Apple iPhone 4 (GSM)
Verizon Wireless today said that users of iOS 6 devices will be able to use the FaceTime feature over Verizon's cellular network without paying extra for it. The feature will be available to the iPhone 5 and other Apple devices as a part of their monthly data allotment. The service can also be used by those who have grandfathered unlimited data plans with no extra penalty or cost. Like Verizon, Sprint will allow iPhone owners to use FaceTime over cellular without charging extra for it. Verizon and Sprint's policies are in direct contrast with AT&T's, which requires users to pay for a more expensive Mobile Share plan to access the feature.
Apple is preparing a personalized, online radio service similar to those offered by Pandora, Slacker, and others, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing people familiar with Apple's plans, the Journal indicated that Apple's streaming music service would work on its iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers, but not smartphones and tablets that run Google's Android platform. Apple is negotiating new licensing deals with the recording labels, reports the Journal, and is looking for better interactivity options with its service than what's currently available from Pandora and similar competitors. However, it will likely be months before any such service might debut. Apple declined to comment on the Journal's story.
Skype today announced the availability of an update to its application for the iPhone and iPad. The newest version of Skype for Apple's iOS devices adds the ability to send photos to other Skype users for free. According to Skype, there is no limit on the size of the photo sent through its messaging system to other devices, which can be used to circumvent MMS charges. The feature works with images that have been captured directly via the iPhone or iPad's camera. Skype has also made improvements to the app's power management. Skype claims that the app can run in the background for an entire day now and not kill the iPhone or iPad's battery. Skype also improved the time it takes the application to launch, and the time it takes the contacts list to load. Skype for iOS is a free download from the App Store. Photo and video sharing are already available via Skype for Android.
TomTom today rolled out a new version of its iPhone navigation application. The most significant new feature of TomTom version 1.11 is integration with Foursquare. Once the TomTom and Foursquare apps are linked on the device, users can search for and navigate to Foursquare locations and check in on arrival. Other new features include a revised user interface and a copy-and-paste functionality for porting addresses between apps. Owners of earlier versions of TomTom for the iPhone can download the new version for free. It costs $49.99 and is available from the iPhone App Store starting today.
Instagram today rolled out a significant revision to its Android and iPhone applications. The photo editing and sharing application now lets users sort through photo albums by location. By default, geotagged images will all show their location, but users can manually turn off the location-sharing feature photo by photo if they so wish. The photo map lets users see their own pictures from a given location, as well as those shared by others from that same location. The app also makes several design tweaks, including a multi-line caption box and a cleaner view of user profiles. The updated Instagram for Android and iPhone will be available from their respective app stores later today.
HTC has filed claims against Apple in Florida that allege the iPhone maker is violating two patents that HTC acquired from HP. The first patent pertains to "installation of network services in an embedded network server" and the second pertains to "method and system for central management of a computer network." Between these two patents, HTC says a number of Apple devices violate its intellectual property, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac computers and certain software programs. The countersuit was filed in retaliation for a lawsuit from Apple accusing HTC os similar patent violations.
Google today announced that its Google Drive cloud service will be available for Apple's iOS devices, including both the iPhone and the iPad, later today. Google Drive is an online storage service similar to Box or DropBox. It gives users 5GB of free storage and interacts with 30 different types of files, such as Docs, Excel, PowerPoint, Jpegs, etc. Google Drive automatically keeps files in sync across devices and can be used to control how, when, and with whom files are shared. Google Drive also automatically links up with Google+, and stored files can easily be shared to Google's social network. For users needing more than 5GB of data, Google Drive offers additional storage for a monthly fee. The application itself is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today updated the Gmail for iOS application with several significant new features. First and foremost, Gmail for iOS now supports notifications in the lock screen, including banners, alerts, and other options. The updated Gmail for iOS also adds persistent login, which means Gmail sessions no longer expire and users won't need to continually re-login every time they launch the app. Last, it adds support for sending email from alternate email addresses if so enabled within Gmail. The update is free from the iPhone App Store and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Dropbox for both the iPhone and iPad has been updated recently with a number of new features. Dropbox 1.5 for iOS allows users to upload the pictures on their device to their Dropbox folder automatically over either cellular or Wi-Fi data connections. It also allows users to move and delete multiple files at once, upload files of any size, and adds a gallery view for all photos uploaded to the service. The new version also lets users earn an additional 3GB of storage space over time. The update is free.
Amazon today announced a version of its Cloud Player application that's compatible with iOS device such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. Amazon Cloud Player lets iOS device owners stream or download music stored in their Cloud Player to their device, as well as the play music that is already stored on their device, and manage or create playlists on their device. Other features include the ability to manage their music in the cloud and import MP3 purchases from Amazon, which are then are stored for free. The base service offers 5GB of cloud storage for free. Amazon Cloud Player customers can choose to pay extra for more storage.
Apple is preparing to offer developers a new way to gather information from iPhones that doesn't include information that can be tied to a specific device or owner. Citing unnamed sources familiar with Apple's plans, the Wall Street Journal reports that the new tool would permit developers to access the location and preferences data they need to serve advertisements without betraying the device or device owner's identification. Apple last year restricted use of the UDID in iPhones for app tracking and has yet to replace the technology. Though Apple declined to comment on the Journal's story, the new tracking tool is expected to debut in the coming weeks.
Facebook today announced a separate camera application for the Apple iPhone that works independently from the full Facebook app. Camera for iPhone can be used to take photos as well as quickly access photos and albums that have been shared by their Facebook friends. Users can swipe through albums, enlarge photos, as well as edit and share their own using Instagram-style filters. Camera for iPhone supports tagging and captions, and multiple uploads to new or existing albums. Camera for iPhone is available for download from the iPhone App Store. It is free to use.
Yahoo recently announced a new application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that promises to make transitioning from phones to tablets to desktop computers less painful. The app is a combination search tool and web browser that can be used to find anything on the web. Yahoo says search results are delivered instantly in a visually rich application that finds the most direct path to the search subject. It also syncs phone- or tablet-based browsing sessions with desktop browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE. This allows users to move from one platform to another without losing their search/browsing history. Axis for iOS is a hybrid app that is part native objective-c and part HTML5. Yahoo says this gives Axis the smooth performance of a native app and combines it with the flexibility of today's web technologies. Axis is a free download from the App Store. A browser plug-in is required to access the session syncing features.
Google today announced the availability of Google Search 2.0 for the Apple iPhone. The new version of Google's mobile search app has been completely redesigned and Google says it is much faster. The autocomplete function has been sped up, search results load faster, and Google says navigating between results pages is also faster. Image search results are now much richer and load faster, and can be accessed easily from the main results page. Last, Google Search 2.0 makes it easier to access other Google apps and services, such as Gmail, Drive, Google+ and others. The application is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega told investors at the JPMorgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference today that the company is doing what it can to offer devices with low subsidies. "We have to watch subsidies and make sure that we bring devices to market that customers love and will keep and have low subsidies," he said. In the U.S., wireless network operators often subsidize the cost of handsets for customers who sign new contracts. Customers are then able to afford a decent device, and the carrier recoups the subsidy over the life of the contract. de la Vega cited the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC One X as good examples of devices with low subsidy points. "These are great devices that I think customers will like," de la Vega said. The full retail price of the Lumia 900, for example, is $449. AT&T sells it for $99, meaning it subsidizes $350 of the device cost. The iPhone 4S, however, costs $649 at full retail (16GB version). AT&T sells it for $199, meaning it subsidizes $450 of the device cost. Keeping device subsidies low will help AT&T reduce its margins and other costs. de la Vega also reiterated that the company is working to offer shared data plans later this year, which he believes will help increase sales of tablets.
On the heels of Bluegrass Cellular's announcement today that it will offer the Apple iPhone starting May 18, Golden State Cellular and Nex-Tech Wireless will also sell the iPhone on May 18. The regional carriers are offering the iPhone at the same discount as Bluegrass, C Spire, and others, at $149, $249, and $349 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, respectively. Golden State Cellular is based in California and Nex-Tech Wireless is based in Kansas.
Bluegrass Cellular today announced that it will sell the Apple iPhone starting May 18. The iPhone 4S will cost $149 for the 16GB model, $249 for the 32GB, and $349 for the 64GB. Bluegrass Cellular will also offer iPhone 4 for $49. Plans range from $65 to $100 per month.
Apple today released iOS 5.1.1, a maintenance update for the iPhone/iPad that fixes a number of bugs. Some of the repaired features include improved reliability when using the HDR camera mode, fixed 2G-to-3G hand-off bugs in the iPad, improved AirPlay video playback, more reliable Safari bookmark syncing, and fixed purchasing bug in the app store. The update is about 54MB and can be downloaded and installed over the air.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has agreed to pay cuts in order to appease shareholders disappointed with the costs to Sprint for adopting Apple's iPhone. His 2012 salary will be reduced, as will several incentive pay items. "These voluntary actions regarding my personal compensation, which total $3,250,830, will eliminate any benefit for me to the discretionary adjustment the compensation committee made earlier this year," Hesse said in a letter to the company. Sprint has taken on costs as high as $15 billion, which will be spread over several years, in order to sell the iPhone. The costs have impacted Sprint's financial performance in the market.
Twitter today updated its applications for the Android and iOS platforms. According to Twitter, the updates were made in order to improve usability of the apps. The Discover tab has been reworked so that users can tap any story once to see tweets about a particular trend or news article, and then participate in the conversation about those trends/articles. The search function has been improved in both applications. It will now autocomplete searches for usernames, first names, and last names, and the iPhone version will show the user's recent search history. Last, the applications add push notifications for interactions such as when tweets are favorited or retweeted. Twitter for Android and iOS is free to download from their respective app stores.
The U.S. International Trade Commission today ruled that Apple's iPhone infringes on a single Motorola Mobility patent pertaining to Wi-Fi, though it cleared Apple of violating three others. The ruling was determined by a single judge. The full ITC commission will review the judge's decision in the months to come before it could have any legal impact on Apple's iPhone. Motorola and Apple have sued one another in several jurisdictions regarding patent infringement. If the commission upholds the judge's ruling, it could prevent Apple from importing the infringing devices into the U.S.
Microsoft today announced sweeping updates to its SkyDrive cloud-based storage service. Microsoft recently updated SkyDrive for the Windows Phone platform, but today announced a similar update for the iOS version of SkyDrive, which brings the same file access features to the iPhone/iPad that are available to Windows Phones. Microsoft has also changed the amount of storage available for free. Previously, it offered 25GB to users for free, but now it only offers 7GB. Microsoft maintains that this still covers 99.9% of all SkyDrive users' storage needs. Users can choose to buy more storage for $10, $20 or $50 per year for 20GB, 50GB, or 100GB, respectively. (Users already signed up for 25GB of free storage will be able to keep their service as-is.) Microsoft also released new Windows and Mac clients, and made changes to SkyDrive.com.
AT&T today announced that it will unlock iPhones that are no longer associated with an AT&T contract. In email to Phone Scoop, AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom wrote, "Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones. The only requirements are that a customer's account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee." AT&T has kept Apple's iPhone locked to its network since the device first went on sale in 2007. This is a significant change in policy for the company. It will allow those who own old iPhones to use them on other networks without the need to jailbreak them.
Appalachian Wireless, GCI, Matanuska Telephone Association, and Celcom have all announced plans to sell Apple's iPhone 4/4S. The four regional carriers join Alaska Communications and nTelos, which announced similar plans earlier this week. All the regional network operators will be offering the iPhones at a $50 discount compared to what the larger national carriers are charging. The devices will go on sale April 20. Plan pricing varies by carrier.
Alaska Communications today announced that it, too, will offer the Apple iPhone 4/4S starting April 20. Similar to nTelos, Alaska Communications will sell the iPhone for $50, $150, $250, and $350 for the iPhone 4 8GB, and iPhone 4S 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, respectively. Alaska Communications requires a two-year contract and offers four different plans. Two plans are for customers who likely won't roam outside of Alaska. The first costs $80 per month and includes unlimited voice, no SMS, and 2GB of data. The second Alaska plan costs $91 per month and includes unlimited voice, SMS, and 5GB of data. For customers likely to roam outside of Alaska, they can choose the same two plans with an additional $10 monthly charge for nationwide roaming on Verizon's network.
nTelos today announced that it will begin selling the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on April 20. nTelos is offering the iPhones for a lower out-of-pocket cost than larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless, with the iPhone 4 costing $49.99, and the iPhone 4S costing $149.99, $249.99, and $349.99 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, respectively. Customers must sign a two-year agreement in order to get those prices. nTelos is offering two plans for the iPhone. The first costs $79.99 per month for 600 voice minutes and unlimited texting and data, and the second costs $99.99 per month for unlimited voice, texting, and data. nTelos is based in Virginia and offers its own CDMA-based regional footprint across portions of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky. It uses Sprint's CDMA network to offer nationwide roaming coverage.
A company called Graphics Properties Holdings recently filed a lawsuit against Apple, HTC, LG, RIM, Samsung, and Sony, alleging that the companies' products violate its intellectual property. Specifically, the lawsuit covers a patent pertaining to how mobile devices process data and text into pixels on a display. The lawsuit names the Apple iPhone, HTC EVO 4G, LG Thrill, RIM BlackBerry Torch, Samsung Galaxy S/S II, and Sony Xperia Play as violating the patent. Graphics Properties, which has already sued some of these same companies under a different name, is seeking damages and royalty agreements.
PayPal today announced PayPal Here, a new mobile payment service that the company hopes will be picked up by small retailers. The service uses a triangular attachment that is plugged into an Apple iPhone's 3.5mm headset jack and can be used to accept credit cards. The associated application also lets consumers make payments to the merchant via PayPal accounts or checks in the U.S., though a PayPal account is not required. PayPal is planning to offer the service to Android-based smartphones soon, though it isn't quite ready yet. PayPal will take a 2.7% cut for each credit card and PayPal transaction made via the service.
T-Mobile USA CTO Neville Ray today said that company was able to develop its current LTE migration strategy thank in part to the collapse of its acquisition by larger rival AT&T. "We're getting new AWS spectrum as a result of the termination of the AT&T deal (pending regulatory approval), which we will use for LTE," said Ray. T-Mobile also plans to refarm its 1900MHz spectrum holdings for its 3G network, freeing up space in its AWS spectrum holdings for LTE. "With the AT&T breakup spectrum factored in, T-Mobile will have sufficient spectrum to roll out LTE with 20MHz to about 75% of the top 25 markets in 2013. Most remaining markets will have 10MHz." T-Mobile said that while it's primary focus is to deploy LTE, it is still evaluating the potential evolution of its current network technology, including the possibility of improving it from 42Mbps to 84Mbps (theoretical max download speeds). Last, Ray pointed out that by refarming its 1900MHz spectrum for 3G services, it will be compatible with a broader range of devices, such as the Apple iPhone. T-Mobile's rivals, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, all offer the iPhone and T-Mobile does not.
A small company called Vocre is offering an application that lets users conduct a FaceTime-like video chat that includes live language translation between the two participants. Users can join a video chat session and communicate even though they don't speak the same language. In addition to live video call translation, the application offers translated messaging (similar to IM), and stored conversation history. The app is supported by adds, though premium services, including a live, on-demand human interpretor are also available. The application supports 23 languages from 22 countries. Vocre 2.0 for iOS (works on the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) is in a closed beta at the moment, but will be more widely distributed in the near future.
iPhone owners can now download content from the App Store over 3G cellular data networks that are up to 50MB in size, which is an increase from the previous 20MB limitation. The size increase applies to applications and music. Content greater than 50MB (such as movies) may be downloaded via Wi-Fi or through Apple's iTunes software.
Apple released iOS 5.1 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch today. The system update adds a number of features as well as stamps out some bugs in Apple's mobile platform. New features include Japanese language support for Siri; the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream; an always-visible camera shortcut on the lockscreen; improved face detection; and Genius Mixes and Playlists for iTunes Match. iOS 5.1 also makes improvements to battery life, as well as fixes an issue that caused audio to drop during outgoing calls. The software can be downloaded over the air or via iTunes
Apple today announced a new version of iPhoto, its desktop photo editing and management software, for iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad. iPhoto for iOS supports a wide range of photo-editing features, including scrollable thumbnails, crop, rotate, exposure, contrast, saturation, and other multi-touch editing functions. The app supports "Brush Mode," which can be used to add effects, remove blemishes, as well as sharpen or soften images. The app also can be used to create photo journals, which can be pieced together within the app and then shared via the web. iPhoto for iOS costs $4.99 and can be download from the App Store.
Google today announced that it is providing Android and iPhone users with access to their desktop search history from their smartphone browser. As long as users are signed in to their Google account both in their desktop browser and in their mobile browser and have web history enabled, recent searches will appear across all types of devices. On smartphones, the recent searches will be accessible from a new shortcut on the Google.com home page. The added feature is available to Android and iOS devices starting today.
AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega asked the wireless industry to agree on a single video calling standard that can be used by all devices and all network types so that customers can more easily use the service. As things stand today, there are plenty of video calling options, but the services are often only compatible with other devices running the same software and platform. De la Vega suggested that the industry use IP Multimedia Subsystems technology, such as the IR.94 video calling standard. When Apple introduced its FaceTme feature with the iPhone 4, it offered the technology to other companies, but so far none have taken up Apple's offer.
Dropbox recently updated its Android application with a new feature that automatically uploads user photos from their phone to their Dropbox account. According to Dropbox, it will upload full resolution files over either Wi-Fi or cellular data to a special "Photo Upload" folder in the user's account, which can then be accessed from other devices and the Dropbox web site. Dropbox is offering users 500MB of dedicated photo storage for free, and users can expand that to 3GB over time. The company plans to offer a similar update to the iPhone in the near future.
Researchers recently discovered that some online-based advertising companies — including Google — were using a software workaround to avoid the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser for the iPhone and its Mac computers. The Wall Street Journal reports that the workarounds allow the sites to install cookies on user devices even if the users have set their device to reject such cookies. The cookies can then used to track user browsing habits. Google deactivated this code after it was contacted by the Journal and said, "The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information." Smartphone user privacy fallen under the spotlight in recent weeks, as a number of applications have been found to collect user data without permission.
Google today provided a minor update to the Google+ application for iOS devices. Google+ version 184.108.40.20678 adds the ability to set instant photo uploads, see who has +1'd your posts, and adds access to the What's Hot stream. The update is free for the iPhone and available from iTunes.
MapQuest today announced the availability of new mapping APIs (application programming interfaces) for the Android and iOS platforms. Developers will be able to drop the MapQuest APIs into their Android and iPhone applications rather than use the native platform APIs. With the new mapping APIs, developers will be able to build features such as routing and map displays, geo-coding, map rotation, smooth map animations, and image and shape overlays into their own applications. Developers can choose to use free OpenStreetMap data or MapQuest licensed datasets. The mapping APIs have no limits on maps with the Community Edition license.
Court documents reveal that Motorola is seeking 2.25% of Apple's iPhone sales in order to license the standards-essential patents that Motorola holds. That percentage amounts to about $15 per iPhone (unsubsidized iPhone 4S 16GB). Motorola and Apple are amidst a patent battle in German courts, and the document came to light as part of this week's proceedings in those cases. At issues is whether or not Motorola's terms represent a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) offer. Apple argues that the terms are not fair. Motorola has won two decisions against Apple, one in December and one on February 3. The first pertains to smartphone patents, while the second pertains to Apple's iCloud service and email syncing patents.