AT&T/T-Mobile USA deal could take up to one year for federal approval

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 07:00
Category: iPhone, News

Even if AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA for US$39 billion may come as good news, it might be a while before T-Mobile can offer an iPhone.

Per T-Mobile, U.S. customers of T-Mobile likely will not have access to Apple’s iPhone for at least one year, assuming a proposed acquisition from AT&T is granted federal approval.

Following the announcement on Sunday that AT&T plans to buy T-Mobile to create the largest wireless provider in the U.S., a list of frequently asked questions were posted on the official T-Mobile website. In that list, one question is specifically devoted to the iPhone, which is currently only available to AT&T and Verizon customers.

“T-Mobile USA remains an independent company,” the FAQ reads. “The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.”

T-Mobile cannot yet offer the iPhone because its wireless network is not compatible with the 3G radio found in the GSM version of Apple’s best-selling smartphone. And that won’t change until AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile is approved by federal regulators — a milestone that is by no means guaranteed.

The merging of customer bases from AT&T and T-Mobile would create a total of about 130 million users, making AT&T the largest carrier in the U.S. AT&T has touted that the acquisition of T-Mobile will help to speed up its own existing nationwide network.

Though they operate on different radio frequencies, the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile have a common technology base with 3G UMTS. That will make it easier for AT&T to merge the two networks and ensure that handsets from both companies will be compatible on the same network.

T-Mobile’s FAQ also notes that the acquisition will offer “significant benefits” for customers, improving network quality and boosting speeds.

“The merger will ensure the deployment of a robust 4G LTE network to 95% of the U.S. population, something neither company would achieve on its own,” it reads. “Also, because of our compatible networks and spectrum, the customers of T-Mobile USA and AT&T will experience improved voice and data service almost immediately after the networks are integrated.”

Customers were also advised that they should not wait to sign up with T-Mobile or upgrade their handset, as the company remains independent until the deal is approved. The company will also honor all contracted plans that are entered into before the change of ownership.

AT&T announced on Sunday its plans to acquire T-Mobile for US$39 billion. The cash and stock deal, if approved, would give Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile USA, an 8% stake in AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on the deal, please let us know in the comments.

2011 MacBook Pro notebooks may be locking up/temperature spiking under heavy CPU/GPU loads

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 04:51
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

It’s not as specific a problem as you might like but it’s getting some attention.

Per MacRumors, a lengthy discussion thread on Apple’s discussion forum reveals an issue that some new 2011 MacBook Pro owners have been having with their new machines. A MacRumors discussion thread also mirrors some of the complaints.

Forum user lithast describes his situation:
“Received a new 15″ 2.2/6750M MBP last week and have been having some issues with the machine locking up under load.

For example if I boot up a VM using Fusion the temperature will spike up above 90 degrees and the machine will lock up most of the time. The machine appears locked (cannot move the mouse at all and keyboard is unresponsive). I can SSH into the machine still and it still is running however. This is one example but it will freeze under a number of circumstances where the CPU/GPU load is very high (rendering, DJ Software, compiling so far in my travels).”

There’s been speculation that the issue is related to the graphics driver or power management, and it seems the issue is reliably reproducible. A wiki has been organized to document the issue. Apple is reportedly aware of the issue, but no reliable solution has been provided.

If you’ve seen this on your end, please let us know.

AT&T to buy T-Mobile’s American unit for US$39 billion

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 04:52
Category: iPhone, News

attlogo

Wireless carrier AT&T has announced a definitive agreement to buy Deutsche Telekom’s American T-Mobile subsidiary in a cash and stock deal worth about US$39 billion, and giving the German carrier an 8% stake in AT&T.

Per Yahoo, the two companies issued a press release outlining the terms of the deal, which has been approved by the board of both carriers.

T-Mobile and AT&T share similar GSM and UMTS/HSPA networks, and both are working to build new next generation networks using HSPA+ and LTE. However, obtaining the rights to radio spectrum and building out these networks is both expensive and complex.

AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said the deal “provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum in some markets, which limits both companies’ ability to meet the ongoing explosive demand for mobile broadband.”

T-Mobile had been rumored to be entering talks with Sprint, but those two companies run incomparable networks and have diverging future plans, as Sprint operates both CDMA and iDEN (from its merger with Nextel, which it plans to phase out) networks and has begun building a next generation WiMAX network with Clearwire (WiMAX competes with LTE as a next generation mobile network technology).

The release said that AT&T and T-Mobile USA customers “will see service improvements – including improved voice quality – as a result of additional spectrum, increased cell tower density and broader network infrastructure,” noting that as soon as the deal closes, AT&T “will immediately gain cell sites equivalent to what would have taken on average five years to build without the transaction, and double that in some markets.”

Absorbing T-Mobile “will increase AT&T’s network density by approximately 30% in some of its most populated areas, while avoiding the need to construct additional cell towers. This transaction will increase spectrum efficiency to increase capacity and output, which not only improves service, but is also the best way to ensure competitive prices and services in a market where demand is extremely high and spectrum is in short supply,” the release says.

By bolstering its existing GSM, UMTS and HSPA+ networks, AT&T will be able to better focus on future LTE capacity, rather than struggling to get its existing network to meet today’s demand. While T-Mobile operates its 3G UMTS network on different frequencies than AT&T, its basic 2G GSM network is identical. AT&T can also use the networks and towers T-Mobile operates to strengthen its own.

The incorporation of T-Mobile’s American unit adds 33.7 million subscribers to AT&T’s network of of about 95.5 million, creating a total of about 130 million users, and becoming the largest American carrier. The deal will also expand Apple’s iPhone to three of what were the top four US carriers, as Apple has already brought it to Verizon earlier this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

How-To: View an AVI file on your iOS device

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 18th, 2011, 04:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

vlclogo.jpg

As nifty as Apple’s iOS devices are, there are some limitations. One of these hurdles is the ability to play videos in an AVI format, which isn’t supported by iTunes or the native video player in the iPhone and iPad.

The cool cats at Mac|Life have thrown together a quick guide as to how to solve this problem, the author recommending that the HandBrake program can be used to convert an AVI movie into an MP4 file that will play perfectly on our iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Users can also download an iPhone or iPad app that does play these files, such as CineXPlayer for iPad (US$2.99) or the universal GoodPlayer (US$2.99), and use that to watch your videos without needing to convert them.

If you’ve played with any of these programs or have conversion tips of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Owners of 2011 MacBook Pro report troubles with iTunes Home Sharing feature

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 2011, 11:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

el17.jpg

As nifty as the 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks are, there may be some debugging that needs to be done.

Per AppleInsider, a number of early 2011 MacBook Pro owners report being unable to connect devices or maintain connections through iTunes Home Sharing.

A support thread in Apple’s Discussion forums has received over 200 posts from owners of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros reporting issues with iTunes Home Sharing. Several readers have also contacted AppleInsider regarding the issue.

“This is turning out to be a bigger problem than I thought with many people giving up and returning their new MBP 2011 due to this conflict. Apple has yet to find a fix but it has been widely documented via phone through AppleCare and through many Apple retail stores,” wrote one reader.

According to forum user ‘themacbear,’ the new MacBook Pro was able to stream to a second-generation Apple TV at first, but then the Apple TV reported being unable to connect or would display the error message “There are no movies in this library.”

In March, Apple released iOS 4.3 with new Home Sharing features. The Mac maker also issued iTunes 10.2 and then iTunes 10.2.1 to add compatibility with iOS 4.3 and Home Sharing. In spite of the updates, a number of users continue to report being unable to connect or maintain connections with iOS devices on their early 2011 MacBook Pros.

Recent improvements to the Home Sharing feature expand iTunes library sharing from just between Macs, PCs and Apple TVs to include mobile devices such as iPods, iPhones and iPads. When working properly, Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 allows an unlimited number of iOS devices to access content over Wi-Fi.

Though early 2011 MacBook Pros appear to be having the most trouble with Home Sharing, owners of older machines have also reported problems with the feature in a support thread for Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 that has reached 60 posts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

White iPhone 4 icon located in iTunes 10.2 resource files

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011, 10:20
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Ya know, eventually you’d give up on waiting for Godot.

But you’d still wonder if he came by 10 minutes after you left.

Per Mac Rumors, an icon depicting a white version of the CDMA iPhone 4 has been spotted in iTunes 10.2. The article, which reported that the icon is in the application’s resource files, is different from the existing GSM illustration in that it depicts the antenna break found on the top right side of the CDMA model that is not present in the GSM version. As the report notes, the icon’s appearance isn’t a guarantee that the long-awaited model will be available in a CDMA version, but instead suggests that designer responsible created it based on either a belief that the such a model exists, or as a “just-in-case” addition. Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller recently indicated that the white iPhone 4 is still on track for a spring release, adding, “it is a beauty!”



In other news, the authorities are offering a $15,000 reward to the first person who can provide authentic video evidence that they’ve tackled Bigfoot and given him an extreme makeover…

Retail locations sold out of iPad 2 units, Apple raises online shipping estimate for 4-5 weeks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, News

You want an iPad 2.

And so does everyone else on the planet.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday was forced again to delay estimated shipping times for new iPad 2 orders, as those who buy must now wait four to five weeks for their order to be sent.

Yet another delay comes as stock of the iPad 2 around the U.S. is believed to be entirely sold out at all locations, including Apple’s retail stores and partners. Some select Apple stores with new shipments of the iPad 2 are set to open early today, while many other stores await more stock in the face of crushing demand.

The latest delay applies to all models of the iPad 2, including Wi-Fi and both 3G models from AT&T and Verizon. It also includes all capacities: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

“Demand for the next generation iPad 2 has been amazing,” Apple said in a statement to the press this week. “We are working hard to get iPad 2 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible.”

Tuesday’s need to push back estimated shipping times is the latest in a string of delays since the iPad 2 first went on sale in the U.S. last Friday. Initial orders were scheduled to ship in a matter of days, but the wait was quickly pushed back to between two and three weeks.

On Saturday, Apple was forced to extend estimates to three to four weeks. Now, customers who hesitated to buy could be waiting over a month to receive their iPad 2.

Wall Street analysts generally expect that Apple sold at least a half million of the iPad 2 in its first weekend of availability. More bullish estimates have forecast Apple to have sold as many as 1 million at launch.

So, yeah, if you did the geeky thing and waited in hours-long lines to snag one on launch day, now is the time to spend the next four to five weeks high fiving yourself…

Some fourth-gen iPod touch users reporting graphics glitches with iOS 4.3 installed

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011, 04:05
Category: iPod, News, Software

Even if iOS 4.3 is the greatest thing since sliced bread, there may be some bugs to work out.

Per Engadget, reports have surfaced of iPod touch users having graphics glitches after updating to iOS 4.3.

As seen in the video below, the problem looks like overlapping icons and “interference” on the screen:



A growing thread on the Apple message boards of fourth-generation iPod touch users also describes how resets and factory restores don’t solve the problem, it seems, and users are looking to Apple to fix the problem with an update soon.

“I’ve noticed in the lock screen, certain notifications seem to have some sort of flash thing (almost looks like it’s blinking in some cases),” says one user. “Similar to other posters in this thread. After rebooting it many times, the same issue is happening.”

“The graphics for some reason have a snowy and animated outline,” says another. “This iPod is not hacked or dropped or anything I don’t understand why this is happening. I’ve turned it off and turned it back on and still having the issue. It is NOT a major issue, it is odd though and having issues with the display on this type of device still can’t be a good sign right?”

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen the bug on your end, please let us know.

Apple confirms upcoming fix for Apple TV/HDTV flicker issue

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2011, 08:28
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Following up on Friday’s Apple TV story, a software fix is is said to be in the works for users who have experienced screen flickering issues after updating to the latest firmware for the Apple TV set top box.

Per AppleInsider, an Apple support representative has confirmed that Apple is aware of the issues caused by the latest update to the Apple TV, software version 4.2, AppleInsider has learned. The Cupertino, Calif., company is said to be working on a fix that will address the screen flickering problems for a small number of users.

No timeframe was given for when the fix might be released, but it is a sign that Apple is aware of the problems experienced by some with older high-definition television sets.

Last week, a number of users complained about screen flickering problems caused by the 4.2 update for Apple TV. The problems occur on a variety of TV sets from different manufacturers, affecting major brands including Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung and Toshiba.

Users have experienced flickers and screen flashes with direct HDMI video connections, as well as with an HDMI to DVI video adapter. The problems did not exist before Apple released the Apple TV 4.2 update last Wednesday.

The latest software update added streaming Major League Baseball and National Basketball League games, support for AirPlay wireless streaming in third-party applications, and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound output for Netflix Instant Watch streaming movies. But for some users converting the 720p output of the Apple TV, the software update also caused problems.

The new $99 Apple TV, released last year, does not output video in the 1080i high definition format. But some older HDTVs are only capable of displaying 1080i video.

Some TV sets and receivers will accept a 720p resolution video from a device like the Apple TV, and automatically convert it to the compatible 1080i resolution. While this conversion worked fine for many TV sets before the 4.2 Apple TV update, those with 1080i displays began experiencing the flickering issue after last weeks’ update.

In addition, some users have been unable to change the HDMI output setting on the Apple TV with the latest software update. Affected users said their HDMI output has been set to “Auto,” and their picture has been changed to a non-high-definition 480p picture, which cannot be changed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Additional iPhone/Daylight Savings Time errors reported

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2011, 03:05
Category: iPhone, News

If you had problems with your iPhone’s clock around daylight savings time, you’re not alone. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, this past weekend, as clocks were turned forward for Daylight Savings time in the US, some users were still having issues of varying kinds, from clocks changing when they weren’t supposed to, to alarms not going off when set up correctly. Some users are even reporting the time changing just fine, and then inexplicably switching back.

Since most of the information on the issues is anecdotal, it’s hard to pin down exactly what’s happening, but it seems to be something going on between the phone’s software and a connection to the local provider’s time information. Most of the issues are being fixed by flipping Airport Mode on and off (to re-establish the cellular connection) or even just restarting the phone. Alternately, users can set the time themselves manually, though having a phone that sets its own time is obviously a lot more convenient.

At any rate, it looks like Apple is continuing to deal with this ongoing issue. From your end, take a quick gander to make sure everything’s where it needs to be and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.