AT&T pulls out unadvertised data plan pricing loophole to retain customers

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 05:54
Category: iPhone, News

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When in doubt, match your competition’s offer.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T is reportedly offering some customers unlimited iPhone data plans in an attempt to keep them from defecting to rival carrier Verizon, where Apple’s handset will launch on February 10th.

The report states that AT&T is employing an “unadvertised loophole” in an effort to retain some subscribers who contact customer service. The carrier is said to be quietly offering the option to customers who had a previous version of the iPhone prior to June 2010, when the carrier offered an unlimited data plan for US$30.

Though AT&T wouldn’t confirm the option, the report cited a resident of Brentwood, N.Y., who said he and a friend were switched back to an unlimited plan after they contacted the carrier’s customer service and threatened to swtich. Both subscribers are iPhone 4 users who owned a previous version of the iPhone with an unlimited plan.

AT&T introduced tiered data plans with lower pricing in June 2010. New customers can receive 2GB of data for US$25 per month, or 200MB for US$15 per month.

Customers who signed a contract for US$30-per-month unlimited 3G data prior to last June can keep the plan until their two-year contract expires. Those customers have been able to keep their unlimited plan when upgrading, but the ability to switch back to unlimited, after choosing tiered, has apparently been secret.

Claims that AT&T is offering some customers an unlimited option come as the iPhone 4 is just weeks away from going on sale for Verizon customers. This week, the carrier revealed it would offer unlimited data for iPhone customers for US$30 per month.

Verizon Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam said Verizon hopes its unlimited offering will help the carrier attract more customers away from AT&T. He said canceling the company’s unlimited plan would create a barrier for customers who might otherwise switch.

“I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot,” McAdam said on Tuesday.

Still, Verizon’s unlimited data plan will only be available for a limited time, as the carrier has indicated it intends to move to a tiered structure with caps on monthly data use, much like AT&T did last June. Verizon has not indicated when it will adopt tiered plans, but the company has expressed interest in making the change in the near future.

When AT&T capped its plans last year, the carrier noted that 65% of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB of data per month, and 98% use less than 2GB per month. To soften the blow, the tiered structure came with lower prices, as AT&T now charges US$5 less per month for its high-end 2GB plan than it did for its unlimited plan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Onyx 2.2.3 released

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 04:25
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.2.3. The new version, a 16.4 megabyte download (courtesy of MacUpdate), adds the following fixes and changes:

- Misc display bugs corrected.

- Deleting the Fonts Cache improved.

- Deleting the logs improved.

- Help improved and updated.

- Individual deleting the .DS_Store files in the hidden folders.

- Restore Defaults Option in the Parameters > Dock panel improved.

- Bug corrected while checking the volume in some cases.

- Bug corrected in the Parameters panel (Mac OS X Server).

- Bug corrected when OnyX quit all the applications.

Onyx 2.2.3 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Verizon to offer $20/month “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon Wireless has finally confirmed that it will offer iPhone 4 with a US$20 “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan similar to what it currently offers its existing smartphone subscribers.

According to Macworld, Verizon’s mobile hotspot plan allows users, for an extra US$20 option on top of their data plan, to share their mobile 3G service with up to five WiFi devices (such as an iPad, iPod touch, MacBook, or any other WiFi device).

The iPhone 4 tethering plan has its own 2GB monthly cap, according to the report, with each additional gigabyte costing another US$20/month. Previous Verizon tethering plans cost US$30/month but delivered 5GB of data, in addition to the user’s data plan. That means the unlimited plan with tethering will cost a total of US$50, with 2GB for tethering and unlimited use of mobile data.

AT&T’s US$20 tethering plan currently only supports USB or Bluetooth tethering to a single device at once, and rather than offering a separate data pool, the plan counts use against the user’s plan. That means the 2GB data plan with tethering costs US$45 total, but still only offers 2GB of data per month.

Verizon earlier announced that its new CDMA iPhone 4 would only be offered with an unlimited data plan costing US$30, with no option for a limited use data plan as the company now allows its current smartphone users to choose.

In the future, Verizon says it will phase out the unlimited data plan, following AT&T toward tiered service plans. It has not detailed when it will do this, nor how much it will charge.

AT&T also announced earlier this month that it would be simplifying its texting plans to two options: 1000 messages for US$10/month, or unlimited texts for US$20/month.

Drive Genius 3.1 update released

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 05:38
Category: News, Software

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Prosoft Engineering has released Drive Genius 3.1, an updated version of its drive repair and recovery program for Mac OS X.

The new version, a 16.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

- The system startup volume can now be defragmented without the need of a DVD or alternate startup volume (“live” defrag).

- DrivePulse™ verifies the preference files of the logged in user and the global preferences located on the startup volume.

- DrivePulse™ displays visual error and warning status hints in its menu.

- Up to one month of DrivePulse™ event history can be browsed.

- Repartition offers the option to add HFSX volumes. UFS volume support has been removed as Apple is moving away from supporting UFS.

- ExFAT volume support. (10.6.5+ only)

- Drobo devices are officially not supported for most tools. Drobos are proprietary devices and due to the way they store and manipulate data on multiple physical drives, Drive Genius cannot safely manipulate that same data. It is the decision of Data Robotics, Inc to not share the technical information necessary to safely support Drobo devices.

- Bug Fix: Possible spurious failures when defragging an 8TiB or larger volume.

- Bug Fix: Missing fragmentation information in the Defrag overview for volumes that contain a very large number of files (such as Time Machine volumes).

- Bug Fix: Stability improvements to DriveSlim™while searching and while slimming files.

- Bug Fix: The DriveSlim™ Universal Binary slimming plan could spuriously fail.

- Bug Fix: If DriveSlim™ found an application that matched multiple slimming plans and one of the plans was Universal Binary slimming, only the Universal Binary plan would be run on the application.

Drive Genius retails for US$99 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.3 or later installed to install and run.

Verizon to offer $30/month unlimited data plan, cites unknown “cutoff date” to deal

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011, 10:25
Category: iPhone, News

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With Verizon en route to sell the iPhone come February 10th, this is where competition becomes interesting.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam confirmed that it will offer its US$30 unlimited data plan during the launch of the iPhone but stated the plan will only be available for a limited time. McAdam did not specify a cutoff date for offering the plan, but he reiterated statements the company made in June 2010 that Verizon will soon follow AT&T’s lead and drop unlimited data plans altogether in favor of a tiered pricing model.

Even though Verizon plans to eventually drop its unlimited data plans, this comes as good news, as iPhone owners are known to gobble much more data than users of competing devices.

Delicious Library Updated to 2.6.3

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Date: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011, 05:24
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, software company Delicious Monster released version 2.6.3 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The update, a 17.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Removed strange ☛ and ☞ characters that suddenly appeared in our final localizations due to recent changes in our build system. These are still in this beta, but will be removed in the final.

- Fixed some minor coding errors I made a long time ago around multi-threading that could, in rare cases, cause crashes.

- Fixed some broken links in Help files.

- Changed the app name in the main menu to “Delicious Library” to comply with the Mac App Store (but now we aren’t in compliance with the Apple Human Interface Guidelines).

- Folded in various other changes made for the Mac App Store that shouldn’t change visible functionality but still need testing.

Full release notes can be found here and Delicious Library 2.6.3 retails for US$40 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

White iPhone 4 spotted in AT&T database system

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 24th, 2011, 10:16
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve been hankering for a white iPhone and it just might be on its way.

Per Boy Genius Report, the white iPhone has been sighted in AT&T’s online systems, but there is still no indication when the phone will be available.

In a recent sighting, listings appeared for a white iPhone 4 16GB model and a 32GB model. AT&T also has 32GB and 16GB models of the iPhone 3GS, as well as a 16GB white iPhone 3G.
Signs at Apple’s retail stores in December listed the white iPhone as becoming “available spring 2011.”

Apple has never given a specific reason for the delay of the white iPhone 4, other than it has “proven more challenging to manufacture than expected.”

Originally scheduled to be released shortly after the black iPhone, the white iPhone 4 delayed in late July until “later this year,” and again in October until spring 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Italian hacker locates Qualcomm references hidden in iTunes software

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Date: Monday, January 24th, 2011, 05:06
Category: News, Software

A hacker claims to have discovered evidence pointing to an upcoming Qualcomm cellular baseband inside the code for Apple’s iTunes software, possibly indicating that the iPhone maker plans to incorporate Qualcomm’s CDMA baseband into the next generation of iOS devices.

Per AppleInsider, Italian hacker Zibri published a section of code on his blog Friday that hints at Qualcomm as the baseband provider for the iPhone 5 or iPad 2 devices. Zibri obtained the code by decompiling the latest version of iTunes.

According to the post, the code is a “definitive answer” to rumors from last week that named Qualcomm as the baseband provider for the iPhone 5. As the inventor of CDMA, Qualcomm may also already provide the radios for the CDMA iPhone 4, which will arrive on the Verizon network on Feb. 10.

Per the post, the files “partition.mbn” and “AMSS.MBN,” which were discovered in the iTunes code, mean “only one thing: QUALCOMM. Those files are the building blocks of any Qualcomm baseband.”

“So I can tell you that the next wave of iProducts will be using a QUALCOMM baseband,” Zibri wrote. “Which one I don’t know… maybe the iPad2, maybe the iPhone5 most probably all of them. What is clear is that they are testing them using the same iTunes you have on your hard drives.”

However, if Qualcomm is indeed the supplier of the baseband for the upcoming Verizon iPhone, references to a Qualcomm baseband in the iTunes code may simply point to the CDMA iPhone, rather than the next-generation iPhone or iPad.

Reports of a Qualcomm baseband for future iPhone models have persisted for some time. Apple and Qualcomm reportedly met in late 2009 to discuss “future cooperation.” In August of of 2010, reporters noticed a job posting on the Qualcomm website for an “iPhone developer guru.”

Interesting things may be on the horizon so stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VLC 1.1.6 update released

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Date: Monday, January 24th, 2011, 05:36
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.6. The new version, a 40.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Security updates in codecs and demuxers.

- Support for RTP/PCM 24bits, audio/L24.

- Support for MPC SV7/SV8 on Windows and MacOS builds.

- Faster Webm/VP8 decoding.

- Support for Midi on MacOS.

- Major updates in most language translations.

- Support for projectM visualisation on Windows.

- KDE and PulseAudio integration improvements.

- Subtitles fixes and improvements.

- Improvements in visualisations and interfaces.

- Codecs updates.

- Many miscellaneous fixes.

VLC 1.1.6 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Apple to ship universal bumper case for GSM, CDMA iPhone 4 handsets

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Date: Friday, January 21st, 2011, 12:59
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

If you’re hankering for a Verizon iPhone and worried about needing a bumper case, Apple may be a step ahead of you.

Per Engadget, Apple has apparently worked around the problem of needing two versions of its Bumper case with the pending launch of the iPhone 4 on Verizon’s network by creating a universal Bumper. The new Bumper case includes a larger switch slot that accommodates the slightly different positions of the mute switch on the two iPhone 4 models.

The iPhone 4 bumper Apple shipped months ago for GSM-based networks like AT&T, O2 and Orange, the handset using a different antenna configuration than the new CDMA-based model that will sell for Verizon’s network. That change meant Apple needed to reposition the mute switch that sits just above the iPhone’s volume buttons, making the company’s current Bumper cases incompatible with the new model.

It’s unknown whether the bumper will be free (as was the case with the iPhone 4) or available via retail.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.