Revised DMCA allows for unlocking of handsets, other exemptions

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Legal, News, Software

There’s exceptions to every rule and some of them get pretty interesting.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, the Digital Millennium Copyright makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital rights management schemes. But when Congress passed the DMCA in 1998, it gave the Librarian of Congress the power to grant exemptions. The latest batch of exemptions, which will be in force for three years, were announced on Thursday.

Between now and late 2015, there will be five categories of circumvention that will be allowed under the Librarian’s rules, one fewer than the current batch of exemptions, which was announced in July 2010. The new exemptions take effect October 28.

The new batch of exemptions illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the DMCA’s exemption process. For the next three years, you’ll be allowed to jailbreak smartphones but not tablet computers. You’ll be able to unlock phones purchased before January 2013 but not phones purchased after that. It will be legal to rip DVDs to use an excerpt in a documentary, but not to play it on your iPad.

The first exemption applies to “literary works, distributed electronically, that are protected by technological measures which either prevent the enabling of read-aloud functionality or interfere with screen readers or other applications or assistive technologies.” The work must have been purchased legitimately through “customary channels,” such that “the rights owner is remunerated.”

A similar version of the exemption was offered in 2010, but that one allowed circumvention only if “all existing e-book editions of the work contain access controls” that inhibit disabled access. Disability groups urged the Librarian to drop this restriction, arguing that “despite the rapid growth of the e-book market, most e-book titles remain inaccessible due to fragmentation within the industry and differing technical standards and accessibility capabilities across platforms.” That meant that the rule effectively required disabled users to own multiple devices—a Kindle, a Nook, and an iPad, for example—in order to gain access to a full range of e-books. The Librarian accepted this argument and allowed circumvention by disabled users even if a work is available in an open format on another platform.

The new rules allow circumvention of “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.” In other words, jailbreaking is permitted for “telephone handsets,” as it was under the 2010 rules.

Unfortunately, the Librarian “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”

The Librarian ruled that “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones.”

In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress had permitted users to unlock their phones to take them to a new carrier. Now that’s coming to an end. While the new rules do contain a provision allowing phone unlocking, it comes with a crippling caveat: the phone must have been “originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption.”

In other words, phones you already have, as well as those purchased between now and next January, can be unlocked. But phones purchased after January 2013 can only be unlocked with the carrier’s permission.

Why the change? The Librarian cited two key factors. One is a 2010 ruling that held that when you purchase software, you don’t actually own it. Rather, you merely license it according to the terms of the End User License Agreement. The Librarian argued that this undermined the claim that unlocking your own phone was fair use.

Also, the Librarian found that there are more unlocked phones on the market than there were three years ago, and that most wireless carriers have liberal policies for unlocking their handsets. As a result, the Librarian of Congress decided that it should no longer be legal to unlock your cell phone without the carrier’s permission.

The most complicated exemption focuses on DVDs. Between now and 2015, it will be legal to rip a DVD “in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.” A similar exemption applies for “online distribution services.”

The Librarian also allowed DVDs to be decrypted to facilitate disability access. Specifically, it’s now legal “to access the playhead and/or related time code information embedded in copies of such works and solely for the purpose of conducting research and development for the purpose of creating players capable of rendering visual representations of the audible portions of such works and/or audible representations or descriptions of the visual portions of such works to enable an individual who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, and who has lawfully obtained a copy of such a work, to perceive the work.”

But the Librarian did not allow circumvention for space-shifting purposes. While public interest groups had argued that consumers should be allowed to rip a DVD in order to watch it on an iPad that lacks a built-in DVD drive, the Librarian concluded that no court has found that such “space shifting” is a fair use under copyright law.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and, well, enjoy unlocking your handsets.

White and silver iPad minis sell out within hours of pre-order availability

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:57
Category: iPad, News, retail

Well, that was fast.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after the iPad mini became available to preorder at Apple’s online store, the white and silver model sold out is now advertised to ship in two weeks.

While the white model in all capacities is now sold out, as of Friday morning the black and slate version is still advertised to deliver on next Friday, Nov. 2. Cellular-capable models do not ship until mid-November.

Announced this week, the iPad mini is available in sizes of 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes. Like the iPhone 5, it’s available in black and slate, as well as white and silver.

Market watchers have big expectations for the iPad mini, with millions expected to be sold this quarter. Though many expected an entry price lower than US$329, Wall Street analysts believe the iPad mini will justify its price to consumers with superior build quality, strong software, and a huge range of third-party applications available on the iOS App Store.

The iPad mini features a 7.9-inch display and a thinner bezel that allows it to be held with one hand. It’s 7.2 millimeters thin and weighs 0.68 pounds, which is 68 percent less than the full-size iPad.

In the meantime, there’s still the black and slate model…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store now offering Lightning to VGA, HDMI adapters

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 08:58
Category: Hardware, iPad, Lightning, News

You’ll never go broke selling the adapters that people need.

Per Engadget, Apple’s online store has begun offering up some of the accessories as of yesterday.

First up are the Lightning adapters, with a new Lightning to VGA Adapter and Lightning Digital AV Adapter selling for US$49 each. While these are available for purchase today, at the Apple online store shows an available to ship date of two to three weeks.

A new US$19 12W USB power adapter (which connects directly to the Lightning port) has also appeared for the 3rd and 4th generation iPads, bumping the previous version’s 10W — meaning your tablet might get charged a bit quicker.

The new adapters can be found here.

As always, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

iPad 2 left without Siri support after iPad mini launch

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

As nifty as the iPad 2 is, it’s getting left behind where some features are concerned.

Per AppleInsider, while it was announced on Tuesday that the new iPad mini is compatible with Apple’s Siri voice recognizing assistant, however owners of the now long-in-the-tooth iPad 2 still won’t be able to access the feature.

With the announcement, it appears that Siri will never make it to the iPad 2, as the tablet was only mentioned in passing in a brief a comparison to the new iPad mini.

Looking at the technical specifications, the iPad mini boasts a number of improvements over the iPad 2, including upgraded cameras, extended wireless capabilities, and perhaps most important to some, a lower price tag.

What is identical, however, is the A5-series chip found in both tablets, a version of which is also used in the fifth-generation iPod touch. Unlike the iPad 2, however, the iPad mini and iPod touch sport Siri functionality.

It is unclear why Apple decided to once again pass over the iPad 2, though it could portend the inevitable axing of the product from the tablet line as it is more expensive and less capable than its newly-released sibling. The tablet is likely to be kept on as a “budget” model to the fourth-generation iPad, and could be phased out when the next full-size tablet is launched sometime next year.

The only feature trumped by the second-generation iPad is the size of its display, though as Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller pointed out, the mini’s screen resolution is identical to the 9.7-inch iPad 2’s, except condensed into a 7.9-inch format. According to those on hand at the event, the higher pixel density is noticeable, though not quite up to par with the full-size iPad’s Retina display.

Given that almost every new device coming out of Cupertino being Siri-capable, the iPad 2 stands out as a lonely carry-over product that is past its prime.

Apple announces iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad, offers extended returns for recently-purchased third-gen iPads at select locations

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:15
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You’ve been hankering for this.

And now you get to be somewhat angry at Apple for having bought a third-generation iPad, oh, six months ago.

Per Macworld, Apple unveiled the long-rumored iPad mini along with a fourth-generation of the standard model.

The iPad mini is 7.2mm thick—23 percent thinner than the new, fourth-generation iPad—“thin as a pencil,” as Schiller put it. It weighs 0.68 pounds, which is half the weight of the previous iPad.



The iPad mini is available in white with silver or black with slate black, much like the iPhone 5.

In determining what size to make the iPad mini’s screen, Schiller said, Apple engineers worked to make the device smaller, but not “so small that it stops being incredibly useful.” The iPad mini screen measures 7.9 inches diagonally. Like the iPad 2, the iPad mini employs a 1024-by-768 resolution, meaning all existing iPad apps work with the iPad mini, too.

Schiller said that the iPad mini is great for the same tasks that the full-size iPad is good for: games, Facebook, Web browsing, email, GarageBand, iWork, and so on. “I could sit here and list 275,000 examples” of what the iPad mini is good for, Schiller said, referring to the number of iPad-optimized apps in the App Store.

Compared to Android tablets, Schiller said, the iPad mini is vastly superior. Apps are custom-built for the iPad, but on Android tablets, apps are often blown-up phone apps that aren’t optimized for the device.

Inside the iPad mini, Schiller said, “the technologies…are equal to or better than the iPad 2.” The iPad mini uses Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. It has a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel iSight camera on the back. It gets the same LTE capabilities as the fourth-generation iPad with LTE, and faster Wi-Fi, too. Of course, it uses the Lightning connector. Apple says that, like the other iPads in the lineup, it still offers ten hours of battery life; the company boasts that the iPad mini uses the largest and thinnest battery Apple’s ever made.

The iPad mini will be available in a variety of configurations. The 16GB model will retail for US$329, the 32GB model will retail for US$429, and the 64GB model will retail for US$529. If you add in the option for cellular connectivity, those prices increase by $129. Pre-orders for the iPad mini will start on Friday, October 26. The Wi-Fi versions will ship starting on November 2, in many countries. Two weeks later, they’ll start to ship the iPads with cellular—first in the U.S., and then later around the world.

Apple also introduced a lineup of new Smart Covers for the iPad mini. The polyurethane Smart Covers custom-designed for the iPad mini are available in pink, green, blue, light gray, dark gray and (Product) red for US$39. Existing Smart Covers and Smart Cases work with the fourth-generation iPad. Among the new Lightning accessories Apple unveiled on Tuesday are cables for connecting cameras and SD cards.

Schiller also took the wraps off the new fourth-generation iPad. The new iPad uses the Apple A6X chip, a new chip that further improves upon the speed performance of the A6; the company claims that it’s twice as fast as the A5X, with double the graphics performance. It gets the same ten hours of battery life as the third-generation iPad.

New to the fourth-generation iPad is a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a Lightning port that replaces the 30-pin dock connector of old. And the Wi-Fi is twice as fast as in the previous generation.

Like the third-generation iPad, the fourth-generation iPad comes in black in white. It keeps the same pricing: The base 16GB model starts at US$499, with 32GB at US$599 and 64GB at US$699. Cellular-ready models are available for US$130 extra, at US$529, US$629, and US$729 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively.

For those of you somewhat kicking yourselves for having just bought a third-generation iPad, assorted Apple Store retail locations are extending their return policy. Tablets bought within the last 30 days that show no signs of wear and tear can be exchanged for the new model.

For more information as to which Apple Store locations are offering the extended exchange, be sure to call around to see which policies are in effect.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged “iPad mini” image shows Lightning port, other changes

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Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:56
Category: iPad, photos, Rumor

This is about as convincing as a leaked photo of a much-anticipated item gets.

Per Japanese website Apple.pro, the following leaked image released on Saturday claims to show a slightly modified third-generation iPad with a Lightning connector port, possibly pointing to an imminent release of the rumored device as part of Apple’s move to bring parity across its iDevice lineup.



It should be noted that the authenticity of the image cannot be confirmed and is thus provided for purposes of discussion only.

The supposedly new shell is shown resting atop the current iPad with 30-pin dock connector, illustrating the difference in size between the two cutouts.

Sitting on top of the purportedly refreshed case is a Lightning flex cable, in this case black, which appears to line up perfectly with the slot. It is unclear if the component will be used in the revamped iPad.

Apple is expected to bring Lightning connectivity to all of its iDevice products as they are refreshed, offering compatibility with upcoming accessories. The proprietary standard is seen as a long-term investment for the company, and is expected to have a lifetime of ten years, mirroring that of the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

It is unknown if and when Apple will release the slightly modified iPad, but it may take the opportunity to do so at a special event on Tuesday, where the company is widely expected to unveil the 7.85-inch “iPad mini.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro images show HDMI, Thunderbolt ports, SD card reader, other changes

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Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, photos, Rumor

If this is truly en route, then it looks like it could rock.

Per Weiphone and MacRumors, a series of leaked photos claiming to be of an as-yet-unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display show the purported laptop’s battery cell and external connectivity options, which include two Thunderbolt ports, an SD card reader and HDMI output.



The images also show battery cell array and other particulars of the rumored Apple notebook.

Surprisingly, the allegedly leaked machine looks to be in working order, and is shown running Windows 7 at 2,560-by-1,600 pixels, lending evidence to rumors in August that claimed display makers were producing screens with an identical resolution.

Also shown are multiple close-up shots of the purported machine’s logic board, 8GB of Elpida RAM and screen assembly.

While the legitimacy of the images cannot be confirmed, the parts do line up with rumors suggesting Apple will soon release a Retina display carrying version of its smallest MacBook Pro.

It was reported earlier in October that low yields of the expected 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s high-resolution display forced Apple to delay the device’s launch.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a small form factor iPad, dubbed “iPad mini” by the media, at a special event next week, with sources saying the company is also likely to introduce a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to phase out iPad 2 to make room for “iPad mini”

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Date: Friday, October 19th, 2012, 07:13
Category: Finance, iPad, News

The iPad 2 could be going the way of the dodo.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Rob Cihra with Evercore Partners said in a note to investors this week that he sees Apple phasing out the current iPad 2, because Apple’s overall vision calls for “clearer product tiers.” The prediction comes as Apple is expected to lower the barrier to entry of its iPad lineup by unveiling a new, smaller iPad next Tuesday.

Cihra believes Apple will sell around 7 million so-called “iPad mini” units in the December quarter. Along with the full-size iPad, he sees Apple selling a total of 26 million units in the holiday shopping season.

In his view, Apple is leveraging its engineering expertise in both hardware and software to “pull dollars away from otherwise commodity markets and incumbent competitors.” Apple’s calendar year 2012 revenues are up 30 percent year over year, while the broader PC market has dropped 4 percent this year.

Further bolstered by sales of 49 million iPhones, Apple is expected by Cihra to post US$56.1 billion in revenue during the December quarter, amounting to US$16.33 in earnings per share.

Prior to that anticipated blockbuster quarter, Apple will report results for its just-concluded September quarter. For that three-month frame, Cihra believes Apple sold 27 million iPhones, 17 million iPads, 4.9 million Macs and 5.7 million iPods, resulting in revenue of US$36.5 billion and earnings per share of US$9.03.

His numbers are slightly above Wall Street consensus for the September quarter, as other analysts on average seek US$36.4 billion in revenue and US$8.93 earnings per share.

Evercore Partners has reiterated its overweight rating for AAPL stock, as well as a target price of US$800.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked “iPad mini” display component to feature same aspect ratio as traditional iPad

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Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Whatever comes out at the media event next Tuesday, it should be interesting.

Per Etrade Supply and Nowhereelse.fr, new photos claiming to show a display panel for Apple’s so-called “iPad mini,” with an aspect ratio identical to the screen on Apple’s traditional iPad.

Pictures of the component were published on Wednesday with the display panel measuring nearly 8 inches across diagonally, and is 162 millimeters long, 124 millimeters wide.

While the resolution of the screen cannot be determined from the component, earlier rumors had suggested the display will be 1,024 by 768 pixels. That’s the same resolution as the iPad 2, which would allow applications designed for the iPad to run natively on the iPad mini without modification.

Some recent iPad mini mockups had prompted speculation that the device could have a 16-to-9 ratio closer to that of the newly released iPhone 5. But the panel pictured on Wednesday has a 4-to-3 aspect ratio, matching that of the 9.7-inch iPad.

iPad mini mockups may appear to have a slightly longer display because they show a device with a thinner bezel to the left and right of the screen when held in portrait mode. It’s expected that Apple’s new iPad will have a thinner bezel to allow it to be held more easily with one hand.

Also included among the pictures is a battery claimed to be from Apple’s iPad mini. The model number listed is “A1445,” and it’s rated as 3.72V, 16.7Whr, and 4490mAh.

The latest battery picture is joined by a previous leak that surfaced over the weekend, showing the same 16.7 watt-hour battery. The purported iPad mini part suggests Apple’s battery will offer more energy than the cells found in Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

Apple is set to hold an event next Tuesday, Oct. 23, where it is expected to unveil the iPad mini. Invitations sent to members of the press this week promised that the company has “a little more to show you.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked SKU list shows upcoming “iPad mini” available in 24 different configurations

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:46
Category: iPad, Rumor

Per AppleInsider, Apple will launch its “iPad mini” in 24 different configurations, suggesting four different storage capacities and two color options.

According to a leaked list of product stock-keeping units, or SKUs, the unit will be available in 24 different varieties. Four different models will be offered — described as P101, P103, P105 and P107 — which one a source with the inventory said likely signifies four different storage capacities.

The lineup could suggest that Apple plans to introduce an 8-gigabyte model that would serve as an entry-level model for the lower-priced 7.85-inch iPad. Currently, the full-sized iPad does not come with a storage capacity lower than 16 gigabytes.

Each of the four different product descriptions also come with three different distinctions: “GOOD,” “BETTER,” and “BEST,” which could signify Wi-Fi-only, 3G, and 4G LTE models, respectively. Each model is also available in “A” and “B” variants, which likely identify color options of black and white.

The source said the company’s initial shipments suggest availability of the presumed entry-level “P101” model will be the greatest at launch. An inventory list that surfaced from a retailer last weekend suggested an entry-level 8-gigabyte model could retail around US$249.

The person also added that Apple is rumored to begin selling new iMac desktops on Oct. 24, one day after the anticipated Oct. 23 event. In addition to the iPad mini, Apple is also expected to unveil a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, but no timeframe on its availability was given.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.