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Apple hires radio exec for iTunes Radio

Apple has hired a top traditional radio executive to help make advertising deals for iTunes Radio, Ad Age reports. Michael Pallad, formerly of Cumulus Media, is now leading international ad sales for iTunes Radio. The report notes that Apple is getting ready to “offer the service widely to advertisers in 2014,” following expiration of initial ad contracts made for iTunes Radio’s mid-2013 launch. Apple is seeking year-long commitments from advertisers that are worth at least $1 million. Apple SVP Eddy Cue has said plans are to bring iTunes Radio to more than 100 countries, with the service expected to launch in a number of countries early next year.

China Labor Watch seeks investigation of Pegatron deaths

China Labor Watch is reporting that several workers at Apple supplier Pegatron have died suddenly, including Shi Zhaokun, a 15-year-old worker. These workers “passed away in a very short period of time,” and Pegatron failed to carry out “in-depth investigations into the causes of death,” according to China Labor Watch. CLW is demanding that Apple and the factory perform autopsies to verify the reasons for the workers’ deaths. Zhaokun reportedly died of severe pneumonia on Oct. 9, though the respiratory infection was apparently determined to be from non-contagious causes. He worked at Pegatron making Apple products, where “the factory demanded workers to work for 12 hours each day.” Pegatron assembles the iPhone 5c, among other products. CLW is seeking donations for an independent autopsy into the boy’s death.

Report: Forstall advising startups, involved in philanthropy

Former Apple Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall has kept busy since his departure from Apple, according to The Information. The new pay site, which lists Forstall as one of technology’s big “free agents,” reports Forstall has traveled to Italy and South Africa in the past year. He’s also advised startups and has become more involved in philanthropy. Apple employees reportedly believe Forstall will start his own company at some point. [via Business Insider]

Lightning developer leaves Apple, redesigns Square Reader

Former Apple accessories head Jesse Dorogusker left the company and joined Square to design the new Square Reader, Wired reports. According to the report, Dorogusker previously led development on Apple’s Lightning connector, and spent eight years heading up the accessories division for Apple before leaving. Wired notes with Square’s new Reader, Dorogusker “had the chance to take a crack at a flagship product.”

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Much of the article focuses on the technical details of developing the new Square Reader, which is 45 percent thinner than Square’s old credit card reader, and no longer requires an internal battery for power. The Reader also improves the tactile feel of card swiping despite its smaller size.

Apple, others call for govt. surveillance reform

Eight major technology companies are making an appeal to reform government surveillance, the Wall Street Journal reports. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn and AOL have drafted an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress — a short version of the letter appears as a full-page ad in several print publications today. The companies have also created a set of reform principles. A joint website, www.reformgovernmentsurveillance.com, has been launched. The site includes the open letter, reform principles, and other details. This effort comes on the heels of new reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has used a previously-unknown ability to activate computer web cameras without triggering their “on” lights, covertly spying on some users; it’s unclear whether Apple’s FaceTime cameras have been compromised with this technique.

Apple quietly releases 74% iOS 7 adoption estimate

Apple has released iOS 7 adoption statistic on its developer website, unusually nestling the information within an App Store Distribution section of the site. The company claims that “74% of devices are using iOS 7,” though it’s interesting how Apple reached that number. It says that the 74% was “as measured by the App Store during a 7‑day period ending December 1, 2013,” which would rule out iOS users who didn’t visit the App Store in that given week, a different and less absolute metric than has been offered by the company in the past. By contrast, Apple suggests that 22 percent of devices are using iOS 6, with 4 percent of devices still using an older edition of iOS.

U.S. Apple Stores now using iBeacon

All 254 U.S. Apple Stores have now implemented Apple’s iBeacon technology, the Associated Press reports. Starting today, customers using the Apple Store app can benefit from in-store notifications as they move around the store, providing information such as orders ready for pick-up, iPhone upgrade eligibility, store events, and more. Notifications can differ based on where a customer is inside the store. The app will switch to “in-store” mode once a customer enters the Apple Store, provided that it has been set to allow location tracking and in-store notifications and Bluetooth are enabled on the iPhone.

Apple acquires social analytics firm Topsy Labs

Apple has acquired social media analytics firm Topsy Labs, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal, which was confirmed by Apple, is reportedly worth more than $200 million. Topsy is a Twitter partner that has full access to all tweets, and the company offers “tools to analyze tweets and other information to help track consumer sentiment,” according to the WSJ. Topsy’s website offers a search engine that allows users to “search and analyze the social web.” The report notes Apple’s plans for Topsy are “unclear,” but speculates the acquisition could benefit Apple’s iTunes Radio efforts in some way.

Apple posts shipping deadlines for Dec. 24 delivery

Apple has posted holiday shipping deadlines on its online store to inform customers of when orders must be placed to receive products by Dec. 24. The site shows when iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macs, and other select accessories must be ordered to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve, for both standard and next day shipping. Notably, customers only have a few days left to receive an iPad mini with Retina display by Christmas Eve, with Dec. 5 being the deadline. The iPad Air can be ordered up until Dec. 9, and the iPhone 5s must be ordered by Dec. 12 for pre-Christmas delivery. Apple’s online store is offering free shipping on all products through Dec. 22.

Apple offers 0% online hardware financing in Europe

Apple is offering 0% financing on select online hardware purchases in many European countries. France, Italy, Spain, and the UK are a number of countries offering the promotion. The promotion differs slightly by country in how many monthly installments are required to pay off the device. There’s also a minimum amount financed for each country’s promotion — for instance, the UK site requires a minimum purchase of £449. The promotion runs through Jan. 10. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple offering Black Friday discounts in EU countries

Following reports of Apple’s Black Friday sales offering gift cards instead of the traditional discounts in Australia, the U.S., and Canada, it now appears that the Apple Store in the U.K. and other European Union countries are continuing to offer discounts for Black Friday promotions. The U.K. Apple Store has MacBooks and iMacs discounted by £80, while iPod and iPad discounts range between £25 and £31. Similar discounts have appeared in other EU countries. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple Black Friday deals start in U.S. and Canada

As expected, Apple has launched its Black Friday promotions in U.S. and Canadian Apple Stores, offering gift cards in place of the discounts that have traditionally been offered. Apple is including a $150 gift card for customers purchasing a Mac, $75 for the iPad Air, and $50 for the non-Retina iPad mini, iPad 2, and iPod touch. Notably, the promotion does not include the new iPad mini with Retina Display.

The gift card promotion also applies to a number of other Apple and third-party accessories, including the Apple TV, Airport Extreme, Time Capsule, Ultimate Ears UE Boom Wireless Speaker, Nest Thermostat, Anki Drive Starter Kit, and Nike+ FuelBand, with gift card values ranging from $25 to $50.

Apple Black Friday deals go live in Australia

Teased at earlier this week, Apple’s Black Friday deals for 2013 have been revealed, with the promotions now appearing in Australian Apple Store due to the time zone difference.

In a departure from prior years where modest discounts were offered on a selection of products, this year’s deals take the form of gift cards included with the purchase of a Mac, iPad, or iPod, as well as certain accessories. Gift card amounts in the Australian Store are AU$150 for a Mac, AU$75 for an iPad, and AU$50 for an iPod. It is likely similar amounts will be offered in the U.S. Store when Apple’s Black Friday deals go live here tomorrow morning. Notably, a gift card is not included with the purchase of the Retina iPad mini.

Report: PrimeSense acquisition to aid Apple maps

Apple’s recent acquisition of Israeli company PrimeSense led many to believe Apple would utilize PrimeSense’s motion tracking technology in a future Apple TV product. However, Jessica Lessin is now suggesting based on her sources that PrimeSense’s tech makes more sense for mapping, which Apple is clearly intent on improving. According to Lessin’s sources, “PrimeSense’s motion-sensing technology for gestural controls is a little bit behind,” but PrimeSense’s chips are already being used by companies that map three-dimensional spaces. Also commenting on the speculation surrounding a new Apple TV product, Lessin hears that Apple is “more interested in set-top boxes for now and that some early prototypes haven’t had motion technology.”

Foxconn production boost reduces iPhone 5s wait

Foxconn has added workers to production lines and is “running its factories around the clock” to reduce waiting times for the iPhone 5s, the Wall Street Journal reports. The 5s is now shipping within three to five business days in the U.S. online store, down from a wait of two to three weeks. As reported last month, the production boost has come at the expense of the iPhone 5c. “We have been churning out about 500,000 iPhone 5s’s everyday, the highest daily output ever,” a Foxconn executive said. The executive also noted the 5s takes longer to assemble than a 5c or iPhone 5.

App Store search now accounts for typos

Apple’s App Store has improved its search engine, which can now find apps despite misspellings and other mistakes, such as extraneous spaces. The changes went into effect a few weeks ago, according to a report. As noted in the article, SEO app firm SearchMan found Google Play’s app search was getting far more results from similar misspellings earlier this year. More results were found in Apple’s App Store during a recent search, along with evidence the App Store is now correcting misspellings. [via TechCrunch]

Apple awarded patent for light field camera system

Apple has been awarded a patent for a digital camera with a refocusable mode, much like the Lytro light field camera, which is sold in Apple’s store. The invention’s description notes that “preferably” the camera would be a portable battery operated device that can include other functions, like an iPhone, rather than a standalone product.

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Apple’s design would allow users to only use the light field capabilities if desired, by switching between a high-resolution non-refocusable mode and low-resolution refocusable mode using an adaptor. iLounge examined the possibilities of Apple using light field photography in future devices last May; Lytro met with late Apple CEO Steve Jobs before his death, and reportedly discussed the prospect of an acquisition or incorporation of the technology into iPhones. [via Apple Insider]

Samsung denied motion to stay patent damages

A judge has recently denied Samsung’s motion to stay a patent infringement damages trial with Apple. Samsung argued the trial should be put on hold due to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent. The motion wasn’t filed until last Wednesday, a day before Samsung was ordered to pay $290 million in additional damages to Apple. Judge Lucy Koh rejected the argument on Monday, saying expediting the case to the Federal Circuit after the ruling would best increase efficiency. [via CNET]

Apple and Danish company collaborate on hearing aid

Apple collaborated with Danish company GN Store Nord in developing the company’s new hearing aid, Reuters reports. The ReSound LiNX hearing aid was first announced in late October by GN Store Nord. Billed as the world’s first MFi hearing aid, the device uses Bluetooth-like technology to stream voice and music from iPhones without using an intermediary device.

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The ReSound LiNX sits behind the ear and comes in 10 hair and skin tone colors. A global launch is expected in the first quarter of 2014. The price is expected to be slightly more than $3,000.

Apple job posting mentions new payment platform

A new Apple job posting seeks a Payments Software Engineer to “help build a next generation payment platform that will push the boundaries in new markets for Apple Retail.” The Senior Software Engineer position is looking for an expert in chip & pin technologies and bank messaging specifications, among other things. Apple’s posting also notes the engineer will “be responsible for integrating payment devices, middleware and acquirers into our retail solution.” [via 9to5Mac]

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