updated 11:10 pm EDT, Fri April 30, 2010
iPad app devs scale back 3G features
Certain iPad apps are dramatically scaling back or even blocking their video when on the 3G-ready iPad, new owners have been discovering today. The YouTube app significantly degrades the quality of video; ABC's TV viewer doesn't allow video at all unless it's on Wi-Fi. Only a few apps, such as Netflix, appear to work normally.
While at first it was suspected that AT&T had demanded the limits itself, an AT&T representative tonight denied the carrier's involvement. Subsequent investigations, however, have revealed that the policies are so far self-imposed. ABC is allegedly prevented from streaming over 3G due to rights issues, for example. YouTube is most likely emulating the same bitrate scaling seen on the iPhone, with the larger screen size magnifying any drops in quality.
AT&T is known to have called for adaptive video quality on iPhone apps to avoid oversaturating its network, but it has stopped short of making that a requirement on its own. Sling Media noted earlier this year that its 3G-aware version of SlingPlayer
Self-throttling is common on mobile apps for other platforms, but it has usually been voluntarily imposed to maintain a constant connection rather than for concerns about the carrier or for rights issues.