- April 2, 2013
Following its joint announcement with Apple regarding official support for iPhones, T-Mobile will be sending out a carrier software update on April 5 to enable unlocked original iPhone 5 units to access T-Mobile’s LTE network, as well as previously authorized carrier-limited features such as Visual Voicemail. A report notes that the update will go out this Friday to all iPhone devices on the T-Mobile network using iOS 6.1.x or higher; carrier settings can be delivered to iPhone users without the need for a full iOS update. T-Mobile and Apple will launch a new version of the iPhone 5 hardware on April 12 with broader network compatibility than the current model. [via TmoNews]
Update: T-Mobile has released the carrier software update today, as expected. [via TmoNews]
Apple plans to start production of a new iPhone in this year’s second quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal confirms that the new iPhone—likely the iPhone 5S—is “similar in size and shape to its current (iPhone).” A summer launch is noted as possible, which would match our January report that an upgraded iPhone is planned for July.
The same WSJ article notes that Apple is working on a less expensive iPhone “that could be launched as soon as the second half of this year.” Apple has allegedly been working on different color shells for the device.
- April 2, 2013
AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne announced the carrier will support HD Voice later this year. Speaking at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit, Rinne also said AT&T will start to work on “advanced LTE,” which reduces interference, among other things. T-Mobile was the first to announce improved phone call quality through HD Voice support for the iPhone 5 in the United States — it will begin to offer the iPhone 5 April 12. The specific date for AT&T’s HD Voice rollout is unknown. [via AllThingsD]
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, an Apple official told San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón that the next two generations of iPhones have already been developed, and that “they preceded Tim Cook.” Gascón reportedly spoke with Apple government liaison Michael Foulkes in an effort to convince the company to embrace anti-theft technology. According to Gascón, who wants Apple to add a post-theft kill switch to iPhones, Foulkes spent an “underwhelming” hour “doing a lot of talking and saying nothing,” apart from an unusual apparent revelation: Foulkes supposedly said that the next two generations of iPhone had been developed before Tim Cook, suggesting that their designs were locked in under Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs, prior to the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011. While this claim is facially difficult to believe, Apple did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment on the report.
Facebook has sent out invites for a media event to “Come See Our New Home on Android” next Thursday, which appears to be the announcement of a Facebook-based Android phone co-developed with HTC. Though it’s unclear if the event will focus on the phone, reports suggest that Facebook has created a version of the Android operating system with deeper Facebook integration than before. Past reports have noted that Facebook has hired former a number of iOS designers and engineers, and Facebook notably also purchased Push Pop Press, a company started by former Apple employees. For possibly competitive reasons that were only speculated on before, Apple was slow at incorporating Facebook features into iOS and OS X — now, presumably, Facebook will be directly competing against the iPhone, while maintaining a number of popular apps on the platform. [via 9to5 Google]
Flipboard Inc. has updated its free Flipboard app to version 2.0. The web article aggregator now lets users collect and save content into “magazines” that are public by default, but can be made private. A new bookmarklet makes it easier to add items to magazines from your browser, and sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is now easier. Personalized recommendations are now available, and search — now in a more prominent position — has been improved.
Repulze ($3), the futuristic racer from Pixelbite, has now been updated with additional features that bring it closer to Sony’s classic Wipeout series. Version 1.0.4, aka “Phase Three,” adds weapons and AI opponents to the game. New challenges, hovercrafts and tracks have also been added. At this point, the weapons are still pretty basic, and the stages don’t have quite the right balance of weapon-racing action, as Repulze continues to feel like a beta version of a finished game. But the graphics and speed continue to improve with every release, and if subsequent updates evolve the weapon systems further, Pixelbite might just have an excellent game on its hands.
- March 28, 2013
Following up on the announcement that Apple will release a new version of the iPhone 5 to support T-Mobile’s network, the company has clarified that unlocked current-generation iPhone 5 models will work on T-Mobile’s network—partially. According to a report, the original iPhone 5 can connect to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21Mbps and LTE networks, but will not work on the company’s newer HSPA+ 42Mbps network. Due to cellular radio frequency differences that apparently vary from city to city, it’s impossible to know for certain what current iPhone 5 speeds will be like at a given location within T-Mobile’s network. This issue is being resolved with the new iPhone 5 model, increasing the chance new customers will be able to connect at better speeds. [via The Verge]
Parents of young children have a love-hate affair with the Canadian kids’ cartoon Caillou, featuring a relatable four-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister Rosie. While Caillou cartoons nicely touch upon common childhood themes, including role-playing, exploration, and parent-child interactions, the title character whines and pouts frequently enough to teach impressionable kids bad behaviors. Fingerprint’s new Step-by-Story - Caillou’s Window ($1) thankfully does away with the whining, but isn’t going to win the series any new fans, either. It lets kids choose very short pre-built or built-it-yourself stories featuring Caillou characters, stringing together five or so concepts to form a complete (if not particularly compelling) “story” like this one: (1) Outside, it was fall, (2) when Daddy saw (3) Caillou skiing and (4) Sarah (5) on a shooting star. Each of these clauses adds a simple, lightly animated foreground object to a flat background image while Caillou’s theme song plays and a narrator slowly enunciates the clauses. That’s it — though the art is high-resolution, it’s flat, and there’s no additional interactivity. Kids who try the app may be interested at first, only to discover that little they do while watching the “story” has any impact on the screen. We’d suggest passing on this one.
Google has introduced a number of new features to its Google Plus (free) social networking app. A new profile design is the first notable change users may see, along with a new notifications tray. Version 4.3.0 also includes new photo editing tools, such as filters, rotating and cropping. Users can also control the volume of posts from individual circles or communities and filter search results. There are also more community options — you can tell your friends about a community and reshare posts, along with displaying counts for unread messages and new moderation features in communities.
Apple has confirmed that it will begin sell a new version of its A1428 iPhone 5 model in order to support additional Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands for T-Mobile’s network, according to a report. Current iPhone 5 users will not be able to gain the new AWS support via any kind of software update; instead, Apple is updating the current A1428 model of the iPhone 5, and will begin to sell it on April 12, the same day the device comes to T-Mobile. Existing A1428 models will perform at lower speeds on T-Mobile’s network, and thus will be phased out in favor of the new AWS model. The updated iPhone 5 will continue to support AT&T’s LTE network, and likely gain support for low-cost WIND and Mobilicity carriers in Canada in the process. [via Engadget]
- March 26, 2013
T-Mobile has announced it will sell the iPhone 5 starting on April 12, 2013. It will be the first U.S. carrier to offer nationwide support for HD Voice—for improved iPhone 5 phone call quality—and will offer a single budget-priced plan with tethering included, plus unlimited 4G data as an option. The company currently operates a 4G network in 229 “metropolitan areas,” with LTE support coming online today in seven cities (Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, California, and Washington, D.C.), and more to come throughout the year. T-Mobile claims that its 4G network includes support for HSPA+, which could enable extremely fast speeds even for users in areas without LTE coverage.
Qualifying customers will be able to purchase the phone for $100 down, plus monthly payments of $20 for two years; should you leave the network before then, you need only pay off the remaining cost of the phone, or trade it in for a fair market value credit. T-Mobile will offer the iPhone 5 with no annual service contract, unlimited talk, text, and web on 4G. The company’s Simple Choice Plan is $50 a month for unlimited talk, text, and 500MB of 4G data for web use. Customers can add 2GB of 4G data for an extra $10 per month, per line. An unlimited 4G data option is an additional $20 per month per line; with that plan, the data will be unlimited on the phone, but limited for tethering purposes. Unlike Verizon and Sprint, but like AT&T, T-Mobile’s network supports simultaneous phone calling and cellular data use.
T-Mobile will also make the iPhone 4S and 4 available in “select markets.” The iPhone 4S will be available for $70 down, plus $20 per month for 24 months. The iPhone 4 will require $15 down, and $15 per month for 24 months. An iPhone 5 notification page has been launched on the company’s web site in advance of the official release.
- March 25, 2013
Apple is now offering free next day shipping for all iPhone models in its U.S. online store—a promotion that can be seen on the iPhone’s purchase page. There is a limit of two iPhones per customer in the offer, and there is no indication of how long the promotion will last; it’s unclear as to whether this is largely to reduce iPhone inventory ahead of a mid-year refresh, or an ongoing change to improve iPhone access in areas without Apple Stores.
Apple is being probed for possible antitrust violations in the European Union, as a group of cellphone carriers have complained about the strict terms in contracts to sell iPhones, according to a report. A formal antitrust investigation has not begun at this point. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said, “Our contracts fully comply with local laws wherever we do business, including the EU.”
Meanwhile, in Australia, Apple is being questioned for its pricing of hardware and software, which is much higher than in the U.S. A 2012 survey showed that in Australia, software and hardware products sold for an average of 50 percent more than in the U.S. An Australian parliamentary committee questioned Apple, which blamed “old-fashioned” record companies, film studios, and TV networks for inflated prices on digital downloads. Adobe and Microsoft executives were also taken to task, and the committee found some of the answers “evasive.” [via The New York Times, Reuters]
Apple has announced on its developer website that starting May 1, the App Store will also no longer accept new apps or updates that access device-specific identifiers known as UDIDs. It’s been known for some time that Apple planned to phase out the use of UDIDs, replacing them with the new Advertising Identifier in iOS 6. On the same date, new apps and updates submitted to the App Store must be built for iOS devices with Retina displays, and must support the iPhone 5/iPod touch 5G four-inch displays, suggesting that Apple will emphasize larger and/or higher-resolution screens while downplaying smaller, lower-resolution ones.
Apple has updated its Podcasts app to version 1.2, adding custom stations which update automatically with new episodes from your favorite podcasts, and playlists synced from iTunes, among other features. Stations are also stored in iCloud and kept updated on all devices.
The interface has seen a few changes, as well — notably, the “reels” optionally shown while playing an audio podcast are now gone, with some previously obscured functionality merged into the main audio playback screen. Buttons have been moved around within the My Podcasts library screen, and “Top Stations” are now referred to as “Top Charts,” amongst other tweaks. Our editors have noted new crash bugs, however, so you might want to hold off on downloading the update for now.
In an unusual move of supporting third-party APIs, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS adding the ability to receive audio from other iOS apps via Audiobus. Designed to facilitate mixing audio across multiple apps on a single iOS device, Audiobus is a third-party app that other iOS music apps can interface with to send and receive audio with other compatible apps. The addition of Audiobus support in GarageBand now allows users to record and sequence sounds from a wide variety of other Audiobus supported apps, such as Amplitube, Music Studio, AmpKit, BeatMaker, and dozens more.
The latest GarageBand update also adds the ability to disable grid snapping for finder editing control and resolves an issue with connecting third-party audio accessories to the 3.5mm headphone/mic jack. GarageBand 1.4 is available from the App Store for $5.
Just released, Speedbump’s Kingpin Lanes ($2) is an iOS universal bowling game completely rendered in 3-D, and impressively built by one man using the Unreal Engine. In addition to the expected ball-tossing, pin-knocking action, the game offers a fully explorable bowling alley, including a functioning pro shop, and an arcade with four playable mini games. Five fully voiced and animated characters can compete on a variety of lanes. The game also lets users create their own soundtrack using a device’s on-board music.
Now featuring full French and German translations in version 1.2, The Orchestra ($14) from Touch Press is an iPad app that features eight symphonic works performed by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. As the orchestra plays extended extracts of the works — from the likes of Beethoven, Haydn, Debussy, Stravinsky, and others — the app lets users select from multiple video and audio tracks in real-time. A synchronized score and note-by-note visualization of each piece are also included. Audio and subtitled commentaries are also available on every piece, from the conductor and the players. Each instrument is also profiled, and the musicians explain their roles in the orchestra.
Sharp has said it will not receive the second part of a $120 million investment from Qualcomm before a March 29 deadline, since it failed to complete a plan to start fabricating screens based on Sharp’s IGZO technology, according to a new report. Qualcomm only agreed to pay the remainder of the money if Sharp met certain production preparations and financial conditions. As a consequence of the delay, Apple’s ability to start using the thin, power-efficient IGZO panels in its next-generation devices—a plan that has been reported for some time—now seems less likely, at least for the immediate future. “The financial targets are not the reason for the delay,” Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said. The companies will now try to meet a June 30 deadline for production of the new screens, which might then become available in late 2013 products. [via Reuters]
As the latest Peapod Labs ABC-themed title, ABC Farm ($3) teaches children vocabulary in English or Spanish through sight, sound, and touch. More than 50 farm-related words are taught through photos, interactive scenes, videos, pictures, and sounds. ABC Farm’s major new feature is the addition of a bilingual mode that enables the app to pivot with a single button push from English to Spanish — this feature can be used to teach a single Spanish word after seeing the English version, or the entire Spanish word set, alphabetized, as an alternative to the English word set. Every word and letter is spoken aloud in the currently selected language. While it looks familiar on the surface, ABC Farm boasts impressive new depth, and kids will enjoy it.
Evernote’s Evernote Food (free) has been updated to version 2.1. The update adds OpenTable integration, so users can make restaurant reservations and view restaurant ratings from within the app. It’s also easier to share recipes, both from Evernote to Evernote Food’s My Cookbook section, and via Facebook, Twitter, and email. It’s also possible to browse and search for recipes in Japanese and Chinese. Other improvements involve bug fixes, better image uploading, and improved search results.
T-Mobile has announced an event on Tuesday, March 26, during which it is expected to announce details about its new no-contract value plans. Reports have suggested that the company may use the event to announce the availability of the iPhone on T-Mobile’s network, as well. In early December, T-Mobile announced it would sell Apple products at some point in 2013, and a follow-up report confirmed the iPhone would be sold by the company. The company has recently come under fire by AT&T, which attempted to pre-emptively dismiss the quality of T-Mobile’s 4G wireless network; T-Mobile will apparently compete with rivals by offering contract-free access to its existing 4G network, and introducing LTE service this year. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has created a new page on its site extolling the benefits of owning an iPhone, a somewhat surprising move for the company. Following Samsung’s unveiling of its new Galaxy S 4 smartphone, the new page popped up on Apple’s site, starting with the text, “There’s iPhone. And then there’s everything else.” The page touts the virtues of the device’s aluminum design, Retina display, battery life, A6 chip, LTE, iSight camera, and Siri, in addition to Apple’s iTunes, App Store, iOS 6, iCloud, and technical support. Apple’s introduction of this new page follows comparatively brief recent comments from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller about the advantages iPhones have over Android phones, and suggests that Apple is now facing stronger competitive pressure than before.