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Library of Congress: jailbreaking is ‘fair use’

The U.S. Library of Congress’ Copyright Office has announced a decision under which jailbreaking mobile devices, most prominently the iPhone, has been deemed legal and within the user’s fair use rights. The ruling (PDF Link) states, “when one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses.” Apple has in the past taken a hard stance against jailbreaking, claiming that the practice was illegal—in that it constituted copyright infringement and a DMCA violation—and that it could enable “potentially catastrophic” network attacks.

In addition to addressing the issue of jailbreaking, the ruling also makes note of unauthorized unlocking of mobile phones. While the ruling itself doesn’t extend so far as to ensure “that customers have the freedom to switch wireless communications service providers,” it does state that “unlocking a mobile phone to be used on another wireless network does not ordinarily constitute copyright infringement and that Section 1201(a)(1), a statute intended to protect copyright interests, should not be used to prevent mobile phone owners from engaging in such noninfringing activity.” [via Mac Rumors]

Apple adds Droid X to antenna testing page

Apple has added a new section focused on the Motorola Droid X to its smartphone antenna performance page. Apple’s testing shows the Droid X dropping from three bars down to no bars of service when phone is held in such a way that the user’s hand is blocking the majority of the bottom back portion of the device. Following Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference, Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola, said, “Consumers don’t like being told how to hold the phone ... It is disingenuous to suggest that all phones perform equally.” In addition, the prior-generation Motorola Droid was at the heart of the “iDon’t” advertising campaign aimed at the iPhone in late 2009.

Majority of U.S. iPhone owners satisfied with AT&T

The large majority of U.S.-based iPhone users are happy with AT&T, according to a new study by the Yankee Group. CNNMoney reports that 73% of iPhone users are “very satisfied” with AT&T, a number that compares favorably to how non-iPhone smartphone users feel about AT&T. The survey found the satisfaction rate of AT&T subscribers as a whole is 68%, while AT&T smartphone users were only slightly more satisfied at 69%. Analysts with the Yankee Group attributed the high iPhone numbers to a “halo effect.” “Consumers transfer the high gloss of their Apple iPhone experience to AT&T,” Carl Howe, Yankee Group analyst. “The iPhone creates a halo effect that rubs off.” Overall, the study estimates that the iPhone will be worth $1.8 billion in sales to AT&T this year, and will generate $9 billion for the company over the next five years.

Texto allows users to send pre-written SMS messages

TunedOn has released a new app, Texto, that allows iPhone users to setup and send pre-written canned text messages via the iPhone’s built-in SMS app. Users can choose from a list of pre-defined short messages such as “running late” or “I’m here” or create their own custom entries. Using the in-app SMS feature introduced in iOS 4, tapping on a canned message opens the iPhone’s native SMS compose screen where users can add additional text or simply send the message as-is. Users can also associate canned messages with individual contacts from the iPhone address book allowing quick access to frequently-used messages or responses. Texto is available from the App Store for $1 and requires an iPhone running iOS 4 or later.  The developer indicates that an iPod touch version is currently under development.

iPhone 4 coming to 17 more countries this week

Apple has announced that the iPhone 4 will launch in 17 additional countries this week. Currently available in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Japan, the phone will launch in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland this Friday, July 30. Despite ongoing concerns over the phone’s antenna design, Apple has continued to see strong demand for the phone; COO Tim Cook recently stated during the company’s third-quarter financial results conference call that Apple was selling them as fast as it could build them.

Apple Store error credits extra free iPhone 4 cases

Immediately following Apple’s launch of the iPhone 4 Case Program, a case giveaway designed to reduce reception-related issues traced to the iPhone 4’s external antenna, iLounge editors discovered two billing-related errors that appear to enable some users to receive more than the correct number of free cases or refunds due. The first error appears to enable a user who ordered a Bumper case from Apple to simultaneously receive an automated refund and still be eligible for a free case using the iPhone 4 Case Program application. Separately, iLounge has discovered that a single person’s order for multiple Bumper cases led to the receipt of multiple refunds—while still remaining eligible for a free case through the application. As a result, one of our editors has already received credits and order confirmations for three cases. It’s unclear whether this is due to a lack of cross-checking the Apple IDs used to register for free cases with past iPhone 4 Bumper case orders, or quiet but intentional over-generosity on Apple’s part. We have contacted Apple to notify it of the errors and obtain a comment, and will update this article if and when we receive a response.

Apple posts details of iPhone 4 case program

Apple has posted details of its iPhone 4 case program. According to the webpage, iPhone 4 users who want to receive a free case need to download the free iPhone 4 Case Program app from the App Store. Once the app is installed, users need to login with their iTunes Store account or Apple ID. The app checks the device’s IMEI and serial number to verify that the user indeed does own an iPhone 4, and lets the user choose an iPhone 4 Bumper or another case. Apple notes that for iPhone 4 purchases made before July 23, 2010, users must apply no later than August 22, 2010; otherwise, they must apply within 30 days of the iPhone 4 purchase. For advice on picking your free case, take a glance at our recommendation article.

Apple delays white iPhone 4 until ‘later this year’

Apple has announced that it is delaying the launch of the white iPhone 4 once again. The press release states, “White models of Apple’s new iPhone 4 have continued to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected, and as a result they will not be available until later this year.” The company released a similar statement exactly one month ago, promising availability in the second half of July, and did not mention any manufacturing problems during either its iPhone 4 press conference last Friday nor during its fiscal results conference call earlier this week.

AT&T sees 3.2 million iPhone activations in Q2

Reporting its second fiscal quarter financial results, U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T has revealed that it handled 3.2 million iPhone activations during the period. That number includes some sales of the iPhone 4; AT&T claims that preorder sales of the iPhone 4 were 10 times higher than the first day of preordering for the iPhone 3GS a year earlier. In addition, the 3.2 million activations is a new quarterly record for AT&T, with about 27%—roughly 864,000—of those activations representing customers who were new to AT&T.

Apple adds Nokia N97 mini to antenna page

Following a response from Nokia on Apple’s claims that signal attenuation is a problem for all smartphones, Apple has added a section covering the Nokia N97 mini to its smartphone antenna performance page. “Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design,” Nokia said in a statement. Apple’s antenna performance page, posted last Friday after Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference, originally compared the performance of the iPhone 4 to the BlackBerry Bold, HTC Droid Eris, Samsung Omnia II, and iPhone 3GS, and led to a similar response from BlackBerry-maker RIM’s co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.

China Telecom hoping to land iPhone, iPad deals

China Telecom has indicated that it would like to offer both the iPhone and iPad at some point. Citing an unnamed company official, the Wall Street Journal reports that China Telecom would like to offer the iPhone in order to attract users to its 3G services, but that it faces a hurdle in doing so due to its use of CDMA technology. “If we can have an iPhone, that would be good, but we’ll just wait and see” whether Apple comes out with a CDMA version of the phone, said the official. The report notes that people familiar with the situation have said Apple is working on a CDMA iPhone, but it has yet to announce any plans to introduce such a device.

Apple sells 9.4m iPods, 8.4m iPhones, 3.27m iPads in Q3 2010

Reporting its third quarter 2010 financial results today, Apple said it sold 9.41 million iPods during the quarter—an eight percent unit decrease compared to the 10.2 million iPods sold in Q3 2009, albeit with a four percent increase in revenue. It also sold 8.4 million iPhones in the quarter, up 61% from the year-ago quarter, and 3.27 million iPads, the latter alone contributing $2.166 billion in revenue during its first quarter of supply-constrained availability. The company posted overall revenue of $15.7 billion and a net quarterly profit of $3.25 billion, or $3.51 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $9.73 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.83 billion, or $2.01 per diluted share in Q3 2009.

“It was a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around, including the most successful product launch in Apple’s history with iPhone 4,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad is off to a terrific start, more people are buying Macs than ever before, and we have amazing new products still to come this year.”

“We’re really pleased to have generated over $4 billion of cash during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010, we expect revenue of about $18 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $3.44”

Apple conducting online iPhone 4 survey

Apple has started to send out an iPhone 4 satisfaction survey to select customers. Boy Genius Report has published screenshots of the survey online, which includes questions asking the users’ ages, overall satisfaction and satisfaction with certain individual features, whether they would recommend the phone, whether it’s the first iPhone they’ve owned, what brand of mobile phone it replaced, whether they use Windows or Mac, and whether they use their phones for personal or work-related reasons.

Accessory makers take advantage of free Bumper offer

A number of accessory makers have launched new offers aimed at taking advantage of Apple’s recent announcement of a free iPhone 4 case offer. Both Incipio and Proporta are offering Bumper trade-in programs, with Incipio promising $5 off any Incipio product for each Bumper sent to the company—a limit of two per household applies—and Proporta offering 20% off any Proporta case or screen protector for the iPhone 4 with each Bumper returned using the promo code “CASEFREE,” with no apparent limit in place. Fusion of Ideas is instead offering iPhone 4 users free side pieces of its StealthArmor protective film, with a shipping charge of $1.50, and the option to upgrade to a full-body kit at a $10 discount off regular price.

Apple posts video of iPhone 4 event, antenna info pages

Apple has posted a QuickTime video stream of its iPhone 4 press conference on its website. During the roughly hour-long event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave a presentation explaining Apple’s view of the antenna issues, and promised free cases to all current iPhone 4 users and all those who will purchase the device by September 30. Notably missing from the video stream is the question and answer session held directly following the presentation, a brief overview of which can be found here. In addition, the company has posted a pair of new webpages examining smartphone antenna performance and comparing that of the iPhone 4 to the BlackBerry Bold, HTC Droid Eris, Samsung Omnia II, and iPhone 3GS, and highlighting the company’s antenna design and testing labs.

iPhone 4 proximity sensor fix coming in next update

Among other revelations from its iPhone 4 press conference, Apple claimed that a fix for the iPhone 4’s proximity sensor issue would be included in the next update. The issue, in which calls can be accidentally interrupted by button presses and hang-ups, has been reported since the launch of the device, and eventually lead to a grass roots campaign to gain press coverage, as the majority of negative iPhone 4 reports had focused on the antenna issue. Apple did not specify when the update would arrive, or whether it would be a small, incremental update—like iOS 4.0.1—or included in the larger iOS 4.1 update, a beta of which was released to paid developers earlier this week.

iPhone 4 to launch in 17 countries July 30, white model soon

Apple today revealed that it will launch the iPhone 4 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland on July 30. Notably, the list of countries does not include South Korea, which was previously scheduled to receive the phone at the same time; no reason was given for the delay. In addition, Apple said that white models of the iPhone 4 will be available in late July, but did not offer an exact date for availability, or reveal whether online pre-orders would be available.

Apple to offer free cases to iPhone 4 users

During today’s iPhone 4 press conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that due to complaints over the iPhone 4’s antenna issue, Apple will be offering a free case to all customers who purchase an iPhone 4 by September 30. According to Jobs, users will be able to apply for the free case on Apple’s website late next week, and the case will be shipped to them free of charge. Due to the low number of Bumper cases available, Apple also said it will be offering users a choice of cases beyond the Bumpers, but did not specify which cases would be eligible. For iPhone 4 users who have already purchased a Bumper case, Apple will be offering refunds, but will not be refunding those who purchased third-party cases.

Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference starts at 10 a.m.

Apple’s short-notice press conference regarding the iPhone 4 will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Although no one is certain what the company may say, earlier reports have indicated that the company is unlikely to issue a recall of current iPhone 4 units, and may well claim that the handset’s reception problems can be fixed via a software update. Also unknown is whether or not the company will make any mention of the ongoing proximity sensor issue reported by some users. We will be updating this story throughout the event as information becomes available.

iOS 4.0.1 signal strength indicator changes explained

As those who have successfully upgraded their iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, or iPhone 4 units to iOS 4.0.1 may have noticed, Apple made a visual change to its signal strength indicator bars in its latest update, increasing the size of bars one, two, and three, while keeping the tallest two bars the same. A more dramatic change was made behind the scenes, however, as Apple changed its formula for signal strength to signal bar mapping resulting in what is hopefully a more accurate representation of the phone’s current connection. Anandtech reports that Apple made the dynamic range broader, while also adjusting the range values for each bar to make them wider. As a result, in some areas where signal strength would have been great enough for the iPhone to report five bars under iOS 4.0 and earlier, it may now show only three. As the report notes, this means that the worst case drop of 24 dBm — seen when applying the left-hand “death grip” on the iPhone 4 — longer makes all the signal bars disappear, but just two. The new formula is also used in the iOS 4.1 beta released earlier this week to paid iPhone developers; illustrations of the difference in bar to signal strength mapping are available below.

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