Following the iPhone 3G’s discontinuation of the original iPhone’s iTunes-based service signup and activation, Apple has launched a new online tool that lets customers planning to purchase an iPhone 3G review their eligibility and pricing, select an AT&T rate plan, and inform their local Apple Store of when they would like to come in to purchase the device. As all of these steps were previously handled for iPhone 3G customers while in-store or through an in-line, on-site screening process, the tool is likely designed to help reduce the amount of time it takes customers to purchase and activate their phones. It will also likely help avoid confusion when/if there is an AT&T-related issue, giving the user a chance to sort whatever issues may arise with AT&T prior to coming in to the store.
The service appears to be available only for U.S.-based customers at this time.
Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Apple and AT&T over the iPhone 3G, alleging “deceptive, improper or unlawful conduct in [Apple and AT&T’s] design, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, and sale” of the iPhone 3G. The Class Action complaint, filed in New York Eastern District Court by Jai Sen, cites numerous issues relating to Apple’s latest handset, including hairline cracks in the housing, 3G power demands and AT&T’s struggle to respond to the resulting demands on its infrastructure, and misleading advertising. This suit is at least the fourth such complaint filed against Apple and/or AT&T over problems with the iPhone 3G; the suit is seeking restitution, damages, and disclosures and/or disclaimers to be added to packaging and advertisements for the iPhone 3G.
A number of iPhone users are experiencing problems with email fetching following the installation of iPhone Software 2.1. According to a lengthy thread on Apple’s discussion boards, some users find that Mail will only check their email manually, regardless of whether the account is set up to automatically receive mail via push or fetch, and regardless of whether they are using an original iPhone or iPhone 3G. At least one user in the thread claims to have received a phone call from a product specialist confirming that Apple is aware of the problem and is handling it as a “major” issue, although it remains unclear when affected users may expect a fix.
Apple has launched its new iPhone Developer University Program, a free program designed for higher education institutions wanting to introduce curriculum for developing iPhone OS applications. According to Apple’s website, the program will allow instructors and professors to create a development team of up to 200 students, and will provide a wealth of development resources, tools for testing and debugging, and the ability to share applications within a development team. In addition, institutions will have the ability to submit applications for distribution in the App Store. The program is currently available to accredited, higher education institutions in the U.S. It is unclear what adjustments or exceptions Apple may be planning to add to the iPhone developer Non-Disclosure Agreement, which currently forbids developers from discussing iPhone OS development.
Due to a defect identified in the “Ultracompact” USB Power Adapters included with all iPhone 3G units sold in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, and six Latin American countries, and sold separately in these and four others, Apple has launched an exchange program in which customers can return their adapters for a new, redesigned version. The program’s site states: “under certain conditions the new ultracompact Apple USB power adapter’s metal prongs can break off and remain in a power outlet, creating a risk of electric shock. We have received reports of detached blades involving a very small percentage of the adapters sold, but no injuries have been reported…. Users with ultracompact power adapters should immediately stop using them until they exchange them for a new, redesigned ultracompact adapter.” The page also states that if the user’s adapter has a single green dot near the prongs, they already have the redesigned adapter and will not need a replacement. According to the program page, replacement adapters will be available starting October 10, and the company will offer replacements via the web, or through its retail stores.
While Genius playlist creation is listed as a new feature in the release notes of the iPhone 2.1 Software Update, iLounge has confirmed that the feature will not appear unless the user performs a sync following installation of the 2.1 software. First seen on the new iPod touch, the Genius playlist creation button is supposed to sit below the audio scrub bar on the Now Playing screen beside buttons for toggling shuffle and looped playback on and off. Normally, the bar and buttons can be accessed by tapping the screen while a song is playing.
If the iPhone is not synchronized after applying the 2.1 software update, the Genius button never materializes, leaving a sizable gap between the shuffle and repeat buttons. The feature is also missing from the top of the Playlists menu, where it would normally appear. Synchronizing the iPhone with the Sync button in iTunes fixes this issue, bringing the button and menu choices back.
As promised during the Let’s Rock event, Apple today released its iPhone 2.1 Software Update, the latest update to the software for iPhone and iPhone 3G. According to Apple, the new software features a variety of improvements, including a decrease in call set-up failures and call drops, significantly improved battery life for most users, dramatically reduced time to backup in iTunes, improved email reliability, notably when fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts, faster installation of 3rd party applications, fixes for bugs causing hangs and crashes if the user has lots of 3rd party applicaitons, improved performance in text messaging, faster loading and searching of contacts, improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display, repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages, option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts, and Genius playlist creation. The iPhone 2.1 Software Update weighs in at 237.8MB for the iPhone 3G and 231MB for the original iPhone and is available now through the Update feature in iTunes.
The debut of the iPhone in Korea could be delayed into 2009 or later, according to a Korea Times report. KTF, Korea’s second-largest wireless carrier, has been negotiating with Apple to sell the iPhone 3G, but has hit a snag with regulators. “For now, there is no agreement of any kind between KTF and Apple over the release of iPhones,” said a KTF official. “Even after a deal is inked, the network interoperability tests will take about two or three months and there is also the process of enabling KTF’s existing mobile-phone applications to work on iPhones. It would be virtually impossible to release the handsets earlier than early next year.”
The country’s Wireless Platform for Interoperability (WIPI) software standard must be adopted by any handsets designed to access mobile data services, and has caused many handset makers to steer clear of the Korean market, which accounts for roughly 20 million handset purchases a year. The Korean Communications Commission has been under pressure from consumers and carriers alike to drop the WIPI standard, a move which would open the market to more foreign handset makers (Korea’s Samsung and LG currently account for nearly 90 percent of the Korean market). Despite the pressure, the WIPI issue is not scheduled for discussion at the KCC’s executive meetings this month. A KCC official said, “The scrapping of the WIPI requirements is too big of a decision to make a quick judgment. It will definitely take more than one meeting.”
Vimpelcom, one of three Russian carriers to recently announce agreements with Apple to sell the iPhone, will not subsidize the device when it goes on sales this year. “We are in principle considering no subsidies for the time being as Russian law does not allow locking mobile phones,” Vimpelcom CEO Alexander Izosimov said in an interview. Izosimov added that the company is eager to begin sales of the iPhone. “The earlier we start working with it, the better we will be prepared. It is not technologies that will change, but the business model,” Izosimov said. “Our research shows that when the iPhone falls into the hands of a customer, the use of data services increases by four to five times.”
Apple and carrier partner AT&T have been sued on the ground that they have knowingly oversold the iPhone 3G, resulting in reduced network performance in places where many iPhone 3Gs are in use at once. The complaint, filed in a San Diego court by iPhone customer William Gillis, relies primarily on various Internet reports from the last two months, which state that initial (pre-software 2.0.2) iPhone 3G network power demands, combined with the “high volume” of iPhone 3G sales, have resulted in reduced 3G speeds and in some cases inability to use the 3G network. The complaint also states that Apple provides no warning of possible issues on the product’s packaging. A disclaimer “points out to them to ask questions, to further investigate, or [for companies] to simply disclose complete and accurate information about the product,” the lawsuit reads. “This is especially true in the case of the speed and performance of an expensive [device]; an important feature in any electronics device purchase.” Gillis is seeking class action status for the suit so that any affected AT&T subscriber in California could receive compensation. The suit calls for both Apple and AT&T to pay restitution as well as punitive damages.
An image appearing on a number of websites this weekend, supposedly showing a new Belkin game controller for the iPhone called the “JoyPod,” is in fact a hoax, iLounge has learned. Following publication of the image, iLounge contacted Belkin to confirm the product’s validity, and was told that “[t]he ‘JoyPod’ is not a Belkin product, but simply a false rumor,” and that the company has “no plans to release such a product.” As previously noted by iLounge, the iPhone OS does not allow third-party applications to access the iPhone or iPod touch’s Dock Connector port for wired accessories such as joypads or keyboards, though this could change in the future should Apple update the OS to permit further accessory support.
O2 in the United Kingdom has announced that it will begin offering the iPhone 3G to Pay & Go pre-pay customers on September 16. The 8GB iPhone 3G for Pay & Go will be available for £350 (~$625) and the 16GB model for £400 ($715), both of which will include one full year of unlimited data and Wi-Fi throughout the UK. At the end of the 12 months users can continue to receive unlimited browsing and Wi-Fi for £10 (~$18) per month. Unfortunately, Pay & Go customers will not be able to use the iPhone’s Visual Voicemail feature or call merging. In June, O2 revealed its expected pricing for Pay & Go iPhone 3G units, and had both models selling for between £40 and £50 less, but with only 6 months of included data and Wi-Fi.
Following iPhone 3G reception testing and an informal survey from earlier this week suggesting that the device’s speed problems were tied to its individual carriers and not the phone itself, an Orange representative has confirmed (Translated link) that the company is capping all French “hybrid” phones to 384kbps. According to France Info, the cap is placed all phones with handheld computing capabilities; Orange has promised to raise the cap to 1 megabit per second starting on September 15. [via AppleInsider]
An Apple television ad for the original iPhone misled customers, ruled the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a regulatory body in the United Kingdom. BBC News reports that the ASA received two complaints concerning the statement that “all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone.” The group said that because the iPhone lacks support for Flash and Java, the claim was misleading. Apple has argued that the claim referred to the availability of webpages, rather than their specific appearance; however, the ASA said the spot “gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone” and must not be aired again in its current form. “Because the iPhone doesn’t support Flash or Java, you couldn’t really see the internet in its full glory,” said Olivia Campbell, a spokesperson for the ASA. “They made a very general claim that you can see the internet in its entirety, and actually that’s not quite true - so we’ve upheld.”
AT&T has announced two new international data plans for iPhone users traveling abroad. The new plans, which offer 100MB and 200MB of international data and cost $120 and $200 per month, respectively, join the company’s current international plans for smartphones, which offer 20MB and 50MB in the same countries. “AT&T has worked diligently to provide affordable options for international roaming because the feature-rich mobile experience of iPhone is indispensable to users,” said Bill Hague, executive vice president of International for AT&T’s wireless operations. “With these new international data plans, iPhone users can access more data in more countries for less cost.” AT&T says customers can make calls in more than 200 countries and access the Internet in more than 150 countries, more than 60 of which offer 3G coverage.
Intuit has announced the launch of its QuickBooks Online web application for the iPhone and iPod touch. QuickBooks Online for the iPhone lets users view balance sheet and profit & loss reports, bank account and credit card balances, vendor, customer, and employee lists, accounts receivable and payable, and QuickBooks Online contact information, which works with the iPhone to make calls, create emails, and look up addresses using the Maps application. Intuit’s QuickBooks Online for the iPhone and iPod touch is available to all QuickBooks Online users at accounting.quickbooks.com/m; QuickBooks Online accounts start at $10 per month.
Apple has released three new television ads for the iPhone 3G. All three ads, “Lonely Planet,” “Cro Mag,” and “Vicinity,” highlight the process of launching, browsing, and purchasing from the App Store, each using a different application displayed on the phone in front of a plain white background, but using the same narration. “Lonely Planet” highlights the Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook, “Cro Mag” features Pangea Software’s Cro-Mag Rally, and “Vicinity” spotlights ActiveGuru’s app of the same name. All three ads are now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Substantially breaking with prior tradition, which saw little publicity for point releases of its software, Apple has today taken active steps to promote version 2.0.2 iPhone Software, posting a new web page dedicated to the recent iPhone Software 2.0.2 update, an iTunes Store link, and a SMS text message to notify users of the release. The web page offers step-by-step instructions on how to update an iPhone to the most recent software, accompanied by related screenshots, while the text message reads: “An important software update for iPhone 3G has been available on iTunes since this past Monday. To get it, simply synch your iPhone 3G with iTunes and click the ‘Check For Update’ button.” It is unclear whether the announcements are related to an MSNBC article from earlier this week calling for better notification of iPhone and iPod touch software updates, or whether they are a response to legal threats relating to poor iPhone 3G performance, which Apple claims that the 2.0.2 software fixes.
Orange, one of two carriers of the iPhone 3G in Poland and the country’s largest mobile operator, has admitted to paying actors to stand in line for the handset in order to attract customers. “We have these fake queues at front of 20 stores around the country to drum up interest in the iPhone,” an Orange spokesman said. Rival carrier Era’s stores had no lines for the phone, which went on sale in Poland and twenty other countries today.
Apple is planning to build between 40 and 45 million iPhone 3Gs between now and August 2009, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing a person familiar with the company’s plans, the report says that Apple boosted its production plans — they had expected to build 30 million in 12 months — due to stronger than expected initial sales. To be able to reach that number, the article suggests, Apple will need to continue its international rollout, avoid component supply constraints, and address performance complaints. Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf adds that the company will also need to work on cutting down the time it takes to purchase and activate the phone. “The physical process of activating the phone is the bottleneck,” Wolf says.