Early this morning, following the release of iTunes 8.0.2, Apple released iPhone Software 2.2 as a free download for iPhone and iPhone 3G users. Here is a partial list of new features contained in the update, according to Apple.
Fewer call connection failures and mid-call drops.
Improved Visual Voicemail sound quality.
Google Street View has been added to maps.
Public transit information and walking directions.
Dropped pins display addresses.
Current location can be shared via e-mail.
E-mail fetching problems have been resolved.
Wide HTML e-mail formatting has been improved.
Auto-correcting keyboard can be turned on or off.
Safari is more stable and performs better.
Podcasts can be downloaded from iTunes app, both on cellular (!) and Wi-Fi.
Pressing Home button from any Home screen returns you to the first Home screen.
Other features are included, as well. Version 2.2 is available by selecting your iPhone or iPhone 3G from the Devices list in iTunes version 8.0.2, and hitting the Check for Update/Update button.
Following a report from MacWorld Sweden (Translated Link) claiming that iPhone carrier Telia would soon offer a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) application for its iPhone customers, mobile services company Mobispine has announced that it is developing a native MMS application for the iPhone. According to a posting on the company’s blog, Mobispine will sell a specially-branded version of its MMS application to operators, who in turn will make it available to users via the App Store. It is currently unclear whether Mobispine will be able to receive approval from Apple for the MMS application.
Wal-Mart will begin offering the iPhone 3G at select Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations on December 28, according to a supposed internal company memo posted online. The Boy Genius Report, which previously suggested the retailer would begin offering Apple’s handset on November 15, has posted the alleged leak, which states: “We are pleased to announce that Wal-Mart has reached agreement with Apple to offer iPhone 3G in Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart-managed Sam’s Club* Connection Centers nationwide beginning December 28, 2008. AT&T will support Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club with the activation process for iPhone 3G.”
Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest mobile and fixed line operator, has reportedly signed an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone 3G beginning next month. The Chinese-language Economic Daily cited unidentified sources in its report, without listing pricing or sales targets. According to Taiwan News, cell phone specialists say that if the handset is sold unlocked, then official sales could help lower the price of the iPhone handsets sold on Internet auction sales by a least NT$3,000 (~$91).
Demiforce, developer of Trism and the upcoming Trismology games for the iPhone and iPod touch, has announced a free, open social backend for iPhone and iPod touch games called Onyx Online. Onyx will allow developers to insert code into their games to integrate into the service, which will offer online scoring, leaderboards, achievements, downloadable level packs, and more. In addition, all Onyx users will be able to login to customized forums, allowing them to see what games other Onyx users are playing, and offering increased exposure for Onyx-enabled games. Onyx Online is expected to launch before the end of the year; developers interested in adding Onyx functionality to their titles should visit onyx.demiforce.com.
True Move, Thailand’s third-largest mobile operator, has reached a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone 3G in the country. “True Move has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone 3G to Thailand in the coming months,” the company said in a statement without providing further pricing or release details. According to Reuters, Thailand is currently in the testing stage for 3G networks, meaning that the iPhone 3G would likely operate on EDGE networks when it’s first released. In addition to True Move, Apple remains in talks with Thailand’s largest mobile operator, Advanced Info Service, over the iPhone 3G. Somchai Lertsuttiwong, AIS’ executive vice president for marketing, said, “Apple is talking with every operator, including us and DTAC. When will we sell iPhone? It depends on when we can reach a deal with Apple on terms and conditions.”
Speaking in a brief interview as part of a larger article on the iPhone and iPod touch’s role in the industry, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the devices may become viable options in the mobile gaming market. “I think the iPhone and iPod touch may emerge as really viable devices in the mobile games market this holiday season,” said Jobs, noting that around a quarter of the 200 million App Store downloads thus far have been games. “Games sold via the App Store are the most profitable in terms of any of the formats we work on,” added Simon Jeffery, the U.S. president of Sega. Interestingly, Nintendo indicated that it already saw Apple as a competitor prior to its move into the mobile gaming space. “Whether you chose to play on your DS or listen to music on your iPod, we’re already in the same competitive space for time,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo’s U.S. division. Meanwhile, John Carmack, founder of Id Software, said that although he doesn’t see the iPhone and iPod touch as direct competitors to Sony and Nintendo’s handhelds, Id is developing at least two iPhone games. “I don’t expect them to displace DSs and PSPs,” he said. “I think they will be a fairly robust market all by themselves.”
Apple has posted two new TV advertisements for the iPhone 3G featuring the free iPhone applications Shazam and Loopt, respectively. The Shazam commercial describes a scenario in which the user doesn’t know the name of the song playing, and uses Shazam to determine and subsequently purchase the song. Interestingly, the song featured is “You, Me and the Bourgeoise” by The Submarines, which has been used in the background all of Apple’s recent white-background iPhone commercials. The Loopt spot highlights the social network’s friends, messaging, and location-aware map features. Both commercials are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
The iPhone 3G has overtaken the Motorola RAZR to become the leading handset purchased by adult consumers in the U.S. in the third quarter, according to The NPD Group. “The displacement of the RAZR by the iPhone 3G represents a watershed shift in handset design from fashion to fashionable functionality,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD. “Four of the five best-selling handsets in the third quarter were optimized for messaging and other advanced Internet features.” The RAZR had held the top position for the last three years, but ranked second in the third quarter of 2008, followed by the BlackBerry Curve, LG Rumor, and LG enV2.
In an interview at the Web 2.0 Summit, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega said that an official, AT&T-sanctioned solution for using the iPhone 3G as a modem for a laptop is coming “soon.” In early August, Apple pulled the tethering application NetShare from the App Store, most likely because AT&T has up until now not supported tethering on its iPhone data plans. It is currently unknown whether AT&T will charge users extra for tethering ability, and whether software allowing such use will be built-in to a future version of the iPhone’s software or released as a separate application via the App Store.
Reporting its third quarter financial results, T-Mobile Germany parent Deutsche Telekom revealed strong growth for its German mobile unit, based partly on high demand for the iPhone 3G. According to the release, T-Mobile Germany added 271,000 subscribers during the quarter, representing growth of 82 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. In addition, the company said that a “significant driver” of these encouraging developments was the iPhone 3G, which was in “extremely high demand” following its launch on July 11. The company did not offer an exact iPhone sales figure.
Apple has posted its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 3G. Titled “Dilemmas,” the spot continues Apple’s recent trend of highlighting only one app in each commercial, with this particular ad highlighting the Urbanspoon application and its feature which lets users shake the device to get recommendations on local restaurants. The new ad is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
After several gaffes which saw the company prematurely activate and then pull the feature, AT&T has finally launched its free Wi-Fi access for iPhone users at all AT&T-branded hotspots in the U.S. The service will provide free high-speed Internet access to iPhone users at all AT&T hotspots, including those found at Starbucks. To access a hotspot, users must launch the Safari browser, enter their 10-digit phone number on the page provided, agree to the Acceptable Use policy, and tap continue. AT&T will then send the user a text message containing a link, which the user must then open in Safari, and tap a link on the page. The company notes that the link sent via SMS will be valid for 24 hours, and only at the location from which it was requested.
Apple has seeded its second beta version of iPhone Software 2.2 to select developers, adding fully-enabled Street View and more directions options to the Google Maps application. APIs supporting Street View were discovered in the prior 2.2 beta, but were not enabled. As seen in screenshots posted to iPhoneYap’s forums, the Maps application in Software 2.2 also features buttons at the top of the directions view for selecting between walking, bus, and driving directions, complete with a list of transit times, if applicable. In addition, the new seed also offers support for line-in audio accessories in the SDK. [via MacRumors]
As promised, Apple has posted an updated iPhone SDK Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), and has opened a beta of its Apple Developer Forums to “provide a collaborative environment to post iPhone development topics and questions for an open discussion with fellow iPhone developers.” On October 1, Apple announced it would drop the portion of its NDA for released iPhone software, stating, “the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software.” The revised agreement (PDF Link) reads, “You agree that any Apple pre-release software (including related documentation and materials) and any information disclosed by Apple to you in connection with Apple Events or Paid Content (defined below) will be considered and referred to as “Apple Confidential Information”.” The company defines “Paid Content” as “certain proprietary content (including, without limitation, video presentations and audio recordings) that Apple may make available to you from time to time for a separate fee.” The new developer forums, which are open to paid iPhone developers only, can be accessed at devforums.apple.com.
The Chief Administrative Office, which oversees the communications systems for the U.S. House of Representatives, has begun testing a group of iPhones to see if they are compatible with the working needs of lawmakers and staff. According to The Hill, the CAO plans to decide whether to offer the iPhone as an option by January, when the next Congress begins. “The reason we’re trying them out is because we heard a lot of people wanted the option to have them,” said Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the CAO.
Reporting its third-quarter financial results, Apple’s U.S. iPhone carrier partner AT&T revealed that it saw 2.4 million iPhone activations from the device’s launch on July 11 to the end of September. Of those 2.4 million activations, approximately 40 percent were new AT&T wireless customers. “I am particularly pleased with the customer response to the iPhone 3G,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “The new customers we’re winning are high-value, with attractive revenue and churn profiles. We’re expanding the market, as users adopt more data and media-rich services and access a wide array of applications. These achievements are positive for the future of our business.”
Making a rare appearance during the company’s quarterly results conference call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs discussed several topics, including iPhone sales, the App Store, and the economy. Notably, Jobs compared Apple’s iPhone sales in the quarter to that of rival Research In Motion, stating that Apple “beat” RIM by selling 6.9 million iPhones compared to RIM’s sales of 6.1 Blackberry devices. “Even more remarkable,” Jobs said, was the fact that measured by revenues, Apple has become the world’s third-largest mobile phone supplier, behind only Nokia and Samsung. Stating that deferred iPhone revenue has grown to $5.8 billion dollars, or 39% of Apple’s total revenue, Jobs said it was “too big to ignore,” while outlining the company’s reporting of non-GAAP financial results to help investors get a better sense of Apple’s actual business. Later, when asked about the upcoming year and the possibility of the market being cluttered with iPhone “wannabes,” Jobs said the company has to be the best, without leaving a price umbrella underneath the iPhone. He noted that Apple has a great partner in AT&T, and that both are committed to making the iPhone a great value for customers, while hinting that the “next round” would include either lower prices or new models.
Speaking about the App Store, Jobs said Apple has changed the value proposition for mobile devices. He said the Store will see its 200 millionth download tomorrow, now offers over 5,550 applications, and is available in 62 countries around the world. The rate of new submissions increases every week. “We’ve never seen anything like this in our careers,” Jobs said. He also said that customers are now attracted to iPhone not only for its functionality and multi-touch user interface, but also its ability to add free games and applications.
Discussing the economy, Jobs described Apple customers as some of the smartest, most product-aware customers in the market, saying that they are unlikely to abandon the quality and seamless integration of Apple’s products. He went on to say that they are more likely to delay purchases than switch away from the company’s products, and that while Apple may not appeal to every prospective customer, the percentage it needs to appeal to in order to grow its share isn’t that many. Finally, he noted that Apple has almost $25b safely in the bank, and zero debt.
Apple has posted its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 3G online. Titled “Game Changer,” the spot continues Apple’s recent trend of highlighting only a single application — in this case, MLB.com’s At Bat — showing off the app’s scores, live pitch updates, and video clip features. The new ad is now available for viewing on Apple’s website. [via TUAW]
Similar to the pre-purchase tool launched by Apple in September, AT&T is now offering an online iPhone pre-screening tool that allows customers to get pre-qualified for the iPhone 3G before they head to the store. The tool allows new customers to perform a credit check and determine number porting eligibility, while existing customers can check upgrade and/or add a line eligibility. The new AT&T online iPhone pre-purchase tool can be accessed by visiting att.com/iphone.