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Apple unveils iPhone 4 with front-facing camera, LED flash, more

As expected, Apple CEO Steve Jobs today unveiled the iPhone 4, with over 100 new features. Similar to the leaked prototype, the 9.3mm thick device—24% thinner than the iPhone 3GS—has aluminosilicate glass, chemically strengthened to be 30 times harder than plastic, on both the front and back with steel around the sides that also serves as part of the antenna system. As expected, its 3.5-inch display—which Apple is dubbing a “Retina display” due to its 326 pixel-per-inch pitch that’s above the limit of the human retina to differentiate the pixels—offers four times the resolution (960 x 640) of the current iPhone display, IPS technology, 78% of the pixels on the iPad, and an 800:1 contrast ratio, also four times that of the iPhone 3GS.

“iPhone 4 is the biggest leap since the original iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “FaceTime video calling sets a new standard for mobile communication, and our new Retina display is the highest resolution display ever in a phone, with text looking like it does on a fine printed page. We have been dreaming about both of these breakthroughs for decades.”

Continue reading for more on iPhone 4.

iPhone OS 4 renamed iOS 4, coming June 21

Apple today renamed its mobile device operating system, replacing the former iPhone OS moniker with “iOS.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the change during his WWDC keynote address, and used the opportunity to highlight some of iOS 4’s previously revealed features, including multitasking, folders, the unified Mail inbox, rotation lock, and enterprise features like Exchange Server 2010 support, wireless app distribution, mobile device management, data protection, and SSL VPN support. In an update on the new iAd advertising service, Jobs mentioned a number of large brands that have signed on to the service, including Nissan, Citibank, GE, Sears, Target, Best Buy, and others; the service will go live on July 1 for all iOS 4 devices, with $60 million committed for the second half of 2010.

New to the OS will be an option to use Bing search instead of Google or Yahoo!; Jobs also revealed that the 100 millionth iOS device will be sold this month. Developers can download the gold master of iOS 4 beginning today by visiting the iPhone Dev Center; iOS 4 will launch on June 21 as a free upgrade for all applicable products, including the second- and third-generation iPod touch, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS.

iLounge on site at WWDC, live coverage starting at 10 am PT

iLounge’s editors are on site at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco and will be offering live coverage of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address, which is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time/1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Jobs is expected to unveil the fourth-generation iPhone during the event, and will likely discuss further details of iPhone OS 4, as well as other topics. As we have done in the past, will take you to our streamlined special event page half an hour or so before the event; you can set your bookmarks ahead of time to, and we also hope to update our Flickr account with new photos.

AT&T bumps up iPhone upgrade dates further

AT&T has moved up the iPhone upgrade eligibility dates for a number of iPhone 3GS users, signaling the imminent arrival of the fourth-generation model. Several readers, along with at least two iLounge editors, report having their AT&T upgrade eligibility status updated over the weekend, changing their dates for eligibility from later in the year to immediate eligibility. This is the second time AT&T has changed some users’ eligibility dates prior to the fourth-generation model’s introduction. The company moved some eligibility dates from November 21 to June 21 last month; it’s unclear whether these same users are now available for immediate upgrades. AT&T customers can instantly check their upgrade eligibility dates by calling *639# from their iPhones. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to officially unveil the fourth-generation iPhone during his WWDC keynote address, which begins at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time today.

AT&T out of 8GB iPhone 3G units

AT&T has officially stopped selling the 8GB iPhone 3G, labeling the device “out of stock.” Boy Genius Report claims the device is at the end of its run, posting what is apparently an internal AT&T memo stating that “[e]ffective immediately, iPhone 3G 8GB is Out of Stock.  Please refer all customers to iPhone 3GS 16 GB and 32 GB models.” The memo also states that the company doesn’t know when more stock will arrive. Walmart recently lowered its price on the 16GB iPhone 3GS to $97, signaling that the iPhone 3G would likely be discontinued and replaced at the ~$100 price point by the low-end iPhone 3GS. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone on Monday, June 7, during his WWDC keynote address.

Apple posts iPhone, iPad compatible HTML 5 showcase

Apple has posted a new webpage dedicated to highlighting examples of HTML 5 in use on the web, its latest move in the ongoing spat with Adobe over Flash technology. “Every new Apple mobile device and every new Mac — along with the latest version of Apple’s Safari web browser — supports web standards including HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript,” Apple points out at the top of the page. “Standards aren’t add-ons to the web. They are the web. And you can start using them today.” The showcase offers HTML-driven examples of usage cases in which Flash is commonly employed, including video and audio playback, custom typography, transitions, VR, 360º spinning objects, and image galleries. Included at the bottom of the page are links to the Safari Dev Center, where web developers can learn more about the technologies driving the demos, as well as Apple’s iPad ready website page and CEO Steve Jobs’ “Thoughts on Flash” open letter.

Google adds iPhone app results to mobile search

Google has announced that it has added iPhone and Android app results to its mobile search service. On the Google Mobile Blog, they use a search for “bank of america app” as an example, with a direct App Store link to the app appearing above the traditional search results. In addition to the link, the app result also includes the price, rating, publishers, and icon. According to the blog post, the app results will appear when the search “pertains to a mobile application and relevant, well-rated apps are found.” Google’s mobile app search results are available today in the U.S., with “other countries and devices planned for the future.”

AT&T deluged with negative comments following iPhone plan changes

Following AT&T’s decision to introduce new “smartphone” plans that will impact iPhone and iPad 3G users, the company has been flooded with negative sentiments from angry customers. The company’s Facebook Wall is filled with comments ranging from well-mannered and sensible sentiments—“Just imagine the good PR you guys will get if you offer the tethering for free with the [DataPro] plan, it won’t change anything in your service since everybody will use the same data that [they are] already paying [for]”—to bolder and frequently brutal ones, such as “AT&T is showing their true colors… They really truly suck.” Many users, including iLounge readers, have focused about the abrupt change in iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G service terms after only a month on store shelves. “Bait and Switch,” says iLounge reader Liz. “They pumped the iPad 3G for months on the unlimited data plan with no contract and now they’re taking it away only what 2 months or less since the 3G launched? Screw AT&T I’d rather pay the big cash to another carrier and use MiFi instead.”

A quick search of Twitter for the hashtag “#attsucks” turns up numerous recent tweets, for obvious reasons all negative. “I’m sure of two things: as of 6/7 I’m giving $15 less to AT&T each month,” writes user davehiggins1. “As of 11/20 I’m giving $0 to AT&T each month.” Twitter user HelloTasmin writes, “Does it actually make it better that I pay slightly less for a service that becomes sh!*!ier every day?” It remains to be seen whether the backlash will force AT&T’s hand to remedy some of the newly-created issues; however, as iLounge reader Devo points out in a comment on our editorial on the matter, there is some precedent for iPhone-related customer outcry leading a carrier to change its policies.

“When Apple finally announced that Canadians [were] going to get their chance to get their hands on a (legitimate) iPhone, Rogers communications (our AT&T equivalent provider north of the border) announced some pretty lousy data plans,” Devo writes. “In fact, some of them had (have) ridiculously low caps. I think they started [at] 100MB! Canadian customers were so [put] off that Americans were being offered unlimited data that a petition was started to try and force Rogers to offer the same, an unlimited plan at a fair ($30) price. What we got was a limited time offer of 6GB for that $30, and yes I signed up for that. Then last summer, Rogers got wise and when Apple offered tethering on the iPhone, customers could use that service, free of any additional charge, and any data usage incurred would count towards that month’s allowed data. Now AT&T wants to make the same mistakes as Rogers, and hopes to get away with it? What are they thinking? Who in the world thinks it’s a good idea to offer worse service at a higher price, than was available to consumers in the past. They must think you’re all idiots.”

AT&T makes major changes to iPhone, iPad data plans

AT&T has announced that it is making several major changes to its data plan offerings, including those for the iPhone and iPad, as well as giving a concrete timeframe for its iPhone tethering launch. The single $30 unlimited iPhone data plan will be replaced by a pair of options: DataPlus, which offers 200MB of data for $15 per month, and DataPro, which provides 2GB of data for $25. Should a customer exceed their data limit, they will receive either an extra 200MB of data for $15 on DataPlus plans or an extra 1GB of data for $10 on DataPro plans. Similar changes will be made to the company’s iPad data offerings, with the $30 unlimited plan being replaced by the new $25 for 2GB a month plan. All of the data plans offer free access to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots as well. Finally, AT&T will be offering iPhone tethering to customers on DataPro plans for an extra $20 per month; the feature will be available when iPhone OS 4.0 is released. Current customers are not required to switch to the new plans but can do so if they wish without extending their contracts; the plans will be available beginning June 7.

Apple CEO Jobs: iPhone OS started as tablet project (Updated)

Earlier this evening, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave an on-stage interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to open this year’s D: All Things Digital Conference. Jobs touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the App Store approval process to the purchase and subsequent publication of details relating to the fourth-generation iPhone. Perhaps most notably, Jobs revealed that the basis for the iPhone OS originally started as a software project for a tablet, and was only re-focused on a phone once Jobs saw the initial user interface coming together. He later made an analogy between traditional PCs and trucks and tablet computers and cars, saying that he thinks PCs will be more like trucks, and over time, less people will need them.

Asked about his own open letter regarding Apple’s stance on Flash support for the iPhone OS platform, Jobs depicted the company as having fewer resources than some competitors, and explained that it tries to look for technology that is up and coming, instead of on its way out. He noted Apple’s history of both abandoning outgoing technology earlier than competitors, such as with the 3.5-inch floppy disc in the iMac and optical drives in the MacBook Air, and adopting new, upcoming technologies earlier than others, pointing to USB support in the first iMac. He described Flash as waning, and said he only wrote the letter after Adobe publicly complained about the lack of Flash support on the iPad.

Report ‘confirms’ 960 x 640 iPhone 4G display

A new report from Czech Republic-based SuperiPhone (Translated Link) claims to have confirmed the resolution of the fourth-generation iPhone’s display at 960 x 640. Using a microscope, the publication compared a display component supposedly meant for the fourth-generation iPhone to the displays of an iPhone 3GS, iPod touch, and Google Nexus One. Based on their results, the report claims that the display does have a resolution of 960 x 640, which results in a density of 320 ppi, and also uses the same IPS technology found in the iPad. John Gruber of Daring Fireball first suggested that the next iPhone would sport a 960 x 640 display in March, later explaining that the quadruple resolution—compared to existing iPhones and iPod touches—would allow current applications to be upscaled with little to no discernable difference in quality.

AT&T to offer iPhone insurance for $14 a month?

AT&T is preparing to offer insurance plans for iPhone users, with pricing set at $14 per month, according to a new report. The Boy Genius Report has posted photos showing internal AT&T documents outlining the new service, which will be called MobileProtect and will be activated by downloading an app from the App Store. According to the report, the plan will be run by Asurion, with monthly charges billed through the app to the user’s iTunes account. In addition to the monthly charge, the plan will also include deductibles ranging from $99 for an 8GB iPhone 3G to $199 for a 32GB iPhone 3GS, and must be activated within 30 days of upgrading or purchasing a new iPhone.

AT&T claims 40% of iPhone sales to enterprise

An AT&T executive recently claimed that four out of every 10 iPhones the company sells go to enterprise users, according to a ZDNet report. Speaking at the Barclays Capital Communications, Media and Technology conference, Ron Spears, CEO of AT&T’s Business Solutions unit made several comments regarding the iPhone, including its transition to an enterprise-ready device. “Four out of 10 sales of the iPhone are made to enterprise users,” Spears explained. “When the iPhone came out, what most people heard in the first year from ‘07 to ‘08 was oh my God, it’s not BlackBerry secure. This is not going to work on the enterprise space… by the time the 3G came out in ‘08 they had solved about 80% of the security issues.” Spears also provided a glimpse into how AT&T itself uses the iPhone for company business. “Most of our monthly reporting is all built into an app that gets updated when our systems get updated, and we do an automatic fetch,” he said. “And any time I want to look at where we sort of sit from a financial point of view in ABS, it now resides on my iPhone as an app. So it starts to change the way you think about governing your business. It changes the speed with which you can make decisions.”

NBC, Time Warner sticking with Flash?

NBC and Time Warner have told Apple that they won’t be converting their online videos to the iPhone- and iPad-friendly H.264 format, according to a New York Post report. Citing unnamed sources, the report claims that Time Warner, NBC Universal, and several other large media companies have said they will not convert their video libraries over to a non-Flash format, citing expense and the fact that most other devices support Adobe’s software. The report also claims that the media companies feel they are in a better negotiating position following the announcement of Google TV, and the expected launch of Flash-compatible tablets from companies such as Dell and HP. Notably, CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, has reformatted its online videos to be iPhone- and iPad-compatible, and is listed on Apple’s page of “iPad ready” websites, alongside fellow Time Warner property Sports Illustrated.

AdMob: Android gaining on iPhone in U.S

The number of devices in the United States running Google’s Android operating system is closing in on the number of iPhones in the country, according to AdMob’s April 2010 Mobile Metrics Report (PDF LInk). As of April, AdMob saw requests from 10.7 million unique iPhones, compared to 8.7 million Android devices. When the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, they amount to 18.3 million devices. The situation is not the same worldwide, however. Globally, AdMob saw requests from 11.6 million unique Android devices, compared to 27.4 million iPhones. Again, when the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, this number is much higher—40.8 million globally. Overall, only 44% of iPhone OS requests are from the U.S, compared to 75% for Android. AdMob’s metrics are based on its advertising network of more than 23,000 mobile websites and applications around the world.

Apple ‘saddened and upset’ by Foxconn suicides

Apple has said in a statement that it is “saddened and upset” by the recent suicides at manufacturing partner Foxconn. Reuters reports that Apple’s comments come as Foxconn and its parent company Hon Hai are launching a PR campaign to counter growing concerns about the company’s handling of its employees. “We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn,” Apple said in a statement. “We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously. A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made.”

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou has also spoken out about his concern over the ongoing employee suicides, with nine so far this year. “I’m very concerned about this. I can’t sleep every night,” said Gou. “From a scientific point of view, I’m not confident we can stop every case. But, as a responsible employer, we have to take up the responsibility of preventing as many as we can.” Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.

Apple taps Oscar-winning director for new iPhone ads

Apple has tapped Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes to direct its TV advertisements for the next-generation iPhone. Citing a trusted source as well as a pair of Twitter updates, Engadget reports that Mendes, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2000 for American Beauty, will direct the new commercials, at least one of which will feature a mother and daughter having a video chat conversation using the new front-facing camera. Auditions for the commercials are being held in New York and California, according to the report; Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone on June 7 during his keynote address at the company’s WWDC event.

AT&T testing free Wi-Fi in Times Square

AT&T will bring its first-ever free outdoor Wi-Fi hot spot online today in New York City’s Times Square, in an effort to battle the network traffic congestion caused by smartphone, and most prominently iPhone, users. The Wall Street Journal reports that pedestrians using AT&T smartphones will be able to connect over Wi-Fi at no charge when in range of the hot spot, which is located new 7th Ave. between 45th and 47th Streets. “It’s a very large data off-load in a venue where traditionally data would go over our old voice and data network,” Mike Maus, who oversees AT&T’s New York network, told the WSJ. AT&T also said it may expand the trial to up to three other U.S. cities; although it declined to say where, San Francisco would be a likely choice, given the company’s past congestion problems in the area.

Walmart offering 16GB iPhone 3GS for $97

Walmart has announced that it is now offering the 16GB iPhone 3GS for $97. Like all past iPhones, these discounted iPhone 3GS units are new and require a two-year contract with AT&T. With Apple CEO Steve Jobs expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone during his June 7 WWDC keynote address, it is possible that the price drops are a precursor to Apple discontinuing the 8GB iPhone 3G, which is currently sold for roughly $100, and replacing it with the 16GB iPhone 3GS, while the new models fill in the traditional $199 and $299 price points. Notably, neither Apple nor AT&T has yet to drop their prices on 16GB iPhone 3GS models.

White iPhone 4G prototype appears online

Another next-generation iPhone prototype has appeared online, this time sporting a white faceplate. Engadget, citing Chinese site, reports that the faceplate of the prototype does not appear to have been snapped in all the way, hovering some distance above the white Home button and metal sides, but otherwise appears to be legitimate, appearing the photo next to a black prototype similar to the one obtained and photographed by Gizmodo. Several supposed white next-generation iPhone faceplates had previously appeared online, but this is the first time one has been pictured attached to a full prototype unit, lending credence to the idea that Apple may be planning to announce both white and black models of its next-generation iPhone, with the white model becoming the first iPhone OS device to feature a non-black front.

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