AT&T expands FaceTime to individual iOS device users on LTE

Update: While AT&T claims that the move was to safeguard its delicate infrastructure, two public advocacy groups (Freepress, Public Knowledge) are claiming the FCC is looming large. Seth submits a third postulate: The iPad Mini LTE  launch later this month will present a chance for AT&T to grab new tablet customers and AT&T doesn’t want to lose out to competitors with friendlier offers.

AT&T just announced you could now use FaceTime over cellular at no extra charge on the iPhone 5 and LTE iPad if it is on one of the network’s tiered data plans. Today’s announcement opens up FaceTime over cellular to a slew of new customers.

AT&T today announced it will enable FaceTime over Cellular at no extra charge for iOS 6 customers with an LTE device on any tiered data plan.  AT&T will also continue to offer FaceTime over Cellular to customers with any AT&T Mobile Share plan, as well as FaceTime over Wi-Fi, which has always been available.

Previously, FaceTime on AT&T’s network was only available for free if a customer was on its new Mobile Share Plans that became available Aug. 23. AT&T said the new set of users would be able to access FaceTime for free over cellular in “8-10 weeks”:

We expect to roll out this functionality over the next 8-10 weeks. In addition, we are informing our deaf and hard of hearing customers that, as of October 26, we began rolling out several new billing plans designed to allow them to make use of FaceTime. This is part of our ongoing commitment to our customers with disabilities, and it’s a commitment which is very important to us.

As for the competition, Sprint already announced that it will not hinder FaceTime over cellular, and Verizon is being forced not to mess with it because of a Net Neutrality promise.

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Apple announces ‘fourth-generation iPad’, starting at $499

Apple has refreshed its third-generation iPad line today, as expected, with a semi-minor upgrade that includes a new Lightning connector, but the company also included some upgraded internals in what it is calling the “fourth-generation iPad.”

“It is a power house,” said Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller while on stage at the event.

The fourth-generation iPad features faster performance with dual-core A6X and quad-core graphics. It also has a 5-megapixel iSight camera, expanded LTE chipset, front-facing camera with FaceTime and 720p video capture, ultrafast two-times Wi-Fi, and Lightening connector.

Additional specs:

  • Next-generation ISP
  • Double CPU performance from A5x
  • Double graphic performance
  • 10-hour battery life
  • LTE support
  • Colors: black and white

This is the first time Apple has unveiled two versions of the 9.7-inch iPad in one year. The fourth-generation iPad is priced at $499 for the 16 GB model and $629 for the 16 GB model with 4G LTE.

Go to 9to5Mac’s full coverage of the fourth-generation iPad for more information about carrier options and the discontinuation of the third-generation iPad. 

An image gallery is below.

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Sprint and Verizon won’t support simultaneous voice and data on iPhone 5

Unlike Verizon’s lineup of LTE Android smartphones, we just confirmed with the carrier that the new iPhone 5 would not support simultaneous voice and data over its LTE network.

A Verizon spokesperson told us:

“The iPhone 5 was designed to allow customers to place a voice call on the Verizon Wireless network, while simultaneously letting customers access the Internet over the WiFi.”

We confirmed with AT&T, however, that the feature will work on its GSM model of the iPhone 5. AT&T told us:

“AT&T customers can talk and surf simultaneously on the new iPhone 5.”

We know Apple is shipping the same CDMA model iPhone 5 to both Sprint and Verizon, so it is probable that Sprint’s iPhone 5 will not support simultaneous voice and data as well.

Some Android devices do simultaneous voice and data on Verizon, so it is probably Apple’s baseband processor choice that led to the situation.

Update: According to the New York Times, the change is due to Apple. An Apple spokesperson explained:

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Report: Korean carriers in talks with Apple over LTE-equipped next-gen iPhone

While most are expecting Apple to include the rumored LTE connectivity in the upcoming next-gen iPhone, we get word from Korea Times today that Korean carriers SK Telecom and KT have revealed they are currently in talks with Apple to carry a new iPhone on their LTE networks:

SK Telecom and KT are in talks to offer long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity on Apple’s next handset, tentatively named the iPhone 5, officials from the companies said Wednesday…The two local telecom companies are authorized Korean partners to sell the American firm’s i-branded devices here. The smallest carrier LG Uplus is unable to sell Apple’s products as it doesn’t own a suitable frequency.

According to an official at KT, which is home to roughly 1.4 million users compared to SK Telecom’s 4 million LTE subscribers, the carrier is in talks “with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone.” Although it’s unclear exactly what type of negotiations might be taking place, we know the current third-gen LTE iPad supports only AT&T, Verizon, and a few Canadian carriers on 700 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands. If the talks are indeed to discuss launching an LTE iPhone with support for the 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands, it’s importnat to note that many other markets also operate over those bands including Australia and parts of Europe.
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AT&T activated 4.3M iPhones last quarter, over 78 percent of its smartphone activations

AT&T is still the “iPhone network,” according to numbers  from its quarterly earnings report. AT&T sold 5.5 million smartphones in the quarter, but 4.3 million of the smartphones activated were iPhones. That means the iPhone represented a whopping 78 percent of total smartphone sales (although some “iPhone activations” could have been hand me downs). Additionally, AT&T’s postpaid customers are almost 60 percent smartphone customers, which means AT&T’s iPhone customers represent a huge percentage of its base—nearly 5o percent and growing.

Verizon announced numbers last week including 3.2 million iPhones sold. While the iPhone is down significantly from the holiday quarter, it is up from 3.6 million activations in Q1 2011. Apple’s earnings will be reported at the end of the day today.

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Skype for iPad updated for Retina display, VGA front camera still 640×480

Skype for iPad got a Retina update this morning, meaning its icons and menus will not show pixelated fonts that will harm your new iPad Retina sensibilities. Unfortunately, the new iPad’s front-facing camera is still VGA, and we are pretty sure Skype is not pulling 2048-by-1500 pixel video feeds though your LTE connection just yet.

Still, it is exciting to see Skype updating for anything within months of release.

 

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New iPad users blowing by their monthly plan in hours thanks to LTE

While it is no secret that LTE devices are capable of burning through data quicker than their 3G counterparts burn, several reports claim many new iPad users are concerned about how quickly they are reaching their data cap. In some cases, users reported reaching their 2GB monthly cap within hours of just streaming video. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journalthatprofiled several disgruntled AT&T and Verizon customers, Apple’s “promise of superfast wireless connections collides with the reality of what those services cost.”

Doing some math that any consumer could: LTE speeds often hit 2 Megabytes/second. You would hit 2GB in 1000 seconds—or under 17 minutes.

One man profiled in the story, Brandon Wells, went through 2GB of his Verizon plan streaming March Madness college basketball games to his new iPad. WSJreports:

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5 reasons why the new iPad runs hotter than the old ones

CNET spoke with DisplayMate’s Raymond Soneira who offered a few reasons why the new iPad is a bit “toastier”…

  1. Twice the LEDs: That means more heat coming from more LEDs. This is especially a problem at full brightness.
  2. 2.5X the power needed: The brightness efficiency is lower, because the new iPad has more pixels (which means more transistors) compared to the iPad 2. More pixels and transistors take up more space, meaning less opportunity for light to pass. “So they basically have to blast light through the LCD to make it come out.” Soneira adds: “I measured the LED power at maximum brightness–it’s two and a half times greater than on the iPad 2.”
  3. Battery generates more juice: The battery has to push out more power. This makes the battery warmer.
  4. Traditional LCD technology: Sharp’s power-efficient IGZO technology was not ready for the new iPad, which forced Apple to use traditional —and less power efficient— amorphous silicon tech. [To be fair, the older iPads also used this tech. Perhaps Apple was hoping to go 100-percent IGZO to offset the above].

The biggest heater in the new iPad is the new processor that has four graphics cores. If you look at the heat maps Consumer Reports and Tweakers did, the center of the heat is right where that A5X sits on the left side of the device.

As a bonus, do not forget those hot and schweaty Qualcomm LTE chips that bring the “faster than home broadband” goodness directly to your 4G iPads.

With all the above said, it is a minor miracle Apple managed to keep temperatures within 10 degrees to 15 degrees of the earlier versions.

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Review: 24 hours with the new iPad…

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My new iPad came to my door while I was filming the long lines at New York’s Grand Central and 5th Avenue stores yesterday. I got home around 2 p.m., and I have since played with it almost non-stop. Here are my first impressions:

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Rumor wrap-up: Apple’s new iPad and 1080P Apple TV media event

In the weeks and months before Apple’s media events, the newswires are stormed by tons of reports about Apple’s upcoming announcements. Due to the frenzy, it is hard to keep track of who said what and when. Therefore, we are putting together the more notable calls and how those reports turned out:

We did this for the iPhone 4S in October 2011, and this is our Apple iPad and Apple TV media event rumor wrap-up:

What came true?

March 7 keynote: In early FebruaryAllThingsD called for an Apple iPad media event during the first week of March. At that time, we speculated a March 7 keynote due to the availability at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center (the location where Apple likes to hold these events) and Apple’s recent fondness for Wednesday events. iMore later outright reported on a March 7 third-generation iPad announcement.

Pre-orders and availability: The first clue at when Apple would publicly release the new iPad was when we broke the news that Apple would open a new store in London’s Harrods on March 16. In the days leading up to the event, our sources confirmed a March 16 launch in the United States and other countries, and these sources also pinpointed more international launches for the following Friday. In terms of pre-orders, we pinpointed a March 7 pre-order date for the new iPad.

The design: iLounge, which typically offers accurate Apple design information, perhaps because of its close relations with case manufacturers, was first to pinpoint an iPad 2-like design for the new iPad. It also said that this new design would be roughly half a millimeter thicker than the iPad 2′s design–which it is. In the weeks running up to the iPad’s announcement, The New York Times chimed in and said the design would be very similar to the iPad 2′s design.

Apple TV announcement: We first noticed shortages in the Apple TV supply chain on Feb 12. While some called the launch of an Apple TV at the iPad event ludicrous (30:00), “because it would take the focus away from the main attraction,” we broke the news that Apple would launch a new Apple TV model at the third-generation iPad event. At the time, we said that the new iPad would launch with a 1080P video service, and we pinpointed the device’s new Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities and J33 codename in the months’ prior. We also found Apple TV 3,1 references several months ago.

Siri Dictation: One of the notable features of the new iPad is its Siri Dictation support. It is a feature that allows users to dictate what they would like to type instead of using Apple’s touch-screen keyboard. In January, we broke the news that Siri Dictation would make its way to the new iPad thanks to some leftover strings in the early iOS 5.1 beta.

LTE: One of the most important upgrades in the new iPad is the new wireless system. Besides the new Bluetooth 4.0 and HSPA+ capabilities, the new LTE integration will do wonders for attachment loading, web browsing, and video watching. In August 2010, way before the “iPad 3″ rumors started running at full-force, we reported that Apple was field-testing iOS 5 devices with LTE chips. We also said that the next-generation iPad was a very likely candidate to be a LTE device. In January, Bloomberg reported that the new iPad would sport LTE connectivity, then WSJ, iMore, and Reuters each followed up in the weeks after. The morning of the iPad event, Mr. X “confirmed” that 4G iPads would be sold worldwide.

The cameras: Alongside the third-generation iPad casing leaks came speculation surrounding the new iPad’s cameras. With the hole being bigger for the camera lens in the case leaks, many figured the new iPad would sport either the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S camera. In the end, Apple merged the two ideas into what it is calling the “iSight” camera. As for the new iPad, this means the merging of the iPhone 4′s 5-megapixel shooter and the iPhone 4S’s advanced, custom optics system.

Retina Display: The Retina Display was perhaps the most rumored feature in the new iPad. After all, the 2,048-by-1, 536-resolution screen is the new iPad’s headline feature. Several news websites threw in their own sourcing for a Retina Display “iPad 3,” but it seems that the very first reports on a Retina Display iPad 3 (not iPad 2) came from analysts. The first major publication to confirm a Retina Display was the WSJ in August 2011, and MacRumors notably acquired a 2,048-by-1, 536 display in the weeks preceding Apple’s early March media event.

Pricing: We were able to report that new iPad prices would stay at the original iPad and iPad 2 price points ($499 to $829) a week before the event. We also said capacities would stay the same–which they did.

B82: We had all kinds of high-hopes for this $39 mystery accessory, but it turned out to be an updated Apple Digital AV Adapter (this)

Processor: The new iPad’s processor situation came to an atypical end. While reliable publications like Bloomberg and iMore claimed that the new iPad would include a quad-core processor, The Verge reported that it would stay dual core but would include better graphics performance. The result was actually a combination of the two: The new iPad sports an A5X processor with a dual-core processing unit, but it adds quad-core graphics. Confusion and situations involving “broken telephone” between sources and publications seems likely here, but do not worry… Apple is still working on that promised quad-core CPU.

What did not happen?

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T-Mobile CTO again: ‘Our 4G network will be compatible with the iPhone’

Officially from the T-Mobile Blog:

Will refarming make your network compatible with the iPhone? And will you stop offering 2G services?
A nice side benefit of the refarming effort is that our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone. The other important benefit of our network modernization effort is the coverage improvements it will deliver, especially when it comes to in-home coverage. As we refarm our 1900 spectrum, we will continue to fully support our customers with 2G devices.

The move is a result of the “re-farming spectrum” from the botched AT&T merger.

We are also going to make more effective use of the spectrum we already have by refarming a portion of our 1900 MHz PCS spectrum to support HSPA+ services, which frees up additional AWS spectrum for LTE. With the AT&T breakup spectrum factored in, T-Mobile will have sufficient spectrum to roll out LTE with 20MHz to about 75% of the top 25 markets in 2013. Most remaining markets will have 10MHz. Our course, we’d love to have more spectrum to further strengthen our position to compete in the marketplace.

T-Mobile executives told analysts as much last month, but this is the first official word on T-Mobile’s website. We are hearing that 3G iPhone owners on T-Mobile could start seeing access in areas like Philadelphia in a matter of weeks.

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