LTE-ready micro-SIM cards arrive in AT&T stores, help lay groundwork for LTE-capable iPads

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Date: Friday, February 10th, 2012, 06:07
Category: iPad, iPhone, News


You’ve been wanting an iPad with LTE access for a while now and your patience is about to pay off.

Per a recent sighting at an AT&T store by Phone Arena, the store’s sales staff seemed to be looking to get rid of older cards and replace them with the new versions fully capable of talking to the 4G network. An included memo didn’t specifically attach the cards to any one device.

The cards are almost certainly being brought in time for the Nokia Lumia 900, which like its smaller Lumia 800 sibling should use micro-SIM cards to get online. Other LTE phones in the near term are so far expected to use full-size SIM cards.

Even so, this helps lay the groundwork for future devices that are increasingly likely to include LTE iPads and iPhones. Apple was the primary impetus behind the existence of the micro-SIM card format, and it has shown increasing signs that it’s preparing for LTE through testing and carriers that anticipate Apple deals once the iPhone gets LTE. Code exploration has strongly suggested an LTE iPad was getting close.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T begins data throttling on “Unlimited” data plans at 2GB mark

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 08:55
Category: iPhone, News


Sometimes it’s as if the wireless carriers WANT you to be disgruntled with them.

Per iLounge, AT&T has begun to throttle—or downgrade the data speeds of—customers on unlimited data plans that go over 2GB in data usage for the month.

As AT&T customer John Cozen wrote on his blog, “I received a message during my last billing cycle, warning I was in the top 5% of my region and would experience reduced data speeds next time I reach that level of data use. I immediately checked my data usage on the AT&T iOS app. 2.1 GB. Less than I expected considering AT&T offers a 3GB plan for US$30 a month. The same amount I’ve paid for the unlimited data plan since signing up with them many years ago. AT&T no longer offers an unlimited data plan, anyone still on it has been grandfathered in.”

“Data consumption by all smartphone customers, including the top 5 percent of smartphone data customers, varies by month and by market,” said Emily Edmonds, Director, AT&T Corporate Communications. “As of August 2011, the average data use across the country by the top 5 percent of AT&T smartphone customers was 2 GB per month.”

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

iPhone 4S returns to Chinese Apple Store web site, units can be expected by March 2nd

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Date: Monday, February 6th, 2012, 06:18
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re over in the far east and hankering for an iPhone 4S, you’ll be able to snag one online without getting into a fistfght in line.

Per China Daily, the handset has returned to the company’s Chinese online store following a brief stoppage of sales due to overwhelming demand that led to scalpers and violence, though wait times for orders can range from overnight to weeks.

The report confirms that the iPhone 4S can now be purchased through the online Apple Store in mainland China, bringing an end to the nearly month-long moratorium on sales that was instituted almost immediately following the smartphone’s Chinese launch.

Apple’s Chinese online store has been taking orders since Wednesday, though customers may not be receiving the actual device for some time as current estimates are quoting a ship date of “February.”

“If you pay today, you might get the items tomorrow, and no later than March 2,” said an Apple sales representative.

In re-opening online orders, Apple has instituted strict sales policies that dissuade scalpers from using bots to gobble up online inventory to be sold on the grey market at inflated prices.

A lottery system was recently introduced in Hong Kong, where lower taxes and limited supply led to a flood of scalpers who repeatedly clashed with customers and each other for a chance to buy the device. The price for a 16 GB iPhone 4S in Hong Kong is HK$5,088 (US$660), more than US$100 cheaper than the 4,988 yuan (US$790) mainland China customers pay for the same handset.

iPhone buyers in Hong Kong must place their online order with a valid government-issued ID between 9am and 12pm, and those who are randomly selected will receive an email by 9pm with instructions on picking up the device at a specific time the following day. Customers not selected are forced to repeat the procedure on a different day.

Apple’s new rules limit purchases to two devices per person and it remains to be seen whether the newly instituted rules will reduce the number of units sold through unofficial channels, however some stores are seeing a change.

“Since we began accepting online orders yesterday, not as many people have been hawking iPhones nearby as before,” said an employee at the Apple Store in Xidan, Beijing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve been involved in the Chinese purchase process for an iPhone 4S, please let us know in the comments.

Apple cites misdirected iMessages as result of incorrect configuration, not iOS 5 bug

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Date: Friday, February 3rd, 2012, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If iOS 5’s iMessages app is giving you fits, Tim Cook is here to tell you why. Per The Loop, reports of iOS 5 iMessages being sent to the wrong recipient are the result of a misconfigured phone, not an issue with the operating system or Apple’s cloud services, the company indicated.

The report notes that a situation where messages from an Apple Store employee were being directed to another user’s iPhone were the result of the employee failing to follow directions while troubleshooting the customer’s device.

The employee installed his personal SIM card in the customer’s phone, linking the device to his Apple ID account in a way that resulted in his subsequent iMessages, including photos, being relayed to the customer’s device.

The report cited Apple representative Natalie Harrison as saying, “this was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM. This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

Apple noted that to prevent such a situation, users should “toggle iMessage on and off” in the Settings app of any iOS 5 device configured to their Apple ID before it is given away or sold.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone jailbreaking could be ruled as “fair use” in U.S., government invites public comments until February 10th (updated)

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Date: Wednesday, February 1st, 2012, 05:30
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t argue with effective lobbying.

Per Macworld UK, the United States government, at the request of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has announced an inquiry that could lead to a blanket exemption to the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) for activities that all under the Fair Use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. As such, public comments have been invited until February 10th.

This announcement, and subsequent change in DCMA enforcement policy, has wide-ranging implications for consumers of electronic devices and media. As it applies to the on-going battle between Apple and iPhone hackers, the new rules stipulate that Apple may not actively prevent attempts to “Jailbreak” the iPhone to allow extra functionality with either hardware or software measures.

Beyond the iPhone, the new DCMA exemptions allow academics to legally break DVD copy-protection to use films clips in the classroom, users to remove software and hardware security measures that are no longer supported by the publisher or manufacturer, and legalizes the investigation and correction of software flaws by third-parties.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to combat scalpers in Hong Kong with lottery system for iPhone 4S release

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Date: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012, 05:23
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It never hurts to think ahead.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is looking to combat reservation scalpers through a new lottery system for its iPhone 4S Hong Kong release. The company has set up a new web page on its site for reserving an iPhone in Hong Kong. The page requires the customer to enter a government ID number, which they must reportedly also show at the time of purchase. The system will then employ a lottery system, in which the winners get a chance to buy an iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Studio Neat releases Glif+, adds tripod mount for your DSLR camera, iPhone

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Date: Monday, January 30th, 2012, 05:12
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

Ok, this falls into the category of “both neat and useful”.

Per the cool cats at Mac|Life, Studio Neat has released the Glif+, a deluxe trifecta of contraptions that keep your iPhone securely mounted to a tripod. The pack contains the original Glif, the Serif, and the Ligature. You can use the kit with a Joby Gorilla Pod or a regular tripod meant for your DSLR, or you can turn the Glif+ into its own little tripod. The Glif+ retails for US$30 and is now on the Studio Neat site.

Take a gander at the video, which shows the Glif+ in action.

Leaked memo points towards T-Mobile officially supporting unlocked iPhones

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Date: Monday, January 30th, 2012, 04:55
Category: iPhone, News

Give it time and things will change.

Per TmoNews, despite not being able to sell the iPhone, a reportedly leaked employee memo reveals that T-Mobile will begin to offer official support for subscribers using unlocked versions of Apple’s popular handset on its network.

The memo notifies current T-Mobile employees that starting Jan. 30, it will be initiating a support program for the carrier’s estimated one million customers who use an unlocked iPhone on the network.

Coverage under the new “iPhone Scope of Support” is not comprehensive, but does include help with common procedures, information regarding handset features and specifications and “other basic device questions.”

Currently, iPhone information on T-Mobile’s support page is sparse and mainly focused on getting unlocked handset users up and running on the carrier’s network. For example, when running a search for “iPhone” on the company’s website, the top hit is a page detailing internet and picture messaging settings for the Apple smartphone.

While T-Mobile is not an official Apple carrier partner and operates on a wireless spectrum not supported by the iPhone, a report in December noted that the Deutsche Telekom holding company had been “refarming” its AWS 3G spectrum in a move that granted compatibility for unlocked versions of the device.

As contract-free iPhones are unsubsidized, they cost significantly more than their AT&T, Sprint or Verizon counterparts, however it could be the only option for a customer who is loyal to their current carrier. An on-contract 16 GB iPhone 4S is priced at US$199, while the unlocked version retails for US$649.

Earlier this month, T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm said that the company’s wireless operating frequency was the key reason as to why it doesn’t yet sell the iPhone.

Most recently, U.S. number two mobile carrier AT&T filed for FCC approval to transfer wireless spectrum worth US$1 billion to T-Mobile, a result of a failed US$39 billion bid to takeover of the smaller company. AT&T must also pay the German-owned carrier US$3 billion in cash to fulfill the deal’s pre-negotiated terms.

Apple’s smartphone is seen as a major boon for networks that support it, and carriers have even blamed poor customer sign-up rates on not having access to the device. When the iPhone 4S was launched in October 2011, it was reported that Sprint had struck a US$20 billion deal with Apple for rights to sell the next-generation handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

EFF looking to keep jailbreaking iOS devices legal in U.S.

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Date: Friday, January 27th, 2012, 13:04
Category: Hack, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

Since it’s now kind of, sort of legal to jailbreak your iOS device, the Electronic Frontier Foundation aims to keep it that way.

Per AppleInsider, an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that has made iPhone “jailbreaking” legal is set to expire, and a digital rights advocacy group hopes the U.S. government will renew and expand that exemption.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week reached out to members of the public, asking them to help protect the act of jailbreaking, in which users can hack their iPhone or iPad to run unauthorized code. Up until now, jailbreaking has been legal through exemptions in the DMCA, but that exemption is set to expire this year.

“The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, but it’s been misused to threaten tinkerers and users who just want to make their devices more secure and more functional,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “The U.S. Copyright Office should hear from concerned Americans who want to run software of their choice on the gadgets of their choice.”

The EFF helped to ensure that jailbreaking was granted an exemption in the DMCA in 2010, but this year the group wants to expand it to specifically cover tablets and videogame systems through its “Jailbreaking is Not a Crime” campaign at

The term jailbreaking usually refers to hacking Apple’s iOS devices in order to run software not approved by Apple. But the EFF’s campaign uses jailbreaking as a blanket term for hacking all devices, regardless of platform.

Every few years, the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office authorizes exemptions to ensure existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material. Two years ago, the office officially ruled that jailbreaking is an acceptable practice, though it still voids Apple’s product warranties.

Through jailbreaking, hackers have created their own custom applications which are available from an alternative storefront known as Cydia, similar to Apple’s official App Store for iOS. There are many free and paid applications available on Cydia that allow users to install custom tweaks, user interface themes and various pieces of software that does not comply with Apple’s iOS developer agreement.

While jailbreaking itself is not illegal, the process can be used to pirate software from the App Store, which is against the law. Concern over piracy is one of the main reasons Apple has fought the practice of jailbreaking.

To keep jailbreaking legal, the EFF has asked that supporters sign a letter written by author and hacker Andrew “bunnie” Huang, an MIT graduate who wrote the 2003 book “Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering.” Huang’s letter advocates for expanded jailbreaking exemptions to protect “security researchers and other tinkerers and innovators.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T looks to transfer $1 billion of wireless spectrum to T-Mobile

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Date: Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 06:35
Category: iPhone, News


If you’ve got a spare billion dollars of wireless spectrum just laying about, why WOULDN’T you transfer it to the wireless carrier that you’d made a bid to purchase?

Per the Wall Street Journal, AT&T has filed for FCC approval to transfer wireless spectrum worth US$1 billion to T-Mobile as a result of the failure of its US$39 billion effort to acquire the smaller mobile carrier.

Along with the spectrum, AT&T will give T-Mobile’s German owner Deutsche Telekom US$3 billion in cash as part of its pre-negotiated terms for backing out of the acquisition, which was quashed by the US Justice Department and the FCC as threatening competition in the wireless market.

T-Mobile’s senior vice president for government affairs said “this additional spectrum will help meet the growing demand for wireless broadband services.”

T-Mobile is the only carrier among the US’ top 4 to have not articulated any plans for rolling out LTE 4G service, and is also hampered by its use of non-standard UMTS 3G service. That prevents the carrier from selling Apple’s existing iPhone, which it has cited as a key reason for its poor performance.

T-Mobile has previously indicated that new chipsets could enable future iPhone models to support the company’s existing 3G service. Without building out LTE however, T-Mobile could likely be left behind as support for the new networking standard begins to trickle into the mainstream.

Both T-Mobile and AT&T have referred to their existing HSPA+ networks as 4G, because they can offer data speeds compatible to LTE. However, LTE has future potential well beyond HSPA+.

Apple is expected to release an iPhone model capable of supporting LTE later this year. It has not previously supported LTE until now because of technical issues involving battery life and size.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.