Leaked Fitbit smartwatch looks too ugly to beat Apple Watch

Photos of the first real smartwatch by Fitbit leaked to the internet today and based on the teaser images, Apple doesn’t have much to worry about. Fitbit is supposedly planning to launch its proper smartwatch this fall along with a pair of Bluetooth earbuds. The company originally planned to unveil the products this spring to […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Samsung May Acquire Micro-LED Company PlayNitride as Apple Aims for Micro-LED Apple Watch in 2018

Samsung is rumored to be looking into a potential acquisition deal with Taiwan-based PlayNitride, specifically for the company’s micro-LED technology, as Apple’s micro-LED ambitions for the Apple Watch stretch into 2018.

According to sources speaking with OLED-Info, Samsung is willing to offer up to $150 million for the company, and would use the micro-LED tech for VR applications and television sets in the future.

Another potential reason behind Samsung’s interest in PlayNitride might be related to Apple and an upcoming version of the Apple Watch.

Apple has been predicted to switch its wearable device over from an OLED display to micro-LED as soon as 2017, but it’s more likely that micro-LED screens will hit an Apple Watch device in 2018, according to reports from sources in Apple’s Longtan District plant in Taiwan.

Apple Inc is expected to crank out a small volume of next-generation Micro-LED displays from a plant in Taoyuan by the end of this year for its wearable devices, an IDC analyst said yesterday.

The US technology giant is forecast to begin mass production of Micro-LED displays at the plant in Longtan District (龍潭) next year, ahead of rival display makers, IDC analyst Annabelle Hsu said.

If accurate, a late 2017 ramp-up for a 2018 product launch would align with Samsung’s entry in the micro-LED supply chain thanks to PlayNitride. Reports surrounding PlayNitride state that the company doesn’t plan on beginning to produce micro-LED chips until later in 2017, meaning that the display maker and Samsung — if it acquires PlayNitride — wouldn’t be added as potential Apple Watch supply sources until 2018 or later.

According to an industry insider in Taiwan, Samsung is set to acquire Taiwan’s PlayNitride for the company’s micro-LED technology for around $150 million. Our inside says that Samsung aims to develop micro-LED based displays for VR applications, but may also look into micro-LED based TVs using PlayNitride’s technology.

All this means that Samsung may be just hedging its bets and gaining a foothold in an interesting and promising next-generation display technology. A $150 million investment is substantial – but Samsung is also spending billions of dollars to expand its OLED production capacity so it’s unlikely that Samsung actually considers micro-LED as a replacement for OLEDs, unless maybe for specific applications.

In regards to advantages of micro-LED, devices with the screen technology have the chance to be thinner, lighter, see an improved color gamut with increased brightness, and sport higher resolutions.

Still, there remain numerous technical challenges that make micro-LED difficult to mass produce, making some analysts believe that true commercialization of the technology won’t be reached until 2020. If Apple tries to build an Apple Watch with micro-LED this year or next, the company could face potential hurdles with the new technology, similar to what is rumored to be happening with the iPhone 8 and its switch to the new OLED screen.

A few years ago Apple itself acquired a micro-LED display maker, LuxVue, but the company hasn’t given any updates on the progress of its micro-LED development since then. At the time, a LuxVue investor said that the company had made “a technical breakthrough in displays.” Also believed to be a focus of Apple’s micro-LED efforts is a facility in northern Taiwan.

While Apple’s timing for micro-LED technology remains unclear, Apple Watch Series 3 is rumored to come with an all-new glass-film touchscreen in place of the current touch-on-lens solution, although it’s not certain how such an update would affect users. Rumors still conflict as to whether or not the Series 3 edition will mark the Apple Watch’s first major design change, or be another iterative addition to the lineup with a focus on battery life improvements.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tags: Samsung, Apple Watch 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Repair Period for First-Gen Apple Watches With Battery Issues Extended to 3 Years

Apple today informed retail store employees and Apple Authorized Service Providers that it is extending the service coverage for first-generation Apple Watch models experiencing battery problems to three years.

In an entry in Apple’s repair database (via 9to5Mac), the company explains that coverage is extended for original Apple Watch models that are seeing swollen or expanded batteries. A public announcement about the service extension has not been made, and it’s not clear if Apple will offer reimbursements for customers who have already paid for battery replacements or have done battery replacements themselves.

Image via MacRumors forum user Rosepod5

Customers who have an original Apple Watch afflicted with a swollen or expanded battery will now be able to have the device repaired for up to three years after its purchase date, even when AppleCare was not purchased for the watch. From the repair database:

Apple has extended Service coverage for eligible Apple Watch (1st gen) models with an expanded/swollen battery to three years after the original date of purchase. Eligible devices will be covrered for two years beyond the original 1-year Limited Warranty.

Complaints about swollen batteries on the original Apple Watch have been circulating for a few months on reddit, the Apple Support Communities, and the MacRumors forum.

Reports are rare, but it does appear to be an issue affecting a small number of original Apple Watch users. The battery problem causes the Apple Watch screen to pop away from the casing, rendering it unusable.

The first-generation Apple Watch, first introduced in April of 2015, recently reached its second birthday on April 24.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tag: Apple retail
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Is Apple’s product lineup too confusing? [Friday Night Fights]

Apple currently offers more products than ever before. Whether you’re buying an iPhone, an iPad, a Mac, or even an Apple Watch, there are a bunch of options to consider before you hand over your cash in an Apple store. Having options is always a good thing, but has Apple’s product portfolio become too confusing […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Leaked iPhone 8 schematic reveals dual-lens front camera and more

Another alleged iPhone 8 schematic has leaked out of China, providing new details about Apple’s upcoming handset — including the tech behind its wireless charging capability. The supposed iPhone 8 drawing surfaced on Weibo today. Unlike the last two schematics that leaked, this one includes detailed labeling of each part, revealing a dual-lens camera in […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Apple Seeds Third Beta of watchOS 3.2.2 to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming watchOS 3.2.2 update to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the second watchOS 3.2.2 beta and three weeks after the release of watchOS 3.2, which introduced Theater Mode.

The third beta of watchOS 3.2.2 can be downloaded through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update. To install the update, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS betas require an iPhone running iOS 10 to install, and they’re only available to developers because there’s no way to downgrade the software on an Apple Watch.

It’s not yet clear if watchOS 3.2.2 introduces any new features or bug fixes because Apple doesn’t typically provide release notes for betas.

Given that this is a minor 3.x.x update, it’s likely to focus primarily on bug fixes. No notable features were found in the first two watchOS 3.2.2 betas, but we’ll update this post should anything new be discovered in the third.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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