Apple is preparing to add Asian manufacturing partners to increase iOS device production, the Wall Street Journal reports. iPhone 5c manufacturing will reportedly be outsourced to Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. later this year, while Compal Communications will manufacture the iPad mini “starting next year.” The shifts are being made to meet consumer demands.
Apple’s main supplier, Foxconn (Hon Hai), is focusing on making the iPhone 5s, which is in short supply. The report notes Apple’s frustration with Foxconn, stemming from scrutiny of its labor practices and defective iPhone 5 units produced by the manufacturer — Apple declined comment. An unnamed Foxconn executive said, “Apple has raised this quarter’s iPhone 5s orders from Hon Hai as demand has been stronger than expected. But it takes time to boost production capacity and Apple can’t find other assemblers to increase production to meet demand immediately.” Foxconn is taking a “cautious stance” on increasing production of the 5s, the executive said.
Gameloft’s Asphalt 8 has gone free to play in version 1.1.0. The game has also added the Clio R.S., and Gameloft claims “new cars will appear at any moment.” New limited-time cups and boosters are now included, and a multiplayer world series introduces seven new reverse tracks. Touch controls can also be customized now, with the quiet addition of support for “Apple gamepads” also nestled inside the update.
Basecamp (free) from 37signals now supports iOS 7. The project management app lets team members access everything in a project from the app, from anywhere, providing comments while they collaborate on the project. Basecamp lets members view progress and upload files, as well. The latest version 1.4.1 fixes a blank screen bug.
Apple has updated its Remote app to version 4.0. The app has been considerably redesigned for iOS 7 and adds support for iTunes 11.1.
While users shouldn’t expect a huge number of new features, the revamped UI is cosmetically a big change. Remote is a free download and a universal app.
Infinity Blade III ($7) from Chair Entertainment Group has upgraded to version 1.1, bringing gamers Infinity Blade III: Soul Hunter. A new quest, location, and enemy await players on their journey to find the missing Infinity Weapons. More than a dozen new items have been added, and a new explore feature lets players return to unlocked areas to grab loot and boost XP. Those playing through Infinity Blade III a second time after beating the game will now be able to skip cinema scenes, credits, and the tutorial. Support and optimization have been added for the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display.
PlayDate Digital’s My Little Pony: Party of One ($3) is an interactive iPad storybook app that uses the ponies to teach reading and vocabulary. Social skills are also a big part of the app as Pinkie Pie looks for friends to attend her party. All the popular characters are included, and the app’s content is aimed at children — primarily little girls.
The Federal Aviation Administration has reached a decision to allow airlines to expand in-flight use of electronic devices. Use of portable electronic devices will be permitted “during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions,” according to the announcement, which also notes that electronic items should be held or placed in the seat’s back pocket during the “actual takeoff and landing roll.” Separate FCC regulations, however, will still require that cell phones be placed into airplane mode, as they cannot be used for airborne calls. The FAA also notes that in “some instances of low visibility — about one percent of flights — some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant,” and users may still be asked to turn off their devices in such situations. Implementation will still be the responsibility of each individual airline, however the FAA expects many airlines to enact the allowance of electronic devices from “gate-to-gate” by year’s end.
Apple has confirmed a problem with a “small number” of iPhone 5s units causing the battery to drain quickly, The New York Times reports. “We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5s devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life,” Apple spokeswoman Teresa Brewer said. “We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone.” Apple did not say just how many phones were affected, although the report notes it could be “a few thousand phones.”
Peapod Labs is back with another alphabet app — this time, it’s ABC Actions ($3). Unlike prior noun-focused editions, the latest ABC app concentrates on teaching children verbs and action words. More than 150 photos, 100 videos, 50 interactive games, and 50 action words are featured within the interactive app.
Delivery Status touch ($5), a package tracking app from Junecloud, recently updated to version 5.0. The app has been redesigned for iOS 7, and with the redesign comes a host of new features, including background notifications, calendar support, search, archive, AirDrop sharing, text and iMessage sharing, iCloud sync, and much more. Barcode scanning has improved, and 1Password can be integrated for easy password access. Delivery Status touch supports dozens of delivery services, including UPS, FedEx, USPS, and more.
Apple reported its fourth quarter 2013 financial results today, selling 33.8 million iPhones, a new record for the September quarter. It sold 26.9 million iPhones in Q4 2012. The company sold 14.1 million iPads in the fourth quarter, compared to 14 million in Q4 2012. Apple reported $37.5 billion quarterly revenue and a quarterly net profit of $7.5 billion — $8.26 per diluted share. In Q4 2012, Apple reported $36 billion quarterly revenue and a net profit of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per diluted share.
Apple’s Board of Directors also declared a cash dividend of $3.05 per share of the company’s common stock, payable on Nov. 14 to shareholders of record, as of the close of business on Nov. 11. For the fiscal first quarter of 2014, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $55 billion and $58 billion, and gross margin between 36.5 percent and 37.5 percent.
“We’re pleased to report a strong finish to an amazing year with record fourth quarter revenue, including sales of almost 34 million iPhones,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release. “We’re excited to go into the holidays with our new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, iOS 7, the new iPad mini with Retina Display and the incredibly thin and light iPad Air, new MacBook Pros, the radical new Mac Pro, OS X Mavericks and the next generation iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS.”
“We generated $9.9 billion in cash flow from operations and returned an additional $7.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the September quarter, bringing cumulative payments under our capital return program to $36 billion,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in the release.
Update: A more detailed release reveals Apple’s dropping iPad sales numbers — the company sold 3.5 million iPods in Q4 2013, compared to 4.6 million iPods last quarter, and 5.3 million iPods in last year’s fourth quarter. In total, Apple has sold 382.78 Million iPods, 421.278 Million iPhones, and 169.18 Million iPads.
A favorite of one of our editors, Frogmind’s Badland ($4) has received a Halloween update in version 1.6. The addictive physics-based side-scroller now has a Halloween theme and a new multiplayer level. Four new multiplayer characters have also been added to the game. Badland is $1 for a limited time, due to a special Halloween sale.
Gameloft has added a number of new features to Gangstar Vegas (currently $3) in version 1.2.0. The Gangstar Superhero update brings five new hero costumes to the game, in addition to nine new vehicles, and three new weapons. Gameloft also added 14 new missions and some limited-time events to the game.
Apple has released iOS 7.0.3, which adds iCloud Keychain and a Password Generator for Safari. The update features a number of bug fixes and tweaks, including an iMessage fix, the resolving of an accelerometer calibration issue, and a lock screen update that delays the display of “slide to unlock” when using Touch ID. The update is available over the air through the Software Update screen in the iOS Settings app or via the iTunes software update process.
ABC for Little Space Explorer ($2) from Common Extract is a new alphabet and science learning app for young children: A is for astronaut, B is for black hole, C is for crater, and so forth. Conceptually, the app is a bit odd — alphabet lessons are typically for kids aged 2-5, and the science content here is more for kids 6 and up—but parents who want their kids to learn about space might find it to be worth a peek. As tested, we didn’t always find the app’s interactive activities to be intuitive; in some cases, you’ll see 3-D cosmic maps or satellites that can be zoomed in on, while in others, the screen will flip to telescope and other views that don’t completely make sense. Even the alphabet selection screen is spread over two pages, which may confuse some kids. Our feeling is that Common Extract will benefit from polishing the app up a bunch, but the raw materials here are compelling.
Google’s standalone Hangouts has updated to version 1.3.0 with a major new feature — users can now make and receive telephone calls to land lines from an iOS device. The free app also now lets users send and receive animated GIFs, and it’s now possible to see which friends are using Hangouts, and who’s currently available.
StoryToys is back with another interactive pop-up book — Haunted House ($2), just in time for Halloween. Though the theme may seem scary, most kids won’t be frightened looking through this book with eight pop-up scenes. Haunted House includes full voice narration in English, French, German, and Spanish. A number of games are included within the pages, letting kids have the opportunity to seat at ghosts and mix a witch’s brew.
Microsoft’s brand new Microsoft Remote Desktop (free) app lets users connect to a remote PC to access Windows from anywhere. Users can access remote resources through the Remote Desktop Gateway. Microsoft promises a secure connection to data and applications, simple management of connections, and high quality video and sound streaming. An easy connection to external monitors and projectors helps those business types who need to make presentations.
Just released by Psyonix, ARC Squadron: Redux is a reboot of last year’s free Star Fox-style shooter, which puts you in control of a spaceship that flies through 60 levels of gun- and missile-firing action. Unreal Engine graphics optimized for Retina displays are an immediate attention-grabber, but the game has 20 different environments, and nine boss battles. Players can upgrade the ship and weapons as they shoot their way through the galaxy with tap and swipe controls. The music and voice samples are extremely impressive.
Batman: Arkham Origins (free) is a new one-on-one Batman fighting game from Warner Bros. Basically a sequel to Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, Arkham Origins offers new opponents, backgrounds and costumes. The game features swipe-and-tap gameplay, high-resolution graphics, and places an emphasis on increasing Batman’s abilities as you proceed through the game—not surprisingly, many in-app purchases are available to offset the initially free download, which uses a “stamina” bar to limit your play sessions. It’s also possible to connect the game to the console version of Batman: Arkham Origins for exclusive content.
- October 16, 2013
Reported sensor issues with Apple’s iPhone 5s are being caused by a new and allegedly undercalibrated accelerometer in the device, according to a new blog post. Eagle Jones, CEO of developer RealityCap, writes, “Quite definitely, the answer is that these issues exist due to hardware design.” Jones points out that a recent Chipworks teardown identifies the 5s accelerometer as a Bosch Sensortech BMA220 — Apple previously used parts from another manufacturer, ST. The Bosch accelerometer has a different bias spec than the previous ST part, and the wider bias range makes it more likely that the sensor won’t be level. Jones writes that app developers can incorporate a calibration process within their apps to get a correct reading, or Apple could update iOS to include a proper calibration profile for the new sensor. So far, Apple has been silent on the issue.
Apple is reducing orders of its iPhone 5c for the fourth quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal. The article echoes recent analyst reports, and questions the lack of demand and pricing strategy for the 5c. Assemblers Pegatron and Hon Hai/Foxconn were both told orders would be cut — sources say Pegatron was told a 20 percent cut would be forthcoming, while Hon Hai was told orders would be slashed by a third. Another supplier was reportedly notified of a 50 percent cut in part orders for the device. Meanwhile, executives at Hon Hai said Apple has increased iPhone 5s orders for the fourth quarter, lending further credence to a recent survey that found the iPhone 5s was outselling the 5c by more than two to one.
In a new blog post, digital magazine app developer Marko Karppinen recommends that publishers avoid Newsstand, the periodical section of the App Store and iOS. Karppinen writes that there are many misconceptions about Newsstand apps, which are really just apps published in the Newsstand section. He argues that Newsstand publications are too hidden within the app, especially in iOS 7. The redesigned app icon is described as something “so horrible that it’s hard to avoid thinking it was done maliciously: if someone was tasked with hiding away a set of unwanted apps, they would be likely to come back with a design that was something very much like the iOS 7 Newsstand.” As Karppinen also points out, automatic content downloads aren’t exclusive to Newsstand, and apps published outside Newsstand can always be moved into Newsstand later — but not vice versa.
- October 15, 2013
Chevrolet announced that six of its 2014 vehicles will use Siri Eyes Free integration. The hands-free feature that relies on Siri voice commands will be found in the Camaro, Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, SS, and Volt. It can be used through the company’s MyLink infotainment system. Chevrolet was an early supporter of Siri Eyes Free, as its Spark and Sonic 2013 models were the first to offer the feature.
- October 14, 2013
Prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless announced it will carry the iPhone 5c and 5s starting Oct. 25. Prospective customers can register for additional information now. A number of regional carriers began carrying the devices on Oct. 1, as the iPhone 5c and 5s continue to be added to the lineups of smaller carriers.
- October 14, 2013
Apple’s iPhone 5s is currently more than doubling the sales of iPhone 5c, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Based on the survey, the iPhone 5s made up 64 percent of iPhone sales following its launch in September. The iPhone 5c accounted for 27 percent of sales, with the 4s filling in the gap with 9 percent of the sales. CIRP notes the iPhone 5 grabbed slightly more of the iPhone market than the 5s during its release last year — 68 percent — though it was the only new iPhone release at the time. [via AllThingsD]
- October 11, 2013
AT&T announced it will only be offering Mobile Share plans to new customers starting Oct. 25. The carrier will be eliminating its older per-device plans. Existing AT&T customers will have the option to stick with their current plans. AT&T’s Mobile Share offers data plans ranging from 300MB to 50GB per month.