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Third worker dies from explosion at Foxconn plant

It looks like last week's explosion at a Foxconn facility in China has taken another life, bumping to total fatalities to 3. The facility was a "polishing plant" mainly used for production of the iPad 2.

A third worker has died from an explosion at a Foxconn plant in China that makes Apple products, the contract manufacturer said on Sunday. The company said it us still investigating the blast, but said initial findings suggest “that the accident was caused by an explosion of combustible dust in a duct.”

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Apple Store app updated [Update: US and Europe only]

Apple's Apple Store app has been updated to version 1.3 and brings with it some new features... even if it's still iPhone only.

  • Enhanced in-store mode lets you get help and support quickly when you're at an Apple Retail Store.
  • The ability to custom-configure a new Mac with the options you want.

Unfortunately, they didn't update the icon. Let's hope a universal version is on its way. More screenshots after the break, and if you customize yourself a new Mac with the Apple Store app, let us know how it works for you.

UPDATE: It's showing up in the UK app store now, so it look like it is rolling out internationally.

UDPATE 2: We reached out to Apple PR and they told us it's US and EU only for now, more precisely:

Yesterday we updated the US version and launched the app in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland).

So those of us in Canada

[Free - iTunes link]

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Apple Store 2.0 is here, iPad take-over begins! [Updated with video]

Australia, being in the future, has just seen the debut of Apple Store 2.0, the recently rumored reboot that adds interactive iPads, among other things, to the retail experience. Talk about putting your tech where your money is.

Want to learn more about that MacBook Pro or iMac? Hit up the iPad next to it for feature specs, comparisons, explanations for those new to Apple, technical support, or summon an Apple specialist for additional help at the touch of a button. (I'm figuring the staff disables that little prank-in-the-waiting by end of business day 1).

As the rising sun hits more and more regions, we're hoping to learn more about the new Apple Retail, so if you spot anything at your local store, let us know!

My only question - do the iPads have interactive iPads to explain what you can do with the iPads, on iPads?

Update: Apparently, the iPads are encased in Carbonite tough, clear plastic.

Update 2: Video, see above.

Update 3: Apple sent a note along to employees, read it after the break. [9to5Mac]

Update 4: Just got back from checking out the new store displays. The app powering the iPads is very slick, with great animated popups (Pixar would be proud) that allow for very clean initial info pages with lots of additional details (like pricing) that can be access with a tap. Apparently Apple has more planned for this app as well, and being able to update both the app, as well as prices, specs, etc. without having to reprint paper every time is no doubt one of the motivators for this new system.

The plastic encasings are perfectly fit and pretty much weld the iPads to the table so you can't move them around. There's a proprietary connector (not the usual dock cable) powering the iPads. It's almost impossible to see. the Home buttons are disabled so you can't exit out of the display app.

There are also beautifully crafted new product identifiers in the center of the tables for iPad, iPod, iPhone, etc. Typically Apple, they're understated, elegant, and do just what they need to do without being fussy about it. (Jonathan Ive's insistence on design getting out of the way, no doubt.) Photos after the break.

[9to5Mac video courtesy of Glasshouse Apps]

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Google continues to work around Apple with new HTML5 Maps app

Google has updated their online HTML5 Maps web app for both Android and iOS. But wait, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch already have built in Google Maps, right? Well, they have built-in Maps apps that use Google data, but the apps themselves are made by Apple and Apple hasn't exactly been updating them at a brisk pace.

So, like they've done in the past for Gmail and YouTube, Google is using Apple's "second development platform" -- complete with location services and local storage cache -- to get their own versions of their apps onto iOS and into the hands of users.

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Fling iPad joystick now available in Apple Stores nationwide

If you find gaming on the iPad with a virtual joystick hard work, the Fling joystick may be just the solution. Apple seems to agree as it is now stocking Fling in Apple Stores nationwide.

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Amazon now accepting iPhone and iPads in its Electronic Trade-In program

Amazon has just added a few new devices to its Electronics Trade-In program. Some of the new devices added are iPhones and iPads. The Amazon Trade-In Program allows you to receive an Amazon Gift Card in exchange for sending in your unwanted electronics. This could be a viable alternative if you decide you want to cash in on an iPhone or iPad prior to upgrading and really can’t face the shark infested waters of eBay or Craigs List.

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Apple still needs music publishers on board for iTunes cloud streaming service

Peter Kafka over at All Things Digital reports that Apple has yet another hurdle to overcome before iTunes cloud streaming can become a reality -- getting music publishers to sign off. Although Apple has been negotiating and finalizing deals with the music labels, including Sony now, that's apparently not enou.

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EFF: Apple should defend developers in face of patent threats

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has called on Apple to be developers' knight in shining armor in face of threats from patent trolls. As TiPb covered in our special edition iPhone Live podcast with FOSS Patent's Florian Mueller, iOS developers including James Thomson of PCalc and the Iconfactory, makers of Twitterrific have received letters from patent holding company, Lodsys, asking for licensing fees for the use of in-app purchases for in-app upgrades. The EFF sees that position as untenable:

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Explosion at Foxconn iPad 2 facility results in two fatalities

Foxconn's Chengdu, China based iPad 2 factory suffered an explosion earlier today which killed at least two people.

Foxconn said the situation has been brought under control by the fire department and the "cause of the explosion is being investigated by local police." The company said it is cooperating with the investigation and production at the site has been suspended until the investigation is completed.

It apparently occurred in the "polishing plant" at around 7pm local time.

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