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Foxconn building new $210M Apple production line

Foxconn is investing $210 million to build a new Apple production line in China, according to a new report. Citing local officials, China Daily reports that the line will be located in Huai’an city, in Jiangsu province. The office of Taiwan Affairs in Huai’an said that the plant housing the production line will produce components for Apple. The plant plans to hire over 35,000 employees; the article does not speculate on what types of components or products might be produced at the facility. [via Engadget]

Apple’s NC data center to switch to renewable energy

Apple has announced that it plans to power its Maiden, NC data center using nothing but renewable energy. Reuters reports that Apple is building two solar array installations nearby, which will produce roughly 84 million kWh of energy annually, with a separate bio-gas fuel-cell plant to supply the rest of their energy needs. “I’m not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer. “The plan we are releasing today includes two solar farms and together they will be twice as big as we previously announced, thanks to the purchase of some land very near to the data center in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.” Apple plans for the Maiden facility to be coal-free by the end of 2012.

New HTC handsets face import delay due to Apple

HTC’s new One X and Evo 4G LTE handsets face an indefinite import delay at U.S. Customs due to a prior International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling in Apple’s favor. The Verge reports that both handsets are delayed while Customs investigates whether they infringe upon a specific Apple patent for which Apple won a ban on HTC’s Android devices at the ITC last year. The ban involves a patent covering so-called “data tapping”, or the automatic conversion of chunks of text such as dates, phone numbers, and email addresses into tappable items. According to the report, the ban was delayed so HTC could engineer around Apple’s patent, but went into effect on April 19.

“The US availability of the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed due to a standard U.S. Customs review of shipments that is required after an ITC exclusion order,” HTC said in a statement. “We believe we are in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with Customs to secure approval.”

Apple rebrands third-gen iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G

Apple over the weekend quietly went about changing the official name of its third-generation iPad with cellular data capabilities. Previously known as the Wi-Fi + 4G model, it is now referred to on Apple’s website and in its retail locations as the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. It “connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi and fast mobile data networks,” reads the description on Apple’s UK online store. Apple had been facing scrutiny from regulators in several countries, which claimed that the “4G” moniker was misleading as the device didn’t support 4G LTE networks anywhere but in the US and Canada. [via 9to5Mac]

iCloud.com beta site reveals Notes, Reminders access

A beta version of Apple’s iCloud.com online tools has revealed that the company plans to add Notes and Reminders access to the site. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith discovered the beta.icloud.com site by accident this morning, and posted a screenshot showing a beta message that read “The beta version of iCloud.com requires a developer account and setting up your Apple ID with latest iOS or OS X.” Behind the pop-up were the icons for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, a missing image marker that was later discovered to be the iWork icon, and two new icons for Notes and Reminders. Further investigation of the site by 9to5Mac discovered that the code for the site made references to iOS 6, specifically, “To use beta.icloud.com, first sign in to iCloud with the iOS 6 Beta.” Apple has since pulled the website, but it appears likely that Apple will officially open the site alongside the release of a beta version of iOS 6.

Apple, others sued over 3G networking

Apple and a number of other major manufacturers have been sued in US District Court in California by a company called Golden Bridge Technology. GigaOM reports that Golden Bridge claims that devices such as the iPhone infringe on a patent from 2000 regarding chips that share data sequence signals across channels. Further, Golden Bridge claims that this patent is essential to 3G communication standards. Along with Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Pantech, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sierra Wireless, Sony, and ZTE are also named in the suit, which is seeking damages from each company.

Apple to share cost of improving Foxconn factories

Apple and Foxconn will share the initial costs of improving labor conditions at the latter’s factories. Reuters reports that Foxconn chairman Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but did way that he regards recent criticism of the working conditions at his company’s factories as unfair. “We’ve discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength,” Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai. “I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs.” Foxconn, which assembles a number of Apple products including the iPhone and iPad, raised wages for its workers by 16 to 25 in February, and reached an agreement with Apple in March to hire tens of thousands of new workers in an effort to reduce overtime work.

Apple testing notifications on iCloud.com

Apple is testing the use of iOS-style notifications on iCloud.com, according to a new report. Citing a reader tip that was subsequently confirmed by other staff members, TUAW reports that the notifications appear in the middle of the screen, and currently use placeholder text, stating “Default Title for English” and “English - This is test message description”. Apple has not made any announcement of web-based iCloud notifications, and would likely need to integrate more functionality into the website to make the notifications truly useful, as Mail and Calendar are the only current web-based applications that could fully take advantage of such a system.

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Apple today released iOS 5.1.1 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, iOS 5.1.1 contains several improvements and bug fixes, including improvements for HDR photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut, a fix for bugs that could prevent the third-generation iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks, fixes for bugs that affected AirPlay video playback, improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List, and a fix for an issue where an “Unable to purchase” alert could be displayed following a successful purchase. iOS 5.1.1 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and is available now via the update feature in iTunes or as an over-the-air update. To update your iOS device over-the-air, open Settings, tap on General, and tap on Software Update.

Apple hit with class action suit over iTunes billing

Apple has been sued by a New York-based iTunes customer who claims he was double-billed for a song. Justia reports that Robert Herskowitz was charged twice for the song “Whataya Want from Me”, and Apple refused to refund him for the extra charge. “Your request for a refund for “Whataya Want from Me” was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are ineligible for refund,” Apple’s response read, according to the lawsuit. “This policy matches Apple’s refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.” Herskowitz is seeking class action status for the suit.

Apple expands iTunes Connect language support

Apple has announced that it has added support for 10 new languages to iTunes Connect. “We have expanded language support in iTunes Connect, so you can localize app metadata, keywords, and screenshots in 10 new languages: Traditional Chinese, Norwegian, Turkish, Finnish, Danish, Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese, and Greek,” reads a notice on Apple’s Developer site. iTunes Connect, the suite of web-based tools developers use to submit and manage apps on the App Store, now offers support for more than 25 languages.

Apple updates iPhoto, GarageBand, iMovie

Apple has released minor updates to its iLife apps for iOS with a number of small enhancements, bug fixes and stability improvements. iPhoto 1.0.1 adds the ability to copy the URL of an iCloud-published photo journal to the clipboard using a Copy Link button and addresses an issue related to duplicate photos appearing in photos view. GarageBand 1.2.1 fixes an issue with crashing or missing songs when sharing to iCloud, resolves login issues with SoundCloud and Facebook accounts in addition to addressing other minor performance and stability issues. iMovie 1.3.1 adds the ability to access Help when editing projects in the iPad version and resolves an issue where incorrect frames were sometimes shown when splitting clips.

iTunes Match rolls out to several new countries

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Apple is in the process of rolling out its iTunes Match service in a number of new countries. 9to5Mac reports that users in Italy, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, and Austria can now sign up for the service, although they have yet to be added to Apple’s official list of countries in which the service is available. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices.

Apple hires Yahoo! exec for iAd team

Apple has hired Jessica Jensen, a former executive at Yahoo!, to its iAd team, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, AllThingsD reports that Jensen will work for recently-hired iAd head Todd Teresi. At Yahoo!, Jensen was in charge of the women’s site Shine, as well as its lifestyles and health content businesses.

Apple, Samsung to meet in late may

Apple and Samsung are set to meet for court-overseen talks in late May. AllThingsD reports that the companies will meet in San Francisco on May 21-22, with Apple CEO Tim Cook and general counsel Bruce Sewell expected to attend. The talks will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, and will be focused on resolving the numerous patent disputes between the two companies. As noted in our prior report, the court can obligate the two companies to meet and talk, but cannot force a settlement.

Apple plans new off-site employee cafeteria

Apple has received approval from the Cupertino Planning Commission to build a new 21,468 square foot cafeteria exclusively for company employees several blocks away from the its Infinite Loop headquarters. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the cafeteria is being built, in part, to give employees working at Apple’s various office buildings in the area a place to freely talk business without the threat of eavesdropping from competitors. “We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research and whatever project they’re engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations,” Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s director of real estate facilities, said at a meeting of the Commission. “That is a real issue today in Cupertino because we’ve got other companies here in our same business.” According to the report, the two-story cafeteria will have a cafe, meeting rooms, lounge areas, and courtyard space, as well as an underground garage.

Apple Stores replacing kids iMacs with iPads

Apple has started replacing with iPads the iMacs that have traditionally served as kids’ areas in its retail stores. iMore reports that the kids’ tables, which previously held four iMac computers in an outward-facing display, now sport four iPads instead. As with the iMacs, the iPads have a variety of kid-friendly apps installed; it is unclear when the switch was made, or if Apple has yet made the switch at all of its retail stores. [via MacRumors]

Apple, others sued over voice-controlled phones

Apple has been named in a new lawsuit targeting the manufacturers of cellular phones with voice control capabilities. Colorado-based Potter Voice Technologies has filed a federal patent infringement suit against Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Google, HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE, Kyocera, Sharp, Huawei, Pantech, RIM, and Nokia, claiming that all phones containing voice command functionality violate its 14-year-old patent. “Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Voice Actions make cell phones and other electronic devices much more useful for customers, but those products and others would never have been possible if not for the technology embodied in Potter’s patent,” said IP attorney Christopher Banys, who is representing Potter. “The defendants have collected a fortune using Potter’s technology, and we are asking the court for at least a reasonable royalty based on their unauthorized use.”

WWDC 2012 sells out in record two hours

Just announced this morning, Apple has already sold out of tickets for its 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference. According to a notice on Apple’s official WWDC website, tickets are sold out, roughly two hours after they went on sale. “We’ll be posting videos of all our sessions shortly after the conference, so everyone can take advantage of great WWDC content for free,” reads a consolatory message. Last year’s conference sold out in just 12 hours.

Apple sets dates for WWDC 2012: June 11-15

Apple this morning announced that it will hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference June 11 through June 15 at its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco. According to the company, developers at this year’s conference will “learn about the future of iOS and OS X”, and will have access to more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers. The announcement lacks any mention of a Keynote Address; however, Apple has in the past used a later announcement—traditionally closer to the event itself—to outline its Keynote plans.

“We have a great WWDC planned this year and can’t wait to share the latest news about iOS and OS X Mountain Lion with developers,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The iOS platform has created an entirely new industry with fantastic opportunities for developers across the country and around the world.”

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