Summing up the Rumors: iPad 2 and iOS 4.3


Apple released the first beta of iOS 4.3 to developers yesterday and today the Internet is swirling with rumors about not just what’s in iOS 4.3 but also about what this means for the next generation of iPads. Assuming Apple will stay with an annual update cycle for the iPad, it’s easy to guess that we could see an announcement as early as February and that the new iPad will go on sale in April. Given the nature of the Apple business, that makes the middle of January the prime time for speculating about the next iPad.

Here is a brief summary of all the iPad rumors we have encountered so far:
[list type=”green”]

  • The next iPad and iPhone won’t feature a home button. The reason for this is that now that iOS 4.3 brings new multi-touch gestures that bring up the task switcher and home screen, you won’t need the home button anymore. According to Boy Genius Report’s anonymous source, Apple is already testing iPads and iPhones without home buttons on its campus.
    John Gruber, however, also points out that this could create serious discoverability problems. Currently, the home button is the only physical button on the face of the device and this is what makes the iPad and iPhone so easy to use for novice users. “How in the world would a normal person figure out or guess that they need to do a “five-finger pinch” to get back to the home screen?”
  • Photo Booth is coming to the iPad. This makes sense to us. It’s a little utility that won’t see a lot of use, but that Apple can highlight in its ads and that one or two engineers could easily port to the iPad.
  • iLife is coming to the iPad. This also makes sense. With iMovie, Apple already took a first step in this direction. Music software is very popular on the iPad, so a scaled-down version of GarageBand would make sense and the same goes for iPhoto.
  • The next iPad will have a camera for photo and video.
  • The next iPad will feature the same screen resolution as the current one. Looking at iPad2-specific images in iOS 4.3, the good folks at 9to5mac found that their resolution is 1024×768.
  • Apple could be building its own mobile social network. MacRumors found an entry for “Find My Friends” in the new version of iOS that is related to MobileMe and the Settings app. Given the disaster that was Apple’s last attempt and building a social app (Ping in iTunes), I can only hope this will be more interesting.
  • iPad2 will launch on April 2nd or 9th. According to this rumor, the iPad 2 will go on sale in the U.S. first and then makes its way to other markets about three months later.

These are just the rumors. Thanks to the release of iOS 4.3, we also know quite a few things about the new version of iOS at this point. Here are the highlights courtesy of Pocket-Lint.

10:33 am

Confirmed: iOS 4.3 Will Feature Personal Hotspots


After yesterday’s Verizon iPhone announcement, it was already clear that Apple would bring personal hotspots – that is the ability to use the iPhone as a WiFi router for up to 5 devices – to other networks as well. Today, Apple released the first beta of iOS 4.3 for iPhone and iPad to developers and this version does indeed offer personal hotspots just like the Verizon iPhone pundits got to gaze at yesterday.

Now it’s just up to AT&T and friends to actually support this feature and enable them on the carrier side. Given how long it took AT&T to actually support a basic feature like tethering, I’m not holding my breath.

Other new features (mostly for the iPad) according to those who’ve actually seen iOS 4.3:
[list type=”tick”]

  • swipe up to open the multitasking tray
  • swipe left and right to switch apps
  • 4 and 5 finger gestures – though I’m not quite sure what those will be used for, yet
  • the iPad side switch can now be set back to bein an orientation lock (Apple turned it into a mute switch in the last update)
  • AirPlay streaming from third-party apps
  • fullscreen iAds
  • [/list]

    3:12 pm

    When Will AT&T Users Get the Verizon iPhone’s Personal Hotspot Feature?


    For the most part, today’s Verizon iPhone announcement was exactly in line with what most pundits expected: same phone, different network. One intriguing feature of the Verizon iPhone that AT&T doesn’t currently offer, however, is the ability to turn the phone into a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 devices. Wouldn’t it be nice if AT&T also offered this feature soon?

    AT&T is “Evalutating” This Feature

    There is nothing specifically “Verizon” about this feature. Technically, AT&T’s network is just as capable of supporting this feature as Verizon’s and there are already third-party apps for jailbroken iPhones out there that offer this capability and that work reasonably well. The Verizon iPhones that were on display in New York today ran iOS 4.2.5, a currently unreleased version of the iPhone’s operating system. On Verizon’s iPhones, turning on the hotspot feature is as easy as going to the settings menu and turning the feature on. It’s integrated directly into the OS.

    verizon gets the iphoneThe good folks over at the Business Insider asked AT&T if this feature would make its way to their iPhone as well and a company rep told them that AT&T is “evaluating” this feature but has “no plans to announce today.”

    Just a Question of Time?

    So will AT&T support mobile hotspots once Apple releases the next update to the iOS? My personal guess is that it will take the company a bit longer before it releases this feature to its users. After all, it took AT&T years before it even officially allowed tethering and the hotspot feature would put even more of a strain on the company’s network. For now, I’m guessing AT&T will start offering this feature once the next generation iPhone is available and it will surely charge a hefty fee for this feature as well (we don’t know anything about Verizon’s pricing plans for the iPhone yet, so the price could turn out to be a non-issue). Overall, though, it will only be a matter of time before AT&T users will get this feature as well.

    12:09 pm

    Verizon Gets the iPhone: Just the Facts


    During a press conference in New York earlier today, Verizon announced that it will start carrying Apple’s iPhone 4 next month. Thanks to the capabilities of Verizon’s network, Apple is allowing the company to offer a few exclusive features, including the ability to use the iPhone as a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 people. As usual, Apple is conservative in its technology choices, though, and the phone won’t run on Verizon’s advanced LTE network. As of now, we don’t know anything about the rates and data plans Verizon will offer for the iPhone.

    Cell Phones, Cell Phone Plans, 4G LTE network with the Best Cell Phone Service - Verizon Wireless.jpg

    Here are the cold hard facts about the announcement:
    [list type=”blue”]

    • The iPhone 4 will be available on Verizon 2/10/11
    • pre-order for existing Verizon customers starts 2/3/11. New customers can oder online starting 2/10/11
    • Verizon’s website for more info about the iPhone
    • prices will be same as on AT&T with a new 2 year contract: $199.99 for 16GB and $299.99 for 32GB
    • mobile hotspot feature will be available
    • no comments about pricing for data plans and optional features like tethering/mobile hotspot
    • no support for LTE yet (as it’s a standard CDMA device, you won’t be able to make phone calls and use data at the same time and incoming calls will interrupt your data stream) – neither Verizon nor Apple would comment about plans for an LTE-enabled device
    • the Verizon iPhone will have a CDMA-specific antenna design
    • Verizon thinks the quality of its network will allow it to stand out in the competition with AT&T, something the company’s CEO Lowell Macadam pointed out a few times during the press conference. At one point, he called Verizon’s LTE network a 6G network: “With all the renaming of networks and technologies, we thought about naming ours 6G, but that’s not really our style, so we’ll stick with 4G.” The iPhone won’t run on this network, though.
    • [/list]

      verizon gets the iphone

    9:14 am

    Murdoch's iPad-Only Newspaper The Daily Coming January 19. Is it DOA?


    So far, the iPad has not done much to save the newspaper industry from itself, but according to the latest reports, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch is not giving up and plans to launch his much-rumored iPad-only paper The Daily on January 19.

    It remains to be seen if an old-style newspaper on the iPad will be able to make a significant impact on News Corp.’s bottom line. While details about the publication remain sparse, it currently seems as if the plan is to update the paper once per day – just like that newspaper you unsubscribed from years ago.

    Dead on Arrival?

    This slow update cycle is, of course, one of the main reasons why regular papers have lost so many readers over the last few years and I just can’t imagine that readers will flock to The Daily and subscribe (even at the low – rumored – price of $1 per week). There are plenty of news alternatives on the iPad right now, including excellent apps from the traditional newspapers like NYTimes (now that it doesn’t crash anymore), aggregators like the Huffington Post and web-only publications like Slate. Murdoch’s old-fashioned approach is the antithesis of what readers expect from a modern publication today.

    Because of this, chances are that The Daily won’t be able to do much stand out from the competition (except, maybe, through in-depth features and smart investigative reporting). One area where it could stand out is in its design. So far, newspaper apps on the iPad and other tablets reproduce the traditional newspaper experience nicely, but we haven’t seen a lot of innovation on this front yet. In December, MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka reported that The Daily will feature “some kind of 3-D effect that lots of people are very excited about,” so there is some hope that the app will at least feature an innovative design.

    What do You Think?

    What do you think? Will The Daily be a massive success? Or will you stay away from it and read a paper that’s updated throughout the day?

    Tips of the hat to MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka, by the way, who was the first to pinpoint the week of January 17 as The Daily’s launch window.

    The Daily coming soon.jpg

    11:48 am

    Twitter’s New Desktop App for the Mac: A Disappointment


    This morning, with the launch of the Mac App Store, Twitter also launched its new desktop app for the Mac. While the app is pretty, it’s missing too many essential features that serious Twitter users have become accustomed to. It also doesn’t keep up with the high standards that the official Twitter for iPhone and iPad apps have set over the last few months.

    Don’t get me wrong, Twitter for Mac is a decent, lightweight client for those who only follow their closest friends and family members (and maybe a few celebrities), but it’s no replacement for clients like TweetDeck, HootSuite or Seesmic.


    The Bad:

    Here are a few examples of what I didn’t like about the app:
    [list type=”red”]

  • What makes the Twitter for iPad app so great is that links open up in a third pane and don’t take you away from the app. Twitter for Mac does away with this. Clicking on a tweet in your timeline does absolutely nothing and clicking on links brings up your browser.
  • The app has amnesia. The moment you click away from the lists view, it will forget what list you were looking at before and you’ll have to click through to that list again.
  • Same thing for searches. Do a search and click away from it to see your direct messages, for example, and the app will have no recollection of what you just searched for when you click on the search button again. Annoying.
  • No button to start a new tweet? You have to either use the keyboard shortcut (and one of the nicest features is that the app allows you to set a global hotkey for new tweets) or click through the menu at the bottom of the screen to start a new tweet.
  • If there is a conversations view, it’s hidden away. I haven’t found it yet.
  • No support for third-party URL-shorteners? Seriously?
  • Clicking on a person’s avatar bring up a timeline, not the person’s profile.
  • I know I’m nitpicking now, but this is quite annoying as well: the minimalist interface makes it hard to drag the app across the screen. You have to find a spot on the sidebar to actually move the app around.
  • [/list]

    The OK:

    Not all is bad, of course. The app is lightweight, fast and new tweets happily scroll across your screen in real time. A global hotkey for sending new tweets is a nice feature as well. So is support for multiple accounts, which the app also handles quite nicely.

    Over on TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld calls the app a “half-hearted attempt” – an apt description. For now, you won’t miss much if you stay away from it.

    11:32 am

    Apple's Mac App Store: First Impressions


    Earlier this morning – and somewhat earlier than expected – Apple launched its App Store for the Mac. After using it for a while now, it’s clear that this will be a major shift in how Mac users buy and upgrade their apps. There are, however, also some issues with this new app-buying paradigm for the desktop that Apple still needs to solve. Most importantly, developers can’t offer trials for paid apps, a problem that is highlighted by the absence of a return policy.

    The store currently features just over 1,000 apps, organized in the usual categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities. Apple also used this opportunity to release unbundled versions of its iLife ’11 and iWork ’09 apps.

    [list type=”blue”]

  • Apple needs to rip the iPhone and iPad app store out of iTunes as well. The new app store feels fast and lightweight, something that really can’t be said about iTunes anymore at this point.
  • Installing apps is as easy as in the mobile app store. Click buy and the icon appears in your dock with the same progress bar underneath we’ve become accustomed to on iOS.
  • Don’t expect iPhone-like pricing in the Mac App Store. Developers will surely experiment with their pricing schemes, but some apps (like TiltShift for an “introductory price” of $25 and Bejeweled 3 for $20) are clearly overpriced right now. Of course, it remains to be seen what Mac owners are willing to pay for their apps, too. Apple’s own Aperture is currenly the 9th most popular paid app at a price of almost $80, though Angry Birds ($5) and Chopper 2 ($1) are leading the pack of paid apps.
  • iWork is featured prominently in the store (in unbundled form). Sadly, this is still the ’09 version.
  • No trials and no refunds? Given the price of many of these apps, that could become an issue for developers. Most offer trial versions of their apps on their own websites, but what happens if the App Store becomes the de facto method of finding apps for most users?
  • Overall, Apple does a nice job at recognizing the apps you have already installed on your machine. Some, it didn’t recognize on my computer (TextWrangler, OmniFocus, for example), but most showed up as “installed” in the App Store.
  • [/list]

    10:44 am

    Report: Apple Will Dominate the Tablet Market Through 2012


    Just about a year ago, there was virtually no market for tablet computers. There were rumors that Apple could launch a tablet, but a lot of pundits still dismissed the idea that consumers would actually want to buy such a device. Apple, of course, launched the iPad to a lot of hype in April 2010 and sold over 3 million within the first three month of sales alone. There is clearly a market for these devices out there, but for now, Apple is really the only player in this business.

    According to Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, this situation won’t change much in the next two years.

    Forecast: 44 Million Tablet Sales by 2015

    Forrester just revised its US consumer tablet forecast for 2010 up to 10.3 million units. Next year, the company’s analysts believe, tablet sales will more than double to 24.1 million units – though the company also thinks that the “lion’s share will be iPads, and despite many would-be competitors that will be released at CES, we see Apple commanding the vast majority of the tablet market through 2012.” Looking ahead, Forrester forecasts that 82 million U.S. consumers will be using tablets in 2015 – with yearly sales reaching 44 million.

    forrester tablet forecast graph

    Replacement Rates More like MP3 Players than PCs

    Another interesting aspect of this forecast is that Forrester believes that the replacement rate for iPads will be similar to that of MP3 players and iPhones – meaning consumers will upgrade these devices more often than, for example, PCs. Indeed, Forrester expects that a lot of first-generation iPad owners will buy the iPad2 – which will surely be released later this year.

    10:23 am

    Looks like iOS 4.2 Won't Arrive This Week



    Rumor had it that Apple was about to release the much anticipated iOS 4.2 update this week. While this update will bring some new capabilities to the iPhone and iPod touch, iPad users will benefit from this the most, as they will finally get Apple’s version of multitasking and folders. For now, though, it looks like Apple users will have to wait a few more days. According to the rumor mill, the current build has a major WiFi bug that could be a show stopper.

    As usual, these are just rumors – and even the idea that iOS 4.2 would be released this week was a rumor – so the update could still hit Apple’s servers tomorrow. Or, we could see iTunes 10.1 tomorrow (it’s a necessary update for installing 4.2) and the iOS update next week. Of course, if this turns out to be a major bug, chances are that Apple will roll out a new GM build next week and only release the final version the week after. Steve Jobs only promised a release in November, after all, and we still have almost three weeks left in this month.


    9:16 pm

    Can The New Version of iTunes Breathe New Life Into Apple's Ping?


    Apple just released a new version of iTunes for Mac and PC that makes some much-needed changes to how the company integrates its social network Ping into the application. Until now, not only was Ping somewhat hidden in iTunes, but you could also only really interact with it from within the iTunes store and not from within your iTunes library. Unless your friends are compulsive music shoppers, chances are that few of them ever went through the store to mark their favorite songs. Now, however, in the new version of iTunes (10.0.1), you can very easily like songs right from within your music library and you can choose to see a sidebar with the latest activity from your Ping friends while browsing your library. Chances are that this will raise the activity level on Ping, though it remains to be seen if this will be a dramatic change.

    ping_hasselhoffIn an ideal world – where Apple was following the Lala model it acquired not too long ago – you would be able to not just see what your friends like, but also play those songs in full once or twice. As of now, seeing your friends’ likes is great, but you can’t really do much with that knowledge unless you buy the song or album. For the most part, Ping is still too closely linked to iTunes to be genuinely useful.

    For the time being, Ping is also still a completely isolated network without a connection to Facebook and Twitter. Not only is it still too hard to find your friends on Ping (due to Apple’s inability to come to an agreement with Facebook).

    With this update, Apple has addressed one of the major grievances that most early users had with Ping (the inability to like items from the music library). Is that enough to breathe new life into Ping? Probably not. Until Ping is connected to other social networks, it remains a silo where you can put information in but can’t get any of it out to the rest of your friends.

    11:32 am