AWT News Update: October 17, 2016

Happy Monday! Even if it wasn't a good start to the week, we have lots of Apple news to hopefully cheer you up:

  • A class action lawsuit brought by disgruntled Apple employees in California goes to court tomorrow
  • Your new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus has a way to "fail over" to a software home button if the actual solid-state button fails
  • Want to live in Jamaica and get access to Apple trademarks well in advance of them appearing in the US? Could be a nice job idea...
  • AT&T will begin providing same-day "cracked screen repair" for iPhones on November 15th

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for October 17, 2016.

Any company as successful as Apple is constantly in court fighting battles from outside — like the Samsung patent infringement cases and government lawsuits — as well as from within. Tomorrow, a case that’s been building in strength for the past nine years will hit the courts. This class action suit was filed by current and former Apple employees that now numbers over 20,000 class members, with a proposed class including every Apple employee in retail and other venues who were employed with the company between December 16, 2007 and October 18, 2016. This suit got started in 2011 by four employees who said that the company violated California’s labor laws by not granting break or meal time, and not issuing paychecks on a timely basis. The counsel for the plaintiffs is seeking damages and restitution for unlawful business practices based on ten separate sections of the California Labor Code. As is usual for cases of this type, the counsel is also attempting to get interest accrued over the years as well as attorneys’ fees paid by Apple.

With the iPhone 7 models moving from a physical to a solid-state home button, many users have wondered what recourse they’d have if the home button failed. Well, readers over at MacRumors discovered that if the solid-state home button fails, iOS 10 offers a software button workaround and a notification that “The Home Button May Need Service.” Although the old physical home button was one of the parts most likely to fail on previous iPhones and the new button — which of course has no moving parts — should be much more reliable, it’s good to see that Apple has thought about every possible failure mode and provided redundancy.

Want to find out what Apple is filing trademarks for, months before they’re made public in the United States? You can get the info if you just hang out in Jamaica and have friends at the trademark office in that country. Apple apparently filed past trademarks for Siri, Apple Watch, macOS and many other major products in Jamaica well before they did so in the US in order to delay the public appearance of those trademarks until after the products shipped — while still setting a legal “first appearance”. Jamaica and other countries like Tonga, Iceland, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago are also popular spots for tech companies to file trademarks, primarily because none of those countries maintain easily searchable trademark databases. Apple’s not the only company that uses this trick; Google, Amazon and Microsoft are all old hands at filing trademarks in interesting places.

AT&T customers who sign up for Mobile Insurance plans to protect their new smartphones will get a new option starting on November 15th. The company is offering a new cracked screen repair service for the iPhone SE, 6 and 6S families. There will be a slightly higher monthly subscription fee and also an $89 deductible, but the repairs can be done the same day that a customer brings the damaged phone into an AT&T Store. 15 major markets will get the new service on November 15th, with 29 more markets launching on December 1st.

That’s all for today; We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.