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What the Tech: Apple’s self-repair commitment finally fixes a long-standing problem

After years of doing everything it could to discourage customers from repairing their own devices, it’s refreshing to see Apple change its course for the better.

Leopards may not change their spots, but it appears that apples can shed their skins.

After a long history of Apple denying its customers the ability to repair their own devices — insisting on professional help instead, which is (incidentally of course) rather expensive — the Cupertino-based brand has performed a U-turn worthy of the most accomplished stunt driver in announcing that it will make its repair manuals and tools available to the general public.

It’s hard to understate just how revolutionary this is, given that Apple previously strove to make each of its products into sealed boxes as impossible to undo as the legendary Gordian knot. Admittedly, the change comes as a response to looming right-of-repair laws, without which it is doubtful the company would have taken such action, but the motive is hardly a hindrance to the benefit that consumers will reap from this change.

While getting professional help to fix your electronics is still desirable in many cases, the hassle of having to find an expert or send your electronics away for a matter of days was still off-putting, especially to those well-versed in DIY, because the option of self-repair could save both time and money.

What’s more, it robbed the technically-minded among us of the chance to get to know how our devices worked on the inside, especially as curious kids, which often gave us an intriguing insight into everyday items.

On top of the practicalities, this thrifty make-do-and-mend policy also undeniably boosts Apple’s burgeoning environmental credentials, which have recently been strengthened by the employment of more sustainably-sourced materials.

In addition to these cost-cutting, potentially educational, and environmental benefits that this decision has given to customers in one fell swoop, I also hope there will be a few unexpected knock-on benefits further down the line.

Now that it may once again become de rigueur to be able to pop open our smartphones, I’m hoping that we might also see the rise of replaceable batteries which had been quite commonplace until a few years ago, and helped prolong the natural lifespan of our electronics. 

What’s more, this change has arguably proved the power of legislation to improve tech for the whole market (even when just proposed rather than actioned), so it could yet push Apple that bit closer to making other beneficial tweaks to its product line, such as introducing USB-C charging ports over its proprietary Lightning cables.

This week’s self-repair news from Apple has been a pleasant surprise that could lead to even more benefits than initially meets the eye, and it also shows that nothing is inevitable in the world of tech — well, apart from said tech always needing to be patched up and fixed at some point, and usually at the least opportune time.

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