AT&T Rolls Out New ‘AT&T Next’ Smartphone and Tablet Upgrade Program

AttAT&T is following T-Mobile’s lead and introducing a new upgrade eligibility program for its customers called ‘AT&T Next’. With Next, AT&T customers can purchase a new smartphone or tablet every twelve months with no activation, upgrade or financing fees.

Customers purchase a smartphone or tablet with no money down, making monthly payments equal to 1/20th of the retail cost of the device. After 12 payments, they can trade the device in and upgrade to a new one with no other fees. Or, after 20 payments, they own the device outright.

“With AT&T Next, customers can get the newest smartphone or tablet every year with no down payment. That’s hard to beat, and it’s an incredible value for customers who want the latest and greatest every year,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility.

For customers purchasing a 16GB iPhone 5, they would pay $32.50 per month for 12 months, and could then upgrade to the latest iPhone — trading in the previous device. They would pay $390 over that time, with the phone being bought back for the equivalent of $260. If the customer makes the 20 monthly payments, they can upgrade to a new phone and keep the old one.

Because there is no activation or upgrade fee, customers save $36 on activating a new line. Depending on the customer’s needs, this may be a better option than the old AT&T upgrade system, which requires customers wait 24 months between fully subsidized upgrades.

AT&T customers who still have grandfathered unlimited data plans are fully eligible to participate in this program.

T-Mobile recently announced a similar upgrade plan, and a leak from Verizon today suggested they also had something like it in development.

    

Upcoming ‘VZ Edge’ Program May Allow No Contracts and Earlier Upgrades for Verizon Users [iOS Blog]

Following T-Mobile’s recent announcement of its new “Jump” phone upgrade program and its “Uncarrier” policies, a leaked document (via Droid Life) suggests that Verizon intends to introduce a similar “VZ Edge” program that will allow Verizon customers to purchase phones on a monthly payment plan that will include upgrade capabilities after half of the device purchase price has been paid.

verizonedge
Though details on the upcoming changes are scarce, the document implies that VZ Edge will function similarly to T-Mobile’s Uncarrier program, letting customers purchase unsubsidized, off-contract phones via a monthly payment plan. T-Mobile customers can purchase devices like the iPhone 5 by offering a downpayment and a device fee of $21 per month. With the Jump add-on, customers pay an additional fee to access twice yearly upgrades.

Verizon’s “flexible new plan” promises the latest devices, lower upfront costs, no upgrade fees, and no service contracts. Currently, Verizon only lets its customers upgrade on a 24-month basis, after contracts have expired.

It is unknown what Verizon intends to charge per month for the plan, but more information should be available on August 25, which is the program’s scheduled launch date.

    

Apple Negotiating With Cable Companies and Networks to Allow Viewers to Pay to Skip Commercials

apple_tv_interface_2012Technology journalist Jessica Lessin, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, reports that Apple has been negotiating with cable companies and TV networks to allow customers to skip commercials and Apple would compensate programmers for the lost revenue.

Viewers could potentially pay Apple to skip commercials on a per show or per channel basis, get live commercial-free viewing of new episodes with the purchase of a Season Pass on the iTunes Store, or Apple could even offer an entire commercial-free TV subscription service.

Lessin writes:

In recent discussions, Apple told media executives it wants to offer a “premium” version of the service that would allow users to skip ads and would compensate television networks for the lost revenue, according to people briefed on the conversations.

Consumers, of course, are already accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVRs, and how Apple’s technology differs is unclear.

It is a risky idea. Ad-skipping would disrupt the entrenched system of television ratings—the basis for buying TV ads. In fact, television broadcasters sued Dish Network when it introduced similar technology last year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the D11 conference earlier this year that the company has a “grand vision” for the television, and that the current TV viewing experience “could be better”. It’s been previously reported that Apple wants to erase the distinction between live and on-demand video content.

Apple is rumored to have both a full-on television set as well as a more conventional set-top box in the works, in addition to its existing “hobby”, as Tim Cook calls the current Apple TV box.

    

Ashton Kutcher on Why He Chose to Play Steve Jobs

Jobs, the first studio film based on the life of Steve Jobs will be released nationwide on August 16th following an introduction at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Ahead of its debut, actor Ashton Kutcher has taken to the Q&A site Quora to explain why he chose to take on the role of Steve Jobs.

Read Quote of Ashton Kutcher’s answer to Jobs (2013 movie): Why did Ashton Kutcher choose to play Steve Jobs in the upcoming movie Jobs? on Quora


In addition to the Quora post, the production company behind Jobs has been using other social media sites to promote the film. Over the weekend, the company posted a 15-second version of the trailer on the video version of Instagram.

“Jobs”, which stars Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs and Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak, is one of several Jobs-related films in the works or already released. Back in April, rumor site Funny or Die released a rather poorly received “iSteve” comedy film starring Justin Long, who had played the “Mac” character in Apple’s long-running “Mac vs. PC” ad campaign.

A third film is being written by Aaron Sorkin and is the official adaptation of Jobs’ authorized biography by Walter Isaacson. The film, which is still in the early stages of development, is planned to encompass three 30-minute scenes showing Jobs backstage just prior to the launches of the original Mac, NeXT, and the iPod.

    

ChargeCard iPhone 5 Charger Fits in a Wallet [iOS Blog]

The ChargeCard began as a Kickstarter project that was funded last summer. At the time, the product only offered support for Apple’s 30-pin connector and Micro USB as Apple’s new Lightning connector had yet to be introduced, but a new version for the iPhone 5 that supports Lightning is now available for purchase.

chargecard

Designed to fit inside of a wallet, the ChargeCard is twice as thick as a standard credit card. It comes equipped with both a USB plug and a foldable Lightning cable, allowing the iPhone 5 to be charged via any available USB port.

Lightning ChargeCard is your iPhone’s new best friend. Your iPhone 5 is your most important tool, but it’s just glass and aluminum once your battery dies. With ChargeCard, you’ll have a Lightning cable with you at all times, so you can juice up from any USB port and turn that glass back into an iPhone.

Currently, the ChargeCard is not MFi Certified, and it should be noted that the current beta version of iOS 7 warns users when an unauthorized accessory is used.

The ChargeCard retails for $24.99 and can be purchased from BiteMyApple.co or directly from the manufacturer’s website.

    

IMDb Updated with In-App Movie Ticket Purchases, Amazon Mobile Integration for DVD Purchases [iOS Blog]

Movie database app IMBb has been updated to version 3.3, adding support for movie ticket purchases directly within the app for customers located in the United States. The upgrade also includes integration with the Amazon Mobile app, allowing users to buy a movie or TV show on DVD or Blu-ray that they have viewed in the IMDb app with the tap of a button.

Additional celebrity bios have been added, along with a number of bug fixes. The iPhone version of the app will now offer one tap access to full cast and filmography details from movie and celebrity pages, and Watchlist functionality has also been improved.

imdbupdate

iPad and iPhone
– “Tickets, please!” You can now conveniently purchase movie tickets via the IMDb App (currently US-only).
– More bios for celebrities you know and love as well as for up-and-comers.
– Want to buy a movie or TV show on DVD or Blu-ray? “Search via Amazon Mobile” to the rescue. Requires that you have the Amazon Mobile app, but we provide a handy link if you don’t have it yet.
– Also, did you know you can tap the “Coming Soon” bar above the title on upcoming movies to add the release date as an event to your calendar?
– Bug fixes. Nasty tricksy bugsies. We hates them!

iPhone
– We heard you. By popular demand, we’ve updated the movie and celebrity pages to include one-tap access to the full cast/full filmography (which, yes, scrolls vertically).
– You’ll see that cute little Watchlist flag almost everywhere now. Tap it to add movies and shows to your Watchlist (and tap-and-hold to add to your other lists as well).

IMDb is a universal app that can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

    

Apple Reportedly Signs Deal with Samsung for 14-nm A9 Chips Starting in 2015

apple_a6_chipThe Korea Economic Daily reports that Apple and Samsung today officially signed an agreement that will see the two companies working together on future A-series chips for Apple’s iOS devices, with the deal specifically covering A9 chips based on a 14-nanometer process node starting in 2015. The claim comes just weeks after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) confirmed a deal with Apple to begin producing A-series chips in 2014.

Samsung Electronics had supplied the AP [application processor] to Apple since 2007 but lost the contract to supply 20 nano AP A8 chips to Apple to Taiwan’s TSMC last year when it was engaged in patent disputes with Apple. Samsung Electronics developed state-of-the-art 14 nano models ahead of its rival TSMC, regaining the order from Apple.

A previous report about Apple’s agreement with TSMC had indicated that it was a three-year deal covering not only Apple’s future A8 chip but also A9/A9X chips. The Wall Street Journal‘s report had indicated that Samsung would remain Apple’s primary supplier through next year as TSMC began ramping up its production.

As a result, it is unclear whether today’s deal will see both TSMC and Samsung producing A9 chips for Apple or if Apple has already shifted gears to return to Samsung as its primary supplier as part of its long-term roadmap.

Apple has reportedly been seeking to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a component supplier as the two companies have become fierce rivals in both the mobile marketplace and in the courtroom. The two companies have, however, continued working together in several areas, particularly where Samsung’s competitors in the component market are unable to match its technology, production capacity, or pricing.

The shift to TSMC for production of the high-profile main chips for Apple’s iOS devices had been viewed as breaking one of the most significant remaining ties between Apple and Samsung, but it appears that Samsung has been able to bring Apple back into the fold by leading the charge to 14-nm chips. With partnerships with both Samsung and TSMC, it appears that Apple should be well-positioned to take advantage of whichever company takes the lead in developing the latest technologies.

Late last week, it was reported that Apple had bought into a fab, perhaps with an eventual goal of producing its own chips for its mobile devices, although any such move is almost certainly years away given the need to ramp up expertise and facilities for such production.

    

Apple ‘Aggressively’ Hiring for Smart Watch Project, Looking Toward Late 2014 Launch

hex_vision_ipod_nano_watchFinancial Times reports that Apple is “aggressively” hiring new employees to help with its smart watch effort, suggesting that the company needs additional expertise to tackle the project’s challenges. Sources also indicate that the “iWatch” may not appear until late next year, as has been previously rumored.

The company has begun hiring “aggressively” for the project in recent weeks, say people familiar with Apple’s plans for the wearable device, a move that shows it has stepped up development but which raises questions over the ability of its own engineers to develop wearable technology.

As Apple moves from iPods, iPhones and iPads into an entirely new category of product, it is looking beyond its existing staff in Cupertino for the talent required to build it – an indication that the endeavour involves “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve”, according to one source.

The report indicates that Apple has been looking at acquiring smaller firms with expertise that would be valuable to its smart watch effort, and has also been working hard to retain key employees related to the project.

Rumors of an Apple smart watch have been circulating for some time now, with the company reportedly putting over 100 designers to work on the project. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Apple has hired Paul Deneve, formerly the CEO of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, to work on “special projects”, with speculation suggesting he may involved with the iWatch and other wearable computing projects at Apple.

Apple has been filing trademark applications on the iWatch name in a number of countries, something the company typically does relatively close to its product launches, but it appears in this case that Apple may still have significant work left to do before it can bring its smart watch to market.

(Photo: HEX Vision Metal Watchband for 6th-generation iPod nano)