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AT&T drops prices on iPhone 4 refurbs

AT&T has lowered its pricing on refurbished iPhone 4 units. Previously priced at $149 for 16GB units and $249 for 32GB models, the U.S. iPhone carrier is now offering both at $50 discounts, or $99 and $199, respectively. In addition, AT&T is offering “cosmetic blemish” units, with 16GB models going for $79 and 32GB models selling for $179. Similar discounts are being offered on 8GB iPhone 3GS units, with standard refurbished models selling for $29 and cosmetic blemish units selling for $19. All prices require minimum data service starting at $15 a month, as well as a new two-year contract and activation. [via BGR]

Alcatel-Lucent company sues Apple, others over video patents

Multimedia Patent Trust (MPT), a subsidiary of telecom firm Alcatel-Lucent, has filed suit against Apple, Canon, LG, and TiVo, claiming patent infringement. Paid Content reports that MPT is claiming the companies violate four of its patents relating to digital video compression technologies, including MPEG-2 and two different varieties of MPEG-4. The company is seeking royalty payments on all “video-capable” Apple products, including iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Macs. As the report notes, the MPEG-LA was set up to collect royalties on all relevant digital video patents, but that doesn’t stop companies such as Alcatel-Lucent from suing for royalties years after negotiations are completed.

Camera+ returns to App Store with version 2.0

Popular iPhone camera app Camera+ has returned to the App Store with the release of version 2.0. Camera+ was previously removed from the App Store without any explanation following the discovery hidden hardware shutter control feature that violated Apple’s SDK guidelines for iOS developers. While it was expected at the time that the app would return shortly thereafter with the hidden feature removed, the app remained conspicuously absent from the App Store for several months with no further explanation from the developer or Apple.

Camera+ has now returned in version 2.0, introducing a number of significant new features including sliders for adjusting effect amounts, support for exporting geolocation information and other metadata when saving photos to the Camera Roll and viewing extended photo info including maps with location information. Version 2.0 also provides a more intuitive, redesigned user interface and removes the “SLR” screen for simplicity. Photos can now be rotated and flipped within the app and most of the existing effects have been improved in addition to dozens of new effects and borders which have been added. Additional analog-themed effects can also be purchased for $1 from within the application. A complete list of new features and examples of the new effects can be found on Taptaptap’s Blog. Camera+ 2.0 is a free update for users of the previous version and is currently available from the App Store for a limited-time sale price of $1 for new users.

MobileNavigator adds iPad support, Zagat Guide

Navigon has released an update to its turn-by-turn GPS navigation apps adding native iPad support, optional Zagat guide integration and a new Active Lane Assistant feature. MobileNavigator 1.7 is now a universal app supporting the iPhone and iPad 3G natively, the first major GPS navigation app to provide universal support in a single app. iPod touch and iPad Wi-Fi users can also use MobileNavigator with an external GPS accessory. Users can also now take advantage of additional travel and restaurant guides through Zagat via an in-app purchase, providing ratings, reviews and directions to restaurants, hotels and other attractions from the Zagat Guide, integrated directly into the POI database.

The update also introduces a new optional Active Lane Assistant feature that provides a live lane animation in the lower-right corner of the map view, displaying the current lane configuration and indicating which lane the driver should follow. Additional new features include e-mail sharing of favourites between multiple iOS devices and a new MyReport feature that allows users to report road changes such as names, new speed limits and one-way streets directly from within the app such as names. Navigon MobileNavigator is available from the App Store in several versions for different geographic areas: MobileNavigator North America is currently available for $45, with U.S. and Canada versions available separately for $35 each. Region-specific U.S. versions are $25 and MobileNavigator Europe is $75. Prices for other areas around the world range from $40 to $65. Zagat content is available via in-app purchase for $6; Active Lane Assistant and Zagat content are not available in all areas.

Apple releases iPhone Configuration Utility 3.2

Apple has released version 3.2 of its iPhone Configuration Utility for Mac and Windows, the latest version of its iPhone configuration management utility for enterprise users. The utility allows enterprise users to create configuration profiles which can then be used to setup multiple iPhones. It is currently unknown what, if any, changes are included in the update. iPhone Configuration Utility 3.2 for Mac OS X requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later; the Windows version requires Windows 7, Vista SP1, or XP SP3, along with .NET 3.5 SP1. Both are available now as free downloads. [via AppleInsider]

Apple airs holiday iPhone 4 commercial

Apple has begun airing a holiday-themed iPhone 4 commercial. Entitled “Under The Covers” and set to “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, the ad—shot in the style of Apple’s original FaceTime iPhone 4 spots—shows a mother and son on a FaceTime call with Santa. As the mother leaves the room, the young boy covers up with his bedsheet and continues talking to “Santa,” who is revealed to actually be the son’s father, calling from the family’s garage. Apple’s new iPhone 4 commercial is available for viewing now on the company’s website.

Apple releases iAd Producer to developers

Apple has released its new iAd Producer tool to members of the iOS developer program. According to Apple, iAd Producer “automatically manages the HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript behind your iAd to make creating beautiful, motion-rich iAd content as easy as point and click,” and offers project templates for both the iPhone and iPad. Other features include a visual designer, page templates, pre-built animations and effects, advanced JavaScript editing, and more. iAd Producer is available now as a free download from iOS developer program members. [via Mac Rumors]

Sam’s Club stores offering iPhone 4 for $147 this week? (Updated)

Sam’s Club stores in the U.S. will be offering the 16GB iPhone 4 for just $147 with a two-year contract through Christmas Day, according to a new report. Citing information and a matching screenshot from an anonymous source, Engadget reports that the 8GB iPhone 3GS will see a similar discount, and will sell for $47 on contract until the holiday. Notably, the iPhone 4 price would represent the cheapest of the season, beating out Radio Shack’s prior discount by two dollars; the report does not indicate whether Sam’s will be offering a similar discount on 32GB iPhone 4 units.

Update: Walmart, which owns Sam’s Club, is offering a $50 Gift Card with the purchase of a new 8GB iPhone 3GS or 16GB iPhone 4.

Sharp to build new LCD production lines for iPhone

Sharp plans to spend 100 billion yen (roughly $1.2 billion) to build production lines for small and midsized LCDs, the bulk of which Apple is expected to purchase for use in the iPhone, according to a new report. Citing the Nikkei business daily, Reuters reports that Sharp will begin installing the lines at a Mie Prefecture plant next year, with mass production expected to begin in the second half of 2012. Apple is expected to shoulder a large portion of the investment and buy most of the LCD panels produced; Toshiba is also said to be building a new LCD plant primarily to supply small panels to Apple, which hopes to expand procurement in order to help it gain market share in the smartphone market.

iPad, iPhone play part in insider trading sting

An executive at Flextronics, a parts supplier to Apple, passed on secret information about the iPad and iPhone 4 before their announcements, according to a new report. Citing a 39-page legal complaint lobbied against Walter Shimoon, a senior director of business development at Flextronics, and three other men, the Wall Street Journal reports that Shimoon shared information about Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod with an unnamed government informant. “They [Apple] have a code name for something new…It’s, it’s totally…it’s a new category altogether. And, uh, I speculate, it doesn’t have a camera in it, what I figured out. So I speculated that it’s probably a reader…Something like that…I believe it’s called…K48,” Shimoon told the informant in October 2009, nearly four months before the iPad’s introduction. During the same call, Shimoon said that Apple was working on a new version of the iPhone that would include two cameras; the iPhone 4 was launched eight months later. Shimoon is also said to have provided information about Apple sales figures for the iPhone for the third quarter of 2009, and sales forecasts for the iPhone and iPod for the fourth quarter of 2009.

Star Walk Christmas Edition tracks Santa, adds AirPrint support

Vito Technology has released an updated Christmas Edition of its interactive astronomy guide apps for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In keeping with the holiday season, the update adds the ability to track Santa Claus’ journey on Christmas Eve, including the ability to fast-forward to December 24th using the application’s Time Machine feature to find out where Santa will be in advance of the big day. The new version also adds AirPrint support for printing sky maps with stars and constellations, new star catalogues including more information on spectral class and distance from the Earth and expanded details on interesting satellites including launch dates and stories. Star Walk is available in two versions: Star Walk for the iPhone and iPod touch sells for $3 while Star Walk for iPad is sold separately for $5.

Rogers/Fido now unlocking iPhones for $50 fee

Rogers/Fido have instituted a new handset unlocking policy which allows eligible owners of the iPhone to have their handsets unlocked for a $50 fee. According to an iPhone in Canada report, customers wanting to take advantage of the unlocking service must have an account in good standing, and have paid the unsubsidized cost for the device at least 30 days prior or have finished their contract. In addition, the device to be unlocked must be listed in their equipment history. The report indicates that the unlocking service is handled by Rogers Customer Care, and that once set up, the user simply needs to restore the device and it will be unlocked via iTunes.

Nokia files 13 new patent complaints against Apple

Nokia has filed a total of 13 new patent complaints against Apple in Europe, representing the latest chapter in a legal battle that started over one year ago. According to a Reuters report, the new complaints were filed in Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, and accuse Apple of infringing on Nokia patents related to several technologies, including touch user interfaces, on-device app stores, signal noise compression, and modular structure. “The Nokia inventions protected by these patents include…a wiping gesture on a touch screen to navigate content, or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than ten years before the launch of the iPhone,” Paul Melin, vice president of Intellectual Property at Nokia, said in a statement. “These actions add 13 further Nokia patents to the 24 already asserted against Apple in the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Delaware and Wisconsin Federal courts.”

Nokia first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”

The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents. The ITC case between the two companies is ongoing, but ITC staff issued a pre-trial memo stating that Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple’s patents. A recent report indicated that Apple has been bolstering its legal team ahead of key battles with Nokia, as well as HTC and Motorola.

Apple grabs top 5 spot in Japanese cellphone market

Apple has risen to fifth place in the Japanese cellphone market, according to new data from IDC Japan. Citing the data, The Mainichi Daily News reports that Apple grabbed a 12.2 percent share of the Japanese cellphone market over the July-September period, good for fifth place behind local companies Sharp, Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Kyocera, the former of which led the market with an 18.8 percent share. Notable beyond the challenges faced by foreign companies in Japan is the fact that the numbers include all cellphones, not just smartphones, and that the iPhone is offered by only one Japanese carrier—SoftBank—which is the third-largest in the country, behind market leader NTT DoCoMo and KDDI. [via MDN]

Apple removes iOS jailbreak detection API

Apple has quietly removed or disabled an API meant to allow security software to detect jailbroken devices from afar, only months after adding it to iOS. NetworkWorld reports that the API, introduced in iOS 4.0, was part of a bundle of mobile device management APIs, but is not functional under iOS 4.2. In simple terms, the API allowed security software to remotely query the OS to see if it had been compromised, but according to one security engineer, the API was simple one piece of a larger set of checks used to determine jailbreak status. “We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Joe Owen, vice president of engineering at Sybase, which offers Afaria device management software. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Owen added that the API itself might not have been 100 percent reliable, as certain jailbreak routines could have compromised its functionality. “It’s an interesting concept - asking the OS to tell you if it has been compromised,” he added. “Because a smart attacker might first change that very part of the OS. Jailbreaks often get better and better at disguising the fact that anything has been compromised.” Enterprises used the API, and still employ other jailbreak detection techniques, to block jailbroken devices from accessing potentially sensitive corporate data. Apple has yet to acknowledge the change in API status or give any reason for its apparent removal.

LTE-capable iPhone to launch on Verizon soon?

Apple plans to announce an LTE-capable iPhone on Verizon Wireless “right after Christmas,” according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source believed to be familiar with the matter, MacDailyNews reports that Verizon held management training for iPhone sales last week, and had functioning, LTE-capable units in management hands during the sessions. The report also states that the device has been finished for “quite a while” and is already to shipping in bulk to Verizon warehouses; the device is reportedly not shipping to any third-party retailers in an effort to contain leaks. Due to the limited LTE coverage currently offered by Verizon, the phone will have multi-band chip backward compatibility with regular CDMA networks, but will be promoted as the only “LTE iPhone,” and will be a Verizon exclusive. Furthermore, the report claims that the iPhone 5 was planned to debut in summer 2011 as an LTE-only handset for all contracted carriers, but LTE coverage is not expected to be widespread enough for an LTE-only launch; Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to be upset that carriers cannot seem to get LTE rolled out more quickly, and the company is reportedly “helping” U.S. carriers to speed up their build outs of LTE technology.

Notably, MacDailyNews states that the information has yet to be independently confirmed. Apple has traditionally taken a conservative approach when it comes to including cutting-edge connectivity options in its products—for example, the original iPhone launched without support for available 3G networks, and Apple has not supported next-generation wired or wireless standards such as USB 3 or WiMAX despite roll-outs of compatible hardware by other companies. The Verizon LTE launch was more widespread than initially expected, however, and the launch of Verizon’s iPad + MiFi bundle, as well recent comments made by AT&T executives, suggest that a collaboration of some sort between Apple and Verizon is ongoing, lending credence to the possibility of such an aggressive iPhone launch plan.

Google releases official Latitude app

Google has released an official iOS application for its Latitude location sharing service. Google Latitude for the iPhone allows users to share their own location and view friends’ locations on the Latitude service. Friends’ locations can be viewed either as a list or using an integrated map within the application and users can initiate phone calls or send text and e-mail messages directly from the friends list. The application also supports iOS Background Location services on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 to allow the user’s location to be updated even while the application is not open and privacy controls allow users to choose to share only their city-level location or hide their location entirely on a per-contact basis. Google Latitude is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple bidding on Nortel wireless patents

Apple is among several companies expected to bid on patents owned by telecom company Nortel Networks. Reuters reports that the patents, which pertain to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), are expected to draw bids Apple, Google, Motorola, and Research In Motion as the companies fight legal battles over patents related to mobile handsets. The patents are part of an auction of bankrupt Nortel Networks’ portfolio of intellectual property, which also includes patents relating to optical and data networking, Internet, Internet advertising, voice and personal computers. The auction is said to have been underway for about seven months. [via Mac Rumors]

Firemint announces Real Racing 2

Firemint has announced details on its upcoming sequel to Real Racing for the iPhone and iPod touch. Real Racing 2 introduces a number of new features along with 30 officially licensed cars, 15 locations, five different game modes and support for online multiplayer races of up to 16 players. Among the new officially licensed cars are the 2010 BMW M6 Competition Edition, the 2010 Jaguar XKR, 2010 Lotus Exige and 1995 McLaren F1 GTR, with additional cars from Chevolet, Ford/Shelby, Nissan/Super GT, Volkswagen and Volvo. Real Racing 2 provides a 16 car grid for authentic pack racing action against either computer-controlled AI opponents or up to 15 other players that can be auto-matched or invited through Apple’s Game Center. Players can choose to engage in either quick races or a full career mode where they must compete in races and earn in-game currency to buy and sell cars and upgrades, with game progress saved online. Other game modes include time trial, eight-player local multiplayer and 16-player online multiplayer and additional features such as the ability for vehicles to take damage in the game and five camera angles plus TV-style replays. The game will provide a wide variety of control options allowing users to use a combination of accelerometer/gyroscopic and touchscreen controls to steer, accelerate and brake, including optional haptic feedback during play. Real Racing 2 will be available from the App Store on December 16, 2010 for $10.

Best Buy to offer free iPhone 3GS December 10th

Best Buy is planning to run a special one-day promotion in which it will offer the 8GB iPhone 3GS for free on contract, according to a new report. Citing a Best Buy “ninja,” Boy Genius Report claims that the promotion will run tomorrow, Friday December 10th, and will be valid for new lines, additional lines, and qualified upgrades. According to the report, all stores have adequate inventory levels to support the promotion, and that the discount will be applied as an instant rebate. This would mark the second time this month that one of Apple’s retail partners has offered a discount on iPhones, as Radio Shack is currently running a $50 off promotion on all iPhone models.

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