Last night MacRumors reported that Tether.com, a company developing tethering apps for mobile devices had released iTether, an official iPhone tethering app on the App Store. The iTether app allowed users, with the help of a companion Mac or PC desktop application, to tether their device over USB and use their iPhone’s 3G data connection. Tethering applications have traditionally not been allowed on the App Store, presumably due to agreements with cellular carriers and the duplication of Apple’s own Personal Hotspot functionality that was introduced in iOS 3.0. Therefore it was perhaps not surprising that iTether was removed from the App Store late this morning with no comment from either Apple or Tether.com as to the reasons for its disappearance. In 2008, another developer, Nullriver Software had produced a SOCKS5 based tethering application for the iPhone and also found it similarly pulled from the App Store after only a few hours.
Notably, however, Tether.com had indicated via Twitter that “We were very clear with Apple what our app did. They asked us a bunch of questions and then approved us.” iTether had no other features nor hidden functionality that would have obscured its true purpose, suggesting that Apple’s lower-level review process may be out of sync with overall company policy at this time. This marks the second time in less than a week that Apple has approved an app for sale with claims from the developers that the functionality of the app had been discussed with Apple prior to approval; last week Big Fish Games announced a novel released a subscription gaming app that was pulled by Apple only a few hours after the announcement, despite claims from the developer that Apple had in fact gone so far as to approve the developer’s press release.
Apple has seeded its first beta version of iOS 5.1 to developers. According to the company, the update—listed as build 985117b—provides improved dictation support for text input views on “supported devices”. In addition, Apple warns that devices should be backed up either using iTunes or iCloud prior to installation, and that devices updated to iOS 5.1 beta will not be downgradable back to prior versions of the operating system. iOS 5.1 is available now to registered developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has started to air a new commercial for the fourth-generation iPod touch. Entitled “Share the Fun,” the 30-second spot shows a number of middle- and high-school aged kids using the device to text each other over iMessage, video chat over FaceTime, play online multiplayer games using Game Center, update Twitter, listen to music, and record video, while the song “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove plays in the background. Notably, given the lack of new iPod touch hardware this year, the commercial emphasizes features added in iOS 5. The new ad is available for viewing now on YouTube or in embedded form below.
Apple is expanding its in-app subscription model to include game titles, according to a report from Bloomberg. Seattle-based game publisher Big Fish Games has received approval from Apple to offer users access to multiple game titles for a single recurring monthly fee. Dubbed Play Instantly, the subscription service will be offered through a single iOS app that will deliver unlimited access to a number of the company’s popular game titles streamed to the user’s device via Wi-Fi, allowing the player to easily switch between different games without having to download each title individually. Big Fish Games has also announced plans to offer a free, ad-supported version of the game service that will limit play to 30 minutes per day. Paid subscriptions are expected to initially cost $5 per month with an increase to $7 per month as more titles are added. The application and subscription service are initially available in the U.S. only. Big Fish Play Instantly is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. [via Mac Rumors]
Update (5:00 EST): The application is no longer available on the App Store. No explanation has been given as to the reason for its disappearance. We have reached out to the developer for comment and will update the story as more information becomes available.
Update (6:30 EST): According to another report from Bloomberg, Play Instantly was removed by Apple earlier today, after having been available on the App Store since November 18th. Paul Thelen, founder of Big Fish Games indicates that the company was “notified [by Apple] that the app was removed,” and is “trying to follow up with Apple to try to figure out what happened.” Thelen indicated to Bloomberg that “Apple had even signed off on a press release issued earlier today.” The Bloomberg report also notes that Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, declined to comment.
Apple has recently been looking to hire senior-level executives with backgrounds in web-based software, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that since earlier this year, the company has approached at least one “prominent” Internet entrepreneur about a possible position, the details of which are unclear. Apple is also said to have discussed its needs with recruiters. The report goes on to say that Apple is considering building new cloud-based web applications, and is seeking web-focused managers who could work at the director level. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has posted a teaser image on its online store, informing customers of an upcoming sale this Friday. The teaser page indicates that the one-day shopping event will be held this Friday, November 25, at which customers can “discover amazing iPad, iPod, and Mac gifts” for everyone on their shopping list. At past Black Friday events, Apple has offered modest discounts on its iPod and iPad models, as well as more substantial savings on Macs and select accessories.
Apple has started to air a new television ad for the iPad 2. Entitled “Love”, the 30-second spot continues Apple’s recent trend of showing the device being used in different ways, while a narration track plays in the background. “For some, it’s a lifelong passion. For others, it’s something discovered yesterday,” the narrator—Peter Coyote—says. “We all have things that speak to us. They drive us to get up early, and stay up late. Getting lost in the things we love has never felt quite like this.” The new ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
The first replacement units sent to customers through Apple’s iPod nano 1G Replacement program have started to arrive. Mac Rumors reports that although the model was discontinued five years ago, the replacement units are indeed first-generation iPod nano units, with the same capacity as the units that were replaced. Notably, reports indicate that the replacement units are in like-new condition, suggesting that Apple is at the very least offering refurbished units as replacements, complete with the new battery and outer shells that come standard with Apple refurbished models. Apple recently launched the replacement program as a way to deal with potential safety risks caused by faulty batteries.
Apple today announced that it has named Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D. as the company’s non-executive Chairman of the Board. Levinson has served as a co-lead director of Apple’s board since 2005, and will continue to serve on the audit committee; he is also chairman of Genentech, where he served as CEO from 1995-2009. In addition, Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, will join the board and will also serve on the audit committee.
“Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”
“Bob and I have gotten to know one another very well over the past few years and on behalf of the entire board, we think he is going to make an extraordinary addition to our already very strong board,” said Tim Cook. “His strategic vision for Disney is based on three fundamentals: generating the best creative content possible, fostering innovation and utilizing the latest technology, and expanding into new markets around the world which makes him a great fit for Apple.”
“I am honored to be named chairman of Apple’s board and welcome Bob to our team,” said Art Levinson. “Apple is always focused on out-innovating itself through the delivery of truly innovative products that simplify and improve our lives, and that is something I am very proud to be a part of.”
“Apple has achieved unprecedented success by consistently creating high quality, truly innovative products, and I am extremely pleased to join the board of such a wonderful company,” said Bob Iger. “Over the years, I have come to know and admire the management team, now ably led by Tim Cook, and I am confident they have the leadership and vision to ensure Apple’s continued momentum and success.”
Apple has released iTunes 10.5.1, and officially launched its iTunes Match music service. Previously made available in beta form to registered iOS developers, iTunes 10.5.1 adds support for iTunes Match, and also offers other performance and stability improvements. iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. Apple had planned to launch iTunes Match at the end of October, but delayed the launch for unspecified reasons, while it continued to provide developers with updates to the beta version of iTunes 10.5.1. iTunes 10.5.1 is available now as a direct download from apple.com/itunes and is expected to appear in Apple’s Software Update utility shortly.
Apple has launched a new Replacement Program for the first-generation iPod nano. As stated on the program’s official page, “Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the iPod nano (1st generation) may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006. This issue has been traced to a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect. While the possibility of an incident is rare, the likelihood increases as the battery ages.” It continues, “Apple recommends that you stop using your iPod nano (1st gen) and follow the process noted below to order a replacement unit, free of charge.” Users will need to enter their iPod nano’s serial number to verify eligibility, and will receive their replacement units approximately six weeks after Apple receives their current unit. [via Macworld UK]
As part of its ongoing testing efforts, Apple has released iTunes 10.5.1 beta 3 to registered iOS developers. According to Apple’s release notes, the software offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all developers currently subscribed to the iTunes Match beta. Apple notified all developers earlier this week that it would delete all iTunes Match libraries on November 12, but has yet to announce an updated release date for the service, which was scheduled to launch at the end of October. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 3 is available now from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple has sent out an email to registered iOS developers informing them that it will be deleting all current iCloud libraries on Saturday, November 12 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. The correspondence recommends that current users should turn off iTunes Match on all of their computers and iOS devices, and says that songs on their computers should not be affected. Apple has offered iTunes Match to its registered iOS developers on a limited, beta basis since the end of August, but notably missed its “end of October” timetable for a public launch, and has instead continued releasing beta updates to iTunes 10.5.1 to developers as it continues to test the service.
Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, the update contains bug fixes and improvements, including fixes for bugs affecting battery life, the addition of Multitasking Gestures to the original iPad, fixes for bugs with Documents in the Cloud, and improvements to voice recognition for Australian users using dictation. iOS 5.0.1 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and is available now via the update feature in iTunes or as an over-the-air update. To update your iOS device over-the-air, open Settings, tap on General, and tap on Software Update.
A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company has been working on a way to add a speaker to the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Entitled “Speaker Clip”, U.S. Patent Application #20110274303 describes a rear clip, similar to the one found on current-model iPod nanos and iPod shuffles, that incorporates a piezoelectric speaker in a recessed region in the clip, with perforations to allow the audio to pass through. Notably, one of the drawings included in the patent shows a round hole in the rear clip of an iPod nano-shaped device, serving as evidence that the company has been experimenting with the idea of added a camera to the device, as was suggested by a part leak earlier this year.
In responding to a developer bug report, Apple has reaffirmed that its Siri virtual assistant will remain exclusive to the iPhone 4S for now. Citing a person who submitted a bug report suggesting that Apple release a paid version of iOS for iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch users that would include Siri, Michael Steeber reports that Apple responded with a simple statement: “Siri only works on iPhone 4S and we currently have no plans to support older devices.” While Apple has given no indication of plans to add Siri to any of its other products, several members of the jailbreak community have been able to get the feature running on various older Apple products.
Security researcher Charlie Miller has been kicked out of Apple’s iOS Developer Program over a proof-of-concept app that Miller released on the App Store. According to Forbes, Miller discovered an exploit that allows apps to call out to an external server that downloads new, unapproved commands onto the device and can execute them at will. Using the exploit, a malicious app could potentially steal a user’s photos, read contacts, make the phone vibrate or play certain sounds, or repurpose normal iOS apps for nefarious purposes. To demonstrate the exploit, Miller submitted and had approved a fake stock ticker program which was available for a time on the App Store, which led to the termination of his developer agreement with Apple.
“This letter serves as notice of termination of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement…between you and Apple,” Apple’s email to Miller read. “Effective immediately.” The email cited the portion of the agreement that forbid him to “hide, misrepresent or obscure” any part of the app. Miller claims that he was only trying to demonstrate the issue, and argues that his past track record should have been taken into account. “I report bugs to them all the time. Being part of the developer program helps me do that. They’re hurting themselves, and making my life harder,” he told Forbes. “They went out of their way to let researchers in, and now they’re kicking me out for doing research. I didn’t have to report this bug. Some bad guy could have found it instead and developed real malware.”
Apple has released an update to its Apple Store iOS application incorporating the new in-store pickup and self-checkout features revealed last month. With Personal Pickup, U.S. based Apple Store customers can purchase items within the Apple Store application and choose to pick them up at any Apple Retail Store in the U.S. with most in-stock orders available within an hour.
The update also adds a new EasyPay feature allowing iPhone 4/4S users in U.S. Apple Stores to purchase select accessories in-store by scanning the barcode with the camera and completing the transaction directly within the application. The Apple Store application is also now available in Canada and China, although some features such as the new Personal Pickup and EasyPay remain available in the U.S. only at this time. The latest version also adds the ability for users to track their current and previous orders from within the application. Apple Store 2.0 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has seeded iOS 5.0.1 beta 2 to its registered iOS developers, the second beta release of the point update this week. According to the release notes for the first beta version, iOS 5.0.1 “fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements,” and also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.” iOS 5.0.1 beta 2 is listed as build 9A404, and is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple seeded developers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 late last evening, and also added iTunes Match to the second-generation Apple TV under the new main menu option “Music.” According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 offers stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to the iTunes Match beta. Apple had promised to launch iTunes Match by the end of October, but missed its self-imposed deadline earlier this week, and is evident by these new releases, is continuing to test the service ahead of its anticipated wide-scale rollout. iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 is available now as a free download from the iOS Dev Center.