Apple Could Bring Back Jobs to U.S., But ...

Posted by Kirhat | Monday, January 23, 2017 | | 0 comments »

The President and the First Lady
During a fancy dinner way back in 2011, out-going U.S. President Barack Obama asked Steve Jobs: "What would it take to convince Apple to make the iPhone in the United States?"

Jobs' response: "Those jobs aren't coming back. "

Fast forward six years, and President-elect Donald Trump is asking the same question — and possibly finding a different answer.

In an interview with Axis, Trump said that Apple CEO Tim Cook has "his eyes open" to the possibility of a U.S.-made iPhone, adding that Cook wants to "do something major here."

According to Mashable, Trump has referenced a desire to bring iPhone production back to the U.S. since June 2016, part of his broad stance against companies outsourcing jobs overseas. Since the election, numerous companies have been touting their investments in the U.S. regardless of when those moves were first announced or planned.

Apple has been among them. The tech giant is pitching in US$ 1 billion to a new tech-focused fund run by Softbank, a major Japanese telecommunications company that has close ties with Trump. Softbank has pledged to create 50,000 U.S. jobs and invest US$ 50 billion in the U.S.

Apple's investment is a drop in the bucket for the company, which currently sits on more than US$ 215 billion in cash and other investments. Much of that money, however, is sitting overseas to avoid taxes – something that could prove to be an important detail if Trump begins changing around the corporate tax structure. Apple could end up pleasing its shareholders mightily if it works out a deal with Trump to bring that money back to the U.S.

What wouldn't please Apple shareholders is making iPhone production markedly more expensive, which could happen if it was moved stateside and no economic incentive is considered.

The iPhone is made up of a variety of different components, many of them supplied to Apple by different companies that operate around the world. Assuming that Trump isn't interested in disrupting that part of the equation, Cook could focus on assembly.

MIT Technology Review ran a scenario on what would happen if all iPhones were assembled in the U.S. It's hard to forecast exactly how much more expensive that would be, though its June 2016 estimate found the move could add around 5 percent to the overall cost of an iPhone 6s Plus.

It's also worth noting that Apple doesn't actually assemble its own iPhones. That task goes to a company called Foxconn. Foxconn and Apple have a very close relationship, with Apple at one point convincing Foxconn to assemble some iPhones in Brazil (instead of China) to get around that country's import taxes.

The Brazil situation also serves as a warning of what these kinds of deals can become. When Foxconn, Apple and Brazil made a deal to have iPhones made in Brazil, it was touted as opening the door to a massive investment in the country's technology sector. The few phones made there ended up costing almost twice as much as those sold in the U.S. Few of the promised jobs materialized.

Could Trump strike a better deal? Maybe. But it something needs to be done as well. The government will have to strike a balance between, manpower, automation and outsourcing. It will be a delicate process, especially now that advanced robotics and artificial intelligence continue to take jobs, especially those in the manufacturing sector.

Read More ...

Why Apple's Top Developers Are Leaving?

Posted by Kirhat | Sunday, January 22, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Apple Swift
Many tech people may have already that Chris Lattner, Apple's head of developer tools and the creator of its uber-popular programming language, Swift, will leave the company and join Tesla.

People leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons, especially when they are offered exciting new jobs at important, on-the-rise companies.

However, someone in Lattner's circle of developer friends shared some insight with Yahoo! Finance at to why Lattner was calling it quits at Apple now, even as one of his major contributions, Swift, had really taken off.

This person said one big reason was that Apple's culture of secrecy was wearing on him, particularly because it was his job (and his life's work) to create open-source developer tools.

"He always felt constrained at Apple in terms of what he could discuss publicly — resorting to off-the-record chats, surprise presentations, and the like," the person told Yahoo! Finance. "Similarly, I know he was constrained in recruiting and other areas. Eventually I know that can really wear people down."

This wouldn't be Apple's first time losing someone in a big public way because it insists on secrecy over collaboration. As previously reported in several sites, Apple's entire networking team quit within a one-week period back in 2015 when Apple asked the team to build a bulletproof network and then refused to allow it to collaborate with others outside the company in its field doing similar work via an organization called Open Compute Project. (OCP is led by Facebook.)

The Apple networking team then took the networking tech it built at Apple, based on open-source software, and launched its own startup called SnapRoute, which has since taken the network world by storm. After its members quit, Apple relented and officially joined the OCP.

Apple was also forced to change its policy of secrecy for its artificial-intelligence team. In December it allowed that team's members to start publishing research papers on their work and otherwise collaborate with academia. Just a few weeks ago, the Apple AI team published its first paper.

That was a major reversal, and it came because Apple's tight-lipped approach was widely thought to be hindering its ability to hire the best people in the field of AI. AI is the biggest trend in the tech industry these days, and those creating new ways for computers to learn and to reason want to show off their own accomplishments to the greater AI community.

Read More ...

Tesla Harnessing The Power of the Sun

Posted by Kirhat | Saturday, January 21, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Tesla's Gigafactory
Ever since they started their project in 2014, Tesla has claimed its massive "Gigafactory" near Reno, Nevada, will be the largest lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facility in the world, and that it will achieve that feat using renewable energy. Two years later, the scale of Tesla’s commitment to that has been revealed.

Tesla began producing battery cells at the Gigafactory at the start of 2017, and gave a tour to investors to show it off. A document handed out to investors on that tour, obtained by Electrek, mentions a huge rooftop solar array for the factory, along with additional solar panels installed at ground level.

"We will be using 100-percent sustainable energy through a combination of a 70 MW solar rooftop array and solar ground installations," the Tesla document said."“The solar rooftop array is ~7x larger than the largest rooftop solar system installed today," it said. Whirlpool has a 10-MW array on the roof of a distribution center in Perris, California, and there is reportedly an 11.5-MW rooftop array in India.

Tesla also discussed other aspects of the Gigafactory meant to reduce its carbon footprint. Most of the building’s heat will be supplied by waste heat from the production process, and the factory will feature a water-recirculation system that Tesla claims will cut fresh water usage by 80 percent. The company is also constructing an on-site recycling center for batteries.

The Gigafactory is currently building battery cells for Tesla's Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy-storage battery packs. It began assembling these packs last year, but just began manufacturing the cells that go into them at the beginning of this month. Cell production for electric cars will start in the second quarter of this year, Tesla says. That will coincide with the start of production of the Model 3, Tesla’s $35,000, 215-mile, mass-market electric car.

While Tesla is already making things at the Gigafactory, the plant itself isn’t finished yet. Besides the yet-to-be-completed rooftop solar array and battery recycling center, Tesla claims the factory is only 30 percent of its final size. When complete, it believes the Gigafactory will be the largest building in the world.

Read More ...

Samsung's Note 7 Fire Caused By Batteries

Posted by Kirhat | Friday, January 20, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Samsung's Note 7
It has been officially announced by Samsung that their battery was the cause why some Galaxy Note 7 smartphones caught fire.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that the world's biggest smartphone maker is seeking to put behind it one of the biggest product safety failures in tech history as it prepares to launch the Galaxy S8, one of its flagship phones, sometime in the first half of this year.

Investors and analysts say it is critical for Samsung to provide a convincing and detailed explanation about what went wrong with the Note 7 and how it will prevent such problems from recurring if it is to regain consumer trust.

"They've got to make sure they come clean and they've got to reassure buyers as to why this won't happen again," said Bryan Ma, Singapore-based analyst for researcher IDC.

The results of the investigation will likely be announced on 23 January, a day before it announces detailed fourth-quarter earnings results, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and declined to be identified.

Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung's mobile business, will likely announce the results as well as new measures the firm is taking to prevent similar problems in future devices, the person said.

Samsung initially announced a recall of some 2.5 million Note 7 phones in September and identified the cause of the fire as a manufacturing process problem at one of its suppliers, later identified as affiliate Samsung SDI.

But new Note 7s with what Samsung said were safe batteries from a different supplier continued to catch fire, forcing the company to permanently halt sales of the device and dealing a 6.1 trillion won (4.33 billion pounds) blow to Samsung's operating profit over three quarters.

"To me it'd be surprising if they said it was a supplier issue," IDC's Ma said, adding he suspects Samsung may not have given enough room for the battery inside the phone.

The company in October said it will examine all aspects of the phone, including hardware design and software, and would hire third-party firms as part of its probe.

Read More ...

A Transparent Augmented Reality Apple iPhone?

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, January 19, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Transparent Display
The next generation of Apple iPhones could have a display that stretches from one edge to the other.

According to a post on tech blog Apple Insider, the Cupertino company was granted a patent that enables ear speakers, cameras, and a heads-up display (ostensibly for AR purposes) behind the edge-to-edge screen. This could depart from traditional iPhone design, which relies on sensors and circuitry located in the phone’s top and bottom panels.

The patent suggests that the openings created as a result of the result could be crafted based on the application being used in the phone. As Apple Insider points out, a camera opening could be circular while that for a sensor module could be "order of magnitude larger."

It will also pave the way for a secondary display unit by making a portion of the back of the phone transparent by using glass and enabling users to view scenes through that unit. In turn, this would allow Apple to create an Augmented Reality (AR) experience, similar to the one available through the hit game Pokemon Go. Except, in this case, iPhone users will be able to view an augmented version of the scene before them through the glass display instead of through a camera lens (as happens in most AR applications on smartphones).

The new design is expected to debut in the next generation of iPhones, which has been codenamed Ferrari internally, later this year. It will be the eighth generation of iPhones. The company released the iPhone 7 to lukewarm responses last year.

While Apple has not released sales numbers, estimates suggest that it has been beaten to the punch by rival Samsung. Analysts are expecting the next generation of Apple’s iPhones, which are being released on its tenth anniversary, to revive its fortunes. For example, Morgan Stanley released an analyst report earlier this week that had a bullish take on the company. One of the reasons cited by the firm was the prospect of increased sales, thanks to the release of next generation iPhones

Read More ...

New MacBook Gets The Nod From Consumer Reports

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | | 0 comments »

MacBook and Consumer Reports
The accusations and counter accusations that took place a few day ago between Apple and Consumer Reports (CR) regarding battery life on the new MacBook Pro models has seemingly come to an end. It followed a software fix that Apple rolled out via its Beta Software Program.

Consumer Reports re-tested Apple’s lineup of MacBook Pro models and discovered that previous battery life issues were no longer present.

"With the updated software," CR writes, "the three MacBook Pros in our labs all performed well, with one model running 18.75 hours on a charge. We tested each model multiple times using the new software, following the same protocol we apply to hundreds of laptops every year."

Consequently, Consumer Reports has now bestowed Apple's refreshed MacBook Pro line with a "Buy" recommendation.

As to how the whole saga got started in the first place, Consumer Reports‘ initial testing found that battery life on Apple’s new MacBook Pro models varied wildly. On the non-Touch Bar model, for example, testers found that battery life fluctuated between 4.5 hours on the low-end and 19.5 hours on the high-end.

After looking into the matter, Apple discovered that Consumer Reports conducted its testing with a hidden Safari setting (meant only for developers) turned on. According to Apple, the setting is not “used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage.” Apple also discovered that the use of this developer setting "triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab."

Read More ...