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Inside Apple (Dec 13th, 2019)

$AAPL (11:00 AM EST December 13): $272.78 (+0.49%) // More info

What do you think of this foldable iPhone concept in #3? I think it’s a pretty noble future for the medium-sized device the phone has become, as the small and super-small devices (see #10) take over most of the jobs I used to want a small phone for. I have an iPad mini around the house, and I also have a Max-sized phone, and they’re locked in an awkward struggle for my reading and note-taking that would be neatly resolved by becoming one device. Do you see a place for that in your life?

— Jon

1. A Wall Street Journal report claims President Trump has agreed to a limited trade deal. Trump tweeted this morning that the story is “completely wrong,” but at a press conference after his tweet, Chinese officials seemed to confirm its basic gist. The report says the U.S. will remove existing tariffs on Chinese goods and cancel new ones set to kick in Sunday. In exchange, China has agreed to purchase more U.S. farm goods and made “other concessions,” sources say. This would be great news for Apple (and its customers and investors), because Sunday’s tariffs would have added approximately $150 to the cost of an iPhone. — WALL STREET JOURNAL (paywalled) (Read in Apple News+)

2. Apple News will co-host a U.S. presidential debate for the first time. The eighth Democratic debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire will be co-hosted by WMUR-TV, the local ABC affiliate, and Apple News. We don’t know yet what Apple’s involvement will look like, but it will surely be streamed live on Apple devices. My big question is whether any Apple News editors will be hosting in person and on screen. Twitter is also co-hosting a debate, but Facebook is not, though it did in 2012 and 2016. — AXIOS

3. #FollowFriday: @BenGeskin

Ben Geskin is a very online concept designer based in Riga, Latvia. He has a lot of followers in terms of sheer numbers, but he’s just starting to break out as a concept artist with images of imagined future Apple products interesting enough to be worth reporting just for the sake of pondering. This week, he posted a foldable iPhone concept that is the first one to actually intrigue me as a possibility.

I don’t buy the way the device looks closed — the asymmetrical bezel and unavoidable hinge are just not elegant enough to be an Apple solution. But the overall concept works; it has an iPhone-sized screen when closed and opens up sideways, like the pre-announced Microsoft Surface Duo concept, revealing an 8-inch, square-ish screen perfect for Apple Pencil jotting. This is the first foldable design I can imagine myself using. Is Apple working on one? As usual, the answer will be no up until the day it changes to yes.

4. Apple dedicated a special press release to announcing “Ultimate Rivals,” a new sports game franchise exclusive to Apple Arcade. The franchise includes more than 50 real-life athletes from all different sports to play a different sport in each title. The first game is “Ultimate Rivals: The Rink,” which is two-on-two hockey matches, and “The Court,” for basketball, is coming in the spring. Based on the licensing deals announced, we can also expect football, baseball, and soccer. — 9TO5MAC

5. Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says increased component costs for next year’s iPhones will be offset by reduced expenses elsewhere in the supply chain, so we shouldn’t expect a price increase. As Apple shifts more one-time engineering efforts to perfect the manufacturing process in-house, it won’t be spending as much to help suppliers get ready. — MACRUMORS

6. Apple has acquired Spectral Edge, a U.K. startup that uses machine learning to improve photos. Its technology blends infrared and visible-light images to bring out new details that would be especially useful in low light. We haven’t heard about any plans to add IR sensors to the iPhone camera, but it certainly makes sense, and it would also enable cool new night-vision features. — BLOOMBERG

7. The new Communication Limits for Screen Time introduced this week in iOS 13.3 have a bug that allows kids to communicate with anyone who contacts them first, but only if their device isn’t set to sync contacts with iCloud. There are a few other pretty bad bugs, too. Apple should not be shipping features aimed at kids at all if there are these kinds of easily discoverable bugs. — CNBC

8. Longtime iOS app maker and good ecosystem citizen David Barnard has found a trail of fishy activity after a celebrated app was mysteriously removed from the store. BetterMe was part of an Apple Entrepreneur Camp recently, and Tim Cook even quoted the CEO on Twitter. But it looks like the developer was doing fishy stuff with multiple App Store accounts and fake reviews. This is a shame, but it’s also a sign about how hard it is to make it in the App Store, even if your app is great. — @DRBARNARD

9. Beleaguered Apple supplier Japan Display has agreed to another bailout, this time for $829 million. The injection from Ichigo Asset Management will allow Japan Display to continue making iPhone 11 displays. Previous efforts to bail out the company have collapsed, requiring large infusions of cash from Apple itself. — FINANCIAL TIMES (paywalled)

10. According to Horace Dediu’s usually-right analysis, Apple Watch surpassed the size of the iPod business at its peak in the fourth quarter of last year. This quarter, if his breakdown of the wearables category is right, AirPods will overtake it as well. People — mostly Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reporters — are still going with the narrative that Apple is struggling to find its next big business after the iPhone. But remember how the iPod transformed the company into the behemoth we know today? Apple now has two new products bigger than that ever was, and they’re both cornerstones of a post-smartphone world. — ASYMCO

Jon Mitchell has been a tech journalist since 2010. He covered Apple, Google, and the societal effects of social media for the storied blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). He co-hosts Internet Friends, a podcast about life online with occasional lengthy digressions into Apple news. He’s the author of In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times from Parallax Press. He has recently, reticently returned to Twitter at @ablaze.

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