This iPad Air 4 deal delivers the lowest price ever on the spacious 256GB model

Amazon continues to offer aggressive early Black Friday savings on Apple products, with today’s $50 price drop on the new iPad Air 4 delivering the lowest price ever on the spacious 256GB capacity.

New iPad Air 4 discount

Apple deals are hitting a fever pitch as retailers continue to issue price drops on 2020 hardware, including the brand-new iPad Air 4.

Save $50 instantly on the 256GB Wi-Fi model, bringing the price down to a record low $699 in the popular Space Gray finish.

According to Amazon, inventory is scheduled to ship in two to four weeks, putting the iPad Air in your hands before Hanukkah and Christmas.

There are plenty of discounts on other models in the AppleInsider iPad Price Guide, so it’s worth taking a peek when shopping for the best holiday deals.

Apple iPad Air 4 now $50 off

Additional Apple deals

Lowest Apple prices

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running additional exclusive discounts on hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in bonus deals on AppleCare, software and more. Here are some of the offers:

Researchers hack Safari, iOS 14 to win $420,000 in China contest

Apple’s software security has reportedly been defeated at the Tianfu Cup hacking contest in China, with thousands of dollars worth of prizes being handed out to participants for demonstrating vulnerabilities in Safari and iOS 14.

The contest, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, saw teams attempting to successfully demonstrate exploits that attack a wide variety of hardware. For the 2020 competition, the Apple-specific targets for the teams were Safari running on a 13-inch MacBook Pro and iPhone 11 Pro running iOS 14.

Each device had a list of requirements to meet to qualify for prizes given out by Tianfu Cup’s organizers. For Safari, which had security researchers using Safari to browse a remote URL and enable the control of the browser or the Mac, $40,000 was on offer for a successful remote code execution (RCE) attack, rising to $60,000 for an RCE with a sandbox escape.

For the iPhone and iOS 14, teams had similar requirements as for Safari, but with the addition of needing to “bypass the PAC mitigation.” The RCE earned hackers $120,000 if successful, rising to $180,000 and additional prizes for a sandbox escape and $300,000 for a remote jailbreak.

According to the published results, one team managed a sandbox escape in Safari, while two sandbox escapes were performed in iOS 14, resulting in payouts totaling $420,000.

The details of the exploits were not released, but were provided to Apple for patching under a responsible disclosure policy. Once patched, or a sufficient period of time has passed, the details of the vulnerabilities are usually shared by the researchers who discovered them.

Now in its third year, the Tianfu Cup is largely modeled after Pwn2Own in structure, with many of the researchers previously taking part in that competition. A change in Chinese regulations effectively banned security researchers from taking part in international contests, over national security fears.

The winning team from the weekend was the Qihoo 360 Enterprise Security and Government Vulnerability Research Institute, earning $744,500 from its submissions. Second place went to Ant-Financial Light-year Security Lab with $258,000, while security researcher “Pang” was third with $99,500.

Apple Silicon switch could lead to lower-cost Mac lineups, analyst says

JP Morgan expects the first Apple Silicon Mac to drive innovation, cut material costs, and possibly lead to a more diversely priced lineup of Mac devices.

In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, analyst Samik Chatterjee believes that the most important announcement at Apple’s November 10 event will be at least one new Mac model equipped with the proprietary Apple Silicon chip.

This device will officially kick-start the two-year transition to first-party chipsets in macOS devices, Chatterjee said. The transition will ultimately allow Apple to leverage the gains it has made with its own proprietary silicon.

“With the move to in-house capabilities, Apple is looking to regain control over the pace of the technology roadmap on the processor chips, and create a common architecture across all Apple products, making it easier for developers to write and optimize applications for the product ecosystem,” the analyst writes.

For consumers, Chatterjee believes that a lower bill of materials cost with a new Apple Silicon chip could lead to Mac devices with a lower price point targeting a wider market. More specifically, the analyst contends that Apple could release an SKU with a price point between that of the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

The analyst estimates a standalone market opportunity of 10 to 15 million unit volume for the new Mac device, with a starting average selling price (ASP) of $1,000. That implies about a $15 billion opportunity for Apple, “which will assure multi-year growth in a lackluster PC market.”

In addition to gains in compute power and efficiency, a move to proprietary Apple Silicon could also allow Apple to bump up its pace of technological innovation once it has control of the chip design roadmap. Intel, which Apple has used for 15 years, has seen delays in its roadmap in recent years.

All in all, Chatterjee believes that an internally designed chipset could lead to a reduction in BOM costs of about $75 by “engaging directly” with foundry partners like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

That could be important to future Mac growth as Apple’s ASP for the lineup tracks around $1,400, which is quite a bit higher than competitors. A less expensive Mac device could provide a “runway for growth” with an expanded lineup.

In addition to Mac announcements, JP Morgan also forecasts that Apple could release non-related products such as a new Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband “AirTags” tracking accessory.

Chatterjee is maintaining his AAPL price target of $150, based on a 2022 earnings-per-share of $4.85 and a blended price-to-earnings multiple of around 31x.

Budget-friendly deals: $299 iPad, cheap $149 iPod touch, 20% off MagSafe charging stand

Shopppers looking for the best Apple bargains can pick up a 2020 iPad for $299 or an iPod touch for as low as $149.99 today only. Time is also running out to lock in a 20% discount on Grovemade’s premium MagSafe charging stand for the new iPhone 12.

Early Black Friday iPad deals

Stockouts continue to plague iPads at leading Apple resellers, so now is the time to secure your place in line to save $30 to $35 on Apple’s latest 8th Generation iPad at Amazon for delivery in mid-November (at press time).

Both the 32GB and 128GB Wi-Fi models are on sale, with the lowest 10.2-inch iPad prices on cellular models and additional finishes at your fingertips in our Price Guide.

Apple iPad 8th Gen on sale from $299

Today only: iPod touch for $149.99

Amazon-owned Woot is also getting in on the deal frenzy leading up to Black Friday by delivering the cheapest iPod touch prices on closeout 6th Generation models. Pick up a 32GB model in new condition for $149.99 ($50 off original MSRP) while supplies last. This flash deal also delivers free shipping for Amazon Prime members and is schedule to end at 10 p.m. Pacific on Nov. 9.

iPod touch discounted to $149 in flash sale

20% off Grovemade’s MagSafe dock

Looking for a high quality stand for your new iPhone 12? Grovemade is accepting pre-orders for its wood MagSafe stand in your choice of Walnut or Maple. Retailing for $100, but on sale for $80 thanks to special introductory pricing, this stand features a solid steel base with hand-sanded hardwood and vegetable-tanned leather for a premium look that works with all iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models.

Head over to Grovemade.com to check out the discounted MagSafe stand.

Grovemade MagSafe charging stand for iPhone 12 discounted

Additional Apple deals

Lowest Apple prices

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running additional exclusive discounts on hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in bonus deals on AppleCare, software and more. Here are some of the offers:

Apple engineers reveal the plan behind iPhone camera design philosophy

Rather than concentrating on any one hardware aspect of iPhone photography, Apple’s engineers and managers aim to control how the company manages every step of taking a photo.

With the launch of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple has introduced the largest camera sensor it has ever put in an iPhone. Yet rather than being there to “brag about,” Apple says that it is part of a philosophy that sees camera designers working across every possible aspect from hardware to software.

Speaking to photography site PetaPixel, Francesca Sweet, product line manager for the iPhone, and Jon McCormack, vice president of camera software engineering, emphasized that they work across the whole design in order to simplify taking photos.

“As photographers, we tend to have to think a lot about things like ISO, subject motion, et cetera,” Job McCormack said. “And Apple wants to take that away to allow people to stay in the moment, take a great photo, and get back to what they’re doing.”

“It’s not as meaningful to us anymore to talk about one particular speed and feed of an image, or camera system,” he continued. “We think about what the goal is, and the goal is not to have a bigger sensor that we can brag about.”

“The goal is to ask how we can take more beautiful photos in more conditions that people are in,” he said. “It was this thinking that brought about Deep Fusion, Night Mode, and temporal image signal processing.”

Apple’s overall aim, both McCormack and Sweet say, is to automatically “replicate as much as we can… what the photographer will [typically] do in post.” So with Machine Learning, Apple’s camera system breaks down an image into elements that it can then process.

“The background, foreground, eyes, lips, hair, skin, clothing, skies,” lists McCormack. “We process all these independently like you would in [Adobe] Lightroom with a bunch of local adjustments. We adjust everything from exposure, contrast, and saturation, and combine them all together.”

This isn’t to deny the advantages of a bigger sensor, according to Sweet. “The new wide camera [of the iPhone 12 Pro Max], improved image fusion algorithms, make for lower noise and better detail.”

“With the Pro Max we can extend that even further because the bigger sensor allows us to capture more light in less time, which makes for better motion freezing at night,” she continued.

Apple's iPhone 12 range brings camera improvements across the board

Apple’s iPhone 12 range brings camera improvements across the board

Nonetheless, both Sweet and McCormack believe that it is vital how Apple designs and controls every element from lens to software.

“We don’t tend to think of a single axis like ‘if we go and do this kind of thing to hardware’ then a magical thing will happen,” said McCormack. “Since we design everything from the lens to the GPU and CPU, we actually get to have many more places that we can do innovation.”

Initial demand for iPhone 12 Pro Max appears higher than iPhone 12 mini

Initial demand for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini appears to be similar to the two models released in October, with the larger handset seeing longer lead times, according to JP Morgan.

In an iPhone Availability Tracker note seen by AppleInsider, JP Morgan’s Samik Chatterjee notes that pre-order lead times for the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max, which became available for pre-order on Friday, started off by tracking at 12 days and 22 days, respectively.

That’s “quite similar” to delivery times for the previous two iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models released on Oct 23. Current lead times are improving for the iPhone 12, while remaining stable for the seemingly more popular iPhone 12 Pro.

Delivery dates for the iPhone 12 have dropped to eight days in week four of availability, down from 10 days in week three. For the iPhone 12 Pro, aggregate lead times remain at about 24 days, pretty stable from the previous week’s times of 23 days.

For in-store pickup in the U.S., lead times for the smallest and largest iPhone 12 models stood at about seven days. The iPhone 12 is still available for in-store pickup with a one-day turnaround time, while the iPhone 12 Pro is still unavailable for pickup.

In China, lead times actually expanded for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro compared to the previous week. The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max remain unavailable in that region as of Nov. 9.

For German consumers, delivery times moderated for the iPhone 12 model and remained about the same for the iPhone 12 Pro. For the recently released mini and Pro Max models, in-store pickup times clocked in at eight days.

It’s a similar story in the U.K., which tracked delivery times for the newer iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max are nine and 20 days, respectively. Both of those models were unavailable for in-store pickup as of Nov. 9.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini officially launch on Friday, Nov. 13, with the first shipments arriving on customer doorsteps and brick-and-mortar stores that day.

MacBook Air, MacBook Pro assembler Compal attacked with ransomware

A ransomware attack has affected Apple assembly partner Compal, causing issues with its corporate network and potentially causing short-term delays in production for some of its clients.

On Monday, Compal confirmed it had been hit by a ransomware attack on Sunday. The attack was said to have ravaged its computer systems, but was caught early enough that it took down only around 30% of the entire network.

After discovering the problem, workers were asked to tell Compal’s IT support teams about their workstation’s health, and to back up any important files where possible, reports ZDNet. Work has been carried out to fix affected computers, with Compal also alerting other supply chain vendors of the problem.

It is believed the ransomware was a product of the DoppelPaymer malware, created by a gang of the same name, and shares all of the hallmarks of a typical ransomware attack. This includes a ransom note advising of the encrypted files and demands to cooperate with the group or face having all of the files remain encrypted.

Despite reports of it being a ransomware attack, Compal representative Lu Qingxiong originally insisted there was no ransomware attack at all. The representative told UDN that there was an abnormality in automated office systems, and emphasized that it was not undergoing blackmail.

The representative also claimed production was normal, going against the notification to suppliers warning of potential short-term issues.

It is unclear if this will affect Apple, as Compal is a major partner in assembling the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines. With the upcoming expected launch of Apple Silicon Macs on Tuesday, it would most likely be a busy time for the Apple supply chain, as it moves to make the first non-Intel Mac in time for the end of the year.

Aqara's dimmer switch, Thread's importance to HomeKit, and more on HomeKit Insider

In this week’s HomeKit Insider Podcast, we examine the new dimmer switch from Aqara, and talk about why the Thread connectivity standard is becoming so important to Apple — and us.

This week saw Aqara release a new rotary dimmer switch which is designed to offer a sleek alternative to your regular wall-mounted light switches. As well as examining what it offers, though, there is a question over just how much value it brings to HomeKit users.

Speaking of lights, Andrew details just how HomeKit Adaptive Lighting works, now that the compatible Eve Light Strip is available. This is the system which automatically adjusts the color temperature throughout the day and we examine just how useful this real-world version of True Tone can be.

We also touch on a half-dozen listening questions including a great idea from Neil there he was used a contact sensor to get notified when his mail arrives.

Last but perhaps most significantly, we detail the Thread connectivity standard and how it’s is poised to be so important for HomeKit accessories as well as the smart home as a whole.

Aqara Promo through November 14th

Use the promo code AQARAFAI for a discount on Aqara products through November 14th!

Links from the show

Stay tuned for more!

Please also leave a rating or review us on Apple Podcasts to help us improve the show as we move forward.

FDA approves Apple Watch app NightWare to treat PTSD nightmares

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved an Apple Watch app to help with the treatment of PTSD, with NightWare being an app available only under a prescription.

The approval of the app enables NightWare to be marketed as an aid for the “temporary reduction of sleep disturbance related to nightmares in adults,” the FDA declared on Friday, including those who suffer from nightmare disorder or have disturbed sleep from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The app uses the sensors on the Apple Watch to monitor body movements and heart rate during sleep, which are analyzed and used to create a sleep profile for the patient. If it is detected that the patient is experiencing a nightmare, by comparing movements and pulse against the sleep profile, the Apple Watch vibrates to disrupt the user’s sleep and to bring them out of the nightmare.

Testing of the app determined it was successful in improving the quality of sleep for sufferers, with it outperforming a control group as part of the “sham-controlled trial.”

While NightWare is an app, it isn’t one that will be readily available to use by anyone. It is available by prescription only, is intended to be used alongside prescribed PTSD medications and other therapies, and under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Furthermore, the FDA warns the app should not be used by patients who “act out” during nightmares by sleepwalking or being violent, nor to be used while reading or watching television to prevent false alerts.

The app was granted a “Breakthrough Device” designation for treating PTSD nightmares, a process that is designed to speed up the development and review of hardware and services that could offer effective treatment or diagnosis for life-threatening or “irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions.”

While it isn’t directly consumer-usable, the app is certainly an extension to Apple’s existing efforts to improve the sleeping habits of its customers. The Sleep Mode and sleep tracking in iOS 14 and watchOS 7 offers reports to users on how well they sleep, as well as encouraging healthy habits in winding down to sleep at appropriate times.

YouTube app adds HDR for iPhone 12 lineup

YouTube’s iOS app added high dynamic range video support for iPhone 12 lineup in the latest update pushed out on Monday.

The update, version 15.45.2, doesn’t mention the addition of HDR in the changelog itself, but instead reads “Fixed bugs, improved performance, explored the edges of the known universe.”

YouTube has supported HDR on iOS since the iPhone X, but requires regular updates to support new hardware. Compatible clips now show the letters “HDR” next to the resolution to denote the high dynamic range content. HDR options can be selected manually, but the Auto quality option will also enable HDR if available for the currently-viewed video.

Video quality options denoting HDR compatibility

HDR enables a wider range of colors in a video to be displayed on a compatible screen. The effect can allow for a brighter, detailed, and more vivid picture, with less color banding and other digital approximation artifacts.

The OLED displays used in certain iPhone models offer high contrast ratios, enabling it to view HDR content, both created by the onboard cameras and those downloaded or streamed to the device through online services.