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Do all new iPhones suffer from a hardware design flaw? It sure seems like it



The latest iOS 12.1 release extends battery throttling to the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and even the iPhone X, after only telling US senators back in February that this would likely be unnecessary.

This raises an important question – why do devices that were only released last year need added performance management to prevent crashes and unexpected shutdowns?

Must read: iOS 12.1: Tips and tricks to help you get the most from your iPhone or iPad

Before we go any further, let’s refer to what Apple has said on this matter. Apple goes into a lot of detail, but here’s are the two paragraphs that matter:

With a low battery state of charge, a higher chemical age, or colder temperatures, users are more likely to experience unexpected shutdowns. In extreme cases, shutdowns can occur more frequently, thereby rendering the device unreliable or unusable. For iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus, iOS dynamically manages performance peaks to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down so that the iPhone can still be used. This performance management feature is specific to iPhone and does not apply to any other Apple products. Starting with iOS 12.1, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X include this feature, but performance management may be less noticeable due to their more advanced hardware and software design.

This performance management works by looking at a combination of the device temperature, battery state of charge, and battery impedance. Only if these variables require it, iOS will dynamically manage the maximum performance of some system components, such as the CPU and GPU, in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. As a result, the device workloads will self-balance, allowing a smoother distribution of system tasks, rather than larger, quick spikes of performance all at once. In some cases, a user may not notice any differences in daily device performance. The level of perceived change depends on how much performance management is required for a particular device.

Now there’s a lot going on here, and while it’s interesting that Apple talks about “low battery state of charge” (has iOS 12.1 change the way the iPhone works when set to Low Power Mode, or is this some secret sauce that’s in addition to that feature?), it’s the talk of “higher chemical age, or colder temperatures” that has my curiosity piqued.

Let’s look at colder temperatures thing first. Apple publishes operating ambient temperatures and nonoperating temperature ranges for its devices. For all iPhones, these are 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C) and -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C). Inside these temperatures you should be fine, outside of them you’re on your own. When Apple talks about throttling with respect to colder temperatures it is unclear if it is talking about temperatures within the operating ambient temperatures range, or outside of this. I’m assuming that it is within these ranges (because Apple hasn’t updated these temperatures for older devices), so I’m left wondering if the iPhone had a problem operating within these stated temperatures.

In other words, did the iPhone suffer from a design flaw that Apple is now compensating for? It sounds like it from what Apple has stated here.

Now let’s come back to “higher chemical age.” In a nutshell, the older a battery is (“higher chemical age” is a fancy way of saying that), the higher the battery’s impedance (or resistance), and this lowers its ability to deliver peak power when demanded. Without that power, bad things – like crashes and shutdowns – can happen.

But should iPhones that were released only last year already be suffering from “higher chemical age”?

According to Apple, the battery “is designed to retain up to 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles,” and beyond that, the battery is considered worn and heading toward end-of-life. Some batteries can and do retain more than 80 percent charge after well over 500 recharge cycles, but in my experience, once you hit 500 recharge cycles, your battery is on borrowed time.

Note: You can find more information on recharge cycles here.

Back in May of this year I became concerned about how fast I was going through recharge cycles on my daily driver iPhone 8 Plus. In four months I’d used up 91 of those recharge cycles (I got my iPhone 8 Plus on launch day). I decided to take measures to reduce on the number of recharge cycles I was using up (one way I did this was by using wireless charging less).

Note: I used the excellent macOS app CoconutBattery to get access to the iPhone’s battery recharge cycle count.

I just rechecked this today and I’ve now burned through 344 recharge cycles.

iPhone battery recharge cycles

In a little over a year, I’m already what feels like a stone’s throw away from that 500 recharge cycle mark. Compare this to my late 2013 MacBook Pro, which has seen daily use for several years now and is only at 357 recharge cycles.

There’s a simple reason why I’m going through recharge cycles as quickly as I am. The iPhone suffers from a simple design flaw. The battery is too small and requires recharging too often. A bigger battery would have a greater capacity, and therefore need charging less often. If my iPhone had a battery twice the capacity of the battery it currently has, it would have only gone through half the recharge cycles.

Apple’s pursuit of thinner and lighter has resulted in a device with a battery so small that after only a year the company has to drop a software update that tries to compensate for this.

When you consider that this means that a $1,000 iPhone might have a lifespan of only about 18 months before needing to be replaced (or at least have the battery replaced – and what an odyssey that can be), it certainly makes me question whether the iPhone represents the sort of value for money that I expect from such an expensive bit of kit.

It sure seems to me like Apple has built a hardware design flaw into the iPhone, and is now using software tweaks to try to make them less noticeable.

And given that Apple doesn’t seem to have bumped up the battery capacity on the newer iPhone XS and iPhone XR models, this seems to be a problem that will be affecting these devices in a year’s time.

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After buying Bungie, Sony goes all in on live service games – TechCrunch



After buying Bungie earlier this year, Sony is moving fast to integrate the company’s expertise into its broader vision.

In an investor presentation Thursday, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan outlined a near future for the company that focuses heavily on continually updated online games inspired by Destiny, Bungie’s long-running hit.

Sony expects to spend 49% of its PlayStation Studios development budget on live service games by the end of the year. By 2025, Sony plans to bump that to 55%, up from just 12% in 2019. By the end of 2025, Sony projects that it will have 12 different live service games of its own, up from just one now.

The company declined to answer questions from TechCrunch about which of its franchises might get the live service treatment, but the presentation cited God of War, Horizon Forbidden West, Spider-Man, The Last of Us and Uncharted in a list of its noteworthy single-player first-party titles. Sony-owned studio Naughty Dog has been hiring for a standalone multiplayer game, so a new game could indeed emerge out of The Last of Us or Uncharted’s virtual worlds.

Bungie is best known for creating the Halo franchise, though most recently the studio has become synonymous with Destiny, a fresh sci-fi series the company developed after leaving Halo with Microsoft. Like Halo, Destiny is a futuristic first-person shooter with precise, satisfying mechanics. But Destiny’s real appeal is Bungie’s impressively seamless online multiplayer experience that brings players into central hubs where they can explore and run missions together, making it more akin to World of Warcraft than a traditional FPS like Call of Duty.

Three years after splitting with Microsoft, Bungie signed onto a 10-year partnership with Activision. The company eventually split with Activision, too, paving the way for Sony to snap it up earlier this year for $3.6 billion. Bungie will remain a standalone game studio on the other side of the deal, à la Naughty Dog.

Just after the Bungie acquisition was made public, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki confirmed the company’s plan to weave Bungie’s live game service know-how into its broader gaming offerings.

“The strategic significance of this acquisition lies not only in obtaining the highly successful Destiny franchise, as well as major new IP Bungie is currently developing, but also incorporating into the Sony group the expertise and technologies Bungie has developed in the live game services space,” Totoki said.

In bringing Bungie under its wing, Sony is buying a lot of knowledge about how to build online multiplayer games that expand over time, keeping players coming back for more. This kind of experience, usually called a “live service game,” explains how Fortnite is still one of the world’s most popular games years after it first made headlines for luring casual gamers and hardcore streamers alike into its colorful, chaotic world.

It’s also an extremely lucrative business model. Live service games generally have an in-game storefront that invites dedicated players to buy digital goods like character skins and clothing. Those assets cycle in and out, creating scarcity and nudging players to spend real cash to collect them. In a given content season, players in games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite can pay to earn a special set of these cosmetic virtual goods with a “battle pass.”

Some live service games, like Final Fantasy XIV, require players to pay for a monthly subscription to access the most recent content, while others are free to play. Happily, these days, most free-to-play games no longer require a paid subscription through Microsoft or Sony’s own premium subscription services.

Live service games add expansion content over time, and players often pay to access the new stuff, even while the core game remains mostly the same. For game makers, the real allure is maintaining a game that can live and grow over time, raking in revenue for years rather than burning bright and fizzling out a few months postlaunch.

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Twitter investors sue Elon Musk over acquisition shenanigans – TechCrunch



The world’s richest man isn’t above trying to get a discount, apparently.

In a new lawsuit, Twitter shareholders are suing Elon Musk, alleging that he manipulated the price of the company’s stock for his own benefit in the course of agreeing to buy the company. The lawsuit represents a group of Twitter investors but would allow any shareholders to receive financial compensation.

The suit was filed Wednesday in federal district court for Northern California and argues that Musk intentionally drove down the company’s stock to secure a better deal. “The fair market value of Twitter securities has been adversely affected by Musk’s false statements and wrongful conduct,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit cites Musk’s decision to waive due diligence as a condition of the acquisition and his subsequent suspiciously timed claim that Twitter had misrepresented the number of bots on its platform.

“At the time, Musk was well aware that Twitter had a certain amount of ‘fake accounts’ and accounts controlled by ‘bots’ and had in fact settled a lawsuit based on the fake accounts for millions of dollars,” the complaint states. “Musk had tweeted about that issue at Twitter several times in the past, prior to making his offer to acquire Twitter with full knowledge of the bots.”

The suit alleges, as many people observed at the time, that Musk was likely trying to secure a discount by casting doubt on his commitment and disparaging the company. Since Musk’s initial commitment to purchase the company was announced, tech stocks — including Tesla, which accounts for the vast majority of Musk’s wealth — took a dive.

Following Musk’s comments, Twitter shares also dipped significantly, a phenomenon that the suit alleges is “highly unusual” given the company’s agreed-upon buyout price.

While Musk claimed the deal was on hold, there was no formal mechanism in place that would back up that claim. Even within Twitter, company leaders encouraged employees to proceed as though nothing had changed, noting that there was “no such thing” as casually pausing a binding agreement to buy the company.

The suit also alleges that Musk deliberately delayed filing a disclosure form when his stake in the company exceeded 5%, allowing him to continue to buy shares at a discount. After the form was filed and Musk’s purchases became public knowledge, Twitter stock soared by nearly a third.

“Musk’s disregard for securities laws demonstrates how one can flaunt the law and the tax code to build their wealth at the expense of the other Americans,” the complaint states.

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Instagram is currently down for some users – TechCrunch



If you’re having problems accessing Instagram today, you’re not alone. The social media giant is currently experiencing some problems, according to reports on third-party web monitoring service Downdetector. The website indicates that issues began at around 12:30 p.m. EDT. NetBlocks, which tracks global internet usage and disruptions, has also noted that Instagram is facing intermittent international service outages.

Reports indicate that users are experiencing various issues with the service, including not being able to log back in after being logged out. Some users also reporting seeing a “Welcome to Instagram” message when logging on as though they have a new account. Others are unable see past a few posts or only seeing posts that were uploaded weeks ago. Some users are also reporting that they’re unable to refresh their home screen and are seeing a “we’re sorry, but something went wrong” notice.

Instagram and its parent company Meta have yet to acknowledge the issues. TechCrunch has reached out to Meta to learn more about the issues and will update this article once we get a response.

This story is developing…

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