Category Archives: Hardware

Tech companies launching satellites to provide broadband internet service

SpaceX has launched numerous satellites related to the new Starlink internet service which is now available to a limited set of customers in the US, UK, and other countries.   Starlink will add more customers as it continues to expand its operations.  A Starlink app is also available at the Apple iOS and Google Play app stores.

Amazon has also launched satellites as part of Project Kuiper, which will also provide internet service to multiple countries.

Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA) and modem rental fees

The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (TVPA) requires providers of internet, voice, mobile, and data to engage in transparent sales and billing.  It also prevents providers from charging a consumer for using equipment not provided by the service provider, such as a modem.   The FCC granted providers an extension for this legislation until December 20, 2020.  Modem rental fees should not be charged to consumers who provide their own equipment after that date.

Apple device repair programs for recent issues

Apple has reported that a small number of iPhone 11 models are experiencing issues with touch screen capability.   A free repair is available for phones with a valid serial number that are having this problem.

Apple also has a repair program available for a small number of 13-inch MacBook Pro units with backlight display issues.

Apple is also providing free repairs for users having sound issues with AirPods Pro.

Apple releases iOS 14 and new Apple Watches

Apple announced the release of iOS 14, new Apple Watches, and other products and services at its September 2020 event.

iOS 14 has several new features, including a new Translate app with 11 languages, digital versions of car keys, and  Home app for smart home management.

iOS 14 also shows if an app is using the camera or phone. A green indicator will appear if an app is using the device’s camera, and an orange indicator will appear if the microphone is in use. App settings for hardware use can be changed under Settings > Privacy.   Apps running on iOS14 will also be required to obtain permission to track users starting in early 2021.

Apple has provided a list of compatible devices for iOS 14 and iPadOS.

New watches include the Apple Watch 6 Series and Apple Watch SEWatch OS 7 also includes sleep tracking and other health related features.

Chrome OS automatic updates may not be available for older devices

Google’s Chrome OS is a secure choice for an operating system, but older devices may no longer be supported.  When a Chrome device reaches its Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date, automatic updates from Google will no longer be provided.

IFixit has instructions on how to convert a working Chromebook past its expiration date to use CloudReady.

Apple battery recall of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro models

Apple has a voluntary recall and free battery replacement program for certain 15-inch MacBook Pro models sold between 2015 and 2017.  These units can be identified by serial number at support.apple.com/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall.

This recall is currently one of the programs available at Apple’s Exchange and Repair Extension Program page.

Apple also announced a partnership with Best Buy which designates their stores as Apple authorized repair locations.