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More iPhone cracking incidents reported in France

The number of French iPhone owners reporting incidents of cracked or “exploding” screens has risen to at least eight, new reports suggest. According to the BBC News, eight individual customers have been identified in France, with similar problems being reported in both Holland and Sweden. Meanwhile, our friends at iGeneration have pointed us towards this map (Translated Link), which shows nine total reports of exploding or cracking iPhones within France.

The posting notes that the testimonies given by the individual customers are not identical, with some experiencing the problem during use, others having the phone’s screen crack while idle, and some getting hit by debris, while others did not. A member of iGeneration’s forums has posted a theory suggesting battery heat-induced warping of the iPhone frame, but no official reason has been given by Apple, which is waiting for the damaged units to arrive for further testing. “We are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers,” said Alan Hely, head of European Communications for Apple. “Until we have the full details, we don’t have anything further to add.”

‘iPod Mechanic’ gets 13-month jail term, $656k restitution

Nicholas Woodhams of Kalamazoo, MI, once known as the “iPod Mechanic,” has been sentenced to 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and money laundering earlier this year. Woodhams was also ordered to pay $648,568 in restitution to Apple and $8,066 to the U.S. Postal Service. “This was not a victimless crime,” U.S. Attorney Donald Davis said in the press release, “because the costs of fraud are borne by both the consumer and the taxpayer, perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable.”

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.

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. [via Cult of Mac]

Photo of the Week: iPhone in Greece

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows part of a small village on Hydra, one of the Saronic Islands of Greece. 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!

Target, iTunes team on exclusive albums

Target has announced a new partnership with iTunes to provide a special Target area on the iTunes Store for exclusive album content. The first album to be offered, currently available for pre-order, is Pearl Jam’s upcoming LP Backspacer. Scheduled for release on September 20, Backspacer will be available in the U.S. exclusively from iTunes, Target, Target.com, Pearl Jam’s Ten Club website, and independent retailers; customers who pre-order the album on iTunes will receive an instant download of the first single from Backspacer, “The Fixer.” Pearl Jam will also be debuting their music video for the single on iTunes as a free download.

Puzzler Lumines coming to the iPhone, iPod touch

Q Entertainment has revealed plans to bring the puzzle game Lumines to the iPhone and iPod touch, 1-Up reports. Originally released for the PSP in 2004 and later adapted for other consoles, Lumines is a block-dropping game in which players must align rotate 2x2 multi-colored blocks and drop them onto the playing field in order to create solid 2x2 squares, which are then cleared away by a timeline that moves in sync with the background music. According to the company, the game will include new skins and music, and will be available in September.

SendStation ships PocketDock Line Out Mini USB

SendStation has released its PocketDock Line Out Mini USB adapter for the iPod and iPhone. Previewed in The Free iPod + iPhone Book 4, the slim adapter offers a 3.5mm line output jack for audio output and a Mini USB port for syncing and charging over a Mini USB cable. In addition, it ships with two six-foot audio cables, one 3.5mm to 3.5mm and one 3.5mm to RCA, to handle most common audio connections. SendStation’s PocketDock Line Out Mini USB adapter is available now and sells for $30.

Second iPhone explodes in France

A second iPhone has exploded in France, according to a new report. AFP states that a French security guard was injured Monday afternoon when his iPhone’s glass screen exploded while he was typing a text message, sending shards of glass into his eye. “I want an explanation about this damned telephone,” said Yassine Bouhadi, a 26-year-old supermarket watchman, who bought his iPhone three months ago. Bouhadi said he was “very angry” over the incident, and plans to see a doctor as well as file suit for damages. France’s official DGCCRF consumer watchdog agency said that an investigation into the exploding iPhones has been launched, adding, “We have been alerted to the problem and we are looking into it closely.” Less than two weeks ago a French teen was also hit in the eye by debris from an exploding iPhone, an incident which followed a report of an English girl’s iPod touch exploding; no one was injured in the latter incident.

Apple posts new iPhone 3GS TV ad

Apple recently began running a new television ad for the iPhone 3GS. Entitled “Avid,” the commercial focuses on three applications—Golfshot: Golf GPS, MLB.com At Bat 2009, and TouchSports Tennis ‘09—for the avid golf golfer, baseball fan, and tennis player. Like most recent iPhone commercials, the ad features the apps running on an iPhone in front of a white background. The new advertisement is now available for view on Apple’s online iPhone ad gallery.

App Mix: Chipotle, Gangstar, Farm Idol, Bump’ny

After a multi-month delay, burrito chain Chipotle has re-released its ordering application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Launched alongside a newly updated online ordering system, the new Chipotle Ordering application lets users order food directly from their device, securely pay with a credit card, utilize Location services to find the nearest Chipotle restaurant, view the menu and fully customize their orders, save favorites for future orders, and more. Chipotle Ordering is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Gameloft has released Gangstar: West Coast Hustle, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Gangstar is a 3D Grand Theft Auto-style game, putting players in a fully-3D reconstruction of a city with open-ended environments. Players can complete missions at their own pace, and the game offers a variety of vehicles, weapons, and in game music; players can also choose to play their own music. Gangstar: West Coast Hustle sells for $7.

PawPaw has released Farm Idol, its new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Farm Idol is a music app in which users select from a cow, chicken, duck, pig, or sheep, and use a combination of on-screen notes and accelerometer-based pitch control to create music. Farm Idol is available now and is priced at $1.

Bump’ny Company has released Bump’ny, its first game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Bump’ny is based on an English pub game called Shove Ha’penny, in which players drag a coin to the bottom of the board and bump it so that it lands between two lines. the game offers both single and two-player modes, three levels of difficulty, varied playing surfaces, realistic gesture controls to “shove” coins into play, and accelerometer-based bump controls. Bump’ny is available now and sells for $2.

Apple, others named in ITC complaint

BTG International, a technology company based in Pennsylvania, has filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission alleging that Apple and a host of other companies unlawfully import and sell products containing patent infringing MLC flash memory chips, as well as the chips themselves. The complaint explains that BTG’s patents “relate to methods and apparatuses for programming and reading Flash memory cells that store more than a single bit of information per cell;” such chips are found in every current iPod and iPhone model, save for the iPod classic, and are typically manufactured by Samsung, according to the complaint. BTG filed a lawsuit against Samsung over the patent dispute in December of 2008, and filed suit against Apple and several other companies this July. BTG is requesting the Commission issue either a general or limited exclusion order aimed at stopping the importation of the chips and products containing the chips, as well as a cease and desist order directed to all the involved companies. Other companies named in the suit include Sony, RIM, Dell, Lenovo, and ASUS.

EA Mobile posts details of Madden NFL 10 for iPhone

EA Mobile has released the first screenshots and details of its upcoming Madden NFL 10 football game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game will feature complete rosters from all 32 NFL teams, authentic models of NFL stadiums such as Lambeau Field and the Metrodome, a season mode with in-depth trades, stats and individual player rewards, in-game commentary from John Madden, Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth, detailed roster management, the ability for players to draw up their own plays using the iPhone’s or iPod touch’s screen, and an action control mode that slows the game down to give the player more time to react to ongoing plays. The three screenshots, meanwhile, show the in-game interfaces for both passing and running, with what appears to be a color code system for indicating whether a receiver is in heavy, moderate, or light coverage. Notably, both interfaces include a mix of an on-screen analog stick and a bevy of buttons in the lower right-hand corner for handling player action and movement. Madden NFL 10 is currently slated for a September release; continue reading to see more screenshots.

PR firm caught posting phony iPhone app reviews for clients

In a lengthy, in-depth investigation spurred by an anonymous developer tip, MobileCrunch has revealed that the PR firm Reverb Communications has been actively posting bogus reviews on the App Store for its clients’ games, and offering the same service to potential clients. A check of the App Store, cross-referenced with information from the Internet, shows that Reverb has employed at least seven different iTunes accounts to create positive reviews for clients including IUGO, Pangea Software, which had its game Cro-Mag Rally featured prominently in a TV advertisement for the iPhone 3G, and Publisher X, which is owned by Reverb. In each case, the iTunes account in question had posted only 5-star reviews to a select number of these clients’ games, and had not posted a single review for any non-Reverb application.

In addition to the phony positive reviews, which are created by in-house writers to target select age ranges and are posted upon the game’s release, the company also promises clients “online message boards” management, and preferential placement on the App Store via its dealings with Apple. The company claims to work directly with Apple on “each and every iPhone title,” claiming to have secured on-stage Apple keynote appearances, national iPhone TV commercials, placement on the “What’s Hot,” “Staff Favorite,” and “What’s New” lists, and more for its clients. Other Reverb clients include Harmonix, International Game Technology, Realtime Associates, Playlogic, Zen Studios, Graffiti Entertainment, and MTV Games, and the company claims its clients have sold over $2 billion in product while contracted with the firm.

Over the course of a number of our own reviews of these companies’ titles, iLounge’s Editors have repeatedly noted a pronounced disparity between the quality of the apps and the App Store user comments. We urge our readers to exercise extreme caution in relying upon App Store ratings, as they continue to be subject to considerable manipulation by anonymous users.

Apple releases iPod nano 4G Software 1.0.4

Apple has released Software Version 1.04 for the fourth-generation iPod nano. According to Apple’s release notes, the update fixes an issue which resulted in some incorrect daylight savings date settings, now correctly displays Thai song information tags when syncing in disk mode, and includes other minor bug fixes. Software Version 1.0.4 for the fourth-generation iPod nano is available now through the Update feature in iTunes.

Enter the Livespeakr Giveaway today

If you haven’t yet entered our Livespeakr Giveaway, there’s still time to do so. 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 on August 31, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Apple posts response to FCC Google Voice inquiry

Apple has posted a comprehensive document discussing its answers to the FCC’s inquiry into why it supposedly rejected an official Google Voice application for the iPhone. Entitled “Apple Answers the FCC’s Questions,” the post touches on several broad App Store issues, including standards for considering and approving iPhone applications, the approval process itself, other applications that have been rejected, and AT&T’s role in the approval of iPhone applications, as well as specifics about the Google Voice rejection. Apple denies that it has rejected the applicaiton outright, saying that it “continues to study it,” while making comparisons to the functionality it provides and the iPhone’s built-in Phone and Messaging apps, and notes that “Google is of course free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple’s Safari browser, just as they do for desktop PCs, or to provide its ‘Google-branded’ user experience on other phones, including Android-based phones, and let consumers make their choices.”

The company also states that it is acting alone and had not consulted AT&T about the Google Voice application, and that only Apple’s agreement to block VoIP apps over AT&T’s network, AT&T’s Terms of Service, and occassional concerns from AT&T about network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications have affected its app review policy, noting that it “alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications.” It goes on to list representative applications that have been rejected as originally submitted, and says that “[t]here are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly.” Apple also says it has “established an App Store executive review board that determines procedures and sets policy for the review process, as well as reviews applications that are escalated to the board because they raise new or complex issues. The review board meets weekly and is comprised of senior management with responsibilities for the App Store.”

AT&T: We had no role in Google Voice rejection

In its response to a letter from the Federal Communications Commission questioning why Apple rejected an official Google Voice application for the iPhone, an AT&T executive claims the company had no say in Apple’s decision. “Let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs. “AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other.” Responses to the FCC letters, which were sent to Apple, AT&T, and Google, were due today.

App Mix: Mover+, Retro Recorder, Stick It, Comb

Infinite Labs has released Mover+, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. As a paid alternative to the company’s free Mover app—featured prominently in a recent Apple iPhone commercial—Mover+ offers the same Wi-Fi-based picture and contact sharing as its free counterpart, as well as sharing via Bluetooth and e-mail, the ability to paste text, links, and other media from other applications into Mover for sharing, and support for bookmarks, which can be created by pasting in a URL or by using a new Safari bookmarklet. Mover+ is available now from the App Store and sells for $2.

McDSP has introduced Retro Recorder, its new audio application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Retro Recorder is an audio recording application with a tape recorder-like interface, and uses patent pending Audio Level eXtension (ALX) signal processing to boost the decibel level of quiet material and maintain the sound level of louder recordings, without the distortion caused by a traditional volume control. Other features include the ability to export recordings in WAV format to the Mac or PC, support for mono recordings at up to 22,050Hz sample rates, and more. Retro Recorder is available now and sells for $2. the company is also holding an audio clip contest in which users can win up to $50 of iTunes Store credit by submitting an audio clip made using the app’s ALX processing feature.

TapFactory Apps has released Stick It, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Stick It is a sticky note application, offering users 17 styles of notes, papers and objects, more than 25 backgrounds, full note customization with varied font styles, sizes, and colors, the ability to create wallpapers for one-touch note access, a preview feature to visualize the lock screen with the current Stick It layout applied, automatic saving, and the ability to share notes via e-mail. Stick It is available now and sells for $1.

WEsoft has debuted Comb, its new game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Comb is a match 3-style game, in which players must touch and rotate surrounding hexagons to arrange same-colored stones in diagonal rows, in order to get three or more stones of the same kind placed in the row to clear them. Users can choose to play the game with touch- and accelerometer-based controls, or can use on-screen controls to play the game. Comb is available now from the App Store and sells for $1.

Latest iPodweek coming later today

The latest edition of iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter summary of the last seven days in news, reviews, editorials, and more, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes 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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App Store rejection poll ends, tablet poll begins

With nearly 2,600 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“Has Apple’s handling of App Store rejections impacted your respect for the company?”—has ended. Choices including losing or gaining either a little or a lot of respect for the company, having the same amount of respect, or simply not having an opinion.

From our results, it seems Apple hasn’t done itself any favors with its App Store approval process, as more than half of responding readers said they have lost respect for the company over its rejection policies. A total of 51% indicated as much, with 27% saying that they have less respect for Apple now, while 24% said they have way less respect for the company. By comparison, 22% said they have the same amount of respect, while only 4% said they have more respect for Apple now, and a smaller group—3%—said they have way more respect for the company. Finally, 18% said they either didn’t have an opinion about the company or otherwise didn’t care. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on the prospect of a second version of the iPod touch—one that was bigger, and not otherwise equipped with computing power. We’d like to know if you’d buy one if it was similar to an oversized iPod touch and lacked full computing functionality. Would you buy it with a 10-inch screen, or perhaps a 6 or 7-inch model? Or would you skip it, due to its lack of full computing power, or perhaps because it doesn’t have a physical keyboard, or due to some other hardware limitation? Our new poll, “Would you buy a oversized iPod touch with a larger screen if it lacked full computer functionality?” lets you answer that question. As always you can find the iLounge Poll in the left-hand column of the main iLounge.com homepage. Cast your vote today!

LairWare releases Song Sergeant utility for iTunes

LairWare has released Song Sergeant, its new music library utility for Mac OS X. Song Sergeant can find and remove duplicate song files, intelligently merge song information and audio data from separate files, preserve playlists while removing duplicates, identify inconsistently named artists and albums, discover song files present in the user’s music folder but not seen in iTunes, and fix problems either automatically or via manual control. Song Sergeant requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and sells for $20; a limited free trial version is also available.

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