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AT&T launches MMS for iPhone 3G, 3GS

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AT&T and Apple have begun to roll out MMS service to U.S. iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS users. The service requires a carrier settings update—listed in the Settings application as AT&T 5.5—which is available through the Update feature in iTunes. AT&T originally promised to have the service available by late summer, but later changed that date to today; it rolled out the feature to a small test group early last week, and is reportedly nervous about today’s launch based on the traffic demands seen from the test users. For more information, see our Sixteen things you should know about iPhone MMS & Tethering article; Apple’s instructions for setting up MMS can be found here.

App Mix: Skee-Ball, FoodScanner, Juiced, FIFA 10

  • September 25, 2009

Freeverse has released Skee-Ball, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Officially licensed by Skee-Ball Amusement Games, the title features authentic-looking virtual Skee-Ball machines, touch- and tilt-based controls, the NVIDIA PhysX engine for realistic ball rolls and bounces, a worldwide high score system, Plus+ network integration, and the ability to earn tickets, which can be used to purchase more than 80 different virtual prizes. Skee-Ball is available now and sells for $1.

DailyBurn has debuted FoodScanner, its new application for the iPhone. Using Occipital’s RedLaser technology, FoodScanner allows users to scan the UPC barcodes of foods they eat using the iPhone’s built-in camera, pulling up nutrition labels, and allowing the user to monitor their caloric intake by indicating how large a serving they had. Users may also enter items in using the keyboard, and can sync the app with a DailyBurn account for more advanced nutrition analysis, history, and more. FoodScanner is available now from the AppStore and sells for $3.

Chilli X has introduced Juiced, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Juiced is a battery status monitoring application, offering users an intricately rendered graphic representation of their iPhone or iPod touch’s remaining battery. When viewed in landscape mode, the app offers a more detailed breakdown of battery life, including estimations of remaining talk time, standby time, Internet use, audio, and video playback. Juiced is priced at $1.

Electronic Arts has revealed details of its upcoming FIFA 10 soccer game for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to a post on the EA Mobile’s Facebook page, the game will feature 30 leagues, 570 teams, and 12,260 players from around the world, 20 licensed tournaments and cup competitions, the ability for users to create their own players, a mix of touch- and accelerometer-based controls, six separate camera angles, local Wi-Fi multiplayer, and more. No pricing or release date has yet been set for the game; continue reading for screenshots.

Apple launches expanded environmental reports

  • September 25, 2009
  • Apple

Apple has launched a retooled version of its website dealing with the company’s impact on the environment, alongside substantially more comprehensive reports into the company’s efforts to be more eco-friendly. Contained in the new reports is Apple’s estimate of its total carbon emission footprint, which Apple says is 10.2 million metric tons annually. According to a BusinessWeek report, this number is much higher than those of HP and Dell, who put their emissions at 8.4 million tons and 471,000 tons, respectively, but Apple’s report accounts for more areas than those of its competitors, including overseas manufacturing, company operations, and product use. Apple claims that consumer use of its products accounts for 53% of the company’s total emissions, compared to 38% for manufacturing, and 3% from its own operations. “A lot of companies publish how green their building is, but it doesn’t matter if you’re shipping millions of power-hungry products with toxic chemicals in them,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “It’s like asking a cigarette company how green their office is.” Apple COO Tim Cook added, “We’re not being intellectually honest with ourselves if we don’t deal with the products that we make.”

In recent years, Apple has touted the strides it has taken in making its products more environmentally-friendly during major product introductions, and Jobs states in the BusinessWeek article that although the company was partially motivated by criticism from Greenpeace and other environmental watchdog organizations, he was also quite upset with them at the time. “I thought Greenpeace was being very unfair with us at the beginning, and that they were using us to get visibility,” Jobs said. “To have people saying we didn’t care and that we were callous in this area was very painful—and untrue.”

Griffin intros new line of cases for iPhone 3G, 3GS

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Griffin Technology has announced its new line of fall cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Based on the company’s prior Elan Form cases, the Elan Form Etch features high-quality leather with an etched pattern on the rear and an overstitch accent, bonded to a two-piece polycarbonate case featuring Griffin’s EasyDock design, allowing the phone to be docked without completely removing it from the case. It will be available in a variety of patterns and will sell for $35. The Outfit and Outfit Shade are new hard-shell cases offering a slim design and an EasyDock design; the Outfit will come in black or white translucent polycarbonate while the Outfit Shade will come in four different colors and will feature a metallic graduated tint finish. Outfit will sell for $25, while Outfit Shade will run $30.

Finally, the Reveal is an ultra-thin, 1.4mm-thick polycarbonate shell, featuring a one-piece translucent design with a variety of colored rubber accents that help cushion and protect the device. It will be priced at $25. All of Griffin’s new cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS will offer full access to all ports, controls, and the camera, and will be available this fall.

Mix: CAZE, PocketPack, OS 3.1 adoption, TomTom

  • September 24, 2009

CAZE has introduced its new Argyle Love case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The case is a semi-transparent hard case featuring an argyle pattern on the back—in either silver or black—as well as open access to all ports, controls, and the camera, protective film to cover the Apple logo, and a cleaning cloth. Limited to just 250 cases in each color, CAZE’s Argyle Love case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS is available now and sells for $33.

Pocketpack has unveiled the Lightweight, its upcoming case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Like the Case-mate I.D. case, the Lightweight is designed to house both the iPhone and a small number of bills or cards while preventing demagnetization and allowing the iPhone to be docked while still in the case. Features include cavity rails to prevent cards from sliding out, an integrated LED flashlight with touch control, polycarbonate construction, a screen protector, and open access to all ports and controls. The Lightweight for iPhone 3G and 3GS is expected to ship later this fall and will sell for $35.

According to the latest statistics released by mobile advertising firm AdMob, nearly one quarter—23%—of iPhone and iPod touch users have updated to OS 3.1. Taken as an aggregate of all worldwide requests received from iPhone OS devices from Sept. 15-22, the data shows that 51% are using 3.0, while 19% are on 2.2.1, and only 7% are running 2.2 or lower. Interestingly, the company also says that it continues to see a large difference in adoption rates between iPhone and iPod touch users, with 91% of iPhone requests coming from OS 3.0 or later, compared to just 35% of iPod touch requests.

TomTom has issued a statement regarding its Car Kit for iPhone after the item appeared and was later removed from some European Apple online stores. The Kit was listed on the UK store for £99.95 (roughly $160), while other European sites were offering it for €99.95 (~$146); both listings said the kit features an enhanced GPS signal, a built-in speaker, hands-free calling, and a windshield- and dashboard-compatible mount. In its statement, TomTom said, “TomTom announces today that the TomTom car kit for the iPhone will have a recommended retail price of £99.99. The TomTom car kit will be available this October and will be sold separately from the TomTom app. It will be compatible with the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS.” It was previously believed that the kit would include the TomTom application and would be compatible with the iPod touch; US pricing has yet to be revealed.

Update: TomTom has released another, similar statement, revealing that the Car Kit will be priced at $120 in the U.S.

2009 iPod poll ends, iTunes LP poll begins

With over 3,300 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“What’s your reaction to the new 2009 iPods?” has ended. Users could say the new lineup is great and they are planning to purchase at least one new model, that it is good and they are considering a purchase, that it’s okay, but not enough to make a purchase, that it is bad, and Apple needed to do more to make the new models worthwhile, that it’s really bad, and they’re disappointed, or that they have no opinion.

Overall reader opinion of the new iPods was slightly less enthusiastic than last year, with 67% of readers saying the 2009 iPod lineup is at least okay, compared to 80% for last year’s models. 35% said they think the new iPods are okay—nice upgrades, but not enough to make them buy—while 17% said they think the new lineup is good, and are at least considering a purchase. An equal amount—17%—said they think the new lineup is bad, and that Apple needed to do more to make the upgrades worthwhile, while 15% said they find the new lineup to be great, and are planning to purchase at least one, 11% said they think the 2009 iPods are really bad, and are disappointed by the announcements, and 5% said they had no opinion on the new iPods. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on Apple’s new iTunes LP offerings. We’d like to know whether the expanded format is enough to make you purchase more albums from the iTunes Store. Are the new features definitely enough to make you buy, or only if they expand support for the format beyond iTunes itself and over to the Apple TV, or other future large-screened devices? Or are you disinterested in the new features, and are no more likely to purchase than before, or do you buy your music from another download store, or exclusively on physical media? Or perhaps you don’t pay for music at all? Our new poll, “Will iTunes LP make you more likely to purchase albums from the iTunes Store?” lets you answer that question. As always, the iLounge Poll can be found in the left-hand column of the main iLounge.com homepage. Vote today!

iPhone developers report problems with iTunes Connect

A large number of iPhone developers are reporting problems with iTunes Connect, the service used to submit applications to the App Store. Many developers have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns, with most claiming that the service is either terribly slow or completely unresponsive, leaving developers with important updates and/or new products unable to submit. Andreas Fink, developer of the SMS application Global.AQ, has had the problems delay the release of version 2.0 of his application, and claims that “Apple is apparently ‘aware’ of the problem,” although the company has yet to respond to any of his emails. Earlier this week, Apple launched the App Store Resource Center, a new area of the iPhone Dev Center meant to help guide developers through the iPhone application and submission process; it is unclear whether the iTunes Connect problems are related to the new feature. [via AppleInsider]

App Mix: Starbucks, Best Camera, Lumines, Sliding Heroes

Starbucks Coffee Company has released two new applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. MyStarbucks offers users an interactive drink builder, with the ability to share your drink via email or SMS, a store locator, food and coffee menus, and a favorites feature for quick recall of past orders. A separate application, Starbucks Card Mobile, allows users to check their Starbucks Card balance, reload the card, view transactions, and, in 16 select test stores—located in Cupertino, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and San Jose, CA, and Seattle, WA—users can actually pay with their Starbucks Card using only their iPhone or iPod touch. Both applications are available as free downloads from the App Store.

Ubermind has launched Best Camera, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Created by well-known photographer Chase Jarvis, Best Camera is a new camera application conceived by Jarvis while he was shooting The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You, a new book of nothing but iPhone photography. Best Camera allows users to take pictures from within the app or pull pictures in from the library, and then apply a variety of filters and effects using a “stackable” design, so that multiple filters can be applied at once, and can be reordered to achieve various results; pictures can also be saved to the camera roll, emailed, or sent to Twitter, Facebook, or Jarvis’ sharing site thebestcamera.com directly from within the app. Best Camera is available now and sells for $3.

Q Entertainment has unveiled Lumines - Touch Fusion, its new game for the iPhone and iPod touch. 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. The game features single lap, endless, and time attack play modes, tap, slide, and flick controls, and a variety of built-in skins; the company plans on releasing new “specially-themed Skin Packs” soon. Lumines - Touch Fusion is priced at $3; a free Lite version is also available.

Square Enix has introduced Sliding Heroes, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Sliding Heroes is a real-time strategy game in which players must “slide” their units across the game map by tilting their devices. Features include two completely separate game modes—original and endless—with over 130 stages, a variety of unit types, and more. Sliding Heroes is available now and sells for $5; a free Lite version is also available.

FASB approves proposed accounting rule change

The United States Financial Accounting Standards Board has approved an accounting rule change that will allow Apple to abandon its practice of subscription accounting for the iPhone. Currently, Apple defers its iPhone revenue over two years to allow for free software updates to be delivered over the life of the cellular contract, and does the same for Apple TV; the new rule would allow the company to recognize more, if not all, of that revenue up front. Apple, along with several other tech companies, had lobbied the FASB in favor of the rule change as more devices become dependent on software for their core functionality, such as the iPod touch, which up until now has seen each major update come at a cost due to the different methods used to account for its revenue. Most companies are expected to adopt the rule beginning in 2011; it is unclear whether Apple plans on making the switch at the start of its 2011 fiscal year, which begins on September 27.

AT&T ‘very’ nervous ahead of iPhone MMS launch

AT&T is rushing to reinforce its MMS messaging infrastructure ahead of the planned September 25 iPhone MMS launch, according to DSLReports. Citing people involved with the launch, the article states that AT&T is “very” nervous about the launch after seeing “record traffic” from the small group of test iPhone users for whom MMS is already active. The company reportedly had a fairly significant outage yesterday that has resulted in the beefing up of their MMSC messaging servers; estimates from those working on the project suggest traffic on AT&T’s network may spike as much as 40% on Friday as newly MMS-capable iPhone users test the feature out. According to the report, the company plans to activate iPhone users in waves, with the first group receiving a mass SMS message at around 10 a.m. Eastern Time, and continuing throughout the day, assuming all goes well.

Update: AT&T has posted a message on its Facebook page, stating that the MMS rollout will begin “late morning” Pacific Time on Friday. The full message reads, “[w]e know you’ve been eager for this service so we wanted to offer a quick update on the launch plans for MMS on Friday, Sept. 25. Late morning, Pacific Time, on Friday, the new carrier settings update enabling MMS should be live and ready to download through iTunes. We’ll provide the steps and all of the details you need right here at that time.”

China Unicom to launch iPhone on October 15?

China Unicom is internally targeting October 15 as its launch date for the iPhone in China, according to a China Business Times report (Translated Link). Pricing for the handset will reportedly be 1,999 yuan (roughly $293) for the 8GB model and 2,999 yuan (~$439) for the 16GB model; both prices would require a two-year contract with a minimum monthly fee of 186 yuan (~$27). The 8GB price is slightly lower than the 2,500 yuan speculated in an earlier report, but the two-year contact and 186 yuan are the same as previously reported. When announcing its three-year deal with Apple to sell the iPhone in China, Unicom did not give an exact launch date, saying only that it planned to launch the handset in the fourth quarter. [via Unwired View]

Apple likely victor in Palm USB dispute

In the latest chapter in the ongoing dispute between Apple and Palm over the latter’s Pre handset and its ability to sync with iTunes, an USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) executive has responded to Palm’s complaint over Apple’s continuous efforts to block the device. When Palm initially released the Pre, its Mass Storage interface identified itself as an iPod, allowing it to trick iTunes and sync. Apple blocked this approach with the release of iTunes 8.2.1 on July 15, which prompted Palm to write a complaint to the USB-IF on July 22. In the complaint, Palm said Apple’s use of its Vendor ID to block other devices from syncing with its software, the method used in the iTunes 8.2.1 update to block Pre syncing, was unfair, and stated that it would issue an update which would use “Apple’s Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring Palm media sync functionality,” which it did just two days later.

Now, according to BusinessWeek, USB-IF executive director Traci Donnell has written a response to Palm, stating that “Palm’s allegation (if true) does not establish that Apple is using its Vendor ID contrary to USB-IF’s policies,” suggesting that it is completely within Apple’s rights to restrict iTunes syncing to devices carrying its Vendor ID. Furthermore, Donell said that Palm’s plan to use Apple’s Vendor ID to circumvent the iTunes block is against policy, writing, “Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage….Usage of another company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded,” adding that Palm has seven days to “clarify its intent.” Notably, Apple’s latest iTunes releases, iTunes 9 and 9.0.1, again block Pre syncing; Palm has yet to release an update to restore functionality under the new software.

Boomwave unveils Klips cases for iPhone 3G, 3GS

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Boomwave has introduced its new Klips line of cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Klips are slim hard polycarbonate cases featuring either laser-engraved or debossed designs on the rear. Other features include open access to all ports, controls, and the camera, a form-fitting design, and an included screen protector. In addition, each Klips case comes with a bonus clear polycarbonate case. Boomwave’s new Klips cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available now and sell for $18.

iPhone gains regulatory approval in South Korea

South Korea’s telecommunications regulatory body has given approval for the iPhone to be sold in the country, paving the way for Apple to compete in the traditionally domestically-dominated handset market. The Korea Communications Commission approved the device at a meeting yesterday, according to the Associated Press, but Apple spokesman Steve Park said that nothing was decided or planned on the iPhone’s release in South Korea, despite obvious interest from local carriers. Korean telecom KT Corp. has been in discussions with Apple since 2007, according to past reports; Yeom Woo-Jong, a spokesman for the company, said, “we will try to release the iPhone as soon as possible,” while adding that negotiations were ongoing. Citing unnamed KT officials, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the company plans to start selling iPhones in South Korea next month. A spokeswoman for rival carrier SK Telecom said it was also in discussions with Apple, and has “plans to respond” should the iPhone launch on a competitor’s network.

Apple releases iTunes 9.0.1, fixes Mini Player behavior

Apple has released iTunes 9.0.1, the latest version of its digital media management and playback software. According to Apple’s release notes, the update “resolves issues browsing the iTunes Store, addresses a performance issue where iTunes may become unresponsive, fixes a problem where iTunes may unexpectedly quit, fixes a problem syncing Podcasts in playlists to iPod or iPhone, fixes a problem sorting albums with multiple discs, improves application syncing for iPod touch and iPhone,” and, notably, “addresses an issue with the Zoom button not switching to Mini Player. The updated software also has Genius automatically update to show Genius Mixes without the need for any user intervention. iTunes 9.0.1 is available now through Apple’s Software Update utility or as a free download from apple.com/itunes.

Photo of the Week: iPhone 3G in Scotland

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G in front of the Ring of Brodgar in Scotland. 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!

Griffin intros new App-powered iTrip for iPod, iPhone

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Griffin Technology has announced its new iTrip FM transmitter for iPod and iPhone. The new iTrip is the company’s first to offer integration with the new iTrip Controller application for the iPhone and iPod touch, allowing users to control the iTrip directly from their device’s screen. Other features include SmartSound technology to automatically adjust signal strength for each frequency, Griffin’s SmartScan technology that automatically finds the clearest available frequency, a backlit LCD display, up to 3 station presets, a micro-USB port for charging any USB-powered iPod or iPhone via a compatible charger, track controls for controlling playback from the iTrip’s display, and RDS support for displaying artist and track information on RDS-enabled radios. Griffin’s new iTrip FM Transmitter with App Support offers support for all iPod classic and iPod touch models, the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, and the third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation iPod nano and is available now for $50; the iTrip Controller application is available as a free download from the App Store. 

Mix: Push GMail, Microsoft retail, AT&T MMS, iPhone accounting

  • September 22, 2009

Google has launched push GMail support for its Google Sync service, allowing iPhone and iPod touch users, along with users of other mobile devices, to receive emails from their Gmail accounts almost instantly. Previously available for Google Calendars and Contacts, Sync is a two-way push synchronization service that allows users to update information from either their iPhone or iPod touch, using the built-in Calendar and Contacts applications, or from any traditional computer, using the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol. For more information on Google Sync or to set up the service on a device, visit m.google.com/sync.

As part of its retail store initiative, Microsoft has been attempting to lure Apple retail store employees away from their current positions to work at Microsoft’s upcoming stores, according to a new report. Citing multiple anonymous sources, The Loop reports that Microsoft has been contacting Apple retail store managers, offering “significant raises,” in addition to moving expenses, when necessary. Once hired by Microsoft, the former Apple employees have been contacting top sales people from their prior stores, offering them positions at Microsoft’s stores, often with increased pay. Microsoft has been modeling its retail store experience on Apple’s; it plans to open its first stores this fall.

AT&T has started notifying iPhone customers of its impending launch of Multimedia Messaging Service for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. According to an AppleInsider screenshot, the text message to customers reads, “[p]icture & video messaging (MMS) will be available for iPhone on 9/25. While we prepare your account for MMS capability, the current ‘view my message’ experience will be turned off but your ability to send and receive text messages will not be affected.” Recent reports indicate that the company has already started activating MMS service for some customers; the feature’s official launch is scheduled for September 25.

The United States Financial Accounting Standards Board will vote tomorrow on a proposed accounting rule change that could allow Apple to abandon its practice of subscription accounting for the iPhone. As we reported last week, Apple has lobbied the FASB to change these rules as more devices become dependent on software for their core functionality, such as the iPod touch, which up until now has seen each major update come at a cost due to the different methods used to account for its revenue. The FASB’s Emerging Issues Task Force decided in favor of the rule change during a meeting on September 10; if approved by the FASB tomorrow, the new rules could take effect as soon as the start of Apple’s next fiscal year, which begins on September 27.

App Mix: Real Soccer, Calculator, TabToolkit, Whac-a-Mole

Gameloft has released Real Soccer 2010, its follow-up to the well-received Real Soccer 2009 game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new game offers a number of additions to and improvements upon last year’s edition, including online and local multiplayer, 8 leagues, 245 teams and real players’ names, 14 precisely modeled 3D stadiums, voice commentary, new game modes, the ability to upload replays to YouTube, and improved controls. Real Soccer 2010 is available now from the App Store and sells for $7.

Texas Instruments has introduced BA II Plus, its first application for the iPhone and iPod touch. BA II Plus Financial Calculator emulates the exact capabilities of TI’s best-selling financial calculator, including time-value-of-money calculations, generation of amortization schedules, cash-flow analysis, breakeven, profit, and percent difference calculations, a date function, scientific capabilities, 10-value memory, and an intuitive 2nd function key. BA II Plus Financial Calculator is available now and is priced at $15.

Agile partners, makers of the popular app Guitar Toolkit, has launched TabToolkit, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Offering playback of guitar tablature files, it features support for text, PDF, Power Tab, and Guitar Pro files, a MIDI synthesizer to let users hear the instrument being played, views of both standard music and tablature notation, a metronome feature, the ability to display a fretboard or piano keyboard to show finger positions, the ability to download tabs from the Internet using a built-in browser, and more. TabToolkit sells for $10.

Kiloo has unveiled Whac-A-Mole, its first game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Officially licensed by Mattel, Whac-A-Mole offers a variety of weapons, including a mallet, spiked club, and baseball bat, four different game modes, and graphics reminiscent of real-world Whac-A-Mole games. Whac-A-Mole is available now and sells for $4.

iPhone Activation Zones begin appearing in Apple Stores

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Apple has begun its roll out of iPhone Activation Zones in its retail stores. The new areas, which require a slight reconfiguration of the store and are now mentioned on Apple’s iPhone purchasing page, are places where customers can quickly pick up and activate a new iPhone after completing the pre-authorization process online, offering dedicated computers for activation, and new signage indicating the area’s function. French site TechShower has posted photos (Translated Link) of the new Activation Zone in Apple’s San Francisco store; it appears that most stores will feature the area near the front of the store. [via Mac Rumors]

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