The first ever Ask Andru column featured a question about Apple's iMessage, a proprietary method the company uses to allow owners of iOS devices to send text messages, pictures, and videos to each other through Apple's servers, bypassing the traditional wireless carrier. This allows users to send as many messages as they want without having to pay a text message fee (or being docked against their texting plan if it isn't unlimited.)
We got a couple of follow-up questions from our readers, and we figured we'd address them here. First, from Rob, who had two questions:
Is there a way to force a message to go via the carrier? I was in a text messaging conversation with a friend, they went to Eastern Washington for the weekend and thus no 3G. iMessage doesn't seem to work on EDGE.
I'm a big fan of GeekWire, so when one of my Twitter followers suggested that I start a regular Q&A column for the site, focusing on consumer electronics and gadgets, I figured "Why not?" I talked with the crew, and the result is Ask Andru. In case you're curious about what qualifies me to answer your nagging questions about the devices that have become such an integrated part of our lives, well, I've been running Gear Live for over seven years now. If you're unfamiliar, Gear Live is one of the top gadget news and review sites in the world, and I absolutely love what I do. If you've got a question you'd like me to answer, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll throw it in the queue.
Our very first question deals with iMessage, a new feature introduced to iOS devices with the release of iOS 5:
After upgrading to iOS 5, sometimes I see an iMessage reference in my text-messaging app, and sometimes not, and it doesn't seem to be correlated to whether or not I'm on WiFi or 3G. I also see different colors. I know the idea is to be able to send text messages without going over the wireless carrier's network, but how the heck does this work and what's actually going on?
Apple has just released iOS 5.0.1, which is aimed primarily at fixing the battery drain bug introduced in iOS 5. Many iPhone 4S owners have been complaining of extremely poor battery life (here we were seeing the battery drain as much as 10% per hour,) and we can confirm that 5.0.1 fixes that right up. Here are the rest of the release notes:
iOS 5.0.1 Software Update
This update contains improvements and other bug fixes including:
- Fixes bugs affecting battery life
- Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad
- Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud
- Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation
Apple's focused on the iPod touch as being the "funnest iPod ever" for a while now, but the introduction of the fourth generation model put it over the top. You've got the Retina display, FaceTime video chat, high definition video capture, and built-in gyroscope all packed into the thinnest iPod touch ever--and now it's available in white. Of course, you need great software running on hardware like this, and the App Store fits the bill with over 200,000 apps available. A great gift for teens who don't need an iPhone, or anyone who wants a mobile iOS device that isn't a phone. Prices start at $199 (or $189 on Amazon, a 5% savings):
Be sure to check out the rest of the stuff in our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide, we're adding new suggestions every day!
Apple on Thursday updated its retail iOS app (now Apple Store 2.0) and as rumored last week, it includes an expansion of Apple's in-store pickup program and EasyPay, a self-checkout option for some items.
Now, when you order certain items using the app, it will give you the choice of either picking it up in a nearby store or having it shipped to you. It will also let you know whether or not the item is in stock in stores in your area. Apple has said most store-stocked items can be ready for pickup in about an hour.
Apple debuted the ship to store option a few weeks ago, starting in San Francisco and then adding Apple Stores in New York City. Since the launch of the app, the service has been added to stores in an array of cities and it will launch for additional U.S. stores as the holidays approach.
Just two days after releasing iOS 5.0.1 beta, aimed primarily at fixing the battery drain bug found in iOS 5, Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 beta 2. This is obviously something it's aggressively trying to fix, and releasing quick beta updates certainly helps in that process. For what it's worth, we installed the original beta yesterday, and noticed an immediate and significant improvement in the battery life on an iPhone 4S. Apple plans on releasing the update publicly within the next two weeks.
Jawbone, a company best known for making fashionable Bluetooth earpieces, announced today that it will sell an all-in-one smart fitness gadget that aims to help people totally improve their personal health and fitness.
The $99 device, called Jawbone UP, is a simple-looking wristband capable of collecting data about a person's activity throughout the day as well as sleep patterns at night.
Paired with Jawbone apps on Apple mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, Jawbone UP also collects and analyzes the data to help you make better sense of your habits and lifestyles, identifying, for example, the effects of exercise on your ability to sleep deeply. While there are some existing personal health and fitness devices that already track and analyze activity and sleep—one example is Fitbit Ultra ($99.95)—Jawbone UP adds intelligent feedback. It can remind you to move more during the day if it notices long periods of motionlessness, or gently vibrate to wake you at the optimal point in your sleep cycle.
"A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices," Apple said in a statement provided to AllThingsD. "We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks."
An Apple spokeswoman confirmed with us that a fix was in the works.
Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 to developers, which includes six updates:
- fixes bugs affecting battery life
- adds multitasking gestures for original iPad
- resolves bugs with documents in the cloud
- improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation
- contains security improvements
- introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations
Apple has missed its own deadline to launch iTunes Match, a service that lets users store their entire music library in the cloud, or the iCloud, for access through any iOS device or computer.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the iPhone 4S (see our iPhone 4S review) in early October, and iOS 5 and iCloud went live several days later. The final piece of that puzzle, iTunes Match, was expected to launch at the end of October for $24.99 per year, but here we are on November 2 with no iTunes Match in sight.
With iTunes Match, users can store their entire music library in the cloud, or iCloud, for on-the-go access to your music from any iOS device or computer.
A portion of iTunes in the Cloud went live in June during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), while a developer version of iTunes Match was released in late August; Apple even reportedly wiped out developers' Match libraries, fueling speculation that a launch was imminent.
We give you a look at the white AT&T iPhone 4S, along with the black Verizon iPhone 4S in this episode. As you can see, if you're familiar with the iPhone 4, Apple made some subtle changes in the design of the iPhone 4S, most notably in the antenna, which now has a slick dual-action function. The Verizon model also picks up a SIM card slot, making it (and the others) a world phone device. We also show you the included accessories that Apple throws in as well. Be sure to check out our full iPhone 4S review, and iPhone 4S unboxing gallery as well.
Big thank you to GoToMeeting and JackThreads for sponsoring the show - be sure to check them out! As for JackThreads, we've got exclusive invite codes that give you $5 to use towards anything you'd like.
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