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Some apps blocked, throttled on 3G iPad

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 had no help from AT&T and that it appeared to have been an unannounced change in policies that allowed it into the App Store.

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.

By Electronista Staff


  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2009


    So... long before someone blames Apple for this?

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    3G is just not ready for prime time

    The 3G network in the US is ghetto/3rd-world quality.

  1. imagine engine

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007


    Developing apps

    Developers are mainly to blame for customers finding things out after the app is released. Developers should be testing their apps on the device (ie: iPad, iPhone) before they upload it to Apple's App Store. This way they can set their customers expectations on how the app will run and if needed tweak the code to make it able to handle existing resources (memory, cpu, data bandwidth, data speed HSPA+, HSPA, EDGE). If the app needs to stream a large amount of data then set the customers expectations that video quality may be impacted while in 3G (HSPA/HSPA+) areas with heavy network congestion and not recommended while in 2G (EDGE) areas of the carrier network. Carriers such as AT&T do not have 3G towers in every area of their network and will for the time being still use 2G until those towers are upgraded.

  1. nomster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2009


    nothing new

    the iPhone does this already - it's the only way to get a fairly reliable stream of video out of wifi (and it's in UK I've experienced this)

  1. Raman

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2001



    I think tithe Pulitzer prize winning journalists at macnn mean the apps are throttled, etc when they sense that the 3G iPad is operating in 3G mode. When your 3g iPad is in wifi mode sites work the same way as a wifi- only iPad. I.e. With relatively unlimited bandwidth limitations.

  1. facebook_Andy

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2010



    The title and content of this article are seriously misleading.

    As others have commented, some apps are blocked or throttled when on the 3G *network*, not on the 3G iPad. They perform at their full capacity when on wifi. This mirrors the iPhone behavior and it makes sense -- cellular networks are so much slower than Wifi that some apps would simply be unusable or painful otherwise.

  1. borry

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010


    That's weird! wiDth=

    ipad got so many problems,but still can't stop people buying.
    I guess just outlooking attract many,and some Personalize setting make you more comfortable.
    Specially,it never similar with any others,so if you are conditioned to use Apple stuff,you are in.

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