Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New iPad has a smart-cover problem

(Mashable) -- Magnets: How do they work? Differently on the new iPad than on the iPad 2, it has emerged -- and that's bad news for anyone with an old or third-party smart cover.

A number of users who bought new iPads over the weekend (this reporter included) were dismayed to discover that the smart covers they'd bought for the iPad 2 didn't work on the new model.

Smart covers, which attach to the iPad's built-in magnets, are supposed to turn the tablet on automatically when you flip them open. But as dozens of iPad users in this Apple forum concurred, that was no longer the case with many smart covers on the new iPad.

That seemed odd, as the new iPad is physically no different from the iPad 2 -- on the surface, at least. But it turns out Apple has been messing with the polarity of its magnets under the hood.

Photographer Mark Booth uncovered this when he did some experiments with magnets, iPads and a couple of smart covers. You can see the results in a video on Booth's blog.

"The iPad 2′s sleep/wake sensor wasn't polarity specific," Booth explains. And that apparently led to an issue for iPad 2 users who flipped their smart covers around so that they sat flush with the back of the tablet -- an everyday act that could cause the iPad 2 to switch off unintentionally.

So it seems the new iPad's sleep/wake sensor does require a specific polarity. But in fixing one issue, Apple appears to have caused another for users who want to use their old smart covers with their new tablets. (We've asked Apple to comment, and will update you if we hear back.)

Booth theorizes that Apple quietly made the polarity change in their smart covers at some point in 2011, since newer Apple-made smart covers do seem to work with the new iPad. If you got yours for the holidays, there's a good chance you won't see a problem.

If your smart cover hails from early 2011, try taking it back to the Apple store; Booth says he's hearing from users that the store will exchange old smart covers for new ones. Owners of third-party smart covers, however -- such as the beautiful wood covers from Miniot -- appear to be out of luck.

And it may not simply be a case of having to turn the new tablet on manually. In tests using my Miniot as a stand -- the other purpose of the smart cover -- the new iPad's screen was plagued by fuzzy electronic lines and flashing artifacts.

Do you own a smart cover and a new iPad? Have you noticed this issue? Let us know in the comments.

See the original article on Mashable

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Texting is ultimate social tool for teens, study says

Editor's note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for She is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog,, explores how people communicate in the online age.

(CNN) -- Mobile devices often get accused of alienating people from the world around them. But for U.S. teens, cell phones (especially text messaging) are a key way to stay connected with friends and other people in their lives, according to new research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Pew found that 63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives, including their parents. Also, nearly half of all teens send and receive text messages with friends daily.

In contrast, 28% teens say they never text their friends -- but then, 23% of teens don't have a cell phone at all.

For teens, cell phones appear to correlate with social privilege. Nearly 90% of older teens (aged 14-17) have a cell phone, while just under 60% of 12- to 13-year-olds have a cell phone. White teens are most likely to have a cell phone (81%), vs. 72% of black teens and 63% of Hispanic teens.

More than 90% of teens from households earning $75,000 or more annually have a cell phone, compared with 62% of teens from households earning less than $30,000 per year. Also, teens who live in the suburbs or whose parents graduated from college are most likely to have a cell phone.

Only about one in four U.S. teens currently uses a smartphone, says Pew, in contrast to about 46% of U.S. adults. Interestingly, Pew found that smartphone-using teens are slightly less likely than teens with simpler feature phones to have recently used a computer to access the Internet. However, teens with smartphones also are "substantially more likely than other teens to have used a tablet computer to go online in the last 30 days."

Teen girls (78%) slightly outnumber teen boys (78%) for cell phone ownership. And older teen girls tend to send and receive the most texts: a median of 100 per day. That said, teen boys now send 60% more texts daily than they did in 2009.

Just over one-third of all parents of cell phone-using teens report using parental controls to help them manage their kids' cell phone use. These controls can include limits on which websites they can access, which apps they can download and limits on the amount or hours of texting. If their teens have simpler feature phones (rather than smartphones), parents are more likely to enable these controls.

What aren't teens doing with their cell phones? E-mail and instant messaging, which lag in popularity behind texting.

"Increasingly, teens do not have the capability or the interest in exchanging instant messages or exchanging e-mail," Pew notes. "Nearly two in five teens say they never or cannot exchange instant messaging, and another 39% of teens say they never exchange e-mail."