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Verizon ending ‘New Every Two,’ early upgrade programs

Verizon Wireless is ending its “New Every Two” and early upgrade programs ahead of the iPhone 4’s launch. Smart Money, citing confirmation from Verizon officials, reports that the New Every Two program, which offered Verizon customers a credit of $30 to $100 toward a new phone every two years, will end on January 16. Existing customers will be able to use any existing credit after that time period, but will not be re-enrolled in the program. The end of the early upgrade program, which allowed some customers to upgrade their phones at discounted rates as early as 13 months into a two-year contract, will see those same customers waiting 20 months to get the new-customer price on handsets.

iOS 4.3: ‘Find My Friends’ feature, new devices found

Further digging into the code of the newly released iOS 4.3 beta has revealed a new MobileMe feature, as well as device keys for unannounced products. Mac Rumors reports that settings for a new feature called “Find My Friends” has been found. The strings appear to be associated with the Settings app and are related to MobileMe, suggesting Apple is planning to launch a MobileMe-based competitor to location-based services like Loopt and Google Latitude. Engadget, meanwhile, has discovered device keys for two next-generation iPhones—labeled iPhone4,1 and iPhone 4,2—as well as three next-generation iPads, labeled iPad2,1, iPad2,2, and iPad2,3. The article speculates that the new iPhone keys are for CDMA and GSM variants of the fifth-generation iPhone, while the iPad keys include CDMA and GSM variants of the iPad 3G, along with a Wi-Fi-only second-generation unit.

Apple releases first beta version of iOS 4.3 to developers (Updated x2)

Apple has released iOS 4.3 beta 1, the first beta version of its next major point release for iOS, to its paid developers. According to notes accompanying the release, the beta includes a pre-release version of future Apple TV Software so that developers can test AirPlay functionality with their 4.3 apps, meaning that users should be able to send video from apps or websites to the Apple TV under the new software. A prior report also indicated that the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature debuting on the Verizon iPhone 4 will make its way to other models under iOS 4.3, although it is unclear whether the functionality is included in this update. Separate beta versions of iOS 4.3 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

Update: TUAW reports that the new beta also includes support for new four- and five-finger gestures on the iPad. “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad,” reads Apple’s developer page for iOS 4.3. “You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps. Test them and give us your feedback on the Apple Developer Forums.”

Update x2: Mac Rumors notes that the new beta also offers an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch. The iPad originally shipped with the switch acting as a screen rotation lock, but Apple changed its behavior in iOS 4.2.

Apple’s Schiller: CDMA iPhone was ‘a lot of work’

Speaking with AllThingsD at yesterday’s Verizon iPhone press event, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller made several comments about the development of the CDMA iPhone. “It was a lot of work,” Schiller said of the two-year process, which involved months of testing and more than 1,000 prototypes. Schiller also commented on the new model’s Personal Hotspot feature, saying, “A big part of it is the software, I’d say the biggest part. It uses the hardware in different ways.” Schiller also admitted that the feature would be a boon to Wi-Fi only iPad owners looking for a way to access the Internet away from traditional Wi-Fi, saying, “It’s a good way to do it.” Verizon will launch the CDMA iPhone on its network February 10.

Flickr app adds EXIF support, uploading improvements

Flickr has released an update to its official application for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for preserving EXIF data when uploading photos as well as a number of other improvements. Flickr 1.3 now allows users to include all EXIF data from photos uploaded via the app, including date, time and the original geo-location of the photo. The update also includes a new photo picker that allows users to select up to five photos for batch uploading and improvements to background uploading on 3G connections. Users can also now adjust a photos geo location prior to uploading using a custom map view and display a map to display the location where photos were taken. The new version also improves Twitter sharing using a flic.kr short URL, removes the 42 set limit within the app and provides support for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. Flickr is available from the App Store as a free download.

Personal Hotspot coming to all iPhones in iOS 4.3?

According to various reports, the Personal Hotspot feature that debuted yesterday in the Verizon iPhone will be available to all iPhones in iOS 4.3. Citing an anonymous source, Boy Genius Report claims that the feature will be present in iOS 4.3 but will be dependent on carrier support, meaning that users on some carrier may not have access to the feature upon 4.3’s release. According to the same report, the OS version will be 8F5148b with a baseband of 04.08.00. Both iPhoneclub.nl (Translated Link) and iPhoneHellas (Translated Link) have made similar claims, stating that all current GSM iPhones will receive the feature via the iOS 4.3 update, although it is unclear whether the feature, which allows users to share their iPhones’ Internet connections with up to five other devices over Wi-Fi, will be limited to just current-generation hardware, as Apple has previously withheld certain features from older models. [via Mac Rumors]

AT&T, Verizon trade barbs over iPhone

AT&T has responded to the formal announcement of the CDMA-compliant iPhone 4 for Verizon Wireless, which has also issued a response to AT&T’s statement. Speaking with the Washington Post, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel downplayed the announcement, saying, “For iPhone users who want the fastest speeds, the ability to talk and use apps at the same time and unsurpassed global coverage, the only choice is AT&T.” Verizon responded to AT&T’s statement with a scathing response of its own. “The AT&T network can’t handle AT&T calls,” said Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson. “AT&T iPhone customers should come on over. We have built a network that will ensure their calls go through. What a nice change for iPhone lovers.” The back-and-forth statements are only the beginning of what is likely to be a hard-fought battle between the two carriers over U.S. iPhone customers.

Verizon iPhone FAQ reveals no-contract purchase option

Verizon Wireless’ new iPhone 4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page has revealed several new details about pricing and service for the upcoming device. According to the page, customers will have the option to purchase the iPhone 4 at full retail price without signing a two-year agreement, although it does not specify how much it will charge for the device. Existing Verizon customers will be able to use their “New Every Two” credit, if eligible, towards the purchase of the iPhone, but Verizon will not be offering any sort of early upgrade promotion at launch. While the document notes that iPhone customers will need to choose from any of the company’s current Nationwide voice plans, it also states that a data package will be required, and that data plan pricing will be announced at a later date. Interestingly, it says that the “iPhone will have the 3G Mobile Hotspot app pre-installed,” that the company’s VZ Navigator and V CAST Media Manager apps will be available “in the market,” and that customers will be able to use the Verizon iPhone for voice and text in over 40 countries, with data service available in 20 countries. Finally, and most likely due to the small external changes to the phone, the document states that while most existing accessories should work with the CDMA iPhone 4, “cases and covers could be different depending on the product manufacturer.”

Verizon site shows white iPhone 4, wrong specs

Despite the fact that the white model was not mentioned during today’s press event, the white version of the iPhone 4 is shown on Verizon’s website. After clicking on the “More About iPhone 4” link found on the newest iPhone carrier’s iPhone splash page, a pop-over appears with a design similar to that of the iPhone section of Apple’s website. Within the Tech Specs section of the popover, the white iPhone 4 is shown as an option under “Capacity and Color,” while the “Cellular, wireless, and location” tab shows information for the GSM variant of the device, and the images found on the “Size and weight,” “External buttons and controls,” and “Connectors, I/O and sensors” pages depict the GSM model as well, with the older antenna design visible. Apple said in October that it was delaying the launch of the white iPhone 4 until Spring 2011 without providing details as to why the device remains unavailable.

Verizon iPhone 4 coming February 10; $199/$299

Verizon Wireless and Apple have officially announced a CDMA variant of the iPhone 4. The design of the CDMA handset is similar to that of the GSM model, but features a revised antenna design with a noticeable black line above the ring/silent switch, as well as a Personal Hotspot feature that allows it to provide wireless Internet access to up to five devices at a time. Apart from CDMA and the Personal Hotspot, the phone’s feature set appears to have remained the same, with a five megapixel rear video camera, 720p HD video recording, the Retina Display, a front-facing camera, and A4 chip. Notably, due to the limitations of Verizon’s CDMA network, the device will be unable to handle simultaneous voice and data connections; neither will the CDMA version of the iPhone be exclusive to Verizon Wireless. The CDMA iPhone 4 will be available for pre-order to existing Verizon customers beginning February 3, while all other customers will be able to order starting February 10, the official launch date. Pricing is set at $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model with a new two year customer agreement.

“We are pleased to introduce millions of wireless users to the industry leading iPhone 4 on the nation’s most reliable network,” said Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon. “This is an important step for the industry as two great companies join forces to give wireless customers one of the most important technological additions to the mobile landscape this century.”

“Verizon Wireless customers have told us they can’t wait to get their hands on iPhone 4, and we think they are going to love it,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer. “We have enormous respect for the company Verizon has built and the loyalty they have earned from their customers.”

For analysis of the Verizon iPhone announcement, see our Backstage article.

Verizon iPhone event: 30 minutes long, live overview here

Verizon’s iPhone 4 announcement event is taking place live today starting at 11:00am Eastern Time. We will be updating this story as the event takes place with live news.

11:29AM: Apple is focusing now on just getting an iPhone on Verizon, rather than trying to push the envelope with speed or features. Losing simultaneous voice/data is a tradeoff Verizon customers will just have to live with. And that’s it.

11:27AM: Verizon will be aggressively competing to bring customers over to its network.

11:24AM: This is confirmed to be a multi-year, non-exclusive contract between Apple and Verizon for the CDMA iPhone. The phone has been optimized to work on a CDMA EVDO network. It cannot do voice calls and data at the same time, apparently.

11:21AM: Apple didn’t go with LTE because it couldn’t make it happen at this point in time with the iPhone 4’s design. It’s not willing to commit to how long the iPhone 4 will be the lead iPhone on any network, or when LTE will happen.

11:19AM: Q&A with Tim Cook and Dan Dee. We’ll note at this point: it does seem sort of awkward today for Verizon to offer what’s basically last year’s iPhone 4 six months later for the same price, when a new model is coming mid-year.

11:17AM: New Wi-Fi hotspot feature will let you connect up to 5 devices through the iPhone. Awesome!

11:16AM: Meanwhile, no reference to LTE support for the Verizon iPhone 4. They’re still “building out the 3G network” as they’re rolling out 4G. Feb 3 preorder for existing customers. $200 for 16GB, $300 for 32GB. Two-year contract. February 10, anyone can order online, in Verizon stores, and in Apple Stores.

11:13AM: Dan Dee from Verizon out to discuss the launch. Says that the shipping and inventory systems at Verizon have been scaled up to handle the demand that’s anticipated, a clear jab at AT&T, which repeatedly failed to handle iPhone launches with issues all up the chain. Network is ready for the iPhone, has been tested and can handle it.

11:11AM: It has CDMA support, FaceTime, Retina Display - all the features that you’d expect. Note from iLounge: We’ve heard from sources that the new antenna design can lead to what’s being referred to as the “death hug” instead of the “death grip”—hold it in landscape mode to attenuate the signal. We’ll have to check this out.

11:09AM: Tim Cook from Apple takes the stage. Black iPhone 4 shown in image, slight differences in side metal.

11:08AM: iPhone 4 available early in February.

11:07AM: In 2008 discussions started about CDMA version of iPhone, and they spent a year testing it.

11:06AM: Discussing the “armada” of Verizon’s LTE devices, says they’re partnering now with giant Apple.

11:04AM: Suggests that the speed of Verizon’s LTE network is more akin to “6G” than “4G” in performance.

11:02AM: Boasts that “network quality is the hallmark of the Verizon brand,” and says two innovators are coming together. Talking up Verizon’s varied broadband assets. Looks like a series of verbal delays here so that the iPhone can officially be announced at 11:11AM on 1/11/11 rather than, say, 11:04.

11:00AM: Lowell Macadam, Verizon Wireless CEO, takes the stage. Initially hints at confirming long-awaited announcement of iPhone coming to Verizon.

Several pre-event notes: rumors swirling prior to the event suggested that Verizon may receive an exclusive on the as-yet-unreleased white iPhone 4, that the company may receive a CDMA/GSM/LTE “4G world phone” that’s more powerful than the versions Apple and AT&T have previously been selling, and that the price of the new version may be adjusted.

AT&T exec blasts Verizon ahead of iPhone launch

Speaking in a recent interview, AT&T’s head PR executive has taken a shot at the Verizon iPhone prior to its announcement. “The iPhone is built for speed, but that’s not what you get with a CDMA phone,” AT&T’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Larry Solomon told Business Insider. “I’m not sure iPhone users are ready for life in the slow lane.” Solomon went on to say that AT&T’s GSM technology is faster than Verizon’s CDMA technology; the same could not be said for Verizon’s new Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which the company launched late last year. Verizon Wireless is expected to announce the Verizon iPhone at a press event later today.

Apple drops restock fees, iPhone 3GS price

Following in the footsteps of its retail partners, Apple has officially dropped the price on the 8GB iPhone 3GS, while a new report suggests the company its dropping its standard restocking fee. The 8GB iPhone 3GS is now available for $49 directly from Apple with a two-year contract; the move was widely expected, as retailers such as AT&T, Radio Shack, and Best Buy were already offering a similar discount on the device. In addition, 9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple is dropping its standard 10% restocking fee beginning tomorrow. While the report indicates that the 14 day return policy will remain in place, the absence of the restocking fee will allow potential iPhone customers to purchase both the AT&T and Verizon versions of the device and test them during the return window to see which works best for them, then return the unwanted version without penalty.

Verizon to hold 1/11/11 iPhone 4 media event

Confirmed by The Wall Street Journal as Verizon’s official launch gathering for the iPhone 4, an otherwise ambiguous media event was announced today via an ugly, heavily compressed digital invitation sent out by the wireless carrier rather than Apple. The event will take place on January 11, 2011 at 11:00am in New York City, and will most likely feature an on-stage appearance by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as well as the debut of a modestly redesigned version of the current-generation iPhone 4. Parts leaks have shown a new antenna system that seemingly will be less susceptible to the “death grip” signal issues experienced by AT&T iPhone 4 users, confirming earlier reports that Apple quickly sought to redesign the device’s central frame despite downplaying reports of signal strength problems before and during a July, 2010 “Antennagate” media event.

Rumors of an iPhone with support for one of Verizon’s networks have been gathering steam for literally years, following a reported rebuffing of Apple by the United States’ largest cellular provider prior to the original iPhone’s release. It is unclear whether Apple, which famously guarded the original iPhone and its sequels against carrier badging or pre-installed applications of any sort, will make concessions to the notoriously bloatware- and badge-demanding Verizon akin to the ones that have seen numerous other devices receive the carrier’s red markings and software; similarly unknown is whether Apple will be offering the iPhone as a purely CDMA device, with 4G LTE support like recent Android phones, or as a multi-mode phone with GSM roaming support.

AT&T to cut iPhone 3GS price to $49

AT&T will lower its pricing for the 8GB iPhone 3GS to $49, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The report claims that AT&T will lower the price from $99 to $49 with a two-year contract due to increasing competition in the smartphone space. Also mentioned as a contributing factor is Verizon’s impending launch of the iPhone, which will signal the end of AT&T’s exclusivity in the U.S. The company will join other retailers, such as Walmart and Best Buy, in discounting the iPhone

Verizon iPhone 4 parts appear online?

New images and a video showing what appear to be altered iPhone 4 metal bands have appeared online, leading to speculation that the new parts are for the yet to be announced Verizon iPhone. SmartPhone Medic has posted photos it received from “a very reliable source” that shows many small changes, including four black bands as opposed to three—several of which have been repositioned—as well as a slight repositioning of the volume buttons and ring/silent switch. Curiously, the new part retains the SIM card slot of the current iPhone 4, suggesting that if the band is indeed from a Verizon iPhone, it will offer both CDMA and GSM functionality. GlobalDirectParts posted a video of what appears to be the same side panel, showing off the piece in detail before ending with a shot of what appears to be a fully assembled product, with the promise of more information next week. While it’s possible that the part is from an iPhone 4 clone, it appears to be very similar to the current generation’s side panel, lending credence to the idea that it is meant for an iPhone 4 that has been revised in some way.

Navigon and Audi provide free CES 2011 Navigation app

Navigon, developer of the MobileNavigator series of turn-by-turn navigation apps for iOS devices has released a free navigation application for the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in partnership with Audi. Based on MobileNavigator, Audi Las Vegas Navigator is designed to help CES visitors navigate around the Las Vegas area and includes maps for the state of Nevada and all of the core features of MobileNavigator. Users can take advantage of voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, lane guidance and point of interest information for hotels, restaurants and attractions around Las Vegas. Connected services such as google Local Search, Weather Live and location sharing via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail are also included, as well as a pedestrian mode for walking directions. Audi Las Vegas Navigator is available as a free download from the App Store for a limited time.

Nielsen: Apple retains smartphone OS lead in U.S.

According to November 2010 data from The Nielsen Company, Apple has retained its lead in the U.S. smartphone market despite the significant gains made by Android OS. The data, as published by GigaOM, shows Apple’s iOS leading the U.S. smartphone market with a 28.6 percent share, up slightly from 27.9 percent in October. RIM’s BlackBerry OS fell from 27.4 percent in October to 26.1 percent in November, while Android OS jumped to 25.8 percent in November, up from 22.7 percent in October and 15 percent in June. Notably, these numbers represent overall market and not just new purchases; Android OS is leading among recent acquirers with a 40.8 percent share, compared to iOS with 26.9 percent and RIM with 19.2 percent. The report suggests that the numbers show an inability on RIM’s part to connect with new users, while Android’s growth could put it on track to pass iOS within the next few months; the report also notes that the release of an iPhone on Verizon should boost iPhone sales and could therefore alter the near-term market share trajectories of both iOS and Android. [via MDN]

 

2011 brings iPhone alarm failures, fix offered

Reader reports have confirmed a 2011-related alarm clock bug affecting iPhones running iOS 4.2.1—and possibly other iOS devices—in which one-time alarms fail to go off after having been set, a problem noticed first by New Zealand and Australian users as their clocks rolled over to the New Year, followed soon thereafter by Twitter postings and discussions of the alarm failures. Until Apple fixes the bug, a suggested workaround is to set every alarm to be recurring rather than one-time, then disable the alarm once it has sounded. [via Engadget]

Skype 3.0 adds video calling

Skype Software has released an update to its popular voice-over-IP telephony app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding much-anticipated support for Skype-to-Skype video calls. Skype 3.0 now allows Skype users to make two-way video calls between other video-capable Skype apps over either Wi-Fi or 3G. iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch users can place bi-directional video calls to other compatible iOS devices or Skype desktop users on Mac OS X or Windows. Users of the iPad and older iPod touch devices are able to receive one-way video calls from video-capable Skype clients but cannot send video due to the lack of a camera on these devices. Video calls are supported in both portrait and landscape orientations and requires a device using iOS 4.0 or later. Skype video is not supported on the iPhone 3G. Skype 3.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.

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