If you ask The big news this week was Apple’s spring product announcement, where the company showcased some shiny new devices, including the new iPhone SE. But not everyone was excited about Apple’s fancy gadgets. According to a new report from consumer advocacy group US Pirg that ranks phones and laptops based on their repairability, Apple devices scored the lowest among all major manufacturers.
The US Pirg rating is based on a French law enacted in early 2021 that requires companies to include repairability ratings on products. The nonprofit combined these rankings with additional data on repairability from iFixit’s Right to Repair advocates. The report focused on phones and laptops only, evaluating 187 devices made by 10 manufacturers. The report assigns a letter rating from A to F based on how easy it is to disassemble the equipment and the availability and affordability of parts. Apple’s computers got a D- score, and their iPhones got an F. No company made it to the top A-level group. Google phones got D+.
Firms’ scores were also affected by the anti-reform activism of each manufacturer. Both Apple and Microsoft lost points for lobbying against the right to repair. Restricting consumers’ ability to repair their own devices is a crusade that Apple has been carrying out for a while now, although there are signs that the company may be relaxing a bit. Last year, for example, Apple said it would finally provide repair manuals for some of its devices. However, for many advocates of the right to repair, these small steps are not enough.
Here are some of the other events happening in the big world of consumer technology.
Companies continue to withdraw from Russia
More tech companies responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago. This week, Apple restricted hardware features and stopped selling products in Russia. Sony has also halted PlayStation sales and suspended online services in Russia.
After Russia said it would ban Facebook in the country, parent company Meta responded by adding community resources to its platform and allowing Instagram users to hide followers in private accounts in Russia and Ukraine.
Lululemon, the gym brand best known for its failed yoga wear, has announced that it’s getting into the shoe game. The company’s parade kicks off with a running shoe called a Blissfeel. Lululemon says she spent four years developing the shoe and analyzed more than 1 million feet to build a runner customized for women’s bodies. Blissfeels will be available on March 22nd for $148. More shoe options for running, working out, and lounging will be rolling out later this year.
Amazon wants you to join its DJ app launch party
Amazon has launched a new audio streaming service that aims to compete with social audio services like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Amazon’s new app, called Amp, allows users to play DJ music and host their own live radio sessions. Aspiring shock jocks can scroll through playlists and take calls from others on the platform. Amazon says the Amp Music catalog currently contains “tens of millions of licensed songs,” although it’s not the same tunes available through Amazon Music.
Amp is available in beta on iOS. Amazon says Android and desktop versions will be available soon.
Android is getting bigger
Google has removed the covers from its long-running version of its Android mobile operating system optimized for tablets, foldable devices, and other large-screen devices. Android 12L has some key features that are meant to make the choppy layouts of these devices easier to use. Changes include a reorganization of the home screen and lock screens, a taskbar on the PC to launch apps, improved support for split-screen modes, and specific columns for easier management of notifications. Google says Android 12L will be released on select devices later this year.
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