Mac Headlines

Tim Cook ‘deeply offended’ by BBC Documentary on Apple Factory Conditions

December 19th, 2014 by AppleInsider

Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is deeply offended by allegations that Apple permits the mistreatment of workers in its supplier factories and mines, reports The Telegraph. The accusations were levied by the BBC news program, Panorama, which sent undercover reporters to work in Chinese factories and Indonesian mines. The BBC aired the documentary titled "Apple's Broken Promises" last night on its BBC One channel.

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Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams relayed Tim Cook's message in an email sent to its UK staff, published in its entirety by Silicon Alley Insider. Cook and Williams both stated they were "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers in any way."
"Panorama’s report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions," he continued. "Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."
Williams also implied in the email that Apple provided the BBC with pertinent facts regarding the company's commitment to its workers worldwide, but that information was not included in the documentary.

The BBC report claims that Chinese workers were forced to work long hours assembling Apple devices and denied requests for a day off, even after working 18 days in a row. The BBC also uncovered issues with off-hour work meetings, underage workers and other violations with dormitories and ID cards.

The BBC also investigated tin mines in Indonesia, where it found children mining the ore in dangerous conditions. The BBC claims this tin makes its way into Apple's supply chain without the company's knowledge.








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‘Watch ABC’ Apple TV App Updated with Full Episodes for All Users [Mac Blog]

December 19th, 2014 by AppleInsider

watchabcABC has updated its Watch ABC Apple TV app to allow all Apple TV users to watch full episodes of ABC shows a week after they air without having to verify their TV provider. Previously, users had to sign in via their TV provider to watch any full episodes.
All Apple TV viewers can now access full episodes a week after they air. Like WATCH ABC for mobile devices and desktop, viewers can now watch such shows as ScandalHow to Get Away With MurderModern Familyblack-ishOnce Upon A Time and Castle, among others, a week after they air.  Sign in is required for ABC's live network feed and its most current episodes
However, users are only allowed to watch the five TV show episodes prior to the most current one. Users who sign in to the app with their TV provider gain the ability to watch full episodes of the last five episodes of any TV show the day after they air and live TV.

The app was also updated with a brand new look and a continuous play mode that automatically starts the next episode for the viewer, similar to the system Netflix uses in its apps.






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Photo Editing App ‘Brushstroke’ Named App of the Week, Available for Free [iOS Blog]

December 19th, 2014 by AppleInsider

Popular photo editing app Brushstroke has been named Apple's App of the Week, and as a result, it is available to download for free for the first time since its March 2014 launch. Normally, the app is priced at $2.99, prior to today, it's lowest price was $0.99.

Brushstroke, as the name implies, is designed to transform photographs into paintings using a variety of photo filters. There are dozens of different brush options that produce different paint effects, and each brush option can be customized using on-screen touch gestures to enhance the effect.

There are also various color filters to apply that will change the final look of the photo painting, and various textures like paper, canvas, wood, rock, and stone allow for even more customization. Controls for standard photo editing features like saturation, contrast, brightness, exposure, and more, are also available, and each photo work of art is finished off with a signature.

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Edited photos can be shared on various social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and the developers behind Brushstroke have partnered with CanvasPop to let users order physical prints, posters, and canvases of their edited photos at prices starting at $10. There is one in-app purchase in the app, but it is totally unnecessary and simply adds more effects to the multitude of tools and effects already available in the app.
Features:
- Automatically transform your photos into one of many painting styles
- Load photos from your Camera Roll and other Albums
- Take snaps and watch them transform instantly
- Experiment with different color palettes
- Adjust your painting to get just the right look
- Select from a variety of canvases and surfaces
- Sign your painting to personalize it
- Share your art on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
- Have your art printed and shipped right to your doorstep
Brushstroke will be available to download for free for the next seven days. [Direct Link]






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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Shipping Estimates Improve to 1 Business Day for 16 and 64GB Models

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

As the Christmas holiday approaches, Apple Store shipping estimates for both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus from all carriers in all colors and in 16 and 64GB capacities have now improved to just 1 business day in the United States, bringing the company close to reaching a supply/demand balance on those devices.

The larger-capacity 128GB devices remain somewhat more constrained than the lower-capacity models, and ship in 3 to 5 business days.

Shipping estimates are similarly improved in many other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines, and more.

Throughout the month of December, shipping estimates have been slowly improving as Apple has catches up with demand, and in early December, estimates had improved to 3 to 5 days for 16/64GB models and 7 to 10 days for 128GB models. Last week, estimates for the 16and 64GB models improved further, reaching 1 to 3 day estimates before jumping up again this week to just 1 day.

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The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been severely constrained since their September debut, but Apple has worked hard to improve available supply, going so far as to reportedly delay mass production on the rumored iPad Pro to focus on producing more iPhone 6 Plus units.

In store supply of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has also seen major improvement over the course of the last few weeks, and in many stores around the country, it's now possible to walk in and purchase an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. According to tracking tool iStockNow, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units from all carriers and in all colors and capacities are widely available at most stores.

Back in October, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was "far outstripping" supply, but based on the continually improving shipping times, Apple appears to be on track to meet its supply goals before the end of the year.






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BBC Documentary Claims Apple Fails to Protect Chinese Factory Workers

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

Earlier this week, BBC One announced plans to air a documentary called Apple's Broken Promises, detailing the factory conditions of the overseas workers who are creating components and assembling the company's iPhones.

Apple's Broken Promises is set to air tonight, but ahead of the documentary's launch, BBC News has published a story outlining what they discovered when they visited Pegatron factories in China and mines in Indonesia.

During the visit, the BBC found that workers at Pegatron factories were forced to put in long hours assembling Apple devices, and that there were violations with ID cards, dormitories, work meetings, and juvenile workers.

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Multiple reporters went undercover at the factory as part of the documentary, and one did not receive a day off after working 18 days in a row while another was exhausted by the long hours. There were also workers who were filmed falling asleep during 12-hour shifts.
One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.

Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move.

"Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress."
Undercover reporters were forced to do overtime, which is supposed to be voluntary, and the housing conditions were less than desirable, with one reporter subjected to a dormitory where 12 workers shared a single room. Another reporter had to attend after work meetings off the clock, receiving no compensation.

In response to the BBC's allegations, Apple released a statement suggesting that it's doing more than any other company to improve working conditions for factory employees. The company also said it monitors working hours at Pegatron, with employees at the factory averaging 55 hours per week.
"We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.

"We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done."
Apple also told the BBC that the overcrowding in the dormitory has been resolved, and that suppliers are required to retroactively pay workers if they have not received compensation for meetings.

The BBC's trip to Indonesia led the documentarians to allege that tin from illegal mines could be entering Apple's supply chain without its knowledge. Children were found digging tin ore in dangerous conditions, with the tin eventually being sold to a smelter that's on Apple's list of suppliers. Apple told the BBC that the situation in Indonesia is "complex" as thousands of miners sell tin through middle men.

Apple often finds itself in the spotlight over the conditions at the factories where its product components are produced, but over the last few years, the company has established a strict code of conduct for suppliers that prevents underage labor and provides safe, comfortable working and living conditions for workers.

Apple also maintains a Supplier Responsibility Team that performs regular audits to ensure compliance, but factory conditions continue to be an ongoing issue for Apple due to both the sheer number of suppliers the company works with and the fact that factories benefit from producing large quantities of product at a low cost.

The full documentary will be shown on BBC One on December 18 at 9:00 PM U.K. time, and it will be replayed later on BBC iPlayer.






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Bank of America Promoting Apple Pay in New Shopping-Focused TV Commercial [iOS Blog]

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

Bank of America this week released a new advertisement promoting Apple Pay, joining a growing number of financial institutions including Chase and Wells Fargo that are advertising Apple's recently launched mobile payments service.

The thirty-second video follows a businesswoman as she shops for her family and herself, buying a shirt, a dog bone, and some lipstick all with her iPhone. She then is seen leaving the store via an elevator, winking as the camera fades away.


Similar to previous commercials, the Bank of America ad focuses on the convenience of using Apple Pay to make payments with a Bank of America credit card. The narrator ends the ad by promoting Apple Pay as "the new, easy, secure, smart way to pay with a simple touch."

Interest in Apple Pay is increasing as additional banks and retailers start adopting the payment option. One of the newest retailers is the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, which is the the home of the Orlando Magic basketball team, with Apple Pay support launching at concession stands and other retail locations within the arena tomorrow. Apple recently confirmed that its mobile payments service now supports cards representing about 90 percent of the credit card purchase volume in the United States.






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Apple Researching Enhanced Touch ID Security Using Finger Motion Tracking [iOS Blog]

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

In a newly published Apple patent application credited to Dale Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec, the company reveals its interest in enhanced security capabilities for the iPhone home button and Touch ID. The patent application describes how the Touch ID sensor could be paired with an on-screen combination lock or other secondary security feature, requiring the user to move his or her finger in certain directions to fully unlock a device.

As noted by Patently Apple, the June 2013 application shows off a few possibilities for the new technology, including a traditional combination lock-style system that has the user rotating his or her finger on the Touch ID sensor to input a security code.

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Another potential implementation would require the user to swipe through a collection of circles by subtly shifting his or her finger in a specific pattern to unlock the phone. Both rely on the same technology created by AuthenTec that uses simultaneous security of a user's unique fingerprint and secure combinations to gain access to a device. AuthenTec has of course played an important role since its acquisition by Apple back in 2012, with the company's "Smart Sensor" technology serving as the basis for Touch ID.

While Touch ID was implemented for security reasons, the addition of a simple-to-enter secondary security code would increase security even further as a form of two-factor authentication combining physical authentication (fingerprint) with knowledge-based authentication (lock combination or swipe pattern). Implementation of such a system would address concerns over court rulings indicating that users could be compelled by police to unlock fingerprint-protected devices, unlike with passcode-protected devices.

The evolution of Touch ID from solely a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s to the expanded "Reachability" features of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus provides a hint at the possibilities of Touch ID in the future. And while inventions disclosed in Apple patent applications frequently do not ever appear in products, they can still offer some insight into Apple's areas of interest.






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Apple Seeds Third iOS 8.2 Beta to Developers

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

ios_8_iconApple today seeded the third beta of iOS 8.2 to developers, just over a week after seeding the second beta and one month after releasing the first iOS 8.2 beta.

The beta, Build 12D5452a, is available immediately to registered developers as an over-the-air update and it can also be downloaded from the iOS Developer Center. Today's update also includes Xcode 6.2 beta 3 with WatchKit.

iOS 8.2 includes the WatchKit SDK, allowing developers to create apps, Glances, and notifications for Apple's upcoming wearable device ahead of its 2015 launch. The first iOS 8.2 beta, with WatchKit SDK and developer documentation, revealed several new details about the Apple Watch, including its heavy reliance on the iPhone and the different types of content developers can create for the device.






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Duet Display Offers Tethered Solution to Turn an iPad into an Extra Display for Mac

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

While there are several apps designed to turn the iPad or iPhone into a secondary display for a Mac, the most popular options use Wi-Fi, which can render them all but unusable at times due to unavoidable lag. A new app from developer and former Apple Engineer Rahul Dewan aims to solve these lag problems with a tethered solution that turns an iOS device into a more reliable secondary display.

Duet Display, which is launching today, is the one of the first apps that transforms the iPad and the iPhone into an extra display for the Mac using a Lightning or 30-pin cable. By sending data over a cable instead of Wi-Fi, Duet Display is able to greatly improve on the lag is typically present when an iOS device is used as a secondary display.

Duet Display offers both a Retina mode and a non-Retina mode, along with options for 30 or 60 frames per second, and it's easy to install and setup, requiring just the Mac app, the iOS app, and a cable to connect the two devices.

The Duet Display app is inarguably an improvement over other options today, but it is not a perfect solution. As detailed in the video walkthrough of the app below, MacRumors experienced some issues when testing the app. On a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, Duet Display's Retina mode caused a significant amount of cursor lag, rendering the app nearly unusable, and the CPU usage climbed to well over 200 percent.


Non-Retina mode (which is enabled in the app by default) offered a more lag free experience, but the trade off caused the secondary iPad Air 2 display to look fuzzy -- a disappointment given the inherent clarity of the screen on Apple's newest tablet. Non-Retina mode in Duet Display degrades the quality of all Retina displays to a noticeable degree.

According to the developer, performance is better on Macs released in 2013 or later, and users who only want to view one static window may not have any problems. Furthermore, many users may find the utility of a secondary iPad or iPhone display to be enough to outweigh the lack of a Retina experience.

Though the iPad Air 2 and other Retina devices don't look good in non-Retina mode, Duet Display is a great solution for older iPads that people might have little use for. An original iPad or iPad 2 does not have a Retina screen, and will work well with older Macs as secondary displays.

Along with the Retina issue, potential buyers should be aware of some other small issues that we ran into. Even in non-Retina mode, on a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, there was some slight cursor lag, and we also had problems with visual artifacts on some apps. When watching YouTube videos, for example, there were some occasional performance blips.

The developer assures us that he is working on improving Duet Display, and he plans to release iterative updates in the months to come to clear up lingering problems. As he suggests, it's better to have an app that works most of the time with just a few problems rather than one of the existing Wi-Fi solutions that can be almost non-functional.


The Duet website claims that all Macs using OS X 10.9 or later work with the app, as well as all iPads and iPhones, but MacRumors was unable to get the software to work with a 2010 MacBook Air. Again, the developer is looking into the issue. Along with a Mac running 10.9 or later, the app will also work with all iPads or iPhones running iOS 5.1.1 or later.

Duet Display may not provide the perfect secondary display experience, but in our testing, we found that it was more reliable than current Wi-Fi options, and we believe it's a fantastic way to make good use of older iOS devices.

Duet Display for the Mac can be downloaded from the Duet website for free. The accompanying iOS app can purchased from the App Store for $9.99 for 24 hours, and then the price will go up to $14.99. [Direct Link]






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Jimmy Fallon Gives Each ‘The Tonight Show’ Audience Member a Free iPad Air 2 [iOS Blog]

December 18th, 2014 by AppleInsider

Audience members at the taping of Wednesday night's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode were treated to an early Christmas present in the form of a free iPad Air 2 for each member of the studio audience.

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"I'm in the spirit of giving," Fallon remarked before revealing the giveaway in last night's version of the "Tonight Show Stocking Stuffers" segment Fallon has been running all week. On Monday, Fallon gave away Bose Soundlink Mini-Bluetooth Speakers, and Tuesday saw the gifting of a Vitamix S30 personal blender.


Fallon is known to be an avid fan of tech and gaming and Apple in particular, repeatedly commenting on big releases of Apple products like the iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. The talk show host has also partnered with good friend Justin Timberlake to voice a handful of ads focusing on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.






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