A slew of new Apple patent applications have been published, revealing the company’s research into a number of iPod and iPhone enhancements. Of the iPhone- and iPod touch-specific patents, two deal with the usability of touchscreen-based devices. One patent outlines haptic display technology that would let users “feel” on-screen graphics as they move their fingers across the screen, while another would identify fingerprints, allowing the system to execute different commands based on the individual finger that is touching the screen and the duration of the contact.
A separate group of patents covers automated, intelligent settings and tasks. One covers “event-based modes,” in which the iPhone automatically changes certain settings based on its location, calendar events, news updates, usage, and environment. A second deals with automated communications, which would allow the iPhone to perform certain actions—such as sending a happy birthday SMS or making a phone call—based on calendar events, location, caller ID, and more. The third patent in this grouping covers intelligent handling of communications, by which the iPhone would be able to “select appropriate communication modes for incoming communications requests based on a user’s preferences and availability, determine the communication modes of a user based on the current activity and allow the user to provide customized information to his contacts.”
Yet another Apple patent filing suggests the company is working on a way to integrate RFID technology into the iPhone and iPod touch. The application describes a method for embedding an RFID antenna into the touchscreen itself, allowing the device to be used as a reader. The company is also looking into a karaoke addition to the iPhone and iPod touch’s iPod application, which would not only provide on-screen video and lyrics, but also offer real-time feedback to the user in an attempt to improve his/her singing.
Finally, a new patent filling describes a system for “active packaging,” which would allow the company to ship iPods and iPhones in packaging that allowed them to run a demo video or show other content on the screen, and wirelessly update themselves with the latest firmware prior to sale. As with all Apple patent filings, these do not necessarily represent any future product releases from Apple, but offer evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Mac Rumors, UnwiredView, AppleInsider]
An internal AT&T memo published by MacDailyNews claims that the June 19th launch of the iPhone 3GS was record-breaking for the company in a number of ways. The memo states the launch was its “best-ever sales day” and second-largest traffic day in its retail stores, accounted for the most transactions ever processed and most upgrade eligibility checks in a single day, and was the largest order day and feature sales day in att.com history. The memo goes on to state that sales on 3GS launch day exceeded those of the iPhone 3G’s launch day by noon Central Time, and the company sustained its previous peak hour record, also set in 2008, for 11 straight hours. Apple announced last week that it sold over a million iPhone 3GS units over the launch weekend, although it is unknown how many of those were sold in the U.S. or by AT&T.
Apple has released another new iPhone 3GS television advertisement, the third in its new series of ads focusing on individual features of the new phone. The latest, “Skateboard,” highlights the 3GS’ video features by showing a person shooting video of a skateboarder, who then uses the on-board editing features to trim out the skater’s fall, and shares the video via email. As with the other two feature-specific iPhone 3GS advertisements, this one is also shot on a white background, and features a sample of the Matt Costa song “Mr. Pitiful” in the background. “Skateboard” is available for viewing on Apple’s iPhone TV Ads gallery page.
Nike has updated its Nike+ fitness site with a number of new features, and added a streamlined version for access via the iPhone or iPod touch. The redesigned main site still relies upon Flash, but features a more prominent Goals section, with a simplified interface and better context. Also new is the Levels feature, which awards users a color-coded level based on the number of miles they’ve run, the ability to rate individual runs, and the ability to integrate Nike+ data with a Twitter or Facebook account. On the iPhone and iPod touch, users are limited to viewing recent runs; both sites are still considered to be in “beta” status. [via TUAW]
Apple has rolled out a new service update to its MobileMe paid service, adding support for several new iPhone and iPod touch features. Of particular interest to iPhone 3GS users, videos uploaded from the device can now be published to a Gallery album—if no albums exist, one is automatically created when uploading a photo or video. In addition, iPhone and iPod touch users now have the option to merge existing contacts and calendars upon initial sync with MobileMe, and to keep a copy of contact and calendar information on the device when deleting a MobileMe account or turning off syncing. Finally, iPhone contacts that sync with MobileMe now maintain ring tone associations across devices.
Though Apple Stores continue to maintain stocks of the iPhone 3GS in most locations, carrier partners O2 in the U.K. and both Rogers and Fido in Canada have sold out of iPhone 3GS units, according to the companies’ websites. A message on O2’s website states, “Due to the phenomenal demand for the new iPhone 3GS, we’ve temporarily run out of stock online, over the phone and in our retail stores.” The company expects additional stock to be available “at the end of this week.” A similar message on Fido’s site calls the 3GS launch a “tremendous success,” and explains that while the handset is sold out in the “vast majority” of cities throughout Canada, more stock is expected in the coming weeks. Rogers’ website simply lists the phone as “currently out-of-stock,” a message that is reiterated when calling the company’s main customer service line. [via Macworld UK]
Apple has released its first beta version of iPhone OS 3.1 to registered iPhone developers, along with an updated SDK. Listed as build 7C97d, the new beta OS appears to include non-destructive video editing, support for Voice Control over Bluetooth, and new modem firmware and AT&T profiles. The updated SDK includes updated OpenGL and Quartz APIs, as well as third-party developer access to video recording and editing controls. iPhone OS 3.1 beta and iPhone SDK 3.1 beta are both available for download now from the iPhone Dev Center.
Apple has begun airing two new TV advertisements for the iPhone 3GS. Shot with a black phone on a white background, both ads are similar in execution to the recent “there’s an app for that” series of advertisements. One focuses on the new copy & paste feature—although the ad never specifies that the feature is available on older iPhone 3.0-ready devices as well—and shows examples of copying a phone number for SMS, a portion of a website to email, and a map. The other ad focuses on the 3GS’s Voice Control feature, showing how it can be used to dial calls using names from the device’s contacts list, and how it can be used to control the iPod app—the ad uses “If I Had Eyes” by Jack Johnson in the example. Neither ad has yet been posted to Apple’s iPhone TV Ads gallery, but both are embedded below, and are available directly on YouTube from the links above.
Apple is among a large group of cell phone manufacturers that have signed a new European Commission agreement aimed at standardizing all smartphone chargers starting next year. “People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone,” said EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, suggesting that unwanted phone accessories account for thousands of tons of waste in Europe each year. The new chargers will use the Micro-USB standard to ensure compatibility, and will be usable only on data-enabled phones. Along with Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, and Texas Instruments have all signed the agreement. All iPods and iPhones since the third-generation iPod have used Apple’s 30-pin Dock Connector for charging; it is unclear whether future Europe-bound iPhones will adopt the new connector or simply offer a pack-in converter for use with standardized Micro-USB chargers.
A number of iPhone 3GS owners have complained that the handset becomes overly hot, with at least one user reporting a discoloration of the white plastic back. Photos posted to the French site Nowhere Else (Translated Link) show a 16GB white iPhone 3GS unit with reddish/pink discolorations running vertically down the back on either side of the Apple logo; the user claims these appeared after the phone got “very hot” while testing out a variety of location-aware apps over 3G. At least one iLounge editor has seen similar behavior from his unit after connecting it to a specific battery pack for charging, and a thread on Apple’s support discussions site suggests others are also noticing their iPhones getting abnormally warm. It is unclear whether the issue is software- or hardware-based and if the warmth and discoloration problems are widespread. [via Engadget]
Apple has launched a new online tool to allow potential iPhone 3GS customers to check on the stock levels at any of the company’s U.S.-based retail stores. Currently, iPhone 3GS availability varies wildly from store-to-store, with some stores sold completely out and some down to just one model available; most of the company’s biggest stores, such as The Grove in LA, the downtown San Francisco store, and the company’s glass cube 5th avenue store in New York City, have all models available. The availability checker page notes that the 8GB iPhone 3G is in-stock at all Apple Retail locations.
Bob Borchers, Apple’s senior director of worldwide product marketing for the iPhone and the host of the company’s guided tour videos for the iPhone and iPhone 3G has left the company for venture capital firm Opus Capital, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the WSJ, Borchers had been with the company since 2004 working on products such as the iPod and iPhone, and said his time with the company was “amazing.” Borchers will be a general partner with Opus, focusing on mobile technologies.
In addition to the hundreds of photographs and screenshots posted to accompany the release of the iPhone 3GS last week, iLounge posted new video clips comparing the performance of the iPhone 3GS video camera to two other types of video recording devices. One, a Canon PowerShot SD700IS camera, is designed to let viewers see how the new iPhone 3GS’s 640x480 camera compares to the 640x480 recordings of a three-year old pocket point-and-shoot camera. The second, a Flip UltraHD camera, lets viewers see the differences between the iPhone 3GS and a dedicated consumer video recording device in resolution, focus, and color rendition.
Unfortunately, video sharing services Flickr and Vimeo have been experiencing issues importing clips created by the iPhone 3GS. Vimeo users have reported that iPhone 3GS videos are missing audio, are presented upside-down, and/or are not converting at all, while users of Flickr have found videos easy to convert but sometimes presented upside-down. This appears to be due to an iPhone 3GS orientation setting that is saved by the iPhone but not properly processed by video sharing services. One of our videos can be seen in this orientation. Because of the importation issues, our iPhone 3GS videos are on both Flickr and Vimeo, with non-3GS videos on Vimeo. Use of iMovie to import and then export the videos is a potential workaround while the services work to accommodate the video changes.
Separately, iLounge sample videos uploaded to YouTube offer a look at the iPhone 3GS’s automatic transcoding for faster transfer and easier viewing, without orientation glitches, but with lower resolution and more visual artifacts.
In its press release announcing sales of one million iPhone 3GS units in the device’s first weekend on sale, Apple quietly changed its naming scheme for the new device. Previously referred to in all official Apple communication as the “iPhone 3G S,” yesterday’s PR referred to it as the “iPhone 3GS.” Indeed, a quick check of Apple’s press info site shows that they retroactively changed the name in the release announcing the device, although it appears the company is taking its time implementing the name change on its website and online store. While the company has not given any reason for the change, iLounge’s editors had noted the longer name’s awkwardness. This is the second time in recent memory that Apple has changed an element of a product name after release; the iPod photo was originally called the “iPod Photo” by the company, and changed shortly thereafter.
The iPhone, and to a lesser extent, the iPod touch, are driving increased device-based Wi-Fi use, according to a Boingo Wireless report. Boingo Wireless is a provider of Wi-Fi hotspot access, with more than 100,000 hotspots worldwide. As of May 2009, mobile devices accounted for 26.1% of all connections to Boingo’s networks, compared to just 11.5% in May 2008 and less than a half of a percent in May 2007. Of these mobile connections, the iPhone accounts for 89.2%, followed by the iPod touch with 4.7%—giving the iPhone OS platform a total of 93.9% of all mobile device connections. Finally, Boingo has also seen growth in the amount of data consumed by smartphone users signed up for the company’s monthly Wi-Fi plan, with the monthly average up to 114MB as of May, compared to just over 60MB in January.
A number of iPhone 3GS owners are reporting a high-pitched tone emanating from the device’s speaker following the play of nearly any system sound. The issue, reported by Boy Genius Report and detailed further in an Apple discussion thread, appears to be triggered any time the phone makes a noise—such as when using the keyboard or locking/unlocking the phone. The noise may be inaudible to some users due to its high-pitched nature, which BGR estimates to be in the 15KHz range. It is currently unclear how widespread the issue is, and whether or not it can be fixed via a software update as opposed to a hardware replacement.
Apple is offering iPhone 3GS customers affected by activation delays over launch weekend a $30 iTunes Store credit for their trouble. Mac Rumors has published Apple’s email to customers, which states, “[w]e appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused by the delay in your iPhone activation. We are still resolving the issue that was encountered while activating your iPhone with AT&T. Unfortunately, due to system issues and continued high activation volumes, this could take us up to an additional 48 hours to complete. On Monday, you’ll receive an email from Apple with an iTunes Store credit in the amount of $30. We hope you will enjoy this gift and accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this delay has caused.” Apple did not offer any such credit to users who dealt with similar but far more widespread activation issues during last year’s iPhone 3G launch, but did offer a $100 Apple Store credit to early iPhone customers in 2007 following a $200 price drop on the handset just months after it debuted.
Apple has announced that it sold more than one million iPhone 3GS units over the device’s launch weekend, through Sunday, June 21. The total is on par with that of the iPhone 3G, which also sold one million units in its first weekend of availability despite nagging activation problems. In addition, the company revealed that more than six million customers have downloaded iPhone OS 3.0 since its release on Wednesday. Notably, Apple CEO Steve Jobs provides the quote for the company’s press release, his first contribution to a public company statement since January.
“Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.”
Amidst our testing of the new iPhone 3GS, we’ve put together a short audio clip to demonstrate the new handset’s Voice Control feature. The audio clip can be accessed here. (MP3 Format, 1:53). In the sample, you can hear the feature being used to bring up audio tracks by artist, start a Genius playlist, activate shuffle, and make phone calls, both with and without mobile/home instruction.
iLounge has posted a pair of videos to YouTube, comparing the speed of the iPhone 3GS to that of the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G. The videos offer visual comparisons of speed when running games. Continue reading to see the videos in an embedded form, or follow the above links to watch them on YouTube.