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.

Rumor: Apple to replace 30-pin iPhone, iPod, iPad connector with smaller alternative

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

It’s a rumor, but it involves replacing the classic 30-pin connector you know, love and are readily familiar with on your iPod, iPhone, and iPad with something new, so proceed to panic.

Also, begin hoarding food, as this means the apocalypse is well nigh.

An unsubstantiated rumor claims that Apple is looking to replace the venerable 30-pin iPhone, iPad and iPod dock connector with a smaller, space-saving successor that will possibly make a debut in the company’s next generation iPhone.

According to the iMore blog, unnamed sources have stated that the iPhone maker found a way to make the connector smaller in 2010 to help accommodate for the iPhone 4’s larger battery.

Another factor is the connector’s role in data transfer. With the advent of iCloud, AirPlay and the energy-sipping Bluetooth 4.0, a future iPhone may only need a cable for charging purposes.

It is unclear what would become of the huge ecosystem of existing “Made for iDevice” products, which is a lucrative business for both Apple and third-party companies, as it would be made obsolete by a redesigned connector.

Details remain scarce at this time, but check back and we’ll get information up as soon as it becomes available.

iFixit studies iPad 2 display, purported iPad 3 display, finds evidence supporting Retina Display for iPad 3

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Yes, there’s more than a few iPad 3 rumors floating around at the moment, but a genuine comparison backed by video helps.

Per MacRumors, do-it-yourself site iFixit posted a side-by-side comparison video on Thursday between the alleged next-generation ‘iPad 3′ display and a replacement screen for an iPad 2, and results reaffirm previous reports that the purported new component’s pixel density is indeed double that of Apple’s current tablet line.

The site, well known for its product teardown and self-repair guides, used a USB microscope to shoot pixel-level images of a rumored “iPad 3” display that was obtained by MacRumors on Friday through “unreported channels.”

Although last week’s report yielded compelling photographic evidence that the component was a QXGA screen with a resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels, the iFixit images are of higher quality and show more detail than the previous side-by-side photos. Clearly seen are individual pixels, with the new display appearing to sport a common RGB sub-pixel arrangement which is identical to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S’ Retina Display.

iFixit was unsuccessful in powering on the display due to a newly-designed LCD connector cable, but the USB microscope threw enough light to show that for each iPad 2 pixel, the new component boasted four. The finding is concurrent with reports that claim the pixel density of the rumored tablet will be around 260 pixels-per-inch. In contrast, the current generation iPad 2 has a 132 ppi pixel density.

While the estimated 260 ppi falls short of the 300+ ppi the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs described as being a qualifier for Retina Display status, it can be contested that because users hold tablets farther away from their eyes than a phone, the would-be “iPad 3” specs are be enough to achieve a perceived pixel density similar to that of Apple’s latest smartphone.

The physical dimensions of the display are identical to that of the iPad and iPad 2, though iFixit notes that those thinking of swapping out their iPad 2 screens with this new “iPad 3” model are out of luck. Besides the obvious incompatibility with current iPad logic boards, there have been no figures as to the screen’s power consumption and processor requirements.

Previous reports pointed to rumors that, due to a high pixel count, a so-called iPad Retina Display may need a backlight configuration consisting of two LED light bars to achieve brightness levels equavalent to current iPad models.

Apple is rumored to announce its next generation tablet on March 7, and will feature the rumored Retina Display, a redesigned case, a new processor and 4G LTE functionality.

Stay tuned for additional details and in the meantime, a little video never hurt anyone:



China Telecom announces iPhone 4S launch date of March 9th

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012, 08:02
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re overseas and have been waiting for the iPhone 4S, it’s almost here.

After months of ads, China Telecom has announced that it will begin sales of the newest iPhone on March 9, 2012. The company will begin taking reservations for the iPhone 4S on March 2 in anticipation of the rollout a week later according to MacStories.

China Telecom is the second largest carrier in China, and uses a CDMA network as opposed to the GSM network run by market leader China Unicom (which has been selling the iPhone 4S since January). The iPhone 4S is the first iPhone that can run on both networks without requiring separate models.

As part of China Telecom’s rollout, the carrier will be offering the 16 GB iPhone 4S for free with a 2 year contract. According to a tweet from Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, China Unicom currently has 37 million 3G customers, with China Telecom adding another 33 million 3G users. That’s a huge potential iPhone 4S market for Apple, and one that the company is eager to tap.

During last week’s Goldman Sachs technology conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook made repeated references to the vast Chinese market and how the company is making that market a key target for its growth strategy in the future.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“Working prototype” version of Office for iPad pictured, slated for submission to App Store soon

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Date: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012, 07:45
Category: iPad, News, Software

You’ve been hankering for a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad since, well, the release of the iPad.

And it could hit very soon.

Matt Hickey of The Daily was offered the first glimpse at a “working prototype” of Office for iPad on Tuesday.

“Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online,” he said. “But it’s unclear if Microsoft will support other Office apps at launch or at all.”

The design side of the project is said to have already wrapped up, but an exact launch date remains unknown. It was said that the project “could be released in the coming weeks.”

Citing anonymous sources, the report added that Microsoft Office for iPad will “soon be submitted to Apple for approval.” No pricing or other details were provided.

The Daily first indicated last November that Microsoft was preparing a new version of its Office suite for Apple’s iPad. In addition, an updated version of Office for OS X Lion users was also revealed, and is expected to become available on Apple’s Mac App Store.

Apple currently offers its competing iWork productivity suite on the iPad as three standalone applications. Pages, Keynote and Numbers for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are each available for US$9.99 on the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple releases public beta of Messages for the Mac, looks to replace iChat and integrate functionality with iOS version

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 06:03
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple announced the public beta of its new Mac Messages application with cross-platform support for iOS will be a major feature of the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, users can get their hands on an early beta immediately.

According to AppleInsider, the Messages beta is now available for download direct from Apple for free. Apple’s official site advertises that it will give users “a taste of what’s coming in OS X Mountain Lion,” set to be released in late summer 2012.

“When you install Messages, it replaces iChat,” Apple said. “But iChat services will continue to work. And Messages brings iMessage to the Mac — just like on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 5.”

The Messages beta requires users Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and offers the following features:

– Send unlimited iMessages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

– Send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more.

– Launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face.

– Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re tried the beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple begins to disable ports for non-authorized devices accessing Siri servers

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

As much as you may like the idea of running Siri on a non-iPhone-4S device, Apple seems to feel differently.

Per Redmond Pie, Apple has added a new barrier to the software needed to run Siri, a move that shows the Cupertino, Calif., company is actively tracking the growing number of iDevice users who have managed to port the voice-recognizing assistant to non-supported hardware.

In an attempt to halt the unauthorized use of its digital assistant on devices not intended to run the software, Apple covertly instituted a “SetActivationToken” property list file which effectively disables any attempts to communicate with Siri’s servers.

To get the voice-recognition software to work on other iOS devices, the so-called jailbreak community came up with a basic program called Spire which installs the required on-device files to communicate with the Siri servers. Spire’s developers, the prolific hacker “chpwn” and Ryan Petrich, allege that the program is a completely legal port.

The software has caveats, however, as it is only available to jailbroken devices, requires a proxy Siri server and an iPhone 4S certificate.

Despite the troublesome task of installing and troubleshooting the workaround, the demand from users who don’t have an iPhone 4S yet want a taste of Siri has been enough to warrant a response from Apple.

Since Siri was announced in October 2011 as the standout feature of Apple’s iPhone 4S, users of other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 and 3GS have questioned the company’s decision to keep the software locked to the newest generation handset.

Apple has not officially responded outside of saying that the hardware on the 4S makes Siri possible, though previous anecdotal reports have claimed that the exclusivity may stem from a modified proximity sensor or integrated noise reduction tech from EarSmart.

The feature has been seen as a driving force for sales of the newest iPhone, and Apple may be pushing users to upgrade rather than rely on an untested, unauthorized piece of software.

The jailbreak community is already claiming that a simple “solution” to the “SetActivationToken” addition is to simply delete the entirety of a certain .plist information bundle, however the technique hasn’t been fully vetted.

This latest attempt to free an iOS feature from Apple’s “walled garden” is but one of a myriad jailbreak attempts by users who want interface with their devices in ways frowned upon by the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

Posted by:
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.