Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn has admitted to hiring underage interns as young as 14 years old, but the company claims that the hiring was somehow accomplished despite its policies. In a statement issued after performing an internal investigation at its Yantai facility, the company found working interns ranging in age from 14 to 16; China’s legal working age is 16. “This is not only a violation of China’s labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions,” the company said.
The Foxconn statement follows a recently-issued statement from China Labor Watch about underage interns working at Foxconn. “The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible (sic), but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers,” China Labor Watch said. [via CNET]
Apple has hired Amazon exec William Stasior to run its Siri unit, according to a report from AllThingsD. With a doctoral degree from MIT, Stasior was recently in charge of A9, Amazon’s search and search advertising unit, which he co-founded, and previously served as an executive with AltaVista. Although Stasior will be in charge of Siri, the report speculates Stasior could also help to boost Apple’s search and search advertising technology. Apple’s Siri unit has notably lost two co-founders in the past year — Adam Cheyer left recently, and co-founder and former CEO Dag Kittlaus left last October — raising further questions about Apple’s ability to retain key personnel after major acquisitions.
Apple is actively taking steps to stop using Samsung’s technology in its devices, a senior Samsung official told The Korea Times. Industry sources claim that Apple used Samsung only to manufacture the A6 microprocessor found in its iPhone 5 — the design and development were done by Apple alone. By comparison, Samsung is believed to have previously contributed to the design of Apple’s A-series chips to some extent.
Apple’s recent deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing for the future production of quad-core processors could completely sever the connection between Apple and Samsung, which is already strained due to patent battles between the two companies. A report claims TSMC will produce Apple’s A7 processors free of Samsung technologies, starting in 2014.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak opines that Apple has been arrogant regarding the iPhone 5, during a podcast interview with TechCentral. “Part of me wishes that Apple had not been so … kind of arrogant and feeling, ‘We’re the only ones with the right clue,’ ” Wozniak said, noting that he wishes Apple would have made a wider version of the iPhone 5.
“I think Apple tricked itself and said, ‘Oh, you can reach everything with one thumb’ and I don’t see anybody having any trouble using the larger screens,” Wozniak said. “So you can do everything with one thumb, but Apple said that as a defensive move, because when the other phones came out, they all had larger screens. And now Apple had to get defensive.”
“I see all the modern smartphones, big, big, big, big, big and then there’s the iPhone,” he said. “…You get a feeling you’re getting more with a larger screen.” The interview covers a number of other topics, as well, including Wozniak’s wishes for a more open Apple and thoughts on the ongoing patent wars. [via Macworld UK]
Apple and the Swiss national railway (SBB) have reached a licensing agreement for Apple’s use of the iconic SBB clock design, the SBB announced. Following the release of iOS 6 with a new iPad-specific Clock application, Apple was accused of stealing the SBB design, and similarities between the software and SBB’s clocks were obvious. The SBB looked for credit and/or compensation from Apple, which apparently didn’t take long. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. [via The Verge]
Apple will likely unveil the iPad mini at a special event on October 23, according to AllThingsD. A claim from Fortune that Apple planned to send out event invites on October 10 for an October 17 event turned out to be false, but sources tell AllThingsD the iPad mini will indeed be revealed within two weeks. There is still no word on an official launch date.
An Apple patent filing reveals a technique that would allow certain components of a device to be concealed until needed. The patent suggests that components could switch between transparent or opaque states, with the user instructing the device to reveal a component, which could contain a biometric sensor, image capture device, or strobe flash, among other possibilities.
Regarding the prospect of a concealed biometric sensor component, recent news indicates that Apple has been actively investigating fingerprint recognition technology. Apple recently struck a deal with Microlatch, a company that has patented technology for registering fingerprints on a device for financial transactions, and in July, Apple agreed to purchase AuthenTec, a company that makes chips for mobile phones, fingerprint recognition, and near-field communication. [via Patently Apple]
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt had plenty to say about Apple in a recently posted interview with AllThingsD. Schmidt said the Android-Apple platform fight is “the defining contest” in the industry right now, mentioning there are “four times more Android phones than Apple phones,” and noting that consumers are benefitting from the companies’ competition.
Schmidt also suggested that Apple should have kept Google’s maps, noting that “They’re better maps,” while mentioning that Apple’s decision to make its own maps was made long ago. He underscored that a new Google Maps app would need Apple’s approval, and that not all Google apps have been approved by Apple in the past.
Among other comments in the interview, Schmidt said the patent wars “are a disaster for all of us.” And when asked if he’d rather be a CEO again, if choosing between Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, he said, “I was on Apple’s board, and I’ll always have a soft spot for them,” ultimately answering the question with, “Which one has the most cash? That would be Apple.”
Production of the iPhone 5 is slowing as Apple aims to reduce obvious damage to units leaving its factories, confirms Bloomberg, noting that Apple has indeed instituted tighter quality control standards at contract manufacturer Foxconn. Customers have reported scratches and nicks on their brand new iPhones, which Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller claimed was “normal”. According to the report, the new, stricter benchmarks have caused a shortage of parts, even halting production at a factory in Shenzhen for a day. Notably, an earlier report had claimed that workers at contract manufacturer Foxconn briefly went on strike in response to the new quality control demands, though Foxconn denied that a stoppage had taken place. Apple has not made an official statement on the quality control changes.
A just-issued China Labor Watch report claims that thousands of workers at Foxconn, Apple’s contract manufacturer, went on strike following heightened quality control demands for the iPhone 5. The new standards apparently limit dents in the aluminum body to 0.02mm or less, and relate to “scratches on frames and back covers.”
Some early purchasers of the iPhone 5 noted the presence of scratches and/or dents on the aluminum bodies of newly-opened devices, as discussed in iLounge’s comprehensive review of the device, and although Apple’s marketing chief dismissed them as “normal,” the company apparently quietly attempted to improve the quality control standards to guarantee that such marks would not be visible to customers.
According to the report, Foxconn’s workers were unable to “turn out iPhones that met the standard,” claiming that the new guidelines were too difficult to meet without proper training, and suggesting that the iPhone’s design is flawed. Fights between workers broke out, leading to injuries, property damage, and additional physical threats, which were allegedly ignored by Foxconn management, subsequently leading to a work stoppage. China Labor Watch blames Foxconn pressure on the workers, including limits on vacation time during Chinese holidays, for contributing to the issues. [via AppleInsider]
Update: Foxconn denied that a strike or workplace stoppage had taken place, conceding that two fights had broken out but claiming that they were quickly addressed by management. The company also said that workers had been paid three times their normal wages for labor over the Chinese holiday break, which they had undertaken voluntarily. Regardless, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that quality inspectors had indeed briefly halted their efforts after a workplace clash at Foxconn.
Marking the one year anniversary of former CEO Steve Jobs’ untimely passing, Apple this morning posted a brief video tribute and letter on its home page. Describing Jobs’ death as “a sad and difficult time for all of us,” current Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his “hope that today everyone will reflect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place.” An embedded video runs for under two minutes, including photos of Jobs and brief audio snippets from several of his most memorable product introductions, overlaid atop a Yo-Yo Ma rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1: Prelude.
Cook’s letter says that Apple was one of Jobs’ greatest gifts to the world, and that “[n]o company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself. Our values originated from Steve and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.” The letter is reprinted in full below.
A patent application from Apple reveals the company has been exploring hybrid wireless headphones that could detach from a cable if needed. Convenience during physical activity is noted as the reason for Apple’s investigation of this headphone design, which would allow a user to use corded headphones, magnetically detaching the top half of the cables for wireless listening while using the bottom half of the cord to transmit audio to the detached headphones.
While most iPods now have integrated Bluetooth transmitters, a feature that would minimize the need for special headphones, the Mar. 29, 2011 patent filing uses images of the sixth-generation iPod nano, and hints at a 3.5mm headphone port-based recharging solution for the headphones akin to the iPod shuffle. [via AppleInsider]
A new Bloomberg Businessweek feature offers new insights into the post-Steve Jobs era at Apple, drawing from “interviews with more than two dozen current and former Apple executives, employees, and partners.” The story notably discusses reactions to the retirement of Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield, as “several senior engineers on Mansfield’s team vociferously complained to Cook about reporting to his replacement, Dan Riccio, who they felt was unprepared for the magnitude of the role.” Cook responded by offering Mansfield a package of cash and stock worth roughly $2 million per month to stay at Apple as an adviser, after which Mansfield unretired.
Information about Jobs’ involvement with iOS 6 Maps is included, as insiders said Jobs initiated the project. The report speculates that Jobs could have killed the app before its launch, and notes that “Jobs also discussed pulling Google search from the iPhone, but figured that customers would reject that move, according to two former Apple executives.”
The Bloomberg story also includes details about the leadership style and decisions of CEO Tim Cook, who gave a speech to employees that Jobs’ death was “the saddest moment in his life.” As the story notes: “No one would say Apple is better off without Steve Jobs. But to a surprising degree, it’s doing fine.”
Following up on prior reports that Apple had not made Lightning connectors available to developers, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple has made significant changes to its Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi) policies, tightening control over the manufacturing of Lightning accessories. According to the sources, only Apple-approved manufacturing facilities will be allowed to produce Lightning connector accessories, even including third-party accessories. Moreover, Apple hasn’t approved any factories yet, which the sources say will limit the number of Lightning accessories available in the near future.
One source notes that Apple is planning an MFi “seminar,” where it will discuss changes to the program and the rules for Lightning accessory development going forward. The seminar will be held in November in China, notes the source, after the point at which third-party Lightning accessories could be manufactured in time for holiday sale. Sources have further noted that the Lightning connector has proved difficult to copy, reducing the near-term likelihood of unauthorized third-party connector cables.
Notably, Amazon orders for a third-party “iTronz” Lightning Adapter offered in September have now been canceled, with the vendor citing a “very critical functional issue.” An e-mail from Amazon made reference to authentication chips found in the Lightning connector, initially citing a 20-25 day shipment delay. The vendor subsequently ceased sales altogether.
Updated Oct. 17: The seminar is scheduled for Nov. 7-8, according to a TechCrunch report. The report also notes Apple will strictly regulate sales of Lightning connectors for MFi partners, and that Apple will control the supply of Lightning pins — it will only supply partners with the pins when their products meet Apple’s specifications and standards.
Apple has reportedly struck a licensing deal with Microlatch for fingerprint recognition technology. The Australian (registration required) reported the agreement, concluding that it’s “another sign the company is readying its iPhone line for the mobile payment era.” Microlatch’s patented technology apparently can register a user’s fingerprint on a device to authenticate financial transactions, a feature that could add additional security for near-field communications applications such as a digital wallet. It’s worth noting that Apple recently acquired AuthenTec, a company that makes mobile security software and chips for fingerprint recognition and NFC. [via Apple Insider]
Apple is now officially mass producing a smaller version of the iPad, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cites the company’s Asian component suppliers as sources. The report reaffirms that the tablet will have a 7.85-inch display and a lower resolution than the third-generation iPad. This follows yesterday’s apparent leak of iPad mini parts, and a recent report that iPad mini event invitations will go out on Oct 10.
Photos of alleged iPad mini parts have been posted on Ukranianiphone.com, and are claimed to have originated in China.
The photos show the purported inner and outer housing of the iPad mini, as well as a front glass piece. Notably sporting black or slate anodized aluminum akin to the iPhone 5, the inner housing is labeled with circles showing the locations of the headphone port, plastic antenna cover, nano SIM tray, and Lightning connector. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has been awarded a patent for device-to-accessory adapters, notably including an adapter design with wireless functionality. Noting that “media players may have different sized connectors,” specifically that a “newer media player may have a more advanced, smaller sized connector receptacle,” the patent’s abstract notes that the invention would “provide compatibility among incompatible accessories and portable media players,” suggesting that Lightning-equipped devices could be connected to older accessories built with 30-pin Dock Connectors.
Another concept covered in the patent is wireless functionality similar to what iSkin offered years ago in the Cerulean TX+RX Stereo Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver — a Dock Connector-based Bluetooth adapter accessory that Apple reluctantly permitted the company to sell, while denying other vendors the ability to produce similar devices. If similarly designed, Apple’s adapter could allow all wireless iPods, iPhones, and iPads to stream music to older docking speakers without making a physical connection. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has announced that it will release its fourth quarter fiscal results at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, October 25. The conference call will be broadcasted live here. While sales of the new iPhone 5 will surely be discussed during the call, Apple executives may also discuss the new iPods due for October release, and possibly even the long-rumored iPad mini, which may have been announced by then.
While Apple has released a fix for Verizon iPhone 5 users experiencing unexpected cellular data usage while on a Wi-Fi network, AT&T iPhone 5 users are also reporting the same issue, suggesting that an iOS 6 problem is to blame. Apple’s support forum has complaints on the issue from both Verizon and AT&T users, but no fix has been announced for AT&T iPhone 5s thus far. [via 9to5Mac]