Rumors: Apple to hold low-key iPad 2 release event in March, include NFC feature in upcoming iPad/iPhone 5 devices

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Date: Monday, February 7th, 2011, 03:28
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple may be keeping its press event for the much-anticipated second-generation iPad on the succinct side during its release next month. In a two-line report published early Saturday by macotakara.jp, it’s claimed that the Cupertino-based company “seems to open a small event to introduce next generation of iPad.”

Such an event appears to be on track for March, the report added. Still, it cautioned that the device may only see an announcement during that time frame in the United States, with shipments and international availability possibly following at a later date.

Meanwhile, a related report filed Friday by iLounge appears to reinforce earlier rumors that both the new iPad and fifth-generation iPhone will include near-field communication technology, giving users the ability to have their device serve as an electronic wallet for quick wireless transactions.

More specifically, the report claims that Apple is actively developing new accessories that will communicate with the NFC radio chips inside the future iOS devices. For example, “an accessory could announce its presence and potential functions to an iPad or iPhone without the need for a Bluetooth or similar connection,” the report adds. The source of the tip further suggests “that an otherwise simple case could include a radio chip so that an inserted iPhone or iPad could go into power-saving hibernation mode automatically.”

Of all the rumors, the inclusion of NFC capabilities in the second-gen iPad appears most likely, especially given AppleInsider’s discovery last month that Apple was seeking hardware engineers familiar with radio-frequency identification (RFID) and an external report that claimed the electronics maker is actively testing NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release iOS 4.3 update on February 14th

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 13:11
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Ok, Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s favorite holiday.

In fact, almost no one likes it.

Still, there may be something good to come out of it this year.

Per MacStories.net, a source has claimed that Apple will release its iOS 4.3 update for the iPhone and iPad on Monday, February 14th, at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

The update is expected to bring AirPlay functionality to third-party applications and the new Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi tethering feature, in 10 days. Apple usually releases its iOS updates around 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

In the past, the website correctly predicted that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion would adopt various features and user interface elements from iOS, which powers the iPad and iPhone. But last November, the site also incorrectly reported that Apple would release iOS 4.3 in December with recurring application subscriptions.

Apple issued the first beta of iOS 4.3 to developers in mid-January. It introduced the new Personal Hotspot tethering feature for iPhone, as well as new multi-touch gestures on the iPad for quickly multitasking and accessing the home screen.

However, Apple later informed developers that the new multi-touch gestures in the iOS beta are just a preview for developers to test compatibility with their applications. The Cupertino, Calif., company indicated that the functionality will be included with a later update to iOS.

So far, Apple has released a total of three betas of iOS 4.3 to developers, with the most recent one issued this week. Other reports have speculated that iOS 4.3 could be released within two weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And if this Valentine’s Day’s choices come down to buying your significant other something nifty to express how you feel and clicking the “Check for Update” button in your iTunes device list menu, play it safe and buy her something nice.

Verizon iPhone 4 preorder stock sells out on first day of availability

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 06:37
Category: iPhone, News

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It came and it went.

Per AppleInsider, initial demand for the Verizon iPhone was strong enough for both Apple and Verizon to appear to have run out of pre-sale stock of the new CDMA iPhone and are directing customers to wait until February 9 to purchase the device online or February 10 for in-store purchases.

Preorders for the Verizon iPhone began at 3 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, but only for existing Verizon customers. Initial interest appeared heavy, as some customers reported difficulty accessing the Verizon website.

Though it is unclear exactly how many units were offered during Wednesday’s preorder, Apple and Verizon have stopped taking orders for the device. Customers interested in purchasing the iPhone 4 on Verizon are directed to log back on to either the Verizon or Apple website starting at 3:01 a.m. Eastern on February 9. Retail stores will begin offering the handset at 7 a.m. on February 10.

If you went to order the Verizon iPhone 4 and have a story to tell, please let us know how it went in the comments.

AT&T to include two free gigabytes of data to tethering plan come Feb. 13th

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Date: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, 06:02
Category: iPhone, News

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For the first time in a long time, AT&T has competition for the iPhone and has to offer some incentives to keep its customers coming back.

With that in mind, the company announced on Wednesday plans to add 2GB of data usage to its smartphone tethering plan. According to iLounge, current tethering customers will automatically get the additional 2GB of monthly data usage added to their plans at no extra charge as of February 13; customers who sign up for tethering afterwards will get the additional data from the start of their tethering plan. The total cost for 4GB of data plus tethering capability will be US$45 per month, the same price iPhone users paid for 2GB of data plus tethering in the past; users who exceed their data limits will be charged an overage fee of US$10 per gigabyte.

The plan change coincides with the release of an “AT&T Mobile Hotspot” app and the launch of the HTC Inspire 4G, however, the announcement makes no mention of whether a similar app will be offered for iPhone users, or if the company plans to make use of iOS 4.3’s Personal Hotspot feature. Notably, Verizon Wireless has said that it will also charge US$20 for use of the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature, but the 2GB of data included in the Verizon plan is for Personal Hotspot use only, while AT&T’s extra data will be applied to collective use across all devices.

Apple releases iOS 4.2.6 before Feb. 10th CDMA iPhone release

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Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 05:38
Category: iPhone, News

Eight days before the release of the CDMA-compatible iPhone, Apple has posted a version of iOS 4.2.6, possibly for journalists who have reportedly received review units.

Per AppleInsider, iOS 4.2.6, available as a direct download from Apple, is listed as for iPhone3,3, which is the identifier for the CDMA version of iPhone 4 coming to the Verizon network on Feb. 10. The 652 MB download is labeled as Build 8E200.

Demo versions of the Verizon iPhone at the carrier’s Jan. 11 press event were running iOS 4.2.5, suggesting that Apple has since made several minor changes to the software.

Apple issued a beta build of version 4.3, the next major update to iOS, earlier this month. The pre-release software contained support for several new multi-touch gestures, as well as GSM support for the Personal Hotspot feature included in iOS 4.2.6.

In documentation accompanying the second beta of iOS 4.3, Apple noted that the new gestures are provided as a preview and will not be enabled for customers. The update could, however, include a new Photo Stream service, as well as a “Find my Friends” feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve tried the new version of iOS and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Verizon confirms Feb. 3, 3 a.m. preorder window for current customers

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Date: Monday, January 31st, 2011, 05:15
Category: iPhone, News

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With its February 10th launch date just around the corner, wireless carrier Verizon has launched a new teaser countdown page for existing customers, telling them to come back at 3 a.m. eastern standard time on Feb. 3rd.

Per AppleInsider, Verizon sent out emails to business customers earlier this week notifying them of the 3 a.m. start, the new page is the first time that all existing customers were informed of the time. Verizon customers will, of course, still need to check with the carrier to verify that they are eligible for an iPhone upgrade.

Verizon’s iPhone frequently asked questions page still states that preorders will begin “on or around February 3rd 2011″ and will be sold on a “first come, first serve” basis.

While a 3 a.m. Eastern time may seem an odd time for Verizon to begin taking iPhone 4 preorders, it’s the earliest time where all contiguous states will have reached Feb. 3.

The 16GB iPhone 4 model will retail for US$199, while the 32GB model will go for US$299, each with a 2-year contract. A leak on the Apple website Wednesday revealed that Verizon’s voice plans for the iPhone 4 will start at US$39.99 per month, with unlimited data for US$29.99, and the option of 2GB of data tethering for an additional US$20. According to one Verizon executive, the company’s unlimited data plan will only be available for a limited time before being phased out for a tiered pricing structure.

In preparation for the launch, Verizon has also begun carrying cases for the CDMA iPhone 4 on its website. Apple recently began offering a universal bumper case that fits both the GSM and CDMA models of the iPhone 4, since the new CDMA iPhone has a new antenna design that necessitated moving the mute switch slightly.

BBC iPlayer apps for iPhone, iPad close to release

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Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 04:45
Category: iPad, News, Software

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You’ve been hankering for it for a while.

And it’s almost here.

Per PaidContent, the BBC is close to launching its long-awaited iPlayer app for iOS, it has been claimed.

A recent story has suggested that the app will be launched as a farewell ‘present’ to future media and technology director Erik Huggers. Huggers is leaving the BBC for Intel and will take up his new role some time at the end of February.

A web-based beta version of iPlayer for the iPad was launched at the same time as the iPad launched in the UK, in May 2010. At the moment the service is accessible through the iPhone and iPad browser, but a dedicated app should lead to a much smoother experience.

The BBC’s intention to develop iPhone apps was greeted with protests from commercial rivals, with the Newspapers Publishers Association pressurising the BBC to put the plans on ice.

A planned BBC News app for iPhone did eventually launch, but a BBC Sport app, which the corporation had originally wanted to launch before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has still not been released.

The BBC also announced plans in December to roll the iPlayer out to iPad users worldwide, on a subscription basis.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.1.2 update

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Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 04:05
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Late Wednesday, Apple released iTunes 10.1.2, the latest version of its digital jukebox/digital hub software. The new version, an 90.4 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

- Use AirPlay to instantly and wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the all-new Apple TV.

- Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2.

- The update also allows for syncing with Apple’s CDMA iPhone (a.k.a., the Verizon iPhone available on February 10th).

iTunes 10.1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

AT&T pulls out unadvertised data plan pricing loophole to retain customers

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 05:54
Category: iPhone, News

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When in doubt, match your competition’s offer.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T is reportedly offering some customers unlimited iPhone data plans in an attempt to keep them from defecting to rival carrier Verizon, where Apple’s handset will launch on February 10th.

The report states that AT&T is employing an “unadvertised loophole” in an effort to retain some subscribers who contact customer service. The carrier is said to be quietly offering the option to customers who had a previous version of the iPhone prior to June 2010, when the carrier offered an unlimited data plan for US$30.

Though AT&T wouldn’t confirm the option, the report cited a resident of Brentwood, N.Y., who said he and a friend were switched back to an unlimited plan after they contacted the carrier’s customer service and threatened to swtich. Both subscribers are iPhone 4 users who owned a previous version of the iPhone with an unlimited plan.

AT&T introduced tiered data plans with lower pricing in June 2010. New customers can receive 2GB of data for US$25 per month, or 200MB for US$15 per month.

Customers who signed a contract for US$30-per-month unlimited 3G data prior to last June can keep the plan until their two-year contract expires. Those customers have been able to keep their unlimited plan when upgrading, but the ability to switch back to unlimited, after choosing tiered, has apparently been secret.

Claims that AT&T is offering some customers an unlimited option come as the iPhone 4 is just weeks away from going on sale for Verizon customers. This week, the carrier revealed it would offer unlimited data for iPhone customers for US$30 per month.

Verizon Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam said Verizon hopes its unlimited offering will help the carrier attract more customers away from AT&T. He said canceling the company’s unlimited plan would create a barrier for customers who might otherwise switch.

“I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot,” McAdam said on Tuesday.

Still, Verizon’s unlimited data plan will only be available for a limited time, as the carrier has indicated it intends to move to a tiered structure with caps on monthly data use, much like AT&T did last June. Verizon has not indicated when it will adopt tiered plans, but the company has expressed interest in making the change in the near future.

When AT&T capped its plans last year, the carrier noted that 65% of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB of data per month, and 98% use less than 2GB per month. To soften the blow, the tiered structure came with lower prices, as AT&T now charges US$5 less per month for its high-end 2GB plan than it did for its unlimited plan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to offer $20/month “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon Wireless has finally confirmed that it will offer iPhone 4 with a US$20 “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan similar to what it currently offers its existing smartphone subscribers.

According to Macworld, Verizon’s mobile hotspot plan allows users, for an extra US$20 option on top of their data plan, to share their mobile 3G service with up to five WiFi devices (such as an iPad, iPod touch, MacBook, or any other WiFi device).

The iPhone 4 tethering plan has its own 2GB monthly cap, according to the report, with each additional gigabyte costing another US$20/month. Previous Verizon tethering plans cost US$30/month but delivered 5GB of data, in addition to the user’s data plan. That means the unlimited plan with tethering will cost a total of US$50, with 2GB for tethering and unlimited use of mobile data.

AT&T’s US$20 tethering plan currently only supports USB or Bluetooth tethering to a single device at once, and rather than offering a separate data pool, the plan counts use against the user’s plan. That means the 2GB data plan with tethering costs US$45 total, but still only offers 2GB of data per month.

Verizon earlier announced that its new CDMA iPhone 4 would only be offered with an unlimited data plan costing US$30, with no option for a limited use data plan as the company now allows its current smartphone users to choose.

In the future, Verizon says it will phase out the unlimited data plan, following AT&T toward tiered service plans. It has not detailed when it will do this, nor how much it will charge.

AT&T also announced earlier this month that it would be simplifying its texting plans to two options: 1000 messages for US$10/month, or unlimited texts for US$20/month.