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The iPhone 14 event looms, roaming AirTags, and crime - Apple's August 2022 in review

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Apple is saving its big hardware releases for September, but August 2022 saw plenty of other types of action, much of it critical of the company, and some of it about AirTags.

It is universally acknowledged that August will always appear to be the quietest month outside Apple — and probably the very busiest within it. The iPhone 14 is getting closer, the event video is in production, so there's probably steam rising from Apple Park.

For everywhere else, though, it looks as if August is going to be a quiet month. Apple's not likely to launch anything, but we all know September is coming. So Apple could keep us happy just by revealing the September launch date.

Tell us that date, and we'll fill the time waiting by being pragmatic and checking our savings bank accounts in readiness. And we'll also fill it by looking out for all those last-month rumors.

So Apple could have just popped up and said "We're a bit busy, we'll be back on September 7."

Apple did exactly that. It told us the date, and if we were a bit surprised that the event is on a Wednesday, it all seems to fit with this idea that Apple will get the iPhone 14 out earlier than usual.

But then in the middle of, presumably, the peak time of the year for all of its employees, Apple had some staffing problems. Whatever is going on at Apple these days, it is not handling its staff as it should.

A warning to staff

Apple did get its staff to make a helpful videofor people who want to move from Android to iPhone. But when an Apple hardware engineer posted her own, separate, and arguably more helpful TikTok video, that was a problem.

TikTok turns out to be surprisingly useful for Apple information
TikTok turns out to be surprisingly useful for Apple information

The engineer, Paris Campbell, saw a TikTok user talking about their iPhone being stolen, and she made a video to help. It was the briefest thing, but it was helpful — it told how thieves could try tricking you into unlocking the stolen phone, so they can sell it.

Apple is like any corporation because it has very specific, tightly controlled routes for communicating with its customers. And it's true that, just as with so many corporate legal situations, letting one thing go can create problems later.

But Apple has threatened Campbell over the video, she may lose her job because of it. We still don't know the outcome a few weeks in, but if Apple doesn't fire her, it's undoubtedly already lost the goodwill of an engineer who wanted to help people.

And other engineers using TikTok might pause before sending Apple their resume.

Apple creates HR problems

Maybe that TikTok case will work out, but it's looking specifically as if what Apple is especially poor at is how it reacts to problems, and how it attempts to address them. For as well as this seemingly one-off over-reaction to an engineer's helpful video, Apple has this month been accused of actually punishing the wrong people.

Apple legal director Jane Whitt reported alleged domestic abuse from another attorney in the company. Initially ignored, Whitt says that ultimately Apple HR reprimanded her for being "unprofessional."

Apple has problems foisted upon it

Apple must get better at how it works with its staff, but it can't be expected to do much when an issue is within an entirely separate company like Skydance Animation. Only, it didn't have to make things worse.

Skydance is the company behind the very heavily promoted Apple TV+ animated comedy, "Luck." In 2019, John Lasseter became Skydance's animation chief after having been forced to leave Pixar following workplace sexual misconduct.

Apple turned over its whole homepage to
Apple turned over its whole homepage to "Luck"

Emma Thompson quit the film when Lasseter took over, citing his "pattern of misconduct." Reportedly, other women across the animation industry have refused to work with Skydance after his hiring, although people, including "Luck" director Peggy Holmes, have publicly supported him.

Where Apple comes into it all is how it chose this animation company and this project to be the subject of a documentary — that spotlights the women who did work on "Luck."

Checking bags

Still, you know, at least Apple has spent $30 million to settle its dispute with staff over the company's bag-checking.

Speaking of bag-checking, in a rather different context, AirTags were used this month to help secure the arrest of a baggage checker who was stealing, well, bags. You do have to wonder what we used to do before AirTags.

Just as you sometimes have to wonder what luggage did before them, too. In August 2022, a Canadian couple used their AirTag to document the magical mystery tour that one of their suitcases went on.

In a TikTok video called "When your luggage sees more of Portugal than you," the couple shows the case being spotted at the airport. And later at a warehouse.

And a beach.

Then in Lisbon.

Then overnight in someone's home.

It's hard to imagine what we used to do without AirTags, and what we didn't know was going on with our luggage
It's hard to imagine what we used to do without AirTags, and what we didn't know was going on with our luggage

The pair were reunited with their exhausted and sun-tanned luggage, but not until they had all three returned to Toronto.

So Apple has some problems, but its products are amazing. And it's not as if anyone is saying Apple is like Lumon Industries.

Watercooler moments

If you're a broadcaster, a streamer, or a TV show, you know you've arrived when there is a pastiche of you. It wouldn't even matter if it were a horribly cruel pastiche, because what it really says is that people mocking your work know for certain that their audience will know who you are.

This month, Stephen Colbert lightly skewered Apple TV+ hit drama "Severance." It was really lightly skewered, but it was also a day's shoot and some quite serious production values.

Although using the words "shoot" and production became a little uncomfortable in August 2022 because of "Lady in the Lake." Filming was halted on location in Baltimore after producers received threats of violence.

Specifically, the production filming in the city's Park Avenue was told that someone would be shot if it didn't shut down. People described only as a group of locals also demanded $50,000 to allow filming to continue.

Credit where credit is due

Apple is now a TV company, but of course, it began as a hardware one, and it is responsible for the iPhone, the single most successful hardware product in history. Somewhere between drama services and hardware engineering, though, Apple also has an increasing number of financial services — and they hit snags this month, too.

First it was reported that Goldman Sachs, the firm behind the Apple Card, was being investigated by a US consumer watchdog. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is examining the company's credit card account management practices, refunds, and billing error resolutions.

Then, though, it transpired that the reason for problems requiring investigation, was the Apple Card and its success.

Apple Card
Apple Card

Apparently, the sheer volume of payments was the problem, so presumably, they'd be fine if no one paid up. Don't try it. Instead, move on to how in the case of South Korea, if Apple doesn't pay up, it's fined.

South Korean regulators accused Apple, Google, and a local outfit called One Store, of violating the country's in-app payment law. The regulator did not specify its allegations, but it's been reported that if the firms are guilty, they could be fined up to 2% of their average annual revenue from related business practices.

Crime-filled car

We should all be able to pass laws that let us fine Apple and other Big Tech firms huge amounts of money. But let's be clear, it's never right to break the law — even if, just sometimes, you wonder if it's a joke.

Specifically, if it's that joke about how many clowns you can fit into a car. The case of a break-in at Apple The Woodlands store in Texas is obviously serious, and it's good that it took place before the place opened and staff weren't put at risk.

But according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's office, four suspects broke into the store and stole a lot. A lot. The county sheriff didn't list everything that was taken but said it included "over 200 Apple Watches, over 50 AirPods, and over 220 phones."

Only, the office's press release calling for any information leading to the arrest of these four also included one key detail. "The suspects were seen leaving the scene in [a] grey four-door passenger car," it said.

So that's four people and 450 Apple devices — presumably most in boxes — in a four-door passenger car.

That's what a salesperson would call a surprisingly roomy vehicle with really great suspension.

The changing face of Apple

If anything, August demonstrated just how far the company has come — and changed — since its earliest days. You can't imagine the Apple of 1976 filming in Baltimore, having shops in Texas, and getting threatened by South Korea.

You can imagine the pent-up anticipation that Apple users have long had ahead of an event. Of course, you don't have to imagine anything like that because we're in that pre-event moment right now.

August 2022 was more about services and laws and staffing problems, and it's not likely that they'll all be resolved in September 2022. But there will be the launch of new hardware, and because of that, the return of the Apple we've all followed for so many years.