New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.

AT&T planning changes to forbid video streaming, filesharing, and data tethering

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Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 15:04
Category: Mobile, News, Services

AT&T appears to be changing its Terms of Service to limit data usage on its network. The new restrictions seems specifically aimed at several services that have already been available to current AT&T customers, especially iPhone users (but not stated as such).

The terms describe that accessing email and the internet is permissible, but prohibits:

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[...] downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, customer initiated redirection of television or other video or audio signals via any technology from a fixed location to a mobile device, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans(unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

The change has seemingly been put in place on the heels of the recent release of the Skype iPhone app. While Apple itself stated it would not block VOIP applications on the iPhone, it has long been speculated what AT&T would do once those apps made it to the iPhone. Several apps like Fring and TruPhone already had hooks into Skype, but didn’t appear to attract any response from AT&T.

The current description of the restrictions is pretty wide, touching on several iPhone applications that facilitate filesharing and video streaming, which would cover software like SlingMedia’s upcoming SlingPlayer iPhone app. Where is all this headed? As devices become more internet enabled, phone companies seem determined to strangle their functionality rather than improve their level of services so that people will want to buy them.

Is AT&T being greedy, trying to slow people down until they can develop their own service plans, or are they like the record companies who just can’t see the writing on the wall? Discuss in the forums!

Sprint Adds 4G Service to More Cities

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Date: Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, 13:42
Category: Mobile, Services

In a press release, Sprint announced that they are expanding their 4G network coverage in 2009 to cover more cities. Along with the service will be announcements, later this year, of new 4G devices and offerings.

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Sprint advertises that its 4G service is good for peak download speeds of 12 Mbps and average download speeds of 2-4 Mbps. This is available today on its Baltimore network, which was the rollout city for 4G in mid-2008.

Sprint’s 4G network relies on the WiMAX standard for mobile broadband. Recently, Google and Sprint had announced a formal partnership in deploying WiMAX technology, with Google providing search content along with Sprint. Sprint is aggresively pushing for deployment and adoption of the 4G technology to help gain leadership in the race to beat out other carriers to control the fastest mobile data network. To this end, it would seem that the 3G network technology is being left behind in spite of insufficient coverage and bandwidth across the country.

It will be interesting to see how competitors like AT&T and Apple’s iPhone will respond to Sprint’s efforts, and how they will manage to remain the leaders of “the internet in your pocket”.