Apple has not lived up to its commitment to improve working conditions in its Chinese suppliers’ factories, according to a new undercover BBC investigation. In a documentary scheduled to air tonight, titled “Apple’s Broken Promises,” BBC Panorama shows what conditions inside a Chinese iPhone 6 production line are really like. The investigation found standards being breached at Pegatron factories on everything from workers’ hours, to dormitories, to juvenile workers — all areas in which Apple had promised sweeping improvements over the past several years. The documentary includes footage of exhausted workers falling asleep on 12-hour shifts, an undercover reporter who was forced to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for time off, and another reporter who worked shifts of up to 16 hours. Panorama also followed Apple’s supply chain down to the Indonesian island of Bangka, and found evidence that tin from illegal mines could be entering Apple’s supply chain, despite the company’s dedication to ethical sourcing of minerals. Investigative reporters also found children digging tin ore out of the mines by hand under extremely dangerous conditions.
Apple declined to be interviewed for the story, but the company did release a statement saying that it is “aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.” The company noted that it was a “very common practice” for workers to nap during breaks, but that it would “investigate any evidence” of workers falling asleep while actually working. In its statement, the company said that it had monitored the working hours of “more than a million workers” and that the workers at the particular plant in question were averaging 55 hours per week. Responding to the situation in Bangka, Apple described it as a “complex situation” as many miners sell tin through a series of middle men, so it’s not always possible to confirm the sources of tin, but Apple remains engaged in Bangka to attempt to “drive changes on the ground” to improve the situation there.
Panorama: Apple’s Broken Promises airs tonight on BBC One and will be available later on BBC’s iPlayer platform.
Algoriddim’s djay app has pretty much set the standard for digital DJ’ing, having debuted for the Mac back in 2006 and then of course, it later morphed into impressive iPad and iPhone versions. Now, however, Algoriddim has taken its flagship app to the next level with djay Pro ($50), a landmark update and redesign that brings the Mac version more in-line with the highly popular iOS versions, while aiming to take advantage of the full power available on the latest Mac platforms and build a user interface that is powerful enough for pros, yet accessible enough for the average consumer. The new version, rewritten as a native 64-bit application, provides a 60fps graphics engine and is optimized for the Retina Displays on the MacBook Pros and new iMacs. A $50 price tag is the 40 percent-off launch price for an unestablished amount of time.
Apple has released the third beta of iOS 8.2 to registered developers, featuring a build number of 12D5452a. As with other recent versions, the latest beta appears to be primarily focused on fixes and enhancements to WatchKit to allow developers to continue preparing their apps for next year’s debut of the Apple Watch.
IK Multimedia's new iRig Mic Field ($100) is a stereo audio/video field microphone that plugs directly into the Lightning port of an iOS device. Though it looks a lot like IK's previous iRig Mic Cast, that accessory was designed specifically for voice recordings. iRig Mic Field can handle stereo-quality audio or video recordings, including field and music recordings. The pocket-sized microphone can rotate 90 degrees for easy recording in portrait or landscape mode. We'll have a full review in the near future.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent out an e-mail to employees announcing that Apple has raised $20 million this quarter for (PRODUCT)RED, iClarified reports, with Apple’s Holiday (PRODUCT)RED campaign likely contributing the lion’s share of the fundraising, which goes to support the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.
I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than $20 million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over $100 million. The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support.”
Apple has long been a supporter of the (PRODUCT)RED campaign, beginning with the debut of the iPod nano (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition in 2006, although this year’s World AIDS Day 2014 campaign was the largest the company has undertaken, and the first time App Store content has been included.
One of the mixed blessings about digital photography is that without dealing with the costs of film and development, it’s really almost too easy to collect a huge amount of photos. If you’ve been in the digital photography game for more than a couple of years, chances are that unless you’re meticulously organized, you’ve got folders full of photos that have just been transferred onto your computer and left for later because it just takes too much time to sort and organize everything. MacPhun’s Snapselect ($15) is a new app designed to help you clean up that mess, and take much of the headache out of getting your photos into some semblance of order.
Apple will begin requiring app updates submitted to the App Store after June 1, 2015 to include 64-bit support and be built with the iOS 8 SDK, as outlined in an e-mail sent out today to registered iOS Developers. As the e-mail noted, Apple had previously announced this requirement back in October for new iOS apps, scheduled to take effect February 1, 2015. However, this note indicates that Apple will also be applying this policy to updates to existing apps. This only affects updates submitted by developers, however, and since developers are not required to submit updates, apps built with the older SDK can likely remain available on the App Store in their present form until they otherwise need to be updated.
A Canadian Federal Court has ordered Apple Canada to turn over documents to the Government’s Competition Bureau as part of an investigation into possible unfair marketing practices by the company, Reuters reports. The Competition Bureau, which is responsible for enforcing various competition and marketing acts on behalf of the Canadian Government, stated in a filing to the court that it believes Apple unfairly used its bargaining power from the popularity of the iPhone to negotiate contracts with wireless carriers that encouraged them to overprice rival phones, thereby reducing competition for the iPhone. Among other things, the Bureau is investigating whether the terms of their contracts with Apple may have discouraged carriers from reducing competing handset prices or encouraged them to charge higher prices for wireless services than they may otherwise have done.
Federal Court Chief Justice Paul Crampton stated that he would sign the disclosure order later on Wednesday, at which point Apple will have 90 days to turn over the documents to the Competition Bureau, including all of the agreements that it has with Canadian mobile carriers. In response, Apple’s lawyers have suggested that the company is considering launching a constitutional challenge to determine whether Canadian courts actually have the jurisdiction to force Apple’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary to turn over documents that are held by the California-based parent company. The Competition Act provides Canadian courts with this power, however, and both the lawyer for the Competition Bureau and Chief Justice Crampton have stated that these provisions have never been found to be unconstitutional, and that there is increasing consensus in the worldwide legal community that such provisions are legitimate.
Carousel (free) — We were intrigued by Dropbox’s photo gallery app when it first debuted last spring, finding it an interesting spin on photo management for users who preferred to keep and sync everything in file-based cloud storage. While the first cut of the app was fairly basic, a series of updates have brought it into its own as a viable alternative to Apple’s own iCloud Photo Library. Carousel 1.8 takes some big strides in this direction, adding support for organizing photos into albums that can be shared and viewed via Dropbox.com, a new “Flashback” feature that highlights photos from years gone by, and a “Free Up Space” feature that lets you easily remove photos from your Camera Roll that have been backed up to Dropbox when you’re running low on storage space on your iPhone. The app also gets some UI design changes, with the Time Wheel scroller now sliding in from the right-hand side rather than being ever-present at the bottom of the gallery view.
Fleksy Keyboard ($1) — With the addition of long-awaited support for custom keyboards in iOS 8 has come a plethora of options all competing to be the keyboard of choice on users’ iPhones and other iOS devices. Fleksy has remained one of the leading options, morphing from a standalone app into a system-wide keyboard, and then aggressively adding new features. Version 5.0 adds a whole new dimension to Fleksy with support for even further customization through extensions and cool new themes. Extensions now provide users with “plug-in” features such as GIF keyboard support, an extra numbers row, one-handed mode, and much more, allowing users to build Fleksy to their own needs without adding needless bloat to the app. A whole new set of theme packs are also available, including branded options, and are now packaged into individual groupings that can be bought via in-app-purchases for between $1 and $3.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout ($4) — A major Christmas update to the fifth installment in the classic FPS series for iOS devices gets you into the holiday spirit with holiday jingles, seasonal masks, blizzard effects, and Christmas decorations throughout. At the core, the update also adds new multiplayer features on the two classic Scramble and Overtime Modern Combat maps, Squad Battle rematches, and multiplayer leagues. New class skills have been added for supporting nearby allies, and the level cap has been increased to 120. Additional new content has been added in the form of masks, kill signs, and weapons, and a new iOS 8 Today Extension lets you check your status and rank right from the iOS Notification Center.