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Apple spending record amount on manufacturing equipment

  • November 13, 2013
  • Apple,

Apple is spending a great deal of its record capital expenditure budget on new technology for use in its manufacturing processes, Bloomberg reports. The company’s annual 10-K report mentions that Apple expects to spend $10.5 billion on non-retail expenditures, “including product tooling and manufacturing process equipment.” Apple is reportedly investing in polishing equipment for the iPhone 5c’s plastic body, laser and milling machines for the MacBook, and “testing gear” for iPhone and iPad camera lenses. The increased spending will enable Apple “to get a jump on rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. and lay the groundwork for new products.”

Apps: IFTTT 1.2, iTeleport 6.1.8, Ramp Champ + Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

IFTTT — also known as If This Then That — has upgraded its free IFTTT app to version 1.2. The updated app now has actions for iOS Photos and Reminders, meaning IFTTT can now automatically add photos to iPhone albums, and create new to-do items in Reminders. Swipe gestures have been added for iOS 7, as well as improved background syncing.

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iTeleport ($25) updates its popular universal remote desktop app, giving it an all new layout for iOS 7. Hardware keyboard support has also been added, while version 6.1.8 fixes additional layout issues. The iPad-only app ($20) was updated, as well.

iPad mini with Retina display unboxing gallery posted

  • November 12, 2013
  • iPad,

iLounge has posted its unboxing and comparison gallery of Apple’s iPad mini with Retina display. Photos show the iPad mini with Retina display packaging, and a number of comparison shots between the new mini, iPad Air, and first-generation iPad mini.

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Close-up feature shots of the newest iPad mini are also included in the gallery. A full review of the iPad mini with Retina display will be posted in the near future.

Test shows Retina iPad mini slower than iPad Air

  • November 12, 2013
  • iPad,

A benchmark test posted at Geekbench reveals the new iPad mini with Retina display is slightly slower than the iPad Air. The new mini clocked in at 1.29 GHz according to a test, about the same speed as the iPhone 5s, which came in at 1.3 GHz. Meanwhile, an iPad Air test showed a 1.39 GHz processor speed. [via 9to5Mac]

Scosche debuts reVOLT dual-12W car charger

Scosche has released its reVOLT ($25), a car charger with two USB 12W ports. While it’s exceptionally similar to earlier reVOLT models, both ports now charge at 2.4A, allowing for full simultaneous iPad charging regardless of the iPad model.

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Scosche notes that charging circuitry in reVOLT is designed for iOS — though the charger will work with most non-iOS smartphones and tablets, those devices may not charge at the fastest rates. Notably, Apple appears to have ended 2.4A/12W regarding speeds with the release of the iPad Air; only prior-generation full-sized iPads benefitted from the faster standard. The new reVOLT is available now.

Apple enables iTunes donations for Philippines typhoon

Apple is now offering the ability to donate to relief efforts in the Philippines through iTunes, after the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan. The option is available at the top of the iTunes store. iTunes will transfer 100 percent of a donation — of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $200 — to the American Red Cross.

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As Apple notes, while donors will receive an email receipt, the American Red Cross will be “unable to further acknowledge your donation,” as iTunes doesn’t share personal information with the American Red Cross. The donation doesn’t qualify for any tax deduction, and iTunes Store credit cannot be used. Typhoon Haiyan has already caused a confirmed 1,774 fatalities; estimates claim that as many as 10,000 people may have died in the disaster.

Apple quietly starts Retina iPad mini sales

Without so much as a day’s warning, Apple has started online sales of the new iPad mini with Retina Display, offering an extremely limited set of units for near-term shipping. Only 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi models are available for shipment in 1-3 days, with all other models shipping in 5-10 days, including higher-capacity Wi-Fi units and all cellular models from any carrier in any capacity.

Recent reports suggested that major screen-related manufacturing issues have constrained the initial rollout of the mini, with one report claiming that the launch would be delayed due to the scarcity of defect-free screens. Apple instead notified resellers via a late Monday message that it would begin sales on Tuesday, then opened its online store to orders at midnight Pacific Time. The Retina iPad mini starts at $399 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model and climbs to $829 for 128GB LTE models; it is available in the same two colors as the iPad Air.

Update: Apple has officially announced availability of the iPad mini with Retina Display. The press release notes the device will be sold online for shipping or personal pickup at Apple retail stores, or through carriers and select resellers — it’s still unclear when the devices will be sold in Apple stores. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller alluded to the suspected lack of inventory for the device, saying in the press release that “...we’re working hard to get as many as we can in the hands of our customers.”

Report: Apple starting A-series chip production in New York

  • November 11, 2013
  • Apple,

Following rumors earlier this year that Apple was looking to partner with other chip manufacturers, the Times Union reports that preparations are actually under way at GlobalFoundries Fab 8 complex in Malta, New York to produce chips for Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Citing a “source close to the company” the Times Union report also notes that Samsung will be assisting with the start-up of the new manufacturing program, intended to provide a second U.S. source for Apple’s A-series chips. The report also notes that it’s unclear whether GlobalFoundries is being sub-contracted by Samsung or begin contracted directly by Apple as an alternate supplier. A GlobalFoundries spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the story, indicating that the company “does not comment on customer engagements or products unless they do so first.” [via MacRumors]

Apple experiencing rapid market growth in Japan

  • November 11, 2013
  • Apple,

A new report in the Wall Street Journal highlights how Apple has been experiencing rapid market growth in Japan over the past two years, outpacing both the U.S., Greater China, and the rest of Asia. Although Japan hasn’t traditionally been a growth market for most foreign companies, the iPhone has bolstered Apple’s success in the area, thanks to marketing and subsidies from local telephone companies, becoming Japan’s best-selling smartphone with a 37% market share.

Japan’s largest wireless carrier, NTT DoCoMo, began selling the iPhone for the first time in late September, providing another boost to sales and offering aggressive discounts that prompted Japan’s second- and third-largest carriers follow suit; all three companies are now offering the standard iPhone 5s to customers at no upfront cost. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple developing larger, curved-screen iPhones

Apple is working on new iPhone designs that include larger screens with curved glass according to a new report from Bloomberg. Citing a “person familiar with the plans” the report claims that there are two models slated for release late next year that would feature 4.7” and 5.5” displays with glass that curves downward at the edges. Apple is also said to be working on developing enhanced sensors that can differentiate between the pressure of touches on the screen, although these would not likely be available until after the next iPhone release. [via MacRumors]

Report: Apple had interest in BlackBerry patents

  • November 8, 2013
  • Apple,

Apple had “expressed interest” in acquiring parts of BlackBerry Ltd, but Blackberry’s board decided against breaking up the company, according to Reuters. Specifically, both Apple and Microsoft were interested in BlackBerry’s intellectual property and patents, a source said. BlackBerry was also involved in discussions with Cisco, Google, and Lenovo. Apple declined comment on the report.

iPad demo model catches fire in store

An iPad demo model recently caught fire in an Australian store as a “burst of flames” appeared from the charging port, news.com.au reports. The Vodafone store in Canberra was evacuated after the incident, and no one was injured. Though the report only refers to the device as an iPad, other reports — such as this report from the Daily Mail — claim the device was an iPad Air. Apple reportedly sent a representative to investigate the incident. Two shock incidents earlier this year involving iPhone chargers in China prompted Apple to add a power adapter page to its Chinese website, as those accidents were allegedly caused by counterfeit chargers.

Report details inhumane labor practices in Apple’s supply chain

  • November 7, 2013
  • Apple,

A new report from Bloomberg Businessweek gives insight into the workings of Apple’s supply chain, while focusing on the story of one man’s journey to work for Apple supplier Flextronics on the iPhone 5 camera. The report claims such jobs are “so coveted that they’re not merely offered, they’re sold,” detailing how recruiters charge fees from families that are often paid back with loans. Though Flextronics offered to pay the brokers so workers wouldn’t be charged, brokers said the company “demanded so many men so quickly that there was no way to do it without tapping the country’s network of subagents” — Apple itself has noted the subagents “always charge.”

The article tells the story of Bibek Dhong, a 27-year-old Nepalese man who had to pay three recruiters, leaving him more than $1,000 in debt before starting work at Flextronics’ Bukit Raja facility near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Dhong was told not to mention the fees, because he would be “charged and punished.” The report follows Dhong during his work at Flextronics, including a time when Apple was “rejecting about 7 out of every 10 cameras.” A shutdown production left Dhong and fellow workers waiting in their living quarters for more than 20 days before the jobs were eliminated. Dhong and other workers were left stranded in Malaysia, as managers kept the workers’ passports — after a long, harrowing period, Dhong returned home more than two months after he last worked.

Apple spokesman Chris Gaither reiterated Apple’s commitment to ethical treatment of its workers. Gaither said the company aggressively investigates claims of bonded labor, and the company “is continuously auditing deeper into the supply chain,” while noting that “Flextronics’ Bukit Raja facility is no longer in Apple’s supply chain.”

Apps: Anomaly 2, Cobra iRadar 4.0, Google Search 3.1 + Penultimate 5.0.1

Chillingo’s Anomaly 2 ($5) has arrived on iOS after debuting on the Mac earlier this year. The graphically intense tower defense game has an online multiplayer mode which lets gamers play as the alien towers or attacking humans, as well as a standard offline single-player mode with “one million tactical combinations,” according to Chillingo. We’re pretty blown away by the fine detail on the Retina displays of iPads, and although the gameplay is very similar to Anomaly’s, developer 11 Bit Studios has added the ability of units to transform into different configurations for specific situations such as long- or short-range attacks, plus some other tweaks. It’s a very cool sequel to the prior Anomaly titles.

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Cobra iRadar (free) from Cobra Electronics Corporation has a revamped map and a number of new features. A follow-me mode makes it easier to see alert locations on the road ahead. Simple navigation options and live traffic info have been added, as well as map controls and a macro map view. Some of the app’s features are only accessible when using a Cobra iRadar Detector.

Report: Apple to start in-store iPhone 5c, 5s repairs

Apple stores will soon be able to make hardware repairs to the iPhone 5c and 5s, according to a new report. Sources claim the touchscreens will be replaced in-store, with a replacement costing $149 for either device. The stores will also be able to replace the volume buttons, rear camera, speaker system, and vibrating motor on either device, and the Home Button on the iPhone 5c — but likely not the Touch ID Home Button on the 5s. Fees for part replacements will be waived if a device is under AppleCare warranty. [via 9to5Mac]

Pebble watch receives full iOS 7 notifications

Pebble has announced today that its smart watch “is now fully integrated with iOS 7 and works seamlessly with Notification Center.” All enabled notifications will now be pushed to the Pebble — meaning app notifications beyond calls, emails, and texts. A new iOS app will enable the functionality. Pebble claims the app is currently “under review” by Apple, and will be available in the iTunes Store “soon.”

New U.S. Apple factory to produce sapphire

  • November 6, 2013
  • Apple,

Apple will be building a new U.S. manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona, as announced recently by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The factory will create “at least 700 quality jobs in the first year” and will also create about 1,300 construction-related jobs. “We are proud to expand our domestic manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona, creating more than 2,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction,” Apple said in a statement to Pocket-lint. “This new plant will make components for Apple products and it will run on 100 percent renewable energy from day one, as a result of the work we are doing with SRP to create green energy sources to power the facility.”

Although Apple didn’t specify the facility’s use, a separate release from GT Advanced Technologies noted the company “has entered into a multi-year supply agreement with Apple Inc. to provide sapphire material.” GT will own and operate furnaces at “an Apple factory in Arizona.” Apple will pay $578 million to GT, which GT will later reimburse to Apple. It’s noted that GT “will be subject to certain exclusivity terms during the duration of the agreement.” Apple uses sapphire in a number of products, including the iPhone 5s camera lens and Touch ID. More sapphire will be needed if Apple plans on using the Touch ID in other products moving forward, as one would reasonably expect. It’s also possible that additional Apple components could incorporate sapphire in the future, such as fully sapphire screens for iOS devices.

Apple adding suppliers to boost device production

Apple is preparing to add Asian manufacturing partners to increase iOS device production, the Wall Street Journal reports. iPhone 5c manufacturing will reportedly be outsourced to Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. later this year, while Compal Communications will manufacture the iPad mini “starting next year.” The shifts are being made to meet consumer demands.

Apple’s main supplier, Foxconn (Hon Hai), is focusing on making the iPhone 5s, which is in short supply. The report notes Apple’s frustration with Foxconn, stemming from scrutiny of its labor practices and defective iPhone 5 units produced by the manufacturer — Apple declined comment. An unnamed Foxconn executive said, “Apple has raised this quarter’s iPhone 5s orders from Hon Hai as demand has been stronger than expected. But it takes time to boost production capacity and Apple can’t find other assemblers to increase production to meet demand immediately.” Foxconn is taking a “cautious stance” on increasing production of the 5s, the executive said.

iLounge announces Best of the Year Award winners

iLounge has announced its Best of the Year Awards across 16 categories, found in our 2014 iPad/iPhone/iPod Buyers’ Guide. This year’s multiple Award winners included:

• Logitech, winner of Keyboard of the Year and Accessory of the Year Awards for the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, Headphone of the Year Award for UE 900, and Accessory Maker of the Year Award (Editors’ Choice).
• SwitchEasy, winner of the iPhone Case of the Year Award for Numbers (iPhone 5/5c/5s) and tied winner for iPad Case of the Year Award, Canvas for iPad mini.
• Gameloft, winner of Game of the Year Award for Asphalt 8: Airborne and iOS Game Developer of the Year (Editors’ Choice).
• Google, winner of iOS App of the Year Award for Google Maps, and iOS App Developer of the Year Award.

Apple, G-Project, Incipio, Orbotix, Originator, SuperTooth, and ZeroChroma also received Best of the Year Awards in individual categories ranging from Car Accessory to Innovation, iPod Case to Kids’ App, and Speaker of the Year. Thousands of readers cast votes in iLounge’s Readers’ Choice Awards, praising Belkin, Google, and Rovio for their accessories, apps, and games, respectively. Download the 2014 iPad/iPhone/iPod Buyers’ Guide here for all of the details.

iLounge releases 2014 iPad/iPhone/iPod Buyers’ Guide

It’s here — iLounge’s 2014 iPad/iPhone/iPod Buyers’ Guide is now available for download! The newest edition of our guide is our biggest yet, covering everything from the latest iPads, iPhones, and iPods to their best accessories, apps and games. A complete history of the devices, a guide to current prices for used iOS devices, and many more great sections can all be seen in the guide.

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The guide also includes our Best of the Year Awards, including both the Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice Awards. There’s also our comprehensive iGlossary, a new Mac section, and a preview of the iLounge Pavilion at the 2014 International CES. As always, the Buyers’ Guide is a free download.

It is available in a single-page or twin-page “spread” format; the former is optimized for iPhone and iPod touch viewing, the latter for iPad and computer reading. Download your copy today - we hope you enjoy it!

 

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