Despite the increasing popularity Wi-Fi of integrated tethering functionality across a variety of smartphone platforms, sales of dedicated portable hotspots continue to remain strong. Novatel Wireless, a pioneer in personal mobile hotspots, on Monday announced that lifetime shipments of its MiFi mobile hotspot line has now surpassed 3 million units globally. Beyond the tried and true reliability of Novatel’s MiFi devices — anyone who follows BGR’s live coverage of press conferences knows we rely on them constantly — the milestone reaffirms the fact that many users aren’t willing to sacrifice smartphone battery life for the sake of convergence. “Three years ago we introduced the MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot and revolutionized the way people access the Internet, from anywhere, anytime,” Novatel Wireless CEO Peter Leparulo said in a statement. “The MiFi system architecture brought a new user-experience to mobile broadband consumers, with one click connect and no software to install. It also allows carriers to reach a wider, more diverse subscriber base with innovative service opportunities. We are very pleased to have achieved this milestone illustrating our significant market and product leadership for mobile hotspots.” Novatel’s full press release follows below. More →
Over the weekend, Verizon Wireless began issuing a software update to the Samsung DROID Charge that addresses a number of issues. Most notably, the update repairs a bug that caused the Charge’s mobile hotspot feature to work only if users set the date back to last month. Beyond the personal hotspot fix, the update is said to bring improved web browsing and email, improved battery life, and several other enhancements. Users will be notified automatically when the over-the-air (OTA) update is ready for there devices, or impatient users can initiate the update manually. More →
The update came a bit later than Apple intended due to an issue fixed by last night’s iTunes update, but the company just released iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV. BGR exclusively revealed the change log for iOS 4.3 in January, which detailed most of the changes users can look forward to in this update. The most notable addition is Apple’s new Personal Hotspot feature which is now available on GSM versions of the iPhone 4 in addition to Verizon’s CDMA iPhone. Another highly anticipated feature now available in iOS is AirPlay support for third-party apps. Of note, this update is compatible only with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, Apple TV and the third and fourth-generation iPod touch models. Earlier iPods do not have access to iOS 4.3, nor do the original iPhone or iPhone 3G.
Contradicting earlier reports suggesting AT&T might enable Apple’s new Personal Hotspot feature on February 13th, which would require a release of iOS 4.3 on or before that date, MacStories reports that Apple is set to issue the new software a day later on Valentine’s Day. The Apple enthusiast blog cites a reliable source in stating that Apple will release iOS 4.3 at 10:00AM PST on February 14th. Other unconfirmed reports have suggested that the new OS build would be made available before February 10th, when Verizon Wireless’ iPhone 4 is set to launch. Among the new features expected to be introduced in iOS 4.3 are AirPlay support for third-party native apps and Web apps, a new option to configure the iPad’s slide switch as mute or rotation lock, and of course Apple’s Personal Hotspot function, which turns the iPhone into a portable wireless modem. More →
Last month, BGR exclusively confirmed that Apple’s new Personal Hotspot feature is coming to all iPhones with the release of iOS 4.3. In a later piece entitled, You don’t have to wait to turn your iPhone into a mobile hotspot, we also speculated that AT&T might not immediately enable the feature for its iPhone customers. It looks like the pressure of Verizon Wireless’ imminent iPhone 4 launch may have been enough for AT&T to uncharacteristically fast-track the release of the new feature, however. Buried in The New York Times’ glowing review of Verizon Wireless’ iPhone 4 was a mention that AT&T would be enabling Personal Hotspot on February 13th. “[Personal Hotspot is] incredibly convenient. Many other app phones have it — AT&T’s iPhone gets it on Feb. 13 — but Apple’s execution is especially nice,” The New York Times writes. The mention of February 13th has since been removed, however, having been replaced by a note reading, “AT&T says its iPhone will get it soon.” It is highly unlikely that Times tech guy David Pogue simply pulled that date out of thin air — more likely is the possibility that Pogue let slip a tidbit he was briefed on, and later corrected it. In any event, we’ll know for sure in just over a week. More →
Apple on Wednesday posted details on its website surrounding voice, data and messaging plans that will be offered with the upcoming Verizon Wireless iPhone 4. The company also posted a utility intended to check subscriber eligibility, though it did not appear to be functioning properly at the time of this writing. Apple’s website confirms earlier reports that Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 users will only have two data options at launch: unlimited data for $29.99 per month and unlimited data with 2GB of Personal Hotspot and tethering services for $49.99 per month. Other plan details line up with current Verizon Wireless smartphone plans, for the most part:
- 450 minutes/month: $39.99
- 900 minutes/month: $59.99
- Unlimited minutes/month: $69.99
- Pay per use: $0.20 per SMS, $0.25 per MMS
- 250 messages/month: $5
- 500 messages/month: $10
- Unlimited messaging: $20
- Unlimited data: $29.99
- Unlimited data with 2GB for Personal Hotspot and tethering: $49.99 ($20 per GB for overages)
The only difference between the iPhone voice and messaging plans compared to Verizon Wireless’ standard plans appears to be the $20 unlimited messaging option. With other smartphones, the $20 messaging option affords subscribers 5,000 messages per month, and the carrier charges $0.10 per message for overages.
UPDATE: The pages have been pulled from Apple’s website as of approximately 10:50AM. More →
Earlier this month, we exclusively reported that Apple’s new Personal Hotspot feature is coming to all iPhones with iOS 4.3. The feature, which was popularized by Android phones like the HTC EVO 4G, will allow devices to share an iPhone’s 3G data connection via Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, more cautious carriers like AT&T are likely to take their sweet time enabling the service for subscribers. Jailbreakers can purchase one of several apps that enable Wi-Fi tethering, but not everyone wants to bother with the cat and mouse game that inevitably arrives with each subsequent iOS update. But patience is a virtue not everyone possesses, and some of you might not feel like sitting around while AT&T puts the new mobile hotspot feature through its paces. Well, you’re in luck. More →
Following news that iOS 4.3 beta 1 has been seeded to developers, Apple’s servers are no doubt being hammered by anxious developers looking to explore all the new features. We pinged a few of our dev friends for feedback on new additions they’ve found and here’s what we have so far:
- Personal hotspot capabilities for GSM devices — as we exclusively reported earlier today
- AirPlay support for third-party native apps and third-party Web apps
- Redesigned FaceTime icon
- Multi-touch gesture support for iPad — “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad. You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps.”
- Configurable slide switch for iPad — users can now decide whether the hardware switch above the volume rocker on the iPad controls mute or rotation lock
- iAd full screen banners on the iPad — bigger ads… just what iPad users have been clamoring for
Interestingly, iOS 4.3 appears to also have dropped support for Apple second-generation iPhone — the iPhone 3G — and its second-generation iPod touch. This could make the current build Apple’s final software release for these devices.
UPDATE: Several readers have emailed us to point out that enthusiast blog iSpazio may have uncovered a little gem. References to the following effects have been found in the iOS 4.3 code, and they might be introduced as live video effects for video capture and FaceTime calls:
- Thermal Camera
- Tunnel of Light
According to our source, the personal hotspot feature that debuted on the Verizon iPhone yesterday will, in fact, be making its way to all iPhones in iOS 4.3. We’re sure there will need to be carrier support for this feature, and for AT&T users it is entirely possible we might not see this right away. For those of you with more lenient carriers, however, we are sure you will be pleased to learn that you’ll be able to connect up to five devices over Wi-Fi to the iPhone’s cellular data connection. We are told the OS version will be 8F5148b, the baseband will be 04.08.00, and technical acceptance is planned for March. We have some screenshots to hold you over, though!