Full iPhone Third-Party App Multitasking References Located in Latest SDK Build

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Date: Friday, March 12th, 2010, 06:41
Category: iPhone, Software

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Although rumors that Apple will include a third-party multitasking capability in the iPhone are as old as the hills themselves, a reference has emerged regarding a “multitasking dialog box” buried in the new iPhone OS SDK 3.2 beta 4 that apparently didn’t exist in iPhone OS 3.1.3.

Per 9 to 5 Mac, this could be the very first by-product of a new multitasking system for developers that’s being developed for the platform, presumably destined for an appearance in OS 4.0 when it’s introduced along with new hardware this summer. Still, it’s just as likely that Apple will continue to keep the iPhone’s multitasking capability to itself, a function it uses liberally among the phone and music apps, just to name a couple.

AppleInsider is currently citing a tipster claiming that Apple’s got a “full-on solution” to multitasking that would properly address its main concern (battery life issues) for release this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

EFF Publishes Full Apple iPhone Developer Agreement, Blasts Apple Over Key Points

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Date: Wednesday, March 10th, 2010, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation both posted a recent version of Apple’s confidential license agreement to which all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch developers must agree as well as took a critical stance against the document.

Per AppleInsider, the foundation came to the conclusion that by controlling the App Store and preventing rival competition by blocking competing options, Apple’s “future of computing” is headed towards an era that could stifle innovation. It suggested the Cupertino, Calif., company’s actions have been that of a “jealous and arbitrary feudal lord.”

“Overall, the Agreement is a very one-sided contract, favoring Apple at every turn,” the EFF wrote. “That’s not unusual where end-user license agreements are concerned (and not all the terms may ultimately be enforceable), but it’s a bit of a surprise as applied to the more than 100,000 developers for the iPhone, including many large public companies.

“How can Apple get away with it? Because it is the sole gateway to the more than 40 million iPhones that have been sold. In other words, it’s only because Apple still “owns” the customer, long after each iPhone (and soon, iPad) is sold, that it is able to push these contractual terms on the entire universe of software developers for the platform.”

The EFF noted that public copies of the license agreement are “scarce,” in part because the agreement itself prohibits its release. The foundation managed to obtain a copy by making a request to NASA under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, and presented what it felt were “a few troubling highlights.” They include:

- Developers, including government agencies such as NASA, cannot make public statements about the iPhone OS developer agreement.

- Applications created through the development kit can be sold on the App Store only.

- The iPhone OS cannot be reverse engineered, and the foundation asserts this even applies to methods that courts have recognized as fair use.
- Apple can remove an application at any time. In 2008, a researcher discovered a “kill switch” in the iPhone software that would allow the company to remotely deactivate an application.

- No matter what, Apple is never liable to a developer for more than $50 in damages. “That’s pretty remarkable,” the foundation said, “considering that Apple holds a developer’s reputational and commercial value in its hands — it’s not as though the developer can reach its existing customers anywhere else.”

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available and if you have something to offer on this, please let us know.

iPhone “Electronic Key” Patent Surfaces

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Date: Tuesday, March 9th, 2010, 06:49
Category: iPhone, Patents

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The Daily Telegraph is reporting that a new Apple patent has recently been published which describes a method in which the iPhone, or another Apple portable, could act as a sort of electronic key. The technique could be used for cars, offices, homes, or lockers and almost anything that could have an electronic receiver mounted to it in place of a metal tumbler-style lock could then use an iPhone as a key.

The patent application itself describes a means by which almost “any suitable electronic device such as a portable media player, personal data assistant or electronic lock” that could open up any number of physical lock types just by communicating wirelessly.

Electronic key fobs already exist for certain models of cars, most notably the Toyota Prius, which not only allow keyless entry but also allow you to start the car without a traditional metal key. If Apple actually implements this patent and allows iPhones and iPods to act as an “iKey,” carrying a ring of metal keys and fobs around in your pocket could eventually seem as passé as a pocketwatch or pager seems today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Denies iPhone App Which Measures Radiation Exposure, Cites Interface Issues

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Date: Monday, March 8th, 2010, 05:57
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as the App Store can be, sometimes it’s the rejected applications that prove the most interesting.

Last week, the TechCrunch reported that Apple rejected an application that promises to measure and minimize a user’s exposure to cell phone radiation.

The application, which had been developed by Israeli company Tawkon, had spent 18 months in development with the firm looking to sell it for between US$5 and US$10.

“Our message is moderate, we don’t claim to try to stop users from using their phones,” said Tawkon co-founder Gil Friedlander. “We just say to do so responsibly.”

In rejecting the application, Friedlander was told by Apple the information about radiation levels provided by the application may be confusing for users despite an excellent interface. “They are very clear about the fact that they make content decisions about what they want to post or not.” An Apple spokesman reportedly declined to comment about the issue.

According to the company, Tawkon’s RRI patent pending technology alerts the user when radiation levels cross a predefined threshold and provides simple, non-intrusive suggestions to reduce exposure to radiation. The application leverages various smart-phones capabilities including the built-in Bluetooth, motion and proximity sensors, GPS and compass to determine the results.

The technology collects and analyzes your phone’s dynamic SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) levels, network coverage, location, environmental conditions and phone usage at any given moment to help determine those results.

New Potato Introduces FLPR Universal Remote Dongle for iPhone, iPod Touch

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Date: Friday, March 5th, 2010, 05:45
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

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With the right software, your iPhone can do just about anything.

On Thursday, accessory developer New Potato Technologies released the FLPR, a hardware dongle for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows the handset to function as a universal remote control capable of controlling a variety of device such as televisions, cable and satellite boxes, stereo systems, lights, ceiling fans and almost anything that requires an infrared remote control.

Per iPhone Alley, the dongle corresponds with the free FLPR app from the App Store. Once the FLPR application has been launched, users can navigate through a device’s type, brand and name before tapping “use it” to search through the remote control codes in the 14,000+ item database, which includes all major electronic brands.

The FLPR has a range of about 30 feet, is available from the New Potato Technologies web site and will appear in-store nationwide at Best Buy starting March 28th, 2010 for US$79.99.

The FLPR app requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

TomTom 1.3 GPS App for iPhone Demoed at CeBIT Trade Show

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Date: Thursday, March 4th, 2010, 10:24
Category: iPhone, Software

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Let’s face it, GPS stuff is useful and when something is done well, it’s just that much better.

At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, GPS outfit TomTom announced a number of new services and features for the upcoming version of its TomTom satellite navigation app for iPhone.

According to Macworld, TomTom 1.3, which includes real-time traffic speed and incident reports, awaits Apple’s approval.

The updates to the TomTom app for iPhone version 1.3 include TomTom HD Traffic for real-time traffic speed and incident reports, and Local Search powered by Google. TomTom has sold around 180,000 downloads of the TomTom for iPhone app.

At an exclusive demonstration, TomTom Product Marketing Manager Mark Huijnen showed off live traffic updates from the streets of Hannover. The HD traffic data is collated from the approximately 40 million strong TomTom device community, as well as Vodafone handsets.

The demonstration presented multiple options to avoid snarl-ups, and real-time updates of journey times. According to TomTom vice president Roy van Keulen, the traffic data updates constantly, and updates are fed to devices every three minutes.

Equally impressive was TomTom’s demonstration of the integration with Google Local Search. Using the TomTom app we were able to quickly find up-to-date info on a local Irish bar.

The 1.3 update to the TomTom app, which has been submitted to Apple for review, will offer these and other soon-to-be-announced enhancements to ensure an optimal, and even more intuitive, navigation experience.

If you have a GPS app of choice for the iPhone, feel free to share it with the class…

Recently Released Patent Application Describes Using Finger Swipes Over iPhone Camera as Function Control Scheme

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Date: Friday, February 26th, 2010, 05:13
Category: iPhone, Patents

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It’s Apple’s patents and forthcoming technologies that make things interesting and a recently released patent application entitled “Camera as Input Interface” has revealed something cool. Per AppleInsider, the document describes finger swipes over the iPhone’s camera could at some point allow in-call control of functions such as fast forwarding or rewinding a voicemail.

In addition to a camera detecting the direction of a finger swipe, the phone’s accelerometer could also be used to interpret a user tapping the iPhone, allowing control of the handset while on a call without taking the phone away from one’s ear.

The technology would work to make it easier to control a phone by utilizing the camera at times when it is typically idle.

“These actions allow the user to control functions of voicemail review without removing the device from over his ear,” the application reads.

The functionality could potentially extend beyond voicemail, allowing users to merge calls, place calls on hold, or switch between multiple simultaneous calls by simply tapping the device. Such controls could be customized by the user to their liking.

Apple could also choose to adopt the control method for traditional phone use, in addition to in-call controls.

“Furthermore, a user may navigate a document being shown on a display screen of the device by guiding his finger over the camera lens,” the application reads. “While viewing the display screen, the user holds the device in the palm of his hand in a supine position. Rather than pressing or sliding directional buttons next to the screen or touching a touch screen to navigate a webpage document or contacts list, the user may move his finger over the camera lens in the direction he wishes to navigate the page.”

Apple has filed similar patent applications describing mobile devices with touch panels on the reverse side, allowing users to control a device without obscuring the screen with their fingers. In January, a rumor even alleged that the next-generation iPhone would have a Magic Mouse-like touch panel for its plastic back casing.

The application was originally filed for on Aug. 21, 2008 and is credited to Chad Seguin, Justin Gregg and Michael Lee.

Adobe Runs Flash Demo, Argues That Flash Doesn’t Hinder Mobile Device Battery Life

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Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2010, 06:23
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Following a video preview of Flash running on a Nexus One, Adobe rebuffed claims that the software slashes battery life. Per Electronista, several bloggers observed that the battery charge indicator dropped from the 50% level down to 25% during the eight minute video. The preview was edited, however, making it unclear how long the team actually used the phone during filming.

In order to refute the battery claims, Adobe has created another video showing a 17-minute YouTube movie which does not appear to significantly drain the battery. The battery usage chart suggests the browser only accounted for 6% of the drain while the movie was playing.

Adobe claims Flash Player 10.1 enabled video playback for “well over” three hours on a fully-charged battery.

Whether this will make its way into current or future versions of the iPhone has yet to be seen.

ScanLife Bar Code Reader Application Released for iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010, 06:29
Category: iPhone, Software

On Tuesday, Scanbuy Inc. announced the release of new versions of its ScanLife barcode scanner for the Android, BlackBerry and iPhone operating systems. ScanLife uses the camera in a mobile phone to scan bar codes that automatically display product information, show videos, dial a phone number and more without needing to type or search for information.

The application can read all major barcode formats on three of the leading smartphone platforms as well as read all popular 2D bar code formats such as Datamatrix, EZcode and QR. The new version of ScanLife allows phones with auto-focus cameras (such as the DROID by Motorola, BlackBerry Tour and iPhone 3GS) to read 1D barcodes like UPC, EAN and ISBN.

ScanLife is available for free from the App Store and requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Apple Releases iPhone OS SDK 3.2 Beta 3

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Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010, 06:01
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

Earlier this week, Apple released iPhone SDK 3.2 beta 3, the most recent update of the company’s iPhone OS development tools. Although details of the beta have emerged, MacNN is reporting that it allows “existing iPhone projects to include the necessary files” to support the iPad. Developers should thus be closer to producing working iPad apps, as there is now a Universal Application binary format that wraps iPhone, iPad and iPod touch code into the same bundle.

Sources with access to the kit point out that its documentation has also confirmed the presence of PowerVR SGX technology in the iPad. “Using OpenGL ES on iPad is identical to using OpenGL ES on other iPhone OS devices,” Apple writes. “An iPad is a PowerVR SGX device and supports the same basic capabilities as other SGX devices. However, because the processor, memory architecture, and screen dimensions are different for iPad, you should always test your code on an iPad device before shipping to ensure performance meets your requirements.”

If you’ve gotten your hands on the SDK and can offer any feedback about it, please let us know.