Replacing your iPhone fingerprint sensor has been one of Apple's most cruel tortures. It's a slow and painful process made worse last year when Error 53 messages started appearing on the phones of users who had tried to repair their sensors outside of Apple. The error rendered the phones essentially useless. Since then, Apple has provided fixes but is now finally making it much easier to replace your iPhone fingerprint sensor with the releasing of "Horizon Machines" to official repair locations.
While Apple claims that the Error 53 messages appeared due to a bug in the software, very few people have been convinced. In fact, they got into trouble just a few days ago in Australia as a sting operation revealed that Apple had wrongly told those affected by this issue that they were not entitled to a free replacement or fix if they had gotten the original Touch ID repair from an outside party. Additionally, Apple has been facing angry users who have proposed "right to repair" laws to prevent things like the Error 53 from happening again by making it mandatory for companies to publicly share device specification and repair tools. Apple, of course, has opposed those bills which hasn't helped the negative press surrounding the issue.
So really, it's no wonder that they're suddenly changing their tune about third-party repair centers as of today.
According to the exclusive that Apple gave Reuters, the company will be sending out their "Horizon Machines" to over 400 authorized third-party retailers in 25 countries by the end of the year. This machine is the easiest and most secure way for users to repair and replace their Touch ID sensors.
This is really big of Apple, considering the fact that they denied having the Horizon Machine for years. The machine helps with replacement and repair jobs, namely cracked screens, and its appearance in retail stores is a big step in what Brian Naumann, senior director of service operations at Apple calls their "quest to expand our reach".
The machine already has a pilot in Miami that started testing a year ago, around the time of the Error 53 fiasco. It will soon be coming to Best Buy stores in major cities. Apple is also making sure they are providing machines to locations where they don't have a major retail presence as well, such as Columbia, South Korea, and Norway.
Apple's shift in tactic with the release of these machines not only indicates that they are desperately trying to make up for what went down with Error 53, but also that they are making moves to share their technology to provide easier access to repairs for more users in the future.