Tagged: ipad

Apple releases iOS 4.3.3, includes location tracking ‘bug fix’

iOS 4.3.3 isn’t going to give your iPhone any new features. It won’t give you any bragging rights the next time you’re comparing your smartphone to your friend’s Android or BlackBerry handset. But it might just give you some extra peace of mind, and keep Apple out of the courtrooms.

That’s because this update to Apple’s mobile operating system addresses a “bug” with how these devices (including the iPhone 3GS, 4, iPod Touch 3, 4 and iPad 1/2) collect and store information about their locations.

If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s what happened:

A few weeks ago, two researchers announced that Apple’s iOS devices were storing relatively large amounts of location information; that this information was being stored in an unencrypted fashion; and that this data was being copied to people’s computers every time they synced their device via iTunes. Most worrisome was that if you knew what you were doing, you could use this data to create a very accurate map of where the device’s owner had been over a period of time, which was up to 10 months in some cases.

Needless to say Apple was put in the hot seat over this and subsequently apologized for a bug in their software and promised to make the necessary changes.

Today they make good on that promise.

But is it a good thing?

Apple says in their description of the update, that it “reduces the size of the “crowd-sourced” location cache, no longer backs up the cache to iTunes, and deletes the cache entirely when a user turns Location Services off.” What this means, is that if you opt-out of all location-based services on your device, it will no longer keep a record of where you’ve been.

Here, for the record is the portion of the full Terms of Use that relates to location tracking:

Location Data. Apple and its partners and licensees may provide certain services through your iPhone that rely upon location information. To provide and improve these services, where available, Apple and its partners and licensees may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use your location data, including the real-time geographic location of your iPhone, and location search queries. The location data and queries collected by Apple are collected in a form that does not personally identify you and may be used by Apple and its partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. By using any location-based services on your iPhone, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve such products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time by going to the Location Services setting on your iPhone and either turning off the global Location Services setting or turning off the individual location settings of each location-aware application on your iPhone. Not using these location features will not impact the non location-based functionality of your iPhone. When using third party applications or services on the iPhone that use or provide location data, you are subject to and should review such third party’s terms and privacy policy on use of location data by such third party applications or services.

Take careful note of this statement: “By using any location-based services on your iPhone, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve such products and services.”

This means that you agree to the collection and transmission of your location data even if you only use one location service-based app. The Maps app for instance, that comes standard with every i-device. I don’t know about you, but even if I turned off location services for every one of the apps I’ve installed since getting my iPhone, I’d still want Maps to show me where I am :-)

I hope that this update doesn’t in any way reduce the speed or the accuracy of the location-based services on the iPhone or other i-devices. I wasn’t upset about the data being kept on my phone and would happily allow it in return for a great user experience.

To update your i-Device with the latest OS, simply launch iTunes, plug in your gadget and follow the prompts.

iPad 2 goes on sale Friday, but beware the backlight leaks

Photo of an Apple iPad 2 showing light leakage around the edges of the screen. Courtesy of NiqueXyZ/Apple support forums.

Photo of an Apple iPad 2 showing light leakage around the edges of the screen. Courtesy of NiqueXyZ/Apple support forums.

It’s almost tragic. The iPad 2 has proven yet again that Apple’s “magical” device is still magical – at least as far as sales are concerned. The line ups for the latest Apple tablet in the U.S. have been unprecedented, and perhaps predictably, have led to shortages across the country and online where wait times are now pegged at 4-5 weeks.

And while many who have shown up at their local Apple store have been turned away disappointed and empty-handed, it has now come to light that still others who successfully acquired the much sought-after device are also disappointed – but for a very different reason.

Apple’s online support forums are slowly filling with complaints from iPad 2 buyers regarding a backlight leak problem.

Flickr user Aaron Harvey (aharvey2k) experienced the light leak problem with his iPad 2 and took this photo to document it. Used with permission of the photographer.

Flickr user Aaron Harvey (aharvey2k) experienced the light leak problem with his iPad 2 and took this photo to document it. Used with permission of the photographer.

Light leakage is a problem that can happen with any back-lit device. It occurs when the glass of the screen isn’t completely adhered to the chassis of the device – often a result of uneven or inadequate adhesive during the manufacturing process.

When this happens, blotchy pale areas can appear on the edges of the screen. Typically, it’s only noticeable when the screen is trying to show very dark background colours – effectively “blocking” the backlight. But because light is managing to escape  around the edges, it becomes visible as a localized “halo” effect.

A lot of people might never notice the problem. Some that do might not be bothered by it. But if you are the kind that notice it and dislike it, it can be a huge frustration – especially if you just spent 24 hours in line to drop $499 USD on a new gadget.

Now I have no doubt whatsoever that Apple will do the right thing for these customers and replace the defective units. But given the supply problems in the U.S., it’s hard to say when that replacement will come.

My advice to you if you are determined to be first in line for Friday’s Canadian launch of the iPad 2, is to ask your sales associate to let you open the box and turn the device on before leaving the store. Given the insane crowds the stores will be faced with, this won’t be a popular request. But the good news is that you should be able to tell if your unit has the problem almost immediately.

The start-up screen on i-devices is black, with the silver Apple logo in the middle. The start-up sequence takes about 15 seconds. During that time take a good look around the edges of the screen. Even in the bright store lights, you should be able to detect a bad leak as a slightly pale area on the otherwise dark screen, near the edge.

Good luck, and happy shopping!

[via Electronista]

iPad 2 launches in black and white, along with iOS 4.3

image courtesy of AppleOnce again, and despite being on medical leave from Apple, Steve Jobs took the stage to debut the latest iteration of the iPad – the device that single-handedly started a gadget category which it has since come to dominate.

Our very own Marc Saltzman was at the event and got some hands-on time with the iPad 2. Here’s his initial impressions:

And here’s the rundown on what was announced at the event in San Francisco today:

Apple's optional digital AV adapter which enables HDMI output from i-devices

” iPad 2″ officially announced (starting at $499 USD avail. March 11 for U.S., March 25th for most other countries including Canada)

  • A5 dual-core processor
  • “Dramatically faster” says Jobs
  • 2x faster CPU
  • 9x faster Graphics
  • front and rear cameras with the same specs as the iPod Touch (VGA front, 720p rear)
  • same gyroscope as the iPhone and iPod Touch
  • 8.8 mm thick – that’s thinner than an iPhone 4, 1.3 lbs vs. iPad 1’s 1.5 lbs
  • comes in white and black (yes white is actually available this time)
  • same price points as first iPad
  • optional HDMI accessory that enables 1080p output. Good news is that this cable is apparently compatible with a host of iDevices and not just the iPad 2.
  • specially designed magnetic case available which has a microfiber inner lining to clean the screen. Also sleeps and wakes the iPad 2.

iOS 4.3 officially released:

  • Faster web browsing
  • Improved home sharing
  • AirPlay improvements: Photos get all slideshow options, audio and video can be done from all apps and websites too.
  • Personal hotspot for iPhone 4 users
  • Lock switch can be customized: rotation lock or mute function
  • New PhotoBooth software for camera-equipped devices
  • FaceTime now supports the iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPod Touch and any Mac with an isight/facetime camera
  • available March 11

– iMovie for iPad ($4.99, March 11)

– GarageBand for iPad ($4.99 March 11) lets you plug in a guitar and turns your iPad into an 8-track recording studio. It also has a wild selection of virtual instruments you can play, most of which have “magic” options that help you out if you don’t know how to play a single note.

There you have it. Now for some initial impressions while we wait for some hands-on video from Marc…

Is this a must-have upgrade for current iPad owners?

No. In typical Apple fashion, the iPad 2 represents a logical yet incremental set of improvements on an already very well thought-out device. Making it thinner, lighter and faster were must-have improvements in order to make sure that anyone thinking of buying a competing product would keep the iPad at the top of their wish list. Same thing with the dual cameras. Given that every other tablet maker has these features, Apple had to ante-up. But none of these improvements should be driving current iPad owners to list their devices on eBay. Instead, the iPad 2 should be seen as the iPad for those who decided to hold off on the whole tablet space when the original iPad was announced.

The new magnetic case that Apple has designed specifically for the iPad 2

Here in our office, there was a lot of consensus that the lack of cameras was a problem on the initial iPad. Now that they’re included, I think a lot of people who didn’t buy in the first round and have been quietly envying those who did, can now jump on the bandwagon and smugly declare “See? I told you you should have waited” while current owners can equally say “Yeah, yeah, I’m waiting for the iPad 3.” which, given the pervasive rumours, might just be the next big thing from Cupertino.

Interestingly, the original iPad is no longer for sale on Apple’s U.S. site. Yet you can still buy one in Canada and the prices have dropped: It’s now $419 for the base 16GB Wi-Fi model

Curious how the iPad 2 stacks up in the specs department compared to its closest competitors? Engadget has you covered.

What about iOS 4.3?

As a current iPad / iPhone 4 owner, this announcement is almost more exciting. I’ve known for a while that the new OS will enable personal hotspotting on the iPhone – something which I have been eager for. See, I decided to buy the Wi-Fi only iPad, based on the logic that I would be using it mainly at home or at the office, both places where I have Wi-Fi. But there have been times when I’ve regretted that decision. Now, all I need to do is turn on the hotspot on my iPhone and voila – instant connectivity for my iPad or any other Wi-Fi device. Nice! I am however a little confused by Apple’s press release on the enhancement: “The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets you bring Wi-Fi with you anywhere you go, by allowing you to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to five devices in a combination of up to three Wi-Fi, three Bluetooth and one USB device.” I’ll have to check this out when it gets released to see if this really means only 3 Wi-Fi connections. Most other devices that have this feature including the Palm (HP) Pre 2, allow up to 5 Wi-Fi connections.

Also, letting apps and websites run audio and video through AirPlay is a huge improvement. AirPlay lets you stream content from your iOS device to your Apple TV, but until now, the only apps that could do this were the embedded audio, video and photos apps. Want to stream any other app? You were out of luck. Great improvement here.

Hot rumour: iPad 2 to be formally announced March 2

We sincerely hope we’re not just spreading an unsubstantiated rumour here, but we just can’t resist: The next Apple iPad will be given its formal unveiling at an event slated for March 2.

Our source is none other that the Wall Street Journal, specifically Kara Swisher reporting for her column Boomtown.  In her article she claims the information comes from “multiple sources.” Is this news you can take to the bank? Probably – the tech blogosphere certainly seems to think so. My own “sources” tell me that Apple has been discretely asking tech journalists about their availability and willingness to travel around March 2, and while that’s no proof of a second iPad, it means something is going down.

What are the pundits expecting Apple to announce? Here’s the laundry list of possible enhancements to the world’s favourite tablet:

  • A faster processor
  • thinner, lighter frame/chassis
  • dual cameras (front and rear-facing)
  • support for both HSPA+ and CDMA networks in the 3G model
  • SD card slot
  • built-in video-out capability via a micro DisplayPort or micro HDMI
  • higher resolution screen (possibly based on the Retina display technology that Apple debuted in the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch last year)

Personally I think the odds are very good on the cameras as these have become standard on every tablet to emerge since the first iPad. Thinner and lighter would be good bets as well. I would LOVE to see an SD card slot, but I’m on the fence as to whether I think Apple will deliver on this. The least likely feature in my opinion is the higher-resolution screen. It was bad enough that Apple made developers re-code their apps to make them iPad-friendly the first time, and then again on the iPhone 4. Another resolution change will drive them nuts. That said – if Apple does add some kind of built-in video output, it wouldn’t surprise me if they enabled 720p playback via this port. The current iPad is limited to 540p via the dock connector and Apple’s component cable. Here’s hoping that if they do go this route, they use HDMI as the interface and not DisplayPort. DisplayPort is ideal for running external monitors from a laptop or desktop PC, but the iPad isn’t being used for that. It’s a movie, web and YouTube device and as such, it needs a consumer standard for audio and video. regardless how Steve Jobs feels about HDMI – it’s the standard everyone runs at home.

So readers, are you excited by this news? Couldn’t care less? And which features are you hoping for on the next edition of the iPad?

Update, Feb 23, 5:50 p.m.: Well now there’s no doubt is there?  Invitations have officially gone out. Here’s the teaser… complete with an iPad reference…

Motorola XOOM: The first real iPad competitor?

Motorola XOOM, the first tablet to use Google's Honeycomb release of Android for tabletsAt a CES that was packed to the rafters with Android tablets – each one looking to capture a piece of the exploding market created and kick-started by Apple – there were few that managed to stand out from the crowd. But Motorola’s XOOM was an exception. Boasting a dual-core processor, unusual 16:10 screen ratio, the first implementation of Google’s “Honeycomb” version of Android (built specifically for tablets) and excellent battery life, the Xoom was named Best of Show. Check out this video to learn a little more about this device that will be hitting the market later this year.

Enter the Giraffe: an iPad speaker-stand-thingy

Microlab's Giraffe: an articulated iPad stand that incorporates a speaker and an FM radio in its base.I’m sure that the irony of Apple’s absence from CES hasn’t been lost on a single show attendee. That’s because it is virtually impossible to visit a booth here in Las Vegas that doesn’t contain at least one product designed for Apple’s ubiquitous line of i-devices. And since the iPad rolled out earlier this year, gadget companies of all sizes have been working overtime to create accessories for this runaway success story. One of the most interesting and um, bizarre, of these accessories is the Giraffe. Part Luxo light, part radio and part claw, this articulated iPad stand might just fill a need you never knew you had.

ION icade: An April Fools' Day joke gone terribly right

Ion icadeFamous gadget online store ThinkGeek has a reputation for dreaming up fake gadgets that sound awesome and then pretending they’re real, every April 1st. Turns out that their fans, including electronics manufacturer ION, get so excited about these ideas that some actually get made. In this case it was ThinkGeek’s idea for a miniature arcade cabinet built for the iPad. They called it the iCADE. ION has now taken this concept from Photoshop mock-up to a fully-fledged device and has even partnered with Atari to bring their classic arcade titles into the mix. A must-have for any serious retro-gamer out there.

ZAGGmate iPad keyboard and case combo

Zagg iPad Keyboard CaseThere were no shortage of i-accessories on the show floor this year at CES, so the challenge was to find the best designs. ZAGG, a company better known for their protective transparent-film wraps, was showing off one of the better iPad accessories we’ve seen: An all-aluminum bluetooth keyboard that becomes a protective front case for your iPad when not in use. Check it out…

Air Display: The perfect $10 gift for an iPad owner

air-display-iconScreen real-estate is a lot like money, there’s really no such thing as too much. So if you’ve every gazed at the screen of your iPad and thought, “it would be so awesome if I could use this thing as a secondary monitor,” you’re not alone.

The good folks over at Avatron have, in fact, been secretly reading your mind via Wi-Fi, and have come up with a brilliant solution: their Air Display app.

In truth, it’s more than an app. It’s the combination of an app that runs on your i-device and program that you install on your PC or Mac that runs invisibly in the background. The magic happens in the communication between these two chunks of code, over your home Wi-Fi network.

When everything is setup and configured correctly, you can extend your desktop onto the target device with a couple of clicks. As long as your gadget is running the Air Display app – zap – there’s your background wallpaper from your computer magically rendering itself on your iPad, iPhone, etc.

If this was all that Air Display could do, it would be worth the price of admission right there. But wait – as I wade dangerously into infomerical territory – there’s more…

The Air Display app extends your desktop via Wi-Fi onto an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. You can even use the touch screen to interact with whatever is being displayed. Image courtesy of Avatron Software. (click for larger image)

The Air Display app extends your desktop via Wi-Fi onto an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. You can even use the touch screen to interact with whatever is being displayed. Image courtesy of Avatron Software. (click for larger image)

Air Display automatically recognizes the orientation of your secondary display and rotates the contents of the screen to match. You can also – via the server software on your computer – designate where in space, relative to your primary monitor, you’ve placed the iPad. If you’ve ever used dual (or multi-) monitor mode in Windows or in Mac OS, this will be completely intuitive for you.

Finally, and possibly the coolest part of the whole package, you can actually interact with the content being displayed on the i-device. Browser window? You can scroll and click with your finger. Calculator? Tap those number buttons. Painting program? Paint away my friend.

The first time you try it out, you’ll get that same giddy feeling you probably got the first time you surfed the web on your laptop via Wi-Fi without a single cord restricting your movements. It’s really that great. At least, it is when it works. Keep in mind there are several things that can influence the performance of Air Display, such as the number of apps running in the background of either your i-device or your computer, the network activity on your Wi-Fi network and other factors.

If there’s one thing I’d change about Air Display – and this is going to sound a little silly given the app’s name – I’d like the option to connect my device via the USB cable for a truly bullet-proof experience. I don’t know if this is even possible within the limitations of the iOS SDK, but it would be a welcome upgrade.

So if there’s an iPad owner on your holiday gift list this season and you’re looking for an inexpensive gift that will elicit a disproportionately large amount of gratitude, I humbly suggest Air Display. It should fit the bill nicely.

On a somewhat related note, readers, do you find app reviews like this one valuable or not? We’re thinking of making it a regular feature here on Sync, but not if you think it’s a waste of pixels. Please take our poll below, or just leave us a comment.

If you’re an app developer and you think your work is so ridiculously awesome that the whole world (or at least the Canadian part) should know about it, drop us a line and we’ll be sure to check it out.

iOS 4.2 hits i-devices today

apple-ios-4-2While iPhone users have been benefiting from some of the new iOS features such as multitasking for a few months now, iPad owners have been patiently waiting for today’s launch since iOS 4.2 was announced back in September.

In case you’ve forgotten in the intervening months, here’s what’s in store for you if you connect your iPad to iTunes later today (after 10 AM PST):

  • Multitasking: double-tap the home button and a scrolling list of all your open apps shows up at the bottom of the screen, letting you hop between apps
  • Folders: sort all those apps into logical groups by dragging one app onto another. The new group can be renamed, added to, edited or deleted. Up to 12 apps per folder.
  • Unified inbox: All of your mail accounts can show up in one combined screen, or you can see them individually
  • Game Centre: Apple’s answer to Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation network
  • AirPlay: If you have an Apple TV, you can stream any video playing on your iPhone or iPad (or iPod Touch) to your TV over WiFi
  • AirPrint: wirelessly print from your device to any available network printer that supports the AirPrint feature
  • Find my iPhone (or i-Device): this previously subscription-only service is now free and helps you locate a lost device and/or remotely wipe its contents to keep it from prying eyes

You can bet I’ll be getting this update ASAP and be back to tell you what I think, but in the meantime, please leave your thoughts below.