Verizon has been a leaky faucet lately, with our first real bit of insight into Apple’s strategy coming in April where CFO Fran Shammo spoke about a global iPhone hitting shelves at the same time as their competitors. The idea of a dual-mode phone was “reiterated” again by Shammo at Reteurs’ technology summits: to be clear, the idea that Verizon would launch a dual-mode, GSM/CDMA capable model alongside AT&T would give it equal footing when customers decide on a carrier. Shammo offered further clarity that the iPhone probably won’t be an LTE device, noting, ”It’s a bigger issue for Apple than it is for us.” Apple is focused on providing an iPhone that works globally at the moment, rather than focusing on LTE technologies. Verizon themselves aren’t concerned about the lack of LTE on the next iPhone, given that they already have a slew of Android devices that offer their functionality if consumers desire it.
Along with iPhone plans, Shammo also said family plans would get shared data plans after the switch to tiered pricing. An end to unlimited on-device data plans was still on track for the summer, but he said it was sure Verizon would have “mega-plans” where a certain number of devices had a larger pool of data.
If you’re planning on getting an unlimited plan under Verizon, your switch from AT&T to the big red may not matter once Verizon adopts tiered pricing. Likely to be competitive with AT&T who’re currently offering 2GB of data for $25 a month, Verizon may also offer customers buying multiple phones a discount, and that mega-plans may offer incentives such as the ability to ‘borrow’ plans from other 3G devices (read: free tethering).
The next iPhone is rumored to be on track for an improved camera, bigger display, and an A5 processor. Apple should currently be in the process of ramping down iPhone 4 shipments (expecting to ship 2 million less in Q2) as the new batch of next generation iPhones are scheduled to begin production in August. The next iPhone will also likely feature an 8 MP Sony camera, as well as sporting a new design with relocated flash. All of us are going to be incredibly anxious as it’s unlikely Apple will launch a new iPhone in June or July, but I’m guessing September is looking like it’ll be bigger than we expected.
[Reuters via Electronista]
Back in March, a series of reports from several blogs and publications claimed a WiFi-only iPad connected to an iPhone via Personal Hotspot was able to receive GPS data through the established connection, even if the iPad itself didn’t have any GPS capabilities. If GPS data was being transmitted thanks to Personal Hotspot, many speculated getting a 3G iPad was basically useless as the last advantage of internal GPS could be replaced by an iPhone and proper tethering. With Personal Hotspot and wireless GPS data transmission, many said, users could install navigation software on a WiFi-only iPad and obtain GPS points thanks, again, to Personal Hotspot and iOS 4.3. However, while the reports about WiFi iPads displaying semi-accurate locations in the Maps app were accurate, rumors about GPS and Personal Hotspot were quickly debunked as, it turned out, a WiFi iPad couldn’t rely on tethering for location purposes for more than a few minutes, as also demoed on video here. Rather, it seemed like a WiFi iPad could get location info while on the move thanks to WiFi access point and hotspot discovery — considering the recent debate on Apple and location cache, this doesn’t surprise anymore.
As it usually happens in the Apple community, though, what started as an inaccurate report or a simple proof of concept eventually turned into an app available for download on the App Store. AirLocation, a $0.99 universal app released today, enables WiFi iPad users to achieve the workflow described above: once connected to an iPhone using Personal Hotspot, an iPad running AirLocation will be able to fetch accurate GPS data from the iPhone and update your location in real-time as you move. AirLocation will have to run on the iPhone as well in order for the whole setup to work. I’ve personally tested the application during a 20-minute car trip to Viterbo, my town, and it really works as advertised: although AirLocation doesn’t come with all the features of the Maps app for iOS, it does keep track of your location in real-time on the iPad using GPS and it didn’t stop working after a few minutes. I could see the blue dot indicating my location moving on screen at the same time of the iPhone, which was transmitting data via Personal Hotspot.
AirLocation doesn’t come with many functionalities, but it does one thing well: getting accurate GPS data with iOS 4.3′s Personal Hotspot. Get it here.
Update: In the email AT&T do explicitly sate that if users do not contact AT&T or stop tethering, they will “automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB after March 27, 2011″, if the user stops then no change will occur. It would seem that to be automatically upgrading/changing users contract plans, AT&T should have a fairly fool-proof method of checking which users are tethering compared to those just using large amounts of data.
Numerous AT&T users who use MyWi, a jailbreak tweak that allows you to enable tethering without a subscription, yesterday began receiving text messages and emails from AT&T reminding the users that to use your phone for tethering requires a subscription to an AT&T tethering plan.
The notices for most began with a text message that said:
AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit att.com/dataplans.
Following this text message many users also received an email (included after the break) which told the user that to “take advantage of [tethering], we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan.” The email also said if the user wishes to continue tethering to sign up to a tethering plan – but did not specify any consequences for continuing to use MyWi without purchasing such a plan.
At this point it is unclear how AT&T knows which users to issue the notices, the presumption is that the notices are going out to any user that uses a large amount of data (some are saying more than 10GB) and are not subscribed to a tethering plan.
AT&T has confirmed it will offer the Personal Hotspot functionality starting March 11 with the release of iOS 4.3, but it looks like the functionality will be modified to work only with connections up to 3 devices. By default, Apple’s Personal Hotspot allows up to 5 devices to connect to a single iPhone sharing its 3G connection. A picture of an internal AT&T document posted by Engadget in fact suggests the carrier is going to restrict the usage of Personal Hotspot to only 3 incoming connections.
While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up letting 5 people connect to your iPhone on a daily basis, it’s still interesting to study the possibility of AT&T limiting a feature so heavily promoted by Apple. Guess carriers do have some kind of control on the iPhone, after all. (Personally, I’m just happy 3 Italia is going to keep Personal Hotspot free to use for every iPhone owner)
Update: the image shared by Engadget doesn’t specify whether or not AT&T is simply following Apple’s implementation of Personal Hotspot, which allows 3 devices to connect using WiFi. It’s not clear from the leaked photo if AT&T didn’t mention the additional Bluetooth and USB connections, or is really enforcing Personal Hotspot on 3 devices simultaneously.
From Apple’s website:
You can share your connection with up to five devices at once over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB — with up to three of those connections using Wi-Fi.4 Every connection is password protected and secure. And it’s power friendly, too. iPhone detects when your Personal Hotspot is no longer in use and turns it off to save battery life.
Earlier today, Verizon confirmed the iPhone will launch on their network on February 10 with an initial unlimited data plan priced at $30; speaking to Macworld, Verizon Wireless’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brenda Raney, confirmed that in order to use the Personal Hotspot feature provided by Apple iPhone users will have to pay $20 more:
Raney said that Verizon iPhone owners will be able to take advantage of the 3G wireless hotspot feature for an extra $20 per month on top of the iPhone’s required voice and data plans—that’s the same price that applies to current Verizon smartphone owners.
The hotspot feature comes with its own 2GB monthly data pool, separate from your iPhone’s data plan. That covers the use of any and all devices using your iPhone’s 3G data connection. The downside? Go over that amount, and each additional gigabyte will cost you another $20.
Personal Hotspot is a functionality that allows users to turn the iPhone into a mobile hotspot to share the 3G connectivity with nearby devices, via Bluetooth, USB or WiFi. The feature will officially debut with the Verizon iPhone (which at the time of the media event, was running an unreleased iOS 4.2.5 version) and it’s already been implemented in the iOS 4.3 developer betas. Carriers, however, will retain the ability to disable the functionality on their network, or charge extra fees in order to activate it.