A number of revelations behind the original launch of the iPhone in 2007 have been published in The New York Times Magazine. Fred Vogelstein, author of the upcoming “Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution,” profiles a number of Apple employees at the time, including Andy Grignon, senior manager in charge of all radios in the original iPhone. Grignon tells of the tense moments leading up to launch, as the iPhone suffered from numerous bugs prior to the unveiling. During rehearsals, Grignon “had rarely seen Jobs make it all the way through his 90-minute show without a glitch” — including dropped calls, lost Internet connections, freezes, and unprompted shutdowns. A “golden path” was pre-determined to keep the iPhone from crashing through the numerous known issues, but backups on stage were ready in case of a failure.
The report notes that “software in the iPhone’s Wi-Fi radio was so unstable that Grignon and his team had to extend the phones’ antennas by connecting them to wires running offstage so the wireless signal wouldn’t have to travel as far.” AT&T brought in a portable cell tower to boost phone reception, and Apple rigged the on-screen cellular strength indicator to show 5 bars at all times, even if the phone’s radio crashed and restarted. But the biggest problem involved memory, as the iPhone often required a restart when multitasking. Jobs usually had a backup plan, but not this time. “It was Apple TV or the iPhone,” Grignon said. “And if he had gone to Macworld with just Apple TV … the world would have said, ‘What the heck was that?’ “
Jobs initially resisted making a phone, and Apple designed and built three early versions of the iPhone in 2006, putting inordinate pressure on employees in the process. Employees were pulled from other areas at Apple and told that they would work on something amazing, but that it would be the hardest work they had ever done. Other insights in the piece include the challenges of shrinking OS X, developing capacitive multitouch, and some incredible details on the lengths of Jobs’ obsession with secrecy surrounding the launch—including a squashed plan to keep contractors sleeping at the venue the night before the unveiling to avoid leaks. The successful iPhone demo ended with Grignon and the iPhone team drunk from scotch snuck into the keynote event.
A Hong Kong company, E-Ser Electronic Co., claims to have completed Lightning cables compatible with both iOS 7 and allegedly new Lightning authentication chips found inside the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The claims haven’t been verified, but are still notable, as non-certified Lightning accessories began to invoke warnings and charging malfunctions after iOS 7 was released.
Susan Bennett, an Atlanta-area voice actress, has revealed herself as the original voice of Siri. Though Apple won’t confirm Bennett as the voice, CNN reports, “Professionals who know her voice, have worked with her and represent her legally say she is Siri. And an audio-forensics expert with 30 years of experience has studied both voices and says he is ‘100%’ certain the two are the same.” Though Siri didn’t debut until Oct. 4, 2011 during the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, Bennett unknowingly recorded voice samples for the virtual assistant in July 2005. Under contract with ScanSoft, Bennett recorded samples for four hours a day that month. Bennett didn’t find out she was Siri’s voice until the iPhone 4S was released. A colleague with the new phone emailed Bennett, asking if she was Siri. Bennett checked Apple’s website to hear the audio. “Oh, I knew,” she said. “It’s obviously me. It’s my voice.”
- October 3, 2013
There have been reports of the iPhone 5s motion sensors showing incorrect values — one particular MacRumors thread goes on for 20 pages — and today Gizmodo demonstrated that the sensors are off when compared to a level. The report found the gyroscope was a few degrees off, and that the compass on the iPhone 5 had a “more accurate measurement” compared to the 5s.
In confirming the findings, we found similar issues when testing the iPhone 5s sensor in multiple phones: measurements were two to three degrees off, in both portrait and landscape mode, and when the iPhone 5s was placed flat on an even surface. It’s unknown at this point whether the issues are hardware- or software-specific, and whether an iOS update will correct them.
Sega’s The Cave ($5) is an adventure game from Double Fine Productions and Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert. The Cave was previously released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U, just now making its iOS debut. Players explore a sprawling cave using a team. Users pick three explorers out of seven, all with their own personalities, talents, and motivations. The gameplay dynamics are similar to Gilbert’s Maniac Mansion, an absolute classic from 1987.
Goodnight Mo ($3) is a new interactive pop-up book from StoryToys Entertainment. The short book shows a little monster named Mo getting ready for bed. He takes a bath, goes to the bathroom, and brushes his teeth before settling down for the night. It’s designed to help establish a bedtime routine for youngsters, who can have fun interacting with the various elements of the book. The app can read the book aloud to kids, or let them read it for themselves. Narration is available in English, French, German, and Spanish.
Apple is working on a solution for a known iOS 7 glitch that is disrupting iMessage, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some users have found that iMessages appear to go through, only to later discover that the message has not actually been delivered. “We are aware of an issue that affects a fraction of a percent of our iMessage users, and we will have a fix available in an upcoming software update,” Apple said in a statement. A few workarounds have been suggested by users for the time being, including restarting the device, and disabling iMessage, resetting Network Settings, and then turning iMessage back on.
Flixster’s free app with the lengthy title — Movies by Flixster, with Rotten Tomatoes — has upgraded to version 6.6. The update brings HD streaming to select titles. The app also features a brand new design for iOS 7. Flixster notes those who are having issues with streaming movies due to the update should log out and log back in to fix the problem.
Navigon North America ($40) from Garmin has updated to version 2.6.1. As one might expect, it’s been updated to support iOS 7, and there are some bug fixes, but the big change is the app is now compatible with Garmin HUD. Garmin’s HUD — for Head-Up Display — projects navigation information onto a driver’s windshield from the app. HUD is an interesting concept that keeps eyes on the road while using navigation data, but the $150 device is a separate purchase from the already pricey app.
- September 30, 2013
Boost Mobile will carry the iPhone 5c and 5s, according to a tweet from @evleaks. It will be the first time the prepaid carrier will sell the iPhone.
Major League Baseball plans to utilize Apple’s new iBeacon indoor mapping feature in its At the Ballpark app. The app will use the new iOS 7 feature in MLB stadiums. “Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences,” said MLB iOS developer Marc Abramson. It’s possible the app could load a ticket through Passbook when a spectator approaches a stadium gate, and present a map which can show spectators to their seats.
A number of other possible features were revealed, including discounts and loyalty cards at concession stands, and historical information about the park. The New York Mets are currently testing the Bluetooth LE-powered iBeacon for in-stadium use, but Abramson said, “A lot of teams have expressed interest so far.” [via Mashable]
- September 27, 2013
Virgin Mobile will carry Apple’s iPhone 5c and 5s starting Oct. 1. The carrier announced the news through its official Twitter account. Virgin Mobile didn’t start selling the iPhone 5 until June of this year. A number of regional carriers will also begin carrying the new iPhones on Oct. 1.
A Federal Aviation Administration advisory committee has voted to recommend letting airline passengers use smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, the Associated Press reports. The recommendation will be sent to the FAA, which has final say on whether the restrictions will be eased. However, it’s notable that downloading data, using the Internet, and talking on the phone would still be prohibited below 10,000 feet under the recommendations. The FAA began seeking public comments on the issue more than a year ago. While the FCC urged the FAA to expand in-flight device use, another report claimed passenger electronics interfere with equipment.
2K Drive ($5) from 2K Sports has updated to version 1.6. The new British car pack brings four new cars from Land Rover, Vauxhall, and Jaguar to the game. New events have also been added to 2K Drive, and users who were completely unable to play the game before can now get past the tutorial level and purchase cars. Additionally, vehicle control improvements have been made, including steering sensitivity tweaks, though the default steering is pretty challenging.
Lens Tutorial (free) from Smart Learn Apps isn’t the prettiest-looking app around, but it makes up for its lack of aesthetic appeal through education. The app, now updated for version 1.4, shows how to use a variety of camera lenses, demonstrating visually how their aperture, distance from subject, and width/zoom level change their depth of field. More than 3,400 digital cameras are now included after the most recent update. The app also offers a high-contrast scheme with large fonts for outdoor use.
Apple has released iOS 7.0.2 for all iOS devices — unlike the previous iOS 7.0.1 update, which was only for the iPhone 5c and 5s. The release fixes bugs that could allow someone to bypass the Lock Screen passcode.
Also included in the update is a Greek keyboard option for passcode entry. It’s available for download now through the Software Update screen under Settings.
The first three apps to support the iPhone 5s’s M7 motion co-processor — Strava Run (free), MotionX-24/7 ($3), and Argus (free)—are now available in the App Store. All of the apps are fitness-based, though features differ from app to app. Due to these apps now using the M7, some privacy permissions and dialog boxes that haven’t been seen within the iPhone 5s have now been revealed.
Motion Activity appears by default in privacy settings, with all apps requesting motion data appearing in that category with on/off switches. As the M7 is allowing for more motion data reporting than ever before on an iPhone, each app must request motion-tracking permission, notably separately from access to GPS functionality.
- September 26, 2013
A recently leaked promotional poster shows that China Mobile will get both the iPhone 5c and 5s. As the world’s largest cellular carrier, China Mobile has long been rumored to receive the iPhone, but network incompatibilities and contract issues have apparently held the offering up. China Mobile now has its network ready for 4G and is only waiting on government approval, which will come before year’s end — possibly as early as mid-October.
A recent report noted the carrier would at least get the iPhone 5c. The poster claims customers in China will receive full 3G/4G support, and speeds of up to 100 Mbps with “the strongest iPhone.” [via Unwired View]
A court has ruled that Apple is allowed to use the iPhone trademark in Brazil. Brazilian company IGB Electronica SA previously had exclusive rights to the “IPHONE” name. Both companies can now legally use the iPhone name in Brazil, but Judge Eduardo de Brito Fernandes said Apple’s iPhone is “world renowned,” and it would be unfair to Apple to let IGB Electronica use the name without restrictions. Last year, IGB Electronica launched a “Gradiente iPhone,” which runs Android. [via AFP News]
French authorities are looking into Apple’s contracts with French carriers, according to a new report. Specifics are unclear, but the investigation is likely over concerns of anti-competitive practices. A few months ago, the country’s Competition Authority searched Apple’s French headquarters, wholesalers, and retailers. It was also reported that authorities were monitoring the App Store due to pricing changes. [via MarketWatch]
- September 25, 2013
A number of U.S. regional carriers have announced next Tuesday, Oct. 1, as a launch date for the iPhone 5c and 5s on their networks. Nine carriers have announced an Oct. 1 launch thus far: Appalachian Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, C Spire, Cellcom, GCI, MTA, Nex-Tech Wireless, Ntelos, and Strata. It’s possible that other regional carriers may add the 5c and 5s on Oct. 1, but so far, these are the only confirmed carriers to add the device on that date. [via MacRumors]
AppleCare+, Apple’s two-year extended warranty and damage protection plan for certain devices, now allows users to receive iPhone, iPad, or iPod service in any country offering the service. Coverage is limited depending on which countries cover which device models. For example, the CDMA iPhone 5 can’t be replaced in Brazil, where it isn’t available. AppleCare+ for iPad, iPhone, and iPod is now available in 15 different countries. [via TechCrunch]
Algoriddim’s djay 2 ($10) is now ready for iOS 7 in version 2.1. The music mixing app has a new library, and new sample packs from Snoop Dogg and DJ Qbert. DJ Qbert also has his name on new built-in scratch tools within the app. djay 2 has also added support for inter-app audio, and tracks now load faster in iOS 7. On the iPhone 5S version, Harmonic Match has been added to enable automatic key matching of two songs in realtime.
PBS Kids recently released a newer Daniel Tiger app, but Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home ($2) is still in the App Store. Play at Home lets kids play with five different games, including Doctor, Bedtime, In Daniel’s Bathroom, Feel the Music, and Sticker Book.