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iPhone 5 coming to T-Mobile USA

Published on March 26, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

T-Mobile USA’s “Uncarrier Event” was held today in New York City, and served as the setting for more than one major announcement from the Bellevue, Washington company. Not only has the nation’s smallest carrier killed the 2-year wireless contract for new customers going forward, but also debuted its own 4G LTE network. The new network is live in seven initial cities, which include: Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the new network will reach 100 million Americans by mid-2013 and 200 million by the end of the year.

But the biggest news of the day was Apple-related: T-Mobile will begin carrying the 16GB iPhone 5 as of April 12.  There’s already a pre-order page live on T-Mobile’s website, and the company will be undercutting prices from the other major wireless carriers. Folks who want to buy their iPhone from T-Mobile will be able to do so for $99 up front and then $20/month for 24 months.  That works out to $580, versus the $650 other carriers charge for buying the phone outright.  Also, the company will allow customers to terminate service at any time with payment in full for any device they’re paying for monthly, as well as trading a device in for credit towards a new device.

This is one T-Mobile customer who’s thrilled to hear about the changes, and will likely start saving up for an iPhone of her very own…

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Apple updates iOS to 6.1.3

Published on March 19, 2013 by in Apple

It’s been more than a month since a YouTube user posted a video online showing how anyone with physical access to your iDevice could bypass your lock screen and gain access to your voicemail messages, contacts and photos, among other things.  Now comes news that Apple has rolled out a security patch to squish this particular bug.

iOS 6.1.3 was released today for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Users can update their devices over the air by opening the Settings screen, tapping on General, choosing Software Update, and then downloading and installing the latest version directly. More information about all of Apple’s security updates can be found in this knowledgebase article; specific information about the iOS 6.1.3 update is in its own article.

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Review – Mobee Magic Charger for Magic Mouse

Published on March 13, 2013 by in Apple, Mac, Reviews

It may seem odd for me to review a piece of hardware meant for something I don’t love (I’m far too attached to my Magic Trackpad to really love the Magic Mouse), but I’m writing for those folks who do love their Magic Mice and might be considering the Magic Charger, an attractive rechargeable-battery solution for the Magic Mouse. My first impression of it was overwhelmingly positive. Several online reviews mentioned fast, effortless charging. Other reviewers praised both its form and its function. Goodness knows that the Magic Mouse has a large enough appetite for batteries that a rechargeable solution is absolutely welcome.

In fact, I was coming to the same conclusions as other reviewers when I first put the charger to use with a brand-new Magic Mouse. This is one of those accessories that are so clever you might wonder why Apple didn’t just design the thing itself. With the Magic Charger, you might end up wishing that Apple actually had made it; it likely would have shown in the build quality and design choices.

At first, it seems like completely straightforward. Just set aside the battery cover and AA’s that came with the Magic Mouse, replace with a battery pack designed to fill that space, and you’re ready to get your double-click on. Once your battery level gets too low, rest your mouse on the Magic Charger’s pad overnight and let the wireless inductive charging fill it back up. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, right?

It would be great if it were all that simple.  I ran into issues from the very beginning with the battery pack. It had a tendency to slip out just a little, rather than clicking firmly into place like Apple’s own battery cover for the Magic Mouse. Something else to keep in mind is that rechargeable batteries are 1.25 volts instead 1.5 volts like a AA battery, so the battery indicator in System Preferences is always going to be inaccurate.

One other shortcoming I found with the Magic Charger is that the only charging connection Mobee offers is USB. If you leave your Mac on all the time, that’s no problem. But if you’re “green” enough to want rechargeable batteries in the first place, you’re probably also saving energy by powering down your Mac when you’re done with it. This cuts power to the Magic Charger and defeats its whole purpose.  I have a wall adapter that offers multiple open USB ports, so I plugged into one of them.  It would just be much more convenient if Mobee provided or sold an AC power cord.  That said, the charger is less than half an inch thick, and weighs just under 2 ounces, so it’s easy to slip into pretty much any compartment or pocket in a laptop bag for travel use.

I’d really like to see Mobee rethink a few things about the Magic Charger, because it has real potential to be an amazing product instead of one that’s just “good” with a few glaring flaws. For instance, offer 2 charging packs instead of one, and include an AC power source. This would eliminate charging downtime, as well as leaving a USB port free that the current design “steals”.

My final quibble is the price. $50 buys some fancy inductive charging (which didn’t charge very fast for me); that same amount would get you a great wall charger and 3 sets of AA batteries, with enough left over for lunch.

Bottom line, if you’re okay with no AC power and a possibly fiddly battery-pack fit, the Magic Charger beats the heck out of coughing up for an endless pile of AA batteries.

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iPhone 5S Rumored For August Launch

Published on March 6, 2013 by in Apple, iPad, iPhone, News, Rumors

Well kids, here we go again: another day, another Apple rumor story.  This time, it’s about iOS devices; specifically a release date for the next iPhone model.  According to i-everything blog iMore, the folks in Cupertino are eying an August launch for the iPhone 5S.  The phones are reportedly already in the manufacturing pipeline at Foxconn.  This is because the 5S doesn’t appear to be a major design departure from the current iPhone 5. Rather, it’s a spec speed bump, and is said to include a more advanced processor and a better camera.

The next interesting rumor floating about involves an “April-ish” launch for new iPads.  Even iMore said they weren’t sure what to make of this, given that we just saw a new release in October, with the iPad mini. They report that new cases for iPad 5 have begun to leak, and so they believe that it’s more believable than Retina for the iPad mini anytime terribly soon.

Apple Insider also noted that Jeffries analyst Peter Misek predicted that Apple will be launching a second smartphone alongside the 5S, possibly the widely-whispered low-cost version targeted at developing markets.  Time will tell if these rumors have an validity, but it looks like we won’t have long to find out.

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iWatch Rumor Watch

Published on March 5, 2013 by in Apple, News, Rumors

Apple fans who’ve spent any time at all following the company know that intense speculation precedes any major product launch from the folks in Cupertino.  It’s true whether the product in question already exists or is merely being strongly hinted at in the tech press.  It’s also well-known that Apple is one of the most secretive companies around.  In fact, Steve Jobs famously denied that Apple would ever create an App Store for iOS or Mac OS X, or create any product in the tablet space.  Of course, the company went on to do all 3 of those things, to amazing acclaim.

So now there are rampant rumors about an “iWatch”, and have been for several months.  We have something of an idea of what such a device might look like, based on the clever 6th-generation iPod nano.  It ran a stripped-down version of iOS and gave users several cheerful watch faces from which to choose (my own is permanently set to Mickey Mouse), and sported a clip on its underside that allowed users to attach the iPod to any of myriad third-party watch bands.

Bloomberg is pointing to an end-of-year launch for this as-yet unconfirmed device.  We don’t know if the thing even actually exists yet (nor what kind of product it will be if and when it does), but there seems to be a great deal of pressure on Apple to prove it can still do “insanely great” things after Steve Jobs’ death in October 2011. Sources close to company say that the iWatch will run a full version of iOS, unlike the previous iPod nano, and designers are still working to get better battery life out of the device.

One other fascinating bit of iWatch info circulating on the web is that both Bloomberg and Business Insider are reporting that Apple design guru Jony Ive ordered boxes of Nike watches in the mid-2000s.  He was specifically interested in the Nike Presto Digital Bracelets and the Oregon Series Alti-Compass watches, which were manufactured in 2002–2004. Both of these models feature minimalistic designs, using translucent plastic and aluminum.  That should sound quite familiar to anybody who’s looked at an Apple product in the past half-decade.

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