Rogers Wireless, Telus, to offer iPad, iPad mini sales, Wind to offer nano-SIMs for iPhone 5 handset

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 17th, 2013, 06:05
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, News, retail

There shall be additional iPad offerings in the great white north.

Per Engadget, Canadian wireless carriers Rogers and Telus will start selling cellular LTE versions of Apple’s iPad and iPad mini in the near future, while Wind Mobile has already started sales of nano-SIM cards to bring unlocked models of the iPhone 5 to its network.

Both Rogers and Telus made the announcement on Friday in posts to their respective websites, saying that customers will be able to buy the iPad and iPad mini from carrier stores in the “coming weeks.”

The rival companies both have webpages dedicated to the iPad, with information and images mirroring Apple’s own site. Particular plan specifics were not released, but each carrier said it would continue offering no-contract data plans.

As for Wind Mobile, the wireless provider is now selling iPhone 5-compatible nano-SIM cards for US$25, allowing owners of unlocked devices to switch over to the company’s network. Wind is not an official Apple wireless partner, making the move similar to what T-Mobile did in the U.S. when the iPhone 5 first launched in 2012.

The smaller carrier’s network tops out at HSPA+ and does not support LTE, meaning iPhone 5 users will have to decide whether the carrier’s lower priced plans are worth the trade.

If you’re up around Canada and have any feedback to offer on this, please let us know in the comments.

United States Treasury Department clears way for iPhones to be sold in Iran

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 07:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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At long last, the iPhone is finally coming to Iran.

Per the cool cats over at The Mac Observer, the United States Treasury Department has lifted some sanctions on selling communication devices mobile phones in Iran, which means Apple can finally begin selling its popular iPhone in the country. The decision will make it easier for people in Iran to legitimately buy iPhones, iPads, and other electronics, and is a move on the part of the U.S. to help push for political freedom in the country.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Iranians deserve access to information and to communicate with each other without fear of government retribution.

The agency released the following statement:

“To help facilitate the free flow of information in Iran and with Iranians, The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is issuing a General License today authorizing the exportation to Iran of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications. This license allows U.S. persons to provide the Iranian people with safer, more sophisticated personal communications equipment to communicate with each other and with the outside world. This General License aims to empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information.”

While the policy change is good news for some people in Iran, it isn’t good news for everyone in the country. The U.S. isn’t allowing companies to export products to Iran’s government, or to people or organizations on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

The policy change will hopefully help curb incidents where companies in the U.S. refuse to sell products to people they think are Iranian nationals. Apple came under fire in 2012 when the National Iranian American Council accused the company of racial profiling over retail store employees refusing to sell iPhones to customers that spoke Farsi or appeared to be of Iranian descent.

The incidents didn’t appeared to be widespread, but did underscore the confusion that comes with government-imposed sales sanctions.

The U.S. reversal on the Iranian sanctions comes a few weeks ahead of elections in the country. Apple may not be able to ramp up sales in Iran quickly enough to get iPhones and iPads into people’s hands, but the door is now open for the company to move forward into a new market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Blockbuster releases On Demand app for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 3rd, 2013, 07:43
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Maybe there’s some life in the ol’ girl we call “Blockbuster” after all…

Per AppleInsider, Dish Network released Blockbuster On Demand for iOS, an Apple device-ready version of the app that has been available on Android, PC, Mac, TVs and set-top boxes since January.

After filing for bankruptcy in 2010 and being acquired by Dish in 2011, Blockbuster launched a streaming on demand service in 2012, but until today had not offered an app for Apple’s iOS device lineup.

Working in much the same way as the company’s services on other platforms, Blockbuster On Demand streams “thousands” of movies in HD and full surround sound to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Users can watch selections instantly, or save them to a Watchlist for later viewing. There is also an option to filter movies based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Unlike competitors like Netflix, which require monthly subscriptions, Blockbuster’s service is based on a per-view model pricing model with no late fees.

Blockbuster On Demand is free to download, with movie rental prices pegged at US$2.99 and US$4.99. The app is available for free and requires iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the Blockbuster On Demand app or service and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Accessory, Hardware, News

It took over a year following its announcement to get here, but it’s finally on the market.

Per AppleInsider, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for US$299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
- One Gigabit Ethernet port

- One Firewire 800 port

- One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices

- One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack

- One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack

- Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

- Cable management channel


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The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year’s worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.

If you’ve ordered a Thunderbolt Express Dock and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to arrive later than usual launch date, development issues cited

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone may be a bit late in arrival.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in revealing Apple’s future product plans, shared a research note on Thursday that suggested Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S,” a rumored low-cost iPhone, and a second-generation iPad mini will all launch later than market consensus expects.

These apparent delays are driven by a variety of issues, according to Kuo. For the “iPhone 5S,” he said Apple plans to include a fingerprint sensor that poses a number of technical challenges. An “iPhone 5S” fingerprint sensor, Retina display for next iPad mini, and ultrathin plastic casing for low-cost iPhone are expected to cause production challenges for Apple.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” he said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Kuo has previously claimed that Apple plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button the next iPhone. This new technology would allow users to bypass password entry, and could also allow Apple to integrate secure e-wallet functionality.

Another hold-up for the next iPhone, according to Kuo, is the development of iOS 7, Apple’s anticipated next-generation mobile operating system. The analyst said Thursday that more time is likely to be needed for software development and testing, particularly with respect to the fingerprint scanning functions that will be included with the software.

As for the rumored low-cost iPhone said to be in the works at Apple, Kuo said Apple faces challenges with the casing on the device. He expects that the low-end iPhone will have a plastic casing that will be slimmer than such casings regularly are. Kuo correctly predicted the bulk of Apple’s 2012 product lineup. This year, he sees iPhone and iPad sales shrinking to single-digit growth in the third quarter because of apparent behind-the-scenes production delays.

“The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable,” he said.

Finally, Kuo said the “iPad mini 2″ faces challenges with its display panels, as he expects Apple will opt to include a high-resolution Retina display with the second-generation device. This is expected to make the device more difficult to manufacture, which could delay shipments.

As a result of these issues, Kuo said it’s likely that Apple will see single-digit growth in iPhone and iPad shipments in the third quarter of 2013. That would be well below the market consensus, which sees Apple growing its sales by between 30 and 40 percent with the introductions of new products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases WifiSLAM, attached “indoor GPS” technology for $20 million

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 25th, 2013, 07:12
Category: News, Software

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Well, Apple had to buy SOMETHING…

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple recently closed a deal worth about $20 million to acquire WifiSLAM, a Silicon Valley firm focused on building technology that affords users positioning data while indoors.

The news paper was able to confirm the acquisition with an Apple spokesman, though the company did not give details of the deal or what it plans to do with WifiSLAM’s “indoor GPS” technology.

“[Apple] buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” the spokesman said, declining further comment.

In the report, the publication cited people familiar with the acquisition as saying Apple paid some US$20 million in the recently closed deal.

WifiSLAM is a developer of indoor positioning technologies, which extends location data to the inside of buildings and other structures using Wi-Fi signals. The data can be used by third-party apps to accurately grant handset users positioning data where GPS signals are absent.

The indoor positioning startup is two years old and has already raised funding from angel investors, though the exact amount is unknown. WifiSLAM has a number of ties to Google, including the company’s co-founder Joseph Huang, who was a software engineering intern at the search giant. Current Google employee Don Dodge is also listed as an angel investor.

Apple could implement the positioning assets into its much maligned iOS Maps app as an answer to Google’s Indoor Maps initiative, which leverages crowdsourcing to deliver indoor location information for a number of sites worldwide.

While Apple’s first-party mapping service has seen improvements since stumbling out of the gates in September 2012, many users still prefer to use the Google Maps iOS app, which offers features like Street View and a more robust set of satellite imagery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen, Retina Display iPad mini in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 18th, 2013, 07:28
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The next-gen iPad mini could be that much spiffier as well as arrive with a Retina Display screen.

Per CNYes and Macotakara, Apple is reportedly planning to ship 55 million iPad mini units in calendar 2013.

But Apple has also reportedly cut its shipment projections for its full-size 9.7-inch iPad, the report said, from 60 million units to 33 million. In all, Apple is rumored to have revised its expected iPad shipments downward from 100 million to 88 million.

Those numbers are identical to what was reported by the NPD Group in February, which claimed that full-size iPad sales “collapsed” in January. It’s expected that the 7.9-inch iPad mini will become the market leader this year, cannibalizing sales of the 9.7-inch iPad.

Monday’s report also indicated that Apple is planning to debut a new fifth-generation iPad with a redesigned aluminum alloy metal chassis. It’s expected that the new hardware will feature the a design similar to the iPad mini, with a thinner bezel and lighter frame.

But the report suggested that Apple is likely to face yield problems with its sixth-generation full-size iPad, much like the company saw in ramping up production of the iPad mini last year.

If Apple does launch new iPads in the third quarter of this year, it would be later than recent predictions have stated.

Prior to 2012, the iPad was updated by Apple on an annual refresh cycle. But late last year, the company surprised by launching the fourth-generation iPad about six months after the third-generation model debuted. The hardware was upgraded to an A6X processor and added the new, smaller Lightning port.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lawmakers drafting bipartisan bill that would allow for cell phone unlocking after contract terms have been met

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

Well, maybe SOME aspects of the government sort of work.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. Senator Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow users to legally unlock their smartphone once their contract subsidy has concluded.

The Democrat from Minnesota announced on Tuesday that the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” would restore an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and allow users to unlock their cell phone once their contract expires.

Joining Franken were Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

The senators defined the bill as a “narrow and common sense proposal” that they believe will promote competition and improve consumer choice.

The bill was prompted by a Library of Congress ruling made in late 2012 that determined cell phone unlocking would be removed as a legal exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As of Jan. 26, 2013, unauthorized unlocking of all newly purchased phones became illegal. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one.” — Sen. Al Franken

“Right now, folks who decide to change cellphone carriers are frequently forced to buy a new phone or risk the possibility of criminal penalties, and that’s just not fair for consumers,” Franken said. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one. I support this commonsense solution to save consumers money.”

Last week, President Barack Obama’s administration also came out in support of legalizing the unlocking of cell phones and tablets. Their endorsement was given in response to a White House petition created by Sina Khanifar, which to date has received nearly 115,000 signatures.

Khanifar said he frequently travels from Europe to San Francisco, Calif. Those international trips have made cell phone locking not only a nuisance, but also a financial burden.

“Anyone who travels internationally, and most people do at some point, you won’t be able to take your cell phone with you,” he said. “Trying to use it with the existing roaming fees that carriers charge is almost impossible because they’re so exorbitant.”

The proposed Senate bill would alleviate those issues for consumers like Khanifar. A similar bipartisan bill is also expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this week.

“It just makes sense that cell phone users should be able to do what they want with their phones after satisfying their initial service contract,” Hatch said. “This bill reinstates that ability, while also ensuring that copyrights are not violated.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mozilla VP confirms that Firefox won’t be ported to iOS until Apple relaxes web browser stipulations

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 11th, 2013, 07:12
Category: News, Software

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If you were hoping to see Firefox on your iOS browser, it might never happen.

Per CNET, Mozilla vice president Jay Sullivan was quoted as saying that Firefox will not be coming to iPads and iPhones until Apple decides to loosen the restrictions governing browsers iOS.

The comments, which came at a South by Southwest Interactive panel on Saturday. Sullivan says Apple’s current rules — which forbid browsers that do not use Apple’s version of WebKit — make it so that Firefox cannot build the browser it wants to for Apple’s platform.

In addition to the WebKit requirement, iOS prevents users from setting any non-Safari app as the default means of handling browsing. Apple’s Mobile Safari is the top mobile browser according to industry reports, with about 60 percent share of all mobile browser usage.

Mozilla pulled its Firefox Home app from Apple’s App Store in September of 2012. The company isn’t working on an iOS version of Firefox and, according to Sullivan, doesn’t have any plans to do so.

Another member of the panel, Dolphin Browser’s David Dehgahn, lamented Apple’s policy as inhibiting competition.

“Competition is critical to our survival,” Dehgahn said. Sullivan and Mike Taylor from Opera Software — which recently released a WebKit-based version of Opera for iOS — agreed, saying that giving consumers browser choice was necessary in order to move the mobile web forward. Users suffer, they said, under Apple’s closed system.

CNet’s report says that the panel’s moderator then performed a quick poll of the audience, asking how many of them were suffering being largely limited to Safari. Very few hands were raised.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T announces 4G LTE network expansion to Phoenix, Hartford, additional regions

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 1st, 2013, 08:38
Category: News

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You can’t knock the expansion of a 4G LTE network.

Per 9to5Mac, wireless carrier AT&T announced on Thursday that it has further expanded its 4G LTE network coverage in the United States.

The latest market additions notably include Phoenix, Ariz., as well as parts of Avondale, Goodyear, and Litchfield Park. The carrier said it invested nearly US$700 million in Arizona wireless and wireline networks from 2009 through 2012.

Coverage also thickened in the east, where AT&T’s 4G LTE now blankets Hartford County, Conn., as well as parts of Avon, Bloomfield, Enfield, Farmington, Granby, New Britain, Simsbury, Suffield, West Hartford, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.

AT&T also switched on 4G LTE in Lincoln, Neb. and Lubbock, Texas and brought its total number of live markets to 147. The carrier revealed it now offers LTE to 174 million people across the United States, with plans to reach 300 million people by year-end 2014.

Earlier this week, AT&T also announced three new markets and a few more expansions in the following areas:

- Salinas-Seaside-Monterey, Calif.

- Tallahassee, Fla.

- Lawrence, Kan.

- Knoxville expansion (La Follette)

- Knoxville expansion (Athens)

- Memphis expansion (Tunica):

If you’re in these areas and have had a chance to try the expanded networks, please let us know what you think in the comments.