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.
iLounge has posted full unboxing photos for the iPad 2. Additional unboxing photos of the Smart Cover and Apple Digital AV Adapter are also available. Click here to view our Flickr gallery.
Update: We’ve also posted photos of the iPad 2 with 3G.
As expected, a number of people are choosing to line up at Apple’s retail stores across the U.S. in preparation for the official launch of the iPad 2 at 5:00 p.m. local time this evening. iLounge reader Peter Cruz sent in the above shot from outside the Apple Store in Pasadena, CA, where roughly 70 people were in line. Two of iLounge’s editors report that a significant line has formed at the Walden Galleria Apple Store in Buffalo, NY; a round-up of line reports from 9 to 5 Mac reveals that lines in other parts of the country range from the high teens into the hundreds. Overall, it appears that line sizes at Apple retail stores will be roughly consistent with past product launches, not counting the smaller than anticipated lines for last month’s Verizon iPhone 4 launch.
Update: Our iLounge editor at the South Coast Plaza Apple Store reports that roughly 100 people were in line for the iPad 2 as of 11:25 a.m. PT, while our editors in New York note that employees were going through the line using MacBook Airs to sign up any customers who didn’t already have an Apple ID, so that they would be ready to use FaceTime and make purchases from the iTunes and App Stores. Umbrellas have been handed out to customers waiting outside in the sun, while coffee and Smart Water have also been offered to those waiting in line—typical of Apple product launches. Finally, employees at the Walden Galleria Apple Store have set up the store’s in-window iPad 2 promo, with what appear to be higher than real resolution renderings.
Update x2: At the South Coast Plaza Apple Store, employees are going through the line asking customers what models they are purchasing and how many, with a limit of two per person. Notably, other stores were handing out numbers to customers in line; anyone who was out of the line when the numbers were passed out was potentially skipped over.
AT&T has announced that it will allow iPads to utilize the Personal Hotspot feature of iOS 4.3. According to the announcement, the Personal Hotspot feature will be available to iPad customers who choose the $25/2GB monthly plan and add the $20 tethering option, which includes an extra 2GB of data that is shared between tethering and normal usage. Previously, tethering was limited to iPhone users. In the same release, the company notes that customers who activate a new postpaid $25/2 GB plan will receive the first month free.
As promised, Apple began accepting online orders for the iPad 2 earlier this morning. At this point, all but one model—the 16GB Verizon 3G—is showing a shipment time of 2-3 weeks, meaning anyone who wants the device sooner will need to get in line at one of Apple’s stores or at one of its retail partner stores in order to secure a unit. Also available online are Apple’s iPad 2 accessories, including the $39 Apple Digital AV Adapter, which allows for HDMI output and ships in 1-2 business days, the $29 Apple iPad 2 Dock, which ships in 1-3 weeks, and both $39 Polyurethane and $69 Leather versions of the iPad Smart Cover, all of which ship in 1-2 business days, save for the (Product) RED leather cover, which is listed with a shipment estimate of 2-3 weeks.
Apple has released its new GarageBand app for the iPad, as well as an update to iMovie adding compatibility with the iPad 2. Demonstrated during last week’s iPad 2 media event, GarageBand is based on Apple’s desktop music creation software, but has been optimized for the iPad’s Multi-touch interface and offers new features exclusive to the iPad. Features include Touch Instruments, which fill the screen and resemble actual, real-life instruments, “Smart Instruments” that make it easier for novices to play and compose music, the ability to arrange, mix, and record up to eight tracks per song, over 250 professionally prerecorded loops to use as back, and the ability to email songs in AAC directly from the iPad, export the song for addition to an iTunes library, or send a project to a Mac for further refinement in the desktop version of the application. GarageBand is available now and sells for $5.
Apple has also released a free update to its existing iMovie application for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, offering compatibility with the iPad 2. Beyond simply adding compatibility, the new update offers iPad 2 users all-new features such as a multi-touch precision editor, audio waveforms, and a larger editing interface; other new features include multitrack audio editing, audio recording directly into the timeline, three new themes, HD sharing directly to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and CNN iReport, AirPlay support, the ability to add titles on photos, new fade-in and fade-out options, and other enhancements. iMovie 1.2 is a Universal application that sells for $5 and is a free upgrade for existing iMovie users.
Apple has announced some last-minute details of the iPad 2 launch. According to the release, Apple will begin online sales at 1 a.m. PT tomorrow, with retail sales starting at 5 p.m. local time. Apart from Apple’s own retail stores, the device will also be available at AT&T, Best Buy, Target, Verizon Wireless, and Walmart, as well as select Apple Authorized Resellers. Interestingly, the release also states that iMovie and GarageBand for iPad “are available today,” although GarageBand has yet to appear in the App Store, and iMovie does not appear to have received an update since September 2010. Finally, it notes that the iPad 2 will launch in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK on March 25, with “many more” countries to receive the device in the coming months.
Apple has posted a new page dedicated to guided video tours of the iPad 2’s features. Separate videos have been posted highlighting the built-in apps and features FaceTime, Mail, Safari, iBooks, Videos, Photos, Find My iPad, iPod, iTunes, App Store, Maps, and AirPlay, as well as the new $5 apps GarageBand and iMovie. All 14 videos are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
New code found in the official release of iOS 4.3 suggests that the iPhone 5 will sport the same A5 processor as the iPad 2. 9 to 5 Mac reports that three separate versions of the iPad 2 are listed, as iPad2,1 (K93AP), iPad2,2 (K94AP), and iPad2,3 (K95AP), representing the Wi-Fi, GSM, and CDMA versions, respectively. The A5 processor is represented in the code by the moniker “S5L8940,” which the report claims also appears in the listing for the iPhone 5, which is referred to by the codename N94AP. According to the report, the A4 processor was referred to as “S5L8930.”
Apple has released iOS 4.3 for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, and iPad ahead of its scheduled date of March 11. The update includes a number of new features, such as improved Safari performance, improved support for AirPlay video and audio from third-party apps and Safari, the ability to customize the iPad switch for mute or orientation lock, Personal Hotspot cellular data sharing for the GSM iPhone 4, and iTunes Home Sharing, which allows users to wirelessly stream content from iTunes to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch over their home network. iOS 4.3 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes.
Apple has sent out an email to customers urging them to line up to buy the iPad 2 on Friday. “Be the first to get the next iPad,” reads the email. “The Apple Store is the best place to experience iPad. Our Specialists will show you around the features, help you choose the perfect model, and set everything up just the way you like. So you’ll be up and running before you leave the store.” Below the text is a link to Apple’s Retail page, with a store locator feature. Unlike prior launches, Apple does not appear to be offering any pre-orders or reservations for the iPad 2, instead forcing users to either wait in line at an Apple Store—or one of its retail partners, which include Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club—or order online for later delivery. While the draw of an Apple launch may be exciting to some, iLounge suggests based on past line-up experiences that readers skip the potentially lengthy lines at Apple’s retail stores, and instead secure units via online ordering. Having to line up in the middle of a work week, particularly for an incrementally improved device, will be unnecessarily inconvenient for all but the hardest-core Apple fans.
A new report suggests that Apple plans to release iOS 4.3 around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time/1:00 p.m. Eastern Time today. Citing an anonymous source, BGR reports that the update for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, and iPad will be released later today, and that the new Personal Hotspot feature will be, by default, limited to three wireless connections, but can be expanded to five devices if requested by the carrier. Apple’s iOS 4.3 page notes that the Personal Hotspot feature “requires a supporting hotspot tethering plan from your carrier and works with up to three devices over Wi-Fi, three devices over Bluetooth, and one device over USB,” while being limited to five total connections spread over the three options. For instance, a user could have three devices connected via Wi-Fi, plus two over Bluetooth, or one over Bluetooth and one over USB, or three over Bluetooth and two over Wi-Fi, and so on.
Update: An anonymous source has informed iLounge that in the latest developer release of iOS 4.3, nearly all the carrier plist files have been set to five connections, including AT&T. The only ones that are set to something other than five are O2 Prepaid, O2 Tesco, and Personal_ar, which are all set to one. Notably, the source said that regardless of this setting, the maximum number of Wi-Fi connections is still three.