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Blog spotlights risks in cheap, counterfeit iPad chargers

Comparing $19 Apple iPad 10W USB Power Adapters and clones sold on eBay and elsewhere for $3, Ken Shirriff elucidates the risks unknowingly assumed by buyers of knockoff accessories. Cosmetically all but identical from the outside, the iPad chargers actually differ dramatically inside, with the Apple version providing a more stable flow of 2-Amp power with overheating and electrocution protection. By contrast, the clone produces only around 1-Amp power despite branding to the contrary, and cuts corners on everything from stability of the current to protection against temperature, moisture, and other electrical failures. Beyond supplying an inadequate flow of power to quickly recharge an iPad, Shirriff notes that the counterfeit charger’s board “is unsafe. If you use the charger in a humid bathroom and a drop of water condenses across the 0.6 mm gap, then zap!”

Counterfeit and other low-quality power adapters have been blamed for a number of iPhone-related electrocutions and deaths, most notably but not exclusively in China. In response to concerns, Apple offered to replace knockoff chargers last year for the equivalent of $10 U.S. in local currency. Similar concerns over sparking and exploding iPad chargers have been raised, as well.

Apple to offer India 8GB iPhone 5c with trade-in discount

Apple will launch the 8GB iPhone 5c in India following a brief early-2014 campaign to resuscitate the iPhone 4 there, reports The Times of India, using an old phone trade-in program to make the iPhone 5c more affordable for Indian consumers. According to the report, Apple will price the 8GB model at 35,000-37,000 rupees (approx. $588-$621), with the trade-in program reducing the price to 30,000 rupees (approx. $504)—a discount of only 2,000 rupees (approx. $34) below the 16GB version. The company has struggled to gain market share in India, selling far fewer units than rival Samsung and even regionally-known brands, but is apparently working to increase the average selling price of its devices in the value-conscious country.

Nokia PureView camera expert headed to Apple

Senior Lumia engineer Ari Partinen, who worked on Nokia’s PureView smartphone cameras, has been hired by Apple. Partinen confirmed the move in a tweet.

Nokia has referred to Partinen as the company’s “camera expert.” The PureView cameras are known for their large megapixel sensors, including the 41-megapixel sensor found in the Lumia 1020. [via Engadget]

Beats acquisition confirmed in Facebook post?

After last night’s report that Apple is in talks to acquire Beats Electronics, the deal was seemingly confirmed by a now-deleted post on actor Tyrese Gibson’s Facebook page. In the video, Gibson and Dr. Dre are both seen celebrating, with Dre describing himself as “the first billionaire in hip hop.” The caption to the video read: “How did I end up in the studio with Dr Dre ON THE night his deal went public that he did with Apple 3.2 BILLION!!!!! The BEATS HEADPHONES JUST CHANGED HIP HOP!!!!!!” [via The Verge]

Report: Apple close to acquiring Beats Electronics for $3.2B

Apple is reportedly close to acquiring Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion, according to the Financial Times. A deal with the headphone maker could be announced as soon as next week, sources said, though “talks could still fall apart.” Apple would acquire Beats’ audio equipment business and its streaming music service, Beats Music. The acquisition would be the largest in Apple history, were it to happen. If the acquisition goes through, the Beats management team would report to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Both companies declined to comment on the report.

In February, Cook told the Wall Street Journal, “We have no problem spending 10 figures for the right company, for the right fit that’s in the best interest of Apple in the long-term. None. Zero.” It’s not immediately clear how the acquisition of streaming service Beats Music would affect Apple’s iTunes Radio. Beats Music is a subscription service, unlike iTunes Radio, so the two services could conceivably continue as separate entities, but perhaps Apple has other plans.

Apple posts guidelines for law enforcement data requests

Apple has publicly posted its guidelines for U.S. law enforcement or other government entities requesting information on a new website. As reported recently, Apple states that it “will notify its customers when their personal information is being sought in response to legal process except where providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself….” The company points out it can intercept email with a valid Wiretap Order, but not iMessage or FaceTime communications, due to end-to-end encryption. It’s also reiterated that Apple doesn’t have access to user passcodes, “but may be able to extract some data from a locked device with a valid search warrant.”

Apple PR chief Katie Cotton retiring

Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton is retiring, Re/Code reports. The PR maven has worked at Apple for almost two decades, and she’s long been one of the most powerful, important figures at the image-conscious company. “Katie has given her all to this company for over 18 years,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said in a statement. “She has wanted to spend time with her children for some time now. We are really going to miss her.”

Cotton told Re/Code the decision was a difficult one. “This is hard for me,” she said. “Apple is a part of my heart and soul.”

Report: TSMC shipping fingerprint sensors for new iPhone, iPads

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has already started to supply Apple with fingerprint sensors for its new devices, cecb2b.com reports. According to the report, TSMC started sending Apple fingerprint sensors in mid-April for the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, and third-generation iPad mini. Xintec and Suzhou Jing Fang are reportedly taking care of the assembly. It’s been rumored that Apple’s Touch ID will be included in the new devices — recently, iOS 7.1 code was found to contain a reference to the iPad family within Touch ID resources.

Report: iOS 7 doesn’t encrypt Mail attachments

Security researcher Andreas Kurtz wrote a blog post in late April noting that iOS 7 does not actually encrypt email attachments from the Mail app, as Apple claims. The issue reportedly remains in the current iOS 7.1.1. Kurtz was told by Apple that the company was aware of the issue, “but did not state any date when a fix is to be expected.” It’s possible a patch will be issued in the near future, but for now, it’s advisable to send sensitive files using other, more secure means. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple mulls new App Store-style health and fitness platform

Apple has “aspirations beyond wearable devices” within the health realm, as the company is looking at creating “a full health and fitness services platform modeled on its apps store,” Reuters reports. A source passed on the information after reportedly meeting with an executive member of the iWatch team. The report notes that a health platform modeled after the App Store may create a space for startups to release their own mobile medical applications. Apple has hired a number of biomedical experts in the past year, one of those being former Masimo Corporation chief medical officer Michael O’Reilly. Masimo CEO Joe Kiani said Apple is offering their new hires large salaries, but little information about the work they’ll be doing. “They are just buying people,” Kiani said. “I just hope Apple is not doing what we’re doing.”

Apple awarded $119.6M, Samsung $158K in patent trial

Both Apple and Samsung were found to be guilty of infringing on some of each other’s patents, with a jury awarding Apple $119.6 million and Samsung $158,400. Samsung was found to infringe Apple’s “quick links” patent, and some devices infringed upon Apple’s “slide to unlock” patent as well, CNET reports. Apple was found to infringe upon a Samsung patent for photo and video organization. Neither company got anything close to what it demanded, with Apple seeking $2.2 billion and Samsung looking for $6.2 million. The jury will meet again today to reconsider damages on the infringement of Apple’s autocorrect patent.

Report: Apple acquires micro-LED display company LuxVue

Apple has acquired LuxVue Technology, a company that develops low-power, micro-LED displays, TechCrunch reports. According to the report, Apple acquired LuxVue to “add to their hardware innovations area.” Micro-LED technology could lead to improved battery life and screen brightness in Apple devices. Last year, LuxVue was said to have had “a technical breakthrough in displays.” It’s unknown when Apple acquired LuxVue, and Apple has yet to comment on the report.

Apple to notify users about government data requests

Apple and other companies are updating their policies to “expand routine notification of users about government data seizures,” the Washington Post reports. Microsoft, Facebook, and Google are also taking similar steps, with the report noting the companies would move forward with user notifications about data demands, excepting specific requests by a judge or another legal authority. “Later this month, Apple will update its policies so that in most cases when law enforcement requests personal information about a customer, the customer will receive a notification from Apple,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.

While Apple and the other companies argue that users have a right to know about such requests, the Justice Department believes these new policies will threaten investigations and endanger potential victims. Investigators will be forced to choose between withdrawing data requests, letting users be notified of such requests, or seeking gag orders or search warrants, which take a longer period of time. Not all requests fall under these new policies — any requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are kept secret, as are any national security letters issued by the FBI.

Angela Ahrendts takes over as Apple head of retail

Angela Ahrendts has officially taken over as Apple’s new head of retail. Her official title is Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores, as seen on Apple’s leadership website. Ahrendts was previously CEO of Burberry, and had executive roles at Liz Claiborne and Donna Karan International prior to that. Prior to hiring Ahrendts, Apple was without a retail chief since late October 2012, when John Browett left the company.

iOS 8 features may be pushed to iOS 8.1; Apple TV update still in the works

Apple may push a number of notable features originally planned for iOS 8 back to iOS 8.1, 9to5Mac reports. Some of these features could possibly include Healthbook, an updated Maps app, a standalone iTunes Radio app, VoLTE calling support, and TextEdit and Preview apps, among other additions. Resources are being allocated to the upcoming OS X operating system 10.10 and other projects, which may be the cause of the delayed push to iOS 8.1 for some features, sources said.

It’s also noted that Apple may give “a larger presence” to OS X operating system 10.10 at its Worldwide Developers Conference over iOS 8. iOS 8 could take advantage of a new processor from Apple, referred to as A8 — the successor to its current 64-bit A7 chip.

The report also notes that though Apple planned to introduce a new Apple TV in the first half of this year, it appears obvious that date has been pushed back. It’s possible that Apple’s discussions with Comcast could have contributed to the delay. Apple is reportedly working on both new hardware and revamped software for the Apple TV, but the two things are “not specifically tied together,” and could arrive at different times.

Apple, Samsung make closing arguments in patent trial

Apple and Samsung have made their closing arguments in the latest patent trial between the two companies, with the jury starting deliberations expected to continue throughout today. While Apple is seeking $2.2 billion in damages for alleged patent infringement by Samsung, Samsung is only asking for $7 million from Apple. According to an Apple attorney, failing to award the Cupertino company a large sum for damages would validate Samsung’s “illegal strategy” of copying the iPhone, the Wall Street Journal reports. “We don’t think we owe Apple a nickel,” Samsung lawyer John Quinn said. “They’ll be dancing in the streets of Cupertino if you give them $100 million.”

Lawyers hammered home their key points on Tuesday, with Apple claiming Samsung had to copy the iPhone to make up ground in the smartphone market. “Where was Samsung before the iPhone? You know the answer to that one. They didn’t even have a smartphone,” Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said. Samsung claims it relied on developments by Google that were being developed before the iPhone’s debut.

Apple security hole allowed access to personal developer info

A recent security hole in Apple’s website allowed anyone to access personal information for all registered iOS, Mac, or Safari developers, 9to5Mac reports. The issue was reportedly discovered by developer Jesse Järvi, and 9to5Mac says that the hole was quietly patched Sunday night. A flaw in Apple’s internal Radar application allowed Järvi to access the information — which included cell phone numbers — from the full roster of developers. Information belonging to a number of high-ranking Apple executives was also accessible. Apple will reportedly be issuing a statement in the near future.

Re/Code conference to feature Apple’s Cue, Federighi

Re/Code has announced that its upcoming Code Conference will feature interviews with Apple executives Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi. Apple SVPs Cue and Federighi will speak on the conference’s second night, May 28. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the conference’s predecessor of sorts, All Things D’s D11 conference, following a tradition of Apple CEO appearances. Cook remained mum on new products at the time. It’s unlikely that Cue or Federighi will reveal anything groundbreaking during the interview, but the report notes the two will talk about “a range of things” going on at Apple, “especially in the important mobile sector.”

Apple offers to replace faulty iPhone 5 sleep buttons

Apple is offering to replace faulty sleep/wake buttons on qualifying iPhone 5 units. The company has set up a website for the replacement process, noting that models manufactured through March 2013 may have an issue where the sleep/wake button stops working or works intermittently. Users with faulty buttons can type in their iPhone 5 serial numbers on the site to see if they qualify for replacements. The replacement program is already available in the U.S. and Canada; it will become available in other countries on Friday, May 2.

Additionally, 9to5Mac is reporting that customers who make a Genius Bar appointment for the issue have the option of trading in their device, which could net up to $350 — $80 more than what Apple is offering for non-affected devices. It’s noted that Apple employees “have been instructed not to present this option” unless a customer specifically asks about upgrading to a new phone.

Apple, others settle poaching antitrust suit

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe have agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit regarding no-hire agreements, Reuters reports. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Former employees of the companies were reportedly seeking $9 billion in lost wages, alleging the companies agreed not to hire each other’s employees. The trial was scheduled to start in May.

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