$17 million ransomware attack reportedly hits MacBook manufacturer


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


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


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


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


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.

Apple’s biggest supplier splits its manufacturing to avoid being hit with tariffs


Apple's relationship with Foxconn on the rocks
Tim Cook meets with a person working on the production line building iPhones.
Photo: Apple

Apple manufacturer Foxconn said Wednesday that it plans to split its supply chain in two. One segment will service the China market, while the other will focus on the United States.

Foxconn chairman Young Liu said the manufacturing giant now operates 30% of its capacity outside China, up from 25% last June. In recent years, the company began moving manufacturing to other regions such as Southeast Asia to avoid possible tariffs on Chinese goods headed to the United States.

Apple reportedly imported clothes from Chinese company accused of forced labor


Apple Paris
Apple staffers' uniforms may have been partly manufactured by an accused company.
Photo: Apple

A Chinese company facing U.S. sanctions for using forced labor provided clothing or raw materials to Apple, possibly in the form of uniforms for its retail employees, claims The Guardian.

Changji Esquel Textile is one of a group of 11 companies that reportedly violated human rights in China’s western Xinjiang region. The company denies using forced labor “anywhere” in its business and says it will appeal its inclusion on the sanctions list.

iPhone 12 camera problem might have an upside for Apple


Ming-Chi Kuo says there's a problem with iPhone 12 camera lens.
Concept: PhoneArena

Apple reportedly encountered a problem with some of the camera lenses it plans to use for the iPhone 12. Specifically, some of the coatings for the wide-angle lens cracked during a high-pressure, high-humidity stress test, according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

While that might not sound great, there’s actually no reason to panic. And the supply-chain problem might even wind up saving Apple a few bucks.

Apple pushes tech toward green manufacturing, this week on The CultCast


CultCast 442: AirPods with health sensors
Apple is definitely not neutral on going carbon neutral. (And neither are we.)
Image: The CultCast

This week on The CultCast: Apple — and the company’s entire supply chain — will be 100% carbon neutral by 2030, pushing the world of tech toward big changes. Plus: A powerful iOS 14 privacy feature will be great for consumers, but might kill the billion-dollar online ad industry. We’ll also tell you about some exciting new podcast features coming to Spotify, and wrap up with our favorite new gadgets on an all-new Under Review.

Our thanks to NETGEAR for supporting this episode. The Orbi WiFi 6 router gives you ultra-fast speeds and wider coverage throughout your home — it’s the biggest revolution in Wi-Fi ever. Check it out today at Netgear.com/bestwifi.

Apple reportedly cuts 5G iPhone orders on fears of global recession


This iPhone 12 concept borrows from Samsung.
Is Apple cutting back on its orders for the future iPhone 12? It appears so.
Image: ConceptsiPhone

Apple reportedly cut orders for its future 5G iPhones with Chinese component makers, fearing a slowdown in orders as a result of what many economists are already calling the beginnings of a global recession. 

Chinese daily technology newspaper Digitimes reported Friday some component suppliers have been told by Apple they will not need as many parts for new iPhones, expected to be released later this year. Other suppliers now say that they too expect a slowdown in orders from the iPhone-maker.