In an unusual half-expansion of the iTunes Store, Apple today added over 40 countries to the iTunes Store’s pull-down list of international stores, yet directed their users to English-language versions of the App Store rather than localized stores with traditional iTunes content. Many of the countries, including China, Korea, Lebanon, Russia, and Vietnam, notably lack significant English-speaking populations.
A brief skim of the App Store pages for these countries suggests that they are still in the process of being built, and may well be localized only as the iPhone and iPod touch expand in popularity overseas. The limited versions of the App Store sometimes lack for “Top Apps” and other featured content sidebars, while the absence of traditional iTunes Stores apparently reflects a lack of purchasable music, video, and other non-interactive downloadable content in those countries.
The complete list of new iTunes App Store countries is:
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
One of the many new, under-publicized features of iPhone Software 2.0 is the ability to take a screenshot of whatever happens to be on the iPhone’s screen at the time. The process is simple: hold down the home button, and then quickly press the sleep/wake button on the top of the phone. Once the buttons are released, the screen will flash white for a brief moment, letting you know the shot has been taken. The screenshot can then be found in the iPhone’s Camera Roll, and can be copied to a computer on the next sync, or emailed to a photo sharing service or to friends. This same tip should also work on the iPod touch, providing it has been updated to software 2.0. Screenshots are created in PNG format, as opposed to the JPEGs made by the iPhone’s Camera application.
Belkin has introduced its GoStudio portable audio recorder for iPod, which was previously shown at Macworld Expo under the name Podcast Studio, and was a recipient of our Best of Show award. The GoStudio features the ability to record directly to an attached iPod in 16-bit, 44kHz digital audio quality, and can instantly play back recordings through its built-in speaker. Additional features include two combo microphone inputs (XLR and 1/4”), a 3.5mm mini-jack microphone input, two built-in omni-directional stereo microphones, a master level control, tripod mount, and direct monitor volume control. The Belkin GoStudio for iPod is compatible with the second- and third-generation iPod nano, fifth-generation iPod, and the iPod classic, and will be available this fall for $120.
The U.S. Department of Justice has ended its two-year criminal investigation into backdated stock options at Apple, and has decided not to bring charges against the company, or any current or former executives, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Lawyers representing two subjects of the investigation said they had been notified that the criminal inquiry is over. “We were always confident that after a full and fair review of the facts, there could be no other outcome,” said Cris Arguedas, a lawyer for Apple’s former general counsel, Nancy Heinen. Heinen is still involved in a civil case brought against her and former Apple CFO Fred Anderson by the Securities and Exchange Commission over stock options awarded to CEO Steve Jobs. Anderson settled his civil case last year, and paid about $3.5 million in fees without admitting to any wrongdoing.
A number of notable applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, some free, and some commercial, have debuted with this morning’s launch of the App Store. Listed below are a small selection of these titles.
Facebook has released its free Facebook application. It allows users to talk to friends using Facebook Chat, browse profiles and pictures, update their profiles, and allows for uploading of photos to Facebook from the phone.
Connected Flow has released Exposure, a new application for mobile browsing and use of popular photo sharing service Flickr. It allows users to browse photos, create favorites and comment on photos, and provides automatic searching of photos taken nearby through the use of location services. It is available in a free, ad-supported version, as well as in an ad-free, $9.99 commercial version called Exposure Premium.
MySpace.com has released MySpace Mobile, a free mobile client for the popular social networking site. It allows users to send and receive messages, browse their friends’ profiles and photos, post comments, update and share photos, and more.
AOL has released its previously announced AIM client and AOL Radio applications as free downloads. Using the AIM application, one can send and receive messages over Wi-Fi, EDGE, or 3G networks to anyone on the AIM network, including AOL, AIM, ICQ, .mac, and MobileMe users, manage his/her Buddy List, take pictures with the iPhone’s camera to use as a buddy icon, and more. AOL Radio offers users access to over 200 stations covering more than 25 genres of music, as well as 150+ CBS Radio stations from across the U.S.
iFixit has posted the first disassembly photos of the iPhone 3G, which it acquired at the device’s midnight launch in New Zealand. Of note, the LCD and glass covering are now separate components, as they are in the iPod touch, making for easier repairs. They were glued together in the original iPhone. The battery is not soldered on, as it was in the original model, and the iPhone 3G appears to use the Infineon SMARTi Power 3i chip. According to Infineon, the part is “optimized to support modem and data card applications based upon X-GOLD208 and X-GOLD 608, with features ranging from EDGE up to 3G and HSDPA.” Finally, the iPhone’s two main boards (logic and communications), which were stacked in the original model, are now laid side-by-side, a configuration iFixit suggests allowed Apple to make the battery longer.
Apple has released Apple TV Software 2.1, the latest update to its set-top box’s software. Apple TV Software 2.1 includes support for Apple’s MobileMe service, as well as support for the company’s new Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple TV Software 2.1 is available now via the Apple TV’s Update Software feature.
Updated: We have added screenshots of the software’s new Remote and MobileMe service features, the latter merely rebranding of the prior support for .Mac with MobileMe logos and names.
Although it has yet to be officially released by Apple via iTunes, iPhone Software 2.0 can now be downloaded through a direct link. After downloading the software image, users need to make sure the downloaded file ends in “.ipsw”, as some browsers, including Safari, will add an unnecessary “.zip” extension to the file name. You may need to look in your trash can to find the file if it is downloaded by Safari and automatically uncompressed. Once the image is ready, hold the Option key and press “Check for Update” in iTunes with the iPhone connected, browse to and select the downloaded image, and the update will commence. This image is not for use with the iPod touch, which will require a $9.99 paid update to get the 2.0 software.
Note: Apple warns in a recently posted Knowledge Base article that installation of iPhone Software 2.0 requires a complete erase of the device: “Normally if you choose to update, the iPhone or iPod touch software is updated but your settings and media are not affected. If your device currently has a software version prior to 2.0 (1.x) and you are updating to software version 2.0 or later, all data on your device will be erased in order to perform install the new software. In this case, iTunes will offer to create a one-time media backup of your device depending on what content is on your device and what content is stored in the iTunes Library you are connected to. You should ensure that you have enough free space on your Mac or PC to accommodate a backup that matches the capacity of your iPhone or iPod touch (4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB) if you proceed with the this backup.” [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has released three versions of its new iPhone Configuration Utility that allow enterprise users to create configuration profiles which can then be used to setup multiple iPhones. Configuration profiles contain “device security policies, VPN configuration information, Wi-Fi settings, APN settings, Exchange account settings, mail settings, and certificates” that allow the devices to work with enterprise systems. The iPhone Configuration Web Utility 1.0 for Mac and Windows allows users to create, sign and distribute configuration profiles using a web browser, while the Mac-specific iPhone Configuration Utility 1.0 for Mac OS X expands these capabilities to include tracking and installation of “provisioning profiles and authorized applications,” and the capture of device information, including console logs. All three version of the iPhone Configuration Utility are available now as free downloads from Apple’s website.
The first collection of iPhone Games appeared in the App Store today, and for now, both the games and major developers will be extremely familiar to past iTunes Store customers. In addition to Apple, which has re-released its Texas Hold’em game for the third time at $5, the following titles have reappeared in updated form:
Gameloft has re-released Bubble Bash ($8), upping the resolution of the ball-shooting game for iPods and increasing the price from its original $5.
Hudson Soft has released Bomberman Touch ($8), a version of the previously released iPod Bomberman redesigned with new content for the iPhone touchscreen interface.
Namco has released Ms. Pac-Man ($10), doubling the prior iPod Game price of its classic arcade dots-and-ghosts maze game while adding a touchscreen joypad.
PopCap Games has released Bejeweled 2 ($10), updating the graphics and adding touchscreen controls while doubling the price of the original Bejeweled iPod game. Widescreen and tall orientations are now supported. Notably, a web version of Bejeweled was released for PopCap for free.
New games from previously known Apple developers such as Sega (Super Monkey Ball for $10, and Columns Deluxe for $5), Freeverse (Moto Racer, $10), Pangea Software (Cro-Mag Rally and Enigmo, $10 each), and Ambrosia (Aki Mahjong, $10) are joined by numerous releases from little-known developers and a few surprise entrants. RealNetworks is surprisingly offering South Park Imaginationland ($10), a platform game based on the popular TV show, while a company called Jirbo has flooded the store with simple and free Flash-like applications. A company called Freeze Tag has released a color version of Etch A Sketch ($5), based on the classic toy, and XBOX Live developer ZEN Studios has released ZEN Pinball: Rollercoaster ($5), an attractive pinball game. Scores of free titles, mostly simple or demo-quality releases, are also in the Store.
All of these games are available now through the iTunes Store’s Applications section, and shortly through the iPhone’s App Store interface.
Alongside iTunes 7.7, Apple has released its new Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Remote allows an iPhone or iPod touch to control the music on a computer or Apple TV using a Wi-Fi connection. Users can play, skip, pause, shuffle, and search, with access to all songs and playlists, complete with album art. Remote is available now as a free download from the App Store and requires iTunes 7.7, Apple TV software version 2.1, and an iPhone or iPod touch running Software version 2.0.
Update: We’ve added a few screenshots of the new application in action below.
Apple has officially opened the App Store for iPhone and iPod touch applications. In an interview with the New York Times, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that 25% of the first 500 applications available on the store are free, and of the commercial applications, 90% are selling for $9.99 or less. In addition, a third of all the initial applications are games. “The reaction we have gotten so far has been really strong,” Jobs said. “The quality and the sophistication of the applications you can write for the iPhone is in a different class.” He added that Apple is not trying to make large sums of money selling iPhone applications, instead using the store as a way to “sell more iPhones.” The App Store can currently be accessed through a link at the bottom of iTunes 7.7’s “Application” section.
Update: Apple has added a direct App Store link to the iTunes Store’s side menu, along with a promo image at the top of the main iTunes Store page.
Apple has released iTunes 7.7, the latest update to its digital media management application. iTunes 7.7 features support for the iPhone 3G and iPhone Software 2.0, the App Store and related applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, including Apple’s new Remote application that allows for iPhone or iPod touch control of iTunes playback, iPhone support for Nike+, and more. iTunes 7.7 is available now through Apple’s Software Update application, or as a free download from apple.com/itunes.
Mophie has introduced its new Juice Pack battery extender for iPod touch. Like the company’s previous Juice Pack for iPhone, the Juice Pack for iPod touch houses a rechargeable lithium polymer battery within a black soft-touch case that attaches to the touch’s Dock Connector and headphone jack and covers the device’s bottom and most of its back. The battery provides up to seven additional hours of video playback and 30 hours of audio playback. The Juice pack also features a 4 LED charge status indicator on its back, along with its own mini USB connector, and a pass-though headphone jack. The mophie Juice Pack for iPod touch will be available in August and can be pre-ordered now for $100.
The iPhone’s share of the smart phone market continues to grow, according to the latest ChangeWave survey. The survey of 3,567 consumers, which was conducted after Apple’s June 9 announcement of the iPhone 3G, showed that 11% of respondents that own a smart phone had an iPhone, up two percentage points from the previous survey, and only three points away from second-place Palm. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry continued to lead with 42% of the market. Perhaps more interesting are the responses for future purchases. Out of the respondents that plan to purchase a smart phone in the next 90 days, 56% said they were going to buy an iPhone, compared to only 29% in the previous survey (conducted in March), and far above the 23% who said they were planning to buy a BlackBerry. Finally, the iPhone also continues to lead the smart phone market in customer satisfaction, with 78% of owners reporting that they are Very Satisfied with the phone. RIM ranks second with 54% of its customers saying they’re Very Satisfied, while Palm came in last in both metrics, with results of 3% and 29%, respectively.
In addition to its previously announced iTalk plans for the iPhone 3G, Norwegian iPhone carrier NetCom has added a new plan dubbed iConnect that provides the user with unlimited monthly data for 499 NOK (~$98) a month. Unlike the iTalk plans, which include voice minutes, SMS texts, and data, the iConnect plan offers only unlimited cellular data and Wi-Fi, with charges of 0.45 NOK (~$0.09) per minute and 0.59 NOK (~$0.12) per SMS message. In addition to those charges, the iPhone 3G hardware will be more expensive when the customer selects the iConnect plan instead of an iTalk plan. With a 12-month agreement on the iConnect plan, the 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for 3,290 NOK (~$643), while the 16GB model will sell for 4,190 NOK (~$819). NetCom will begin sales of the iPhone 3G on July 11 at 6 a.m. at its City Gate store in Oslo.
Sumajin has introduced its new Loop silicone case for the iPhone 3G. The Loop is made from anti-dust treated silicone that is 1.5mm at its thickest point and features a grooved back for added grip, coverage for all buttons except the ring/silent switch, open access to the camera, headphone jack and Dock Connector, and includes a clear screen protector. The Sumajin Loop case for iPhone 3G comes in 11 different colors — seven solid and four two-tone — and is available now for $18.
Case-mate has introduced its new line of cases and protective accessories for the iPhone 3G. The company’s Leather Cases for iPhone 3G come in three styles — Signature Series, Croc Embossed, and Carbon Fiber. All three varieties feature a leather exterior, a contoured fit, an impact-resistant interior plastic shell, open access to all ports and controls, and an included screen protector. The Signature Series will be available in red or black for $35, the Croc Embossed will be available in hot pink, black, or brown for $45, and the Carbon Fiber cases will be available in black or silver for $50. All Case-mate’s Leather Cases for iPhone 3G are expected to begin shipping in the coming weeks and are available for pre-order now.
The Naked Case for iPhone 3G is an updated version of the company’s earlier Naked Case for iPhone. The hard acrylic case features full coverage for the iPhone’s front thanks to an electrostatic membrane that allows for touch-through access while protecting the screen, a click-snap back clasp, enlarged cutouts for easy access to all ports and controls, and a clear back plate. It is available for pre-order now for $35 and will begin shipping in 1-2 weeks. The Cadera for iPhone 3G is a horizontal leather pouch featuring a bottom cutout for easy removal of the phone, a fixed belt clip, and a top flap with a magnetic snap closure. It will begin shipping in 3-4 weeks and can be pre-ordered now for $35.
Case-mate’s Second Skin Case for iPhone 3G is a 4-in-1 case that starts with a black antimicrobial silicone case offering open access to all ports and controls, and three included interchangeable accents in red, blue, and pink that go over the black case to add color. The case also includes a screen protector and micro fiber cleaning cloth. It sells for $25 and will begin shipping in 1-2 weeks; pre-orders are being taken now. Clear Armor for iPhone 3G is full-body clear protective product made from 3M Scotchgard film. Each purchase includes 2 sets of Clear Armor, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a bottle of spray application solution, an application card, and installation instructions. It will begin shipping in 1-2 weeks and is available for pre-order now for $20/2-pack. Finally, Case-mate will offer its clear, removable Screen Protectors for iPhone 3G in packs of three for $10.
Gilty Couture has announced three new accoutrements for the iPhone 3G. The three bezels — one gold, two silver — all feature jewelry-quality finishes, a one-piece design with side wraps, protective EVA foam interior lining, and 138 hand set Swarovski crystals in either clear (silver or gold) or pink (silver only). In addition, the bezels offer open access to all ports and controls, and include a micropolish storage and cleaning pouch and a Gilty Couture wardrobe box for storage. Gilty Couture’s Silhouette Bezels for iPhone 3G are available now and sell for $130 for the silver models and $160 for gold.
CopyTrans, makers of the iPod backup and recovery software of the same, has released CopyTrans Photo, a new photo transfer and backup tool for the iPod and iPhone. The new software, designed for Windows XP and Vista, allows for drag-and-drop photo transfers to and from iPods/iPhones and PCs, in-application navigation and browsing of photos stored on the iPod or iPhone, photo backup, the ability to view photos stored on the device as a slideshow, and the ability to create, delete, rename, and edit iPod and iPhone photo albums. CopyTrans Photo is compatible with all photo-capable iPods and iPhones, and is available now for $30.