You no longer have to rely on Apple retail stores to repair your phone’s cracked display. In an effort to reduce long wait times for iPhone repairs, Apple on Wednesday confirmed it’s bringing its mythical “Horizon Machine” to more than 400 authorized repair centers in 25 countries.
The microwave-sized machine was designed to calibrate replaced iPhone displays, and was exclusively used by Apple’s 500 retail stores and mail-in repair centers across the world. Up until now, the machine and its design has been a closely guarded secret.
Here’s how the machine works, according to a Reuters report:
Once the new screen is mounted, the iPhone goes into the Horizon Machine, which allows Apple’s software to communicate with the fresh hardware. Over the course of 10 to 12 minutes, the machine talks to the phone’s operating system to pair the fingerprint sensor to the phone’s brain.
While that unfolds, a mechanical finger jabs the screen in multiple places to the touch-sensitive surface. The machine also fine tunes the display and software to match the precise colors and calibration of the original.
Plenty of services and third-party repair shops have been making easy work of cracked displays for years. However, replacing a broken Touch ID module is much more complicated. As the description above reveals, the Horizon Machine is the only thing capable of telling an iPhone to recognize a replacement sensor.
There are currently 4,800 service providers authorized by Apple around the world, so the Cupertino company still has a ways to go before the Horizon Machine is widely available.
Reuters says some third-party shops in the Bay Area, London, Shanghai, and Singapore are already using the Horizon Machine, while Best Buy will be among the major big box retailers to receive the machine.
The Horizon Machine isn’t quite as impressive as Liam, Apple’s iPhone-recycling robot, but it’s still pretty cool. I wonder what other machines Apple has that we have yet to see?