If you haven’t yet entered our JBL On Stage Speaker Giveaway, you’ve still got time to do so. In our Giveaway of the Month for March, JBL and iLounge are giving away ten JBL On Stage 200ID Loudspeaker Docks for iPod and iPhone to ten lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on March 31, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Popcap Games has revealed to iLounge that it is planning to release a new, as-yet-unannounced iPhone title next week, and that the long-awaited iPhone and iPod touch version of Peggle should be arriving in 3-5 weeks. Peggle was previously released for Click Wheel iPods, earning our acclaim as the 2008 iPod Click Wheel Game of the Year, and has more recently been followed up by Peggle Nights, a Mac- and PC-based continuation of the franchise. Popcap has noted that the mystery game is not Bejeweled Twist, a sequel to its popular block-matching franchise; other possible titles includes Zuma, previously released for Click Wheel iPods, and Chuzzle, a matching game with colored Koosh-like balls.
New evidence suggesting the existence of new, unreleased iPhone and iPod touch hardware has been found in iPhone OS 3.0. Ars Technica reports that the USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file, which lists details about the USB configurations of various hardware models along with their Device IDs and product names, lists not one but two unidentified iPhone models, as well as a new iPod touch model, and two unknown products. The original iPhone, iPhone 3G, original iPod touch, and iPod touch 2G are listed as iPhone1,1; iPhone1,2; iPod1,1; and iPod2,1 respectively, with an increase in the first number representing a significant hardware redesign.
A listing for a product labeled iPhone 2,1 was found in the latest iPhone firmware in January, and has since been joined by products listed as iPhone 3,1 and iPod 3,1; as well as listings for iFPGA and iProd0,1. Two new iPhones on the list simultaneously suggests potentially differing form factors or features, such as a smaller iPhone or a larger one. The report suggests that the iFPGA could be a device that uses field-programmable gate arrays, a type of programmable microchip, but since it doesn’t observe Apple’s standard numbering scheme, it’s unlikely to be intended for release. The iProd, with its 0,1 status, is most likely an early prototype of a new device that is neither an iPhone nor an iPod touch.
iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter recapping the last seven days in iPod, iPhone, iTunes and Apple TV news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out later today. In addition to rounding up the week’s top stories, iPodweek also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive iPodweek, there’s still time to register and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.
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O2 has announced that starting April 3 it will introduce a new 24-month tariff option for iPhone customers that will see a “free” iPhone 3G bundled with a lower minimum tariff than before. Customers signing up for the 24-month £34.26 tariff plan, which includes 600 minutes, 500 texts, and unlimited data and Wi-Fi hotspot service, will receive the 8GB model for free, while the 16GB model will be priced at £57.74. Customers will be able to receive either model for free when signing up for the £44.05 tariff, which includes 1200 minutes, 500 texts, and unlimited data and hotspot service. 18-month contracts for both tariffs will also be available, with the 8GB model available for free only with the more expensive plan, and prices ranging from £57.74 to £155.61 for other model/18-month tariff combinations. The 8GB model was previously only available for free with a £45 or higher monthly tariff, while the 16GB model was free with a £75 monthly tariff only.
Once known as the “iPod Mechanic,” Nicholas Woodhams of Kalamazoo, MI, has been charged by U.S. prosecutors with both federal fraud and money laundering crimes over a scheme that allegedly involved tricking Apple into sending “more than 9,000” replacement iPod shuffles to a company that specialized in third-party repair and replacement of iPods. According to an earlier lawsuit filed by Apple last year, Woodhams allegedly took advantage of Apple’s iPod shuffle Advance Replacement Program in 2007, by filling out an online form for customers that saw Apple ship him “replacement” iPod shuffle units, with a credit card kept on file in case the broken shuffle was never returned. Apple claimed that Woodhams used a credit card he knew could be authorized for a potential charge, but would immediately decline any actual charges made by Apple should the broken shuffles fail to appear. Woodhams then sold the players for $49 each, according to court documents filed this week in Grand Rapids, MI. According to his lawyer, Woodhams has “been cooperating with the government and [is] in the process of negotiating a resolution,” adding that Apple’s lawsuit is on hold while the criminal case proceeds.
In addition to the shuffle replacement scheme, Apple also accused Woodhams of ignoring an agreement to stop using the iPod Mechanic name for his business and accompanying website, claiming it was misuse of the company’s “iPod” trademark; Woodhams is also said to have swapped out the back plates of out-of-warranty iPods for those of still-covered models in an effort to avoid paying repair and parts charges.
Update, April 7, 2009: Woodhams has pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering. As part of the plea, he has agreed to forfeit property, including a home, Audi sedan, a race car, and more than $570,000; Woodhams will be sentenced August 25.
Mophie has introduced its new Juice Pack for the second-generation iPod touch. Similar in design to the company’s prior Juice Packs for the iPhone and iPhone 3G, the iPod touch 2G models integrates a rechargeable lithium polymer battery into a soft grip case. According to the company, the Pack provides up to 42 hours of additional audio playback time, or up to seven additional hours of video playback. The Juice Pack also features a pass-through headphone jack and a USB port that can be used for both syncing and charging. Mophie’s Juice Pack for iPod touch 2G is available now and sells for $100.
Apple has announced that it is now offering high-definition films for purchase and rent on the iTunes Store. HD movies will be priced at $19.99 and can be viewed on a Mac, PC, or Apple TV; according to the announcement, HD films will also include standard-definition copies for viewing on an iPod or iPhone. Starting today, iTunes users can pre-order HD versions of Quantum of Solace which will be available for download on March 24, and Twilight, which will be available on March 21, and can purchase HD versions of films including Transporter 3 and Punisher: War Zone, both of which are available immediately. Apple claims the iTunes Store is the “world’s most popular online TV and movie store,” with over 250 million TV episodes purchased and over 33 million movies purchased and rented.
“Movie fans are going to love being able to buy and rent films including ‘Quantum of Solace’ and ‘Twilight’ in stunning HD from the iTunes Store,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “Customers have made HD content on iTunes a hit, with over 50 percent of TV programming being purchased in HD when available.”
Rental prices for HD films through iTunes remain the same as they were via Apple TV: $3.99 for older titles, $4.99 for new releases. In our brief initial testing, we found that Punisher: War Zone consists of one 3.09GB HD video file, and one 1.15GB SD iPod/iPhone compatible file.
A new report states that LG is expected to provide OLED screens for new iPhone and iPod touch models due later this year. Smarthouse, citing sources within LG Korea, claims that the new screens bound for the iPhone and iPod touch will be joined by an OLED-based touchscreen “notebook,” and that LG has been working on increasing touch sensitivity on the screens, as well as working on a new outer layer of covering for the screens to reduce the appearance of finger marks on the screen, left by accumulating body oils and sweat. Finally, the report states that Apple is also looking at a thin OLED screen from LG that will “link with a wireless content device similar to the current Apple TV.”
OLED technology has the potential to improve battery life in formerly LCD or LED-based devices by removing the need for backlighting, as well as improving color ranges, viewing angles, and rendition of true black coloration. Unfortunately, OLED technology has been plagued with considerably lower lifespans than LCD and LED screens, reducing the longevity of OLED devices to under five years when used for 8 hours per day.
New screenshots taken from the beta release of iPhone OS 3.0 suggest that Apple may be planning to add video-recording functionality to current or possibly future iPhone models. Engadget Mobile reports that a “Publish Video” screen appears when attempting to publish a still image to MobileMe, prompting users to enter a title and optional description. Given that Apple did not mention video recording as a new feature of iPhone OS 3.0, the appearance of this menu suggests the feature may be planned for future iPhone and/or iPod touch hardware; it is also possible, but unlikely, that the text is simply a typo.
Thought Out has introduced its new Form Holder for the iPhone and iPod touch. Made to complement the company’s existing PED3, PED3-Auto, and Naja King products, Form is an adjustable holder made from high grade steel with a protective finish. The Form was designed to let users mold it to suit their needs, accommodating either iPhone or iPod touch units protected inside a case. Thought Out’s Form Holder for iPhone and iPod touch sells by itself for $28, with the Naja King or PED3 stand for $45, or with the PED3-Auto mount for $55, and is available now.
Elgato has released its new Turbo.264 HD USB encoder stick for Mac OS X. The new Turbo.264 HD automatically detects AVCHD camcorders, offering one-step transfer to the Mac or to YouTube. Other features include conversion of a wide variety of video formats into high-quality, iTunes-friendly h.264 files in either standard or HD resolutions, preview, trimming, and batch processing capabilities, and hardware acceleration of h.264 exports from other Mac applications such as QuickTime Pro, iMovie, and EyeTV. Elgato’s Turbo.264 HD requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later, QuickTime 7.6 or later, a Intel Core processor, 512MB of RAM, and a built-in USB 2.0 port, and is available now for $150.
The iPhone has been ranked as the top revenue driver on AT&T’s website from November 2008 - January 2009, according to the latest data from comScore. The latest report also found the iPhone to be ranked ninth in total unit sales from AT&T’s online store; the top seller by unit sales was the refurbished LG Shine, 95% of which were offered for free. These numbers are quite similar to those found with Verizon’s flagship handset, the Blackberry Storm, and with T-Mobile’s HTC G1, both of which were the top revenue driver for their respective carrier’s websites during the period, and both of which were ranked eighth in total unit sales. Sprint’s Samsung Instinct, by comparison, was only ranked seventh by sales revenue, and fifteenth by unit sales.
Computer customization shop Computer Choppers is now offering color anodized third-generation iPod shuffle units, as well as various metal plating options. The company is charging $129 for a “standard” anodized iPod shuffle 3G, while “polished” anodized units run $30 more. Also available are a number of metal-plated units, including a chrome model for $149, copper or black nickel units for $169, 24kt gold for $179, and white gold, rose gold, or platinum models for $199. In addition, the company is offering optional laser engraving starting at $20, and is hinting that it may release “diamond shuffles” sometime soon.
Konami has released its long-awaited Metal Gear Solid Touch game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Despite the company’s prior indication that it would offer a special “advance release” edition of the game that would offer only the first half of the game, the App Store description of the game makes only a passing reference to its advance release nature. The final release version will include both halves of the game, and purchasers of the advance release edition will receive a free update to the final release, with the ability to carry over game save information. MGST is based on the Playstation 3 title Metal Gear Solid 4, and gameplay is handled via a multi-touch interface, with the ability to slide a finger for aiming, pinch gestures for zooming in and out, and taps for firing a weapon. Metal Gear Solid Touch is available now from the App Store and sells for $8.
Imagination Technologies, the company behind the iPhone’s PowerVR MBX chip, has introduced a new GP-GPU multi-core processor that could make its way into the next-generation iPhone. According to the company’s CEO, the new chip—dubbed the PowerVX SGX543—is designed to scale from two to sixteen cores without increasing performance challenges for developers, and appears to offer both OpenGL ES and OpenCL support, the latter of which Apple is building into its next-generation Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system. Both Apple and Intel have made substantial investments in the company.
A number of iPhone developers are complaining of a bug in the App Store which prevents new applications from appearing on the mobile versions of the store when sorting by release date. According to an email from a concerned developer received by iLounge, the problem has been ongoing for some time, and despite contact from a number of developers complaining about the issue, the problem has yet to be fixed. A different developer, writing in a forum thread on the subject, claims that his revenue is down by 50% for March, blaming the bug for decreased exposure. According to the original developer’s email, there is also a large thread on the subject on Apple’s own Developer Forums, which have been down since the release of the iPhone OS 3.0 beta SDK.
An iPhone developer has managed to successfully enable tethering support in iPhone OS 3.0. According to screenshots posted by the developer, tethering will be allowed over both USB and Bluetooth, with pairing necessary for the latter connection; they also show that the status bar turns purplish blue while tethering, in the same manner that it turns green during a call or red during audio recording. The developer claims he has no idea how he enabled the feature, as he was “hacking around” with carrier bundle files on the new OS. During the iPhone OS 3.0 event yesterday, Apple stated that it built tethering support into the OS and is working with carriers to implement the feature, but it does not appear as an option on normal installs of the beta OS. Continue reading for more screenshots. [via Mac Rumors]
AT&T is preparing to offer the iPhone 3G on a no-commit basis beginning March 26, according to a new report. Based on AT&T training slides published by the Boy Genius Report, the no-commitment-required handsets will be available only to current customers, and will be priced at $599 for the 8GB model and $699 for 16GB units. The no-commit option will be offered alongside the current fully-subsidized and early-upgrade pricing levels.
Update: AT&T has confirmed plans to sell no-contract iPhones at the $599 and $699 price points.
Apple has released Software Version 1.0.1 for the third-generation iPod shuffle, the first update since the device’s release late last week. According to the sparse release notes, the new software includes “[m]inor bug fixes,” it is unknown whether any noticeable changes are present in the update. iPod shuffle 3G Software Version 1.0.1 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.