Tag Archive | "apple"

Here’s What Apple Needs to Add to the iPad 3 for Me to Adopt a Third Device

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The iPad 3 is expected to be unveiled by Apple in the next few months. I decided to sit down and come up with a little wish list of the iPad 3. This might be somewhat different from other lists that you see out there because I don’t actually own an iPad. In fact, I don’t own any tablet at all.

When the original iPad launched, I picked one up, and although I could appreciate the device, I found that I wasn’t using it as much as I would like (here’s my review). It simply didn’t fit into my daily routine. If I was out and about, my iPhone was a better tool for quick access to information and a more convenient on-the-go media player. If I was at home, my computer was a more productive tool for web-work and browsing. There wasn’t room for a third-device in my life. So, I ended up getting rid of it, and I haven’t been compelled to buy a new tablet (whether it be Android and iOS) since, despite testing a number of them.

So what would it take for me to pick up an iPad 3? Here’s a wish list for improvements and features that might tempt me into adding a third device:

Obvious Stuff

  • Thinner
  • Lighter
  • Retina display (but not if it’s going to double the cost of the iPad 3)
  • Better cameras
  • Cheaper

Less Obvious

  • Faster – You might think this should go in the obvious section, but what I’m talking about here is relative speed. Despite being much larger, the iPad 2 is roughly as powerful as the iPhone 4S. Presumably the iPad 3 will be as powerful as the iPhone 5. I’m hoping for an iPad 3 that makes use of all the extra space and really gives me a significant boost in processing capability over the current-gen iPhone model. If they have to bring down the battery life from 10 hours to 8 to achieve this, that’s fine with me.
  • 4G LTE option – Again, this could fit someone’s definition of obvious, but the key here is the practicality of it. If this were a ‘wish list’ in the sense that I’m wishing for stuff that will never happen, then I may as well not bother. The question of 4G LTE in Apple devices one of battery life, competitive pressure, and coverage. Right now, 4G LTE radios drain batteries more rapidly than their 3G counterparts. In my opinion, this is why Apple has so far shied away from including 4G LTE in any of its products even while competitors have been doing so for quite some time. 4G LTE is also still in the rollout phase in the U.S.. As consumer demand and expectation of 4G LTE in products rises, 4G LTE radio efficiency continues to increase, and coverage as well. Apple is likely watching these three factors and will find the optimal intersection of them to launch 4G LTE in their products. Let’s also not forget that AT&T is now rolling out 4G LTE which means that two largest U.S. carriers now support the option. I do expect Apple to offer 4G LTE on the iPad 3, you can read more about that here.
  • NFC – Near Field Communications seems like one of those buzz-words that has been around for years but doesn’t actually mean anything. To the average consumer, it doesn’t mean anything at this point. I doubt most Nexus S owners know that their device even has the feature. However, if Apple was to release it’s next round of devices (including computers) with NFC hardware, it could really help the technology take off. Given the prevalence of iOS devices (here in the U.S.), NFC on all of them would be great for sharing photos and apps, transferring content back and forth from iPhone to iPad, and functioning as a digital Wallet of sorts.
  • Wireless Charging – People have been talking about this one for years, and that’s probably because the idea is really awesome. I would love nothing more than to have a bedside table with an inductive top, upon which I could set down an iPad 3 and have it charge without having to run any cords. The iPad is a good fit as a sofa surfer or bedside companion — having an inductive charger on your coffee table or next to your bed would be convenient, and would make the iPad 3 stand out front competitors. This sort of feature is easy to ‘wow’ customers that come into an Apple store (because it’s so simple) and that makes it an easy sell if Apple wants to charge extra for a wireless charging station.
  • More Ports – Sometimes Apple seems to let its aesthetic sense get in the way of adding truly useful stuff to its products. I mean, you can buy an SD card adapter for the existing iPad, but why not build a slot right in? The iPad is one of the best devices for sharing photos with friends and family on the couch (way better than having people crowd around a computer screen), and being able to load photos onto the iPad 3 through an SD card slot (without the adapter!) would save you from buying the $30 adapter and having to remember to carry it with you! A USB port would open up a lot of possibilities as well.
  • LED notification light – Speaking of aesthetic sense getting in the way of features — I really wish Apple would man-up and add a notification LED to the iPad 3 (and the iPhone for that matter). Having to click the home button and glance at the screen every time you are checking for notifications is a bother. I shouldn’t have to check my iPad 3 for notifications, the iPad 3 should tell me with a little light! Almost all of Apple’s competing devices have such a light, and Apple could easily hide it in the bezel so it would be unseen until needed.
  • 7″ Model – Yes, I know it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see a 7″ iPad 3, but it is possible (in the sense that it would be possible to fit the components into that form-factor). Though Steve Jobs railed against any tablets smaller than 10″, many pundits have expressed the desire for a 7″ iPad, and the 7″ Android tablet market is healthy. Our own Chippy swears by the 7″ form factor and in my own testing I’ve found it more versatile and relevant to my own work style than a 10″ tablet.
  • Built-in Stand – I always loved how Nokia included a built-in stand on their internet-tablet series of devices, and I’d love to see one on the iPad 3. This is unlikely for Apple given their extreme emphasis on aesthetics, but I know they could come up with a solution that is ‘sexy’ enough even to fit their standards. Their Smart Cover is clever, but I’d prefer something less intrusive and more rigid.
  • Non-aluminum Back – I’ve got a theory: Apple knows that aluminum scratches easily, and that’s exactly why they’ve used it on the back of many of their devices; an iPod Touch has a shiny mirror-like aluminum back when it’s brand new, after a year or two of good use, the back will be so scratched that it’s hardly a mirror any more. Even though the device still works just fine, the scuffed back makes the product feel like it’s old and outdated… wouldn’t a shiny new iPod Touch of the latest generation be a great solution to that problem? This is planned-aesthetic-obsolescence. So yeah, I that the back of the iPad 3 is not aluminum. When I owned the original iPad, I hated setting it down on a hard surface on its bare back because I knew it was prone to scratches (that’s one of the reasons I made the iPad Booksafe case). Even worse was when a friend would slide the iPad on its back across the table to get it closer to them. That scraping noise is the sound of nightmares when it’s coming from a > $499 gadget!
I could go on (coffee maker, fly swatter, teleporter, etc.), but I think I’ll be lucky if even one of the items on this list comes to be. The inclusion of any of them would make me more tempted to reevaluate the possible inclusion of a third device into my life. Maybe I’m just a hard sell. Sorry, Apple.
And for the rest of you, what’s on your iPad 3 wish list? Or are you like me and have no place for a third device in your life?

iOS 5 Pro? 12 More Tips/Tricks You Probably Don’t Know

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iOS 5 just launched earlier this month, and based on the popularity of my article the other week, which focused on actual honest-to-goodness iOS 5 tips and tricks beyond the painfully obvious “you can send iMessages!” variety, I’ve created a new list with an additional 12 obscure tips/tricks. Again, a few of these are not iOS 5 exclusive, but most are. If you’re a brand new iPhone 4S user and didn’t know any of these, don’t fret… these are pro tips. My goal here is to have provided experienced iOS users with, at very least, one new thing they didn’t already know about iOS. Did I succeed, or are you some sort of iOS trivia prodigy? Let me know in the comments, and if you’ve got any other off-the-beaten-path iOS 5 tips/tricks, please share them!

12 More iOS 5 Tips/Tricks:
  1. Week Weather View In Notification Center — If you are using the Weather Widget in the iOS 5 notification center, you can swipe it to the right or left to reveal weather for the next 6 days. You’ll be able to see High/Low temps, as well as anticipated conditions (sunny, cloudy, etc). Apple decided not to make it clear that this widget swipes to the side for this additional view, so don’t blame yourself if you missed it, I did initially as well!
  2. Swipe From Camera to Photos — This is a new obscure hidden gesture added in iOS 5; Apple doesn’t make any effort to indicate that it is there (much like #12 on the other iOS 5 tips/tricks post). If you’re in the Camera app, you can swipe to the left to slide the camera away and go to your most recent photo. You can swipe through your photos, and if you swipe back to the front, you can swipe to the camera again to continue snapping photos. This is almost no different from tapping the thumbnail at the bottom left of the app to get to the most recent photo. Oddly enough, you can’t swipe from your most recent photo to the camera if you go through the thumbnail, instead of using the swipe gesture from the camera. Apple, sometimes you are bizarre.
  3. Launch Camera Directly from Lock Screen — Apple touted this during their iOS 5 announcement, but people were confused because Apple initially demonstrated the camera button button as being directly on the lockscreen. However, the button wasn’t directly on the lockscreen when iOS 5 actually reached consumers. Don’t worry though, they didn’t remove it. Just double-tap the home button while on the lockscreen and you’ll find the button to launch straight to the camera. If you never knew of double tapping on the lockscreen before, you’ll also find playback and volume controls which have existed prior to iOS 5. Nifty.
  4. Lock Camera Exposure and Focus — Prior to iOS 5, Apple relied on third-party apps to implement this sort of functionality, but they’ve finally decided to bake it right in. You can now lock the exposure and focus level within the native camera app by doing a long-press on the screen (as opposed to tapping). Hold it for a second or two and you’ll see the focus square do a little dance. Let go and you’ll find that the focus and exposure have been locked as indicated by the “AE/AF Lock” text at the bottom of the viewfinder. Tap again anywhere on the screen to unlock and return to automatic mode.
  5. Use the Volume-up Button to Take Photos — Another Camera app addition as of iOS 5. When using the native app, you can opt to press the volume-up button to snap a photo. There’s no on-screen indication that this should work, so if you didn’t already know about it, or hear it from someone else, you’d probably only discover it by accident. I feel bad for the developers of the Camera+ app: Apple doesn’t allow third-party applications to rebind hardware buttons, but the developers of Camera+ actually sneaked this same ability passed Apple in their Camera+ app. After reports of this Easter egg found their way to Apple, the app was pulled from the store, only to have Apple include the functionality in their own Camera app as of iOS 5! Never let anyone tell you that Apple isn’t a bully.
  6. Custom Keyboard Phrase Shortcuts — Find yourself regularly typing a specific phrase in SMS, Email, IM, or somewhere else on your iOS device? You can turn that long and commonly typed phrase into something much more manageable with a new iOS 5 feature. For instance, you can have the letters “omw” be replaced automatically with “on my way”. To do this, go into the Settings app > General > Keyboard, and look at the “Shortcuts” section. Tap “Add New Shortcut” to define the phrase and the shortcut text. Next time you type the shortcut text, the phrase will automatically be inserted. Now you can finally stop repeatedly typing out, “Honey, I lit the house on fire, again.”
  7. Custom Vibrations for Contacts — Custom ring tones and text tones have been available prior to iOS 5 but they don’t do you much good if you always have your phone on vibrate. With the latest update, you can assign custom vibrations to specific contacts so that you know who is contacting you even before you get your phone out of your pocket. Unfortunately this only works for calls and not other notifications (SMS, email, etc.). There are a few predefined vibration patterns, and Apple has even included an easy way to create your own vibes. You’ll find this option in the accessibility section, as I’m sure you can imagine how it would be useful for someone who is deaf and blind. To enable custom vibrations, go to the Settings app > General > Accessibility > and turn the “Custom Vibrations” switch to on. Now go to your Contacts app, choose a contact, hit the edit button at the top right, and tap the “vibration” option. Here you can select from pre-defined vibration patterns, or scroll to the bottom and press “Create New Vibration” within which you can tap and hold on the screen to create any pattern you want.
  8. Access the Built-in Dictionary From Any App — Apple originally included a handy “define” functionality in their iBooks app, which allowed you to highlight any word in a book and get a definition. In iOS 5, they have expanded this dictionary to be system-wide. In any app that allows you to highlight words, you can hold your finger on a word to highlight it, then tap the “Define” button that pops up from the resulting menu. Now you’ll finally understand why everyone keeps telling you that your epidermis is showing.
  9. Enable Battery Percentage — This is an old one, but still seems to go unchecked by newbies and experience iOS users alike (probably because it’s hidden in a weird place). Despite the high resolution screen on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPod Touch (4th gen), it seems like the default battery icon only has 3 states: Full, half, and OMG YOUR PHONE IS ABOUT TO DIE. Instead of relying on these imprecise icon stages, wouldn’t it be much nicer to have a handy % indicator? Go to Settings > General > Usage > and flip the “Battery Percentage” switch to on. Voila! No more freaking out when you actually have a solid 20% battery life left.
  10. See Which Apps are Hogging Your Storage — This is a new feature for iOS 5 and it’s particularly handy for when you are crammed for space and can’t decide what apps are worth deleting. Some apps are dubious because they themselves are only small downloads from the App Store, just a few megabytes or so, but then they may download or accumulate hundreds of megs worth of data during their operation. To find out which apps are taking up the most space, go to Settings > General > Usage and note the “Storage” list. You’ll see your applications tallied based on how large they are, and this figure includes accumulated data. Without including accumulated data, I would have thought that Photosynth was a relatively small app at 7MB; turns out it’s now taking up 147MB total! Now I’ll be much more informed about which apps I should delete when space is low and you will too.
  11. Enable Emoji Icon Keyboard for Free — Emoji icons are a standardized list of hundreds of emoticons which are popular on handsets in Japan, but that won’t stop them from being used elsewhere. I’m very confused as to why Apple allows paid apps in the App Store which claim to “install” Emoji icons when they are built into the phone for free. You can easily enable the emoji keyboard by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > International Keyboard > Add New Keyboard > find and tap “Emoji” in the list. Now when you go into any app that uses the keyboard, you can press the globe icon at the bottom left to switch between your standard keyboard and the emoji keyboard, which has all of the icons sorted neatly into categories. If you get tired of the emoji keyboard, remove it by following the same steps, except use the “Edit” button at the top right of the Keyboard menu.
  12. Invert the Screen Colors as a Prank (or because it looks awesome) — With the proliferation of iOS devices, iOS pranking has become a reality among friends. I usually like to take a screenshot of the homescreen and set it as their background, but this particular tip that I’m about to share with you seems perfect for Halloween. This is another accessibility option, and I’m presuming that it helps provide better contrast to those who have exceedingly poor eyesight. It also looks rather cool and will frighten your friends who may think their device is on its way out the door. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > flip the “White on Black” switch. Enjoy.

Think You Know Everything About iOS? Test Your Mettle Against These 13 iOS 5 Tips/Tricks

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iOS 5 launched on the 12th, and new iPhone 4S owners will be greeted with Apple latest OS when they receive their phones today. I’ve seen far too many “iOS 5 Tips/Tricks!” articles today that feature nothing but obvious things like “you can tweet stuff!” or “look there’s a notification center!”.  So I’ve compiled a list of some actual iOS 5 tips and tricks, and I’m hoping that at least one of these is brand new to you. Most of these are iOS 5 specific, a few are oldies, but hopefully still new to you. Check it:

    1. Open in background in Safari – though I’m still annoyed that Apple only brought tabbed browsing to iPads running iOS 5, leaving the iPhone and iPod Touch out in the rain, they fixed one of my major browser annoyances by allowing you to open pages behind the one you’re currently viewing. Annoying, you need to enable this through the Settings app, but it’s there none the less. To turn it on, go to Settings > Safari > Open Links > select ‘In Background’. Now when you go into Safari, you can hold down on a link to get a list of options, one of which is ‘Open in Background’. Click it and you’ll see the link jump into the window button, and it’ll open in the background without making you watch that slow window-opening animation!
    2. Private Browsing in Safari — It isn’t hard to theorize why Apple didn’t parade this option around when they unveiled iOS 5, but you can enter into a ‘Private Browsing’ mode in Safari, for whatever your purposes might be. Again, this is annoyingly activated through settings, instead of being easily toggled from within Safari itself. To turn it on, go to Settings > Safari > and flip the ‘Private Browsing Switch’. When you toggle this switch, you’ll be prompted to keep all existing windows or close them.
    3. Use the Flash LED as a Notification Light – I’ve always enjoyed testing Android devices that have notification LEDs because with my iPhone, I’m constantly flicking the screen on to check for new notifications. Of course, Apple will probably never add a flashing notification LED because they probably wouldn’t think it pretty enough for their precious iPhone. If they ever add such an LED, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll pulse gently, not flash. It’s an Apple thing. And because Apple is… Apple, I was surprised to find that they added the option in iOS 5 to use the camera’s LED flash as a notification light. It isn’t exactly as it seems though… Apple added this as an ‘Accesibility’ option, an effort to help disabled people use their devices more easily. But hey, that won’t stop you from using this feature. To turn it on go to Settings > General > Accessibility > and turn on the ‘LED Flash for Alerts’ option.
    4. Week View in Calendar — This one is downright confusing, and there’s no one to blame but Apple. By default, across the bottom of the Calendar application, you can see the options to switch between the List, Day, and Month views. As of iOS 5, you can rotate your device and see your schedule in a Weekly view. Pretty neat, but unnecessarily hidden if you ask me.
    5. Hourly View in Weather — Also an iOS 5 addition, you can now get by-the hour weather for the current day from the native Weather app. Go into the weather app and tap anywhere on the current weather card. You’ll see the ‘Hourly’ text under the location name light up, and you’ll get the view of 12 hours of upcoming weather for that location.
    6. See Specific Stock Prices in the Stocks App — If you’re a serious investor, I’m doubting that you’re using the native Stocks app, but if you’re a weekend trader, it might get you by. I’m actually not sure if this is an iOS 5 addition, but it’s handy none the less. Go into the Stocks app, rotate to landscape view to get a larger graph, then run your finger along the grab. You’ll be able to see specific prices for that stock at any point along the graph. The Stocks app also updates live now, so you can watch the price as the trading day progresses. Don’t forget that you can swipe between your stocks while in the large-graph view.
    7. Print Map Directions — Sometimes, having a backup paper map will save you from the dreaded dead battery situation. In iOS 5, you can now print directions from the Maps application which is pretty cool if you’re configured an AirPrint printer. To print directions, go to the Maps app, get yourself some directions (or as Siri to do it) then hit the ‘peel’ button at the bottom right corner of the app. The map will peel away, revealing some additional options, one of which is Print. From there, you can specify how many copies you want, and which printer you want to print to.
    8. Put Newsstand into a Folder – If you have no use for the new Newsstand app that comes along with iOS 5 and are annoyed that you can delete it like other apps, it has been discovered that you can actually trick it into going into a folder. To accomplish this, start with any 2 apps on the home screen (make sure Newsstand is on the same page. Hold down on one of the apps to get them to wiggle. Drag either of the two apps onto the other and drop it. A folder will be created, and right after you drop one app on top of the other, drag Newsstand into the folder. If you time it right, it’ll slide right in, like a good app. Do not click on Newsstand when it’s in a folder, it will cause your Springboard (technical name for the home screen environment) to crash. This isn’t a big deal as it will restart momentarily,  but it’s not something you want to happen if you’re in the middle of something important. The source of this solution appears to be from Coding Massacre, so credit to them! I can only hope Apple doesn’t fix this bug with a later update to iOS 5, because I’m doubting I’ll use Newsstand at all.
    9. Send More Than One Photo at a Time Through SMS or iMessage — This isn’t new to iOS 5, but it’ll be even more handy now that the messages will start flying with iMessage, which did indeed come along with iOS 5 (it also works with SMS and email). If you try to attach a photo to an SMS or iMessage, you have to select them one at a time. If you want to send a bunch at once, launch your Photos app, hit the square/arrow button at the top right after going into an album, select the photos you want, then hit Share, then Message at the bottom. Now you can enter your friends name at the top to send via SMS or iMessage (or hit the email option instead of message to send by email).
    10. Minimize the Keyboard in the Messages App — Apple finally gave us a way to minimize the keyboard in the Messages app as of iOS 5. Prior to the update, you couldn’t minimize the keyboard once you brought it up (this doesn’t apply to iPad users as they have a minimize keyboard button on every app!). Now when you go to scroll up to read previous parts of a conversation, the keyboard will minimize automatically. Thanks Apple… it’s about time.
    11. Create New Calendars and Photo Albums on Your Device — Now that Apple has ‘cut the cord’, allowing iOS 5 (and beyond) devices to run without the need of a computer, they’ve tried to move some of  the computer stuff onto the device. Now you can create calendars directly on the device (which will be synced to iCloud), and you can make your own Photo albums, which was always a pain to have to do through the computer. Photo Albums are a bit iffy as you can’t put a photo in an album then delete it from your camera roll. If you do try to delete it from the camera roll, it’ll be deleted out of the album too. I suppose this will be handy for people who use AirPlay to show slideshows on their TV. To make a new calendar, go into the Calendar app and hit the ‘Calendars’ button at the top left. Then press the ‘Edit’ button, also at the top left. Now you’ll find the ‘Add Calendar…’ option in the iCloud section. If you can’t see this option, you probably don’t have iCloud enabled (you can do this through your Settings app). To create a photo album, go into the Photos app. Go to the Albums view and press the ‘Edit’ button at the top right. On the left, you’ll see an ‘Add’ button and which will prompt you to give your new album a name, then ask you to add photos to it.
    12. Album Art Swipe Gesture – This is one of the least known iOS tips I know of. I came across it completely by accident. It’s existed long before iOS 5. I may have discovered it back when I got the first-gen iPod Touch (yeah, like pre-App Store). It’s really not that useful, and you wouldn’t think it would be used that often, but for some reason I seem to use it all the time when navigating my music library. If you’re in the Music app on the Now Playing screen (you’ll see album art and play/pause controls at the bottom), instead of pressing the little arrow at the top left of the screen to go back to the library view, you can swipe to the left on the album cover and it’ll take you back to library view. Again, this isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s so strangely hidden that I wonder if Apple even remembers that it’s there. Whatever the case, I use this gesture every time instead of hitting that little arrow button.
    13. Change Font in Notes – I don’t tend to worry too much about fonts, but if you’re a font fiend like my pal Dante Cesa from Engadget, this may be of interest. You can toggle through a whopping three different fonts for use in the native Notes app. With a whole three to choose from, I know you might just lose your mind trying to decide, but hey, you can always flip a coin or something. I think I’ll go with Helvetica.
So there you have it folks, 13 fine iOS tips, many of which are new to iOS 5. So how did I do, did I manage to stump you on a tips you didn’t know about prior? Or do you have some incredibly unknown iOS or iOS 5 tip that you want to share? Drop a line in the comments!

Hey Apple, iOS 5 Needs Newsstand for Podcasts!

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ios 5 podcastiOS 5 was introduced in June, and shortly thereafter, we noted that Apple completely ignored making the much-needed upgrades to their podcast support.

iOS 5 was announced 5 months ago and went through 8 beta releases, and yet podcast support has remained completely untouched. Sure, podcasts are free (which is probably why Apple isn’t paying attention to them), but come on, Apple! You’ve build a perfect model of how podcasts should work, but you did it with digital periodicals instead!

Apple’s new Newsstand application, which is part of iOS 5, allows users to purchase periodicals through the App Store, which will then go to the Newsstand (which is like a little folder on your home screen to hold those purchases). By purchasing such periodicals, you are purchasing a subscription. The function of Newsstand is to automatically download the latest version of your subscriptions, in the background, and without your intervention. This is exactly what podcasts are lacking!

Not only has podcast support not been strengthened in iOS 5, it’s actually been reduced in a way. Previously, you could subscribe to podcasts through iTunes on your computer, and the latest episode would be put on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch when you performed a sync. Now that Apple has “cut the cord” with iOS 5, allowing devices to be configured and used sans a computer, there is no longer any native option to subscribe to podcasts for devices configured this way!

Many of you might say “well, just go find an app”, but unfortunately that isn’t an option. As with other apps, Apple sometimes cheats with their own applications — any normal third-party application cannot download such files in the background, or make background checks for new subscriptions. This means that if we are to get reasonable podcast support in iOS 5 or beyond, it is up to Apple to provide the functionality.

While you can see and listen to any podcast available on iTunes through the iTunes app on any iOS 5 or prior version of the software, there is absolutely no way to subscribe or have new episodes downloaded for you (aside from the half-baked sync method which requires a computer and manual syncing). It’s up to to the user to go into the iTunes app, search for their favorite podcast, then check the dates to see if a new episode has arrived.

I find it hard to believe that it would be that difficult for Apple to employ a podcast subscription solution similar to what they’ve done with digital periodicals with Newsstand. Hell, they might even be able to find an extra revenue stream by allowing podcast authors to charge for subcriptions to their shows, or to include iAds in podcasts.

As I said in my prior article on podcasts and iOS 5, “for a company that invented the product that is the namesake of the term, Apple has done a paltry job of handling podcasting on iOS devices.”

Minecraft Pocket Edition Hits the Android Market Along with a Demo, iOS Version in the Works

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Minecraft, the breakout indie game that’s sold more than 3.5 million copies even though it isn’t out of beta, launched a ‘Minecraft Pocket Edition’ version of the game which had an exclusive home on the Sony Xperia Play… until now. Today Minecraft Pocket Edition is available on the Android Market and ready to be installed on the Android 2.2+ phone of your choice so you can get your ‘craft on, mobile style.

Mojang, the company behind Minecraft and Minecraft Pocket Edition, has put together a little trailer to announce the non-exclusive availability of the game. The video features someone playing Minecraft PE while using the toilet which, if we’re being honest, is probably where it’s going to find great application.

httpv://youtu.be/D2Z9oKTzzrM

The desktop version of Minecraft is still in beta and sees updates on a fairly regular basis. Mojang says that the current release of Minecraft Pocket Edition is focused on the core creative part of the game, and they plan to keep regularly updating the game, just like the desktop version. Presumably the survival portion of the game will be added at some point with such updates. Currently, it’s possible to have other Minecraft Pocket Edition players join your game world for some multiplayer fun, but they must be on the same WiFi network. Unfortunately, the multiplayer functionality of desktop Minecraft and Minecraft Pocket Edition are not compatible.

Mojang also put up a video of Minecraft Pocket Edition being played so you can see how the touch control work. They don’t look half bad, but it makes me wonder if it’d be possible to hook up a bluetooth gaming controller (like a PS3 controller, perhaps) to be able to play the game more easily.

httpv://youtu.be/rCcsuPH4vJY

Good news for anyone who either has no idea what Minecraft is all about, or is weary about dropping $6.99 for the game before knowing that the touchscreen controls are decent: there’s a Minecraft Pocket Edition demo that’s available for download right here.

Mojang says that they’ve also got an iOS version of Minecraft Pocket Edition in the works, though they’ve not shown any public demos or announce a launch date at this point.

If you’d rather read your way to enlightenment, I can tell you that Minecraft is a lot like like a world made out of Legos… with zombies and monsters that come out at night and try to kill you. The world is randomly generated which means you’ll never ran out of new land to explore. Minecraft Pocket Edition is currently lacking the monsters and the resource management aspects of the game (the ‘survival’ part I was talking about earlier). At this point in its development cyclce, neither desktop Minecraft of Minecraft Pocket Edition have any particular goal or way to ‘win’ the game. Just like Legos, creativity is key.

How Apple’s Siri Just Stole Voice Control From Android

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Image courtesy Apple Inc.No doubt you’ve already heard of Siri, the voice control software that Apple is launching with the iPhone 4S. If you are late to the part, recap here.

Apple is billing Siri not as “voice-control” but as a personal assistant that will perform tasks for you. The press is already lauding its impressive functionality. But how has Apple managed to make such a big splash over a feature that Android has had for some time now?

To start, marketing has a lot to do with it. While Android bills voice-control (VC)l as just that — a way to control your phone with your voice — Apple promotes Siri as an entity that will help you get things done. Apple has given their iOS voice control a person’s name. Simply by calling it “Siri” (notice how Apple — and thus the press — always spell it as though it’s a proper noun), Apple has immediately made it more personal and more human — you’ll see the word ‘assistant’ thrown around a lot in stories about Siri (not excluding this one). Even if the abilities of Siri and Android’s VC were identical, Siri would become the colloquialism for voice-control on a phone, the same way that mainstreamers, who don’t know the difference, call any digital audio player an iPod.

That’s if the abilities of Siri and Android’s VC were the same. At a base level, there’s no fundamental difference between Siri and Android VC, both convert sound into meaning and perform some function based on what you’ve said. But Siri feels more human because of the breadth of its understanding. [See there I go, talking about Siri as if it were an entity and not a thing. Touché, Apple]. Siri will see high usage because the user doesn’t need to look through a list of things they are allowed to say, or pay attention to the order that they need to be said. Apple has ensured that Siri can understand such a range of input that there’s no need to think first about what you are asking it. Again, this makes Siri far more human than Android VC; you speak to Siri like a person, with no need to pause to formulate your question in a special computer-readable way. This means that there is a highly likelyhood that anyone who hasn’t used Siri before could ask it a question and get a good response, making it inherently more intuitive than Android VC. That’s the goal anyway.

Once Apple frees Siri from it’s iPhone 4S jail (either on to older, or newer devices), expect it to become a household name, and expect lots of existing voice-control software to be ‘reborn’ with human names.

Apple iPhone 5 / iPhone 4S Event Coverage

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iPhone 4S available starting October 14th on Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T in:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
(pre-orders begin on the 7th)
iPhone 4S Pricing (on-contract):
  • $199 – 16GB
  • $299 – 32GB
  • $399 – 64GB
If you don’t need the bleeding edge, Apple is lowering the price of the 16GB iPhone 4 to $99 on-contract and the 3GS will be free in the same manner.
On the 28th, it’ll hit 22 additional countries, and be in 70 countries by the end of the year on over 100 carriers. Apple says this is their fastest iPhone rollout ever.
iPhone 4S specs:
  • dual-core A5 CPU, providing up to 2x CPU performance and up to 7x graphics performance (over iPhone 4)
  • iOS 5 with Siri voice assistant
  • Same outer design as iPhone 4 but with redesigned antenna
  • 8MP camera capable of 1080p recording. No mention of front camera so we’re assuming it’ll be the same 0.3MP front camera
  • World phone – CDMA and GSM in one phone
  • Everything else is pretty much the same as the iPhone 4 except there is now a 64GB option for the iPhone 4S
Thanks for sticking around. Credit must be given where it is due. Props to the excellent live coverage from Slashgear, Enagdget, and ThisIsMyNext.
——————
17: Event is done. No mention of the iPhone 5 or Steve Jobs, and no explanation of that missed call notification from the event invitation… something fishy is going on here.

16: Apple store still down. Apple.com not updated to show anything new yet. Pricing for the iPhone 4S is the usual but they’re adding a 64GB option finally: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), and $399 (64GB), all on contract of course. Availability for the iPhone 4S is October 14th. Pre-orders start on the 7th. Still nothing about Sprint or an iPhone 5. I’ll be completely blown away if the BRG story is true. For those due for an upgrade, Apple is dropping the iPhone 3GS to free and the iPhone 4 to $99, pretty sweet. Oh hey they just said the iPhone 4S will be on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.

15: Still showing more Siri stuff. Reminders can be set through voice which will integrate with the Reminders app that’s coming with iOS5 (something I used to use the old Siri app for frequently). If Siri doesn’t know what you’re talking about, it’ll use Wolfram Alpha to try to give you some info. Examples given are currency exchange rates, definitions, and “how many days until X”. Now they’re showing dictation through Siri. Siri learns your voice according to Apple. Apple is calling Siri beta at launch. Dictation processing happens remotely on a server, which means it might have to fall back to less precise methods when you don’t have a connection, or maybe it won’t work at all.

14: Apple demoing the assistant software which is using the original name (before Apple purchased the company) “Siri”. Some of the queries you’ll be able to ask it: What’s the weather like today? What time is it in Paris? Set an alarm for 6am. Stocking checking, restaruant finding, directions, lots of functionality. The key here is that the user doesn’t need to know what they can or cannot ask. Just ask it something reasonable and it can probably do it. A cool demo of a text coming it: Siri reads it, user asks if they have any appointments at 12pm on Friday, Siri responds that there is nothing on the calendar, then the user asks to reply to the text, all by voice and the button on the Bluetooth headset. Pretty cool… will this only be available with the iPhone 4S?

13: Hoping we have the option to choose between 720p and 1080p video capture, as the larger size is sometimes not necessary for both storage and editing reasons. Apple isn’t always big on choices though…. Apple now talking about their new Assistant software which has been detailed pretty heavily in the media already. This is Apple’s version of voice control, which will use natural language to do a lot of stuff. Don’t know about you folks, but I’ve always found voice-control to be underused because I don’t like looking like an idiot in public. Great for the car and when you’re alone, but otherwise it’s just weird. If anyone can make is socially acceptable to talk to your phone without a real person on the other end, it’s Apple.

12: The iPhone 4S is a world phone, featuring both CDMA and GSM technology in one model. International travelers rejoice. New 8MP camera, backside illumination (for better low-light performance). Apple says the iPhone 4S camera can collect 73% more light than the iPhone 4 which should mean even better photos. There’s also a hybrid IR filter, but I’m not sure exactly what that does! The 4S takes pictures way faster than other smartphones on the market. 1.1 seconds to first photo for the iPhone 4S compared to 3.7 seconds for the Droid Bionic, then 0.5 seconds to a second picture, compared to 1.6 seconds for the Bionic. Ouch. 1080p video recording for the iPhone 4S along with video image stabilization (probably software-based).

11: [No mention of Steve Jobs yet. I can't imagine that won't say something about him.] Infinity Blade 2 is launching 12/1/11. Apple manages to increase processing power and also raise battery life, they won’t launch a phone without increasing these it seems, wish other companies would follow that lead. Wow finally, an antenna redesign; but I thought you said it wasn’t broken, Apple? iPhone 4S has HSDPA for up to 14.4 Mbps download. Upload is still at 5.8 Mbps (that’s IF your carrier supports those speeds.) Apple says their technology is just as fast as the HSPA+”4G” phones that some carriers have been pushing. The real question is whether or not the carrier will support such speeds through HSDPA…

10: iPhone 4S is official. Same design outside, new guts inside. Apple’s dual-core A5 CPU (same as the iPad), up to 2x faster than the current CPU in iPhone 4 (A4). Dual core graphics as well which Apple says can provide up to 7x increase in performance. President of Epic Games (they make the Unreal Engine, which powers Infinity Blade, and others) is on stage to talk about the iPhone 4S and gaming. They just announced Infinity Blade 2. The first one was pretty good, but the on-rails aspect killed the experience. Next one appears to be set in an Asian location.

9: Finally looks like they’re moving onto the iPhone. Nothing new before recapping the success of the iPhone 4. They’re calling it the “#1 portable game player”. I call BS on that one. Now recapping iMessage which will work across iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. There’s a white version of the iPod Touch coming. Cool?

8: Moving back to the iPod. I could have sworn that the invitation said “Let’s talk iPhone”. Oh hey look up there at the top of the post, it most definitely does. I’m starting to think that the missed call notification is telling us that Apple didn’t make it’s deadline and won’t have any iPhone to show off today! Showing 16 new virtual clock-faces for anyone using the iPod Nano as a watch.

7: New app from Apple called Find my Friends. It’s like Google’s Latitude, except from Apple. Time location sharing so you are only sharing where you are at certain times during the day. Oh lord, now they’re recapping iTunes match. I hope the folks there at the conference know what they’ve signed up for. All of this seems to be building to something underwhelming… we’ll have to wait and see.

6: They are going over big iOS 5 features, nothing new so far. This feels like a lot of filler information…. Oh here’s something new, iOS5 is coming on October 12th. Why not today?! iCloud info coming right up. More recap… maybe Apple thinks that they waited so long for their usual iPhone announcement that we forgot what they said at WWDC? Engadget says jokingly “Lots of wonderful things to be found in these clouds.” Agreed.

5: Moving onto iOS. They’ve got a chart up for mobile software market-share and Android is colored green, isn’t that cute! iOS is 43% while Android is 33%, they aren’t far behind and Apple isn’t trying to cover that up. Rim is the next shown on the chart at 17% and everyone else is 7%. Wait a minute, Fusion Garage’s Grid OS isn’t on here, there must be a mistake! Apple says there are 500,000 apps in the app store now (last we heard was some 300,000); 140,000 of those are iPad specific. Honeycomb-specific apps are now somewhere in the thousands still, I think.

4: Now onto iPhone stats. 125% growth year-over-year for the iPhone, compared to the rest of the market which grew 74% (according to Apple). #1 in satisfaction followed by HTC, Motorola, LG, etc. (yada yada). Moving on to the iPad. I want to tell Apple we (tech folk) don’t need a recap, but I suppose this is all for investors, analysts, and the like.

3: Still chatting about growth. Anyone with Apple stock will be please, as usual. Some of these things remind me of the book “How to Lie with Statistics”. Surprising to see Apple talking so much about the iPod; this is an iPhone event after all… right, Apple?

2: Talking about retail stores and just pointed out that Apple’s store in Shanghai saw 100,000 people visit in the opening weekend… a recent LA store took a month to reach that many people. Also noting that the Hong Kong store sold more Macs on opening day than in any other Apple store in the world. Clearly there is going to be some big Apple+Asia news coming up.

1: Apple store is down. Par for the course. iCloud.com is still up and offering login for developers. Event is beginning with a lot of talk about how Apple has grown and released a number of bar-setting products. Classic Apple event format so far!

Today is the big day for Apple to show the world its latest iPhone. We’ll be updating this post with the major developments as Apple’s event proceeds. Rather than doing a minute by minute live-blog, we’ll be watching the live-blogs and updating in numbered chunks. Be sure to refresh every now and then.

Rumors are swirling about the possibility of an iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5, or perhaps both. There’s also been pretty wild stories about Sprint getting a short-term WiMax exclusive on the iPhone 5, leaving AT&T and Verizon out of the loop until a few months later. I don’t think Apple would strike such a deal and frustrate loyal customers on the other carriers, but BGR says they got the info from a rock solid contact, so we’ll have to wait and see.

My own predictions for which (if any) 4G networks the iPhone 5 will feature are here, though I didn’t include Sprint as not much had been heard at that point about the carrier getting the iPhone.

I for one am hoping that iOS 5 launches today for those devices that will support it. Feels long overdue. Aside from software and phones, there is going to be a lot of reading between the lines to be done. Steve Jobs’ recent resignation from the CEO position is well known by investors and tech folk alike. This event will be as much about the iPhone as it is about showing that Tim Cook is a more than qualified and inspired CEO.

Oh and don’t forget, if you are going to trade-up for the next iPhone, you can sell your old device pretty darn easily through Gazelle. If you go start the process now, you can lock in the current trade-in price (with no commitment) before it drops following the announcement.

Apple iPhone 5 Event Confirmed for October 4th

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Some of the big name tech media have just received invitations from Apple for an iPhone press event to be held on October 4th, at which Apple’s iPhone 5 is expected to be announced. The invitation image shows the brilliance of Apple marketing. Yes, this is marketing. They market extremely well to the press and the press markets to their customers for them; that’s why Apple spends way less in advertising than many other tech companies, and has stock that trades far higher.

A lot of people are betting that Apple will bring the screen size of the iPhone 5 up to at least 4″ or even as large as 4.3″. My money is on the phone keeping a 3.5″ display. If they do change it, I can only hope that they don’t go further than 4″. Other proposed features include NFC and perhaps 4G. The latest version of Apple’s mobile OS, iOS 5, is expected to be launched on the iPhone 5, and we may see it released to existing devices during or shortly after the October 4th event.

A little while ago I speculated that we’d see Apple announce an iPhone 5 for AT&T with HSPA+ and a variant for Verizon with 4G LTE. Interestingly, Sprint is now expected to be joining the aformentioned US carriers in iPhone availability, but I’m doubting we’ll see a WiMax iPhone 5 (Sprint’s current 4G technology, which it is said to soon be replacing with LTE), which leads me to wonder whether or not Sprint will get the iPhone 5 at all. Perhaps that iPhone 4S that’s been rumored over the last few months is actually the CDMA-based iPhone 4 that Verizon currently offers, but with some tweaks and compatibility with Sprint’s 3G network?

The invitation image is quite neat after all. For non-iOS users out there, all of these icons are from core iOS apps, and each of them means something. The calendar icon says that the event is on the 4th, the map icon says that the event will be at Apple’s ‘Infinite Loop’ HQ in Cupertino, and the clock icon says that it will be held at 10AM PST.

But what of the phone icon with a missed call? I think Apple certainly wants people to speculate about this. Typically that little 1 at the top right of the phone icon means that you’ve got a missed call or a voicemail that needs to be listened to. Maybe it means Apple will only be announcing 1 phone instead of an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5 as rumored? Maybe Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, will come on stage and at some point listen to a ‘voicemail’ on the iPhone 5 left by Steve Jobs. At any rate, it will likely tie into the event.

What do you think it means?

Changing Ecosystems From iOS to Android (and how iOS 5 could tempt me back)

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ios to androidRitchie Djamhur is a macchiato-addicted IT Buyer based in Sydney, Australia and also posts his thoughts on technology, music and anything else that keeps him up at night on www.ritchiesroom.com.

The iOS Family

My name’s Ritchie and I am a phoneaholic, of the smart variety. I’ll admit it, on most nights I have my smartphone safely tucked under my pillow, in case I stir restlessly out of sleep and feel compelled to check Facebook updates, Twitter messages and lists, LinkedIn news, or my WordPress stats. Sound familiar to any readers?

Up until recently, I had not strayed far from the iOS family. I have owned a few iterations of the iPhone, and have seen its evolution in hardware along with the massive growth of the app store. And for the most part, the iPhone has fulfilled my needs, and indeed surprised me with functions that I didn’t realise I could do with.

iTunes makes upgrading your phone terribly easy. When the next version of an iPhone is released, you simply back up your old phone, connect and register your new iPhone, and everything, including settings, email, photos, and messages will be loaded onto your fresh iPhone. That upgrade path makes it hard to break the cycle and look beyond the iPhone at alternatives that may in fact be better suited to your needs.

The iPhone 4 is a great smartphone, and it’s always been a reliable partner in my business and leisure life. The ability to print wirelessly, read books, take casual photos, use social networking apps with ease, play some great games during downtime and use Facetime to see my extended family at a moment’s notice have all made the iPhone highly regarded in my household.

There are a few things that have made my eyes wander of late, and I realised that unless I wanted to jailbreak my phone, there were a few things that I couldn’t do efficiently. For example, turning WiFi and bluetooth on/off, changing brightness or orientation settings take a fair few steps within the settings panel.

On the other hand, widgets are a standard feature on Android phones, so I could see a good reason to move across just because of that – instant access to functions I wanted regularly. But could an Android phone match or exceed what the iPhone and its associated ecosystem has delivered to me over the years?

Apple Won’t Fix My iPhone, But Jailbreaking Will

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cydiaHere’s one more reason I’d be using Android if I couldn’t jailbreak my iPhone:

The home button on my iPhone 4 has crapped out. Not entirely, but enough so that sometimes it doesn’t recognize when I press the button. For you non-iPhone users, the home button is the one you use every time you want to get back to the home screen (where all your apps are located), which means you use this button a lot.

Double pressing the button is also used to get to the task-switcher which lets you jump between apps, and holding it down activates voice control. The button has about a 50/50 chance of working, which means getting the double-press to work happens about 25% of the time.

Because the button is used so much, having it inconsistently work makes using the phone extremely frustrating!

So what to do? I call up Apple support. They generally have really good support with one major caveat, you better have a warranty!

Naturally, my phone is 20 days out of warranty (Murphy’s Law tells us that things won’t start breaking until your warranty period is over). The support person asks someone if they can give me an exception since I’m only 20 days out of warranty, but I’m turned away. The only option is to have them repair the phone out of warranty, which costs the same amount as buying a new iPhone, which I’m not interested in doing for a phone that’s still mostly functional.

So Apple won’t fix my phone. Fortunately, as a jailbreaker, I’ve got access to tools that regular iPhone users do not.

Jailbreaking is the de-facto term for describing the process of hacking your iPhone to release it from the restrictions that Apple imposes on it. Once jailbroken, you’ve got access to Cydia, which is essentially the jailbreak version of the App Store. Through Cydia, you can install apps and tools that Apple won’t allow in the app store because they do things that Apple doesn’t want official apps to be able to do.

Thanks to the awesome (and free) Activator app which is installed through Cydia, I can reprogram any of the phone’s buttons (or even software gestures) to do pretty much anything I’d like, including, simulating a press of the home button.

So as of now I’ve used Activator to reprogram my volume-up button so that a short hold simulates a press of the home button (a single tap still works as you’d expect).

Viola! Problem pretty much fixed (better than Apple could do for me out of warranty, anyway). While at it, I’ve also taken the liberty of making a short hold of the volume-down button compose a new text message in a pop-up (through another jailbreak app called iReal SMS), and I’ve set a short hold of the lock button to take me directly to the settings app for quick access to WiFi connection management and more.

The people responsible for jailbreaking, and developing the apps that are accessed through it, are providing extremely useful tools to those who want to take advantage of them.

This is why it’s upsetting that Apple tries to block jailbreaking at every update.

Jailbreaking has saved me money, provided support where Apple could not, and provides a bunch of functionality that I use daily that Apple’s iOS doesn’t support by default.

Not only this, but jailbreaking has been the birth place of many great improvements to iOS that Apple has stolen, or at least taken ideas from. It seems that Apple should be fostering the jailbreak community, not hindering it.

For $15 You Can Always Have a Charge/Sync Cable for Your Smartphone with You Thanks to This Excellent Accessory

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scosche 2When it comes to technology gifts, I generally tell people not to get them for me. Not that I don’t appreciate the thought, but having a non-techie try to find a good tech gift for a tech-geek is like an atheist shopping for the Pope.

Somehow, this last holiday season, my mother actually managed to get me an awesome tech related gift which I’ve been making great use of. Check it out:

scoscheThis is the Scosche FlipSNYC USB iPhone adapter (fear not, they make Micro/Mini USB version as well!) which is incredibly compact, enough so that you can easily throw it on your keychain. I was impressed by the smart design which manages to keep it so compact, even in lieu of Apple’s relatively massive connector. This isn’t one of those “you can totally put it on your keychain!” ordeals that you might find see on a TV infomercial, where in reality the thing is so bulky that you’d never actually want to put it on your keys — it’s actually small enough to go on your keychain and not attract any unwanted attention.

I’ve always got my keys with me, so even if I run out of the house without thinking I might need to charge or sync my phone, I don’t have to worry about it; if the time comes, out come my keys and this useful little bit of kit.

I’ve been using mine regularly for about 8 months and it shows no sign of breakage or wear.

Scosche sells these things for $15, and even though mine was a gift, I’ve easily justified the price with the amount of use I’ve gotten from it. It’s so handy to be able to plug into any USB port to get your charge on in a pinch and I’d definitely recommend one to any serious smartphone user.

scosche 3Fortunately, Scoche makes the aforementioned iPhone/iPod Touch version, and they’ve also got one for the same price that has both Micro and Mini USB plugs on it, which means that pretty much the entire modern smartphone world is covered.

The iPhone/iPod Touch version is also sold in red or white, just in case you’re too stylish for plain old black.

Scosche is also selling a second version of these called the FlipSYNC II, but they cost $5 more and the only differences seem to be a USB plug with full metal casing (rather than a ‘half’ plug) and the key loop is slightly larger. You can find those here (iPhone version) and here (Micro/Mini USB version), if you’d like to see for yourself.

When Will Apple Jump on the 4G Bandwagon?

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4gWe’re not into Apple rumors here at Carrypad, but what we are into is informed speculation. Join us for some healthy analysis about when and how Apple will make the move to 4G.

Based on Apple’s Q3 sales figures that were just released today, it’s clear that Apple is doing extremely well, even without a single 4G product in its stables.

This is interesting because 4G is one of the only areas where the iPhone and iPad are behind, rather than being ahead of, or at least on-par with, the competition.

For all intents and purposes, let’s consider HSPA+, LTE, and WiMax all ’4G’ networks, as they’re all capable of delivering speeds that are well beyond earlier 3G connections.

The Competition

Verizon has now launched three 4G (LTE) smartphones, and is poised to launch at least one more (the Droid Bionic) toward the end of this summer. They also have the 4G enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, as well as the Motorola Xoom which is supposedly going to be the recipient of a 4G hardware upgrade at some point. Additionally, they’ve got a 4G MiFi wireless hotspot and 4G USB modem. [See this article for a roadmap of Verizon's upcoming 4G smartphones and devices].

AT&T has three 4G (HSPA+) smartphones currently launched, along with a 4G USB modem.

Sprint has fourteen 4G (WiMax) devices available. They’ve got smartphones, tablets, laptops, mobile hotspots, and USB modems. Though WiMax technically has the capability to support 4G speeds, the research I’ve done has indicated that Sprint’s WiMax is sorely lacking in speed, but I’m still putting it on the list because the tech that supports high speeds is already in place in these devices.

T-Mobile has claims to have twelve 4G (HSPA+) devices. They have 7 smartphones, 2 tablets, 2 USB modems, and a mobile hotspot.

What Form Will Apple 4G Come In?

Because Apple currently makes iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models for both AT&T Verizon, it holds that we’ll continue to see those two carriers supported for upcoming tablets and smartphones from Apple.

For the short term, AT&T is relying on HSPA+ to provide 4G speeds to its line of HSPA+ equipped phones; the company often sticks ’4G’ to the end of the phone’s name to indicate the additional speed (even if some don’t consider HSPA+ to be ’4G’ from a technical standpoint). In the long term, AT&T is planning on moving in the LTE direction starting this year.

Verizon jumped directly to 4G in the form of LTE, and they seem to have the best 4G speeds so far.

With the two currently supported carriers either already using LTE or eventually moving to LTE, my best guess is that Apple’s first 4G devices will be LTE compatible rather than WiMax or HSPA+, though as you’ll see below, we might end up with a combination of these.

Why Doesn’t Apple Already Have 4G When Others Do?

The technology for Apple to launch their devices with 4G exists, but I believe two factors have held Apple back so far.

Coverage
It doesn’t make sense for Apple to fork over additional money for 4G chipsets if the coverage isn’t already there. If Apple launched a 4G (LTE) iPhone 4 when it announced the Verizon iPhone back in January, it wouldn’t have had a big demographic to sell to because a relatively small number of areas where covered at the time. Passing on the price of 4G hardware to all customers, when only a small portion are actually in 4G covered areas, wouldn’t be good for Apple’s bottom line. It made more sense for them to keep the price attractive until 4G LTE sees widespread coverage.

Battery Life
Battery life on existing 4G LTE devices is still much shorter than 3G devices. I’ve been using the HTC Thunderbolt and LG Revolution and both 4G equipped devices from Verizon have had a hard time providing me with usable all day battery life. Battery life is a major concern for Apple, and I know that they aren’t willing to release a device without all day battery life under typical use.

With every release of the iPhone, Apple has increased performance and battery life. Releasing a 4G iPhone before the technology can come down to a reasonable power consumption level wouldn’t be acceptable for Apple.

When Will it Happen?

The real question is not if, but when. Apple has been wildly successful with the iPhone and iPad, even though the market is already brimming with 4G devices, but that won’t last forever.

Ideally, Apple would launch a 4G iPhone and 4G iPad when the two above factors, coverage and battery life, align. Unfortunately, Apple is now being pressured by all of the other 4G devices on the market.

Verizon’s 4G LTE forecast indicates that they hope to have their entire 3G network area covered with 4G LTE coverage by 2013.

AT&T is launching its first 4G LTE coverage areas this year, but the rollout is going to take time, and they’ll most likely be lagging behind Verizon in 4G LTE coverage in 2013.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be released in 2011, and the iPad 3 likely won’t come until 2012. In terms of coverage, the time is not ideal for Apple to launch a 4G iPhone 5 or 4G iPad 3.

I think that Apple would rather wait for two more product generations before releasing 4G devices (so that power consumption can come down and coverage can increase), which would mean 4G LTE compatibility with the iPhone 6 and iPad 4, but I doubt that they can wait that long.

An interim HSPA+ iPhone 5 might be more practical for Apple, but it would leave Verizon users in the rain as Verizon has no HSPA+ infrastructure.

A compromise could be for Apple to release a 4G (LTE) iPhone 5 on Verizon and a 4G (HSPA+) iPhone 5 on AT&T. I would expect that release in 2011, but the iPad 3 will likely not be released until 2012. At that time, LTE network coverage should be more favorable for AT&T, and Apple may launch a 4G (LTE) iPad 3 for both networks, then eventually bring LTE to their AT&T iPhone offering with the release of the iPhone 6 in 2012. This is a bit confusing in text, so I’ve put together a timeline (apologies if the large timeline runs off the screen on mobile browsers!):

apple 4g timeline

Some might see the release of a separate HSPA+ and LTE iPhone 5 and iPad 3 as unlikely, but it should be considered as Apple currently has two separate versions of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, one for AT&T’s HSPA 3G network, and one for Verizon’s EVDO 3G network.

Though the LTE coverage is not quite optimal for the upcoming iPhone 5, Apple can’t ignore 4G as it’s starting to be expected from the latest phones (and every major US carrier is pushing the buzz word like their life depends on it). I can’t see Apple releasing the iPhone 5 without 4G, whether that be HSPA+ or LTE.

I would certainly reconsider purchasing the next iPhone if they release it without some form of 4G. How about our readers – does 4G availability influence your smartphone purchasing decisions?



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