Following yesterday’s reports of wireless streaming and synchronization features coming to iTunes this fall, CNet has indicated that the service may not be coming as soon as predicted. The article points out that although Apple has apparently been engaged in discussions with the music industry regarding a streaming service, the company has yet to actually acquire the necessary licenses from the top four music labels. Some people within the recording industry have indicated that Apple could likely allow users to stream content from their own home computers without requiring a new license, however streaming music from Apple’s own servers would require them to negotiate a new arrangement with the recording industry. The article goes on to note that there is a small possibility that Apple may not feel that the labels’ permission is required to stream music as such a service would likely only provide users with access to music that they had already purchased. Apple’s acquisition of music service Lala back in December would seem to indicate that the company is planning a streaming service of some form, although as usual Apple itself has been completely silent on the matter.
The New York Times reports that Apple is working on a “major overhaul” of its Apple TV product for accessing iTunes media in the living room. The report cites “several people familiar with Apple’s television-related efforts” indicating that the company is working on a significant software update for the Apple TV which will “offer a completely redesigned interface” for the device. The sources note that it is not clear right now whether Apple is planning to create an entirely new product, but also mentioned that the new software design may be based on Apple’s iOS operating system. There are additional reports that Apple has recently hired several user interface and graphic designers with a background in broadcast design for television and that some of the more advanced work on the next version of the device is not taking place within the Apple TV group but rather within an entirely different design group within the company. Those familiar with the company’s plans noted that Apple executives are aware of the challenges in “the battle for the living room” and that the company must “get it right the next time.” [via Mac Rumors]
Tech Crunch reports that Tapulous has been acquired by Disney. Tapulous is best known for its music-oriented games such as its Tap Tap Revenge series, which also included individual titles featuring specific artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Nickelback and Nine Inch Nails. Disney Interactive Studios sells games based on Disney movies and characters such as Toy Story and Cars. Although many of its are for consoles, Disney has released a number of iOS applications such as its recent Toy Story 3 app. The purchase of Tapulous likely indicates a desire to more aggressively pursue iOS devices as a gaming platform and Disney also appears to be very interested in the social aspects of mobile gaming. As part of the acquisition, Tapulous founder Bart Decrem will join Disney as the General Manager and senior Vice-President in charge of mobile for Disney Interactive’s gaming group. Tapulous COO Andrew Lacy will also be joining Disney as a senior VP. Decrem indicates that his group will “continue to develop apps that live at the intersection of music and gaming” but also plans to expand into new areas of mobile social entertainment. He also indicates that his charter is to add social elements to all of Disney’s games over time while still remaining focused on Tapulous’ current portfolio of games.
Apple has issued a press release this morning responding to the numerous complaints that have been circulating regarding reception issues with the new iPhone 4. In a Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4, Apple reiterates previous comments that holding any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by one or more bars, and acknowledges that this is as true of the iPhone 4 as it was of previous iPhone models and other manufacturers’ phones. The letter goes on to note, however, that “some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band.” Apple admits that this is a “far bigger drop than normal” and concedes that it has led some to believe it to be the result of a faulty antenna design.
Apple reports that on further investigation it was “stunned to find that the formula [used] to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong.” In essence, the company explains that the iPhone 4 sometimes displays four bars even in weak coverage areas where it should only be displaying as few as two bars. Apple notes that users who are seeing a loss of several bars when gripping their iPhone in a certain way are likely in areas with weak signal strength, but don’t realize it due to the calculation error. The letter notes that a user’s “big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.”
In the letter, Apple indicates that it will be releasing a free software update “within a few weeks” that will use AT&T’s more recent formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The result of the update will not change the actual signal strength but will report it more accurately. Apple notes that this error has been present since the original iPhone and will also be corrected in the software update for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS models.
Sillysoft Games has released a universal update to its popular Lux DLX strategy game for the iPhone and iPod touch. An iOS version of its popular Lux Delux desktop game, Lux DLX is a Risk-style strategy game where users play against the AI or other players in an attempt to capture all of the opposing territories. Players can choose to play on any of over 80 free maps, including classic world maps such as the British Isles and Europe or more whimsical choices such as Earth vs Moon. Version 2.0 adds native iPad support, an extra-hard AI mode, the ability to download multiple maps at once and multi-player improvements. Lux DLX 2.0 is ”>available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Foursquare has updated its location-based social networking app for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding basic support for iOS 4 Fast App Switching and high-resolution artwork for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. The update also adds an integrated map view allowing users to view their friends’ check-in locations displayed on a map relative to their own position. Although Foursquare can now take advantage of Fast App Switching on capable devices it does not yet provide other iOS 4 multitasking features such as background location. The latest version continues to support optional push notifications for tracking friends’ check-ins. Foursquare 1.9 is ”>available from the App Store as a free download.
Silvio Rizzi has released an update to his popular Reeder Google Reader client for tbhe iPhone and iPod touch. Reeder 2.0.3 adds support for background task completion on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices, allowing synchronization to finish in the background after the app is closed. The update also adds a new setting to allow users to choose whether folders should open as a list of feeds or articles by default and fixes some graphic and compatibility issues when running on iOS 4. This update does not yet add retina display support for the iPhone 4, however the developer notes that this will is coming soon in another update. Reeder 2.0.3 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for current users. An separate iPad-native version is also available for $5.
Apple is preparing to launch new wireless streaming and synchronization features for iTunes at its traditional September iPod event, or possibly sooner, according to a new report. Citing a “reliable” unnamed Apple source, Boy Genius Report claims that the new features will allow users to stream purchased music and movies from Apple’s servers directly to their devices, eliminating the need for large amounts of local storage, and also stream music and movies from their home computers to their other computers and remote devices over their own Internet connections. Finally, the report claims that any apps purchased on an iOS device would immediately and wirelessly sync back to the user’s home computers, along with any changes to Calendar, Notes, or Contacts; it is unclear whether this latter feature would supplant or be available in addition to Apple’s paid MobileMe service.
Apple has started rolling its new iAd mobile advertising platform in iOS 4 applications coded to display the ads. Although reports indicate that some users are already able to see and interact with the new ads, two iLounge editors have yet to have one appear—possibly due to their geographic locations—leaving nothing but a blank banner, as pictured above. Previewed by Apple at both its iPhone OS 4 event in April and then again during the company’s WWDC keynote address, iAd is a new, Apple-controlled mobile advertising platform that is built directly into iOS, allowing for more advanced interaction between the viewer and the content, with the bonus of not having to leave the app in which the ad was displayed. A recent report indicated that the first companies with iAds paid $1 million for the privilege, with some paying up to $10 million for some measure of exclusivity in their respective categories.
Apple has released an updated configuration profile that claims to fix problems with Exchange ActiveMail syncing some users were experiencing after upgrading their devices to iOS 4. According to Apple’s support document on the issue, some users were noticing “that Exchange ActiveSync Mail, Contacts, or Calendars do not sync, or sync very slowly. In addition, some Exchange Server administrators may notice their servers running slowly.” To fix the issue, users simply need to download the new configuration file, which is linked on the support page, install, and reboot their devices.
iFixIt has posted a teardown of the gyroscope found within the iPhone 4. According to the brief article, the microelectromechanical system (MEMS) chip consists of a plate, called a “proof mass,” that gets displaced when a user rotates the phone. A processor senses the proof mass’ displacement via capacitor plates, and converts the capacitive signals into a digital signal which is then sent to the phone’s processor.
GelaSkins has introduced its new line of skins for the iPhone 4. GelaSkins for the iPhone 4 (pictured) are cut to precisely fit the device, protecting the front, back, and, optionally, the sides—which the company suggests might help alleviate the reception issues caused when skin is in contact with the phone’s metal band. In addition, the skins feature 3M adhesive technology for easier application and residue-free removal, and include access to the GelaSkins wallpaper gallery. GelaSkins’ protective skins for the iPhone 4 are available now and sell for $15 each.
Oklahoma State University is planning to pilot an iPad initiative during the Fall 2010 semester with select courses. According to Macsimum News, the courses will be from the School of Media and Strategic Communications and the Spears School of Business at both the Stillwater and Tulsa campuses. The iPads will reportedly be used for academic purposes, as well as to explore innovative and tactical uses specific to each school’s industry needs. “We will evaluate the academic enhancement to the courses, how the iPad and its specific apps and web-based tools can be integrated in this capacity, and perhaps most importantly, how the integration of these mobile tools can expand the tactical abilities of students as they enter the workforce,” said Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis. “This pilot initiative will provide valuable insight into the research benefits of the Apple iPad in the classroom.”
Dexim has introduced its new line of cases for the Apple iPad. The lineup includes the Elegant Collection leather case with soft inner lining for $46, the Durable Protection Sleeve made from TPU and featuring a circular design on the back for $30, the Premium Protective Fiber Sleeve featuring an open-face design and impact resistant carbon fiber shell for $30, and the Glossy PC Sleeve for $30. Also included in the lineup are the Flexible Silicone Sleeve featuring a unique rear design and a $20 price tag, the Carbon Fiber Fabric Sleeve case for $30, and the Colorful Silicone Sleeve offering partial bezel and Home button protection and a wide range of colors for $20. All of Dexim’s new cases for the iPad include an anti-scratch screen protector, a squeegee card, and a cleaning cloth, and are available now.
As part of its iPhone 4 review, AnandTech took an in-depth look at the iPhone 4’s antenna and its signal issues, finding that “cupping the bottom left corner and making skin contact between the two antennas does result in a measurable difference in cellular reception,” but adding, “RF is a strange beast.” According to the review, standard signal strength for a UMTS 3G phone can range from -51 dBm—standing underneath or extremely close to the tower—to -113 dBm, the lowest amount of signal the phone can have before disconnecting entirely. Interestingly, AnandTech found that the iPhone 4’s bars map signal differently than one might expect, with more than 40% of the range of possible signal levels—from -99 dBm to -51 dBm—reported as five bars. The four bars indicator begins at roughly -99 to -101 dBm and three bars at -103 dBm, with two bars extending down to -107 dBm, and one bar covering all signals lower than that.
Based on AnandTech’s tests, the iPhone 4 exhibits a maximum signal drop of 24 dBm when held in the left hand and crossing the black strip at the bottom with the palm. When held naturally, but without making contact with the open palm, a drop of nearly 20 dBm was seen; when held naturally inside a case, that number dropped to 7 dBm. For comparison, the iPhone 3GS experienced drops of 14 dBm, 1.9 dBm, and 3.2 dBm, while the Google Nexus One scored losses of 18 dBm, 11 dBm, and 8 dBm, respectively. Despite the drops, the review finds that the iPhone 4’s antenna is actually improved from the iPhone 3GS, with the new handset showing an improved ability to perform calls and receive/send data when at the one bar signal level, and when encased, it was able to find and/or hold on to a signal in spots where the iPhone 3GS failed to find to do either.
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple and AT&T over the iPhone 4’s cellular reception issues. The suit, filed in Maryland District Court, revolves around the “left hand” reception issue, and alleges that Apple and AT&T “knew or reasonably should have known of the iPhone 4’s defective nature prior to placing the iPhone 4 into the stream of commerce.” Claims against the two companies include general negligence, defect in design, manufacture, and assembly, deceptive trade practices, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud by concealment. The suit seeks compensatory damages and “other remedies.” [via Gizmodo]
Mozilla announced yesterday that it has submitted its first iPhone app, Firefox Home to the App Store. Firefox Home allows users to access their Firefox desktop history, bookmarks, and even currently open tabs on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, enabling users to easily look up information on the go and pick up where they left off from their desktop browsing. Data is synced securely from Firefox on the desktop using the Firefox Sync browser plug-in, and Firefox Home users can view sites directly in Firefox Home, open them in Mobile Safari or share them via e-mail. Firefox Home is currently under App Store review and is expected to be available as a free download once it has been approved by Apple. [via Tech Crunch]
Facebook has released an update to its iPhone and iPod touch app, bringing support for iOS 4 Fast App Switching. The update also provides high-resolution icons for the iPhone 4 Retina display, Korean and Russian localizations and minor bug fixes. Facebook released an update last week on the same day that iOS 4 was released, however this prior update was notably missing any features related to iOS 4 itself, focusing instead on adding support for video playback and other integration features. This latest update focuses primarily on iOS 4 and iPhone 4 compatibility. Facebook 3.1.4 is available from the App Store as a free download.