iPhone Dev Team releases web-based hack for iPhone 4 handset

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Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010, 04:22
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

The iPhone Dev Team raised their hand on Sunday, releasing the first “jailbreak” for the iPhone 4, a browser-based exploit that allows users to run unauthorized code. However, some reported that the modification results in broken MMS and FaceTime functionality.

According to AppleInsider, “comex,” a member of the iPhone Dev Team, released the hack through a website, jailbreakme.com. Users can visit the site in their iPhone browser to begin the jailbreaking process.

The software modification is the first release for Apple’s latest handset hardware, the iPhone 4. Some users reported that the jailbreak managed to break FaceTime and MMS functionality on the device.

Comex announced via a Twitter post that he was able to reproduce the issues, and is working on a fix. The latest jailbreak does not work with iPads running iOS 3.2.1.

Unlike previous jailbreaks, which required users to run software on their Mac or PC and tether their iPhone to their computer, the latest hack is done entirely within the Safari browser. Users simply visit the URL to begin the process, which modifies the iOS mobile operating system found on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The iPhone 4 jailbreak comes less than a week after the U.S. Library of Congress officially made it legal for users to jailbreak their iPhone to run unauthorized software. The government approved the measure as an exemption to a federal law which prevents the circumvention of technical measures that keep users from accessing and modifying copyrighted works.

The jailbreak process, which also voids Apple’s warranty of the handset allows users to run software not approved by Apple, which has no plans to allow users to install third-party applications downloaded from outside its sanctioned App Store. Hackers have created their own custom applications (many free, and some for purchase) from an alternative storefront known as Cydia.

Jailbreaking can also be used to unlock a phone, allowing it to be used on carriers that do not have access to the iPhone.

In addition to allowing access to legitimate third-party software, both free and paid, through services like Cydia, jailbreaking can also be used to pirate App Store software, one major reason why Apple has fought the practice.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you decide to jailbreak your iPhone 4, please let us know how it goes.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 beta 2, focuses on proximity sensor fixes

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Date: Thursday, July 29th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released the second beta version of the pending iOS 4.1 firmware, although the company has not said when the firmware will be generally available for its iPhone and iPod touch products.

Per Cult of Mac, this beta release of the iOS 4.1 software development kit, available at Apple’s iPhone Dev Center, comes about two weeks after the first one and arrives with speculation that the 4.1 software will fix some glitches for the iPhone 4 proximity sensors and introduce Apple’s promised Game Center social service.

The initial report states that the proximity sensor issue seems to have been fixed. “Previously, the iPhone was plagued with proximity sensor issues,” writes Jose Gutierrez. “It would constantly hang up calls when I held the phone next to my cheek. But after installing the iOS 4.1 beta 2 update this afternoon, I couldn’t force the iPhone to hang up calls when lifting it up to my face, no matter how hard I tried.”

He also says the new beta release includes a baseband update, “which seems to fix HSUPA upload speed issues, which slowed video and photo uploads to a crawl.”

According to several online accounts, the newest beta still does not support the iPad touch tablet. The iPad is running an earlier version of iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Game Review: Pro Zombie Soccer

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Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 09:03
Category: App Store, Game, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

Pro Zombie Soccer is a game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (still a Pixel-doubled version, not native) distributed by Chillingo and developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. I’ve never been caught up in the Zombie craze, although I did enjoy Zombieland and Shawn of the Dead, so I was not really excited about this game at first, but a friend assured me that it was a lot of fun and he was right.

Some of the things that made this such a fun game was the artwork and the storyline. While not complicated, the story added enough depth to propel you from scene to scene. The artwork has a punk attitude, similar to what is associated with Gorillaz, and is pretty lively and colorful.

In the game, you are playing the role of Jax, a young, talented soccer player who freezes up while trying out for the big team. While moping about town, the zombie outbreak occurs and Jax is bitten by a zombie who happens to be the star player of the soccer team. Jax soon finds out that his zombie infection has given him super-soccer powers which he decides to use to take down the zombie apocalypse….while he still can.

The controls are simple. You thumb aims the direction that Jax kicks the soccer ball and lifting your thumb fires it off. You have a regular kick, and a super-charged kick at your disposal, but eventually you acquire other “zombie powers” which you can choose from during certain parts of the game. Doing a “head-shot” to a zombie (beheading them) is worth extra points as is several head-shots in a row. Some zombies can only be killed with the super-charged kick, which takes more time to “charge up”. Eventually you run into zombies that can only be killed in a certain way, like ricocheting off a wall, as well as avoiding obstacles like fleeing scientists which, when hit, will end the game. If you finish the game too quickly in Normal mode, you can play through again in Hardcore mode which won’t be so easy. The game’s music is pretty good and in the Extras you’ll find the Music Player which allows you to play back the game’s soundtrack, a total of 16 tracks.

The sound effects and gameplay are great, and everything looks awesome on the iPhone 4′s screen. As of this writing, the game was iOS 4 compatible, but did not take advantage of background app switching. Leaving the game means starting again from the main menu, although it should remember your progress. I didn’t try it on the iPad, but it is compatible with iOS 3.0 and up. I look forward to an HD version, but I hope it’s an Universal app.

The game uses the Crystal gaming network, which I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of, but not because it is a bad system.

I highly recommend this game. It’s fun and relatively easy to play, and the stages make it easy to play a few minutes at a time, or kill 20 minutes or so. Pro Zombie Soccer is a pretty good deal at $2.99.

Apple accepts Library of Congress decision on jailbreaking, still warns of possible warranty violations

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Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 05:17
Category: iPhone, Legal, News, Software

After years of debate and posturing from both sides, the verdict is in. Per Electronista, the library of Congress has legally sanctioned jailbreaking iOS-based applications under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, thereby allowing non-Apple-approved applications to be run on devices such as the iPhone. While Apple didn’t contest the legality itself, the company stated that jailbreaking would still break the warranty by going beyond what Apple can support. It also stressed that it saw the experience as hurting the experience for some by taking away the speed and reliability they may have expected.

“Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone,” commented an Apple spokeswoman. “And we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience.”

The representative wouldn’t directly confront the question of whether Apple would try to sue anyone who would sell jailbreaking tools, but she emphasized Apple’s history and that it hadn’t done so before.

Monday’s Library ruling doesn’t require that Apple or other companies must allow third-party apps in their code but also prevents these firms from legally challenging any jailbreak developed for the purposes of running an app or for unlocking access to other customers. It’s unclear whether the new exemptions would allow commercial development of jailbreaking apps; such software would be designed for a profit, but it it would still be used for individual purposes in most cases.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor that Apple may charge iPad owners for iOS 4 upgrade debunked

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Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, 04:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

A circulating rumor that Apple may charge users to upgrade the iPad to iOS 4 this fall is specifically contradicted by Apple’s own licensing agreement, which states that the next major software update will be free to iPad owners.

Citing “top secret plans” from an anonymous source, Stuff.tv reported on Tuesday that Apple currently plans to charge iPad owners for the software upgrade. The source did not provide a price, but the U.K.-based magazine suggested it would be around £5.

The source reportedly told the magazine that the plans to charge are “definite.” It reached out to Apple for a comment, and the Cupertino, Calif., company responded that it doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.

However, the company’s iPad licensing agreements specifically state that the “next major iPad OS software release” will be free for hardware owners, casting some doubt on the rumor. Releases beyond that, however, may come with a charge.

“For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release,” the licensing agreement reads. “Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.”

While it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Apple to charge for an upgrade, as previous software releases came with a fee for iPod touch users, due to an accounting issue, Apple eventually did away with that fee, as the iOS 4 upgrade is free for iPod touch owners.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Game Review: Predators™

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Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 11:41
Category: Fun, Game, News, Review, Software

The Predators game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is a direct tie-in with the recently released Predators movie by Robert Rodriquez (directed by Nimrod Antal) distributed by Chillingo for Fox Mobile. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’ve been told it’s good fun and the game seems to do it’s job of getting me a little more jazzed to see it. Unlike a lot of game-movie tie-ins, this game actually has some solid play value.

One of the things appreciated about this game is that is it a Universal app, meaning the same app plays on all three “i” devices. An issue that bugs me a little is games that require you to buy a completely new app in order to play it in full resolution on the iPad. I understand that developers have to make money, and that they do have to do some extra work, but it just feels wrong to have to pay a second, higher price for a game I already paid for. I wish they would just work out a system to upgrade to a Universal app for the difference of the two. On a side note, I had a problem with the game on my iPad crashing on launch, but rebooting the iPad seems to have fixed it so far.

Off my soap box, and onto the action.

In this game, you are playing the role of the Predator which is a nice switch up. This is probably because he has all the cool gadgets. The first several “missions” teach you the essentials of mauling and beheading humans for trophies. There are also in-play tutorials for learning to use the gadgets like the wrist knives, shoulder cannon, and the cloaking device. Later, you also get other abilities like thermal vision. I really liked how the tutorials played out so you can get used to using just one weapon or combo attack, rather than just being thrown into a melee and having to figure it out.

The game isn’t strictly a shoot ‘em up either. In some scenarios, you get more points for stalking your prey in cloaked mode, and killing humans undetected. There are also human “boss” characters which represent the main characters from the film such as Royce who is played by Adrian Brody in the film. These guys are harder to beat. I haven’t gotten too far in the game, but so far the terrain has just been your basic jungle with some different environmental factors like darkness or rain (with makes you more visible in cloaked mode). I’ve been through about seven levels and it hasn’t gotten boring yet, so I hope it just keep getting better.

The game stays very true to the Predator feel and mythos. Even the crosshair for the shoulder cannon works like it did in the movie and you can shoot people behind you. The graphics can be a bit gruesome if you are worried about younger audiences. There is lots of blood and your Predator very clearly rips people in half and pulls their head off with a nice, wet, ripping sound. Obviously the graphics are very good and optimized for the iPhone 4 and iPad, and the sounds are quite good as well; probably taken directly from the movies. You will also be happy to know that the game is compatible with iOS 4′s backgrounding, so you can leave in the middle of a mission and come back in the same spot and continue. There is also a pause menu too, until the iPad gets iOS 4.

I liked the iPad version the best, but mainly because the controls cover less screen than the iPhone version. Menus are slightly different for the iPad, but the gameplay is identical to the iPhone/iPod Touch version. I liked that none of the combos were too complicated. I find that annoying about some console games because you end up concentrating too much on how many buttons to push instead of the game. The controls are pretty good and straightforward. There is a “joystick” on the left and action buttons on the right. There are also toggles for things like night vision, weapons, and cloaking. It isn’t a problem for me, but I’d like to see more games give people the option of flipping the controls. The only problems I had were the ones inherent in a touch-based system; when the action gets fast, you tend to slide your fingers off the controls and can’t center again without looking away form the action. Perhaps I have more trouble with this than most people, but I can’t really fault the game for this.

Lastly, the game uses the Crystal gaming network. The frustration I have with all the game networking systems could be a whole post in itself. I’m waiting to see how Apple’s Game Center changes things. Developers naturally have investments in tying themselves to particular systems, but I wish you could choose which system to use for each game instead of being forced to use the one the developer picks.

I highly recommend this game. If you like action games, shooters, and anything to do with Predators, this game is a steal at $2.99.

BMW announces support for iOS 4 “iPod Out” API for upcoming car models

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Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

When the “iPod Out” API was mentioned at Apple’s iOS 4 preview event back in April, no one really knew what it was. Still, this didn’t stop BMW Group from mentioning that it had integrated iPod Out into its newest BMW and Mini vehicle entertainment systems.

Per Macworld, the iPod Out API allows car manufacturers to integrate the iPod Classic OS look and controls into a vehicle’s on-board entertainment system. Owners of future BMW and Mini models will be able to control their iPod or iPhone fully from the car’s interface controls. In addition, users will have access to their device’s Genius feature and be able to make custom playlists.

In its statement, BMW announced that “future vehicles equipped with this technology will be able to adapt more quickly to the software lifecycles of iPod touch and iPhone.”

BMW Group hasn’t outlined any specific timeline for integration, but notes that support will be coming to future BMW models using BMW ConnectedDrive and Mini models using Mini Connected. Customers who wish to use the iPod Out feature in new BMW Group cars need to have an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 9.2 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 13:26
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released iTunes 9.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with iPhone 4 to enjoy your favorite music, movies, TV shows, books and more on-the-go.
- Sync and read books with iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4 and iBooks 1.1.
- Organize and sync PDF documents as books. Read PDFs with iBooks 1.1 on iPad and any iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4.
- Organize your apps on your iOS 4 home screens into folders using iTunes.
- Faster back-ups while syncing an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4.
- Album artwork improvements make artwork appear more quickly when exploring your library.

iTunes 9.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

E3 2010: Here We Go

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Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 05:34
Category: Announcement

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Ladies and gents, I’ll be flying to Los Angeles tonight to cover E3 2010 for the next several days following up on games coming to the Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, where developers think OnLive might be going, what’s in the works with iOS 4.0, etc.

But mainly I’ll be in Los Angeles. Which is part of California. Which, according to my D.C.-accustomed brain, is due to fall into the ocean, catch fire, explode or be attacked by giant monsters.

All of these things may in fact occur simultaneously while I’m there.

Before my flight leaves, I’m taking requests as to what you want me to look into, what questions you want me to ask and who you’d like me to hit up with your questions.

So, just shoot me a line here and I’ll do everything I can while I’m out there to make sure I cover your topic to the fullest extent possible.

In the meantime, I proudly present what can only be described as the most ill-conceived computer/privacy protection accessory ever created:


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QuickerTek releases Apple Juicz external battery for iPad

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Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:31
Category: Accessory, iPad, News

Accessory maker QuickerTek has announced a new line of external batteries via its
Apple Juicz for iPad. The unit, a 9400mAh lithium polymer battery is claimed to be rated for over 2000 charge cycles with the web site claiming that the battery pack adds an additional 20 hours of usage time for the iPad with each charge.

The pack features advanced safety circuitry with failsafe protection, temperature and charge/discharge controls and automatic cell balancing. Per iPodNN, the Apple Juicz can fully recharge an iPad in three hours, while a second USB port can charge a second device such as an iPhone or iPod touch. It can power any USB-chargeable device, but has special circuitry guaranteeing compatibility with Apple’s range of products.

The battery is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. The design also integrates a 10-LED gauge that allows users to quickly view the remaining battery power.

The Juicz for iPad is now shipping for US$250 and includes a year’s warranty with parts and labor.