L.A. Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy has suspended the school system’s highly-publicized contract with Apple to provide iPads to students, the Los Angeles Times reports. The contract would have provided all students in the country’s second-largest school system with iPads, but recent accusations claim that Deasy and deputy superintendent Jaime Aquino had “especially close ties” to Apple executives. “Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.,” Deasy wrote in a memo to the Board of Education. “Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the (project).”
A district technology committee found numerous problems with the bidding process, including that Aquino appeared to conspire with executives from Pearson — the company that was to provide curriculum on the devices — within an email. “I believe we would have to make sure that your bid is the lowest one,” he wrote. Aquino was formerly an executive with a Pearson affiliate before joining the L.A. school system. Despite the new controversy, Deasy reportedly believes Apple and Pearson will still participate as bidders in the new process for the school’s technology contract.
Apple has launched a new program to replace “a very small percentage” of iPhone 5 units that “may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.” Replacements will be made free of charge. The affected devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013, and are only within a limited range of serial numbers. A serial number checker on Apple’s webpage for the program lets users see if their devices are eligible. The replacement process has already started in the U.S. and China, with a launch in other countries on Friday, August 29.
Apple has removed the app Secret from the Brazilian App Store, according to 9to5Mac. A Brazilian judge recently ordered the removal, after ruling that the app violates an article in the Brazilian constitution which prohibits anonymous freedom of expression. The judge also ordered that Apple must remotely disable the app from users’ phones, but it’s unclear whether the company will proceed with that step. Secret allows users to write and share anonymous posts with people nearby.
An iOS 8 preference list file has been found with an iPhone resolution of 736x414, reports 9to5Mac, which would translate to a Retina “2X” screen resolution of 1472x828. At a 4.7” screen size, this would be around 359 pixels per inch (PPI), versus a 307 PPI resolution for 5.5” — the latter just enough pixel density to qualify as a Retina display. If displayed on a 4” screen, this would equal 422 PPI. Previously, 9to5Mac reported in May that Apple was testing a 1704x960 resolution for the next-generation iPhone, which we noted at the time oddly fell just shy of the “full HD” 1920x1080 resolution found in virtually all HDTVs and many competing smartphones. It’s possible that either or both reports are wrong, however, the 736x414 resolution comes directly from Apple’s latest Xcode 6 SDK betas for iOS 8.
If the new numbers are accurate, it suggests that Apple — rather than merely tripling every pixel from 320x568 as was previously suggested, increasing the level of detail while keeping the same balance of on-screen elements — may instead be adding 94 pixels of width and 168 pixels of height to the existing iPhone UI. Conceivably, that resolution could enable one additional column and one or two additional rows of Home Screen icons, adding 11-16 more icons to the Home Screen for a total of 35-40. It might also mean additional coding work for game developers, as on-screen art would need to be manually adjusted to fill the extra pixels. 9to5Mac reports, though, that the preference list file suggests the resolution will display the same number of icons—20—as on the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s.
Apple has released the sixth beta of iOS 8 to its testing partners, including cellular wireless providers, according to BGR. This beta has not gone out to the standard broad array of developers, reportedly since the sixth beta has arrived too close to iOS 8’s anticipated Gold Master release in September. The report also claims this carrier build has already been rejected as a potentially final version due to an issue with using YouTube in Safari. A number of fixes can be seen in the beta’s release notes, for resolving issues with Continuity, Mail, Messages, Photos, Push Notifications, and more.
A few allegedly leaked photos of reversible USB cables have popped up in recent days, with reports claiming that Apple’s new Lightning to USB cables could include the feature. The most recent photo comes from Sonny Dickson, who has leaked real Apple parts in the past, depicting a USB connector that would work with any standard Type A USB port, but could be inserted upside down or right-side up. It’s notable that Apple has filed a recently-revealed patent for a reversible USB connector, discussing a “tongue” with contacts on its top and bottom, potentially capable of determining which side’s contacts are being used and deactivating the other side’s contacts. [via 9to5Mac]
- August 15, 2014
The Fair Labor Association has released new reports containing audits of two Apple supplier factories, both Quanta facilities, in Shanghai and Changshu, China. Both audits were done in August 2013. Issues cited include workers being charged hiring fees, given excessive consecutive work hours, not receiving pay for sick leave, and factories keeping incomplete information for chemical substances. Apple released a statement to TechCrunch, in which the company notes the Quanta facilities in question were included in its 2014 Supplier Responsibility Report.
The statement also notes that, “In the year since the FLA’s visit, we have worked closely with Quanta to drive meaningful improvements in areas identified by both the FLA and Apple. Apple conducted four follow-up inspections on top of the annual audits of both facilities, to ensure the needed corrections are in place.” Apple reports Quanta has averaged 86 percent compliance with its 60-hour workweek through the end of July this year.
- August 15, 2014
Apple has added five new vice presidents to its executive profile webpage. The newly listed VPs include Paul Deneve, Vice President of Special Projects, Lisa Jackson, VP of Environmental Initiatives, Joel Podolny, VP and Dean of Apple University, Johny Srouji, VP of Hardware Technologies, and Denise Young Smith, VP of Worldwide Human Resources. According to the bios, all of the newly listed positions report to CEO Tim Cook. Full bios are available on the webpage, which now lists a total of 15 Apple executives in all; the additional profiles appear to be an effort to enhance the company’s public-facing executive diversity. [via 9to5Mac]
- August 15, 2014
An Apple shareholder has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple’s board and the estate of Steve Jobs, Patently Apple reports. The lawsuit is based on another suit involving Apple’s anti-poaching agreement with Google, Adobe, Intel — that case recently saw the defendants’ settlement proposal rejected. This new suit claims that Apple’s decision to enter the anti-poaching agreement damaged the company’s value. The suit, filed by shareholder R. Andre Klein, accuses Apple of breach of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, and waste of corporate assets.
Thai officials revealed on Wednesday that Apple received approval to sell two new iPhone models in the country, and a new report notes that a seemingly displeased Apple has met with those officials about the disclosure. The translated report, from Thai Rath, also makes a point to note that the new devices may or may not be called “iPhone 6,” leaving some doubt into what the names of the new devices will actually be; “iPhone Air” has previously been floated as a possible alternative. Though Apple may be upset, it doesn’t seem the disclosure will likely affect the sale of the new phones in Thailand. The report suggests the phone could launch in Thailand in early October, after first hitting the market in late September. [via MacRumors]
Apple has banned the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in final assembly of its iPhones and iPads, the Associated Press reports. The company has drawn criticism in the past for using both potentially hazardous chemicals — workers reported n-hexane-related sicknesses in 2010, and by 2011, workers at an Apple manufacturing partner wrote a letter regarding their concerns and health issues due to n-hexane exposure. Though Apple claims an investigation at 22 factories revealed no evidence that either chemical endangered workers, the company is requiring all factories to test substances for the two chemicals on top of the general ban. “This is doing everything we can think of to do to crack down on chemical exposures and to be responsive to concerns,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives. “We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries.” Apple also released a new message from Jackson on the company’s decision to ban the two controversial chemicals.
- August 13, 2014
Hewlett Packard and Apple reportedly had talks about a possible enterprise partnership before Apple announced its IBM deal, according to The Information. HP has developed an enterprise mobile search product interestingly nicknamed “Enterprise Siri.” The main gist of the report is that HP has been discussing an enterprise deal with Google’s Android unit, as the partnership would develop Google Now into a voice tool that could search for company information. It’s unclear how serious the discussions were between Apple and HP. [via Business Insider]
Apple is honoring Robin Williams on its website and in its iTunes Store following the recent death of the actor and comedian. A new “Remembering Robin Williams” webpage has been posted on Apple’s official website — a rare occurrence. Additionally, the iTunes Store now has its own “Remembering Robin Williams” section. The section gathers many of Williams’ movies in one place, in addition to the first season of his recent TV show, The Crazy Ones, and a few of his comedy albums.
- August 12, 2014
As promised last month by CEO Tim Cook, Apple has released its first diversity report. It’s revealed that Apple employees are 55 percent white, 15 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent black. The remaining 12 percent were made up of people who belong to two or more racial groups, another racial group, or did not declare their race. Those statistics were revealed alongside comparisons with race and ethnicity figures in tech, non-tech industries, and leadership. Apple is also 70 percent male and 30 percent female globally.
The numbers are accompanied by a Tim Cook letter. Cook writes that “inclusion inspires innovation” and that Apple believes other categories factor into diversity — “personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities.” Though Cook does point to Apple’s sponsorship of various rights groups, he also writes, “Let me say up front: As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”
- August 12, 2014
Apple has been discussing its upcoming HealthKit service with major healthcare providers, including Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins, Reuters reports. The company has also talked about the service with Allscripts, an electronic health records provider. Though the report notes the talks “may not amount to anything concrete,” they illustrate how Apple is planning on making iOS-gathered health data widely available for health providers to view. As noted at this year’s WWDC, Apple is also working with the Mayo Clinic on an app that can notify doctors of abnormal results. However, there is still some skepticism that Apple will be able to deliver on the promise of HealthKit, considering differing hospital IT systems and data protection requirements of HIPAA.
- August 11, 2014
Apple’s internal training program, the secretive Apple University, is the subject of a new profile in The New York Times. Three Apple employees who took classes in Apple University spoke to the Times about the program, which is run year-round and features a faculty that includes professors from many prominent universities. In 2008, Steve Jobs selected former Yale School of Management dean Joel Podolny to run the program, and he still remains in that position. Employees who enroll in the program can sign up for courses that match their positions — one class specifically concentrated on teaching founders of newly acquired companies “how to smoothly blend resources and talents into Apple.”
As one might expect, simplicity in design seems to be a common theme in classes at Apple University. One class highlighted Pablo Picasso’s The Bull, a series of lithographs that starts with a highly detailed bull, and ends with a very basic figure that still represents a bull. “You go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do,” an employee said. Another course, “What Makes Apple, Apple,” compared the 78-button Google TV remote to the considerably simpler Apple TV remote to show how Apple decided upon “just what was needed.” Other classes revolve around case studies that focus on important Apple business decisions, such as the once internally controversial decision to make the iPod and iTunes compatible with Windows.
- August 8, 2014
A U.S. District Judge in California has rejected the $324.5 million anti-poaching settlement proposed by Apple and three other tech companies, CNBC reports. Judge Lucy Koh said the proposed amount “falls below the range of reasonableness.” Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel — all accused of agreeing not to hire each other’s employees — agreed in May to pay former workers $324.5 million. It remains unclear what the new settlement amount will be. The former employees were initially seeking as much as $9 billion in lost wages.
Apple products including iPads and MacBooks have not actually been banned from any Chinese government procurement lists, the country’s chief procurement center has said. This new report, from Reuters, refutes a recent Bloomberg report that claimed 10 Apple products could not be purchased with public money for security reasons. Apparently, the confusion may have stemmed from a list involving energy-saving products, on which Apple could not be found — the report notes that Apple has never been on that list.
Apple has added a new Beats by Dr. Dre section to its online store. The new section, which links to Beats headphones, speakers, and accessories, can be found in the accessories section of Apple’s online store. It’s interesting that Apple has gone with the “Beats by Dr. Dre” name, as opposed to “Beats by Dre” or just “Beats.”
The online store includes some lesser-known products, including the all-white Beats by Dr. Dre Studio x Snarkitecture Headphones ($600), which were used in Apple promo images after the acquisition was announced. These special edition Studio headphones come with a “signature pillow” that is “cast from cultured marble.” [via 9to5Mac]
China’s government has excluded iPads and MacBooks from a list of products that can be purchased with public money, Bloomberg reports. Citing security concerns as the reason for the omissions, government officials have left ten Apple products off the official procurement list, including both the iPad and iPad mini — the list does not include smartphones. Apple declined comment.
This is yet another challenge for Apple in developing its growing relationship with China. Last month, state-run Chinese media criticized the iPhone’s location tracking, calling it a “national security concern.” Apple responded with a gracious note that explained how the company uses location data.