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AT&T locks Apple SIM cards upon activation in iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3

 

Users who activate Apple’s own SIM card to use an AT&T data plan with the Wi-Fi + Cellular models of iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 are finding the SIM will lock itself to AT&T, and can no longer be used by another network. Though it appeared the SIM card would be interchangeable between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — though not Verizon — it’s not the case with AT&T. The issue was confirmed by Re/code through AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel, who said users will need another SIM card to switch carriers, as the device remains unlocked. Why did AT&T decide to lock its card, unlike T-Mobile or Sprint? Siegel said “it’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.” An Apple support document notes: “If your Apple SIM becomes dedicated to a specific network and you want to choose from other carrier programs, you can purchase a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store.” T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted a screenshot of AT&T’s SIM card prompt on Thursday. [via MacRumors]

iTunes music sales down at least 13 percent worldwide

A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals that iTunes music sales have fallen by 13 to 14 percent worldwide this year, citing people familiar with the matter. This is in stark contrast to only a 2.1 percent overall dip last year in global revenue from music downloads – a decline that was said to be offset by increases from ad-supported and subscription services. As previously reported, Apple has been working to cut music subscription prices and has plans to rebuild its recently-acquired Beats Music and relaunch it next year as an iTunes service, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Despite the drop, Apple remains the largest seller of music in the world, both physical and digital, and according to music executives, its dominance over other digital music stores is “especially pronounced.” Although overall music sales were mostly steady last year due to physical CD sales, some record company executives are reportedly concerned that the music industry could fall into decline if download sales drop more quickly than streaming service growth accelerates. Notably, executives are working to persuade users of online music services to pay a monthly subscription fee, rather than using free ad-supported services which are said to generate considerably less revenue for the music labels. According to the RIAA, streaming services now account for nearly one-third of the revenue from recorded music in the U.S.

Notably, Apple reported a healthy increase in overall iTunes sales this quarter, which includes other types of content such as apps, movies, and books, although the company does not break out sales by individual content type.

Daily Deal: The Retro Classics Nintendo + Gameboy iPhone 6/6+ Cases, only $14

Today in iLounge Deals you can pick up a classic retro Nintendo controller or Gameboy iPhone 6 or 6 Plus case for only $14 – 30% off the regular price. Providing a unique look for your new iPhone, these thin and stylish cases provide added protection without extra bulk, and are made from hard plastic rather than silicone, and include a premium leather oil finish.

Get your retro classic Nintendo or Gameboy case now for only $14

iPad Air 2 includes NFC chip, but likely won’t be used (Updated)

Earlier this week, iFixit’s teardown of the iPad Air 2 revealed the unexpected presence of an NXP 65V10 NFC Controller chip. This is the same NFC chip found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, where it is presently used for Apple Pay wireless payments at retail locations. While Apple announced last week that the iPad Air 2 would include Apple Pay support, this was limited to storing credit card information for online transactions, and specifically excluded point-of-sale merchant payments, presumably due to the impracticality of using the much larger full-sized iPad for such things.

Despite speculation that the NFC chip is for an as-yet-unannounced Apple Pay enabled cash register, a search of the FCC’s device certification database suggests that Apple did not seek certification for any NFC functionality in the iPad Air 2, as it would have needed to do if the chip was to be used for wireless communications. Further, no evidence of an NFC antenna was found inside the iPad Air 2.

Apple notably filed a patent earlier this year to enable NFC and non-NFC wireless antennas to be coupled together, suggesting the possibility that existing antennas could do double-duty for NFC purposes. But if this patent was being used in the iPad Air 2, an FCC filing would have been required.

Updated: Through a source, a new report from 9to5Mac confirms that the iPad Air 2’s NFC chip will not be used for wireless transactions, and is instead serving only as a “secure element” to hold credit card information. iFixit notably has also discovered the same NXP chip inside the iPad mini 3, where it serves the same purpose.

Apps of the Week: Inbox by Gmail, Pixelmator, NHL 2K + more

New Apps

Inbox by Gmail (Free*) — A new app by Google has been getting a lot of buzz this week for its approach to reinventing the way that e-mail is managed. The key benefit here is Google using its algorithmic magic to try and group your incoming e-mails into bundles based on categories like Travel, Finance, Purchases, Social, and so forth to make it easier to manage your incoming flow. You can pin individual items to mark them as important, and then sweep the rest away into your archive or trash at the push of a button. Each bundle gets its own notification settings, and you can create your own and automatically file messages based on the usual search criteria. Inbox also borrows a page from Dropbox’s Mailbox app, allowing you to snooze individual items to return to your inbox later, but takes it a step further with location-based snoozes, so you can file away that e-mail about getting that TPS report done until you actually get back to work on Monday.

Right now the iOS version of Inbox is available for the iPhone only, and you’ll need a golden ticket in the form of an invite to play. However, Google employees have been given stacks of invites to hand out, and those who have been invited already should get more to share, so it should only be a matter of days before anybody who really wants access can get it. Google is no stranger to this game, of course, pioneering an arguably revolutionary new approach to e-mail when it first debuted Gmail ten years ago. While only time will tell whether Inbox has the same impact, what Google has done here is definitely a very interesting approach to handling a decades-old technology.

 

Pixelmator ($5) — When Pixelmator debuted on the Mac a few years ago, it turned out to be a very popular choice for many users who might have otherwise defaulted to simply going with the considerably more expensive Photoshop, providing almost all of the functionality that most users really needed in an image editor in a seriously inexpensive package. The Pixelmator Team has now brought that same power to the iPad version in a $5 app that provides a plethora of image editing tools in a user-friendly app that feels right at home on iOS. Right out of the box, Pixelmator provides a nice collection of templates to get you started, and then takes you into an intuitive collection of tools for doing everything from adding effects to painting, color-correcting, retouching, and repairing.

As with its Mac counterpart, Pixelmator also provides full support for layer-based editing on the iPad, allowing you to select any part of an image and apply corrections or effects to it, or remove it entirely. You can also cut and paste objects between different images, and add non-destructive layer styles and change them any time. A huge collection of effects is also included to help you give your images that extra artistic punch, from vintage effects to bokeh lights. All of the typical image file formats are supported, including opening PSD files with layers intact. Best of all, Pixelmator is built specifically to take advantage of the latest-generation iPads for high performance, and it integrates nicely into the iOS environment, providing full iCloud Drive support rather than trying to get you to use its own cloud service, syncing your work across your Macs and iPads.

First Look: Apple iPad mini 3

Unlike the iPad Air 2, Apple's iPad mini 3 ($399-$729) has hardly changed at all when compared to its predecessor. The new tablet adds Touch ID and a gold color option with a white face, and now comes solely in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities. And that's about it. Nevertheless, we'll still be putting the tablet through its paces and giving it a proper review — though it will be much shorter than our usual reviews for new Apple devices. iPad mini 3 is still sold in Wi-Fi ($399-$599) and Wi-Fi + Cellular ($529-$729) versions. It ships with the same exact power adapter as the iPad Air 2 — a 10W adapter.

iPad mini 3 unboxing and comparison gallery posted

iLounge has posted an unboxing and comparison gallery for Apple’s new iPad mini 3. In a full photo gallery, we take a closer look at Apple’s newest mini tablet, along with photos comparing the iPad mini 3 to other Apple devices. More pictures will be added throughout the day. Also be sure to check out Wednesday’s iPad Air 2 gallery, and check back soon for our full reviews of both new iPads.

iPad Air 2 Control Center features separate mute and rotation buttons

With the removal of the side switch from the new iPad Air 2, Apple has added separate mute and rotation buttons to the iOS 8.1 Control Center to replace the missing functionality, exclusive to the new device. The switch itself has had something of an identity crisis over the years, with Apple originally debuting it as a rotation lock when the iPad was first released, then later unceremoniously changing it to a mute switch before finally giving users a choice as to its function. The iOS Control Center has traditionally included a button to toggle whichever of the two functions was not assigned to the side switch; Apple has now removed the switch and simply added controls for both settings into the Control Center.

GT Advanced announces settlement with Apple

As was reported Wednesday, GT Advanced Technologies has now officially announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Apple. The announcement reveals GT will retain ownership of its production, ancillary, and inventory assets in Mesa, Arizona. GT will also be given four years interest-free to repay Apple $439 million – money that the company will earn by selling its sapphire furnaces. Although GT is leaving the sapphire production business, the company and Apple will “continue their technical exchange involving the development of processes for growing next generation sapphire boules.”

iPad Air 2 ships with 10W power adapter

Our initial look at the iPad Air 2 reveals that Apple is bundling a 10W/2.1A power adapter with its newest iPad model – a step back down from the 12W/2.4A unit that has been included with the last two generations of full-sized iPad models. While a 10W power adapter would theoretically require longer charging times, iFixit’s recent teardown confirmed that the iPad Air 2 contains a smaller battery than its predecessor, suggesting a possible justification for the lower-powered adapter. It remains to be seen how much of a practical impact this will have, if any, in real-world use; the Air 2 may not charge any faster with the more powerful adapter.






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