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iPhone 6 to feature haptic feedback?

The iPhone 6 will reportedly feature haptic feedback, according to Chinese site Laoyaoba. A tactile feedback linear motor would allow the phone to send differing, subtle vibrations to users through the touchscreen. Users would also be able to feel vibrations on specific areas of the screen. It’s claimed this new motor would cost two to three times more than the current $0.60 vibration motor featured in the iPhone 5s. Apple did publish a patent application in 2009 relating to haptic display technology, and although it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility, we would consider the inclusion of haptic feedback in the iPhone 6 to be unlikely.

WSJ: TSMC shipping microprocessors to Apple

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has started shipping its microprocessors to Apple as of this year’s second quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports. There have long been reports of Apple using TSMC for its chips in order to decrease dependence on Samsung, which previously manufactured all the microprocessors for Apple’s smartphones and tablets. It’s unclear how many chips TSMC has shipped thus far; Apple will still use Samsung for some of its microprocessors for now. TSMC and Apple will continue working on “more advanced chips” next year, a source said. A previous report claimed TSMC would make A8 chips for this year’s new Apple devices, and would start producing A9 chips in this year’s third quarter for future iPhones and iPads.

iPhone 6 part leaks point to possible color variations

Recent leaks of alleged iPhone 6 parts point to various questionable color options on the upcoming devices. A parts leak on Czech site letemsvetemapplem shows three SIM card trays for the iPhone 6 in what appears to be space gray, silver, and gold, matching the colors of Apple’s iPhone 5s. Although it’s not a surprise that these would be the colors for Apple’s upcoming device, the gold color on the card tray does look a bit darker than the current 5s gold, though that could be due to the way the photo was taken. Also included in the leak are the power flex cable with power button and volume flex cable with mute and volume buttons. Based on the power flex cable, it does seem likely that the position of the power button will be on the side of the phone, as has been rumored and seen in various mockups.

Today, MacRumors posted photos of alleged rear shells for the upcoming 4.7” iPhone 6. The leaks show an unfinished silver shell provided by Moscow company Feld & Volk, and more interestingly, a dark gray rear shell from a separate source. The latter part appears darker than the current space gray color — nearly black, like the original iPhone 5 — but as always, these photos should be taken with a grain of salt.

Cook says Apple will release diversity data

Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the Sun Valley media conference that his company will release information “at some point” regarding the diversity of Apple’s workforce, Bloomberg reports. Cook didn’t give an exact timeline for such a disclosure, saying, “We are more focused on actions.” Silicon Valley companies have drawn heat recently for a lack of diversity. Facebook recently reported its employees are 91 percent white or Asian, and 69 percent male. As Bloomberg notes, those figures are “in line” with similar disclosures from Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo.

Reuters: Advocates for disabled want more accessibility from Apple

Advocates for the disabled are debating how to approach Apple in a push for expanded accessibility features, Reuters reports. Though many advocates for the blind and deaf consider Apple to be a longtime ally, some of those advocates are ultimately seeking enforced accessibility requirements for apps sold within the App Store. “It’s time for Apple to step up or we will take the next step,” said Michael Hingson, a board member of the National Federation of the Blind’s California chapter. Hingson said litigation is “the only resort” in lieu of Apple instituting accessibility requirements on its own. According to Reuters, the National Federation of the Blind sent a legal demand letter to Apple in 2008 regarding iTunes accessibility. Apple reached an access agreement with the organization and the Massachusetts attorney general, paying $250,000 and adding accessibility improvements, including captions, to iTunes.*

Apple has continued to update its accessibility features since then. More will be done in iOS 8 — VoiceOver users will be able to access the male “Alex” voice of Siri, there’s added support for six-dot Braille keyboards, and the zoom feature has been enhanced. MFi hearing aids are also starting to make their way to market. The Reuters article notes that some third-party apps can give the disabled navigation issues, putting the users at a disadvantage, but there’s a question on how much of that should fall on Apple’s shoulders. Apple declined comment “on its accessibility strategy or whether developers should be required to make apps accessible.” (Editor’s Note: The original version of Reuters’ story characterized Apple as having settled a lawsuit brought by the National Federation of the Blind, however, the story was subsequently corrected to note that the organization did not file a lawsuit, reaching an agreement with Apple without resorting to the courts.)

Apple hires two FuelBand engineers

Apple has hired two more engineers who worked on Nike’s FuelBand, 9to5Mac reports. As confirmed by their LinkedIn pages, mechanical design engineer Ryan Bailey and sensing systems engineer Jon Gale have joined Apple. The report notes Bailey’s wearable experience and Gale’s firmware experience with the FuelBand, both as relating to the iWatch, though their specific responsibilities at Apple are somewhat ambiguous. Although the iWatch is expected to debut in October, it appears that Apple is still hiring recently to assist with the device’s development. The company also hired Patrick Pruniaux, former VP of sales and retail for TAG Heuer, last month.

Apple launches iTunes U 2.0, as expected

As Apple previously announced, the company has updated its iTunes U app today. iTunes U 2.0 allows teachers to create courses within the free app on iPad. The iPad’s camera can be used to take photos or videos to be uploaded for course materials. It’s also possible for teachers to create materials in Pages, Numbers, Keynote or other apps and add them to a course by using the “Open in iTunes U” option, and teachers from qualified institutions can make their courses available on the iTunes U catalog. Additionally, the update makes it easier for students in private courses to pose questions and participate in discussion.

Apple Maps engineer leaves for Uber

Apple Maps engineer Chris Blumenberg has left the company for Uber, The Information reports. Blumenberg was a senior engineering manager at Apple, and one of the first engineers to work on the Maps iPhone software. A June report noted that a number of issues prevented Apple from debuting major new Maps improvements at WWDC. Those issues reportedly included bad planning and internal politics. [via 9to5Mac]

iOS 8 Health app adds step and caffeine tracking

Apple has updated its Health app in iOS 8 beta 3. The app now uses the M7 chip — currently only found in the iPhone 5s — to track steps, as pointed out by 9to5Mac. A full week of data is added to the app instantly from the M7, similarly to the step tracking app Breeze; users of non-M7 devices can manually input step data. Health can also now track caffeine intake, as caffeine has been added to the app’s nutritional categories, currently requiring manual entry of caffeine in milligrams. A number of already available App Store apps can track caffeine intake.

WSJ: Cook looking for new Apple board directors

A new Wall Street Journal profile on Apple’s Tim Cook claims the CEO is “actively seeking” new directors for Apple’s eight-person board. The piece points out that six of the seven outside directors on the board are 63 or older. Most of the profile covers relatively well-established ground, pointing out Cook’s moral concerns for the company, and his comparatively hands-off role when compared to former CEO and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Apple is described as a “kinder, gentler workplace” under Cook, but some current and former employees worry about the ramifications of a slower pace. While Cook is looking to broaden the company’s focus and offerings — with Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats, and a rumored new iWatch on the way, among other new products — some of those employees also wonder if the company is spreading itself too thin. “It was Steve’s job to say no,” a source said. “Tim is not as comfortable doing that.”

iOS 8 beta 3 released to developers

A little less than three weeks after releasing the second beta of its upcoming iOS 8 software, Apple has released beta 3 to registered developers. We’ll update here with any notable information on what’s included in the new beta.

Update: Apple also released new betas of Apple TV Software, as well as Find My iPhone 4.0 and Find My Friends 4.0. 9to5Mac reports that enhancements in the latest beta include new toggles for Handoff, App Analytics, and upgrading from Documents in the Cloud to iCloud Drive. Some new wallpapers and a few other UI tweaks are also included.

Apple ordered to change App Store terms, refunds in S. Korea

Apple and Google were both ordered to change “unfair provisions” in their app stores by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, the Korea Herald reports. Among those provisions to be revised is Apple’s App Store refund policy — currently, each refund request is reviewed before approval from Apple. ‘‘We expect the measure, aimed at protecting consumers, will have a ripple effect on similar cases throughout the world,” the KFTC said in a press release. The App Store must send a notice to consumers when changing its contract terms in the future. Apple “said it would consider applying the revised contract terms globally,” according to the KFTCs Hwang Won-chul.

Foxconn to use robots in iPhone production

According to a report from IThome.com, Foxconn CEO Terry Gou announced at a recent shareholder meeting that new manufacturing robots are in the final testing stage. The first company to take advantage of the new robots’ capabilities will be Apple, presumably for the iPhone 6. Called “Foxbots,” these robots will cost between $20,000 to $25,000 each, and 10,000 are expected to be deployed. Each robot reportedly has a production capacity of 30,000 units, although it’s not clear what time frame that number speaks to. Foxconn previously announced plans to deploy a million robots on its assembly lines, and has already deployed at least 20,000 robots for other projects.

iLounge Weekly arrives Monday, new July giveaway

  • July 4, 2014

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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We also have a new giveaway for the month of July! In our Unu Ultrapak Tour Giveaway, iLounge and uNu are giving away five (5) uNu Ultrapak Tour Portable Battery Packs. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page; the giveaway ends July 31, 2014 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Apple hires TAG Heuer exec, reportedly plans to market iWatch as “Swiss made”

CNBC news reports that Apple has hired the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer to work with the company on the launch of the iWatch, according to a statement from Jean-Claude Biver, head of TAG Heuer’s parent company. Biver notes that Apple reportedly plans to use the prestigious “Swiss made” label to market the iWatch, and that the TAG Heuer sales director left within the last week “to take a contract with Apple.” [via 9to5Mac]

Update: 9to5Mac reports that the “sales director” in question is Patrick Pruniaux, former Vice-President of Sales and Retail for TAG Heuer, and was hired late last month according to a “source familiar with the hire.” Apple apparently also tried to hire several other employees from TAG Heuer, although Pruniaux was the only employee who actually made the move.

Happy Independence Day from iLounge!

As our U.S.-based editors are celebrating Independence Day, iLounge will be on a limited publishing schedule today. A very happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers. We’ll return to our normal schedule next week.

Apps: 120 Sports, Civilization Revolution 2, Health Mate 2.2 + Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

The new 120 Sports app from the company of the same name is a new player in the world of sports coverage. A free app that requires no cable subscription, 120 Sports offers highlights and discussion of major sports leagues. 120 Sports claims to show “8+ hours of live programming every night — real-time, unfiltered, trending, unbiased coverage of the entire world of sports at the action happens.” The app also includes more than 100 on-demand videos. It’s an interesting idea, and though there are undoubtedly a few kinks to work out coverage-wise at the start of 120 Sports’ run, we’ll see if an iOS-based sports coverage network can make an impact. If you’re a sports fan, it’s definitely worth the free download.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution 2 ($15) from 2K is the first game in the acclaimed Civilization series to be developed exclusively for mobile devices. The game is similar to the first Civ Revolution, but features new 3D graphics. Also included are new military units, technology, buildings and wonders, and a scenario mode for reenacting historical events and battles. Keep in mind the original Civilization Revolution is only $3 — paying $15 for the new version will depend on how much you care about the redesigned graphics and other updates.

Retailer suing Apple, Amazon, for deleted Amazon listings

An independent retailer that sells Apple products on Amazon is suing both companies, CNET reports. The company, Hard 2 Find Accessories, has accused Amazon of pulling product listings due to Apple’s demands and suspending the Hard 2 Find account. According to the lawsuit, Apple requested that Amazon pull the listings because it thought the products were counterfeit — Hard 2 Find denied those allegations, while claiming that Apple and Amazon conspired to prevent the retailer from selling Apple products at an “aggressive price point.” Hard 2 Find claims it’s losing more than $180,000 a month due to Amazon’s conduct.

FTC accuses T-Mobile of knowingly billing for fraudulent charges

The Federal Trade Commission has accused T-Mobile of making “hundreds of millions of dollars” through unauthorized “premium” SMS subscriptions offered by third-parties. T-Mobile kept 35 to 40 percent of charges for “content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip,” which cost users $9.99 per month, the FTC claims. It’s also said that even after T-Mobile was made aware of these fraudulent charges, the carrier sometimes continued to bill customers for the services. A T-Mobile bill excerpt included in the FTC report alleges the carrier included the charges under the vague line of “usage charges.”

The FTC is seeking a court order to prevent T-Mobile from continuing these practices; refunds are also being sought by the commission. T-Mobile has not yet responded to the accusations.

Apple introduces nine new CarPlay partners

Apple has announced nine new CarPlay partners: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Mazda, and Ram. The new partners are now listed on Apple’s CarPlay page under the “future models” section. Audi recently announced it would be incorporating CarPlay into 2015 car models. There are now a total of 29 announced CarPlay automaker partners according to Apple’s site, with Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo all expected to incorporate CarPlay into models this year. There are also upcoming aftermarket systems from Alpine and Pioneer.

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