Google has launched a new mobile-formatted version of its Google News homepage. The new offering is optimized for display on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Android devices and the Palm Pre. It offers the same personalization available on the desktop, along with more stories, sources, and images, a mobile-friendly “jump to” menu, and the ability to reach favorite sections, find articles, and play videos in fewer taps. To access the new mobile version of Google News, simply visit news.google.com from Safari on an iPhone or iPod touch.
Virgin Mobile Canada has announced that it will launch the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in its Virgin Mobile retail stores and online in the coming months. Although no further details were provided in the official announcement, Canadian mobile news site MobileSyrup suggests that the handset will launch on the carrier in February 2010, and also believes pricing will be similar to that offered by the phone’s other Canadian carriers, with a three-year contract. The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are currently available in Canada through Rogers/Fido, Bell Canada, and Telus.
AT&T has suffered an initial setback in its lawsuit against Verizon Wireless over the latter’s recent TV advertisements attacking AT&T and the iPhone, but has also launched a new television commercial to counter the Verizon spots. A federal judge in Atlanta has denied an initial request from AT&T to force Verizon to pull its “map for that” commercials from the airwaves, the Asscociated Press reports, but did schedule a hearing on December 16 to give AT&T attorneys another chance to state their case. AT&T filed suit against Verizon Wireless two weeks ago claiming that the latter’s ads were “misleading.”
In response to Verizon’s ads, AT&T has launched a new TV commercial called “Side by Side” comparing certain characteristics of the two company’s offerings that favor the U.S. iPhone carrier. Starring actor Luke Wilson, the ad points out that AT&T has the “nation’s fastest 3G network,” which allows users to “talk and surf at the same time,” that it offers the most popular smartphones, and that its customers—more specifically, iPhone users—have access to over 100,000 apps. The new advertisement is available for viewing below in embedded form or can be viewed in high quality on YouTube. [via Mac Rumors]
AdMob, the mobile advertising network recently acquired by Google, has launched a new “Interactive Video Ad Unit” for the iPhone. The new ad unit promises “true interactivity,” offering in-player actions that enable users to browse Web sites, view additional videos, and more while the video is playing. AdMob says the unit will be sold primarily as an interstitial that will automatically play as an application loads, but may also be accessed through banner ads. In addition, AdMob creates multiple bitrate encodings of the video files for each and then dynamically streams the most appropriate file size based on the devices’ EDGE, 3G, or Wi-Fi connection, utilizing its network of globally distributed servers to ensure the fastest possible video load times. According to the company, AdMob’s iPhone ad network reached more than 20 million unique iPhones and iPod touch devices worldwide in 2009.
Qualcomm has confirmed that it is in talks with Apple over the possibility of supplying telecommunications chips for future versions of the iPhone. “We continue to discuss it, but haven’t made it yet,” Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Hopefully, in the future, we will have the opportunity.” The company already provides chips to other smartphone manufacturers, including those building phones that run Windows Mobile and Google’s Android operating systems. “We talk to everybody in the industry,” Jacobs said. “We are very strong in the smart-phone market.” Bloomberg reports that Qualcomm plans to begin selling chips compatible with China’s domestically-developed TD-SCDMA technology next year; China Mobile uses the technology and had 1.66 million TD-SCDMA customers as of September 30. China Mobile recently said that it remains in talks with Apple about offering the iPhone on its network.
Following last month’s launch of the iPhone in China on rival network China Unicom, China Mobile has reaffirmed that it remains in talks with Apple to offer the iPhone on its own, more popular, network. “We really are still in talks with Apple…In our negotiations in the past, we insisted on sticking to our conditions,” company chairman Wang Jianzhou told reporters at a regional mobile phone conference in Hong Kong, reports the AFP. “We are still very sincere about completing this negotiation,” he said, adding that the company would like to introduced several different types of smartphones in the coming years. “iPhone is only one type of smartphone. On the whole, we hope to turn all our future phones into smartphones. This would require the collective effort of our vendors.”
The Korea Communications Commission, South Korea’s telecommunications regulator, gave the iPhone its approval at a meeting this week, meaning the phone can now be launched at any time in the country. Strangely, this is the second time the device has been granted approval by the commission; the first was in September. Although commission spokesman Lee Sang-hun could not immediately confirm how this new decision different from September’s, he did say it was related to location-based services. South Korean law requires companies providing location-based data to obtain government permission, and in September’s decision, the commission decided that local service providers could obtain permission on Apple’s behalf.
KT and SK Telecom, local network providers in South Korea, have both been in discussions with Apple over the iPhone; Apple spokesman Steve Park told the Associated Press that the company has yet to confirm whether it will introduce the iPhone to South Korea. Still, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo has reported that KT—which confirmed plans to sell the iPhone in August—plans to begin taking online orders for the device on Thursday with a launch date of November 28, while a SK Telecom spokeswoman said the carrier has made no decisions regarding the device. Apple has yet to add South Korea to its list of countries to which the iPhone is “coming soon.”
Apple has begun to air two new television commercials for the iPhone 3GS. As with past iPhone 3GS ads, these two continue Apple’s recent end of highlighting different apps on an iPhone set against a white background, and show a wide variety of applications. “Gift” mentions the applications Target, ColorChange, The Snow Report, Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition, HotelPal, and Zipcar, while “Song” highlights Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals, Credit Card Terminal, Facebook, The Sims 3, Redfin Real Estate, and Shazam. Both commercials are available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has posted a job listing for a “Game/Media Software Engineer” to help develop “interactive multimedia experiences on the iPhone and iPod touch.” Among the preferred background requirements are 3-4 years of video game development experience, with at least one “AAA title” shipped, skills in “audio systems, graphics pipeline, and network programming,” and a passion for gaming. The job description states that the hire will “work as part of a small highly motivated team” and that the position “requires a creative thinker who can contribute and comment on the design process as well as being flexible enough to aid in all aspects of production such as asset management and able to work to a deadline.”
Mac Rumors notes that Apple has hired experienced game designer and programmer Graeme Devine, who most recently was the Lead Designer on the real-time strategy game Halo Wars for the Xbox 360, suggesting the company is forming an in-house gaming development team. Thus far, Apple has released only one first-party game for the iPhone and iPod touch, the App Store launch day title Texas Hold’em.
In an unusual move, AT&T has issued an official response to Verizon’s recent attack ads, which led the iPhone carrier to file a lawsuit against Verizon last week. “As the U.S. market leader in wireless data service, we typically don’t respond to competitors’ advertising. However, some recent ads from Verizon are so blatantly false and misleading, that we want to set the record straight about AT&T’s wireless data coverage,” the response states. “AT&T’s wireless data coverage reaches 303 million people – or 97% of the U.S. population, where they live and work…. 233 million people or 75% of the population are covered by AT&T’s 3G network, the nation’s fastest. 301 million people or more than 96% of the population are covered by EDGE. AT&T is the #1 network for smartphones, with twice the number of smartphone customers than Verizon, our closest competitor.” The response goes on to note that AT&T smartphone customers—or more specifically, iPhone customers—have access to over 100,000 applications, are able to use both voice and data services simultaneously, and have access to “the nation’s fastest 3G network.”
A NASA scientist has created a 30-pin accessory that allows an iPhone or iPod touch to be used as a chemical sensor. Jing Li, a physical scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, along with other researchers in the Cell-All program in the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, built the postage stamp-sized device, which packs 16 nanosensors that allow for detection and identification of low concentrations airborne ammonia, chlorine gas, and methane. Connected to an iPhone or iPod touch’s Dock port and used with a special app, the system can send detection data to another device over a cellular or Wi-Fi network. It is unknown whether the administration has plans for the system outside of proof-of-concept testing. [via Engadget]
According to the latest data from research firm Gartner, Apple accounted for 17% of worldwide smartphone sales in the third quarter. Apple’s market share trailed only that of BlackBerry maker RIM, with nearly 21%, and Nokia, with 39.3%—an all-time low for the Finnish company. Apple’s 17% share is a substantial improvement over the year-ago quarter, in which it accounted for only 12.9%. In addition, Gartner says that iPhone sales in the fourth quarter “should be even stronger as Apple starts selling in China, through one additional carrier in the UK, and in an additional 16 countries.” Overall, smartphone sales continued to increase, growing 13% in the third quarter.
Mac-focused security software developer Intego has posted a security memo warning of a new piece of malware targeting jailbroken iPhones and iPod touches. According to the post, the software, identified as iPhone/Privacy.A, uses the same vulnerability as the “rickroll” worm from earlier this week, attacking devices which have been jailbroken and had SSH activated without the owners changing the default password. However, unlike past hacks, which were mostly harmless, this new tool allows a hacker to silently copy a multitude of data from the compromised device, including e-mail, contacts, SMSs, calendars, photos, music files, videos, and any data recorded by any iPhone app. It also leaves no indication that the device has been compromised, since it doesn’t actually install anything on the iPhone or iPod touch, instead working from a PC, scanning the connected network for possible marks and copying their data when discovered.
Apple has passed Nokia to become the world’s most profitable handset manufacturer, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. In the third quarter of 2009, Strategy Analytics estimates Apple’s operating profit for its iPhone handset division to be $1.6 billion, with Nokia reaching only $1.1 billion of operating profit over the same time period. Alex Spektor, Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, “With strong volumes, high wholesale prices and tight cost controls, the PC vendor has successfully broken into the mobile phone market in just two years.” Neil Mawston, director of the Wireless Device Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, believes that Nokia must do better in the U.S. market if it wishes to recover, adding, “A successful fight on Apple’s high-profit home turf can simultaneously help to revitalize Nokia’s margins and to put a check on Apple’s surging growth.”
Conor Maples, a communications employee with Orange UK, has revealed via a Twitter update that the company has sold more than 30,000 iPhones on launch day. “Orange UK had sold more than 30k iPhones,smashing what we believe is the previously published first day sales records for a phone in the UK,” the posting reads. As Mac Rumors notes, it is unclear what previous first-day sales records Orange is referring to, as O2 is not believed to have revealed specific sales numbers for its launch of the original iPhone in November 2007. Orange is the second carrier to offer the iPhone in the UK behind O2; Vodafone has announced plans to begin offering the handset early next year.
Verizon is continuing to attack both AT&T and the iPhone with another new wave of TV advertisements. The most scathing spot, “Misfit Toys,” is based off the fictional Island of Misfit Toys as seen in the 1964 stop-animation holiday TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and sees an iPhone-like device arrive on the island to questions of why it was there when it can “download apps and browse the web,” with an AT&T 3G coverage map appearing above its head to explain the situation. Continue reading to view all three ads in embedded form.
RadioShack has announced that it will begin to offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in a limited number of stores later this month. The phones will initially be available only at select company-owned stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth and New York City metropolitan areas; the company says it expects to roll out the iPhone in stores nationwide next year.
A new iPhone worm first spotted in Australia is spreading amongst jailbroken devices, changing their backgrounds to a picture of “Never Gonna Give You Up” singer Rick Astley. Similar to the harmless extortion message sent out by a Dutch hacker to users of jailbroken iPhones on T-Mobile Netherlands last week, this new worm attacks devices which have been jailbroken and had SSH activated without the owners changing the default password. Comments found within the worm’s code say, “People are stupid and this is to prove it so… [setting the SSH password] is not thats [sic] hard guys… But hey who cares its only your bank details at stake.” Apple has often mentioned security issues as a reason why it is opposed to users jailbreaking their devices.
Apple has posted a new job listing on its website seeking an “iPhone OS Platform Security Manager,” suggesting the company is looking to further secure its mobile operating system. The job description says the company is ” looking for a talented and inspired manager to lead a team focused on the platform security of iPhone OS. The team is responsible for secure booting and installation of the OS, partitioning and hardening of security domains within the OS, cryptographic services, and risk analysis of security threats.” Responsibilities of the position will include “setting the roadmap for the iPhone OS platform security with an emphasis on hardware support and trusted computing methods,” “creating and promoting a development environment that encourages innovation and sets high standards for quality and productivity,” and “driving a methodology for proactively finding security vulnerabilities.”
While the iPhone OS has yet to be the target of a widespread virus or other malicious attack, hackers have been able to consistently jailbreak each new release, allowing for the installation of unsupported applications and modifications, potentially making the devices more vulnerable to attacks, as seen in a harmless extortion scheme earlier this week. In addition, other potential vulnerabilities have been found and demonstrated at hacking conferences, although Apple has normally adressed these with subsequent software updates. It is unclear whether this position, whether it be a new job or an attempt to fill a now-vacated position, would be charged with blocking jailbreakers or simply focusing on other security concerns. [via The Industry Standard]
Intel has issued a comment concerning the iPhone sync issues some users are experiencing with certain PCs containing a specific Intel chipset. “Our leading theory is a BIOS or system configuration issue, but we are still investigating,” Intel said. The basic input/output system (BIOS) is the boot firmware run by a PC on startup, which identifies, tests, and initializes core system devices such as the graphics card, hard disk, and other hardware. As we reported earlier this week, the syncing issue appears to linked to Intel’s P55 Express chipset and its USB controller, which leaves the afflicted machines able to recognize the iPhone but unable to sync. The problem has been most prevalent among PCs running 64-bit Windows 7, but the issue has also been reported on machines running both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of both Windows 7 and Vista.