Apple has sent out invitations to select members of the media inviting them to a special event on September 9th. Featuring a large iPod silhouette graphic at the top sporting the phrase “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it,” the invite states that the event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, CA, and that it will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Apple is widely expected to announce its fall 2009 iPod lineup at the event, and iLounge will be there to cover it live.
Notable is the “only rock and roll” reference, which appears to be a simultaneous dismissal of rumors that the event might be focused on more than just Apple’s “music” business—iPods—and a reference to the Rolling Stones, who traditionally were seen as rivals to The Beatles. The September 9 date of the event coincides with the release of The Beatles’ entire backcatalog in remastered CD format, as well as a widely publicized tie-up for a special Beatles version of the game Rock Band; these events, combined with Apple’s longstanding interest in offering The Beatles’ catalog in digital format on iTunes, have led many to speculate that the event would include such an announcement. If so, the theme of the invitation provides only the most modest hint that such a thing could be possible.
Rockstar Games has announced that it will be releasing its first two games for the iPhone and iPod touch this fall, including the platform’s first Grand Theft Auto title. Beaterator is a portable music-making application that allows people of all musical backgrounds and ability to create beats and songs, featuring thousands of loops and sounds made by both well-known producer/rapper Timbaland and Rockstar. Currently available for the Nintendo DS, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars follows the story of Huang Lee, a young Triad who travels to Liberty City after the mysterious death of his father to uncover the truth behind his demise. Both games are listed as coming this fall; more exact release or pricing information has yet to be announced.
The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into possible illegal trading of Apple shares both domestically and abroad, according to a new report. Citing a series of SEC documents sent to the brokerage community, the Huffington Post reports that the commission is looking at four specific time periods, asking for the names of clients who specifically bought and sold Apple shares during those periods. The report states that the SEC is asking whether anyone had an illegal lead on how iPod sales were faring, whether anyone was given insight into Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ health, and whether anyone had exact knowledge of the dates on which company press releases or announcements relating to Jobs’ health and/or iPod sales would be made public.
A Pittsburgh-area man who was robbed over the weekend used MobileMe’s Find My iPhone feature to help police track down the robbers and his stolen goods. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the man was robbed by two other men of his iPhone, wallet, and PIN numbers for his credit cards early Sunday morning; the man later used Find My iPhone to track the robbers to a nearby Wal-Mart where police said the suspects purchased goods using a stolen card. Police officers eventually caught up with the suspects at a gas station, recovering a black pellet gun, stolen IDs, credit cards, and cash. The men will be charged with access device fraud, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, possessing instruments of crime, and robbery. [via TUAW]
If you haven’t yet entered our Livespeakr Giveaway, today is your last chance. In our Giveaway of the Month for August, 10 lucky iLounge readers will receive a black Livespeakr for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPod classic. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end tonight at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Citing sources from Apple Authorized Resellers, Ars Technica reports that the entire current lineup of iPods has been discontinued. Stock of the current screened iPods, announced and released last September, is dwindling, with no more expected to come in; the fate of the third-generation iPod shuffle, released earlier this year, is unclear. Apple is reportedly planning a special event for early September—possibly as soon as Sept. 9—to introduce updated models, which sources have previously said will include camera upgrades for both the iPod nano and iPod touch.
Facebook has released version 3.0 of its application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The updated app sports a redesigned interface and several new capabilities, including the ability to write notes and read friends’ notes, upload photos to any album and manage a photo collection, zoom photos, see mutual friends, change profile pictures, and more. Facebook 3.0 for iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
OnOne Software has released version 1.1 of its DSLR Camera Remote Professional Edition for the iPhone and iPod touch. Originally able to control select Canon EOS digital cameras with Live View support, version 1.1 adds support for select Nikon DSLR cameras, AutoFocus during LiveView, burst mode for sports photographers, bracketing for HDR photography, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom auto-import. DSLR Camera Remote Professional 1.1 is available now from the App Store for $20; a feature-limited Lite version is also available and sells for $2.
AllergyFree Passport has released its iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten & Allergen Free application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed for users suffering from celiac/coeliac disease, food allergies or intolerances, iCanEat allows users to pinpoint what meals they can eat at 15 major U.S. fast food and quick service restaurants. Users can select from one or any combination of 9 allergens including eggs, fish, gluten, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat, and can browse over 1,500 food items in color-coded columns to quickly view appropriate meals. iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten & Allergen Free is available now and sells for $5.
Chilli X has introduced PlaySafe, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. PlaySafe is designed to make the iPhone or iPod touch’s music player easier, and therefore safer, to use while driving, by providing a full-screen start and stop button, with swipe gestures for changing tracks. The on-screen interface shows large album artwork, supports both landscape and portrait modes, and turns off auto-lock to prevent the device from sleeping while playing music. PlaySafe is available now and sells for $1.
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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French consumer affairs minister Herve Novelli met (Translated Link) with Michel Coulomb, commercial director of Apple France, earlier today to discuss the proliferation of “exploding” iPhone reports in the country. Following the meeting, Novelli corroborated a statement from Apple claiming that none of the affected phones tested thus far exhibited battery problems, and instead show that the cracked screens were related to external pressure exerted on the devices. When asked about potential responsibility for the issues, Novelli said it was “too early to blame anyone,” and said the two agreed to stay in contact, with Apple informing Novelli about the results of the other tests. At least eight separate reports of iPhone screens cracking or “exploding” have been reported in France over the last two weeks, with similar problems being reported in Holland and Sweden. It is currently unclear what exactly is causing the issues.
China Unicom has announced that it has signed a three-year deal with Apple to sell the iPhone in China. The agreement will see the carrier purchase the phones in bulk, eschewing the traditional revenue sharing model Apple has favored with other carriers. As previously reported, the phones will be sold with their Wi-Fi disabled in order to conform with Chinese regulations. Unicom said it plans to offer two versions of 3G-capable iPhones beginning in the fourth quarter, but did not offer specifics on exactly which models it would carry. The announcement comes a month before Unicom is set to roll out its new 3G network; the service will be launched in 285 cities on September 28, with plans to expand to 335 cities by the end of 2009.
Update: iPhone in China notes that the iPhone is now listed on Apple’s website for mainland China, with a form asking visitors to register their name and email to receive more details about the launch when they become available.
The latest update to the Yelp application for the iPhone and iPod touch sports a hidden augmented feature, called Monocle, for iPhone 3GS users. The hidden feature, which is activated by shaking the device three times, allows 3GS users to see nearby Yelp-reviewed restaurants overlaid on video of the user’s surroundings, showing the aggregate rating, type of cuisine, and pricing scale information, if available. Yelp for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store; continue reading for screenshots of the feature in use. [Picture courtesy of @modernmod]
Scosche has introduced its new solChat Bluetooth hands-free speaker phone. The solChat is designed for in-car use, with a simple three-button interface, voice feature to announce the number of incoming calls, automatic pairing, and a solar panel mounted on the back for eco-friendly operation. It includes a USB charging cable and car adapter for charging during the night and on overcast days, as well as a windshield suction cup mount and a sun visor clip. Scosche’s solChat Bluetooth hands-free speaker phone is available now and sells for $100.
European music subscription and download service Spotify has received approval from Apple for its iPhone application after a month-long delay, paidContent UK reports. The app lets users stream music from the Spotify service, access and edit saved playlists, save playlists for offline listening, and search for new music. It also offers album artwork and detailed information for each song. The company submitted the application to Apple in late July, and had been in subsequent contact with the company, finally gaining approval today. Some had suggested that Apple was attempting to block the app, as paid subscription services could be seen as direct competitors to the iTunes Store; Real Networks has also submitted an application for its Rhapsody service, which also offers a paid subscription model. Spotify is currently available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, France and Spain, and hopes to launch in the U.S. later this year.
China Unicom plans to charge 2,500 yuan, or roughly $366, for the 8GB iPhone 3G when it launches the device in China, according to a new report. Chinese-language cnBeta reports (Translated Link) that the company will be offering that price with a two-year contract agreement, at a minimum monthly rate of 186 yuan, or roughly $27. Based on numbers reported in an earlier article, this would place the iPhone 3G below the cost of most high-end phones on the Chinese market, but above the cost of non-smartphones; the monthly charge would be roughly four to five times current average monthly service fees. The report also suggests that pricing could possibly be adjusted before the official announcement, and does not offer any specifics on whether 16GB or 32GB models will be offered. According to a Reuters report, an official announcement regarding the Apple and China Unicom deal could come as soon as tomorrow.
According to survey data released by mobile advertising firm AdMob alongside its July Mobile Metrics Report, iPod touch users download twice as many free applications as iPhone and Android users. The survey focused on comparing the application usage behavior of users of all three devices. Most often, users said they discover new apps by browsing on the App Store or Android Market and through direct searches, and over 90% of these users said they do so directly from their device, and not through the computer. While average Android and iPhone users download between 9-10 new apps every month, iPod touch users download 18, and spend an average of half an hour more—two hours versus one and a half—using apps each day.
In addition, more than twice as many iPhone and iPod touch users indicated they purchase at least one paid app per month compared to users of Android, although the average amount spent per month among users who do purchase apps is similar across platforms, with iPhone and iPod touch users spending $9.49 and $9.79, respectively, and Android users spending $8.63. Finally, based on percentage of users purchasing apps, average monthly spending, and installed base, the report states that the market for paid App Store applications is roughly 40 times that of Android Market, at $198 million to $5 million, respectively. Of note is the fact that the data is based on a survey of over 1,000 iPhone, iPod touch, and Android users, which may be too small to generalize to the broader user populations of these devices.
Apple is forcing developers to update, or otherwise pulling, applications offering a “Free Memory” function in an apparent attempt to ban the feature from the App Store. The “Free Memory” feature is most often a button found in iPhone and iPod touch activity monitoring programs such as Bjango’s iStat, allowing users to free up RAM that remains marked for use by closed programs. According to Bjango, iStat’s Free Memory function was removed at Apple’s request, and “all other apps with Free Memory appear to have been removed or updated without their Free Memory function.” It is unclear why Apple just now decided to outlaw the feature, or if the company plans on offering a similar built-in alternative, apart from simply restarting the device; users have long reported iPhone system and application instabilities traceable to memory problems.
In a lengthy article discussing Apple’s negotiations with China Unicom to offer the iPhone in China, the Wall Street Journal revealed some new data on the iPhone’s sales and potential for success overseas. According to data from research firm IDC, iPhone sales numbers depend heavily on the U.S. market, which accounts for 49% of worldwide sales, compared to 25% for Western Europe, and just 7% for the Asia Pacific region, which includes Australia, Hong Kong, and India. Analysts believe that entering the Chinese market, which boasts over 685 million mobile subscribers compared to just 270 million in the U.S., could be key for future iPhone sales growth, although sales will likely depend considerably on the subsidy China Unicom provides. Xiang Ligang, CEO of the Chinese telecom news publication cctime.com, estimates 100 million Chinese mobile users switch phones every year, with 20 million of those purchasing high-end mobile phones, representing a large potential market for Apple. Though the average purchase price of a cell phone is roughly $160 in China, high-end phones typically cost roughly $440. Subsidies can be a serious problem, as average monthly service revenues are less than 1/10 of the $60 per month received by AT&T.
Earlier this month China Unicom denied a report from which claimed that it had signed an agreement with Apple to purchase 5 million iPhones to sell in China, saying, “[t]alks between us and Apple have been going on for some time, but no agreement has been reached yet. There are all kinds of possibilities. There is no particular timetable for the talks.”
Altec Lansing has introduced its new MIX IMT800 digital boombox for the iPod and iPhone. Designed to resemble retro, audio rack-style equipment, the MIX features an integrated Universal Dock, horn-loaded silk dome tweeters, two mid range drivers, a 5.25” side-firing subwoofer and 5.25” tuned passive radiator, a digital FM radio, the ability to run off of AC power or 8 D batteries, an LCD with track, artist, album, and station display, a seven-band graphic equalizer, dual top-mounted auxiliary inputs, and an included clip-on carabiner remote control. The Altec Lansing MIX IMT800 digital boombox for iPod and iPhone is available now and sells for $300.
Sirius XM Radio has introduced its new XM SkyDock accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch. The XM SkyDock is a combination vehicle mount, charger, and satellite radio receiver, featuring a flexible stalk, a choice of either auxiliary or PowerConnect connections, the latter of which uses the vehicle’s existing wiring to connect to the vehicle’s radio, and a cradle designed to handle any generation of iPod touch or iPhone via specifically-designed spacers. In addition, the SkyDock takes advantage of new hardware control capabilities found in iPhone OS 3.0 to allow users to listen to any of their subscribed XM channels as well as the “Best of Sirius,” including Howard Stern, tag songs they hear for later purchase from the iTunes store, and access game alerts, a sports ticker, artist and song alerts, and a stock ticker. The XM SkyDock will be available this fall and will sell for $120; the XM SkyDock app will launch at the same time. [via AllThingsD]
Metro Paris Subway 3.0 from Presselite has been released onto the App Store with augmented reality features, possibly becoming the first application released to offer such functionality. Augmented reality applications utilize the iPhone’s Internet connection, GPS, Compass, and camera to overlay information atop a stream of video showing the user’s surroundings; Metro Paris Subway allows iPhone 3GS users to see nearby subway stations and points of interest. It is unclear what method the app is using to provide the background images, as it was previously believed that APIs allowing augmented reality applications to gain access to live video from the 3GS’ camera would not be implemented until iPhone OS 3.1. Metro Paris Subway is available now and sells for $1.