Much More Than Zero COVID

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A report of COVID in iPhone City, news of Mac production and repair, and the end is near for Dark Sky.

Rest of World: iPhone City Workers Working with COVID

Remember when Foxconn’s iPhone City plant in Zhengzhou was worried about keeping COVID out? A report from the site Rest of World says now the plant is keeping workers working through it. Well… sometimes it’s management doing that. Sometimes the workers themselves are unwilling to stop working, either for fear of losing money or because quarantine conditions are pretty terrible. According to the site:

With [Foxconn] under pressure to catch up on much-delayed iPhone 14 Pro production, some employees have been told to continue assembling the smartphones even after becoming ill.

They’ve got N95 masks to wear during shifts, but they sleep eight-to-a-dorm in some cases, making the highly transmissible disease… well… highly transmissible. One anonymous worker told Rest of World that his supervisor “advised workers not to get tested so they could stay on the production line.” Once someone tests positive, they’re pulled off the line and out of the dorms, according to the piece. Recovery sounds awful, though — and I’m not just talking about the illness. Quoting the report:

A growing number of Covid-19 patients have been housed in facilities including a vocational school and an unfinished apartment complex, according to workers. Some workers said they were given sufficient food and medicine, while others complained of dirty toilets, food shortages, and a lack of medical care. 

Then there’s the potential loss of pay. While workers have been promised their recruitment bonuses even if they have to spend time in quarantine, the piece says “some workers are reluctant to take time off, citing concerns about poor quarantine conditions and a potential loss in overtime pay.” The report indicates that that is a concern expressed by more than one worker. 

Of course, COVID being COVID, it’s not just line workers getting sick. The piece had one anonymous worker saying he worked with a fever for two-days while waiting for COVID test results. “His managers also seemed sick,” according to the report, walking unsteadily “as they scolded slow workers in raspy voices.” 

And that’s how things are reportedly going in iPhone City. 

Nikkei: Apple Producing MacBook in Vietnam for First Time in 2023

Apple’s moves to move manufacturing out of China may see MacBooks made in Vietnam next year. A piece from the Japanese business site Nikkei has secret sources saying that Apple has tapped Foxconn “to start making MacBooks in the Southeast Asian nation as early as around May…” While Vietnam does make other Apple devices, this is the first time it would handle Apple’s laptops, according to the report. The piece quotes one secret source saying:

After the MacBook production shifts, all of Apple’s flagship products basically will have one more production location beyond China … iPhones in India and MacBooks, the Apple Watch and iPads in Vietnam… What Apple wants now is an ‘out of China’ option for at least part of production for all of its products.

If it was just zero COVID policies that had fouled manufacturing, Apple and others might have tried to ride it out in China. Similarly, if it was only escalating tensions between the US and China, they might have rolled the dice. But the two things together are too much, according to Chiu Shih-fang, a supply chain analyst with the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research. They are quoted as saying:

In the past, most people in the industry always hoped that the situation could ease and things could go back to the good old days… But this time, they realize there is no way of turning back and no matter what they need to prepare alternatives beyond China.

No one wants their businesses to be trapped and hit badly just because their production is too concentrated in one place. From big to small, suppliers now need to have some solutions for facing this new global reality.

Neither Apple nor Foxconn offered comment for the Nikkei piece.

Apple Adds Recent Desktops to Self Service Repair Program

Do-it-yourself repair people have Apple’s blessing on a new range of products. Joining some MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iPhone models in Apple’s Self Service Repair program are desktops from the Cupertino-company. According to a piece from Cult of Mac, as of yesterday:

…Apple’s support website offers the information and tools needed to fix a range of macOS desktop computers, including the 2022 Mac Studio, the 2021 iMac and 2020 Mac mini. Plus, the 2022 Studio Display is also now part of the program.

While everyone can, not everyone should. The Cult has Apple warning that Self Service Repair is “intended for individuals with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices.” For those who are game, you can buy or rent the necessary tools from Apple. The Self Service Repair program is open to people Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US.

Apple Offers Details on MLS Season Pass

Are you ready for some… soccer… 

Coming soon to an Apple TV app near you, 9to5Mac says Apple has announced the MLS Season Pass schedule for Major League Soccer. The piece says most of the games will happen on Saturdays, though some will happen on “select” Wednesday evenings. “In addition,” the piece says, “the Apple TV app will also broadcast a five-hour live whip-around show ‘capturing all of the key moments from every match.’”

While some games will be free, access to all will require a subscription. Those will run Apple TV+ subscribers $12.99-per-month or $79-per-year. Folks who aren’t subscribed to Apple TV+ can still subscribe through the Apple TV app. MLS Season Pass will run those viewers $14.99-per-month or $99-per-year. 

MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV gets underway on Wednesday, Feb. 1. More info is available in Apple’s online newsroom

Rumor Has Apple TV App for Android Coming Soon

Apple TV may be on the verge of its very own app for Android — so says… someone on Twitter. Seems to be a knowledgable someone, though. A piece from iDownloadBlog says ShrimpApplePro hit Twitter saying that such an app could/should be coming soon. They indicate that Apple “is currently testing a native Apple TV for Android app…” While there is an Apple TV app for Android TV, folks toting Android portables currently have to “use the web app at” iDownloadBlog says a “native app will bring a smoother, faster experience versus using the web app in a browser.”

Who is AppleShrimpPro? I don’t know, though they do seem to know something about something. According to a piece from MacRumors, they had the skinny on Dynamic Island for the iPhone 14 Pro line as well as the smartphone’s packaging before either were shown off by Apple.

Apple Urges Users to Native Weather Apps Ahead of Dark Sky Shutdown

And finally today, darkness is imminent for Dark Sky. The popular weather app, purchased by Apple in early 2020, will see it’s last at the end of the year. A piece from MacRumors says Apple is reminding users of that, and letting them know that lots of the app’s features are still out there in Apple’s own updated Weather apps for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. According to the report, Apple has:

published a support document highlighting the Dark Sky features that have been integrated into the Weather app to encourage Dark Sky users to transition to the built-in options.

Such features are said by the report to include:

…down-to-the minute precipitation forecasts for snow and rain, an hourly forecast for the next 10 days, and weather modules that provide expanded information on humidity, precipitation levels, visibility, wind speed, and more.

It’ll be there when you’re ready, which will likely be soon. The Dark Sky app goes dark on Sunday, January 1, 2023. 

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast: 

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I talk over the latest from iPhone City. Plus, the slow walk on AirTag info kind of annoys Jeff. We talk about what might make that better. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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