March 2, 2012

ZTE Tablets Show Why Everyone Is Buying iPads [MWC 2012]

ZTE Tablets Show Why Everyone Is Buying iPads [MWC 2012]

Zzzzz. ZTE’s PF100 starts with a dull name and then goes downhill from there

ZTE Tablets Show Why Everyone Is Buying iPads [MWC 2012]

BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — One of the big stories at this year’s Mobile World Congress is Android tablets. If last year saw the things popping out like maggots from a rotting wound, this year the things are skittering across the floor like a carpet of startled cockroaches. And like cockroaches, they all look pretty much the same. So let’s take a look at a couple of them: ZTE’s PF100 and T98.

The PF100 and T98 are ten and seven-inch tablets respectively, and are almost identical in terms of specs. Both use NVIDIA quad-core processors, both have 5MP cameras and both have 1GB RAM and 16GB storage. The smaller T98 runs Honeycomb, the other Ice Cream Sandwich.

And in use, they’re the same as every other Android tablet. The build quality is that of a Pez dispenser, and the reaction to touch — especially in games — is jittery. This, I am told, is a problem inherent to Android, to do with the fact that it wasn’t conceived as a touch-based OS. Touch, then, is given equal priority as any other process, and therefore can lag on even the fastest hardware.

ZTE Tablets Show Why Everyone Is Buying iPads [MWC 2012]

The Z10 is pretty thick. Honestly — It’s like they’re not even trying

The T98 was also running rather hot. This might be the Fruit Ninja demo racing its CPU, or it may just be the prototype hardware, but it put me in mind of those x86 tablets of old.

Price and available are as yet undecided. But who cares? If you want an Android tablet, just head to the store, close your eyes and point, content in the knowledge that it’s no better or worse than any other.

Apple Has Both Created And Dominated A $ 13.4B Touch Panel Market

Charlie SorrelCharlie Sorrel sits in his gadget nerve-center in Barcelona, Spain, and spits out words about  various weird plastic widgets while the sun shines outside his iCave. Previously found at’s Gadget Lab covering cameras, power cables and sneaking in as much Apple-centric coverage as he could, Charlie spends his rare moments outside perched atop a bicycle and snapping photos. You can follow him on Twitter via @mistercharlie

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Cult of Mac

Why Intel’s New Smartphone Chip Could One Day Give Us Dual-Booting iPads [MWC 2012]

Why Intel’s New Smartphone Chip Could One Day Give Us Dual-Booting iPads That Run OS X [MWC 2012]Why Intel’s New Smartphone Chip Could One Day Give Us Dual-Booting iPads That Run OS X [MWC 2012]

BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Although Cupertino currently uses their own custom-baked ARM chips inside the iPhone and iPad, Intel’s gunning for their business. Caught with their pants down in the mobile market, Intel thinks they have finally gotten their silicon caught up to ARM when it comes to power management.

Their new mobile platform is called Medfield, and while it’s only for Android now, you should take Intel’s entry into the mobile market seriously: this could very well be the first-generation of the chip that won’t just power future iPhones and iPads, but run OS X on them as well. We got a hands-on.

Although Intel undeniably boned things up over the last decade by ignoring the importance of power management in their chips, allowing ARM to gain dominance in the mobile space, there`s no technical reason why Intel chips can’t match ARM when it comes to performance and power management. We’ve written an entire article on why Intel shouldn’t be counted out in the smartphone space, but what it comes down to is that Intel can make their chips smaller and faster than anyone else, with better yields. Intel’s now finally capitalizing upon their manufacturing muscle with the new Medfield platform, and the results are impressive indeed.

We had a chance to play around with Intel’s Medfield spec phone running Android Gingerbread 2.3 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While the phone was just made to give manufacturers an idea of what Intel envisions devices powered by their chips to be capable of, Orange in the UK and France has decided to sell the phone starting in May.

Unlike most of the current batch of Android phones, Intel’s Medfield phone sat comfortable in the hand, and wasn’t overly large, with a 4-inch display just slightly bigger than the iPhone 3.7-inch screen. Inside, a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAm and Intel’s own integrated GPU, which was capable of extremely smooth 1080p video playback even using freely pannable 360 degree panorama videos.

The million dollar question about Medfield isn’t really about performance, it’s about power management. Intel says they’ve got power management licked with Medfield, and that in daily use, you can expect up to 8 hours of 3G talktime, just like the iPhone 4S.

Performance is also good. Intel’s implementation of Android uses an interpretation layer to translate apps on the fly to translate any aspects of an Android app that depend upon ARM processes into something compatible with their own x86 architecture; apps can also be optimized by developers to run well on Intel silicon. This interpretation layer works well: even on apps that aren’t optimized for Intel, we didn’t notice any performance problems, except for a brief pause when first loading the app (presumably to load the interpretation layer). Once the app was running, though, there seemed to be no slow-down.

What’s most interesting about Medfield, though, is that it can, in theory, run desktop operating systems. For example, Medfield-based tablets, Intel says, could some day dual boot between Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows 8.

Think of the possibilities. If Apple embraced Intel silicon for future devices, your iPhone or iPad could run iOS when you’re out on the town, then link up wirelessly to a keyboard and monitor back home, booting up into OS X. Or Apple could merge iOS and OS X and ship one combined operating system that runs on both mobile devices and PCs.

Of course, that day is still a long way off, and there’s a lot of challenges ahead. Even though Intel now seems to have matched the performance and power management of the competition in the smartphone space, ARM still has one big advantage: anyone can make an ARM chip. That allows Apple to custom bake all of their own custom technology into every A5 chip. Intel’s biggest challenge in combating ARM is figuring out a way to make it easier for handset makers to custom design their own Intel silicon. If they can do that, they could have a real chance at turning the tide and making sure that future iOS devices have Intel inside.

Is Apple Making More Advanced Chips Than Intel?

Cult of Mac

iPhones & iPads: A Big Challenge To IT, But Vital To Business

iPhones & iPads: A Big Challenge To IT, But Vital To Business

Mobile devices are now so common in the workplace that we’ve reached a tipping point where providing mobile options for many desktop apps has become a requirement for businesses. That’s the findings of a new survey from Symantec on mobile device use in business.

The survey, initially reported by InfoWorld, identified that not only are the numbers of mobile devices increasing, but also that the tasks they perform are increasing. A dramatic number of companies are now seeing core business tasks being completed on mobile devices. That’s driving the need for companies to develop comprehensive mobile apps for access to corporate information systems.

The survey included responses from IT professionals in 6275 organizations in 43 countries. It also included a mix of enterprise companies and smaller businesses.

The results offer a picture of how important internal mobile apps have become:

  • 71% of companies are discussing their options for custom apps
  • 59% are running line-of-business applications on mobile devices
  • 66% are considering creating corporate app stores to distribute internal apps to employees

While those numbers clearly show that internal app development is already a need for almost all businesses, the survey also found that half of the respondents view mobile development and management as an extremely challenging.  Mobile security remains a top concern for IT departments according the survey.

The survey didn’t account for whether development is centered around corporate devices or employee-owned options, but Brian Duckering, senior manager with the endpoint management and mobility group at Symantec did note that BYOD programs are becoming more common. The survey also didn’t address whether development was centered around a single platform like Apple’s iOS or if plans involved support for multiple smartphone operating systems.

Ultimately, this illustrates why mobile development is one of the most in-demand technology skills. It also highlights that issues like creating good iOS or Android apps and granting users access to company resources from mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Android handsets have become real business needs. Perhaps the most telling point of the survey is that half of the respondents described handling these issues as being extremely challenging. That underscores how quickly the mobile business landscape has changed over the past two or three years and that successful strategies for handling today’s mobile technology are still evolving.

More Companies Let iPad Beyond IT Velvet Ropes

Cult of Mac

Study: iPads improve Kindergarten literacy scores

Apple is pushing for iPad use in education, and several schools have taken up the charge. Now, a study of kindergarteners in Auburn, Maine has shown that students who use iPads score better in every literacy test than those who don’t. The study focused on 266 children whose instruction featured the iPad. Those who used the device scored higher on the literacy tests, were more interested in learning and excited to be there.

There are caveats to these results. Many schools don’t have the budget to distribute iPads to all of their students (Apple has education programs, however, and third-party programs are getting better all the time). Additionally, the students’ excitement could be attributed to access to an iPad. When I was a kid, our school boasted brand new Apple IIes, which fostered a lifetime’s worth of interest in computers, technology, and the written word for me. But that’s likely because they played Oregon Trail and Prince of Persia.

Still, the iPad can be a powerful tool for learning and comprehension, especially for literacy. Interactivity can make for a very engaging experience, definitely at a young age. It’s reat to see these kindergarteners doing better in school no matter what the reason, and hopefully we’ll hear more stories of Apple’s technology benefiting students.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office Apps To iPads In U.K.

CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office Apps To iPads In U.K.

Following its launch in the U.S. back in January, CloudOn has finally arrived in the U.K., allowing British users to access Microsoft Office applications on their iPad. The free app lets you view, edit, and create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on your tablet, which can then be saved directly to your Dropbox account.

You can also access the documents have already have stored in Dropbox and edit these, too. You must have a Dropbox account to use the service, but it’s completely free.

The app provides you with a “WorkSpace” with Microsoft Office running in the cloud. Here are just a few of its features:

  • Use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your iPad to create or edit documents.
  • Rename, delete and manage documents with your Dropbox account
  • Display, edit or create charts, change formatting, spell check, insert comments, into any Word, Excel or PowerPoint files
  • Track changes while reviewing Word documents
  • Use pivot tables and insert formulas in Excel workbooks
  • Display and edit animation or transitions in PowerPoint presentations
  • Present in full PowerPoint mode (not in PDF)
  • Open files directly from your iPad email accounts or Dropbox account
  • Automatically save documents to avoid losing changes

If you’re a frequent Microsoft Office user, then this is a must-have iPad app. Until Microsoft releases an official iOS version of its Office suite, this is the best alternative on an iOS device.

CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office To Your iPad For Free [Update: Pulled]

Cult of Mac

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

Earlier this year Apple announced their plan to help revitalize the American Education System by putting digital textbooks on iPads into the hands of high school students. Apple’s belief is that learning on an iPad is a far superior experience to lugging around printed books that aren’t interactive. We compappletely agree that interactive learning is the road America needs to take, but getting there is going to be a huge problem. A recent study shows that using paper textbooks in schools is a lot cheaper than iPads, and that’s not likely to change unless Apple takes some drastic steps to reduce cost.

Using paper textbooks in the average high school class currently costs about $ 180,000 but switching to iPads would cost $ 430,000. Many proponents of using the iPad in the classroom say that the iPad is more cost effective in the long run because the tablet doesn’t need to be replaced as often. But with the average lifespan of a textbook being about 5 years, it looks like schools may need to replace iPads just as often as they replace their paper books.

What if schools stopped spending money on computers and just bought iPads, wouldn’t that work? Nope, not even close. Schools spent $ 2 billion on computers last year, which is only enough to supply 10% of students with iPads. Combine the problems of our nation’s massive deficit, the current price of the iPad, and the rate of school spending on technology, and we see that it might take 10 years for schools across the country to adopt iPads if spending stays the same. That’s if they decide to go with the expensive route in the first place.

Here’s a handy infographic on why using paper textbooks are so much cheaper than using iPads.

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

Why Today’s Education Announcements Means The Sub-$ 299 iPad Is Coming Soon [Opinion]

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

[Online Teaching Degree via FastCoDesign]

Cult of Mac

How To Stop Kids Hacking iPads In Digital Exams [iPad@School]

How To Stop Kids Hacking iPads In Digital Exams [iPad@School]

How do you stop kids from cheating on exams in an iPad age? Photo Brad Flickinger/Flickr CC By 2.0

A Scottish School is prepping its iPads for exam season. Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Inverclyde, was the first school in the world to deploy an iPad to every one of its pupils. Now it may become the first school to try to stop its pupils from iCheating in exams.

The brains behind Cedars’ iPad program is Fraser Speirs, who you may know from his iOS and OS X apps. Now he’s faced with trying to stop a school full of 15-18 year-olds from hacking their way to exam success.

When I was in school, we weren’t even allowed to use pocket calculators in our examinations, and invigilation duties required little more than watching for pupils passing notes and whispering to each other. Cedars is will instead use PDF exam papers loaded into PDF Expert, which are then printed onto paper via AirPrint to be graded.

This brings a whole slew of new “cheat vectors” to the game.

Speirs starts off by wiping spare iPads and starting from scratch. Using the configuration utility that lets you administer large fleets of iPad, he switches off almost everything, including Safari, YouTube, app installation and iCloud. Mail remains active, but is locked to prevent new accounts from being added, which leaves iMessage as the main weakness.

The trick is that iMessage needs a connection to set up. The schools servers have blacklisted the MAC addresses of the exam iPads, preventing internet connections, which fixes that. To wirelessly print the papers at the end of the exam, a printer is connected to a Mac Mini with an ad-hoc wireless network enabled. It is not connected to the internet.

iPads Get Top Grades In Cedars School Pilot Project [Apple in Education]

It’s a fascinating problem, and as iPads become more prevalent in schools these issues will surely become more common. Speirs’ article is a great read, and as he points out, “I’m defending this system against 15-18 year old kids from Greenock, not GCHQ and the NSA. It’s important not to go overboard with the paranoia.”

And remember: even if the kids can hack the system, they’re still going to have to do it fast enough to leave time for the exam itself.

Cult of Mac

BYOD Challenge: How IT Can Keep User-Owned iPhones And iPads Secure In Enterprise [Feature]

BYOD Challenge: How IT Can Keep User-Owned iPhones And iPads Secure In Enterprise [Feature]

One of the challenges of BYOD programs is the need secure corporate data on an employee’s personal device. That usually includes locking down the device and applying varying management profiles to it. This can be as non-intrusive as requiring a passcode meeting certain criteria or it can be very restrictive and limit core features and services like iCloud or Siri on the iPhone 4S.

While there’s a technical challenge to securing employee-owned devices, there’s also a personal challenge. It’s not a small demand to ask for someone’s brand new iPhone or iPad and impose limits on what they can do with it, even if that means something as trivial as enforcing a passcode policy. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that employees sometimes object to that intrusion, particularly when it comes to more severe management requirements.

The question is: how does IT respond to this situation?

IT veterans may be tempted to tell users that they must agree to all device management or they won’t be able to use the device as part of their job. It would follow that users who don’t agree will be restricted from accessing an internal wireless network, checking their corporate email, looking up corporate contacts, or accessing any file or document shares.

There are two problems with that approach. It is unnecessarily adversarial and will make all of IT seem like the enemy of progress, productivity, and even of business needs. More importantly, it won’t stop users from bring the device into work with them and using it. You can block someone from a corporate network and an Exchange account, but you can’t stop them accessing the Internet on an iPhone or 3G iPad and you can stop them entering contacts, calendar appointments, and other business data onto their iPhone or iPad by hand or by emailing things between their work and personal accounts.

The reality of the situation is that IT no longer has the practical ability to say “our way or the highway” even if they’ve management has given them the authority to do so, which is becoming less and less likely. Instead, IT needs to develop the political capital to convince users to all management of their personal devices – and there’s no one size fits all way to do that. There are, however, a range of approaches to take.

  • User education – The best place to start is by explaining to staff members what the real dangers are when it comes to device security and privacy. Most people are, in fact, good at heart. If you can get the concerns that device management resolves across to them in everyday language, almost anyone will be more receptive. That often takes one on one conversations and not simply writing and distributing a policy, but it is one of the most effective options, even if it doesn’t get immediate buy-in to the idea of management on its own.
  • Cost sharing – One option for organizations is to share the cost of the device or monthly service. This is a suggestion most offered by mobile device owners. The challenge is that the cost sharing needs to still be cost effective for the employer. Otherwise there’s no real advantage to do BYOD.
  • Purchase assistance – Offering to help employees select a new phone or other device offers multiple advantages for both the individual and for IT. It ensures that employees choose devices that meet enterprise security requirements, offers a chance for IT to discuss security challenges and the need for management, helps ease the selection and purchase process of a device and/or service plan for users how aren’t comfortable with technology, and can offer basic education on using the device as well as ensuring proper device enrollment. One interesting extension of this is for a company to purchase devices on behalf of users, often from a limited set of options, and allow them to pay back the purchase price by payroll deduction (perhaps with a minimal interest rate) or simply to earn the device by using it for work for a specified length of time. The challenge with this approach is that it is very staff-intensive.
  • Tiered access – One approach being taken in some enterprises is to offer BYOD in two or more packages or plans. Plan one is a fully managed device that has access to an internal network, all network resources that a user can access from his or her work computer, and full tech support of the device and business apps on it. Users with completely unmanaged devices can access a guest wireless network for Internet access and possibly an Exchange account or its equivalent. They can use the device but get no direct access to confidential resources or tech support beyond access to the guest network. Varying tiers can be implemented in between… the goal being to encourage users to opt for higher tiers.
  • Reward for enrollment – Similar to cost sharing and tiered access, this means giving the user something in return for allowing access to his or her device. It could be something material but not overly expensive like a gift card for iTunes or Starbucks or a larger display for their work computer. Or it could be something less tangible like a better parking spot, technology advice, the option to leave early once every other Friday. I’ve heard of a couple of companies even offering basic support for worker’s personal computers as a reward.
  • Reward for good behavior – Another approach is to offer rewards to users who follow acceptable use policies. The easiest implementation is to enroll every device in a BYOD program and track whether the devices are being used according to policies via the monitoring and reporting features in iOS. So long as they are, users get something back – one approach (inspired by Allstate’s good driver discount program) is to reduce or remove management policies although other any tangible or intangible item could work.

Businesses Can Disable iCloud But Won’t Gain Much Security In The Process

It’s also possible to extend beyond the common MDM solutions. Good and Accellion, for example, use secure on-device storage in a sandbox approach that encrypts business data and keeps it separate from personal data and apps, which can be wiped without removing personal content. Virtual desktop solutions like Citrix function by never actually housing data on the device itself. These solutions don’t require traditional full device management because they work by creating a secure corporate locker.

The reality of the situation is that there is no single best model for handing the innate tension between the employer’s security and management needs and the device owner’s expected freedom that is part of the BYOD paradigm. Each organization has its own needs, acceptable risks, and employer/employee relationship. The one thing that is imperative for any company is to develop a strategy before opening the BYOD floodgates, even if that strategy will probably need some tweaking along the way.

Cult of Mac

iPads seized from one Shijiazhuang, China Apple reseller

Local officials from China’s Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC) reportedly confiscated iPads from an Apple reseller in the city of Shijiazhuang. An article in the Chinese newspaper, Hebei Youth Daily, claims this seizure was the result of a recent Proview iPad trademark infringement verdict. It is not known whether the AIC acted alone in response to this judgment or at the request of a Proview official.

Another report from the Sina Tech News claims AIC officials in provinces outside Hebei are also investigating the sale of the tablet device and have asked some merchants to stop selling them openly. This Sina News report also claims Proview may take a bloder step and ask the General Administration of China Customs to ban the import and export of the iPad.

The case has a complicated background. According to a previous report, a Taiwanese subsidiary of Proview sold the iPad trademark to a UK company which later sold the trademark to Apple. Proview contested these transfers because it did not attend the original trademark negotiations in Taiwan. A Chinese court agreed and ruled Proview still owns its trademark on the iPad name. Apple has appealed this decision, but it could still face sanctions until a ruling is made on this appeal.

[Via The Next Web and Penn-Olson]

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Buffalo Wild Wings testing iPads for ordering

While we were in San Francisco for Macworld | iWorld, I noticed that the wait staff at Mel’s Drive-in were using iPads to take orders. I hadn’t seen that before, but apparently the folks at Mel’s have used iPads for a while. Now an even bigger restaurant chain, Buffalo Wild Wings, is planning to deploy iPads to its nationwide locations, should an initial pilot programs fare well.

Instead of issuing iPads to servers like Mel’s has done, Buffalo Wild Wings will embed iPads in tables around the bar. Customers can use them to browse select apps like Facebook and Safari, or place an order. Those behind the initiative hope customers will eventually interact with ads, play in-store games, and find a new source of in-restaurant entertainment in the iPads.

The company is reportedly going with Hubworks for installation, a company that makes rugged iPad cases meant for public use. The restaurant first implemented the system in Toronto, and is now testing the setup in Minneapolis. Perhaps you’ll see one at your location soon.

[via AppleInsider]

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog