References spotted in the iOS 7 SDK appear to show that Apple is testing a new, faster iPad mini without a Retina display, 9to5Mac reports. The code refers to the same A6 processor found in Apple’s iPhone 5, which would be faster than the current iPad mini processor. A lack of “@2x” references — generally how developers reference a Retina display — hint that this device would be non-Retina. As the report notes, there is no way to tell whether Apple is merely testing such a model, or if it will be released as a final product. Recent reports have noted that a non-Retina iPad mini could be released this year, possibly as an interim model before a 2014 Retina mini.
Apple CEO Tim Cook met Tuesday with the chairman of China Mobile, Reuters reports. China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, is the only major Chinese carrier not currently offering the iPhone. Cook and China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua discussed “matters of cooperation” in Beijing, according to China Mobile, suggesting that a partnership to sell iPhones to the company’s customers is becoming more likely. It was previously speculated that Cook would meet with China Mobile during his visit.
Amazon has just released version 3.9 of its free Kindle app. The app now allows for a free sample search — using the existing Library Search, customers can now search books and download free samples from within the app. Also notable in the new update is the ability to use previously purchased dictionaries or translation references to look up word definitions in other books. Accessibility gestures for blind and visually impaired customers have also been added for quick reference, and the new Instant Cover Loader displays book covers quickly.
Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame ($3) from Ubisoft brings a new chapter to the classic Prince of Persia series, which has continued its evolution following film adaptations. The new iOS Prince of Persia features a 14-level single player side-scrolling adventure, including fully polygonal, detailed artwork for the levels, and a brand new combat system with combos and new weapons. Prince of Persia’s gameplay allows users to choose between a virtual joystick or gesture-based touch controls, with all of the classic jumping, running, ducking, climbing, and attacking options fans would expect.
Foxconn is reportedly looking to hire a remarkable 90,000 workers for production of a new iPhone — likely the iPhone 5S — for its Shenzhen industrial complex. A report out of Taiwan notes that assembly testing has been completed for the device, and claims the company is ready to start production. Reports from multiple outlets in April noted Foxconn had increased hiring to produce Apple’s next iPhone. [via Focus Taiwan]
Apple CEO Tim Cook has returned to China, and held a meeting with Apple partner China Telecom, according to a Chinese report (translated link). The visit is Cook’s second of the year, as the CEO last visited China in January. Cook is also reportedly expected to meet with executives from China Unicom and China Mobile during the trip. Other speculative reasons for the visit could include upcoming iPhone releases, and checking in on supplier Pegatron, which was recently accused of numerous labor violations in a report. During last week’s Q3 2013 financial results conference call, Cook acknowledged sales in China were weaker during the quarter, but noted he was not “discouraged” over a 90-day cycle, saying China was a “huge opportunity” for Apple. [via 9to5Mac]
A group of former Apple retail store employees in New York and Los Angeles have filed a class action suit against the company for lost wages due to lengthy bag searches. The suit claims that improper practices include subjecting hourly employees to “personal package and bag searches,” which are illegal and require workers to wait in line off-the-clock to get clearance checks when leaving for meal breaks and at the end of their shifts.
Examples note plaintiffs being subjected to searches lasting 5 to 15 minutes, without compensation, accounting for 50 to 90 minutes of uncompensated overtime a week. Calculations note the workers in these examples lost an average of $1,400 or $1,500 annually. The lawsuit seeks compensation in unpaid minimum wages, overtime, and waiting time, and seeks to declare the practices as unlawful, requiring “termination or modification.” [via Apple Insider]
A discovery in iOS 7 beta 4 appears to confirm that an upcoming iPhone will include a fingerprint sensor. Hamza Sood tweeted a picture of a folder titled “BiometricKitUI.axbundle” within the code of the upcoming operating system.
From the description, it appears that the code is describing a thumbprint sensor located within the Home Button of an iPhone. It also appears that a user will need to “enroll” in volunteering a thumbprint for the feature, with a progress percentage meter and color-shifting fingerprint image updating a user during the recognition process. Rumors have suggested that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint scanner, likely used for a digital transaction security feature. [via 9to5Mac]
Alongside today’s release of iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has also posted a beta version of iTunes 11 for Registered iOS Developers.
Listed as iTunes 11 beta 1, the new version includes support for iTunes Radio for those in the U.S. It also notes that OS X 10.7 or later is required for iTunes Radio support.
Apple has released the fourth beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the third beta three weeks ago — the fourth beta was expected to be released last Monday, but Apple’s developer site was down last week, delaying the release. iOS 7 beta 4 is now available through Software Update in iOS settings and Apple’s developer portal.
Samsung has notified the courts that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected all claims of Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent, according to a report. The rejection is a “Final Office Action,” but the decision is far from finished, as Apple will have additional opportunities to appeal. Notably, Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent initially had a main claim ruled invalid in a “Final Office Action,” but that claim was later confirmed. In December, the USPTO initially ruled all claims of the “pinch to zoom” patent invalid; this is a continuation of that action. [via FOSS Patents]
Chinese scalpers are booking all available Genius Bar appointments and selling them online, according to the Beijing Morning Post (translated link). Customers looking to book Genius Bar appointments at local Chinese Apple stores often find that all appointments have been taken. After searching for alternatives online, they discover that scalpers are selling the appointments for 10 Yuan to 40 Yuan — about $1.60 to $6.50. Reporters attempted to contact Apple on the matter but did not get a response by press time. [via 9to5Mac]
A new report from China Labor Watch details a number of labor violations within supplier Pegatron — and in doing so, confirms Apple’s upcoming release of a low-cost plastic iPhone. The report leads with “Apple is preparing to release a cheap iPhone,” and notes under Pegatron’s company profile that the company’s assembled products “include iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and low-priced plastic iPhones.” Another section of the report details work on pasting “protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines. This iPhone model with a plastic cover will soon be released on the market by Apple.” The report claims that the phone “has not yet been put into mass production” as of July 9.
Labor violations at Pegatron allegedly include hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, insufficient wages, poor working conditions, poor living conditions, contract violations, environmental pollution, management abuse, and other transgressions in a long list. The report also claims workers must sign a false document on alleged overtime hours — the only purpose of which is “to deceive Apple during inspections.” A May report noted Pegatron would be the primary assembler of Apple’s budget iPhone. [via Computerworld]
Apple senior vice president of technologies Bob Mansfield has left the company’s executive team, a company spokesman has confirmed. Mansfield’s biography was initially removed from Apple’s website yesterday, as noted by MacRumors. Spokesman Steve Dowling said Mansfield would remain at Apple to work on special projects, while reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Mansfield retired last June, then unretired in August as part of a reportedly astonishing pay package. It is unclear whether Mansfield’s secretive work at Apple will continue uninterrupted despite the change, or whether there’s more to the story than has been officially confirmed. [via AllThingsD]
An alleged leaked photo posted on the WeiPhone forums shows a bin full of plastic packaging for the “iPhone 5C,” which may be the name of Apple’s budget iPhone. Though different from previously cardboard iPhone boxes, the new white plastic packaging appears to be legitimate, featuring a slightly thinned iPhone font on the sides, as well as a blank flat rear surface to accommodate the late addition of a more descriptive sticker. Like iPod boxes, the front cap will likely be clear, highlighting the color of the device inside.
iLounge predicted months ago that Apple’s budget iPhone would be called the iPhone 5C, potentially based on “C” as marketing shorthand for “color” in the shells. A number of leaks subsequently suggested that Apple has tested the phone in a variety of different colors. [via Macotakara]
A “small team of notable names in speech technology” has been assembled by Apple to work on Siri, according to a report. The Boston-based team is made up of people who all worked at VoiceSignal Technologies, a speech software company that was purchased by Nuance in 2007. A number of team members have previously worked for Nuance, as well. Apple’s Siri uses Nuance’s speech recognition technology, and the report surmises that “Apple could be signaling a move away from relying on Nuance for Siri’s guts.” There are very few other details about Apple’s intent in the Boston area — even the Siri connection made in the report is based on the team’s online job profiles. [via Xconomy]
T-Mobile has announced it will be selling the 16GB iPhone 5 for no money down, starting Saturday. Customers taking advantage of the promotion will pay $27 a month for 24 months in addition to their monthly service charges. Though the promotion is available for a “limited time,” no end date is specified. The promotional price does not apply to the 32GB and 64GB models. [via 9to5Mac]
Google has ended its promotion offering three free months of Netflix with purchase of its new Chromecast dongle for HDTVs, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available,” Google said in a statement. Users who purchased the iOS-compatible Chromecast before the promotion expired on Thursday will still be able to use their redemption code for three free months of Netflix. The deal applied to both new and existing Netflix subscribers and was a selling point for the dongle — the promotion’s estimated $24 value essentially enabled current Netflix users to purchase the Chromecast for a net cost of about $11.
New iPhone users have reported that they’ve been unable to activate their phones, as it appears that Apple’s activation servers are experiencing an outage. An AT&T employee has reportedly confirmed the outage. A number of threads discussing activation problems have also popped up in Apple support forums. It appears that the problems began late this morning, and are still unresolved as of this writing. [via MacRumors]
With over 1,600 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll – “What’s most important to you when choosing an iPhone carrier?” – has now ended. Following the launch of the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile, we asked readers to let us know what was more important to them when choosing an iPhone carrier.
Pricing of monthly plans was the overall most important factor, according to forty-one percent of respondents. Thirty-one percent indicated that coverage area was critical, while thirteen percent indicated cellular data speeds would be their primary consideration. The remaining votes were divided between loyalty to a current carrier at six percent, and contract requirements, hardware upgrade eligibility, customer service and subsidized hardware pricing all pretty closely split at two to three percent each.
Rovio’s been keeping its furious fowl busy as another Angry Birds game gets new levels — this time it’s Angry Birds Rio (free). Version 1.7 of the game includes 15 more beach levels to the Golden Beachball episode. Collecting all the golden cherries will unlock bonus levels, and other surprises have been added to the game, as well.
Bank of America updated its free Bank of America — Mobile Banking app to version 4.3. Most notably, Bank of America members can now make credit card payments using checking accounts from other banks — users just have to set up an external account. It’s also now possible for members to receive and send money using email addresses and mobile phone numbers.