TIME Gadgets

The Revolutionary New iPad Feature Apple Didn’t Talk About

Apple Inc. Announces The New iPad Air 2 And iPad Mini 3
A member of the media displays an Apple Inc. iPad Mini 3, left, and iPad Air 2 for a photograph after a product announcement in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It could foretell a future where consumers have unprecedented choice over their mobile carrier

Apple unveiled a pair of new iPads during a somewhat subdued event Thursday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. At first, it seemed there was nothing groundbreaking about the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 — these were somewhat boring, iterative improvements like thinner bodies, faster processors and the inclusion of Touch ID. But one feature of the iPad Air 2 that Apple didn’t even talk about on stage represents a change that could foretell a future where consumers have unprecedented choice over their mobile carrier.

The WiFi + Cellular models of the iPad Air 2, as revealed only on Apple’s website after Thursday’s event, comes with something called an “Apple SIM.” SIM cards are small, rectangular devices used by many mobile carriers to identify customers on their networks. If your mobile carrier uses SIM cards, you can switch your service to another device simply by popping the card out of your old device and putting it in your new one. It’s also possible in many cases to bring your old device to a new mobile carrier by getting rid of your old SIM and replacing it with a card supplied by your new carrier — a common practice among travelers, who have to hop from carrier to carrier as they cross from one company’s territory into another’s.

What the new Apple SIM changes is that iPad Air 2 owners who want to bring their device from their current mobile carrier to a new one no longer have to get a SIM card from their new carrier. Instead, switching carriers is as simple as selecting the new company from a menu option on their iPad, provided the carrier is one that currently supports Apple SIM — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and European carrier EE, for starters.

“The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and U.K. right on your iPad,” Apple wrote on its website for the iPad Air 2. “So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments.”

That sounds pretty nice for iPad owners, but what about iPhones? For now, Apple SIM is only found in iPads with wireless data capabilities, which serve a much different function than phones. But it’s not hard to imagine a future where Apple puts its Apple SIM in every iPhone on the market, making it that much easier to change your wireless carrier on the fly. As Quartz noted Friday:

A more compelling, user-friendly scenario might see your phone number and crucial services—messaging, voicemail, etc.—tied to your Apple SIM, and a vibrant marketplace where carriers compete for your business. This is already sort of what Apple is about to offer for the iPad.

Imagine booting up your iPhone for the first time and seeing four competing offers for your business from different operators—with short or no contract duration.

That sounds really nice, but it’s still far from reality. Some mobile carriers may be happy to experiment with the Apple SIM for tablets like the iPad, but their contractual chokeholds on cellphone owners are far too lucrative for them to loosen up easily — and, notably, America’s biggest mobile carrier, Verizon Wireless, is absent from the Apple SIM iPad plan (though, for historical and technical reasons, Verizon was slow to embrace SIM cards at all). Apple did not immediately respond to a question regarding whether it will put the Apple SIM in iPhones.

The future of how you pick and choose from mobile carriers will ultimately depend on how far Apple is willing to go to break up the status quo. If the tech giant truly does want to rid the world of the two-year contract, it’ll need the carriers’ cooperation, even if reluctantly given, to do so. Apple has power here: It could conceivably threaten to pull the iPhone from any carriers that don’t play ball with Apple-SIMs-in-iPhones, using its devices’ popularity with consumers as a means of squashing dissent. But Apple’s theoretical plan here can also be beaten: If the carriers band together in refusing the idea, it would go nowhere fast.

TIME technology

iPad Predictions, Then and Now

Apple Announces Launch Of New Tablet Computer
Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPad on Jan. 27, 2010, in San Francisco Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple's first iPad was Steve Jobs' last iDevice

With Apple rumored to be unveiling a new iPad Thursday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, it’s a great time to look back at the company’s very first tablet — which, notably, was also the last new Apple device presented by late CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away within 2 years of the iPad announcement.

When Apple unveiled the iPad on Jan. 27, 2010, TIME, along with other media outlets, didn’t greet it as revolutionary. Instead, we thought it was all too familiar. The iPad “looks and acts exactly the way the tech pundits predicted: like a giant iPod Touch or iPhone,” we wrote in our Jan. 28, 2010 story on the reveal. Nor was the iPad the first device of its kind seen by the public; the general concept of a “tablet computer” had been around for decades, and as that TIME article notes, “more than three dozen tablets and related devices were shown at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January,” several days before Apple’s event.

That said, Apple is legendary for its ability to create demand in a market where little was found before, as it did with the iPod. The iPad quickly became the best-selling tablet device, and it would take tablets running Google’s iOS competitor, Android, until 2013 to outsell the iPad in terms of raw volume.

What we’re seeing today, however, is flatlining demand for the iPad, perhaps because people don’t feel the need to upgrade their tablet as often as they do their phone — which, by the way, are devices that people still love, contrary to TIME’s 2010 comment that “with the iPad, smartphones have already begun to feel dated,” another prediction that missed the mark. Indeed, while Apple’s new iPhone 6 models are flying off the shelves, iPad sales are stalling.

Which brings us to Apple’s Thursday event, which should show the company trying to pour some gasoline on the iPad’s simmering fire. Even so, the world’s willingness to want an iPad has been proved — these days, the predictions these days are less about whether anyone needs a tablet than about the bells and whistles that might make someone want this one in particular: one of the most hyped rumors is that the new iPad will come in gold. And contrary to broader predictions about the iPad, this one will be tested sooner rather than later: on Thursday at 10:00 Cupertino time.

TIME ebola

Good News! That Adorable Dog in the Sink Doesn’t Have Ebola

We finally have good news about Ebola: That adorable dog in the sink you saw on Twitter Wednesday doesn’t have the disease. In fact, the pup isn’t even in quarantine, as this tweet suggests:

How do I know that? Because that dog can’t possibly be Bentley, the dog that belongs to a Texas nurse recently diagnosed with Ebola. And how do I know that? Because this picture has been around the Internet since Time Eternal.

Here is the picture posted to Pinterest 18 weeks ago.

Here’s a version posted seven months ago.

Here it is posted in June of last year.

And here’s a very similar photo of my mom’s King Charles Cavalier, Scout, which isn’t really relevant at all, but c’mon, aww.

To sum up: This dog ain’t got Ebola. In fact, the nurse’s dog might not have Ebola either. Bentley, the King Charles Cavalier who is owned by nurse Nina Pham is merely under quarantine. And as we explained earlier this week, “To date, there is no documented case of Ebola spreading to people from dogs or dogs to people.”

TIME Sports

Why Wayne Gretzky Is Still ‘The Great One’

Simply the Best
The March 18, 1985, cover of TIME TIME

Wayne Gretzky became the all-time NHL career scoring leader on Oct. 15, 1989

Correction appended, Oct. 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

If you grew up in a hockey house like I did, your parents might’ve worshipped Wayne Gretzky as if he were the Messiah on Skates. And in a lot of ways he was: The Great One played a full two decades of NHL-level hockey, starting in 1979 with the Edmonton Oilers and ending with my hometown heroes, the New York Rangers, just before the turn of the century, racking up some 2,857 points in 1,487 regular season games. (NHL scoring gives individual players one point for a goal and one point for an assist, but those numbers don’t mean squat for the game at hand.)

Those 2,857 points made him — and still makes him — the League’s leading scorer. Gretzky toppled another hockey legend, Gordie Howe (1,850 points), to first take that title on Oct. 15, 1989, 25 years ago Wednesday.

Gretzky’s points total is impressive to say the absolute least. But as a kid who grew up loving hockey in Gretzky’s twilight years, it’s really this stat that stuck in my mind: If you take 2,857 points and subtract the points he got for goals, he’s still got more assists than any other NHL player has total points. (The next guy down, point-wise? Gretzky teammate and Rangers legend Mark Messier.)

As a young hockey fan, that fact instilled a simple lesson: Greatness can sometimes come from being the guy who puts the puck in the back of the net. But even more often, it comes from knowing whom you can count on to help you get that job done even better than you can. “How long Gretzky and [NBA star Larry] Bird play at the top and stay at the fair will help determine their ultimate reputations,” TIME wrote of Gretzky in a March 18, 1985 cover story about athletes at the peaks of their careers.

Gretzky stayed at the top for many seasons after that, but 25 years later his ultimate reputation is this: A life lesson that, while being the hero is nice, you don’t always have to shoot — sometimes it’s smarter to pass.

Read a 1981 story about the then-20-year-old hockey star, here in TIME’s archives: Hockey’s Great Gretzky

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of individual points an NHL player gets for a goal. The number is one.

TIME Appreciation

35 Things We Learned From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was published Oct. 12, 1979

Douglas Adams' novel was published on Oct. 12, 1979, 35 years ago on Sunday

Are you a hoopy frood who really knows where her towel is? Then you probably already know that Sunday marks 35 years to the day since legendary comedy/sci-fi author Douglas Adams published the novel based on his radio show The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, first in a trilogy of five books. Yeah, a trilogy of five — Adams was a weird dude!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide follows the story of a hapless human called Arthur Dent, who is saved from Earth’s destruction by aliens with just seconds to spare by his good friend Ford Prefect. Prefect, who Dent at first believes to be human, actually turns out to be an alien working for something called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — sort of a combination travel guide/Wikipedia for intergalactic travelers roaming about the universe by grabbing rides on passing spacecraft.

Dent and Prefect wind up on a ship stolen by President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox. Along with another human runaway and a depressed robot, the crew find themselves in a serious of perilous adventures one after the other and it’s all good fun with a great story that holds up in its own right while also poking a lot of fun at the generally very serious science-fiction genre.

Anyway. In celebration of Hitchhiker’s 35th birthday, here are 35 things you learn from reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy”:

1. If you’re ever stuck on a question, you know the answer is, of course, just “42.”

2. Forget “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The book teaches this motto: Don’t Panic, written in very friendly letters on the front of the actual Hitchhiker’s Guide.

3. You learn to always know where your towel is, because that thing can save your neck in more ways that you can count.

4. Dolphins are smarter than humans — but they’re still thankful for all that fish.

5. Earth, despite its nuclear weapons, war, bacteria and so on, is really just Mostly Harmless.

6. The secret to understanding all the universe’s languages is putting a tiny creature in your ear called a Babel Fish — and you also know that’s where the online translation service got its name.

7. When you rock out to Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, you know the band was referencing Marvin, the chronically depressed robot with a brain the size of a planet — voiced by Alan Rickman in the 2005 film adaptation.

8. This killer restaurant at the end of the universe.

9. Time is an illusion — and lunchtime doubly so.

10. The universe’s creation made a lot of people very angry and was widely considered a bad move.

11. Anyone who can be elected President shouldn’t be trusted to do the job.

12. If a Vogon ever, ever tries to read poetry to you, you should turn tail and run immediately.

13. Ford Prefect isn’t just the name of a British car.

14. You’re not the only one who could never really get the hang of Thursdays.

15. You can understand that an alien sent to study life on Earth would think cars were the dominant life-form.

16. But not why people spend so much of their lives wearing digital watches.

17. When in a bar in outer space, the best thing to order is a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

18. If somebody suddenly thinks they’re a hedgehog, the best thing you can do is give them a mirror and some pictures of a hedgehog, and they’ll figure it all out soon enough.

19. Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is, to be honest.

20. Mice aren’t actually mice at all. Instead, they’re insanely hypersmart beings from another plane of existence. Also, they’re smarter than dolphins. Who are still smarter than humans.

21. That one can find tea on a spaceship. But it’s not really tea, it’s rather something almost but not entirely unlike tea. (Also, if you count the movies, there’s a tiny lightsaber that toasts bread while you slice it. Handy!)

22. You can spend a year dead to dodge your taxes. Good tip.

23. Sometimes your friends turn into penguins. Or sofas. It’s all a little weird.

24. Every once in a while, it’s absolutely terrific when somebody’s trying to kill you — it means you’re on to something.

25. The only thing that can break the speed of light is bad news.

26. Life is like a grapefruit, and some folks have half one for breakfast.

27. Ships can hang in the sky, but bricks can’t.

28. That you should always, always, always stay abreast of plans posted at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri.

29. That if you ever discover why the universe is here, it could be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

30. And that might’ve already happened.

31. It’s possible to be your own great-great grandfather, if something goes wrong with a contraceptive and a time machine.

32. One of the greatest sources of power in the universe is Restaurant Math. Oh waiter, check please!

33. Anything that happens, happens.

34. You don’t want to go to Heaven with a headache.

35. 42.

 

 

TIME Autos

Tesla’s New Model S Can Park Itself in Your Driveway

We're one step closer to a real-life Knight Rider car

Electric car maker Tesla revealed new, dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Model S sedans on Thursday night called the “D” range, the fastest of which can hit 60mph from a dead stop in a shocking 3.2 seconds. Musk said driving the high-tend new Tesla is “like taking off from a carrier deck,” according to Slate, which makes it sound pretty fun to drive — but it’s actually far from the most impressive thing about Tesla’s newest rides.

Instead, that honor belongs to Tesla’s new “Autopilot Mode,” a suite of self-driving features that use radar and other sensors to help you do things like stay in your lane and get out of the way of dogs, pedestrians or other obstacles that have somehow gotten in front of your Tesla.

But the best part is this: Say you’ve got a home and a parking spot or garage where you regularly stash your Tesla — that is, when you’re not out on the streets pretending you’re piloting a very low-flying intergalactic spaceship. The Tesla’s Autopilot Mode will learn the layout of your pad, meaning you’ll be able to pull up to your house curbside, get out, then let the Tesla tuck itself in every night automatically. There’s even talk of it doing the opposite: Letting you hail your Tesla so it can pick you up as you head out the door.

The Model S D will be available starting at the end of the year, with the base models around $71,000 and the high-end cars topping out at $120,170.

TIME space

Watch the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse in One GIF

Blood moon lunar eclipse 2014
Ritchie B. Tongo—EPA (7); Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

For those who were able to see it in person, Wednesday morning’s Blood Moon lunar eclipse didn’t disappoint as skywatchers spotted Earth’s always-orbiting pal turn a deep shade of red.

Why that color? During a Blood Moon lunar eclipse, Earth gets between the Sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the lunar surface. The red color comes as Earth’s atmosphere scatters the sunlight, stripping away blue light and leaving behind the red to reach the moon’s surface.

If you missed Wednesday’s Blood Moon — the second of the year and fourth lunar eclipse — check it out here in a single GIF. Then check out past Blood Moons, too.

TIME space

See the Most Stunning Moments From ‘Blood Moon’ Lunar Eclipse

Stargazers gazed in awe at a “Blood Moon” total lunar eclipse early Wednesday morning, with viewing opportunities across the Americas.

But if you missed the celestial display, never fear — SLOOH Community Observatory livestreamed the whole thing for everyone’s enjoyment, and TIME has highlights from the 3.5-hour broadcast right here.

Want a primer on the “Blood Moon” before taking a look? Read TIME Science Editor Jeffrey Kluger’s explanation of the phenomenon here.

TIME remembrance

Remembering Steve Jobs, the Man Who Did Almost Everything Right

Steve Jobs Cover
The Feb. 15, 1982, cover of TIME TIME

The Apple CEO died on Oct. 5, 2011

Steven Paul Jobs, the legendary Apple boss who set the company on its course to becoming the world’s most cash-rich company before passing away three years ago Sunday, is often lauded as a technology visionary. But really, it was Jobs’ business acumen that made him not only a genius, but also a legend. As TIME put it in 1982, in the first cover story about Jobs:

To [Apple Computer co-founder Steve] Wozniak, the new machine was simply a gadget to show his fellow computer buffs. Jobs, in contrast, saw the commercial potential of the machine that could help families do their personal finance or small businesses control inventories, and he urged that they form a company to market the computer. The two raised $1,300 to open a makeshift production line by selling Jobs’ Volkswagen Micro Bus and Wozniak’s Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. Jobs, recalling a pleasant summer that he spent working in the orchards of Oregon, christened the new computer Apple.

Indeed, Jobs’ drive to “sell a few,” as Woz put it in a 1983 TIME story, resulted in products that utterly changed the world into which they were introduced: The Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. But that drive also made him a pretty tough guy to work for — or work with. “As an executive,” the earlier article explained, “Jobs has sometimes been petulant and harsh on subordinates. Admits he: ‘I’ve got to learn to keep my feelings private'”

Still, if you were able to put up with Jobs’ demanding ways of doing business, Apple wasn’t a bad place to be, even back in ’82. “From the start,” as TIME said, “the Apple team did almost everything right.”

Read TIME’s first cover story about Steve Jobs, free of charge, here in the archives: The Seeds of Success

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