Apple has released iPhone OS 3.1.2, its first major update to the iPhone’s and iPod touch’s software since the launch of version 3.1 and 3.1.1, respectively, on September 9. According to Apple’s release notes, the update “[r]esolves [a] sporadic issue that may cause iPhone (or iPod touch) to not wake from sleep,” as well as an “intermittent issue that may interrupt cellular network services until restart.” It also fixes a bug that could cause occasional crashes during video streaming. iPhone OS 3.1.2 is available now for both iPhone and iPod touch users through the update feature in iTunes.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal regarding the possibility of AT&T’s recent VoIP announcement being a precursor to the launch of tethering support for the iPhone, a comapny spokesperson said that more work was required before the feature could be enabled. “Whenever we offer new features, we want to offer the best possible customer experience. For tethering, we need to do some additional fine tuning to our systems and networks so that we do deliver a great experience,” the spokesman said. Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it would now allow iPhone VoIP applications to use its 3G network. Apple responded by saying it was “very happy” with the announcement, adding that it would be amending its development agreement in order “to get VoIP apps on the App Store and in customers’ hands as soon as possible.” Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T’s Mobility arm, said in November 2008 that tethering support would be coming “soon;” Apple added built-in support for the feature in iPhone OS 3.0, which was released in June, but AT&T has yet to announce an official launch date.
Verizon Wireless has begun airing a new television commercial directly targeting AT&T and Apple’s iPhone. The commercial apes Apple’s “there’s an app for that” iPhone slogan by listing various scenarios and then saying “there’s a map for that,” while displaying the company’s U.S. wireless 3G coverage map. Later in the spot, the announcer states, “if you want to know why some people have spotty 3G coverage, there’s a map for that too,” while showing an iPhone user with AT&T’s considerably less robust 3G coverage map overhead. Continue reading to watch the commercial in embedded form; the video is also available for viewing on YouTube.
Bell Canada has announced that it has reached a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in Canada beginning in November. While Bell has made an official announcement, a Globe and Mail article states that both Bell and Telus will offer the phone. The two rivals have partnered to build a new HSPA network, launching later this year, in an effort to extend their networks and match the global standard used by Rogers. The iPhone has been exclusive to Rogers Wireless and its subsidiary Fido since its launch in the country in 2008.
Update: Telus has now made an official announcement confirming that it will also begin offering the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in Canada beginning in November.
At its MAX developer conference, Adobe has announced that it will offer an iPhone and iPod touch application export option in Adobe Flash Professional CS5. The feature will allow Flash developers to use the same source code used to deliver applications on the Adobe AIR and Flash Player 10 platforms to create native iPhone applications which can be submitted to Apple and sold via the App Store. On its preview page, Adobe explains that applications created using Flash are compiled into standard, native iPhone executable packages which do not require a runtime interpreter and therefore do not run afoul of Apple’s iPhone development guidelines.
The company has also taken the time to explain that the new feature will not allow Flash-based web content on the phone. A passage on the preview page states, “Flash Player uses a just-in-time compiler and virtual machine within a browser plug-in to play back content on websites. Those technologies are not allowed on the iPhone at this time, so a Flash Player for iPhone is not being made available today.” Adobe Flash Professional CS5 is slated for release later this year.
Worldwide marketshare for the iPhone OS platform has overtaken that of Symbian OS for the first time, according to the latest AdMob Mobile Metrics report (PDF Link). The report states that iPhone OS’ worldwide operating system marketshare increased from 33% to 40% between February and August, while that of Symbian OS fell from 43% to 34%. Worldwide marketshare for BlackBerry devices slipped from 10% to 8% over the same period, while the Android OS’ share jumped from 2% to 7%. According to the report, the iPhone OS now accounts for a “substantial” share of the market in all regions except Asia and Africa, and the iPhone is the top handset in the world for mobile usage, followed by the iPod touch. The same can be said in the North American, Western European, and Oceanian markets; the iPhone is also the top handset in Eastern Europe, followed by the Nokia 6300 and iPod touch in third place, while the iPod touch tops the Latin American market, followed by the iPhone. AdMob’s Mobile Metrics Report is based on ad requests from the company’s more than 9,000 mobile sites and 3,000 applications.
With the announcement of both Orange and Vodafone securing rights to offer the iPhone in the U.K. in the coming months, a number of O2 customers may be looking to take advantage of a two-week window in which they can return their devices and wait for possible better tariff rates and contract terms on competing carriers. The Telegraph reports that as many as 30,000 O2 iPhone customers may be eligible for returns, and the company says it is not planning to offer unhappy users a better deal in order to keep their business. The article suggests that the competition between carriers will knock around £5 (roughly $8) off the average monthly iPhone tariff, resulting in a savings of about £100 (~$160) over the course of a two-year contract. “There will be a price war,” said Steven Hartley, analyst at technology research house Ovum. “Research shows that in every country where there is more than one operator selling it, it is cheaper. It could be very disruptive, but it depends how Orange play it. If they get really aggressive O2 will have to respond and a full-on price war could start.” Orange has yet to disclose its contract terms for the iPhone, but has said they will be less expensive than O2’s plans.
An Apple Genius Bar employee has told a New York City-area iPhone user that most iPhone users in the region experience an average of 30% dropped calls. In an email to iLounge, reader Manoj says that after experiencing a high volume of dropped and missed calls, along with voicemail delays, he repeatedly contacted AT&T, who ran him through a series of standard troubleshooting procedures before telling him to have the phone examined by Apple. After speaking with Apple tech support over the phone and trying several other troubleshooting steps, Manoj took his iPhone into an Apple retail store, where a Genius Bar technician tested the phone and found nothing wrong. Since notifying Apple of the issue, the company had been keeping track of his dropped calls, and found that his phone experienced dropped calls around 22% of the time. The technician told Manoj that this was “better call coverage” than other iPhone users in the region, who experience “30% dropped calls” on average.
As noted in an iLounge article from February 2008, New York City has one of the highest concentrations of iPhone users we’ve seen in a major metropolitan area, and service in the area has been a subject of frequent complaints from users. A lawsuit filed against Apple and AT&T in New York’s Easter District Court in September 2008 named AT&T’s struggle to respond to demands on its 3G infrastructure resulting from the iPhone 3G launch among its complaints against the two companies.
Vodafone has announced that it will offer the iPhone in the UK beginning in early 2010, and has launched a “coming soon” page for the device. Vodafone will be the third carrier in the country to offer the phone, behind O2, which has offered the phone since November 9, 2007, and Orange, which announced yesterday that it would begin selling the phone later this year. In addition, Reuters reports that Vodafone will also offer the phone in Ireland, bringing the number of countries in which it offers the iPhone up to 13. Pricing and tariffs have yet to be announced.
A new proposal from the European Commission would see lower default volume limits placed on portable music players and smartphones such as the iPod and iPhone. The proposal is based on a study by the EU’s Scientific Committee published in October 2008, which found that listening that headphones at volumes of more than 89 decibels with regularity could have detrimental effects on hearing. BBC News reports that the Commission is recommending a limit of 80 decibels, at which volume the study recommended exposure be limited to 40 hours a week. The proposals could take some time before becoming standard practice and would be voluntary among manufacturers; users would also be able to override the limit at their own risk.
“It is easy to push up the sound levels on your mp3 player to damagingly loud levels, especially on busy streets or public transport,” said EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. “The evidence is that particularly young people - who are listening to music at high volumes sometimes for hours each week - have no idea they can be putting their hearing at risk. It can take years for the hearing damage to show, and then it is simply too late. These standards make small technical changes to players so that by default, normal use is safe. If consumers chose to override the default settings they can, but there will be clear warnings so they know the risks they are taking.”
China Unicom has announced its pricing and tariffs for the iPhone in China. The company has said the phone will be priced at 5,000 yuan (roughly $732), but it is unclear which model this price refers to, as the official press release (Translated Link) states the phone will be available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB versions. The company will offer subsidies of 893 yuan to 4,253 yuan (~$130-$622) based on the service plan selected; plans will range from 126 yuan to 886 yuan (~$18-$130) per month. Finally, the exact official launch date of the phone also remains unclear, as the press release references “a limited number of people” that may start using it on October 1, with a public release coming “late next month.” [via Fortune]
Orange UK has reached an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS later this year. Offering the UK’s “largest 3G network,” Orange will sell the iPhone through all the company’s direct channels, including Orange shops, the Orange website and Orange telesales channels, as well as selected high street partners. In addition, Orange has launched a pre-registration site for interested customers at Orange.co.uk/iPhone. Owned by France Telecom, Orange now offers the iPhone in 28 countries and territories globally; pricing, tariff, and availability information has yet to be announced.
AT&T has announced that it has dropped prices on its stock of refurbished iPhone 3G units. 8GB iPhone 3G units are now available for $49, while 16GB models—available in black or white—are priced at $99. According to a post on AT&T’s Facebook page, the units are available in stores while supplies last; as with new iPhone 3Gs, the refurbished units require a two-year contract, and AT&T notes that all refurbished iPhones carry a warranty of 90 days or more and may have “minor scratches.”
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.
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 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 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]
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 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]
Apple has begun to air three new iPhone 3GS television ads. All three ads continue Apple’s recent end of highlighting different apps on an iPhone set against a white background, but while most recent spots focused on three apps each, these ads show six apps each, albeit more briefly. “Dine” focuses on TripCase, New York Subway 09, Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List, Zagat To Go ‘09, Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite, and Gap StyleMixer, while “Nature” highlights iXpenseIt, DailyFinance, Guitar Toolkit, Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook, iBird Explorer Plus, and Pizza Hut. Finally, “Pass” shows off Fandango, G-Park, VocabWiz College Vocabulary, 365 Crosswords, Classics, and ABC Animals. Each ad ends with the message that “there are 75,000 apps for just about anything, only on the iPhone,” while a quick succession of other apps are shown. All three ads are available for viewing now from Apple’s iPhone Ad Gallery.