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Facebook for iOS gets major performance update

Facebook has released a major update to its iOS app focused on improving performance. In Facebook 5.0 major portions of the app have been rewritten in iOS native Objective-C code, rather than relying on the HTML5 code used for the browser-based Facebook mobile site. The result is an app that now performs significantly faster when loading and scrolling through news feeds and timelines. Several smaller user interface improvements have also been made in the new version, including the integration of Facebook Messenger features, the ability to open and close photos more quickly using upward and downward swipe gestures and a banner notification for new stories and comments, along with a few other minor cosmetic changes. Facebook 5.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

JBL unveils Jembe Wireless speakers for iOS

JBL has unveiled its new Jembe Wireless speakers for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. Relatively compact in size, the Jembe Wireless are based on the company’s prior Jembe desktop speakers, and offer a built-in amplifier, Slipstream port technology for improved bass response, a 3.5mm input for connecting non-Bluetooth devices, and an exterior treatment based on JBL’s well-received Weave design. JBL’s new Jembe Wireless speakers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod are available now and sell for $99.

Next-gen iPhone logic board pictured, A5X on board?

Photos showing what is claimed to be a logic board for the next-generation iPhone have appeared online. Chinese site Sina.com has posted (Translated Link) a new set of photos showing components allegedly bound for the next-generation iPhone, including a pair of photos showing a logic board. The photos are rather blurry, and thus little information can be gleaned simply by looking at them; however, the report does claim that the next-generation iPhone will use the A5X system-on-a-chip found in the third-generation iPad. Apple is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone at a special media event on September 12. [via MacRumors]

Purported next-gen iPhone charge/sync cable appears online

A single photo of a purported charge and sync cable for the next-generation iPhone has appeared online. A representative of Veister.com alerted iLounge to the picture, which has been posted to Twitter. The cable appears to be highly similar to past Apple cables, with a full-sized USB plug on one end and what appears to be Apple’s newly shrunken 8-pin connector on the other. Veister is a Shenzhen, China-based accessory vendor, but the cable has yet to appear on the company’s site. It is unclear whether the part shown is a replacement cable or a genuine Apple part with pre-production markings.

Apple seeking more iPad display space ahead of ‘mini’ debut?

Apple is seeking additional table space for iPad displays in the shops of Apple Premium Resellers in Europe, according to a new report. Citing multiple resellers, MacRumors reports that Apple has requested that the shops set aside additional table space for iPad displays over the next few weeks. One source reportedly cited September 12—the same day Apple is expected to hold its next media event—as the Apple-imposed deadline for the changes to be made, while another source said their store is already in the process of tripling the amount of display space dedicated to the iPad. The extra space is coming primarily at the expense of Mac Pro and Mac mini computers, which are reportedly being removed from display entirely, while iPod and headphone displays are also being trimmed back. While the exact reason for the change isn’t clear, the September 12 date suggests that the move has something to do with Apple’s media event, at which it is expected to introduce the next-generation iPhone and could also unveil the long-rumored “iPad mini”.

AT&T responds to FaceTime restriction concerns

Responding to concerns over its plans to restrict access to FaceTime over Cellular—including a petition urging the FCC to look into the matter—AT&T has published a lengthy post on the matter to its Public Policy Blog. “The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services,” writes AT&T Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn. “AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the various app stores serving particular operating systems[...]  Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation.”

He continues, “Although the rules don’t require it, some preloaded apps are available without charge on phones sold by AT&T, including FaceTime, but subject to some reasonable restrictions.  To date, all of the preloaded video chat applications on the phones we sell, including FaceTime, have been limited to Wi-Fi.  With the introduction of iOS6, we will extend the availability of the preloaded FaceTime to our mobile broadband network for our Mobile Share data plans which were designed to make more data available to consumers.  To be clear, customers will continue to be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi irrespective of the data plan they choose.  We are broadening our customers’ ability to use the preloaded version of FaceTime but limiting it in this manner to our newly developed AT&T Mobile Share data plans out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience.” FaceTime over Cellular will be available with the launch of iOS 6.

Fair Labor Association finds progress at Foxconn

The Fair Labor Association has published a status report on implementation of its recommendations following its assessment of three Foxconn facilities in February and March. According to the group, the review covered items slated for April and May, finding that Foxconn has completed all of the 195 actions that were due. In addition, 89 items were completed ahead of their deadlines, with 76 items due over the course of the next year. The report also found that Foxconn has already reduced working hours to under 60 per week—including overtime—with the goal of reaching full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 40 hours per week plus an average of 9 hours of overtime per week.

“Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made. We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program,” said Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. “The next phase of improvements will be challenging for Foxconn because they involve major changes in the working environment that will inevitably cause uncertainty and anxiety among workers. As Foxconn prepares to comply with the Chinese legal limits on work hours, consultation with workers on the changes and implications will be critical to a successful transition.”

“The verification confirmed that Apple and Foxconn are ahead of schedule in improving the conditions under which some of the world’s most popular electronics are being made,” added van Heerden. “Apple and Foxconn’s progress since the March assessment, combined with the additional actions planned through July 2013, would create the roadmap for all Chinese suppliers in the tech industry.” Apple was the first electronics company to join the FLA, a “coalition of universities, non-governmental organizations and businesses committed to improving the well-being, safety, fair treatment, and respect of workers”, in January of 2012.

New Potato debuts TuneLink Home music streamer, remote for iOS

New Potato has debuted its new TuneLink Home music streamer and remote for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android devices. The TuneLink Home is a small, black accessory that connects to iOS devices via Bluetooth, and offers wireless audio streaming—with standard 3.5mm and optical digital outputs—as well as the ability to serve as a universal remote control thanks to a dedicated app. The company promises an pre-programmed database of over 80,000 pre-programmed remote control codes, and the TuneLink Home can also learn new codes, as well as accept macro commands from the app; a wide-angle infrared LED array is built in to the device, which also offers an IR extender port. New Potato’s TuneLink Home music streamer and remote for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is available now and sells for $100.

Verizon vacation blackout points to Sept. 21 iPhone launch

Verizon Wireless has informed employees of an upcoming vacation blackout, suggesting that the next-generation iPhone will launch during that time. Citing a “trusted Verizon employee”, TechCrunch reports that Verizon has called for a staff-wide vacation blackout from Friday, September 21 to Friday, September 30. Apple is expected to announce its next-generation handset on September 12, and there has traditionally been a delay of slightly over a week between an iPhone’s introduction and its official launch, meaning that a September 21 launch is highly possible. September 21 was previously suggested as the launch date for the next-generation iPhone in a report that also predicted a September 12 launch for the device.

Petition urges FCC to challenge AT&T’s stance on FaceTime over Cellular

Free Press has started a new petition aimed at getting the FCC to force AT&T to change its policies regarding FaceTime over Cellular. The feature, which is part of iOS 6, allows users to participate in FaceTime video calls over cellular networks; AT&T has said that the feature will only be available to customers on the company’s new Mobile Share plans. “Dear FCC Commissioners,” the petition reads, “AT&T just announced it’s blocking the FaceTime video calling app on its customers’ iPhones unless they subscribe to a more expensive text-and-voice plan.”

It continues, “[t]his is a clear violation of Net Neutrality and of your own Open Internet rules. AT&T knows that if it can get the FCC to condone this kind of Net Neutrality violation, then they can get away with just about anything. I urge you to put a stop to AT&T’s anti-consumer and anti-Net Neutrality actions.”

Ecoxgear rolls out Ecoxpower bicycle charger for iPhone, iPod

Ecoxgear has rolled out its new Ecoxpower pedal-powered headlight and mobile device charger for the iPhone, iPod, and other portable devices. The Ecoxpower attaches to the hub of a bicycle’s front wheel, using energy created from pedaling to operate the LED headlight, LED taillights, and a connected USB-charging accessory. It also features an internal rechargeable battery that can power the light for 1.5 hours without riding, a wired on/off remote switch, and an included, water-resistant case that mounts on the bike’s handlebars and accomodates a smartphone or other device. Ecoxgear’s Ecoxpower headlight and charger is available now and sells for $99.

Apple to open retail stores in Russia

Apple is planning to begin direct sales of its products in Russia, according to a new report. Citing Russian-language Kommersant, the Moscow News reports that Apple has registered a new company name, Apple Rus, and has assigned local legal advisor Vitaly Morozko to act as its director general. According to an unnamed manager of an Apple distributor, direct sales in the country could start as early as next year, although there seems to be no timetable for opening a retail store. The report notes that Apple managers travelled to Moscow in search of a potential retail store location in 2011, but came away empty.

iPod nano stock shortages point to refresh?

A number of major U.S. retailers appear to be out of stock on certain models of the sixth-generation iPod nano, suggesting that Apple may be planning to refresh the device in the near future. 9to5Mac reports that Amazon is out of stock of roughly half its available nano configurations, Best Buy is similarly spotty in its availability, Walmart has only a few models in stock, and Target is likewise out of stock of several models. The report also indicates that Amazon.co.uk is also out of stock of several models; however, both the Apple Store and B&H Photo appear to be fully stocked. While the shortages could be due to some other cause, similar stock shortages have in the past correctly pointed to imminent refreshes or replacements for other Apple products.

PopCap announces Plants vs. Zombies sequel

PopCap Games has announced plans for a sequel to its highly acclaimed tower defence action game Plants vs. Zombies. Scheduled to launch in “late spring 2013” the company’s announcement is currently sparse on details but notes that the game will include a “bevy of new features, settings and situations” with new plant and zombie types and new challenges. PopCap Games, now a division of EA, is also known for a number of other popular games on the iOS platform including such additional titles as Peggle, Bejeweled, and Zuma.

Motorola Mobility files new patent case against Apple

Google’s Motorola Mobility unit has filed a new patent-infringement complaint against Apple. Bloomberg reports that the suit claims that certain features on some Apple devices, including the virtual assistant Siri, infringe its patents. The complaint, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), alleges that Apple’s products infringe on seven Motorola Mobility patents, including location reminders, email notification, and phone/video players. “We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple’s unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations,” Motorola Mobility said in a statement. The complaint seeks a ban on U.S. imports of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers.

Purported next-gen iPhone display appears online

New photos showing a purported next-gen iPhone front panel and display assembly have appeared online. MacRumors reports that UBreakiFix received the photos, which show a white front panel that looks nearly identical to parts seen previously, and a display unit on the rear side. Once again, no precise measurements were made, but it does appear that the next-gen iPhone’s display will be taller than current models, measuring 4” diagonally while retaining the same pixel density as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPhone at a special media event September 12.

iLounge Weekly arriving Monday, giveaway update

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes Monday morning. 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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Also, be sure to enter our iBattz Mojo Vogue Battery Case Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for August, iLounge and iBattz are giving away 5 Mojo Vogue Battery Cases for iPhone 4/4S, bundled with Dedicated Battery Chargers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on August 31, 2012 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

AT&T: FaceTime over Cellular limited to Mobile Share plans

AT&T has announced that access to the FaceTime over Cellular feature in iOS will be limited to customers on Mobile Share plans. “AT&T will offer FaceTime over Cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans, which were created to meet customers’ growing data needs at a great value,” reads a statement from the company, as reprinted by 9to5Mac. “With Mobile Share, the more data you use, the more you save. FaceTime will continue to be available over Wi-Fi for all our customers.” Sprint has previously announced that it will not put any restrictions on the new feature.

Bracketron intros Universal USB Travel Power Kit

Bracketron has introduced its new Universal USB Travel Power Kit for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other USB-charging devices. The Kit includes low-profile USB car and wall chargers, both of which provide 2.1 Amp charging for fast charging of the iPad, as well as a 3’ Universal Charge/Sync Cable that features a standard USB connector on one end and both Apple 30-pin and Micro USB connectors on the other. Bracketron’s Universal USB Travel Power Kit for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod is available now and sells for $40; the Universal Charge/Sync Cable is available separately for $20.

Zero1.tv teases VooMote Air universal remote

Zero1.tv has sent out an email teasing its new VooMote Air wireless universal remote for the iPhone and iPad. The VooMote Air, which is set to be shown at the upcoming IFA show in Berlin, is described as a universal remote control and integrated TV guide/social media hub. Like the company’s prior IR-based universal remotes, the VooMote Air will be powered primarily through a custom app; however, unlike prior versions which physically connected to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Air will require no such connection. The wireless protocol being used isn’t specified in the email, but given that only the third-generation iPad and iPhone 4S are listed as being compatible, it seems likely that the device is utilizing Bluetooth 4.0. No pricing or availability information has yet been announced.

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