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Jake Smith

October 31, 2012

AT&T and T-Mobile sharing networks in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy

AT&T and T-Mobile just jointly announced that they will be temporarily sharing their network in New York and New Jersey, following Hurricane Sandy. Customers will be able to connect to whichever network is working, despite which carrier they may be on. Here’s the press release:

In the wake of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, AT&T and T-Mobile are taking extraordinary measures to make sure our customers can stay in touch.

AT&T and T-Mobile have entered into an agreement to enable roaming on their networks to customers of both companies in the heavily impacted areas and where capacity is available and for subscribers with a compatible device.

AT&T and T-Mobile customers will be able to place calls just as they normally would, but their calls will be carried by whichever network is most operational in their area. This will be seamless for AT&T and T-Mobile customers with no change to their current rate plans or service agreements even if the phone indicates the device is attached to the other carrier’s network.

T-Mobile and AT&T both utilize network technology based on GSM and UMTS standards, which allows for this sharing of voice and data traffic.

Great to see both the carriers working together in such a hardtime for some people. Stay safe readers. 

October 30, 2012

Ahead of the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad becoming available to customers Friday, early reviews of both devices have hit the web. You can see in the collection below that the reviews are fairly positive, discussing how great the build quality is, the lightness of the tablet, and how well it fits in your hand. Starting with the iPad mini:

The Loop:

I use my iPad mini for tasks rather than watching videos or playing games, but I use it a lot. This is a Wi-Fi model, which was on all the time and I have yet to see anything cause a significant drain on the battery. The battery is lasting days for me and it is on 24/7.

Engadget:

In fact we found the brightness and color reproduction to be improved over the iPad 2, comparable to the latest Retina displays. Colors are very pleasing to the eye and viewing angles, as ever with an Apple display, do not disappoint. You can line up as many friends as you like and sit them shoulder-to-shoulder, they’ll all have a bright, clear picture. Yes, mini owners may have to make do with some resolution envy, but they at least won’t be lacking in any other regard.

The Verge:

And it does raise the floor here. There’s no tablet in this size range that’s as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who’s been living with (and loving) Google’s Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don’t say that lightly.

TechCrunch:

While we’re on the subject of the screen, let’s not beat around the bush — if there is a weakness of this device, it’s the screen. But that statement comes with a very big asterisk. As someone who is used to a “retina” display on my phone, tablet, and even now computer, the downgrade to a non-retina display is quite noticeable. This goes away over time as you use the iPad mini non-stop, but if you switch back a retina screen, it’s jarring.

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iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad software hits Apple’s server ahead of launch

Ahead of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad landing in customers’ hands on Friday, software for both devices has hit the company’s servers. Obviously there isn’t much we can do with the software at this point, but it does give us a look at the build numbers:

  • iPad2,5 (iPad2,5) version 6.0 (Build 10A406), Download
  • iPad3,4 (iPad3,4) version 6.0 (Build 10A407), Download

Once again, iMessage down for many users along with Game Center, iTunes Match and App Store [Updated]

Following its October 25th outage, Apple’s iMessage service is down for many users this afternoon. Our readers and several people on Twitter are expressing their annoyance over the problem. These iMessage outages seem to be happening on a weekly basis, spanning for a few hours.

Additionally, readers are reporting that Game Center, iTunes Match, FaceTime, iTunes Store, and App Store are down as well. Apple’s iCloud system status page confirmed the news that some users are being affected, but if you take a look down south at our comment section, it’s definitely more than just a few.

Update 4:01PM: Apple says all systems are back online. (however that may not be the case for many users)

At its September media event Apple showed off the new iTunes 11, software complete with a redesigned player, new mini player, redesigned store, preview history, iCloud integration, and more. Apple promised the new iTunes was going to be released during October, however, an Apple spokesperson speaking to CNET just announced that Apple has delayed iTunes 11 until November in order “to get it right.”

“The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right. We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface, and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”

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As promised, Google has released an update for its Search for iOS app that adds Google Now-like voice recognition. The new voice recognition feature also remind us a lot of Siri. Users can perform tasks like “asking for the weather in a natural way and it will provide results,” Google explained.

You just need to tap the microphone icon and ask your question, the same way you’d ask a friend. For example, ask “What movies are playing this weekend?” and you’ll see your words streamed back to you quickly as you speak. Then Google will show you a list of the latest movies in theaters near you, with schedules and even trailers. It works for everything from celebrity factoids to the height of Kilamanjaro and more. When Google can supply a direct answer to your question, you’ll get a spoken response too.

Google Now, what Google’s iOS’ voice feature is built off of, was formally introduced in Google’s latest Android OS, Jelly Bean. Google Now looks for repeated user patterns, including calendar appointments and location, to provide users with more relevant information. I find it more useful than Siri and others have agreed. Now iOS users have a Siri alternative, especially for users on older versions as far back as iOS 4.3.

Release notes: expand full story

Everything Everywhere, a 50/50 joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom, has launched the UK’s first 4G network today, citing speeds “typically ten times faster” than broadband. The 4G service is now available in 11 cities: Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, and Southampton. The rollout across the UK will continue 2,000 square miles every month to cover 98% of the country’s population by 2014, the company announced.

4G data plans on EE will start monthly at 500MB for £36, 1GB for £41, 3GB for £46, 5GB for £51, and 8GB for £56. There are six compatible phones that customers can purchase at T-Mobile and Orange stores to use on EE, and as announced last month the iPhone 5 is one of them, along with the iPad mini and 4th gen iPad in mid-November. 4G service will also be available in the UK from Vodafone, O2 and Three in May 2013, after dealing with government regulation.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee discussed the rollout: “But this is just the start as our 4G network will continue to grow stronger and wider by the day. We’re investing £1.5 billion in our network to be the first company to offer mobile 4G in the UK, alongside the biggest 3G network.”

Additionally EE launched 700 retail stores today, offering a place for customers to buy handsets and sign contracts for the 4G network. EE is calling it “one of the biggest and fastest transformations in UK retail history.”

More in the PR below:

Initial fourth-generation iPad supply is out, now available in one week; iPad benchmarks appear

According to Apple’s website, initial supplies of the new fourth-generation iPad have run out and shipping times have subsequently been pushed back to one week. The $499 tablet, along with the iPad mini, is scheduled to be delivered to customers on Friday.

The iPad mini initial supply ran-out completely over the weekend as well, leaving some customers 2 weeks until they receive their prized 7.9-inch device.

Additionally, the first benchmarks for the 4th gen iPad appeared over the weekend. According to Geekbench, the new iPad’s A6X processor clocks in at 1.4GHz and has the same 1GB of RAM as the iPhone 5 and 3rd gen iPad. That puts the new iPad about twice as fast the the 3rd gen — nice.

Thanks, Alex Allegro! 

October 29, 2012

Apple has pushed back Maps turn-by-turn navigation launch to November for Australia

Apple was initially set to release turn-by-turn navigation for Australia sometime this month, however an update to Apple’s Maps availability webpage this evening has clued us in that the launch has been delayed. Apple is now saying the feature will be available in November, just a month after ex-iOS chief Scott Forstall announced that the turn-by-turn feature was in “qualifying stages” for Australia. The Maps feature did launch in Brunei, Egypt, Macau, Malaysia, Morocco, South Africa, Taiwan and Thailand during October — one commenter pointed out below.

We assume the delay comes after the flurry of problems that have plagued Apple’s iOS Maps. In September, CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology for Maps, saying “we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.” He went on to recommend alternatives.

It looks like Apple may also miss another October deadline. During its September press event, the company promised the redesigned iTunes 11 by the end of October. Apple has two days to hit its promise. As for Australia users, you may as well rejoice for the delay, as turn-by-turn has lead users to some pretty strange places. It happened to me last week when I was thrown nine miles off course, causing a pesky back-track.

Thanks, Ivan Pavlov!

Huge news: Apple just announced in a press release this afternoon that Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall is leaving Apple next year. Additionally, John Browett, head of retail, is out. Apple CEO Tim Cook will take over retail as an interim until a replacement is found. Cook discussed the news:

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/llsethj/status/261881890993233921]

We heard about Browett last week, but we were not able to verify the information at the time:

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Craig Federighi is taking over Forstall’s iOS position, and he will also lead the OS X division. Senior Vice President of Internet Services Eddy “the fixer” Cue will take over Siri and Maps, as both products are now falling in the same group as the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, and iCloud. Cue famously took over the MobileMe group after the recent debacle, and he successfully led the group through its iCloud transition.

Additionally, Jony Ive will “provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design.” That’s an interesting new role for the Industrial Design guru, who will probably have more of a hand in iOS now.

Bob Mansfield, who will not be retiring now, will lead a new Technologies group: “Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level.”

According to a Businessweek profile, Forstall had a fiery relationship with other executives, including Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield. Some other bits from that article.

  1. “He was as close to Steve as anybody at the company,” says Andy Miller, who headed Apple’s fledgling iAd group.
  2. Insiders say he has such a fraught relationship with other members of the executive team—including lead designer Jony Ive and Mac hardware chief Bob Mansfield—that they avoid meetings with him unless Tim Cook is present.
  3. “I once referred to Scott as Apple’s chief a–hole,” says former Apple software engineer Mike Lee, who left the company in 2010. “And I meant it as a compliment.”
  4. According to the story, iPod godfather Tony Fadell and Jean-Marie Hullot CTO of Apple’s application division until 2005 left Apple after clashing repeatedly with Forstall. Jon Rubinstein, a former iPod chief who left for Palm in 2006, chatted amiably at a Silicon Valley party last month, until Forstall’s name came up. Then he turned away abruptly. “Goodbye!” he said.
  5. Before the iPhone 4 went to market, Forstall persuaded Jobs to allow dozens of his engineers to carry prototypes of the device to better test its network performance and minimize dropped calls, says a former Apple employee who was a manager at the time. That’s how Gizmodo got ahold of it.
  6. Forstall has cashed in over $40 million in Apple Stock. Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group, says that he would consider downgrading Apple stock if Forstall were to leave.

Notably, Forstall was not on-stage at the recent iPad mini event an instead was in the crowd. The statement from Apple today said Forstall would stay on as an advisor to Cook, but that’s likely just to tie up loose ends.

Browett, on the other hand, got the boot earlier, and—as any Apple Retail persons will tell you—his presence won’t be needed going forward.

The press release is below:

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Ahead of the iPad mini landing this Friday in the hands of those who pre-ordered, the Smart Cover for the iPad mini has been delivered to a number of customers already. Apple made the covers available to customers last Friday for $39—available in red, dark gray, light gray, pink, green, and blue.

The Smart Cover attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad and folds over to cover the front. It can be folded three times for different viewing angles. Check out our review of the 10-inch version.

For those who pre-ordered, the iPad mini is currently on track to be delivered this Friday. What a tease…

Thanks, MN_Kid!

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New Shenzen, China Apple Store scheduled for grand opening this Saturday

Cupertino-based Apple is set to open its first Apple Store in Shenzhen, China on Nov. 3 at 9 a.m., as confirmed on its website earlier this morning. The store is located in Yitian Holiday Plaza at Nanshan district of Shenzhen, and it marks the seventh store in China. Apple CEO Tim Cook and company are moving aggressively into the country to keep up with their 2010 goal of 25 stores by the end of 2012.

If Shenzhen sounds like a familiar city in China, it is because the city serves as one of the biggest hubs for the manufacturing of parts for Apple products. Shenzhen is home to Foxconn—a factory where the brute of Apple devices are being produced daily.

When touring Apple’s biggest retail store in China last month, Apple Senior Vice President of Retail John Browett confirmed the Shenzhen storeMIC Gadget noted many “rich people live in this part of the city so the demographics are very good for high end retailers.”

According to several local media, Apple is also set to open a new store in Chengdu, China where the iPad is manufactured. Apple has yet to confirm, but it has ramped up employee hiring.

The company has reiterated the importance of China to Apple several times. During its Q4 earnings call last Thursday, CFO Peter Oppenheimer announced Apple gained $5.7 billion in revenue during Q4 and $23.8 billion FY2012 from China.

In other Apple retail news: Apple opened a gorgeous store in Palo Alto, Calif., this weekend

October 28, 2012

East Coast Apple Stores prepare for Hurricane Sandy, cover devices in plastic

As Hurricane Sandy prepares to make landfall tomorrow, several Apple Stores along the East Coast have begun to prepare for the storm. Jonathan Wald tweeted several pictures showing how the iconic 5th Avenue Store in New York is preparing. The storefront is being blocked off with sandbags, and MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, and iPads are being covered in plastic bags to prevent water damage.

An Apple Store in Philadelphia also prepared this morning with sandbags:

October 27, 2012

Amazon sold a record number of Kindle Fire HDs the day after the iPad mini was announced

According to Amazon, it was unfazed by the announcement of the iPad mini by Apple earlier this week. In fact, the company sold a record amount of $199 Kindle Fire HDs on Wednesday since being available on the market.

AllThingsD reported:

In response to a question about how Kindle sales were faring following Apple’s iPad mini announcement on Tuesday, Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener reported they were selling better than usual. “Wednesday was the $199 Kindle Fire HD’s biggest day of sales since launch and up 3x week over week,” according to a statement emailed to AllThingsD.

For those keeping tabs, the Kindle Fire HD features a 7-inch IPS display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 11 hours of battery life, and a weight of 13.9 oz.

Price presumably played a factor.

As we told you it would earlier this week, Apple opened its beautiful new Apple Store in the heart of Palo Alto, Calif., this morning. The front of the 15,030-square-foot store, located at 340 University Ave., is complete with a glass array, and it is estimated to cost roughly $3.15 million. The first 1,000 people received commemorative T-shirts. Check out the gallery below:

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Initial supply of the black 16GB iPad mini runs out too, now available in 2 weeks [Update: all models]

We reported yesterday that initial supplies of the white iPad mini had run out and new orders are pushed back two weeks.

Today, the same thing has happened to the 16GB black iPad mini. Apple’s online store is showing two weeks for the base version, while the 32GB and 64GB versions are still shipping Nov. 2.

Monday morning date: The 32GB and 64GB initial supplies have slipped. All iPad mini variants are now sold out.

October 26, 2012

Well-known accessory maker ZAGG has unveiled its lineup of cases for the new iPad Mini that ships Nov. 2, including two new keyboard cases for those looking for a mix of protection and easier typing with a keyboard.

The first is the ZAGGkeys Mini 7 priced at $89.99 for those looking for a folio case design and a Bluetooth keyboard. ZAGG said the case has an “intuitive built-in stand to hold the tablet an ideal viewing angle” that makes typing easier. Additionally, ZAGG announced the ZAGGkeys Mini 9 priced at $89.99. It features the same casing as the Mini 7, but it has an upgraded keyboard that offers more space. There are “dedicated function keys” and “island-style keys engineered to provide 90% of the space of a traditional keyboard” for people who have larger hands.

Ships in weeks.

Check out another screenshot:

It’s been quite an exciting week for those glued to the latest out of Cupertino, and this morning it gets better. As promised, Apple made the iPad mini available on its website for pre-order. The .68-pound tablet that is “thinner than a pencil” offers users a 7.9-inch experience on top of Apple’s traditional iOS. Apple is offering the iPad mini at $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. Apple plans to ship the first batch to customers Nov. 2 and will make it available in-store at 8AM.

For those who want to get the iPad mini with 4G capabilities added on, they’ll have to do a bit of waiting. For the same storage capacity options as the Wi-Fi-only model, the Wi-Fi + 4G model will be priced at $459, $559, and $659. Apple revealed at its event this week that orders will ship in “mid-November” for Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint variants.

The iPad mini has a 7.9-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, A5 dual-core processor, dimensions of “200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm,” a 5-megapixel-iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera, and a weight of 308g.

Additionally, as planned, Apple made the fourth-generation iPad available for customers to pre-order this evening. The fourth-generation iPad features an updated 1.3GHz A6X dual-core processer, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and 5-megapixel back-facing camera.

Apple makes available an iPad mini Smart Cover that comes in six colors, including: gray, silver, pink, green, blue, and (PRODUCT) RED. Apple also offers its slew of 10-inch iPad accessories, including a Smart Cover and Smart Case.

Several readers are reporting they had no issues pre-ordering either product, as the Apple Store looks to be running smoothly. Pre-orders are also available via the Apple Store app on iOS.

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October 25, 2012

MacStories noted that Apple began changing the tiers at which apps are priced on the iTunes App Store for several countries in Europe. The lowest price on the App Store for many of the countries (listed below) was once €0.79, but it has been bumped up to €0.89 this evening.

  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • Poland
  • Germany
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Russia

[tweet https://twitter.com/dannysapples/status/261602982859255808]

The report further noted that Apple might have raised its commission levels to 40 percent—when it was once 30 percent (countries, like the U.S., are still 30 percent). MacStories offered some possible explanations:

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