open iphone

iPhones, Apple, and the Right To Repair Bill

Apple makes some pretty great phones. We should know, we get to see how many people walk in with broken iPhone screens all the time, and so many people wouldn’t have iPhones unless they were a great phone.

However, it’s hard to not be frustrated at how anti-consumer some of their moves have been in recent years.

Apple’s anti-consumer moves

 

Planned Obsolescence

 

The most recent anti-consumer move by Apple just recently came to light, with how they treated their older iPhone batteries. People talked about “planned obsolescence” all the time, even making jokes about it, but apparently, it’s been true the whole time. They are even facing lawsuits over it.

To be fair, their reasoning for throttling older iPhone speeds has some merit. However, they didn’t disclose what they were doing which makes it pretty clear that they knew it was wrong. Also, unlike most Android phones, it is very difficult for a consumer to remove and replace their battery. Which would’ve mattered a whole lot more if they were open and honest about what is slowing down the customer’s iPhone (an old battery).

 Removal of the Headphone Jack

 

The iPhone 7 had a big stroke of “innovation” as Apple would call it, which is a thinly-veiled way of saying it won’t be compatible with other typical products. While Apple and Apple-followers stuck to that line of reasoning, it’s pretty obvious that removing the headphone jack did not make the iPhone 7 better, but it did help Apple’s bottom line.

Not only does it force people to get either the little converter attachment (that is SUPER easy to lose, meaning you need a replacement) or the Apple headphones. Or, if you want to get wireless headphones Apple owns Beats, which is a massively popular Bluetooth Headphone company. People might just move to wireless headphones – which is that innovation they like to reference – and buy a pair of Beats.

There are plenty of other examples similar to this one – Macbooks got rid of their USB and Ethernet ports while the rest of the first world still uses them, forcing people to get adapters. It’s really a testament to how much people love their products that they are still so successful.  A lesser product definitely couldn’t do something like this.

What’s Their Goal?

 

I already mentioned how it’s very difficult for iPhone users to access the battery (that’s where we come in) and Apple wants it that way. They don’t want you to be able to swap out your battery for a new one because they want you to go to them for that service.

Better yet, they don’t want you to fix your iPhone after it starts showing it age, they want you to get a new one. We’re seeing it in products everywhere, people don’t stich up their clothes as much as they used to, or take as much care of their car, or even swap out a hard drive for a new one! People just get a new one.

Once people are accustomed to getting a new phone every couple of years, it’s not wasteful – it’s just what you do. 

“Right to Repair”

 

Apple (among other big tech companies) has been lobbying against the “Fair Repair Act” for the last few years. The bill would require companies like Apple to sell tools and replacement parts, and perhaps even guides, so that customers can repair their phones and computers.

That sounds like something we wouldn’t really want either, but we don’t mind this bill at all.

Let’s face it, a lot of people just want to have an expert handle it. I can change my own oil, but I’ll usually have it done at a Jiffy Lube or a Sears Auto. Just because customers will have more access to the tools and parts to fix their computers and phones, doesn’t mean they’ll stop coming to us.

In fact, there are plenty of guides on how to replace iPhone screens online, but it requires delicate care, and often some tools that people don’t have. That’s why so many people choose to come to repair shops like us.

Apple is opposing this legislation because they want to make their phones nearly impossible to fix by repair shops like us. Forcing you to go to them for repairs is only part of it, because they don’t actually want you to fix your phone, they want you to get a new phone entirely.

Spectre and Meltdown: Processing Problems

You may have heard recently that many of Intel’s Central Processing Units (CPUs) have a design flaw that could allow malicious attackers to steal private information.  Passwords, emails, etc. could be stolen because of “kernel memory areas” in the CPUs.

However, even though the focus is on Intel’s screw-up, it’s believed that CPUs sold by other vendors may have the same problems. Intel is just taking the heat because they’re the biggest and most reputable name.

What is a CPU?

processor

If you’ve ever seen a CPU (above) – also casually known as a processor – you would know it’s probably the strangest-looking part of a computer.  It’s relatively inconspicuous, but it is regarded as the “brain” of the computer, because pretty much everything needs to run through the CPU.  That’s why keeping the CPU at a low temp takes a lot of work, but is very important (if your computer is overheating it will probably shut down to protect the CPU).

What are the security flaws?

 

The two main “vulnerabilities” have cool names: Spectre and Meltdown.  They both can be exploited by malicious programs on your computer to get secret information from your currently running programs (password managers, emails).  The nitty-gritty details of it are complicated but the gist of it is pretty simple.

Your processor wants to act quickly and it makes information readily available, in an attempt to give you a faster and more fluid user experience so you don’t need to wait for the information.  These flaws take advantage of that optimization and the software patches to fix it might affect that.

Okay cool, it’s being fixed.

 

The initial reports from PC Mag were saying that the software fix would be a big problem, and that it could potentially slow down your computer up to 30%.  Intel has pushed back at that statement saying “any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant”.

So, if you’re a really intensive computer user you might notice your machine slowing down every now and then, but hopefully you won’t.

The Moral: Nobody is Perfect

 

Everything seems like it can be hacked. The Equifax security breachthe Showtime cryptocurrency mining scandalthe OTHER Equifax security breachKRACK attacksRansomware… there’s a lot of bad hacking-related issues lately and it seems like it might not get better.

Unfortunately, this is just the age we live in right now. We can just stick with our personal best practices. Use a virus removal you trust, keep an eye out for phishing attempts, and update your software frequently.