It was a busy week for Apple with the introduction of the third generation iPad, a new Apple TV, iPhoto for iOS, iOS 5.1, and a Senator that’s not too happy with the company’s mobile privacy practices. Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray bundled it all up into a nice little package for you, just as he does every week. Buckle up. There’s a lot to cover.
iPad 3, or HD, or New. Whatever.
It was a week of newness, and devoid of numbering.
Apple, on Wednesday, introduced the new iPad. The third generation of the tablet, though not called iPad 3. Nor was it called iPad HD, though it might well have been since it does sport the Retina display many had expected. It could, by the way, have been called iPad 4G since, yes, it’s got that, too. One for Verizon here in the states, and another for AT&T. There’s also the plain old Wi-Fi model if ultra mobility’s not your thing.
The new iPad is powered by a new A5X chip with quad-core graphics. It has a 5 megapixel iSight camera on the back, capable of capturing detailed photos and 1080p HD video.
No Siri for new iPad, though there is a bit of word play. The new iPad also supports dictation, allowing users to tap a microphone icon on the device’s virtual keyboard, say what they want to say and see it converted into text. Write messages, take notes, search the web. Not Siri but Siri-esque.
The new iPad is a teeny-tiny bit heavier than iPad 2, and a teeny-tiny bit thicker. And yet, despite added power demands, it manages to rate a 10-hour battery life, or nine hours under 4G/LTE usage, same as iPad 2.
It also manages to keep the same price as before, starting at US$ 499 for the Wi-Fi only model, and $629 for the Wi-Fi plus 4G/LTE model. And the new iPad can be used as a personal hotspot, as long as it’s cool with your carrier.
Apple’s new iPad with Retina Display
Available for pre-order as of Wednesday, it’ll be available here in the states, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, U.K. and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Friday, March 16th.
Then, just one week later on Friday, March 23rd, Apple plans to launch the new iPad in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Rebublic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. That’s 26 more countries in seven more days; the fastest rollout Apple’s ever had for a new device, according to senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller.
And sticking around for at least one more season: iPad 2.
Rumors had said that Apple would bring out an 8GB iPad 2 to sell at a lower price, and they were half right because the iPad 2 does stick around for a hundred bucks less. The iPad 2 is now going for $399 for the Wi-Fi only version, and $529 for WiFi plus 3G. 16 gigabytes is the one capacity available for last year’s model.
iOS 5.1, and when 4G Really Isn’t
For the iPhones and iPads and iPod touches already out there, Apple released iOS 5.1 on Wednesday. What’s new? Depends on what you’ve got.
On the iPhone, Siri goes to Japan, and a slow roll-out has already started. Other additions include:
- Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers
- Tweaks to Audio on TV shows and movies on iPad to make ‘em sound louder and clearer
- Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30-second rewind for iPad
- Updated AT&T network indicator. Kind of weird, that. We’ll get to it in a moment.
- Bug-fixes for battery life
- Fixes for an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls. That one is, presumably, for the iPhone only.
Also included, a new cap for downloads. According to an Ars Technica piece, iOS 5.1 “will allow downloads from the iTunes Store (including apps and music) up to 50MB over 3G and 4G networks. That limit is up from the previous 20MB cap,” which could come in handy with all the Retina-fied apps and 1080p video that’ll be flying through the air ever-so-soon.
As for the new iPad, Apple says iOS 5.1 brings a redesigned Camera app with video stabilization technology; the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream; support for dictation in English, French, German and Japanese; and Personal Hotspot.
After the 5.1 update started hitting iPhone 4Ss users noticed something strange. Suddenly some of their AT&T phones were showing a 4G indicator where 3G used to be.
Remember that “Updated AT&T network indicator” I said we’d get to? Yeah here we are.
AppleInsider says “iPhone 4S users on AT&T who update to iOS 5.1 will see their network indicator state they are on a ‘4G’ network when utilizing the carrier’s high-speed HSDPA network.”
This is an indication the Death Star was rumored to want back in October, though reports then said Apple wasn’t into the idea. What AT&T offers is not “true 4G,” though the carrier says phones running on its HSDPA network are capable of running at 4G-like speeds.
I guess there’s not room at the top of the screen to put “4G-like.”
iPhoto to Go
Apple said that it had also completed the iLife for iOS set… With the introduction of an iPad version of iWeb.
I’m kidding. iDVD Maker. I’m still kidding. How would you even do that with an iPad?
iPhoto for iOS. That’s what Apple introduced yesterday, as well as new features for iMovie and GarageBand for iOS.
Apple says iPhoto for iOS includes Multi-Touch features for sorting through photos, fixing up pics, and making and sharing photo journals with iCloud. Friends who are into that kind of thing say it’s awesome.
iPhoto for iOS is a universal app for iPad 2 or later and iPhone 4 or later. It’ll run buyers $4.99 and is available in the App Store now.
iPhoto for iOS
Updates to iMovie seem pretty stunning, especially for handheld devices, giving users the ability to make Hollywood-style trailers — like the ones in iMove for the Mac — on an iPad or iPhone. There’s more to it than that, but we have a lot more to hit. If you’ve already got iMovie for iOS, the update is free. If you don’t, it’s in the App Store now for $4.99.
What’s new in GarageBand? Jam Session, a new feature that Apple says lets a group of players wirelessly connect their iOS devices to play instruments and record live music together. All I need now is musical ability and friends with musical ability. And iOS devices.
If you have GarageBand for iOS the update is free. If you don’t, it’s in the App Store now for $4.99.
Show Me the Hardware
Want to know more about new Apple hardware? Well, here we go.
True to speculation, Apple did announce a new version of Apple TV Wednesday. The set-top box, not a full-on television. Just like iPad-not-three this is Apple TV not-three. Rather, Apple refers to it as the new Apple TV.
It’s the third one. It could have been Apple 3, and it supports 1080p video so it could have been Apple TV HD.
Apple says the new Apple TV features 1080p programming including iTunes movies and TV shows, Netflix, Vimeo, photos and more in HD.
And good news: that whole iTunes in the Cloud thing that lets customers re-download music and TV shows they’ve bought in the past? Now they can do that with movies, too. Well, a lot of movies. AllThingsD says Fox and Universal aren’t in, thanks to preexisting deals with HBO that give the cable channel exclusive “windows” of availability for movies from those studios.
Believe it or not, though, that might not be an issue soon. HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson says, “With every technological enhancement, we have always been able to find common ground with our studio partners, and we’re sure that will be the result here.”
Apple TV went up for pre-order Wednesday for the same $99 as Apple TV 2. It’s supposed to be available next Friday, March 16th, though I saw several mentions on Twitter that said delivery time on the new Apple TV has already slipped to a couple of weeks.
Wallstreet Loves the iPad. Still.
Wall Street weighs in, in the wake of Wednesday’s announcements. Their money’s on Apple and the new iPad. Fortune ran page after page of analyst reactions.
RBC Capital’s Mike Abramsky takes issue with the idea that the “New iPad” is just an incremental update, saying, “We would argue it will maintain Apple’s Tablet dominance, especially when considered in context with Apple’s powerful ecosystem (iTunes, iTunes Store, iCloud, iOS, App Store, carrier/store distribution, etc).”
Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore:
We believe competitors (Android and Windows) will have trouble matching the price-performance specs of the current iPad product lineup and AAPL should continue to dominate the category.
Goldman Sachs’ Bill Shope: “We believe the new iPad and the lower price point for the iPad 2 will enable Apple to continue its momentum and tablet market dominance, and we continue to expect rapid installed base growth in 2012 and beyond.” Shope’s actually stoked enough to up his Apple price target from $600 to $660.
CitiGroup’s Richard Gardner: “With the addition of so many new features at the same prices as iPad 2, Apple has once again made it nearly impossible for competitors to undercut iPad on price and still earn a profit.”
J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz: “We think the iPhoto update is another step towards making the iPad the digital hub for the mobile user.”
Canaccord Genuity’s T. Michael Walkley:
We believe the new iPad has raised the bar relative to competing tablets with impressive hardware specifications, competitive pricing, and the leading software ecosystem that includes over 200,000 iPad-specific applications.
Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty: “The new iPad, incorporating many key features first introduced by iPhone 4S last October, will drive strong demand.”
Jeffries and Company analyst Peter Misek sounds a note of disappointment, mostly due to the lack of Siri on the new iPad, though he thinks that’ll likely arrive in a future software update.
Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu: “We view 4G LTE wireless as arguably the most important new feature.” Interesting.
Barclays’ Ben Reitzes: “While many will focus on the features of the new iPad vs. expectations, we believe that Apple’s software ecosystem is the key driver of sales of iOS devices. On this front, Apple did not disappoint.”
And Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster: “Similar to the company’s strategy with iPhone, Apple will continue to offer the 16GB iPad 2 at $399 for the Wi-Fi only version and $529 for the 3G version. Given the 8-inch Kindle Fire ($199) and several lower-priced 10-inch Android Tablets, we see the price reduction of the iPad 2, and the lower entry-level price for the iPad family, as a strong defensive move from Apple. Moreover, we do not see it cannibalizing iPad HD sales; rather, it expands Apple’s addressable market in the rapidly growing tablet space.”
So mostly it sounds like they like what they heard.
On Senators, Privacy & Your Photos
And to wrap up this week, one New York Senator has a meeting or two coming up with Apple and Google.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog ran a story early on Monday that had Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) writing a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission asking it to look into the ability of iOS and Android apps and app developers to access photos on a device running one of their operating systems without permission.
Really wish I’d made that sentence shorter.
In iOS, an app with Location permission can access a user’s photo album, while in Android an app with Internet permission can do it. In his letter to the FTC, Schumer says, “These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app’s functionality.”
So he wants the FTC to do something.
But barely had the ink on his letter dried when both Apple and Google got in touch with the honorable senator from New York to say, hey, baby, let’s talk things over.
Schumer told The New York Times late in the day on Monday that both companies had reached out to him and were willing to get together with him and talk potential threats to user privacy in their respective mobile operating systems.
Despite having fired off a letter to the FTC, Schumer says he’s “optimistic” that the issues can be dealt with without the need for regulation.