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Targus buys Sena Cases

Accessory maker Targus is acquiring Sena Cases, a long-time iPod, iPhone, and iPad case maker best known for high-end leather products. Sena will continue to operate under its own brand, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Targus; both are based in Southern California. Sena’s new leather iPad mini cases were noted in a recent iPad mini case roundup. [via OCBJ]

iPad mini delivered to French customer, unboxed

A customer has received a white iPad mini prior to the Nov. 2 release date, after ordering it last Friday from French reseller Darty.Fr. French website igen.fr posted photos of the unboxing.

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Shots of the device and its packaging are included — in addition to photos comparing the iPad mini’s packaging to the full-sized iPad and its packaging. The Lightning cable can be seen as well, though there are notably no pictures of the power adapter, which has remained somewhat ambiguous since the device’s announcement.

iPhone 5 closer to China launch

iPhone 5 is closer to launching in China, as two models have been approved for use on Chinese mobile networks by State Radio Management, Chinese blog Sina Tech reports. The A1429 model can support the networks of China Unicom and China Mobile, while the A1442 model supports China Telecom’s network. There’s long been speculation that Apple could finally reach a deal with China Mobile — China’s largest mobile carrier. Once the iPhone 5 secures a network-access license, it can be sold in China. No launch date has been announced as of yet. [via CNET]

Apple: iTunes 11 delayed until November

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Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr has informed CNET that iTunes 11 will not ship in October as originally announced; it is now expected by the end of November. “The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,” Neumayr said. “We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface, and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”

Forstall, Browett gone: Behind Apple’s shake-up

Apple’s major announcement late Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall and retail chief John Browett were leaving the company has already led to early reports and speculation on what prompted the departures. A report from Fortune suggests that Forstall’s fate was sealed by his refusal to sign Apple’s apology letter for the launch of Maps, an iOS 6 feature that was met with worldwide ridicule after its launch. Ultimately, the letter to customers was only signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

It’s also said that Forstall didn’t get along with Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive, as well as other Apple employees. The New York Times reports that Forstall and Ive wouldn’t sit in the same meeting room together, and that Forstall would insert himself into product development beyond his role at Apple. Ive is now listed as chief of human interface at Apple — initial speculation suggests that Apple will move away from skeuomorphic design, which Forstall supported.

As Forstall transitions out of the company, he will remain an advisor to Cook until “next year.” As the Times noted, the mood at Apple was apparently positive regarding Forstall’s departure. GigaOM reports that “Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups.” It’s also noted that Forstall’s exit was “fairly last minute and not something he initiated.” Browett’s exit from Apple was not nearly as unexpected, given well-publicized issues with his leadership of the retail division, and the company searches for a new head of retail to take his place.

Apple exec shake-up: Forstall, Browett leaving

In a stunning and unexpected press release at the end of the business day, Apple has announced that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall and retail chief John Browett are leaving Apple, apparently as the result of issues that have been widely publicized over the past year.

A long-time Apple employee whose work with former CEO Steve Jobs dated back to their time at NeXT, Forstall was previously referred to as Apple’s “CEO in waiting,” in reference to his close relationship with Jobs, somewhat similar temperament, and focus on minute details of human interface design. Loosely attributed reports in business publications claimed that Forstall was difficult to work with, and suggested that a number of key Apple employees had departed the company following disputes with him. Additional reports noted that a battle was brewing inside Apple regarding the company’s modern, clean-lined hardware, and skeuomorphic software interfaces that were thought by some to be visually distracting or busy. Complaints regarding the reliability of Siri and Maps, two marquee features introduced by Forstall for iOS 5 and iOS 6, respectively, have also been widespread.

Browett was hired by Apple to lead the retail division following the departure of Ron Johnson, who left to become CEO of J.C. Penney’s. A veteran of British retail, Browett’s brief term was marked by complaints from retail workers regarding poor morale and short-sighted cost-cutting efforts that compromised the Apple Store experience.

According to Apple, Jonathan Ive will take on leadership and direction for human interface design across the company, adding former Forstall software “look and feel” responsibilities to his role as Apple’s industrial design chief. Eddy Cue will become responsible for Siri and Maps, apparently taking over those online services from Scott Forstall. Craig Federighi will become responsible for iOS and OS X, and Bob Mansfield will lead a new Technologies group, leading all of Apple’s wireless and semiconductor teams. Apple is now searching for a “new head of Retail,” and in the interim, the Retail team will report to CEO Tim Cook. The full Apple press release is reposted after the break.

Freedom Sleeve Rocket adds 4G to 4th-gen iPod touch

FreedomPop has announced the Freedom Sleeve Rocket ($99), a case that turns the fourth-generation iPod touch into a device that can use 4G wireless data, in addition to acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices. The Freedom Sleeve Rocket allows for a minimum of 500 MB of free wireless data per month — the device uses Clearwire’s 4G network and is scheduled to expand on Sprint’s 4G LTE network next year.

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While using data on FreedomPop’s network, the Freedom Sleeve Rocket allows the iPod touch to stream video and make VOIP calls without a contract. FreedomPop claims the sleeve can deliver speeds up to 10x faster than current 3G speeds available on the iPhone4/4S. The Freedom Sleeve Rocket is only available for the fourth-generation iPod touch, as no other devices are mentioned. It ships today.

Philips Hue Wi-Fi lightbulbs in Apple stores Oct. 30

Philips announced that Hue, its web-enabled LED smart lighting system, will be exclusively available in Apple Stores Tuesday, Oct. 30. Hue allows a new generation of color-shifting, Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs to be controlled wirelessly using an app. An expensive $199 starter pack includes three 50W bulbs that fit in existing light fixtures, plus a bridge for a Wi-Fi router. Each additional individual bulb sells for a staggering $59. Users can set timers, change shades and colors, and save settings so certain “light scenes” can be recalled at any time; the app also enables users to sample colors from their favorite images, and watch as the bulbs match those colors. The bulbs can switch between various white tones and colors — Hue’s website claims the bulbs can “recreate any color in the spectrum.”

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Philips claims Hue is “upgradeable and future-proof” and more features could be available for download in the future. These features could come from other developers; Philips has created an open source platform for the system, available on the Hue website.

East Coast Apple stores prep, close for hurricane

As the East Coast of the United States prepares for Hurricane Sandy, Apple stores are attempting to limit possible damage from the storm. Stores in five states and Washington DC have been closed, according to ifoAppleStore.com, and roughly 50 Apple stores are within or near Sandy’s landfall precaution zone. Notably, New York City’s below-ground Fifth Avenue storefront has been lined with sandbags, and inside, the display table products have been wrapped in plastic. Some other stores in the landfall zone are being similarly protected.

Our best wishes go out to all the people who have already been impacted by the hurricane, as well as those who are currently in its path.

Viral Facebook post on AT&T FaceTime limit hits 690k likes

A Facebook post questioning AT&T’s restrictions on FaceTime over Cellular has gone viral, racking up more than 690,000 “likes” and more than 51,000 comments as of this writing. In a Facebook post directed at AT&T, a customer named Wynter Farmer notes her disappointment with AT&T forcing customers to switch to a more expensive, limited data plan in order to use FaceTime over Cellular on the iPhone 5. “In order for FaceTime to be used without WiFi a Family Share Plan is required. That plan has limited data. It took me a second to wrap my head around that,” Farmer wrote, noting that she currently has an unlimited data plan.

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The post ends with Farmer writing, “If AT&T doesn’t delete this post please like it to show them you also think it is an underhanded, unfair and despicable way to treat their loyal customers.” The post was written on Oct. 14 and is still racking up comments and likes by the minute, illustrating that user anger over AT&T’s restrictions has not subsided.

Apple increases EU App Store prices, adds currencies

Apple has increased the prices of apps sold in Europe due to exchange rates, ComputerWorld notes. The minimum price for an app purchased in the Euro zone is now €0.89 —about $1.15 — up from €0.79. Apple takes about 39 percent of each sale, while developers get roughly 61 percent. “From time to time Apple adjusts prices of products in countries due to changes in exchange rates,” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said in an email.

Also, more app buyers can now make purchases in their local currencies instead of U.S. dollars. Local currencies supported in the App Store now include Russian rubles, Turkish lira, Indian rupees, Indonesian rupiah, Israeli shekels, Saudi Arabian riyals, South African rand, United Arab Emirates dirhams, and Danish kroner.

iPad mini: White Wi-Fi sold out, cellular coming Nov. 21?

Apple’s white and silver iPad mini is currently listed as available to ship in two weeks, according to Apple’s website. MacRumors noted that the white and silver mini’s shipping date changed to two weeks within the first 17 minutes of its release. The black and slate iPad mini is still listed for delivery on Nov. 2 as of this writing, at least within the United States.

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Some customers of iPad minis with Wi-Fi and Cellular have seen a delivery date of Nov. 23 via standard shipping, according to 9to5Mac, while others report a delivery date of Nov. 21 with expedited shipping. Apple’s web site only lists the LTE models as shipping in mid-November, and the company originally noted that it expected to ship them a couple of weeks after the Wi-Fi versions; it’s possible that the Nov. 21 and 23 dates come from second shipments.

Updated Oct. 29: The black and slate Wi-Fi iPad mini is also listed as available to ship in two weeks on Apple’s website after its first shipment sold out over the weekend. Both the black and white Wi-Fi versions of the new fourth-generation iPad are currently listed as available to ship in one week. The Wi-Fi and Cellular versions of the two new tablets still show shipping availability as “mid-November.”

iPod touch vs. iPad poll ends, iPad mini poll begins

With over 1,600 votes from iLounge readers, our most recent poll—“Which one of the following four products would you be most likely to purchase today for your own use?”—has ended. Readers were asked whether they would purchase a 3.5” fourth-generation iPod touch, a 4” fifth-generation iPod touch, a 7.85” smaller iPad or a 9.7” full-sized iPad, or whether they would purchase none at all, either because they already have an iPhone or simply aren’t interested in any iOS devices at all.

Over 80 percent of respondents indicated that they would purchase at least one of the devices, with about forty percent of readers opting for the 7.85” smaller iPad, 23 percent for the 9.7” full-sized iPad and 17 percent preferring the 4” fifth-generation iPod touch. Two percent of respondents indicated that they would still prefer the 3.5” fourth-generation iPod touch, even in light of these newer devices. 20 percent of readers expressed no interest at all in the iPod touch or iPad models, with most of these people already owning an iPhone.

With pre-orders for the new iPad mini beginning today, our new poll asks whether you are ordering one or not, and why. If you’re ordering an iPad mini or plan to, is this your first iPad device, a second iPad device, or is it replacing a full-sized iPad? If not, is it because you’re waiting for the next model, getting a full-sized iPad instead, already have another iOS device you’re happy with or are simply not interested in owning any iOS devices at all?  Our new poll—“Are you ordering an iPad mini?” lets you answer that question. As always, you can find the iLounge Poll in the left-hand column of the main iLounge.com homepage. Cast your vote today!

Apple snipes at Samsung in U.K. court-required ad

Although Apple was ordered by a U.K. court to publicize a finding that Samsung’s Galaxy had not infringed the iPad’s design, Apple used the opportunity to take a few jabs at its rival, as well as to undermine the international value of the court’s findings. The company posted a page quoting the judge’s original ruling, noting that the iPad “is a cool design” while the Samsung Galaxy tablets “are not as cool.” Added to the end of the court-required disclosures are Apple’s court victories over Samsung in Germany and the U.S., concluding, “So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.” Posted as a link at the bottom of Apple’s U.K. website, the entire statement can be read here.

iPad mini, iPad (4th-Gen) sales begin; Nov. 2, mid-Nov. shipping

Apple has officially started pre-orders for the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad announced earlier this week, with prices starting at $329 and $499, respectively. Wi-Fi-only versions of both devices will be available starting on November 2, and cellular versions will begin to ship in “mid November,” according to the Apple Store.

It’s noteworthy that the Apple Store web site is offering the company’s older 5W USB Power Adapter as an optional additional $19 accessory for the iPad mini, rather than the newly-introduced 12W USB Power Adapter, which sells for the same price and apparently offers faster-speed recharging for some iPads. Apple’s web site notes only that the iPad mini includes a “USB Power Adapter,” but doesn’t specify which version comes in the box; an earlier report suggested that both new iPads would include the more powerful 12W Adapter. Charging times for the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad have oddly been left ambiguous by the company, which generally has offered estimates of time required for refueling—a practice that quietly changed when the third-generation iPad’s recharging time became considerably slower.

The company also began to sell Lightning to USB Camera Adapters and Lightning to SD Card Camera Readers, which were not previously available for sale following their announcement. It is currently offering iPad mini Smart Covers in a variety of colors, and continuing to sell Lightning to Digital AV and Lightning to VGA Adapters, which became available to order immediately after the announcement.

Notes from Apple’s Q4 2012 Conference Call

During Apple’s fourth quarter 2012 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod businesses.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, noted that the iPod touch continued to account for over 50% of iPods sold, and continues to account for 70% of market share, according to NPD. This is despite declines in overall iPod sales.

Oppenheimer also noted that the demand for the iPhone 5 continues to outstrip supply and the company continues to work as hard as it can to get an iPhone into the hands of every customer who wants one.

Additional details are available by clicking on the title of this article.

Apple Q4 2012: 27m iPhones, 14m iPads, 5.3m iPods

Reporting its fourth quarter 2012 financial results today, Apple said it sold 26.9 million iPhones in the quarter, a 58 percent increase year-over-year, up somewhat from 26 million units in the prior quarter. Apple sold 14 million iPads during the quarter, up 26 percent from the year-ago quarter but down from 17 million units in the third quarter of 2012. Finally, the company said it sold 5.3 million iPods during the quarter — a 19 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Unit sales of iPhones, iPads, and iPods bring the cumulative totals for the three device categories to 271 million, 98.08 million, and 356.38 million, respectively, though Apple did note at a media event several days ago that iPad sales have since surpassed the 100 million mark.

Apple posted revenue of $35.97 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $28.27 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.62 billion, or $7.05 per diluted share in Q4 2011. Revenue from Other Music Related Products and Services, which includes revenue from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore in addition to sales of iPod services and Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, was 2.29 billion for the quarter, up 43 percent year-over-year and 29 percent from the prior quarter. Apple’s Board of Directors also declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on November 15, 2012, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 12, 2012.

“We’re very proud to end a fantastic fiscal year with record September quarter results,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re entering this holiday season with the best iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod products ever, and we remain very confident in our new product pipeline.”

“We’re pleased to have generated over $41 billion in net income and over $50 billion in operating cash flow in fiscal 2012,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2013, we expect revenue of about $52 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $11.75.”

Bloomberg: Apple plans early 2013 streaming radio service

Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently negotiating with major record labels to launch an ad-supported Internet radio service within the first three months of 2013. Previously rumored, the service is said to be similar to those offered by Pandora and others, although it will allow users more flexibility as to what they hear. According to the report, advertising revenues have weighed heavily in the negotiations, as the labels are seeking a percentage of ad sales, while Apple wants to grow its iAd platform.

iPad mini case roundup: Belkin, WaterField, Sena

Companies have continued to roll out cases for the iPad mini, and today brings a new collection of cases from Belkin, Waterfield and Sena. Belkin introduced five new cases: the Chambray Tab Cover with Stand ($30), Quilted Cover with Stand ($40), Striped Cover with Stand ($40), Dot Cover with Stand ($40), and Classic Tab Cover with Stand ($30). As their names suggest, all five cases feature a front cover and stand, remaining closed with a magnetic tab closure.

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WaterField Designs is featuring iPad mini versions of nearly all of its iPad cases, including the Travel Express ($59-$69), Slip Case ($27), Ultimate SleeveCase ($59-$65), EXO SleeveCase ($53-$59), Smart Case ($57), Wallet ($69), Outback Sleeve ($39), and Suede Jacket ($15-$36). Also, Sena announced four leather cases for the mini, including the Envy ($107), Jornal ($80), Florence ($70), and Folio ($70). See roundups from Tuesday and Wednesday for more iPad mini cases.

Jawbone to re-release UP at higher $130 price

iLounge has learned that Jawbone is on the cusp of re-releasing its UP bracelet, which was released last year only to be withdrawn from the market following user complaints. Originally sold for $100, UP debuted as a wearable, battery-powered motion sensor with an iOS app for tracking “activity, sleep and meals 24/7.” Acknowledging that “some people have experienced issues” with UP bands, Jawbone notably offered a full refund to customers who weren’t satisfied with the product. The new model will cost $130, and will come in black, blue, mint green, and red, each in small, medium, and large sizes. It’s unclear what improvements have been made to the new model, however, Bluetooth support was a glaring omission from the original band, which used a 3.5mm headphone plug to share data with iOS devices. We’ve reached out to Jawbone for more information and will update this article when we receive it.

Updated Nov. 13: Jawbone officially announced the re-release of UP ($130) today. UP will come in onyx, mint green, light grey, blue, navy blue, red, orange, and hunter green in small, medium, and large sizes. The re-release includes a new Power Nap feature, mood tracking, and delivers “highly personalized insights.” Notably, the device still syncs through the headphone jack, rather than Bluetooth.

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