I’m back! Did you miss me? Reviewing last week.

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 21st, 2014, 08:37
Category: Apple, Article, Consumer Electronics, Google, News, Opinion

newspaperI was sick for most of last week, which accounted for the crickets you might of heard when you loaded up the PowerPage. While I get back up to speed on all the current tech news, I thought I’d provide a short list of key articles from last week by other tech sites to get you caught up in case you missed them.

Target data hack only the beginning of massive, sophisticated attack – BGR.com

This is one story that hit close to home. Because of the breach, my credit card company is reissuing my credit card with a new account number which means I get to spend a day or so updating ALL of my automatic billing accounts. Have you noticed this sort of thing seems to be happening more frequently lately? Frankly, I’m starting to consider switching to stuffing my mattress with cash.

Google’s smart contact lens tracks glucose levels for diabetics – AppleInsider.com

Wow, Google really wants to do do stuff with your eyes. While I applaud the clever idea of “always on” monitoring of glucose levels, I have to question why this tech needs to be stuck in your eye. While tears can provide this information, blood is actually the better source for it. Current glucose meters already require regular calibration and a margin of error, partly due to variations in blood. How are you going to do this with a contact lens? And how do you account for the many people who can’t or won’t wear contact lenses, and adding prescriptions to them for people who do wear them? Wouldn’t it be better to have a sensor imbedded under the skin, that anyone could use and didn’t have to be constantly cleaned, removed, replaced, etc.? Eyes are already responsible for a lot of data, do we need to be sticking more things in them?!

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules – MacObserver.com

If you aren’t familiar with the battle for net neutrality, you should start educating yourself because this won’t go away for some time, and if people aren’t paying attention, they could just get royally screwed by large corporations that are fighting it. The “net” part refers to the Internet and in a nutshell, without net neutrality, everything you do on the internet (which IS practically everything) will cost you more, especially your connection to it. This ruling is kind of a drop in the bucket, but it is a minor setback in the fight to maintain neutrality and keep the greedy profit-seeking providers from gouging everyone just to watch a movie or read an email.

Beware of this Apple ID phishing scam – TUAW.com

I think people on the whole have been getting better about detecting phishing scams, where unscrupulous types attempt to sucker innocent people into willingly handing over their account information by posing as an email from a service they use. Now someone is trying this with an email that looks like a security warning from Apple. Read the details in the article and remember to ALWAYS be cautious with these kinds of requests and make sure the messages are actually coming from where they say they are.

Box overhauls iOS apps and offers 50GB of free storage for life – Macworld.com

Now THIS is a hot tip, and one I took advantage of myself. I’ve had a Box account for some time, but never really used it because the default, free account only provided 5 GB of storage and I have quite a bit more available to me over at their competitor, Dropbox (Oooo…I should write an article about how I did that.). Also, at the time, Box wasn’t as slick and well integrated with the Mac and iDevices as Dropbox. Well, now Box is throwing down the gauntlet and offering 50 GB of storage to users that create (or have) an account and download the iPhone and/or iPad apps, for the next 3 weeks or so at least. Plus, the new iApps have been overhauled and look pretty spiffy. I won’t give up Dropbox, but I’m sure going to find a use for that 50 GB. Can you say “online backup”?

Google acquires smart thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion in cash, Father of iPod now Google employee – 9to5Mac.com

This was kind of a surprise, but with wearable computing and home automation being the hot topics at CES this year, it seems to make sense. Perhaps I’m more surprised Apple didn’t acquire them given its pedigree and Apple-like design. While I was kind of disappointed to see another successful company swallowed up by a big fish, I wasn’t as paranoid as a lot of people who felt the proper response was to rip the device off the wall and put it on CraigsList. This one’s a two-fer since it’s a perfect lead in for Apple marketing chief Schiller unfollows Nest & Tony Fadell on Twitter following Google deal.

Apple introduces Retina iPad mini, aims for November release date

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 00:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, News

Now THIS is the thing you’ve been hankering for.

Per Macworld, Apple announced a new iPad mini with Retina display at its press event on Tuesday, the company also lowering prices for the original iPad mini, giving its smaller tablet much-anticipated upgrades to its screen, processor, cameras, and more.

As hoped and expected—the new iPad mini with Retina display ups the screen resolution to Retina quality, going from 1024 by 768 pixels to 2048 by 1536 pixels at the same 7.9-inch (diagonal) screen size. This change raises the iPad mini’s pixel density from 163 pixels per inch to 326 pixels per inch—a density almost identical to that of the iPhone 5s.


ipadminiretina

The new mini gets some upgrades on the inside, as well. Whereas the original mini used the same dual-core A5 processor, at the same clock speed, as the two-and-a-half-year-old iPad 2, the new mini line bumps its horsepower significantly by using Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor, similar to the one in the iPhone 5s. During Tuesday’s media event, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said that the new processor makes the Retina iPad mini up to four times as fast as its predecessor for processor-intensive tasks, and up to eight times faster for graphics-intensive tasks. Like the new full-size iPad, the iPad mini with Retina display also features Apple’s M7 motion coprocessor, which can monitor the device’s various motion sensors (accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope) without having to wake the main processor.

The new mini also gains upgraded wireless capabilities thanks to dual Wi-Fi antennas and support for MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. Apple says this change allows the new iPad mini to communicate at up to twice the bandwidth: 300 MBps (megabytes per second). The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad mini also include expanded LTE capabilities, allowing them to work on more LTE networks around the world.

Apple has also upgraded the iPad mini’s cameras slightly. Though the resolution of those cameras hasn’t changed (5 megapixels for the rear camera, 1.2 megapixels for the front FaceTime HD camera), the company says the new iPad mini gains larger pixels and improved backside illumination sensors in order to take better low-light photos. In addition, the improved image-signal processing of the A7 processor should provide better overall camera performance.

Apple says the new iPad mini with Retina display offers the same 10-hour battery life as the original iPad mini. However, it appears that accomplishing this feat while adding the additional power drain of a Retina display required Apple to increase—ever so slightly—the size and weight of the new iPad mini. The new version is exactly the same height (200mm) and width (134.7mm) as the original, but it’s a tiny big thicker (7.5mm compared to 7.2mm) and a little bit heavier: 331 grams versus 308 grams for the Wi-Fi model, and 341 grams versus 312 grams for the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.

The iPad mini with Retina display will be available in silver/white or Space Gray/black “later in November,” according to Apple. The Wi-Fi versions will retail for US$399 for 16GB, US$499 for 32GB, US$599 for 64GB, and US$699 for 128GB—a first in that capacity for the iPad mini. Cellular versions add US$130 to each: US$529, US$629, US$729, and US$829, respectively.

By all accounts, the original iPad mini has been a big hit for Apple, even though other small tablets, such as the latest Nexus 7, have debuted with better specs or lower prices. The new iPad mini line should blunt some of that spec-sheet-based criticism.

Along with the new iPad mini units, the company is keeping the original iPad mini around—in a single configuration—as a lower-price option. Specifically, the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad mini is now priced at US$299, rather than its original price of US$329, with the Wi-Fi + Cellular version at US$429. The cellular version is available for the U.S. networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Apple did make one minor change to the original iPad mini: It’s now available in Space Gray or Silver, rather than the original black or white. It is available now.

Both iPad mini versions (Retina and non-Retina) ship with iOS 7 installed, and—as with all devices running iOS 7—allow you to download Apple’s iLife and iWork suites for iOS free of charge.

Finally, Apple announced new cases for its new Retina iPad mini. The new iPad mini Smart Cover, made of polyurethane, will sell for US$39. A new leather iPad Smart Case will cost US$69.

As always, let us know what you make of this and if Apple delivered what you wanted or if improvements could be made.

Gold iPhone 5s sells out via Online Apple Store, other iPhone 5s, 5c models show varying availability

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:02
Category: iPhone, News, retail

eliphone5s

Sometimes you don’t know how popular a product model is going to be.

Per The Mac Observer, the Online Apple Store quickly ran through its gold iPhone 5s inventory for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the first half hour of availability Friday morning. T-Mobile’s contract-free gold iPhone models are still showing shipping estimates of 1-3 days.

This means the gold iPhone 5s is either the most popular model or the model with the least availability.

You might remember that the gold and white model was initially met with disdainful criticism by tech bloggers, who labeled it a terrible mistake and a sure sign of Apple’s downfall when it was leaked.

Within minutes of being available for order online, however, it was the gold one whose shipping estimates slipped the fastest. In 26 minutes, gold models for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon were all listed as “October.” T-Mobile’s contract-free models were still showing 1-3 days.

Most space gray (the new black) and silver (the new white) models are still showing shipping availability in 1-3 days as of this writing, though the 64GB model on AT&T quickly slipped to 7-10 days.

Apple began taking orders for the iPhone 5s at 12:01 AM PST, and customers can also wait in line at their nearest Apple Store and some third party retailers, with Apple’s retail stores opening at 8:00 AM local across the country.

Carriers have reported having “grotesquely low” inventory of all models, with inventory of anything but space gray being particularly light.

So…if you want the gold iPhone 5s, you’re out of luck for a bit. If you’re comfortable with the other colors, you’re in better shape.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sources call iPhone 5s/5c inventory available via wireless carriers “grotesquely low” for September 20th launch

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013, 07:25
Category: News, retail, Software

eliphone5s

This might not be the best indication for the upcoming iPhone 5s/5c launch.

Per AllThingsD, sources from U.S. wireless carriers on Tuesday stated that carriers are facing “grotesquely” low inventory for the device’s launch. Sales of Apple’s next flagship handset will begin online Friday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific, while Apple’s retail stores will begin selling the iPhone 5s when they open at 8 a.m. local time.

Tuesday’s report also revealed that carriers may be seeing less demand for the iPhone 5s than expected. That’s attributed to the new mid-range, multi-colored iPhone 5c, which may be proving more popular than some had anticipated.

It’s unknown whether Apple is holding the majority of inventory for its own retail stores, or whether the new handset will be spread thin between Apple itself and its carrier partners. Regardless, Apple is not accepting preorders for the iPhone 5s ahead of Friday’s launch, a fact that had already suggested to many observers that supply will be limited this weekend.

Preorders for the iPhone 5c did begin last week, and carrier-subsidized models appear to remain in healthy supply from Apple’s online store. The new iPhone 5c features many of the same components as last year’s iPhone 5, but sports a new polycarbonate back that is available in five colors: green, blue, yellow, red and white.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed last month that the iPhone 5c would out-ship the iPhone 5s in the current quarter. According to Kuo, the iPhone 5s has faced apparent production issues associated with the new Touch ID fingerprint scanner located under the home button.

Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are launching on all four major U.S. carriers this Friday: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. The devices will also be available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Walmart to begin pre-orders on Friday, will offer the iPhone 5c for $79, the iPhone 5s for $189

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 12th, 2013, 08:30
Category: iPhone, News, retail

In spite of how you might feel about Walmart, they’ll have the upcoming iPhone 5s and 5c available for pre-order.

Per 9to5Mac, Walmart has announced that it will be offering both of the new iPhone models in their 16Gb versions, the 5c at US$79 (a US$20 savings) and the 5s at US$189 (a US$10 savings). Walmart offers the phones on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

What’s interesting here is that Apple Stores usually do price matching so it might be worth a try after waiting on line on launch day. Best Buy will also price match often, so this could trigger markdowns all over.

Pre-orders for the 5c start tomorrow, with pickup available from September 20th. Apple is not making the iPhone 5s available on pre-order, however, so you’ll need to wait until the 20th to order yours.

While the original iPhone 5 is still showing up online at US$98, it’s said that it will be available in-store for US$79: the same price as the 5c. The 4s price is also said to be coming down from US$39 to 99 cents.

iPhone 5c to be available for pre-order on Friday, September 13th at 12:01 A.M. PST

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 12th, 2013, 07:58
Category: News

If you want an iPhone 5c, pre-orders will be open come the 13th.

If you want an iPhone 5s, prepare to stand in line.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, wireless carriers Verizon and Sprint have both announced that pre-orders for the new iPhone 5c will begin at 12:01 a.m. PST/3 a.m. EST On Friday, September 13th. On its launch, Apple announced the iPhone 5c would begin pre-order sales on the 13th, but it has yet to announce a time those pre-orders will begin. With the announcement from Sprint and Verizon, it’s very likely that pre-orders of the device will begin at the same time from Apple and all other major carriers.


iphone5c

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5c will commence outside of the United States on September 13th as well in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK, though it’s not clear yet what time the pre-orders will go live in those countries. Interestingly, the iPhone 5c is the only model of the iPhone made available to pre-order this year. The new iPhone 5s will forego pre-orders and instead go directly on sale on September 20th.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint announces NYC rollout, will activate LTE network on July 30th

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 12:40
Category: iPhone, News, wireless

The good, speedy Sprint stuff is coming to New York City.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Sprint has begun rolling out LTE service for parts of New York City, including the Bronx and Brooklyn. Sprint says it will flip the switch for those areas on July 30.

Sprint has been way behind AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in rolling out high speed LTE services. There is currently some coverage in Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island, although there has been no official start date announced.

New York City is the most populated city in America, and implementing new cell service is difficult due to interference from tall buildings and finding locations for hardware. Not to mention the number of users fighting for bandwidth on those towers. In the last 6 months, Sprint has added 12 new towers in the New York City area, and 906 data speed upgrades.

Sprint says it has 110 4G markets, and New York City will make 111. Sprint is also working on cell service in all 277 subway stations, beginning with 36 stations it hopes to have up and running in early 2014. AT&T and T-Mobile already offer cellular connections in select underground locations. Verizon and Sprint are signed up with Transit Wireless for the underground connectivity.

Sprint was the 3rd U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone, signing on with Apple in October of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon follows trend, announces Edge smartphone upgrade program

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News, retail

verizonlogo.jpg

If you’re a Verizon aficionado, this isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Per AppleInsider, in response to similar offerings from rivals AT&T and T-Mobile, Verizon on Thursday unveiled its new Edge smartphone upgrade program, offering subscribers the ability to upgrade to a new handset after six months.

Verizon Edge is pitched as a “flexible equipment payment plan,” allowing customers to spread the retail price of a new phone over a 24-month period. If users pay 50 percent of the retail cost of their smartphone, they can upgrade to a new phone in as soon as six months.

The new program is available for any smartphone that Verizon offers, including Apple’s iPhone lineup. Customers choose the phone they want along with a month-to-month service plan.

The full retail price of the handset is then divided over two years. Customers pay the first month of that plan at the time of purchase.

When a customer upgrades to a new phone after six months, the 24-month payment period starts over again. Verizon Edge, which launches for Share Everything customers on August 25, does not include any service contracts, finance charges or upgrade fees.

The announcement comes only a few days after Verizon’s main rival, AT&T, announced its own similar plan, dubbed Next. With AT&T Next, customers can upgrade their smartphone or tablet every 12 months with no down payment and no activation or upgrade fees.

Starting July 26, AT&T will allow customers to spread the cost of a new smartphone or tablet over a 20-month period as part of their monthly wireless bill. Subscribers will have the option to trade in their device and upgrade to a new model after one year.

Both AT&T and Verizon followed in the steps of T-Mobile, which unveiled its own program called Jump last week. That service allows customers to upgrade their smartphone as often as two times per year at an added cost of US$10 per month.

T-Mobile Jump allows customers to pay the same subsidized price for a new smartphone as a new customer. Subscribers are required to wait at least six months after enrollment, after which they will be able to trade in their phone and upgrade to a new model twice a year.

Verizon’s announcement on Thursday leaves out only Sprint as the only carrier among the “big four” wireless providers in the U.S. that does not offer an early upgrade subscription program.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Developer locates data speed-throttling code in iOS for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 6th, 2013, 06:49
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

You might not like this.

Per Joseph Brown’s iTweakiOS and Cult of Mac, specialized code exists on iPhones and iPads operating on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, which limits the devices’ network settings to effectively caps data bandwidth.

Brown took snapshots of the iOS code managing the three carriers’ network settings as applied to an iPhone 5, all of which appear to hamstring the handset’s cellular data capabilities. For example, an AT&T iPhone 5 was limited to HSDPA “Category 10,” which tops out at 14.4Mbps. The second-largest U.S. carrier’s network is capable of supporting up to HSDPA+ speeds that reach 21.1Mbps.

As for Verizon, Brown found throttling code on the telecom’s versions of the iPhone and iPad relating to its 4G LTE network. Sprint, it seems, does not have such limitations enabled for its high-speed data offerings. Apple devices running on the 3G networks owned by both Verizon and Sprint, however, are also affected by similar limitations.

Because Apple is in complete control of the code running all of its devices, it can be posited that the company instituted the bandwidth caps at the behest of its partner carriers.

“[…] from previous statements released by AT&T and many tech orginizations [sic], iPhones are very complex devices with a very complex OS,” Brown writes. “The OS eats much more data, even when in idle mode, than most phones on the market. So by carrier request, Apple limits devices to ‘even out’ the network, even if it means Galaxy users out perform Apple devices by such large scales.”

In his testing, Brown did not find evidence of throttling on devices operating on T-Mobile’s network.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

ESPN expresses interest in subsidizing mobile data plans, looks to keep users watching streaming video

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 10th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, iPhone, News

espn_logo_887

ESPN wants you watching streaming video, even if they have to pick up part of the check…

Per the Wall Street Journal and AppleInsider, cable sports network ESPN has expressed interest in potentially subsidizing those data plans to allow users to stream video without worrying about overage fees.

ESPN has allegedly had discussions with at least one major U.S. carrier about the plan. The two largest carriers in America, Verizon and AT&T, both carry the iPhone and both restrict new customers with capped data plans.

The concept proposed by ESPN could guarantee that content streamed from the network would not result in data plan overage charges. The network has reportedly expressed interest in either paying carriers outright, or giving them a share of advertising revenue.

But the alleged deal isn’t imminent, the report said, as questions remain about the economics, and the fact that any agreements could run afoul of government regulators.

Carriers such as Verizon and AT&T are said to be interested in content deals as a way of increasing revenue without raising fees for subscribers.

ESPN has aggressively pursued mobile streaming capabilities as smartphones and tablets have gained in popularity. The network’s WatchESPN application allows users with participating cable subscribers to stream live sporting events from the ESPN family of networks.

Content available on WatchESPN includes the NBA regular season and playoffs, major golf tournaments like The Masters and U.S. Open, college football and basketball, and thousands of other live events. The service also streams original ESPN shows like SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, and Mike and Mike in the Morning.

But smartphone users might be reluctant to use live streaming video services like WatchESPN on the go because of restrictive mobile data plan caps in place via wireless carriers. Both Verizon and AT&T charge customers a US$15 fee for each gigabyte consumed in excess of their data plan cap.

Watching low-quality video for one hour uses about 200 megabytes of data. For an hour of high-definition video, a user might expect to see 400 megabytes of usage on their mobile data plan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.