileged run at HBO and I wasn’t going to be able to duplicate that again,” Plepler told The New York Times. “And I didn’t want to try to duplicate that again. It felt very clear to me that I just wanted to do my own thing.”

HBO is currently undergoing a cultural shift that reportedly has insiders and industry members nervous. AT&T chief operating officer and WarnerMedia head, John Stankey, told HBO staff that output was going to increase by a reported 50 percent after the Time Warner acquisition. The news came as WarnerMedia geared up to launch its own streaming service, HBO Max, in an attempt to compete with Netflix, Disney, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and Apple.

Plepler referred to the company being at an “inflection point,” and he cited the changing management and company priorities as part of the reason he decided to leave in a memo sent to HBO staffers in March. Still, he doesn’t see Apple and HBO as competitors, even though, in many ways, they are since they’re both vying for subscribers and eyeballs in a crowded space.

“There is plenty of room out there for everybody to do well and for everybody to produce their version of good content, and I don’t think of it for two minutes as rivaling HBO,” he told the Times.

Plepler may not want to re-create what he did at HBO, but Apple may want him to bring that level of success to TV Plus. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said the company is trying to make prestigious original content and, despite mediocre reviews from critics, Cook and other executives are reportedly very happy with the reception to Apple TV Plus’ first wave of shows. The company also received its first Golden Globe nominations, thanks to The Morning Show, the service’s flagship series.

Now that he’s at Apple, Plepler is working with a company that has a sizable budget and is looking to take bets on original programming that will grab attention and subscribers. It could be a match made in heaven for both.

Brydge’s iPad keyboard with trackpad is coming next month for $200

Brydge will release an iPad keyboard with a built-in trackpad next month, after Apple added support for trackpads to iPadOS back in September. A $199.99 model will be available for the 11-inch iPad Pro and a $229.99 model will be available for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with both models clasping onto the iPad with a hinge that can fold the devices open and closed like a laptop. Initial preorders will ship in late February, with the rest following a month later.

The keyboard, called the Brydge Pro+, was first revealed in October as part of a lawsuit. Byrdge attempted to sue the creator of another iPad keyboard and trackpad for cloning its hinge design, and it included photos of this in-development keyboard as supporting evidence. The competing keyboard, the Libra, eventually had its hinge design changed in an attempt to avoid the lawsuit. The lawsuit has yet to move forward.

Trackpad support on the iPad is still very limited, and the experience isn’t as fluid as you might expect coming from a Mac. But interest still seems to be high: the Libra keyboard received more than $313,000 through crowdfunding and preorders.

Image: Brydge

In addition to the Brydge Pro+, Brydge is also releasing a standalone trackpad. It doesn’t appear to have a name, price, or release date yet, but Brydge did release a mock-up of it — it looks roughly like a black version of Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Apple began selling Brydge’s regular iPad keyboards at its stores last month. The keyboards clip onto an iPad and fold shut like a laptop, with the whole package looking a lot like a MacBook Pro.

Apple reunites with iPhone graphics chip partner to license technology

Apple will once again license technology from Imagination Technologies, the chip designer that used to provide graphics processors for the iPhone and iPad, the UK-based company announced today. In a short statement posted on its website, Imagination said that it had entered into a multiyear license agreement with Apple, under which the Cupertino, California-based firm will have access to “a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property in exchange for license fees.”

Apple announced its split from Imagination back in April 2017 when it said that it would start designing its own graphics chips, and it would stop licensing the company’s technology within two years. After the split was announced, Imagination expressed skepticism that Apple could design its own chips “without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property, and confidential information.”

In spite of this, Apple went on to announce the iPhone 8 and iPhone X later that year, which, thanks to their A11 Bionic chips, contained what Apple called its first Apple-designed graphics processor. It went on to boast that the GPU was 30 percent faster than its predecessor. Apple also used its own graphics processor in the 2018 iPad Pro, according to Bloomberg.

Following the news of the agreement’s termination, Imagination’s share price dropped sharply overnight. The company claimed that Apple only gave it a few days’ notice that the deal would be coming to an end. (Apple disputes this.) Later that year, it was forced to sell itself to a private equity firm, Silicon Valley-based Canyon Bridge, for £550 million (around $725 million). At the time, it maintained that it was still “in dispute with Apple.”

Apple’s attitude toward its graphics processors is part of a broader effort to reduce its reliance on other chip designers and manufacturers. In 2018, the company acquired part of chipmaker Dialog for $300 million in a deal that saw it license some of Dialog’s power management technology and acquire 300 engineers. The following year, it acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business, putting it on track to produce its modem’s in house. At one point, it reportedly even considered a similar acquisition of Imagination, according to the Financial Times, but it’s thought to have decided against a full takeover.