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Latest: Apple Responds to BBC Criticism of Worker Treatment by Apple’s Suppliers

BBC One’s documentary called “Apple’s Broken Promises” aired in the UK today, but ahead of the broadcast, the network published a story detailing what it discovered when it investigated the mines in Indonesia and...
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Apple Responds to BBC Criticism of Worker Treatment by Apple’s Suppliers

BBC One’s documentary called “Apple’s Broken Promises” aired in the UK today, but ahead of the broadcast, the network published a story detailing what it discovered when it investigated the mines in Indonesia and factories in China where Apple’s product supplies are made and gathered. Apple released a statement addressing the documentary.

Reporter Richard Bilton and his Panorama team created the hour-long documentary. Panorama employed several reporters for the project, who then worked at Pegatron factories in China where they say they found multiple violations regarding young workers, ID, cards, and the like. (Notably, specifically regarding juvenile workers, it doesn’t clarify what these violations are.)

Source: AppAdvice

But most of the news from the factories arises from the hours the workers endure. One reportedly worked 18 days in a row without a single day off, despite multiple requests for one. Other workers were caught falling asleep in the middle of their 12-hour shifts, and one reporter even worked a 16-hour shift.

The big problem with the shifts is that the extra hours are supposed to be voluntary, but they’re not in practice. Workers were sometimes required to attend work meetings off the clock (and with no pay, and living quarters sometimes had as many as 12 people living in the same room.

Panorama’s investigations seemed a little more speculative in Indonesia, as they suggested illegal tin could be making it into Apple’s supply lines without its knowledge.

In the same report, the BBC acknowledged that Apple had released a statement:

“We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions,” Apple’s statement said. “We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done.”

In fact, Apple’s statement seems to suggest that the recorded conditions may date from a time before Tim Cook’s drive for Apple to be “a force for good.” Apple further noted that the crowded conditions in the dormitories had been resolved, and that its suppliers are now required to retroactively required to pay workers for time spent in meetings. As for Indonesia? The Cupertino giant claims the situation is “complex,” owing to the many miners selling tin through middlemen.

If you’re in the UK, you can watch the documentary on the BBC’s website.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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New Patent Suggests Apple May Enhance Touch ID Security

Apple may be planning to enhance the capabilities of Touch ID for additional security, according to a patent recently published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider). The patent itself was created by Dale R. Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec, the company Apple acquired for 6 million back in 2012 to help create Touch ID itself.

Setlak’s patent, which dates from June of 2013, describes a process in which a user would use both the Touch ID and their fingertips to interact with a rotating dial of sorts (similar to a safe) or an on-screen pattern reminiscent of one of Google’s passcode options for Android.

There’s already a hint of this process in the “Reachability” mode introduced for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which allows users to tap the home button lightly to bring elements of the screen into closer reach for a single hand.

The latest patent might seem kind of overkill considering that Touch ID already works easily enough as it is, but Apple will likely make it available for users who want an extra level of security with their devices (much as is the case with its two-step authentication process).

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Morning Report: Apple Pay Heads to Europe, $20M for (Product) RED, Grids 2.0

Grids for Instagram 2.0

Christmas may only be a week away, but you won’t have to wait that long to unwrap a trio of Apple-related news items. Our Thursday Morning Report offers a few hints about Apple Pay expansion beyond the U.S., follows up on Cupertino’s recent (Product) RED campaign, and delivers a big update for Mac-loving Instagram users.

Job Listing Hints at Apple Pay Expansion into Europe, Middle East

Apple Pay may soon become a lot more ubiquitous, as Apple appears to be eyeing a major expansion beyond the United States. iClarified reported Wednesday that a job posting in London specifically mentions the service will be rolling out “across Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa,” but offers no details on when that might happen.

“The new London-based Apple Pay team will work to drive the roll-out of this technology across EMEIA by working with a variety of internal and external partners, including teams in the US where the product will first launch and the EMEIA organisation, as well as Issuers, payment networks, and merchants across Europe,” the job listing reads.

China also appears to be in the crosshairs, with a second posting in search of an “Apple Pay Site Reliability Engineer” responsible for “multiple roles focused on the front line customer experience and the back end integration of Apple systems with our Network and Banking partners.”

Apple Holiday Promotion Raised M for (Product) RED

Re/code reported Wednesday that Apple’s recent holiday campaign appears to have been a smashing success, raising more than million for partner (Product) RED to help fight the spread of AIDS in Africa.

“I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over 0 million,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an email to employees obtained by Re/code. “The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support.”

Taking place over a two-week period, Apple’s (Product) RED campaign partnered with app developers who donated proceeds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Apple also donated a portion of the company’s retail and online sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, historically two of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Grids for Instagram 2.0 Adds Multiple Account Support

ThinkTim Creations announced the release of Grids for Instagram 2.0, a major update to the third-party desktop app that delivers photos from the popular social network onto the Mac. Priced at only .99, the update now includes support for multiple Instagram accounts with the ability to seamlessly switch between them, three new layout styles, hotkey and gesture support for browsing, navigation, and like/comment actions, and a big performance improvement that promises faster image loading, resizing, and scrolling. The update is free for existing Grids users, and available now from the Mac App Store.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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