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EA announces fall game lineup: SimCity, EA Sports and more

Electronic Arts has announced its fall 2010 lineup of iPhone, iPod touch and iPad games. Upcoming titles include SimCity Deluxe for the iPad and EA Sports FIFA 11, EA Sports NBA Elite 11, EA Sports MMA, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Heroes Lore and High Caliber Hunting for the iPhone and iPod touch.

SimCity Deluxe for iPad will bring the popular iPhone and iPod touch title to the iPad screen with higher-resolution HD graphics including textured terrain, a larger interactive display, controls optimized for the iPad screen and new game features such as simultaneous disaster strikes. SimCity Deluxe for iPad is scheduled for release in November.

Three new EA Sports titles have also been announced for the iPhone and iPod touch, all scheduled for release later this month. EA Sports FIFA 11 will deliver updated players, teams and stadiums to the 2010 edition, high-resolution Retina Display graphics and improved dual control options to provide advanced controls for experienced players and simplicity for casual players.

Verizon upgrading network ahead of iPhone launch?

In an update to yesterday’s story that said Apple will begin mass production of a CDMA-compliant iPhone by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon has been making preparations to launch the phone on its network. According to the updated article, Verizon Wireless has been meeting with Apple over the handset, and has been adding capacity and testing its networks in hopes of avoiding the sorts of coverage issues that plagued AT&T when the proliferation of iPhones overtaxed its network. The report goes on to note that in discussions with Apple over the original iPhone, Verizon declined to give up its ability to sell music and videos through its proprietary services; it does not clarify whether Verizon’s stance on these matters has changed. Finally, the report says that Apple originally considered making a dual-mode phone that would run on both GSM and CDMA networks, but ultimately decided to build a second iPhone that would work only with CDMA networks. Verizon is expected to launch the phone early next year, according to the report, ending AT&T’s exclusivity in the U.S.

Apple canceling iPhone 4 orders in Hong Kong

Apple has been canceling a number of iPhone 4 orders placed with the Apple Online Store in Hong Kong, according to MIC Gadget. While Apple’s cancelation emails state that the customer has exceeded the limit of units any single person is allowed to order, the report claims that some customers were not over the quantity limit, and that the cancelations did not appear to be related to stock shortages. Instead, MIC Gadget suggests that Apple is canceling the orders in the wake of last week’s incident in Beijing, where the company had to close one of its flagship stores due to a large group of scalpers attempting to purchase large quantities of iPhone 4 units to sell on the gray market, and is trying further to keep the phones out of the hands of scalpers. Interestingly, the report notes that the selling price of an iPhone 4 on the Hong Kong grey market has actually risen since news of the order cancellations broke, giving scalpers greater incentive to get their hands on iPhone 4 units.

Facebook app grabs iPhone contact info

Enabling the Contact Sync feature in the official Facebook iPhone and iPod touch application actually uploads all of a user’s contact info from the device to Facebook, a report in The Guardian reveals. Once the sync option is enabled, all of the contacts stored on the iPhone or iPod touch are uploaded to Facebook along with their names, e-mail address and phone numbers. This information is stored in the user’s Facebook Phonebook and linked to each contact’s Facebook account based on their matching e-mail addresses or phone numbers. Linked accounts are not limited to the user’s friends, however; non-friends are included and even users who have hidden their Facebook profiles from normal searches will appear linked in this view if they have listed a phone number or e-mail address on their profile. Contact information on non-Facebook users is also stored in the phonebook with the option to invite those friends to join Facebook.

Apple’s new App Store Guidelines published early last month expressly prohibit applications from transmitting “data about a user without obtaining the user’s prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used,” a restriction that could be read to apply here. Although the current version of the Facebook app does provide a warning when enabling the Contact Sync feature, this warning does not make it clear to the average user exactly how their contacts’ information will be used by Facebook beyond stating that the information will be “subject to Facebook’s Privacy Policy.” Further, other Facebook users who have privately listed their phone numbers or e-mail addresses may not be aware that this information may be used to locate their Facebook account, even when it is otherwise hidden from normal searches. iPhone users can opt-out of the Contact Sync feature by simply disabling contact sync in the Facebook app, then visiting their Facebook Phonebook page from a web browser and following the link on the right-hand side to remove mobile contacts from Facebook.

Note2Self now free, adds iOS 4 support

WebIS has released a major update to its Note2Self audio recorder application for the iPhone and iPod touch, bringing iOS 4 background recording capabilities and several other new features. First released in the summer of 2008 shortly after the debut of the App Store, Note2Self was one of the first top-rated voice recording apps for the iPhone. The application was modestly updated after release, but was soon supplanted by Apple’s Voice Memos app, which offered background recording before third-party iPhone applications could multitask. With iOS 4, Note2Self 3.0 adds background recording on multitasking-capable devices as well as recording directly in AAC format on the iPhone 3GS and later models. The new version also sports an improved user interface, proximity sensor improvements related to the “bring to your ear” activation feature, the ability to specify a custom SMTP server for sending memos out via e-mail and several other improvements and fixes. Note2Self is now supported with Apple iAds and is available from the App Store as a free download.

WSJ: Verizon iPhone to go on sale early next year

Apple is planning to start mass production of a CDMA-compliant iPhone by the end of the year, according to a new report. Citing people briefed by Apple, the Wall Street Journal reports that the timing of the production ramp-up would allow Verizon Wireless to offer the phone in the first quarter of 2011. The new iPhone is said to be similar in design to the current iPhone 4, and will use a Qualcomm chip. The report goes on to state that Apple is also developing a new fifth-generation iPhone model that will feature a different form factor than the iPhone 4, although it is unknown how soon that version would be available to Verizon.

Motorola Mobility sues Apple for patent infringement

Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Motorola, Inc., has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and certain Mac computers infringe Motorola patents. The company has also filed patent infringement complaints against Apple in the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida. According to Motorola’s announcement, the three complaints include 18 patents, which relate to “wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.” Motorola Mobility has asked the ITC to start an investigation into Apple’s potential infringement and issue an Exclusion Order barring the importation, sales, marketing, advertising, and use of such products in the U.S.; in its court cases, it is seeking to force Apple to cease using its patented technology and provide compensation for any past infringement.

Survey: One third of teens to buy iPhone within 6 months

One out of every three U.S. teenagers plans to purchase an iPhone within the next six months, according to the results of the latest Piper Jaffray bi-annual teen survey. Fortune reports that 33% of teens said they planned to purchase an iPhone in the next sixth months, up from 22% the year before; however, the 14% who said they already own an iPhone is down from 15% in 2009. The iPod’s share of the teen MP3 market also dropped from 87% a year ago down to 78%, likely due to the rise in the use of smartphones as music players, while iTunes enjoys a 95% market share among teens who pay for music online. The survey was based on responses from 6,000 U.S. high school students.

PayPal adds Mobile Check Capture

PayPal has released an update to its PayPal Mobile app for the iPhone adding a new Mobile Check Capture feature. With the new PayPal app, iPhone users in the U.S. can now deposit cheques into their PayPal account simply by taking a photograph of the check with the iPhone camera. Once the user has photographed the cheque their PayPal balance is updated immediately and they are required to hold onto the cheque for fifteen days after which they can simply throw it away. Mobile Check Capture requires an iPhone or fourth-generation iPod touch and is available only in the U.S. at this time. The updated PayPal application also includes new search and filter options for transaction history, making it easier to find past transactions. PayPal 2.7 is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple posts new Retina Display iPhone 4 commercial

Apple has posted a new iPhone 4 TV advertisement focused on the device’s Retina Display. Entitled “Every,” the spot touts the 960x640 display as the “highest resolution phone screen ever,” the 30-second spot demonstrates how the technology improves the quality of the user’s photo and movie viewing, reading, gaming, and social networking experience while using the phone. Apple’s latest iPhone 4 TV spot is available for viewing now on the company’s website.

Google adds Goggles to Mobile app

Google has released an update to the Google Mobile search app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding support for its Google Goggles search-by-image technology. Google Goggles allows users to take a picture of an object using the camera on an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS and perform a search based on the image. Goggles will analyze the image and highlight the objects it recognizes at which point the user can tap on the image to perform searches on those objects. Goggles is a Google Labs feature and remains in testing, although it reportedly works well for objects such as landmarks, logos, and the covers of books, DVDs and games. The feature requires an auto-focusing camera and is therefore only available on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS and requires iOS 4 or later. Google Mobile is available from the App Store as a free download.

iPhone 4 shipping wait estimates improve

Apple has reduced the estimated wait time for new iPhone 4 orders from its online store down to 5-7 days. The reduction—which appears to be unique to the U.S. online store, as wait times in other countries remain at three weeks—could be a sign that Apple is beginning to get its supply issues with the handset under control. During Apple’s most recent quarterly earnings conference call, COO Tim Cook repeatedly explained that the company was making iPhone 4 units as fast as it could sell them; the company has since greatly expanded the number countries in which the phone is available, potentially hindering its ability to meet demand. [via Mac Rumors]

Android tops among new smartphone purchases

Google’s Android OS has become the most popular smartphone operating system in the U.S. among recent smartphone buyers, according to new data from The Nielsen Company. From January to August, the company recorded the OS of smartphone purchases within the last six months, and found that as of August, 32% of recent smartphone purchasers had bought an Android device, followed by both Apple’s iOS and RIM’s BlackBerry OS, which are in a “statistical dead heat” for second with roughly 25%. Among all U.S. smartphone owners, BlackBerry remains the most popular OS with 31% share of the market, followed closely by iOS with 28% and Android with 19%. [via Daring Fireball]

Netflix adds video out support for iPhone, iPod touch

Netflix has released an update to its streaming video application for iOS devices adding the ability to output video content through the Dock Connector with the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. Netflix was originally released in April for the iPad and added video output support for iPad users with an update in late May. In August a new version was released that introduced iPhone and iPod touch support, however despite being a single universal application, the video output feature was unavailable when running on these devices. Netflix version 1.1.1 adds support for video output on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, however it remains unavailable on older models. Netflix is available from the App Store as a free download in the U.S. and Canadian App Stores. A Netflix Unlimited Subscription is required to use the app.

Apple loses, challenges Cover Flow-related lawsuit

Apple was recently ordered by a jury to pay damages to Mirror Worlds LLC for infringing the latter’s patents related to the display of digital documents, but is challenging the verdict. Mirror Worlds, a software business started by a Yale University computer-science professor David Gelernter, claimed that Apple’s Cover Flow and Time Machine display methods infringed on its patents, and was awarded $208.5 million in damages for each of the patents infringed. Apple has asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis for an emergency stay of the verdict, claiming that there are outstanding issues with two of the three patents, and also claimed Mirror Worlds would be “triple-dipping” if it were to collect the full $208.5 million for each of the three patents. Bloomberg reports that Davis also is considering Apple’s request, filed before the verdict, to rule that the company doesn’t infringe two of the patents, which would lead him to strike the amount of damages attributed to those two patents.

Peggle adds Peggle Nights expansion

PopCap Games has released an update to its acclaimed Peggle arcade game for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Peggle, players fire a ball into the playing field with the goal of clearing pegs from the board by hitting them with the ball either directly or rebounding off other objects. Players advance to the next level by clearing all orange pegs while other colored pegs offer additional points and power-ups. Players can choose a Quick Play mode or progress through an Adventure mode where they train with Peggle Masters and learn to use special power-ups on each level and master more complex shots. Peggle includes 55 levels and 40 Grand Master Challenges and support both single and multiplayer modes. Version 1.2 adds the sequel levels from Peggle Nights to the existing iOS game, with five Peggle Nights levels available for free and the remaining game levels unlockable via in-app purchase. The new version also adds support for French, German Italian and Spanish languages. Peggle is currently available from the App Store for $1; version 1.2 is a free update for current users. The Peggle Nights expansion is available for purchase within the app for $3.

Beijing Apple Store closes due to iPhone 4 scalpers

Apple’s flagship store in Beijing was forced to close its doors early today after a group of iPhone 4 scalpers created a chaotic scene. MIC Gadget reports that Apple removed its limitation on the number of contract-free iPhone 4 units any single customer could buy at the store, perhaps unintentionally paving the way for the problems ahead. The store opened at 7:00 a.m. local time, but closed only three hours later, with many customers left in the queue outside, unable to enter. The report claims that scalpers were entering the store and buying large quantities—20-30 units at a time—of iPhone 4s, then proceeding out into the mall and attempting to sell the units to passerby at a higher-than-retail price.

According to the report, people were literally being pushed into the cashier’s counter, some holding stacks of bank notes, prepared to buy as many iPhone 4 units as they could afford. The situation escalated when a group of regular customers got into a fight with the scalpers; Apple’s own security staff, along with local police, were called in to clear the store and restore order. An update to the article states that all four Chinese Apple Stores are now requiring each customer to show his/her identity card when purchasing an iPhone 4, and are limiting sales to just one per customer. In addition, Apple employees are unboxing the iPhone 4 units for customers and activating the phones immediately, preventing scalpers from purchasing the phones and reselling them as “brand new.”

FlightBoard provides virtual Airport Departures and Arrivals board

Mobiata, developer of FlightTrack Pro, has released FlightBoard, a virtual airport departure and arrivals board for iOS devices. FlightBoard features a design based on the Arrivals and Departures board at Charles de Gaulle Airport and allows users to turn their screen into a view of scheduled flights for just about any airport in the world, including flight status and gate numbers. FlightBoard works with over 4,000 airports and 1,400 airlines worldwide and users can quickly switch between departures and arrivals views and share flight information with friends and family via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. A search interface allows users to quickly narrow results down and get real-time status for just about any flight in the world. FlightBoard is a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices and is available from the App Store for $4.

iPhone tops smartphone satisfaction ratings

Apple has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any smartphone manufacturer, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study—Volume 2. Apple claimed the top spot for the fourth consecutive time with a score of 800 out of 1,000, doing particularly well in the areas of ease of use, operating system, features and physical design. Apple was followed closely by Motorola with a score of 791 and HTC with a score of 781. The ratings are based on experiences reported by 6,821 smartphone owners between January and June 2010.

Official Google Voice app approved, coming soon

TechCrunch reports that Apple has approved the official Google Voice application for the iPhone. Citing a “source close to Google” the article indicates that the application has already been approved and is now just waiting for Google to update it to work with the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 multitasking capabilities. Google first attempted to release a native iPhone application for its online telephony service last summer, however the application was rejected by Apple, citing duplicate functionality. Subsequently, several third-party Google Voice applications were also removed from the App Store based on the same policy—namely that these applications duplicated features that were already present on the iPhone, such as the Phone and Messaging applications.

Following Apple’s publication of a new set of guidelines for the App Store earlier this month, several of the previously rejected third-party Google Voice applications such as GV Mobile+ have made a sudden reappearance. Although no official word has yet been released on Google’s plans for its own Google Voice application for the iPhone, the company presently provides native applications for both the Blackberry and its own Android platform and merely an HTML5 web interface for iPhone users. A native application would be able to offer features that a web-based application cannot, such as Push Notifications and tighter integration with other iOS applications.

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