Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics has filed a patent infringement complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The AFP reports that the complaint alleges that Apple is violating Elan’s patents related to touch-sensitive input devices with multi-touch capabilities, specifically with the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook laptops, the Magic Mouse, and the iPad. “We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple’s ongoing infringement,” Elan said in a statement. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan requesting that the ITC bar Apple from importing the products into the United States, and prevent it from selling any of the products in the United States that it has already imported. Elan filed a lawsuit against Apple in April of 2009 over the same alleged infringement. [via MDN]
Apple is working to build a pair of iPhones for release this year, one a sequel to the company’s prior GSM handsets, and the other built to work on CDMA networks, according to a new report. Citing people briefed by the company, the Wall Street Journal reports that the CDMA iPhone will be built by Pegatron Technology Corp., the contract manufacturing subsidiary of Taiwan’s ASUSTeK Computer, and is scheduled to go into mass production in September. This new model would allow Apple to offer the iPhone on both Verizon Wireless and Sprint in the U.S., along with a small number of carriers in countries including South Korea and Japan. The new GSM model is being made by Hon Hai Precision Industry, the same company that produced Apple’s prior iPhones, and will likely be thinner and have a faster processor, according to the report.
Following the publication of the WSJ report, Engadget was informed by an anonymous source that the next-generation iPhone would be announced on Tuesday, June 22, and would be dubbed the iPhone HD. In a separate report calling the WSJ out for lack of details on the next-generation iPhone, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber suggested that the next-gen iPhone would be powered by an A4-family CPU system-on-a-chip, and sport a 960x640 quadruple resolution display, second, front-facing camera, and third-party multitasking thanks to iPhone OS 4.0. These reports follow the appearance of images and video of a supposed fourth-generation iPhone replacement faceplate, which was slightly taller than that of current iPhone models and featured a prominent hole next to the handset speaker, supposedly for a front-facing camera.
New photos and a video have appeared online claiming to show the LCD, digitizer, and faceplate of the fourth-generation iPhone. Photos appearing on Apple.pro (Translated Link) show that the glass face, LCD, and digitizer are in fact all one piece, like the original iPhone, and not separate components as they are on the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The faceplate is slightly taller than that of the iPhone and iPhone 3G/3GS, and features a circular hole to the left of the handset speaker that is supposedly for a front-facing camera. While an iLounge source with a trusted track record did not know whether the component was legitimately from the fourth-generation iPhone, a new video from Colombian repair shop SmartPhoneMedic shows what appears to be an identical part, which is again claimed to be the faceplate of a fourth-generation iPhone and is compared with that of an iPhone 3G. As Mac Rumors notes, while it is not unusual for Asian suppliers to offer claimed future-generation Apple product parts, many of the claims have not held up when compared with the actual product. Continue reading for more pictures and the video in embedded form.
Radio Shack is preparing to offer the iPhone in 3,000 of its 4,500 stores across the U.S. beginning March 28, according to an AppleInsider report. The report states that the expansion will see Radio Shack become the second-largest third-party retailer of the iPhone in terms of retail locations, second only to Walmart and ahead of both AT&T and Best Buy. According to the report, the retailer will promote the rollout in its March 28 circular, with pricing for each iPhone model set at roughly $5 off the MSRP, or $95 for the 8GB iPhone 3G, $195 for the 16GB iPhone 3GS, and $295 for the 32GB 3GS. Radio Shack began selling the iPhone in a limited number of stores in November 2009.
A new Apple job listing suggests the company is planning to include Long Term Evolution (LTE) “4G” cellular radio technology in future devices, such as the iPhone and possibly iPad. The listing for a “Cellular Technology Software Manager” calls for “[e]xpert knowledge of one or multiple cellular technologies: WCDMA/UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE etc.” Applicants must also “understand the development cycle of phone, IOT, and certification process and carrier approval process.” Both AT&T and Verizon have announced plans to move to LTE networks over the coming years, with Verizon expected to begin its rollout later this year and AT&T expected to begin deployment in 2011. [via Engadget]
Following rival carrier Bharti Airtel’s announcement that it would begin selling the iPhone 3GS in India today, Vodafone has announced that it too is offering the iPhone 3GS in the region starting today. Airtel is offering the 16GB model for 35,500 rupees (roughly $780) and the 32GB model for 41,500 rupees (~$913) and is also giving iPhone 3GS customers 500 MB of free data every month for a year from the date of activation; Vodafone’s pricing has yet to be announced. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone launched the iPhone 3G simultaneously in August 2008.
According to the latest data from mobile advertising firm AdMob, the iPod touch is playing a large part in the growth of traffic from mobile Internet devices (MID). The company’s newly-published February Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link) states that traffic growth from MIDs is outpacing that of smartphones and feature phones, increasing 403% over the last year to account for 17% of AdMob’s traffic in February. The iPod touch is by far the leader in the category, accounting for 93% of this traffic. Likewise, strong growth in iPhone and Android traffic, fueled by heavy application usage, helped boost overall smartphone traffic by 193% year-over-year. Smartphones now account for 48% of AdMob’s worldwide traffic, with the iPhone accounting for 49.5% of that traffic, a figure that’s down 0.9% from January. AdMob’s numbers are based on ad requests for more than 15,000 mobile Web sites and applications worldwide.
Several members of the U.S. Army’s technology command recently visited Apple headquarters to discuss the use of Apple products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, in Army business and battlefield operations. Army.mil reports that Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general and key members of his staff traveled to Apple’s Cupertino, CA headquarters on March 5, touring the company’s facilities and discussing current military use of Apple products. “The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions and toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield,” Justice said. “We’re continuing to leverage commercial technology for battlefield uses; we can’t ignore that kind of existing knowledge. Our job, as stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar, is to adopt and adapt appropriate commercial technology and offer the best possible solution to the warfighter.”
Currently, the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center (CERDEC) is helping to develop and transition two iPhone applications, one used to collect information on counter-insurgency, and the other offering a combined planning and social networking environment. “Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual,” said Ron Szymanski, CERDEC’s lead computer scientist on the project. “The Army would like to leverage Apple’s experience when designing military applications.”
After its initial, human-based touchscreen stress testing saw the iPhone besting three rival Android handsets—the HTC Droid Eris, the Motorola Droid, and the HTC-built Google Nexus One—the MOTO Development Group has performed another set of tests using a laboratory robot to remove any inconsistencies caused by human error. The new tests again found that the iPhone bests its rivals in both “medium” and “very light” touch tests, using 7mm and 4mm test fingers, respectively. Notably, this new round of testing included the Palm Pre and BlackBerry Storm 2 in addition to the four phones that were included in the original test; the Pre was “second to iPhone in linearity in [the] ‘medium’ test,” while both the Droid Eris and Nexus One offered “solid performance” with “some waviness.” Additionally, the Droid, Pre, and Storm 2 all showed significant signal loss during the “very light” test; the Droid exhibited signal loss in the “medium” test as well. MOTO notes that “what matters most isn’t the performance of the touchscreen itself, but how well a touchscreen performs in combination with its operating system and user-interface,” but says it’s useful to look at touchscreen performance in isolation, because “it is a central ingredient in the mix and a good indicator of how satisfying a touchscreen experience is likely to be.”
Just one week after announcing that it had reached a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone 3GS in India, Bharti Airtel will officially launch the handset on its network. According to Reuters, the 16GB model will sell for 35,500 rupees (roughly $780) while the 32GB model will be priced at 41,500 rupees (~$913). In addition, all iPhone 3GS customers will receive 500 MB of free data every month for a year from the date of activation. Bharti Airtel first launched the iPhone 3G in India in August 2008.
Rogers Wireless and Fido in Canada have announced their official smartphone tethering policy, which extends to the iPhone. According to a post on Rogers’ RedBoard blog, “[e]ffective immediately, tethering will continue to be included at no additional charge for Rogers and Fido customers who subscribe to data plans of 1 GB and above.” This announcement essentially makes the company’s prior tethering promotion its ongoing policy. The post also notes that tethering “cannot be used with the new 1 GB+ One Rate Roaming plans (except Rocket stick plans), Family Shared Data & Voice Plans and Smartphone & Rocket stick shared data plans.” Tethering capability was added to the iPhone in iPhone OS 3.0, but only select carriers have thus far enabled users to take advantage of the feature.
In a brief reply to a customer email, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly confirmed that the iPhone will soon offer a universal email inbox. A TUAW reader asked Jobs “will iPhone ever have a universal mailbox just like Mail has on my Mac? It would be so much easier and efficient,” to which the notoriously terse CEO replied “Yep.” Notably, the email was apparently sent from an iPad, as was a reply to a separate inquiry asking whether there was a way to transfer Google Docs to an iPad using iWork.com or iDisk—Jobs responded positively to this question as well. Jobs has been known to respond to customers’ emails on occasion, normally with short, one sentence answers.
Apple and AT&T, along with 20 other companies including Acer, Google, HTC, LG, Nokia, and Palm, have been sued by California-based MicroUnity Systems Engineering, which is claiming infringement of 14 separate patents. AppleInsider reports that the suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, specifically names the iPhone 3GS and third-generation models of the iPod touch, as well as competing devices including the Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One, Palm Pre, and Nokia N900. The patents specified in the suit appear to cover a wide range of mobile processor activities, relating to parallel operation, cache operation, and other general processing concepts. According to the suit, AT&T was targeted because it sells the iPhone 3GS and “services utilizing and software utilized by such products.”
CNET reports that Opera has now submitted its Opera Mini web browser for the iPhone to Apple for App Store approval. First previewed at the Mobile World Congress, Opera Mini is designed to be used as an alternative to the iPhone’s built in Safari browser and promises faster page loading due to server-side optimization and a tabbed browser interface. CNET indicates that Opera Mini 5 running on the iPhone looks and behaves “almost identically” to the version of Opera Mini 5 on other mobile devices but also includes the ability to reload the previous session to maintain a persistent state when relaunched. Unlike other alternative browsers currently available on the App Store, Opera Mini is not based on WebKit, and there has been much speculation as to whether Apple will approve it. Third-party browsers have previously fallen afoul of Apple’s restriction on third-party applications executing code, however in discussing the matter with CNET, Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner indicated that he doesn’t feel that Opera Mini directly violates anything in Apple’s SDK license as it merely displays web pages rendered on Opera’s own proxy servers.
The iPhone OS has overtaken Sony’s Playstation Portable in terms of U.S. portable game software revenue, according to a new report from Flurry Analytics. Using publicly available market data from NPD, estimated Nintendo DS and Sony PSP game software sales, and iPhone games sales estimated using a combination of data from both Apple and the company’s own app-tracking analytics service, the iPhone OS as a platform increased its share of U.S. portable game software revenue from 5% in 2008 to 19% in 2009. In the same time period, the Nintendo DS’ revenue share fell from 75% to 70%, and the PSP’s share fell from 20% to 11%, leaving it behind the iPhone OS. Apple’s overall share of U.S video game software revenue, which includes revenue from console software sales, increased from 1% in 2008 to 5% in 2009; Flurry speculates that the launch of the iPad could lead to more increases for the iPhone OS platform. “With the iPad featuring a larger screen and more processing power, games on the tablet take a step closer to PC and console gaming,” the report states. “Unless the other major video game platform providers (i.e., Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) respond accordingly, Apple could continue to roll up video game market share.”
Apple has begun to offer iPhone 3GS units without a contract in its own retail stores, according to a new report. Citing an internal Apple document, Gizmodo reports that customers may purchase one iPhone per day without verifying that they have an AT&T account or providing a form of ID. According to the report, the phones remain carrier-locked to AT&T, and are priced from $499 for the 8GB iPhone 3G to $699 for the 32GB iPhone 3GS. Curiously, the move comes nearly one year to the day after Apple started similar contract-free sales of the iPhone 3G, suggesting that the company is preparing to move existing stock ahead of a new iPhone model this summer.
A number of iPhone app review sites are unscrupulously charging developers to have their applications reviewed, according to a Wired report. The practice of soliciting money in exchange for a review is not illegal, but is frowned upon by the Federal Trade Commission, which revised its guidelines covering blogger endorsements in October 2009 to require a disclosure whenever a review is written in exchange for money or gifts. “They prey on people who need exposure,” said Oliver Cameron, developer of the iPhone app Postman, who has actively avoided sites charging for reviews. “It strikes me as a paid ad, really. They never seem to actually ‘review’ it.” The report states that the two sites mentioned most by developers as engaging in the practice were theiphoneappreview.com and appcraver.com.
In addition to charging for reviews, some sites, including The iPhone App Review, openly charge developers for what they call “expedited” reviews, in which the paying developer’s app is given priority over other, standard reviews. The site’s editor-in-chief Shaun Campbell defended the practice, citing the large number of apps available on the store and saying it would be an “impossible task to review all the apps we receive, paid or unpaid.” “The iPhone App Review is not a PR charity,” he continued. “We’re a business, and like in any business, there are costs that need to be recovered.”
iLounge does not charge for reviews, and actively rejects attempts from developers to pay for coverage. Our long-standing product coverage policies include additional details for those who may be interested.
Bharti Airtel has announced that it has reached a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone 3GS in India in the coming months. The company launched the iPhone 3G in August 2008, the same day that rival carrier Vodafone India launched the handset. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bharti Airtel has submitted its bid to participate in a bandwidth auction for 3G services; successful bidders will be allowed to offer commercial 3G service beginning September 1. No exact release date or pricing information has yet been announced.
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a location-based social networking service referred to as “iGroups.” The application describes a system through which multiple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch users at an event, meeting, or other gathering could exchange information automatically by having their devices exchange encrypted, location-tagged “tokens,” which would then be sent to a trusted service—such as Apple’s MobileMe—and used to determine that all the users were at the same place or event. Once this has taken place, the users could then send location information and messages amongst the group as they move about and experience the event, potentially facilitating discussions on where to meet after the event is over, and also making it possible to precisely locate non-GPS devices by determining their proximity to a GPS-enabled device using a short-range communications protocol such as Bluetooth. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]
According to comments made by René Obermann, CEO of T-Mobile USA parent company Deutsche Telekom, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier may start offering the iPhone as soon as later this year. The Financial Times reports that Obermann told the publication T-Mobile USA hopes to start selling the iPhone later this year or next year, but in the meantime will focus on Android-powered smartphones. T-Mobile was the first U.S. carrier to offer an Android-powered phone, the HTC G1, and has since expanded its Android lineup with several other models, including the Google-branded, HTC-built Nexus One. [via MDN]