AWT News Update: January 23, 2017

Photo from Instagram user emfedor83

Photo from Instagram user emfedor83

  • This Monday turned out to be rather eventful, with updates to all of Apple's operating systems, word of a mysterious Bluetooth/NFC device going through the FCC certification process, and news about an iPhone 7 Plus that went for a long swim in a very cold river and lived!
  • The watchOS 3.1.3 update might be the first update a lot of Watch owners have successfully installed since watchOS 3 first arrived
  • What could a mysterious Apple device with model number A1846 be? We think we have an idea
  • That iPhone 7 Plus of yours is probably much more waterproof than you think it is, with an unplanned test in a frozen-over Russian river showing just how hardy it is

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Note to Apple News readers: you’ll need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for January 23, 2017.

In case you haven’t visited Apple World Today so far in the last four hours or so, we’d like you to know that macOS Sierra 10.12.3, iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1 and watchOS 3.1.3 have all been released today. The macOS update has the usual bug fixes and security updates, but is primarily focused on two things — fixing some graphics issues with the new MacBook Pros and also resolving — or at least partially resolving, we’re not sure — the problems that macOS Sierra created in terms of editing PDF files in the Preview app. iOS 10.2.1 is pretty much just a bug and security update, same with tvOS 10.1.1. The watchOS 3.1.3 update may be the first update that many Apple Watch owners have had since watchOS 3 first shipped — many people had problems with the 3.1.1 update and Apple pulled the update as a result. I personally had issues trying to install the 3.1.1 update, which kept refusing to verify the update by telling me I wasn’t connected to a Wi-Fi network. Today’s installation was typical for an Apple Watch — slow — but it completed and everything seems to be running OK.

MacRumors is reporting that Apple is once again seeking approval of the US Federal Communications Commission for an unnamed wireless device with Bluetooth and NFC (that stands for Near Field Communications). The company applied for approval for a device with an Apple model number of A1846 in early January, and this appears to be similar or another version of a similar device submitted for approval back in September of 2016. That one had a model number of A1844. Now most Apple devices usually have very little labeling on the device itself, but both of these have a lot of specs listed on the back; things like electrical rating, typical current, and even a wiring guide for red, black, orange and brown wires. That’s something never found on the back of a consumer device. What could it be? MacRumors speculates that the the device could be something for use within an Apple Store, like a product display unit or iBeacons to communicate with customer iOS devices. The labeling shows a reference to RS-485, which is a serial communications cabling standard. We’re guessing that it’s something used for lighting control or building automation for things like video surveillance systems or access card readers. Whatever the product, it’s very likely consumers will ever see it.

Want to know just how hardy an iPhone 7 Plus is? A resident of Yakutsk, Russia was doing a little ice fishing this weekend and accidentally dropped his iPhone 7 Plus into a frozen-over river. He couldn’t retrieve it, but called in a friend who is a diver to see if he could find it. After three attempts in the chilly water, the diver found the iPhone. Shortly after emerging from the water the diver turned the iPhone on, meaning it had survived the drop into the water and 13 hours of being submerged in nearly freezing water. The iPhone 7 isn’t really marketed as being waterproof, with an IP67 rating meaning that it can stand being immersed in one meter (3.3 foot) deep water for 30 minutes. It looks like the device is a bit more hardy than Apple advertised.

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