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Mix: White 3GS shortage, patent lawsuit, iPod mini mod, 3GS music video

  • July 7, 2009

Apple is having trouble keeping the white 16GB iPhone 3GS in stock at its company-owned retail stores, reports Fortune. Based on checks of Apple’s online availability listings, the entry-level white model is sold out in 30 of the 41 states in which Apple has stores, and in areas with large numbers of Apple Stores, such as California, Massachusetts, and New York City, it is available in only one store. It is unclear whether demand for the model is that much greater than the other three, or if Apple simply underestimated demand. The report goes on to note that as of today, every state has at least one model that is completely out of stock.

Apple, along with Sony and Nintendo, has been sued by Shared Memory Graphics (SMG) over alleged patent infringement. The Wall Street Journal reports that SMG claims Apple’s iPods, Nintendo’s Wii, and Sony’s PSP and PS2 systems use two graphic accelerator systems patented by the company. The patents describe ways in which processors fine-tune graphics by balancing the flow of data from various sources; they were originally owned by Alliance Semiconductor, but were sold to SMG after the former transitioned to a holding company. Filed in U.S. District Court in Arkansas, the suit demands unspecified monetary damages.

Australian graphic designer and iLounge forum member Josh Darrah, creator of the wooden iPod mini we reported on in June, is considering the possibility of profiting from his creation. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, response to the project has been so positive that Darrah is now looking into how he could mass produce the wooden casings and sell them online as part of a do-it-yourself kit. He is working to master the craft by continuing to build cases for the iPod range. “I’m working out how to streamline the process of making it using routers and a bit of program machinery to carve the wood, so I don’t have to do them by hand,” Darrah said.

Brooklyn-based artist Reyna Perez has had her new video for the song “Love Love Love” shot entirely on an iPhone 3GS. Boing Boing reports that the final mixes of the song arrived on Friday, June 17th, the same day the iPhone 3GS was released. “Video producer Ari Kuschnir, Reyna’s fiancee, purchased the iPhone after a two hour wait, made shorter by listening to the tracks. Hearing the new music and playing with 3GS, he had an idea. Why not debut Reyna with the first iPhone music video? ‘It became clear that the phone’s camera quality was good enough to shoot a music video. It seemed fitting for the project.’ Continue reading to see the embedded version of the video, or follow the above link to watch it on YouTube.

Factron Quattro adds interchangeable lenses to iPhone 3G, 3GS

Factron has introduced its new Quattro case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS (Translated Link), adding the ability for owners to use different lenses on the device’s built-in camera. Made from aluminum alloy, the Quattro is a two-piece case held together by four screws that stick out from the corners of the case. It offers open access to all ports and controls, a leather pad on the back, as well as a small mounting ring over the camera onto which a variety of lenses can be attached, including close-up, fisheye, and wide-angle glass. Factron’s Quattro case is available now for the iPhone 3G, available for pre-order for the iPhone 3GS, and sells for roughly $200; the lenses range in price from $15-$55 each. [via Engadget]

Apple celebrates one year of the App Store

Apple is now promoting the first-anniversary of the App Store with a dedicated page on the iTunes Store. The message on the promo page reads, “Light a candle and cue the music. Okay, forgive us for sounding like doting parents, but we’re just so proud—having watched the App Store go from promising newcomer to full-fledged revolutionary. To celebrate its first birthday, we’ve gathered some of our favorite games and apps.” Apps featured on the page include MLB.com At Bat 2009, Pandora Radio, Brushes, Rolando, The Sims 3, Peggle, Real Racing, and Let’s Golf. The App Store officially opened on July 10, 2008 with more than 500 applications; it now offers over 50,000.

Mix: ZGrip iPhone Pro, iPhone discoloration, DOJ review, Roulette

  • July 6, 2009

Zacuto has announced its new ZGrip iPhone Pro video handgrip system for the iPhone 3GS (pictured). Made from professional-quality materials, the ZGrip Pro offers a quick releasable holder for the iPhone, three points of adjustment for various angles, and various attachments that allow the mount to be used on a conventional tripod, or for other accessories such as lights and microphones to be attached to the handgrip. The ZGrip iPhone Pro is available now and sells for $295; the company has said it will release a more affordable consumer version at a later date.

A new report (Translated Link) suggests that discoloration problems experienced by some users of white iPhone 3GS units may be due to third-party cases and not overheating, as previously thought. The site FrenchiPhone.com quotes an Apple representative as claiming that the problem comes not from heat but from “some covers,” and goes on to say that it has been able to fix the issue by cleaning the back of a discolored phone with alcohol. While it is possible that the problems could be attributable in part to cases, similar issues were not seen with the iPhone 3G, which shares the same plastic back as the 3GS. [via Mac Rumors]

The United States Department of Justice has initiated a review into whether large U.S. telecom companies such as AT&T and Verizon have abused the market strength they have gained in recent years. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the review of potential anti-competitive practices is still in its early stages, and has yet to become a formal investigation of any one company. Among the possible areas of interest to the DOJ is whether or not the ability for the large telecoms to lock-in new handsets such as the iPhone with exclusive agreements is hurting smaller competitors, and whether they are unfairly restricting the types of services other companies can offer over their networks.

ASD Soft has released ASD Roulette, its new casino simulation game for the iPhone and iPod touch. ASD Roulette offers players a simulation of the European version of the popular casino game roulette, including standard payouts, a single 0 on the wheel and board, multiple chip denominations, and a recent number listing. ASD Roulette is available now from the App Store and sells for $1.

iPod classic poll ends, iPhone/iPod touch screen poll begins

With more than 3,300 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll — “Should Apple update the iPod classic?” has ended. Readers were given three “Yes” responses, with either new features, more capacity, or a combination thereof as additions, and four “No” responses, highlighting the reader’s interest in the iPod nano, iPod touch, iPhone, or disinterest in hard drive-based players.

A majority of readers—56%—wanted to see Apple continue the iPod classic in one form or another. More than one-third of readers—34%—said they would be interested in an updated iPod classic, but only with a combination of new features and a capacity bump, while nearly as many readers—33%—said they were more interested in an iPod touch (20%) or iPhone (13%). 14% of readers said they would be interested in an updated iPod classic if it offers new features, 9% said they weren’t interested in hard drive-based players at all, and 8% said they would be interested in a new model if it offered more capacity. Finally, only 3% said they would be more interested in an updated iPod nano, highlighting the different markets for these two iPod models. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on the glass screens of the iPhone and iPod touch. We’d like to know if you’ve had any problems with yours. Have you noticed scratching, peeling, or other issues, or has your unit been problem free? Or do you not own an iPhone or iPod touch? Our new poll, “Have you noticed any problems with your iPhone or iPod touch screen?” lets you answer that question. You can find the iLounge Poll in the far left-hand column of the main iLounge.com homepage. Cast your vote today!

iPhone 3GS oleophobic coating wearing off prematurely?

Raising questions regarding the durability of the oleophobic coating on the glass screen of the iPhone 3GS, a user from Germany has posted pictures of the coating coming off less than three weeks after the product’s release. In separate postings to the apfeltalk.de forums, 3GS user “Samsas Traum” has shared pictures of his problematic screen, which appears to have ghost-like circles around the area where the coating has come off. Traum claims that the localized nature of the damage is likely due to repeat playings of Flick Fishing. While we have yet to see a second report of such extreme wear in such a short time, iLounge editors have found previous products with oleophobic coating—such as sunglasses—to be problematic, with the coating coming off with as little as contact with certain types of water. [via iFun.de]

iPhone 3.0 software or hardware causing battery issues?

A number of both iPhone 3G and 3GS users are complaining of poor battery life when running iPhone OS 3.0. Some iPhone 3GS users, who had 3.0 pre-installed on their phones, have found some improvement after cycling the battery from full charge to dead a few times, while others, including iPhone 3G users, are reporting improved battery life after disabling Push Notifications, suggesting Apple may still have some kinks to work out in the new service. iLounge’s reviews of both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS noted “unacceptably low” battery life under certain conditions, including 3G calling, data, and video recording; it is unclear whether the problems are in hardware, software, or interrelated in nature, and whether or not Apple’s upcoming iPhone 3.1 software update will improve battery life. [via Macworld UK]

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Ngmoco releases Rolando 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid

Ngmoco has released Rolando 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid, the sequel to the company’s popular Rolando game for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Rolando 2, players once again control a number of round characters, using a combination of accelerometer and touch controls to roll, jump, and otherwise navigate throughout the various levels. iLounge was given the opportunity to play a pre-release build of the game while we were at WWDC, and we found it to be a worthy sequel to the first game. The 2.5D graphics add a needed sense of depth, while the branching progression—the ability to choose one of two or more paths after finishing a level—was likely a necessary change to accommodate fans of the game who found themselves sometimes stuck on a particular level. Also new to the game are several classes of Rolandos, “vehicles” such as mine cars and a spike-covered ball, environmental challenges such as rising lava, water, and boulders, Idols to collect that let players skip levels of their choosing, the ability to play music from the iPhone or iPod touch instead of the built-in soundtrack, a larger map to explore, and an integrated tutorial system for first-time players. Rolando 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid is available now and sells for $10.

L.A.-based band uses iPhone to record new single

L.A.-based rock band The 88 have released their new single “Love Is the Thing,” which the band recorded using an iPhone and the application FourTrack ($10) from Sonoma Wire Works. According to a post on the band’s website, a member was browsing through the App Store when he came upon FourTrack, and the group thought it would be “a great way to record song ideas while we are away from home.” They proceeded to record guitar, drum, keyboard, and vocal tracks—14 in total—using the app; the group ended up re-recording the vocals using the application and an Alesis ProTrack to fine-tune the input levels. More details, including a “making of” video, can be found on the band’s website; “Love Is the Thing” is available now for $1 from iTunes.

iPhone patent filings: haptics, fingerprints, karaoke, packaging, more

A slew of new Apple patent applications have been published, revealing the company’s research into a number of iPod and iPhone enhancements. Of the iPhone- and iPod touch-specific patents, two deal with the usability of touchscreen-based devices. One patent outlines haptic display technology that would let users “feel” on-screen graphics as they move their fingers across the screen, while another would identify fingerprints, allowing the system to execute different commands based on the individual finger that is touching the screen and the duration of the contact.

A separate group of patents covers automated, intelligent settings and tasks. One covers “event-based modes,” in which the iPhone automatically changes certain settings based on its location, calendar events, news updates, usage, and environment. A second deals with automated communications, which would allow the iPhone to perform certain actions—such as sending a happy birthday SMS or making a phone call—based on calendar events, location, caller ID, and more. The third patent in this grouping covers intelligent handling of communications, by which the iPhone would be able to “select appropriate communication modes for incoming communications requests based on a user’s preferences and availability, determine the communication modes of a user based on the current activity and allow the user to provide customized information to his contacts.”

Yet another Apple patent filing suggests the company is working on a way to integrate RFID technology into the iPhone and iPod touch. The application describes a method for embedding an RFID antenna into the touchscreen itself, allowing the device to be used as a reader. The company is also looking into a karaoke addition to the iPhone and iPod touch’s iPod application, which would not only provide on-screen video and lyrics, but also offer real-time feedback to the user in an attempt to improve his/her singing.

Finally, a new patent filling describes a system for “active packaging,” which would allow the company to ship iPods and iPhones in packaging that allowed them to run a demo video or show other content on the screen, and wirelessly update themselves with the latest firmware prior to sale. As with all Apple patent filings, these do not necessarily represent any future product releases from Apple, but offer evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Mac Rumors, UnwiredView, AppleInsider]

Apple, developers wrestling over App Store pornographic content policy

Following its decision to allow bikini photo applications into the App Store, Apple has removed one such application from the App Store due to pornographic—in this case, illegal—content. The application BeautyMeter by German developers Braun Software has been on the store since January, but came under fire yesterday following the discovery that the developer was offering not only nude photos, but a nude photo of an underage girl. Similar to websites and apps such as Hot Or Not, BeautyMeter allowed users to upload pics of themselves for other people to judge. According to a report, one particular photo—which appeared to show full nudity—was labeled as being of a 15-year-old girl. After the report, Apple removed the application from the App Store.

Last week a separate application, Hottest Girls, was pulled from the App Store after adding topless photos of women to its available photo archive. At this point, it’s unclear what Apple’s exact intentions are in regards to such content and the App Store. Following the removal of Hottest Girls, Apple released a statement that said that the company “will not distribute applications that contain inappropriate content, such as pornography.” However, Apple’s App Store submission system provides checkboxes for such content on its content description page, including options for “Sexual Content or Nudity,” “Prolonged Graphic or sadistic realistic violence,” and “Graphic sexual content or nudity.” In addition, the company recently expanded the Parental Controls available to iPhone and iPod touch users that allow parents to keep applications rated above a certain level from being installed or run on the device.

AT&T memo touts record-breaking iPhone 3GS launch

An internal AT&T memo published by MacDailyNews claims that the June 19th launch of the iPhone 3GS was record-breaking for the company in a number of ways. The memo states the launch was its “best-ever sales day” and second-largest traffic day in its retail stores, accounted for the most transactions ever processed and most upgrade eligibility checks in a single day, and was the largest order day and feature sales day in att.com history. The memo goes on to state that sales on 3GS launch day exceeded those of the iPhone 3G’s launch day by noon Central Time, and the company sustained its previous peak hour record, also set in 2008, for 11 straight hours. Apple announced last week that it sold over a million iPhone 3GS units over the launch weekend, although it is unknown how many of those were sold in the U.S. or by AT&T.

New iPhone 3GS ad highlights video features

Apple has released another new iPhone 3GS television advertisement, the third in its new series of ads focusing on individual features of the new phone. The latest, “Skateboard,” highlights the 3GS’ video features by showing a person shooting video of a skateboarder, who then uses the on-board editing features to trim out the skater’s fall, and shares the video via email. As with the other two feature-specific iPhone 3GS advertisements, this one is also shot on a white background, and features a sample of the Matt Costa song “Mr. Pitiful” in the background. “Skateboard” is available for viewing on Apple’s iPhone TV Ads gallery page.

Winners of iPWR SuperPack Giveaway announced

The winners of our iPWR SuperPack Giveaway have just been announced. In the giveaway, 20 iLounge readers won an iPWR SuperPack Rechargeable External Battery for the iPhone or iPod touch, with ten of each model given out. Congratulations to all the winners! Don’t forget to enter our Tekkeon myPower Giveaway, our Giveaway of the Month for July.

iLounge announces Tekkeon myPower Giveaway

iLounge is pleased to announce the Tekkeon myPower Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for July, 10 lucky iLounge readers will receive a Tekkeon myPower for iPhone. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on July 31, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Nike+ site updated, adds some iPhone/iPod touch access

Nike has updated its Nike+ fitness site with a number of new features, and added a streamlined version for access via the iPhone or iPod touch. The redesigned main site still relies upon Flash, but features a more prominent Goals section, with a simplified interface and better context. Also new is the Levels feature, which awards users a color-coded level based on the number of miles they’ve run, the ability to rate individual runs, and the ability to integrate Nike+ data with a Twitter or Facebook account. On the iPhone and iPod touch, users are limited to viewing recent runs; both sites are still considered to be in “beta” status. [via TUAW]

MobileMe update expands iPhone 3GS video support, more

Apple has rolled out a new service update to its MobileMe paid service, adding support for several new iPhone and iPod touch features. Of particular interest to iPhone 3GS users, videos uploaded from the device can now be published to a Gallery album—if no albums exist, one is automatically created when uploading a photo or video. In addition, iPhone and iPod touch users now have the option to merge existing contacts and calendars upon initial sync with MobileMe, and to keep a copy of contact and calendar information on the device when deleting a MobileMe account or turning off syncing. Finally, iPhone contacts that sync with MobileMe now maintain ring tone associations across devices.

iPod Access update adds iPhone OS 3.0, 3GS support

Findley Designs has updated its iPod Access iPod/iPhone music and video transfer application to version 4.3. The new version adds support for iPhone OS 3.0, iTunes 8.2, and the iPhone 3GS, and also offers improved iTunes integration. iPod Access provides users with access to all the songs, videos, and movies stored on their iPods or iPhones, offering features such as single-button backups, playlist cloning into iTunes, and an instant listing of all iPod songs. iPod Access version 4.3 is a free update for all registered version 4 users; a full license for Mac OS X or Windows Vista/XP is $20.

O2, Rogers/Fido sold out of iPhone 3GS

Though Apple Stores continue to maintain stocks of the iPhone 3GS in most locations, carrier partners O2 in the U.K. and both Rogers and Fido in Canada have sold out of iPhone 3GS units, according to the companies’ websites. A message on O2’s website states, “Due to the phenomenal demand for the new iPhone 3GS, we’ve temporarily run out of stock online, over the phone and in our retail stores.” The company expects additional stock to be available “at the end of this week.” A similar message on Fido’s site calls the 3GS launch a “tremendous success,” and explains that while the handset is sold out in the “vast majority” of cities throughout Canada, more stock is expected in the coming weeks. Rogers’ website simply lists the phone as “currently out-of-stock,” a message that is reiterated when calling the company’s main customer service line. [via Macworld UK]

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