Apple today announced iOS 4.1, brining with it a multitude of bug fixes, built-in HDR photography, the Game Center social gaming service, and HD video uploads over Wi-Fi. The free update for iPhone and iPod touch users will fix existing bugs with the proximity sensor, Bluetooth, and iPhone 3G performance, and will feature built-in High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, a feature through which the camera takes three photos in rapid succession and combines them to make a picture with a wider dynamic range than a traditional photo. In addition, the update will provide HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, and the aforementioned Game Center social gaming service. iOS 4.1 will be available next week and will be a free update for users of capable iPhone and iPod touch devices.
Apple today gave several updates on its iOS, App Store, and retail store businesses. It said it has now shipped over 120 million iOS devices, and is handling 230,000 new activations each day. Over 6.5 billion applications have been downloaded from the App Store, resulting in an average of 200 apps every second, and the App Store now offers over 250,000 apps, 25,000 of which are made for the iPad. The company now has 300 retail stores in 10 countries—the Covent Garden store in London was the 300th opening—and has over one million customers coming through the stores on several days each month. It will soon open a store in Spain, marking the 11th country in which it has retail stores.
It also revealed that it has sold 275 million iPods, and that the iPod touch is now the best-selling portable gaming device in the world, outselling Nintendo’s and Sony’s portable devices combined. In enjoys over 50% market share in the portable gaming device category both in the U.S. and worldwide, and iPod touch users have downloaded over 1.5 billion game and entertainment apps.
Apple and Nintendo have been named in a new lawsuit accusing the companies of patent infringement. Filed in the patent-friendly U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, the suit states that the motion-sensing capabilities of the two companies’ devices infringe on a patent held by Triton Tech, entitled “Computer Apparatus Input Device for Three-Dimensional Information.” AppleInsider reports that the patent describes a “mouse” that detects motion on six axes using multiple accelerometers and angular rate sensors. The court filing specifically singles out the iPhone 4 for its use of “acceleration sensors and rotational rate sensors for detecting motion about a particular axis for communication with a computing device,” along with Nintendo’s Wii Motion Plus accessory, but implies that other devices may also be in violation.
An executive of Mexican iPhone carrier Telcel has indicated that Apple plans to release a revised version of its iPhone 4 that will fix the handset’s antenna issues. Recounting a report from Mexico’s CanalMX, Mac Rumors reports that Marco Quatorze, Telcel’s Director of Value Added Services, said current iPhone 4s being sold in Mexico are the same hardware as is being sold elsewhere, but as of September 30, Apple will begin shipping out revised hardware. Mac Rumors’ report notes that Quatorze could simply be confusing the September 30th date with the end of Apple’s free case program, and that it is unknown whether an executive at his level would even be privy to such plans. Telcel began selling the iPhone 4 in Mexico last week as part of a quiet launch that also saw the device arrive in the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Portugal, and Slovakia.
Intel has entered into an agreement to purchase the wireless unit of Infineon Technologies for approximately $1.4 billion in cash. The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011, and will give Intel a significant boost in the wireless market. Infineon’s wireless unit produces chips used in smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone 4. “The acquisition of Infineon’s wireless business strengthens the second pillar of our computing strategy—Internet connectivity—and enables us to offer a portfolio of products that covers the full range of wireless options,” said Intel CEO Paul Otellini. Infineon also makes electronics for the car industry, electronic devices for electricity generation and transmission, and chips used in credit and security cards.
Virgin Mobile has announced a new $40 unlimited monthly data plan, which, when combined with a $150 Mi-Fi mobile hotspot, provides an attractive option for iPad and iPod touch users. The new offering does not require a contract, allowing customers to start and stop their service without a fee, and the $150 hotspot would allow users to connect up to five devices at a time, including iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Notably, Virgin Mobile’s devices operate on Sprint’s nationwide network, with roaming limited to 300MB per month. [via TidBits]
Drakfyre’s Software has released its new 720tube application for the iPhone 4. 720tube allows users to bypass Apple’s mobile YouTube upload resolution restrictions to allow for uploading of full 720p videos, including both standard recordings and those edited and exported to the Camera Roll using iMovie. Drakfyre’s Software’s 720tube app for the iPhone 4 is available now as a free download from the App Store.
China Unicom is expected to launch the iPhone 4 in mainland China on September 16, according to a new report. Citing a “source from China Unicom,” Caixin reports that customers who want to buy the phone from China Unicom will need to order the phone online in advance of the launch day. In addition, since the Chinese iPhone 4 is likely to see antenna and reception issues similar to those seen in iPhone 4 units from other parts of the world, China Unicom will be offering customers a free iPhone case. Apple launched the 8GB iPhone 3GS in China on August 9.
Movies rented from the iTunes Store using the iPhone 4 cannot be transferred back to users’ iTunes libraries, iLounge has discovered, and must be viewed solely on the iPhone 4. Although this is similar to a restriction found on the iPad and Apple TV, this marks the first time that this limitation has appeared on an iPhone. The iTunes Store Terms and Conditions and iTunes Store Movie/Film Rental FAQ (iTunes link) indicate that movies rented “using the Apple TV or iPad may not be moved” however they exclude any mention of the iPhone 4 in this regard, as do any of Apple’s current support documents. The only reference to this restriction is found buried on page 99 in the iPhone iOS 4 User Guide (PDF link) which states:
“On iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, you can transfer rented movies between iPhone and your computer. On iPhone 4, you can transfer rented movies between iPhone and your computer only if they were rented in iTunes on your computer. Movies rented on iPhone 4 cannot be transferred to a computer.”
It is also worth noting that the iPhone 4 has the same restriction on video output as the iPad, prohibiting the iPad Dock to VGA Connector from being used to display HD content purchased or rented from the iTunes Store. This brings into question the practicality of renting HD movies directly on the iPhone 4 since the 960 x 640 Retina Display still falls short of full 720p resolution while standard-definition content at 854 x 480 comes reasonably close to the capabilities of the new display.
The iPhone will soon be operable on Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo, thanks to a new service offered by Japan Communications. Nikkei reports that Japan Comm will soon offer a SIM card for unlocked iPhones—licensed Japanese iPhone carrier SoftBank sells carrier-locked units—that allows them to operate on NTT DoCoMo’s network. Japan Communications plans to bypass the carrier locks by selling unlocked iPhone 4 units for roughly 60,000 yen, or roughly $715, with service running 6,260 a month, or about $75.
A newly published Apple patent application has led to reports that the company will use a new unauthorized user recognition technology to deter users from jailbreaking iPhones. The patent application, entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,” primarily describes methods for detecting unauthorized users—people who do not normally use the device—and taking appropriate action, such as relaying information about the unauthorized user’s identity and location to the device’s owner, restricting functions, or deleting sensitive data. The controversy stems from references in the application to jailbreaking and/or unlocking the device, both of which it describes as “activities that can indicate suspicious behavior.” In July, the U.S. Library of Congress’ Copyright Office announced a decision under which jailbreaking was deemed legal and within the user’s fair use rights, which might conceivably limit Apple’s ability to discriminate against users with jailbroken devices. However, it’s unclear as to whether Apple is patenting this invention in the hopes of actually locking out users for its own purposes, deterring certain uses of its devices, or merely empowering owners to protect their own items as they wish. As with all Apple patent applications, the filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area.
Due to the extremely high humidity of the Hong Kong climate, some local iPhone users are facing problems with falsely-triggered moisture sensors. The South China Morning Post reports that while Apple’s guidelines call for a relative humidity of 5% to 95%, the humidity around Hong Kong regularly exceeds 95 percent, leading to false positive readings for users like Justin Hayward. “I’ve never used it in the bath, gone swimming or anything like that,” Hayward said, after being offered a replacement phone from his carrier Smartone-Vodafone for HK$1,700, or roughly $218. Hayward then made multiple calls to Apple Asia and its technical support line, receiving only on message in return. “Let’s face it; many people do break the rules. But a significant number of people are making these kind of reports,” he said. “If the limitation is over 95 per cent humidity, they ought not to be selling the product here. I find it quite unbelievable - a real piece of corporate greed or a great oversight.”
According to the report, the humidity in and around Hong Kong varies, with some parts of the area reporting humidity higher than 95% one-quarter of the time between June 1 and August 16, while other parts see humidity over 95% for 73 days, or 95% of the time, during the same period. Based on humidity resistance tests published by 3M, the company named in U.S. lawsuits as the manufacturer of the moisture indicator tape used in iPhones, the indicator strips will turn pink when exposed continuously to a temperature of 55 degrees Celsius, or 131 degrees Fahrenheit, and relative humidity of 95%. A class action suit was filed against Apple in the U.S. earlier this year over falsely-tripped moisture sensors. [via Gizmodo]
In an alleged email response to a customer complaint, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly said a fix for issues related to running iOS 4 on an iPhone 3G is coming soon. Mac Rumors reports that the customer in question said iOS 4 was “dog slow” on his iPhone 3G, citing responsiveness issues when scrolling, zooming, and typing. “I’ve waited patiently through 4.0.1 and 4.0.2, looking for a fix that will make my phone work again,” the customer’s email read. In a typically terse response, Jobs allegedly said, “Software update coming soon.” The report notes that the iOS 4.1 betas do seem to offer performance improvements on the iPhone 3G, suggesting that may be the update to which Jobs was referring.
Following an update to Photogene for the iPad earlier this week, the iPhone version has also received an update. Photogene 2.6 for the iPhone and iPod touch adds the new features introduced in the earlier iPad version including support for Flickr and FTP uploading, custom resizing and IPTC metadata. This update also adds support for the Retina Display, 5MP camera and rear-facing camera on the iPhone 4 and brings Fast App Switching and background saving and uploading for multitasking-capable devices. Users can also now share photos while preserving geo-tag information stored in the EXIF data. Photogene 2.6 requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Gameloft has released an iPhone 4 update to its acclaimed Modern Combat: Sandstorm for the iPhone and iPod touch. Modern Combat: Sandstorm (iLounge Rating: A) is a first-person action-thriller where players must locate and annihilate a terrorist cell in a remote desert hotspot. Users play through 10 missions featuring detailed Middle Eastern environments and are provided with a wide range of authentic advanced weapons ranging from assault rifles to rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The game provides local and online multiplayer support, a choice of multiple control systems and polished 3D graphics with cinematic interludes and voice-overs. The latest update brings support for gyroscopic control mode on the iPhone 4 with full 3D range of motion, high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display and support for Fast App Switching on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices. Modern Combat: Sandstorm is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Apple and AT&T have removed no-contract iPhone purchasing options from their websites, signaling a further tightening of restrictions on U.S. iPhone users compared to those abroad. Previously available at prices significantly higher than those of even early upgraders—$599 for a 16GB iPhone 4 and $699 for a 32GB unit—the options allowed customers to purchase the phones without extending their existing AT&T contracts. Apple has also changed its FAQ found at the bottom of its online store’s iPhone page, noting that the iPhone is not available without a commitment and “requires a two year AT&T wireless service contract.” Curiously, Apple did not begin contract-free sales of the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS until the devices had been on the market for roughly nine months; it is unclear what prompted the change in policy with the iPhone 4. [via MacNN]
Updated: An AT&T spokesman has issued a statement indicating that the language on Apple’s site has not been changed, and that customer should still be able to purchase a contract-free iPhone 4 by visiting an AT&T store.
Paramount Digital Entertainment, in cooperation with Freeverse, has released Top Gun 2, the sequel to its earlier first-person combat jet shooter for the iOS platform. In Top Gun 2 players engage in air-to-air and air-to-ground arcade style combat with new high-speed defensive maneuvers and offensive attacks. Players fly using the accelerometer to engage in combat with multiple enemies through seven unique environments, including outer space, in a variety of different mission types. Top Gun 2 features dynamic level design with surprise attacks and unique gameplay and an enhanced AI. Players can choose to pilot an F/A-18 Hornet, F-16 Fighting Falcon or F-14 Tomcat, each with upgradeable cannon and missile systems and unique offensive and defensive capabilities. Top Gun 2 features full-screen anti-aliasing and enhanced visual effects and a soundtrack by Brooklyn-based Daredevil Squadron as well as the classic track “Danger Zone” from the Top Gun movie. Top Gun 2 requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4 or later and is available from the App Store at a discounted price of $3 until August 23.
Chua Kim Guan, chairman of Singapore-based JLJ Holdings Ltd., has stepped down amid a scandal that allegedly saw kickbacks given to an Apple employee for confidential information. JLJ Holdings has been named in a lawsuit by Apple against former Apple global supply manager Paul Shin Devine, which claims Devine shared confidential information from Apple with suppliers of iPod and iPhone accessories, who used the information to negotiate favorable contracts with Apple. “In order to facilitate the impartial review of all activities relating to the Apple claim that may involve the company and its subsidiaries, the company’s executive chairman has voluntarily relinquished all executive duties…for the time being,” JLJ said in a statement. The Wall Street Journal reports that JLJ revealed Chua is the brother of Andrew Ang, a former assistant general manager of its Jin Li Mould Manufacturing unit who is also named in Apple’s suit. Both Devine and Ang were recently indicted for wire fraud, money laundering, and kickbacks. [via MDN]
The wait times for all models of the iPad have dropped from seven to ten days down to three to five days on Apple’s online store, indicating that Apple may finally be getting ahead of the overwhelming demand for the tablet computer. The wait for an iPad has stayed a week or longer since the device’s debut in April 3. In addition, GigaOm reports that Ashok Kumar, an analyst Rodman & Renshaw, said in a recent research note that Apple may be able to reduce the wait time for a new iPhone 4 significantly by the end of September; new iPhone 4 orders from Apple’s online store are currently quoted as shipping in three weeks. During the company’s Q3 2010 Conference Call, COO Tim Cook repeatedly explained that Apple was making both iPads and iPhone 4 units as fast as it can sell them, and indicated that it was working to ramp up production to meet demand as quickly as possible. [via TUAW]
Facebook has released an update to its iPhone and iPod touch application adding support for its new Places feature and improving iOS4 multitasking support. Introduced by Facebook earlier this week, Places is a new location-based social networking that allows users to register their presence at physical locations in a manner similar to services such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Facebook 3.2 provides a new section on the home screen for accessing the new Places location feature and integrates GPS location services support to allow users to view nearby places from within the app, check-in at various locations and view friends’ locations. The new version can also now continue photo and video uploads in the background on iOS 4 multitasking-capable devices and adds the ability to set the privacy of individual status updates and see all recipients of inbox messages. Facebook 3.2 is available from the App Store as a free download. The Facebook Places feature is presently only available in the U.S.