iOS 7 How-to: Make FaceTime Audio calls and check how much data they use

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 11.14.50 AM

New in iOS 7 is the ability to make FaceTime Audio calls. FaceTime Audio works internationally and works on a Wi-fi network, or on a cellular connection. Using Facetime Audio sounds nicer than actually using the iPhone to make calls. FaceTime Audio sounds deep, and closer to the actual sound of the voice. Another benefit of using FaceTime Audio is that it is associated with your Apple ID and phone number and is built right into the core operating system. For example, while you are texting someone, and you want to make a FaceTime Audio call, you can press the Contact button in blue in the upper right hand corner:

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Developer claims Apple is throttling iPhone/iPad data speeds on AT&T, Sprint, & Verizon (updated)

Update: a person in the know has pointed out a few problems with Brown’s post:

  1. It was taken down and is currently down.
  2. If you look at one of the lines of Apple’s code that he uses to allege throttling, it doesn’t even have anything to do with throttling internet speed. It’s just the term, used to talk about how often a phone should ping the network when it doesn’t encounter a signal, or something like that.
  3. AnandTech posted a lengthy article explaining why it just isn’t true.

test-drive-t-mobile

Joseph Brown, the developer behind the hacked carrier updates floating around for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, just posted a lengthy blog post detailing how he claims “Apple limits devices to even out” the networks of its carrier partners. Specifically, Brown says that Apple is limiting the iPhone 5 to Category 10 (14.4Mbps) HSDPA despite the device’s support for category 24 (42.2Mbps) DC-HSDPA+ and the AT&T network supporting up to Category 14 (21.1Mbps) HSDPA+:

Here we can see what is quite obvious to, really, anyone at this point from being jerked around so much by carriers. Yes folks, this is throttling coding. When we made the AT&T Hacked Carrier Update, this was the first line of coding to be scrapped when the project started. Immediately, through my testing on an AT&T iPhone 5 and iPad 4th generation, there were significant and noticeable results. There is no argueing or disputing that this is clear evidence you are purposely, 24/7, being throttled, even if you haven’t used more data than your authorized to use or that you’ve purchased with your hard earned money. AT&T users, do you think this is fair?

The theory is that Apple limits the capabilities of the device in order to combat the large amount of data/bandwidth iOS device users consume and ease congestion on carrier networks. Brown found signs of throttling data speeds for Verizon and Sprint too. The only carrier that is apparently not limiting the iPhone 5’s capabilities is T-Mobile.

Brown also says “Apple has band preferences set for T-Mobile and AT&T causing signal issues” that could be easily fixed.

Here’s what Brown found in his analysis of the other carriers: Read more

German court rules Apple sharing customer data violates privacy laws

location-based-services

From Apple’s Privacy Policy

Bloomberg reports that the Berlin Regional Court in Germany has told Apple to change its policies for managing customer’s data on its website after ruling that Apple’s terms for data use go against German laws. According to a statement posted by a German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VSBV), the courts have ruled that Apple cannot request “global consent” for use of a customer’s data” without informing the user of where and how the data will be used. It will also no longer be able to use German users’ data to “promote location-based services and products” or deliver the data to third-parties for advertising purposes:  Read more

Intel announces 2014 Thunderbolt update with 4K support; opens door for Retina iMacs?

Retina iMac mockup via MacSpoilers

Retina iMac mockup via MacSpoilers

Today, Intel announced a new version of its Thunderbolt technology that will ship with devices in 2014. The new Thunderbolt technology supports up to 20Gbps throughput, which is up from the 10 Gbps supported by the current version of Thunderbolt.

Notably, the new technology supports 4K resolutions, which could open the door for even higher-resolution Mac displays. Perhaps, this is the technology that Apple needs to work with in order to begin a Retina display rollout for its all-in-one desktop computer, the iMac, or even Mac Pro compatible Thunderbolt displays.

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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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Yes, the new Verizon iPad works on AT&T 3G networks

With the introduction of the new LTE iPad on Verizon and AT&T, many were wondering whether AT&T’s 3G network would work on a new Verizon iPad. According to a poster on the Mac Rumors forums, popping an AT&T SIM card into the Verizon iPad’s micro-SIM slot appears to work fine as long as you adjust the AT&T APN carrier settings. Of course, this does not mean you will be able to use AT&T’s LTE network on the Verizon iPad. However, if you already have an AT&T SIM for the iPhone, this is an alternative for data when LTE is not an option.
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FTC criticizes poor privacy disclosures in apps for kids, says industry must improve standards

Let’s take a quick break from the hordes of Mountain Lion OSX news to talk about privacy issues within apps…again. However, this time the spotlight is on children’s apps in both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Marketplace.

The Federal Trade Commission released a report today (PDF) based on a survey that found apps for children do not fully disclose the types of data collected nor do they adequately educate parents about data harvesting.

The consumer protection agency scrutinized privacy policies, recommended each developer give comprehensible disclosures on how data is accrued and shared, including whether children’s data is linked to social network apps, and it even mentioned conducting a six-month review on disclosures and using enforcement if needed. The report focused on the two main app stores themselves and requested more be done to tell children and their parents about privacy concerns…

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AT&T introducing new data plans for phones and tablets Jan. 22

AT&T announced it would introduce new data plans for phones and tablets on Sunday, Jan. 22.  There will be three phone plans: $20 for 300MB, $30 for 3GB, and $50 for 5GB with tethering. While the two tablet plans will be: $30 for 3GB and $50 for 5GB.

In the past, AT&T made available $15 for 200MB, $25 for 2GB, or $45 for 4GB with tethering. Each plan earned more data and a $5 price hike. AT&T will charge $10 for each 1GB roll over. AT&T explained the sudden change:

“Customers are using more data than ever before,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment, and continue to deliver a great value to customers, especially as we continue our 4G LTE deployment.”

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How to upgrade your AT&T unlimited iPhone 4 plan to unlimited iPhone 4S plan

We are hearing numerous reports that AT&T unlimited data users aren’t able to upgrade their unlimited plans when they order the iPhone 4S. They are automatically changed to a different data tier (in the above case, the $30 data).

Update: It appears the upgrade is just a bit more complicated. You have to remove the “unlimited data for iphone” plan and then they’ll let you add an “unlimited data for iphone 4S” plan. Yes, unnecessarily complicated and is causing some users to lose their unlimited status.

Update 2: AT&T has chimed in: All current AT&T smartphone customers with an unlimited plan can upgrade and keep their unlimited plan. We’re working on making the online page more clear, but if a customer keeps clicking continue, they will see their unlimited plan.

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Verizon plans to take 300MB for $20/m data plan nationwide this holiday season

Late last week, Verizon introduced a new 300MB data plan for $20/month for the carrier’s mid-Atlantic region. This covers Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia and North Carolina. This special data plan tier is available in a limited test run from August 18th until September 30th. The idea for the plan, according to Verizon regional president Mike Maiorana is to welcome users from non-smartphones:

This is a great introductory plan for customers who have been contemplating moving from a basic phone to a smartphone but were hesitant because of cost, said Mike Maiorana, regional president in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. The $20 monthly access promotional plan is an opportunity for customers to learn the many benefits of having a smartphone with email and calendar functions, as well as Internet access and apps, at their fingertips

According to our sources, though, Verizon’s reasoning for the plan is not that simple. The company is actually going right after AT&T’s $15 data plan that provides users with 200MB of data usage per month. Verizon Wireless figures that an extra 100MB for only $5 is the more enticing deal. The plan also doubles as an easier route for parents to set young children up with a phone line on their Verizon plan. Because of this, Verizon Wireless currently plans to make this data plan a permanent and nationwide option by this holiday season. This could change at anytime, though, depending on response to the test-run.


VZ’s current plans

Cross posted on 9to5Google

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Jailbreak hotspot-ers: AT&T is moving you to a tiered data plan involuntarily

We’ve gotten word from some readers that AT&T is moving forward and removing unlimited plans for users who jailbreak iPhones to tether or hotspot off of AT&T’s unlimited data plans (for those grandfathered):

I was just informed that as of Thursday August 11th 2011, if you use MyWi or any tethering on the phone or using the phone as a modem, AT&T will automatically change ur unlimited plan to a 2Gb tethering plan for 45 dollars without the customers consent. This is for those who received emails or texts about the use of tethering without an AT&T tethering plan.

An AT&T spokesperson has confirmed this, but not August 11th as a hard cutoff date, saying:

Earlier this year, we began sending letters, emails, and text messages to a small number of smartphone customers who use their devices for tethering but aren’t on our required tethering plan.  Our goal here is fairness for all of our customers.  (This impacts a only small percentage of our smartphone customer base.)

The letters outline three choices:

1) Stop tethering and keep their current plan (including grandfathered unlimited plan)

2) Proactively call AT&T or visit our stores and move to the required tethering plan

3) Do nothing and we’ll go ahead and add the tethering plan on their behalf — after the dated noted in their customer notification

Is this fair of AT&T?  Well, it is certainly fair that people pay for the data that they are using and unlimited tethering turns your iPhone into a data sucking monster.  AT&T’s service to others is obviously affected, so they have to do something about it and this seems like a reasonable solution.  The obvious retort is that some may have purchased their unlimited plans back when unlimited really meant unlimited, jailbroken or not.

The matter doesn’t appear up for debate however. MiWi users: get your free data this week and hope AT&T doesn’t decide to move you over early. Read more

OS X Lion loses compatibility with some network-attached storage drives

CNet has discovered that OS X Lion users lose support for Time Machine backups with third-party NAS hard drives. Time Machine in OS X Lion is now only compatible with Netatalk 2.0. This means that third-party NAS (network attached storage) drives will need a software upgrade from their respective manufactures in order to work with Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system. Users of cable-connected external hard drives will not be affected. Drobo, the company behind popular network attached storage devices has noted the issues on their website:

DroboFS, B800fs and DroboPro FS users running Mac OS X Lion (OS X 10.7) will experience problems with Time Machine.

The next official firmware release for all “FS” products will ensure full compatibility with the released version of Mac OS X Lion,  including use of Time Machine.

Another popular NAS drive maker, Synology, has already released a fix in beta form. Other NAS drive makers will likely follow up with their own OS X Lion compatibility updates.

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