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iPhone 4 now shipping ‘within 24 hours’ in U.S.

Apple has once again updated its U.S. Online Store to reflect improved shipment wait times for the iPhone 4. According to the store’s iPhone page, new iPhone 4 units—both the 16GB and 32GB models—now ship “within 24 hours,” down from the previous estimate of 1-3 days. Apple first reduced the estimated wait time on new online iPhone 4 orders in the U.S. from three weeks to 5-7 days in early October, dropping it again in the interim to 1-3 days. The drop in wait times for the iPhone 4 appears to be unique to the U.S., however, as estimates from international stores such as Canada, U.K., France, and Germany remain at 1-2 weeks, depending on the country.

iOS 4.2 GM seed released to developers

Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.2. Although Apple has not yet announced a release date for iOS 4.2, public iOS releases have generally occurred within 1-2 weeks of the release of a Gold Master seed. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted new features in iOS 4.2 during its September 1st event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.2 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, second-, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iPhone developers from the iOS Dev Center.

Target to offer iPhone beginning Nov. 7

Target has announced that it will start offering the iPhone in 864 stores that include Target Mobile centers beginning November 7. The company will offer both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, as well as in-store activation and a range of accessories. “At Target we continue to offer our guests the best in electronics so we’re happy to add  iPhone to our Target Mobile offerings,” said Mark Schindele, senior vice president of merchandising with Target. “With expert support from Target Mobile specialists and in-store activation, our guests will be able to leave the store with a new, working iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 in-hand.” A report from last month indicated that Target might offer the iPhone ahead of the holiday season, and that sales would be limited to stores with mobile phone centers, which were reportedly being installed through a partnership between Target and current iPhone retailer Radio Shack.

Apple sues Motorola over touch screen patents

Following a lawsuit and U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint filed by Motorola Mobility against Apple last month, Apple has filed a pair of patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola and Motorola Mobility. The suits, which name the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour, and Charm as potentially infringing products, center around a handful of Apple patents related to multi-touch technology. According to Patently Apple, the suits specifically reference Apple patents covering an ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces, a multipoint touchscreen, an object-oriented system locator system, a touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics, a method and apparatus for displaying and accessing control and status information in a computer system, and support for custom user-interaction elements in a graphical, event-driven computer system. Apple is seeking a judgment that Motorola has directly infringed, induced infringement, and/or contributed to the infringement of one or more claims of the listed patents, a judgement blocking Motorola or its partners from further infringement, and damages.

Sprint: iPad driving wireless hotspot demand

In an interview with GigaOM, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse indicated that despite not selling the iPad, his company has actually benefited from Apple’s tablet device in the form of increased demand for its Overdrive MiFi wireless hotspots. Hesse notes that most iPads being sold are Wi-Fi only models and many customers turn to MiFi devices to get online when away from traditional wireless access points. Sprint was one of the first carriers to promote the use of the iPad Wi-Fi with a portable wireless hotspot by releasing a 4G Case for iPad.

Hesse declined to comment on the iPhone or Sprint’s relationship with Apple, stating only that it is currently focusing on the BlackBerry and Android smartphone platforms and that it does not comment on any conversations it has with third parties. Hesse added that the majority of devices sold in the past quarter for use on Sprint’s CDMA network were smartphones and that 45 percent of Sprint customers now have a smartphone. Like Verizon, Sprint’s CDMA network is incompatible with current iPhone models, however a CDMA iPhone built for Verizon would technically also be compatible with Sprint’s network; although it’s almost inevitable that Verizon’s iPhone would be sold locked to the Verizon network, the creation of a CDMA-compatible iPhone by Apple would open the door to the possibility of other U.S. carriers such as Sprint eventually carrying the iPhone as well. [via AppleInsider]

Fortune confirms Verizon iPhone, notes it may be CDMA only

Fortune has provided additional confirmation of a Verizon iPhone launching in early 2011. In an article profiling Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, Fortune confirms “that a Verizon iPhone will be released in early 2011” and adds that its sources indicate that the first version of the Verizon iPhone will likely be built to run only on CDMA networks rather than being a world phone that can roam internationally. Fortune’s profile of Seidenberg also provides some additional insights into the history of the relationship between Apple and Verizon during Apple’s initial efforts to bring the iPhone to market. Fortune’s confirmation follows similar reports earlier this month from other major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. [via Mac Rumors]

Pac-Man Championship Edition now includes expansion pack content

Namco Networks America has released a major update to Pac-Man Championship Edition for the iPhone and iPod touch including all of the expansion pack content—30 levels and 120 missions—now bundled within the app at no additional charge. Previously the game included only a handful of levels, requiring users to purchase additional levels and missions from within the application. The expansion pack Challenge Mode is also now included instead of requiring a separate purchase. Further, the update adds integration with Apple’s new Game Center in iOS 4.1 providing leaderboards for all 15 Championship mode stages and twenty unlockable achievements and also introduces new and more intuitive virtual pad controls. Pac-Man Championship Edition is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple now fourth-largest mobile phone vendor worldwide

According to a recent report by IDC, Apple has joined the ranks of the world’s five largest mobile phone vendors, surpassing Research in Motion (RIM) by 1.7 million units and bumping Sony Ericsson off the list for the first time since IDC began tracking mobile phone market share in 2004. The report indicates that the worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the third-quarter of 2010, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth with vendors shipping 340.5 million phones in total last quarter compared to 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009. The IDC report goes on to note that the smartphone category is growing rapidly and is at least partly responsible for driving the rapid expansion of mobile phone adoption worldwide.

Apple is the second smartphone-only vendor to place in the top five ranking. RIM has already spent three quarters on the IDC leaderboard and both companies posted the highest growth rates among the top five vendors this past quarter. The report attributes Apple’s record performance to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter, and notes that this performance came despite the July “Antennagate” controversy around reception problems.

Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s WorldWide Mobile Phone Tracker notes that “The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Vendors that aren’t developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future.” IDC expects the worldwide mobile phone market to be driven primarily by smartphone growth over the next few years, expecting that market to grow 55% year over year. The full report is available from IDC’s web site.

Apple developing integrated SIM card?

Apple may be working on a new integrated micro-SIM card solution for a future iPhone model, according to a report from GigaOM. Citing sources inside European carriers, the report states that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a SIM card that will be integrated directly into the iPhone and can be activated on any carrier. Customers could then simply buy the iPhone and use an App Store application to sign up for service with their carrier of choice instead of having to purchase a carrier-specific micro-SIM card separately. SIM cards have traditionally been tied to individual carriers, whereas an embedded SIM would accept activation from any carrier rather than containing hard-coded carrier information. Apple is already unique among phone manufacturers in requiring iPhone activation via iTunes and this could be leveraged to provide the same security and carrier activation features without requiring the need for a removable SIM, effectively allowing the integrated SIM chip to be programmed with carrier information during the activation process. Other advantages of removable SIM cards such as international roaming and transferring between devices could likely also be addressed through an on-device app or as part of the iTunes activation process. Neither Apple nor Gemalto have yet responded to any requests for comment.

Apple removes white iPhone 4 from Online Store

Apple has removed the white iPhone 4 from the iPhone ordering page on its Online Store. This move follows a report late Tuesday that Apple would be delaying the iPhone 4 until Spring 2011, sparking additional rumours alleging that Apple may in fact have cancelled the white model of the iPhone 4 entirely. The reported Spring 2011 delay would have pushed the white iPhone 4 release very close to Apple’s typical early summer release dates for new iPhone models. Apple has provided no comment on this change and notably the white iPhone 4 still continues to appear in product descriptions and promotional images, as well as Apple’s iPhone 4 Specifications and iPhone 4 Gallery. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple begins unlocked iPhone sales in Germany

With the end of Deutsche Telekom’s iPhone exclusivity in Germany, Apple has begun selling the iPhone directly from its Online Store in that country both contract-free and unlocked. This mirrors how Apple has been selling the iPhone in other countries such as Canada where multiple carrier options are available. German customers can now purchase the 8GB iPhone 3GS for €519, and the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4 for €629 and 739€, respectively. Unlike some of the other countries, however, Apple will not be supplying micro-SIM cards for iPhones ordered directly from the Apple Online Store in Germany, instead directing customers to obtain a micro-SIM directly from their cellular provider of choice. Further, Vodafone and O2 have also now begun selling the iPhone directly in Germany alongside Deutsche Telekom, and Apple’s German web site now directs customers to all three of these carriers for contract iPhone purchases or micro-SIM cards.

TweetAgora adds Agora sharing

KainosAgora has released an update to TweetAgora adding more UI improvements and the ability to share Agoras with other Twitter users. TweetAgora is a Twitter client designed to allow Twitter users to get the most out of their Twitter streams by providing advanced filtering and aggregation features and the ability to create “Agoras”—custom feeds based on lists, keywords and people. TweetAgora 2.1 now allows users to share their Agoras with other users by posting them right in the Twitter stream with a #SharedAgora hashtag. Other TweetAgora users can import these Agoras directly into TweetAgora simply by tapping on the appropriate link. Users can also now customize which actions are performed when swiping a tweet in the timeline. The new version also provides a more dark-leather style UI, gap detection in Agoras and improved integration with Instapaper and Read It Later as well as performance improvements and bug fixes. TweetAgora is available from the App Store as a free download. The free version allows users to filter up to three keywords and three people, create up to three Agoras and load up to 150 tweets in a timeline. Users can upgrade to the paid version for $5 via in-app purchase to remove these limitations and add support for multiple accounts.

Apple delays white iPhone 4 until Spring 2011

Apple has announced yet another delay for the white iPhone 4, reports Reuters, noting that the company provided no details as to why the product remains unavailable. The white iPhone, which has variously reported to have suffered production delays related to light leakage and miscoloration of glass or button components, is now scheduled to be released in Spring 2011—curiously just before what has annually been a Summer refresh of iPhone hardware. It was previously delayed from June until July, then from July until late 2010, before receiving the latest setback. “We’re sorry to disappoint customers waiting for the white iPhone again,” Apple’s Trudy Muller told Reuters, without making further comment.

iOS 4 security flaw allows iPhone users to bypass lock screen

A MacRumors reader has identified a security flaw in iOS 4.1 that would allow users to bypass the iPhone lock screen. Attempting to place an emergency call to a non-emergency number and immediately pressing the sleep/wake button on the iPhone will open the Phone app, allowing the user to access contacts, call history, voicemail and call any number. The user will not be able to leave the Phone application and access other data on the device, and must either reboot the device or place and end another call to return to the normal lock screen. iLounge has confirmed that this issue exists in iOS 4.1 on all models of iPhone and have also received reports that the problem exists in at least some versions of iOS 4.0. Notably, John Gruber reports that the problem does not exist in iOS 4.2 beta 3, suggesting that Apple may have already identified and fixed the security flaw. Note that this issue does not affect the iPod touch as it has no Emergency Call feature.

Virtual City adds Free Play mode, Game Center support

Following the recent release of Virtual City HD for the iPad, G5 Entertainment has released an update to Virtual City for the iPhone (iLounge rating: B+) adding the promised Free Play mode. Virtual City 1.1 adds the Sand Box mode introduced in the iPad version allowing users to choose from one of five large maps to design their own city from scratch. Each Sand Box map represents one of the five U.S. states in Virtual City and players unlock each one by playing through the appropriate scenarios. The latest version also adds Game Center support for sharing achievements, improves Retina Display support and adds a number of performance optimizations and bug fixes. Virtual City for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store for $5.

VLC update adds iPhone support

Applidium has released an update to its iOS version of the popular VLC media player application adding support for iPhone and iPod touch devices. Released last month, VLC Media Player is an open-source media player for iOS devices that supports playback of a very wide variety of video formats. VLC Media Player 1.1 is now a universal app that can be used on the iPad and newer iPhone and iPod touch models. The update also adds the ability to delete files directly from within the application without having to go through iTunes, recognizes many more file extensions and includes optimizations that provide faster video decoding. VLC Media Player requires an iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or recent iPod touch model using iOS 3.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Tilt to Live update adds Retina Display, Game Center support

One Man Left has released an update to Tilt to Live adding Retina Display graphics and Game Center support. Tilt to Live is an action/arcade game for the iPhone and iPod touch where players use the accelerometer to navigate a small ship around a playing field avoiding touching red dots while trying to collect orbs that can be used to destroy them. The game provides four game types, six unlockable super-weapons and 43 award challenges. Users can post high scores to Twitter and Facebook or to global AGON online leaderboards. Version 1.5 adds high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch Retina Display and now integrates with Apple’s Game Center for leaderboards and awards/achievements. The update also fixes crashes in Code Red mode, improves memory usage and includes other minor bug fixes. Tilt to Live is available from the App Store for $3; an iPad version is also available.

MySpace launches SuperPost for iPhone

Social network site MySpace has launched a new iPhone application, SuperPost, allowing users to simultaneously post to multiple social networks. SuperPost allows users to update their status and share photos, videos and links not only on MySpace but on rival sites Facebook and Twitter. Users can preview photos and videos before sending them, upload HD videos while using a Wi-Fi connection and pick and choose the specific services that they want to post to. The application maintains a history of all updates and posts sent from the app and supports background task completion on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices allowing photos and videos to continue uploading even after leaving the application. The application allows only for posting of information and does not provide any facility for viewing updates from MySpace or other social networks. SuperPost is available from the App Store as a free download.

Electronic Arts releases Reckless Racing

Electronic Arts has released Reckless Racing, its much-anticipated dirt-road racing game for iOS devices. In Reckless Racing players choose from five detailed tracks and a variety of vehicles and race against other vehicles driven by in-game characters or other players online in a no-rules race. Players can choose from a variety of driving controls as they progress through the races and move up through three difficulty levels. Three different game modes are available allowing players to race against other drivers or simply race to beat the clock and the game also includes integrated leaderboards and online multiplayer chat. Reckless Racing is available from the App Store in two separate versions: Reckless Racing ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Reckless Racing HD ($5) for the iPad.

AT&T announces 5.2 million iPhone activations

AT&T released its third-quarter financial results today reporting that the company has activated 5.2 million iPhones—the most ever in a single quarter. The report goes on to note that this is 62 percent more than the previous quarterly record of 3.2 million which was set in the second quarter of 2010, and that 24 percent of those activations were for customers new to AT&T. This news follows Apple’s Q4 2010 results from earlier this week where the company reported sales of 14.1 million iPhones. It is worth noting however that AT&T’s activation numbers include both new device sales and reactivation of second-hand devices by new customers, and there is therefore no direct relationship between the number of iPhones sold by Apple and the number of devices activated by AT&T. [via Mac Rumors]

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