In addition to opening pre-orders for the iPhone 4 and 8GB iPhone 3GS this morning, Apple has added the iPhone 4 Bumpers, iPhone 4 Dock, and iPhone 4 Universal Dock Adapter 3-Pack to the Apple Store for immediate ordering. Continuing the surprises that began earlier today with the unexpected unavailability of the white iPhone 4 device, Apple has also staggered the availability dates for its Bumpers protectors, with only one color—black—available on the June 24 launch date of the iPhone 4, and the other five colors shipping on July 2, 2010. The iPhone 4 Dock and Universal Dock Adapter 3-Pack are both listed with June 24 “ship by” dates.
Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumpers are rubber and plastic edge protectors for the new iPhone model, apparently providing no front or rear coverage for the glass and metal device. The company describes them as “a fun and unique way to personalize your iPhone 4,” and sells them separately in white, black, blue, green, orange, and pink versions for $29 each, a further surprise to those users who expected the modestly protective Apple designs to come in six-packs a la its earlier iPod Socks.
Less than half an hour after the start of iPhone 4 pre-orders, the processing system used by Apple and AT&T to sign up new customers for iPhone data plans appears to be experiencing order-stopping technical issues. Though existing line orders for the iPhone 4 appeared to be working, attempts to use Apple’s “buyiphone.apple.com” pages to sign up for new service are stalling, producing an endlessly spinning gear with the message, “Please wait while we process your request,” and/or “session expired” notices claiming a timeout on the user’s side due to inactivity.
It remains to be seen whether these ordering problems are merely a brief early hiccup, or a repeat of past AT&T account issues that marred past iPhone launches with extended service activation delays.
Update: Problems continue an hour and fifteen minutes after the start of pre-ordering and appear not to be limited to new customers, or even just U.S. customers. Unusual Apple Store errors are appearing when attempting to pre-order iPhone hardware from the United Kingdom, and readers with existing AT&T accounts are also reporting timeouts when attempting to order the iPhone 4 from Apple’s web site.
Update 2: Nearly two hours into pre-ordering, the Apple Store’s prior timeout and spinning gear errors have now been joined by a generic “oops” error that appears when attempting to place the iPhone 4 in a cart for online ordering and at-home delivery. Apple currently appears to be falling back to a semi-working system that offers reservations for in-store pickups as an alternative to the still-problematic online ordering system.
Update 3: Apple has taken the Store offline in an apparent attempt to resolve the ordering problems. AT&T’s web site was, as of several minutes ago, processing iPhone 4 orders properly for existing customers but not yet taking orders from new customers. Like Apple, AT&T was accepting orders only for black iPhone 4 models without an option for white ones. As of now, AT&T’s site is down with a “currently doing maintenance” message.
Update 4: Both Apple’s and AT&T’s pre-order sites have returned. Reports from readers indicate that some AT&T iPhone 4 orders were abruptly cancelled for reasons unknown; we’d advise checking your e-mail account for cancellation notices in the event that you ordered from AT&T earlier this morning.
Update 5: Five hours after pre-orders started, both Apple’s and AT&T’s web sites are continuing to experience major service interruptions and order processing failures. We’ll update this story again when the problems are resolved.
Apple has officially opened pre-orders for the $199 16GB and $299 32GB versions of iPhone 4, formally announced last week at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA, as well as the new 8GB version of iPhone 3GS priced at $99. As of 4:00AM ET/1:00AM PT, customers may pre-order the new iPhone models for at-home delivery on June 24, 2010, or reserve the phone for in-store pick-up on that day at a local Apple retail store. Existing customers merely need to go through a quick process to determine upgrade eligibility for pricing, and may preserve their prior unlimited data plans or choose new $15/$25/$45 (tethering) options; new customers have to wait for the results of an online credit check, and may only choose between AT&T’s new, limited data plans. The early morning U.S. pre-order opening time appears to coincide with the start of the day in the United Kingdom, one of five initial countries where the new iPhones are becoming available.
Surprisingly, Apple’s web site does not offer pre-orders or reservations for the white iPhone 4 model, describing this color as “currently unavailable.” Late-breaking reports from third-party retailers suggested that merchants other than Apple would not have white iPhone 4 hardware available at launch; the fact that Apple itself is not yet offering the white version is unusual given its track record of immediately selling whatever colors it has pre-announced.
Update: Additional international pricing has been announced for U.K. and French iPhone 4 users: Apple is selling iPhone 4 units at unlocked prices of £499 (16GB) and £599 (32GB) in the United Kingdom, with French prices at €629 (16GB) and €739 (32GB). Quick checks of Apple’s foreign pages show additional restrictions on model availability outside of the United States, with German stores having no 32GB models at all, regardless of color, and only black 16GB units to pre-order.
AT&T and Best Buy have revealed details of their plans for the iPhone 4’s launch. Best Buy will begin taking pre-orders for the device starting June 15, and will begin selling the phone on June 24, as will AT&T. The latter will be opening its stores at 7:00 a.m. to begin selling the phone, and employees will be sporting special new black shirts featuring a multi-color AT&T globe design on the front and the company’s “Rethink Possible” slogan on the back. New customers will be limited to one iPhone 4 per person in line, while existing customers will be able to purchase one iPhone 4 for each eligible line.
A separate report from Modmyi containing an internal AT&T memo claims that the iPhone 4 will be available exclusively in black at launch, with white models available “later this summer.” No reason is given for the delay, nor is there any indication as to whether this is an AT&T-only restriction or if some unforeseen production issue has caused Apple to push back the launch date of white units.
Microsoft is currently offering money to iPhone developers if they port their games to the company’s Windows Phone 7 platform, which will launch later this year. Citing an unnamed developer that was contacted by Microsoft, PocketGamer reports that Microsoft is contacting “successful” iPhone developers, offering them cash to port their games to the new platform. Although the amounts being offered are said to be substantial, they’re reportedly not enough to offset the costs of porting the games over to Microsoft’s programming languages; however, the developer speculated that Microsoft still might be able to woo some developers by tweaking their development tools to make it easier to port from iOS. Sony followed a similar developer recruitment strategy prior to the launch of its PSPgo gaming system.
Vodafone in the U.K. has revealed its pricing for the iPhone 4. According to Engadget, the company posted, and then removed, the pricing sheets, screenshots of which are still available. Pricing on Vodafone will be tiered for both 16GB and 32GB models, ranging from £189 for a 16GB unit with a £25 a month, two-year contract, to a free 32GB with a £60 a month, two-year commitment. All of Vodafone’s plans include 1GB of data access and 1GB of BT Openzone Wi-Fi access monthly; select plans will also include 5GB of European data roaming. Apple will launch the iPhone 4 in the U.K., U.S., France, Germany, and Japan on June 24.
Apple has updated its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement to allow for a more relaxed stance on interpreted code inside apps. Section 3.3.2 of the agreement previously stated that “[n]o interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).” The new revised version notes that with Apple’s prior written consent, “[a]n Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.” The new terms should open the door for a number of possibilites for developers, including for games to use third-party rendering engines and libraries.
iOS 4 contains code, currently inaccessible, to allow for exporting videos directly to Facebook. 9 to 5 Mac reports that the snippet found within iOS 4’s code is labeled “AVAssetExportPresetFacebook,” and allows for video with a maximum height or width of 480 pixels, playing back at 30 fps. If or when activated, Facebook will join other sharing options including email, MMS, MobileMe, and YouTube; it is unclear when Apple might activate the new feature.
Good.iWare has released another update to its highly popular PDF reading application for the iPad, adding a number of enhancements to PDF reading. GoodReader for iPad 2.8 introduces horizontal page turning for PDF files for a more book-like reading experience. The new version also provides the ability to rotate PDF files, automatically crop margins for a full-screen view of text and display two-page spreads in landscape view. GoodReader also now pre-caches PDF files for better performance when turning pages and adds support for Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, allowing documents to be displayed on a secondary monitor, TV or digital projector. GoodReader for iPad is available from the App Store for $1 and is a free update for existing users.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is set to launch an investigation to determine if Apple’s business practices in the mobile space are unjustly limiting competition, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation is the result of “weeks” of negotiations with the Justice Department over which body would look into allegations that companies are being shut-out of Apple’s newest computing platforms. It cites as examples Apple’s ongoing feud with Adobe over Flash on the iOS, Google’s complaints relating to Apple’s decision to effectively bar AdMob from its iOS devices, and it position on cross-platform development solutions. According to the report, this new investigation may be handled independently of other probes of Apple’s business, including the Justice Department’s probe into Apple’s digital music and media business.
Silvio Rizzi has released an iPad version of his popular Reeder RSS client for iOS. Reeder for iPad brings over all of the features from the iPhone and iPod touch version, including Google Reader sync, browsing by feed or folder, starring and sharing items, image caching, and integration with third-party services such as Instapaper, Twitter, Delicioius and Pinboard. The iPad version introduces a redesigned interface for the iPad with a split-screen reading view and feeds and folders shown as thumbnails. Users can open folders using a pinch gesture—individual feeds appear as thumbnails and expand outward with the same effect as opening albums within the iPad Photos application. Reeder for iPad is available from the App Store for $5.
AT&T has sent out an email to its iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G customers explaining the situation surrounding the recent exposure of over 100,000 customer emails and SIM ICC-ID numbers. Titled “Important Information About Your iPad 3G,” the email from AT&T Senior Vice President Dorothy Attwood states that a group of “unauthorized computer ‘hackers’” used a web address that’s part of the iPad log-in process to determine users’ iCC-ID numbers and get their email addresses. It also states that AT&T took “swift action to prevent any further unauthorized exposure of customer email addresses,” and that [w]ithin hours, AT&T disabled the mechanism that automatically populated the email address.” “I want to assure you that the email address and ICC-ID were the only information that was accessible,” Attwood writes. “Your password, account information, the contents of your email, and any other personal information were never at risk. The hackers never had access to AT&T communications or data networks, or your iPad.” The publication of details relating to the matter recently led the FBI to launch an investigation into the matter.
Syntonetic has released an update to its Moodagent music app for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding support for longer playlists and sharing via Twitter and Facebook. Similar in concept to iTunes’ own Genius feature, Moodagent allows users to generate playlists from their device’s music library based on mood as determined by a series of touchscreen sliders for Sensual, Tender, Happy, Angry and Tempo. Users adjust these sliders to automatically create a playlist of music or simply choose a specific song to generate a playlist based on the mood of that song. The Moodagent 2.0 update now allows users to adjust the length of their playlists to include up to 50 songs, lock specific tracks to ensure that they remain in a playlist and specify tracks or artists to be excluded from playlists. The update also provides the ability for users to share any of their playlists via Facebook and Twitter. Moodagent 2.0 is available from the App Store in two different versions: A free, ad-supported version that is fully functional and an ad-free version that sells for $5.
If you haven’t yet entered our Share the iPad Guide Giveaway, this weekend is your last chance to do so. To celebrate the release of The iPad Buyers’ Guide + Free iPod/iPhone Book 5, iLounge is offering our readers a chance to win some great prizes for sharing the Book with friends, family, and social network followers. To enter, simply retweet this message—complete with bit.ly link—to your followers. 50 retweeters will be selected at random to win CandyShell cases from Speck, while four additional readers will be selected based on the positive influence of their tweets to receive either one of three second-place prizes—iHome iA5 App-Enhanced Alarm Clocks—or the grand prize, an iHome iP1 Studio Series Speaker System. Our Share the iPad Guide Contest ends on June 15, 2010 at 11:59PM Pacific Time; more information, including official rules, is available on the contest page. Thanks, and good luck!
Don’t forget to get your entry in for our Sound Earphones Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for June, iLounge and Sound Earphones are giving away five $100 Gift Cards good towards any product at SoundEarphones.com. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on June 30, 2010 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Electronic Arts has released a minor update to The Sims 3 for iPhone and iPod touch users, adding nothing more than a new cheat code. Users can download the latest version and get unlimited money by pressing the Pause button during gameplay and then selecting the “Gardening Tips” from the “Help & About” section and shaking their device. The Sims 3 is available from the App Store for $5.
Amazon has released an update to its Kindle application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Kindle 2.1 adds larger fonts and more font sizes for iPad users, improves navigation between home and archived item sections on the iPad, and adds a download progress indicator. The new version also provides iPhone and iPod touch users with the ability to search inside their Kindle e-books; the release notes indicate the search feature will be coming to the iPad version in the next release. The next version also promises a built-in dictionary and the ability to look up words in Google or Wikipedia. Kindle 2.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Developer Ricky Bloomfield has released an update to his popular G-Whizz client for Google applications. G-Whizz 1.1.1 adds support for sending links to Instapaper, copying to the clipboard or opening in the Safari browser. In addition to bug fixes and memory optimization, the update further improves the help tab, adds cosmetic changes to the in-app browser and provides Google Talk and Tasks support for Google Apps users. G-Whizz is a universal app for both iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users and is available from the App Store for $3.
Walmart has announced that it will offer the iPhone 4 on June 24, the device’s official launch date in the U.S. Cnet reports that while the retailer has offered various models of the iPhone in the past, this is the first time it will offer a new iPhone model on launch day. Walmart joins Apple, RadioShack, and reportedly Best Buy as U.S. launch day retailers; Apple will launch the iPhone 4 in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24, with pre-orders opening on June 15.
Essential TPE has debuted its new Icon battery pack for the iPhone. The Icon is a dock-connecting battery pack featuring an integrated rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery and an unusual design that uses EL lighting technology and mimics the iOS’ full-screen charging indicator. Although the exact capacity of the battery is unknown, the company claims the Icon provides up to three hours of additional talk time and up to 18 hours of additional audio playback. Essential TPE’s Icon battery pack for iPhone is available now and sells for $50.