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iPhone hacker Comex no longer at Apple

Noted iPhone hacker Nicholas Allegra — otherwise known as Comex — is no longer with Apple after working as an intern at the company for about a year. He tweeted that he was “no longer associated with Apple,” following that with a tweet about how he left because he “forgot to reply to an email.” Forbes contacted Allegra, who said he forgot to reply to an email offer to continue his employment as a remote intern. He also said he plans on focusing on his studies at Brown University, and has no current plans to work on more iOS jailbreaking tools. Allegra became widely known in the hacking community as the founder of browser-based iOS jailbreak tool JailbreakMe before accepting an internship at Apple. He has suggested that contractual obligations to Apple may prevent him from continuing iOS-related jailbreaking efforts, but that he may focus his time on other devices, such as Nintendo’s Wii U, instead.

Soundfreaq to release Novogratz Collection speakers

Soundfreaq has teamed up with notable husband-and-wife design team Robert and Cortney Novogratz for a special upcoming line of wireless Bluetooth speakers, which it’s calling The Novogratz Collection. The collection features six new designs for three existing speakers: The Sound Stack features the “Chiq Freaq” and “Flower Freaq” designs (both $450), the compact Sound Step features “Freaq of Nature” and “Freaq’n Fabulous” ($150), and the bedroom alarm clock Sound Rise gets “Freaq in the Bed” and “Novo Freaq” ($125) designs. All of the new speakers use interesting patterns and textures, replacing the one-color looks of Soundfreaq’s original designs.

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All of the speakers will be available in time for the holiday season.

2012 Readers’ Choice Awards standings; vote today!

Voting in our 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards is heating up. There’s been a major change in the Accessory Maker of the Year standings: STM has surged into competition with Speck, Griffin, and Incipio for the lead. iOS App Developer of the Year is a four-way race between Apple, Facebook, Google, and Mundomono, while iOS Game Developer of the Year is a race between Rovio, EA, Epic Games, and Zynga. Write-in candidates and plenty of other choices are vying for your votes, as well.

The races are very tight right now, and your vote will make a difference. Remember to vote for Apple Product of the Year, as well! The four-question survey can be completed in less than a minute. Voting ends at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time, October 27, so cast your vote today!

Some iPhone 5 users reporting incorrect date, time

According to posts on Apple’s Support forums, iPhone 5 owners are continuing to report problems with the phone’s automatic date and time settings. The incorrect time or date will be displayed — anywhere from minutes to weeks different from the correct time and date. The bug was first reported on Apple’s forums on Sept. 24, and responses have continued up to today. Most of the reports seem to come from Verizon users.

The automatic date and time issues are somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone alarm problems users discovered on New Years’ Day 2011, which weren’t fixed right away. According to forum comments, Apple and Verizon both seem to know about the latest issue, but there’s been no official statement or fix from either company as of yet. [via AppleInsider]

Report: Apple to acquire Color Labs (Updated)

Apple plans to acquire the maligned social photo network startup Color Labs, according to a report from TheNextWeb. Sources said Apple’s bid for Color was in the “high double digits” in millions, and the deal is “done,” but has yet to be contractually finalized. TNW speculates Apple may have been drawn to Color’s patents relating to GPS location, battery saving, and possibly a file format for recording HD video. This would be the second startup Apple has purchased from Color co-founder Bill Nguyen — the company purchased Lala for $80 million in December 2009.

Color drew criticism for its $41 million in funding and subsequent launch of its disappointing Color for Facebook app. However, the company’s Color - Live Video Broadcast app is currently averaging a four-star rating on iTunes.

Updated Oct. 17: AllThingsD is reporting that Apple is only acquiring Color’s engineering team — about 20 people, which is almost the whole company. According to the new report, Apple is not acquiring Color, and no “double digits” deal in the millions is involved; instead, a figure in the single-digit millions will be paid to hire the company’s personnel. Color’s technology, intellectual property, domain names, and liabilities will remain with the company, which will be “wound down.” Apple and Color declined comment. The report notes there have been many conflicting stories about the deal within the past 24 hours, likely due to “bad blood” between the many entities involved.

Apple loses UK tablet appeal; must run pro-Samsung ads

After a U.K. court loss to Samsung over tablet design infringement, Apple also lost its appeal of the verdict, and must now run advertisements saying Samsung has not copied its design. A judge ruled in July that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab did not infringe on the design of Apple’s iPad, and Apple was ordered to post notices in newspapers and magazines stating that Samsung didn’t copy its design. After the initial ruling, Apple received a stay on the court order, but due to the appeal ruling in Samsung’s favor, Apple must run the ads. In the original ruling, the judge said Samsung’s tablet likely wouldn’t be confused with the iPad, because the Galaxy is not as “cool.” [Via BBC News]

iPad mini screen leak shows 4:3 aspect ratio

The latest iPad mini leak reportedly shows the device’s LCD screen, which has the same 4:3 aspect ratio of the standard iPad and is nearly 8” long diagonally, measuring roughly 162 mm x 124 mm. Photos of the new screen were posted at ETrade Supply.

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Some prior reports suggested the iPad mini might have a 16:9 or 3:2 aspect ratio, closer to an iPhone or iPod touch, and though casing leaks have suggested that the screen ratio might not be exactly 4:3, long-standing rumors have claimed that the smaller device will have the same 1024x768 resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2. Final details will likely become certain on Oct. 23, when Apple is expected to unveil the device.

Belkin introduces WeMo Baby monitor for iOS

Expanding its earlier line of WeMo-branded home automation products, Belkin has announced WeMo Baby ($90), a product that turns any iOS device into a baby monitor. WeMo Baby uses 3G/4G or Wi-Fi to stream interference-free audio from a baby’s room to a mobile device without an additional receiver, via the free WeMo Baby app. The monitor works with multiple devices, enabling up to six people to listen simultaneously. As odd as this may sound, users can also upgrade to the Evoz premium service to receive advanced monitoring, cry notifications via text or email, cry history information, and analysis of baby’s crying and sleep patterns, for $10/month or $60/year. WeMo Baby will be available in early November.

Apple acquires HTML5 firm Particle

Apple has acquired Particle, a San Francisco-based company specializing in HTML5 development, CNET reports. Particle has already done HTML5 work for Apple, as well as Google, Motorola, Amazon, Yahoo, and Sony. Video services Robo.to and Intervue.Me are among the company’s own projects; Particle is said to have developed a robust HTML5-specific rendering engine. Notably, only some of the company’s employees will be working for Apple following the acquisition. The deal went through in late September, and no sale price has been announced.

Beats debuts Pill speaker, Executive headphones

Beats Electronics has announced two new products, the Pill speaker ($200), and Executive headphones ($300). Pill is a portable, wireless Bluetooth speaker with four speakers inside, as well as a microphone for speakerphone functionality, and a rechargeable battery that offers seven hours of continuous play. It comes in three colors — black, white, and red — and is designed as another peer-priced competitor to Jawbone’s Jambox.

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Beats Executive over-ear headphones are made from aluminum alloy, stainless steel and leather. The silver, noise-canceling Executive headphones come with an iOS-compatible microphone cable and offer full phone functionality, relying on batteries to keep their active noise-canceling hardware running. They’re a significant aesthetic evolution from earlier Beats Studio and Pro headphones, and will be available this month along with Pill.

Schiller: iPod touch ‘too thin’ for light sensor

The new fifth-generation iPod touch lacks a light sensor to enable an auto-brightness setting, and its thin body is the reason, according to an email from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller. Published by 9to5Mac, Schiller’s email was sent in response to a customer who inquired about the lack of an auto-brightness setting, an omission noted in iLounge’s review of the new iPod touch last week. “The 5th generation iPod touch does not have a built-in automatic light sensor (it’s just too thin!),” Schiller wrote. The new iPod touch is 0.24” thick.

Apple announces Oct. 23 iPad mini event

Apple has officially announced a special event for Oct. 23, 2012, likely to introduce the iPad mini. Previously rumored invites have been sent out to select members of the press, with the tag line, “We’ve got a little more to show you.”

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The event will be held at 10:00am Pacific Time in San Jose at the California Theatre, originally known as the Fox Theatre. While the majority of Apple special events have been held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center or Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, with others at Apple’s corporate campus Town Hall, the California Theatre was notably used for the 2004 introduction of the U2 iPod, iPod photo, and iPod Socks accessories.

AQ Audio debuts AirPlay-capable AQ SmartSpeaker

UK speaker company AQ Audio is making its US debut with the AQ SmartSpeaker ($179), a portable, wireless, AirPlay-compatible speaker. The AQ SmartSpeaker features one-touch AirPlay setup and—like other recent “PlayDirect” speakers—can also stream directly from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod by creating its own Wi-Fi network. As a standalone speaker, the AQ SmartSpeaker offers stereo sound from its two drivers. Additionally, two SmartSpeakers can be paired for left and right channel separation, and speakers can be placed around the house for multi-room audio.

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More than 10 hours of AirPlay playback are possible with the integrated rechargeable battery. AQ SmartSpeaker is available now.

Foxconn admits hiring 14-year-old interns

Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn has admitted to hiring underage interns as young as 14 years old, but the company claims that the hiring was somehow accomplished despite its policies. In a statement issued after performing an internal investigation at its Yantai facility, the company found working interns ranging in age from 14 to 16; China’s legal working age is 16. “This is not only a violation of China’s labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions,” the company said.

The Foxconn statement follows a recently-issued statement from China Labor Watch about underage interns working at Foxconn. “The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible (sic), but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers,” China Labor Watch said. [via CNET]

iPod nano 7G torn down, 220 mAh battery inside

iFixit has completed its teardown of the seventh-generation iPod nano, discovering that the device contains a 220 mAh battery, a Texas Instruments touchscreen controller, and 16 GB of Toshiba NAND flash. The previous generation nano had a 105 mAh battery, which is to say that the new battery has over twice the capacity—though also a much larger screen to power. Many components within the new nano are soldered to the logic board, including the battery, Lightning connector, and volume controls.

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A plastic opening tool and Phillips screwdriver are all that are needed to open the new 1.1-ounce nano. The device earned a 5 out of 10 repairability score from iFixit, which means it’s easier to repair than the fifth-generation iPod touch, which earned a score of 3.

Apple hires Amazon exec Stasior to run Siri

Apple has hired Amazon exec William Stasior to run its Siri unit, according to a report from AllThingsD. With a doctoral degree from MIT, Stasior was recently in charge of A9, Amazon’s search and search advertising unit, which he co-founded, and previously served as an executive with AltaVista. Although Stasior will be in charge of Siri, the report speculates Stasior could also help to boost Apple’s search and search advertising technology. Apple’s Siri unit has notably lost two co-founders in the past year — Adam Cheyer left recently, and co-founder and former CEO Dag Kittlaus left last October — raising further questions about Apple’s ability to retain key personnel after major acquisitions.

HardCandy Cases debuts new Nano Clip

HardCandy Cases has announced its Nano Clip ($20) for the new seventh-generation iPod nano. The Nano Clip is a snap-on case with a clip on the back, filling the void for those who were used to the clip on the previous iPod nano—or the original iPod mini.

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It comes in red, graphite, or white, and can be pre-ordered now for shipment in mid-November.

 

Report: Apple to stop using Samsung tech

Apple is actively taking steps to stop using Samsung’s technology in its devices, a senior Samsung official told The Korea Times. Industry sources claim that Apple used Samsung only to manufacture the A6 microprocessor found in its iPhone 5 — the design and development were done by Apple alone. By comparison, Samsung is believed to have previously contributed to the design of Apple’s A-series chips to some extent.

Apple’s recent deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing for the future production of quad-core processors could completely sever the connection between Apple and Samsung, which is already strained due to patent battles between the two companies. A report claims TSMC will produce Apple’s A7 processors free of Samsung technologies, starting in 2014.

2012 Readers’ Choice Awards update, vote now!

Voting in our 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards has kicked off, and current votes in three of the four categories are very close indeed. For Accessory Maker of the Year, there’s a three-horse race between Speck Products, Incipio, and Griffin Technology. Application Developer of the Year is being hotly contested by Apple, Google, and Mundomono, while EA, Rovio, and Zynga are dominating early voting for Game Developer of the Year. There’s also some exciting voting going for Apple Product of the Year, and we want to see your votes!

Plenty of other nominees are still in the mix, as well, and based on past voting trends, every one of the categories is up for grabs. The four-question survey can be completed in less than a minute. Voting ends at 12:01 a.m. Eastern, October 27, so cast your vote today!

iPad mini: 4490mAh battery, priced 249-649 Euros?

A few more iPad mini rumors have surfaced prior to the device’s expected unveiling on Oct. 23. MacRumors has published two photos that claim to show the iPad mini’s battery — a 4490 mAh cell. Not surprisingly, this would be lower than the battery capacity of the new, power-hungry iPad by roughly two-thirds, a difference attributable to the smaller screen size and related power optimizations in the 7.85” model.

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Another report, from Flo’s Weblog, via German site Mobile Geeks, claims to show internal screenshots of iPad mini models and pricing. The screenshots are believed to have come from German electronics retailer Media Markt, and purport to show both Wi-Fi and Cellular models of the iPad mini, listed from 249 to 649 Euros, though the Euro prices in Germany are generally close to their dollar equivalents. Wi-Fi models are listed as 100 Euros lower than their Cellular counterparts, suggesting a smaller price gap than the current $130 difference between Wi-Fi and Cellular iPads.

While these prices would logically fit within Apple’s current iPod/iPhone/iPad matrix, the sheer number of models—8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, each in black and white, and separate versions for Wi-Fi and Cellular—would be a massive manufacturing challenge for a brand new product, and an even wider variety of options than for the full-sized iPad.

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