AWT News Update: April 21, 2017

Bixby is a no-show, build-in yourself iPhones, and rumors about rumors - that's what we have for you today on the Apple World Today News Update podcast:

  • Samsung's Bixby, the highly-touted AI for the Galaxy S8 smartphone, won't be available when the new phone ships
  • Visit Shenzhen, China a lot? Do what Scotty Allen did, and build your own iPhone 6s from parts purchased in the city's tech markets
  • The rumored iPhone 8/X/Pro/??? is now rumored to becoming later due to production issues

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

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update for April 12th, 2017. Congratulations, you’ve made it through half of the work week!

Those of you who have followed this podcast for a while know that I just love to bash Samsung, and today’s no exception. A few weeks ago at the unveiling of the new flagship Samsung Galaxy S8 Smartphone, the company made a big deal about Bixby, which is its voice assistant designed to compete with Siri, Alexa and other digital assistant AIs. Well, the company today noted that Bixby’s voice capabilities won’t be shipping with the new phone and will be available “later this spring”. Bixby’s other features — Vision, Home and Reminder — will be available, but considering that the company was touting the voice assistant as a major feature, this is a huge fail for Samsung. Several tech sites that tested Bixby on the Galaxy S8 said that it failed miserably, showing that Samsung has a lot of work to do in the software market before it can compete with Apple, Amazon, and Google.

I love this story, as it appeals to the do-it-yourselfer in all of us. Scotty Allen is a traveler who loves trying out new things, and he decided that it would be fun to build his own iPhone. Someone had mentioned to Allen that he could probably build his own iPhone from parts available in various markets and shops in Shenzhen, China where many iPhones are produced. While on several trips to Shenzhen over a few months, Allen picked up the pieces he needed. In some cases, the parts were from recycled or broken phones, while in other cases he was able to buy replacement parts. What did he end up building? An iPhone 6s. The phone cost him the equivalent of about $300, with the main cost going for a recycled logic board and Touch ID sensor pair, the display, the battery and the back casing. In case you’re thinking that you might be able to pop over to Shenzhen and get the bits to make your own iPhone 7, well, Allen notes that there’s not much of a supply of the recycled parts yet. You can check out Allen’s story at strangeparts.com.

As you well know, the rumors about the rumored 2017 10th anniversary iPhone have been hot and heavy for the last three months or so. Well, now we’re getting unconfirmed rumors that the new device could be delayed as Apple is apparently having issues integrating Touch ID under the glass of the edge-to-edge OLED display expected to be on the new model. The rumors come from Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri and were obtained originally by MacRumors. Arcuri says he’s been snooping around the supply chain and found that the current manufacturing yields for Apple’s in-house fingerprint sensor is low and that the company isn’t quite willing to go with a different solution at this time. Arcuri goes on to say that Apple does have alternatives: they could remove Touch ID from the new iPhone and just use facial or iris recognition, it could put a Touch ID sensor on the back of the phone, or it could delay production of the new model but still announce it at the same time as the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. Unsurprisingly, this has happened with just about every previous iPhone, with production slowly ramping up and shortages of the new phones quite common in the early months. At this point, though, anything is possible and we’re just looking at this analyst report as yet another rumor.

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