Apple Systematically Pulling Google Voice, Similar Applications

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:24
Category: News

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Apple is apparently systematically yanking iPhone applications from the App Store that use Google Voice to simplify and reduce the costs of making phone calls, though it’s suspected Apple isn’t the one making the actual judgment call.

According to AppleInsider, developer Sean Kovacs, was surprised on Monday to discover that his GV Mobile client for Google Voice was to be pulled from the App Store as it was allegedly duplicating the iPhone’s calling and text messaging features. Apple representative Richard Chipman contacted him personally but not only wasn’t specific about what could be fixed but wouldn’t provide e-mail to confirm the takedown.

Although individual removals aren’t uncommon, later reports have surfaced that Apple had pulled VoiceCentral, another competitor, and had even denied Google when it tried to quietly submit a Google Voice app six weeks ago in spite of its corporate partnerships with Apple.

The systematic disappearances don’t currently have a larger official explanation but, given the common thread of their using the same service, is now thought less to a matter of Apple guarding its built-in features and more cellular carriers pushing it to keep the service out. Google Voice not only allows users one virtual phone number to call multiple real phones but greatly reduces the cost of outbound long-distance and messaging, all of which potentially deprive AT&T and eventually other carriers of possible extra revenue.

Such an unspoken ban would also go a step beyond normal restrictions on which apps are allowed and what they can do. In the past, carriers have argued against allowing voice over IP apps such as Fring and Skype on the cellular network for technical reasons, such as latency; the lag on even a 3G network is high enough that holding a regular conversation isn’t really feasible, for example. In restricting Google Voice, which still uses the regular voice network for much of its activity, the primary advantage is to eliminate competition.

Neither Apple nor AT&T have offered official comments on the issue.

Apple, China Mobile Apparently Reach Terms Regarding Chinese iPhone Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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After about two years of negotiation, wireless carrier has allegedly landed a three-year contract for the exclusive rights to local iPhone distribution, according to MacNN and a Shanghai Securities News report. The deal, described by unnamed sources, is said to extend for three years and guarantees annual sales of 1 million to 2 million units.
Apple recently acknowledged that bringing the iPhone into the Chinese market held a top priority. The recent report suggests the potential carriers could not come to agree on revenue sharing terms. Soon after the first iPhone was released, sources claimed AT&T was paying between US$150 to US$200 per purchased phone and an additional US$9 for each month of the standard two-year duration of a customer subscription.

Beijing reportedly objected to the idea of revenue sharing, although the carrier has agreed to purchase the devices for 3,000 yuan (~US$439 USD) each. The terms also mandate a minimum overall revenue of at least 5 billion yuan (~US$732 million USD) every year.

China Mobile, with a much larger subscriber base than China Unicom, was also involved in negotiations for the iPhone.

The Chinese iPhone is expected to be customized for the local market, although specific details remain unconfirmed. An anonymous source recently claimed that component provider Foxconn has already begun mass production. The device is said to keep 3G and Bluetooth, while omitting Wi-Fi to comply with local regulations.

Finally, Agence France-Presse has quoted a Unicom spokesman as saying that while the carrier is close to a deal, there are still problems to be negotiated. “Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations,” according to the spokesman. He adds that proper negotiations with Apple began in January, when the Chinese government began issuing 3G licenses.

Perian 1.1.4 Released

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 05:47
Category: Software

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Late Monday, the Perian team released version 1.1.4 of Perian, the open-source QuickTime components effort that allows QuickTime to support and play a variety of additional formats beyond what it would normally be able to handle.

The new version makes the following fixes and changes:
Features:
* Forced VobSub subtitles are imported into a separate track.
* Added initial DTS passthrough via similar mechanisms as AC3.
* Support old ffmpeg-generated MKV files with no enabled tracks.
* 10.6-compatible preference pane.

Fixes:
* Fixed “Load External Subtitles” checkbox.
* Fixed crash/freeze when loading broken VobSub subtitles.
* Fixed import of uncompressed audio in FLV.
* Fixed import of some audio tracks; should improve iApps.
* Fixed CRAM codec AVI in browsers.
* Worked around bug in iChat codec loading.
* Never allows Apple’s code to handle AC3 data anymore so passthrough works more often.
* Doesn’t try to decode some RGB colorspaces (such as in Camtasia) that aren’t supported.
* Fixed some 16-bit RGB codecs on Intel.
* Fixed importing movie files with no video tracks (regression from r706).
* Fixed H264 crash in put_h264_qpel8_h_lowpass_l2_ssse3 (in FFmpeg).
* Fixed crash with corrupt first frame.
* Fixed BMP/RLE in AVI.
* Fixed several memory leaks.
* Fixed a problem with wrong channel order in DTS 5.1.
* Fixed possible conflict with UniversalDetector.framework.

Subtitles:
* Fixed garbage characters appearing at the end of a line with some fonts.
* Better handling of invalid SSA files.
* Fixed rendering of multi-layer subtitles.
* Fixed SRT files using ‘,’ for decimals.
* Ignored SSA shapes and blur instead of misparsing them.
* Disabled vertical font support again to fix files wrongly using it for Latin text.
* Fixed subtitles in MKV wrongly displaying at the end of a video.
* Better handling of move and org.

Perian is a 3.6 megabyte download and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run.