The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it has reached a settlement with Reverb Communications, Inc. and its sole owner, Tracie Snitker, over what it claimed were deceptive advertising practices. According to the FTC’s announcement, the Commission believes that Reverb “engaged in deceptive advertising by having employees pose as ordinary consumers posting game reviews at the online iTunes store, and not disclosing that the reviews came from paid employees working on behalf of the developers.” The allegedly phony reviews were posted by Reverb and Snitker between November 2008 and May 2009 on the pages of the company’s client’s games. “Companies, including public relations firms involved in online marketing need to abide by long-held principles of truth in advertising,” said Mary Engle, Director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices. “Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers.”
Snitker denies the charges, telling Kotaku that the issue was “specific to a handful of small, independently developed iPhone apps that several team members downloaded onto their personal iPhones in their own time using their own money and accounts, a right and privilege afforded to every iPhone and iTouch user. This was neither mandated by Reverb nor connected to our policies.” As part of the proposed settlement, Reverb and Snitker must remove any “previously posted endorsements that misrepresent the authors as independent users or ordinary consumers, and that fail to disclose a connection between Reverb and Snitker and the seller of a product or service.”
An upcoming Griffin gaming accessory for iOS devices has been outed by a recently published FCC filing. The PartyDock is a set-top gaming accessory for the iPad and iPhone 4 that allows users to dock their device and use four wireless remotes to control specially-written games, including “Midway Motors,” “Fishing Frenzy,” “Flippin’ Frogs,” and “Wits and Wagers Family,” with the potential for more Griffin-branded games in the future. The wall-powered PartyDock connects to a TV using included composite cables or with user-supplied component cables, and also allows the remote to control video, picture, and audio playback. Curiously, the PartyDock’s user manual makes no reference to support for the iPod touch or any older iPhone model, carrying only “Made for iPad and iPhone” badges. Griffin has yet to make any announcement regarding the product; thus pricing and release information has yet to be revealed. [via UberGizmo]
Update: Griffin has launched an official website for the PartyDock, and has confirmed that the device will include the “Midway Motors,” “Fishing Frenzy,” and “Flippin’ Frogs” mini-games, as well as the full game “Wits and Wagers Family,” as mentioned above.
Apple has ended its relationship with SurfaceInk, a small Silicon Valley design firm, over its exhibition of a prototype tablet computer. The New York Times reports that Eric Bauswell, a founder and chief executive of the engineering design company, said Apple parted ways with his company due to its “growing awareness of our turnkey capabilities,” or business of designing products for clients. “I think they view our capabilities as an opportunity for competitors,” he added. According to the report, SurfaceInk had helped Apple with the development of certain products for nearly 10 years.
Virgin Mobile has announced a new $40 unlimited monthly data plan, which, when combined with a $150 Mi-Fi mobile hotspot, provides an attractive option for iPad and iPod touch users. The new offering does not require a contract, allowing customers to start and stop their service without a fee, and the $150 hotspot would allow users to connect up to five devices at a time, including iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Notably, Virgin Mobile’s devices operate on Sprint’s nationwide network, with roaming limited to 300MB per month. [via TidBits]
MPEG LA has announced (PDF Link) that its AVC/H.264 video codec will remain royalty-free for Internet video that is free to end-users throughout the life of the license. The group had previously said it would not charge any such royalties through the end of 2015. Mac Rumors notes that Apple owns several of the packages included in the AVC/H.264 portfolio, and has embraced the standard throughout its media product line. Today’s announcement should help the codec’s effort to become the standard video format for HTML 5 content.
Facebook has issued a clarification of text posted on its official Facebook for iOS app page that indicated the app had more than 100 million active users. “There are currently 44 million monthly active users of the Facebook for iPhone app,” a Facebook spokesman told Engadget. “We recently changed the definition of mobile active users to exclude those who have only liked or commented on stream stories. Instead we are counting ‘active’ users as people who have taken explicit actions within an application. This practice is more aligned with how we count overall active users for the site.” This brings the overall percentage of iOS users who also actively use the Facebook app down to roughly 40%, far from the huge percentage represented by the prior 100 million figure.
An image showing what Chinese case vendor X-Doria claims to be fourth-generation iPod touch and sixth-generation iPod nano cases has appeared online. The image shows two iPod touch 4G cases with openings in the rear clear plastic for a camera and either a flash or microphone. Notably, the shape of the cases suggests the touch will retain its curved rear shell design instead of moving to a flat back panel as seen on the iPhone 4. The two supposed iPod nano 6G cases, on the other hand, appear to be made for a squarish device based on the 1.7-inch Apple-branded touchscreen seen in photos earlier this year, without any room for a front-mounted Home button. The nano 6G case features an open strip on the rear—perhaps for a camera or built-in clip—as well as what appear to be volume buttons and a larger button on the top side while a Dock Connector and headphone port are along the bottom. Text accompanying the image notes that it is unclear what a move to this small a form factor might mean for the future of the iPod shuffle, though the “nano 6G” device is more like a screened iPod shuffle than the nano, Dock Connector aside.
Intuit and Mophie have teamed up to unveil the new Complete Credit Card Solution for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The Complete Credit Card Solution is designed to be an all-in-one solution for small businesses to accept credit card payments via the iPhone. The package includes a clip-on Mophie Marketplace card reader accessory, Intuit’s GoPayment credit card processing app, and a quick account sign-up with no long term contract. Instead, merchants will pay $12.95 a month, wtih a 1.7 to 3.7 percent discount rate and $0.30 to $0.34 per transaction fee. Intuit and Mophie’s Complete Credit Card Solution for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is now available in Apple’s retail stores and will soon be available online at Apple.com for $180. [via Wired]
Drakfyre’s Software has released its new 720tube application for the iPhone 4. 720tube allows users to bypass Apple’s mobile YouTube upload resolution restrictions to allow for uploading of full 720p videos, including both standard recordings and those edited and exported to the Camera Roll using iMovie. Drakfyre’s Software’s 720tube app for the iPhone 4 is available now as a free download from the App Store.
HTC has filed an answer to Apple’s complaints against them involving patent infringement, Groklaw reports. In its reply, HTC denies infringing the patents, but also claims that four of the four of the patents are invalid for “failure to comply with one or more of the conditions for patentability set forth in Title 35 of the United States Code, including, but not limited to, utility, novelty, non-obviousness, enablement, written description and definiteness in accordance with 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103, 112, and/or 116, or are invalid pursuant to the judicial doctrine barring double-patenting.” In addition, HTC claims that it has license agreements with third-party suppliers that allow it to do some of the things Apple claims are infringing. Apple filed suit against HTC in March.
Apple, meanwhile, has asked that all four current cases involving these patents—including both Nokia’s suits against Apple and Apple’s suits against HTC—be consolidated “at least for purposes of coordinating pre-trial activities.” “Consolidation is appropriate in this instance because the four cases involve numerous common issues of law and fact, including eleven patents that Apple has asserted against both Nokia and HTC,” Apple said in the filing (PDF Link). “Given the overlapping patents and technologies at issue in the cases, consolidation offers the benefit of conserving resources and promoting judicial economy by avoiding the need for duplicative discovery or any other redundant litigation activities, such as multiple Markman hearings concerning the same patents. Importantly, consolidation before a single judge will also ensure that there are no inconsistent pretrial rulings—most notably inconsistent constructions of claim terms in the eleven overlapping patents.”
Netflix has released version 1.1.0 of its iOS application, adding support for the iPhone and iPod touch. Released for the iPad in April, the Netflix app allows qualifying subscribers to “instantly” stream movies and TV shows over Wi-Fi or 3G connections, resume watching where they left off on their TV, computer, or other device, browse movies, and manage their instant queues. Netflix version 1.1.0 for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Mach 3 Composites has debuted its Carbon Fiber case for iPad. The briefcase-style case features soft interior padding, a 100% carbon fiber outer shell, extra room on the interior to accomodate for encased iPads, and a secure, double-latch closure. Mach 3 Composites’ Carbon Fiber case for the iPad is available now and sells for $120.
Apple has begun emailing select members of the press, inviting them to a special event in San Francisco on September 1. As it has been in the past, the event will be held at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, and will be focused on the company’s iPod line, as indicated by the invitation’s image of an acoustic guitar with an Apple logo cut-out. Apple is widely expected to introduce updated iPods at the event, likely including the fourth-generation iPod touch, and possibly a rumored next-generation Apple TV, which may be renamed iTV, as well as 99 cent TV episode rentals.
Bioserie has introduced its first case for the iPhone 4. The eco-friendly case is made annually renewable plant material, and offers open access to all ports, controls, and the camera, four front-facing “feet” to protect the screen when placed face-down, and a finely textured surface for added grip. Bioserie’s new plant-based case for the iPhone 4 is available for pre-order now and is expected to ship September 6th for $35.
The KeyCase iPad Folio, a new iPad case, has received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, opening the door for a potential stateside release. This leather folio-style case features an integrated Bluetooth 2.0 silicone keyboard that also helps the case serve as a stand. The keyboard is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery good for roughly 45 hours of use per charge; the battery charges using standard Apple charge/sync cables. The KeyCase iPad Folio is currently being offered by U.K. retailer GearZap, and is priced at £60, or roughly $93. [via Engadget]
China Unicom is expected to launch the iPhone 4 in mainland China on September 16, according to a new report. Citing a “source from China Unicom,” Caixin reports that customers who want to buy the phone from China Unicom will need to order the phone online in advance of the launch day. In addition, since the Chinese iPhone 4 is likely to see antenna and reception issues similar to those seen in iPhone 4 units from other parts of the world, China Unicom will be offering customers a free iPhone case. Apple launched the 8GB iPhone 3GS in China on August 9.
Apple plans to hold its annual iPod media event in San Francisco on September 7th, according to a new report. Contained within the same Bloomberg report that suggested Apple would be debuting a 99 cent TV show rental service, yet curiously overlooked by multiple outlets—including iLounge—the brief statement cites two people as saying Apple will launch a new iPod touch, an improved Apple TV, and the TV show rental service at the event. Traditionally, Apple has held the event in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco; the Yerba Buena’s calendar shows an event scheduled for the 7th in its gallery area, but nothing being held in the theater on that day.
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G overlooking the beach and shoreline near Sinemorets, Bulgaria. 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 featuring your favorite iPod, iPad, or iPhone and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!
Apple is in talks with Fox parent News Corp., along with other media companies, to offer 99 cent TV episode rentals through iTunes. Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the plan, reports that users would have a 48 hour rental window, and that Disney and CBS are also part of the discussions. “This is a smart move by everyone,” said David Bank, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York. “Something like this a la carte rental service is an incremental opportunity and it doesn’t upset the existing ecosystem.” The report goes on to reiterate prior reports of a next-generation Apple TV, with a smaller hard drive than prior models that will be priced at $99 and tied into the rental service.
PhotoFast has introduced its new iPADock, a desktop stand/dock that can charge and sync multiple portable Apple devices at once. The iPADock is capable of handling four iPods or iPhones at once, two iPads simultaneously, or a combination of one iPad and two iPhones or iPods, via four powered USB ports on the back and cutouts in the docking wells that allow Apple’s standard 30-pin to USB cables to fit through. In addition, it offers three non-powered USB ports, multiple memory card readers with support for most popular formats, and slots to hold the iPad Camera Connection Kit. Cult of Mac notes that the price for the iPADock is $70, however, no pricing information was provided on the product page.