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.
FileMaker has released an update to Bento, its popular lightweight database application for iOS, adding a number of new features in conjunction with today’s release of Bento 4 for Mac. In addition to adding synchronization support for the new Mac version, Bento 1.1 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adds the ability to record voice memos into media fields, adds location fields and simple lists and introduces support for multitasking, Retina Display graphics and printing of embedded PDFs via AirPrint. The new version also now allows related data fields to be created and edited within the app, allows users to disable Address Book and iCal Tasks synchronization or optionally sync iCal Tasks with Bento 4 for Mac. Users can also now use the app in landscape orientation and view embedded PDFs in full-screen mode. Bento for iOS is available in two separate versions: Bento for the iPhone and iPod touch and Bento for iPad. Both versions are available on the App Store for $5 each and are a free upgrade for current users. Bento 4 for Mac sells on the Mac App Store for $49 for a single license or $99 for a five-user family pack; a $20 rebate is available for users of a prior version of Bento for Mac.
Apple has announced that it is delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan in the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. “We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. Reuters reports that Apple has yet to provide a new launch date for the iPad 2 in the country, although it plans to launch the device in more than 20 additional countries next week. Demand for the iPad 2 has been strong in the U.S., with most retailers sold out, and Apple’s website now showing a 4-5 week shipping wait for new orders.
Speaking with The Loop, Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller categorized customer demand for the iPad 2 as “amazing” while declining to reveal exact sales figures. “Demand for the next generation iPad 2 has been amazing,” said Miller. “We are working hard to get iPad 2 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible.” The report also cites Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who claims that there were no iPad 2 units available in the U.S. by the end of the device’s launch weekend. Apple took a slightly different approach with the first iPad, touting first day sales of 300,000 units.
A number of iPad 2 owners are reporting problems with backlight light leakage. The issue, when present, is most noticeable in a dark room with the iPad 2’s brightness turned up and a black or similarly dark image on the screen, however, it can be noticed under other circumstances, as well. One report claimed that the issue is similar to past yellow tinting issues, related to a bonding agent not having dried yet; should that be the case, the problems will likely dissipate over a few days of use, but if not, repair or replacement may be necessary. [via Engadget]
The iPad 2 is selling well on the gray market in China, according to a M.I.C. Gadget report. According to the report, a Hong Kong retailer named Mr. Lo received 200 pre-orders for the device prior to its launch, and had eight couriers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles working to get his customers the device by March 13. Prices range from HKD$7,980—roughly $1,025—for a black 16GB Wi-Fi model to HKD$11,880 (~$1,525) for a black 64GB 3G model; white units carry a HKD$1,500-$2,000 premium. The retailer was also offering Smart Covers and the Apple Digital AV Adapter, with prices set between HKD$580 for the adapter to HKD$1,280—or over $160—for a leather smart cover. The report notes that most of the 60 units that arrived yesterday were 64GB 3G models, as most customers are more concerned with having one than with the capacity, and the higher-end models allow the retailer to make more profit.
IHS iSuppli has completed its teardown analysis of the iPad 2, claiming that the 32GB GSM model carries a bill of materials (BOM) cost of $326.6, while the 32GB CDMA model has a BOM of $323.25. As reported by DigiTimes, the company claims that the cost of the device’s touchscreen has shot up since the introduction of the original model, with the display and touch screen subsystem accounting for $127 of the device’s BOM cost, compared to the initial $95 estimate for the original iPad. Other major components, such as the NAND Flash memory, battery, and A5 processor, are estimated to cost $65.7 (in the 32GB model), $25, and $14, respectively, with the latter cost expected to go down over the course of the year as Apple ramps up production.
Lead designer at Mozilla Labs Kevin Fox has suggested that the iPad 2’s headphone port, which is set on a steep curve, could actually be the first of a new kind of headphone jack from the company. Citing an Apple patent application from September 2010, Fox argues that the port’s slim design suggests that it may be one of the “pogo pin” jacks described in the application. Named after the pogo stick, the jack described in the patent employs retractable Pogo pins to conserve space, and replaces the traditional, larger “cantilever beam” design. [via Gizmodo]
Based on the experience of iLounge’s editors, users moving from original iPad 3G units to iPad 2s with AT&T 3G hardware may experience AT&T service problems. During testing of two AT&T iPad 2 units, iLounge discovered that the unit registered with a prior AT&T data service account refused to activate on AT&T’s network, despite full payment of the company’s $25 service fee using the device. The second unit, registered with a new account and e-mail address, activated almost immediately.
After contacting AT&T, iLounge learned that users who attempt to activate AT&T iPad 2 service using the original iPad’s AT&T account will experience two problems. First, the iPad 2 will not activate. Second, the user will either have to manually swap the Micro-SIM cards between the iPad and iPad 2 units, or AT&T will disable the iPad’s Micro-SIM in order to allow the iPad 2’s Micro-SIM to work. The AT&T representative claimed that a user who chooses the latter option will have to buy a replacement card should they want to restore 3G service to the older model, as the first Micro-SIM will no longer be usable.
In any case, since AT&T does not appear to be capable of registering multiple iPad and iPad 2 units on a single account, iPad and iPad 2 customers will need to have one email address and account for each iPad they own should they want to enable service on multiple iPads. Users experiencing problems with AT&T iPad service should contact 1-800-331-0500, also available as a free call to AT&T cellular customers by dialing 611.
iFixit has completed its teardown of the iPad 2 and the iPad 2 Smart Cover, finding a large number of magnets in both models. The Smart Cover contains 21 magnets itself, only one of which is used to turn off the iPad 2’s screen. Another 15 of the Smart Cover’s magnets are used to attach to a hidden steel plate inside the case when assembling the triangular base; only four of those magnets actually clamp to the iPad 2 when the cover is in place. Interestingly, the row of magnets inside the iPad that work with the Smart Cover to snap the accessory onto the device had alternating polarities displayed, which matched up with the opposite alternating polarity of the magnets in the Smart Cover to ensure proper orientation.
iFixit is in the process of posting its iPad 2 teardown, and has found several small changes inside. Most notably, the iPad 2 uses a 3.8V, 25 watt-hour battery, compared to the 3.75V, 24.8 watt-hour battery in the original. Multiple Broadcom chips were found inside the device, including a Microcontroller, capacitive touchscreen controller, and a combination Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip. Finally, the A5 processor inside iFixit’s unit had manufacture dates of late January and mid-February 2011, indicating that production was ramping up through the launch, and the processor carries the marking APL0498, compared to the APL0398 of the A4. We will update this article with more information if and when it becomes available.