All models are 16GB only, limited choice on selection and carriers
Nearly four years after Costco and Apple had a falling out that resulted in the discount chain pulling all Apple products from its warehouse outlets, the discounter is now again selling iPhones and iPads, albeit in a limited fashion for the time being in its US stores. After first bringing back iTunes gift cards to the stores, the Costco Mobile online store is now carrying 16GB models of the iPhone 5s and 5c, as well as the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, with discounts as high as $121 off retail.
TSMC bulking up production
TSMC will start shipping a new generation of Touch ID sensors for Apple products in July, claims the China Times. Production is expected to jump a colossal 233 percent to 120 million units, presumably because the sensors will also be used in iPads for the first time. On top of this, though, the parts have allegedly been designed for better durability, and will be built at an expanded 8-inch fabrication facility.
Builds in shortcut buttons, palm rejection, pressure sensitivity
Adonit has unveiled the Jot Touch with Pixelpoint, an iPad stylus based on Adobe's new SDK. Its name refers to the Pixelpoint tip, which is extremely precise and has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Supporting apps also make use of the stylus' two shortcut buttons, and turn on palm rejection to prevent accidental input.
Other parts to follow
Displays for a second-generation iPad Air should enter production later this month, followed shortly by other components like camera modules, claims Korean site ETNews. Apple is expected to stick to the same 9.7-inch 2048x1536 panels it used with the Air. LG Display will reportedly lead production, followed by Sharp and Samsung in July.
Kindle for iOS adds compatibility with Audible audiobooks
Kindle has updated its iOS app, now allowing users to access purchased Audible content. Users can switch back and forth between reading a Kindle version of a book and the Audible audiobook version, depending on the relevant situation. Over 45,000 Kindle and Audible title pairs are now available. Additional features in v4.3 include synchronized reading progress between the Audible and Kindle versions of a book, the option to increase narration speed by up to 2x, and bulk title downloading. The Kindle iOS app is free to download through iTunes.
Belkin announces availability of QODE Thin Type keyboard case
Belkin has introduced a new keyboard case for the iPad Air, intended to provide a laptop-like experience. The Qode Thin Type is approximately 12 ounces in weight, and features comfortably-spaced, responsive keys, Bluetooth connectivity and functions as a screen cover when not in use. Secure-hold magnets attach the keyboard case to the iPad, and is compatible with both landscape and portrait viewing. Its rechargeable battery can run for 79 hours of average active use. Available in silver, the Qode Thin Type for iPad Air is priced at $100 and is available for purchase online.
Pegatron rumored to have 15 percent of iPhone 6 orders
Taiwanese supplier TSMC has delivered the first batch of Touch ID fingerprint sensors for several Apple products, including the iPhone 6, second-generation iPad Air, and third-generation iPad mini, supply chain sources claim. The sensors are reportedly being assembled by TSMC subsidiaries Xintec and Suzhou Crystal Semiconductor. While the rumor is hard to verify, Apple is likely receiving parts in preparation for mass production, since its flagship products -- iPhones and iPads -- are due to refresh in the fall. Reports have also indicated that Apple intends to expand use of Touch ID beyond the iPhone.
Simple designs, different directions
On Tuesday Logitech announced several new iPad cases. Here at MacNN we were given a chance to try two of them, the Hinge and the Turnaround, both in versions for the iPad Air. Since they're relatively straightforward cases, we thought we'd give them a simple-hands-on rather than full reviews.
Ultrathin gets lighter, more angles
Logitech today officially launched three new cases for the iPad Air and the iPad mini. Leading these is the Big Bang, which merges a compact folio design with shock-absorbing material; Logitech claims the case can survive drops from as high as 1.4m, or about 4.6 feet. The front and back are also covered with liquid-resistant materials. The Air version of the case costs $100, while the Mini edition is $80.
Folio tries to bridge paper and tablet worlds
Before we get rolling, I'll confess: I've never understood the purpose of cases like the Booqpad. If you've got a tablet, surely part of the point is being able to ditch paper entirely. In practice of course, there are times when a pen and paper are handy -- but can that justify building an entire case around the concept? I suppose we'll have to put the Booqpad to the test.
New model could be even thinner
Newly-leaked photos show a front panel claimed to be for the second-generation iPad Air. The photos were obtained by a Dutch website, One More Thing. While the panel is similar to its equivalent for the first-gen Air, it appears to have switched to an integrated display. That could allow a second-gen tablet to become even thinner, or maintain the same size and improve battery life.
Inspirational series highlights iPad Air's role in film production
A choreographer for Bollywood movies is the subject of the latest installment of Apple's "Your Verse" iPad campaign, which starts with inspirational stories of individual users on its website that often go on to be incorporated into its television ads. Feroz Khan, the choreographer in question, says he relies on his iPad Air to help with directing and analyzing dance scenes, scouting locations, assisting with costumes and other details involved in the filmmaking process.
Case for the constant traveler
For professional use, the iPad is something of a strange beast. It's more work-friendly than a smartphone obviously, but still not as powerful as a laptop. The main advantage over a computer is portability -- it's thin and lightweight, and many airport checkpoints won't even make you take it out of your carry-on when you fly. STM's new Folio case for the iPad Air is intended to make things even more travel-friendly, thanks to loops and pockets for your essential gear. Does that actually make it a practical case, though?
First time iPad buyers will have access to China's limited LTE network
Apple has revealed that China Mobile and its other Chinese telecom partners -- along with its own stores and resellers -- are carrying a special model of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display that is specific to the Chinese market, and compatible with the country's proprietary TD-SCDMA wireless standard, meaning new iPad buyers can now use the tablets on China's limited TD-LTE cellular network, which is mostly limited to the biggest cities. The Chinese iPads are separate models from the ones sold outside China.
Apple, Times still deciding when and where to return banner
Apple and the New York Times mutually agreed to pull an iPad Air ad from the Times' website yesterday after an unfortunate headline pairing, according to Advertising Age. The ad is another take on Apple's Your Verse campaign, and features a still of a scuba diver using an iPad, with the slogan "See the unique ways people are using iPad around the world." On Tuesday, though, that ad was paired alongside a headline reading "Malaysia Says Jet Went Down in Ocean."
Is bamboo worth the premium?
It's hard to say where it comes from exactly, except perhaps the speaker industry, but there seems to be a strange fetish for wood in modern electronics. If you're buying a Moto X, you can even pay a $25 upfront premium to add a wood back. Few companies though have gone to the same extremes as Grove, which -- apart from a few leather notebooks -- only produces wooden iOS and Mac accessories. We were recently given a sample of their Bamboo case for the iPad Air, which we put through the wringer.
iPad Air, Surface 2, HP Chromebook 11 go head-to-head
The mobile space is probably the most hotly contested space in the tech industry at the moment. It used to be the case that when you wanted to get work done on the go, a full-powered notebook was the one and only way to go. While notebooks and ultrabooks still play a vital role in keeping people productive on the go, the rise of tablets has led to a revolution in how people are staying productive on the go -- at least for light Office-style productivity and creative tasks. Three devices staking a claim for this space include the Apple iPad Air, the Microsoft Surface 2 and the HP Chromebook 11, although each is distinctly different. If productivity is an important criteria when choosing a mobile device, which of these is the one to get?
Swivel Screen Portfolio Case features detachable Bluetooth keyboard
Favi has announced its release of the Swivel Screen Portfolio case for iPad Air, featuring a detachable Bluetooth keyboard. Aiming to fill the gap between tablet and laptop usage, the portfolio case positions an iPad Air in a similar manner to a Macbook setup. Its Bluetooth keyboard holds an 80-hour charge if used continually, and includes scissor-switch keys, which allow for quiet and stable typing. Fully adjustable, the stand can rotate for comfortable viewing. Available in black, silver and gold, the Favi Swivel Screen Portfolio with keyboard is priced at $40.
Suggests higher prices may not equal quality
When Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover first came out, it caused something of a minor stir in the iPad world. It was the very first keyboard cover, solving a problem many people probably didn't realize they had: finding a Bluetooth keyboard that's more convenient than a separate unit, but less bulky than a full-on keyboard case. The one major issue -- apart from having to find your own protection for an iPad's rear shell -- was price. Even now, the Ultrathin is $100, which isn't far off from the cost of a keyboard folio. Anker's TC930 attempts to duplicate much of the Ultrathin for a cheaper price, while simultaneously putting its own spin on things.
Design held back by critical mistake
We've likely all had to cope with something -- a product, a person, a place -- that was almost perfect, but shot down by some critical flaw. I imagine that for many people, Chil's updated Notchbook case for the iPad Air may fit into the same category. In our review we'll see if the Notchbook might still be worth a go, since it gets so many things right, and offers a few features other cases miss.
Customizable luxury case for iPad Air
Shortly after the original iPad launched in 2010, one of the first cases on the scene was the DODOcase -- a luxury folio made using bamboo and traditional bookbinding techniques. That product set the stage for an influx of imitators, some better, some worse. One of the companies that joined the crowd was Pad & Quill, perhaps best known for its Contega series. Now, though, it has a new, slightly cheaper Author Series case available for the iPad Air. We'll put it through the ringer to see how well it holds up.
Pad and Quill releases new Author Series cases for iPad Air
Pad and Quill has announced its release of five new designs of bindery- and artisan-patterned cloth cases for iPad Air. Part of the Author Series, the new commissioned artwork designs are created by Tamarah Ryan and Will Bowe, local artists to the production site of the cases (St. Paul, Minnesota).
Notchbook for iPad Air features space for easy holding
Accessory maker Chil has introduced its Notchbook iPad Air folio today, offering its users a heavy grip and the ability to slide a hand through its sleeve portion. Intended for the iPad Air, the Notchbook is compatible with many other tablets of broadly-comparable dimensions. Featuring a platform that rotates 360 degrees, the Notchbook folio doubles as a stand for comfortable table viewing.
Spots based on recent 'Your Verse' commercial
Apple has begun airing two new TV ads for the iPad Air. Dubbed "Light Verse" and "Sound Verse," the spots are shortened, 30-second versions of "Your Verse," a 90-second ad that premiered last week. Intermixed with the earlier ad's content is some original imagery.
Regional store now offering in-store pickup, celebrates with sale
Buyers who live on the east coast or midwestern parts of the US may be able to score themselves a discounted iPad with savings up to $60 on brand-new models. Regional retail H. H. Gregg is offering the savings at all of its 228 retail locations thanks to the arrival of the iPad for in-store pickup, an expansion of its existing relationship with Apple. Until February 1, customer can save $60 on a 64GB iPad Air, and $40 on the 16GB and 32GB versions. The iPad mini models are offered with a $20 discount over normal retail price.
Second case still ongoing
VirnetX is seeking to add Apple's most recent slate of products to a lawsuit against FaceTime devices, according to an announcement. The patent holding firm says it has submitted a petition to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, one which would add the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPad Air, Retina iPad mini, fifth-generation iPod touch, and the latest Mac notebooks and desktops to the list. VirnetX has accused Apple's FaceTime of violating a patent for peer-to-peer VPN technology.
Moshi's Versa case features Bluetooth keyboard with sliding storage slot
Accessory maker Moshi yesterday launched its VersaKeyboard case for iPad Air, featuring an origami-style folding stand that includes a Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard component to the case can be easily hidden away when not in use, due to its 'sliding' keyboard storage feature built into the back. Aimed to provide a versatile keyboard without adding bulk or a need for additional storage, the VersaKeyboard is 0.6-inches thick while being nearly full size -- about 80 percent of the size of a standard keyboard.
iHome tries to compete in the world of iPad Air cases
Once a comparatively rare kind of accessory, keyboard cases have become legion in the past year -- or at least it feels that way, from a reviewer's perspective. There seems to be a pent-up demand for iPads that can also get some serious work done. iHome has been a relatively minor player in the keyboard market to date; in this review, we'll see if its new Type Slim case can break the mold.
Apple's new iPads topping all in tablet sales
The tablet market is performing strongly this holiday season, and Apple's iPad Air and iPad mini are leading the pack among all contenders. This according to a new report from market analysis firm Canaccord Genuity, which saw the two newest iPads outpacing entries from Samsung, Amazon, and Google throughout November and the first half of December. The findings are in keeping with previous analyses of the tablet market, which showed Apple in the lead but Samsung and others increasing share.
First-gen iPad mini, iPhone 5c also see surges
iPad Air activations grew some 51 percent over the previous weekend during the course of Black Friday and the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend, according to new Localytics data. The figure is based on the number of new devices that appeared in Localytics tracking for some 20,000 apps. The iPhone 5c and first-generation iPad mini also did well, each growing by 26 percent.
Unique approach to iPad folios
STM is one of those companies that seems to fly under the radar when it comes to iPad accessories. They're better known for their general-purpose tablet and laptop bags; they are making inroads, though, having caught some attention with their Skinny and Grip cases. The Studio is a new design built exclusively for the Air and Mini, and in our review, we'll see if STM can make good on earlier progress.
Discounts limited to 10 percent
Some US Apple Stores have quietly begun price matching for the iPad Air and iPhone 5c, sources say. The option arrived earlier this week, although not all stores and regions are participating. Even when a store is willing to match a competitor, the ceiling is a 10 percent discount off Apple's usual sticker price. A 16GB Wi-Fi iPad, for instance, would drop to $449, and a 16GB 5c would dip to $89.
MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMacs on sale at B&H, MacMall
Black Friday sales are well under way today, and online retailers promoting Apple products are selling out quickly. Presently, the best Black Friday deals still available at this writing can be found for Mac computers at B&H and MacMall. The 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with an i7 Dual-Core 2.9GHz CPU, 8GB RAM and 750GB hard drive is available from B&H for $1,250 (saving $200), and the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display with an i5 Dual-Core 2.5GHz CPU, 8GB RM and 128GB hard drive is available for $1,150 from MacMall.
First Snugg case for iPad Air sticks to plan
Snugg's Distressed Brown Leather Case was something of a pleasant surprise when I reviewed it last year. I didn't expect much at first, considering that it's a low-cost case from a relatively unknown manufacturer. It quickly became a personal favorite though, and ended up being my usual go-to case in between other review units. The Robust Case is Snugg's flagship for the iPad Air -- we'll put it through the ringer and see if it can live up to its predecessors.
iPod touch available at lowest price from Target
Apple's fifth-generation iPod touch is available at a reduced price for Black Friday this year, with many online retailers competing for the lowest sale price. MacNN has found the best deal currently available is from Target, which sells the device at normal retail price but with a $50 gift card upon purchase, making the unit's net price $180 for the 16GB harddrive capacity, available in black or silver.
Apple orders up to almost 4 million units for November
Production bottlenecks for the Retina iPad mini have been largely removed, leading to Apple increasing its orders up to almost 4 million units for the month of November, Taiwanese supply chain sources claim. Retina Mini orders are said to have already surpassed those for 2012's first-generation tablet. Prior to its launch, rumors and even Apple itself suggested that the Retina Mini would be in short supply until 2014. The primary obstacle was thought to have been burn-in problems with Sharp LCDs, something that may have affected some shipping units. DigiTimes' sources simply state that a 7.9-inch Retina display is harder to produce than a 9.7-inch one.
Deal limited to 16GB Wi-Fi models
US retailer Fry's has launched a special Black Friday promotion for the iPad Air. Under the deal, people buying the tablet can get a $100 Fry's gift card; shoppers must, however, specifically pick up a 16GB Wi-Fi model. The promotion is also on a first-come-first-served basis, and not all locations are participating.
Signature folio gets update for new iPad
The very first Targus iPad Air case we had a chance to look at -- the Versavu Keyboard Case -- didn't exactly earn high marks. I disliked it so much, in fact, that I immediately pulled it off once the hands-on was finished. Thankfully, Targus' new Vuscape folio case seems a little more competent -- at least at first glance. We'll see if it surpasses that level in our review.
Video from recent iPad-iPhone event used to showcase abilities
Apple has added a new page to its website showcasing the abilities of the iPad in real-world scenarios, called "Life on iPad." The page feature six stories that feature the iPad in a wide variety of usages, from how windmill power technicians use it to replace bulky repair schematics to doctors using the iPad to envisage surgical techniques that minimize risks for patients. The lead illustration, and the stories, are drawn from an iPad Air video which debuted at the latest generation's unveiling last month.
Apple iPad mini delivers high-resolution display, high performance
In many ways, the iPad mini with Retina display is a smaller version of everything that is great about the iPad Air. It runs the same tablet-optimized version of iOS 7, has access to hundreds of thousands of iPad-tailored apps, it shares a Retina display and is powered by a 64-bit Apple A7 chip. However, on closer examination, there are some subtle differences between the two iPads that may have discerning Apple customers judging one as being preferable to the other.
iBeacon tech will allow for virtual 'signs'
Apple is working on two display initiatives for its retail stores, sources say. The first is the addition of special holiday decorations, in the form of LED snowflakes, which will surround window displays for the iPad Air and iPhone 5c. The decorations are expected to go up in many countries later this week, and stay in place through early January.
LinkedIn Pulse responds to feedback, enhances 4.0 update
LinkedIn Pulse, formerly Pulse, was released last week on iTunes and Google Play as LinkedIn's "main vehicle for [its] social news experience". Version 4.0 was met with criticism, leading the company to hurriedly issue version 4.0.1 to respond to complaints. The update includes full screen reading on iPad, increased density on the home screen, the ability to swipe to go back after reading a story, and several smaller fixes and performance improvements.
Android vendors other than Samsung see single-digit share
A report from Chinese business data pollsters Analysys combined with shipment reports compiled by DigiTimes indicates that in the fledgling Chinese tablet market, Apple is the surprise winner - dominating sales by a long way over rival Samsung, the only other vendor to achieve double-digit sales. According to the figures, Apple has 51.7 percent of the market, followed by Samsung at 13 percent, with Lenovo at 9.1 percent.
Predicts new iPad mini will still cut into iPad Air share
Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a memo to investors saying that while the new releases of the latest iPads will cause a spike in sales for the holidays, he sees a repeat of last year in terms of the smaller iPad mini taking share away from the larger iPad model. He also predicts that the Apple TV segment will grow slowly unless Apple can land more content and app deals. Kuo has had a good (but not perfect) track record in predicting Apple moves and results in recent quarters.
Performance under iPad Air despite A7 chip
Early benchmarks of the Retina iPad mini are placing the tablet at about the speed of the iPhone 5s. GeekBench data rates the Mini at 1.29GHz, just shy of the 1.3GHz of the 5s. Both devices are slower than the iPad Air, which has previously been clocked at 1.39GHz.
Belkin aims high with early Air keyboard case
In a hands-on with the Targus Versavu Keyboard Case, I observed that buying a case around the launch of a new Apple device often entails compromise, since not every manufacturer is on board yet. Even if they are, they may only have a few options available -- designers do, after all, need to experiment to come up with something high-quality. Belkin's QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is an early effort for the iPad Air, but we'll see in our review if that's necessarily a mark against it.
Apple 'investigating the cause'
The iPad that exploded at an Australia Vodafone store was an older model, and not the iPad Air, according to Vodafone. "It was an earlier generation iPad with Retina display model - not one of the more recently launched devices. Apple is investigating the cause," one spokesperson states. Another comments that "Apple has taken the device for investigation, so we won't know any more until they do."
BlackBerry, HTC, iPhone 5s also eligible; sold gold iPhone available
As has been offered with previous popular electronics devices from Apple and other vendors, a company called Goldgenie is offering wealthy buyers of the latest iPad models the opportunity to purchase a device (or send an existing one in) and have the exterior surface plated in 24-carat gold or platinum. The company offers both traditional gold and "rose gold" (actually a mixture of gold and copper). Prices for the service start at $1,858 for a 16GB Retina iPad mini, and $1,871 for a 16GB iPad Air.
Carrier declines to offer specific numbers
T-Mobile sold more tablets during Friday's iPad Air launch than it did the entire previous quarter, a spokesperson says. The carrier has declined to offer specific numbers, but was presumably aided by the market dominance of the iPad and its highly-promoted tablet data plan, which offers 200MB per month for free on fully-paid devices. A number of iPad customers have been disappointed to discover that the 200MB tier isn't available for new subscribers buying a financed unit. Moreover, some T-Mobile workers have supplied mistaken information, or unnecessarily charged for data.
Uses single LTE chipset for all US carriers
In spite of shifting to more advanced components, the iPad Air is actually cheaper to build than the third-generation iPad was, according to a teardown by IHS iSuppli. The cost is estimated to be between $274 and $361 per unit, depending on the exact configuration. The base cost is $42 less than it was for the third-gen iPad. One contributing factor is the A7 processor, which while costing $18 per unit, is still $5 less than an A5 processor was 18 months ago.