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Ask TUAW: SSDs, Bug Reports, and "4G" iPhones

It's Ask TUAW, our question-and-answer column! Since last we rounded up reader questions, we've seen the release of the iPhone 4S, iOS 5, iCloud, the announcement of OS X Mountain Lion, and, of course, the new iPad.

You can head down to the comments and tell us what Apple/Mac/iOS questions keep you up at night. If you'd prefer, instead of asking questions in the comments, you can email your questions directly to ask@tuaw.com, ping us on Twitter or hit up our feedback page. You can also direct your questions (via the same channels) to my colleague in the flowered hat, Aunt TUAW.

For our first question, Sepp wonders:

How do I actually submit a bug report to Apple?

I came across some software fault, found a post in the Apple Support Communities and commented to confirm the bug and give more details on it. I am not quite sure if anybody at Apple actually reads these. Can I do something else to get this bug fixed or do I just have to lean back and wait for things to happen?

Hi Sepp. Folks in the Apple Developer Network can file bug reports and enhancement requests through the Apple Bug Reporter. Anyone can sign up as a developer for free, but for the average user who finds an issue and merely wants to notify Apple about it, there is a much easier way.

Apple's feedback page at Apple.com/Feedback includes links for nearly every product that Apple sells, including hardware, operating systems, and software products. For example, if you select to give feedback on Mac OS X, Apple requests a number of different types of feedback, including reports on bugs, design and connectivity issues and much more.

Messages sent via this page do get read and forwarded to the appropriate departments at Apple, but there is no guarantee of receiving any confirmation or other response from the company. However, Apple has been known to follow up with customers to get more information in some cases. Our advice is to be as professional and detailed as possible with your feedback. The more information the better.

Good luck!

Jay is looking for some buying advice:

I'm looking to upgrade my MacBook Pro's RAM and the hard drive to a solid state drive. I have the RAM part down, and I feel relatively confident that I will be able to install the SSD on my own. What is really throwing me is what type of SSD to buy.

I could go the official Apple Store route, but those options are way more expensive than what I could find on, say, NewEgg or Amazon. My problem is that there seem to be a wide range of SSDs, both in terms of price and quality. What should I be looking for, besides the obvious (one that is the correct size for my computer)?

I'm willing to pay a little more for one I know is going to work well with my MBP, but I don't even know where to start.

Upgrading a MacBook Pro to a solid state drive (SSD) is an excellent way to get the most out of your Mac, and we highly recommend it. The SSD's from Other World Computing are widely praised and the folks at OWC are Mac specialists. They can help you pick out the right SSD for your MacBook Pro and they provide detailed installation videos for do-it-yourselfers.

One of the neatest upgrades for MacBook Pro owners -- and one that I have installed in my 2009-era 15" MacBook Pro -- is the Data Doubler. This allows users to replace their optical drive with a SSD, adding even more storage options. OWC offers a USB enclosure for the now-removed optical drive, making it very similar to the USB SuperDrive that Apple offers for the MacBook Air.

For you, Jay, which SSD you need depends on which MacBook Pro model you have. OWC offers both 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s-capable solid state drives. Give OWC a call and they can help you determine the best drive for you.

Jamie wonders about a recent change to her iPhone 4S:

After upgrading to iOS 5.1, my AT&T iPhone 4S now shows 4G in the top-left corner instead of 3G. Is this an upgrade in speed? I haven't noticed any difference, but maybe that's just me.

We've got a number of folks asking about this change. We actually addressed it earlier this month, but it's worth mentioning again.

In general, "4G" is mainly a marketing term at the moment. No carrier currently supports the recently adopted IMT-Advanced specification, which has a theoretical maximum download of 1 Gigabit per second. There are a number of different cellular technologies at varying speeds that carriers choose to market as 4G.

The new iPad supports Verizon and AT&T's 4G LTE networks, which most folks agree is "next-generation" technology. However, the AT&T iPhone 4S supports a technology called HSPA+, which is considered a version of 4G by most carriers; Android HSPA+ phones have said 4G for a while.

All that aside, AT&T's HSPA+ network is speedier than the EV-DO networks provided by Verizon and Sprint.

The upshot for iPhone 4S owners is that the change is merely cosmetic; nothing has changed inside the phone, and the cellular connection isn't any faster. Anandtech has an extensive rundown on the different cellular iOS devices and the technologies they are using, and our own colleague Rich G. did a thorough dive into the sticky web of cellular data standards.

Regardless, enjoy your "4G" iPhone -- and thanks for all your questions!

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