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 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.
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.
Activision has announced the Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack for iPad ($75). The newest video game in the popular Skylanders series features a special tablet edition that includes a wireless portal and wireless game controller, in addition to game figurines. For those unaware of the Skylanders series, the game uses real-life figurines that can be controlled within gameplay by use of an NFC-enabled portal; the iPad edition will use a Bluetooth LE portal and Bluetooth LE controller. Third-party controllers are said to work as a secondary controller in multiplayer mode. The pack will be released on October 5. [via FamilyGamerTV]
Apple’s suppliers have started manufacturing new iPads, Bloomberg reports. Mass production of an iPad with a 9.7” screen — likely the second-generation iPad Air — has already begun, with a source claiming the display will come with a new anti-reflection coating which makes the screen easier to read. A new iPad mini is also starting production and “will probably be available by the end of the year,” though it’s unclear if the display will come with the same anti-reflective coating. The report offers no further information on other rumored changes to the new iPads, such as the inclusion of Touch ID, A8 processors, or improved cameras.
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.
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.
The latest iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite betas have revealed what appears to be a new file format for transferring non-destructive photo adjustments between different apps and Apple devices. When using Yosemite’s built-in photo transfer app Image Capture, iOS 8 JPEG photos transferred to the Mac now include an additional “AAE” file in an XML format, containing keys with names such as “adjustmentData,” “adjustmentBaseVersion,” and “adjustmentFormatIdentifier.” The AAE files are typically less than 1KB each for lightly edited files.
Although it is unclear why Apple would introduce a new way to store photo adjustments, the additional file could enable third-party apps to see the same version of a photo edited with Apple’s upcoming Photos app, or potentially export edits made with prior Apple photo apps such as Aperture and iPhoto. With the recent announcement that Apple will be ceasing development of Aperture and iPhoto—a change that has necessitated export workarounds for replacement pro photo apps such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom—it’s possible that the AAE files could provide a smoother migration path for users.
Apple has released iOS 8 beta 5 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to registered developers. As expected, the release comes two weeks after the previous beta. We’ll update later on if there are any notable changes.
Update: Among other changes, users can now opt to store full-resolution photos in iCloud while keeping device-optimized versions of those photos on an iPhone. iOS users will also now be prompted to allow other devices to use phone numbers for SMS relay. Spirometry data types have also been added to HealthKit.
Images of an alleged rear shell for Apple’s second-generation iPad Air were posted on Weibo this weekend. The images show redesigned speaker holes containing one row of large openings instead of two rows of small ones, as well as recessed volume controls. Also, the microphone has been moved away from the top center of the device to near the camera lens. Though the changes are certainly possible, it’s worth noting that they would necessitate changing most iPad Air cases, including Apple’s own iPad Smart Case. [via Nowhereelse.fr]
Apple and AT&T have started sending out $40 checks to U.S. customers who bought or ordered a first-generation iPad with 3G capabilities before June 7, 2010. A ruling was made in September in a class action lawsuit stemming from AT&T’s elimination of an advertised unlimited data plan about a month after it was introduced. The checks have started to arrive in customers’ mailboxes, as per 9to5Mac. AT&T is also offering a $20/month discount on its 5GB monthly data plan for consumers who didn’t sign up for any other AT&T data plan.
Apple’s new Tips app has debuted within the fourth beta of iOS 8. The app shows people how to use the device with a list of tips, each consisting of around a paragraph of text plus an animated image. A list of six tips is shown initially, with the first being “Quickly respond to a notification.” Users can like/unlike tips and share tips, as well. All of the tips at this point are iOS 8-specific.
Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist and the author of five iOS-related books, has posted slides from a recent conference talk titled “Identifying Back Doors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.” Zdziarski’s talk, which he gave at the recent HOPE/X conference in New York, reveals an overview “of a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on every iOS device,” including “suspicious design omissions in iOS that make collection easier.” While Zdziarski characterizes iOS devices as “reasonably secure,” there are undocumented services that can bypass backup encryption, and can be accessed via USB and wirelessly — over WiFi and “maybe cellular.” He notes the “personal nature of the data” is carried in a raw format, which would make it useless for tech support.
Notably, Zdziarski claims that commercial forensic software manufacturers are taking advantage of these backdoor iOS services to develop forensic tools that law enforcement agencies can use to easily extract data from seized devices. He notes that Apple is allowing packet sniffing without permission and is “dishing out a lot of data behind our backs.” Although Zdziarski raises suspicion to the nature of these services and notes that they “shouldn’t be there,” several of the services he identifies are in fact well-known internal Apple processes for handling things such as device activation, background iCloud and iTunes backup, and iTunes synchronization—processes that by design need to function without requiring the user to first unlock their device. For more details, the slides are available here. [via ZDNet]
A DirecTV promotional page for NFLSundayTicket.TV reveals a plan in which iOS and Mac users can receive the NFL Sunday Ticket package without a satellite subscription for the 2014 NFL season. An NFLSundayTicket.TV Digital package allows users to stream live, out-of-market NFL games to a computer, tablet, or phone for $200, with a student discount available. More expensive plans allow for console streaming and additional features. Curiously, a list of compatible devices references a number of iPhones, but not iPhone 5s or 5c, and a number of iPads, but not the iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display. It seems obvious that this is an oversight, and the new devices should support this new NFL Sunday Ticket plan. [via Apple Insider]
Update: It appears that not all addresses are eligible for NFLSundayTicket.TV — a pop-up form verifies eligibility. Although it seems the service is limited to apartment dwellers, university students, and other locations which are unable to get DirecTV, we even found some apartment residences as being deemed ineligible. At this point it’s not completely clear who is eligible without filling out the form, as the site’s FAQ only claims the service is “available to people in select areas, residence types, and enrolled in select universities.”
Five classic Paul McCartney albums have been re-released as standalone iPad apps by Concord Music Group. All five albums include remastered audio and extra content, including interviews, photos, and video clips. The albums are: McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney, and the follow-up Ram, which also credits Linda McCartney; two McCartney/Wings albums — Band on the Run and the live Wings over America; and McCartney’s second official solo album, 1980’s McCartney II. All of the apps are $8 — a less expensive price than all of the respective albums within the iTunes Store. [via The Guardian]
Apple and IBM have announced a new global partnership to bring “IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad.” The partnership, which aims to “transform enterprise mobility,” will introduce more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions for iPhone and iPad, unique IBM cloud services for iOS, a new AppleCare service level focused on the enterprise, and new IBM offerings for device activation, supply, and management. The agreement, which is being called IBM MobileFirst for iOS, will see IBM selling iPhones and iPads with built-in industry-specific solutions.
A new class of business apps, IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions, will target retail, banking, healthcare, travel, transportation, telecommunications, and insurance. Those apps will be available this fall “and into 2015.” The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will give business users on-premise software solutions necessary for end-to-end enterprise capability.
In an interview with Re/code, Tim Cook said of the new partnership, “We’re good at building a simple experience and in building devices. The kind of deep industry expertise you would need to really transform the enterprise isn’t in our DNA. But it is in IBM’s.” Explaining their ability to work together today despite once fiercely competing for customers and mind share, Cook also noted that Apple and IBM “do not compete on anything. And when you do that you end up with something better than either of you could produce yourself.” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty called Apple the “gold standard for consumers.”
A new report in Pediatrics investigates an increase in nickel allergies that may be linked to the iPad, the Washington Post reports. The article cites the specific case of an 11-year-old boy with a rash. His skin tested positive for nickel, which doctors traced back to a 2010-vintage iPad “he had used with increasing frequency the past six months.” After using a case, his rash “significantly improved.”
Very little has been said previously about nickel as an iPad enclosure material; research suggests that it may have been used in aluminum alloys for some Apple products, including certain MacBooks and iPads, or may have made contact with otherwise aluminum devices during the manufacturing process. Symptoms of a nickel allergy may include a rash, skin bumps, itching, redness in skin color, dry patches of skin, or blisters and draining fluid in some severe cases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Apple had no comment.
It’s unclear at this time how widespread this problem is, but we recommend using a full-coverage case on an iPad — especially on iPads used by children. See our iPad case reviews for comprehensive details about what’s on the market.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has started shipping its microprocessors to Apple as of this year’s second quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports. There have long been reports of Apple using TSMC for its chips in order to decrease dependence on Samsung, which previously manufactured all the microprocessors for Apple’s smartphones and tablets. It’s unclear how many chips TSMC has shipped thus far; Apple will still use Samsung for some of its microprocessors for now. TSMC and Apple will continue working on “more advanced chips” next year, a source said. A previous report claimed TSMC would make A8 chips for this year’s new Apple devices, and would start producing A9 chips in this year’s third quarter for future iPhones and iPads.
A little less than three weeks after releasing the second beta of its upcoming iOS 8 software, Apple has released beta 3 to registered developers. We’ll update here with any notable information on what’s included in the new beta.
Update: Apple also released new betas of Apple TV Software, as well as Find My iPhone 4.0 and Find My Friends 4.0. 9to5Mac reports that enhancements in the latest beta include new toggles for Handoff, App Analytics, and upgrading from Documents in the Cloud to iCloud Drive. Some new wallpapers and a few other UI tweaks are also included.
Apple is extending its AppleCare+ purchase window to 60 days starting today, 9to5Mac reports. Previously only available within the first 30 days of purchase, the plan costs $99 for recent iPhone and iPad models and can be purchased in Apple stores or online. Additionally, Apple is discontinuing its AppleCare plan without protection for iPhone and iPad today in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. The company is now only offering the more expensive AppleCare+ plan for those devices.