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Mix: MVNO, IPhone social networking, In-Stat

  • April 10, 2008

A recently-published Apple patent application suggests that the company has done extensive research into becoming a mobile virtual network operator, allowing iPhone users to deal exclusively with Apple for mobile services and billing. The patent, called “Dynamic Carrier selection” and filed on Oct. 10 2006, covers a system that would allow the iPhone to use whichever carrier’s service was available in the current location, automatically switching to networks offering cheaper bulk rates to Apple.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has posted an article detailing an iPhone-based social networking application being developed by a currently-unnamed startup. The native application would allow for proximity-based profile browsing and networking, letting iPhone users see other iPhone owners nearby, as well as their profiles, possibly facilitating face-to-face interaction. The developers also claim to have found a work-around for the fact that third-party iPhone applications can’t run in the background. Arrington says to look for a launch “when the iPhone app store opens this summer.” [via MDN]

According to new research from In-Stat, the group expects digital music sales to account for 40 percent of all music purchased worldwide by 2012. The research shows that digital music sales represented 10 percent of the total worldwide music market in 2007, up from six percent in 2006.

New software enables potential iPhone/Blu-ray interaction

NetBlender has introduced BD Touch technology, a software toolkit that could enable iPhones and iPod touches to interact with content on a Blu-ray Disc. The technology will require a BD Touch-compatible Blu-ray Disc—as yet unreleased—and an iPhone OS application that interacts with the company’s BD Touch SDK. It leverages the network connection built into Blu-ray players and the Wi-Fi connectivity of the iPhone and iPod touch to create two-way communication between the devices, allowing for transfer of video, audio, text, and player commands. Possible applications of the technology include pushing digital copies of a movie to an iPhone from the Blu-ray Disc menu, cataloguing a viewer’s Blu-ray Disc collection and providing movie suggestions, and more. “By releasing the BD Touch SDK to the iPhone developer community we’re excited to see creative possibilities for Blu-ray interactivity flourish,” said Denny Breitenfeld, NetBlender CTO. “The BD Touch framework is built into our Blu-ray disc authoring solution, DoStudio, so Blu-ray authors at every level of the industry will be able to take advantage of these exciting new applications on their discs with point and click ease.”

Latest enterprise beta reveals iPhone contacts search, meeting invites

Two new features planned for iPhone software version 2.0 have been revealed in the latest version of the beta software recently distributed to enterprise developers. Screenshots taken from the release show a new search bar in the Contacts menu, which is likely a replacement for the magnifying glass icon seen in the same menu during the iPhone Software Roadmap event. A drawer button found in the Calendar application, previously seen but rendered inactive in earlier beta releases, has been shown to provide access to a meeting invitation interface. Notification of new meeting invitations appears on top of the Calendar icon on the main screen, similar to how the number of new SMS or emails are displayed above the Text and Mail icons. Apple plans to release iPhone software version 2.0 this June.

DLO rolls out HybridShell and VideoShell for iPhone

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has announced the release of its HybridShell and VideoShell cases for the iPhone. Originally announced in January, the HybridShell for iPhone is made from a combination of a crystal-clear polycarbonate front and a textured, silicone back that features raised, black rubber “dots” for added grip. It also provides open access to all iPhone controls and ports, and comes bundled with a DLO Surface Shield screen protector. The VideoShell for iPhone is a clear polycarbonate case that offers full access to all ports and controls, features an integrated kickstand for hands-free video viewing, and comes with a DLO Surface Shield invisible screen protector. The DLO HybridShell and VideoShell for iPhone is available now for $25 and $20, respectively; the company is also offering its Surface Shield iPhone screen protectors in packs of five for $15.

Mix: Teens and iPhone, Quake 3, SpeakerCraft, Play Touch

  • April 9, 2008

New research released by analyst group Piper Jaffray suggests that twice as many teens now own iPhones than in the fall. The survey of nearly 400 teenagers found about six percent were iPhone owners, with another nine percent planning to purchase one in the next sixth months. The survey also found overall use of MP3 players at a record 87 percent, with 86 percent of MP3 player owners saying they have at least one iPod.

A video posted to YouTube over the weekend showing two iPod touch units playing Quake 3 has been revealed as the work of independent video game developer HermitWorks. According to the developers, the game was ported to the platform as a “first step to getting our game Space Trader running on the iPod.” The company is currently using jailbroken units for development, but says it would “love to have [Space Trader] by June” for release through Apple’s App Store.

SpeakerCraft has announced the release of a new iPhone/iPod touch interface for its MODE multi-room A/V control system. The interface, which is generated by an embedded web server running on the company’s ERS 1.0 adapter, allows the devices to be used as a wireless remote with control of all sources and routing. “The connection is very easy to set up and there is little or no additional programming required by the installer,” says Jason Craze, SpeakerCraft’s Director of Engineering. “A person can literally walk through their front door, press a single virtual button on the iPhone touch screen and have access to all of their system’s control functions.”

Play Touch Games is a new site offering different web-based games for the iPhone and iPod touch. The games are free to play, and can be accessed by visiting playtouchgames.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.

Updated iPhone SDK reveals possible 3G iPhone chip

A string of code found in the latest version of the iPhone SDK, released yesterday, points to a new baseband chipset that may be included in the next-generation, 3G-capable iPhone. The code was discovered by Zibri, the developer behind the ZiPhone jailbeaking/unlocking tool, and contains a “SGOLD3” string, which presumably points to Infineon’s S-GOLD3H chip (Infineon’s S-GOLD2 chip is used in the current iPhone). The chip supports 7.2Mbps HSDPA, cameras up to five megapixels, includes an MPEG4/H.264 hardware accelerator, and more. Last week, AT&T Mobililty CEO Ralph de la Vega hinted that the 3G iPhone would be released in the coming months; it was previously said the device would arrive in stores sometime in 2008. [via Engadget]

Apple releases third beta version of iPhone SDK [updated]

Apple has released a new version of the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), the third beta version of the software package. The new release, which is available as a free download for registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center, is a 1.37GB download, and is listed as build 9M2158a, beta 3. Earlier today, developers accepted into Apple’s paid iPhone Developer Program began reporting lock-ups following the expiration of the current beta firmware; it is unclear whether this new release includes an updated version of the beta firmware or other changes. We will update this story with any new information we discover.

Update: Following installation of the updated SDK, we have found it includes an updated build (48) of the iPhone Simulator application, which is running an updated version of the iPhone OS, version 2.0 (5A240d). Mac Rumors reports that this same build was seeded to paid developers as updated beta firmware, and contains a number of bug fixes and new features centered on Exchange support.

 

iPhone developers deal with expired beta firmware

Developers accepted into Apple’s paid iPhone Developer Program are reporting that the expiration of the current beta firmware, which happened early this morning, is causing test units to lock up with a pink screen, which says “This device is expired. Please install a newer version of the OS.” According to TUAW, the affected units can be easily returned to working order by performing a restore with an earlier release of the iPhone or iPod touch software; Apple has yet to comment on the problem, or to release an updated version of the beta firmware.

iTunes maintains lead in digital music awareness

iTunes remained the digital music brand of which consumers are most aware in 2007, according to results from the fourth annual TEMPO Digital Music Brandscape study, an in-depth examination of fee-based online music brands from global marketing research firm Ipsos Insight. Results show 82% of U.S. downloaders, both fee-based users and file sharers, are now aware of iTunes, with 38% of those thinking of the brand on a top-of-mind basis. “It has become clear that iTunes’ saliency has now reached beyond that of being ‘just’ the top brand presence to being the pre-eminent brand in digital music,” states Karl Joyce, Senior Research Manager with Ipsos Insight and author of the TEMPO study. “Even more telling than awareness and usage, iTunes favorability clearly demonstrates the value of the brand. While perhaps distressing to some, iTunes’ dominance simply cannot be denied.” In addition, half of all downloaders aware of more than one site now consider iTunes to be the best fee-based digital music service, up from 41% in 2006 and 33% in 2005. Data for the study were collected between September 10 and 17, 2007, from a web-based representative sample of 1,826 U.S. downloaders. [via Macworld UK]

iTunes Store drops seven 5G iPod Games, updates Zuma

  • April 8, 2008
  • iPod,

Following an extended period that saw Apple re-release some of its fifth-generation iPod Games in a format compatible with third-generation iPod nanos and iPod classics, the company today added PopCap Games’ previously-released Zuma to its master list of nano- and classic-ready iPod Games, and removed a section of the iTunes Store that linked to seven other titles. The titles are:

Bejeweled
iQuiz
Lost
Mahjong
Musika
Royal Solitaire
Vortex

Two of these titles, iQuiz and Vortex, now come pre-installed on iPod nanos and iPod classics; the other five were never updated for compatibility with the newer iPod models, and all require separate purchase for owners of the fifth-generation iPod. Though Apple has dropped all of these titles from its iPod Games index page, as of press time, working links to the download pages for each of these titles can still be found inside of the reviews above. Updated: This article was corrected after publication to reflect the inclusion of Mini Golf as an updated title.

Still time to enter Vestalife Ladybug Giveaway

If you haven’t yet entered our Vestalife Ladybug Giveaway, there’s still time to do so. In the contest, iLounge and Vestalife are giving away four Vestalife Ladybug Speaker Systems to lucky iLounge readers. To enter, visit the official giveaway page, and fill out and submit the simple form provided. The contest runs until April 25, 2008 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time and only one entry is allowed per person; official rules can be found on the giveaway page. Good luck!

Survey: Chinese iPhone consumer awareness high

The results of a new survey released today by Pearl Research suggest that more than two-thirds of Chinese consumers have heard of the iPhone. The survey states that approximately 68% of respondents had heard of the iPhone, and that females were more likely to cite “trendiness” and “design” as a key factor in wanting to purchase the device, while males more often cited “utility.” Pricing was given as the most mentioned reason for disinterest in purchasing an iPhone, along with Apple’s inexperience with mobile phones, and interviews suggested that carriers’ high costs for mobile internet access could pose another challenge for Apple in the region. Finally, approximately 88% of iPod owners expressed interest in the iPhone. The survey was based on a relatively small sample size — 450 online survey respondents and 24 in-depth interviews — which, unfortunately, makes the results somewhat unreliable.

Grantwood debuts Tuneband for iPod nano 3G

Grantwood Technology has released its new Tuneband for iPod nano (with video), a Nike + iPod Sport Kit-compatible armband case. The Tuneband consists of a black, flexible armband strap, a silicone skin in one of eight different colors that offers access to all the nano’s ports and controls, and a low-tack screen protector. The Tuneband for iPod nano (with video) is available now in black, gray, navy blue, neon green, pink, purple, red, and teal blue for $13; the case is also available in a bundle with a matching Shoe Pouch accessory for $19.

Clear Channel now offering iTunes Tagging on over 340 stations

Clear Channel Radio has announced that more than 340 of its primary HD Radio stations are now compatible with iTunes Tagging. “Radio continues to be the number one way that people discover new music, and the HD Radio iTunes tagging capability lets listeners add songs to their iPod playlists with just a push of the button,” said John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. “With the vast majority of our HD primary stations now offering this exciting feature, we’re demonstrating how radio’s collaboration with the iPod benefits consumers.” Announced last September, iTunes Tagging is a new HD Radio feature designed to further boost iTunes sales by allowing listeners to “Tag” the currently playing song, automatically adding its information to a “Tagged” playlist on the connected iPod. When synced with a computer, the playlist appears in iTunes, making it easy to purchase tagged tracks from the iTunes Store. For more information on iTunes Tagging, read our Complete Guide to iTunes Tagging, and our review of the Polk Audio I-Sonic ES2, one of the first iTunes Tagging-capable HD Radio units.

Shufflesome intros stickers for iPod nano 3G

Shufflesome Stickers has introduced a new line of decorative stickers for the iPod nano (with video). The stickers, designed by several different artists from countries worldwide, cover most of the nano’s rear metal casing, leaving the rest of the device exposed. Shufflesome Stickers for the iPod nano (with video) are available now in more than 20 designs, and sell for €5, or around $6.20.

Mix: AT&T, iSuppli, MySpace Music, Beckham’s touch

  • April 4, 2008

U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T this week announced plans to change the way it handles early termination fees for users on one- or two-year contracts. Under the new plan, which takes effect May 25, the fee will be lowered by $5 for each month, every month, for the life of the contract.

The average iPhone users spends less than half their time using their device for actual phone calls, according to the latest survey from iSuppli. Owners of competing products, such as the Nokia N92 and the RIM BlackBerry use their phones for voice communications 71.7 percent of the time, the survey says, compared with just 46.5 percent of the time for iPhone owners. “This usage pattern shows Apple has succeeded in producing a true convergence product that consumers like to use for multiple purposes,” said Greg Sheppard, chief development officer for iSuppli. “Apple has come as close as anyone to achieving a balanced convergence in mobile-handset features and usage.”

MySpace has officially announced MySpace Music, a new online music venture formed with three of the four major recording companies. The service, in which Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group all have minority stakes, will offer free music and video streaming supported by advertising, paid-for MP3 downloads, ringtones for cell phones, concert ticket sales and merchandise.

To celebrate his 100th England Cap, well-known footballer David Beckham was given a custom-engraved, gold-backed 32GB iPod touch by his teammates. The £600 (around $1200) iPod is engraved with the team’s crest, along with his name, and a small message commemorating the achievement.

GizMac ships DuraSport case for iPod nano 3G

GizMac Accessories has begun shipping its DuraSport case for the iPod nano (with video). The DuraSport is a silicone case for the iPod nano featuring Click Wheel protection, a clear plastic face shield for screen protection, side grips, and an included quick change lanyard, carabiner clip, and armband with velcro closure. In addition, each DuraSport includes two different colors of cases in every package. “The DuraSport silicone iPod case gives GizMac one more unique Nano case,” explained Ken Vitto, Marketing Director for GizMac Accessories, “We continue our goal to provide a great overall value to our customers and the DuraSport is no exception.” The GizMac DuraSport case for iPod nano (with video) is available now in translucent smoke, white, blue, pink, and green, and sells for $30/two-pack.

iTunes Store now top music retailer in US

Apple today announced that the iTunes Store has passed Wal-Mart to become the number one music retailer in the US, based on the latest data from the NPD Group. The NPD Group’s MusicWatch survey captures consumer reported past week unit purchases and counts one CD as representing 12 tracks; the iTunes Store became the largest music retailer in the US based on the amount of music sold during January and February 2008. “We launched iTunes less than five years ago, and it has now become the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We are thrilled, and would like to thank all of our customers for helping us reach this incredible milestone.” Apple in February announced the Store’s move into second position; since its inception, the iTunes Store has sold over four billion songs, and currently offers the world’s largest music catalog with over six million songs.

Griffin unveils ClearBoost antenna-boosting iPhone case

Griffin Technology has introduced its new ClearBoost case for iPhone, a unique polycarbonate case that aims to help boost the device’s antenna reception. The black and grey case features an internal booster antenna that runs along the inside of the case from the base of the iPhone (where its antennas are located) up and out the top, providing slightly improved signal reception. Other features include open access to all ports and controls, a snap-together design, and an included screen protector. The Griffin ClearBoost for iPhone is available now and is currently being offered online for $30, with a suggested MSRP of $35. Our full ClearBoost review is available here.

T-Mobile Germany offering subsidized 8GB iPhones

T-Mobile Germany has begun offering 8GB iPhones at substantially reduced prices (Translated Link) when purchased in conjunction with a 24 month contract. When purchased with the Complete XL plan, which offers 1,000 minutes, 300 SMS messages, and unlimited data for €89 a month, the 8GB iPhone is only €99. With the Complete L plan, which includes 200 voice minutes and 150 SMS for €69 a month, the smaller iPhone is only €149. When purchased with the €49 a month Complete M plan the 8GB iPhone is only €199, while it will cost €249 when purchased with the Complete S plan, which offers 50 minutes of talk time for €29 a month. The lower prices being offered on the 8GB iPhone will remain in effect until June 30; the 16GB iPhone remains €499 when purchased with a two-year agreement.

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