Apple SIM: Sidestepping Carriers?

AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile US and UK operator EE support a new SIM card for Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 that lets customers switch between carriers. Although Verizon Wireless will provide wireless service for Apple’s new tablet, it is not listed as a supporter of the new Apple SIM card, notes Fierce Wireless.

With Apple’s SIM card, customers will not need to buy a different SIM card to switch service to a different carrier. As GigaOM notes, it’s unclear how the provisioning process will work if customers want to switch between carriers.

The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models,” Apple explains. “The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you–with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.”

The Subscriber Identity Module stores your International Mobile Subscriber Identity number (IMSI), which is a unique serial number (ICCID), along with security and network data, your PIN, and a personal unblocking code. The SIM allows you to connect to the network and identifies you.

The International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number (IMEI), on the other hand, is on the phone itself and identifies the device. It’s like a VIN number on a vehicle and can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing the network by calling a network provider to “blacklist” the phone using its IMEI number.

[The Stingray is a brand name of an IMSI/ESN catcher sold to law enforcement. Burner phones (prepaid phones) aren't untraceable but don't require the user’s personal data at the point of sale or by the service provider. The NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls, according to Glenn Greenwald. Makes you wonder if (or how many) people have been killed because they picked up a discarded phone that was interrogated by an IMSI Catcher on a Drone. ]

It’s easy to see how a SIM that supports multiple carriers simultaneously could disrupt the mobile industry, says Dan Frommer.

“Imagine booting up your iPhone for the first time and seeing four competing offers for your business from different operators—with short or no contract duration.”

Apple’s new tablets are thinner, faster and golder.

The Pad Air 2 delivers faster connectivity with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) at data rates up to 866 Mbps. iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular integrates even more LTE bands and comes with expanded LTE for up to 50 percent faster cellular connections, plus support for Dual Carrier HSDPA (for carrier aggregation in the downlink) and HSDPA+ (with MIMO).

The iPad Air 2 has full support of most LTE bands.

But Apple’s iPad Mini 3 page shows only support for LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, and 26, but not Sprint’s band 41.

The new iPad mini 3 is powered by the Apple-designed A7 chip and M7 motion processor compared to the newer A8X and M8 chips incorporated into the iPad Air 2 as well as a similar A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6+ which support Band 41 (2.5 GHz) for LTE on Sprint, as well as China and elsewhere.

Clearly, if Apple hopes to move many iPad minis in the Chinese market, they will need Band 41 support (and perhaps an A8X chip). Apple launched its latest iPhone 6 in China today. According to China Mobile, subscriptions reached 799.13 million, compared to 755.19 million a year ago. That included 244.5 million users of 3G services, and 40.95 million largely on their new TD-LTE network using band 41.

The Nexus 6, by contrast, supports virtually all LTE bands world-wide as well as all three commercially used US 700MHz bands (bands 12, 13, and 17), making the Nexus 6 the very first device to be fully interoperable on the 700MHz band, completely eliminating the interoperability problem with this phone. Sprint plans to support 700 MHz Band 12, and expand its LTE network partnerships to new locations, making it comparable in size and coverage to AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks.

Verizon and AT&T both told the FCC that compliance with the lower “A Block”, which smaller carriers use in the United States, would not be practical or cost/effectice. Guess that problem was solved when Dish lowered their potential power on the single channel “E Block”. Perhaps adding FirstNet compliance (on Band 14) may also be comparitively easy. Of course they’d have to deal with Motorola Solutions, the part of Motorola not sold to Lenovo.

Motorola Mobility consists of the Mobile Devices business which produces smartphones and the Home business which produces set-top boxes and cable modems. Google sold most of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

New iPads Leaked

Apple appears to have accidentally spilled the beans about the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, notes Engadget, which are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Cupertino’s tablets will apparently be getting Touch ID and burst shooting mode, which will be coming to the iPad Air 2, but not the mini 3, according to the document released by Mac 9to5. Besides the tweaked designs and Touch ID sensors, a gold color option, and a stronger A8X processor, improved camera optics, and new software can be expected at least on the new Air.

C/Net, ,9 to 5 Mac, Engadget and Twit.tv will have live coverage from Apple starting tomorrow at 10 am.

Google Announces Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player

Google Android 5.0 is ready to go. The next version of Android is called Lollipop (Android 5.0), and today Google announced the first products that will ship with the new software.

The Google Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player will all run Android 5.0 Lollipop when they hit the streets in November. An Android 5.0 SDK launches on October 17th. And in the coming weeks Google will roll out Android 5.0 software updates to some recent Nexus and Google Play Edition phones and tablets.

  • The Nexus 6 is the biggest Nexus phone that Google has released, with a 6-inch display — bigger than both the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4. Like the Note 4, Google’s Nexus 6 also uses a Quad HD display and has a Snapdragon 805 processor, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, a 3220 mAh battery, and two front-facing speakers.

    The Nexus 6 will be sold unlocked for $649, making it far more expensive than any other Nexus model to date. It comes running Android 5.0 Lollipop and can include either 32 or 64GB of internal storage in either blue or white. The Nexus 6 will be available to preorder on October 29th and available in stores beginning in November. You’ll also be able to buy it on monthly contract. The unlocked model will work on all four major US carriers.

  • The Nexus 9 features an 8.9-inch QVGA (2048×1536) display with a ratio of 4:3 as opposed to 16:9, and Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chipset. The device also features 2GB of RAM and, on average, around 9 hours of battery life. HTC has HTC’s BoomSound speaker technology.

    Nexus 9 will be available to preorder beginning October 17th for $399 and comes in three configurations: 16GB for $399, 32GB for $479, and an LTE-enabled 32GB model for $599. Sadly, you can’t expand that storage through microSD. It’s available in either black or white. A keyboard attachment can “magnetically attach. Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order in the Google Play store beginning October 17, and will show up in stores on November 3.

  • The Nexus Player is Google’s first Android TV device. The set-top streaming box is made by Google and Asus and is Google’s latest in a very long line of attempts to take over your TV. Announced back in June, Android TV has a good-looking interface that allows you to stream music, movies, and TV shows. You can also play Android games on it, and it can mimic the Chromecast’s features too. Inside there’s a 1.8GHz Intel Atom CPU and a PowerVR GPU, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It’ll be available for pre-order on Oct. 17 and in stores starting November 3, priced $99.
  • The Nexus 5 is still available, same as usual but with the same price (starting at $350). It will likely be upgraded to Android 5.0 in the next few weeks.

Lollipop will be made available to the Nexus 5, 7, 10, and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks. Motorola also said it will update many of its devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop, including the Moto X (1st Gen and 2nd Gen), Moto G, Moto E, as well as the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini. Phone Arena has an in-depth specs comparison between the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Lollipop has a consistent design across devices—an approach they call Material Design. Now content responds to your touch and voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluidly. Lollipop also lets you adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through.

According to the latest figures from App Annie’s quarterly market reports, Google Play downloads now exceed Apple’s App Store by 60 percent, but iOS apps still make more money

New Macs Oct 16, 2014

Apple has just announced a keynote address for Thursday, October 16th on its Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino, California, reports 9 to 5 Mac. Apple is expected to announce updates to its iPad and Mac lines.

The new iPad Air will be slightly thinner, but come with a more efficient (and slightly snappier) A8 processor, new M8 chip from the iPhone 6, Touch ID, enhanced camera features, an improved screen design. It’s likely that the new Mini will pick up some (if not all) of the Air’s new features.

On the Mac side, Apple has been racing to finish up the redesigned OS X Yosemite alongside new laptops and desktops with higher-resolution screens. Yosemite will likely be released for free on the Mac App Store on the day of the event, following patterns of previous years. A new iMac and a 12-inch MacBook with Retina displays are rumoured. The Mac mini may also be updated next week.

New Paperwhite & HDX Kindles

Yesterday Amazon introduced the all-new Fire HDX 8.9 which features a high resolution HDX display (339 ppi) with a more powerful processor, exclusive Dolby Audio, and all-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” with new features and services. The new Fire HDX is available for pre-order starting at $379.

Fire OS 4 is based on KitKat and adds features and services to make it faster and easier to use. For example, Fire OS includes ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) which predicts the movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and starts them instantly.

Fire OS 4 will be available on all 4th generation Fire tablets and will be available for all 3rd generation Fire tablets via a free, over-the-air software update. Firefly will be available on Fire HDX 8.9. Fire OS 4 will be available on Fire phone early next year.

Amazon also introduced the new Fire HD, featuring a quad-core processor, front and rear-facing cameras, an HD display. The High-definition display has 252 ppi for 6”, 216 ppi for 7” model and is now brighter than the previous generation Kindle Fire HD. The new Fire HD tablets are available in two sizes—6” for $99 and 7” for $139.

Amazon today introduced three new Kindles: a $79/$99 Kindle, the $119/$139 Kindle Paperwhite, and the $199/$219 Kindle Voyage.

A new Paperwhite display, has the highest resolution, highest contrast, and highest brightness of any Kindle, says Amazon, with 300 pixels per inch. All E Ink Kindles have the same 1GHz processor, and they have 256MB of RAM, except the new Kindle Voyage, with 512MB of RAM. The $79 entry-level Kindle uses an infrared touchscreen instead of capacitive like the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage.

The $120 Paperwhite is getting upgraded from 2GB to 4GB of storage. The budget $79 Kindle is getting a relatively significant revamp with the navigation buttons all gone and in place of an all-touch interface. The new design is almost indistinguishable from the earlier Paperwhite.

The $200 Kindle Voyage introduces PagePress, a new way to turn pages. PagePress uses a custom-designed force sensor that sits directly under the bezel. You simply rest your thumb on the bezel and turn the page by lightly pressing. When you turn the page, Kindle Voyage delivers tactile feedback from a haptic actuator. The screen on the $200 Kindle Voyage is flush with the body and the shell is made of matte magnesium with strengthened glass resistant to scratches and micro-etched to reduce glare and feel more like paper. A new adaptive front light automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on the surrounding light.

In addition to the $199 base model, Amazon is offering a Voyage with built-in 3G data (for Amazon content downloads only) for $269. Both models require an additional $20 charge to remove the embedded ads on the home screen and lock screen.

Dualing Webcasts from Apple and Intel

Dualing webstreams are expected Tuesday, reports The Oregonian. Apple is livecasting their new line of laptops, phones and wearables — but not for Windows users — you’ll need a Safari browser or Apple TV to see it.

Forty miles north, Intel will have its own livestreaming keynote by chief executive Brian Krzanich at the big (but overshadowed) Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Krzanich takes the stage at 9 a.m. Tuesday, an hour before Apple CEO Tim Cook begins speaking at 10 a.m. This is the second straight year that Apple has jumped in with their iPhone show on the same day.

Intel has already made a flurry of announcements leading up to its keynote, showing off a fashion-conscious smart bracelet, a tablet designed for seniors, a smartwatch development deal with Fossil and formally launching its Core M processor – the company’s first chip based on 14-nanometer circuitry.

Intel shares are up 35 percent this year, fueled by unexpected strength in PC sales, its nascent contract manufacturing business, its growing tablet business and Krzanich’s efforts to diversify into wearable technologies and “the Internet of Things.”

Tablets with Core M could be priced as low as US$699, but the initial batch of detachable tablets introduced at IFA last week are priced much higher. Lenovo’s 11.6-inch ThinkPad Helix 2 starts at $999, Dell’s 13.3-inch Latitude 13 7000 starts at $1,199, and Hewlett-Packard’s 13.3-inch Envy X2 starts at $1,049.99. Those products are expected to ship in September or October.

The new Core M processors will likely be included in Apple’s iMacs and MacBooks this year. Perhaps Apple will offer both OSX and IOS functionality in a 2-in-1 device. Unfortunately, OSX doesn’t have the touch capability of Windows 8.