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Some iPhone users report 3.0 upgrade bricking

A number of iPhone users, both on Apple’s Discussion boards and in direct emails to iLounge, are reporting that the iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade process left them with bricked devices. According to the reports, users are running the normal upgrade routine, only to have their iPhones or iPod touches hang on the “Connect to iTunes” screen, with seemingly no way to fix the problem. While some users have reported success with putting their devices into recovery mode and reconnecting, Windows users seem to be having a more difficult time with the process; some have been forced to revert back to 2.2.1, while others have been able to successfully connect and sync running 3.0, but only after installing the upgrade via a Mac. One PC user “suspect[s] that the latest v8.2 iTunes Windows installer does NOT properly install the specific recovery drivers needed for USB. These are called iBoot and DFI USB drivers.”

Sirius XM launches iPhone app, minus Howard Stern

Sirius XM has released its new Sirius XM Premium Online application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Premium Online allows Sirius and XM subscribers access to 120 online channels of programming, including music, sports, talk, news, entertainment, and comedy. The app also offers the ability to immediately purchase songs heard within the app from the iTunes Store, or tag them for later purchasing, the ability to save favorite channels, and the ability to see what others around you are listening to with a feature called LookAround. Notably, the app lacks Sirius XM’s immensely popular Howard Stern channels, which has angered early reviewers. Sirius XM Premium Online is avialable as a free download from the App Store; subscription required.

Apple to offer iPhone in its Canadian retail stores

Apple has announced that it will offer the iPhone in its retail stores in Canada. Apple will begin selling the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in its nine company-owned retail stores in Canada tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., up to two hours earlier than local Rogers/Fido stores, which up until now have been the only places to buy the handset in Canada. Apple operates four stores in Toronto, and also has locations in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, and Laval.

AT&T Wi-Fi supports auto-authentication with iPhone 3.0

AT&T has announced that with iPhone OS 3.0, iPhone users will no longer need to go through a two-step authentication process in order to access one of the company’s Wi-Fi Hot Spots. According to AT&T, auto-connect will be established once a customer connects his/her iPhone to an AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot for the first time; following this connection, the user should be able to seamlessly switch from AT&T’s 3G network to an AT&T Hot Spot without being prompted. AT&T operates more than 20,000 Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S.

iPhone 3GS Review Round-Up

Following the lifting of the iPhone 3GS review embargo, Apple’s hand-picked reviewers near-simultaneously issued their opinions today on the latest iPhone model, which we’ve summarized in the following headers. Expect iLounge’s review of the iPhone 3GS to deal with these and other subjects in detail in the very near future.

Speed Increases:

Processing (General):

Comments varied on the 3GS’s speed increase, with some reviewers merely parroting Apple’s claims that the device runs apps faster; most agreed that it feels at least a little peppier than the iPhone 3G.

Joshua Topolsky, Engadget: “We’re excited by the cranked up CPU, but in our experience you’ll see lowered load times (though obviously not as drastic) if you take a standard 3G and do a full restore, so there is the lingering question of whether or not the jacked-up feel of the 3GS will last, or will begin to bog down after months of use and heaps of data.”

AT&T offers $199, $299 3GS pricing to some iPhone 3G owners

Following a solid week of complaints from users, AT&T has announced that it will be offering iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September of this year its best upgrade pricing ($199/16GB, $299/32GB) on the iPhone 3GS beginning tomorrow, June 18. In an open letter, the company states that “[l]ike most U.S. carriers, we offer a variety of phones that we sell below our actual cost when customers agree to sign service agreements. In general, the more a customer spends with us, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than $99 a month per line with us generally are eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.”

The letter continues, “[a]ll of that said, we’ve been listening to our customers. And since many of our iPhone 3G customers are early adopters and literally weeks shy of being upgrade eligible due to iPhone 3GS launching 11 months after iPhone 3G, we’re extending the window of upgrade eligibility for a limited time.” AT&T notes that its upgrade eligibility tools will not reflect the change until tomorrow, and that supplies will be limited at its retail stores, but customers may order online from AT&T for delivery in 7-14 days, or purchase the device from Apple’s online or retail stores. Finally, it says that customers who pre-ordered from an AT&T store would have the price adjusted at checkout, while online pre-order customers eligible for the discount will receive an e-mail and a credit. Customers who pre-ordered through an Apple will have their upgrade eligibility re-assessed, and if eligible for the lower pricing, will receive an credit from Apple.

iPod touch $10 update fee: one-time, multiple devices

iLounge has confirmed that the purchase of the iPhone OS 3.0 software update for the second-generation iPod touch enables the same user to update the first-generation iPod touch as well. Prior to performing any iPod touch update, iTunes 8.2 requires the user to click through to the iTunes Store, authorize a $9.95 payment to Apple, and accept new iTunes licensing terms. iTunes then downloads the iPod Software Update for iPod touch, which is specific to the first- or second-generation devices. Upon connecting a second, different-generation iPod touch, there is no additional charge to update that device’s software to version 3.0. However, another software download from the iTunes server will be performed to retrieve the separate version of the software that runs on the different device.

Apple Stores now open 7am on Friday iPhone 3GS launch

Apple has announced that it will be opening its stores at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, an hour earlier than planned, for the launch of the iPhone 3GS. The company had originally planned to open its doors at 8:00 a.m., but may have changed its mind due to AT&T’s announcement that it would be opening its stores at 7:00 a.m. for pre-order customers, with normal sales beginning at 8:00.

Apple releases iPhone OS 3.0 for iPhone, iPod touch

Apple has officially released its iPhone Software Upgrade 3.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch. The second major update to the iPhone OS brings with it a host of new features, including Copy & Paste, widespread landscape keyboard support, in-app and Spotlight search, a new Voice Memos application for the iPhone and iPod touch 2G, MMS support for the iPhone 3G, multi-photo emailing and deletion, stereo Bluetooth support for the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G, and more. iPhone Software Update 3.0 is now available as a free download for the iPhone and iPhone 3G; the software is a $10 upgrade for the iPod touch, and iPod touch 2G. For more information on iPhone OS 3.0, read our review, or see our Complete Guide and Instant Expert articles.

iPhone 3GS unboxing photos hit Flickr

A set of photos showing the unboxing of a new black 32GB iPhone 3GS has been posted to Flickr. The photos show the device’s home screen, the Voice Control feature, as well as shots of the Compass application in action, complete with a “Compass Interference” error message.

Apple touts ‘third-party game accessories’ on OS 3.0 page

Without further elaboration, Apple has started to tout the ability of users to connect to as-yet-unreleased new third-party gaming accessories as a feature of the iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade on its update page for the iPod touch. Alongside an icon of a Dock Connector, the page states, “[c]onnect fun new game accessories via the iPod touch 30-pin connector and Bluetooth.” Apple has previously both announced and demonstrated support for third-party accessories connecting via both methods, but has not divulged an input standard for gaming or keyboard accessories. Though companies could conceivably release joypads and keyboards without a standard in place, even including Guitar Hero- or Rock Band-style alternate input devices, the absence of such a standard could lead to numerous incompatible accessories that will only work with specific, limited applications.

iPhone 3GS photos reveal new EXIF data, features

On examination of a handful of shots posted to Flickr by our friends at comparing the iPhone 3G’s camera to that of the iPhone 3GS, new details about iPhone 3GS still photo capabilities have been revealed. Notably, photos taken with the iPhone 3GS are saved in 2048 x 1536 (3.1-Megapixel) resolution, with a file size of around 1MB. As expected, the EXIF data on photos taken with the 3GS also shows evidence of auto exposure, auto white balance, and auto focus adjustments, with focal length data; the data also shows a listing for ISO speed. Notably, the EXIF data does not identify the iPhone 3GS as a separate device from the original iPhone or iPhone 3G; all three devices are listed as “iPhone.”

Mix: Palm Pre, iPhone 3GS shipment delays, FCC review, 3.0 release

Apple has published a new support document warning users of the Palm Pre that their ability to sync with iTunes may be removed at any time. Titled “iTunes: About unsupported third-party digital media players,” the article explains that Apple designs its hardware and software to provide seamless integration between its media devices, iTunes, the iTunes Store, and the App Store, and that it is aware that some third-party companies claim their products are able to sync with iTunes. It notes, however, that “Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players and, because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple’s iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players.”

Following the receipt of shipment notifications for their iPhone 3GS units, a number of pre-order customers are reporting that their shipments are being intentionally delayed by Apple to prevent early deliveries. Mac Rumors has posted a tracking information screenshot from one such user, noting that “The receiver requested a hold for a future delivery date. UPS will attempt delivery on the date requested.” According to the report, Apple has used previous tactics in the past to time shipments up with product release dates.

A group of four United States senators has sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael Copps, requesting the body to review exclusivity arrangements between wireless carriers and cell phone manufacturers, such as the one between Apple and AT&T for the iPhone. The move was spurred by a May, 2008 petition from the Rural Cellular Association, a group of small carriers generally servicing parts of the country where the larger carriers don’t offer service. These carriers claim that their inability to offer customers the handsets of their choice makes it difficult for them to compete with the larger carriers in areas where their service overlaps. Notably, the letter raises specific concerns on whether the agreements “place limitations on a consumer’s ability to take full advantage of handset technologies, such as the ability to send multimedia messages or the ability to ‘tether’ a device to a computer for internet use.” [via BBG]

According to a network-wide SMS sent to Hong Kong-based 3 customers notifying users of a June 18, 01:00 local time release for iPhone OS 3.0, Engadget estimates that the anticipated upgrade will see a release at around 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time today.

Photo of the Week: iPhone 3G in the Caribbean

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G floating aboard a cruise ship somewhere in the Western Caribbean. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

T-Mobile Germany outlines iPhone 3GS pricing

T-Mobile Germany has announced its pricing (Translated Link) for the iPhone 3GS. The exclusive German iPhone carrier will offer the 16GB model for as little as €1 with the most expensive (€120/month, roughly $166) tariff on a two-year contract, with the handset running €130 (~$180) with the least expensive (€25, roughly $35) plan. The 32GB model will run from €1 to €250 (~$346), respectively. All the plans offer unlimited data, save for the cheapest, which offers only 200MB per month. The iPhone 3GS goes on sale in Germany on Friday.

Orange reveals pricing for iPhone 3GS in France

Orange has revealed its pricing for the iPhone 3GS in France. The 16GB model will be available from €149 (roughly $206) and the 32GB for €229 (~$317) on a one-year contract. The company will be offering a new “Origami special iPhone edition” package from €52/month, which will include four hours of calling time, unlimited data, SMS, MMS, and Wi-Fi access, 60 channels of Orange TV, and Visual Voicemail; Orange will also offer tethering at rates of €9.90/month for 200GB, or unlimited for €29.90/month, with a reduced connection speed once usage reaches 1GB. Orange will be opening its stores Paris on the Champs-Élysées, in Lille in the Grand Place and in Lyon Cordelier at one minute after midnight on July 19 for iPhone 3GS sales.

Altec Lansing unveils Backbeat Pro earphones

Altec Lansing has introduced its new Backbeat Pro noise-isolating earphones. The Backbeat Pros feature a black-and gold body, with a single balanced armature, iPhone-compatible 3.5mm mini-jack connector, a braided oxygen-free copper cord with tangle-resistant PVC coating, and an included neoprene carry case. In addition, the earphones ship with an eight-piece fit kit, including multiple sizes of silicone ear tips, and a set of dual flange tips for extra noise reduction. Altec Lansing’s Backbeat Pro noise-isolating earphones will be available soon and are priced at $100.

Apple snubs iPhone developers at end of WWDC

A first-hand account from the final session of Apple’s 2009 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) claims the company actively avoided facing the questions of many iPhone developers. Tumblr and Instapaper developer Marco Arment reports that the final session of WWDC ‘09, which he attended, was about publishing on the App Store, and although the content of the session is under NDA, Arment claims the session was more notable for what it didn’t contain. Arment writes, “So I’ll tell you what wasn’t in it: the audience Q&A session that succeeded nearly every other WWDC session and usually provided invaluable access to Apple employees and useful additional knowledge to attendees. The session itself blew through its lightweight examples quickly, ending 45 minutes early. The majority of the audience was clearly there for the Q&A. As people lined up at the microphones around the room, the presenter abruptly showed a simple slide with only ‘WWDC’ in plain lettering, thanked us for coming, and bolted off the stage. The Apple engineers, usually staying around the stage for one-on-one questions, were gone. The lights came up instantly, and it was the only session that didn’t end in music. The audience was stunned.”

“It was a giant middle finger to iPhone developers. And that’s the closing impression that Apple gave us for WWDC. Clearly, they had absolutely no interest in fielding even a single question from the topic that we have the most questions about,” he continues. “This went far beyond reluctant tolerance. It’s hard to interpret it as anything else except blatant hostility. We could probably have a more open discussion with Kim Jong-il about North Korea’s nuclear policy.” A separate report from earlier in the week suggests the company may have been trying to sidestep questions from developers regarding the company’s opaque and sometimes frustrating iPhone application approval process, as developers were unable to get answers about their rejections, even when speaking face-to-face with Apple employees during the event. [via DF]

AT&T urging pre-paid iPhone users to sign contract plans

AT&T plans to drop support for all Pay As You Go iPhone users, in an effort to move all pre-paid iPhone users onto contract plans ahead of the iPhone 3.0 release. Erica Sadun of TUAW writes that she called AT&T after receiving a screenshot of an official AT&T text message sent to a pre-paid iPhone user, which stated that the upgrade may affect data service. The message asked the user to call AT&T; he was told that if he downloads the software without being on “an approved iPhone data plan,” his data service would be interrupted. According to Sadun’s phone communications with AT&T, it appears that the company will be deliberately downgrading the data services offered to GoPhone users to get them to move to contract plans. As this online memo states, GoPhone plans are no longer available for either the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, and only original iPhone Pick Your Plan customers with the unlimited data plan for iPhone will be safe from service interruptions. Sadun was also told that original iPhone users on GoPhone plans would be unable to move to a postpaid plan without signing a two-year contract, despite their full ownership of their current equipment, adding, “all prepaid customers should transfer into a contract plan for the iPhone.”

Mix: Best Buy, Push Notifications, MapQuest, DataViz

Best Buy will begin selling the iPhone 3GS at its retail locations beginning at 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, and will also offer an accident insurance plan for the handset, AppleInsider reports. Customers will be able to purchase the retailer’s Geek Squad Black Tie Protection for the iPhone 3G S, albeit at a rate of $15 per month, or $180 a year, substantially higher than the normal $7-$10/month for other mobile phones. According to the report, the Black Tie service covers both traditional technical problems and problems resulting from physical damage such as drops, spills, or other accidents. Apple’s AppleCare for iPhone specifically denies service for devices that have been damaged in such a manner, and since AT&T has chosen not to offer its traditional insurance to iPhone owners, users with accidental damage have in the past had to either pay for repairs or purchase all new devices.

iPhone developers running the final release of iPhone OS 3.0 have noticed that Apple’s Push Notification system appears to have gone live, just days before its scheduled official launch alongside iPhone OS 3.0. A number of Mac Rumors forum members report that the Notifications menu has appeared within the Settings application; notably, only a single Push-ready application—Tap Tap Revenge 2—appears to have made its way through Apple’s approval process at this point, with challenges from friends triggering the alerts. iPhone OS 3.0 is slated for a Wednesday release.

AOL has released its MapQuest 4 Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Billed as an alternative to the built-in Maps application, MapQuest 4 Mobile features the ability to save maps and routes on for retrieval through the application, an oversized display and landscape mode orientation for driving directions, a “place carousel” that allows users to easily display points of interest such as hotels, movie theaters, and gas stations, location awareness, and more. MapQuest 4 Mobile is available now as a free download from the App Store.

DataViz has introduced its Documents To Go productivity application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Documents To Go allows users to view, edit, and save Microsoft Word documents directly from their device, as well as view and synchronize Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Apple iWork, and other documents. Two-way synchronization is handled via a desktop application that syncs the documents over Wi-Fi; DataViz promises a free upgrade with support for editing and creating Microsoft Excel documents, as well. Documents To Go is available now for $5; an enhanced version with support for editing and sending Microsoft Exchange attachments is also available and sells for $10.

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