Monday
Apr112011

Apple iOS 5 Wish List - Give Us Features to Avoid Jailbreaking

My iOS 5 wish list basically involve improvements and features that would make me think twice about Jailbreaking. There are lots of features that Jailbreaking allows us to install, and many of them can be included in the stock iOS. After all, iOS 4 borrowed a lot from the Jailbreaking community.

Multitasking is one, though it's not exactly true multitasking. It emulates the Jailbroken Backgrounder app. Folders is another, which eliminated the need for the Jaibroken Catagories app. Tethering is finally included, but requires AT&T's blessing (and a seperate tethering plan), which doesn't kill off Jailbroken tethering apps completely (to avoid the tethering plan, there's MyWi, PDA Net, etc).

However, there are still other features that Jailbreaking allows that makes the iPhone a more pleasurable experience. Apple can indeed include this in their next iOS and finally make Jailbreaking unecessary for most users.

 

Quick Toggles

For those who Jailbreak their iPhones, you've probably installed SBSettings as the very first thing to do. Well, this is because SBSettings got it right! A quick swipe at the top bar brings down the ability to quickly toggle many things on or off. This allows us to toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, Airplain Mode, Data, 3G/EDGE, and Autolock on or off without having to go through the Settings app.

You can also adjust the brightness from here! They even have a rudimentary task manager! You can also reboot or shutdown the phone. This is worth Jailbreaking the iPhone for, and Apple will curtail a lot of users from Jailbreaking if they just impliment this feature in the next iOS.

I'd personally think twice about Jailbreaking if that was in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better SMS

The Jailbroken app, BiteSMS, is winning! It looks and feel like the stock SMS app, except it allows you to reply to incoming SMS messages in the same notification dialog box. You don't have to open the SMS app! This is great because you don't have to leave the app you're on just to answer the text. Of course, if they did a better job on their notification system in the first place, we might not need much improvements in the SMS app after all.

It may be a security issue, but BiteSMS also allows you to answer your text in the lock screen. You can also disable this, too if you're concerned. When these notifications come up, you can close them as read, or close them and let it stay "new" so you can read it later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better Playback Controls and Album Art Display

 When listening to podcasts and online radio such as Pandora, it'd be nice if the current song or podcast shows their art on the lock screen, just like how the stock music player does. The Jailbroken app, Music Controls, allow for this. They also add playback controls when you double-click on the Home button. It's actually easier and look more polished than the one Apple gives us (swipe to the left at the bottom tray after double-clicking the Home button).

On the lock screen, not only do the album art of the currently song display, but the artist, album, and song as well. Apple can just create an API to allow developers to hook onto this to give a more seamless feel to their audio app, much like how the stock music app behaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Tethering

Apple has the weight, and they should use it. Much like how they influenced DRM-free music on iTunes, they can reform how carriers look at data. Tethering is a feature of a phone, not the carrier. We paid for the data, so why do we have to pay more just because we are using it differently?

Apple should build the feature in as a feature of the phone. It should not "phone home" and let carriers know that users are tethering. It should be up to the carriers on how they would like to detect or deter users from tethering. The cat is out of the bag.

How hard is it? Carriers already limit us to 2 GB or 5 GB of data. Let that be the deterent to heavy tetherers. If I only use a few hundred MB with just my phone, what can't I use the rest with my laptop? If I go over, then it's my responsibility to pay the overages.

This simple change would make me forego Jailbreaking completely. It's the main reason why I Jailbreak. Mind you, I don't tether like crazy. I just like knowing I can in case I have to. In very rare times when internet goes down at the house, or the hotel does not give out free WiFi access.

I am grandfathered in the AT&T unlimited data plan, but even so, I am very judicial with my tethering. Heck, just using the phone by itself, I can rack up 3-5 GB of data usage! I know that, so I try my best not to paint a red target on my back.

To keep from data abuse, carriers should just give us a reasonable data cap. The current 2 GB cap AT&T gives us is simply not enough. The industry practice of 5 GB is good. I'd gladly let go of my unlimited data if that means I get to tether an the same price as the non-tethered data plan with the only data cap as the deterrent from being a data hog.

 

Better Notification System

Apple, please see out how Palm's webOS does it. Android's way is nice, but they don't let you get rid of individual notifications. It's all or nothing. Either way, it'll be better than the current iOS notification system. That lower area that comes up when you double-click on the Home button? Yeah, that's a good place to put it.

 

Option for True Multitasking

I understand Apple's view for not doing multitasking the same way Android and Pre does. However, with dual-core CPUs that might be on the next iPhone, it's about time we get this. Or at least, give us the option to do so. The Jailbroken app, Backgrounder, lets us put an app in the background without suspending it. If Apple would give us that option (don't enable it by default), it would give the enthusiests more control.

 

Option for Sideloading Apps

I know, I know...asking for this feature would be pushing it. Apple still want to remain in control, but why not give your hardcore users the ability to sideload apps without needing to go to your App Store? Just like on Android, it could be a setting that can be turned on or off for security (default to off, of course). You might want to beef up your DRM on the App Store apps, however.

Make it more like an Easter Egg - like some kind of unlock code that changes with every iOS update. But let us figure it out. :) This will give us the impression that Apple is on our side, but still also on the side of the carrier and their investors.

 

So come on Apple. Open up a little, and you'll see a reduction in the Jailbreaking population. It may also turn some Android fans around in the process.

Saturday
Apr092011

eBay is Double Dipping

Did you know that eBay owns PayPal? Most casual sellers and buyers use PayPal to buy and sell on eBay. However, eBay is helping to fatten their PayPal division by double dipping with their fees.

We know that eBay charges many fees. The worst of them is the Final Value Fees. Their listing fees are usually pretty small though. To simplify, you're basically charged 9 to 10% in fees just by eBay alone.

The person pays for the item, with shipping, which means PayPal will see a transaction that is usually slightly higher than the winning bid, and charges you around 3% in fees from that. The double dipping occurs where PayPal is charging the 3% from the transaction before eBay takes out their hefty Final Value Fee instead of after, giving them a few more of my moola.

Here's a good real life example. I just sold many things on eBay, but I'm going to use a single item I sold. I sold a Samsung Galaxy Tab for $403. Shipping was $12, so the total transaction would be $415.

eBay charged me $36.27 worth in fees based on the winning bid of $403. The buyer paid $415 (remember the shipping), and so PayPal took 3% off that, in which they charge $12.36. Remember that shipping is $12, which I have to pay USPS.

Here's the math:

415-36.27-12.36-12= $354.37

That's a far cry from $403, huh? That is about 12% less than the winning bid. That's all going to eBay!

The math would be slightly in our favor if eBay took their Final Value Fee before asking PayPal to process the transaction, since it will take 3% off $378.73 instead of the full $415. Here's where i got that number from: (403-36.27+12). Based on what they charged me in fees, that comes to a penny less, sure. But imagine if you were processing millions of transaction that way! I'd be rich if I stole a penny from everyone I've ever met!

The real double dipping is that they charge you at all on PayPal. They are both the same company! If they can eliminate the 3% fee for just eBay transactions, it would be a step in the right direction. Of course who are kidding? What we really want is eBay to lower those Final Vale Fees!

Friday
Apr082011

Google "Tilt" Easter Egg Found!

Google must have a lot of time on their hands to do something like this. Someone found an Easter Egg on their search site. If you search "tilt" or "askew", the results page will look a bit...well...tilted!  It only works on mobile Safari (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) as well as the Android browser.

I thought it was a late April Fools joke, but I was able to confirm this. Maybe it was a April Fools by Google that wasn't discovered until now.

Check it out!

 

Wednesday
Apr062011

Blackberry Playbook Advertised at Best Buy

It's coming! Or so says this signage at my local Best Buy.

Tuesday
Apr052011

Hits Home: Watch Out for eBay Scammers!

It's no surprise. eBay has a lot of fake bidders and scammers. It can be a headache for both sellers and bidders, but it's still the most popular way to unload things or to buy obscure items.

As you know, I was unloading a lot of tech and gadgets I've accumulated since forever. I also decided to see how much the iPad 2 I got on Day 1 would fetch. The winning bid was from a new member with 0 feedback and in the UK. I didn't hear from him, so I decided to keep it.

The real problem is waiting for eBay to refund my Final Value Fee, which was a hefty $50. I still haven't received the refund yet, and I also wouldn't be receiving the fees for listing the iPad 2 in the first place.

I just checked my email today and guess what eBay sent me.

This guy was bidding on other people's items (probably iPad 2s) and sent spoofed emails that looked like they came from eBay and PayPal notifying the seller that he or she payed! I didn't get such an email, nor were they in my Junk folder. Even if I did, I'd always log into my PayPal account to verify and move the funds to my bank first.

This wasn't the only time I got screwed. One other time, I purchase a hard drive from someone selling multiple ones via Buy It Now. The seller had a high feedback, so I didn't think much of it. When it never arrived, I notified eBay. A few weeks later, the bad feedback from other winners started rolling in, mine included. Months later, they were caught by the local authorities, but none of us ever saw our money again.

If you're going to eBay, watch yourselves! I've been burnt once, and this round was a close call!

Monday
Apr042011

Android + Amazon = Win!

Remember when I wrote Palm and Amazon would go great together? Well, it looks like Amazon decided to date Android instead. The pair goes great, and Palm could have capitalized on this if they would have reached out to Amazon.

It's still early, but the Amazon App Store is already much better than Google's own Android Market. It's just cleaner and more elegant. They feature apps that are polished. And right now, they are giving away a paid app a day! If you like the way Amazon does their customer reviews, then you'll love it here, too. It looks exactly the same, the App Store has a sense of familiarity.

Let's not forget Amazon's Cloud Player! I believe this is going to really help their MP3 sales. The idea of being able to download music to your Android phone is already sweet enough, but to have access to your music without downloading means you can have more music than what your device can store!

Google is currently working on some kind of streaming music service according to a leaked stock Android Music app, which might disrupt Amazon's high. But if Google executes the service in their typical Google way, Amazon has nothing to worry about. I mean, look at the Android Market! Google had it since the beginning, and yet, it's still not a very polished experience.

Google, let Amazon have at it. They are better at e-commerce than you are.

 

Monday
Apr042011

How to Upgrade the MacBook Pro (2011 15" model)

Monday
Apr042011

My First Look at the Motorola Xoom

Here's my first look at a local Best Buy store.

 

 

UPDATE: I wasn't able to do a Quadrant benchmark on the Xoom until now.  This is at a local Verizon store that wasn't as locked down as Best Buy.

 

Tuesday
Mar292011

Why HTC EVO 4G is Still Popular, What Others can Learn From It

So after nine months (going on 10), the HTC EVO is still considered the best Android phone.  Taylor Martin of PhoneDog cites some of the reasons it's still top dog is Sprint's plan prices (starting at $79.99), having the first 4.3" display, HTC Sense, and the first to be marketed with 4G.

There's one more reason why it's still a popular phone.  Like the original Droid  on Verizon, the HTC EVO 4G is heavily marketed.  Even after 10 months, I still see ads for it.  It was also the only ad that featured the offical Android mascott (although I am starting to see T-Mobile using the mascott for their myTouch 4G now).  The only thing that would make it more popular would be commercials like Apple's, which shows people how to use the phone and features, then later on, the apps that can be had.

 

I've been saying this before, and I'll say it again: consistency is key.  HTC's next phone needs to bear the same EVO moniker.  There's a reason why the iPhone is still called the iPhone after 4 generations (and probably even the 5th).  People know it by name.  I think it was a mistake to call the their smaller keyboard phone an HTC EVO Shift.  People have a certain expectation when the name EVO is used, and that is a large screen, fast phone, and HTC Sense.

In fact, now that they have a hit, they shouldn't have allowed AT&T to call it the Inspire 4G, or Verizon to call it the Thunderbolt (all of them are basically the same phone if not the same DNA as the EVO).  They missed an opportunity to call all of them EVO 4Gs (unless it's a Sprint name like Droid is to Verizon and myTouch is to T-Mobile).  All of them are using their carrier's respective 4G network (at least in terms of marketing).  All of them share the original EVO DNA (large screen, Snapdragon SoC, 8MP camera, HTC Sense, etc).  It would have solidified HTC EVO brand name, much like Apple's iPhone.

Even though I am not a fan of the uber large 4.3" display, it's what made the EVO an EVO, and they should work on a next gen EVO with a similarly large display with the usual next gen specs (dual core processor, better cameras, 1080p video catpure, Gingerbread, etc).  It should still have the EVO moniker that exudes "the next one" (EVO II, EVO 2, etc.).  Please don't tack on another arbitrary name to confuse people (EVO Shift, EVO 3D, etc).

 

Samsung would have probably done better if their Galaxy S phones were simply called Galaxy S.  It's all about name recognition!  The "DNA" of the Galaxy S phones are light weight, 4" Super AMOLED display, and their quick Hummingbird SoC with a GPU that's superior than their competition of that generation.  Samsung's is doing the right thing by continuing their line with the Galaxy S II.  I'm excited, as it even looks like it evolved from the original, and have the usual upgrades that make it the next gen phone (dual core CPUs for one thing).

Of course, the real problem is that American carriers may not let them do that.  What's ironic is if one device of the same name becomes well known (think iPhone again), people want to buy it from their respective carrier no matter what.  How many people on T-Mobile and Sprint still want the iPhone on their carrier?  Most people don't want to leave their current provider, so letting Samsung call their Galaxy S phones "Galaxy S" would actually serve the carriers, too!

Right now, Samsung is allowing the carriers to advertise their phone.  This is because it's hard to create an ad touting 5 different phones which are all the same.  It will confuse people.  I mean, how would Samsung's marketing team promote 5 different names for the same phone in 30 seconds?  Can you imagine?  "Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S line of phones: Vibrant, Captivate, Fascinate, Epic 4G, and Mesmorize.  Available on T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular".  I'm very much in the know when it comes to mobile phones, and I would still go "what?".

 

What's in a Name?

There's just too many product names out there, and it's not helping that a new one is created with each Android phone that is released (which is about every other week).  It causes confusion, and that won't help any phone manufacturer or carrier.  In fact, it helps to serve Apple to become more dominate thanks to the name recognition.

HTC releases the most phones than any other manufacturer in secession, so they are also the biggest offender of coming up with too many different names.

It's all about keeping the same name and design DNA once you find something that sticks to the wall.

HTC, you have your EVO.

Samsung, you have your Galaxy S (thanks for calling your tablets Galaxy Tab, too!).

LG, you have your Optimus.

Motorola, you have your Droid (and you better try to take the name from Verizon).

Google, pick a damn partner and you'll have your Nexus.

I've said it before, and I will say it again: Once you find a winning combination of design, features, and yes, a name that sticks to the wall, KEEP IT.  You'll win.  You'll all win.  Seriously.

Please no more Samsung Vibrant, Samsung Captivate, Samsung Facinate, Samsung Mesmorize, HTC Inspire, Motorola Atrix, HTC EVO Shift, HTC Epic, HTC Desire, HTC Incredible, HTC Thunderbolt, HTC Lightning, HTC Unicorn, HTC Copulate...

Come on, guys.  Cut the crap, cut the confusion, and cut down on the names.

 

Oh, and let Amazon be responsible for the app, music, and book marketplace for you.  After all, you need a strong partner like them to combat Apple iTunes and iBooks.

 

 

Wednesday
Mar232011

AT&T buys T-Mobile - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 

Oh no!  AT&T is buying T-Mobile!

 

The Good

Well, most of the benefits will be for current AT&T subscribers.  After all, they have nothing to loose, and everything to gain.  They are already paying outrageous prices, dealing with crappy network coverage, and droping calls.

AT&T 3G data speeds was actually considered good at around 3 Mbps down, 1.2 Mbps up, but they are no longer the king of 3G speeds thanks to T-Mobile and Verizon.  T-Mobile, on the other hand, have an excellent backhaul, so much so that their "4G" HSPA+ network is pushing a little over 6 Mbps down and close to 3 Mbps up.  Funny thing is that their improved backhaul also helped realize the full potential of their current 3G technology, which is also seeing those wonderful 6 Mbps/3 Mbps speeds.  Will that mean AT&T subscribers will benefit from T-Mobile's backhaul?  I sure hope so.  If we're not going to have another GSM carrier to jump to, at least improve the one we're stuck with.

Speaking of improvements, having access to T-Mobile's current cell towers will now allow AT&T to improve coverage.  If your AT&T phone had bad coverage at home, but your friend with a T-Mobile phone has all 5 bars in the same place, they can soon be yours, too.  Carriers can only build so many towers.  It's not just the cost of property for the towers, but also the availability of property for purchase.  Now AT&T have access to the properties that T-Mobile owns to put up their equipment instead.

More good news for AT&T, they now has more radio spectrum to play with.  The 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands T-Mobile owns can now be used by AT&T to build out their LTE network if that's how they want to play it.  This will mean AT&T now have a way to compete with Verizon's LTE network.  Good news indeed for AT&T subscribers.  Of course, you will need new phones to take advantage of this, but that's not a new concept.  Verizon subscribers will need to upgrade to an LTE phone or device to take advantage of the faster network already (I drool at the thought of playing with the HTC Thunderbolt).

 

The Bad

If you are a T-Mobile fan and loved the convenience of a GSM network, and you hate AT&T, you're stuck with no where else to go.  T-Mobile is the only other carrier in the US that has a GSM network, and that is being absorbed by AT&T, which will be the only GSM carrier in the US soon.

T-Mobile's excellent backhaul is so fast, it actually faster than AT&T's current offering.  With the additional load, we could expect the speeds to come down once T-Mobile's backhaul is integrated with AT&T.  T-Mobile customers who was used to the speed will cry foul, while AT&T customers will either see a small bump in speed or no changes at all.    The real question is will the speed diminish once the AT&T hordes combined with current T-Mobile subscribers start guzzling from the same community cup?

As for the current T-Mobile's 3G radio spectrum, who knows what AT&T will do with their current set up.  Will AT&T leave it alone for current T-Mobile phones?  I doubt it.  Even Sprint had to eventually discontinue Nextel's iDEN network, even though it took a long time to do so.  There are talks that AT&T plans to convert the 1700/2100 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile is currently using  for 3G for their own 4G LTE network.  This will compete with Verizon's LTE network.  This will also mean that current T-Mobile phones will no longer work after AT&T decides to start this conversion process.  Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T, confirmed that T-Mobile customers will eventually have to "upgrade" to AT&T compatible phones.

If you loved that T-Mobile was pretty open about having unlocked GSM phones on their network, you will now lose this freedom with AT&T.  From my experience, AT&T doesn't even want to acknowledge they are a GSM network, and doesn't acknowledge that there are other phones out there that can work on their network.  T-Mobile is not oblivious to this.

Not to mention the awesome non-contract (month-to-month) plan prices are probably going away.  T-Mobile is the only carrier that has steep discounts on their monthly plans if you purchase a phone unsubsidized (full price) or if you brought your own unlocked GSM phone, such as those jailbroken and unlocked iPhones.  My favorite was a 500 minute plan with unlimited data and text for only $59.99/mo, in contrast to $79.99/mo on contract.   T-Mobile does throttle you to modem speeds if you go past 5GB of data, however.  It's still better than AT&T's overage charges. 

One more thing, Android enthusiasts.  As you may or may not know, all Android phones that AT&T carries (including the high-end Motorola Atrix) are blocked from side loading apps (installing apps outside of the App Market).  T-Mobile doesn't have this policy.  So if you're a T-Mobile customer who enjoys that ability, be aware that that freedom will be taken away once they make you move to an AT&T Android phone.

Of course, it also means we have one less carrier to choose from, and less competition.  There will only be 3 major cell phone providers.  If you're a fan of the GSM network like me, you now only have one choice.  I'm now reconsidering CDMA networks - namely Sprint.  Like AT&T, Verizon is just too expensive.

 

The Ugly

If you're coming from T-Mobile, you're going to drive through some bumpy roads.  Transistions are never easy, and that's exactly what you'll be going through.

For example, will you be grandfathered in to your current plan?  Who knows.  It'll be more plans that AT&T have to keep track of.  Having to switch to phones that will work on AT&T's spectrum wouldn't be fun, either.  Sure most people upgrade their phones every other year, but some don't.  At least they would have the choice of keeping their current phone.  However, with the switchover, those people will not have that choice.  They will have to get a new phone that will work on AT&T's network.

Then there is billing.  Let's not get into that.

 

 

We take the good with the bad, but it really does seem one-sided, doesn't it?  Current AT&T subscribers will see most of the benefits while T-Mobile customers will see the short end of the stick.  Overall, it's a bad thing, since consumers will now have only 3 major carriers to choose from in the US.  Well, I guess there are the smaller regional carriers...

Oh, no?  Didn't cheer you up?  Me neither.

Tuesday
Mar222011

Apple iPhone 5 Predictions

With the iPad 2 finally out, you can probably already gleen from it the features that Apple's future iPhone will have.  After all, after the original iPad debut with an A4 processor, the iPhone 4 did too.  So it's not all that far fetched to imagine the iPhone 5 will have the A5 dual-core CPU, as well as the better graphics chip.  Of course, just like the iPhone 4, it may not be clocked as high as it's larger brother, since it's a smaller device with a smaller battery.

Whether it will look like the iPhone 4 or a complete redesign is a toss up.  The iPhone 3G was a complete redesign from the original iPhone, yet the 3GS wasn't redesigned at all from the 3G.  The iPad and the iPad 2 was completely redesgined, however.  There is no pattern to fathom a guess from.  My guess would be a hybrid - it will look similar (shape, size, screen), but redesigned mostly to avoid past complaints (may no longer have a glass back, antenna redesigned, proximity sensor placement, etc).

I don't see the cameras changing - Apple doesn't change anything unless it has to, and since everyone is still gaga over the current 5MP back-illuminated cmos sensor, it will stay.  They might capture 1080p video, since the A5 dual core processor would allow it.

The ability to capture 1080p video might finally give Apple a reason to bump up the internal storage offerings, so we might actually see a 64 GB version.  There was a prototype iPhone 4 with 64 GB of storage floating around, so maybe it might finally materialize in this iteration.

As for the carriers, there is a possibility that Apple will be able to create a single iPhone model that works on both CDMA and GSM.  This will mean no need to have double the SKUs, a true global phone, and cheaper to produce.  How is this done?  Well, we already know the Verizon iPhone 4 already uses a Qualcomm chipset (MDM6600) that works with both CDMA EVDO Rev A. (the 3G Verizon and Sprint uses) as well as HSDPA and HSPA+ (the 3G and 4G respectively AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carrier uses).  So even without having a true 4G radio chipset, it can already be a heavy hitting phone if it can work on all carriers (depending on the actual frequencies they are on).  Qualcomm actually has a chipset (MDM9600) that also includes LTE, which is even better, if Apple decides to use it.  At this point, however, I doubt it because of battery life concerns.  The current MDM6600 being used on the Verizon iPhone was obviously tested, so I am willing to bet this is the chipset they will use for the iPhone 5.

We're not sure why they didn't include a SIM card slot on the Verizon iPhone 4 so it would already be Apple's first true world phone.  It was probably the antenna design that held them back.  Maybe they can overcome this on the next iPhone.

So far, that's my prediction.  I don't think it's all that far fetched, but looking from the outside in, all the "improvements" added up could be big.  If Apple decides to sell the next iPhone as a completely unlocked non-carrier specific phone, it would make it an even more compelling reason to choose the next iPhone.

Sunday
Mar202011

Can you Guess Which is Which?

 

As you may have known, I am selling a bunch of gadgets and computer stuff I've collected over the years, and putting it up on eBay.  I'ts about over, so I decided to pack everything up in boxes.  I thought "hey, this would make a neat game!"

Can anyone guess which box goes with which item? :)

 

Here's the link to the live auction.  In case you missed it, I here's a screen grab.

 

Saturday
Mar192011

Apple iPad 2 Review

I finally finished up my review of the Apple iPad 2.  I appreciate the readership and comments!  If you're an Epinions member, please rate and comment on Epinions as well!

 

Apple iPad 2 16 GB WIFI

Apple iPad 2 64 GB WIFI & 3G GSM

Wednesday
Mar162011

AT&T Free 1000 Rollover Minutes Received!

 

Just before the Verizon iPhone touched down, AT&T offered 1000 free rollover minutes for their customers as a loyalty incentive.  They texted from the number 11113020 to ask customers to type "yes" in response if they wish to receive the free minutes.

For those who didn't get the offer, you can still text "yes" to the number, and receive a confirmation (like me).  It sounds suspicious, but those who took the plunge can now rejoice!  It was no hoax after all.  I recieved a text yesterday (from the same number that announced the AT&T class action settlement) that they have credited the 1000 minutes into my account.

I checked my AT&T account using the myAT&T iPhone app, and sure enough, I am now 1000 minutes richer.

Did anyone else receive their minutes yet?

Saturday
Mar122011

Apple iPad 2 vs Apple iPad (Video)

Here's the comparison video I promissed.

 

Friday
Mar112011

Apple iPad 2 & iOS 4.3 Quick Walkthrough (Video)

I just activated my iPad 2, and figured I'd do a quick skin-deep video walkthrough.  A few things caught my fancy.  First, the new iTunes icon.  I guess I'm so used to seeing the old one, that this was glaringly new when you first turn it on.  Then there are the three new camera-related apps, of course.  But I was actually totally blown away with the brightness setting in the music control panel.  Finally, no need to go into the Settings!  Now, if only they're able to fit the WIFI / Airplane Mode switch, too...

 

Friday
Mar112011

Apple iPad 2 Unboxing (Video)

So I finally got it back home and got to open this baby up!  It's not all that exciting really.  It's noticably lighter, but it still tires my arm out after a while if I hold it with just one hand.  Right now it doesn't feel that much faster than the first iPad.  And the screen resolution knocked me back since I am so used to my iPhone 4's Retina Display.

Just like the first iPad, there's not much in the box.  Well, at least Apple finally put some nice felt on the lid of the box now, so the screen is a bit more cushioned compared to the first iPad.

 

Friday
Mar112011

Apple iPad 2 Launch Day - March 11, 2011

It's amazing how much buzz Apple can garner with their sequels. In all honesty, my mom probably won't notice any difference between her first iPad and the iPad 2 except for maybe the weight. Although she uses Skype, it's not that often, so the cameras may not even be the reason for the upgrade. Would mom notice the performance increase?

I'm not sure if I will be buying one, but since I am leaving work early, I will be snapping some photos of the 5pm launch at the Woodfield Apple Store.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

12:00pm - Best Buy - Addison, IL
No lines or camp outs.

 

 

 

12:10pm - Walmart - Addison, IL
Nothing to see here, either. I was told they won't be carrying the iPad 2. Some will, dome won't, and the one here don't. Interestingly enough, they got the gray Smart Cover and HDMI adapter.

 

Walmart has the plastic gray Smart Cover for $39.99...

 

...and the HDMI adapter.  No price tag, but I was assured it was also $39.99.

 

 

 

3:02pm - Woodfield Mall Apple Store - Schaumburg, IL
There is a long line already! I was also turned away when I tried to get in to check out their other products. That's right, folks. They are closed until 5pm.

 

And more people...

 

 

 

3:31pm - Woodfield Mall Best Buy Mobile - Schaumburg, IL
Just this one guy. Nice guy, too.

 

In case you missed the sign.  We kept getting asked if this was the line for the iPad 2.

 

 

 



4:00pm - Woodfield Mall Best Buy Mobile - Schaumburg, IL
Now there are 6 guys here, now The one who came with a girl must have left him. We were told they only have the black 16GB WIFI-only iPad 2.

 

 

 

5:10pm 

5:10pm - Woodfield Mall parking lot
I finally got one! They only had 5 in stock! The only accessory they have was a black leather Smart Cover for $70. No thanks.

The box is slimmer than the original iPad.  I'll be doing an unboxing video, and then an iPad and iPad 2 comparison.

Thursday
Mar032011

Apple iPad 2 Announced - Keynote Video Available

Apple finally announced their next generation iPad, dubbed iPad 2.  The hardware is pretty impressive, actually.  There were many hardware improvements, and two of them (video cameras and more RAM) I felt should have been on the first generation iPad.

Here's a quick run-down of what's new with hardware:

 

  • Thinner (8.8 mm vs 13.4 mm) - even thinner than the iPhone 4 (9.3 mm)
  • Lighter (1.3 lbs vs 1.5 lbs)
  • A5 dual core CPU
  • 512 MB RAM (vs 256 MB)
  • 9x faster GPU
  • Front and back cameras (rear can do 720p video)
  • Gyroscope
  • HDMI Out (with accessory dongle)
  • Magnets for flap cover (the cover is an accessory)
  • Proximity sensor (to put the iPad to sleep when covered, and wake when uncovered)

 

The fact that it has more power, RAM, 2 cameras, and a gyroscope, and still be thinner and lighter than it's predecessor is amazing.  To do all this and still have the same 10 hour battery life isn't really magic, but some kind of evil voodoo.

Despite all this, the user experience between the first gen iPad and this one isn't radically different.  This is because the new iOS 4.3 that will be launching with the new tablet is more or less the same as what we have now.  With the new cameras, they now include FaceTime HD and Photo Booth, which isn't all that amazing.  In fact, they were expected.

Here's a quick run-down of the new features of iOS 4.3:

 

  • Personal Hotspot (iPhone 4 only)
  • Home Sharing (stream iTunes content from Mac/PC to iDevice)
  • Selectable iPad Switch (can be changed to mute or lock orientation)
  • Improved AirPlay (allows 3rd party apps to stream video and audio)
  • Improved Safari performance

 

There is no major design change in the OS, which is expected, but disapointing.  With Android Honeycomb giving us a more tablet-oriented user interface, the current iOS GUI is starting to seem limited for the larger screen.  Also, with dual-cores and more memory, one would expect Apple to finally allow true multitasking.

All in all, I like the new design.  The cover is too expensive at $39 (plastic) and $69 (leather), but I can imagine aftermarket covers for less and still take advantage of the magnetic snap-on area that's built into every iPad 2.  Cameras were expected in the first gen iPad, so I am glad they are here now, but since Apple did not give out any specs for still photos, I am expecting the cameras to be like on the iPod Touch (can only do 1280x720 resolution photos).  I like that it's finally lighter (the first one was too heavy for single hand use), but since it's only 0.2 lbs lighter, we'll have to see if it makes a difference.

Apple finally put out their March 2nd keynote video on their site, so take a look here!  You may need to right-click and save-as on the link if you don't already have QuickTime installed.

 

 

Sunday
Feb202011

How Apple Fixed the Proximity Sensor Issue

So Apple finally fixed the proximity sensor issue on the iPhone 4. How did they do that with a software update when it's clearly a hardware issue?

What they did was ignore any touch inputs when the proximity sensor erronously turns the screen back on. Keep in mind, the condition in which it will ignore the inputs require you to keep in contact with the screen while the proximity sensor malfunctions.

See the video I made for a visual demonstration.