Report: Apple planning iOS-controlled smart home automation platform for WWDC unveiling

According to a report from The Financial Times, Apple is working on a new software platform that would “turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances.” Apple’s iOS ecosystem is of course already home to an increasing number of connected products for the home like the Philips Hue WiFi connected light bulbs, the Nest thermostat and a number of iPhone controlled appliances, but the report claims that Apple will soon unveil a new central platform that will make for a more seamless experience: Read more

Foxconn reportedly halts hiring due to slow iPhone 5 production, resumes next month (for next iPhone?)

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Update: While it’s hard to read too much into these reports, Foxconn told The Wall Street Journal the freeze on hiring is a result of “a high employee return rate following the Lunar New Year holiday.”

According to the report from Financial Times, Apple’s major assembly partner Foxconn has halted new hiring at its facilities due to a slow down in production for the iPhone 5:

The suspension in hiring by China’s largest private sector employer and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first such countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, which has put pressure on the US company’s battered share price.

Foxconn confirmed it is not currently hiring in its plants located in mainland China, and FT reported the company’s employees were informed that hiring would stop until at least the end of March “in response to reduced orders for the iPhone 5.” While the iPhone 5 doesn’t seem to be experiencing a slow down, according to the latest numbers from Strategy Analytics, the March time frame would line up nicely with rumors of iPhone 5S production beginning in March. Many analysts are calling for a June or July launch of the next-generation iPhone, and Apple could begin initial production as early as next month if true. The decreased production at Foxconn is likely thanks to the expected falloff in new sales in the months following the busy holiday season. Less likely is speculation that Apple could be switching manufacturers.

Recruiters in China told FT that Foxconn has stopped hiring specifically for the iPhone and iPad production lines in many of its factories:

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