AOL has officially launched the beta version of AOL Mobile Search created specifically for the iPhone and iPod touch. Previewed at the CITA event earlier this month, the iPhone/iPod touch version of Mobile Search was built especially for the devices’ multi-touch interface using AJAX technology. According to the company, it “delivers comprehensive and relevant search results by bringing together content from across the Web and the mobile Web, as well as from Moviefone, MapQuest, AOL CityGuide and other AOL services.” Users can now access AOL Mobile Search for iPhone by visiting search.aol.com from any iPhone or iPod touch.
O2 is set to cut the price of the 8GB iPhone by £100, to £169, according to a Mobile Today report, which has since been confirmed by the carrier. The reduction will apply to all 8GB iPhones purchased with an O2 iPhone tariff, and will run from April 16 (tomorrow) through June 1. “The special offer will make the iPhone an unbeatable proposition in the market, helping O2 to further gain market share,” said an O2 spokesperson. The price cut follows a similar discount on the 8GB iPhone from T-Mobile Germany, which is currently offering tiered pricing from €99 to €249, depending on the tariff selected with the purchase. The 16GB iPhone is not included in either promotion, and will remain £329 from O2.
Nike plans to expand its Nike+ program to include the iPhone and iPod touch, according to a new report. Stuff.tv, visiting Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, said a Nike+ spokesperson confirmed the expansion, adding that it could also make use of the devices’ Wi-Fi capabilities (and possibly the iPhone’s upcoming 3G connection) to allow users to update their training log on the fly, without the need for docking with a computer. This news follows a set of recently published Apple patent applications, which outlined a digital fitness program for iTunes and touchscreen digital media devices.
Two new features planned for iPhone software version 2.0 have been revealed in the latest version of the beta software recently distributed to enterprise developers. Screenshots taken from the release show a new search bar in the Contacts menu, which is likely a replacement for the magnifying glass icon seen in the same menu during the iPhone Software Roadmap event. A drawer button found in the Calendar application, previously seen but rendered inactive in earlier beta releases, has been shown to provide access to a meeting invitation interface. Notification of new meeting invitations appears on top of the Calendar icon on the main screen, similar to how the number of new SMS or emails are displayed above the Text and Mail icons. Apple plans to release iPhone software version 2.0 this June.
A string of code found in the latest version of the iPhone SDK, released yesterday, points to a new baseband chipset that may be included in the next-generation, 3G-capable iPhone. The code was discovered by Zibri, the developer behind the ZiPhone jailbeaking/unlocking tool, and contains a “SGOLD3” string, which presumably points to Infineon’s S-GOLD3H chip (Infineon’s S-GOLD2 chip is used in the current iPhone). The chip supports 7.2Mbps HSDPA, cameras up to five megapixels, includes an MPEG4/H.264 hardware accelerator, and more. Last week, AT&T Mobililty CEO Ralph de la Vega hinted that the 3G iPhone would be released in the coming months; it was previously said the device would arrive in stores sometime in 2008. [via Engadget]
Developers accepted into Apple’s paid iPhone Developer Program are reporting that the expiration of the current beta firmware, which happened early this morning, is causing test units to lock up with a pink screen, which says “This device is expired. Please install a newer version of the OS.” According to TUAW, the affected units can be easily returned to working order by performing a restore with an earlier release of the iPhone or iPod touch software; Apple has yet to comment on the problem, or to release an updated version of the beta firmware.
The results of a new survey released today by Pearl Research suggest that more than two-thirds of Chinese consumers have heard of the iPhone. The survey states that approximately 68% of respondents had heard of the iPhone, and that females were more likely to cite “trendiness” and “design” as a key factor in wanting to purchase the device, while males more often cited “utility.” Pricing was given as the most mentioned reason for disinterest in purchasing an iPhone, along with Apple’s inexperience with mobile phones, and interviews suggested that carriers’ high costs for mobile internet access could pose another challenge for Apple in the region. Finally, approximately 88% of iPod owners expressed interest in the iPhone. The survey was based on a relatively small sample size — 450 online survey respondents and 24 in-depth interviews — which, unfortunately, makes the results somewhat unreliable.
T-Mobile Germany has begun offering 8GB iPhones at substantially reduced prices (Translated Link) when purchased in conjunction with a 24 month contract. When purchased with the Complete XL plan, which offers 1,000 minutes, 300 SMS messages, and unlimited data for €89 a month, the 8GB iPhone is only €99. With the Complete L plan, which includes 200 voice minutes and 150 SMS for €69 a month, the smaller iPhone is only €149. When purchased with the €49 a month Complete M plan the 8GB iPhone is only €199, while it will cost €249 when purchased with the Complete S plan, which offers 50 minutes of talk time for €29 a month. The lower prices being offered on the 8GB iPhone will remain in effect until June 30; the 16GB iPhone remains €499 when purchased with a two-year agreement.
Speaking at an AT&T event being held at CTIA, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega hinted that the 3G iPhone would be released in the coming months, and also made comments regarding Verizon and Sprint’s iPhone competitors. When asked about plans to sell a 3G iPhone, de la Vega said, “You’re going to see our integrated devices be 3G in the not too distant future. I mean months.” De la Vega said of iPhone rivals from Samsung and LG, “You can look like an iPhone, but you’re probably not going to be like an iPhone.” He added, “There’s a lot of catching up to do.” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has previously said a version of the iPhone that runs on faster 3G data networks would be released in 2008; more recently, reports indicated that Taiwan’s Hon Hai had been awarded an exclusive contract to build a “more advanced version” of the iPhone, which would likely be a 3G model.
Following our March report on 16GB iPhone shortages, new checks reveal that the supply shortage has spread to the 8GB model as well. Nine U.S.-based Apple retail locations contacted today by iLounge yielded only two locations with 8GB models in stock, seven locations that were completely sold out of iPhones, and not a single location with the 16GB model in stock. Previous reports from stores suggested that the shortage might last until May, and though the reasons for the shortage have remained unclear, there has been speculation that updated or refreshed iPhone models may be debuted soon. Informed sources have suggested to iLounge that the current iPhone models will be replaced with new ones in the near future rather than kept around.
According to the latest ChangeWave survey, more than one-third (35%) of respondents planning on buying a smartphone in the next 90 days plan on purchasing an iPhone, a 12 percent jump from the previous survey. In addition, ten percent of respondents said the announcements made at Apple’s iPhone Software Roadmap event made them more likely to buy the device in the future. Smartphone market share numbers for the iPhone jumped, increasing three points to 9%, behind only Palm, which fell for the seventh straight survey to 16%, and RIM, which maintains a sizable lead with a 42% share of the market. Customer satisfaction numbers for the iPhone also remain high, with 79% of iPhone-toting respondents saying they are very satisfied with the device. The survey of nearly 3,600 consumers was conducted on March 17-24.
Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. has been awarded an exclusive contract to build a more advanced version of the iPhone, Dow Jones reports. A source familiar with the situation said Hon Hai would be the exclusive contract manufacturer for the new phone, which may well be the 3G-capable version of the iPhone, expected to launch later this year. A Hon Hai official confirmed that the company was in talks with Apple to supply a “more advanced version” of the iPhone, but declined to provide further details. Apple declined to comment on the story.
The iPhone may be launching in Mexico, and possibly some South American countries, in June, according to a report from major Mexican newspaper El Universal. Citing sources within Apple, as well as conversations with Apple Support, the paper reports [Translated link] that the handset will arrive in June on Telcel in Mexico, and may also launch around the same time in other unspecified South American countries. According to the report, the phone may be priced around 33% higher than it is in the United States, meaning that a 16GB iPhone would sell for around 7,400 pesos. Apple has yet to officially announce any iPhone roll-outs for the region. [via MDN]
Accompanied by photographs of the hacked beta 2.0 version of the iPhone’s Software, Engadget has posted a list of several features that have been added to the as-yet-unreleased update. Though most of the features, such as Exchange server support, the App Store, Cisco VPN support, and Parental Controls for iPod, Safari, YouTube, the iTunes Store and App Store are already known, and others have yet to be unlocked by Apple, the following additional features have been discovered:
An expanded Calculator, with a widescreen-orientation “scientific mode,” featuring functions found in more deluxe pocket calculators.
Multiple simultaneous message deletion in Mail.
Organize the list of Wi-Fi networks to join by preference.
iPhone Software 2.0 is due for release at the end of June. As is always the case with unreleased and beta Apple software, features may be unexpectedly cut or added to the final version.
Apple today sent out a series of bulk acceptance or temporary rejection letters to registered iPhone developers who applied last week for the company’s paid iPhone Developer Programs. During the iPhone Software Roadmap Event held last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained that the program would be available to a limited number of developers at first, a message that is repeated in the email.
U.S. applicants received an e-mail stating: “Dear Registered iPhone Developer, Thank you for expressing interest in the iPhone Developer Program. We have received your enrollment request. As this time, the iPhone Developer Program is available to a limited number of developers and we plan to expand during the beta period. We will contact you again regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time. Thank you for applying.”
Applicants outside the United States received an e-mail stating: “Dear Registered iPhone Developer, Thank you for expressing interest in the iPhone Developer Program. We have received your enrollment request. At this time, the iPhone Developer Program is only available in the US and will expand to other countries during the beta period. We will contact you again regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time. Thank you for applying.”
Neither of these e-mails further explained Apple’s criteria for acceptance or rejection, spurring concern that large developers or other past Apple partners were accepted rather than a wider variety of applicants; in any case, it appears that the number of accepted developers is a small portion of those that applied. Some developers, as noted by TUAW, have expressed anger or disappointment at not making the first cut, and suggested that attempting to develop for the platform without Apple’s involvement at this stage is an “unacceptable risk,” given that approval is required to actually sell iPhone software. Did you apply and receive an email today? Let us know in the comments.
Apple appears to be experiencing a widespread shortage of 16GB iPhones, based on checks at multiple Apple retail stores, as well as a report from German iPod publication iFun.de. Ten U.S.-based Apple retail locations contacted by iLounge yielded only one store with the higher-capacity model in stock, while Apple’s online store currently lists a 5-7 business day shipping time on the 16GB model. According to iFun (Translated link), T-Mobile Germany is not currently offering the 16GB version, and the company’s representatives have suggested that the shortage might last until May. Separate checks on the availability of 32GB iPod touch models, which were widely available, suggest that the shortage of 16GB iPhones is not related to Apple’s decreased orders of flash memory, but may instead be attributable to low production of 16GB iPhones, high demand, or merely a reallocation of supplies for international consumption.
Confirming earlier reports of relatively quiet launches, Apple today officially released the iPhone in two additional countries with existing partners: Ireland with O2, and Austria with T-Mobile. Today’s Irish launch of iPhone was announced in late February, mimicking the British launch in several respects but diverging in others. iPhone is available in Ireland through O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores for €399 (8GB) or €499 (16GB), VAT-inclusive, with service plans starting at €45. Irish customers have a 1GB data cap, will not have access to Visual Voicemail, instead paying 15 cents per minute for access to traditional voicemail, and will be required to enter into a new 18 month minimum contract for a purchase. No rollover of minutes or text messages is permitted from month to month.
The Austrian launch of iPhone retains the same iPhone hardware prices (€399/8GB, €499/16GB), but differs in service plan pricing and features. Austria’s Classic plan is offered at €39, with a Supreme plan at €55, both inclusive of 3GB of data, Visual Voicemail, and free T-Mobile Wi-Fi access. The Classic plan includes 1,000 minutes of cell network talk time, but no SMS messages, while the Supreme plan includes 4,000 minutes of total cell and land line talk time, spread 1,000 minutes a piece across four types of networks, plus 1,000 SMS messages per month. Additional charges apply for special calling plans to other countries, and voice/data services when outside of Austrian borders. T-Mobile is selling the iPhone through its Austrian and online stores.
Apple has announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). This year’s event will be held June 9-13 in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and for the first time ever, will feature sessions for developers building native applications for the iPhone using the SDK. iPhone sessions scheduled for the event include “Get Started,” “Build Powerful Applications,” “Integrate the Technologies of iPhone,” “Create Engaging Media Experiences,” “Target the Web,” and more. As Apple has stated that iPhone software 2.0 will be released in June, it is possible that should Apple CEO Steve Jobs give a keynote address, the new software would be featured prominently.
Demonstrating their ability to breach Apple’s iPhone software security measures, members of the iPhone Dev Team have announced that they have completed a hack that both jailbreaks and unlocks iPhone firmware 2.0, which is set to be released in June. This firmware, which is apparently distinguished from the demonstration iPhone software included with Apple’s software development kit, includes new parental controls and other never-before-seen iPhone features, in addition to ones demonstrated by Apple during its iPhone Software Roadmap event last week. According to reports, the new procedure directly patches the firmware as opposed to hacking into it via an exploit, which makes it more challenging for Apple to fix. It remains unclear whether the 2.0 software will become available to users prior to its official release, as it has been distributed only to select iPhone developers and enterprise partners.
Update: Video of an iPhone running the hacked 2.0 firmware has been posted online.
AT&T is preparing to raise its rates on SMS messages to $.20 per message beginning March 30, according to a new report. The per-message raise would affect iPhone users who have gone over the 200 monthly messages afforded them in a standard iPhone voice plan. MMS multimedia messages will also see an increase to $.30 per message; the iPhone currently does not offer MMS support. In addition to the SMS rate change, the carrier has also added a new unlimited rate plan for iPhone. The plan, which runs $119.99 a month, includes unlimited voice and data, but still offers only 200 SMS messages a month. It is available now through AT&T.