iPad Mini Retina looking iffy to ship with iPad 5

One of Apple's most anticipated products is still uncertain for high-volume availability this year.

So far, there is little evidence that points to shipments of one of Apple's most highly-anticipated products in October.

iPad Mini Retina looking iffy to ship with iPad 5
Shipment timing of an iPad Mini Retina is proving hard to predict. 

While Apple's iPad 5 looks to be on schedule for an October release, that's not the case for the Retina version of the Mini, according to Rhoda Alexander, director of Tablet and Monitor Research at IHS iSuppli.

"The Retina Mini looks less certain for that time. Manufacturing volumes on that would match better with a Q114 [first quarter 2014] launch," she told CNET.

Though she quickly qualified that saying, "But given that it's Apple, one never knows" -- meaning that Apple could announce a product but not necessarily ship it in the same time frame as the iPad 5.

Here's another confounding factor: the Asia-based supply chain of manufacturers. While analysts have talked about the start of Mini Retina display production, that's not the same as high-volume production or manufacture of the tablet itself.

IHS iSuppli, for instance, gave some aggressive estimates for Retina Mini display production earlier this year but added the caveat that production volumes necessary for Apple may not happen until late this year.

And then there's the design challenges. It may be thicker, heavier than the current Mini -- which has received mostly rave reviews because of the exceptional balance of size and weight. "I don't think that there's any way that they're not going to have a tradeoff with thickness," Alexander said.

Other analysts believe Apple has to announce a Mini Retina this year. "We think iPad Mini 2 may lose its opportunity in the market if it is slated for introduction next year," KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this month.

Adding to the confusion is the possible earlier arrival of thinner non-Retina Mini model that comes with a A6 or A7 processor, upgraded from the current A5. NPD DisplaySearch expects that to happen this year.

So, it is possible that Apple announces the product. Just don't expect Retina Minis to fly out of factory doors.

7 unexpected features in iOS 7

In my final post in a three-part series, I have put together a list of unexpected or hidden features I've found in iOS 7

7 unexpected features in iOS 7

My review of Apple's iOS 7 went up Wednesday morning, but since then I've been writing posts about what I think are the seven best and seven worst things about the new mobile OS.

Here is the third and final part of this series, covering some unexpected or hidden features in iOS 7.

There are certainly a ton of things that people are finding as they use iOS 7, so this is just a list of things that caught my attention over the past couple of days. If you have other hidden gems, please let me know in the comments.

Also, check back in the coming weeks as I explore iOS 7 on iPhone and iPad.

It's not a complete change, but it does give your iPhone a new feel when you change the background.

Changing your 'theme'
Okay, you can't actually change the theme of the new design, but it's surprising how much you can change the feel of your iOS 7 device just by changing the background. What happens is, the background changes the look of the lock screen, the dial pad when making a call, and the passcode screen by letting the background colors show through. Try a few different backgrounds to see what I mean. Another related trick, for those who find the new icons too bright, is to choose the darkest still background in the settings. I found it brings the colors down a notch.

Daily quick view in Calendar
When I wrote my review of iOS 7, I was thoroughly let down when I thought the daily overview had been removed from the app. Fortunately, I found out later that the daily list to view your appointments and meetings at a glance was indeed still there; it's just that it's kind of hidden away.

Now, to bring up the day's events at a glance, you need to hit the search magnifying glass at the top of the screen. It's not exactly intuitive, but I'm relieved it's still there.

Hiding Newsstand
Newsstand is useful for finding magazines and other reading materials, and you can set up subscriptions so you get new issues of periodicals such as The Economist every week. But in previous versions of iOS, people who were not interested in reading magazines on their iPhone couldn't put Apple's Newsstand app in a folder to save home screen space. The concept behind it was that Newsstand already was a folder of items itself and you couldn't put a folder into another folder. Last year CNET Blog Network author Jason Cipriani even wrote a how-to late last year with a work-around to hide Newsstand.

7 unexpected features in iOS 7

You can now use three fingers to quit three apps at a time by swiping upward.

Fortunately, in iOS 7, you no longer need to deal with work-arounds. Newsstand finally can be placed in a folder. It's even useful for those who use Newsstand all the time because you can drop it into a more general news folder to have a central location for all your news sources.

Quitting multiple apps
Sometimes you have to quit apps and the old method of double-tapping the home button and long-pressing the app to go into jiggle mode was kind of a tedious process. In iOS 7, you now can double-tap the home screen and flick the app preview thumbnail upward to quit. It's a bit faster, but in playing with my iPhone during the review I made another discovery.

Not only can you flick to quit an app, you also can use three fingers to quit three apps at a time with the same swiping motion. This will let you make sure apps aren't running processes in the background when you want the full power of your iOS device and it's a much faster method.

Infinite folders
In iOS 6 and earlier versions, you could only have up to 16 apps in a folder. This might be OK if you don't download a lot of apps, but if you're like me, you were forced to make folders like "Games 1" and "Games 2" if you wanted to organize your home screen.

Now, in iOS 7, you can put an infinite number of apps (or until you have no more storage space on your device) into a folder so you can truly organize your home screen. iOS 7 organizes your apps into groups of nine, and you can swipe to move on to each page. This should help limit the number of home screen pages you have to navigate and make for a more organized layout.

7 unexpected features in iOS 7

With a couple of changes to the Accessibility settings, fonts are much easier to read.

Make iOS 7 more readable
One thing I've been hearing since the update is that people with less-than-perfect eyesight have some trouble reading the thin fonts in the new design, especially when they're in front of bright backgrounds (Calendar app, I'm looking at you). Fortunately, there's a fix.

If you have trouble reading the fonts in iOS 7, go to Settings > General > Accessibility, then touch the switch for Bold Text and also the Increase Contrast switch right below it. It will require a restart of your iPhone, but now reading should be a lot easier -- even in the Calendar app.

Using the compass as a level
The compass app is a neat tool to have on your iOS device to help you get your bearings when you're outdoors, sailing, or doing any number of other activities. But a new feature of the compass app in iOS 7 will help those who work on things around the house with a feature that acts as a level.

To keep your household handywork from coming out crooked, you can now swipe to the left on the compass, and you get a digital level tool. With this page open, you can set your iPhone on a table you might be making or even on its edge when hanging a picture, and you'll be able to tell if it's truly level.

How to speed up iOS 7 on an older device

Reject some of iOS 7's eye candy and stop some background processes and your older iOS device may run more quickly and smoothly.

iOS 7 caught me close to -- but not at -- the end of two product cycles. My current Verizon contract isn't up until January, so my iPhone 4S will have to suffice until after the holidays. And I hope to replace my iPad 2 with whatever new iPad Apple is expected to roll out next month. Until then, I'm stuck with my current devices, which are acting a bit sluggish after upgrading to iOS 7.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to improve an old iOS device's performance somewhat. Before we begin, a disclaimer: These tips won't make it feel like a new iPhone, and they involve disabling some features you might find attractive or useful. But, taken together, they might improve your iPhone's performance to where you won't throw it out a window (or trade it in) until after your current contract is up.

Clear some space

Did you heed our advice and properly prepare your device for iOS 7? If not, the first of the five things we suggested was to delete any unwanted or unused apps. If your device's hard drive is near capacity, reducing the amount of data stored on it could result in a speed boost. To see how much free space you have, go to Settings > General > Usage. At the top of the page under the Storage header, you will see how much available and used space you have and a list of your apps and the amount of space each occupies. To delete an app, find it, tap and hold until it starts wiggling, and tap the X in the upper-left corner.

How to speed up iOS 7 on an older device

Kill background processes
iOS 7 runs more processes in the background to make your life easier. For starters, apps now update in themselves in the background, which saves you from having to stare at an ever-increasing number in the badge alert on your App Store icon and before updating a huge slew of apps. On the other hand, updating apps in the background is still a process that occupies your iOS device's CPU (not to mention battery). You can turn off this feature and update your apps via the App Store as before. To do so, go to Settings > App Store and scroll down to the Automatic Downloads section and flip the toggle switch to off for Apps and Updates. And if you want to cut out all background processes, turn off automatic downloads for Music and Books, which means you'll need to sync purchases across devices manually.

How to speed up iOS 7 on an older device 

Apps also refresh their content on iOS 7 in the background. For example, your Facebook news feed will update without you needing to do so when you open the app. Helpful, to be sure, but it occupies CPU cycles. To turn it off, go to Settings >General > Background App Refresh and flip the toggle switch off.

How to speed up iOS 7 on an older device

Reject parallax, transparency, and blur effects
iOS 7 introduced new animations, which quickly lose their luster when they result in a choppy motions and lag. If this describes your experience with iOS 7's parallax and other motion effects, you can turn them down a notch. Head to Settings >General > Accessibility and tap on Reduce Motion. On the next screen, flip the slider to on, which will "reduce the motion of the user interface, including the parallax effect of icons and alerts. This setting was available on my iPad 2 but not on my iPhone 4S, which doesn't support fancy motions of any kind.

How to speed up iOS 7 on an older device

Before you leave the Accessibility area of settings, there is one other setting to investigate. Just above Reduce Motion is an item called Increase Contrast. Tap on it and then turn its toggle switch on to "improve contrast on some background to increase legibility." Now, you aren't enabling this setting to make words easier to read. What is does it turn off the transparency and blur effects that some windows in iOS 7 feature, such as the Control Center. On my two old devices, I didn't get the cool blur effect anyway, so all I'm losing in this deal is some transparency effect. With it disabled, the theory is your iOS device's struggling processor will have more resources to deploy elsewhere.

For more on Apple's latest mobile operating system, please see CNET How To's complete guide to iOS 7.

Is your old iOS device moving more slowly after upgrading to iOS 7? Have you found any way to improve its performance? If so, please share in the comments below.

For longer battery life, change these iOS 7 settings

Some of iOS 7's features -- including hidden settings -- could be killing your phone's battery life. Here's how to make sure your iPhone makes it through the day.

Some of iOS 7's new features might be hurting your battery life. Thing is, it's not the standout features like AirDrop or the Notification Center -- it's the stealthy settings buried beneath a stack of menus.

For longer battery life, change these iOS 7 settings

If you're noticing a quickly draining battery, or just want to get more juice out of your battery, make changes to these settings.

Background app refreshing
This welcomed feature finally lets background apps stay active while you multitask. The trouble is that by default all apps are set to refresh, uselessly stealing precious battery life.

To fix that, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Here, you can choose to disable the setting altogether, or just turn it off for the apps that don't need refreshing.

Automatic updates
A time-saver no doubt, iOS's automatic updates keep your apps up-to-date so you don't have to. According to Apple, it's designed to be power-conscious, but if you know you'll be without a charger for a long time, it's best to disable it.

To do so, head to Settings > iTunes and Apple Store, and disable the Updates option. Just don't forget to check the App Store for new app versions.

Frequent Locations (and other location services)
A huge battery hog for any device is the use of location-based apps and services. Usually, that applies to mapping apps, but hidden in your Settings are a slew of location services that could be doing more harm than good.

Head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Scroll down and choose System Services. Some of these options are designed to improve your experience, but they come at the cost of your privacy (and battery). Disable any options you don't actually need, like iAds. Then, head to the Frequent Locations feature, and disable that, too.


Being able to search for almost anything in your device is a big productivity-booster, but that means Spotlight is constantly crawling for new data, then indexing it. You guessed it: it's a battery drain.

Those who rely heavily on Spotlight should skip this option, but if you can live with only a partially indexed phone, un-index some items.

Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search, and uncheck the items you don't absolutely need indexed.