Tag Archive | "apple ipad"

Apple Announces ‘The New iPad’, Conspicuously Doesn’t Call it ‘iPad 3′. New Battery Tech?

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Well this is odd. No doubt you’ve heard by now that Apple has just announced the latest refresh of the iPad, but for some reason they aren’t calling it the ‘iPad 3′. This update includes nothing particularly revolutionary, but that’s not to say that they didn’t just up the bar.

See the new iPad tracking page in our mobile product database for full specifications, links, gallery, and more.

Everything major added to the ‘new’ iPad can be summed up in one sentence: it’s got 4G LTE, a 2048×1536 ‘retina’ display, an improved backside-illuminated 5MP rear camera, and an updated A5X chip which has quad-core graphics. Doesn’t sound like all that much really, right?

Why Not iPad 3?

Maybe that’s why Apple isn’t calling this the ‘iPad 3′. I’ve scoured the official marketing material and haven’t found one mention of ‘iPad 3′. Instead, Apple is insistent in using the term ‘the new iPad’. This is a really weird move because no doubt ‘iPad 3′ has way more SEO value than ‘new iPad’. For months those in the tech industry have been exclusively talking about this release as the ‘iPad 3′, but Apple is clearly avoiding that name. Why?

Maybe Apple doesn’t think that the new iPad is deserving of the iPad 3 title? While the retina display a pretty amazing feat which currently outclasses any other tablet on the market (and likely will for the next year), iOS wasn’t overhauled, and the improvements to the CPU, camera, and data options were pretty much demanded by the market at this point. Maybe Apple is finding it tough to follow their own act over the last few years of taking the market (and customers) by storm with impressive additions to the mobile ecosystem.

The closest mention of iPad 3 that I could find is contained in a summary paragraph about the new iPad on Apple’s website:

Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it’s clear. You’re actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. To make that hands-on experience even better, we made the fundamental elements of iPad better — the display, the camera, the wireless connection. All of which makes the new, third-generation iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined. [my emphasis]

I called out Samsung just the other week for causing senseless customer confusion with the nomenclature of the Galaxy Tab series. I have to do the same thing for Apple and the new iPad. If this release is being called ‘the new iPad’, what happens when the next model comes out? Will the new iPad become ‘the old iPad’? Or maybe the next model will be ‘the newer iPad’, then followed by ‘the newest iPad’. If Apple is really going to stick with ‘the new iPad’ as the name for the current release, they’d better be ready for some confused customer support calls down the line — “Yeah I’ve got a problem with my new iPad,” says the customer. “Are you talking about the old new iPad, or the latest new iPad?” goes the customer support rep.

And to get back to the SEO point… when the next iPad is released, searches for ‘new iPad’ are going to turn up results for the model that was just released, rather than whatever new model Apple releases in the future.

All of this could simply be avoided by calling it the iPad 3. Of course, this probably isn’t news to Apple. I’m willing to bet they had more than one marketing meeting about this, and somehow they came to the conclusion that ‘the new iPad’ was the best name. Exactly what benefits this could have are beyond me at the moment. Hypotheses are welcome in the comments below.

No Siri on the new iPad?

An updated A5X CPU, 4G LTE, improved camera — we could say we saw this all coming. But there’s no Siri! If one thing seemed for sure for the new iPad, it was integration with Siri. Oddly, Apple has left Siri out of the new iPad, meaning that the iPhone 4S is still the exclusive vehicle for the virtual personal assistant. Apple did say that Siri was in beta when they announced it for the iPhone 4S, and it seems it will remain that way until Apple decides to deploy it to other devices. Maybe Apple isn’t ready for the volume of Siri queries that would accompany millions of new iPads?

A sliver of Siri did make it into the new iPad — as with the iPhone 4S, you can use the dictate button on the keyboard to speak and your voice will be converted to text. Why a mere sub-routine made it to the new iPad rather than the whole thing is perhaps even more confusing than if there was no Siri functionality at all. Without Siri, new iPad users won’t be able to send messages, emails, check the weather, check their calendars, set alarms, and more, via voice command.

Why the Huge Battery?

So what’s up with that battery? 42.5Wh means nothing to most people but to me it means that Apple have just secured some amazing battery technology. You simply can’t increase a battery capacity by 70% and keep the same weight without doing something special. A few thoughts come to mind. Firstly, this could be a breakthrough in battery technology that has significant impact on the mobile ecosystem. 42.5Wh in a product that weighs 652gm? I’ve never seen anything get close to that.

Expect the MacBook Air to get a huge battery life increase based on this.

The problem is that Apple may well have just locked-up the most significant advance in mobile technology ever. If they haven’t bought the company already they will have negotiated a deal for supply of batteries for all mobile products. It includes iPhone, iPod, MBA and MacBook. If there are patents on the technology, where does that leave alternative product suppliers?

There’s another issue here too. Why does the new iPad need a 70% bigger battery for the same battery life? Apple are quoting 10hrs for Wi-Fi usage so it’s nothing to do with LTE. Is the A5X that much bigger amore powerful? I’m suspecting much bigger clockrates and many more cores across the CPU and GPU resulting in this huge increase in power requirements. Or is it the display? The display controller is now driving 4 times the number of pixels.

We’ll be looking for confirmation of the 42.5wh battery in teardowns and keeping an eye on heat and battery life.

Apple Announces March 7th Media Event for iPad 3, Tries to Steal MWC Spotlight — We Fight Back!

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Right on cue with recent reports from “insiders” and “people familiar with the matter”, Apple has gone ahead and sent out invitations to media outlets announcing a March 7th media event where the company will unveil the iPad 3.

Of course Apple had to announce it in the middle of one of the largest annual mobile tech trade shows, Mobile World Congres, which is going on right this very moment in Barcelona. Most major TV news outlets in the US are likely to be entirely unaware of the event, but I’m willing to bet there will be several mentions of Apple’s event announcement (read that again: you’ll see news covering an event announcement rather than a huge event in itself, just because the announcement is from Apple).

To honor the folks that, no doubt, spent a good deal of time and trouble preparing and reporting on all of happenings at MWC (from those who designed devices, to PR people, marketers, journalists, etc.), I’m going to open this post first with a list of all the exciting stuff we’ve seen so far from MWC. If you want coverage about Apple’s event announcement, it’s tucked neatly away at the end of this article.

Exciting Announcements from MWC!

And now on to your regularly scheduled content:

The high resolution iPad 3 retina display (2048×1536), that made the rounds a little more than a week ago, has all but been confirmed at this point; any iPad original or iPad 2 owner will be able to tell you that the text and icons as seen on the iPad shown in the invite is far sharper than that of any iPad released thus far.

Apple’s typical clever symbolism is also present in the invite photo; you can see the date on the calendar icon as March 7th, the location with the map icon is (as always) Apple’s famous 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino address (though the event is actually going to be at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), and the Keynote icon is obviously a reference to the presentation that will be given. The time for the event is 10 AM PST (1PM EST) as usual.

We don’t know much more about the iPad 3 than the high-resolution display and that it will have a similar case to the iPad 2 (possibly slightly thicker). Some accounts say it will be running a new quad-core A6 CPU, while others contest that it will be an updated dual-core ‘A5X’. I speculated back in July of 2011 that the iPad 3 would be the first iPad to include 4G LTE and I’m still sticking with it. I also recently prepared a list of what Apple would need to include in the iPad 3 for me to justify adding a ‘third device’ to my life — I doubt we’ll see much of what’s on the list, but you never know!

If you’re looking for rampant speculation (always popular with Apple topics), let’s take the invitation text, “We have something you really have to see. And touch,” out on a ridiculous limb: Something we have to see? Well, we wouldn’t be able to tell if it is a glasses-free 3D display from a 2D photo, so perhaps that is in store in addition to the retina display? And something we have to touch? Maybe Apple has come up with some revolutionary tactile display technology that allows you to ‘feel’ on screen elements?

In all likelihood, this will be an incremental increase, without anything too wild, which will further solidify the leading tablet on the market.

iPad 3 With 2048×1536 Retina Display Confirmed?

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For the last few weeks photos of purported prototype iPad 3 displays were floating around the web. Now, MacRumors actually got their hands on one and actually examined it under a microscope to confirm the resolution.

Their findings show pretty conclusively that the screen has twice the pixel density as the screen on the iPad and iPad 2:

The original iPad and iPad 2 both have a 9.7″ 1024×768 IPS display with a total of 786,432 pixels at 130.61 PPI. At twice the density, the screen that MacRumors got their hands on would be 2048×1536 (presumably also IPS), which amounts to a whopping 3,145,728 pixels at 261.22 PPI. Compare this to 1080p HDTV resolution which is 1920×1080 and 2,073,600 pixels total. Although this screen has an impressive resolution, it’s actually not all that pixel dense. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S retina screen is 960×640 at 329.65 PPI.

Doubling the size of the screen on the iPad will do a lot for the aesthetics of the UI. Going from an iPhone 4S screen to the current-generation iPad screen really reveals how much sharper the iPhone’s screen is. I’ve heard a number of people say that the iPad would make a far better e-Reader if it had a more pixel-dense screen.

Rumors about a retina display on the iPad have been around ever since the original iPad launched. But is this really the iPad 3’s screen? I trust that the folks at MacRumors have been able to correctly identify this as an iPad screen, but are we sure it’s for the iPad 3? We’ve seen lots of evidence about of Apple products attributed to prototype parts that may or may not ever make it into the final product. Recall all the rumors surrounding the ‘iPhone 5′ (which turned out to be the iPhone 4S) launch. It’s even possible that this particular screen is part of ongoing work on the iPad 4.

For now, all we know for certain is that this is an iPad screen, and it’s definitely 2048×1536. Will it make it onto the iPad 3? Apple is expected to announce the iPad 3 at the beginning of next month… only time will tell.

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.

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?

Apple Finally Takes My Suggestion and Adds a Split Keyboard to the iPad

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dial keys ipadOk… it’s rather unlikely that they even saw my old story, but back in June of 2010, I wrote an article titled ‘I’m dying for Dial Keys on the iPad’, the gist of which was that Apple should add a split-keyboard to the iPad to make it thumb-typeable. I used Dial Keys, an old UMPC program, to make a mockup of a split keyboard on the iPad, but it won’t be until nearly a year later, with the coming iOS 5 update, that Apple will add such a keyboard to the iPad.

I remember prior to the announcement of the first-generation iPad, back when it was just rumors and speculation, I was hoping that if Apple released a Slate, they’d do something that would improve the typing experience on such a large device.

Apple totally revolutionized touchscreen typing with the original iPhone by equipping it with a much more responsive capacitive touchscreen, and programming a very smart on-screen keyboard (OSK). I wanted Apple to revolutionize large touchscreen typing in the same way that they did on the smartphone, but unfortunately that didn’t happen at launch and we were stuck with a sub-par typing experience on the device (I think I can type faster on my iPhone than on the iPad).

Once I got the iPad in my hands, I was still wishing for a form of split-keyboard because thumb-typing in portrait required an annoying stretch, and thumb-typing in landscape was near impossible (which meant you couldn’t effectively type without setting the iPad on some surface)

Apple is finally adding a split keyboard to the iPad with the iOS 5 update (coming this fall).

ipad split keyboardApple’s implementation is smart because it allows you to place the keyboard anywhere along the screen, which means you place it toward the center to balance the weight of the device.

One of my complaints with the Xoom is that typing in portrait is annoying because the keyboard is at the bottom of the screen, then you’ve got the weight of the rest of the device working as leverage against your hands (this is exacerbated by the 16:9 ratio of the device). Needless to say, holding all that weight while typing with your thumbs is not an ideal experience. Placing the keyboard toward the center of the screen, I thought as I used the Xoom, would make the weight a non-issue.

The split keyboard on the iPad will work in both landscape and portrait modes, and can be split or recombined on-the-fly without having to dig through the Settings app.

Today Only: Apple iPad (original) 64GB WiFi + 3G for $499

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ipad wootOh Woot. You always catch me with an awesome tech-related deal right when I’m about to head to sleep. Today the masters of the deal-a-day sale, Woot.com, have a refurbished original iPad 64GB WiFi + 3G for an impressive $499.

If you’re looking to jump into the iPad game, this is a pretty good deal as it beats Apple’s own refurbished iPad offering by $160 (24%). Woot’s price also shaves $120 (19%) off of a brand new original iPad from Amazon.

Data on the iPad is hassle free as you don’t need to sign up for a contract and can purchase data a-la-carte – great for trips when you’re unsure whether or not you’ll have access to WiFi.

If you’re wondering if you should instead go with an iPad 2, all you need to know is that the iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, somewhat faster, has front/rear cameras, and is available with AT&T or Verizon 3G. It’s also more expensive.

The iPad is an undeniably well built tablet that still offers one of the better tablet experiences available on the market.

If this deal pertains to your interests, jump over to Woot.com to snag it before it sells out or vanishes at 12:59AM EST! (I’m calling and early sell-out on this one)

Hidden Multitasking Gestures Uncovered in iOS 4.3

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iosFor a platform that regularly takes flak for not being able to multitask, it looks like iOS is way ahead of the game when it comes to quick switching between apps.

As of iOS 4.3, four and five finger gestures are being added to the software. Using them, you can easily slide back and forth between running apps, pull up the quick-switch menu, and jump back to the home screen.

Oddly they are currently locked for developer use only, but that hasn’t stopped non-developers from enabling them.

Our friends over at GottaBeMobile.com have a guide that shows you how to unlock the gestures on any iPad (original, or the new one) running iOS 4.3. Unfortunately you’ll need a Mac, and it’ll run you $5.99, but it almost looks worth it; check out the video of the gorgeously animated gestures in action:

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The gestures are certainly more quick and natural than having to double tap the home button, then tap and on-screen element to switch apps. And while they may be natural in terms of execution, they lack initial intuitiveness. Until they are taught the first time, it isn’t straight forward to try four or five finger gestures.

There’s also the question of  whether or not implementing these gestures will limit developers. In multiplayer games like Harbor Master, you can have multiple people docking ships at once. In MultiPong, four player mode requires that each player have a finger on the screen at once. It’s possible that iOS might interpret the movement of four individuals’ fingers as a single four-finger gesture, and that would really wreak havoc on the game experience if you’re defending your goal with a paddle then suddenly switching to another app!

If I had to guess, I’d say that this is why Apple hasn’t yet enabled the gesture for all. They probably need to give developers time to specifically disable such gestures in apps that would be ruined in some way if an improper four or five-finger gesture was detected.

Everything You Need to Know About the iPad 2: Thinner, Lighter, Faster, Available March 11th, 3G on Verizon and AT&T

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ipad 2 frontThe iPad 2 is here! Are you surprised? Probably not. Apple is quite consistent with it’s product iterations. There’s nothing mind-blowing about the iPad 2, but it’s definitely set the new bar for tablets. Here’s the low-down:

Specs:

  • iOS 4.3
  • 9.7” capacitive glass screen with oleophobic (fingerprint resistant) coating @ 1024 x 768
  • Dual-core Apple A5 CPU @ 1GHz
  • Enhanced GPU that Apple claims is 9x faster
  • 16/32/64GB memory options
  • Forward-facing camera (with FaceTime support, naturally) @ 640×480 resolution
  • Rear camera for up to 720p (1280×720) video recording
  • Sensors: Gyroscope, accelerometer, light sensor, digital compass
  • WiFi a/b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3G & GPS (optional)
  • 25 watt-hour battery
  • White or black bezel options

Dimensions & Weight (and size comparisons):

ipad original ipad size compThe iPad 2 is 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.34 inches or 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8 mm. That’s right, the iPad 2 is ridiculously thin, probably the thinnest tablet on the market. It’s even more thin than the iPhone 4 (9.3 mm).

Here is the iPad 2’s size visualized against two other 10” tablets, and the original iPad:

ipad 2 comp iso

ipad 2 comp side

ipad comp top

The iPad 2 is also a bit lighter than the original iPad: 1.33 pounds (601g) vs. 1.5 pounds (680g). Here’s how its weight stacks up to the competition:

Weight was one of my major complaints in my iPad review, so it’s nice to see that they’ve been able to bring it down somewhat. Still, as Chippy noted on twitter earlier, they fell short of the important 1 pound mark.

Design

Image 51The design of the iPad 2 isn’t far off from the original, though they’ve reshaped it to make it much more like the latest generation of iPod Touch.

Specifically, they’ve flattened the dome shape on the back of the iPad, but still let the edges taper up to the sides of the device. This eliminates one of the surfaces, so now you’ve essentially got just a front and back with a smooth transition between, rather than individual sides. Keeping the sides rounded means you’ll be able to get your fingers under the device to pick it up, but the overall width of the iPad 2 has been reduced over the original.

Thanks to Apple’s iPad 2 video, we got to see some cool shots of the device’s insides. Check it out below:

Image 49

Image 50

Continue reading on page 2 (Cameras, CPU, GPU, & Battery Life, Display Mirroring & AirPlay, iOS 4.3)…

BlackBerry Playbook Goes up Against the iPad on Video

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playbookRIM has posted an official video on their BlackBerry YouTube channel and does a brief web browsing comparison with the Playbook [tracking page] and iPad [tracking page] side-by-side. It’s good to see the PlayBook in the flesh rather than as a pre-rendered animation as it’s been seen up until now. Naturally, the BlackBerry PlayBook blows the iPad out of the water (otherwise they wouldn’t have shown it). But like a movie trailer, videos like this can make something look much better than it actually is. I’m not saying the PlayBook doesn’t appear to be performing well, but they were obviously selective about their tests. Check out the video below:

How To: Simple Waterproof Bag for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, or any Capacitive Screen Device [Video]

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waterproof If you’ve ever wished you could check your RSS feeds in the shower or read an eBook in the bath without fear of dropping your device, this could be the super low-cost solution for you!

Use at your own risk!

Just pick up a box of watertight zipper bags and double bag your capacitive device inside. The screen works perfectly through the plastic and the bags will keep your device dry. I wouldn’t recommend sustained completely submerged browsing, but this simple solution works great in the shower, or as protection in case you were to drop your device in the bath or pool. Also make sure not to expose the device to temperatures too hot for an extended period of time.

I’ve always wished that I had waterproof speakers to listen to music in the shower, but apparently all I need is a waterproof iPhone. You could set speakers up in the bathroom, hooked up to a netbook or UMPC, then use the Remote app on your iDevice to control iTunes and remotely control the music. See the waterproof bag in action:

Two Awesome Multiplayer iPad Games

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One of the promises of the iPad [Portal page] is that its large capacitive touch surface would be great for having multiple people interact with content on the screen. It’s taken a little while, but I’ve finally found some games for the iPad that are, not only fun, but great for more than one player on a single iPad, and I’ve had a blast playing them with friends and family — some of which are gamers, casual gamers, or not even gamers at all — yet all of them have had fun! Check them out and consider giving them a try!

Harbor Master HD

harbor master icon Harbor Master is a free game which tasks you with guiding ships into their proper ports to have their cargo unloaded. Once the ships are free of their cargo, you need to direct them off of the screen. The challenge is to not have any ships crash into each other. The premise is simple, but things start to get hectic and fun as more and more ships start to crowd the waters, and there is even multiple types of ships to make things more challenging.

harbor master play

While Harbor Master necessarily designed to be a multiplayer game, it works great as one, and if your hoping to place anywhere on the online leaderboards, you’ll likely need a few friends to help you out with your boat managing abilities. The game works great for multiple players as each player can claim a section of the map to take care of. It makes for some great teamwork too as you send your friends ships to manage while you ensure that your section of the map is copacetic. Check out this video of Harbor Master HD on the iPad in action:

MultiPong

multipong MultiPong is an awesome little game that is clearly designed for multiple players. The game is $2.99 and supports 1-4 people on a single iPad. Think of your classic Pong, then visualize four paddles, powerups, and a dynamic play space.

The map is arranged in a square with pairs of players across from each other. There are several powerups (or sometimes powerdowns) that can be activated by hitting them with the ball:

  • Long paddle – increases paddle size
  • Energy paddle – zaps the ball when it hits your paddle, increasing it’s speed
  • Extra Life
  • Gravity – pulls the ball toward your goal for a number of seconds
  • Multi ball – splits the ball into two (can happen over and over again until you have a bunch of balls on the map)
  • Short Paddle – decreases paddle size
  • Big Ball – increases the size of the ball (can happen several times, until the ball becomes quite massive!)
  • Reverse paddle – likely the toughest of them all; reverses the direction that your paddle moves

On top of powerups, there is a dynamic play space. There are several types of bumpers, spinners, and various obstacles that will appear in the center then changed randomly. There is even an ominous storm cloud to obscure your view of the ball.multipong play

The app looks good, sounds good, and is a blast to play with friends and family! Check it out:

Question to the Readers: For $499, Which Would You Choose?

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While demonstrating the iPad to a family member the other night, and explaining the advantages/disadvantages of it when compared to a regular computer, an interesting thought popped into my head, and I’d like to hear your opinion on it.

At $499 each, which would you rather buy, and why? Let us know in the comments section.

Apple iPad:

IMG_4146

  • Apple iPhone OS variant
  • 9.7” screen @ 1024×768
  • 16GB storage
  • WiFi
  • Touchscreen
  • On screen keyboard
  • 10 hour battery life

-or-

HP Mini 311:

20100118_010

  • Windows 7
  • 11” screen @ 1366×768
  • 160GB Storage
  • WiFi
  • Full keyboard
  • 5 and 1/2 hour battery life

I’m Dying for Dial Keys on the iPad – Mockup Video Demo

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photo (2)I was really surprised that Apple didn’t do anything “magical” or “revolutionary” with the iPad’s [Portal page] on-screen-keyboard. The iPhone’s was definitely revolutionary because it was probably the first truly viable OSK – thanks to some intelligent software design and a capacitive screen instead of a resistive one. The iPad’s keyboard has that same inteiilgent software design, and a nice big capacitive screen. The problem is the big part. The iPad’s keyboard works well, but it really only works well if you can set it down on a desk in front of you so that you can touch type on it. If you are walking around with it in your hands, it works quite poorly for thumb typing. This fact alone makes the iPad annoying to use for typing if you don’t have something to set it down on.

dial keys Even since I got the iPad in my hands, I’ve been wishing for a Dial Keys-style keyboard implementation. Dial Keys, if you’ll recall, is a piece of Windows based software that was designed for touchscreen UMPCs. Dial Keys places a split radial keyboard at the corners of the device, which puts keys right in the range of one’s thumbs. If Apple allowed developers to modify the keyboard on the device, I’m sure we would have already seen something similar.

I made some mockup graphics to put on the iPad just to see what Dial Keys on the iPad would look like:

Why the iPad Can’t Function as a Computer Replacement

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ipad ball and chain There’s been quite a bit of debate, since the release of the iPad [Product page][review], over whether or not it can function as a full computer replacement. I don’t believe that anyone can seriously say that the iPad could work as a full computer replacement for someone who would consider themselves a mobile professional — there are simply too many things that the iPad either doesn’t do, or doesn’t do well enough, for that. There has been, however, some reasonably logical arguments asserting that the iPad could replace a computer for those who don’t need more functionality than that provided by a netbook. Despite the number of ways that this point could be argued — varying usage scenarios, external media support (or lack there of), apps filling/not filling needs, etc. — there is one explicit fact that can’t be argued around: An x86 computer (be it OSX or Windows based) is required to set up, update, and otherwise support the iPad.

As simple as the iPad may be to use, someone can’t walk into an Apple store, walk out with an iPad, power it on, and just go. The iPad has to be plugged into a computer with an appropriate version of iTunes installed and synced first in order to function. I wonder if any adventurous non-computer owners have gone into an Apple store to purchase an iPad only to find out at home that they can’t actually use the device unless they own computer. It’s sort of weird to think that owning a Mac or PC is actually one of the minimum requirements for using an iPad.

It might sound far fetched to think that someone who doesn’t own a computer would go out an buy an iPad. But is it really? I know several people who own cell phones and don’t own a computer. Is a 3G equipped iPad really that much different? I can tell you that not one of the people I know who own cell phones (without owning a computer) expected to have to own a computer in order to operate their phone. With the iPad, that assumption would lead to some issues.

Even though one can create an iTunes store account directly on the iPad — enabling one to download media and apps — the iPad will always have to fall back on a good old fashioned computer in the long hall. At this point, besides the ability to update apps in a standalone fashion, the iPad cannot update over the air; it has to be plugged into a computer in order to update, if and when Apple releases new firmware.

There is nothing about the iPad itself that makes it impossible to be free of the clutches of a good old fashioned computer; Apple simply hasn’t set things up in that manner. Apple could rectify this issue by offering to activate the iPad in the store before the customer leaves, but they’d also have to do in-store updates for computerless customers, which seems a bit far fetched. Apple could change their update schema to allow for self-updating of the iPad so that it could update itself without the aid of a computer. While they’re at it, they could remove “ownership of a PC or Mac” from the iPad’s minimum requirement list so that users can pull it out of the box and start iPadding without an initial computer sync. Once these technical requirements are out of the way, people can go back to arguing whether or not the iPad is a computer replacement based on needs rather than having the iPad indisputably stuck with the proverbial ball and chain, that some people will tell you, an old fashioned computer is.

Then again, Apple has never quite positioned the iPad as a standalone computer replacement to begin with, which is an important consideration to make. They’ve compared the device to netbooks — saying that the iPad can do things much better — which may have been the reason we’ve seen so many arguments for or against that particular point. In the end, the iPad’s reliance on a full fledged computer is likely by-design: Apple doesn’t want people to buy the iPad instead of a computer, they want people to buy it in addition to a computer. They simply try to position the iPad as a better secondary computing device than a netbook, while still requiring a full computer for setup and updates, despite the fact that they could allow the iPad to function all by itself.

Why the iPad Can’t Function as a Standalone Computer

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There’s been quite a bit of debate, since the release of the iPad, over whether or not the iPad can function as a full computer replacement. I don’t believe that anyone can seriously say that the iPad could work as a full computer replacement for anyone who would consider themselves a mobile professional — there are simply too many things that the iPad either doesn’t do, or doesn’t do well enough for that. There has been, however, some reasonably logical arguments asserting that the iPad could replace a computer for those who don’t need more functionality than that provided by a netbook.

Despite the number of ways that this point could be argued — varying usage scenarios, external media support (or lack there of), apps filling/not filling needs, etc. — there is one inexplicable fact that can’t be argued around: An x86 computer (be it OSX or Windows based) is required to set up the iPad.

As simple as the iPad may be to use, someone can’t walk into an Apple store, walk out with an iPad, power it on, and just “go”. The iPad has to be plugged into a computer with an appropriate version of iTunes installed and synced first in order to function.

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