Apple has announced a new USB Power Adapter Takeback Program following two reported user-shocking incidents in China that were blamed on third-party adapters, one of which allegedly caused a woman’s death, and another allegedly placing a man in a coma. The new program lets customers drop off third-party adapters with which they may have concerns at Apple retail stores or Apple authorized service providers. Apple will then dispose of the adapters in an “environmentally friendly way.”
Those who turn in at least one USB power adapter and bring along their iOS device for serial number validation will be able to purchase an official Apple USB power adapter for just $10, or the approximate equivalent in local currency. Customers will be able to purchase one $10 adapter for each iPhone, iPad, and iPod they own. The takeback program starts Aug. 16 and the special pricing for power adapters will run until Oct. 18.
Apple has emailed an update on the continued restoration of its developer website, following an intrusion a few weeks ago. The update notes most of the developer services are back online, and most of the remaining services will be reinstated this week. As of this writing, four services were still marked as offline on the Apple developer system status page. Those services are Xcode Automatic Configuration, Member Center, Program Enrollment and Renewals, and Technical Support.
A number of iPhones are experiencing battery life issues and some feel hot to the touch, possibly related to the iOS Facebook app. iLounge’s editors have seen both issues firsthand, and a number of tweets seem to verify there could be some sort of intermittent issue. Within the past five days, there have been a number of tweets on the matter, as a Twitter search for “Facebook app battery” shows. A post on blog.hagga.net took a look at the issue in May, and noted that a June update did not fix the problem. Facebook’s iOS app was last updated July 10. It’s hard to know for sure what is exactly causing the battery drain, though Facebook’s VoIP capabilities allow the app to run in the background, with no way of turning it off. The issue could be connected to something unusual happening on Facebook’s server, as well, or messaging notifications.
Regulators in China are looking into allegations that two Apple suppliers — Foxconn and UniMicron plants in Kunshan — are polluting nearby rivers with toxic heavy metals. Chinese environmental regulator and local vice director Ding Yudong said testing could take a while, and violations could come with serious penalties. Foxconn said it complies with emissions standards and noted that other facilities in the same industrial park discharge wastewater into the rivers. UniMicron said that it does daily wastewater inspections, and quarterly inspections are done by a third party. An Apple spokeswoman said the company regularly audits suppliers and works to ensure environmental standards are met. [via The Wall Street Journal]
Customers who may be eligible to participate in the liquid sensor settlement class action involving certain iPhones and iPods are now receiving legal notices via email. A customer may be eligible if Apple denied warranty coverage because the company said a device had been damaged by liquid. The $53 million settlement fund will be split up amongst participating iPhone owners whose warranty claims were denied on or before Dec. 31, 2009, and iPod touch owners whose claims were denied on or before June 30, 2010. Oct. 21 is the deadline for filing a claim; affected users may receive between $105 and $300 per device, depending on the model and capacity. More details can be found on the settlement website.
Apple can continue to sell the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the first- and second-generation 3G iPads in the U.S. after the Obama administration overturned an import ban on the devices, Bloomberg reports. The import ban, which was to start today, came about after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated a Samsung standards-essential patent. However, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the ban was unwarranted, as Samsung could continue to seek financial damages without stopping Apple from selling the devices.
An Apple spokeswoman told AllThingsD, “We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case. Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way. On the other side, a Samsung spokesman said, “We are disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.” The matter isn’t completely over, as Samsung has already said it’s been granted an appeal hearing on the issue next year, according to the Financial Times.
Apple has responded to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed restrictions to remedy the company’s e-book price fixing, calling the proposal “a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business.” The company argues in its opposing brief that the restrictions proposed today could cost both dollars and “lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers.” Apple doesn’t believe any further injunction is warranted — but if an injunction is issued, the company suggests mild limitations and obligations which would be a far cry from what the DOJ suggests. A hearing on the remedies is set for Aug. 9. [via AllThingsD]
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The U.S. Department of Justice has released a proposed remedy addressing Apple’s e-book price fixing, for which the company was found guilty last month. Under the proposal, Apple would be required to terminate “existing agreements with the five publishers with which it conspired” and to “refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.” The company would be prohibited from “again serving as a conduit of information among the conspiring publishers or from retaliating against publishers for refusing to sell e-books on agency terms.” Apple would also be prohibited from entering into agreements with any content providers that are “likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” Additionally, for two years, Apple would be required to allow other retailers — such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble — to provide links from their own e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing for easy comparison between their own prices and Apple’s prices.
The DOJ is also “asking the court to appoint an external monitor to ensure that Apple’s internal antitrust compliance policies are sufficient to catch anticompetitive activities before they result in harm to consumers.” Apple would pay the salary and expenses of the court-appointed monitor. It must be noted that the DOJ’s proposal must be approved in court. A hearing on the remedies is scheduled to be held on August 9.
Color Zen must be downloaded from within the Apple Store app to get it for free. Reportedly, Apple will be providing a new app, iBook, or piece of iTunes content for free each week, apparently as an enticement to increase interest in Apple’s retail operations. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s search for a new retail chief continues as the company has still not settled on a finalist for the position, The Wall Street Journal reports. Since the departure of John Browett in late October, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been overseeing retail. Wireless and telecommunication executives have been interviewed for the open position, but “rejected as a poor fit,” according to sources. Apple was turned down by a “CEO of a privately held retailer in France,” who believed it would be tough to “change Apple’s culture as an outsider.” Outsiders, however, are all that Apple appears to be interested in, as a source said the company isn’t considering internal candidates for the position. Sales at Apple retail stores are still high, but down 4.5 percent per square foot in this fiscal year.
Apple-owned Filemaker has announced that it will stop offering its Bento app for iPad ($10) and iPhone ($5) after Sept. 30. The company will also discontinue support for the personal database app after July 30, 2014.
Square Enix’s new Bloodmasque ($7) is a vampire hunting game that mixes Infinity Blade-style fighting with the RPG elements Square fans have come to expect. Bloodmasque allows a team of vampire hunters to fight together in multiplayer action, with one player taking control of a customizable on-screen hero, assisted by others. Players are given a fair amount of virtual controller freedom while exploring towns, and the game is heavy on story elements, as well. One of the more notable features lets users swap in a photo of their own face to create their character — or a photo of anyone else. Up to three photos can be added to express different emotions for the user’s virtual hunter. The graphics are top-notch, and as such, Square Enix notes the game may consume battery life “relatively quickly.”
Hipmunk has updated Hipmunk Flights & Hotels (free) to version 3.1.0. The app has added Tonight Only hotel deals, which allows travelers to find a hotel room for up to 60 percent off. Also, Fare Alerts allow users to be notified instantly whenever airfare changes. The interface for the iPad side of the app has also been improved.
Apple is now notifying former MobileMe members via email that the free 20GB iCloud storage upgrade they received will be expiring on Sept. 30, as was announced last year. iCloud storage for those users will revert to the free 5GB plan after the complimentary upgrade expires. Users who wish to retain their extra iCloud storage must purchase a storage plan by Sept. 30. An Apple support document provides additional details.
SMS Audio has released its new Street by 50 Over-Ear Active Noise Control Wired headphones ($280). The 50 Cent-branded headphones feature active noise cancellation, 40 mm drivers and leather memory foam ear cushions. With the rechargeable lithium ion battery, listeners can get up to 70 hours of music playback.
The foldable headphones come with a removable cable with microphone, micro-USB cable, airplane adaptor, and carrying case. Street by 50 Over-Ear Active Noise Control Wired headphones come in silver or black and are available now.
Apple has acquired wireless chip developer Passif Semiconductor, according to a report. Passif specializes in making Bluetooth LE communication chips. The report notes Passif’s technology is “promising for health-monitoring and fitness devices that need extra-long battery life.” It’s been reported that Apple’s upcoming iWatch will be focused on fitness. Apple verified the acquisition, as a company spokeswoman said, “Apple buys small technology companies from time to time.” This is Apple’s known third acquisition in recent weeks, following the company’s additions of Locationary and Hopstop. [via Jessica Lessin]
A new Apple patent application details a system in which a user can use a device such as an iPhone to learn and configure environmental preferences, especially in a car. For example, a user sitting in a car might set up his or her car seat, steering wheel, power mirror, radio, and climate control preferences. An iPhone could conceivably store this information, and “when the user visits another automobile, such as when renting a car, or buying a new car,” the preferences could be imported to adjust the car’s settings.
The system described is a more advanced version of Apple’s iOS in the Car, featured in iOS 7. In some embodiments of the system, a home or room environment can be adjusted — climate control, television, and lighting preferences may be able to be adjusted in a house or a hotel room, for instance. [via Apple Insider]
A recently revealed charger hack for iOS devices has been fixed in iOS 7 beta 4, Reuters reports. The known hack involves using a malicious charger to invisibly install malware on an iOS device in less than a minute, and was officially unveiled at the Black Hat hacking conference on Wednesday. Apple confirmed the latest iOS 7 beta has fixed the issue. The hack will still work on devices running iOS 6.
Another rear housing for the fifth-generation iPad has allegedly been leaked in very clear photos, which appear to be legitimate. The images suggest again that Apple has at least contemplated a rear microphone for this model, as a centered rear hole appears to be located behind the front-facing camera. Notably, a rear-facing mic was taken out of the iPad mini before release, and some early iPad 5 cases omit the hole.
The report claims the fifth-gen iPad bezel is “now measuring at 3 mm” around the edges of the screen, but it’s impossible to tell if this is true without the front piece of the device. As with prior leaks, there is no space for a rear flash on the device. [via FanaticFone.com]
Apple suppliers are readying mass production in the fourth quarter for a new Retina display iPad mini that will “likely feature” a Samsung screen, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sharp and LG Display will also reportedly make screens for the next iPad mini. The report also notes Apple has “been contemplating multiple color back covers for the new tablet.” A number of reports — including a Wednesday report — have also referenced a non-Retina second-generation iPad mini, but it’s unclear when such a device would be released, if at all.