Get Free iPad In Japan With Softbank “iPad For Everybody” Plan

Japanese carrier Softbank has launched a new plan called “iPad for everybody” that will let users sign up for a free 16GB iPad provided they also subscribe to a 25 month contract. This offer will mean users will have to shell out ¥4725 ($56; £36) a month in return for getting the device for free.

We do not have more info on the details of the contract. But from first sight, it looks like a deal to make up for a possible lackluster performance of the device in the market. However, according to Moconews, the attractive offer is targeted at people who may not be able to afford the marked price of $629 in order to expand the iPad base ahead of the launch of iAd in Japan next year. Apple has partnered with local company Dentsu for the new advertising venture.

Eitherway, this is one of the more attractive iPad promotion offers and if you are in Japan, go ahead and make your iPad purchase rightaway.

New iPad 2 Release Date In January 2011?

A lot of rumors surrounding the next generation iPad have been doing the rounds over the past couple of weeks. The first rumor pegged the launch date for April 2011. A more recent speculation was on the features – a total of five new features including USB support and retina display is on the cards.

Now according to yet another unsubstantiated rumor, the new iPad 2 could be coming in January 2011. Now there is not too much juice behind this rumor; as was with the earlier rounds. But from what I see, if true, this could be a repeat of the launch plans with the original model where the device was unveiled in January and was launched in April this year.

But that sounds unlikely this time considering that Apple may not want to slow down the sale of the current model by announcing a new product so early. Nevertheless this is an interesting rumor that we would like to keep track of.

iPad Not Connecting To Exchange Server Email – More iOS 4.2 Bugs

More bugs coming to light since the new iOS 4.2 was released. For a slideshow of all the bugs uncovered till now, click on this link.

Users who have updated their iPad to the latest iOS 4.2.1 update are reporting that there is a problem in establishing connection to the email exchange server. Those who attempt a connection are shown a message that reads something like this –

“Exchange Account
Unable to verify account information”

Here are some complaints reported by iPad users on the discussion boards across the Apple forum

“The iPad does not resolve the local DNS zones on the LAN. We discovered this after switching to another available off-LAN connection and were able to access exchange e-mail. It has to acknowledge that the request is occurring because otherwise if it ignored it the request would go out to the internet and it would work fine.”

“Occasionally it will hit the server and download new mail, but 95% of the time I get a connection to server failed error. This is now happening with both my iPhone and iPad, running 4.2.1. Exchange account worked fine before the iOS upgrade, and my MobileMe account still works fine.”

So do we have a fix for this? Troubleshooting users have been able to dig a couple of fixes. But it does not seem to be resolving all user woes. Here’s one solution

Go to Settings -> General Settings -> Reset -> “Reset all content and settings”
Confirm and Reboot
Connect to iTunes
Select “NEW IPAD” (NOT “Restore” — That’s right you have to reset it to factory specs and then start from scratch)
Re-enter your Exchange creds

An alternate fix was to delete the exchange account in settings and recreate it but put the domain and username together in the username field as follows: DOMAIN\username

Did one of these fixes work? What error are you seeing? Tell us in the comments.

Next Generation iPad To Feature USB Support & Retina Display

If rumors about the launch date of the next generation iPad are to be believed, then we are at least a quarter away from seeing this new iPad 2 on the shelves of retail stores. However, we are already starting to hear about the features that this new iPad could come with. According to reports published on a Chinese daily, the second generation of iPad could come with as many as five new features.

The newspaper claims that iPad 2 will offer video calling, a retina display, a 3-axis gyroscope and USB support. The publication also backs earlier claims that the new tablet device could be thinner than the current model.

While of course these are rumors and do not need substantiation, I am a little doubtful about the retina display at least. The addition of this new display technology on iPhone 4 was not smooth to say the least with several customers complaining about issues with discoloration.

Introduction of a similar feature on the iPad is not only going to make this a lot more expensive but could also bring more troubles to Apple as far as its hardware bugs go. There has been no paucity of the same in recent times and Cupertino wouldn’t want more.

iOS 4.2.1 Bugs – iPad Not Connecting To 3G Network

Reports are coming in that iPad 3G users who have upgraded their tablets to the new iOS 4.2.1 platform have been noticing slow or broken 3G connection since the update. While some users seem to have problems with connecting to their 3G SIM card, others users complain about their tablet frequently switching to the slower Edge network. The issue appears to be coming from several countries and is not restricted to any particular geography.

(Also read : List of all iOS 4.2 bugs known – slideshow)

Here are some comments from affected users

“I am in the US and after update 4.2.1 my ipad cannot connect with valid 3g sim card that i have been using for 4 months on ipad. i took the sim card out of the ipad and tested it on my iphone 4 and it works fine. the ipad is telling me that my cellular data plan usage has expired. i am using my sim that is unlimited.”

“After upgrade to the new OS 4.2.1 last night, I lost the 3G connection with the iPad. only Edge Connection.”

“My iPad 3G signal at work has gone down the pan since the 4.2.1 update. Instead of 3-5 bars depending on where I am in the office it has dropped to 1 or 2 bars in the best locations and if I move around too much I lose the the signal completely.”

Are you seeing similar issues since the upgrade?

Simple iOS 4.2 Hack Replaces iPad Mute Switch With Orientation Lock

Among the many changes that iOS 4.2 brought about, one very noticeable change was with the iPad Orientation lock. This physical switch on the side of the iPad enabled users to easily lock the orientation of the iPad – a useful tool while you are watching movies or reading ebooks. Apple however replaced this with an alternate virtual button for orientation lock and changed the functionality of the original button to instead serve as a mute switch.

If you do not like this and would like to revert the functionality back to the original state, there’s a hack for that – on the Cydia store. Users who have jailbroken their iPad can now grab the free to download NoMute for iPad tool that will let users keep their orientation lock intact. There is apparently a bug in the application that seems to trigger the mute action as well when the switch is invoked. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon through an update.

New iPad Production Lines Open For Holiday Demand

Foxconn is reported to have opened up new plants in Chengdu, China to cater to ever growing demand for iPad that is expected to peak during the Christmas holiday season. The plant is producing only around 10,000 units a day at the moment. But that is expected to pick up over the next few months with the new plant expected to serve as a major supply hub by Q1, 2011. The annual capacity at that point is expected to be around 40 million units.

For a perspective on how Apple sees the demand for iPads growing, consider this. All the iPads supplied till now have come from Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant that has a monthly capacity of 2.5 million units. Do the math, and you know this is smaller than what the new Chengdu plant will serve.

Apple’s next generation iPad is expected to launch in April 2011 and the new plant should be running at full capacity by that time.

Next Generation iPad Launch Date Rumors

There is still no official word from Apple with respect to the possible release date for the next generation iPad. However, various sources have begun to speculate on the launch date as well as possible features on what could be the next big release.

Quite expectedly, the new iPad is expected to carry on Apple’s yearly cycle for its products. June is a month Apple reserves for new iPhone releases and September is the month for iPod releases. On similar lines, April could be the month for iPads. Bloggers and tech journalists have increasingly started to believe that the new model of iPad could be released in April 2011 – a year after the original iPad launched. Of course, Steve Jobs could make his presentation earlier than that.

As with regards to the features, some major speculations that are doing the rounds are with respect to the availability of a camera. Besides this, the new iPad is expected to be CDMA compatible and shall contain a faster CPU and be enhanced with improved aesthetics – could be thinner and lighter.

Check out this Computerworld article to see what the blogosphere is talking.

iOS 4.2.1 Bug – iPad Freezes And Getting Stuck?

If you have been attempting to update your iPad to the latest iOS 4.2.1 version, chances are that you will find yourself stuck for an hour or so while the iPad seems to freeze or stuck at recovery. A number of users are now complaining on the Apple support forums about this problem. Here are some excerpts from what people are experiencing

“Download and install worked fine but iPad won’t restart. It shows the black screen with the progress bar with @95% complete but will never move beyond that point. Tried to restore and after an hour of backing up got a message that the backup couldn’t be saved to disk. Have tried to restart multiple times, but it always hangs before finishing.”

“Froze at about 90%. After waiting for 20 min, I force quit itunes, and now it freezes at 40%..cannot be updated or even restored by itunes as it cant get that far.”

“Frozen solid here as well. iTunes says “Not Responding” in Task Manager and my iPad which I froze at 90% a few times, finally put it in restore mode and updated it that way. NOW iTunes is stuck on “Preparing to Sync” and my iPad is stuck at about 40% for about 45 minutes now.”

So is there a fix? Some users have noted that it may merely be a question of being patient and waiting for long enough will get the iPad to get responsive and finish the installation. A few others continued to do a few hard resets until the installation got complete. But one solution that appears to be working for a lot of users is simply uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes once again.

“Re installing iTunes works! I tried about 10 times and it froze every time until I re downloaded iTunes and installed it again.”

It looks like a weird fix for the bug but it seems to be working. Do check it out and let me know if it fixes the problem at your end.

Dual Mode GSM/CDMA iPad Launch Next Year?

Apple could be looking at bringing a “world iPad” that could be free of network compatibility troubles. The company is learned to be working with Qualcomm to equip the next generation iPad with multimode CDMA-GSM chips that could be used over any network across the globe.

Admittedly, these are speculations at this point and it comes from Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair who has noted in a recent report,

“Recent checks…suggest Apple is going to be ratcheting down production of the existing 3G iPad over the next two months in anticipation of ramping up a new World iPad that is powered by Qualcomm and will run on both GSM and CDMA based networks around the world. Given our recent checks that suggest Apple is preparing to build approximately 48 million iPads in calendar 2011.”

Additionally, Blair has noted that these new iPads will come with a front facing camera as well as a few aesthetic changes. He writes,

“We…understand the new iPad is thinner than the existing model and is essentially made from one piece of metal with no pins needed. We understand it requires a new type of manufacturing process as a result, similar to the company’s unibody approach seen in MacBooks.”

One information we do not have still is the launch timing. Is it going to be early next year? April, or later? We will have to wait and watch.