Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘AT&T’

Spotify Premium Now Bundled With AT&T’s Top Unlimited Plan ➝

Bundling entertainment services alongside connectivity will inevitably end poorly — if cable companies have taught us anything. But in the meantime, I guess you’re better off taking advantage of these deals than not. We currently have free HBO through our AT&T plan and have been more than happy with it. Just keep an eye out for rising prices or signs of overall service degradation. That’s when we need to start complaining.

Giving Prepaid a Chance ➝

Eric Schwarz decided to give prepaid cellular service a try. He moved everyone on his AT&T family plan to Cricket Wireless. They’re saving a bit of money on their monthly bill and have found the service to be just as reliable as their previous setup.

On the Original iPhone’s Launch ➝

Stephen Hackett, on the original iPhone’s activation issues:

Customers were required to activate their iPhones in-store, which went fairly smoothly until 8 p.m., when stores in the Pacific Time Zone came online, bringing both iTunes and AT&T servers to their knees. Thankfully, Apple allowed us to send customers home to wait for their activations to complete.

This piece was from 2013, but, on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s launch, is worth revisiting.

I purchased my iPhone from an AT&T store and was told to activate it through iTunes when I got home. I vaguely remember reports of activation issues, but I never experienced them myself. Sounds like most of us on the east coast got in before the problems started, though.

The iPhone Launch

It was late Thursday evening and I decided to take a drive to my local AT&T store. I had read reports of lines forming at Apple and AT&T stores across the country and was curious to see if my relatively small city had enough interested inhabitants to start lining up the day before release. There wasn’t a single person in front of the store.

That wasn’t too surprising to me. I was the only person in my social circle with a deep interest in technology and I was almost certainly the only person in my small community college that brought a MacBook to class each day. But even with my immense enthusiasm about Apple, I was still unsure about purchasing an iPhone. I was nineteen at the time and the thought of spending five or six hundred dollars on anything was a little scary. But I knew this device was something special.

iPhone’s Glow

I owned an iPod nano, a fifth-generation iPod, and a MacBook. They were the only Apple devices in my possession, but if the iPhone’s fit and finish was anything close to those, it was going to be a hit.

On my way back home from the AT&T store, I called my mother on speaker phone with my Motorola RAZR. That little flip phone was all the rage in the mid-2000s and, being the tech-enthusiast that I was, I had racked up ridiculous data charges using Opera Mini to read my favorite weblogs in between classes at school. When my mom answered the phone, I unleashed all of my nearly-incoherent thoughts about the iPhone — what it did, what it didn’t do, how I could combine my RAZR and iPod’s functionality into a single device, and the pricing of each model.

I was looking for advice about purchasing one. I was a frugal young adult and had the money to buy one myself, but it was the second largest purchase I had ever made — behind my MacBook — and I didn’t want to jump into this purchase without giving it, what many would consider, far too much thought. After I unloaded all of the various thoughts that had been building up in my brain about the device, she calmly replied with something to the effect of: “You and I both know you’re going to buy it. Just buy it.”

My mind was made up. I was going to head home, get some sleep, and arrive at the AT&T store around noon. With any luck, the line wouldn’t be too long and I’d be able to walk out of the store with an iPhone that day.

I drove into AT&T’s parking lot at about 11:30 the next morning. There were ten people in line at the time and the word around the rumor mill was that the iPhone would be in limited supply at launch, but no one had any hard numbers about exactly how many phones each store would have. I just hoped my eleventh place in line was good enough to secure one.

The iPhone launch was different than any other cell phone release had been. Not just because of the monumental hype surrounding it, Apple and AT&T had this wacky plan of closing all of their retail locations at 5PM and reopening an hour later. This would give sales associates an opportunity to reset the sales floor with demo units and signage for the iPhone launch.

Initial Charge on Original iPhone

While waiting in line, I met people from all walks of life — a brain surgeon, a college student, an intern at Corning Glass, and a handful of others. There was a camaraderie amongst us. We were all there because of a common interest in technology. But, of the first dozen people in line, the intern from Corning Glass was sort-of the center of attention.

The guy seemed to have the inside scoop about the glass Apple was using in this new device — a glass that Corning had developed years prior, but until the iPhone, never had a good application for. After sharing his story, he ran to his car to retrieve a MacBook Pro — he planning on watching a movie or two to kill some time before the iPhone sales began.

When he returned, he pulled a small sheet of glass from his pocket. He claimed it was one of the prototype cuts that Corning made in their headquarters’ lab in preparation of the iPhone’s manufacturing several months prior. He passed it around the line, letting everyone get an idea for how the device we were planning to purchase would feel in our hands. It had cutouts for the earpiece speaker and home button.

It’s hard to tell if his story was true, I was never able to compare his glass panel to a fully-assembled iPhone. But it sure seemed legitimate to me. Especially given my close proximity to Corning Glass’ headquarters — about a thirty minute drive from my house.

Once the AT&T employees locked the doors for the sales floor reset, the anticipation was at a fever pitch. The line was growing rapidly — there were only about fifteen of us for most of the day, but by the time the employees started letting customers inside, there was about sixty. The AT&T employees informed us that there would only be a handful of customers allowed in the store at a time, when a customer left, another would be let in.

When I was finally let into the store, I was told that there were demo units available if I wanted to try it before I made my purchase. What a silly suggestion. I waited in line seven hours to purchase a cell phone, there isn’t a demo unit in the world that was going to change my mind. I walked up to the counter and asked for an 8GB model. I plunked down my $647 and was handed the most gorgeous product package I had ever seen.

iPhone Home Screen

I was the third person to walk out of the store with an iPhone and I couldn’t wait to get home and activate it with iTunes. That’s right, you had to connect your iPhone to your computer and activate it with iTunes before you could use it. Once I went through the activation process and synced all of my data, I felt like I was holding something that a time traveler had brought with them from the future. It was the most dense piece of technology I had ever seen — a little computer that I could hold in my hand and fit in my pocket.

The iPhone changed everything. In more ways than we even know. There are entire industries that haven’t fully adjusted to this new normal — a world where everyone has an internet connected computer in their pocket. But I couldn’t be happier that I’ve been able to see it all unfold over these last ten years — as one of the first owners of the most important consumer product of our generation.

Getting Free HBO With Your AT&T Unlimited Plus Account Without Paying for DirecTV Now ➝

If you’re interested in AT&T’s free HBO deal, but don’t want to pay for DirecTV Now, it is possible. And Thaddeus Hunt does a great job of running through the steps necessary to make it happen. From his piece on the subject:

There was still the elephant in the room though – how do you get a login account for a video service without paying for another subscription?

The good news is that you can, but it sure as hell isn’t obvious.

I’ve been on AT&T’s true unlimited data plan since the iPhone launched in 2007. That is, until just a few days ago when my wife and I switched to this new Unlimited Plus plan. It was mostly financially motivated — over the past year or two the old unlimited plans went from $30 a month to $40. All told, moving to this new plan should save us about $25 on our cellular bill.

Having the Unlimited Plus plan also means that we can finally use tethering on our iPhones — a feature that has been around for years, but AT&T never enabled it for unlimited data customers. On trips with questionable Wi-Fi access, I’ll now be able to share my iPhone’s data connection with my iPad, which reduces the likelihood of me ever owning an iPad with cellular connectivity to nearly zero.

Before signing up for the new plan I made a list of a small handful of question and called AT&T for some clarification. The biggest question I had was about the free HBO that they had been advertising — will I have to subscribe to DirecTV Now in order to receive it?

I had the same experience as Thaddeus — the representative lied, telling me that I had to subscribe to one of AT&T’s video services in order to receive the free HBO deal. Disappointed, I ended up switching my plan anyway — I really wanted access to tethering and the cost savings was just too high to ignore.

After mentioning the decision on Twitter, my buddy Matthew Lanier walked me through the process of signing up for DirecTV Now without having to pay for a subscription. I still can’t believe how terrible AT&T’s messaging has been about this deal, but I’m glad to have some new features tied to my cellular service and save some money along the way.

Nine Years of iPhone ➝

Luke Dormehl, writing for Cult of Mac:

There are no prizes for guessing the significance of today’s “Today in Apple history” installment. On 29 June 2007, the first generation iPhone went on sale — causing massive queues of Apple fans lining up outside Apple Stores around the United States.

I waited in line for seven hours and was the third person at my local AT&T store to walk out with an iPhone. I remember one of the employees telling me as I walked in, “we have demo units if you’d like to try it out before buying.” To which I replied, “that won’t be necessary.”

AT&T to Launch Streaming TV Service ➝

Peter Kafka, reporting for Re/code:

AT&T says it will have three different tiers of service. It is describing the most full-featured one, confusingly named “DirecTV Now,” as something that sounds similar to traditional TV, or the “skinny bundle” that Dish sells via its Sling TV. There’s also a mid-tier service that’s supposed to offer a “mobile-first user experience” — which seems to mean “not as much video as you would get with traditional pay TV” — and then a free version, with a grab-bag of video.

The idea of AT&T selling a web television service is only intriguing to me because of the free tier. What would it contain? Would there be any limitations aside from the number of available channels?

AT&T to Increase Price of Unlimited Plans in February ➝

As someone who’s had the unlimited data plan since the original iPhone’s launch day, I’m very annoyed by this news.