Apple launches new program to repair faulty iPhone 5 sleep buttons

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Apple today launched a new program that will allow iPhone 5 owners to have devices with fautly sleep buttons repaired at no cost. Apple says it has identified an issue with some devices that can cause the button to fail on a “small percentage” of these devices. iPhone owners can use a new page on Apple’s support site to determine if their phone is eligible for repair.

Unfortunately for these users, the phones won’t be replaced or repaired in-store. Instead, the phone has to be sent to an Apple Repair Center, which means the entire process can take up to a week to be completed.

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Apple flips the switch on paid chat support, introduces Here to Help program for AppleCare employees

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Following our report late last month that Apple was preparing to start charging for out-of-warranty online chat support, we’ve been informed that today Apple support has finally flipped the switch on the new feature and started charging customers. While originally planned for earlier this month, Apple has been having difficulties with a new payment system it developed specifically for the online chat feature. Apple is also introducing a new training program for AppleCare employees called “Here to Help” that it hopes will improve the overall AppleCare support experience.  Read more

You can now buy iPad Airs at the Apple Store (refurb) for $419/16GB or $509/32GB with 1 year warranty

From 9to5Toys.com:

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lm-tile-refurbipad_LANG_ENThe Apple Store just got filled with refurbished iPad Airs in a few varieties starting at $419 for 16GB and $509 for 32GB in both Space Grey or White. That’s $80/$90 off the new price and the lowest price we’ve seen for iPad Airs with Apple’s 1 year AppleCare warranty (we saw them new for $430 last week). Apple certified refurbished products look and act like new, come with all manuals and accessories, a new outer shell batter and come in a new white box.

Walmart still has refurbished iPad Airs for $399 but with a more dubious 90-day non-Apple warranty. Meanwhile, if you are after new iPad Airs, Staples currently has them for $50 off across the board.  Read more

All Apple websites could be blocked in Belgium over AppleCare controversy

Image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

Belgian Apple Store concept image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

A Belgian judge is reportedly considering ordering local ISPs to block access to all Apple websites in the country in response to a long-running dispute over the company’s promotion of AppleCare warranties, according to local newspapers cited by Tech.eu.

A case brought by the consumer protection group FPS Economy argued that Apple misleads consumers by claiming a standard warranty of one year, and selling an optional AppleCare extension, when EU law means that manufacturers are legally obliged to offer a minimum warranty of two years as standard …  Read more

Apple will soon charge for out-of-warranty chat support, schedule repairs via new web payment system

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Apple is about to begin charging users outside of their warranty for online chat support using a new web payment system it recently developed. Sources familiar with the project say Apple is currently expecting to launch the new paid chat support, which will also let customers schedule repairs and replacements online, as early as next week. Here’s how it works: Read more

Wishful thinking: Why it’d be nice if Apple created a line of Ive-designed office technology products

Image: deskology.com

Image: deskology.com

I have a number of friends who can’t understand why I pay what they refer to as ‘the Apple tax': the premium paid for Apple products over alternatives that offer much the same functionality.

I can argue about the functionality, of course. The usability, stability and (usually!) security of OS X are all things worth paying for in my view, but I’m not ashamed to admit that aesthetics also matter to me. When I’m going to spend 8+ hours in front of a computer, I’d rather I was looking at something sleek and beautiful rather than something plastic, ugly and a chore to use and understand.

I feel the same way about the other technology on my desk and in my office, but it isn’t always easy to find kit that works well and looks the part too. I can’t help thinking there’s a lot of office technology that could use the Jony Ive touch …  Read more

Apple seeds OS X 10.9.1 to support staff as public release approaches

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In early November, we reported that Apple had begun seeding versions of OS X Mavericks 10.9.1 and 10.9.2 to employees within the its Software Engineering division. Since then, Apple provided two OS X 10.9.1 seeds to registered developers. These builds focus on improvements to Mail, Voice Over, and general system stability. The update will serve as the first point-update to the recently released OS X Mavericks.

Now, we’ve learned that Apple has provided build 13B40 of 10.9.1 to AppleCare employees. This internal release indicates that the public release of OS X 10.9.1 is near as Apple’s support staff will become familiar with the software in order to seemingly assist customers in the near-future. That particular build is the same version provided to developers last night. OS X 10.9.2 will likely follow with additional fixes in the following weeks.

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Apple Stores to soon offer iPhone 5s & 5c screen replacements, other repairs

iPhone 5s Teardown via iFixit

iPhone 5s Teardown via iFixit

Apple is gearing up to soon begin hardware repairs for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c in its chain of retail stores, according to sources with knowledge of the upcoming initiative. These sources say that Apple Stores will be able to replace several parts of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on-site, meaning that Apple will no-longer need to fully replace iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units with damage or other problems…

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Apple seeds a pair of OS X Mavericks updates internally

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Apple has seeded two software upgrades for OS X Mavericks internally, according to a source with knowledge of the upcoming updates. This person says that the updates are labeled as OS X 10.9.1 and OS X 10.9.2. The first update is expected to be released later this month, and it will serve as an update to squash bugs that accompanied the OS X 10.9.0 release of Mavericks last month. Many users have complained about issues relating to the Mail and iBooks applications, and Apple is preparing to release individual bug-fix updates for those apps in the coming days…

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How Apple will handle replacements for iPhone 5s units with battery problems

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Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that some iPhone 5s units are affected by battery-life issues due to a manufacturing glitch. Apple said that customers with affected units would be contacted to receive a replacement device. Now, sources have shared some details into how exactly that process will work. Besides what is listed in the quote from Apple’s PR department, Apple has told AppleCare representatives that the issue can cause “shortened battery life, longer charge times, or a battery that will no longer charge…”

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Apple opens up new East Coast U.S. AppleCare center to speed up repairs

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Apple’s new repair center (via Google Earth)

Apple has opened up a secondary dedicated AppleCare repairs warehouse in the United States in recent days, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the new center. The new warehouse is located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and public records indicate that the facility comes in at just under 200,000 square-feet with an additional 2500 square-feet of space available for offices.

Apple will use this facility to conduct repairs and replacements and to manage, package, and ship repaired Apple devices to both customer’s homes and Apple Store Genius Bars across the country. When an Apple customer of a Mac computer, for example, needs aspects of their device replaced and fixed, their product is typically shipped to a similar warehouse in Elk Grove, California…

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AppleCare begins OS X Mavericks training ahead of likely launch toward end of October

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Apple has begun training its AppleCare support staff on its upcoming OS X Mavericks, according to several sources. These sources say that training has begun today, and support staff will be required to learn about the operating system’s new features, installation process, and troubleshooting options for at least six hours over the course of the next few weeks…

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