Apple outlines iOS 6 at WWDC, highlights Facebook integration

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Over at WWDC, Apple began to lay out the basics as to what to expect from its upcoming iOS 6 operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s iOS software chief, Scott Forstall, showed off some of the new features at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, including the ability to query Siri for sports scores, dinner reservations with OpenTable, and movie times via RottenTomatoes.

Siri can now also be used to launch Applications. Forstall demonstrated onstage asking the voice control software to play the game “Temple Run,” and it opened on the iPhone. Users can also post messages to Twitter by using their phone.

Language support for Siri has also been improved with Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and more.

When it launches this fall, iOS 6 will be compatible with the second- and third-generation iPads; the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S; and the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Facebook integration will also go system-wide with iOS 6. Much like with the existing Twitter integration, users simply log in to their Facebook account in the iOS settings application, and users can quickly post to their account or share music, applications or photos with their friends.

Facebook events and birthdays will also appear in the iOS calendar. Users will also be able to “like” applications on the App Store.

Enhancements have also been made to the native phone application in iOS. When declining a call, users are given the option to send a quick message to the person calling, or ask to be reminded later of the call. Quick messages are available to select such as “I’ll call you later” or “I’m on my way.”

Another addition called “Do Not Disturb” allows users to choose a set time range where notifications and alerts are silenced completely. This feature is customizable to allow calls from certain people to come through during those hours.

With iOS 6, users will also be able to make FaceTime video calls over cellular data networks, and are no longer required to be connected to Wi-Fi. The phone number and Apple ID have also been unified, so if someone sends a FaceTime request to a phone number, it can still be answered on an iPad or Mac.

Enhancements for Safari in iOS 6 include iCloud Tabs, which allows users to view and sync websites across a range of devices, as well as the ability to upload photos from directly within Safari on popular websites. Safari will also gain fullscreen support in landscape mode.

PhotoStream has also been enhanced with new sharing features that allow users to share specific pictures or entire albums with others. The social networking style serve will also let users comment on and like photos shared via PhotoStream.

And Mail for iOS will receive a new feature called VIPs, which allows users to specify people whose e-mails are of high priority. These flagged messages will show up in their own separate inbox.

Mail in iOS 6 also adds the ability to easily insert pictures and videos when composing a message, and users can also pull down on the app to refresh and check for messages.

The company also announced that its iOS 6 developer preview was now available as a 186 megabyte download, albeit this requires a developer account to log in and access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated MacBook Pro notebooks, adds Retina Display feature to higher-end models

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 14:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You may have gotten your wish.

Per AppleInsider, Apple delivered its long-awaited update of its MacBook Pro notebook on Monday, adding Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, as well as dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics on the 15-inch model.

The updated MacBook Pro is different from the next-generation MacBook Pro Apple unveiled on Monday, as the legacy model maintains the design of its predecessor, as well as the optical disc drive. But the hardware has been updated with new processors and better performance.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,280 by 800 display with options for a 2.5 gigahertz dual-core i5 processor, or a 2.9 gigahertz dual-core i7. The low-end model has a 500 gigabyte hard drive and 4 gigabytes of RAM for US$1,199, while the high-end model sports 8 gigabyte of RAM and a 750 gigabyte hard drive for US$1,499.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,440 by 900 pixel display, and both models feature Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics. The low-end model has 512 megabytes of graphics memory, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 500 gigabyte hard drive for $1,799. The high-end model has 1 gigabyte of graphics memory, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a 750 gigabyte hard drive for US$2,199.

For those with deeper pockets and a craving for Retina Display goodness, the company unveiled an all-new ultra-thin professional MacBook Pro with a high-resolution Retina display.

Unveiled on Monday by marketing head Phil Schiller at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the new MacBook Pro is as thin as the MacBook Air, at just 0.71 inches thick, Apple said. It’s also the lightest Pro ever, weighing under 4 and a half pounds.

The new model’s 15.4-inch display is said to boasts a resolution of 2,880 by 1,880 pixels which equates to a dense 220 pixels per inch, the highest of any laptop in the world Apple says. Like the iPhone and iPad before it, the new Retina Display has pixels so small that Apple says your eyes cannot discern them from a reasonable distance.

The screen has also been improved with deeper blacks and a higher angle of viewing. Glare has also been reduced by 75 percent, Schiller said.

In preparation of the Retina Display-toting MacBook Pro’s debut, Apple has updated a number of OS X apps including Mail, Safari, iMovie and iPhoto. Professional software like Aperture and Final Cut Pro also received performance bumps to take advantage of the screen’s high resolution.

Third-party apps are also being updated for the Retina display, as Apple showed Diablo III running on the device, and said that Autodesk is working on a new version of AutoCAD.


The next-generation MacBook Pro runs exclusively on Intel’s new Ivy Bridge quad-core Core i7 processors and can be configure with up to 16 gigabytes of RAM. Batteries have also been improved as the unit boasts up to 7 hours of life under normal load along with a MacBook Air-like 30 days of standby time.

As far as connectivity, the new machine features the usual SDXC card reader, but adds two high-speed USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, and HDMI-out. Due to the lack of an optical drive, Apple had space to include ports on both sides of the device and relocated the SDXC card slot and one USB port to the right of the keyboard flanking the HDMI-out connector. New Thunderbolt accessories announced on Monday give FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet capabilities to the new transfer technology.

On the audio/visual front, a new FaceTime HD 720p camera is joined by dual microphones, and are accompanied by what Schiller said are the best stereo speakers Apple has ever put into a notebook.

Rounding out the next-generation MacBook Pro’s feature set is a backlit keyboard, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The machine will also sport a new, smaller MagSafe charging port, which Apple has dubbed “MagSafe 2.”

Pricing for the next-generation 15.4-inch MacBook Pro starts at US$2,199 for a 2.3 gigahertz quad-core Core i7 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM. The most-affordable Retina Display laptop features 256 gigabytes of flash storage and the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The second-tier 2.6GHz model starts at US$2,799 which doubles the SSD size and grants buyers access to the fastest-available 2.7GHz Intel quad-core Core i7 chip.

Tech Specs:
- Height: 0.71 inch (1.8 cm)

- Width: 14.13 inches (35.89 cm)

- Depth: 9.73 inches (24.71 cm)

- Weight: 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg)

Display:
- Retina display: 15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2880-by-1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors

- Supported resolutions: 2880 by 1800 pixels (Retina); scaled resolutions: 1920 by 1200, 1680 by 1050, 1280 by 800, and 1024 by 640 pixels

Storage:
- All flash, 256GB in 2.3GHz model; 512GB or 768GB in 2.6GHz model.

Processor:
- 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with 6MB shared L3 cache (configurable to 2.7GHz)

Memory:
- 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory (configurable to 16GB)

Graphics:
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 with discreet NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching

Video Support and Camera:
- 720p FaceTime HD camera

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, at millions of colors

- Thunderbolt digital video output

- Native Mini DisplayPort output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

Connections and Expansion:
- MagSafe 2 power port

- Two Thunderbolt ports (up to 10 Gbps)

- Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)

- HDMI port

- Headphone port

- SDXC card slot

- Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

- Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter (sold separately, available July)

Wireless:
- 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Dual microphones

- Headphone port

- Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone

- Support for audio line out

Battery and Power:
- Up to 7 hours wireless web

- Up to 30 days standby time

- Built-in 95-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter with cable management system; MagSafe 2 power port

Electrical and Operating Requirements
- Line voltage: 100V to 240V AC

- Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz

- Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)

- Storage temperature: –13° to 113° F (–24° to 45° C)

- Relative humidity: 0% to 90% noncondensing

- Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet

- Maximum storage altitude: 15,000 feet

- Maximum shipping altitude: 35,000 feet

In the Box:
- MacBook Pro with Retina display

- 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter, AC wall plug, and power cord

- Printed and electronic documentation

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T CEO states data-only plans could become “inevitable” with next 24 months

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 13:20
Category: iPhone, News

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One day, AT&T will provide something for everyone.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple’s iMessage.

Speaking at an investors conference, Stephenson said that while AT&T had no plans in place to offer an all-data subscription model, the industry is trending in that direction as smartphones continue to gain popularity led by Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android mobile operating system, reports the Associated Press.

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” Stephenson said. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Under a data-centric plan users would have to use VoIP solutions like Skype to hold voice conversations, changing Internet calling into a necessity rather than an option to save on billed minutes. The switch would also be disruptive to the installed system in which telecoms monetize voice calls by charging each other to connect to cellphone numbers. This is one of the reasons why voice and data charges are billed separately.

Stephenson recently bemoaned AT&T’s decision to offer unlimited data with the original iPhone and iPad, adding that Apple’s iMessage is also a source of concern because it takes away from the company’s texting revenue.

While it may seem ironic that texting is quickly moving the industry away from voice technology toward a style of communication seen in pagers during the 1990′s, the reality is that modern data exchanges offer a much richer and more immediate experience than their obsolescent counterparts. Smartphones give users the ability to be in constant contact with each other, and new data-driven apps like Sounder literally keep an open connection to friends and peers.

As telecoms move to 4G LTE, an increasing amount of consumers will use an increasing amount of limited bandwidth which could force carriers to raise prices or find alternative solutions.

For now, AT&T is hoping to introduce a shared data plan similar to how the company offers shared voice plans for families. The initiative is a long time coming and the carrier has been “working on it” for over a year, presumably to find a way to implement such a service without losing profits.

With shared data plans essentially representing a discount for users that would normally buy separate plans for each device they owned, the prospect of the pricing structure would seemingly be damaging to telecoms’ bottom lines. Stephenson pointed out that AT&T is looking to make more money from shared data, not less.

When you have millions of devices such as tablets that lack cellular data plans, Stephenson said, “it seems to me it’s a lift, not a deterioration” to get them connected. The chief executive is referring to users who may not be using the cellular capabilities of their iPads or other tablets and are instead operating solely on Wi-Fi.

To make data plan pricing more attractive to consumers Stephenson noted that the wireless industry will experiment with charging content providers for the data used to access their websites in a type of “800 toll-free number” system. Critics say this would give the upper hand to well-established companies that can afford to pay the instituted subsidy and squelch competition from cash-poor startups. The experiment will likely start within the year, though it is unknown which carriers will be taking part in the initiative.

“It’s not us going out and mandating this. The content guys are coming in asking for it,” Stephenson said. “If you don’t allow those kinds of models to flourish, you’re going to inhibit the potential of these services.”

Something for everyone somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Matrox releases DS1, allows Thunderbolt-equipped Macs and PC notebooks desktop range of ports

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Peripheral

You can’t knock a good peripheral device.

Per AppleInsider, Matrox on Sunday unveiled its new DS1 Thunderbolt docking station, which allows users to add multiple peripherals like an HDMI display, a full-size keyboard and a mouse to a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac or PC and will be available this September for US$249.

The DS1 also includes a gigabit Ethernet port that provides connectivity to wired corporate networks at data transfers 18 times faster than Wi-Fi. In addition, it has a high-speed USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a microphone input, and a speaker/headphone output, all of which can connect to a Thunderbolt MacBook or Ultrabook with just one cable.



The Matrox DS1 will be showcased at the Computex Taipei 2012 event at Intel’s official booth, located at M0410 in the NanGang Exhibition Hall.

Also set to arrive in September is Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock, which was announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. It will also turn a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac into a full-fledged desktop workstation with an HDMI port, FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5-millimeter audio port, one gigabit Ethernet port, and two Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining to another Thunderbolt device.

Apple also offers the Thunderbolt Display, which lets users plug in one 10Gbps Thunderbolt cable to drive a monitor, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

China regulatory officials approve sale of 3G third-generation iPad

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 12:26
Category: iPad, News

Give it time and the regulators will eventually say yes…

Per MarketWatch, regulators in China have approved the 3G version of Apple’s third-generation iPad for sale in that market, signaling that the new iPad could soon become available in another major market.

The approval of the new iPad model compatible with the China Unicom 3G network was noted on Wednesday, China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center giving Apple the OK to begin selling its latest iPad with model number “A1430.”

The arrival of the new iPad in China is an important event for Apple, as the nation of over a billion people has become the second-largest market in the world for the company, behind the U.S. The new iPad is already available for sale in most developed countries around the world.

Wednesday’s report suggested the slow release in China could be a result of an ongoing trademark dispute between Apple and Proview, a company that is the original owner of the “iPAD” name in China. Lawsuits from Proview’s Shenzehen-based operation have accused Apple of acting “with oppression, fraud and/or malice” when it used a U.K.-based proxy company named IP Application Development, Ltd., to buy the rights to the “iPAD” name.

Regulatory approval for the Wi-Fi-only version of the new iPad was granted by the proper authorities in late March. However, that device has yet to go on sale in China.

Outside of mainland China, Hong Kong was one of ten places the new iPad went on sale when it launched on March 16. It joined the U.S, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Last year, the iPad 2 saw a much quicker debut in China, launching there on May 6, 2011. The launch of the iPad 2 drew large crowds, as well as scalpers who offered to resell the device for a markup of 200 yuan, or US$30 U.S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS messaging hints at prospect of FaceTime over 3G connections

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 12:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

Because FaceTime should be on just about every type of connection, no matter what the throughput.

Per Romanian website iDevice, warnings contained in the latest version of iOS suggest that Apple plans to bring support for 3G wireless data connections to its FaceTime video chat feature.

When a FaceTime call is active over Wi-Fi on an iPhone running iOS 5.1.1, and a user turns off the “Enable 3G” option in the Settings application, the operating system presents users with a warning message: “Disabling 3G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 3G?”

Despite the warning, FaceTime video calls will continue over Wi-Fi uninterrupted, even after 3G has been turned off or on, which has suggested to some that Apple is planning to bring 3G support to FaceTime.

Tests have confirmed that the warning message does, in fact, display when the iPhone’s 3G is disabled during a FaceTime call. In addition, iOS also displays another message when a user attempts to turn 3G back on: “Enabling 3G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 3G?” Neither enabling or disabling 3G interrupted any FaceTime calls.

Apple first introduced FaceTime video chat in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4. Since then, it has been brought to the Mac, and the addition of forward-facing cameras to the iPod touch and iPad have also allowed FaceTime with those iOS-based devices.

Since its launch, FaceTime has only been available to use over Wi-Fi. Users who attempt to connect a FaceTime call over 3G are met with an error message telling them the service is not available.

When he introduced FaceTime in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs explained that the video chat feature was not available over wireless cellular networks at the request of mobile carriers. Jobs said that Apple needed to “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of offering FaceTime over 3G.

If Apple does enable FaceTime over 3G, it’s possible that some carriers could opt to block or restrict the functionality on their own networks. For example, though tethering was enabled on the iPhone with iOS 3.0, U.S. carrier AT&T blocked the feature until a year later, with the release of iOS 4.0.

If you’ve seen the warning on your end, please let us know and we’ll have additional details as they become available.

Security hole found in FileVault under Mac OS X 10.7.3

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 06:04
Category: News, security, Software

Ok, this isn’t the best news in the world…

Per Crytome, Apple’s legacy FileVault Mac encryption system in OS X 10.7.3 has a security flaw that could allow malicious users to access stored passwords. According to the post, the issue only applies in specific configurations to users who have updated to OS X 10.7.3, in which a system-wide debug file that displays login passwords in plain text is created.

“Thus anyone who can read files accessible to group admin can discover the login passwords of any users of legacy (pre LION) Filevault home directories who have logged in since the upgrade to 10.7.3 in early February 2012,” Emery explained.

The login data can also be viewed by booting a Mac into FireWire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk. The information can also be accessed by booting the Lion recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition.

Users can protect themselves from these methods by using the whole disk encryption capabilities of FileVault 2. Emery explained that this requires that a user know at least one login password before they can access the main partition of the disk.

Further protection can be achieved by setting a firmware password that must be supplied before a user can boot the recover partition or external media, or enter firewire disk mode.

“Having the password logged in the clear in an admin readable file *COMPLETELY* breaks a security model — not uncommon in families — where different users of a particular machine are isolated from each other and cannot access each others’ files or login as each other with some degree of assurance of security,” Emery wrote.

The bug was introduced with Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update, which was issued in early February. The latest version of Lion came with Wi-Fi connectivity fixes and Windows file sharing compatibility.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-gen iPad shipping times drop to 3 to 5 business days

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Date: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, 09:40
Category: iPad, News

It never hurts to meet demand for your product.

Per AppleInsider, estimated shipping times for the third-generation iPad have been lowered to 3 to 5 business days over in Apple’s online store.

New orders of the third-generation iPad in both black and white, in all capacities, and also in the “Wi-Fi + 4G” models are now advertised to ship in less than a week in the U.S. It’s the second time in less than a month that estimated shipping times have improved for the new iPad.

Just weeks ago, shipping times shortened to 5 to 7 days, an improvement from the previous advertised shipments of one to two weeks.

Apple revealed last week that it sold 11.8 million iPads in the March quarter, a three-months pan during which the new iPad was only available for a few weeks. During his company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed that the company faced supply constraints with the new iPad.

“The new iPad was supply constrained last quarter for the first three or so weeks that it was shipping, and it is still constrained,” Cook said. He added that he expected the company would be able to supply “a significant number of iPads” in the current June quarter.

Limited availability of the new iPad is believed to be largely caused by constraints related to the new high-resolution Retina display. The screen, the defining feature of the third-generation iPad, has primarily been built by Samsung, while LG and Sharp were said to have had trouble building Retina displays initially.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-generation iPad to arrive in 12 additional countries this Friday

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Date: Monday, April 16th, 2012, 10:54
Category: iPad, News

There’s only a few certainties in this world. Death and taxes are the discouraging ones, but the likelihood of the iPad 3 arriving in your country is the third (and more upbeat) one.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will launch its new third-generation iPad in a total of 12 countries this Friday, April 20, while even more countries, including India, will get the new iPad a week later.

The full list of countries where the new iPad will debut this Friday is Brunei, Croatia, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia, Panama, South Korea, St. Maarten, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In addition, a week later, on Friday, April 27, the new iPad will also become available in Colombia, Estonia, India, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, South Africa, and Thailand.

The new iPad will be available starting at a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only model. Apple will also sell the 16-gigabite Wi-Fi iPad 2 for US$399.

The new iPad also comes available in a model with 4G LTE high-speed wireless Internet. However, customers in the latest launch countries will be restricted to slower 3G speeds, as the new iPad is only compatible with 4G LTE networks in the U.S. and Canada.

The third-generation iPad has seen the fastest international roll-out of any Apple product ever. It originally debuted in mid-March in the U.S. and nine other countries, while an additional 25 countries and territories gained the new iPad just a week later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple insists iPad 3 battery functions as designed, disputes charging analysis claims

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Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012, 05:43
Category: iPad, News

This may be someone’s fault, but Apple insists everything’s hunky dory.

Concerns about the iPad’s battery arose last week when an analysis was publicized claiming that the new iPad “prematurely” reports that it is fully charged by two hours. Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate claimed that the iPad actually finished its charging cycle some two hours after it reports a full charge.

That’s by design, Apple’s Michael Tchao said to All Things D on Tuesday. All iOS devices, including the new iPad, will display that they are 100 percent charged just before the device reaches a fully charged state. The device will then continue charging, then discharge a bit, and recharge once again — a cycle that will continue until the device is unplugged.

“That circuitry is designed so you can keep your device plugged in as long as you would like,” Tchao said. “it’s a great feature that’s always been in iOS.”

Apple’s battery percentage display is simplified so that users are not confused by the constant cycle of charging and discharging while a device is plugged in. But Apple’s approach allows all of its iOS devices to maximize their potential battery life.

Apple has boasted that the new iPad offers the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, even with the inclusion of a new quad-core graphics processor and 3.1-million pixel Retina Display. The new high-speed 4G LTE model also offers 9 hours of battery life when using a wireless network.

In particular, the Verizon model of the new 4G LTE iPad can serve as a mobile hotspot for more than 24 hours when sharing a high-speed data connection with external devices over Wi-Fi. That’s upwards of five times longer than most standalone 4G LTE hotspots.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.