iNews Review

iPhone 4S and iPad 2 Best Gadgets of 2011, Real World iPad Usage Patterns, iTV Rumors, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.01.02

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Apps & Services

Accessories

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

SodaHead roundupiPhone 4S Best Tech Gadget of 2011, iPad 2 Takes Second Place

PR: With 2011 coming to a close, SodaHead.com, a popular opinion temperature-taking Web community, has released results of a poll asking consumers which product was the Best New Tech Gadget of 2011. Apple took the top two spots and a cumulative 64% of the total vote, with the iPhone 4S coming out the clear winner with 39% of the vote, followed by the iPad 2 with 25%. Rounding out the top five were the Kindle Fire (17%), Nintendo 3DS (12%), and the Nook Tablet (7%).

Bieber most overrated music starYour editor will also risk the wrath of teenyboppers and Lady Gaga fans by observing that I couldn't agree more with Sodahead poll respondents who pretty much nailed it by naming Justin Bieber the "Most Overrated Music Star" of 2011, with Gaga the runner-up. Nice to know there's still some critical discernment in popular taste.

An more expansive infographic, with the results of all of SodaHead's "end of year" polls, can viewed online.

Harry McCracken: How the iPad 2 Became My Favorite Computer

"Can the iPad replace a PC?" asks Time's Harry McCracken, noting that since Apple announced its tablet nearly two years ago, discussion of this question has been rife on the Internet. McCracken takes the rational view that whether you can successfully replace your laptop with an iPad will depend on your needs. Ergo: casual computer users could arguably replace a laptop with an iPad from the outset, but for creators of professional-level content the answer is more complex. However, based on his personal use and experience, he's positive that it is possible to use an iPad as one's primary device for professional-level content creation, since he's been doing it for the past three months, and says he's been having a really good time.

Real World iPad Usage Patterns

Usability News is a free web newsletter that is produced by the Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL) at Wichita State University. The SURL team specializes in software/website user interface design, usability testing, and research in human-computer interaction, and has posted a detailed report authored by B. Nguyen & B. Chaparro on how iPad owners really use the devices.

Usability News distributed an online survey exploring iPad real world use. Participants included owners of both the original iPad and the iPad 2. Results of the survey indicate that the iPad is still mainly used for web browsing, email, reading news, social networking, and playing games. In the workplace, respondents reported using it mostly as a reference tool. The author says respondents spoke very favorably of the iPad, citing its overall ease of use, large screen size, and portability. The inability to view Adobe Flash, and the inconsistency and complexity of some apps were cited as the biggest areas where the device could be improved, other criticisms being complaints about the lack of USB ports and features for multitasking.

Fifty-four percent of respondents reported owning the original iPad, while 46% reported owning the iPad 2. The majority of respondents reported having between 21-40 apps installed on their iPad, but most reported only using 6-10 apps regularly.

How often do you carry your iPad?

A little more than half of the participants (52%) reported that they carry their iPads only when traveling, while the remaining half reported either carrying their iPad every time they go out (21%).

A majority (58%) reported that they use their iPad exclusively, while 42% said that they share their iPad with at least one other person.

Three-quarters of all respondents reported reading ebooks on the iPad, and 58% had installed an e-reader app other than Apple's iBook (e.g., Amazon Kindle app).

Thirteen percent of respondents reported using the iPad only for work, while a little more than half (52%) of participants reported using an iPad at work.

Users were very positive about their iPads, with 83.65 out of a possible 100 satisfied. Favorite features and attributes included the variety of apps available, overall ease of use, the larger screen size, and portability.

In the negative column were poor quality of some apps, the inability to play Adobe Flash, and problems typing with the keyboard.

Favored iPad apps were the Safari web browser, Flipboard, iBooks, the Kindle app, and email. Disliked were iTunes, the Calendar, and the Facebook app.

Activities never done with iPad

Among activities never done on the iPad were chatting and taking pictures.

The full report includes many other graphs and charts.

Getting Started with Your New iPad

Did you get a new iPad 2 for Christmas? Cult of Mac's Eli Milchman offers some key setup tricks that new (and even some not-so-new) iPad users miss, intended to make sure you get the best out of your iPad 2.

Set Up and Get to Know Your New iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Lifehacker's Adam Dachis says that before you dive in to using your new iPad, there are a few things you should attend to first:

  • Update to the Latest Version of iOS
  • Get to Know iOS 5 - Once you've updated, you ought to know what you're in for. He can teach you everything you need to know about iOS 5 in 7 minutes, but if you want to go more in-depth, you can learn how to configure notification center, create contact-specific vibrations and LED notifications, hide the newsstand "app" in a folder, set up typing shortcuts, add some beautiful settings shortcuts to your home screen, and make your iPhone read any text aloud on demand.
  • Sign up for free Find My iPhone - download it from the iTunes App Store and follow the signup instructions.
  • Organize your home screen - When you start downloading a bunch of apps, your home screen is going to get cluttered very quickly. Stay ahead of the game and start organizing.

Download Some Killer Apps

  • Set up custom typing shortcuts
  • Learn how to take great holiday photos with your iPhone
  • Fill out your Address Book to make Siri work better
  • Use your iPad or Android tablet as a second monitor for your computer
  • Learn how to copy music from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your computer for free
  • Learn how to sync documents and other files to your iPhone or iPad without iTunes
  • Learn how to improve your iPhone's battery life
  • Learn how to migrate all your data to iCloud from Google with minimal fuss
  • The best "evil" apps for iPhone
  • Learn how to turn your iPod touch into an iPhone: 4G Edition
  • Learn how to Google-ify your iPhone
  • Learn how to encode video for all your mobile devices
  • Learn how Printopia enables iOS-to-Mac AirPrint support hack-free, adds virtual printers
  • Learn how to open compressed files on your iOS device
  • Learn how to make music in GarageBand with iOS
  • Do Even More: Jailbreak

Consumers Now Take More Than a Quarter of All Photos and Videos on Smartphones

PR: Smartphones are becoming the go-to device for many consumers who want to take photos and videos on the fly. According to leading market research company The NPD Group's new Imaging Confluence Study, the share of US consumers taking photos and videos on their smartphones has grown, while the camera and traditional camcorders share has declined. The percent of photos taken with a smartphone (iPhone or any other smartphone) went from 17% last year to 27% this year while the share of photos taken on any camera dropped from 52% to 44%.

"There is no doubt that the smartphone is becoming good enough much of the time, but thanks to mobile phones, more pictures are being taken than ever before," says Liz Cutting, executive director and senior imaging analyst at NPD. "Consumers who use their mobile phones to take pictures and video were more likely to do so instead of their camera when capturing spontaneous moments, but for important events, single purpose cameras or camcorders are still largely the device of choice."

Camcorders and lower-end point-and-shoot cameras appear to have taken the brunt of the movement to smartphones. According to NPD's Retail Tracking Service, the point-and-shoot camera market was down 17% in units and 18% in dollars for the first 11 months of 2011. Pocket camcorders were down 13% in units and 27% in dollars and traditional flash camcorders declined 8% in units and 10% in dollars.

There were, however, positive growth segments of the market. Detachable lens cameras increased by 12% in units and 11% in dollars over the same time period, with an average price of $863; and point-and-shoot cameras with optical zooms of 10x or greater grew by 16% in units and 10% in dollars, with an average price of $247.

How to Jailbreak iOS 5.0.1

Cult of Mac's Sayam Aggarwal says the Redsn0w software by DevTeam has always allowed you to jailbreak your iOS device, giving you complete control over your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Redsn0w version 0.9.1ob1 was released with iOS 5 support, meaning you can now jailbreak devices and run Cydia apps on devices with iOS 5 installed. Aggarwal explains how to jailbreak iOS 5.

Rumor Roundup

Suppliers Start Preparing Product Components for Apple iTV Launch in Q2 or Q3

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Steve Shen reports that Apple's upstream supply chain will start preparing components for Apple iTV sets in Q1 2012 in preparation Apple's scheduled launch of the new products in Q2 or Q3 2012, according to insider sources, and that rather than being a set-top box (STB) like the Apple TV that's been around since 2006, the iTV will be a full-featured TV set.

Lee and Shen cite Korean media reports indicating that Samsung Electronics started producing chips for the iTVs in November 2011, while Sharp will produce the displays for the new TVs, which are rumored to be 32" and 37" sizes initially.

More Apple iTV 'Smart TV' Rumors Surface

DigiTimes' Cage Chao and Jessie Shen report that responding to sources' claims that Samsung Electronics and Sharp will manufacture chips and displays, respectively, for the rumored Apple "iTV," others have suggested that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), and Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL) have the potential to win orders for Apple's "smart TV," and that Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) likely will also obtain assembly orders for the Apple smart TV, according to industry sources.

Chao and Shen say Apple is expected to finalize iTV hardware standards by the end of Q2 2012 and will place orders for the customized chips and other components directly with its contract manufacturers - the way it does with iPads and iPhones, the sources said with the iTV smart TV's rollout before the end of 2012.

Apps & Services

Siri Tips and Quips Now in eBook Form

PR: A new eBook titled Life with Siri by Jodi Dery helps iPhone 4S users get the most out of Siri. This new 128-page eBook includes 50 screenshots of the funniest Siri responses and 50 screenshots of the best Siri tips. It also includes a guide to Siri punctuation commands and a list of all the things Siri can do.

Siri understands natural, informal speech like no non-human device has ever done before. Users have marveled over Siri's ability to perceive what is said, even when the speakers grammar leaves something to be desired.

Author Jodi Dery explained the eBook's unusual format, commenting" "We feel that presenting Siri's responses in this illustrative manner, with lots screenshots rather than lots of text, will help people remember the best questions to ask Siri and the best way to get useful results."

The Life with Siri eBook is now available as a Kindle Edition on Amazon.com for $1.99. It will soon also be available from Barnes & Noble (BN.com) for other tablets at the same price. A print edition is scheduled to be published in early January, priced at $4.99.

intoxicheck Aims to Reduce Drinking and Driving

PR: Innocorp, Ltd's new iPhone app intoxicheck leads users through a simple set of before and after reaction, judgment, and memory challenges so drivers clearly see how impaired they are in an effort to stop drinking and driving. Because it works on a smartphone, users have convenient access to the new iPhone app anywhere.

intoxicheck"Many people who drink tend to underestimate their impairment level. We hope people use our new iPhone app, intoxicheck, and use a designated driver or take a taxi to avoid being arrested for drinking and driving," says Deb Kusmec of Innocorp, Ltd.

Excessive alcohol consumption makes both driving and walking unsafe. In 2005, the Injury Prevention reported that New Year's Day is deadly for pedestrians. From 1986 to 2002, 410 pedestrians were killed on New Year's Day. Fifty-eight percent of those killed had high blood-alcohol concentrations, to say nothing of passengers and motorists killed by drinking and driving.

intoxicheck gives people a reality check about how buzzed they are. The new iPhone app is research-based and works by comparing results from a series of challenges users take while sober to results they get after drinking. There is no need to count drinks, or guess alcohol content in each drink. intoxicheck results may prove valuable in helping users make better choices, and avoid drinking and driving, based on real impairment level.

"By taking a series of reaction, judgment and memory challenges before drinking, you establish a baseline of sober performance that you can compare to your performance on those same challenges after drinking. In field tests of intoxicheck under controlled conditions, the new iPhone app provided a reasonably accurate assessment of a person's impairment level," says Kusmec.

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
  • Requires iOS 4.2 or later.

99¢

Accessories

iFresh Rechargeable External Battery for iPhone, iPod, and iPod touch

PR: The iFresh rechargeable external backup battery from SWE, Inc. makes it easy to recharge and power your device anywhere, any time. No power source is necessary. It is designed for use with iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S ,as well as iPod and iPod touch - a must-have accessory for anyone who received an iPhone or iTouch for Christmas.

iFresh Rechargable External BatteryApple approved for iPhone, iPod, and iPod touch, iFresh plugs directly into the 30-pin connector on the device and provides instant power while recharging the device's battery. iFresh features a powerful 2200 mAh battery - the most powerful available on any comparable product - and can bring a device to full battery charge in less than two hours. The product works on iPod, iPod touch, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S as well as iPad devices. A patented retractor clip makes it easy to remove iFresh from the unit when it has provided adequate power.

iFresh is lightweight at just three ounces, so it is easy to carry in a shirt or jacket pocket in order to provide power to your Apple device anytime it is needed. An LED indicator on iFresh shows how much power is left in the unit. iFresh is easily recharged through an included retractable USB cable that connects to any Mac or PC, as well as any car charger that has a USB port. iFresh can be drained and recharged 500 times. It is the ideal product for any iPhone or iTouch user who needs to be able to keep connected while on the go without having to worry about finding a power source where they can recharge their device.

Key Features

  • The powerful 2200mAh battery capacity can charge most of portable digital devices on-the-go
  • Equivalent to 23 times the capacity of normal cell phone battery
  • Connects directly to 30-pin connector at bottom of devices - patented retractable button makes it easy to remove iFresh when you don't need it.
  • Internal automatic On/Off switch prevents energy loss for up to 6 months between charges
  • Power meter indicates charging progress and remaining power level
  • The iFresh can be recharged over 500 times with computer or USB charger.

Specifications

  • Battery Type: Lithium Polymer Battery
  • Capacity: 2200 mAh!
  • Input: 5V/1A(max)
  • Output: 5V/700 mA
  • Charging Time: around 2.5 hours
  • Weight: 78g (2.75 oz.)
  • Power Meter and Test Control LED lights
  • Dimension: 101x62x13 (mm) or 3.97x2.44x .51 (in)

iFresh is available for just $59.95 online with free shipping at the SWE, Inc. official website.

A Home for Your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, Tablet, or Smartphone

dzdockPR: Nowadays it seems everyone has an iPhone, an Android, or Smartphone, and more and more people are buying iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and tablets. Apple alone is forecast to sell more than 100 million iPhones and iPads in 2012. As expected, this broad acceptance of these intelligent devices has given emergence to a sector of ever increasing importance, the accessory manufacturer. What's not expected is that a 12-year-old would even think he could participate. But this 12-year-old dzdock inventor is not typical.

dzdockLast month the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) awarded Dino Zaharakis its prestigious Global Student Entrepreneur Award for High School in a ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange. A month before that he received the "Most Innovative Product" award at Chicago's McCormick Center. Men's Health Magazine named dzdock one of its Five Favorite Stocking Stuffers.

Necessity is the mother of invention

The inability of many iPad docks and iPhone docks to accommodate the devices with a case led Dino Zaharakis to invent dzdock - a universal stand. He also noticed that although many devices were designed in the USA, few were Made in the USA.

His goal was to develop a stand that could:

  • Place/remove a device without disconnecting its cable
  • Hold a device with/without a skin in both portrait and landscape modes
  • Be universal, accommodate iPad, Kindle, Nook, tablets, iPhone/smartphones
  • Be designed and made in the USA

dzdock

"Only in America can an idea become a company with sales in more than 20 countries in a period of 6 months!" notes Zaharakis' dad. "Dino is the driving force. Throughout the year he juggles school, piano, football, lacrosse, swim team, Greek school, and still has the energy to work on dzdock prototypes, check on sales, and visit the local manufacturing plants."

Patent Pending dzdock lists for $29.95 on Amazon but sells on dzdock.com for just $19.99 - using a promotional code ("DZDOCK19").

Floor Stand Keeps iPad at Eye Level for Cooking, Reading in Bed, and More

SwingHolderPR: If apps are what give the iPad its brain, then a new handsfree floor stand called the SwingHolder is its brawn, according to Washington-based Stand for Stuff, which has just released a first-of-its kind, hinged floor unit that secures the iPad or iPad 2 at eye level, whether you're lying in bed, standing at a kitchen counter or podium, or playing musical instruments.

SwingHolder"The iPad is an incredibly powerful device, but few people know its true potential until their hands are taken out of the equation," says Stand for Stuff Founder and CEO Marty Springer. "While the obvious advantages of handsfree use are fantastic, some of its other applications are life-altering."

Like many great inventions, necessity bred the SwingHolder's birth. "My wife has a condition that makes it hard for her to hold things," Springer explains. So to help her use her own electronic tablet, he jerry-rigged what ultimately became a prototype with some Plexiglas, a jigsaw and a microphone stand.

SwingHolderSince taking it to production, Springer has discovered many other SwingHolder benefits including:

  • Independent iPad use for physically disabled
  • Ability to practice or perform on instruments while accessing digital sheet music
  • Exercise without equipment vibration
  • Knitting while watching or reading instructions
  • Following recipes and cooking without risk of spill or splatter
  • Watching movies or reading while prone without arm fatigue
  • Preventing iPad from falling or damage while in children's possession, and much more.

SwingHolderThe steel-grey-and-black floor unit stands 58 inches tall at its full height, but can swing as low as 5 off the ground. With the iPad securely in the SwingHolder's rubberized-grip case, its 21" arm (from the joint) rotates 360 degrees, allowing for custom positioning regardless of use. A heavy counterweight on the swing arm ensures the device will stay where it is positioned until adjusted for a new purpose.

Constructed from durable powder-coated steel tubing, 50% recycled ABS plastic and soft rubber and exclusively Made in USA, the SwingHolder snaps together in moments and features a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

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