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Here's What To Expect From Apple's October 22 Media Event

Posted by Arron Hirst on October 21st, 2013

The iPad-focused media event is expected to focus on what's next for the company's 9.7-inch tablet, alongside the firm's smaller and more compact 7.9-inch option - the iPad mini. In recent weeks, the web has been positively alight with reports surrounding both the form-factor and functionality that the next iteration of these products could bring to consumers.

(credit: MacRumors)

Here's my take on what we could see happen at the event:

New iPads

It's pretty much a given from the amount of reports we've seen relating to Apple's next-generation iPads over the last several weeks, and Apple's recent switch to a fall timeframe for announcements relating to its iPad product line, that we're almost certainly in for some new tablets.

First, let's talk about the full-size 9.7-inch iPad. Originally introduced in January 2010, Apple's iPad has - over the last several years - systematically found its way into nearly every sector of our society. Revamped with a completely new design in March 2011, and gaining a quad-core graphics processor and Apple's signature super-high resolution Retina display along the way, the latest iteration of Apple's iPad is a powerhouse and features Apple's internally developed system-on-a-chip A6X processor as well as the company's new Lightning Connector.

As for what we can expect see in the next iteration of the iPad? Well, the jury's out on that one. Considering we haven't seen a hardware design refresh since the second generation, I'm expecting that Apple will show a change in appearance for the device on Tuesday, possibly in an effort to match the same style as the iPhone 5S. The device will likely be available in the same 16, 32, 64, and 128GB storage capacity options, and there's a good chance we will also see the device include the new 64-bit compatible A7 processor chip - now also found in the iPhone 5S.

(credit: Unbox Therapy)

If Apple is serious about eventually letting its developers out there take advantage of its brand-new Touch ID system, then I would bet strongly that we will also see the next iPad(s) feature this technology. Heck, we've already seen a number of purported photos which suggest the cut-out for the “home button” on these (rumored) devices was designed to fit Apple's Touch ID module - perfectly. Transplanting the inner workings of this system to a new iteration of the full-size iPad shouldn't prove that difficult for Apple, considering the production lines churning out devices carrying Touch ID are already there and waiting.

And then, of course, we have to address the recent chatter about the iPad mini. Introduced as the company's more affordable iPad, the iPad mini first saw its public introduction in November of last year. The device is capable of pretty much everything Apple's current-generation full-sized iPad is capable of achieving, with the added benefit being that the device is more portable. In addition, compared to the iPad's starting price of $499, the iPad mini arrived starting at just $329.

In terms of what we could expect to see if Apple where to choose to reveal a new iPad mini at the event, the device could see a complete revamp to its hardware design. Personally, I'm expecting that we will see the device gain both Apple's new Gold and Slate Grey color options - although it's worth noting that a recent report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests this won't be the case. Apple's second-generation iPad mini could also arrive featuring a Retina display. This is an aspect of the rumored device which has been speculated about quite heavily over the last year, with the main focus of discussion being on whether Apple can actually afford to keep the iPad mini at its tantalizing price point and offer expensive upgrades such as the jump to a 326-pixels per inch display.

This argument also extends to other recently introduced upgrades such as Touch ID, which again would make sense for Apple to include in the next-generation iPad mini, but whether or not the company would be able to keep the same price point if it did so is unclear. Granted, there's always the chance that Apple could position the next iPad mini as its “high-end” offering, and leave the existing generation of the tablet to serve as its entry offering as it does currently.

As for other internal upgrades, the question has to be asked as to whether Apple can afford to keep the iPad mini's dual-core A5 processor for another year, taking into account the new graphical requirements of its iOS 7 operating system. Personally, I'm going to wager that Apple will have no choice but to upgrade the processor on the iPad mini this year - perhaps (at least) to the A6, or A6X.

Things We're Not Expecting

With all that said, there are some things we're not expecting to see at Apple's media event. For instance, Apple's long speculated about ‘wearable’ product is likely only to see its public introduction (at the earliest) sometime next year. Likewise, Apple's ‘television’ product is highly doubtful to see its introduction at this event, simply due to reports in recent weeks suggesting the product's development is a long way off from being final.

Apple's media event on Tuesday will take place at the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, in San Francisco, and is set to begin at 10am (Pacific), 1pm (Atlantic). We'll be sure to bring you full coverage regarding any products that may be announced at the event. Stay tuned!

Apple Bringing Facetime to the Desktop [Update: It's Official]

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 20th, 2010

Update: It's been officially announced. Tens of millions of Mac users can now connect to iPhone and iPod Touch users. Facetime for the desktop includes everything you would expect including connection to mobile devices. This is going to rock! Nothing to set up, nothing to configure. Beta release will be out today at Apple.com.

It's still early in the Apple event, and nothing has been officially announced, but there it is, clear as day. There's a Facetime icon in the dock of the demo Mac being used to demo iLife 11.

Boom, indeed. More details when they actually get announced.

Apple & Google, Enemies or Allies? How FaceTime Plays In

Posted by Tony Kicks on August 31st, 2010

Apple strikes with a roundhouse kick the gut! But wait, Google fights right back with an eye gouge and a slap to the face! Apple is stunned but isn't going to give up that easily. What a fight, what a battle; who is going to win, folks? This is the picture much of the media has painted for us, isn't it? That Google and Apple have locked horns and are doomed to a winless war for all eternity. That's not really the case though. Truth is, the war is fought mainly with the media and loyal fans who follow the gossip like it's a WWE match. Yes, the two companies compete with each other on a couple of levels, but at the same time they work incredibly well and profitably together. Based on some recent news, I believe the two have secretly teamed up again in an effort to bring FaceTime to the mainstream for good.

Ok, here's what we know:

1) Apple is hosting an event on Wednesday and at the very least they're probably going to announce a new iPod touch with a front facing camera.

2) iOS 4.1 beta has been out for several weeks and contains an option to make FaceTime calls via e-mail address.

3) Apple from the start has said it plans to make FaceTime an open industry standard, potentially allowing communication with other devices.

4) Google just announced last week the ability to use their Gchat feature for video chats. Gchat, if you're not familiar with it, runs directly through Gmail and uses other user's Gmail address to authorize chats.

When you combine the first three together along with the timing of Google's announcement, it seems just too convent to be just a coincidence. I certainly could be wrong but to me the picture is pretty clear, Apple and Google are going to walk us right into the future and by this time next year, iPhone users and Andriod users will be FaceTiming each other everywhere. Finally the world will be at peace and harmony.

Apple Oddsmaker: What Does Apple Have Planned For Us Next Week?

Posted by Jeff Scott on August 26th, 2010

Apple regularly schedules a September event to unveil new iPods and other odds and ends in time for the holiday buying season. I think we can assume this year will be more of the same. What will we see and what won't we see? I'm going to try to put some odds to the various rumors and possible announcements. Note that these are all just my opinion as a guy that watches what Apple does with a rather critical and overly obsessive eye.

New iPod Touch - odds: even money
It's almost guaranteed we'll see a new iPod Touch introduced. This, like the iPhone announcement in June, has become a regular event. The question is what are the features we'll see? I'm hoping we will, as in past years, see feature plurality with the current generation iPhone. So we'll hopefully see the Retina Display (odds: 2-1), front facing camera with Facetime capability (odds: 3-1), rear camera (odds: 5-1). I'm also wondering if we'll see the storage capacity increased beyond 64GB (odds: 4-1). And will we see other iPod lines retired like the iPod Classic, perhaps (odds: 8-1)?

iOS 4.1 Officially Announced - odds: even
This is also a given. iOS 4.1 has been in beta for 9+ weeks now and it's been over 3 weeks since the last beta release. Betas usually come out every 2 weeks. So I think we can guess that it's done and ready to release. We can expect the release either next week on 9/1 or very shortly after. What features will it have? A fix for the proximity sensor (odds: even) and a Game Center release (odds: 3-1) are the best bets. There's the possibility that the length of time since the last beta was due to Apple adding in a mystery feature or two (odds: 5-1), or maybe it has to do with....

iOS 4.1 on the iPad - odds: 8-1
While I can't wait to get iOS 4 on the iPad, it won't be for a couple more months. I'm hoping that we'll at least get some details on iOS 4 for the iPad (odds: 4-1), but I won't hold my breath for that. Features I'm hoping for include support for running iPhone 4 resolution apps (odds: 4-1) and dashboard / icon layout update that takes better advantage of the screen size (odds: 30-1).

Updated Apple TV / iTV - odds: 5-1
This is the big new announcement most are expecting and an update to the Apple TV has been a long time coming. But I think Apple still sees it as too small of a market. I could be way off base here, but I think it's too early for this rumored update. Apple has had so many leak problems that we tend to know just about every detail of a new device before it's launched. We haven't seen anything about a new Apple TV other than a few persistent rumors. While this would be the perfect time to launch it, just before the holidays, I just think it's too early. But, in case it will be announced, the rumored features are a $99 price tag (odds: 10-1), and iOS based system (odds: 3-2), and App Store support of some kind (odds: 3-2).

I really hope I'm wrong about the Apple TV update and it does launch with all of the above. I'm certainly looking forward to this when it does launch and my head is spinning with the possibilities for apps for the device.

iPhone 4 Signal Issues: Expensive Recall, Free Bumpers Or Stealth Upgrades Coming?

Posted by Ben Harvell on July 15th, 2010

This iPhone 4 signal problem is building to a critical mass and Apple will apparently address the issue at a press conference on Friday.

From the moment the first iPhone 4 owner complained that holding the phone in a certain (fairly normal) way meant reduced signal bars, through Steve Jobs' clumsy "hold it differently" email response and now Consumer Reports' review U-Turn, things are not looking good for Apple's latest device.

To further ignite the issue, Cult of Mac has posted the comments of leading crisis communications expert Chris Lehane who dealt with the worst of President Clinton's White House mishaps. Yes, he's THAT good!

Along with other leading crisis management experts included in the post, Lehane's message is simple: Apple needs to accept blame and deal with the issue as soon as possible.

We've received mixed reports on the iPhone 4's signal issues here with some finding problems and others barely noticing an issue. That said, should the more severe complaints keep coming and major sources like Consumer Reports maintain their hard line on this design flaw, we're likely to see a big move if not a full product recall very soon.

The Cult of Mac post also brings into question Apple's "half-loaf" approach at calming matters by proposing a software fix, which the experts feel was rushed. The announcement was perhaps a little hasty, but we're still waiting for the software update itself, expected later today.

It's sad that such a seemingly minor design glitch that can easily be remedied with the use of a case has become the thorn in (quite literally) the iPhone 4's side.

With Apple's quarterly earnings report coming up later this month, the company needs to make a bold move in order to resolve this issue quickly and, according to Gizmodo, may already be doing so under the radar. Several users have reported that new iPhone 4s, offered by Apple as replacements in the event of accidental damage or non-signal related hardware problems, do not suffer the same signal issues as their original phone. While some have seen no improvement, a large number of testimonies point toward replacement iPhone 4s simply working better, leading to the suggestion that Apple might be quietly pushing out updated devices as replacements.

These revelations arise in the wake of rumors that Apple will be holding a press conference Friday in which it is expected to outline its stance on the problem and a potential resolution. Analysts are pegging the cost of a total iPhone 4 recall at around $1.5 billion, that's 3.5 percent of Apple's cash reserves.

An alternate option, suggested by Bernstein Research, would be for Apple to provide free bumper cases, that are known to fix the signal attenuation problem, at a cost to the company of $1 per unit. With Apple's official bumper case costing $29 retail, it seems the free case route could be far more appealing to Apple than replacing an entire phone with a retail value of over $500.

Apple has refused to comment on the nature of its press conference on Friday, merely stating that it will be iPhone 4 related, but it's a safe bet that a solution to this PR nightmare will be provided.

With any luck, come this weekend, the bad press will have died down, the world will continue to turn and iPhone 4 signal strength will rise along with Apple's stock price.

[ via Cult of Mac ]

iAds Starting To Show Up In App Store Apps

Posted by Ben Harvell on June 22nd, 2010

Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform looks to be gearing up for its launch on July 1st with test ads and spaces for iAds appearing in apps on the App Store.

iAd offers a way for developers to make money from free applications by including advertising spaces within their apps that are then filled by Apple’s new service. iAd looks to deliver more engaging advertising by comparison the traditional mobile ads that Steve Jobs seems particularly averse to.

iLounge points to a selection of applications from Avantar that are currently showing spaces for iAd adverts and, at one point, included “iAd integration” in release notes before changing the information to “minor bug fixes”. Whether or not Apple had a hand in this change is unclear although the big space within the app interfaces reading “Test Advertisement” next to the Apple logo would be a dead giveaway if they were going for some secrecy.

[ via iLounge ]

Apple Keynote Coming Monday -- What Will We See?

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 4th, 2010

Tension is building for the Apple Keynote, an annual event to kick off the 2010 WWDC. Let's take a quick look at the things will will most certainly see, and some that we hope to see.

The Next iPhone

The worst kept secret in Apple history is the next generation iPhone. Most likely called the iPhone HD, this new design has people very divided. It's a more boxy design with an aluminum band around the middle and a ceramic/glass back. Some love the design while others hate it.

What we do know is that it has a higher resolution screen at 640x960 (4x the pixels of previous iPhones). This should provide for crisper text and in general a smoother look. The next iPhone will also apparently have a higher resolution camera on the back with a flash (finally!). The camera is reported to be an 8 MP camera that also does 720p HD video recording.

The big addition will be a front facing camera to enable video chat. This will, I'm sure, be a big impressive demo on Monday.

There are also, likely, things we don't know yet about the new iPhone. The device we've seen all over the place is likely holding some secrets back for Monday. There has been talk of the back responding to touch as well as the front. That could be interesting yet I struggle to figure out how it would be used.

Let's hope there are some secrets. Otherwise it will be really hard to Steve to present the new iPhone with his usual 'proud father' new device presentation style.

OS 4

We already know about OS 4, but there reportedly quite a few tidbits that we don't know about yet. Besides the release date of the final, there are likely features of the OS that we don't know yet.

In addition, we don't know how or when it will arrive on the iPad. If there are any iPad specific features, we'll hopefully hear about those on Monday.

Heading for the clouds

It's no secret that Apple has been working on cloud services for the iPhone and more broadly iTunes. The have been building a huge new data center on the east coast to support it. But the undertaking is huge. And I expect the keynote will be mainly focused on the iPhone.

Apple is rumored to be holding another event in June that might introduce cloud services and other such interesting services.

Mac Mini / Macbook Air / Desktop Macs

MacRumors is reporting supply shortages for the MacMini. This is generally an indication that a new version is coming. The timing seems logical that we might see updates to the MacMini and the rather aging Macbook Air and Desktop Macs.

Personally I think it's just about as likely that Apple will turf the Macbook Air as update it. Differences aside, the iPad has taken the glory of the small form factor away.

Apple TV

This hobby project is getting really old now. Theories are that Apple will be releasing an update, this time based on the iPhone OS, not OSX. This would be a fantastic feature as it would open the platform to all of the iPhone OS apps. Apps for TV! This would compete directly with Google TV. The question is, is this a good business to be in?

While I'd like to think that we'll see this Monday, I think it might be too early. But you never know.

We know one thing, this should be a very huge keynote. While we know a lot, we don't know everything. The questions that remain and possibilities are huge.

Check back Monday, we'll give you a few live blogs you can reference to follow the latest info from the keynote. In addition, we'll tweet a few of the highlights at @148Apps and post a full recap and commentary sometime after the event.

[ image credit: Engadget ]

Will Sprint Be Getting The iPhone This Summer?

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 24th, 2010

Mac Rumors has received unofficial word that Sprint may become a carrier of the iPhone as early as this summer. The site points to skeptical claims made by a Sprint employee who has been reliable in the past and to a TechUpdate post covering information from a BestBuy employee who has similar information.

We reported recently that AT&T's iPhone exclusivity may be under threat from other carriers and that it narrowly avoided losing sole rights to iPhone tariffs by offering a very competitive data plan for the 3G iPad. Verizon is the most hotly tipped network to take on the iPhone but, should AT&T's exclusivity come to an end, Apple may well consider multiple iPhone carriers as it has done in Europe. As Mac Rumors points out, multiple contracts would also see a boost in iPhone uptake as has been seen with Android-based handsets. TechUpdate's unnamed BestBuy employee feels that AT&T's exclusivity has already been lost with the blow softened by exclusive iPad tariffs in the meantime.

Steve Jobs is set to host a Keynote at the start of Apple's World Wide Developer Conference on June 7 so perhaps we will find out more then.

[ via Mac Rumors ]

International iBookstores Follow iPad App Store Launches

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 23rd, 2010

Following our report that international iPad App Stores began switching on yesterday, international iBookstores are also now available. Apple initially claimed that iBooks would be a US-only service, likely due to ongoing discussions with international book publishers, but has since announced international launches in countries that begin selling the iPad on May 28th. At present, only free books are available to download on international iBookstores however this is likely to change over the next few days. So far, live iBookstores have been reported in Germany, Italy and the UK with the remaining supported countries likely to follow.

At the time of writing there are 10,023 free books available on the UK iBookstore with new additions apparently stopped for the time being after almost minute-by-minute changes earlier.

We’ll keep you updated as things progress.

Official Twitter App AKA Tweetie 3 Going Live Imminently [UPDATED] Now Live

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 19th, 2010

UPDATE: The official Twitter app has now appeared in the App Store and is available here.

New features include:

Reorganized search
Search all tweets and find local users as well as view Top Tweets and Browse Suggested users.

No account needed
You can now browse Twitter without an account using this app. You will still need to sign up in order to actually tweet.

In-app sign-up
If you're not a Twitter user already you can sign-up for an account within the application.

Multiple accounts
Second accounts can be added using the Accounts and Settings button under the More tab.

Popular actions
Retweet and other popular actions have been given more prominence

Refined GUI
Tweets now look more like Twitter.com

We're playing with this app right now and will have more details for you soon.

Original Post
After Twitter acquired Atebits, the developer of Tweetie for iPhone, in April this year, many were expecting an official Twitter app to be launched soon after. It appears that day has now come with the disappearance of Tweetie from the App Store and a number of rumors across the web of the official app popping up and then vanishing on iTunes. Most expect the app to be simply called “Twitter” and be offered for free rather than the $2.99 of Tweetie 2.

Twitter launched its official Android app at the start of this month, so it makes sense that an iPhone offering should follow. No details as to the design of the app have been released however, given the short time between acquisition and launch, we would expect the new app to retain many of the features found in Tweetie.

We’ll be scouring the App Store and, of course, Twitter for any news and will bring it to you as soon as we have it. We did and we have.

Is AT&T Tethering Finally Coming In iPhone OS 4.0?

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 19th, 2010

A forum post over at Mac Rumors has shed a little light on the hugely delayed availability of internet tethering for the iPhone on AT&T. Announced at the iPhone OS 3.0 event (yes, that long ago!) AT&T is yet to introduce the feature that allows users to share their iPhone’s 3G connection with a computer via Bluetooth or USB.

The forum post shows two images found within the iPhone 4.0 Beta that is being seeded to developers and shows a Setup Internet Tethering option as well as a popup screen explaining that in order to enable tethering the user must contact AT&T. AT&T remains the sole carrier of the iPhone in the US and has been dogged by issues with its network including dropped calls and poor 3G coverage. Many believe that its delay in rolling out tethering to the iPhone is due to worries that it may put too much strain on the network.

Will the launch iPhone OS 4.0 be the moment those desperate for tethering have been waiting for? We guess all will be revealed at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference this June.

[ via Mac Rumors ]

More Apple Leaks. White iPhone 4G Coming? Camera in iPod touch?

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 19th, 2010

Something is going horribly wrong with Apple’s legendary veil of secrecy. Following the highly documented iPhone prototype leaks already this year, it now appears that a prototype iPod touch has escaped into the wild as well. The same Vietnamese website that, to the best of our knowledge, still has an iPhone 4G prototype is now posting images of a prototype iPod touch with a built-in 2 megapixel camera. As before, Tinhte.vn has also posted a video of the device in action that appears to be running some kind of diagnostic tool with some very un-Apple graphics, but it does show the camera working. Last time we posted about Tinhte.vn we mentioned the dramas Jason Chen of Gizmodo encountered when showing off video of an Apple prototype and urged a little caution. The guys in Vietnam obviously missed that post or simply don’t care, this time they even include footage of them walking into their office!

While this is clearly a prototype model, it may not be that new. Apple is alleged to have scrapped an iPod touch with a camera shortly before its iPod event in September 2009 where it instead launched the iPod nano with video. Images circulating on the web around that time also looked very similar to these. Mac Rumors claims that the codename N18 on the sticker one of the images makes this model a third-generation iPod touch prototype, manufactured in June 2009. Whether or not Apple is planning to return to the iPod touch with camera remains to be seen but these pictures at least prove that they have tried it.

And meanwhile, across the South China Sea, more iPhone prototype information is being spilled. Taiwanese website Apple.pro has posted what appear to be shots of the next generation iPhone’s front fascia. This isn’t exciting in itself, given that we’ve seen what we expect to be the finished product already, but what is interesting is one of these front panels is white. Apple already sells the iPhone with a black or a white back panel and, if these images are true, now plans to sell a completely white version as well. We’re not sure we like the idea of an all-white iPhone, especially if the aluminum seen on the black prototype is included on this white version. We may well think differently when we see the final product, however, with Apple being a company synonymous with beautiful products. Then again, Apple used to be a company synonymous with pre-launch security...

[ via Tinhte.vn ]

[ via Apple.pro ]

Has Apple Lost Another 4G iPhone? More Photos And Video

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 12th, 2010

After the media circus surrounding Gizmodo and its potentially lost/stolen iPhone 4G prototype last month, it seems there's another iPhone 4G in the wild. Possibly not a prototype this time.

Mac Rumors has been provided with a link to a Vietnamese forum, Taoviet.vn, where more pictures of the new iPhone have been posted. According to a Mac Rumors' source, the device was purchased in the USA along with an iPad. The device is shown from a number of new angles and a teardown of the product is also shown.

A video of the device has been posted to YouTube (see below).

Little new information has been provided by these pictures, however the iPhone's casing shows that it's a 16GB model, whereas Gizmodo's featured XXXGB on the back.

The casing appears more polished on this version with no screws found near the dock connector, suggesting that this is a near finished product. However, in the photos and video, the phone appears to be running some kind of diagnostic firmware and doesn't look like it responds to presses on the home button. In the teardown images, what looks like a processor with Apple branding can also bee seen.

This new information is set against the sad backdrop of yet another suicide at Hon Hai Group in China where Apple's iPhones are manufactured. This is the sixth death at Hon Hai this year and follows Hon Hai's suspension of a member of its security team after a worker killed himself when an iPhone prototype was lost.

After Jason Chen, Gizmodo's editor, had his home raided by police and his computers and other items taken as part of an ongoing investigation, this Vietnamese poster is playing a risky game. It also brings into question whether or not the "found it in a bar" story from Gizmodo (and its mystery iPhone seller) is likely to hold up now that two iPhone 4G models have surfaced.

Either people are being extremely careless with these valuable prototypes and two have been "lost" by Apple employees in the US or a more serious crime has been committed. This might also explain the shock and awe of the raid on Jason Chen's house should the police have reason to believe that the Gizmodo iPhone was part of a wider theft.

Either way, our advice to the Vietnamese man in the video above - don't include your face in footage of you holding a potentially stolen product, it never ends well.

[ via Mac Rumors ]

AT&T Actually Rolling Upgrade Eligibility Dates Back

Posted by Jeff Scott on May 11th, 2010

In an effort to keep iPhone users happy and avoid the outcry we heard last year, AT&T has apparently started rolling back upgrade eligibility dates prior to the launch of the next iPhone. MobileCrunch has posted the following image showing an updated eligibility date moved from November to June of this year for a customer who purchased the iPhone 3GS at launch last year.

Last year lots of people were angry that they could not take advantage of upgrade pricing for the new iPhone. But it looks like AT&T is trying to avoid that fury this year and allow many more people to upgrade. Though at this point we don't know if it's universal as there has been no statement by Apple or AT&T.

MobileCrunch is reporting that AT&T has started to roll back upgrade eligibility dates from 18 months to what appears to be 12 months. This would allow customers who are eligible to take advantage of much cheaper upgrade prices for the hardware when the next iPhone is released.

We do not know at this time if that roll back will be for everyone or if that date is only for certain customers and not all at this time. While there are multiple reports of this from AT&T customers, it could be they are only rolling back the dates for customers over a certain service level.

Why would AT&T do this? They must have a reason. Perhaps they are doing it because the iPhone will be available on other carriers soon and AT&T wants to get as many customers as possible under a new two year contract. Or perhaps with the new front facing camera, AT&T will be increasing the monthly unlimited data plan fees, and they want as many new customers as possible on the new plan. Or perhaps AT&T just loves us all and wants to apologize for bad service. Ha!

But it seems as though lots of people are trying to see if they are eligible -- I can't even log into AT&Ts site at this point. Have you checked, has your eligibility date been rolled back? If so, let us know and let us know what plan you subscribe to (number of minutes/month) and how long you've been a subscriber. Let's see if this is universal or not.

[via MobileCrunch :: image credit: MobileCrunch]

Are cheaper iPad 3G data rates the reason we’re still stuck with AT&T?

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 7th, 2010

It seems that AT&T may have made one last Hail Mary play in order to remain the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the US. According to Wall Street analyst Brian Marshall, quoted by Computerworld, AT&T may have been allowed to hang on to the deal until the end of 2010 by offering significantly discounted data plans for Apple’s iPad 3G.

In the run up to the iPad launch, many touted Verizon as a shoe-in to become the next iPhone carrier alongside AT&T as well as to provide data services for the iPad. This never happened.

Although his claims appear unsubstantiated, Marshall, who currently works for BroadPoint AMTech, believes that AT&T, in a desperate bid to hold on to the lucrative iPhone carrier rights, made some serious sacrifices in providing a hugely discounted data contract for iPad owners.

Consumers questioned the need for another 3G contract alongside their iPhone when the iPad was announced with many pundits claiming that the price of the service would be key to Apple’s strategy. By granting an additional six months to AT&T’s exclusivity, it appears Apple was able to meet this target.

AT&T currently offers two data plans for the iPad 3G, one for $14.99 per month for up to 250MB and another at $29.99 for unlimited data. Neither package requires the user to sign a contract and both include free access to AT& Wi-Fi hotspots. By comparison to the competition, this is a very reasonable deal for iPad users and one that will surely have come at a cost to AT&T, which has struggled with wireless data loads since the iPhone was launched.

By contrast to the US, Europe has multiple carriers for the iPhone that are currently fighting to offer data plans for the iPad when it is released this summer.

AT&T’s network has long been criticized for a number of failings including dropped calls and poor coverage, notably so during a very public spat between the company and Verizon. Verizon launched a stinging ad campaign comparing its 3G coverage to AT&T’s while also aping Apple’s iPhone ads with the slogan “There’s a map for that” resulting in a legal back and forth between both companies. In response to AT&T’s suit that claimed the ads mislead the public, Verizon simply commented “the truth hurts”.

Verizon has reportedly conveyed to Apple its desire to carry the iPhone but, at present, it seems they can’t offer the right goods to seal the deal. Not even, it appears, the offer of a better network.

via Computerworld