AT&T plans to drop support for all Pay As You Go iPhone users, in an effort to move all pre-paid iPhone users onto contract plans ahead of the iPhone 3.0 release. Erica Sadun of TUAW writes that she called AT&T after receiving a screenshot of an official AT&T text message sent to a pre-paid iPhone user, which stated that the upgrade may affect data service. The message asked the user to call AT&T; he was told that if he downloads the software without being on “an approved iPhone data plan,” his data service would be interrupted. According to Sadun’s phone communications with AT&T, it appears that the company will be deliberately downgrading the data services offered to GoPhone users to get them to move to contract plans. As this online memo states, GoPhone plans are no longer available for either the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, and only original iPhone Pick Your Plan customers with the unlimited data plan for iPhone will be safe from service interruptions. Sadun was also told that original iPhone users on GoPhone plans would be unable to move to a postpaid plan without signing a two-year contract, despite their full ownership of their current equipment, adding, “all prepaid customers should transfer into a contract plan for the iPhone.”
Apple is now shipping pre-ordered iPhone 3GS units to customers for delivery on Friday. iLounge reader Kevin Hanson has posted screenshots of his Apple Store shipment notification for a 32GB white iPhone 3GS, and similar notifications are currently hitting other customers’ accounts. While Kevin did not comment on tracking details, a separate report from AppleInsider indicates that the units are shipping out of Shenzhen, China, home to many of the country’s large manufacturers, including Foxconn Electronics. Both Apple and AT&T have promised customers placing online pre-orders that their new handsets would arrive on Friday, the same day the iPhone 3GS goes on sale in Apple and AT&T retail locations.
AT&T has completely sold through its launch day supply of pre-order iPhone 3GS units, according to a new report. Citing an internal AT&T memo, Boy Genius Report claims that only pre-orders placed prior to Saturday, June 13 are expected to arrive at stores in time for a Friday morning pick-up, while customers placing pre-orders after that time should be told their order will arrive between 7-14 days from the order date. It is currently unclear whether this will have any affect on online pre-orders, or standby stock for customers who chose not to pre-order. AT&T will open its stores at 7:00 a.m. Friday morning to allow pre-order customers to come in and receive their iPhone 3GS before the stores open for general sales at 8:00.
AT&T will not charge iPhone users with text messaging plans anything extra for MMS messages, according to a FAQ list (PDF Link) posted online. Support for MMS messaging will be included in iPhone OS 3.0, which is launching this Wednesday, June 17. Unfortunately, AT&T will not have its network ready to provide MMS service to iPhone users on that date, and has only said that the feature would be activated “later this summer.” In addition, the company has also committed to providing tethering support for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, although it will only say the feature is coming “in the future.”
Following four days of complaints from current iPhone users who are being quoted prices of $399 and up to upgrade their current handsets to the iPhone 3GS, a crisis communications expert has suggested that AT&T has roughly 24-48 hours to respond to the criticism. “It’s time for AT&T to step forward and be an industry leader,” said Dallas Lawrence, vice president of digital media at New York-based Levick Strategic Communications, in an interview with Computerworld. “The next 48 hours will be very telling. AT&T needs to embrace the message, to acknowledge a mistake’s been made, and to make things good.” The online complaints have culminated in a Twitter petition—now with more than 8,000 supporters—calling for AT&T to offer iPhone 3GS upgrades to all iPhone customers for the same $199 and $299 pricing it offers to new customers. The number of names attached to the petition has nearly doubled in the last 24 hours.
“AT&T has the opportunity to turn a potential negative into a positive,” said Lawrence, adding “[t]hey should forget the immediate gratification [of higher revenue] and invest in the longer term to keep iPhone users.” Lawrence went on to say that this vocal group of users will only get more agitated the longer it takes the U.S. iPhone carrier to respond, and that if the company were his client, he would tell them to immediately apologize and guarantee the cheapest upgrade pricing for all iPhone users. “And they should say they will do that for every iPhone that Apple launches, because they want the iPhone users to be part of the AT&T family for life,” Lawrence added. “That would be the type of statement that would be leading—outside the industry norm—and would let iPhone users know they can make a commitment to AT&T because AT&T has made a commitment to them.”
A newly-disclosed Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a system to enhance emergency calls on the iPhone. Titled “Method and system for prolonging emergency calls,” the patent describes a system for determining when a call is an emergency call, either by automatically classifying numbers as emergency services—such as 911—or via an emergency tagging system in the contacts application. When an emergency call is detected, the phone could then implement a number of different tactics to help facilitate the call, including but not limited to deactivating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or various sensors, implementing a confirmation alert before the call can be ended, and providing options for “emergency phrase buttons,” which would allow the user to simply touch the screen to send his/her current location, an “unable to speak” message, phrases describing the user’s problem, or an automated request to contact a certain contact, all via pre-recorded audio messages. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. Continue reading for more images from the patent application. [via MacRumors]
Both Apple and AT&T have outlined their plans for June 19, when the iPhone 3GS goes on sale. Apple will open its retail stores worldwide at 8 a.m. local time to begin sales of the phone and to allow those who pre-ordered to come in and pick their units up, while AT&T plans to have two queues outside its stores—one for those who pre-ordered, and one for those planning to purchase their unit that day. The pre-order customers will be allowed inside the stores at 7 a.m. to pick up their device, while the regular customers will need to wait until 8 a.m. Although both Best Buy and Walmart offer the iPhone 3G in their stores, it is currently unclear whether they will also carry the iPhone 3GS, or whether they will have units available on launch day. iLounge has contacted both companies for clarification and will update this story when we hear back.
In addition, AT&T has posted a video explaining its launch day plans; continue reading to watch.
The new iPhone 3GS contains a PowerVR SGX graphics core, according to a new report, which also suggests that the new OpenGL ES 2.0 features may cause difficulties for game developers. Citing people familiar with the matter, AppleInsider reports that the new iPhone contains the new PowerVR SGX chip from Imagination Technologies, which has been integrated into the handset’s system-on-a-chip, manufactured by Samsung. Prior reports had suggested that an “international electronics systems company” had licensed the SGX technology for its own use in a multi-use, multi-year deal. It was later revealed that Apple had bought 8 million shares, or a 3% stake, in Imagination, further evidence of a relationship between the two companies.
The new SGX technology enables OpenGL ES 2.0-specific rendering features, including programmable shaders, while maintaining support for OpenGL ES 1.1 fixed-function rendering. However, games written to take specific advantage of the iPhone 3GS’s OpenGL ES 2.0 capabilities will need to contain two codebases, one for OpenGL ES 2.0 and one for 1.1, or break compatibility with older devices. This creates obvious difficulties for smaller developers who may not have the resources to create both sets of code; it also makes it less likely that currently-available games will be updated to take advantage of the iPhone 3GS hardware, as the financial benefits will most likely not be able to make up for the development time spent.
The news out of Apple’s WWDC 2009 came so quickly that our News column has barely been able to keep up with it all. Here’s a quick summary of what was announced, along with links to our full articles:
WWDC 2009 Keynote in Brief: Learn about new MacBook Pro models, the $29 Snow Leopard upgrade, iPhone OS 3.0 and iPhone 3GS announcements in our text play-by-play from the event. See over 100 pictures in our photo gallery, as well. Accessory problems twice interrupted the Keynote.
iPhone 3GS Announced: A weird name for a largely iterative upgrade to the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS features a 3MP still camera, 640x480 video camera, voice controls, twice the storage capacity (16/32GB), improved responsiveness, and modestly improved battery performance. It hits June 19 for $199/$299.
iPhone 3GS Upgrade Fees: AT&T and Apple are hitting “early upgraders” with $200 to $400 fees if they want the iPhone 3GS, depending on when they purchased the iPhone 3G or other AT&T phones.
iPhone 3GS Data Plans Announced: AT&T, Rogers, and O2 are amongst companies announcing plans with no changes for prior 3G service offerings, but potentially higher charges for features such as MMS and PC/Mac Internet tethering.
iPhone 3GS Gets Enhanced Remote Support, New Headset: Apple has updated the iPhone 3GS headphone port with support for the Earphones with Remote and Mic, which it includes along with the device.
iPhone 3GS Radiation Data Released: The iPhone 3GS puts out less potentially dangerous radiation at maximum in five of six measures than its predecessor, but more in the sixth.
iPhone OS 3.0 Coming June 17: Free for iPhone and iPhone 3G users, $10 for iPod touch owners, it adds a variety of new software features to every iPhone OS device, and unlocks new hardware features in certain devices as well. iTunes video downloading and Find My iPhone are newly announced features, atop the massive list we’ve been compiling since March.
Rogers Wireless has revealed its pricing for the iPhone 3GS in Canada, via Keith McArthur, the company’s official rep on Twitter. The pricing is mostly consistent with the U.S., with the 16GB model offered for $199 CAD with a three-year contract and the 32GB running $299 CAD with the same terms. The 8GB iPhone 3G will be sold for $99 CAD, again with a three-year voice and data plan. As before, the phones will only be offered through Rogers/Fido and its selected partners. In addition, the company plans to reintroduce the $30 monthly 6GB iPhone data plan starting today, but is only offering it for a limited time. The iPhone 3GS will be released in Canada on June 19.
O2 has announced its pricing and plans for the iPhone 3GS in the UK. New or qualifying customers choosing an 18-month contract will be able to purchase a 16GB model for between £87 and £185, depending on the tariff chosen, while the 32GB model will range from £175 to £275. On a 24-month contract, the 16GB model will be free with all except the £35 tariff—it runs £87 with that plan—while the 32GB model will be priced from £97 to £175. For Pay & Go users, the 8GB iPhone 3G will be £343, with the 16GB iPhone 3GS running £440, and the 32GB model costing £538.
The company has also revealed its pricing on tethering plans for the iPhone, which will run £15 on a month-by-month basis for 3GB of data, or £30 a month for 10GB; customers will be able to purchase extra data at the rate of £5 per 1GB. Business customers may sign up for 24-month tethering Bolt On plans, with the 3GB running £10 a month and a 9GB plan costing £20 a month. On a month-to-month basis, these plans will run business customers £13 and £24, respectively. Tethering plans, as well as the iPhone 3GS, will be available from June 19. [via Macworld UK]
As just three of what will most likely turn out to be a number of quiet changes to the iPhone 3GS hardware from its iPhone 3G predecessor, Apple has disclosed details of changes to the iPhone 3G’s headphone port, headset, and radiation emissions, which offer mixed news for users of the upcoming 3GS model.
Since 2007, Apple has included the iPhone Stereo Headset with all iPhone and iPhone 3G devices sold worldwide, a pair of earbuds with an integrated microphone and single-button multifunction controller that can accept and reject calls, as well as pausing audio playback and skipping tracks. In 2008, Apple introduced the Earphones with Remote and Mic, adding volume controls to the remote control and changing the microphone to a version that sounded less natural, exhibiting some sibilance but also greater intelligibility. Due to a headphone port hardware change to support the additional remote volume control functionality, the new Earphones worked fully only with late 2008 iPod models, and were sold separately. According to Apple, they are now included in the iPhone 3GS package, replacing the iPhone Stereo Headset, and signaling that the iPhone 3GS has received the updated headphone port found on the latest iPods.
Additionally, just-released test-result documents submitted by Apple to the FCC show differences in the iPhone 3G S’s tested radiation emissions relative to its predecessor. A breakdown of the highest reported SAR values in three different broadcasting bands follows; lower numbers are better, and the FCC’s limit is 1.6 W/kg on any given measure.
Part 22 (824 - 849 MHz): 3G - Head: 0.506 W/kg, Body: 1.03 W/kg. 3G S - Head: 0.57 W/kg, Body: 0.67 W/kg.
Part 24 (1850 - 1910 MHz): 3G - Head: 1.38 W/kg, Body: 0.521 W/kg. 3G S - Head: 1.19 W/kg, Body: 0.33 W/kg
Part 15 (2400 – 2483.5 MHz): 3G - Head: 0.779 W/kg, Body: 0.088 W/kg. 3G S - Head: 0.52 W/kg, Body: 0.06 W/kg.
These numbers appear to indicate that the iPhone 3Gs puts out lower maximum radiation levels when broadcasting in the 1850-1910 and 2400-2483.5 MHz frequency ranges, higher when near the head in 824-849 MHz, and lower near the body in that range, as compared with the iPhone 3G.
AT&T is offering its remaining stock of 16GB iPhone 3G units for $149 with a two-year agreement, according to the Boy Genius Report. Citing an AT&T insider, the report speculates that since Apple is only offering the 8GB model via its website, 16GB units may be available on a “while supplies last” basis. Apple didn’t mention the 16GB model during today’s Keynote Address, suggesting that these discounted units are not part of its long-term strategy for the iPhone.
In conjunction with Apple, AT&T today announced details of its rate plans for the iPhone 3GS, which will continue to offer “unlimited data” access but without any promises of support for tethering or multi-media messaging (MMS). The iPhone 3GS rate plan will cost $30 per month, with speed performance varying by area—an Apple press release notes that higher-speed 7.2Mb/s HSDPA will be offered “where available” without adding additional information. Tethering, a feature that enables the iPhone 3GS to work as a modem for a Mac or PC, is supported by the iPhone OS 3.0 but has been given no date of availability by AT&T, while MMS support will be coming in “late Summer,” with no clear details on pricing. AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone 3GS in the United States, as it has been for the original iPhone and iPhone 3G; users have complained about slow data speeds, dropped calls, activation computer issues, and other aspects of the AT&T experience during and after both prior launches.
AT&T has announced that the upgrade prices for iPhone 3GS will be $399 (16GB) or $499 (32GB) for customers who are still under contract after purchasing the prior-generation iPhone 3G, a $200 premium over the “standard” iPhone 3GS prices of $199 and $299. Using a pricing configurator found on Apple’s BuyiPhone.Apple.com web site, users can find out their individual upgrade prices based on the remaining length of their AT&T contracts, which may be higher or lower depending on the date of their prior upgrades. Users must commit to a new two-year contract; an $18 Activation fee and a $18 Early Upgrade fee are also assessed.
Updated: Some readers have reported upgrade price quotes of $599 (16GB) or $699 (32GB), which may be based on the length of their status as AT&T customers, and their more recent purchase of iPhone 3G hardware.
In addition to the previously disclosed features of iPhone OS 3.0, Apple today announced that the software—officially launching June 17 worldwide—will now include two new features that were previously rumored: Find My iPhone and direct-to-device video downloads. Find My iPhone relies upon a subscription to Apple’s MobileMe service to let users automatically create sound and text alerts on their lost devices, helping them to either find the devices themselves or inform their finders as to their presence and return details. Users can send out noises that are audible even if the iPhone’s ringer switch has been turned off; they can also completely wipe the iPhone from afar, and use the integrated GPS functionality to locate the device’s current position on a map.
iPhone OS 3.0 also adds video downloads, a feature that enables the iPhone to wirelessly download movies, TV shows, and other video content without being connected to a computer. The feature also adds audiobook download support to the iPhone’s integrated iTunes Store for the first time, and permits direct-from-device video rentals as well.
In an effort to increase the affordability of the iPhone family, Apple has announced that the black 8GB iPhone 3G has dropped in price to $99, following the introduction of the more powerful iPhone 3GS model today. It is unknown whether any changes have been made to the $99 iPhone 3G model as it has fallen in price; Apple occasionally makes undisclosed tweaks to its devices or their pack-ins coincident with price drops. We will update this story with additional details as they become available.
Apple today officially announced the iPhone 3GS, the sequel to the iPhone 3G, with a June 19 initial release date. The added “S” stands for “speed,” a reference to the device’s faster processing and potential data transfer speeds. Available in four models—16GB white or black ($199 each), and 32GB white or black ($299 each)—the iPhone 3GS preserves much of the look and feel of the iPhone 3G, adding the following new features.
* A 3.0 Megapixel still camera with VGA video recording capabilities, autofocus, 10cm macro distance mode, auto white-balance, and tap-to-focus features. This camera promises to take more detailed, sharper still pictures than before, with improved low-light performance, as well as enabling users to create and edit videos directly from their iPhones for instant sharing over email, MobileMe, YouTube, or MMS.
* HSDPA 7.2Mb/s transfer speeds. Apple notes that this feature will only be “where available from AT&T later this year,” which is to say not everywhere in the United States, and questionable elsewhere outside the United States.
* OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration.
* Voice control, allowing users to dial out by saying the person’s name or speaking the numbers. The feature also works for audio playback, letting users play music by artist, album or playlist, activate the Genius feature by saying “play more songs like this,” play, pause, activate shuffle, skip tracks, and ask “What’s playing right now?”
* Digital compass with an accompanying Compass application and Maps integration, so it automatically orients any map to the direction you are facing.
* VoiceOver voice prompting and accessibility features, including Universal Zoom, and Mono Audio so that left and right channel audio can be blended into both earphones.
* Improved battery life, with 9 hours of Wi-Fi internet browsing, 10 hours of video, 30 hours of audio playback, and 12 hours of 2G talk time, compared to 6, 7, 24, 10, and 5 hours, respectively, on the iPhone 3G. 3G talk time remains 5 hours.
* Nike+ support, following the same included app and $19 Sensor accessory model as the iPod touch 2G.
The iPhone 3GS will roll out in the US/Canada/France/Germany/Italy/Spain/Switzerland/UK on June 19, then a week later with six more countries. Rollouts will continue thereafter into a number of other countries over the Summer. Prices listed above are based upon qualified new customers and upgrades, and will be higher in the case for users who aren’t qualified—for instance, AT&T will offer users who aren’t eligible for the cheaper pricing the iPhone 3GS for $399 for 16GB models and $499 for 32GB units.
The iPhone 3G S has been announced, and we have all the details and pictures for you. See our Flickr collection of 100 images here, and the transcript by clicking on the title of this story!
[Editor’s Note: We’ve heavily pruned the gallery since this article was initially posted, reducing the total number of images to better spotlight the good ones.]
Photos direct from the WWDC 2009 Keynote are now appearing on iLounge’s Flickr photostream, and will continue to appear during the keynote. Initial banners spotted on site reference the Grand Central multi-core processor technology found in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and the new APIs found in iPhone OS 3.0. We’ll have plenty more to say and show you over the course of the next few hours!