iNews Review

New iPad WiFi Issues, Improved iPad 2 CPU, Apple Tops Brand Loyalty Survey, and More

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

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.04.13

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.

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News, Reviews, & Opinion

Apple Investigating New iPad WiFi Issues, Replacing Affected Units

9 to 5 Mac's Mark Gurman reports that according to an internal AppleCare document, Apple is actively investigating a series of WiFi-related issues affecting the third-generation iPad, noting that since the New iPad's launch, many users have been complaining about third-generation iPad WiFi issues ranging from connection drops, slow download and upload speeds, or the devices inability to even pickup local WiFi networks, and that a thread discussing the issue on Apple's online support forums has almost amassed 700 replies from users with similar issues.

$399 Budget iPad 2 Has Improved CPU

In the market for an iPad? Cnet's Brooke Crothers suggests that you might want to take a closer look at the iPad 2, which uses a premium chip that he maintains is in some respects more advanced than the new iPad's - a more advanced version of the dual-core Apple A5 series chip built on a cutting-edge Samsung manufacturing process, according to chip review site AnandTech.

To wit, the $399 iPad 2 uses an A5 chip made on Samsung's advanced 32-nanometer manufacturing process as opposed to the previous A5 and current A5X, which are both made on an older 45-nanometer process.

It's reasonable to deduce that the higher-tech 32-nanometer A5 silicon could power the next iPhone (5?) expected later this year.

Why the New iPad Sucks

Writing for The Register, longtime Apple user and journalist Alistair Dabbs, who wrote for MacUser magazine for nearly ten years, where he tested and reviewed the very first iMac as a world exclusive, contends that the third-generation iPad 3 "sucks big time." How come?

Dabbs explains that what he finds most appealing about handheld technology is its relentless miniaturization concurrent with increased power and functionality enhancement, and in that context the iPad 3 is an aberration, being thicker and weighing more than the preceding (still available in 16 GB WiFi config) iPad 2, with a much greater capacity battery that doesn't last as long, and essentially no improvement in speed or functionality - or much else, save for its marquee Retina Display and 4G support that doesn't work where Dabbs lives.

Specific to the Retina display, Dabbs observes that while it's nice to look at, it sucks away all the extra power and capacity of the new iPad's A5X processor, quad-core graphics engine, and 75% bigger battery, and he says it's also turning out to be a nightmare for developers, much more so than when Retina Displays were introduced with the iPhone 4, and making existing iPad 2 content look awful.

The bottom line, says Dabbs, is that Apple has atypically wrought "a product that is fatter and heavier, offers less battery life between recharges, risks running out of storage space four times more quickly, and makes some of your existing apps look worse."

e-ink Kindle Beats Retina Display iPad for Reading

Can the new iPad's high-resolution display compete with e-ink? It's apples and oranges, so to speak.

Cnet's Scott Stein checks out whether the new iPad's high-resolution display compete with e-ink for reading, noting that a few months ago he bought a base Amazon Kindle for $79 because he wanted to read more efficiently, and the iPad 2's screen was giving him eye fatigue.

Stein says that it would be reasonable to assume that with the new iPad's Retina Display, the Kindle had been one-upped, but it hasn't been able to unseat his little old Kindle entirely, and he still prefers the latter for long-form book reading, noting that it's lighter, its reflective screen is still easier to focus on - with the iPad's backlit screen, Retina or not, still taking its toll over time in terms of eye strain while reflective screen on a Kindle doesn't require any different focus than a piece of paper, and the inexpensive Kindle is less stressful to pack around in public, and has vastly superior battery life - good for at least three weeks of real-world use, and with text that still feels equal to the new iPad in terms of text clarity.

The End Is Nigh for One Size for iPhone and iPad

At least the end of iPhone/iPad one size fits all, says former senior Apple exec Jean-Louis Gassée in a Monday Note commenting that while Apple has managed to sell more than 300 million iOS devices using only single sizes for the iPhone and iPad, he's becoming convinced this can't last much longer and that we'll see a range of physically distinct iPhone and iPad models.

Apple Tops Brand Loyalty Survey

PR: The ClickFox Brand Loyalty Survey was conducted between March 7 and March 19, 2012 to discover which brands consumers are most loyal to, why, and how they show their loyalty.

The findings underscore the critical role of reliable products, superior customer service and rewards programs on consumer perceptions, and buying habits.

 

Apple, Coca-cola, Amazon.com, Google Top the Loyalty List
Apple, Coca-Cola, Amazon.com, Google Top the Loyalty List

ClickFox asked consumers what brands they couldn't live without, and some familiar companies topped the list: respondents overwhelmingly singled out Apple (20% of all responses collected), followed by Coca-Cola products, and a tie between Google and Amazon.com. Other brands mentioned by consumers included Starbucks, Target, Microsoft, and a slew of retailers from apparel, electronics, and health/beauty organizations.

Survey responses also revealed which industries have the strongest brands: consumers reported being most loyal to food and beverage companies (57%) and technology and gadgets providers (51%), and least loyal to health/fitness (44%) and wireless providers (43%).

According to survey respondents, the two biggest drivers of loyalty are quality (88%) and customer service (72%), above price (50%) and convenience (45%). When consumers were asked about the best ways companies can gain their loyalty, the top choice for respondents was providing exceptional 24/7 service (34%), followed by reward programs, providing personalized products/services, and sending exclusive, relevant offers. Bottom line consumers not only want companies to delight them from a customer service standpoint, but they also want companies to better understand their needs and preferences on an individual basis.

87% of consumers surveyed said that they would tolerate more from certain companies or brands because of their loyalty, with 77% of these respondents pointing to quality and 63% pointing to customer service as factors driving their commitment.

Across the entire customer lifecycle from acquisition, on-boarding, service/support, and retention, companies have opportunities to build loyalty with customers. According to 48% of consumers surveyed, the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase or begin service, while 40% indicated that companies gain their loyalty when exceeding expectations in resolving an issue. These findings point to the weight consumers place on those critical interactions early and during their lifecycle, and often involving customer care and support areas. Perhaps most interesting was the fact that only 0.8% of respondents believe that the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they consider switching to a competitor. Organizations should closely examine customer experiences across each stage of the lifecycle to identify the optimum times and channels to delight customers and deepen relationships.

63% of consumers surveyed do not believe companies are doing enough to reward their loyalty. Although many industries thrive on loyalty programs like airlines, hotels, and restaurants, some companies may be missing an opportunity to engage their loyal customers through exclusive programs and treatment strategies. Even more compelling is the finding that over 50% of respondents would consider increasing the amount of business they do with a company for loyalty rewards, and 46% indicated that they had increased purchases due to rewards programs.

When asked how they show their loyalty to brands, consumers said they spread the word and tell others (78%), buy more from the company (69%), and won't consider other competing products (54%). Loyal consumers are vocal, more profitable, and more tolerant of issues if they are connected to a brand. Companies should continue new ways to discover and reward customers for referrals, especially with regards to the influence of social media (think offering discounts for likes on Facebook or rewarding customers for positive or informative tweets about the brand).

iPad Projected to Account for 61% of Media Tablet Sales in 2012

PR: Worldwide media tablet sales to end users are forecast to total 118.9 million units in 2012, a 98% increase from 2011 sales of 60 million units, according to Gartner, Inc.

Apple's iOS continues to be the dominant media tablet operating system (OS), as it is projected to account for 61.4% of worldwide media tablet sales to end users in 2012 (see Table 1). Despite the arrival of Microsoft-based devices to this market, and the expected international rollout of the Kindle Fire, Apple will continue to be the market leader through the forecast period.

"Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad," says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "As vendors struggled to compete on price and differentiate enough on either the hardware or ecosystem, inventories were built and only 60 million units actually reached the hands of consumers across the world. The situation has not improved in early 2012, when the arrival of the new iPad has reset the benchmark for the product to beat."

"It appears that this year competitors have waited to see what Apple would bring out because there were very few announcements of new media tablets at either the Consumer Electronics Show or Mobile World Congress. Many vendors will wait for Windows 8 to be ready and will try to enter the market with a dual-platform approach, hoping that the Microsoft brand could help them in both the enterprise and consumer markets."

projected worldwide sale of media tablets to 2016

Microsoft tablets are projected to account for 4.1% of media tablet sales this year, and grow to 11.8% of sales by the end of 2016. Windows 8 is Microsoft's official entrance into the media tablet market.

"IT departments will see Windows 8 as the opportunity to deploy tablets on an OS that is familiar to them and with devices offered by many enterprise-class suppliers," Ms. Milanesi says. "This means that we see Windows 8 as a strong IT-supplied offering more so than an OS with a strong consumer appeal."

Gartner analysts said enterprise sales of media tablets will account for about 35% of total tablet sales sold in 2015. These sales will not be clearly defined as enterprise purchases. Gartner expects enterprises to allow tablets as part of their buy your own device (BYOD) program. More of these tablets will be owned by consumers who use them at work.

"This poses a big threat to vendors that thought about focusing on the enterprise market who will now have to become appealing to consumers as well," says Ms. Milanesi. "This is exactly the same trend that vendors such as RIM had to face in the smartphone market. The difference here is that tablets have been created for consumers first and then relied on an ecosystem of apps and services that make them more manageable in the enterprise. When the deployment will come from the IT department we believe that operating systems such as Windows 8 will have an advantage as long as they are not seen as a compromise in usability for the users."

Android tablets are forecast to account for 31.9% of media tablet sales in 2012. Gartner analysts said the main issue with Android tablets has been the lack of applications that are dedicated to tablets and therefore take advantage of their capabilities. Gartner's consumer survey data shows that consumers are running many of their apps on their mobile phones and their tablets.

Gartner's detailed market forecast data is available in the report, "Forecast: Media Tablets by Operating System, Worldwide, 2010-2016, 1Q12 Update."

Gartner's Special Report, "iPad and Beyond: The Future of the Tablet Market," provides insight into what consumers, enterprises and vendors can expect as the market continues to unfold. More than 20 reports examine the tablet marketplace, as well as video commentary.

The Competition

Nokia Lumia 900 Puts Windows Phone 'Back in the Race'

Computerworld's Preston Gralla reports that while its specs may not be impressive, AT&T's new smartphone is fast, bright, stylish, and inexpensive, and suggesting that if you've been sitting on the fence about making the switch to Windows Phone 7, the Lumia 900 could prove the tipping-point to make the leap over - a beautifully designed, stylish, well-engineered phone that shows off the strengths of the Windows Phone platform on a bright, crisp 4.3". Gorilla Glass 800 x 480 pixel resolution AMOLED screen with a high-bandwidth LTE connection, and at a low price point ($99 with a two-year contract at AT&T) helping enable it to compete against iPhones and top-end Android phones because of its combination of affordability and features.

Publisher's note: Windows Phone (formerly known as Windows CE, Pocket PC, and Windows Mobile) peaked at 42% of the smartphone market in 2007, the same year Apple introduced the iPhone. With the rise of iOS and Android, Microsoft's mobile version of Windows has fallen to 5th place in the smartphone market, well behind BlackBerry and Symbian, which Nokia is slowly abandoning in favor of Windows Phone thanks to millions of dollars in cash incentives from Microsoft, although at this point Nokia's Symbian models still outsell Windows Phone five-to-one. (That's right, Microsoft has to pay Nokia to use Windows Phone. Makes for a very weird business model!) dk

Apps & Services

Free CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office to Your iPad

PR: CloudOn, first to bring Microsoft Office to your iPad and link it with your Dropbox account, has updated the app.

In addition to Dropbox, CloudOn now also integrates with Box. You can use CloudOn to connect with these services and open, edit and store your files in one place. Also added are Adobe Reader and a File Viewer that lets you open and view virtually any file type, including PDF, PSD, JPG, PNG, GIF, etc., and the ability to share files with your contacts via email.

CloudOn

The CloudOn Workspace allows you to:

  • Use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your iPad to create or edit documents.
  • Rename, delete and manage documents with your Dropbox or Box accounts
  • View virtually any type of file, including: PDF, PSD, JPG, PNG, GIF, etc.
  • CloudOnSend files via email directly from the workspace
  • Display, edit or create charts, change formatting, spell check, insert comments, etc. into any Word, Excel or PowerPoint files
  • Track changes while reviewing Word documents
  • Use pivot tables and insert formulas in Excel workbooks
  • Display and edit transitions in PowerPoint slides and present in full PowerPoint mode (not in PDF)
  • Open files directly from your iPad email accounts as well as Dropbox and Box
  • Automatically save documents to avoid losing changes

New in Version 2.0.3

  • Email: Share files with friends/colleagues via email
  • Additional storage: Support for Box in addition to Dropbox (and more to come!)
  • Open & view new file formats including PDF, PSD and various image files
  • Easy log out
  • Updates to edit menu and user interface

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPad
  • Requires iOS 4.2 or later

CloudOn is freeware.

Out of the Park Baseball Simulator for iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux

PR: OOTP Developments has announced the release of Out of the Park Baseball 13, the most immersive version yet of their best-selling, critically acclaimed baseball sim.

Last summer, OOTP Developments received its highest accolades ever when Curt Schilling, likely Hall-of-Famer and former pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox, stopped by OOTP's online forum to proclaim OOTP "the only baseball sim I've ever gotten addicted to."

Out of the Park Baseball

"OOTP 13 is the most in-depth version of the game we've shipped yet," says lead developer and lifelong baseball fan Markus Heinsohn. "Our goal is to make players feel like they're in the shoes of a major league general manager, and we accomplished that this year."

OOTP 13 runs on the PC, Mac, and Linux operating systems and offers the following new features:

  • 2012 major league teams and rosters, along with rule changes introduced by the new major league labor agreement, including Houston's AL West move in 2013 and a second wild card team in each major league, starting with the 2012 playoffs.
  • All minor league rosters are included too, along with international leagues such as Japan's. New this year is the inclusion of historical statistics for those players, which number in the thousands.
  • Real-Time Simulation Mode, which gives players a GM's view on what's happening in their league in real-time, including scores of games in progress, notifications of important events, and more. They can even jump into any game and watch it play out, or take the reins of their club and start making decisions.

Real-Time Simulation Mode is perfect for those final days of the season when playoff berths are on the line.

  • Interactive Storylines also offer greater immersion by giving players choices when situations arise. Do they punish a star player who behaves badly or do they ignore his antics? No two decisions are ever alike, and they have wide-ranging effects on injuries, fan interest, team chemistry, player morale, player ratings, player potential, owner attitudes, and much more.
  • A revamped pitching model that more accurately reflects pitching in the real world, where close to 90% of pitchers are typically drafted as starters and later become relievers for various reasons.
  • Players can now create Associations with multiple leagues that may share certain rules, free agents, draft pools, and/or playoffs. OOTP 13 also features more custom playoff options, including, for example, first round byes.

In addition, OOTP 13's interface has been overhauled, online league play has been enhanced, the core game play engine has been improved, and more.

OOTP lets players run a major league team from top to bottom, setting lineups and pitching rotations, determining defensive and offensive strategies, and making dozens of game-time decisions, such as when to steal a base or employ a hit-and-run. A play-by-play text stream, combined with a visual representation of what's happening on the field and such audio effects as the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, make an OOTP game session feel like a radio broadcast.

Between games, players define scouting budgets, make trades, handle the amateur draft, scour the waiver wire, sign free agents, negotiate contract extensions, demote underperforming players to the minors and call up hot prospects, manage team finances, and more. Many tasks can be delegated to computer-controlled personnel, letting players focus on the aspects of baseball management that appeal to them most.

OOTP also features solo or online play, an historical mode featuring all seasons from 1871 through 2011, the ability to create custom leagues stocked with fictional players, a staggering set of league reports, and a realistic statistical engine based on modern baseball theory such as DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics).

Athletes perform in a consistent, realistic manner over ten, twenty, even fifty or more simulated years, letting players watch as their own Hall of Fame grows before their eyes. OOTP's innovative FaceGen feature also allows fictional players' photos to automatically change with age and when they switch teams.

An iOS version of Out of the Park Baseball, iOOTP Baseball 2012, is available at the App Store.

iOOTP for iOS sells for $4.99. OOTP 13 is available now for PC, Mac, and Linux with a $39.99 price tag.

Accessories

Solacase: You May Never Have to Plug in Your iPhone Again

SolacasePR: Domark International Inc.'s a wholly-owned Solawerks subsidiary has launched their newest constant-charging product, named the Solacase for all versions of the Apple iPhone.

SolacaseSimilar to the Company's new Solapad for iPad and Solafire for Amazon's Kindle Fire, the new Solacase contains a large, high-efficiency solar panel on its back, plus an additional internal battery to keep the iPhone charged at all times. The Solacase is claimed to be the only product of its kind that fits all iPhone versions, including the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

You can purchase the new Solacase in a wide variety of colors on the newly expanded Solawerks Company e-commerce website for $29.95.

NoteBookCase Turns iPad 2 into MacBook Pro Lookalike

NoteBookCase and MacBook ProPR: Japanese retailer Rakuten is offering a new Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad 2 that gives the tablet the look of a MacBook Pro (although not the aluminum unibody feel, since it's made of plastic).

NoteBookCaseNoteBookCase for iPad 2 also incorporates a Lithium-polymer auxiliary battery in the body to extend intervals between charges, and you can charge the iPad at the same time through a single charging cable

With a full size 16mm key pitch, the NoteBookCase for iPad 2 case's US 82 key keyboard should support comfortable typing.

NoteBookCaseRakuten, reportedly associated with US reseller Buy.com, touts the case as being ideal for students who want a "business case-like" look.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 20 mm width 250 mm height 195 mm depth
  • Weight: 618g
  • I/O Interfaces: miniUSB, USB
  • ipadcaseusbport.jpg
  • Accessories Body, USB cable (charging cable for iPad will not be included)
  • Compatible iPad models: iPad 2
  • Battery: Lithium-polymer battery (projected life: about 3 years)
  • Body charging time: About 4 to 5 hours
  • Key arrangement: US 82 key
  • Key pitch: 16mm
  • Bluetooth version: 2.0
  • Case Material: Plastic
  • Warranty period: 6 months

The NoteBookCase for iPad 2 sells for 5,980 yen (including tax) or roughly US$73.28 at recent conversion rates.

A tip of the hat to danbo at Japanese blogsite Macotakara.

Casellet Wallet/iPhone Case Provides All-in-One Solution for Holding Cash, Cards, and iPhone

CaselletPR: Mobile device accessories maker Casellet has announced the company's first product line of the same name, an iPhone 4/4S accessory that combines a handy money and credit card wallet with a sturdy protective case. These innovative new cases allow iPhone users to carry and conceal cash, cards, keys, and other personal items in a single iPhone 4/4S case that doubles as a wallet. The cases are stylish and durable, coming in three color choices: black, white, and pink.

Conceived and brought to fruition by young technology enthusiast and budding entrepreneur Eddie Hsieh, the Casellet case combines a sturdy iPhone 4/4S protective shell with an innovative aluminum wallet on the back, perfect for carrying identification, credit cards, or cash. This highly functional new iPhone accessory - for the first time - makes it easy to conveniently carry a significant number of important items alongside your phone without the need for an extra wallet or purse.

Design features include:

  • Highly functional. Holds iPhone and up to five cards (+ cash w/ less cards) in a 18mm case
  • Visually stunning. Cases are designed in three sophisticated, sleek designs
  • High quality construction. Polycarbonate case includes a brushed aluminum exterior and plush felt interior
  • Ease of use. Low profile hinge & recessed quick release clasp opens and closes the case with ease. There's no need to hold a flap open to talk or text

"I came up with the idea for Casellet from a personal desire to find a way to efficiently and safely store my credit cards and ID without a bulky wallet," says Eddie Hsieh, Founder and CEO of Casellet. "While the case is not for everyone, it offers a solution for people that don't like carrying wallets or purses, are always connected to their iPhones and want to simplify their pocket contents. This invention solved my need for an all-in-one solution - I hope it helps others meet their similar needs."

The initial line of Casellet iPhone 4/4S cases retail for $34.95 and include free shipping. The cases are available immediately online via Amazon.com and at casellet.com. To celebrate the launch of these unique and stylish case/wallets, the first 1000 orders beginning April 3, 2012 will receive an introductory discounted price of $19 including free shipping within the continental US.

Amanda Crawford Designs Creates iPad Holder to Eliminate the Threat of Skin Burn from iPad Heat

PR: Following the most successful tablet launch in history with the advent of the iPad 3, reports now indicate that its temperature can exceed 115° Fahrenheit after extensive use when plugged in. Product designer Amanda Crawford Designs has created a protective tablet holder for the iPad 3 or any tablet overheating at such extreme temperatures that poses the threat of skin burn.

Amanda Crawford Designs iBuddyAccording to Myrna Alpern, the driving force behind Amanda Crawford Designs, "What most people don't realize is that overheating isn't a problem isolated to Apple's iPad 3 but is a rather common issue with most tablets available on the market today."

Recently, a test was conducted in which five tablets from various brands - Asus Transformer Prime, Blackberry PlayBook, Kindle Fire, Acer Iconia, and Apple iPad - were used unplugged for 30 minutes at high capacity. The research concluded that out of the five tablet devices, Apple's iPad 3 clocked the 4th highest temperature at 93.5° Fahrenheit with the ASUS Transformer Prime clocking the highest temperature at 98.5° Fahrenheit.

While there are a host of tablet accessories on the market that are designed for comfort and aesthetics, not many are geared to absorb excessive heat. For men, it has been medically proven by the State University of New York at Stony Brook that extreme heat from devices held in a man's lap lowers sperm count and increases infertility risks. Comfort, aesthetics, and protection is a hard to find combination in tablet accessories. An iPad holder currently available in the marketplace that offers a comprehensive solution with all three elements is Amanda Crawford Designs iBuddy. The iBuddy offers the ultimate in comfort and protection, not only creating a nearly weightless experience with their internal weight-shifting material but also absorbing and redirecting the heat emitted from the iPad 3 and other tablets.

Amanda Crawford Designs' iBuddy iPad holders elevate and secure the tablet so one can enjoy extended use without straining his or her wrists, elbows, or neck. In addition to providing health and safety benefits. iBuddy comes in a beautiful array of elegant fabrics. For an iPad 3, Kindle, Nook or other table.

iPhone External Battery Sale on MiLi Power Angel Throughout April

PR: MiLi Power is having a sale for the month of April on their Power Angel collection. The MiLi Power Angel is one of many external batteries made for iPhone and iPod offered at MiLi Power. MiLi Power Angels on sale for all of April. The MiLi Power Angel is one of many Apple accessories offered at MiLi Power. This small external battery is a lightweight power solution for your iPhone or iPod. The Angel has a built in Apple plug and stand, a 1200 mAh battery capacity, and is offered in several fun, bright colors.

Power Angel features:

  • Pocket-sized
  • 1200 mAh emergency external battery
  • Built-in stand
  • Built-in Apple plug
  • Offered in various fun, bright colors

The Power Angel is available for purchase at milipower.com for $44.99. Throughout April, the Angels are all 20% off. MiLi Power is also holding a giveaway contest to their email subscribers, and offering free shipping to those on its email list.

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