System prevents visually impaired from entering own PINs
A recent class action lawsuit -- filed last week in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida -- charges that the point-of-sale devices used by Apple Store workers discriminate against the visually impaired. Because shoppers can't enter a debit card PIN by themselves, plaintiff David New argues, Apple is in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other retailers use POS devices with "tactiley discernible keypad surfaces," the complaint remarks, meaning that there's no fundamental reason why Apple Stores should be different.
Works towards next-gen graphics technology
Six more jobs have opened up for Apple's GPU design office in Orlando, notes AppleInsider. All of the positions are within the Hardware Engineering department, and connected to developing chips used in devices like the iPhone and iPad. One such opening is for a site manager, while another is for a program manager who will handle "SoC [system-on-chip] embedded silicon design."
Nudges people into exploiting holidays at online Apple store
In new web and email promotions, Apple is pushing people to take advantage of upcoming US tax holidays via its online store. Ten states are holding holidays, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Of these, Florida is the lone addition in 2013.
Apple said to have deliberately targeted AMD staff for hiring
The former AMD people Apple has hired for its Orlando Design Center were actively targeted for recruitment, and primarily through their LinkedIn profiles, MacRumors sources say. Apple reportedly discovered that many of AMD's 3D graphics patents were issued from Orlando offices, and hence concentrated hiring efforts on the city. AMD has posted job listings hoping to fill the recent vacancies.
Florida-based Design Center quietly building, recruiting
At least a dozen former AMD graphics specialists have changed their online profiles to reflect that they are now working for Apple at the Orlando Design Center in Florida, suggesting that work on graphics acceleration on Apple's Ax processor line is being quietly built up, and may reflect an overall increased interest by Apple to take more aspects of the processor in-house. Despite the addition of at least 12 engineers since the start of the year, Apple is still advertising for jobs with the Orlando center, as well as similar jobs in Cupertino.
Service currently limited to Houston, Orlando, Tampa
AT&T has officially launched Aio Wireless, an awaited MVNO carrier offering cheaper prepaid plans. Aio is offering Basic, Smart, and Pro tiers for phones, all of which including unlimited calling and texting. Basic costs between $35 and $40, and includes 250MB of data. Smart costs $55 per month for 2GB, and the $70 Pro plan ups the data cap to 7GB. Once a cap is exceeded, Aio begins throttling speeds. A special $15 tablet plan provides 250MB of data.
Florida set to become important Apple hub
Apple is planning to set up chip development facilities in Orlando, Florida, seven job listings discovered by AppleInsider indicate. Most are related to developing and testing processors. One of them calls for a "GPU Csim/Reference Model Engineer" who would specialize in "modeling GPU hardware;" the listing also mentions running iOS on "pre-silicon platforms." Two other jobs involve design verification, and ask for people to "develop verification plans, create verification test bench components, generate tests, run simulations, and debug design issues," among other responsibilities.
Says parties have 'no interest' in quick settlements
Apple and Google-owned Motorola Mobility are only using lawsuits as a business strategy and have no interest in solving their Florida patent lawsuit, says US District Judge Robert Scola. "The parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute; they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end," he writes in a Tuesday court order discovered by Bloomberg. The case includes over 180 claims connected to 12 patents, and the two parties are even contesting the meaning of over 100 terms.
Company making unusual Florida hires
A new Apple job listing may hint at some of the company's plans for fingerprint technology, notes AppleInsider. The company is currently searching for a software engineer, to be based in Melbourne, Florida. The successful hire will be required to work on software related to integrated circuit design, including LabTool, an app used at Apple's "Melbourne Design Center."
Should allow AT&T to make significant LTE expansions
AT&T has bought $1.9 billion in 700 MHz B spectrum from Verizon Wireless, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. AT&T says that the licenses should cover over 42 million people in 18 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. As a part of the deal, it will also get AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum in five of those markets.
Expansion mostly limited to minor towns
Sprint has expanded its LTE 4G coverage to 28 more towns in the US, according an announcement. The new locations are spread out across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Minnesota, Washington, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and Massachusetts. Most of them are relatively minor; some notable names include Branson, Missouri, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Adelaide may get next Australian outlet
Some of Apple's 2012 retail plans should involve New York and Florida in the US, and the city of Adelaide in Australia, according to ifoAppleStore sources. The Carousel Center mini-store in Syracuse, New York is expected to move into a larger space later this year, possibly to one currently under construction near a Clark's in the same mall. The current location is rare in not only being a mini-store, but having its partner full-sized store situated 95 miles away, in Albany. The new Carousel Center shop could be ready by mid-year.
Sydney outlet city's third
Construction efforts are due or underway on two Apple retail expansions, according to ifoAppleStore. The first is a previously rumored new location in Sydney, Australia, on the third floor of the Broadway Shopping Centre. A black facade (pictured above and below) is now covering units 303 to 307, indicating that the finished shop will measure nearly 6,000 square feet.
City official accused of exploiting power
A political row has surfaced over plans to build a larger Lincoln Road Apple Store in Miami Beach, Florida, notes the Miami Herald. Earlier in the year Apple proposed demolishing a structure at 1001 Lincoln Road, about a thousand feet from the current store, in order to create a bigger outlet (seen in images) featuring a predominantly glass design with a tall stone sidewall. Heritage organizations protested, given that the target building dates back to 1926. Apple withdrew its proposal, but business leaders are said to be worried that Apple might simply move to a different city and take heavy shopping traffic with it.
Upgrades planned for other shops
Apple's rapid retail expansion plans also appear to include new shops in Denver, Colorado and Sarasota, Florida. A source indicates that a second Denver outlet will be built at Union Station, which is being rehabilitated to make it a major hub for transportation, commerce and gatherings. The developer includes an Apple logo in a video rendering of the project, but this is now claimed to be more than just wishful thinking.
Hong Kong outlet could bring high traffic, costs
Apple is continuing its recent efforts to expand existing stores with one of its shops in Orlando, Florida, sources say. In the city's Mall of Millenia complex, Apple currently occupies a small ground-floor space which is said to be constantly flooded with visitors. When a lease on a larger second-floor space occupied by Z Gallerie came up for renewal earlier this year, the sources claim that Apple jumped on the prospect and ultimately outbid Z Gallerie.
New location appearing in Sydney
As part of a continuing trend of expansions, Apple is looking to upgrade its retail stores in Honolulu, Hawaii and Miami Beach in Florida. With the latter Apple has been encountering some difficulty, and has in fact withdrawn a proposal to demolish a building near the current Lincoln Road outlet. The company is hoping to move along the same street from a 738 address to 1001, putting it in an upscale shopping district with pedestrian foot traffic. The city's Historic Preservation Board objected to the proposal though, which would have seen the construction of large stone walls similar to those of the Upper West Side store in New York City. The HPB wants the walls to be smaller, and more critically to match the historic architecture in the district.
Apple to take over historic Spanish building
Plans for four more Apple Stores are progressing in the US and in Europe. In Sarasota, Florida, management at the Westfield Southgate mall has acknowledged being in talks for an Apple location. When the store would open is uncertain, but it may reportedly arrive by the end of 2011, and fill a gap in Apple Stores between Tampa and Naples.
Apple gear bought using stolen credit info
The US government has indicted 27 people suspected of belonging to a fraud ring targeting Apple Stores, reports say. The group is accused of making fake credit cards using stolen data bought from the Internet, and in turn fraudulently buying $1 million or more in goods from Apple Stores in 13 states. Products like Macs and gift cards were fenced to bring in cash.
Suspects thought to have been fulfilling 'orders'
The arrest of two men following an incident at an Apple Store in Tampa, Florida appears to have solved a series of thefts in the area, a local Fox affiliate says. At the International Plaza Apple outlet, a customer spotted two men grabbing iPads from a stack on wall display. After reporting the theft, a mall security guard is said to have confronted the shoplifters in the parking lot, who sped away in a vehicle after dropping the stolen iPads.
May have backing of employment commissions
A Florida man, Michael Katz, is accusing Apple of breaking the state's Civil Rights Act through its promotion practices. Starting in March 2006, Katz began working at the Millenia Mall Apple Store in Orlando. 60 at the time, Katz says that he several times sought the chance to be promoted to Creative status, but was denied in every instance.
No hints of price spreading to rivals
TJ Maxx has confirmed accounts that it is now selling the iPad. In a Twitter post, the company acknowledges that select locations are carrying the tablet at a base cost of $400. Those outlets aren't being advertised however, and each one only has a limited number of tablets in stock.
Use feeds Apple publicity
Apple's iPad marketing efforts are being helped through two different public exposures, reports note. In Tampa Bay, Florida, Watergrass Elementary School has given away 16GB Wi-Fi iPads to 13 fifth-graders, a gift for the students as they graduate to the sixth grade. The tablets are also meant to help with future homework and research. An Apple saleswoman who has worked with Watergrass, Andrea Barr, says a photo from the giveaway may be used in an upcoming ad.
Brandon, FL Apple Store
Apple has announced that its newest retail store will open in Brandon, Florida, on Saturday, May 24th. The location is within the Westfield Brandon Mall at 459 Brandon Town Center, and situated next to Black and White, across from Dick's Sporting Goods. Monday to Saturday hours are 10AM to 9PM, while Sunday hours are curtailed from 11AM to 6PM.