Tag Archives | iPhone

FaceTime Takes Center Stage in New iPhone 4 Ads

Perhaps the amount of negative publicity surrounding the iPhone 4 has forced Apple to go for the sentimental in its latest crop of ads for the device, or perhaps it’s just coincidence. Either way, FaceTime is given top billing and it seems as if the company is serious about video calling.

Four ads have been released: “Smile,” a father reassuring his teenage daughter that the braces she just got aren’t that bad; “Meet Her,” a grandfather seeing his new grandchild for the first time; “Big News,” a wife telling her husband that she’s finally pregnant; and “Haircut,” a boyfriend telling her girlfriend that even though her hair is really short its still “cute.”

There’s no announcer voice, just the interaction. It lets the feature speak for itself, which I think probably does a lot more to convince the viewer that this is something you want rather than some voice telling you this is what you need.

Some have said these ads are a little too personal; I would have to disagree. In a time where advertisers seem to rely too much on humor, having somebody market something on a level like this seems refreshing to me.

We have all four ads here for you to view after the break. I’d like to hear what you think.

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Frash Could Be Apple's Flash Waterloo

An enterprising developer has proven that with a little work, Flash will work just fine on the iPad and iPhone, as long as you’re comfortable jailbreaking your device. Yes you will have problems–Flash is intended for use with a mouse, and not touch-based input methods. But certainly it gives hope that enterprising developers can be able to force Apple’s hand.

The program is called “Frash,” and will work in Safari Mobile through a compatibility layer. The program is actually a port of the official Adobe Flash plug-in that is already available for Android devices. Performance is actually pretty decent–sorry Mr. Jobs, there goes your trademark excuse for not allowing Flash at all.

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ZX Nostalgia: Another iPhone Game Emulator

The iPhone has given life to another set of old games. This time it’s ZX Nostalgia, an emulator of Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum personal computer.

ZX Nostalgia costs $1 and includes 14 games, including Manic Miner, Fantastic Voyage and a shameless Star Wars clone called Starstrike 3D. All the games were released between 1982 and 1984.

I gave the app a whirl, and although I don’t regret spending the buck, there are a few things that need improvement. The interface is not nearly as slick as Manomio’s Commodore 64 emulator, and it lacks extra features such as high scores or online achievements. ZX Nostalgia could also use some more detailed instructions for each game — some games are just impossible to figure out — and more customization in its controls.

But overall, I’m pleased that there’s another bundle of emulated classic video games in the App Store, and it makes me wonder what we’ll see next. I still think a Nintendo emulator is out of the question, because the company is now competing with Apple in the handheld gaming market, even though an official emulator app would be awesome and a huge money maker for both parties.

In January, Gizmodo reported that a “Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection” app would arrive the following month, but it never did. Perhaps Sega found more success selling standalone classics like Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe. Also, Manomio has put together Atari 2600 and Amiga emulators as tech demos, but an app would require rights to the games, or permission from rights holders, and I’m guessing that hasn’t happened.

There’s still room for other consoles, such as Intellivision (Update: Intellivision is available, and it’s free), Sega Master System or Turbo Grafx 16, but I don’t know what has to happen to make them a reality on the iPhone. I just know I’m enough of a sucker for retro video games on new devices that I’d pay for all of them.


A Bluetooth Headset With Its Own iPhone App

Hands free headset Sound ID has actually managed to innovate in the headset space, where you’d probably not think there was much more room for drastic improvement. It’s Sound ID 510 Bluetooth headset is actually the first to include an iPhone app that controls the functionality of the device itself.

The device, which launched earlier this month, is getting good retail support — both AT&T and Apple are selling the $129.99 USD headset in select stores. Heidi Adams, Sound ID’s marketing chief, told me that the feature set that the 510 brings is practially unheard of at this price point, making it very competitive.

Besides the app, the device features noise and wind canceling algorithms, touch-sensitive volume adjustment, multi-point technology to connect the headset to more than one device at once, and an Environmental mode which amplifies sound around the device when not in a call.

But as I said earlier, the real power of the 510 is in the iPhone app. At first use, the iPhone app will allow you to set specifically how the headset audio will sound. This setting is then saved, and can be changed at any time. A sound meter actually acts as a decibel meter, giving a sound level reading as heard through the headset’s microphone, and a battery level indicator tells you how much charge the unit has left.

Sound ID has also included a “Find my Headset” feature, which when pressed will cause the headset to emit a loud beeping noise to assist in locating it.

I did not have a chance at the show to actually demo the unit, but we have one on the way for our review. I will definitely report back on my experiences with the device.

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Analyst Says T-Mobile USA is iPhone's Next U.S. Home

Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu is made waves today by saying T-Mobile could be the next carrier in the U.S. to get the iPhone, saying that the changes to the iPhone necessary would be much less since it operates on the same technology (GSM) as current exclusive carrier AT&T.

The statement goes against the prevailing wisdom that Apple would turn to Verizon to continue expanding availability of the device. AT&T operates its 3G network in the 1900MHz band, whereas T-Mobile uses the 1700/2100MHz band. Both use the 850MHz band, meaning Apple would only need to add a single band (1700MHz) to make 3G work fully. iPhone 4 and the 3GS have already added the 2100MHz band.

With 34 million subscribers, T-Mobile would provide a significant new market for Apple. Add to this that the Cupertino company already offers the iPhone on T-Mobile’s European carriers and such a partnership is not too far fetched. Wu says that the phone could arrive as early as this fall.

Representatives with T-Mobile said that while they would love to carry the device, “ultimately it is Apple’s decision,” and refused to comment further on any speculation.

Personally, while I think it’s the logical thing to do, I don’t think its the best idea from a business sense. Verizon has some 93 million customers, which would obviously mean a much larger potential market for Apple. Spending money on development of a CDMA-capable device may not be such a bad idea.

Either way, we seem to go through this every so many months lately so I’m not expecting the iPhone to go anywhere until Apple says it will. And from all the statements — and its actions too- it appears Apple is still happy to be with AT&T.

[Hat tip: Associated Press]


Is Tethering Finally Coming for AT&T iPhone Users?

After promising that tethering would arrive for iPhone users all the way back when iPhone OS 3 was released, a new option in iPhone OS 4 Beta 4 seems to suggest that AT&T will finally get on the ball this summer following the official release of the OS.

MacRumors is one of several sites to publish screenshots of a new option within the Network section of iPhone’s settings which seem to suggest tethering will finally be a reality. Tapping “Set Up Internet Tethering” pops up a message stating that customers can either call or visit AT&T’s website in order to set up the feature.

Gregg Keizer at Computerworld contacted AT&T to ask about the status of tethering, but got nothing more than the that company had “nothing new” to share. Confusing, if you ask me. Why can’t the carrier just come clean on its plans? We’ve only been waiting for a year now, no?

It’s not like AT&T doesn’t do tethering at all–if you have a Blackberry, you can add the functionality to your plan for an extra $30 per month.


Breaking: Nokia Sues Apple Over iPad

Nokia has just announced that it has sued Apple in Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, claiming that both the iPad and iPhone violate five patents held by the electronics maker.

“The patents in question relate to technologies for enhanced speech and data transmission, using positioning data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing smaller and more compact devices,” according to a statement from the company.

Although the wording is of course somewhat vague, the suit appears to hit the heart of what has made applications on the iPad and iPhone what they are. Positioning data in applications has become a central feature — most of the major ones carry some type of location-aware technology.

I’m not sure what Nokia means by “enhanced speech and data transmission,” and have asked the company to clarify exactly what those specific patents do cover.

Nokia’s suit surely comes as a surprise to the tech community, as it had not publicly made any indication that it believed its intellectual property rights had been violated. That said, it’s not the first suit between the two companies: a suit last year involved GSM, UMTS, and Wi-Fi standards. A request for comment has been sent to Apple, however no response has been received as of press time.

More details to come as we receive them.


Silicon Valley Police Involved in iPhone 4G Investigation

Police in Silicon Valley have launched an investigation into the lost iPhone prototype that made its way in to the hands of Gizmodo, CNET reported late Friday. Law enforcement officials told the site that criminal laws may have been broken as a result of the transaction, but did not provide much more in the way of detail.

CNET’s source claimed that Apple had been contacted, and it was thought that a computer crime task force from Santa Clara County (where Apple is headquartered) was heading up the investigation. Everything is preliminary, and the investigation will only see if enough evidence exists to press charges.

It is not known if the investigation directly targets Gizmodo, the person who found the device, or both. Some legal analysts have said in the least that Apple may have a case against the prototype’s finder, and possibly Gizmodo as well depending on the facts.

Pressing charges against the site may not be as straightforward as some think: as I wrote Tuesday Apple does share some culpability in the matter, and due to First Amendment issues and past Supreme Court decisions, it’s much harder to criminally prosecute the press for leaks.

However, those cases did not deal with confidential information obtained in the manner that Gizmodo did, so it’s unclear how much those decisions would apply here.


An iPhone External Battery Without the Bulk?

I’ll admit that I have lusted after Mophie’s Juice Pack Air, especially considering I can somehow go through my battery power on my iPhone 3GS in a matter of a half a day or so. The only problem I’ve had is the bulk: it ads about 3 ounces of weight, and another half inch or so of bulk, bringing it up to a somewhat chunky 3/4″ in height.

Enter Mili and its recently released Power Skin. While its power ratings (at least advertised) are slightly less than the Mophie, the case measures in at 18 millimeters, a hair smaller than its competitor at about .7 inches. Like its competitor, the skin comes in different color combinations: black or white on the outside, and either white, silver, black, orange, blue, or green on the inside.

Mili says it has gotten the product Apple certified to work with either the 3G or 3GS. At a price of $69.95, it’s also $10 cheaper than the Mophie.

Is such a small difference in bulk going to be noticeable? Until I get one in my hands, I won’t be able to say. But it is nice to see manufacturers attempting to deal with the greatest drawbacks of these cases.


Adobe Abandoning iPhone Flash App Plans

The white flag is being raised by Adobe in its latest battle with Apple, which could spell the end of the companies attempts to bring Flash to the iPhone overall. The company said that it will no longer persue the ability to allow developers to create Flash apps intended for the iPhone/iPad, pointing to Apple’s chokehold over development for the platform.

“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 anytime, and for seemingly any reason,” Flash product manager Mike Chambers wrote on his blog Tuesday.

Chambers continued by all but saying Adobe’s efforts had caught Apple in a lie, proving that Flash could work on the iPhone. He also said the company would now focus its efforts on competing operating systems like Android.

Working with Google could also get Apple’s goat considering the two companies’ relationship has soured considerably over the past year. Android is an open platform, and Google has not done much (if anything) to exert control over who is developing for it.

“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,” he wrote.

I’d now venture to guess that we’ve come to the end of the line when it comes to Flash on the iPhone period. It may not matter much now however, considering the dramatic uptick in use of HTML 5. That said, many major websites still do not support HTML 5 fully, so iPhone and iPad users will contine to have a broken experience when it comes to the Web.

Who does that benefit — Apple’s own interests, or the interests of its growing customer base? Neither, I’d say.