- November 18, 2013
A federal appeals court made a decision on Monday that will give Apple another chance to seek sales bans of certain Samsung devices, the Wall Street Journal reports. The appeals court ruled unanimously that Judge Lucy Koh “made errors” when denying Apple’s request to ban 26 Samsung products from sale in the U.S. last year. The WSJ reports Koh “should spend more time considering evidence” presented by Apple, as requested by the court. Apple and Samsung are currently facing off again in court for a retrial based on Samsung’s infringement of iPhone patents, as the companies battle over damages.
Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta to developers. The download is available within Apple’s developer portal. Initial indications are that the software addresses bugs in the original iOS 7 release, however, additional features may have been quietly added.
All prior iOS 7 device models can run 7.1, however, the release is not yet intended for general consumption.
- November 18, 2013
Apple has bought PrimeSense for $345 million, according to a report from Israeli publication Calcalist. PrimeSense is the company behind Microsoft’s Kinect technology, which uses motion sensors to track body movements. A report from this summer revealed Apple was negotiating to acquire the company, noting the deal could cost $280 million. It’s possible Apple is looking to use the technology in a next-generation Apple TV or its anticipated TV set. PrimeSense made a statement to Business Insider, which concluded with: “We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors.” However, the Calcalist report notes the transaction will be officially published “in the next two weeks.”
Apple is currently offering free Smart Cases to customers who are still awaiting shipments of their Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini with Retina display. Via telephone at 1-800-692-7753, Apple customer service representatives are offering either the free case or a free Smart Cover to customers who have been waiting for a new cellular Retina iPad mini, and call to inquire about the delay/status of the shipment.
Following forum reports, iLounge has confirmed that Apple representatives are offering the Smart Case to customers. Most iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular pre-orders placed on the first day of availability appear not to have shipped, however, many Wi-Fi-only units have shipped in varying capacities and colors.
Apple has released updated versions of its iBooks and iTunes U apps with new designs for iOS 7. The new versions replace the older wood textured design with a new white shelf look consistent with the built-in iOS 7 Newsstand app and new iOS 7 icons.
Like most of the new iOS 7 design philosophy, the updated apps depart from the prior skeuomorphic textures and book-like visual elements such as wood shelves, covers, and page depth, the visual page turning animations remain in place much as they were before, although expanding the animation to include on-screen controls and intersecting into the status bar.
Apple has released iOS 7.0.4. The update is listed as including unspecified bug fixes and improvements.
Notably, an issue that caused FaceTime calls to fail has been fixed within the update. The update is available now over the air.
Update: iOS 6.1.5 was also released for the fourth-generation iPod touch. The update fixes the FaceTime bug on the device.
- November 13, 2013
Apple and Samsung have started a retrial for damages owed by Samsung for infringement of Apple patents. Attorneys for both companies have made opening statements — Apple is seeking $380 million in additional damages, while Samsung believes it should only pay $52 million. Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in August 2012 after Samsung was found guilty of violating numerous iPhone patents, but the awarded damages were reduced in March. Samsung now owes about $600 million, and the new damages will be owed on top of that amount — Apple is trying to get almost all of the full initial award back.
Apple attorney Harold McElhinney referenced an internal Samsung document as “conclusive evidence Apple lost sales because of Samsung.” Samsung’s attorney, Bill Price, said “Apple is asking for more money than it’s entitled to.” The difference in damage claims comes from lost profits — Apple maintains it’s owed money for lost profits, Samsung’s profits, and royalties, while Samsung doesn’t believe Apple is owed anything at all for lost profits. [via CNET]
- November 13, 2013
Apple is under investigation in Italy for allegedly “hiding” more than 1 billion Euros ($1.34 billion) from Italian tax authorities, Reuters reports. “The Apple investigation is under way,” a judicial source said. Apple’s Italian subsidiary was not available for comment. The company has already faced increased scrutiny into its tax practices this year, and tax authorities in Italy have been stepping up investigations into multinational corporations.
- November 13, 2013
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
- November 11, 2013
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]
- November 11, 2013
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]
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]
- November 8, 2013
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.
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.
- November 7, 2013
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.”
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]
- November 6, 2013
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 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.