Apple Fixes Error 53, Smartwatches Outsell Swiss Watches… [Tech News Digest]

Apple actually admits it messed up, Smartwatches overtake Swiss watches, Sony offers PSN for free to everybody, Medal of Honor footage mistaken as real, and Portal goes head-to-head with Half-Life.

Apple Admits Error 53 Mistake

Apple has admitted that it was wrong to brick iPhones fixed by third-party repairers. This issue, commonly known as Error 53, occurred when iPhone owners had their devices repaired. If, while doing so, the Touch ID sensor was messed with, the phone would cease to function the next time an iOS update was applied. Which really wasn’t ideal.

When the Error 53 story first went mainstream Apple insisted this was a security feature designed to protect its customers. However, while disabling Touch ID under such circumstances is understandable, actually bricking its own customers’ iPhones for daring to get it repaired somewhere other than an Apple Store was petty and vindictive.

Apple has now published a support document detailing Error 53, and told TechCrunch:

“We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.”

It’s no surprise given the press coverage Error 53 received that Apple was facing a class action lawsuit over the issue. However, the company may have headed that off at the pass by admitting its mistake, apologizing, and offering a simple fix in the form of a patched firmware update (iOS 9.2.1).

Anyone who has encountered Error 53 should install the update via iTunes in order to restore your phone to working order (except Touch ID).

Smartwatches Are Growing in Popularity

Smartwatches, led by the James Bond-inspired Apple Watch, aren’t yet ubiquitous, and may never be truly mainstream. However, according to Strategy Analytics (via CNET), smartwatches are now more popular than Swiss timepieces, which have been in fashion for hundreds of years.

The market research firm suggests that 8.1 million smartwatches were shipped worldwide in Q4 2015, compared to 7.9 million Swiss watches. This represents the first time that smart shipments have exceeded Swiss watch shipments. Smartwatches experienced growth of 316 percent between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015. Apple has captured an enviable 63 percent of the global market share.

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, said:

“The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches. The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away. Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 percent of all smartwatches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category.”

While there is no guarantee this trend will continue, it certainly appears as if smartwatches are replacing Swiss watches on the wrists of those who can afford expensive timepieces. Unless the likes of Tag Heuer can respond with truly impressive products which straddle the line between stylish and useful, then the Swiss tradition for watchmaking could be in deep trouble.

PSN Is a Free-For-All This Weekend

PlayStation Network (PSN) is free for all PS4 owners to use this weekend. Accessing PSN to play other gamers online is usually reserved for those with PS Plus subscriptions, which also buys you access to at least two free games every month. However, Sony is feeling generous, and opening it up to everyone between now and Midnight on Sunday (Feb 21).

Why is Sony doing this? Well, the company is citing the launch of Street Fighter V as one reason, along with the Awakening DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. However, the real reason is to give people a taste of what they’re missing out on by not having a PS Plus subscription. And, to be fair, PS Plus is good value for money. Possibly even more so than Netflix.

This Is From a Video Game, Dummies

The video embedded above appears to show a particularly skilled sniper taking out six people with impressive shots to their heads and bodies. However, before you get all squeamish at such shocking footage, as reported by France 24, you should know that it’s actually just someone playing Medal of Honor.

Despite the fact this is footage from a computer game, Iranian state TV saw fit to broadcast it as a “Hezbollah sniper” taking out ISIS fighters. If you’re still not convinced, compare this footage to a video uploaded to YouTube in 2012. And then be awestruck by just how realistic modern video games are.

Portal Vs. Half-Life

And finally, what happens when Chell from Portal runs into Gordon Freeman from Half-Life? Utter chaos, at least if this video is to be believed. With Chell armed with the Portal Gun and Freeman armed with the Gravity Gun, the fight to survive could go either way.

To be fair it’s not so much a fight to survive as a fight for cake. Because cake is rather delicious under any circumstances. Yes, even the apocalypse. Regardless, this is a fantastic fanfic video offering a sideways glance at two iconic games and game characters. [H/T]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

What made Apple suddenly own up to the Error 53 mistake? Would you prefer a smartwatch or a Swiss watch? Do you subscribe to PS Plus? Did you believe that Medal of Honor footage was real? Would you rather be Chell from Portal or Gordon Freeman from Half-Life?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credit: Sharon Sinclair via Flickr

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