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China calls iPhone tracking a ‘national security concern’

State-run China Central Television has called the iPhone’s location-tracking a “national security concern,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The broadcaster criticized the “frequent locations” function in iOS 7; researchers quoted in the report claimed those with access to the data could learn state secrets. It’s noted that CCTV’s broadcasts are very influential in China, though not always accurately representative of the views of the country’s leaders. While Apple only holds a 6 percent share of the Chinese smartphone market, the company has an 80 percent share of the high-end $500+ market, according to research firms.

Apple has had a number of recent issues in China. Last April, Cook publicly apologized for misunderstandings with the company’s warranty policies; Apple made changes to those policies in China. That apology was met with praise from media and China’s Foreign Ministry. Last July saw Apple adding a power adapter page to its Chinese website to help users identify official Apple chargers, following two reported incidents in the country involving shocks from third-party chargers — soon after, the company announced its USB Power Adapter Takeback Program. In October, Apple was criticized for showing too much loyalty to the Chinese government after pulling an app that allowed anonymous browsing.

iPhone 6 to feature haptic feedback?

The iPhone 6 will reportedly feature haptic feedback, according to Chinese site Laoyaoba. A tactile feedback linear motor would allow the phone to send differing, subtle vibrations to users through the touchscreen. Users would also be able to feel vibrations on specific areas of the screen. It’s claimed this new motor would cost two to three times more than the current $0.60 vibration motor featured in the iPhone 5s. Apple did publish a patent application in 2009 relating to haptic display technology, and although it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility, we would consider the inclusion of haptic feedback in the iPhone 6 to be unlikely.

WSJ: TSMC shipping microprocessors to Apple

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.

iPhone 6 part leaks point to possible color variations

Recent leaks of alleged iPhone 6 parts point to various questionable color options on the upcoming devices. A parts leak on Czech site letemsvetemapplem shows three SIM card trays for the iPhone 6 in what appears to be space gray, silver, and gold, matching the colors of Apple’s iPhone 5s. Although it’s not a surprise that these would be the colors for Apple’s upcoming device, the gold color on the card tray does look a bit darker than the current 5s gold, though that could be due to the way the photo was taken. Also included in the leak are the power flex cable with power button and volume flex cable with mute and volume buttons. Based on the power flex cable, it does seem likely that the position of the power button will be on the side of the phone, as has been rumored and seen in various mockups.

Today, MacRumors posted photos of alleged rear shells for the upcoming 4.7” iPhone 6. The leaks show an unfinished silver shell provided by Moscow company Feld & Volk, and more interestingly, a dark gray rear shell from a separate source. The latter part appears darker than the current space gray color — nearly black, like the original iPhone 5 — but as always, these photos should be taken with a grain of salt.

iOS 8 Health app adds step and caffeine tracking

Apple has updated its Health app in iOS 8 beta 3. The app now uses the M7 chip — currently only found in the iPhone 5s — to track steps, as pointed out by 9to5Mac. A full week of data is added to the app instantly from the M7, similarly to the step tracking app Breeze; users of non-M7 devices can manually input step data. Health can also now track caffeine intake, as caffeine has been added to the app’s nutritional categories, currently requiring manual entry of caffeine in milligrams. A number of already available App Store apps can track caffeine intake.

iOS 8 beta 3 released to developers

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.

Foxconn to use robots in iPhone production

According to a report from IThome.com, Foxconn CEO Terry Gou announced at a recent shareholder meeting that new manufacturing robots are in the final testing stage. The first company to take advantage of the new robots’ capabilities will be Apple, presumably for the iPhone 6. Called “Foxbots,” these robots will cost between $20,000 to $25,000 each, and 10,000 are expected to be deployed. Each robot reportedly has a production capacity of 30,000 units, although it’s not clear what time frame that number speaks to. Foxconn previously announced plans to deploy a million robots on its assembly lines, and has already deployed at least 20,000 robots for other projects.

FTC accuses T-Mobile of knowingly billing for fraudulent charges

The Federal Trade Commission has accused T-Mobile of making “hundreds of millions of dollars” through unauthorized “premium” SMS subscriptions offered by third-parties. T-Mobile kept 35 to 40 percent of charges for “content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip,” which cost users $9.99 per month, the FTC claims. It’s also said that even after T-Mobile was made aware of these fraudulent charges, the carrier sometimes continued to bill customers for the services. A T-Mobile bill excerpt included in the FTC report alleges the carrier included the charges under the vague line of “usage charges.”

The FTC is seeking a court order to prevent T-Mobile from continuing these practices; refunds are also being sought by the commission. T-Mobile has not yet responded to the accusations.

AppleCare+ purchase window now 60 days, basic plan discontinued

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.

Apple releases iOS 7.1.2

Apple has released iOS 7.1.2. The update “improves iBeacon connectivity and stability.” Other bug fixes and security updates include a data transfer bug fix, and a fixed issue with data protection class of Mail attachments – it was a known issue that iOS 7.1.1 was not encrypting email attachments within the Mail app. iOS 7.1.2 is available over-the-air or through iTunes.

iPhone 6 antenna breaks to differ from mockups; curved display?

Recent iPhone 6 mockups feature a basically accurate design, but the antenna breaks will differ from what’s been seen thus far, Nikkei reports. Numerous pictures have shown white stripes connecting the antennas in the iPhone 6 — as seen in the above graphic from Nikkei — but color-contrasting stripes will reportedly not be part of the final design. The stripes are likely a placeholder for another material, potentially glass, but quite possibly Liquidmetal. It’s also noted that the iPhone 6 may contain a curved display. The screen would have a seamless fit with the device’s aluminum shell. [via G for Games]

Audi to integrate CarPlay into 2015 cars

Audi has announced it will bring Apple’s CarPlay to its cars, to be available “in the first Audi models starting in 2015.” Interestingly, Audi was not introduced as an initial CarPlay partner in March. The announcement notes there is “intensive dialog” between Audi and Apple on CarPlay integration. No specific models were mentioned in the release.

Apple stores now selling prepaid T-Mobile, AT&T iPhones

Apple retail stores are now selling and activating T-Mobile and AT&T phones with prepaid plans. The T-Mobile devices must be activated in store with $50 or $70 worth of service, and the offer is limited to one device per customer. 9to5Mac also confirmed AT&T is now selling iPhones with prepaid GoPhone plans. A report earlier this month noted Apple would introduce prepaid and month-to-month plans.

Bloomberg: New iPhones could launch at same time

Apple’s upcoming 4.7” and 5.5” iPhones will enter mass production next month and might become available at the same time, Bloomberg reports. The report claims the phones may ship to retailers “around September,” which corroborates some past reports claiming a September release. Bloomberg also notes the 5.5” iPhone is “more complicated” than the 4.7” version, leading to lower production efficiency “that must be overcome before manufacturing volume can be increased.” A number of reports have indicated the 5.5” iPhone would be released after the 4.7” model — but Apple could be pushing for a simultaneous launch, with the larger device debuting with a more limited supply.

Foxconn, Pegatron hiring for iPhone 6 production

Foxconn and Pegatron, two of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners, have begun hiring workers to produce the iPhone 6. The former is recruiting more than 100,000 people, a Chinese continental record, according to reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News and Reuters. The bulk of the orders will go to Foxconn, which is said to be responsible for 70 percent of production; Pegatron will handle the rest. High demand is expected, with Pegatron adding 30 percent to its workforce in one mainland factory.

Apple’s Activation Lock said to cause drop in iPhone theft

Police officers in New York, London, and San Francisco claim they’re seeing a drop in smartphone theft, and Apple’s Activation Lock may be the reason, The New York Times reports. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón both believe the Apple “kill switch” is leading to the drop, as police officers in San Francisco and London said iPhone robberies have decreased in their cities by 38 percent and 24 percent, respectively, since Apple released the feature. New York police have also noted a drop in Apple product theft when comparing the first five months of 2014 to the same period in 2013.

Apple’s Activation Lock requires an Apple ID and password before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone, sign out of iCloud, or erase and reactivate a device. Bloomberg reports that Google and Microsoft will soon follow Apple by incorporating a “kill switch” feature into their new operating systems.

T-Mobile intros Test Drive program with iPhone 5s

T-Mobile has introduced Test Drive, a new program that lets prospective users try out the T-Mobile network for free while using an iPhone 5s. Upon signing up for the program, T-Mobile will send you an iPhone 5s, which can be used for free for seven days to make unlimited calls, texts, downloads, and so forth. After that time, the phone must be returned in good condition to a T-Mobile retail store. The iPhone 5s must be ordered online — it will be delivered by mail and must be signed for by someone 18 or older.

T-Mobile has also announced its Music Freedom plan, which now lets users stream music from any selected streaming service, including iTunes Radio, without counting toward a 4G LTE data allotment. It’s included for free with any Simple Choice rate plan. Additionally, T-Mobile will launch its own streaming service on June 22 — Rhapsody unRadio, an app which offers unlimited streaming with no skip limits and no ads. It’s included with the carrier’s newest Unlimited 4G LTE plans and costs $4 a month for users with other plans.

Report: iPhone 6 may include barometer, air pressure sensors

Apple’s iPhone 6 could contain a barometer and air pressure sensors, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that new references within Xcode 6 and iOS 8 are dedicated to altitude tracking and will require new Apple hardware. It’s possible that altitude tracking abilities might be incorporated in the new iPads and iWatch, as well. Barometer hardware could track altitude more quickly and accurately than current altitude-measuring apps that work based on GPS and motion chips. References to ambient pressure tracking were also found within iOS 8, meaning that other air pressure sensors within new devices could alert users to changes in the weather.

Apple releases iOS 8 beta 2, Apple TV beta software to developers

Apple has released iOS 8 beta 2 to registered developers. The release is available over-the-air through Settings. 9to5Mac reports that a new Apple TV software beta has also been released. We’ll update in the near future with any pertinent information on what’s new and notable within iOS 8 beta 2.

Unicode Standard update adds new characters, 250 new emoji

The Unicode Consortium has announced version 7.0 of the Unicode Standard, which includes 2,834 new characters and approximately 250 emoji. Emojipedia has the full list of brief descriptions for the new emoji characters, including Thermometer, Hot Pepper, Derelict House Building, Waving White Flag, Man In Business Suit Levitating, Dagger Knife, Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended, and many more. Added Unicode symbols include currency symbols for the Russian ruble and Azerbaijani manat, among many others.

Apple must provide support for the Unicode update to properly represent the emoji in iOS. In March, it was reported that Apple was “working closely” with the Unicode Consortium to include more diverse characters in emoji; it’s unclear whether the Version 7.0 updates were part of that collaboration.

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