- October 8, 2014
Following news earlier this week that Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advance Technologies had filed for bankruptcy, Reuters reports that Apple has stated it was “surprised” by the news and is now considering its next steps. An Apple spokesman noted that the company “focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT’s surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps.” GT has still not provided any real explanation as to its sudden bankruptcy filing, however the company has stated that it will clarify the situation during its first Chapter 11 bankruptcy court hearing, set for Thursday, Oct. 9.
- October 8, 2014
Apple has sent out invitations to its upcoming event on Thursday, Oct. 16. “It’s been way too long,” says the invitation. As usual, the event will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The company is expected to introduce its new iPads at the event, in addition to new iMacs.
- October 6, 2014
Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has announced that its has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company expects the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire to authorize GT to continue “business as usual” while focusing on reorganization. GT Advanced had approximately $85M in cash as of Sept. 29; the company is now hoping to obtain debtor-in-possession financing for a boost in funds. “GT has a strong and fundamentally sound underlying business,” GT President and CEO Tom Gutierrez said. “Today’s filing does not mean we are going out of business; rather, it provides us with the opportunity to continue to execute our business plan on a stronger footing, maintain operations of our diversified business, and improve our balance sheet.”
It’s unclear what the bankruptcy filing means for GT’s working relationship with Apple. Not only does Apple use sapphire for its Touch ID sensors and iPhone camera covers, but the stainless steel and 18-karat gold models of its upcoming Apple Watch will feature sapphire screen covers. There were reports that Apple would use sapphire more extensively in the newest iPhone 6 models, including front screen covers, but the parts never materialized. Reports have variously suggested that the sapphire screen covers missed shipment deadlines to be included in the iPhones, or that they failed damage tests prior to being included.
- October 3, 2014
Apple will hold its next special event on Thursday, Oct. 16, according to Re/code. The company will unveil “the latest updates to its iPad line” at the event, in addition to new iMacs and the public release of OS X Yosemite. This time around, the event is being held at Apple’s Town Hall Auditorium in Cupertino. It’s expected that we’ll see new, faster iPads with Touch ID, possibly with a gold color option.
Many users are having issues with Bluetooth connectivity following the update to iOS 8 earlier this month, as noted in a recent report from MacRumors. Reports from numerous users on the Apple Support forums and MacRumors forums indicate problems with connecting not only to car audio systems but also headphones, speakers, headsets, and more. Some have reported that Apple support is aware of the incompatibility issue with “some car/navigation Bluetooth” systems, pertaining at least to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and has said it is working on a fix. The problem with car audio systems appears to affect a wide variety of models, including Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, and more. iLounge’s editors have experienced problems with the iPhone 6 Plus but not older iPhone models, although there are reports that other users of older devices are in fact experiencing similar problems. There have also been developer reports that Apple may have already addressed this issue in the iOS 8.1 beta released earlier this week.
Apple has released a new beta for iTunes 12. We took an in-depth look at the first iTunes 12 beta in late July, and we’ll update this story with changes found in the new edition. The latest beta includes a few more cosmetic changes, such as simplifying certain Preferences screens, adding media categories with keyboard shortcuts to the View menu, and improving support for viewing sync settings when multiple iOS devices or iPods are connected.
- October 2, 2014
Apple has appointed Steve Dowling as its new interim head of public relations for the company, Re/Code reports. A long-time member of Apple’s PR team, Dowling has been chosen to lead corporation communications following the retirement of Apple VP Katie Cotton earlier this year. Although a June report indicated that Apple had been looking for a “high-profile external candidate” to fill the position, it seems the company has decided to promote internally, at least for the time being—the Re/Code report notes that the company “will continue to evaluate worthy outside candidates if one should pop up.”
Apple has filed a patent application titled “Browsing remote content using a native user interface,” describing ways in which an iOS application could serve as a second screen controller for an Apple TV. In contrast to Apple’s existing Remote app, this design would present the user with a more full-featured Apple TV or iTunes interface. The specific interface would be determined by the Apple TV and simply rendered by the iOS application in a manner appropriate to its own screen, effectively allowing for the UI to be presented in a variety of different ways appropriate to the content being browsed, searched for, or viewed. The patent application also suggests that users could simultaneously control the media device and search for or browse information from other sources “not available to the media device,” such as the web, and transmit information from the remote to the Apple TV — for example, users could visit an external web page featuring trivia for a movie currently being viewed, and then send that information back to be displayed on the Apple TV. The application also suggests ways in which iCloud or “other network-accessed sources” could store information or user interface templates specific to different devices, and ways to sync such information across multiple devices.
Apple will add a new gold color option to its newest iPad Air likely to be unveiled this month, Bloomberg reports. The gold color, which has been an iPhone color option since last year’s iPhone 5s, is reportedly being added to the lineup to boost sales. Interestingly, the report makes no mention of whether the next iPad mini will also come in gold. Apple declined comment.
- September 30, 2014
Apple has announced that it will release its Q4 financial results on Monday, October 20. The company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. ET that day. For the third quarter, Apple previously provided guidance for Q4 of revenue between $37 billion and $40 billion, and gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent. As always, iLounge will provide live coverage of the results.
- September 30, 2014
Europe’s best-selling computer magazine, Computer Bild, has been blacklisted by Apple PR after posting a video of an iPhone 6 Plus being bent by one of its journalists. In a response to an inquiry from the magazine regarding the build quality of the iPhone 6 Plus, a manager from Apple’s German PR branch responded by telling Computer Bild that they will no longer receive any testing devices nor invitations to Apple events. While the video in question appears to be showing an excessive amount of force being applied to bend the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s punishment is a harsh response, particularly considering that the company has been openly addressing multiple publications testing for iPhone build quality issues. However, such a response is consistent with Apple PR’s unfortunately heavy-handed approach to media relations, and blacklisting is not an uncommon response to publications that even briefly present Apple or specific products in a less-than-ideal light.
Computer Bild has responded with an open letter to Tim Cook, questioning Apple’s response and suggesting an attempt at intimidation by the company, while promising to retain its independent judgment when testing and reviewing devices.
- September 30, 2014
Special tax deals granted to Apple in Ireland may in fact be illegal, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. European Union regulators indicated that the tax deals in question “constituted illegal state support for the companies.” In a letter to the Irish government, regulators stated that they had reached the “preliminary view” that the tax deals with Apple from 1991 and 2007 technically constituted state aid, in that the deals gave Apple an advantage which was “granted in a selective manner.” Apple responded to the allegations as it has in the past, stating that the company has “received no selective treatment from Irish officials over the years,” and that it is “subject to the same tax laws as the countless other companies who do business in Ireland.” An Irish government official stated that Ireland is confident no rules were breached in this matter. While the antitrust investigation is still in the early stages, a final ruling against the tax deals could result in Apple having to pay up to $200 million in back taxes to Ireland.
Apple has released the first beta of iOS 8.1 to registered developers. The latest version features a build number of 12B401 and appears to contain mostly minor tweaks and fixes, including the ability to disable Dictation independently from Siri, and a renaming of “Recently Added” photos back to “Camera Roll.” A report from MacRumors also notes that the beta includes hidden settings for Apple Pay as well as underlying code for iPad Touch ID support.
Apple has announced that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in China starting on Friday, Oct. 17. Pre-orders start a week earlier, on Oct. 10. The two new iPhones have been released in a number of countries since the initial launch on Sept. 19, but the Chinese release was delayed for regulatory reasons, making it unclear when the phones would be available. According to Reuters, Apple received approval for selling the devices after addressing a number of security concerns raised by the Chinese government.
“We are thrilled to bring iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to our customers in China on all three carriers at launch,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a release. “With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers will have access to high-speed mobile networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom for an incredible experience.”
Apple is currently working on iOS 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 at the same time, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that such a move away from Apple’s normal development cycle might show that the company won’t tie annual major iOS releases to typical fall hardware releases. Otherwise, Apple may be accelerating its iOS point release development while keeping iOS 9 for release next fall. It’s possible that the upcoming releases of 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 will introduce major new features, such as Apple Pay, split-screen iPad apps, or an update to make iPhones compatible with the Apple Watch.
Paris-based fashion retailer Colette is teasing a “one day only experience” with Apple, to be held September 30th from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM local time. While no other details are available, it seems plausible that this may involve the recently-debuted Apple Watch, particularly since Apple has been working with the fashion industry to style and position the device as a fashion accessory. The invitation image clearly resembles the Apple Watch home screen icon layout, and although it seems unusual that Apple would publicly demonstrate Watch this far ahead of its release, the event could be more focused on showing off the physical aesthetics of the device, special wristband options, or a new distribution option for these products. [via 9to5Mac]
A new report in the Washington Post reveals that new features in iOS 8 intended to limit tracking of iPhones may be more limited than users might expect. According to Apple’s Privacy Page, iOS 8 will protect user’s privacy by “randomizing your device’s MAC address when the device is passively scanning for Wi-Fi networks,” thereby preventing persistent tracking of a device based on the normally-fixed hardware addresses that are common to all Wi-Fi devices.
However, a new post from a principal systems engineer of the WiFi analytics firm AirTight Networks, Bhupinder Misra, reveals that the feature may not be as useful as Apple’s description implies. Misra specifically notes that the privacy feature is limited to the iPhone 5c/5s and likely newer models, and in fact is only operational when the iPhone is in sleep mode and location services are disabled. For example, Misra explains, the device’s actual Wi-Fi hardware address is broadcast whenever a user wakes up their iPhone for just about any reason, such as sending a text message—even if they’re not connecting to a Wi-Fi network but simply relying on their carrier’s cellular data connection.
Although a publicly available iOS Security White Paper from Apple explains some of these limitations, it makes no mention of the requirement that location services be disabled, making it unclear whether this is intentional behaviour or a bug in the feature’s implementation. It is also worth noting, however, that the Wi-Fi hardware address only reveals the identity of a specific device; no personal information about the user of the device is accessible in this manner. In other words, a store could track how often a specific customer had visited their store based on their device’s Wi-Fi address, but would be unable to identify the specific customer with this method unless they connected to the store’s Wi-Fi network and specifically provided personal information in some way, such as signing onto a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Apple’s quickly-pulled iOS 8.0.1 update was overseen by the same manager in charge of catching problems with Apple Maps before that program was released, according to Bloomberg. The report claims mid-level manager Josh Williams oversees quality assurance for iOS, and Williams was also in charge of quality control for Apple’s much-maligned Maps release in 2012. A source said Williams was removed from the Maps team “after the software gave users unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks,” but he remained in charge of iOS testing. Williams has reportedly been working on quality control for iPhone software “since early iterations of the product,” and he leads a team of more than 100 people worldwide.
Former employees said the company relies on people to find bugs more than it uses automation-testing. The report also notes that engineers in charge of testing new software “often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets.” Only senior managers can use unreleased iPhones without special permission, sources said.
Apple has released iOS 8.0.2 tonight, just one day after releasing and pulling iOS 8.0.1, which was immediately received with complaints of cellular and Touch ID issues from iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. iOS 8.0.2 resolves those problems, and also allows HealthKit apps to be available on the App Store, among other fixes.
Update: Some Australian users are still experiencing cellular and Touch ID problems after installing iOS 8.0.2, according to MacRumors.
Apple has issued an official response to the controversy surrounding alleged problems with iPhone 6 units bending during normal use, stating that it has received complains from only nine customers, and that the iPhones “feature steel/titanium inserts to reinforce stress locations.”
ALERT: Apple says only 9 customers have complained to the company about bent iPhones. (via @jonfortt)— CNBC Tech (@CNBCtech) September 25, 2014
Apple: New iPhones feature steel/titanium inserts to reinforce stress locations and use the strongest glass in the industry. (via @jonfortt)— CNBC Tech (@CNBCtech) September 25, 2014
The company also told the Wall Street Journal that cases of the iPhone 6 bending through normal use are “extremely rare,” and that both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have undergone “a series of tests meant to check the products’ strength and durability to withstand every day, real-life use.” [via 9to5Mac]