A listing for the iPhone 3G has appeared on China Unicom’s regional Shanghai website (Translated Link), suggesting the carrier may be close to a deal with Apple to launch the iPhone in China. The page in question appears in a section of Unicom’s site dedicated to its upcoming WCDMA 3G rollout, alongside dedicated pages for the HTC G1, Sony Ericsson X1, and Nokia’s N97 and E71 smartphones; notably, the iPhone 3G page also includes images of the iPhone 2G, and makes reference to certain features—such as animated screensavers—that the iPhones don’t actually include. According to Macworld UK, a China Unicom delegation made a breakthrough last week in its talks with Apple to bring the handset to China; the company had previously confirmed that it was in talks with Apple over the iPhone. The China Unicom page does not specify whether the company will sell the iPhone.
John Carmack of id Software has released an open-source port of his classic FPS game Wolfenstein 3D for the iPhone and iPod touch. Available under a GPL license as a direct download from id, the code is not compiled, requiring access to Apple’s iPhone SDK to be rendered playable, and offers developers the opportunity to create their own takes on the somewhat enhanced version of the original game.
In a statement included with the game code, Carmack explained how Wolfenstein RPG, originally slated to be the company’s first iPhone title, stumbled in development after a disagreement with publisher Electronic Arts over the graphics renderer, which delivered sub-par visual performance that resembled a mid-range JAVA phone. Carmack noted that switching the rendering from a software engine to the iPhone’s 3D hardware accelerator was claimed to require two months and an excessively high budget, but took him four days and improved the frame rate by eight times its prior performance; still, it is unclear whether the improved title will be appearing on the iPhone. He went on to say that the company does have a “cool” but unnamed iPhone project in development, and that he expects Classic Doom to be available for the iPhone “fairly soon.”
Update: id has released Wolfenstein 3D Classic via the App Store. The game includes all six original episodes with 60 levels, an all-new control system developed for the iPhone by John Carmack, and sells for $5.
New evidence suggesting the existence of new, unreleased iPhone and iPod touch hardware has been found in iPhone OS 3.0. Ars Technica reports that the USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file, which lists details about the USB configurations of various hardware models along with their Device IDs and product names, lists not one but two unidentified iPhone models, as well as a new iPod touch model, and two unknown products. The original iPhone, iPhone 3G, original iPod touch, and iPod touch 2G are listed as iPhone1,1; iPhone1,2; iPod1,1; and iPod2,1 respectively, with an increase in the first number representing a significant hardware redesign.
A listing for a product labeled iPhone 2,1 was found in the latest iPhone firmware in January, and has since been joined by products listed as iPhone 3,1 and iPod 3,1; as well as listings for iFPGA and iProd0,1. Two new iPhones on the list simultaneously suggests potentially differing form factors or features, such as a smaller iPhone or a larger one. The report suggests that the iFPGA could be a device that uses field-programmable gate arrays, a type of programmable microchip, but since it doesn’t observe Apple’s standard numbering scheme, it’s unlikely to be intended for release. The iProd, with its 0,1 status, is most likely an early prototype of a new device that is neither an iPhone nor an iPod touch.
O2 has announced that starting April 3 it will introduce a new 24-month tariff option for iPhone customers that will see a “free” iPhone 3G bundled with a lower minimum tariff than before. Customers signing up for the 24-month £34.26 tariff plan, which includes 600 minutes, 500 texts, and unlimited data and Wi-Fi hotspot service, will receive the 8GB model for free, while the 16GB model will be priced at £57.74. Customers will be able to receive either model for free when signing up for the £44.05 tariff, which includes 1200 minutes, 500 texts, and unlimited data and hotspot service. 18-month contracts for both tariffs will also be available, with the 8GB model available for free only with the more expensive plan, and prices ranging from £57.74 to £155.61 for other model/18-month tariff combinations. The 8GB model was previously only available for free with a £45 or higher monthly tariff, while the 16GB model was free with a £75 monthly tariff only.
A new report states that LG is expected to provide OLED screens for new iPhone and iPod touch models due later this year. Smarthouse, citing sources within LG Korea, claims that the new screens bound for the iPhone and iPod touch will be joined by an OLED-based touchscreen “notebook,” and that LG has been working on increasing touch sensitivity on the screens, as well as working on a new outer layer of covering for the screens to reduce the appearance of finger marks on the screen, left by accumulating body oils and sweat. Finally, the report states that Apple is also looking at a thin OLED screen from LG that will “link with a wireless content device similar to the current Apple TV.”
OLED technology has the potential to improve battery life in formerly LCD or LED-based devices by removing the need for backlighting, as well as improving color ranges, viewing angles, and rendition of true black coloration. Unfortunately, OLED technology has been plagued with considerably lower lifespans than LCD and LED screens, reducing the longevity of OLED devices to under five years when used for 8 hours per day.
New screenshots taken from the beta release of iPhone OS 3.0 suggest that Apple may be planning to add video-recording functionality to current or possibly future iPhone models. Engadget Mobile reports that a “Publish Video” screen appears when attempting to publish a still image to MobileMe, prompting users to enter a title and optional description. Given that Apple did not mention video recording as a new feature of iPhone OS 3.0, the appearance of this menu suggests the feature may be planned for future iPhone and/or iPod touch hardware; it is also possible, but unlikely, that the text is simply a typo.
The iPhone has been ranked as the top revenue driver on AT&T’s website from November 2008 - January 2009, according to the latest data from comScore. The latest report also found the iPhone to be ranked ninth in total unit sales from AT&T’s online store; the top seller by unit sales was the refurbished LG Shine, 95% of which were offered for free. These numbers are quite similar to those found with Verizon’s flagship handset, the Blackberry Storm, and with T-Mobile’s HTC G1, both of which were the top revenue driver for their respective carrier’s websites during the period, and both of which were ranked eighth in total unit sales. Sprint’s Samsung Instinct, by comparison, was only ranked seventh by sales revenue, and fifteenth by unit sales.
Imagination Technologies, the company behind the iPhone’s PowerVR MBX chip, has introduced a new GP-GPU multi-core processor that could make its way into the next-generation iPhone. According to the company’s CEO, the new chip—dubbed the PowerVX SGX543—is designed to scale from two to sixteen cores without increasing performance challenges for developers, and appears to offer both OpenGL ES and OpenCL support, the latter of which Apple is building into its next-generation Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system. Both Apple and Intel have made substantial investments in the company.
A number of iPhone developers are complaining of a bug in the App Store which prevents new applications from appearing on the mobile versions of the store when sorting by release date. According to an email from a concerned developer received by iLounge, the problem has been ongoing for some time, and despite contact from a number of developers complaining about the issue, the problem has yet to be fixed. A different developer, writing in a forum thread on the subject, claims that his revenue is down by 50% for March, blaming the bug for decreased exposure. According to the original developer’s email, there is also a large thread on the subject on Apple’s own Developer Forums, which have been down since the release of the iPhone OS 3.0 beta SDK.
An iPhone developer has managed to successfully enable tethering support in iPhone OS 3.0. According to screenshots posted by the developer, tethering will be allowed over both USB and Bluetooth, with pairing necessary for the latter connection; they also show that the status bar turns purplish blue while tethering, in the same manner that it turns green during a call or red during audio recording. The developer claims he has no idea how he enabled the feature, as he was “hacking around” with carrier bundle files on the new OS. During the iPhone OS 3.0 event yesterday, Apple stated that it built tethering support into the OS and is working with carriers to implement the feature, but it does not appear as an option on normal installs of the beta OS. Continue reading for more screenshots. [via Mac Rumors]
AT&T is preparing to offer the iPhone 3G on a no-commit basis beginning March 26, according to a new report. Based on AT&T training slides published by the Boy Genius Report, the no-commitment-required handsets will be available only to current customers, and will be priced at $599 for the 8GB model and $699 for 16GB units. The no-commit option will be offered alongside the current fully-subsidized and early-upgrade pricing levels.
Update: AT&T has confirmed plans to sell no-contract iPhones at the $599 and $699 price points.
Apple has posted a streaming Quicktime video of its iPhone OS 3.0 event, held yesterday on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA. The video is roughly one hour and thirty minutes long, and contains several demonstrations of iPhone OS 3.0-enabled applications, as well as new features. Apple is expected to release iPhone OS 3.0 this summer.
The following screenshots show off a Bluetooth-unlocked iPod touch 2G running the new iPhone OS 3.0 software. You can view the entire collection by clicking on the title of this article. Additional images, including one showing a new Encrypted iPod Backup feature in iTunes 8.1, have also been added.
Updated! We’ve added a collection of iPhone 3G screenshots of iPhone OS 3.0. Thanks to our source, “Mr. F,” for both sets of images!
Despite the large number of user requests that were answered in Apple’s preview of iPhone OS 3.0, there remain several unresolved issues.
Adobe Flash support: When asked what Apple was doing in regards to Adobe Flash support on the iPhone, the company’s trio of executives danced around the question, stating that they had nothing to announce today, and going on to talk about the expanded video and audio support in iPhone OS 3.0. Apple’s true intentions regarding Flash support remain unclear, although if today’s event and subsequent Q&A session are any indication, it’s not a high priority at this time.
App Store acceptance policies: While Apple touted the large number of applications available on the App Store, the strong developer response, and the expanded range of APIs developers will have access to, it said little to shed light on the semi-mysterious App Store acceptance policies. In response to the lone question asked on the topic, Apple Senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said, “96% [of submitted apps] are approved, but there are things we have to watch out for. There have been issues, issues about content that’s available to children for instance. But at the end of the day, we have a great solution that’s working, and we’re constantly making it better.”
iPhone/iPod touch hardware limitations: In announcing iPhone OS 3.0’s summer launch date, Greg Joswiak indicated that some of the new features would be limited to certain hardware, saying, “For instance, A2DP and MMS won’t be available on the iPhone 1st gen.” However, he did not elaborate on exactly which features would be available for which devices, leaving users to wonder as to what features their device will support.
Display Technology changes: Also absent from today’s announcement was any talk of display technology changes. As mentioned prior to the event , the iPhone OS’ user interface is currently optimized for devices with 480x320 resolution displays. Any change in this resolution, whether to go larger or smaller, would require a lot of work for developers, and as this was not brought up during the event, it appears unlikely that Apple plans to release a higher-resolution iPhone or iPhone OS-based device anytime soon.
Dock Connector and Wireless Keyboard and Controller Support: Even in response to a direct question regarding keyboard support in iPhone OS 3.0, Apple was unwilling to commit to certain specific Dock Connector and wireless devices that would be able to interface with the iPhone and iPod touch using iPhone OS 3.0. Examples of devices that could work included diabetes glucose testers, FM transmitters, and speakers, however, the company declined to say that a human interface device (HID) driver would be available for use by iPhone applications and games.
In addition to announcing a number of new consumer features and developer features like accessory compatibility and in-app purchases, Apple today revealed a number of other new technologies that will be available to developers in iPhone OS 3.0.
Push Notifications: First unveiled at last year’s WWDC conference and planned for release last fall, Apple will finally offer third-party developers a way to send small notifications to users about incoming messages and new content without the need to leave programs running in the background. As described last year, the developers’ servers will stay in contact with an Apple-run notification server, which will push the messages directly to the user when necessary. This feature is expected to consume roughly 20% additional battery life when turned on.
Peer to Peer: Peer to Peer is a new device connectivity feature that uses Apple’s Bonjour technology to let applications automatically discover one another and communicate over a Bluetooth connection. No pairing will be necessary, and although Apple pointed out the feature’s usefulness for close-quarters wireless gaming, Peer to Peer will also be available for traditional applications.
Google Maps and Turn-by-Turn Navigation: Third-party developers will, in iPhone OS 3.0, be able to add Google Maps directly into their applications using a new Maps API, instead of having to provide their own implementation. Additionally, developers will be able to use the OS’ Core Location features to provide turn-by-turn directions, but will need to supply their own maps when using turn-by-turn functionality due to licensing agreements.
iPod Library Access, Proximity Sensor, and More: Mentioned in a large graphic alongside other common APIs were new calls for iPod library access, letting third-party applications play music directly from the device’s library and potentially opening the door to an iPhone-based DJ application, and for the Proximity Sensor, which Google notably accessed via an unpublished API in its Google Search application. In addition, developers will gain APIs for accessing the battery, a standard audio recorder, and a pre-configured shake implementation.
In keeping with past releases of the iPhone OS software for the iPhone and iPod touch, Apple today announced that the iPhone and iPhone 3G versions of iPhone OS 3.0 will be free for current iPhone users, and that the iPod touch version will be available for $10. Slides at the event, interestingly, depicted the iPhone as receiving a new Voice Memos application previously announced in the presentation, while the iPod touch was shown without the application; it is unclear whether Apple will attempt to charge iPod touch users separately for the voice recording functionality. iPod nano and iPod classic users have a free integrated application for this purpose.
In previewing the upcoming release of iPhone OS 3.0, now scheduled for public availability in Summer 2009, Apple has unveiled the following new features users of the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPod touch can expect to see added.
Cut, Copy + Paste. A much-requested feature, users will be able to cut, copy, and paste text in virtually any text-based iPhone application—from Apple or third-parties. Double-tapping on text automatically selects it, with grab points on either end and a cut/copy/paste bubble above. When sliding a grab point, a new magnifying glass appears. Long holds in Safari automatically select large blocks of text; it will also copy HTML. Users can undo the last cut, copy, or paste by shaking the device; a select, select all, and paste dialog is also available. The same process will work in third-party apps as long as they use Apple’s new API.
Share Multiple Photos. Users will be able to select multiple pictures in the Photo app to insert into multi-picture emails.
Voice Memos. Apple has created its own application that will quickly and easily record audio messages using either the device’s integrated microphone (iPhone) or an external microphone (iPhone, iPod touch 2G). Editing will also be possible inside this app; it will apparently become a part of the OS 3.0 list of included apps.
MMS. Support for Multimedia Messaging transforms the current SMS application into a new app called Messages. Users will be able to transfer contact information, Google Map location information, certain audio files, and images using MMS.
Spotlight Search. Search features have been added to a number of the “key” apps, including iPod, Contacts, Calendar, and Mail, enabling you to search within the apps or within a new Spotlight global application to find people, e-mails, appointments, and media files. Spotlight is accessible by swiping from the first iPhone OS home screen over to the left, and now appears as a miniature magnifying glass icon off to the left of the dots on the bottom of the screen.
Widescreen Keyboard. Previously found in Safari, this keyboard is now being added to a number of “key” iPhone apps, including Mail, Messaging, and Notes, enabling users to more easily type on the iPhone’s screen. Apple is not yet adding support for external keyboards to the device.
Other Apps. Stocks now includes more detailed stock performance information, including widescreen charts and stock headlines. Notes can now synchronize with your computer. Calendar gains support for additional calendar-sync standards, including CalDAV and .ICS.
Among the announcements made by Apple today at the iPhone OS 3.0 preview event was newly-touted accessory compatibility for the updated OS. Using new APIs made available in the iPhone OS 3.0 SDK, accessory makers will be able to write custom applications that communicate directly with their hardware via the 30-pin Dock Connector or wirelessly over Bluetooth. While Apple used both an on-screen speaker equalizer and an open-station finder for an FM transmitter as examples of this technology in use, it is possible for this new ability to open the door for third-party gaming accessories, however, Apple did not cite either this or support for keyboards as currently announced features of iPhone OS 3.0.
Apple has also added support for stereo Bluetooth using the A2DP protocol; this feature will work on the iPhone 3G for certain, but not on the original iPhone; it is likely to work on the iPod touch 2G as well, but not on the original iPod touch.
In less than two hours, Apple will hold an event to pre-announce details of its iPhone OS 3.0. We will be linking to Engadget’s live coverage of this event, found here. As the event takes place, users should pay especially close attention to Apple’s answers to the following five major issues regarding the upcoming software release, as well as important surrounding changes to iPhone and iPod touch hardware and accessory support.
5. Pricing: Will original iPhone owners need to pay for iPhone OS 3.0? How much will iPod touch users pay?
Though Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo don’t charge for their game consoles’ software or firmware updates, Apple has claimed that it is legally required to charge for software updates to its iPod touch, and implicitly would have to do the same for its iPhone after a two-year revenue deferral period. It charged iPod touch owners $20 for the January ‘08 Application Pack, and $10 for iPhone OS 2.0. As June 29 marks the two-year anniversary of the original iPhone’s launch, will launch day and other early-adopter customers be expected to pay for upgrades once the two years of revenue deferment are over? Will iPhone users who purchased later be entitled to a free 3.0 upgrade, as they’d expect from their two-year service contracts?
4. App Store: Are there any changes planned for the App Store, such as more consistent approval standards, price increases for developers, an Adult section, or a Premium section?
Since the App Store’s launch last year, developers have roundly criticized Apple for opaque and inconsistent approval standards, as well as permitting influxes of cheap or borderline offensive applications to flood the Store. Will Apple address any of these concerns with improved approval transparency and new sections of the Store, letting apps such as South Park be offered to their intended audience, or will it continue to remain silent or ambiguous regarding approvals?
3. Display Technology: Will Apple reveal a plan to scale the iPhone’s UI to different-sized displays, smaller and/or larger than the current 480x320 screens on iPhones and iPod touches, or create an output mode for external displays?
With competitors releasing higher resolution smartphones, and the possibility of smaller iPhone and iPod touch models, Apple may finally have to expand past the iPhone OS’s sole supported resolution—but as we discuss in detail in this article, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Apple can get a jump-start on expanding the iPhone OS’ supported resolutions by including a solution in the iPhone OS 3.0 SDK, and could also address those who have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed menu interface for use on external displays.
2. External Keyboard + Game Controls: Will Apple finally enable the iPhone to support external keyboards and game controllers, or announce upcoming models with superior integrated keyboard or game controls?
More than two years after it was originally demonstrated, Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch keyboard has proved to be better than its harshest critics expected, but still less reliable than many business users had hoped. Similarly, though thousands of games have been released for these devices, many popular game genres have proved difficult to replicate due to Apple’s lack of integrated joypads and buttons. Will Apple finally add support for superior keyboards or game controls to iPhone OS 3.0?
1. How many other long-standing iPhone user criticisms will be addressed in iPhone OS 3.0?
Before the original iPhone even hit the market, potential buyers were already compiling lists of features they wanted or needed from the device. While iPhone OS 2.0 addressed some of these concerns, adding the ability to load third-party apps, as well as Microsoft Exchange support, a wide variety of features—such as copy & paste, background notifications, MMS messaging, widespread access to the landscape keyboard, video recording, and more—remain missing. Now, with the growth of the App Store, users also need a more effective interface for managing the growing number of programs stored on their iPhones and iPod touches. How many actual user requests will be addressed in the software?
Apple has extended the iPhone Developer Program contracts of all developers signed up during the beta period, giving the company time to sort out its renewal process. Last week it was reported that developers seeking to renew their contracts, many of which were scheduled to expire this month, had no way to do so. “There is no process in place yet to renew it just now,” an Apple Developer Connection representative said. Apple has since begun contacting these early developers via email, stating that their contracts have been extended to July 11, 2009—one year from the opening of the App Store—and that they will be able to renew their contracts beginning in May.