Mac Pro factory in Texas exposes weakness of US manufacturing

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Mac Pro factory
Building in the U.S. brought plenty of challenges.
Photo: Apple

If you’ve ever wondered why Apple doesn’t do more manufacturing in the United States, a new report by Bloomberg offers a few answers. Covering the career of CEO Tim Cook, the article details the challenges of U.S. manufacturing, as epitomized by Apple’s Mac Pro factory in Austin, Texas.

“It was an experiment to prove that the U.S. supply chain could work as good as China’s, and it failed miserably,” a former senior manager is quoted as saying.

Apple can take years to part ways with rule-breaking suppliers, report claims

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Apple's relationship with Foxconn on the rocks
Tim Cook meeting with a worker in the supply chain.
Photo: Apple

Apple can reportedly drag its feet when removing repeat labor violation offenders from its supply chain, a new report from The Information claims.

Cupertino supposedly postpones taking action when it has no other companies lined up to pick up the slack, or in other scenarios that would cause financial damage due to delays or higher costs.

Another company in iPhone supply chain faces accusations of using forced labor

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iPhone 12 box
Lens Technology makes glass used in the iPhone.
Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr CC

Lens Technology, a Chinese company that makes glass for the iPhone, has allegedly made use of Uighur Muslim forced labor, according to a Tuesday report in The Washington Post.

Documents about the use of alleged forced labor were discovered by the Tech Transparency Project. The research organization detailed how “thousands of Uighur workers from the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang were sent to work for Lens Technology.”

Today in Apple history: iPhone factory deaths spark investigation

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Foxconn
Tim Cook visits one of Apple's factories in China.
Photo: Apple

December 11: Today in Apple history: Deaths at Pegatron iPhone factory spark investigation December 11, 2013: A Chinese labor rights group calls on Apple to investigate the deaths of several workers at a Shanghai factory run by iPhone manufacturer Pegatron.

Most controversially, one of the dead workers is just 15 years old. The underage worker reportedly succumbed to pneumonia after working extremely long hours on the iPhone 5c production line.

$17 million ransomware attack reportedly hits MacBook manufacturer

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The CIA has a team of more than 5,000 hackers.
Genuine photo of real-life hacker.
Photo: Brian Klug/Flickr CC

The last thing you need when you’re a manufacturer trying desperately to deliver orders for Apple is to be hit with a ransomware attack. According to a new report, that’s exactly what happened to Compal, maker of MacBooks, over the weekend — when it was reportedly hit with a massive $17 million extortion attempt.

The firm says that it was simply an “abnormality” in its system, but Taiwanese media claims that it was a cyberattack. This has seemingly been backed up by the website BleepingComputer, which obtained the ransomware note.

Mini LED chipmaker makes ‘better-than-expected’ progress in next-gen displays

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iPadOS 14 Home screen widgets aren’t nearly as flexible as they are in iOS 14
Expect Mini LED displays to come to Apple devices next year.
Photo: Apple

Chinese LED chipmaker San’an Optoelectronics is reportedly making “better-than-expected” progress developing Mini LED technology it hopes will be used in Apple’s future Mini LED iPad and MacBook devices, a Tuesday report by Digitimes claims.

If all goes according to plan, San’an Optoelectronics will join Taiwanese LED chipmaker Epistar in producing the screen tech for Apple. It is expected to enter trial production by the end of this year and receive orders from Apple in 2022. Apple’s first Mini LED devices likely will debut in 2021.

Apple continues to rethink supply chain to get around US-China tensions

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Apple's relationship with Foxconn on the rocks
Tim Cook speaking with a person on the iPhone production line.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s division of its supply chain into one part aimed at the China market and the other aimed at the rest of the world continues apace. The goal? Helping Apple get around rumbling trade tensions between the United States and China.

According to a Friday report from Digitimes, Apple is giving more orders to Chinese firms Luxshare Precision and BYD for the Apple Watch Series 6 and Wi-Fi iPad series, respectively.

Apple’s location-tracking AirTags are already in production

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Apple AitTags are going to have to take on Tile.
AirTags could arrive sooner rather than later.
Concept drawing: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple’s item location-tracking AirTags are already in production, claims a Nikkei report published Tuesday. This suggests that AirTags, which have been heavily rumored for months, are likely on the verge of launching.

AirTags can be attached to items like a keychain or luggage and then be easily located using the “Find My” app on iPhone. This tags will use ultra-wideband technology to accurately determine their location. Recently, sounds discovered in iOS code gave an indication of how the AirTag-finding process will work.

Apple supplier preps factory that could make 2-nm chips for 2024 iPhone

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iPhone11
Forget the current iPhone. TSMC is already planning for the 2024 update.
Photo: Apple

Apple A-series chip manufacturer TSMC has obtained land upon which it plans to build a 2-nanometer fabrication plant, the company’s senior vice president for operations revealed.

In a report published Tuesday, YP Chin said the next-next gen chip fab facility will be located in Hsinchu, a city in northern Taiwan. While there’s no confirmation on when the 2-nm chips will debut, if past patterns are anything to go by, it’s likely they will debut with the 2024 iPhone.