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Apple bonds .Mac, iPhone with Web Gallery (updated x2)

Updated (x3): During a special event primarily focused on the release of an updated, aluminum-bodied iMac computer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced .Mac Web Gallery, a new feature of its subscription-based .Mac Internet service designed to ease photo and video sharing for users of iPhones and Apple’s iLife ‘08 suite of digital lifestyle software. Operating somewhat like photo-sharing site Flickr, .Mac Web Gallery is an extension of iPhoto ‘08 and iMovie ‘08 that publishes your photos and videos to the Internet with one click, enabling you and other users to view the content online in a special Web 2.0 interface, and add to the photo collection with a special e-mail address.

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A new iPhone feature, “Send to Web Gallery,” enables iPhone users to wirelessly add photos to the Gallery from the road using the device’s Photos application; the feature mysteriously appeared as a new iPhone menu option, as shown above, hours after Jobs announcement. Galleries - including any video content that has been encoded using iMovie for viewing on an iPhone - can also be viewed using the iPhone’s Safari browser. In addition to requiring the $79 iLife ‘08 suite, a $100 annual subscription to .Mac will be needed to publish the Web Gallery.

Update 3: A hands-on report on .Mac Web Gallery’s integration with iPhone and iPhoto is available here.

Third-party native iPhone development continues

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Following last week’s appearance of the first third-party native iPhone application, developers have continued to pursue the building of new, unsanctioned programs for the device. Erica Sadun of TUAW has built both a voice recording app, VRecord, and a screenshot utility for the iPhone, and a native NES emulator, iphonenes, has appeared on Google Code. A video of the emulator in action can be found on YouTube. Unfortunately for most iPhone owners, installation of these and other upcoming applications still requires a “Jailbreak” of the device. iPhone modification programs such as iFuntastic — which recently added file browsing in version 2.5 — are making the process easier for the average user, but modification remains an “at your own risk” endeavor, and it is reasonable to assume that any future iPhone software update may override any changes you make to your phone.

Apple sued over iPhone keyboard

St. Petersburg, Fla.-based SP Technologies has filed suit against Apple, alleging that the iPhone’s touchscreen-based keyboard violates an SP patent. The suit claims “Apple has infringed, and is now infringing” the patent “through the use, sale, [and] offer for sale of its iPhone product and system.” The patent, U.S. patent number 6,784,873 B1, describes a “method and medium for a computer readable keyboard display incapable of user termination.” Physician Peter V. Boesen is listed as the inventor. Boesen was sentenced to prison in May after being convicted of defrauding Iowa’s Medicare and Medicaid programs by filing false claims, but is currently free pending an appeal.

Apple adds iPhone iPod Hi-Fi Tone Control support

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Along with documented security and Safari bug patches, and several undocumented but user-discovered changes to other applications, Apple has updated the iPhone’s software in version 1.0.1 to enhance iPod accessory compatibility. When docked in an iPod Hi-Fi speaker system, an iPod Hi-Fi menu now appears under Settings, enabling the iPhone to access the same Treble Boost and Bass Boost “Tone Control” settings found on iPods and iPod nanos. This feature, originally designed to simplify iPod Hi-Fi sound tweaks through an additional main menu option, has remained unavailable to third-party developers since Hi-Fi’s release.

Additionally, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg claims in his blog that, following the 1.0.1 update, the “iPhone can now play music through many previously incompatible car adapters and other external speakers originally designed for the iPod.” Though iLounge’s editors have had no success getting iPhone to work properly with their favorite car adapters, we would be interested in hearing new reader experiences based on version 1.0.1. Please let us know what you’ve discovered, pro or con.

First third-party native iPhone app appears

The first third-party native iPhone application has appeared on Google Code. The application, MobileTerminal.app, is a terminal emulator for iPhone. Being a native application, MobileTerminal appears on the iPhone’s home screen, along with the device’s default apps. A video of the application in action has been posted to YouTube. While the application itself is rather minimal, its importance as the first third-party native iPhone graphical application is substantial, as it represents what may be a turning point in the ongoing efforts of hackers and enthusiasts to open the device up for uses beyond the phone’s Apple-sanctioned applications.

iPhone update adds features, fixes battery error

According to discussions on Apple’s support site and several reader reports, it appears iPhone Software 1.0.1 includes a few new features, along with the known bug fixes and security patches. There is now a BCC: option in the phone’s Mail Settings to send yourself a copy — this was previously only a CC: option. Passcode Lock timing options have been expanded up to “After 1 Hour,” and it has also been reported that the 1.0.1 update fixes a previously reported battery issue in which the iPhone’s display would not indicate a full charge.

iPhone buyers report AT&T store woes

Following a MacDailyNews report that AT&T Stores have been hiding and refusing to demonstrate Apple iPhones to potential customers, readers have reported mixed but negative-skewing experiences about their attempts to purchase or even just see iPhones at AT&T stores. Some positive reports have been posted, but MacDailyNews and many of its readers have suggested that AT&T stores and their employees are being less than cooperative with customers interested in testing or purchasing the iPhone.

Some reports claim that the iPhone display units that appeared around the device’s launch have been removed, without explanation. Other reports claim that AT&T employees informed customers that they had to purchase an iPhone to be able to see one. Still others suggest that the commission-based employees are not receiving enough financial incentive to push the device over other models, and that they have instead opted to attack the product.

A report from “DM” states, “I went to my local corporate ATT store in Northern NJ, they did not have any iPhones in stock (probably true). But what a little disconcerting is that they were trashing the iPhone and Apple as putting out a bad product and suggested that I buy the new Blackberry Curve. I just smiled, walked out and across the mall and bought one at the Apple Store.”

A separate report from “Jim Steward” states, “My local AT&T store had them on display at first, then took them out. The display is still there, but no iPhones are attached. I didn’t have any trouble purchasing the iPhone, but they would not even bring it out of the back room until I had paid for it. If I hadn’t been set on buying the iPhone when I walked in or had not already looked at and held one, I would’ve gone to another AT&T store to see if I was treated any better.”

We encourage our readers to share your AT&T store experiences, positive, neutral, or negative, in the comments.

iPhone Software 1.0.1 fixes Safari bugs, security

Apple tonight released iPhone Software Version 1.0.1, which according to the company is dedicated solely to “bug fixes,” specifically security patches related to iPhone’s Safari browser.

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The free download, available through the Check for Updates feature in iTunes 7.3, patches five security issues related to maliciously created web sites, including cross-site scripting, code execution, cross-site requests, masquerading web site URLs, and unexpected application termination. No additional features appear to have been added to the iPhone beyond Safari security fixes. Running the application results in verification of the iPhone’s existing software, then an update of the software to version 1.0.1 (1C25).

AT&T iPhone service bills running long

New York Times columnist David Pogue and John Gruber of Daring Fireball are reporting that iPhone customers’ AT&T bills contain overly lengthy explanations of data usage. Writes Pogue, “I get six pages of listings of data tidbits that the iPhone has downloaded in the form of email and Web pages–kilobyte by kilobyte! Every graphic on every Web page, every message sent or received–it’s all carefully listed by date and time.” Gruber confirms the excess, stating that his own data listing “weighs in at 45 pages.” It is important to note that while lengthy, the listings provide no specifics of browser activity. For environmentally conscious iPhone owners who would like to enroll in paperless billing and avoid receiving pages of data transfer listings, you can sign up for the free service at att.com/mywireless.

iPhone owners experience AC adapter woes

A notable amount of iPhone owners have reported problems with the device’s included AC adapter. Jason O’Grady for ZDNet has posted a similar report, with not only his colleague’s but also his and his wife’s adapters failing. According to reports, the adapters suddenly fail to charge the iPhone, yet the same USB cable that fails when used with the iPhone AC adapter continues to charge the iPhone when connected to a computer or an iPod AC adapter. Several owners have reported success in returning the misbehaving adapters to Apple for replacement units.

iPhone update coming next week?

Security researchers are set to reveal details of a previously-reported security flaw in the iPhone next week at the Black Hat 2007 conference, leading to speculation that Apple may update the device to patch the vulnerability in advance of the event. Apple hasn’t said whether a patch will be delivered prior to when the researchers are expected to disclose their findings. Robert Graham, CEO of Errata Security, said, “Right now other smart phones are full of vulnerabilities and they are not getting patched. This is actually a good test to see if Apple can do this better than the mobile carriers.” If and when a patch is released, it will be the first software update for the iPhone, which went on sale nearly a month ago.

iPhone now on display at UK’s Computer Warehouse

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Offering residents of the United Kingdom an opportunity to try out the iPhone for themselves, UK-based Apple reseller Computer Warehouse has sent out an e-mail and updated its website to note that the company has an 8GB iPhone on display at its Brentford showroom. Although it remains unknown what carriers will offer the iPhone in the UK, it is possible that Apple could sell the iPhone through Apple Authorized Resellers such as Computer Warehouse, or again rely exclusively upon its own retail locations and those of its European partners. Since Apple’s retail presence in Europe is limited by comparison with the United States, a wider early rollout to resellers is a legitimate possibility.

Analyst: Reaction to iPhone activation numbers ‘silly’

Apple shares dropped six percent yesterday, following AT&T’s announcement that it activated 146,000 iPhone subscribers in its second quarter — a number many believe indicates iPhone sales were below estimates. Michael Gartenberg, analyst for JupiterResearch, believes that number doesn’t matter. “It’s hard for Apple to have missed a target number when they gave none. What folks are talking about are some analysts’ somewhat wild expectations,” Gartenberg said. “The first two days mean nothing in the overall life of the product and the overall success of the iPhone won’t rest on how well this particular model does,” he continued. “The launch of the iPhone was the first move in what is likely to be a long game for Apple, trying to gauge the overall success based on two days of incomplete data is silly.”

RBC Capital has also commented on the situation, claiming that AT&T’s number has little bearing on Apple’s actual sales over the iPhone’s launch weekend. “AT&T reported 146k iPhone activations Q2 (June 29 and 30). However, this may not reflect Apple’s true Q3 sales, as AT&T excludes iPhone buyers who experienced activation delays (up to 40% - 50% of est. buyers), as well as additional units sold but not activated until after the weekend, as well as those purchased for gifts, and non-US buyers. Incorporating these factors suggests Apple may have sold 350-450k iPhones to users the first weekend,” said the firm. Exact iPhone sales figures are expected to be released along with Apple’s third quarter earnings statement at 5:00 pm Eastern time today.

Apple launches AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone

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Apple is now offering the previously-announced AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone. The plan, which extends repair coverage of the iPhone to two years from the original purchase date, must be purchased within the phone’s standard one-year warranty period — the iPhone includes one year of hardware coverage, as well as two years of technical support. The plan covers the iPhone, iPhone Bluetooth Headset, and all included accessories, and guarantees genuine Apple replacement parts. It is not available in Alabama, Connecticut, Nevada, or Wyoming. The AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone is available now for $69.

AT&T: 40% of June iPhone activations new customers

AT&T has said that it activated 146,000 iPhone subscribers in its second quarter — June 29 and 30 — and 40 percent of that group were new AT&T Wireless customers, reports The Wall Street Journal. It is unclear whether the subscriber number is a good representation of iPhones sold during that time period, given the fact that so many iPhone purchasers experienced problems during activation and the slightly ambiguous nature of the company’s statement. Overall, the iPhone carrier added 1.5 million subscribers in the second quarter. AT&T also said iPhone sales “continue to be strong in July with store traffic above historical levels.”

Karstadt stores to offer iPhone in Germany

A spokeswoman for the German department store chain Karstadt has confirmed that the company will sell the iPhone in Germany. “We will offer the iPhone,” said the spokeswoman, noting that it was too soon to say whether the phones would be sold with or without a contract. She added that Karstadt did hope to have the iPhone in stock in time for the holiday shopping season. Previous reports have suggested that T-Mobile will offer service for the iPhone in Germany.

iPhone security flaw could give hackers ‘complete control’

A new security flaw found in the iPhone’s software could give hackers “complete control” of the device. Researchers from Independent Security Evaluators, a firm that tests its clients’ computer security by attempting to hack into it, said that they were able to get access to the phone through a Wi-Fi connection or by loading a web page containing malicious code. Doing so allowed them to tap into the information contained on the phone, such as SMS text messaging records and contact information. “Once you did manage to find a hole, you were in complete control,” said Charles A. Miller, principal security analyst for ISE. The security firm alerted Apple to the security flaw this week, and shared a recommended patch for the problem. “Apple takes security very seriously and has a great track record of addressing potential vulnerabilities before they can affect users,” said company spokeswoman Lynn Fox. “We’re looking into the report submitted by I.S.E. and always welcome feedback on how to improve our security,” she said.

Vodafone ‘looks forward’ to 3G iPhone

Discussing the iPhone in a quarterly conference call, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said that the company was concerned with the current iPhone’s lack of 3G technology. “It’s clearly a good, software-driven device, but we’re concerned about wideband area coverage so that 3G (third-generation) or HSDPA (upgraded 3G) connectivity with the iPhone is something that we look forward to.” Recent rumors have speculated that the iPhone will be offered through competing carriers in Europe, including Telefonica’s O2 and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile, however, an image of the Vodafone logo has been found in the device’s file system. “Every product, every alternative, every choice here has a price and we just have to be conscious of what it is that we’re doing for our customers and our shareholders,” Sarin stated. He also claimed that virtually every cellular company was having conversations with Apple, but declined further comment.

Manufacturers vie for chance to build Euro, Asian iPhones

Handset makers Inventec Appliances and Quanta Computer are competing to become Apple’s second assembly partner for the iPhone, according to a DigiTimes report. Quanta president Michael Wang has set a goal to aggressively strive to become a partner for iPhone production. A recent Goldman Sachs report claims that while Foxconn Electronics remains the exclusive supplier for US-bound iPhones, orders have been split with Quanta for the European version of the phone. The firm also claimed that Foxconn, Quanta, and Inventec are all bidding to become suppliers of the Asian version of the handset. The report notes that it “would be difficult for either Inventec or Quanta to compete with Foxconn to win iPhone orders, given the investment Foxconn has already put into production of the iPhone. However, Apple may still choose to outsource a small portion of iPhone assembly to manufacturers other than Foxconn, in order to lessen its exposure to one partner and lower its market risk.” [via MacWorld UK]

iPhone battery charging issue a software bug

An issue regarding the iPhone’s charging screen has been acknowledged by Apple as a software bug. A few iPhone owners have claimed that the battery icon, which appears on the device’s screen when charging, fails to show a fully charged battery despite hours of charging, reports WirelessInfo. Apple responded to the report by stating, “Your battery is fully charged, but the UI (User Interface) is just not correctly reflecting this. We expect to fix this in a software update.”

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