Best Buy begins offering trade-ins for older iPads, deal to run Friday and Saturday

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Date: Friday, July 12th, 2013, 06:50
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News, retail

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Hey, a deal’s a deal and this is why a competitive marketplace is a good thing.

Per Electronista, just a few days after Target began offering gift cards of up to US$50 for buying various iOS devices, competitor Best Buy has begun offering a trade-in program where buyers can trade their older iPads (iPad 2 and third-generation models) for up to US$200 in gift cards that can be used for anything the retailer offers, including the latest iPad and iPad mini.
The trade-in offer is only good for two days — Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13 — but the resulting gift cards can be used at the company’s online site or in-store. The company said that particularly pristine trade-ins may receive even more than US$200.

To qualify, customers must visit a brick-and-mortar Best Buy or Best Buy Mobile store that is accepting trade-ins. If put towards the current fourth-generation iPad, the US$200 minimum gift card would lower the price of a 16GB Wi-Fi model to US$300. If applied towards a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad mini, traders would pay only US$129 (plus applicable taxes). For some models in exceptionally good condition, the retailer says it will over more than the US$200 minimum card as a reward for trading in.

The company says it will recycle the iPads it receives in trade. While the program is a good way to upgrade an older iPad to the latest models, potential buyers are reminded that Apple is expected to produce new versions of the iconic tablets sometime in the fall.

Both the older iPads and the current fourth-generation ones will be able to run iOS 7 when it comes out later this year, leaving behind only the original 2010 iPad. However, only the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch will have access to all the new features in iOS 7. The current iPad and iPad mini cannot access the Camera app’s panorama or live filter features, the third-gen iPad doesn’t get AirDrop, and the iPad 2 will lack both AirDrop and all the camera changes.

If you’ve taken Best Buy up on this deal and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple considering switch to IGZO displays to boost next-gen MacBook Pro battery life

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Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 15:54
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

The next-gen MacBook notebooks could possess even longer lasting batteries.

Per Korea IT News, Apple is once again rumored to be considering indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) LCDs, this time for inclusion in not only upcoming versions of its iPad, but also in its forthcoming MacBook Pros. A recent report has the Cupertino company talking with Sharp and LG Display in preparation for wider manufacture.

The new MacBooks would reportedly be scheduled for release some time early in 2014, though the report gives no word on when IGZO-packing iPads would be set for release. The latest speculation surrounding the iPad does make mention of reduced backlighting and improved battery life, both of which could be outgrowths of IGZO technology.

An oxide semiconductor, IGZO is about 10 times faster in electron mobility than an amorphous silicon semiconductor. This allows the technology to consume far less power in operation. IGZO also requires smaller wiring, which also contributes to its lower power consumption.

The panels are significantly more expensive than traditional LCDs, though, so that could represent an obstacle for Apple in bringing them to market in the MacBook Pro line. Some estimates have Apple paying 1.5 to two times as much for the same panel sizes seen in current models.

A switch to IGZO could be in keeping with Apple’s already established goals for this generation of MacBooks. When introducing the 2013 MacBook Air, Apple made sure to note that the inclusion of Intel’s new Haswell processors had boosted overall battery life to 12 hours for the 13-inch model. The inclusion of less power-intensive displays could push the next generation of MacBook Pros to even greater heights.

Apple has long been rumored to have been looking at IGZO technology for future devices. Previous rumors have focused on the iPhone or iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 beta 3 shows improved “2x” mode on non-Retina iPads

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Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 08:08
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Ok, this could come in handy.

Per MacRumors, one of the more subtle changes reported in Apple’s iOS 7 beta 3 released to developers yesterday is a move to leverage the Retina assets included in iPhone-only apps to improve the viewing experience in “2x” mode on non-Retina iPads such as the iPad mini and the iPad 2.

Since the launch of the iPad, Apple has supported the use of iPhone-only apps on its tablet platform, allowing users to toggle between a “1x” mode where the app appears in an iPhone-sized window in the center of the iPad screen and a “2x” mode where pixels are doubled to allow the app to fill more of the iPad’s screen. But up until iOS 6, this 2x pixel doubling has been performed on the non-Retina iPhone versions of the apps for non-Retina iPads, expanding a 480×320 app to fill a 960×640 space on the iPad display and resulting in jagged text and blurry images.

With the advent of Retina displays on the iPhone supporting apps at 960×640, Apple moved to take advantage of those higher-quality assets to provide a better viewing experience on the iPad for those apps that do not have native iPad interfaces. Since the introduction of the third-generation iPad last year, Apple’s Retina iPads have been able to tap into the Retina assets in iPhone apps to display higher-quality 2x apps, and with iOS 7 beta 3 Apple has now brought that capability to its non-Retina tablets.

Interestingly, on the latest iOS 7 beta, users are no longer even presented with a 1x/2x toggle on non-Retina devices such as the iPad mini, and iPhone apps are instead presented simply as 2x apps taking advantage of Retina assets included in the app package. The result is a much better looking 960×640 app on the iPad’s 1024×768 screen. Retina iPads have not, however, seen any changes to their handling of iPhone apps and continue to offer the 1x/2x toggle.

Apple’s move to leverage the Retina assets in iPhone apps by default is essentially identical to the strategy used by RetinaPad, a jailbreak tweak that provided owners of non-Retina iPads with the higher-quality 2x scaling. That tweak had gained new popularity with the release of the non-Retina iPad mini late last year, but with Apple now building that support directly into iOS 7, all users will be able to take advantage of the higher-quality experience.

Apple announced back in March that as of May 1, it was requiring all app submissions and updates to support both Retina displays and the iPhone 5′s taller display, pushing developers to support Apple’s latest devices. The Retina support requirement also allows more apps to take advantage of the new 2x improvements for non-Retina iPads in iOS 7.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten a chance to play with the third iOS 7 beta, please let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple offers popular apps at deep discounts, for free as App Store nears fifth anniversary on July 10th

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Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software

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With the fifth anniversary of the iOS App Store approaching, a number of high-ranking apps will become free for a period of time.

According to The Verge, an unknown number of iOS apps are now free to download for both the iPhone and iPad, with titles spanning across genres and price ranges.

Games like Badland, Infinity Blade II, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Tiny Wings, and Where’s My Water? are all complimentary, while other apps include Barefoot World Atlas, Day One, Over, and Traktor DJ for iPad. With the price slashing, users can save anywhere from US$0.99 to US$19.99.

While Apple has yet to make an official announcement regarding the free app selection, or collect them into a dedicated App Store section, it is thought that the move is in celebration of the digital storefront’s upcoming fifth anniversary on July 10.

The company sent out a poster last week detailing a timeline of major App Store milestones, including explosive growth that saw 1 billion downloads in 2009, 10 billion in 2011, and 50 billion this past May. Apple also noted that the store has generated more than US$10 billion for app developers to date.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve noticed a cool iOS app that’s free or discounted on the iOS App Store, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad could arrive in September, second-gen iPad mini not long after

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Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 06:22
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

The next-gen iPad you’re hoping for could hit in September, the mini version not long after.

Per DigiTimes, a new 9.7-inch iPad is planned to debut in September with a slimmer bezel, as has been rumored.

In addition, the report said the number of LED tubes to backlight the Retina display has been reduced from two to one, and battery life of the device has also been improved.

Pilot production of the device is allegedly already able to satisfy demand for the initial launch. As such, suppliers reportedly indicated they expect Apple to give shipment estimates as soon as the end of this month.

While the full-size iPad is rumored to see a refresh in September, the iPad mini may have to wait a little longer for its second-generation model to launch. Sources have stated that Apple is “still considering whether to adopt a Retina display for the device.”

If Apple does opt for a high-resolution display in its 7.9-inch tablet, the release of the product could be delayed until the fourth quarter of calendar 2013, the report said. It also added that Apple is pushing component suppliers to further shrink the iPad mini bezel, and that the company is pushing for a largely bezel-less design.

Apple launched both the first iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad at the same event last October. The updated full-size iPad was a moderate surprise, as the third-generation model with Retina display had debuted only six months prior.

The fifth-generation iPad is expected to adopt a design similar to that of the iPad mini, including more rounded edges and a thinner bezel. Leaked schematics have suggested the new iPad will also be thinner than its predecessor, while well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has said the device will be 25 percent lighter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

Apple to hold Q3 earnings conference call on Tuesday, July 23rd

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 06:21
Category: Finance, News

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The numbers tell the truth.

Per MacNN, Apple will hold its next quarterly earnings call with investors on Tuesday, July 23, where it will discuss its fiscal third-quarter results. According to its own estimates, it expects to report between US$33.5 billion and US$35.5 billion, a drop from the previous quarter but a realistic figure in light of no refreshed iPad or iPhone, the two primary drivers of Apple’s income. While the latest MacBook Air revision has garnered significant praise for its various improvements, it emerged at the very tail end of the quarter and thus didn’t influence sales.

Possibly affecting sales of other Apple products is the expected drop in sales that comes ahead of new iOS device models. Apple has already said that new products will be coming this fall, which is taken to mean the latest iPhone, iPad and possibly some entirely new devices — including a long-rumored Apple television or smartwatch. Another keenly-anticipated release is the acceptance of the new iOS 7, not to mention the long-overdue Mac Pro overhaul, which will test how professional users will adapt to the re-designed machine. Primarily, however, investors will be watching to see if Apple can continue its remarkable iOS platform US sales growth in the face of competition and a lack of any new product in the quarter.

In the previous quarter, Apple saw both good news and bad: revenues were up, as were iPad and iPhone sales (above analysts’ predictions), but Mac sales were basically flat and net profit was down slightly for the first time in a decade, a trend that is expected to have continued over the past three months. Analysts have reported that Apple has ordered fewer iPhones for the upcoming quarter, signalling that it expects further erosion of iPhone sales ahead of its eventual announcement of the next model.

Margins are expected to be around 36 percent, with operating expenses bubbling just under US$4 billion. The conference call is schedule to take place at 2PM Pacific/5PM Eastern on July 23.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 build shows new Accessibility option to control devices via head movements

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 09:30
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Ok, this could be interesting.

Per MacRumors, a new feature has been pointed out for Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 operating system that, via an Accessibility menu, allows iPhone users to control their devices using head movements.

The option can be found in the Switch Control area of the Accessibility menu, which is designed for users who need assistance with physical and motor movements.

Switch Control allows you to use your iPhone by sequentially highlighting items on the screen that can be activated through an adaptive accessory.

With the feature activated, specific movements can be used to correspond with actions. For example, the setting can be programmed to allow a left head movement to activate a tap, while a right head movement can be programmed to perform to another function.

Users can also make the left or right head movement act as a home button, start Siri, open Notification Center, open the App Switcher, decrease volume, increase volume, or simply tap.

It is important to note that Switch Control head movements are a beta function and should be used with caution, as the setting disables touch input.

Apple has always had a heavy focus on accessibility, and over the years has worked to provide accessibility options for vision, hearing, motor skills, and learning, turning the iPad and the iPhone into fully featured assistive devices. iOS 7 promises to bring even more accessibility options, further increasing the utility of Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype for iOS updated to 4.9, adds free video messaging, other improvements

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iOS, News, Software

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It’s one of those days for marquee iOS app updates.

Per iMore, Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad have been updated to version 4.9. The new version, a 29.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
- Video messaging is now free and unlimited.

- Audio and video call stability improvements.

- Share photos more readily.

- Improved accessibility for video messaging.

- General fixes and improvements.

Video clips can be up to three minutes long, and the fact that all users can now send as many as they like has lots of positive implications for continued use of the service. A call is not always convienient, but there’s something a lot more personal about seeing someone as they’re speaking to you. Like they really, actually do want to talk to you.

Skype 4.9 requires and iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions of Skype for iOS and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iOS 7 developer beta incorporates password disable feature

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Date: Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, 07:00
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

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As mentioned before, it’s the beta versions that point out the cool stuff on the horizon.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s latest beta build of iOS 7 makes it more difficult for thieves to get away with stealing an iOS device by requiring a user’s password to be entered when disabling the “Find My iPhone” functionality.

The new feature, found in pre-release builds of iOS 7 made available to developers, also applies to the iPad. Users can open the Settings application, choose iCloud, then “Find My iPhone,” and flipping the switch to off brings up a password prompt.

The addition addresses a potential issue that users have noticed for years, since the “Find My iPhone” functionality came to iOS 4 in 2010. With iOS 7, users who may not feel the need to utilize the passcode lock screen can still enjoy added security for the Find My iPhone feature, making it more difficult for a thief to turn it off.

Of course, someone who has stolen an iPhone or iPad could simply turn off the device, or remove a SIM card. But the new feature is just an added level of security for those who may be unfortunate enough to have their device stolen.

Still, not a bad addition.

Please let us know what you think of this in the comments.