March 30, 2012

Verizon Installing LTE Equipment In Apple Stores Ahead Of iPad 3 Launch

Verizon Installing LTE Equipment In Apple Stores Ahead Of iPad 3 Launch

The rumor mill has been saying that Apple’s third-gen iPad will come equipped with LTE 4G networking. The feature is speculated to be U.S.-only on AT&T and Verizon, with international and other carrier details remaining scare.

We’ve gotten word that the nation’s largest wireless provider, Verizon, has been installing LTE equipment in U.S. Apple retail stores ahead of the iPad 3 launch.

Verizon has been installing LTE networking equipment in Apple Stores over the last couple days, according to our source. We don’t have any other details at the moment, but we have reason to believe this information is accurate.

The last whispers of LTE in Apple Stores occurred when Engadget reported that AT&T was installing equipment back in August of last year. Nothing has been heard about such activity for many months, so it’s only fitting for the news to occur on the eve of Apple’s next-gen iPad announcement.

Word on the street is that the third-gen iPad will be available pretty soon after tomorrow’s keynote, with most bets placed for Friday, March 16th.

Cult of Mac

iPad, iPhone at heart of Square’s NYC taxi payment system

By Mikey Campbell

Published: 09:49 PM EST (06:49 PM PST)
In a bid to change the way people pay for cab rides, Square has rolled out a pilot program in New York City that leverages iPads and iPhones running specialized software as backseat payment stations.

Payment company Square announced on Tuesday that it has started an initiative, internally called “Checker,” that will replace the existing backseat TVs of 30 NYC taxis with custom iPad pay stations, reports The New York Times.

Square claims that its new platform will streamline fare payment by allowing customers to swipe credit cards directly on the installed device at any time during a taxi ride instead of having to wait for a meter reading.

“The ability to pay at any point in the taxi ride is really important because it enables drivers to pick up more fares, faster,” Square’s director of product Megan Quinn said.

The system also eliminates the need for paper as riders sign the iPad’s screen with their finger after paying and receive a receipt via email or text message.

The platform’s black metal housing incorporates a magnetic stripe card reader with an iPad running Square’s proprietary software. Instead of the TV programming currently broadcast in New York’s cabs, the Checker unit will display information regarding a cab’s current location, route and fare.

In addition to the iPad-based unit, taxi drivers will be given an iPhone that can be used to adjust fares, add toll fees and maintain contact with dispatch.

Square is known for its unique point-of-sale solution that allows users to process credit card payments from their iOS device in exchange for a percentage sales. Quinn points out that taxi drivers are among the service’s most loyal customers, though strict New York regulations rendered the service useless.

“The traditional Square set-up wasn’t possible [in New York],” Quinn said. “So we started working closely with the New York City Taxi Commission” to improve the experience.

The pilot system promises to get fares in the bank accounts of taxi drivers by the next day, which is a vast improvement over the current system that reportedly takes up to 30 days to pay out credit card fares.

AppleInsider

Apple Adds Mysterious “Catalogs” Section To App Store On Eve Of iPad 3 Event

Apple Adds Mysterious “Catalogs” Section To App Store On Eve Of iPad 3 Event

Apple has silently added a new section to the App Store called “Catalogs.” On the eve of the iPad 3 announcement, the section seems to have launched prematurely, as it’s not yet visible with the rest of the App Store’s categories. You can only find it by visiting this direct link, and there are no apps available to download in the iTunes directory.

Once such app that has been placed under the new category is Catalog Spree, a free iPad app that offers digital catalogs from popular retail stores. The app was previously listed under the “Lifestyle” section of the App Store. The CEO of Catalog Spree, Joaquin Ruiz, said ”Adding an app category is not something that Apple does lightly and we believe Apple’s decision reflects the importance of this usecase in the Apple App Store ecosystem.”

Some sites believe this new App Store category could indicate Apple’s plan to push interactive catalogs for the third-gen iPad’s high-quality Retina display. The company’s digital textbooks initiative was kicked off in New York City a couple months ago, and a Retina display-equipped iPad would be perfect for viewing such content, including catalogs.

It sounds like a lot of things are possible for tomorrow’s event, so stay tuned for breaking coverage all day. Apple’s keynote begins at 10 AM PST.

Cult of Mac

Apple to reportedly double ‘iPad 3′ RAM to 1GB

By Josh Ong

Published: 09:20 PM EST (06:20 PM PST)
A new report claims that leaked debug photos purportedly from Apple’s third-generation iPad show that the device will sport 1GB of RAM, double the amount of its predecessor.

On the heels of recent reports that Apple will increase the RAM in its upcoming iPad model, a hacker and iPhone jailbreaker known as “Chronic” offered up a specific number: 1GB.

Leaked debug photos allegedly of Apple’s next iPad that surfaced last month showed a line of code that read “vm_page_bootstrap: 244276 free pages and 8396 wired pages.” By multiplying the number of free pages by the size of a page (4,096 bytes), the developer deduced that the device will have 1GB of RAM.

Apple’s second-generation iPad, released last March, carried 512MB of RAM, the same amount as the iPhone 4.

“Chronic” also reported earlier on Tuesday that the golden master build of iOS 5.1 has passed Apple’s internal quality assurance testing and is set to arrive soon with the addition of two secret features.

Speculation surrounding the next-generation iPad has surged in the run-up to Apple’s media event, scheduled to take place on Wednesday. The so-called “iPad 3″ will likely boast a 2,048 x 1,536 pixel display, a faster processor and 4G LTE. There has been some disagreement, however, on whether the new processor will be a quad-core A6 chip or an A5X dual-core chip. Recent reports have pointed to the A5X dual-core option as most likely.

A pair of reports have also claimed that Apple will set aside its current numbering system and call the new device the “iPad HD.”

AppleInsider

iPad 4G LTE: if it happens, which carrier should you choose?

Rumors have been circulating that Apple has somehow managed to balance battery life, a high-resolution display, and 4G LTE in the next iPad. We won’t know until tomorrow if the latter actually makes it to the next-generation tablet, but if it does, which carriers would be your best bet for LTE service in the U.S.? AT&T or Verizon.

I deliberately left Sprint out of the picture here, since the Kansas-based carrier won’t be rolling out LTE until mid-2012 and availability will be limited to Baltimore, Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and San Antonio at that time — Sprint’s existing branding for its “4G” service refers to its WiMax-based network, which the iPad almost certainly will not support. Aside from that, Sprint doesn’t currently offer 3G service for the iPad (although it’s enjoyed increased MiFi sales over the past couple of years thanks to Apple’s tablet). T-Mobile is also a no-show despite the carrier’s misleading ads that tout 4G service (actually 3G with enhanced backhaul) — it won’t deploy 4G LTE until next year.

In the event that Apple announces a 4G LTE iPad tomorrow, here are some factors you should consider when choosing your carrier:

Local Coverage

Since most users spend most of their time in and around a specific set of locations — usually home and work — it’s important to know if the device works on a carrier’s network in those locations. Look at the coverage maps for AT&T and Verizon for an idea of where they currently have 4G LTE deployed, and then enter your work and home addresses for a detailed look at those locations. In my hometown, Verizon has widespread 4G LTE coverage, while AT&T has not yet built out its network.

Nationwide Coverage

If you travel frequently for work and use your iPad while on the road, it’s going to be important to know if the carrier has 4G LTE service in the cities you travel to the most. Once again, the coverage maps linked to above are very useful in determining whether or not your device will be able to take advantage of 4G LTE — provided the next-generation iPad comes so equipped.

Speed

Some people are lucky enough to have the option of 4G LTE from both U.S. carriers. In that case, a deciding factor may be the speed of the network. While AT&T’s limited network coverage at this time makes a direct comparison in all markets impossible, the company’s 4G LTE speeds usually seem to be beating Verizon’s.

A comparison by TechnoBuffalo in Irvine, California showed Verizon’s average download speeds to be about 5.03 Mbps with an average upload speed of about 5.36 Mbps. For AT&T, the average download speed was about 8.21 Mbps, while uploads were clocked at about 2.72 Mbps.

Data Plan Price

Data plan pricing is also a consideration, and since we don’t even know if the next-generation iPad is going to come equipped with 4G LTE, it’s almost impossible to predict what the price tag will be on the 4G packages from the two companies. However, we can compare the existing 4G plans for Verizon and AT&T.

Verizon: 2 GB / $ 30 per month, 5 GB / $ 50 per month, 10 GB / $ 80 per month

AT&T: 250 MB / $ 15 per month, 3 GB / $ 30 per month, 5 GB / $ 50 per month

If you already know what your monthly usage is for an existing iPad, that will help in determining what kind of plan you should purchase — but keep in mind that faster download speeds may bump up your utilization. Remember that all current data plans for iPad are sold on a month-by-month basis and can be canceled with no penalty.

The Bottom Line

Should Apple, Verizon and AT&T announce a 4G LTE-equipped iPad tomorrow, then you’ll have to keep all of these factors in mind when making your decision of carrier. For me, the decision is simple: Verizon is the only carrier that currently has a 4G network in my city, and if I want the higher speeds available with LTE, that’s my choice.

If Apple doesn’t announce a 4G tablet tomorrow, then I’ll be sure to update this post when the next-generation iPhone appears later this year — hopefully with the ability to work with 4G LTE networks. Be sure to join us for the Apple iPad event coverage at 10am PT / 1pm ET tomorrow!



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple to push interactive catalogs as part of ‘iPad 3′ rollout on Wednesday

By Josh Ong

Published: 08:15 PM EST (05:15 PM PST)
On the eve of Apple’s expected unveiling of the third-generation iPad, the company has introduced a new Catalogs category to the App Store, hinting at a possible announcement related to interactive catalogs on the iPad as part of Wednesday’s big event.

The arrival of the new category appears to have been premature, as it has currently has no popular apps listed in iTunes Preview and has yet to appear in All Categories listing for the App Store on iTunes.

Considering that Apple is widely expected to unveil a Retina Display-equipped iPad on Wednesday, the company is likely readying a push for the release of ultra-high-resolution interactive catalogs delivered to the iPad via the App Store.

“The impact of the iPad in the shopping and publication industries has been massive. Many thousands of apps have been added over the last 2 years to address the consumers need to interact with their favorite books, magazines and brands within an iPad optimized experience,” said Joaquin Ruiz, CEO of the leading catalog app, “Catalog Spree.”

“Adding an app category is not something that Apple does lightly and we believe Apple’s decision reflects the importance of this use-case in the Apple App Store ecosystem,” he added.

Prior to Tuesday, “Catalog Spree” and other shopping entertainment apps had been categorized as “Lifestyle” apps. However, Apple has already begun switching applications over to the new category, as the application is now listed under Catalogs. The transition still has some kinks, though. For instance, clicking on the new category in iTunes takes users to a blank screen that says only “iPad Catalogs.”

Apple rival Google has already launched its own initiative for digital catalogs on tablets. Though Google, of course, has a vested interest in promoting its catalog service for the Android operating system, it does also have an iPad version of the application. Google Catalogs is also now listed under Apple’s new Catalogs category.

In addition to an improved display, the next-generation iPad is expected to include a faster processor and 4G Long-Term Evolution connectivity. Apple’s March 7 media event kicks off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif. AppleInsider will have full, live coverage.

AppleInsider

New Apple patent outlines rules for iTunes-based ‘iWallet’ transactions

By Mikey Campbell

Published: 07:49 PM EST (04:49 PM PST)
Apple on Tuesday was granted a major patent pertaining to the rules and methods of a future electronic payment system, and how a future device could implement the parameters to create a seamless credit card-based system with an iTunes backend.

The new patent essentially establishes a set of rules which governs how users complete mobile electronic transactions, reports Patently Apple.

Since 2010, Apple has filed a series of so-called “iWallet” patents that deal with mobile device payments including NFC systems that are linked to credit and debit accounts. The new rules would dictate how these transactions are made and by whom, thus allowing for tight control of finances for end users of the patented technology.

Integral to the patent is the definition of primary and subsidiary account holders, for example a parent and their child. In this model, the system would allow the parent to control their child’s mobile transactions by setting predetermined limits that can then be transmitted to a designated financial institution that manages the subsidiary account.

Limits can be based on transaction amounts, spending over a given period of time and location, among other variables, giving the primary account holder a great deal of flexibility in restricting a subsidiary account.

Of particular note are illustrations included in the patent filing that show iTunes acting as the hub through which transaction and financial information is passed. The tie-in would give Apple’s extremely popular online media store the power to field real world transactions.

Advancements in Near Field Communication (NFC) and the gradual market shift away from cash has sparked an interest for tech companies to create so-called virtual wallets that allow users to pay with mobile devices instead of cash or credit cards.

Current NFC chips leverage RFID technology to either exchange data between two mobile devices that are in close proximity to each other, or read data from unpowered RFID chips. Google Wallet and Isis are examples of NFC payment systems, though though the former has yet to gain traction while the latter is expected to see release on select handsets this summer.

Apple’s proposed system can be thought of as a more robust version of contactless payment solutions like those used in some major credit cards like MasterCard’s PayPass.

Recently, the credit giant acknowledged that Apple could be a key player in bringing NFC tech into the mainstream due to iTunes’ massive installed customer base, though the Cupertino, Calif., company has yet to utilize any of its “iWallet” patents.

AppleInsider

Over 40% Of iPad Owners Plan To Buy iPad 3, But They Want It To Be Cheaper [Report]

Over 40% Of iPad Owners Plan To Buy iPad 3, But They Want It To Be Cheaper [Report]

Hype for Apple’s third-generation iPad has reached a fever pitch leading up to tomorrow’s announcement. A whole lot of people are eager to see how Apple will leapfrog the rest of the tablet market yet again.

When we asked Cult of Mac readers if they plan to buy the iPad 3, over 50% of you answered with a resounding yes. A new survey indicates that over 40% of online shoppers in the U.S. also plan to spend their hard earned cash on the next iPad, but they want something from Apple in return: cheaper prices.

The PriceGrabber shopping site conducted a survey of 1,829 U.S. online shopping consumers to determine demand for the upcoming iPad. 52% of the surveyed tablet owners already owned an iPad, and 42% of those consumers said they plan to buy the new one when it becomes available. 39% of those surveyed said they plan to purchase the next iPad before the end of this year, with only 11% saying they plan to buy within the first week of its release.

Interestingly, the feature people wanted to see the most was a price reduction. 54% said they wanted Apple to lower the price of the third-gen iPad, indicating that there is a certain segment of the tablet market Apple hasn’t penetrated yet. The Amazon Kindle Fire currently dominates the lower-end tablet void that an iPad Mini could fill, but it will all depend on if Apple decides to go in such a direction. There have been rumors that a 7-inch iPad will be introduced later this year.

The second most requested feature was better batter life, even though the iPad 2 sports one of the most impressive batteries for any tablet in its field. People also wanted to see Apple add an SD card slot for data and photo storage. A better camera, A6 processor, and HDMI port were all requested features also.

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out What We Expect From Apple’s iPad 3 Announcement Tomorrow.There’s certainly a lot that could happen.

What’s the one feature you want to see most in the next iPad?

Cult of Mac

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

Photoshop Touch is probably all the Photoshop most people need

I have been using Photoshop Touch almost obsessively for the past week, despite being holed up in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for much of that time. At first look, I thought it was yet another photo-editing app, and in many ways it is. But as I dig in more and more, its clear that — while this is no substitute for desktop Photoshop — its an amazing app in itself. And all the more so as it runs in just 512KB RAM.

First, what Photoshop Touch for? That’s not as dumb a question as it might seem.

Image apps for the iPad boil down to drawing/painting apps and photo processing apps. But Photoshop Touch is both, and manages each part as well as most dedicated apps. You don’t get all the fancy textured paintbrushes of SketchBook Pro, but the brush engine is crazy-good anyway. And you don’t get the grunge filters of PhotoStudio HD but, as this is Photoshop, you can build your own from scratch.

In this way, Photoshop Touch is a lot like the desktop version. You take a wide variety of tools and use them to create whatever you like. It is famously said that even top-end Photoshop pros will never learn to use everything in the app. You could learn all that Photoshop Touch has, but it would take you longer than your might think.

Better than the desktop

There are many things you can do with Photoshop Touch that are impossible on the Mac version. Snapping a picture with the iPad’s camera as a quick reference to sketch over for example. Sure, you can take a photo, import it and open it in PS on the Mac, but it’s clunky. And shooting straight into a transparent layer, lining things up on the fly, is tablet-only. And it gets better: One of the demos in the Russell Brown Show podcast shows you how to add lighting effects by shining a flashlight into the camera lens. It’s quite amazing.

Super smooth

The other thing that Adobe got right is the touch. The brush engine is smooth, the UI layout is incredibly finger-friendly, with extra options only exposed when you might need them. Somehow, it looks as simple as Adobe’s own Ideas app, but when you use it, many, many options are suddenly available.

While some filters take a second or so to update as you tweak the sliders, for the most part everything happens instantly. Last week I was giving my esteemed colleague John Brownlee a demo in my local bar, and many of the buttons weren’t registering a touch. It turned out that I wasn’t pressing hard enough with my Wacom Bamboo stylus, which needs a little pressure before it registers a touch.

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

The file browser makes Apple’s own look like an afterthought

Adobe has even improved on some of Apple’s designs. The whole app has a flat, non-nonsense Windows Metro feel to it, including the photo browser. This ties into your existing library — albums and all — but is way better than the built-in browser. It’s full-screen, shows big thumbnails, and is at least as responsive as the native browser (which you can opt to use via the preferences if you really hate yourself).

Selections

Also remarkable is the selection tool. Tracing around objects with a fat finger without a pressure-sensitive stylus should be a recipe for disaster, but Adobe pulls it off. Watch, as I pick the Scribble Selection Tool (toolbar, left side, under the Magic Wand section) and pull this bottle from its background.

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

Here I roughly select the area I want to keep. Notice the tool-tips that help me along

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

I tap the ‘X’ and draw around the parts I want to toss

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

Once done, it automatically makes the selection. You can fine tune using the sometimes tricky ‘Refine Edge’ tool, or just manually brush in the mask to get it right

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

Here’s the resulting selection. Now I choose ‘Extract’ from the edit menu and the background is gone

Photoshop Touch Proves iPad Is Every Bit A Real Computer [Reviews]

Drop in another layer behind, resize the bottle and add a little ‘Match Color’ to the layer and you’re done

Easy, huh? And better still, the first time you use a new tool these little tips pop up on screen to help along. But to really get to grips with all the features, take a look at the tutorials.

Tutorials

The tutorials are as well thought through as everything else. All the images are provided, and step-by-step instructions are overlaid on the app itself, and you just follow along. If Adobe had released just the tutorial section as a $ 10 app, it would be worth the price.

There’s plenty more in there, but you really should just go and play. It’s not all perfect, though. Getting photos in and out is easy, and you can even send layered PSD files to the desktop. But they are big, and they have to go through Adobe’s Creative Cloud to get there. Fine on super-fast Wi-Fi, I guess, but the option to use iTunes to transfer bigger files would be great (despite iTunes’ clunkiness). Also, when bringing layered files into the app, they are flattened, likely due to memory issues.

Right now, PS Touch is a must-have app for your iPad 2. And with the retina display iPad 3 announcement tomorrow, my guess is that Adobe might have an update ready very soon, maybe even demoed on stage. And that is going to be very, very sweet.

Pros

Fast. Incredibly versatile. Fun. Writes the book on how to make a touch-based photo app. It’s Photoshop.

Cons

No import of layered files. That’s it.

DON’T MISS
Adobe Releases Photoshop Touch For iPad 2 In The App Store

Cult of Mac

Skype 5.6 Now Available With Full Screen Video Mode In OS X Lion, More Features

Skype 5.6 Now Available With Full Screen Video Mode In OS X Lion, More Features

Skype has released a new public version of its Mac app with full screen video mode for OS X Lion, automatic updates, improved group calling, and more. Version 5.6 includes multiple bug fixes and interface improvements.

With this release Skype has introduced automatic updates, making it easier to get the latest version of the app. Another welcomed improvement is the ability to delete select messages within a conversation or completely clear an entire conversation from your account history. You can also disable the app’s automatic adjustment of your Mac’s mic in preferences.

Skype 5.6 for Mac includes multiple user interface tweaks, including the ability to switch between “dynamic mode” and “non-dynamic mode” during group calls of 5 or more people. When dynamic mode is enabled, the person currently speaking is moved to the center of the viewing window.

You also use OS X Lion’s full screen mode in version 5.6 of Skype to get rid of distractions. The feature can be enabled by clicking the split arrows in the top right corner of the app.

Skype 5.6 for Mac can be downloaded directly or installed via “Check for Updates” on your Mac running OS X lion.

DON’T MISS
Skype for Mac Updated with Group Video, New Control Bar, Still No iPad App

Cult of Mac