AT&T raises early termination fee to $350, Verizon rumors abound

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Date: Monday, May 24th, 2010, 03:13
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T appreciates your business.

And just made it that much pricier to leave early to do business with anyone else.

Per the Dow Jones Newswire, beginning June 1st, new AT&T iPhone customers who wish to cancel their contract with the wireless carrier will need to pay a US$325 early termination fee, up from the existing US$175 fee.

The new fee will apply to all smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone, as well as connected netbooks. For feature and messaging phones, the fees will drop to US$150.

Though change comes on the heels of speculation that AT&T could lose exclusivity of Apple’s iPhone over the next year, though an AT&T spokesperson reportedly said that the increase in the early termination fee to US$325 was not related to one specific device.

“The changes come amid increased regulatory scrutiny and class-action lawsuits over the issue,” the report said. “The Federal Communications Commission has expressed concern that onerous fees make it difficult for consumers to switch their service. Wireless carriers argue the fees are necessary to recoup the costs incurred by the subsidies they provide to lower the initial cost of the handset.”

The change follows a previous move by competitor Verizon, which began charging a $350 early termination fee for smartphone users. Google and T-Mobile also charged a combined US$550 fee for those who canceled their contract on the Nexus One. Both of those recent developments have brought early termination fees under scrutiny from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T and Apple offer the iPhone at a subsidized rate, starting at US$99 for the iPhone 3G, with a two-year contract for the device. Starting in March, Apple began selling contract-free iPhones at a much higher price, as it has done in previous years, to help clear out inventory before the launch of new hardware.

In addition to recouping lost money from a canceled contract, the fees are also designed to deter customers from jumping to another network. The timing of the early termination fee increase will undoubtedly result in speculation about the potential of the iPhone becoming available on a carrier other than AT&T.

Apple is expected to introduce its next-generation iPhone when it kicks off the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 7th while rumors of a Verizon iPhone have been persistent since March.

Google Chrome 5.0.375.38 beta released for Mac

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Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 03:34
Category: Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 5.0.375.38 beta for the Mac. The new version, an 25.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- In addition to crash and stability fixes, this release also includes a localization refresh of our strings.

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Google Chrome 5.0.375.29 beta released for Mac

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 07:36
Category: Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 5.0.375.29 beta for the Mac. The new version, an 25.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- HTML5 Features: Geolocation, App Cache, web sockets, file drag-and-drop.

- Integrated Flash Player Plugin.

- V8 performance improvements.

- Preferences synchronization.

- NaCl behind a flag.

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Amidst harsh words, Adobe cancels Flash port work for iPhone OS

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Date: Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 03:39
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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A lot can change in two week’s time.

Per Mashable, in that span of time, Adobe has gone from touting its technology for building Flash applications that run on the iPhone to canceling future development of that technology.

When Apple altered the terms of its iPhone 4.0 software developer kit license, it effectively blocked Adobe’s move. But in his Tuesday announcement that Adobe will cease future development of the Flash-apps-on-iPhone technology, Mike Chambers, Adobe’s principal product manager for the Flash platform, offered the following quote outlining the conflict between Adobe and Apple:

“As developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for Apple to reject or restrict your development at any time, and for seemingly any reason,” Chambers said. “The primary goal of Flash has always been to enable cross browser, platform and device development. The cool web game that you build can easily be targeted and deployed to multiple platforms and devices. However, this is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms.”

The company also disclosed in a regulatory filing that its business could be harmed if the iPhone and iPad don’t support Adobe technology with one report stating that the company could be considering legal action against Apple, too, according to one report.

Recently, Adobe also gainded an ally in competing against Apple: Google.

“Fortunately, the iPhone isn’t the only game in town. Android based phones have been doing well behind the success of the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, and there are a number of Android based tablets slated to be released this year. We are working closely with Google to bring both Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2.0 to these devices, and thus far, the results have been very promising,” Chambers said.

The upcoming Flash Player 10.1 and related AIR 2.0 programming foundations are currently in private beta testing stages for Android and the software, which is scheduled to arrive this quarter, will work on a variety of other phone operating systems, including Windows Phone 7, the BlackBerry OS, Symbian OS, and Palm’s WebOS.

“I think that the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers, and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote,” Chambers said. “We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked-down platform that Apple is trying to create.”

The Adobe technology for bringing Flash-derived applications to the iPhone is now effectively irrelevant at the very moment when Adobe is bringing it to market in its CS5 product line.

“There is no technical reason that Flash can’t run on the iPhone,” Chambers said.

Source comments on WebKit 2 framework for upcoming browsers

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Date: Friday, April 9th, 2010, 04:20
Category: News, Software

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Apple’s been able to pull off a number of cool tricks with its WebKit framework. Per AppleInsider, anew framework for the WebKit open source Web browser layout engine was revealed Thursday, bringing with it a built-in “split process model” that will keep Web content such as JavaScript, HTML and layout in a separate process in browsers such as Apple’s Safari and Mobile Safari.

Patches that comprise the new framework, dubbed “WebKit2,” are due to be released shortly, according to Anders Carlsson, who works on Apple’s Safari browser as well as the open source WebKit engine. In addition to Safari, WebKit also powers the Google Chrome browser, the Android Web browser, and Palm’s WebOS.

“WebKit2 is designed from the ground up to support a split process model, where the web content (JavaScript, HTML, layout, etc) lives in a separate process,” wrote Carlsson. “This model is similar to what Google Chrome offers, with the major difference being that we have built the process split model directly into the framework, allowing other clients to use it.”

In this method, each tab within a browser is “sandboxed,” or existing in its own space. In essence, this means each tab is like its own separate browser. While Chrome currently does this in its own proprietary way in its WebKit-based browser, building the capability into the framework of WebKit2 would allow other WebKit-based browsers such as Safari to employ this same technique.

Documentation accompanying the WebKit2 release noted that one goal for the new framework is to create a stable, non-blocking application programming interface. That would allow an unlimited number of threads to call an API at once, making the browser more flexible. This would be achieved, the documentation said, through a number of techniques listed below:

- Notification style client callbacks (e.g. didFinishLoadForFrame): These inform the embedder that something has happened, but do not give them the chance to do anything about it.
Policy style clients callbacks (e.g. decidePolicyForNavigationAction) These allow the embedder to decide on an action at their leisure, notifying the page through a listener object.

- Policy settings (e.g. WKContextSetCacheModel, WKContextSetPopupPolicy): These allow the embedder to opt into a predefined policy without any callbacks into the UIProcess. These can either be an enumerated set of specific policies, or something more fine-grained, such as a list of strings with wildcards.

- Injected code (e.g. WebBundle): Code can be loaded into the WebProcess for cases where all the other options fail. This can useful when access to the DOM is required. [Planned, but not currently implemented]

Apple, Google Hiring Each Other’s Employees as Tech Feud Grows

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Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010, 04:12
Category: News

Maybe they’ll stop feuding soon, but they’ve got some good Hatfield vs. McCoy traction going here, so why would they stop now?

According to AppleInsider, Apple recently hired a former Google product manager for a secretive “pretty neat role” with the company, while a new Google employee has shared harsh words about Apple’s “Disney-fied” approach to the mobile Internet.

Google recently hired well-known software developer Tim Bray, formerly of Oracle and Sun Microsystems. The developer wrote on his personal blog Monday that he will “enjoy competing with Apple,” and shared some harsh words on what he feels are the iPhone maker’s restrictive policies.

“The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what,” Bray wrote. “It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it.”

He continued: “I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.”

Bray expressed he views his new job with Google as an opportunity to prove that Apple is wrong in their approach to the mobile Internet. He noted that he’s been a buyer of Apple systems for years, and despite his “current irritation,” he will likely continue to do so. At Google, he will work on the Android mobile platform.

Last year, criticism of Apple’s policies with the App Store came to a head, prompting company executive Phil Schiller to personally fight back. Apple has come under fire again in recent weeks after the company changed its policy on “overtly sexual” content and purged more than 5,000 applications from the App Store.

Per TechCrunch, Apple recently hired R.J. Pittman, a former product manager with Google. Pittman, who the article called a “prominent” employee with the search giant, has moved on to Apple.

Pittman sent a letter to his colleagues at Google in which he said the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984 changed his life.

“I’ve owned almost one of every Apple product released since then, and still own my first Mac that started it all some 25 years ago,” he wrote. “In a strange but not so strange way, this is sort of a homecoming for me, despite never having worked for Apple. Life works in curious ways, and I love it when every so often it comes full circle.”

He went on to say that he would have a “pretty neat role” with Apple, but declined to say what it might be. Current rumors have speculated that Pittman could work with the employees Apple took on in its acquisition of streaming music service Lala, given his background with Google’s own music search technology.

“That said, Apple could be after his other talents — Pittman had previously presented at the launches of other search-related products, including a Google Labs event,” the report said. “And before that, he founded Groxis.”

Last August, it was revealed that Apple and Google shared a gentlemen’s agreement to not poach each others’ employees, though these latest moves would suggest that deal is no longer in place.

Me, personally, I think the two companies need to put aside their differences, buy out AOL, put it out of its misery and turn its headquarters into the world’s greatest deli, complete with really good grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

TomTom Updates iPhone GPS App to 1.3, Adds New Features

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Date: Monday, March 15th, 2010, 04:34
Category: News

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A few weeks ago, we mentioned TomTom’s demonstration of version 1.3 of its GPS application for the iPhone. The new version of the application rolled out recently and has added real-time traffic (an unfortunate US$19.99 add-on according to TiPb), Google local search, updated roadways, automatic music fading between text-to-speech instructions and the ability to add locations from other apps and websites.

The TomTom GPS application retails for US$59.99 and requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple May Opt for Bing as iPhone Search Engine

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Date: Friday, February 12th, 2010, 08:16
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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With relations between Apple and Google growing strained, a new set of rumors places Apple as having gone into discussions with Microsoft towards making Microsoft’s Bing search engine the default for the iPhone.

According to Businessweek, a source close to the story offered the following: “Though Microsoft did not confirm or deny any chatters on the likelihood of Microsoft wining Apple search deal for iPhone, [Microsoft executive] Mr. Apter told us that for right economics Microsoft would like to win the Apple search deal.”

In a recent note, Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal, also commented: “In our view, Apple search deal can be strategically very significant win for Microsoft not only because of Google and Apple’s history of working together but also because Microsoft has been lagging behind in terms of making in roads on fast growing mobile Internet market.”

As mentioned yesterday, Apple’s inclusion of the Google search engine on the iPhone platform nets the company about US$100 million a year from Google as part of a revenue-sharing deal, making it less likely Apple would want to develop its own search engine.

Rumor: Apple May Be Looking to Google for Continued iPhone Search Engine Deal

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 15:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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A recent rumor stating that Apple may be looking to develop its own search engine may be untrue, an inside source citing that Apple may look to extend its current search engine deal with Google to continue providing such a function for the iPhone.

The deal may also be worth over US$100 million per year to Apple in revenue sharing.

Per Silicon Alley Insider, a source has stated “there’s too many options” for search on the market and thus no reason for Apple to build its own search engine.

Another reason Apple might not want to build its own search engine: It’s getting over US$100 million a year from Google in its revenue share deal, according to the source.

According to the source, although US$100 million isn’t a ton of money to Apple, it wouldn’t make sense for the company to invest a significant number of resources building its own search engine when Microsoft has Bing and a nigh-limitless checkbook to finance its research and development.

Additional rumors have stated that Apple and Microsoft have been in talks to make Bing the default search provider for the iPhone as the relationship between Google and Apple has reportedly soured as competition between the two companies has become increasingly intense.

Apple Denies iPhone Developers From Creating Location-Specific Ads

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Date: Friday, February 5th, 2010, 07:59
Category: News

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In a recent update to its “News and Announcements for iPhone Developers” RSS feed, Apple both informed developers that they can use an upcoming framework in the iPhone OS SDK to determine the location of users, but cannot use this framework to craft location-aware ads to users of App Store software.

“If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store,” the update reads.

Per AppleInsider, Apple sought out mobile advertising firm AdMob, which was later purchased by rival Google. Apple later purchased mobile advertising firm Quattro Wireless, and intends to allow developers to easily integrate its own advertising solutions into App Store software.

Apple’s newly publicized policy on GPS data usage has led to some speculation that the company could retain location-aware advertising for its own, giving the iPhone maker a significant advantage over competitors like AdMob and Google. However, Apple has yet to formally roll out its own integrated advertising solutions, so whether location-based targeted ads would be a part of the network is unknown.

Apple has shown interest in expanding location-based services on the iPhone. One recent patent application described a dynamic home screen that would display specific applications automatically populated based on factors like the current location of the phone. For example, when traveling in San Francisco, a specific “San Francisco” icon could appear on the screen, and give users easy access to local weather, time, maps and contacts.

In addition, this week a new Apple patent application described a system for easily sharing a user’s current location with a contact in-call. Such a system would use the GPS data from an iPhone to allow two parties to efficiently meet one another.

If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.