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Verizon announced 4G LTE rollout, phones coming mid-2011

Verizon Wireless today announced its rollout plans for its new 4G, Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The network, which will officially launch on December 5, will offer service to 38 major metropolitan areas in the U.S.—as well as supplemental coverage at major airports—and download speeds of five to 12 megabits per second, with upload speeds of two to 5 Mbps. The new network will initially be available only to those using one of two USB modems with 3G backward compatibility; Verizon is pricing data service at $50/mo. for 5GB of data or $80/mo. for 10GB of data with a $10/GB overage fee. Notably, Verizon says it expects consumer-oriented phones to be available in mid-2011, essentially ruling out LTE for any potential iPhone launch earlier in the year. To view the complete list of cities and airports to receive initial coverage, follow the link above.

Nielsen: iPhone, BlackBerry tied at top of smartphone market

According to October 2010 data released today by The Nielsen Company, Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry are in a statistical dead heat for the lead in the U.S. smartphone market. The iPhone has a slight edge, with 27.9 percent of the market compared to BlackBerry’s 27.4 percent; Google’s Android OS sits in third with 22.7 percent. Both iPhone and Android hold a significant lead when it comes to the most desired smartphone operating system, with 30 percent of mobile users planning to upgrade to a smartphone in the next year choosing iPhone and 28 percent choosing Android, while only 13 percent said they were most likely to purchase a BlackBerry. Broken down further, women were more likely to choose an iPhone over an Android device, 30.9 percent to 22.8 percent, while men were more likely to choose Android, with Google’s OS accounting for 32.6 percent of responses, compared to 28.6 percent for iPhone. iPhone also held an edge in the 18-24, 25-34, and 55+ age groups, and was more desirable to current smartphone owners than owners of featurephones.

Steve Jobs confirms AirPlay for Safari, 3rd-party apps?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly responded to a customer email, saying the company hopes to expand the scope of its AirPlay streaming feature in 2011. Mac Rumors reports that a reader emailed Jobs, asking whether Apple planned to make AirPlay video streaming available in Safari and to third-party app developers. In typically terse fashion, Jobs supposedly responded, “Yep, hope to add these features to AirPlay in 2011.” The inability to stream video from Safari or third-party apps, as well as the inability to stream videos shot on an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS directly to an Apple TV, have been discussed as major shortcomings of AirPlay.

iPhone leads in smartphone owner loyalty

The iPhone leads the smartphone industry in owner loyalty, according to a new study. Citing a survey by German market research company GfK, Reuters reports that just 25 percent of planned to stay loyal to the operating system running on their phone, with Apple grabbing the highest loyalty rating at 59 percent. Apple was followed by RIM—35 percent of BlackBerry users said they would stay loyal—then Android at 28 percent, 24 percent for Symbian users, and just 21 percent for Microsoft Windows Phone users. “Loyalty with a handset is a lot more complicated these days in that people buy into experiences at the high-end level,” said Ryan Garner, the lead analyst on the survey. “If a phone doesn’t do what it says it will do or what the owner hopes it will do, the maker will lose loyalty.” GfK conducted the survey of 2,653 mobile phone users in Brazil, Germany, Spain, Britain, the United States and China online during October and November.

Apple hiring away RIM enterprise sales staffers

Apple has added five former employees of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) to its enterprise sales team according to a new report. Citing multiple LinkedIn accounts, Dow jones Newswires reports that five members of RIM’s enterprise sales team have left the company to join Apple, including Geoff Perfect, a five-year RIM employee who served as Head of Strategic Sales and left the company for Apple in April 2009; Perfect now serves as Head of Enterprise iPhone Sales. Four other former RIM employees now hold positions as iPhone and/or iPad sales representatives in New England, New York City, and Canada. Apple confirmed that all five are now working in enterprise sales at the company, but declined to offer any specifics as to their positions.

China Unicom claims more than 1 million iPhone users

China Unicom, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in China, has claimed that it now has over one million iPhone users under contract. Citing a client note from Deutsche Bank which quoted China Unicom directly, Fortune reports that 73% of Unicom’s iPhone users are also users of the company’s largest competitor, China Mobile, a stat gleaned from the company’s standard procedure of asking for customers’ current numbers when signing them up for a new plan. According to the report, 35-38% of those users on both networks say they plan to continue using both carriers for another six months; the average iPhone user provides 260 yuan (roughly $39) to China Mobile, compared to 134 yuan for regular 3G users and 39.8 yuan for customers who stick with the company’s 2G network.

Apple releases iOS 4.2 for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

As expected, Apple has released iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The anticipated update, announced during Apple’s September iPod event, brings iOS 4 features such as multitasking and folders to the iPad for the first time, while also adding new features like AirPlay wireless media streaming and AirPrint wireless printing to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Notably, the software update requires iTunes 10.1, and is available now for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch via the Update feature in iTunes.

Apple to offer free Find My iPhone to some users

Apple has announced that alongside today’s release of iOS 4.2, users of the iPad, iPhone 4, and fourth-generation iPod touch will receive free Find My iPhone service. Previously limited to users who have a paid MobileMe account, Find My iPhone lets users locate missing devices, have them display messages or play sounds, and remotely wipe or lock lost devices. For users that don’t have a MobileMe account, the feature will use their standard Apple IDs instead. Apple is expected to release iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch later today.

iOS 4.2 for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch coming later today

Apple has announced that it will release iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch later today. Announced during Apple’s September media event, the update will bring previously iPhone- and iPod touch-exclusive features like multitasking and a unified Mail inbox to the iPad, and will also add new features like AirPlay streaming and AirPrint wireless printing to all three devices. Apple is expected to release iOS 4.2 around 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Parrot announces AR.Pursuit game for AR.Drone

Parrot has announced the first game app for its AR.Drone iPhone-controlled quadricopter released earlier this year. AR.Pursuit is a two-player game that allows AR.Drone users to conduct augmented-reality dogfights using their iOS devices and the integrated cameras on their AR.Drones. In the game, one player takes on the role of pursuer and attempts to target and shoot down their opponent who must try to escape and survive as long as possible without being hit. The pursuer uses virtual weapons including an automatic machine gun and missiles to target and attack their fleeing opponent, with the AR.Drone physically reacting to virtual attacks making escape more difficult. The pursued/pursuer roles automatically switch after each successful missile strike or at a half-time point in the game and the winner is the player who survives the longest without being shot down. AR.Drones are identified using the different colour outdoor hulls or stickers than can be placed on the indoor hull, and a Bluetooth connection is used between iOS devices for multiplayer support. AR.Pursuit is expected to be available in the App Store by the end of November.

THQ launches Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner

THQ Wireless has released a new Star Wars Arcade game for the iPhone and iPod touch featuring augmented reality technology. Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner puts players in the Millennium Falcon’s gun turret where they must blast their way through waves of TIE fighters and Star Destroyers across over 20 arcade-style levels based on the Star Wars movies. The game includes legendary missions such as the Death Star escape, the asteroid field pursuit over Hoth and the infamous Kessel Run. iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch users can also engage an optional augmented reality mode that allows players to use the device’s camera to overlay enemy fighters on top of real-world surroundings and control movement with 360-degree full body motion using the device’s accelerometer/compass or gyroscope. A coming free update will also allow users to take and share augmented reality photos from within the Falcon’s turret. The game is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod touch and requires iOS 4.1 or later with an iPad version scheduled for release in December. Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple seeds iOS 4.2.1 GM amid reports of VoIP bug

Apple has seeded a new Gold Master version of iOS 4.2, labeled iOS 4.2.1, to developers. Unlike the secondary GM seed of iOS 4.2 released exclusively for the iPad, this new build is available for all capable devices, including the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch. While it is unclear whether Apple now plans to skip a general release of iOS 4.2 and go directly to iOS 4.2.1, an email from Toktumi, makers of the Line2 VoIP application, suggests a communications bug may have led Apple to release the new build. According to the email, reprinted by Mac Rumors, the GM version of iOS 4.2 contained a “severe” bug that caused any VoIP app running in the background to continuously ring after receiving an incoming call, even after the call is answered. The email states that Apple Developer Support is aware of the bug; it is unknown whether iOS 4.2.1 includes a fix for the issue. iOS 4.2.1 GM is available as a download for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

Magellan RoadMate adds iOS 4 multitasking, traffic info

Magellan has released an update to its RoadMate turn-by-turn GPS navigation app for the iPhone adding support for background navigation on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices, traffic information and several other new features. RoadMate 1.3 now allows iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 users to continue to receive voice guidance instructions while using another application and provides uninterrupted navigation even while on a phone call. The new version also now includes real-time traffic information with no additional in-app purchase or subscription required. Traffic data is provided by NAVTEQ and displays both incident information as well as general traffic flow for a given route. Additional new features include the ability to share points of interest and routes via e-mail, receive offers and coupons for nearby businesses and navigate while listening to music with intelligent volume fading during voice guidance. RoadMate is also compatible with the iPod touch when used with Magellan’s Premium Car Kit. Magellan RoadMate is currently available from the App Store in three versions based on the number of included maps: Magellan RoadMate North America ($45), Magellan RoadMate USA ($35) and Magellan RoadMate Canada & Alaska ($30).

FlightTrack adds SeatGuru and terminal maps

Mobiata has released a major update to its FlightTrack application for tracking live flight status. FlightTrack 4.0 sports a completely redesigned interface with tabs to improve organization of information about each individual flight and adds a delay forecast graph and a full display of scheduled, estimated and actual times for gate departure, takeoff, landing and gate arrival. The new version also now includes SeatGuru map integration to allow users to find the best seats on their flights and adds more detailed information about flights that have been diverted from their original destination airport. FlightTrack Pro users can now also display full-screen airport terminal maps within the app. The update also provides a number of fixes regarding weather updates and keeping displayed data up to date. FlightTrack is available in both standard and Pro versions; FlightTrack ($5) includes a full set of flight tracking features including weather radar, gate and baggage claim information, flight delay forecasts and SeatGuru charts; FlightTrack Pro adds the new terminal maps feature as well as push notifications, FAA airport delay and closure information and TripIt synchronization. Both apps are universal and require an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 3.0 or later.

Google launches iOS Google Docs editing

Google has launched a new feature giving iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users the ability to edit Google Docs directly from their devices. According to a post on the official Google Mobile blog, users simply need to visit docs.google.com in their browser, select the document they’d like to edit, and press the “Edit” button to begin editing. The post notes that the features will be rolled out to English-language users around the world in the next few days, and are compatible with all iOS devices running software version 3.0 or later.

id Software releases Rage for iOS

id Software has released Rage, its highly-anticipated first-person rail shooter for the iOS platform. Announced earlier this month, Rage for iOS is built on the same Tech 5 game engine that is being used for the upcoming PC/console game. The iOS version provides a subset of the full game built around the Mutant Bash TV combat game show from the Rage world. Rage HD for iOS is an on-rails shooter that takes the player through a wasteland stalked by mutants where they must collect weapons, ammo and power-ups to survive. The game provides three different levels and four degrees of difficulty plus specific Mutant Bash TV challenges throughout each level.

Rage for iOS is available in two versions: Rage and Rage HD, however unlike most other “HD” games, Rage HD is not the iPad version; both are in fact universal applications that simply provide different quality graphics. iPad, iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch users will be able to take advantage of higher-resolution textures in Rage HD, although this version is also compatible with the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch. The standard version of Rage is compatible with any iOS device running iOS 3.1 or later. Both applications are available on the App Store and are large compared to most iOS games: Rage ($1) is a 540MB download while Rage HD ($2) weighs in at just under 750MB.

Apple touts battery life in new iPhone 4 spot

Apple has posted a new iPhone 4 TV advertisement on its website, touting the handset’s lithium polymer battery. Entitled “Longer,” the spot states that the battery lets users work, play, laugh, listen, shoot, edit, share, update, download, read, write, and FaceTime longer, while showing off various features of the iPhone 4 and iOS 4. The ad finishes by proclaiming the iPhone 4 “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” Apple’s new iPhone 4 advertisement is available for viewing on the company’s website.

Twitter adds Push Notifications

Twitter has released an update to its official client for iOS devices adding support for Push Notifications and several other improvements and fixes. Twitter 3.2 now allows users to optionally receive Push Notifications for mentions and direct messages for some or all of their Twitter accounts and users can choose whether to receive notifications when they’re mentioned by any user on Twitter or only by those users that they are following. The new version also improves the display of shortened URLs, adds more Retina Display graphics for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch and simplifies the process of enabling geotagging. For the iPad, the new version also adds inline media support, the ability to manage saved searches and several UI improvements. Twitter is a universal app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and is available from the App Store as a free download.

EA releases Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

Electronic Arts has released Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, its latest installment in the popular racing game franchise. In Hot Pursuit, players take on the role of a cop chasing down street racers while driving cop versions of real-world high-performance police cars such as the Lamborghini Revention. Players can participate in quick races or undertake a career mode starting out as a rookie cop and progressing through 24 cop career events to reach the top of the ranks. In addition to 15 high-speed police cars, players have a variety of weapons at their disposal to catch racers including roadblocks, spike strips and even EMP locks. Players can challenge their friends to Cop-vs-Racer showdowns over local Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with a choice of five cop cars and five racer cars to play with. The game includes high-resolution Retina Display graphics for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch with a variety of detailed racing environments and night, day and dusk scenarios. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is available from the App Store for $5.

Google releases official Google Voice app

Google has released its much-anticipated official Google Voice app for the iPhone. Originally announced last summer, Google’s first attempt at a native Google Voice app for iOS was rejected by Apple, citing duplicate functionality with the built-in Phone application. Following Apple’s publication of a new set of guidelines for the App Store in September, Google reportedly resubmitted the app and received approval from Apple, however more work was required to provide support for the iPhone 4 and multitasking capabilities in iOS 4, delaying the application’s final release until this week.

Although an HTML5 web application has been available for Google Voice for some time to allow users to place calls, access voice mail and send text messages, the new official Google Voice application provides tighter integration with iOS allowing users to receive push notifications of new messages, make use of direct access numbers to more quickly place phone calls and access contacts from the iPhone Address Book. The application requires a Google Voice account and an iPhone running iOS 3.1 or later; it is not compatible with the iPod touch or iPad. Google Voice is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.

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