Thursday, December 27, 2012

Are Lumia Smartphone Sales Softer Than Expected?

According to a story in today's Wall Street Journal (link, subscription required), sales of Nokia's Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones may not be selling in the US as well as carriers had hoped.

Deals on the flagship Lumia 920 and 822 smartphones can be found at online retailers like for as little as $0 - $39 dollars depending on carrier and phone configuration.  For example, the high-end Lumia 920 can, with a new 2-year service agreement, can be purchased for $39 at  At AT&T stores, the phone is still on sale for $99 with a new 2-year service agreement. also has the Lumia 822 on Verizon Wireless is free with a new 2-year service agreement.  Without a contract, both the Lumia 920 (AT&T Wireless) and the Lumia 822 (Verizon Wireless) sell for $449.99.

Offering smartphones at a deep discount is not uncommon for phones that have been out for six months or more as a promotion to drive sales of new phones in advance of the next year's model coming out.  It is also a tactic that manufacturers use with their carrier partners to help drive adoption of their phones and their mobile platform.  What is raising eyebrows is the timing of the discounts.  The Nokia 920 and 822 have not yet reached the six month mark.  We know US adoption of smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system hasn't been selling as well as Microsoft had hoped.

So what's really going on here?  Are AT&T and Verizon trying to drive sales of these new phones with a limited-time, post Christmas discount program?  Is Nokia providing further incentives or marketing support to drive up their year-end sales numbers?  Is Microsoft somehow involved in an attempt to drive up market share numbers against Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms?

Without sales numbers or an official statement from one of the major players involved it's hard to know for sure.  Deep discounts on new smartphones are not completely uncommon, however, this close to a new product launch does send up some red flags.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Auxo Posted to Cydia

The other day, we wrote a post about Auxo, a jailbreak tweak that enhances multitasking on iOS 6 devices.

According to a new post on, Auxo is now available as a $1.99 purchase from Cydia.  Jeff Benjamin writes:
"If you have a jailbroken iPhone running iOS 6, I’m happy to report that you can now download Auxo from Cydia’s BigBoss repo for just $1.99."
Seems pretty reasonable to me.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Smartphone Fanatics!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Auxo Tweak Revolutionizes iOS App Switching

Tech blogs are abuzz this weekend because of Auxo, a new iOS 6 tweak for jailbroken iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch handsets.

Auxo, developed by @Sentry_NC, is a replacement application switcher for iOS.  There are two main features of Auxo which really grabbed my attention.  The first is a new card-like interface to show you which applications are running on your iOS device.  The second, a feature that I really like on smartphones running Google Android, are a sort of widget-like toggles for features that you normally have to go hunting for in the Settings control panel. recently posted a video demo of Auxo running on an iPhone 4S.  Below are some screen captures from the video which we link to below.

These first two photos show the new app switcher interface.  The standard iOS app icons have been replaced by smaller versions of the app icons with a thumbnail of the application state.  This is really kind of cool in a webOS kinda of in that it shows you what the application is 'doing'.

These next photos show more detail in to the other key feature of Auxo, iOS control widgets.

The first image in this set shows the replacement iPod music controls and the second image shows the regular Rotation Lock control, and three new controls that allow you to quickly toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular radios on/off.  Auxo also allows you to have two rows of four controls.  In the last screen shot, the red arrow points to the two 'page' indicators that you see elsewhere in iOS, like in the Home screen.

Auxo is an unofficial tweak for iOS 6 devices.  Because Auxo is a tweak, and not an 'official' app that comes from Apple's App Store, you must be running a 'jailbroken' device and install the software from the Cydia app store.  Auxo will be a paid tweak, however reports say that the cost will be 'reasonable.'  The developers are suppose to be working on an iOS 5 port now.

Auxo, Jailbreaks, and Staying Competitive

I have to say that I've always been a member of #TeamPure and up until now, I have not seen a tweak that would make me consider jailbreaking my iPhone 4S or iPad 3.  There has been a growing call from bloggers and 'geeks' (ie: not your average consumer) that iOS needs a major features shake up with iOS 7 that is expected to be released late in 2013, and I'm starting to come around an agree with that sentiment.  Google's Android and to a lesser extent, Microsoft's Windows Phone, are putting up a strong challenge to Apple's mobile platform.  With iOS 7, Apple needs to start 'borrowing' ideas from their rivals and making some 'strategic' code acquisitions from the iOS jailbreak community if they want to stay competitive.  I hope that Tim Cook, Jonny Ive, and the rest of the Apple team setting the direction for iOS in the wake of Scott Forstalls stepping down as the head of iOS development really take a look at what's going on with other mobile operating systems and look to them for inspiration on new features and improvements in iOS.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Karateka Returns to Delight a New Generation of Heroes

Back in the mid-1980's I was introduced to the Apple //e and a I fell in love with computers and technology.  The first real game that I played back in 1984, after Apple Presents...Apple, was Karateka.

For those of you who don't remember, or may not have been around back then, Katateka is game focusing around an evil warlord who has captured the princess and the tasks falls on you to save her.  Pretty straight forward.

Fast-forward to 2012 and Karateka has been reborn on the iOS, PlayStation, XBox Live, and Steam.  The game has been updated to run on today's popular gaming platforms and looks amazing all the while staying true to it's 8-bit Apple //e roots.

This time around, you must still save the princess, however, you are given three warriors with which to save her: the warrior, the monk, and the brute.  You battle your way into the warlord's fortress, fight his minions, battle his hawk, and then fight him to save your true love.

After finding Karateka on the Apple iOS App Store, I immediately purchased the game and started playing on my iPhone until the battery died.  Then I picked up my iPad and kept playing.

Gameplay is simple and easy to learn.  In combat, you have two moves: block and attack.  The controls are pretty easy to master.  You tap the screen to block an attack and you tap the screen to attack.  New in this version of the game there is the ability to double-tap the screen to use a special move that allows you to stun your opponent and unleash a powerful combo attack that shaves a good amount of hit points off his health meter.

I found the new Karateka true to it's 1980's original.  Yes, the game has been updated with new graphics and new characters, but at it's core, it's still the same game that I loved as a boy.  Personally, I think that it's a tribute to the care and detail that went into remaking Karateka.  I have played some other 'reboot' games on iOS this year, and with all of them, I came away longing for the originals.  No so with Karateka.

If you've played Karateka before you will find this version familiar and fun to play.  If you are new to Karateka, hopefully, you will have found a new game to play that is fun to play.

Karateka is available now from the Apple iOS App Store (link) and sells for $2.99.  Karateka for iOS is a universal application and will play on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.  Before you buy, make sure you have a supported device as the game only plays on the iPhone 4S and newer, iPad 2 or newer, including the new iPad mini, and the iPod touch 5th generation.  Karateka is also available now on Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, and Steam.  The console editions sell for about $9.99.

For more information about Karateka, check of the game's website.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Upgrading to

Earlier this year, Microsoft upgraded their Hotmail service to the new email service.  This upgrade was a major improvement to Microsoft's free and paid web-based email service, so much so, that I will actually use  And that's saying a lot.

Now that I have Windows 8 Pro installed (on my Mac, using Parallels and VMware Fusion) I want to be able to login using my email address rather than my @hotmail email address.  Windows Phone users might also want to do something similar.

All the way back on August 3, Microsoft posted directions for either setting up an alias to send email to your existing address or actually converting your email account over to an address.  (After the conversion is complete, your old email address is configured as an alias pointing to your new address.)

To get started, you will want to log into your Hotmail account, and from the Settings menu, select "More mail settings" to access the command for managing your email account.

Microsoft's directions are pretty clear and straight forward.  If converting your mailbox is something that doesn't sound like 'fun' to you, don't worry.  Microsoft has you covered.  Simply read their blog post on switching to first before you get started and you will be fine.

Special Note to Windows Phone Users

If you use a Windows Phone device, you will want to pay attention to Microsoft's warning:
"If you use a Windows Phone, you will need to reset your Windows Phone to factory settings, and then set it back up with the new account name. You will lose all personal data on the Windows Phone when you do this, so make sure you have that data backed up. You will need to re-install all your applications on your phone, although you will not need to re-purchase them."
[Via Microsoft Outlook blog...]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Windows Phone 7.8 Confirmed for Early 2013 Release

Windows Phone 7 users have a little something exciting to look forward to in the new year.  Microsoft has posted on the Windows Phone blog that the Windows Phone 7.8 update will be coming to Windows Phone 7 devices in early 2013.
"As previously announced, with Windows Phone 7.8 we’re also bringing the feature to existing Windows Phone 7.5 devices. During the development process, I used builds of 7.8 on my Lumia 900 and it felt like a completely new phone: resizable Live Tiles totally change the way I do things, providing faster access to more of my favorite people, photos, and apps. 
Windows Phone 7.8 also includes some other cool stuff. It doubles the number of theme and accent colors—to 20—so you can make your phone even more personal. There are also new lock screen features: the option to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day plus the ‘A1B2C3’ PIN/password challenge to prevent accidental device wipes on phones connected to Exchange accounts."
Windows Phone 7.8 users will also get access to some popular games, including: Words with Friends, Draw Something, and Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars.

Check out the Windows Phone blog for more details.

[Via Microsoft Windows Phone blog...]

Geeks Rejoice! Windows 8 Does Have a Run Command

Microsoft Windows 8 has gotten a lot of exposure in the past month with 40 million customers upgrading to the new OS.

Geeks will be happy to know that the "Run" command and command line tools are alive and well in Windows 8.

To access the Run command, press the Windows key + R on your keyboard.

To access the command line interface, affectionately referred to as the DOS prompt, type 'cmd' in the Open field of the Run command and then click the OK button.

Once the DOS window appears, type the command 'ver' and press enter to see the version and build number associated with your installation of Windows 8.

To close the DOS windows, type the command 'exit' and press enter or simply click the red X dismiss button.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Add Windows Media Center to Windows 8 Pro

Microsoft's Windows Media Center has been around in various Windows editions since Windows PX Media Center Edition and Windows 8 is no different.

There are only four versions of Windows 8, but if you upgrade to the Windows 8 Pro edition, you can also purchase the Media Center pack.  As an added bonus to early adopters, Microsoft is giving the Media Center Pack for free until the end of January, 2013.

According to Microsoft's website:
"Windows 8 Media Center Pack is available at no charge for a limited time only through this promotional page on If you obtain Windows 8 Media Center Pack through any other location fees might apply. Offer valid from October 26, 2012, until January 31, 2013, and is limited to one product key per email address. You qualify for this promotion if your PC is running Windows 8 Pro. Additional hardware may be required to watch and record live TV. You must provide a valid email address to receive your Windows 8 Media Center Pack product key. Your product key must be activated no later than January 31, 2013. Microsoft will only contact you at the email address you provide to send you your product key and to remind you when the activation period for your product key is ending."

To claim your Media Center Pack for Windows 8 Pro, check out Microsoft's Windows website.

Apple Posts Redesigned iTunes 11

Last week, Apple released iTunes 11, the next major upgrade to the company's media management and iOS device sync software for Mac and Windows PCs.

It has been widely reported about the new features of iTunes 11 with it's iCloud integration, cleaner design layout and improved iTunes Store layout.

Love it or hate it, iTunes 11 has a new design layout that is a big departure from all previous versions of  iTunes.  New users may find the changes welcome, but for long time users like myself, who have been using iTunes since version 1.0, the changes can be a little bit disorienting and a little confusing.

No problems.  To get a more familiar view of iTunes back, turn on the iTunes Sidebar.

Just use the View > Show Sidebar menu command or press Option + Command + S on your keyboard.

Oh, and there is also a small side benefit; in the iTunes 11 Sidebar, the colored icons are back!

Microsoft Windows 8 Editions

In my last post, I was talking about upgrading to Windows 8 Professional.  As you might expect from a company like Microsoft, there are more than one version of Windows 8.  Turns out, there are in fact, four editions of Windows 8.  They are:
  • Windows RT
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Professional
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
Windows RT is intended for the low-end Microsoft Surface tablet, which is on sale now.  Windows 8, and Windows 8 Pro is intended for desktops, laptops, and the Microsoft Surface Pro that will go on sale early in 2013.  Windows 8 Enterprise is intended for large corporations and is not available to the general public.

Windows RT is an interesting addition to this mix.  Unlike all of the other versions of Windows, Window RT can't run regular Windows applications that you can run on your every day PC.  Devices that run Windows RT, like the Surface, can only run applications that are designed specifically for Windows RT.  (Think about it like the difference between Apple's Mac OS X and iOS operating systems.)

If you wish to learn more about the different versions of Windows, check out

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Taking the Windows 8 Plunge

Ok, despite being an Apple fanboy, my inner geek still gets the best of me.  I just purchased a copy of Windows 8 Pro from the Microsoft online store.

For a limited time, you can purchase a Windows 8 Pro upgrade as a digital download for $39.99.  When choosing this option, you have a one time option to purchase a DVD for an additional $14.99.  Microsoft is also offering a retail boxed upgrade for $69.99, signaling that they are taking a queue from Apple and moving toward a preference for digital media distribution.

Windows 8 was related last month along side Microsoft's new Surface tablet offering.

In Windows 8, Microsoft reimagines the PC user experience by blending the traditional Windows desktop OS with the Metro smartphone and tablet user experience.

I'll be blogging more about Windows 8, the Metro user interface, now officially known as the Windows UI, Office 2013 and a few other tidbits as I begin playing with the new software.

You can learn more about Windows 8 on the Microsoft website.  When you are ready to take the plunge, head over to the Microsoft online store.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone from your favorite turkeys at Smartphone Fanatics!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Microsoft Office Mobile Coming to iOS, Android Early 2013

The Verge is running a breaking story that Microsoft will be releasing versions of the new Microsoft Mobile suite for Apple's iPhone, iPad, and Google Android devices in early 2013.
"Microsoft's Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android is a reality. Although Office Mobile has been rumored and reportedly spotted in the wild, Microsoft has remained persistently quiet about its plans for the product. The Verge has learned through several sources close to Microsoft's plans that the company will release Office versions for Android and iOS in early 2013."

[Via The]

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rumor: Microsoft Working on a Smartphone

Windows 8.  Windows Phone 8.  Surface.  Radical shifts in Windows and Office.  Microsoft has been on a roll latley, and now rumors are surfacing, in the form of a Wall Street Journal article, that Microsoft is working on a new smartphone prototype.
"Officials at some of Microsoft's parts suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Redmond, Wash.-based company is testing a smartphone design but isn't sure if a product will go into mass production.

One person said that the screen of Microsoft's smartphone currently being tested measures between four and five inches. Apple's newest smartphone, the iPhone 5, has a four-inch screen, while Samsung's Galaxy S III phone has a 4.8-inch screen. "
Microsoft is no stranger to how difficult launching a new, successful smartphone platform is.  Windows CE and Windows Mobile have been around for years.  Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 cut the ties with previous attempts at a new Microsoft mobile operating system.  Windows Phone has been well regarded, but not well adopted by customers and developers.  And the Microsoft Kin wasn't exactly "successful."

Only time will tell if Microsoft can rekindle the magic they had with customers back in the late 90's and early 2000's.

[Via Wall Street]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple Refreshes the iMac, Mac mini

Apple also, today, updated the iMac and Mac mini computers.
SAN JOSE, California—October 23, 2012—Apple® today unveiled a completely new iMac® with a stunning design, brilliant display with reduced reflection, and faster processors.* With third generation Intel quad-core processors, powerful NVIDIA graphics and an innovative new storage option called Fusion Drive, the new iMac is the most advanced desktop Apple has ever made. 
“With a stunning design, brilliant display and faster performance, we’ve made the world’s leading all-in-one desktop computer better in every way,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The all-new iMac is unbelievably thin, yet packs an incredible amount of performance and technology into our most innovative desktop.” 
Redesigned from the inside out, the new iMac packs high-performance technology into an aluminum and glass enclosure with up to 40 percent less volume than its predecessor and an edge that measures just 5 mm thin. Built with an unprecedented level of fit and finish, the new iMac delivers an amazing desktop experience in a gorgeous design. The new iMac also features a completely reengineered display that reduces reflection by 75 percent while maintaining brilliant color and contrast. In the new design, the cover glass is fully laminated to the LCD and an anti-reflective coating is applied using a high-precision plasma deposition process. Every iMac display is individually color calibrated using an advanced spectroradiometer. 
Apple also updated the Mac® mini with third generation dual-core Intel Core i5 and quad-core Intel Core i7 processors that are up to twice as fast and have integrated graphics that are up to 65 percent faster.** Mac mini comes standard with 4GB of 1600 MHz memory with support for up to 16GB. Retaining its amazingly compact aluminum design, the new Mac mini now includes four USB 3.0 ports in addition to its Thunderbolt, HDMI, SDXC, Gigabit Ethernet, and FireWire® 800 ports.

Pricing and Availability

The 21.5-inch iMac is available with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M for a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US); and with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US). The 21.5-inch iMac will be available in November through the Apple Online Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The 27-inch iMac is available with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M for a suggested retail price of $1,799 (US); and with a 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX for a suggested retail price of $1,999 (US). The 27-inch iMac will be available in December through the Apple Online Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The Mac mini is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $599 (US); a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 4GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $799 (US); and a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, OS X Server, 4GB of memory and two 1TB hard drives for a suggested retail price of $999 (US). The Mac mini is available today through the Apple Online Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

For more information about the new iMac and Mac mini family of computers, visit the Apple Mac website.

Apple Introduces 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Today's Apple event wasn't just about iPads.  Nope.  Apple also introduced new Macs too, including the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

SAN JOSE, California—October 23, 2012—Apple® today introduced an all-new version of its popular 13-inch MacBook® Pro featuring a stunning Retina™ display and all flash storage in a new compact design. At a mere 0.75 inches and 3.57 pounds, the remarkably portable 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is 20 percent thinner and almost a pound lighter than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro. 
“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is our most popular Mac, and today it gets completely reinvented with a new thin and light design, fast flash storage and a gorgeous Retina display,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With vivid colors, razor sharp text and more pixels than anyone else’s 15 or 17-inch notebooks, the Retina display completely changes what you expect from a notebook.” 
The new MacBook Pro packs more than 4 million pixels into its 13-inch Retina display, nearly twice the number of pixels in an HD television. At 227 pixels per inch, the Retina display’s pixel density is so high the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels at a normal viewing distance, so images look sharp and text looks like it does on the printed page. With four times the pixels of the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, you can view and edit video in pixel-accurate 1080p and see a new level of detail in high resolution images. The 13-inch Retina display uses IPS technology for a 178-degree wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection and 28 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

Pricing and Availability

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starting at $1,699 (US); and with 256GB of flash storage starting at $1,999 (US). Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors and flash storage up to 768GB. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available today through the Apple Online Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The full press release for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display can be found on the Apple website.

Apple Introduces the New Fourth Generation iPad

In a surprise turn of events at today's iPad mini announcement, Apple also refreshed the 9.7-inch iPad, replacing the third generation "new iPad" with what I can only half-jokingly refer to as the "new-new iPad", but in actuality, is now referred to as "iPad with Retina display."
Apple today also announced the fourth generation iPad featuring a gorgeous 9.7-inch Retina™ display, new Apple-designed A6X chip, FaceTime HD camera and ultrafast wireless performance. Both iPad mini and fourth generation iPad come with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features. 
The new fourth generation iPad features the amazing 9.7-inch Retina display and includes a new Apple-designed A6X chip that delivers up to twice the CPU performance and up to twice the graphics performance of the A5X chip, all while delivering an incredible 10 hours of battery life in the same thin and light iPad design. Other new features include a FaceTime HD camera, twice the Wi-Fi performance when compared to previous iPad models and support for additional LTE carriers worldwide.
So basically, the new iPad 4, as I'll call it, replaces the 6-month old iPad 3, and bumps the processor and graphics capabilities of the iPad.  The iPad 4 also includes support for Apple's new charging and accessory port, Lightning, and replaces the old 30-pin connector that has been used on iDevices for the last 10 years.

Pricing and Availability

The fourth generation iPad with Wi-Fi models will also be available on Friday, November 2, in black or white for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model and $699 (US) for the 64GB model.

For more information about the new iPad 4, visit the Apple iPad website.

Apple Introduces the iPad mini

Earlier today, at an event in San Jose, California, Apple introduced the world to the new iPad mini.

SAN JOSE, California―October 23, 2012―Apple® today introduced iPad® mini, a completely new iPad design that is 23 percent thinner and 53 percent lighter than the third generation iPad. The new iPad mini features a stunning 7.9-inch Multi-Touch™ display, FaceTime® HD and iSight® cameras, ultrafast wireless performance¹ and an incredible 10 hours of battery life²―every inch an iPad, yet in a revolutionary design you can hold in one hand.  
“iPad mini is every inch an iPad. With its gorgeous 7.9-inch display, iPad mini features the same number of pixels as the original iPad and iPad 2, so you can run more than 275,000 apps designed specifically for iPad,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iPad mini is as thin as a pencil and as light as a pad of paper, yet packs a fast A5 chip, FaceTime HD and 5 megapixel iSight cameras and ultrafast wireless―all while delivering up to 10 hours of battery life.” 
iPad mini comes in a beautiful new aluminum and glass design that is just 7.2 mm thin and weighs only 0.68 pounds. The 7.9-inch Multi-Touch display delivers the same iPad experience users have come to expect, in a design that has 35 percent more screen real estate than 7-inch tablets and up to an astonishing 67 percent more usable viewing area when browsing the web. The dual-core A5 chip delivers responsive graphics and a fast, fluid Multi-Touch experience, while still providing all-day battery life. 

Like the three previous 9.7-inch versions of the iPad, the new iPad mini will come in black and white models with or without cellular LTE version.

In addition to the iPad mini, Apple also announced a new line of Smart Covers for the new iPad

Pricing and Availability

The iPad mini will go on sale for pre-orders this Friday, October 26.  iPad mini will go on sale at Apple Stores and other Apple authorized retailers on Friday, November 2, at 8:00am.  The iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models will go on sale on an unspecified date in November.

iPad mini will sell for $329 in the 16GB Wi-Fi only configuration and go up from there following the same pricing structure for incremental storage capacity and LTE cellular.

For more information, visit the Apple iPad mini website.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Apple Apologize for Disappointing Maps App

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, as posted and open letter apologizing Maps upgrade in iOS 6.  The letter appears below.

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO


Apple's Ping Service Closes Down Today

The iTunes Ping service has closed.  More commonly referred simply as Ping, was Apple's attempt at a social media service integrated with the iTunes Store.  Ping was available in iTunes for Mac and Windows PCs.

Users were greeted with a simple message in iTunes stating that the service has closed.  Ping was a service that allowed iTunes users share and discover new music and old favorites.  It was also intended as a way for artists to connect with their fans and offer updates on what they were doing and when they would be touring.

Ping turned out to be one of Apple's rare disasters with low adoption and usage rates.  It was also widely held that Apple had originally intended to have iTunes integrate with social media giant Facebook, but a deal could not be reached between Apple and Facebook.  The cost of the licensing agreement for the interface to Facebook was rumored to be the cause of the disagreement.

iTunes Ping was launched on September 1, 2010.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple TV Update 5.1 Posted

Earlier today, Apple posted Update 5.1 for second and third generation Apple TV boxes.

Update 5.1 brings enhancements to Apple TV to match some of the features in iOS 6 which was released on Wednesday of last week.

The full change log can be viewed on Apple's website.

iPhone 5 First Weekend Sales Top Five Million

Not bad for three days of sales.

CUPERTINO, California—September 24, 2012—Apple® today announced it has sold over five million of its new iPhone® 5, just three days after its launch on September 21, and more than 100 million iOS devices have been updated with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. iPhone 5 is available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK, and will be available in 22 more countries on September 28 and more than 100 countries by the end of the year. Demand for iPhone 5 exceeded the initial supply and while the majority of pre-orders have been shipped to customers, many are scheduled to be shipped in October.

“Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”

iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina™ display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless technology*—all while delivering even better battery life.**

* LTE is available through select carriers. Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks, check with your carrier for details.
** Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

[Via Apple PR…]

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Editorial: iPhone 5 "Scuffgate", Really?

Ok, I think that this is a bit much.  The iPhone 5 was released this past Friday and customers are already getting their pitchforks out for "Scuffgate".

What is scuffgate?  That is this year's "major design flaw" after the iPhone 4's "antennagate."

Oh my God!  Yes, if you take a sharp object and start scraping it on the back of your iPhone 5, yes, it's going to get scratched!  Duh!

Yes, the anodized aluminum coating is going to wear off over the normal use life of the iPhone 5 if you chose to use it without a case.  That's to be expected.  Don't like your gear getting banged up, knocked around, or nicked?  Put it in a case.

Shove your caseless iPhone in your jeans pocket with your lose change, rings, or car keys? Yup, it'll get scratched up.

You took a sharp metal object, say a Liquidmetal SIM card tray pin, and rubbed the sharp end on the back of your new black iPhone 5 you say?  Yup, it's going to get scratched up!  What were you expecting would happen?

Come on people, the iPad is "magical," not the iPhone.  The iPhone 5 also doesn't have a "molecular bonded shell" like KITT had in the 1980's TV show, "Knight Rider."

People who are opening up the box an taking their iPhone out for the first time and finding scratches and nicks in the metal casing, yes, those people have legitimate complaints.  People taking sharp objects to the unprotected metal plating don't.

Ok, lets try to put this in perspective.  You go out and buy a new car.  Are you going to take the keys and rub them, sharp side to the paint, down the side of your new car?  No!  Why not? Because it will scratch the paint! So, no, of course you're not going to do that.  And if you did, you can't go running back to the deal and demand a refund.  They know you did it.  Same thing applies here.

To be fair, I'm not defending Apple.  If they are shipping out iPhone 5 handsets that have paint chips, nicks, or other types of scratches or defects in the paint or metal band around the phone, they should be fixing it.  Me?  I'm a use it in a case kind of guy, because, honestly, I don't like my gear getting all scratched up.  To get the iPhone 5 you had to either sign a 2-year contract with your wireless provider or shelled out $300+ to get the phone off contract so you really need to take care of the hardware.

Let's lighten up on the gear, ok, folks?  This stuff isn't indestructible.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple EarPods Unboxing

I was at the Grand Central Terminal Apple Store this evening and I picked up a pair of the new EarPods.

I know what you're thinking, "I hate Apple's ear buds!"  Ok, that's fine, but I actually like them, so I'm OK spending the $29.99 for the redesigned EarPods.  I find them even more comfortable to wear than the previous generations and the sound quality is better than the ear buds that came with my iPhone 4S last year.  That said, if you are serious about your music, don't even bother with the stock earbuds and get yourself some quality earbuds or over the ear headphones.  You'll be glad you did.

Apple 5th Ave Store on iPhone 5 Eve

I was in Manhattan late last night/early this morning to try to get a few pictures of the massive glass cube that marks Apple's 5th Ave 24-hour retail location.  What I was greeted by was Apple employees getting ready to launch the iPhone 5 at 8am Friday morning.

As you can see from the photos, the iconic glass cube is shrouded in a black curtain.  Before big launch events, Apple tends to block out the windows while they are setting things up.  In the case of the 5th Ave store, the whole above ground structure is cloaked.

While it ruined my chance at an evening shot of the store, you can see that people are getting in line, NYC police are on the scene.  While I didn't get a picture of them, street vendors are selling hot dogs and the such and a local news crew is on hand too.