Apple manufacturing

Making Apple Vision Pro video will mesmerize you

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The Making Apple Vision Pro title card
You won't see a more fascinating 1-minute, 21-second video today!
Image: Apple

Even if you have zero interest in buying a $3,499 mixed-reality headset, you should stop right now and watch the new Making Apple Vision Pro video. It’s an absolutely mesmerizing video that shows the elaborate manufacturing process for Apple’s upcoming “spatial computing” device.

It takes just over a minute to watch, and it’s truly stunning!

Today in Apple history: MacBook Air becomes ‘world’s thinnest notebook’

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A plain manila envelope became a key stage prop for selling the MacBook Air.
A plain manila envelope became a key prop for selling the MacBook Air.
Photo: Apple

January 15: Today in Apple history: MacBook Air becomes 'world's thinnest notebook' January 15, 2008: Steve Jobs shows off the first MacBook Air at the Macworld conference in San Francisco, calling the revolutionary computer the “world’s thinnest notebook.”

The 13.3-inch laptop measures only 0.76 inches at its thickest point and 0.16 inches at its tapered thinnest. It also boasts a unibody aluminum design, thanks to an Apple engineering breakthrough that allows the crafting of a complicated computer case from a single block of finely machined metal.

In a brilliant piece of showmanship during the MacBook Air launch, Jobs pulls the super-slim laptop out of a standard interoffice envelope. (You can watch his keynote introducing the MacBook Air below).

Today in Apple history: iMac goes big with 27-inch display

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The 2009 unibody iMac proved a watershed design for Jony Ive and Apple.
Unibody aluminum iMac design FTW!
Photo: Apple

October 20: Today in Apple history: iMac goes big with 27-inch display October 20, 2009: Apple goes big with its iMac redesign, introducing the first 27-inch all-in-one Mac.

The sleek, sophisticated aluminum unibody design looks so good that the iMac will remain virtually unchanged for years. As with the first Macintosh with a built-in CD-ROM drive, the iMac’s 27-inch display represents a sea change for tech. The big, beautiful screen signals that larger displays need no longer remain the domain of pampered professionals.

Apple tests 3D printing that could revolutionize manufacturing

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Stainless steel Apple Watches are the test case for a new manufacturing process using 3D printers.
Stainless steel Apple Watches are the test case for a new manufacturing process using 3D printers.
Photo: Apple

Apple is testing a 3D-printer-based manufacturing process for some of its upcoming Apple Watches that could radically change how it manufactures products generally, a new report said Wednesday.

In testing, the company is using 3D printers for the stainless steel chassis of some wearables. It may prove more eco-friendly and economical, cutting down on materials needed.

Bad news for Xmas: Apple’s largest factory forced into ‘total lockdown’

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Foxconn building
Foxconn is Apple's biggest contract manufacturer.
Photo: Puddingworld, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons

Days after reports of Foxconn employees hopping fences and fleeing from their jobs, a report late Wednesday from Taiwan News says Apple’s biggest iPhone factory is now on “total lockdown.” These new restrictions may have a big impact on Apple’s sales during the crucial holiday period.

Foxconn, whom Apple contracts to manufacture the lion’s share of iPhones, Macs and other Apple products, has had employees stay in on-site dormitories in a “closed-loop system” to prevent COVID outbreaks. Employees have been complaining about the “increasingly unsafe and inhumane working conditions” of the dorms.

AirPods manufacturers sleep in factory ‘bubbles’ to avoid COVID-19

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Apple has big plans for the AirPods lineup.
It's all part of the effort to contain COVID.
Photo: Omid Armin/Unsplash CC

In order to quell the spread of COVID-19, at least one Apple supplier set up coronavirus “bubbles” for employees on its production lines, essentially sealing off workers from the outside world.

According to a Tuesday report by Nikkei Asia, several factories in Vietnam — including one owned by AirPods manufacturer GoerTek — took this precautionary measure as COVID-19 cases ramp up in the country.

iPhone 12 production runs 24 hours a day, with big bonuses for top workers

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Apple's relationship with Foxconn on the rocks
Tim Cook meeting with a member of the iPhone production line.
Photo: Apple

Production is running full-tilt for the iPhone 12, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

According to the publication, production is running 24 hours per day, with no vacations allowed and mandatory overtime. There are also “juicy bonuses” for employees who put in the time.

For the first time, Apple builds current-gen flagship iPhone in India

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Foxconn moving additional iPhone production to India as coronavirus disrupts work
Apple is gradually scaling up its focus on Indian manufacturing.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

For the first time, Apple is manufacturing its current flagship iPhone in India, a Friday report from the Economic Times claims. The report says Foxconn is building the iPhone 11 at its plant near Chennai.

While many previous iPhones made in India have been manufactured for the local market, the story says Apple might export these devices internationally. Building some of its flagship iPhones in India would help lessen Apple’s reliance on China.

AirPods Pro owners scratch and sniff … blueberries

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AirPods Pro blueberries
Some AirPods Pro owners smell blueberries when they open their new earbuds. An expert says that's not surprising.
Photo: Envato Elements

Some AirPods Pro owners report an unusual smell emanating from the plastic and rubber casings of Apple’s hot new earbuds. Of all things, they say they detect a whiff of … blueberries.

One expert tells Cult of Mac the aroma could be deliberate, or simply a result of chemical compounds in the plastics.

Tim Cook might take Trump on tour of Texas Mac Pro factory

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Apple shares suffer biggest decline since August
Trump and Cook have had a complex relationship since 2016.
Photo: White House

Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Donald Trump will reportedly tour facilities in Austin, Texas, where the company makes its Mac Pro desktops.

The trip would be part of Trump’s ongoing efforts to highlight U.S. manufacturing. Last month, Trump toured the Louis Vuitton factory in Alvarado, Texas.

Apple wants to build new Mac Pro in US

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Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR orders start Tuesday
Who knew?
Photo: Apple

Apple would prefer to build the upcoming Mac Pro in the United States. In fact, the company is trying to make it happen, CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday.

“We’ve been making the Mac Pro in the United States and we want to continue doing that,” Cook said during Apple’s earnings call. “We’re working and investing currently in the capacity to do so. We want to continue to be there.”

Trump: Apple won’t receive special treatment for Mac Pro parts

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Mac Pro cheese grater
You might be better off with iMac Pro instead.
Photo: Apple

President Donald Trump said Friday that Apple will not receive special treatment for Mac Pro components made in China.

Apple submitted multiple requests asking the Trump administration to exclude certain Mac Pro parts from a 25% import tariff. But Trump says the U.S. government will not extend any special waivers or relief to Cupertino.

“Make them in the USA,” Trump tweeted.

Apple and Foxconn, a history [Cook book outtakes]

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Foxconn workers spell company's name
Workers spell out the company's name at one of Foxconn's giant plants.
Photo: Foxconn

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

Foxconn was founded around the same time as Apple, although 6,000 miles away on the other side of the world. In 1974, when 19-year-old Steve Jobs was working at Atari, 24-year-old Terry Gou borrowed $7,500 ($37,000 in today’s money) from his mother to start up a business.

How Ops operates back at Apple HQ [Cook book outtakes]

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Apple leases new offices near to Apple Park
Apple leases new offices near to Apple Park
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

As iPhone growth exploded, Apple struggled to keep up with demand. Every year, the number of iPhones sold would double, which meant that Apple kept adding new suppliers and assembly operations to keep up. It was a monumental struggle.

Inside Apple’s factories [Cook book outtakes]

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Apple factory workers in China
Workers examine a camera module in one of Apple's factories in China.
Photo: Apple

Tim Cook book outtakes: How Apple's Operations department works This post was going to be part of my new book, Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level, but was cut for length or continuity. Over the next week or so, we will be publishing several more sections that were cut, focusing mostly on geeky details of Apple’s manufacturing operations.

A good measure of the size of Apple’s manufacturing operations is its capital expenditure, the amount of money spends on things like buildings and equipment.

Apple’s capital expenditure, or CapEx, is mindboggling. To get an idea of how big it is, take Apple’s new spaceship campus in Cupertino – which is the fourth most expensive building in the world. It cost the company an estimated $5 billion to construct.

Apple spends a similar amount every six months on manufacturing equipment.

If you think iPhones are expensive now, try making them in USA

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Terry Gou
These assembly workers could be American instead of Chinese if we’re willing to pay a lot more for our iPhones.
Photo: Foxconn

There’s a good chance the iPhone and other Apple products will be hit with tariffs in the Trump administration’s trade war with China. The president has repeatedly stated his simple solution: Make the iPhone in the United States.

But an analyst warns that moving assembly of Apple’s handsets to the U.S. would significantly increase their price.

iPhone is made in America, Tim Cook insists

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Tim Cook says iPhone is an American product
Workers in Texas produce components for the iPhone X. Many parts for Apple's products are made in this country.
Photo: Apple

It clearly makes Tim Cook angry that people think the iPhone is made in China. “It’s not true that iPhone isn’t built in the United States,” Apple’s CEO said today.

The design work definitely happens in the United States. However, Cook points out that Apple suppliers produce many components in this country as well.

Ex-Apple engineer tells how the company’s manufacturing works

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Instrumental founder and CEO Anna Katrina Shedletsky
Instrumental founder and CEO Anna Katrina Shedletsky, who is using her experience as an Apple product design engineer to bring AI to manufacturing.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Almost all electronic products are still assembled by hand, even hundreds of millions of iPhones.

But that’s changing. Apple’s supply chain is rapidly automating using AI and robots.

At the forefront of this is an ex-Apple product design engineer, Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, who is using her expertise to help other manufacturers build their products.

On this episode of the Apple Chat podcast, we talk to Shedletsky about her new AI startup, Instrumental; Apple’s giant manufacturing operation; the role of product design; and much more.

If you’re curious how Apple makes its products, listen to the podcast or check out the full transcript below.

Former Apple product design engineer reveals how Apple runs its factories

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Instrumental CEO Anna-Katrina Shedletsky
Anna Katrina Shedletsky is a former Apple product design engineer who is using her experience to build AI that helps companies streamline manufacturing.
Photo: Instrumental

On this week’s Apple Chat (the podcast formerly known as Kahney’s Korner): I talk with former Apple product design engineer Anna-Katrina Shedletsky about her take on modern manufacturing and how AI will revolutionize factories. She introduces us to her new company, Instrumental, which is using machine learning to help manufacturers identify and fix problems on their assembly lines.

Using her hard-earned experience at Apple overseeing the production of the first Apple Watch and several generations of the iPod, Shedletsky says machine learning is coming fast to manufacturing. Amazingly, almost all consumer electronics products are still assembled by hand — including hundreds of millions of iPhones.

But that’s changing. Manufacturing is undergoing a huge sea change with the advance of robotics and AI.

Tim Cook reveals $1 billion fund to boost U.S. manufacturing

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Apple wants to help spark a manufacturing boom in the US.
Apple wants to help spark a manufacturing boom in the US.
Photo: CNBC

Apple is making a $1 billion investment aimed at boosting high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States, CEO Tim Cook said today.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we get more people to do advanced manufacturing in the United States?'” Cook said during an interview with Mad Money’s Jim Cramer at Apple Campus today. “And I’m proud to tell you that we’re creating an advanced manufacturing fund. We’re initially putting $1 billion in the fund.”

Will Trump be good for Apple? [Friday Night Fights]

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How will Apple fare in the Trump era?
How will Apple fare in the Trump era?
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac. Original photo: Michael Vadon/Flickr CC

In case you hadn’t noticed, the United States has a new leader — and President Donald Trump has a bone to pick with Apple. Several, actually.

Will Trump’s “America first” stance and pro-business policies help Apple or give Tim Cook a series of premium headaches? Cult of Mac editors Leander Kahney and Lewis Wallace come out swinging in this week’s edition of “Friday Night Fights.”

Tim Cook talks U.S. iPhone manufacturing with Donald Trump

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President Trump: Apple encryption could protect ‘criminal minds’
Donald Trump wants Apple to bring its manufacturing back to the U.S.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

Tim Cook and President-elect Donald Trump haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues previously.

However, during yesterday’s meeting with The New York Times editorial board, Trump revealed news about a recent phone conversation he had with Cook, containing details Trump thinks Apple has reason to “be happy about.”

Apple gets one step closer to iPhones made in India

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Apple supplier is increasing its ability to build masses of iPhones in India
Designed in California, made in India. Maybe.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has “sought incentives” to set up a manufacturing facility in India, according to a new report.

Apple reportedly made its case to the country’s Department of Revenue and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY).