O2’s exclusivity deal for the iPhone in the U.K. is set to expire on October 9th, according to a new report. Claiming to have seen “documentation” regarding the deal, Mobile Entertainment reports that although the exclusivity agreement runs out in 2009, the carrier has the rights to sell the iPhone until 2012. In addition, the report sites unnamed sources that say the carrier may also retain sole rights to the recently launched iPhone 3GS. In recent weeks, rival carriers Orange and T-Mobile have reportedly been in talks to offer the iPhone 3G in the U.K.; T-Mobile also recently began offering iPhone 3G units imported from other countries where the phone is offered unlocked to disgruntled, high-paying customers threatening to leave the company. O2 has been the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.K. since its launch in the country on November 9, 2007. [via Macworld UK]
The latest beta version of iPhone OS 3.1 released to developers contains configuration settings for what is thought to be both a prototype and release-ready version of an as-yet-unannounced Apple product. Found in the updated USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file, which lists details about the USB configurations of various hardware models along with their Device IDs and product names, were two listings for a mysterious “iProd.” The first, iProd0,1, was first discovered in a beta version of iPhone OS 3.0 in March, and given its 0,1 designation, was thought to be a prototype. It has been joined in the latest 3.1 beta by iProd 1,1, the preceding “1” typically standing for a first-generation shipping product. In addition, the iProd 1,1 listing includes the a different ConfigurationDescriptor than the 0,1 model, but one it shares with iPhone models—“standardMuxPTPEthernet.” This suggests the product may have gained high-speed network capabilities, although Ars Technica states that the iPhone uses this interface for tethering capabilities. Notably, the presence of the “iProd” in the iPhone OS USB listing suggests that the device—believed by some to be a new Apple tablet—will run iPhone OS rather than or in addition to Mac OS X, however, the specific features of the device remain unclear.
Senior Apple officials are expected to visit China this week to work on the final stages of iPhone negotiations with China Unicom, according to a Fortune report. Citing an unnamed source quoted on the Chinese-language Sina.com, the report claims that the visit is to meet with senior China Unicom executives and discuss how the iPhone should enter the Chinese market. The International Business Times reports that Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing, is expected to lead the negotiations; Joswiak was reportedly on hand for a round of negotiations this past March, as well. Although the source is unnamed, it is worth noting that Sina was also the original publisher of photos showing a WCDMA iPhone 3GS running on China Unicom’s network, which appeared last week following a separate report that the two companies had reached a preliminary agreement on sales of the handset in China.
Apple has added two new iPhone 3GS television advertisements to its online gallery. The first, “Share,” highlights apps that allow users to share pictures and contacts wirelessly, and wireless gaming, while “Travel” highlights a variety of apps that one might use when visiting a foreign city such as Paris, including a city guide, subway app, and postcard application. Both ads available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has made a couple of small changes to its iPhone Dev Center that partially address issues developers have raised since the launch of the App Store over a year ago. It has added an App Store Review Status graphic to the site, giving developers a general idea of the wait time that all developers are facing for application approvals. The Status is based upon “current app submissions,” and offered as a percentage approved within a timeframe, so its accuracy will vary on a case-by-case basis. The site has also begun to publicize a new “all issues” escalation email address, allowing developers with urgent bug fixes in need of priority service to get their questions answered. [via TUAW]
New photos published by Sina Technology show a WCDMA version of the iPhone 3GS ready for use on China Unicom’s network. The pictures show the phone connected to Unicom’s 3G network, and appear to confirm that the device lacks Wi-Fi, as its menu option is notably missing from the Settings application. iPhone in China reports that the phone displays a message on boot up that, roughly translated, says “Dear user, you are welcome to use the China Unicom’s business,” and that it is unclear whether the country will be receiving the 32GB 3GS or 8GB 3G models as well; the phone pictured is a 16GB model. A report from earlier this week stated that Apple and China Unicom had reached a preliminary agreement for exclusive sales of the iPhone in China, but a Unicom spokeswoman quickly released a statement saying that “[d]iscussions are still ongoing, we have not reached any formal agreement.”
As part of its ongoing probe into cellular operators and phone exclusivity deals, the Federal Communicaitons Commission will focus on areas where the iPhone and/or Palm Pre aren’t available. “There are markets in the country where if you wanted an iPhone, if you wanted a Pre, you just couldn’t get it—from anyone,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in an interview with Bloomberg. “So one question is, is that consistent with broad consumer interests?” He declined to say what the next steps will be in the investigation, which was spurred on by a letter from four U.S. senators asking the regulatory body to review exclusivity agreements like the one between Apple and AT&T that keeps the iPhone locked to one domestic carrier. An AT&T executive told a June 17 hearing the deals spur innovation and help lower prices, while Verizon recently sent a letter to a U.S. representative announcing that it would offer any exclusive phone to carriers with less than 500,000 subscribers just six months after launch. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has released the iPhone OS 3.0.1 Software Update for the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS. According to the release notes, the new update fixes the SMS vulnerability publicized yesterday by cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner which would allow a series of mostly invisible SMS bursts to give a hacker nearly complete control over the phone’s functions, including dialing the phone, accessing the Internet, turning on the camera and/or microphone, and sending more text messages to further propagate the hack. iPhone OS 3.0.1 is available now through the Update feature in iTunes.
A patch to fix the SMS vulnerability publicized yesterday by cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner is to be patched in an update that will be released on Saturday, according to an O2 spokesperson. “We will be communicating to customers both through the website and proactively,” the spokesperson told BBC News. “We always recommend our customers update their iPhone with the latest software and this is no different.” According to Miller and Mulliner, the vulnerability would allow a series of mostly invisible SMS bursts to give a hacker nearly complete control over the phone’s functions, including dialing the phone, accessing the Internet, turning on the camera and/or microphone, and sending more text messages to further propagate the hack. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has begun offering its AppleCare Protection Plan for the iPhone in Canada. The plan extends Canadian iPhone users’ warranties to two years from the original purchase date of the phone, including technical support and hardware repair coverage — both parts and labor — for any iPhone 3G or 3GS, its battery, included accessories, and an iPhone Bluetooth Headset. Mac Rumors notes that the launch occurs just after the one-year cut off date for early Canadian adopters of the iPhone 3G, and says reader reports indicate that Apple Canada is not providing an extension for the affected customers. The AppleCare Protection Plan is available now from the Canadian Apple Store and sells for $79 CAD.
Slumping sales of the iPhone in Russia have forced one of the country’s “big three” carriers to sue a major retail partner, according to a C-News report (Translated link). Mobile Telesystems (MTS) recently won a 279 million ruble (roughly $8.85 million) claim against retailer Euroset, which failed to sell the iPhones it agreed to, and which MTS had given it. To further complicate matters, MTS rival VimpelCom acquired a 49.9% stake in Euroset last autumn. Overall sales of the iPhone in Russia have been disappointing, with the three major carriers—MTS, VimpelCom, and MegaFon—agreeing to sell 3.5 million units within two years, but having collectively sold only 250,000 through the first quarter of 2009. The carriers stopped buying iPhones at the beginning of the year, according to the report, and are working with Apple to renegotiate their contracts. [via Cult of Mac | via Profy]
In a newly published support document, Apple has blamed a number of iPhone and iPod touch issues on jailbreaking. The article, entitled “Unauthorized modification of iPhone OS has been a major source of instability, disruption of services, and other issues,” describes a number of issues dealing with instability, reliability, security, and more. In particular, it claims jailbreaking can disrupt Visual Voicemail service, cause “frequent and unexpected crashes of the device,” lead to “accelerated battery drain,” and result in “slow or unreliable data connections,” all problems experienced first-hand by iLounge editors on iPhones and iPod touches which have never been jailbroken. After strongly cautioning against “installing any software that hacks the iPhone OS,” the article notes that “unauthorized modification of the iPhone OS is a violation of the iPhone end-user license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software.”
Cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner plan to publicize a vulnerability in the iPhone’s handling of SMS messages that could leave the phone open to attack. Forbes reports that the pair will demonstrate today at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas how to send a series of mostly invisible SMS bursts that can give a hacker complete control over the phone’s functions. These include dialing the phone, accessing the Internet, turning on the camera and/or microphone, and sending more text messages to further propagate the hijacking. “This is serious. The only thing you can do to prevent it is turn off your phone,” Miller said in an interview with Forbes. “Someone could pretty quickly take over every iPhone in the world with this.” Miller and Mulliner say they notified Apple of the vulnerability nearly a month ago, but the company has yet to issue a patch.
In a new comment filing with the U.S. Copyright Office and published by Wired, Apple claims that hackers, wielding jailbroken iPhones could cause “potentially catastrophic” results. Apple explains that the iPhone’s operating system — which is modified during the jailbreak process — controls the device’s baseband processor (BBP), which in turn controls the phone’s connection to the cellular provider’s network. The company argues that changes made to the BBP could result in inoperable phones, anonymous communications via a changed Exclusive Chip Identification (ECID) number — which “would be desirable to drug dealers” — and could also be used to facilitate an attack on the cellular network, crashing tower software, and possibly more. “In short, taking control of the BBP software would be much the equivalent of getting inside the firewall of a corporate computer – to potentially catastrophic result,” Apple claims. The company’s comments are part of an ongoing battle with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which proposed a new exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which would explicitly allow jailbreaking of iPhones.
An ongoing iPhone 3GS issue where Works With iPhone-certified accessories bring up an error when connected is being blamed on software. Based on a reader report and two Apple discussion board threads, it appears that some iPhone 3GS users are greeted by an error that reads “This accessory is not made to work with iPhone - Charging is not supported with this accessory” when connecting certain WWI accessories, with Mophie’s Juice Pack Air cited in many cases. iLounge contacted Mophie to ask about the issue, and the company blamed the problem on a 3GS-specific software issue.
“We have seen a brand-new iPhone 3GS that was plugged in an AT&T store demo Apple iPhone Dock and the 3GS screen shows that the accessory(Apple Charging Dock) is not an authorized Work with iPhone accessory,” the company said in an email to iLounge. “As related to Juice Pack Air, this issue will usually goes away after the consumer fully recharge the Juice Pack Air or reconnecting to the iPhone 3GS. If this issue is consistently showing, please have the consumer call or email us, we would [gladly] replace it with a new one and get the other one back for study. [We are] confident that Apple has discovered this issue with many of its own accessories as well and hopefully this issue will go away completely with a new software update.”
A number of under-the-hood improvements added to the third beta version of iPhone OS 3.1 have been revealed to iLounge. Notably, the new beta supports failover support for HTTP live streaming, allowing content providers to queue up multiple media playlists, automatically switching over to a secondary stream in the event that the first one fails to load. Other improvements include enhanced support for Bluetooth audio recording in third-party applications, and the ability to perform offline audio conversion to AAC. As noted in a previous article, additional functions have also been added to the OS’s APIs to allow for customized interactions with the camera, including those seen in augmented reality applications. The new beta also runs somewhat faster than its predecessor.
Apple has rejected an official Google Voice application, and has since removed two competing third-party solutions from the App Store, suggesting that the company—or perhaps its carrier partners—does not want the service available on the iPhone or iPod touch. Google Voice allows users to send free SMS messages, offers affordable long-distance calling rates, and lets users hand out a Google Voice number which is tied to their account and can be ported from device to device simply by signing in. Speaking with TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson said, “We work hard to bring Google applications to a number of mobile platforms, including the iPhone. Apple did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store. We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users — for example, by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers.”
Apple has also pulled two third-party Google Voice applications, GV Mobile from Sean Kovacs and a competing app called VoiceCentral, for duplicating iPhone functionality. Notably, Kovacs claims that Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller called him personally to apologize for the delay in getting GV Mobile approved in the first place, making its removal all the more curious. Google currently has official Google Voice applications available for both the company’s Android platform and for BlackBerry.
Apple and China Unicom have reached a preliminary agreement for exclusive sales of the iPhone in mainland china, according to a Reuters report. Shanghai Securities News originally reported that a deal had been made, however, China Unicom spokeswoman Sophia Tso quickly released a statement stating that “[d]iscussions are still ongoing, we have not reached any formal agreement.” The original Shanghai Securities report also said that the deal did not include a revenue sharing arrangement—something that was believed to be a sticking point in Apple’s negotiations with Chinese carriers—and that under the agreement, China Unicom will purchase the devices from Apple for 3,000 yuan (roughly $440) each, and will guarantee annual sales of 1-2 million units and at least 5 billion yuan ($732 million) in annual revenue. During Apple’s recent Q3 financial results conference call, Apple executives had little to say on the subject of the iPhone in China, beyond reiterating that it continues to be a priority and they hope to have the device available there within a year.
Apple has released the third beta versions of iPhone OS 3.1 and the related SDK. The new beta operating system is listed as build 7C116a, while the updated SDK is listed as build 9M2808. It is currently unclear what changes are present in these new beta releases; however, Apple is expected to make certain video APIs accessible for third-party developers in order to support augmented reality applications on the iPhone 3GS. Both the updated beta OS and the updated SDK are available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.
Reporting its second-quarter financial results today, AT&T revealed that the iPhone continues to be both a long-term boost and a modest short-term drag on the company. The exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier said it handled more than 2.4 million iPhone activations in the quarter, partly due to the iPhone 3GS launch, and increased its overall 3G smartphone subscriber based by more than 3.5 million. The large number of iPhone purchases also came with a cost in the form of subsidies, however, narrowing wireless operating margins to 23.8% during the period, down from 25.5% in the year-ago quarter; however, these subsidies are more than repaid during the two-year service contracts of subscribers. Overall, the company saw quarterly revenue of $30.7 billion, net income of $3.2 billion, and diluted earnings of $0.54 per share.