Apple launches iPad 3, includes 4G LTE, Retina Display, faster processor, other features

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:13
Category: iPad, News

You’ve been waiting for it and it’s here.

Apple on Wednesday announced its next-gen iPad, the new tablet featuring a 2,048-by-1,536-pixel resolution Retina Display that fits 3.1 million pixels into its 9.7-inch display, along with voice dictation and LTE 4G, coming on March 16 to 10 countries.

Per AppleInsider, the new screen on the iPad has more pixels than a 1080p television and fits in 264 pixels per inch, the pixels cannot be distinguished by human eye at a distance of 15 inches.

The tablet also boasts a much-improved, 5 megapixel camera as well as voice dictation, allowing users to input text by speaking rather than typing.

Other new features include the following:
- High-definition Retina Display

- New A5X chip with quad-core graphics

- 5-megapixel iSight camera with advanced optics, shoots 1080p video

- 4G LTE models allow for connections to faster wireless networks

- Still offers the same 10-hour battery life.

The wireless models now 4G connectivity, allowing users to connect to long-term evolution networks from providers like AT&T and Verizon. The new iPad will offer download speeds of up to 73Mbps over LTE and can communicate with international 4G LTE partners such as Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Another improvement highlighted by Apple Wednesday was battery life, as the new iPad will support 10 hours of battery life on Wi-Fi and 9 hours on 4G LTE.

The new tablet is slightly heavier than the iPad 2, weighing 1.4 pounds with a 9.44mm thickness.

The launch will be Apple’s biggest roll-out ever, debuting in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Quick highlights from Wednesday’s event:
The new iPad features an A5X processor with quad-core graphics.
Compared to the Nvidia Tegra 3, Apple says the A5X is twice as fast with four times the performance.

Other interesting tidbits:

- The new iPad also has 44 percent better color saturation on its screen.

- An improved 5-megapixel camera is on the back of the device. The tablet includes an infrared filter and ISP built in to the A5X chip.

- The new iPad’s camera also features auto-focus and auto-exposure, and uses the same optics system found in the iPhone 4S.
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- he new camera can also record video in 1080p.

- There will be two different versions of the LTE-capable iPad models: one for AT&T and one for Verizon. Both will be able to roam worldwide in 3G.

- The iPad can also act as a personal hotspot, if supported by a carrier, and can connect up to five additional users via this feature.

- It will also continue to be available in both black and white models.

- The new iPad will be available at the same price points and capacities: US$499 for 16GB, US$599 for 32GB and US$699 for 64GB. 4G models will be an additional US$130 for each capacity.

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white on Friday, March 16 for a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16GB model, US$599 for the 32GB model and US$699 for the 64GB model.

iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available for a suggested retail price of US$629 for the 16GB model, US$729 for the 32GB model and US$829 for the 64GB model.

iPad will be sold in the US through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iPad will also be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands on Friday, March 16.

Customers can begin pre-ordering their new iPad today, and the iPad 2 is now offered for US$399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and US$529 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T publishes full content of company’s data-throttling policy

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:02
Category: iPhone, News

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After a fair amount of consternation, wireless provider AT&T has published a Web page laying out precisely who will be affected by the policy, and what customers’ options are.

Per Macworld, unlimited data customers on the 3G network will be warned via text message when their usage approaches 3GB within a single billing cycle. If the 3GB ceiling is breached, users will find their data speed reduced for the remainder of the billing cycle; as of the beginning of the subsequent cycle, however, their speed will return to normal. Data quantity is truly unlimited, though, the carrier says—customers can continue to use as much as they want, even after the 3GB ceiling is passed. The company does not specify by how much customers’ speeds will be reduced.

Customers using the carrier’s 4G LTE network have a higher threshold; their speeds will only be dialed down once they hit 5GB.

AT&T says that the speed reductions will only affect the top 5 percent of its customers. The measures have been put in place because of the rapid increase in wireless data traffic created by the increased adoption of smartphones in the past five years; by AT&T’s figures, that number has skyrocketed from 7 million phones in 2006 to 39.4 million in 2011, yielding a wireless data traffic increase of 20,000 percent. According to AT&T, it has invested US$95 billion in its networks over that period, including US$20 billion in 2011; another US$20 billion is earmarked for 2012.

In addition, the network lays out where the majority of that data is getting eaten up, which is to say streaming HD movies. AT&T’s handy chart estimates that streaming HD movies gobbles up 306MB an hour, a sizable increase from the roughly 120MB of data that AT&T says one hour of standard video consumes.

Users can check their current month’s data usage by dialing *data# on their mobile phone’s keypad, or access previous months’ usage at their AT&T account online. The company also offers a mobile app for iPhones that provides the same data.

As for customers’ options, AT&T lays out a few suggestions, including using Wi-Fi when available, since that data does not count against the carrier’s data plans. And, of course, customers can continue using their current unlimited data plan, if they don’t mind the speed reductions. Users can also switch to one of the company’s current tiered data plans, which offer 300MB for US$20 per month, 3GB a month for US$30, or 5GB per month for US$50. But, in those cases, users must pay overage charges for exceeding the data cap: US$20 for another 300MB on the lowest plan, US$10 per gigabyte on either of the higher plans. That would seem to give little incentive for unlimited data customers to switch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
- Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

- Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

- Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

- Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

- iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know what you think in the comments.

AT&T customer wins in 3G throttling case, could open floodgates for similar lawsuits against carrier

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, Legal, News

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Sometimes you CAN fight the giant and win.

Per the Associated Press, in a California court ruling on Friday, an AT&T customer who saw a reduction in his iPhone’s download speed due to high usage was awarded US$850 on claims that the telecom’s throttling measures are unfair to consumers.

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel handed down the decision in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Vally, bringing an end to the small claims case that was filed in January which asserted that AT&T unfairly reduces unlimited data plan users’ bandwidth speeds.

The ruling could affect the roughly 17 million subscribers, or a little under half of AT&T’s smartphone customer base, who pay for a so-called unlimited data plan that was first introduced alongside the original iPhone.

The nation’s second-largest mobile carrier ended its all-you-can-eat plan in 2010, however the company allowed existing users to keep their unlimited service on the condition that the privilege would end if they ever opted to go with a tiered contract. In other words, an unlimited subscriber cannot return to the endless data plan if ever they choose one of AT&T’s tiered options.

As smartphones grew in popularity after the launch of Apple’s handset and smartphones running Google’s Android OS, data bandwidth became increasingly scarce. In an attempt to stem the swelling tide of data users, AT&T and other telecoms made the decision to throttle the download speeds of the top five percent of “heavy users.”

An inherent issue with the new throttling model is that an unlimited plan subscriber can see speed reductions if they are deemed to be within the top five percent of heavy users, regardless of the amount of data used. Tiered subscribers are never throttled.

In Spaccarelli’s case, speed was reduced after about 1.5 GB to 2 GB of data usage during a particular billing cycle, which is far less than the identically priced 3 GB tiered plan. Currently, unlimited access to AT&T’s network costs US$30 per month for grandfathered-in customers, while tiered plans run US$20, US$30 and US$50 per month for 300 MB, 3 GB and 5 GB, respectively.

According to an in-court argument by AT&T area sales manager Peter Hartlove, the carrier has the right to modify or cancel a contract if data usage is so high that it bogs down the network.

In addition, a clause in contracts signed by data users prohibits customers from joining a class action suit or jury trial, and instead must take any grievance to arbitration or a small claims court.

The agreement also claims that if a plaintiff wins an arbitration case, the minimum award from AT&T would be $10,000. Although Spaccarrelli asked for the same compensation, the small claims court judge only awarded him for US$85 for each of the remaining 10 months of his contract.

In theory, every customer who has been throttled could potentially take the Dallas-based carrier to court if they feel that the speed reduction is a violation of rights.

AT&T’s attempt to clear data congestion has been vague since its introduction in 2011, as the system is based on a sliding scale and not a set bandwidth cap. User also won’t know if they are part of the top five percent until a warning message is received, and by that point they only have a few days of regular usage before seeing a reduction of speed.

So, let the floodgates open. If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Apple cautions against “Beta test iPhone 5″ scam, tells users to be wary of unsolicited offer

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPhone, News

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Per the Apple discussion boards and iPodNN, a recent scam spam has spread from email and forums to Twitter, Facebook and now text messaging. Users have reported seeing unsolicited texts and social-network posts claiming that “Apple” is seeking 1,000 testers for text messaging on the iPhone 5. The links go to the websites celltestnkeep.com or cellphonetesters.com and ask for email or a text message “code” to sign up.

The notoriously secretive Apple would not, of course, openly solicit for public testers of a forthcoming product (it rarely even acknowledges a forthcoming product at all), nor use a third-party company to do so. Users who “sign up” will be asked for additional information. The “promotion” is a scam operation that sells the data collected to spammers and other criminal organizations. The text messages have appeared for users of other phone platforms as well as iOS users.

Scams promoting free “iPhone 5″ units were popular on social-networking and forum sites up until the announcement of the iPhone 4S. Speculation that Apple may introduce a new model sometime later this year has apparently reached a sufficient level of mainstream consciousness that spammers are seeking to attract gullible consumers who want to get the jump on the next version of Apple’s most popular product.

The call to “test text messaging” is particularly ironic since iOS 5 introduced a new iOS service called iMessage that bypasses normal SMS traffic, circumventing a source of carrier income. Apple mobile devices that register their phone numbers or email addresses in iOS 5 can send and receive SMS-like text, image or video messages to and from other iOS devices or groups at no charge. The system works over Wi-Fi or 3G (and in the latter case does use 3G data).

AT&T is advising users to contact Apple when they receive such a text message. The company cannot block users from receiving the unsolicited text message, though Canada has recently introduced anti-spam laws that require mandatory opt-in before unsolicited electronic messages can be sent.

In other news, if you’ve already fallen for the iPhone 5 tester scam, I’ve got a great bridge to sell you just a few blocks away…

Rumor: Apple purportedly testing upcoming iPad model with 8-inch screen

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 06:49
Category: iPad, Rumor

The next iPad could feature a smaller form factor.

And there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be working with suppliers to test a new iPad model with a smaller form factor, sporting an 8-inch screen rather than the 9.7-inch size found on current models.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the publication reported on Tuesday that Apple officials have shown some suppliers designs for a device with an 8-inch screen size. It was said that Apple is qualifying potential suppliers to manufacture the device.

“One person said the smaller device will have a similar screen resolution as the iPad 2,” authors Lorraine Luk and Jessica E. Vascellaro wrote. “Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said.”

The report also came with a caveat, noting that Apple works with suppliers to test new designs regularly, but that such a device may never see the light of day.

Tuesday’s report comes on the heels of an initial story from the publication, which claims that Apple plans to add 4G long-term evolution high-speed data connectivity to the third-generation iPad. The LTE iPad will reportedly operate on networks from both Verizon and AT&T in the U.S., and it would be the first 4G device from Apple.

Apple is expected to hold a media event on March 7 to announce its third-generation iPad. The new device is expected to sport the same 9.7-inch screen size as the current generation model, but will have a higher-resolution “Retina Display” similar to the pixel density found on the iPhone 4S screen.

Rumors of a so-called “iPad mini” are not new and have persisted for years. But Apple has long downplayed the prospect of such a device, calling the screen size too small to be functional and criticizing competitors who released 7-inch touchscreen tablets.

In October of 2010, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs slammed rivals who were building 7-inch tablets, saying the screen size was too small for users. He said that manufacturers of those devices would need to ship sandpaper with their 7-inch tablets so users could file down their fingers to the point where they could hit smaller targets on the screen.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPad 3 to add 4G LTE capabilities

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 06:57
Category: iPad, Rumor

There’s usually some truth to a rumor, especially if it’s been circulating for a while.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple will announce a third-generation iPad in early March that is capable of operating on 4G LTE networks from Verizon and AT&T.

Sources close to the story told the publication that Apple is planning on announcing the 4G-capable iPad during the first week of March. The device would reportedly then go on sale with AT&T and Verizon.

That lines up with earlier reports that have suggested the same time frame. One recent rumor claimed the announcement would come on March 7 and was quickly backed up by The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple.

The Journal was unable to learn whether the other major carriers in the U.S., Sprint and T-Mobile, would also sell Apple’s next iPad, though it did point out that AT&T and Verizon are currently the only two operators in the U.S. that run LTE networks. Verizon got an early lead with its 4G network and now reaches 200 million people with the service. AT&T has worked to catch up to its rival, covering 74 million people at the end of 2011.

Sources also said that the next iPad will resort to slower network technology when LTE isn’t available. AT&T sold the original iPad iPad Wi-Fi + 3G in 2010, while Verizon sold the iPad with Wi-Fi and a Mobile Hotspot router. The second-generation iPad, released last year, was capable of running on both Verizon and AT&T from day one.

Though rumors that Apple would transition the iPhone and iPad to LTE in 2012 have persisted for some time, evidence that the company will make the leap next month has mounted in recent months.

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

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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.

Analyst sees Apple potentially forming partnerships with cable partners for exclusive “iTV” content

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:38
Category: News

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An Apple-branded HDTV is potentially awesome, but without content, it won’t get off the ground.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies presented his “what if” analyses related to content on the so-called “iTV” in a note to investors on Monday. In what he sees as the most likely scenario, Apple could gain access to non-exclusive content for its television set and forge deals with existing cable providers.

By potentially partnering with carriers and cable operators, Apple could enter the market on a level playing field with everyone else for content. With access to a variety of content through existing providers, as well as the content already available on the iTunes Store, Misek believes that Apple could package everything with a “superior user interface and ecosystem” and beat out the competition.

“We think that partnerships with carriers and MSOs are possible whereby they provide the video content,” he wrote, “as they already have deals in place (at least to sell video over their own pipes), whereas Apple has to negotiate for new over-the-top distribution rights.”

While partnerships with companies like AT&T, Verizon, Bell and Rogers, combined with the existing iTunes Store, are seen as the most likely option, Misek also presented three other directions Apple could potentially take. In one option, he said Apple could simply seed content, as Google does with its YouTube Original Channels.

In this scenario, Misek thinks Apple could select about 100 groups to create channels and provide upfront financing in exchange for a year of exclusivity. Given Apple’s current clout in the entertainment industry with its iTunes Store, he believes Apple could target mainstream TV shows and movies with this method.

In another option, he said Apple could buy access to exclusive content, much as Netflix has done for the “House of Cards” program, and DirecTV has with its exclusive “NFL Sunday Ticket” package. With “headline deals,” such as a rumored bid on the English Premier League rights, he thinks Apple would gain buzz.

But exclusive content deals for an Apple television could also open the company up to scrutiny from governments. He believes that antitrust concerns could limit exclusive content options for Apple.

The final possible scenario, as seen by Misek, is that Apple could become a Hollywood studio and produce its own content. But the analyst believes lower margins and higher risks would scare Apple away from that option, as the film and TV divisions of companies like Sony, Disney, Viacom and News Corp. have substantially lower margins than Apple.

Misek believes Apple’s rumored entrance into the television market will be primarily to bolster the company’s “halo effect,” in which consumers buy into the Apple ecosystem and purchase its other products. He does not believe that an iTV with subscription revenue, as well as gross margins on the sale of HDTVs, would have much of an impact on the company’s bottom line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.