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Apple to halt app updates from December 23-27

Apple has announced its annual iTunes Connect hiatus, informing developers they won’t be able to submit new apps or updates to existing apps from December 23 – 27. Other iTunes Connect functions will still be available during that period, so developers can “let customers know about promotions, upcoming features, and events within your app at any time using the promotional text field.”

Apple removes violent games tied to drug war in Phillipines

Apple has removed several violent games tied to President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs in the Philippines, The Asian Network of People who Use Drugs reports. ANPUD petitioned Apple CEO Tim Cook to remove multiple games that “actively promoted the war on people who use drugs in the Philippines,” which has been documented to include extrajudicial killings. Some of the games have upwards of a million downloads and featured a heroic Duterte killing zombie-like drug users. While Cook hasn’t directly responded to ANPUD’s letter, some of the games have since disappeared from the App Store.

Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.2 and tvOS 11.2

Apple has released the fifth developer betas for iOS 11.2 and tvOS 11.2. The new versions don’t seem to include any big features we haven’t seen before, but the iOS 11.2 beta is reportedly allowing users to wirelessly charge their iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X devices at 7.5-watt speeds instead of the previous five-watt limit and provides a new dialog box explaining how the Control Center’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles work; tapping these no longer turns off the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radios, but instead merely disconnects or re-establishes your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections, and Apple has clarified that for users. The latest beta for tvOS 11.2 provides more control over when videos are played in HDR and at different frame rates. Apple seems to have skipped an update to the watchOS 4.2 beta this time around.

Capsule personal storage device for backing up photos and videos nearing Kickstarter goal

For those with photos and videos piling up on their devices with no end in sight, a new Kickstarter for a personal cloud storage device called the Capsule is aiming to provide a simple solution. The Capsule boasts the ability to back up photos and videos from mobile devices, social network accounts, and other devices like cameras, Go Pros and hard drives. The Capsule has no on-board storage, so it will require an external hard drive to function, but the device accumulates and organizes photos from a much wider range of sources than other devices and cloud services with no monthly fee attached.

Apple Stores hosting free ‘Hour of Code’ sessions

For the fifth year in a row, Apple is holding free “Hour of Code” sessions from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10 to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. The classes are offered at every Apple Store and include introductory classes along with others geared toward kids where they’ll get to program robots or write code in Star Wars-themed programs. The classes cost nothing but pre-registration is required.

Apple launches official Apple Support YouTube channel

Apple has launched an official Apple Support YouTube channel, featuring videos that provide iOS tutorials for iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad users. Apple registered the site back in early October, but didn’t post anything there until yesterday. The videos — most of which are half a minute in length — provide quick tips on things like using two apps at once on an iPad, adding filters to photos and sharing activities with the Apple Watch.

Apple applies for foldable iPhone patent

Apple has applied for a patent for a foldable iPhone, Patently Apple reports. The patent expands on others filed by Apple, using advanced carbon nanotube structures to prevent corrosion in the foldable section of the display. While delicate internal components have made it impossible to create a folding device in the past, Apple’s latest patent covers a device that simply bends in the middle instead of being flexible all over, possibly side-stepping the internal component problem by allowing the two sides themselves to be mostly rigid. This is also the first Apple patent to list micro-LED as a possible display type, and also lists liquid metal as a component in the structure, saying “The material that forms layer 14-1 may be a shape memory alloy (e.g., nickel titanium) or a bulk metal glass (sometimes referred to as amorphous metal).”

Apple offices in South Korea raided ahead of iPhone X release

South Korean authorities have raided Apple’s offices, asking questions about business practices before the iPhone X’s release in that country last Friday, Metro reports. Last year Apple was the target of a Fair Trade Commission investigation into Apple’s contracts with the country’s mobile telecom providers, and this latest raid could be part of that inquiry. South Korea is home to Apple competitors Samsung and LG, and the FTC has had a task force in place since 2015 to examine how foreign firms have affected the domestic smartphone market. The scrutiny hasn’t hurt Apple’s iPhone X sales yet, with pre-orders of the device selling out quickly.

Update to YouTube iOS app claims to fix battery drain problem

An update to YouTube’s iOS app that appeared this morning claims to fix the battery drain problem users were reporting with the app. While YouTube does consume a considerable amount of power, the app was reportedly heating up iPhones and draining power at an abnormally fast rate, even when idle in the background. YouTube promised a fix a couple weeks ago and seems to have worked out the kinks in the latest version.

iPhone X shipping time down to 1-2 weeks as production speeds improve

Well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors Apple has substantially increased its iPhone X production to meet high demand for the device, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo said Apple’s assembly partners are churning out anywhere from 440,000 to 550,000 units a day, up sharply from the 50,000 to 100,000 being shipped each day a month or two ago. Production yields have also improved at component suppliers’ facilities, and shoppers ordering the iPhone X have seen shipping times drop to 1-2 weeks because of the supply stabilization, down from the 5-6 week estimates that were seen shortly after pre-orders opened.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017 from iLounge!

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and we at iLounge would like to wish you a happy holiday and express how grateful all of us are for your readership and support. We’ll be on a limited posting schedule today and Friday, returning to normal updates on Monday, November 27th. Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple rumored to be releasing second-generation iPhone SE next year

After rumors about an updated iPhone SE went nowhere this year, China’s Economic Daily News is again claiming that there will be a second-generation version of the device coming, this time in the first half of 2018. The new assembly plant in Bangalore, India that helped Apple get its foot in the door in India is now rumored to be the likely site to produce the new model as well. While Apple skipped updating the iPhone SE in 2017, markets like India and China still have high demand for a smartphone at a lower price point than the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. Last month a questionable report from Tekz24 speculated about the hardware inside a new SE, including an upgrade to the A10 Fusion chip and slightly larger battery than the current device.

OtterBox reveals Star Wars-themed cases ahead of new movie’s release

OtterBox has released five Star Wars-themed versions of its Symmetry Series cases ahead of the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The cases are available for the iPhone 7/8 ($45) and iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus ($55), but not the iPhone X. The cases feature stylized versions of the Star Wars logo, a Storm Trooper, lovable robot BB-8, protagonist Rey and the ultimate villain Darth Vader and include the trademark OtterBox raised beveled edge to keep the touchscreen tucked away from harm during drops.

Freedom Mobile to begin offering iPhones on Dec. 8

Freedom Mobile is set to begin offering new iPhones for the first time, MobileSyrup reports. Freedom will provide the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X at all of its retail locations across Canada, alongside other older models in its western stores. Network upgrades have hindered the roll out of the older devices in eastern Canada, with Freedom promising to support those by “early 2018.” All of the iPhones are available for no money down and Freedom’s monthly payments amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the outright price of the devices.

Sega makes Sonic The Hedgehog 2 free to play on iOS

In honor of Sonic The Hedgehog 2’s 25th anniversary, Sega has made the game free to download on iOS. The free version is ad-supported and gives users new features like leader boards, cloud saves, and controller support. For those who want an ad-free experience, they can pay $2 in the app itself to remove them.

Apple acquires AR headset company Vrvana

As Apple reportedly plugs away at getting a wearable augmented reality device to market by 2020, the company has bought another startup that could prove useful in the development, TechCrunch reports. Apple has purchased Canadian AR headset startup Vrvana for around $30 million according to two sources familiar with the deal. Vrvana gained notoriety with its Totem headset — which combines both AR and VR technologies to create an “extended reality” — but never shipped a consumer product. The Totem relies on several cameras to capture the outside world and broadcast that to its attached OLED screen, creating a much more detailed and intricate overlay with more capabilities than competitors like Microsoft’s HoloLens. The cameras even track a user’s hands, allowing them to manipulate virtual objects. The drawback is Vrvana’s products so far have been the same kind of bulky headsets that Apple would never ship, so time will tell how Apple chooses to use the technology it has acquired.

Report sheds light on slow development, various prototypes of HomePod

A new report from Bloomberg claims Apple’s HomePod project began long before the appearance of Amazon’s Echo, but that the endeavor underwent false starts, cancellations and multiple redesigns to get to the product Apple expects to release next year. Sources close to the development said Apple was blindsided by the appearance of the Echo after spending two years developing its own similar product. As executives struggled to figure out how to produce something that fit in with Apple’s existing products—at one point envisioning a 3-foot tall speaker — the home speaker that started as an Apple employee side project became something that is much more an accessory than its own standalone product.

Apple admits that student interns in China worked illegal overtime on iPhone X assembly line

Six high school students said they “routinely work 11-hour days assembling the iPhone X at a factory in Zhengzhou” despite that type of workday being illegal for student interns under Chinese law, The Financial Times reports. The six claim they’re only a few of the 3,000 students sent from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School to work at the local Foxconn factory in September. They were all told the three-month stint on the assembly line was “work experience” necessary for graduation, depite one student saying, “The work has nothing to do with our studies.” Apple admitted that an audit “confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime.” The students told a different tale, with one saying, “We are being forced by our school to work here.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apple drops Skype from China’s App Store at government’s request

Apple has confirmed that Skype — one of the last foreign-operated methods for online communication inside China — has been pulled from the App Store at the request of the Chinese government, The New York Times reports. Chinese users have been complaining they were suddenly unable to use Apple’s systems to pay for Skype services. “We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China,” Apple said in a short e-mailed statement. Skype is still technically functional in the country, but its removal from the App Store could leave it destined to join apps like WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Telegram and Line that have been rendered unusable by government filters. The Chinese government has also insisted on the removal of other foreign apps, like that of The New York Times.

Apple warns developers that watchOS apps need to be native by April 1

In a blog post, Apple has warned developers that all watchOS apps need to be native apps by April 1. Apple will no longer be accepting updates to watchOS 1 apps after that date, meaning all submissions will have to be built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later, and new apps “should be built with the watchOS 4 SDK or later.” It appears that existing non-native apps will likely still remain on the App Store after April 1, 2018, however developers will not be able to release updates to those apps without rebuilding them with the newer watchOS2 SDK.

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