Apple launches Back to School promotion, throws in $50 and $100 iTunes gift cards

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:49
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, retail

Never look a back to school promotion in the mouth.

Per the Mac Observer, Apple kicked off its annual Back to School deals on Tuesday for educational buyers and includes iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore gift cards worth up to US$100 with new Mac, iPhone and iPad purchases. The special deals are available now and run through September 6, 2013.


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The offer reads as follows:
“Buy a Mac for college and get a $100 gift card to spend on apps and more — and also save with education pricing. Or buy an iPad or iPhone and get a $50 card.
Qualifying products include Macs other than the Mac mini, plus the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and the iPad 2, fourth generation iPad, and iPad mini.”

Not a bad thing and where a US$50 or US$100 iTunes gift card are concerned, it’s hard to go wrong there.

Pegatron CEO: “Low-cost” iPhone may not be as cheap as expected

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Date: Thursday, June 20th, 2013, 06:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, retail

The long-rumored low cost iPhone may not be as affordable as you’d like it to be.

Per the China Times and Mac Otakara, speaking at his company’s shareholders meeting on Thursday, Pegatron CEO T.H. Tung said Apple’s much rumored low cost iPhone won’t be a budget offering, seemingly confirming speculation that the handset will be sold as a higher-end middle tier device.

Tung disagreed with rumors that called Apple’s lower-end offering “cheap,” saying the “price is still high.”

The executive said products currently on the market can carry a number of names, but “cheap” is not one that should be associated with Apple’s less expensive iPhone. He went on to say that, compared to feature phones, smartphones are increasingly offering more value for the price.

The statements appear to confirm previous reports that Pegatron is handling at least a portion of the as-yet-unannounced iPhone’s manufacture. A report in May claimed Pegatron is reportedly preparing to hire some 40,000 workers sometime in the second half of 2013, adding fuel to the low-cost iPhone fire.

Analysts and media sources are divided as to which of Apple partners will be responsible for the majority of production, with some claiming Foxconn is to pull most of the burden.

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in March said the two companies will nearly split manufacturing duties for the low-cost version, while Pegatron would take on a bigger share of continued iPhone 4 and 4S production.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T updates carrier settings, pushes Wireless Emergency Alerts

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:39
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software, wireless

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This was a weird thing that popped up, but it’s hard to argue with the Emergency Alert System.

Per The Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T began pushing an update to iPhone users over the weekend that adds support for Wireless Emergency Alerts. The WEA system sends text messages to smartphone owners alerting them to physical threats like earthquakes and tornados, man-made disasters, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential alerts.


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The update is being pushed to the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, and doesn’t require any action on the user’s part since it’s delivered over the air. Once installed, alerts will appear as special text messages and are delivered based on your location. For example, if an AMBER alert is issued for a missing child and you’re in the same city, you’ll see the notification.

The update is free, and since it’s a carrier-supplied update, it won’t appear in iOS 6′s built-in Software Update feature.

Repair costs for iPhone repairs on the rise, component prices cited

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Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, now this is interesting.

An article over on MarketWatch points out that Apple’s repair costs to fix an iPhone 5 with a broken screen have jumped to US$229 – more than the US$200 price of the device with a two-year contract, and more than a third of the US$650 cost of the phone without a contract. Select Apple stores offer the option of a US$149 repair. And for those who paid US$99 for AppleCare insurance, the replacement is just US$49.

The piece then cites that the replacement components for the iPhone 5 are much more expensive than similar parts for prior models — so expensive in fact that many independent repair services cannot compete. “Due to the high cost of replacement parts, we are not yet offering iPhone 5 repairs,” according to a statement on ComputerOverhauls.com, an online repair shop. “Currently, the Apple Store is the least expensive option for repairing damaged iPhone 5s.” Other services charge as much as US$250 for the repair.

Given current numbers, nearly one-third of iPhone users damaged their devices during 2012, according to a recent study by gadget insurer SquareTrade. Repairs have cost consumers nearly US$6 billion since the iPhone was launched in 2007 and apparently iPhones get abused more than iPads, only 10% of which were damaged, per the survey.

Despite this, iCracked — an independent firm that has technicians across the U.S. — charges half as much to fix an iPhone 4S screen (US$79 to US$99) as to fix an iPhone 5 (US$169 to US$199) thanks to tight control on iPhone 5 components in the market, Forsythe says. “Market forces determine the price,” he says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”

“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. As the iPhone 5 is larger than the 4, the cost for replacement parts rises, he says. “Apple is trying to get people to sign up for Apple Care for US$99 and to rely on their services at the Apple store,” he says, “If you don’t, that cracked screen could cost you at least US$230.”

Thanks to do-it-yourself kits, it’s possible to replace the screen on an iPhone 4 for less than a quarter of that price. Adam Carey, a New York-based mobile development consultant, bought a DIY kit on Amazon.com for US$25 and followed instructions on iFixit.com, an online repair manual. The procedure took him two hours. “It’s not like snapping on a cover,” he says. “It’s like performing surgery. You need pretty steady hands.”

If you’ve been repairing iPhones and noticed a jump in component prices, please let us know about your experience in the comments section.

Amazon releases Cloud Drive Photos app for iOS users

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 13th, 2013, 04:37
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Ne’er doubt Amazon’s ability to throw out a competing app.

Per Macworld, Amazon’s Cloud Drive Photos app has gone live and is available free of charge from the App Store, the app can transfer photos back and forth between a device and Cloud Drive, where they can be accessed using a desktop computer, Web browser, or other compatible device, like a Kindle Fire.

The app’s goal is to let customers enjoy the benefits of cloud storage—including ease of sharing and easier backups—regardless of what platform they use. In addition, the app lets you view your photo albums in various layouts from your iPhone or iPod touch and share Cloud Drive photos on Facebook, Twitter, and via email.

Launched in March of 2011, Cloud Drive offers users 5GB of free storage, which can be used for files of all kinds, including music, pictures, and video. Additional space is available for fees that range from US$10 per year for 20GB to US$500 per year for 1000GB (1TB).

The app is optimized for iPhone 5, and compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S, as well as iPod touch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generation), and iPad. It requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the Cloud Drive Photos app and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

T-Mobile gears up “$0 down” trade-in deal for Mother’s Day weekend

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Date: Friday, May 10th, 2013, 12:31
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Your mum might like this for Mother’s Day.

Per TmoNews, wireless carrier T-Mobile has begun highlighting Apple’s newest smartphone to push the trade-in program that it’s had running since April 12. That program allows new and existing qualified customers to trade in an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, with the resulting trade-in value wiping out the purchase price for the iPhone 5.

The deal — good for both GSM and CDMA iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S units — requires that the device be able to power on, have no cracks in its screen, and bear no liquid damage or other physical damage.

T-Mobile will be running iPhone 5-specific advertising in newspapers across the United States beginning May 10. This campaign will include ad insertions in local papers in the top 20 U.S. markets, including Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Denver, and Houston. The carrier will also run ads in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy offers discounts on MacBook Air, iTunes gift cards, iPhone 4S handsets

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Date: Thursday, May 9th, 2013, 06:22
Category: iPhone, MacBook Air, News, retail

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If you’re looking for something to get mum for Mother’s Day, this could come in handy.

Per 9to5Mac, Best Buy is discounting US$125 off the price of MacBook Airs for the next three days to celebrate Mother’s Day. The retailer knocks off US$100 across the board, then using code MOM25 knocks off another US$25.

Prices after discount:
- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/64GB: US$874.99

- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$974.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$1074.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/256GB: US$1274.99

Best Buy is also offering a US$100 iTunes gift cad for US$85. Those interested in an iPhone 4S can pick one up for $50 with contract.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen some Mother’s Day tech sales of your own, please let us know in the comments.

T-Mobile sells 500,000 iPhones in first 30 days, sees first subscriber growth in four years

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Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 05:42
Category: iPhone, News, retail

T-Mobile and the iPhone seem to be getting along just fine, even in the first stages of the relationship.

Per 9to5Mac, wireless carrier T-Mobile just released its first earnings report since it started officially carrying the iPhone on April 12th and ‘coincidentally’ the first where it has picked up customers in 17 quarters. The carrier had accumulated 2.1M iPhone users without even carrying the iPhone up until it launched in April, which is up from 1 million in 2011.

T-Mobile tallied approximately 500,000 iPhone 5 sales in the first 30 days which is stronger than you might initially imagine, especially off a launch cycle. Other US carriers who have reported iPhone sales in the millions over 3 months note that about half of their sales are iPhone 5 (the other half are the cheaper iPhone 4 and 4S models).

The US #4 carrier saw its subscriber base increase by 579,000 customers, a number likely directly correlated to iPhone sales. In addition, T-Mobile will be adding 9 million MetroPCS users over the coming quarters to its ranks. T-Mobile also ran into some legal problems last month and was forced to change its marketing terminology with regards to ‘no-contract plans’ and was forced to offer customers refunds.

If you’ve snagged an iPhone running on the T-Mobile network and have any feedback to offer about the experience, please let us know in the comments.

U.S. Cellular to begin carrying Apple products this year

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 3rd, 2013, 07:13
Category: iPhone, News

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U.S. Cellular, the Chicago-based carrier serving around 5.8 million customers in 126 markets, will likely start offering the iPhone later this year, possibly in addition to other iOS devices. Per 9to5Mac, the carrier announced today in its first quarter results that it will soon begin carrying Apple products, but didn’t provide any further information regarding when or what specific products it might launch:

“We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including our announcement today that we will begin offering Apple products later this year. By further strengthening our device portfolio, we’ll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve. Our smartphone penetration is currently 43 percent of core market customers and growing quickly. We believe there will be strong, ongoing demand for smartphones and data products and services from our customers, and we have significant room for growth in this area.”

It was only a few years back that U.S. Cellular claimed it said no to the iPhone 4S with CEO Mary Dillon at the time saying Apple’s “terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint.” Later, CEO of the cellular provider’s parent company, TDS, hinted that the carrier would wait until Apple unveiled an LTE capable device, which was of course before the unveiling of Apple’s LTE iPhone 5.

After it decided not to carry the iPhone 4S, it soon after launched its Wonderphone ad campaign that were seen by many as mocking the iPhone.

U.S. Celluar today reported service revenues for the first quarter of US$996.3 million and noted that it plans to roll out its 4G LTE service to 87 percent of its subscribers this year. The carrier also said it plans to close its US$480 million deal to sell its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and other markets to Sprint in the second quarter of 2013.

Earlier this year the carrier added Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S4 device and Dillon noted today that the higher subsidies of LTE smartphones will impact profitability. The CEO said its “long-term strategy is to balance those costs with growth in ARPU and reduced capital expenditures for our legacy networks.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: OS X 10.9 to arrive with additional power-user features, iOS elements

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Date: Monday, April 29th, 2013, 07:49
Category: Rumor, Software

The feature rumors about OS X 10.9 have begun.

Per 9to5Mac, the upcoming operating system, which is internally codenamed “Cabernet,” will focus on various “power-user” enhancements and take core features from iOS, according to sources. Unlike operating system updates such as OS X Leopard and OS X Lion, OS X 10.9 will likely not be an overhauled approach to how the operating system feels and functions.


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The new operating system is purported to include major enhancements to the Finder application such as tags and tabbed browsing modes. Those additions are notable as many pro-users have relied on third-party solutions and hacks to enable these features. Additionally, the new operating system will include a new Safari web browser with a redesigned backend for improved page loading, speed, and efficiency…

Third-party TotalFinder tool:
The ability to keep a different “Space” or full-screen app open on a different monitor (in multiple monitor setups) is another important power-user feature coming in 10.9. This feature was forecasted by Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi last year.

In October, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi became involved in an e-mail exchange in which a user complained about the lack of proper multi-monitor support in OS X Mountain Lion. The Apple executive said that Apple is “absolutely aware of [its] customers’ passion on this topic,” according to the e-mail exchange.

OS X 10.9 will also apparently see some user-interface changes, but the changes will not be drastic ones.

The upcoming operating system is said to incorporate some level of Siri functionality, but it is unclear if full Siri-support is still in the cards for OS X 10.9 or if the functionality will be glued to future hardware updates (for instance, iPhone 4 versus iPhone 4S). The shake-up at the top of Apple’s overall software group shifted around multiple iOS and OS X projects, so anything on the roadmap prior to this shakeup could have been altered, according to a person familiar with the situation.

OS X Mountain Lion added many app-based features from iOS, such as Messages, Notes/Reminders, Game Center, and AirPlay, but the additions in OS X 10.9 from iOS will focus more on system fundamentals. According to one source, Apple has been testing a new multi-tasking system for OS X that is similar to the quick-app-switcher function on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. The multitasking feature will be functional for applications in the background, according to this person. Additionally, Apple could use app-pausing technologies from iOS to pause background application processes in OS X. This is significant as full performance could be given to foreground apps, which could help optimize battery life on Apple’s notebook computers. It is unclear if this feature will make the cut for 10.9′s public release.

Apple will also likely announce Xcode 5.0 later this year. Apple’s new version of its developer app suite is said to be redesigned and include improved application testing tools. Perhaps hinting at this is Apple’s own WWDC press release:

“Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”

Apple’s last two operating systems shipped in the summer, which suggests it is likely that 10.9 will also see a summer release. OS X 10.9 was originally scheduled to be previewed earlier this year, but Apple decided to introduce the operating system alongside iOS 7 at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. Recent rumors have indicated that Apple moved resources away from OS X 10.9 development in order to focus on iOS 7. This likely contributed to Apple moving back the next OS X’s debut.

As previously noted, the operating system seems to have already been fairly widely distributed inside Apple, based on views to the 9to5Mac web site with computers running OS X 10.9.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.