RadioShack is requiring customers wishing to purchase iPad 2 units to purchase AppleCare as well, and possibly an accessory as well, iLounge has learned. According to multiple reader reports, the stores are very limited on the stock they are receiving, with one sales associate saying that AppleCare was required with an iPad 2 purchase as it was the only way Apple would allow the company to sell the device. It appears some stores are also requiring the purchase of an accessory, although it is less clear as to whether this is a company-wide policy or something that’s being implemented on a store-by-store basis. RadioShack began selling the iPad 2 at 500 of its stores earlier today. [Thanks, Rob]
RadioShack will begin to offer the iPad 2 at 500 locations around the United States tomorrow, March 29, according to a new report. Citing an internal RadioShack notice, Mac Rumors reports that stores that will offer the device have been sent details about the launch; the report notes that representatives at multiple stores have confirmed that they are scheduled to launch the device tomorrow, but stock levels are unknown. iLounge has contacted RadioShack for comment on the story and will update this post if/when we receive a reply.
Update: RadioShack has since confirmed its iPad 2 rollout, and is now offering an online tool to help customers find stores carrying the device.
In reply to a customer email, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller has suggested that Apple won’t be making a Keyboard Dock for the iPad 2. 9to5Mac reports that the customer’s email read, “From what I’ve heard, the Apple keyboard dock is not made for the iPad 2. Is there an iPad 2 version that I can’t find on your online store – or is it coming soon?” While Schiller did not directly answer the question, he did suggest that most users prefer to use the device’s soft keyboard. “People prefer to use the iPad’s built in soft keyboard most all of the time, it works very well,” Schiller said in his response. “Those that do choose to use an external keyboard most often choose to use Apple’s bluetooth wireless keyboard for the convenience it provides.”
As noted in our comprehensive review of the iPad 2, Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock works properly with the iPad 2, as does the original iPad Dock.
Apple has released iOS 4.3.1 for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, the update fixes an occasional graphics glitch on the fourth-generation iPod touch, resolves bugs related to activating and connecting to some cellular networks, fixes an image flicker issue when using the Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs, and resolves an issue authenticating with some enterprise web services, among other big fixes and improvements. iOS 4.3.1 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes.
Verizon Wireless retail stores are currently offering deep discounts on first-generation iPad models. According to The Appera, the company is selling 16GB units for $299, 32GB models for $399 and 64GB units for $499. The 64GB price, in particular, represents a $100 savings over Apple’s clearance pricing; according to the report, no contract is required for purchase. Verizon started selling the first-generation Wi-Fi-only iPad on October 28, 2010, bundled with a Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, with pricing matching the GSM Wi-Fi + 3G model. [via Mac Rumors]
To celebrate the start of the Formula 1 racing season, Firemint has announced that an upcoming update for its Real Racing 2 HD game will enable full HD, 1080p output via the Apple Digital AV Adapter. According to the company, the feature will be a first for iOS, and will offer 30 frames per second performance, real-time telemetry, and a “console-like” experience. Real Racing 2 HD is available now from the App Store for $10; the 1080p HD output will require an iPad 2.
Lines for the launch of the iPad 2 have begun to form in many of the 25 countries where the device will go on sale tomorrow. iFun.de (Translated Link) reports that two men in folding armchairs were camped out the Apple Store in Munich, Germany more than 24 hours before the launch; when asked about the cold night ahead of them, they said they were well equipped. According to iTWire, the line outside the Apple Store in Sydney, Australia has now wrapped around the corner and is expected to grow throughout the night, while the first person in line outside Apples Regent Street store in London got there at 7:30 this morning, local time, saying, “I was fourth in the queue for the first iPad, and it was such an amazing atmosphere, I really wanted to be first this time.” The iPad 2 will launch in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK tomorrow at 5 p.m. local time. [via Fortune]
Apple is in the process of launching its online sales across the 25 countries slated to receive the iPad 2 tomorrow. As noted by iLounge reader Michael W, online ordering is now open in in Australia and New Zealand—orders are slated to open at 1:00 a.m. local time in each country where the product is launching—and new orders are showing a 2-3 week estimated ship time. Mac Rumors adds that Apple typically maintains separate distribution channels for its North American, European, and Asian markets, thus shipment estimates in the countries where online orders have yet to begin could be different. Meanwhile, Apple has dropped its estimated shipping wait time for new iPad 2 orders placed on the U.S. online store from 4-5 weeks down to 3-4 weeks, suggesting that the supply shortages seen for the device in its first two weeks of availability may be starting to subside.
Taptalk has released an update to its iOS forum app adding native iPad support and the ability to perform basic forum moderation tasks. Tapatalk provides a native iOS user interface for quickly accessing any of thousands of discussion forums that have activated the Taptalk plugin including our own iLounge Discussion Forums. Supported forums include phpBB3, vBulletin, Invision Power Board, Simple Machine Forum and XenForo, iOS device users can browse and search through forums, create, edit and reply to topics and access private messages. Advanced features include Facebook integration, direct image uploading, quick access to unread and participated topics and optional geo-tagging of posts. Tapatalk 1.11 adds the ability for vBulletin, phpBB and XenForo forum moderators to delete/undelete, stick/unstick and lock/unlock forum threads and posts and provides a new tab for quick access to moderator-related features. The update also adds general UI and performance improvements, bug fixes and improved French and Arabic language support. Tapatalk is now a universal app and is available from the App Store for $3. Forum administrators will need to update the Tapatalk forum plug-in to provide access to the new moderation features.
Apple has met with Taiwan-based touch panel manufacturers, discussing the possibility of price hikes in order to secure sufficient supply of the sought after components, according to a new report. Citing the panel manufacturers themselves, DigiTimes reports that should Apple agree to the price hikes, it would greatly help the overall supply chain, even if for the short term, and would also put increased pressure on other tablet and smartphone manufacturers. In addition, the report claims that in order to hit its internal shipment goal of 40 million iPads in 2011, Apple has booked over 60 percent of global touch panel capacity, and that despite the supply concerns caused by the devastating earthquake in Japan, Apple’s should have an easier time garnering supply than its rivals.
In preparation for its 25-country international rollout of the iPad 2 tomorrow, Apple has started to reveal its pricing for many of the countries in which the device will be available. According to SetteB.IT, most countries in the eurozone will see the same pricing across the board, with Wi-Fi models priced at €479 for 16GB, €579 for 32GB, and €679 for 64GB; Wi-Fi + 3G units are €120 more than their Wi-Fi-only counterparts. Notably, these prices are slightly higher in France due to government fees. In the UK, iPad 2 Wi-Fi pricing ranges £399 for a 16GB unit to £559 for a 64GB model; Wi-Fi + 3G units are £100 more expensive when not purchased on a contract. Overall, Australia and New Zealand have the cheapest pricing among the 25 new countries, while Denmark, Norway, and Sweden offer the highest prices.
IMDb has released an update to its universal app for iOS devices adding several new features including a watchlist, online movie ticket purchasing, and AirPlay support. With IMDb 2.1 users can now create and maintain a watchlist to track movies and TV shows that interest them, view all of the movies and TV shows that they have rated on IMDb and get live search results as they type. The update also adds improved showtime listings for movie theatres based on distance from the user’s current location and allows users in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Spain to purchase movie tickets directly within the app. iOS 4.3 users can also now stream movie trailers to their Apple TV with the addition of AirPlay video support. The update also adds an Entertainment News section to provide more news and updates about movies, TV shows and celebrities. IMDb Movies & TV 2.1 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Amid widespread shortages of the device in the U.S., Apple has confirmed that it plans to launch the iPad 2 in 25 additional countries this Friday, March 25. According to the company, the iPad 2 will be available at Apple retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers at 5 p.m. local time, and through the online Apple Store beginning at 1 a.m, in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Pricing is listed in the release in US dollars. In addition to announcing the first international rollout details, Apple also announced that the iPad 2 will be available in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and additional countries in April, and in “many more” countries in the coming months.
“While competitors are still struggling to catch up with our first iPad, we’ve changed the game again with iPad 2,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re experiencing amazing demand for iPad 2 in the US, and customers around the world have told us they can’t wait to get their hands on it. We appreciate everyone’s patience and we are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”
Based on multiple reader and third-party reports, Apple retail stores across the country are continuing to see daily lineups in the morning of customers looking to purchase an iPad 2, despite no promises of availability and reports of limited stock when shipments do arrive. Mark Hosbein, a potential iPad 2 customer, wrote on Cult of Mac that “There are several people who have waited in line multiple days and still do not get product. I was with 70 angry customers this morning. Only ten people got iPads – there were twenty available and the first ten people – many of whom looked like resellers for eBay or were shipping them overseas – all bought two.” Indeed, the problems with customers purchasing extra units to resell seems to be a widespread problem, as iLounge reader Ben points out: “I don’t know if its like this in other cities, but NYC is plagued by scalpers. At this point Apple really needs to reduce the purchase limit to 1, at least in the cities that are being run by these guys. Its ridiculous.”
iPad 2 launch day line at the Walden Galleria Apple Store in Buffalo, NY.
Aside from the issue of potential scalpers, Apple has thus far opted not to offer an online availability checker. The company offered this service for both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, letting customers check stock levels at any of the company’s U.S.-based retail stores without the need for phone calls or physical visits; Mac Rumors notes that some readers are instead using Target’s inventory tracking service to find units. A report last week indicated that some Apple retail stores were holding new shipments of iPad 2 units for sale until the following morning, in some cases opening early in order to serve as many iPad 2 customers as possible before the start of normal business hours. While it may seem counter-intuitive, readers looking to purchase an iPad 2 may at this point be better off placing an order online—despite the quoted 4-5 week wait time—to guard against the wasted time and frustration that could come with lining up at an Apple retail store on a daily basis only to come away empty-handed.
AT&T has lowered its pricing on its remaining stock of original iPad 3G units, bringing the cost down to as low as $429. The company is now charging $429 for 16GB iPad 3G units, while curiously pricing both 32GB and 64GB units at $529; the company’s website lists the 32GB model as out of stock, although it’s unlikely that it would have been a popular purchase given that customers could purchase a unit with double the storage for the same price. Notably, AT&T also notes that “no refunds or exchanges [are] permitted on iPad purchased at promotional pricing.” The limited time offer is good while supplies last; Apple’s pricing on the same units remains $529-$729. [via Mac Rumors]
Flickr has announced a number of improvements to its light box feature for iPad users. The light box is full browser photo viewer available from any photo page, simply by tapping on the photo. Once activated, the light box presents the photo on a dark background, and now lets iPad users quickly swipe between images, add photos to their favorites, and share photos. Flickr’s new light box feature can be accessed by visiting flickr.com from an iPad.
iLounge has received multiple reader reports regarding problematic iPad 2 replacements due to edge-of-screen light bleeding, an issue that Apple now appears to be acknowledging and attempting to resolve with hardware swaps. Several readers have reported that the replacement units they’ve received exhibit the issue at least as badly, and in some cases, more noticeably than the original ones, as seen in the photo below (original unit on the left, replacement on the right).
iLounge’s editors have tested seven iPad 2 units, including one that does not exhibit any form of lighting problem under any conditions, three that barely exhibit any problem until they’re used in nearly complete darkness with the brightness turned up, and several more in which the issue is noticeable on dark screens used in broad daylight. Should your iPad 2 happen to exhibit the issue, it might be advisable to wait a little longer to give time for Apple to—hopefully—iron out the issue in later production runs. [Thanks, Derrick]
Early iPad 2 orders placed online via AT&T and Apple have started to arrive at customer’s homes and offices. According to Mac Rumors, the first orders arrived yesterday afternoon, with AT&T shipments being the first to appear, followed by a few Apple orders. The pace of Apple orders’ arrivals seems to be quickening today, with multiple customers reporting that their orders have either arrived or are listed as “On FedEx vehicle for delivery.” Apple opened iPad 2 online pre-orders in the early hours last Friday, with estimated shipment times jumping to 2-3 weeks by roughly 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time; new online orders are being quoted a shipment time of 4-5 weeks.
iLounge has discovered that the microphones in the Wi-Fi and 3G models of the iPad 2 have different sonic qualities. As noted in our comprehensive review, the microphone hole of the iPad 2 has been moved from its position beside the headphone port in the original to the middle of the device, over top of the front-facing camera; the shape has also changed from a circle to a pill-shaped hole. These changes mean that the microphone of iPad 2 Wi-Fi models sits in the metal housing, but in the plastic antenna strip at the top of both the GSM and CDMA 3G models. Perhaps due to this change in materials, the Wi-Fi model offers markedly cleaner audio than that of the 3G, which sounds slightly muffled and echo-prone as a result. Curiously, we found the GSM 3G model’s audio to be slightly preferable to that of the CDMA model, which seemed to suffer the issues more severely. The problem is particularly evident when the iPad’s screen is facing the user, as is the case when using FaceTime and a great many other apps; it is unclear whether Apple will make any modifications to the devices’ microphones mid-production to help minimize the differences.
The National Film Board of Canada has added AirPlay video support to its iPad app, allowing users to stream films from the app to an Apple TV, a capability that was only recently made available to third-party apps with the release of iOS 4.3 last week. NFB Films for iPad provides free access to over 2,000 documentaries, animations and feature films from the National Film Board’s archives, including the ability to download films onto the iPad for offline viewing for up to 48 hours. In addition to AirPlay support, version 2.0 sports a redesigned user interface and adds multitasking capabilities, including background downloading of films for offline viewing. NFB Films for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download.