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.
Last week’s unveiling of the iPad 2 has led to the release of a number of parody videos aimed at the new tablet. While most of the videos—including one from comedian Conan O’ Brien—attempt to poke fun at Apple’s iPad 2 promotional video, another from Norwegian YouTube user Exkild instead apes the device’s possible functionality by having a current-model iMac stand in for the tablet device. Four videos are embedded below; please note that some may contain objectionable content.
Target has confirmed via its Twitter feed that it will be offering the iPad 2 from launch day, March 11. “The #iPad2 is coming to @Target stores! Get yours on launch day - 3/11/11,” reads the update, without providing any further details. PC World reports that the retailer will be promoting its electronics trade-in program, available at more than 800 stores, that will owners of first-generation iPads to trade in for store credit starting on March 13. “We anticipate our guests being really excited to get the latest technology,” said Target spokeswoman Kristy Walker. Target joins Apple, Walmart, and Best Buy as official retail launch partners for the iPad 2.
Engadget has confirmed that AT&T will allow iPad 2 users who purchased an unlimited data plan for the original iPad last year to continue using their plan with the iPad 2. When the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G first launched in the U.S. last spring, the carrier initially offered an unlimited data option for $30/month, however a few weeks later the carrier revised its plan structure replacing the unlimited iPad data plan with a $25 for 2GB per month option. The iPad 2 goes on sale in the U.S. this Friday and it is not yet known whether existing iPad Wi-Fi + 3G users will need to go through an activation process with AT&T to transfer their plan to the new device or can simply move over their existing micro-SIM card.
In addition to Apple’s online and retail stores, the iPad 2 will be available on launch day from several other retailers. ITProPortal reports that Best Buy, Walmart, and Sam’s Club will all offer the device beginning March 11; readers considering purchasing the iPad 2 from any of these retailers are encouraged to call their local store ahead of time to confirm availability.
In addition, Verizon has revealed its data pricing for the 3G model of the iPad 2. AllThingsD reports that Verizon is offering prepaid monthly plans of 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, and 10GB, priced at $20, $35, $50, and $80, respectively. Compared with AT&T’s plans—250MB for $15 or 2GB for $25—Verizon’s plans offer a wider range of options, with a minimum allotment four times that of AT&T’s for only $5 more, while Verizon customers seeking to upgrade to a second-tier plan will find themselves spending more money than those on AT&T. Like AT&T’s new postpaid options, overages will be charged at $10 per 1GB, and Verizon’s offerings are likewise available on a month-to-month basis with no long-term contract required.
Tips from a reader indicate that the iPad 2’s new screen mirroring feature may not be as broadly supported as users might hope, due to certain third-party developers’ copyright concerns. Introduced by Apple at this week’s media event in San Francisco, iPad 2 screen mirroring enables an iPad 2 to display all of its screen contents on an HDMI port-equipped HDTV, duplicating whatever is being shown on the device’s 9.7” touchscreen. This feature was initially said to depend upon Apple’s new Digital AV Adapter accessory, which will sell for $39. In introducing the Adapter, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that “it works with all apps, so anything you can see on the iPad screen, you see on HDMI.” Apple’s web site notes that the Adapter can also display movies “at up to 720p” and other content “in up to 1080p HD.”
According to our reader, Apple has turned screen mirroring on by default on the iPad 2, unlike AirPlay wireless video streaming, which is disabled by default and therefore only implemented by developers who want to support the feature. Though Apple has included a screen mirroring toggle to let third-party applications send different content through the Adapter, some developers plan to use it to “opt out” of screen mirroring altogether, citing potential copyright issues with displaying some or all of their video content through a connected TV. If implemented in this fashion, iPad 2 video mirroring using the Digital AV Adapter could have significant limitations, similar to Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, which was released without a conspicuous disclosure that some iTunes-purchased videos would refuse to play through the Adapter for unspecified contractual reasons, leading to widespread user complaints.
On the rare occasions that it has discussed the issue, Apple has maintained that Hollywood studios are to blame for the iPad’s video output limitations, and Jobs has publicly thrown up his hands in apparent frustration with contracts that have limited the device’s output capabilities. While it is unclear whether the Digital AV Adapter will handle iTunes-protected content better than the VGA Adapter did, particularly in light of a new claim on Apple’s web site that the VGA Adapter will also support iPad 2 video mirroring and 1080p video out, it is likely that the Digital AV Adapter includes support for high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP), an anti-piracy technology that would satisfy studios’ contractual requirements.
AllThingsD is reporting that publisher Condé Nast will be raising prices for two of its iPad magazine titles, GQ and Vanity Fair as part of a shift to a new digital publishing platform. Previously, readers who had purchased a single digital issue of these magazines were able to purchase subsequent issues at a discounted price. This option will be going away as of next month, bringing prices to $5 an issue for both digital publications, from previous per-issue pricing of $3 for GQ and $4 for Vanity Fair. This is reportedly part of Condé Nast’s decision to move these titles from its own in-house digital publishing system over to the Adobe platform it chose to standardize on last fall, a change which will also require readers of these publications to download new apps. Glamour magazine will also be moving to the new platform and the company plans to promote the new app by offering it for a limited-time discounted price of $1 starting next Tuesday.
Condé Nast explains the price change by noting that the move to the new platform provides it with a chance to “reexamine pricing” and that the publisher intends to sell its digital titles at the same price as physical newsstand copies. The company has not commented on any plans regarding subscription pricing or Apple’s new subscription model. Condé has confirmed that purchased issues downloaded and archived in the current apps will remain available for reading as long as the app remains on the device, however users will need to install the new apps to purchase content going forward. The publisher also notes that for now the new app and new issues of the three magazines will be available on the iPad only, leaving previous iPhone and iPod touch readers out of the picture.
Following its official announcement at the iPad 2 media event yesterday, Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.3 which has been scheduled for March 11th. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted some of the new features in iOS 4.3 during yesterday’s media event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.3 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center. Notably, although developers were previously provided with a beta version of iOS 4.3 for the Apple TV, a GM seed of the Apple TV iOS has not yet been made available.
Obscured by the many iPad 2-related announcements yesterday, Apple failed to make any mention of MobileMe-based video or photo uploading during its media event. A quick scan of Apple’s iPad 2 mini-site shows that no references are made to sharing photos or videos via MobileMe, although the service is still mentioned by name in references to synchronization and location-based services. Recent reports have suggested that Apple is working on a revamp of its paid MobileMe service which would position it as a free online, cloud-based “locker” for content such as photos, videos, and music. In addition, the company recently discontinued its boxed MobileMe retail packages before pulling it from its computer configuration options and ultimately removing any method through which a user could pay for the service. References to a “Media Stream” service have been found inside recent beta versions of iOS 4.3, which might point to a replacement service for traditional MobileMe sharing options.
Following yesterday’s announcement of the iPad 2, Apple is now selling the original first-generation iPad as refurbished for prices starting at $349 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model up to $659 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model, with new units selling at $100 reductions from their original $499 to $829 asking prices. Similar price reductions have been made in other countries as well, where the first-generation iPad is still being sold on the main Apple Store pages at reduced prices, pending the March 25th release of the iPad 2 in those countries.
Further, Electric Pig is reporting that Apple is offering refunds for customers who have purchased first-generation iPads within the past 14 days. Upon request to the company, Apple will refund the $100 price difference for customers who would prefer to keep their original iPad rather than returning it.
We’ve just posted an iPad 2 hands-on interface video (new: HD version) on Vimeo so that you can check out the new camera features, settings, and other neat features of the second-generation iPad, as well as a hands-on iPad Smart Cover installation video showing how the magnetic clasp system and auto-lock/unlock features work. For more hands-on details, check out our First Looks at the iPad 2 and the iPad Smart Cover.
Apple has announced that the iPad 2 will be launched simultaneously in 26 additional countries around the world on March 25, two weeks following its U.S. debut. Countries included in the March 25 launch are 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 U.K. The company intends to launch the iPad 2 in even more countries worldwide “in the coming months” but has not yet committed to which additional countries or any specific release dates. Pricing for the iPad 2 outside of the U.S. has not been announced, and the Apple Stores in other countries are not accepting pre-orders or providing any additional information, instead simply prompting users to sign up to be notified of additional release details as they become available.