Apple, China Mobile Still in Talks Over iPhone Distribution

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Date: Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, 04:43
Category: iPhone

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Following up on the story that Apple settled on wireless carrier China Unicom to distribute the iPhone in China last week, Apple is apparently still in talks with China Mobile to sort out a distribution deal with the company.

According to Macworld UK, the talks between Apple and China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier by subscribers, have reached no conclusion yet, a China Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company’s three-year distribution deal with China Unicom is not exclusive, but did not say if the company is in talks with other potential partners.

China Unicom will offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, with the first handsets going on sale in the fourth quarter. The company began its talks with Apple two years ago, but China Unicom, which operates a 3G network compatible with the iPhone, became seen as the favorite for an iPhone deal in recent months.

One snag in China Mobile’s talks with Apple was the carrier’s plan for its own mobile application store, which was seen as a potential competitor with the iPhone App Store. Another was China Mobile’s use of a mobile standard for its 3G network that was domestically developed and is not compatible with current iPhone models.

The app store and 3G standard snags could remain in any talks. The China Mobile download store went online last month and supports handsets including “Ophones,” or devices that run a China Mobile operating system but have a layout very similar to an iPhone.

Some details of the iPhone launch could still pose problems for China Unicom as well, including how and whether revenue from the App Store should be shared, one analyst said.

Google Voice to Hit iPhone as Web-Based App

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Date: Tuesday, August 11th, 2009, 04:42
Category: iPhone, Software

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In spite of recent drama between Google and Apple, Google Voice will soon be available for the iPhone, though as a web-based application according to the New York Times.

The all-things-phone-management application (which was widely speculated to have been rejected for threatening AT&T profits on calling plans) will be rewritten as a stylized Web site that offers everything the rejected app would have.

It’s currently unclear as to whether Apple would reject a repurposed Google Voice app, though considering that Apple’s recent decision to reject the app managed to draw attention from a wide range of people, including some at the FCC, the company probably thought it best to allow a Google Voice variant slide.

Web-based apps can be bookmarked on the iPhone interface and appear like an app purchased from the App Store.
A text-heavy version of Google Voice can currently be tested on your iPhone by pointing Safari to google.com/voice/m.

Palm Releases webOS 1.1, Restores Pre’s Ability to Sync with iTunes

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Date: Friday, July 24th, 2009, 03:12
Category: News, Software

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One week after Apple disabled the Palm Pre’s capacity to sync with iTunes, Palm has responded by releasing webOS 1.1, an update that again enables Palm’s phone to access media from the current version of iTunes.

Per the company’s blog, Pre users can expect the new software to arrive via an over-the-air update.

“Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync,” the post reads. “That’s right — you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1).”

Last week, Apple released iTunes 8.2.1. In accompanying release notes, the company was vague about what the upgrade actually did, stating only that the update provided “a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.”

Soon after the new version of iTunes was released, Pre users realized that the update had broken their ability to sync music with the software.

The webOS 1.1 update brings a number of changes focused on business users, including remote wipe, inactivity timeout, improved certificate handling and more for Exchange ActiveSync. The update also provides emoticons in the messaging app.

When Palm initially unveiled the handset, the company boasted about the the handset’s ability to transfer media from iTunes. According to AppleInsider, the feature worked by identifying the Pre in its hardware ID as an iPod — a trick Apple warned might not work for long.

Last month, Apple warned Pre users that future software updates may kill sync capability with the device.

“Apple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store, and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store,” Apple warned a document released in June. “Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players.”

In its blog post, Palm declined to elaborate on how they circumvented the changes presented in iTunes 8.2.1.

Apple Applies for Wireless License in China

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Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple may have finally cleared a major hurdle in bringing its iPhone handset to China, as the company has reportedly applied for a Network Access License in the Asian country. The moves could put a release just a few months away, albeit without Wi-Fi.

According to AppleInsider, Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison claims that the application was filed on Friday, July 10th, but doesn’t make any mention of onboard Wi-Fi. Rumors have repeatedly hinted that Apple may be forced to remove Wi-Fi to appease the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which would prefer that iPhone owners use local networks.

Apple has supposedly been “hellbent” on shipping the iPhone to China with Wi-Fi but appears to have relented in order to get the phone into the populous nation.

If the process moves along as usual, this revised iPhone would take between four to six months to receive the green light and go on sale. This would put a launch no later than January, and Mathison seemed confident that the device would arrive before the Chinese New Year, which in 2010 will start in mid-February. Mathison stated that he views the licensing as partly a negotiation tactic that would help bring Apple closer to a deal with China Unicom, the carrier recently pegged as the most likely candidate for an iPhone due to its inherent compatibility with the iPhone’s existing 3G standards.

While it’s rare to have an estimate that narrows the release window for an iPhone in China, whether or not this latest prediction is accurate remains debatable. Local carriers have been in talks with Apple since at least late 2007, and one-time favorite China Mobile has often tried making multiple special requests that have likely stalled hopes for a quick agreement, such as demanding that the American company either use the government-backed TD-SCDMA standard for 3G or cede control of the App Store.

Apple has so far only stated that it wants to have the iPhone in China within the next year and has been silent on the progress of negotiations.

Apple Nearing Completion of Chinese iPhone Deal

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 17:52
Category: iPhone

Apple may be making progress towards a Chinese iPhone deal, as noted by signs on the company’s web site as well as that of a Chinese government organization.

According to Macworld, an Apple handset that uses one of the next-generation mobile standards offered in China has appeared on the approved product list of the State Wireless Inspection Center, a government-managed industry arbiter. The handset, apparently an iPhone, was cleared last month to use its assigned frequency range for five years, according to the center’s Web site.

Unicom, a Chinese carrier currently negotiating with Apple about offering the iPhone to the Chinese market, operates a network based on the standard used by the approved Apple handset, WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access).

Separately, Apple has also posted an ad on its Web site for a <a href=”http://jobs.apple.com/index.ajs?BID=1&method=mExternal.showJob&RID=35658&CurrentPage=1″>Beijing-based job</a> overseeing “iPhone training” across Asia. The job’s tasks include designing training for carrier partners that sell the iPhone.

Apple has stated that it hopes to begin selling the iPhone in China in 2010. Still, talks with China Unicom have hit disputes over whether the phone will use Wi-Fi and whether China Unicom will be allowed to pre-install non-Apple programs, such as a media player other than iTunes, analysts say.

The Chinese government appears to have lifted a long-standing ban on Wi-Fi in handsets in recent weeks. Still, it has gone on to require phones with Wi-Fi also to use a China-developed security protocol for wireless LANs, said Liu Ning, an analyst at BDA, a telecommunications research company.

The protocol, called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure), can also be used without dual support for the equivalent Wi-Fi protocol, Liu said.

The iPhone might require an additional chipset to support WAPI, though a software upgrade might also make it compatible, he said.

The frequency approval is just one of three government tests the iPhone must pass to receive a network access license. But the “major difficulty” for Apple is still the terms of cooperation with China Unicom, Liu said.

The argument as to how to split revenue from sales in the iPhone’s App Store is another snag in discussions about what applications the carrier can put on the phone, said Liu.

TomTom Looking for Developers to Help Create iPhone Application

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 11th, 2009, 08:46
Category: iPhone, security

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Navigation and not-getting-as-lost outfit TomTom is apparently stepping up its efforts to create a turn-by-turn application for the iPhone.
Per Electronista, a jobserve.us job listing doesn’t mention the company but asks for someone to develop navigation software in Amsterdam, the location of TomTom’s headquarters. The ideal candidate would start in May or June and work on developing the application for at least six months.
TomTom was one of the earliest GPS device makers to express an interest in iPhone applications, confirming its attempts a month ahead of the App Store’s launch last July.

Opinion: iPhone Applications Not Worth Your US$0.99

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 7th, 2009, 08:33
Category: Opinion

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By Rachel Hoyer
Who can explain the popularity of goofy iPhone applications? Here’s some of my favorite iPhone applications not worth your US$0.99:
The Moron Test – This quiz features increasingly difficult puzzles which eventually become tricky for even Mensa members to solve. I’m guessing that the point is that it waits for you to get a wrong answer so it can tell you that you’re a moron. Why not save yourself a dollar and go talk to your boss? Furthermore, do you really need validation from your phone that you’re not a moron?
Larry the Scary Cockroach – Now you can make an animated cockroach run across a friend’s iPhone. How scary. Instead, you could get a free real cockroach off the sidewalk and place it on your friend’s phone, now that would be icky!
iHunt 3D – Target virtual deer and shoot them by clicking. You can hunt without actually being outdoors or actually killing animals. Anyone remember Duck Hunt? It’s like that, but less fun and without the cool plastic gun.
iBeer Special – An application that turns the screen of your iPhone into a glass of beer. You can select from a variety of types of beer and then “pour” them by rotating your phone. This is an a highly popular application. Kinda reminds me of those trick plastic mugs with attached plastic beer pouring out.
Zip Codes – Reference guide to U.S. zip codes. Type in the name of a city and find out its zip code and county name. The U.S. Post Office offers this service for free on their website, or you could just type the city name into any web browser. This application can not be used for its only logical purpose: Determining the zip code of a letter or parcel you’d like to mail. The application’s database doesn’t include street names, you can only search by city or county name. This application would be an ideal gift for people who enjoy memorizing phone books and train schedules.
Animalizer – You know those pieces of plywood with clowns or silly characters painted on them, but face holes cut out so you can place your own face in them and take a picture? Now you can take pictures of friends and then paste their face onto an image of an animal.
Smacktalk – If you like Animalizer, you’ll love Smacktalk. Speak a phrase into your iPhone microphone and the audio clip is modified to a squeaky voice and repeated back to you by a dog, cat, or other cute animal. The best part of this game is the glowing testimonials on its App Store page.
iFart – Ever wished you could embarass yourself in public more often? This is the application for you. Choose from a variety of fart noises to play on your phone, from wet ones to staccato ones to really, really loud ones. As a gag, it would make more sense for the application to send audio clips of farts to other people’s phones. Then your unsuspecting friend would receive an iPhone whoopie cushion. Oddly enough, it’s not only extremely popular, but has also received excellent reviews.
Name Analyzer – Type your name into your iPhone and it randomly assigns words to describe you based on the acronym. For example: If you type in “Jen” it could respond with “Joyous, Esoteric, Nerdy.” Its database includes both positive and negative words … I suppose if people want to fart in public more often, perhaps they also like to be insulted by their phone.

Myst Comes to the iPhone and iPod Touch

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 23:35
Category: Game, iPhone, Software

Ah, the beautifully rendered scenes, the clever puzzles, and the creepy ambient sounds and music. If you’ve been a Mac user since the days of the beige cases, you probably remember all of these characteristics from playing the game Myst and its sequels, developed by Cyan which was founded by Rand and Robyn Miller.

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The original Myst, released in 1993, sold over 12 million copies and held the title of best-selling computer game until The Sims was released in 2000. The game was partly responsible for the CD’s increase in popularity as it was the first game to be released exclusively on CD. The game made extensive use of Apple’s QuickTime technology for its gameplay, and all the environments were complete 3D modeled creations, which was rare for games at the time.

Now, the entire game has been reproduced in iPhone/iPod Touch format and is available in the App Store [app link]. The game has been updated to use multi-touch controls rather than the original point and click navigation. Otherwise your trip through the four Ages of Myst to solve its puzzles and unravel the mystery of Atrus and his “linking books” remains intact from the original.

Myst requires 1.5GB of free space to install, though it will reduce in size to 727MB or so once it’s finished installing. The game requires iPhone 2.2.1 software and is $5.99 in the App Store.

Rumor: Apple May Relax App Store Rules with iPhone OS 3.0

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Date: Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, 07:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Following the rejection of a recent App Store application the developer didn’t produce the content for, the rumor mill has it that Apple has given signs it may allow more risque software on the App Store once iPhone OS 3.0 and its enhanced parental locks become a reality.
According to iLounge, the response came as part of a rejection notice sent to Newspaper(s) app creator Makayama over the initial submission of its article reading software; the software’s inclusion of the UK edition of daily newspaper The Sun, which is well-known for the topless models in its Page 3 section, purportedly violated App Store rules against obscene content.
The application was eventually pulled to allow Makayama to clear Apple’s review process. Since then, Makayama has stated that it might have a chance at resubmitting the application, complete with its original content, once iPhone OS 3.0 is available. It “would be appropriate” to try submitting the app once the new firmware’s parental controls are an option for iPhone owners, the Cupertino company said.
iPhone OS 3.0, due to ship in the summer, is set to provide significantly expanded content filters that aren’t limited to Apple’s software. Although the block system hasn’t been fully illustrated, it should allow parents screen for particular kinds of apps and, in theory, prevent younger children from seeing Page 3 or other more controversial content in the future.
Requests for such a change policy are steadily becoming more prominent with the growth of the App Store and reached a possible boiling point this weekend, when Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor published Apple’s rejection letter and accused it of hypocrisy in rejecting an update to the NIN: Access music fan app.

Truphone 3.0 Released

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Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 23:26
Category: iPhone, Software, Uncategorized

Software Cellular Network Ltd., makers of Truphone software and call services, released version 3.0 of its popular iPhone app. The new version, available in the App Store (iTunes link), adds the following new features:

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  • View your call history in real time.
  • Instant messenger tool is now integrated into the app.
  • Super-clear sound and improved reliability.

The new version requires an iPhone running firmware 2.1 or higher.

Versions of Truphone are also available for the iPod Touch and G1 (Android) Smartphone.