AWT News Update: August 17, 2015

In today's Apple news:

  • Sprint offers its customers "iPhone Forever" plan
  • Australian banks aren't too excited about Apple Pay
  • Wall Street sees a new Apple TV as a competitor in the gaming console market
  • A TidBITS tip shows how to get into "Field Test Mode" on an iPhone

The transcript of the podcast can be found below.

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for August 17, 2015.

The carrier wars continue, and this time Sprint has taken a shot at its competitors by offering to keep iPhone users supplied with the latest model with the new “iPhone Forever” plan. Under the plan, you’re charged $22 monthly in addition to your voice or data plan but can upgrade at any time to the latest and greatest iPhone. If you’re already in a contract with another carrier, Sprint will pay off the older contract for you. That’s a rather appealing offer for those who are considering an upgrade to the new iPhones expected to be announced on September 9.

Banks in Australia aren’t too keen on the idea of giving Apple a bit of the US$2 billion they earn annually from interchange fees. In the US, Apple earns close to 15¢ on every $100 of transactions. Apple’s trying for a similar number in Australia, and the Aussies aren’t having it. Why? Well, interchange fees in the US are about $1 for every $100 of transactions, while in Australia, those fees are only about half that amount. Hopefully Apple and the Australian banks will be able to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution soon.

Even though the new Apple TV won’t have a streaming subscription service ready to launch when the new box ships, investment firm J.P. Morgan is OK with that. They think that the new device will make a big splash in a completely different market — the $34 billion console gaming market. That’s because the new box that could be announced on September 9th will allegedly have a dedicated App Store, meaning that gamers could buy and play games on the device. While the rumored device would be rather underpowered in coparison to heavyweight consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it would be similar in power to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, both of which still command a good share of the gaming market. If the new box comes with an A9 processor instead of the expected A8X, it would be even more powerful than the older Sony and Microsoft consoles. The analyst from J.P. Morgan, Rod Hall, says that powerful Bluetooth input would allow a new Apple TV to connect with the many gaming controllers already available for iOS.

Need to troubleshoot your iPhone’s signal strength thanks to dropped calls or nonexistent data coverage? Josh Centers at TidBITS had a helpful hint over at the venerable website today on how to get your iPhone into Field Test Mode. Open the Phone app, dial *3001#12345#*, then tap the green call button.

Now hold the sleep/wake button until the slide to power off screen appears, but don’t power down. Instead, hold the home button until you go back to the home screen. The dots on your phone that normally show signal strength will now be replaced with your Received Signal Strength Indication or RSSI in decibels. Give that number to your carrier when you’re arguing for them to build a new cell tower near you. Josh’s full post and info on how to switch OUT of field test mode can be found here.

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.