The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced that it will be launching an investigation into a patent infringement claim against Apple filed by Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics late last month. The complaint alleges that Apple is violating Elan’s patents related to touch-sensitive input devices with multi-touch capabilities, specifically with the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook laptops, the Magic Mouse, and the iPad. “We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple’s ongoing infringement,” Elan said at the time of the filing. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan is requesting that the ITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order, which would block Apple from importing infringing products and from selling its current stock; the company filed a lawsuit against Apple in April 2009 over the same alleged infringement.
Police are investigating possible criminal law violations related to the lost fourth-generation iPhone prototype that appeared online earlier this week. Citing an unnamed law enforcement official, Cnet reports that Apple has spoken to local police about the incident, with the investigation being handled by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. The phone in question was lost by an Apple engineer at a bar in Redwood City, CA, and was recovered by an unknown party that subsequently sold the unit to Gizmodo for a reported $5,000 bounty. Gizmodo photographed and disassembled the device, posting photos of it online and claiming it was “lost.” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has argued that both the seller and the editors of Gizmodo may be guilty of crimes related to the incident under California law; Cnet has yet to confirm whether the police probe is targeting the seller, Gizmodo, or both parties.
A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a system for wireless transportation ticketing and check-in. Entitled “System and method for transportation check-in,” the patent refers to a travel management application called “iTravel” which would allow the users to purchase, store, and use travel documents. The patent goes on to show the application being used on an iPhone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, such as RFID, which then interacts with similarly-equipped electronics throughout the travel process, such as at check-in, security checkpoints, and when boarding. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]
In a lengthy post discussing Gizmodo’s procurement of a fourth-generation iPhone prototype, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has offered up some previously-unknown details about the device, citing inside information from Apple sources familiar with the project. Referencing one of the barcodes found on the outside of the device, “N90_DVT_GE4X_0493,” Gruber writes that “N90” is Apple’s internal codename for the fourth-generation GSM iPhone, slated for release “this June or July.” The “DVT” portion of the code reportedly stands for “device verification test,” an Apple production milestone that occurs very late in a device’s development, suggesting that the unit “very closely, if not exactly” resembles what Apple plans to release.
Regarding the legality of both Gizmodo’s purchase of the device—the site claims to have paid $5,000 for the unit—and the actions of the party that sold it to the publication, Gruber suggests that California law could make the seller and possibly Gizmodo’s editors guilty of a crime. The seller, who used the Facebook application on the device to ascertain the identity of the Apple employee who lost the phone, yet failed to return it to him or his employer, may possibly be guilty of theft, while Gruber argues that Gizmodo’s editors, by purchasing a device they likely knew belonged to Apple, may be guilty of purchasing and receiving stolen property. An iLounge source has indicated that Apple is unlikely to sue Gizmodo for civil damages over the prototype, however.
A number of iPhone users are reporting a loss of Wi-Fi functionality after upgrading to software 3.1.3. Based on an Apple Support discussion thread, the problems date back to the update’s release in February, and appear to affect mostly first-generation iPhone and iPhone 3G units, although a small number of iPhone 3GS owners also claimed to have experienced the issue. Some users state that their iPhones now have the Wi-Fi option grayed out, as if no hardware exists to support it, while others say the option is there, but report failure to find/connect to any networks. As a solution, a number of the users report having had their iPhones replaced, which seems to have corrected the problem in some cases, but in others the new hardware also exhibited the issue; Apple itself has posted a support document outlining an issue where there is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth address listed on the iPhone or iPod touch, but that issue appears to be unrelated to the problems mentioned in the discussion thread.
iPhone hacker planetbeing has uploaded a video to YouTube demonstrating a version of the Android OS running on the iPhone. The hack is done through a modified version of OpeniBoot, which allows the user to select which operating system will be used to launch the phone. Once loaded, the modified Android build offers support for telephony, Wi-Fi, browsing, and media playback. Notably, the hack was performed using a first-generation iPhone; planetbeing claims that it “should be pretty simple to port forward to the iPhone 3G,” but that the iPhone 3GS “will take more work.” Continue reading to watch the video in embedded form.
Following a pair of new television advertisements for the iPhone 3GS that were posted earlier this week, Apple has added a third new spot to its online gallery. “Family Man” continues the recent trend of personal, testimonial-style narration, and describes how different members of the family use the patriarch’s iPhone for various purposes. This latest iPhone 3GS TV ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Following a change in Apple’s Phone developer SDK terms that outlawed intermediary, cross-compatibility tools from iPhone apps, an Adobe employee has responded to the new restrictions. Specifically, section 3.3.1 of the new iPhone developer terms states that “[a]pplications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool,” such as Adobe’s Packager for iPhone that ships with Flash Professional CS5, “are prohibited.” Mike Chambers, Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform, says that “[d]evelopers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store.”
Concerning the future of the company’s Flash-to-iPhone-app software, Chambers claims that the company “will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature.” Chambers adds that he doesn’t have any plans to update or maintain his existing iPhone applications, as he thinks “the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote.” A recent report suggested that Adobe may be considering legal action against Apple over its refusal to allow Flash to run on its iPhone OS devices, and this recent decision to ban iPhone apps made using Flash software. [via Digital Arts]
Announcing its first fiscal quarter 2010 financial results, U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T revealed that it activated 2.7 million of the handsets during the quarter. Taken with Apple’s sales of 8.75 million iPhones over the same period, it appears that roughly 31% of all iPhones sold during the period were sold in the U.S. By comparison, roughly 42% of iPhones sold during the year-ago quarter were sold in the U.S. Of AT&T’s 2.7 million iPhone activations, more than one-third were for customers who were new to AT&T, contributing substantially to the company’s 1.9 million net gain in total wireless subscribers.
Apple has released the second beta version of the iPhone OS 4 Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch. As with the prior beta release, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, as well as the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
Apple has posted two new iPhone 3GS TV advertisements online. Both new spots continue Apple’s recent trend of iPhone advertisements that are more testimonial in nature, while featuring a single iPhone using a variety of apps in front of a white background. “Dog Lover” features a female narrator talking about searching local dog shelters to find a new pet, taking and sharing photos, finding nearby dog parks, and checking a monitor video feed while away. “Backpacker” features a male narrator talking about a trip to Spain, during which he checked for hostels, shared pictures, and downloaded and used a translation app. Both advertisements are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Apple has been sued by a California woman over what she claims are false-positive readings on the iPhone’s moisture sensors. InformationWeek reports that Charlene Gallion of San Francisco claims to have had two separate iPhone units fail within six months of each other, and was denied warranty coverage due to triggered sensors. Gallion claims that neither of the units was ever subjected to water damage. The suit itself states, “As a result of Apple’s improper application of the Liquid-Damage Exclusion, Apple sells [devices] with the intent to exclude them from the warranty coverage Apple promises consumers it will provide—even when consumers pay extra for Extended Warranty coverage—simply because their Liquid Submersion Indicator has been triggered, without any attempt by Apple to verify whether the Class Devices actually have been damaged as a result of submersion or immersion in liquid.” Overly-sensitive moisture sensors have been a problem for some iPhone customers in the past; a report from September 2009 claimed that Apple’s company protocol when responding to a customer with a unit that has had its external sensors triggered is to say the warranty is now void and turn the customer away.
Update: Upon obtaining a copy the actual filing, iLounge has learned that Gallion has filed a class action suit, and is seeking both actual and punitive damages.
A supposed fourth-generation iPhone has been found in the wild, and has since been photographed and disassembled. Gizmodo reports that the unit was found in a bar in Redwood City, CA, in a case that made it appear to be an iPhone 3G or 3GS. While it will display a connect to iTunes screen, and is recognized by Xcode and iTunes as an iPhone — with different product identifiers than any current iPhone model — it appears the device was remotely wiped by Apple prior to Gizmodo receiving the unit, and since there is no build of the iPhone OS publicly available for this model, it is currently non-functional. The unit features a drastically different design than current iPhone models, with a thinner body, rounded corners, nearly flat aluminum sides, and a flat back plate that appears to be made of either glass or ceramic.
Notable features include a front-facing camera, a larger rear camera lens with flash, a micro-SIM slot, now mounted on the side, what appears to be a secondary microphone near the headphone jack, possibly for noise cancellation, individual volume up/down buttons, a slightly smaller, but seemingly higher resolution screen than the iPhone 3GS, and a 16% larger battery. Upon disassembly, Apple-labeled internal components were found, as well as a much smaller logic board. While it is possible that this will be the final design of the fourth-generation iPhone, it is also possible that this is simply a prototype unit; in any case, many of the new features and the overall design are expected to carry over to the final device.
In a Leader Post article discussing the roll out of the company’s new 3G network, SaskTel CEO Robert Watson said the company will begin offering the iPhone on July 1, the day the new 3G network launches. “We’re building the 3G network right now,” Watson said.. “It will be up and running for July 1st (with) completion by the end of this year. The good news is that (Apple) is coming out with a new version of the iPhone in the June time-frame and they’re going to put us on that. So we’re quite excited about that.” SaskTel, based in Saskatchewan, will become the fourth Canadian carrier to offer the device, behind Rogers/Fido, Bell, and Telus.
Update: SaskTel has issued a statement clarifying Watson’s remarks. “The comments made by the SaskTel President and CEO in a news article on April 15, 2010 were not a confirmation of a release of a new version of the iPhone. The President was commenting on information that has been reported publicly and on the Internet for several months, which has speculated on the timing of a new release.”
Adobe may be preparing to file a lawsuit against Apple over its refusal to allow Flash to run on its iPhone OS devices, and its recent decision to ban apps from the App Store created using cross-compilers such as Adobe’s Packager for iPhone OS, which debuted with Flash CS5. Citing source close to Adobe, IT World reports that the App Store policy change was the “last straw” for Adobe, despite the company’s refusal to talk about possible legal action. “We are aware of the new SDK language and are looking into it,” said Adobe spokesperson Wiebke Lips. “We continue to develop our Packager for iPhone OS technology, which we plan to debut in Flash CS5.” Adobe released Flash CS5 on April 12.
A new video posted online has revealed the new “iPod Out” functionality of iPhone OS 4.0. Shown briefly during last week’s iPhone OS 4.0 event, on a slide naming some of the software’s new features, the “iPod Out” feature wasn’t described in any detail, nor is it mentioned on Apple’s iPhone OS 4 preview page. TUAW reports that the “new application” displays a simplified, Click Wheel iPod-like interface for controlling music playback, with the entire menu system fed out to an external monitor. The report also states that the app contains iPod Accessory Protocol strings, suggesting the app might be meant for in-car use. Continue reading to watch the video in embedded form.
In a reply to a customer email, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that the original iPhone won’t be supported by future software updates. Twitter user Ven000m asked Jobs in an email if Apple would be “supporting/updating” the original iPhone in the future, to which the regularly terse Jobs replied, “sorry, no.” Apple made no mention of the original iPhone or the first-generation iPod touch during its iPhone OS 4 special event last week, where it announced that the new multitasking features would be limited to the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch, with the iPhone 3G receiving a stripped down upgrade; later comments from Jobs during a Q & A session suggested the company was ceasing support for its oldest iPhone OS devices. [via Engadget]
We’ve just finished updating our iPhone OS 4 app breakdown article with tons of new screenshots showing off the major accessibility changes in the new software. Notably, iPhone OS 4 offers a new feature called Large Text, which lets users radically increase the size of text in alerts, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes, as well as support for Braille device connection, found in the VoiceOver menu. Also found in the VoiceOver settings is support for VoiceOver Phonetics and Pitch Change, which are new to the iPhone and iPod touch but were previously found on the iPad. For more on these and other changes coming in iPhone OS 4, see our full article.
A change in the iPhone developer SDK terms has caused an uproar among some developers, including one who received a response on the matter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. At issue is section 3.3.1, which includes a statement that “[a]pplications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited.” Although there are several products that offer such a solution, this new language most notably blocks apps developed using Adobe’s Packager for iPhone, which allows developers to create cross-platform applications using Flash Professional CS5.
After explaining his disagreement to the change, developer Greg Slepak emailed Jobs, stating that there had yet to be “a single positive reaction [to the change], even from John Gruber, your biggest fan,” and adding that the iPhone’s “SDK TOS are growing on it like an invisible cancer.” Jobs responded, pointing Slepak to a post by Gruber that Jobs said “is very insightful and not negative.” Following a second email from Slepak that claimed Gruber was wrong and that Apple is in effect “limiting creativity itself,” Jobs again responded, stating simply, “[w]e’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.”
Screenshots showing off the new developer preview build of iPhone OS 4.0 have begun to appear online, including a number sent to iLounge by an anonymous source. Included below are shots illustrating the new multitasking and folders features, as well as the revised Photos app, universal mailbox, location services management, and more. If you have access to the developer preview and would like to share additional details, send your screenshots and info to news (at) ilounge.com.