AT&T cracking down on customers using tethering, hotspot cracks

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 10:53
Category: iPhone, News

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If you thought you were clever in tethering your smartphone or turning it into a Wi-Fi hotspot, AT&T might have some words about that.

Per 9to5Mac, users have reported being kicked off their unlimited data plans for using free tethering apps such as MiWi for jailbroken iPhones or PDANet for Android handsets. AT&T is reportedly sending notices to these customers, informing them their plans will switch automatically to a US$45 per month DataPro plan on August 11. The carrier discontinued its US$30 unlimited data plan last summer, but allowed existing subscribers to be grandfathered in.

An AT&T representative wouldn’t confirm the hard cut-off date, but did acknowledge that it’s now cracking down on free tethering to 9to5Mac. The carrier started sending ultimatums to customers earlier this year, complete with a lovely passive-aggressive tone.

AT&T isn’t the only carrier that’s taking a hard stance against free tethering. Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and AT&T have apparently pushed Google into hiding free tethering apps from the Android Market, though only on smartphones sold by those carriers. Verizon also reportedly shows a warning page when it catches a user tethering without paying, and provides a number to call and set up a mobile broadband package.

Unfortunately, AT&T’s current customer agreement says that it may terminate or modify a customer’s service for unauthorized tethering.

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

Alleged iPhone 5 proximity sensor picture leaked, subtle differences noted

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 06:59
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to get excited about something today, it might as well be a purported proximity sensor.

The SW-Box.com web site claims to have obtained a genuine iPhone 5 proximity light sensor flex cable in advance of the device’s launch, which is expected this fall. The site boasts that its offices are “just a stone’s throw” from “the Apple factory,” presumably a reference to contract manufacturer Foxconn’s plant in Shenzhen, China.

“We spend a lot of resources on research and intel,” the company wrote on the part’s product page, asserting that the component is indeed the “real deal.” The part’s pricing starts at US$3.77 and goes as low as US$2.52 for volume orders of 50 or more.

According to the site, the flex cable is “evidence of solid engineering” and is “micro-architectured to stand the tests of time and heat.” The part also contains “dynamic light sensing diodes and high flow terminals” that balance functionality and cost.

The part contains minor differences in the orientation of the components as compared with a corresponding iPhone 4 part, possibly providing evidence of at least a partial redesign in the next-generation iPhone. One difference appears to be the fact that, as with the CDMA iPhone 4, the noise canceling microphone has been moved off of the proximity sensor part.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins iOS 5 app approval process

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Date: Thursday, August 4th, 2011, 07:56
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

If you’re hankering for iOS 5, it may not be that far off.

Per Cult of Mac, developers have begun updating their App Store software to provide compatibility with Apple’s forthcoming iOS 5 update for the iPhone and iPad, though no applications actually built on new iOS 5 code are yet available.

One of the first applications with iOS 5 compatibility to be approved was “Camera+” from developer tap tap tap. Recently, the release notes for version 2.2.3 of Camera+ noted that the software features “compatibility with that upcoming OS That Must Not Be Named.”

Less coy about iOS 5 support was “Mashable,” which updated its own iPhone application this week to version 1.5.4 and advertised that the software now has “iOS 5 compatibility.”

The software updates have led to wishful speculation that the release of iOS 5 could come sooner than expected, perhaps earlier than the fall debut Apple previously announced.

However, while some software may now be “compatible” with iOS 5, the latest builds released on the App Store are likely still based on the iOS 4.3 application programming interface provided by Apple. Developers are able to test application compatibility with iOS 5 by using the latest beta of the forthcoming software update.

There is no indication that Apple has begun approving applications based on the iOS 5 API. For example, last year Apple began accepting applications based on the iOS 4.0 API only 10 days before the update became publicly available, allowing software to take advantage of new features such as multitasking.

That means any iOS 5 software currently available on the App Store likely does not yet take advantage of new features in the forthcoming update. With iOS 5, developers will be able to take advantage of new functionality such as Notification Center for prompting users; Newsstand for purchasing, organizing and updating newspapers and magazines; and system-wide Twitter integration.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your minds via the comments.

Rumor: iPhone 5 might be ‘larger than expected’, could sport 4G-LTE features

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 05:45
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone 5 will inevitably get here.

It’s a question of how large the unit will be when it does.

Per AppleInsider, sources in Apple’s overseas supply chain have reportedly indicated that the company’s forthcoming fifth-generation iPhone could be a more significant upgrade than previous rumors have suggested, sporting a larger display and thinner design.

Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said he has consistently received one question from investors regarding the upcoming iPhone: Why would a customer consider buying a so-called “iPhone 5” without 4G if Apple plans to release a 4G long-term evolution handset in the future?

“Well, it turns out that we are picking up that this interim iPhone refresh in the Fall timeframe could be a bigger upgrade than we expected,” Wu wrote. “We believe this keeps the iPhone fresh and competitive and helps maintain its leadership position.”

He said that supply chain sources have indicated that the new iPhone will feature a slightly larger display than the current 3.5-inch screen found on the iPhone 4. The fifth-generation iPhone is also expected to feature the same dual-core A5 processor already found in the iPad 2.

In addition, those same sources reportedly said that the new iPhone will feature a similar form factor and size to the iPhone 4, but will sport a thinner bezel.

“We believe this makes sense to improve the iPhone experience without making it too bulky as we have seen with models from competitors,” he wrote.

While Wu expects the new iPhone to have a bigger screen and thinner profile, checks within the supply chain have said that the fifth-generation iPhone is not expected to have 4G-LTE high-speed wireless data connectivity. The new technology still has issues with battery life and network coverage, problems that Wu believes Apple will fix at some point in the future.

Rumors of an iPhone with a larger screen are not new, with a number of reports over the last year claiming that Apple’s next handset will feature an edge-to-edge display that would allow the iPhone to retain the same size. Such reports stand in contrast to other claims that the next iPhone will have a design largely similar to the current iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to launch next-gen iPhone in October

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 03:17
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per All Things D, Apple’s next iPhone may arrive even later than expected, with a new rumor claiming the handset will not go on sale until the month of October according to sources close to the story.

The latest rumor contradicts recent reports which have claimed the so-called “iPhone 5” will debut in September. In addition, AT&T employees have allegedly been prohibited from taking vacation during the last two weeks of September, which has suggested to some that a new iPhone could launch in that timeframe.

“Sources with knowledge of the situation say reports claiming AT&T has blacked out employee vacations during the last two weeks of September in preparation for the retail debut of the next iPhone are misinformed,” Paczkowski wrote.

In recent days, cases claiming to show the new design of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone have been appearing in large numbers in China. The proliferation of those cases has fueled speculation that the launch of a new iPhone could happen soon.

An October launch would be later than most expect, and much later than the typical June-July timeframe that Apple has used to launch new iPhone models in years past.

At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple did not unveil any new hardware. Instead, the company showed off iOS 5, a software update it promised is coming this fall, presumably alongside the next-generation iPhone.

In early July, one report claimed that Apple’s component suppliers in Taiwan were gearing up and preparing materials for production of a fifth-generation iPhone in October. Most rumors have suggested that the upgrade will include an improved 8 megapixel camera, along with the speedy A5 processor already found in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to throttle data for top five percent of user base

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 14:06
Category: iPhone, News

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There’s a price to pay for using a ton of data on your iPhone plan…

Per Macworld, AT&T announced late on Friday that it will begin throttling data throughput for heavy users of its unlimited smartphone data plans beginning on October 1.

According to the wireless provider, data throttling will affect only those smartphone customers on an unlimited data plan who fall into the top 5 percent of data consumption. Once users are counted among that number, their data speed will be reduced, but their overall capacity won’t be touched—they can still consume as much data as they want, just at a slower speed.

Unfortunately, AT&T isn’t alone in that decision. In February, Verizon Wireless announced it too would throttle the top 5 percent of its smartphone data users. At the time, Verizon was offering unlimited data plans; earlier this month, it switched to a tiered model similar to AT&T.

An AT&T spokesman stated that it isn’t specifying a hard and fast data threshold that will signal the speed reduction—likely because data consumption patterns will shift from month to month. That seems to mean that the top 5 percent of smartphone customers in any given month will likely see their data speeds throttled, despite how much data they actually use. However, in its statement on the matter the carrier says it will provide notices and a grace period before imposing the speed reductions, and the customers will find their data speed returned to normal at the beginning of the subsequent billing period.

AT&T points to specific type of data most likely to trigger high levels of data consumption, such as streaming very large amounts of video and audio and transferring large files over the cellular network. The company suggests instead using Wi-Fi for these purposes, especially since its customers get free access to the company’s network of 26,000 hotspots around the country.

Smartphone customers subscribed to one of AT&T’s tiered data plans—the US$15 per month 200MB plan and US$25 per month 2GB plan—will not be affected by the data throttling. So if speed is the ultimate concern—and you don’t mind paying for additional data capacity on your smartphone plan—AT&T suggests you can always switch to a tiered plan.

This isn’t the first time AT&T has tried to get unlimited data customers to shift to its tiered data plans, which it introduced last summer. Prior to then, unlimited data was the norm for iPhone customers; upon tweaking its plan, AT&T also introduced the much-awaited ability to tether the iPhone’s 3G connection to a laptop—but only for users of its tiered plans.

According to AT&T, the decision to throttle the heaviest data users is part of a plan to combat “a serious wireless spectrum crunch.” Data throttling is only one part of the moves AT&T says it is making, with the company also investing money in building our its wireless network as well as trying to “acquire additional network capacity.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone 5 case schematic shows curved sides, other details

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 02:38
Category: iPhone, Pictures

Interestingly enough, it’s the upcoming cases that tend to provide the most interesting tidbits.

Per UK web site MobileFun.co.uk, a leaked schematic claimed to be for a case for Apple’s anticipated fifth-generation iPhone shows a larger area for the home button, a slightly larger screen, and the return of curved sides like on the iPhone 3GS.

The documents allegedly come from a Chinese case manufacturer and show a design with curved sides, similar to iPhone models released before the current iPhone 4.

On the front, the case appears to have a larger, oval-shaped opening for where the device’s home button would go. That could lend support to rumors from earlier this year that Apple’s next-iPhone would feature a multi-touch “gesture area” in place of the current home button.

That same report also predicted that Apple’s next iPhone would have a slightly larger 3.7-inch edge-to-edge screen. The images that claim to show a so-called “iPhone 5” case also suggest that the device may have a larger screen.

The photos show the handset’s volume buttons and SIM card slot in the same place, but also show placement of the vibrate switch on the opposite side.

The case also suggests the device will feature an unmoved LED camera flash, which would contradict purported fifth-generation iPhone parts (1, 2), which leaked in May and suggested the camera lens and flash would be moved further apart to improve picture quality. Separating the camera flash and lens can reduce the red-eye effect seen in photographs.

The alleged schematic would contradict other rumors that the next iPhone will have a design largely similar to the current iPhone 4, with one of the biggest changes being a new, higher-resolution 8-megapixel camera and the addition of the A5 processor. Some reports have characterized the device as an “iPhone 4S,” in references to the alleged minor changes.

Though the next iPhone will arrive later than usual this year, reports from Apple’s supply chain have been picking up, indicating that the company is preparing to begin mass production of the next-generation device. Last week, during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple executives revealed that an unnamed major product transition is in the cards to take place by the end of September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.5 update

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 03:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, security, Software

On Friday, Apple released iOS 4.3.5, the latest incarnation of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The updates fix a security vulnerability with certificate validation and arrive in two versions, thanks to the different flavors of the iPhone 4. iOS 4.3.5 applies to the iPad and iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4 (GSM model); users of the CDMA model of the iPhone 4 instead get iOS 4.2.10.

These updates can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone 5 to launch in ‘early to mid-September’

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 07:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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The cool cats at Boy Genius Report are citing that AT&T is beginning preparations for an expected “early to mid-September” launch of the next-generation iPhone, in line with launch rumors and expectations and other reports of Apple beefing up its retail store staffing over a similar timeframe.

BGR has learned that AT&T has begun communicating launch plans internally for Apple’s next-generation iPhone 5 handset, informing employees across the company, and those who work in retail locations, to finish any sort of employee training as soon as possible. AT&T is asking managers to finish training in order to have employees available for the influx of foot traffic expected in September, a proven source has stated.

Apple has been preparing to increase staffing at its retail stores in the United States and United Kingdom, and rumors have suggested that Apple will use its traditional fall iPod media event to introduce the next-generation iPhone this year. That event has typically taken place in early September, although some reports have pushed that date up into late August this year ahead of a September launch for the device. Apple has announced that iOS 5 will debut this “fall”, and that software launch will undoubtedly occur right around the release of the next-generation hardware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Series of UK employment ads may point towards mid-August iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 04:26
Category: iPhone, News

A series of job postings for a number of seasonal iPhone sales staff in the U.K. this summer appear to suggest a mid-August launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Per CNET UK, the ads were discovered on the U.K. employment site Reed.

“Our client, Apple, one of the largest consumer electronic hardware and software companies in the world are seeking full-time iPhone Sales Staff for an exciting project to work 5 days a week (Tuesday-Saturday) for the period 16th August – 29th October within key retail stores,” the posting reads.

According to the listing, only applicants willing to commit “to the period of the campaign” will be considered.

Given the proscribed seasonality for the new employees, the sales staff appear to be extra help brought on to handle an influx of customers during the launch of Apple’s so-called iPhone 5. Though the listing by no means serves as concrete evidence of mid-August launch, it does indicate that, at least in the U.K. retail preparations for the new device are ramping up through the summer and into the fall.

Successful candidates would attend a “4 day training event” in London from August 9 to 12. The job pays £75 per day and involves working to “generate and grow iPhone sales and ensure sales targets are met” while providing a “first class customer service experience.”

Gekko, the recruiter who posted the listings, boasts several years of experience working with Apple. The company’s website boasts of a “Most Innovative Campaign” award for a staffing campaign for Apple that brought in “nearly £2 million in hardware sales alone.”

The mid-August timeframe would line up with indications from suppliers on Wednesday that Apple’s next iPhone will launch in the third quarter of calendar 2011. Bloomberg reported last month that the next iPhone will go on sale in September and feature an A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

According to recent reports, Apple plans to build 25 million units of the next iPhone by the end of this year. The device is expected to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor and sport wireless baseband chips from Qualcomm. It should also be noted that some analysts expect the next-generation iPhone to arrive in late September or possibly as late as the fourth quarter of this year.

Earlier this month, component suppliers claimed Pegatron had been contracted to produce 15 million units of the new handset. However, a new report on Wednesday suggested Pegatron’s share of next-gen iPhone production may be closer to 10 million as rival manufacturer Foxconn has exerted efforts to protect its orders.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.