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U.S. Probes Apple Over Updates That Slow Older iPhones

Apple Inc. said it’s reacting to government probes to a software update that slowed the operation of older iPhones.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are exploring if Apple violated securities laws regarding its disclosures about a software update that slowed some handsets, individuals knowledgeable about the issue told Bloomberg News on Tuesday. The U.S. government has requested information from the business, according to the individuals, who asked not to be named because the probe is confidential.

The inquiry is in early phases, they cautioned, and it’s shortly to complete any enforcement will follow. Investigators are looking into public statements made by Apple on the circumstance, they included. While the downturn has frustrated consumers, researchers are worried the corporation might have misled investors about the operation of older phones.  

“We have received questions from several government agencies and we are reacting to them,” an Apple spokeswoman said. She reiterated an earlier announcement that the firm “not — and would not — do anything to shorten the life span of any Apple product, or hamper the user experience to drive customer updates.”

A spokesman for the SEC declined to comment. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. Shares of the company rose less than 1 percent to $167.71 in New York trading Wednesday. Apple’s stock has been under pressure amid reports of weaker-than-expected iPhone X sales before its earnings report Thursday.

Several weeks ago, Apple said a software update published in early 2017 slowed down the performance of older iPhones versions as a means to get around the phones shutting down at random. When it published the update, the business hadn’t said the software would slow down the devices. Back in December, Apple apologized for not clearly communicating this information and vowed to release another update to mitigate the concern.

Earlier in January, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told ABC News when the firm put out the software update that triggered the performance problems for older iPhones “we did state what it was, however I don’t think a lot of folks were paying attention. And perhaps we should have been more clearer. ”

The slowdowns occur when an older iPhone’s battery reaches a certain, unspecified point of reduced health and may be fixed if a user replaces the battery. As part of its public apology, Apple cut the costs of battery replacements in its own shops to $29, a $50 discount.  

Apple plans to release an iPhone software update, known as iOS 11.3, in the next few months with new features that let users track the health of their batteries and also protect against slowdowns. If consumers turn off the throttling, older iPhones are likely to randomly scattering, Apple has said. The system impacts iPhone 7 versions and older, but not the iPhone 8 along with iPhone X, according to the organization.  

After apologizing to customers in December, Apple was sued by consumer advocacy groups and respective iPhone users in a global backlash. Government officials, such as U.S. Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, also have questioned Apple about the slowdowns.  

“Even though Apple’s activities were really only meant to prevent unexpected shutdowns in older phones, the massive volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its own entrance suggests that there should have been better transparency with respect to such practices,” Thune wrote in a January letter to Cook.

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The problem is a self-inflicted black watch on the Cupertino, California-based firm. Apple has been wrestling with some other software-related problems, such as processor vulnerabilities which have influenced other technology firms along with a login flaw which allows intruders to get files on Mac computers without a passcode.

Apple is delaying some key iPhone and Mac applications features intended for release this year to focus on quality improvements, Bloomberg News reported sooner Tuesday.

This isn’t the first time the Justice Department has researched Apple. In 2012, the department filed an antitrust suit against Apple and book publishers over the pricing of digital book downloads. In 2010 the section settled with the iPhone manufacturer regarding anti-poaching arrangements between the business and other major technology companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

In 2016, the Justice Department researched, and dropped a lawsuit against Apple trying data in an iPhone connected to a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.


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