Apple’s search for a new retail chief continues as the company has still not settled on a finalist for the position, The Wall Street Journal reports. Since the departure of John Browett in late October, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been overseeing retail. Wireless and telecommunication executives have been interviewed for the open position, but “rejected as a poor fit,” according to sources. Apple was turned down by a “CEO of a privately held retailer in France,” who believed it would be tough to “change Apple’s culture as an outsider.” Outsiders, however, are all that Apple appears to be interested in, as a source said the company isn’t considering internal candidates for the position. Sales at Apple retail stores are still high, but down 4.5 percent per square foot in this fiscal year.
Apple is now notifying former MobileMe members via email that the free 20GB iCloud storage upgrade they received will be expiring on Sept. 30, as was announced last year. iCloud storage for those users will revert to the free 5GB plan after the complimentary upgrade expires. Users who wish to retain their extra iCloud storage must purchase a storage plan by Sept. 30. An Apple support document provides additional details.
Apple has acquired wireless chip developer Passif Semiconductor, according to a report. Passif specializes in making Bluetooth LE communication chips. The report notes Passif’s technology is “promising for health-monitoring and fitness devices that need extra-long battery life.” It’s been reported that Apple’s upcoming iWatch will be focused on fitness. Apple verified the acquisition, as a company spokeswoman said, “Apple buys small technology companies from time to time.” This is Apple’s known third acquisition in recent weeks, following the company’s additions of Locationary and Hopstop. [via Jessica Lessin]
A new Apple patent application details a system in which a user can use a device such as an iPhone to learn and configure environmental preferences, especially in a car. For example, a user sitting in a car might set up his or her car seat, steering wheel, power mirror, radio, and climate control preferences. An iPhone could conceivably store this information, and “when the user visits another automobile, such as when renting a car, or buying a new car,” the preferences could be imported to adjust the car’s settings.
The system described is a more advanced version of Apple’s iOS in the Car, featured in iOS 7. In some embodiments of the system, a home or room environment can be adjusted — climate control, television, and lighting preferences may be able to be adjusted in a house or a hotel room, for instance. [via Apple Insider]
A recently revealed charger hack for iOS devices has been fixed in iOS 7 beta 4, Reuters reports. The known hack involves using a malicious charger to invisibly install malware on an iOS device in less than a minute, and was officially unveiled at the Black Hat hacking conference on Wednesday. Apple confirmed the latest iOS 7 beta has fixed the issue. The hack will still work on devices running iOS 6.
Apple suppliers are readying mass production in the fourth quarter for a new Retina display iPad mini that will “likely feature” a Samsung screen, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sharp and LG Display will also reportedly make screens for the next iPad mini. The report also notes Apple has “been contemplating multiple color back covers for the new tablet.” A number of reports — including a Wednesday report — have also referenced a non-Retina second-generation iPad mini, but it’s unclear when such a device would be released, if at all.
References spotted in the iOS 7 SDK appear to show that Apple is testing a new, faster iPad mini without a Retina display, 9to5Mac reports. The code refers to the same A6 processor found in Apple’s iPhone 5, which would be faster than the current iPad mini processor. A lack of “@2x” references — generally how developers reference a Retina display — hint that this device would be non-Retina. As the report notes, there is no way to tell whether Apple is merely testing such a model, or if it will be released as a final product. Recent reports have noted that a non-Retina iPad mini could be released this year, possibly as an interim model before a 2014 Retina mini.
Apple CEO Tim Cook met Tuesday with the chairman of China Mobile, Reuters reports. China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, is the only major Chinese carrier not currently offering the iPhone. Cook and China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua discussed “matters of cooperation” in Beijing, according to China Mobile, suggesting that a partnership to sell iPhones to the company’s customers is becoming more likely. It was previously speculated that Cook would meet with China Mobile during his visit.
Foxconn is reportedly looking to hire a remarkable 90,000 workers for production of a new iPhone — likely the iPhone 5S — for its Shenzhen industrial complex. A report out of Taiwan notes that assembly testing has been completed for the device, and claims the company is ready to start production. Reports from multiple outlets in April noted Foxconn had increased hiring to produce Apple’s next iPhone. [via Focus Taiwan]
Apple CEO Tim Cook has returned to China, and held a meeting with Apple partner China Telecom, according to a Chinese report (translated link). The visit is Cook’s second of the year, as the CEO last visited China in January. Cook is also reportedly expected to meet with executives from China Unicom and China Mobile during the trip. Other speculative reasons for the visit could include upcoming iPhone releases, and checking in on supplier Pegatron, which was recently accused of numerous labor violations in a report. During last week’s Q3 2013 financial results conference call, Cook acknowledged sales in China were weaker during the quarter, but noted he was not “discouraged” over a 90-day cycle, saying China was a “huge opportunity” for Apple. [via 9to5Mac]
A group of former Apple retail store employees in New York and Los Angeles have filed a class action suit against the company for lost wages due to lengthy bag searches. The suit claims that improper practices include subjecting hourly employees to “personal package and bag searches,” which are illegal and require workers to wait in line off-the-clock to get clearance checks when leaving for meal breaks and at the end of their shifts.
Examples note plaintiffs being subjected to searches lasting 5 to 15 minutes, without compensation, accounting for 50 to 90 minutes of uncompensated overtime a week. Calculations note the workers in these examples lost an average of $1,400 or $1,500 annually. The lawsuit seeks compensation in unpaid minimum wages, overtime, and waiting time, and seeks to declare the practices as unlawful, requiring “termination or modification.” [via Apple Insider]
A discovery in iOS 7 beta 4 appears to confirm that an upcoming iPhone will include a fingerprint sensor. Hamza Sood tweeted a picture of a folder titled “BiometricKitUI.axbundle” within the code of the upcoming operating system.
From the description, it appears that the code is describing a thumbprint sensor located within the Home Button of an iPhone. It also appears that a user will need to “enroll” in volunteering a thumbprint for the feature, with a progress percentage meter and color-shifting fingerprint image updating a user during the recognition process. Rumors have suggested that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint scanner, likely used for a digital transaction security feature. [via 9to5Mac]
Alongside today’s release of iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has also posted a beta version of iTunes 11 for Registered iOS Developers.
Listed as iTunes 11 beta 1, the new version includes support for iTunes Radio for those in the U.S. It also notes that OS X 10.7 or later is required for iTunes Radio support.
Apple has released the fourth beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the third beta three weeks ago — the fourth beta was expected to be released last Monday, but Apple’s developer site was down last week, delaying the release. iOS 7 beta 4 is now available through Software Update in iOS settings and Apple’s developer portal.
Samsung has notified the courts that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected all claims of Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent, according to a report. The rejection is a “Final Office Action,” but the decision is far from finished, as Apple will have additional opportunities to appeal. Notably, Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent initially had a main claim ruled invalid in a “Final Office Action,” but that claim was later confirmed. In December, the USPTO initially ruled all claims of the “pinch to zoom” patent invalid; this is a continuation of that action. [via FOSS Patents]
Chinese scalpers are booking all available Genius Bar appointments and selling them online, according to the Beijing Morning Post (translated link). Customers looking to book Genius Bar appointments at local Chinese Apple stores often find that all appointments have been taken. After searching for alternatives online, they discover that scalpers are selling the appointments for 10 Yuan to 40 Yuan — about $1.60 to $6.50. Reporters attempted to contact Apple on the matter but did not get a response by press time. [via 9to5Mac]
A new report from China Labor Watch details a number of labor violations within supplier Pegatron — and in doing so, confirms Apple’s upcoming release of a low-cost plastic iPhone. The report leads with “Apple is preparing to release a cheap iPhone,” and notes under Pegatron’s company profile that the company’s assembled products “include iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and low-priced plastic iPhones.” Another section of the report details work on pasting “protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines. This iPhone model with a plastic cover will soon be released on the market by Apple.” The report claims that the phone “has not yet been put into mass production” as of July 9.
Labor violations at Pegatron allegedly include hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, insufficient wages, poor working conditions, poor living conditions, contract violations, environmental pollution, management abuse, and other transgressions in a long list. The report also claims workers must sign a false document on alleged overtime hours — the only purpose of which is “to deceive Apple during inspections.” A May report noted Pegatron would be the primary assembler of Apple’s budget iPhone. [via Computerworld]
Apple senior vice president of technologies Bob Mansfield has left the company’s executive team, a company spokesman has confirmed. Mansfield’s biography was initially removed from Apple’s website yesterday, as noted by MacRumors. Spokesman Steve Dowling said Mansfield would remain at Apple to work on special projects, while reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Mansfield retired last June, then unretired in August as part of a reportedly astonishing pay package. It is unclear whether Mansfield’s secretive work at Apple will continue uninterrupted despite the change, or whether there’s more to the story than has been officially confirmed. [via AllThingsD]
A “small team of notable names in speech technology” has been assembled by Apple to work on Siri, according to a report. The Boston-based team is made up of people who all worked at VoiceSignal Technologies, a speech software company that was purchased by Nuance in 2007. A number of team members have previously worked for Nuance, as well. Apple’s Siri uses Nuance’s speech recognition technology, and the report surmises that “Apple could be signaling a move away from relying on Nuance for Siri’s guts.” There are very few other details about Apple’s intent in the Boston area — even the Siri connection made in the report is based on the team’s online job profiles. [via Xconomy]
New iPhone users have reported that they’ve been unable to activate their phones, as it appears that Apple’s activation servers are experiencing an outage. An AT&T employee has reportedly confirmed the outage. A number of threads discussing activation problems have also popped up in Apple support forums. It appears that the problems began late this morning, and are still unresolved as of this writing. [via MacRumors]