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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Apple telling developers to ready big-screen apps (Updated)

Apple has told certain iPhone developers to prepare applications for a demo on a screen with a higher resolution than the iPhone and iPod touch, according to a new report. Citing a source inside the mobile industry, Silicon Valley Insider reports that Apple plans to show off the new device, most likely the long-rumored tablet, in January. “They’ve told select developers that as long as they build their apps to support full screen resolution—rather than a fixed 320x480—their apps should run just fine,” said the source. The report notes that the device will not go on sale in January, but could launch as soon as March.
Update: The Financial Times is reporting that Apple has scheduled a special press event for January 26, to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Happy Holidays from iLounge!

On behalf of all of iLounge’s Editors, forum administrators, moderators and helpers, happy holidays to you and yours. We will be on a limited publication schedule through the holiday weekend as we celebrate with our families and friends.
We hope you’re able to open up whatever new iPod, iPhone, or accessory you wanted over the next few days. If you didn’t happen to get anything Apple-related, if you’re looking for a way to spend last-minute shopping money, or if you’re looking to spend some money you received as a gift, here are a few sections where you might find helpful tips.
Our 2010 Buyers’ Guide, with shopping, hardware, accessory, and software suggestions.
iLounge’s collection of reviews, covering all iPod and iPhone models, as well as thousands of accessories.
iPod and iPhone Gems + Tutorials, for App Store purchasing recommendations and helpful guides to all things Apple.

Apple tablet to be named iSlate?

New evidence of trademark and domain name acquisitions by Apple suggest the company may be planning to use the name iSlate for its rumored tablet device. MacRumors found evidence from late 2007 that Apple has acquired the domain name “” through MarkMonitor, a firm that handles domain name registrations and trademark protections for many different companies, including Apple. TechCrunch then discovered iSlate trademark filings in the United States and European Union by a company named Slate Computing. Curiously, the same report notes that the European filing lists U.K.-based firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge as a legal representative, the same firm that helped Apple secure the EU trademark for the term “MacBook.” Finally, Mac Rumors found further evidence linking Slate Computing to Apple, as the trademark application documents list Regina Porter as the signatory; a person with the same name is also a Senior Trademark Specialist with Apple, according to her Linkedin profile. Notably, however, companies do acquire domain names for potential product titles that are not used, so regardless of Apple’s ownership of any domain, its tablet device may carry a different moniker. Apple has reportedly scheduled a special press event on Jan. 26 to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

AT&T cuts off online iPhone sales in NYC (updated)

AT&T has abruptly ceased online iPhone sales to customers in the New York City area without explanation. The Consumerist reports that a NYC-based reader alerted them to the issue after receiving a message from the AT&T site that the iPhone was unavailable. Later checks found that no zip code in New York City, or in the suburbs of Westchester County or northern New Jersey, would allow for an online iPhone purchase, either. The site contacted AT&T Customer Service via online chat to ask about the issue, and was told that “the phone is not offered to you because New York is not ready for the iPhone. You don’t have enough towers to handle the phone.” In a written statement, AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook was not as forthcoming, saying only that the company “periodically modify our promotions and distribution channels.” The iPhone remains available through AT&T and Apple Retail stores throughout the city.

Glass panel problem forced Apple tablet delay?

Apple’s search for a way to strengthen the glass panel portion of the display for the company’s upcoming tablet forced the company to delay the product’s launch, a new report claims. Citing sources from Apple’s component suppliers, DigiTimes reports that Innolux, the panel-manufacturing subsidiary of Foxconn, will be the initial supplier of panels for the tablet. The report claims that Foxconn’s optical glass processing subsidiary G-Tech Optoelectrics will provide a glass-strengthening process for the 10-inch glass panels; Taiwan-based optical film maker Wah Hong Industrial has also been tapped as a supplier. Finally, Foxconn is said to be the manufacturer of the tablet, which the report claims will be announced in January and will see mass shipments beginning in March or April.

App Store sales soar on Christmas, touch takes lead

The App Store saw a huge sales spike on Christmas Day, according to new data from Flurry Analytics. The firm found that iPod touch downloads surpassed those of iPhone users for the first time, as iPod touch downloads jumped nearly 1,000% on December 25 compared to the average of all previous Fridays in December, eclipsing iPhone downloads by 172%. iPod touch download volumes continued to exceed that of the iPhone by 104% on December 26. Overall, App Store download growth increased by over 50% in December over November, and current App Store download volume is more than 13 times that of the Android Market. Flurry’s stats are based on information gained through its analytics software for mobile devices.

China Unicom hits 300,000 iPhones sold

After selling only 5,000 iPhones in the handset’s first five days on sale, China Unicom has revealed (Translated Link) that it has now sold more than 300,000 iPhones in mainland China. A China Unicom GM told the press December 27 that the company would hit the 300,000 sales mark either later that day or on the 28. The announcement comes just 20 days after the company announced it had reached the 100,000 unit plateau; by comparison, it took the company 40 days to reach that milestone, suggesting that sales are beginning to accelerate. China Unicom launched the iPhone in mainland China on October 30. [via iPhonAsia]

iPhone 3G arrives in box for 8GB 3GS

A German iPhone user has reported receiving a refurbished iPhone 3G in a box labeled for an 8GB iPhone 3GS. “David,” a moderator on the apfeltalk forums, has posted a photo (Translated Link) of the box’s serial number/IMEI label, which clearly says “iPhone 3GS v2.2, 8GB;” iPhone 3G S also appears on the box’s contents label. David reports that the phone inside is indeed an iPhone 3G, running software 3.0.1, despite the box’s markings. Evidence of an 8GB iPhone 3GS model appeared as early as this August in a supposed internal Rogers Wireless memo and on the carrier’s website; it is expected that this new low-end model would replace the current 8GB iPhone 3G in Apple’s lineup.

Ford offering iTunes Tagging on 2011 models

Ford has announced that it will be offering HD Radio with iTunes Tagging on select 2011 models. The feature will work through the company’s Sync system, and will allow users to store up to 100 tags until an iPod is connected, at which point the tags are moved over and can later be accessed in iTunes. “iTunes Tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we’re offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable,” said Mark Fields, executive vice president of Ford Motor Company. Ford expects to roll the feature out beginning in 2010; pricing has yet to be revealed.

NewerTech intros Window Mount for iPhone 3G, 3GS

Newer Technology has introduced its new Window Mount for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The nine-inch long Window Mount features a suction cup-style mount, a flexible neck, and a rotating black plastic cradle that allows for full access to all of the iPhone’s ports and buttons. Newer Technology’s Window Mount for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $20.

Nokia: Apple infringes patents in ‘vitually all’ products

Nokia has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.” According to the company’s announcement, the complaint centers on seven Nokia patents related to user interfaces, as well as camera, antenna, and power management technologies, all of which allow for a “better user experience, lower manufacturing costs, smaller size and longer battery life for Nokia products.”
“Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in small electronic devices” said Paul Melin, General Manager, Patent Licensing at Nokia. “This action is about protecting the results of such pioneering development. While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple’s attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the ITC case filed today is about Apple’s practice of building its business on Nokia’s proprietary innovation.”
Nokia sued Apple in October alleging that the iPhone infringes on patents for GSM, UMTS and wireless LAN standards, specifically those relating to wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption. Apple vowed to “vigorously” defend the case, and earlier this month filed a countersuit against Nokia alleging that Nokia is infringing 13 of Apple’s patents, announcing the suit in a terse press release that quoted Apple General Counsel and Senior Vice President Bruce Sewell as saying “Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours.”

SmarTone, 3 launching iPhone 3G, 3GS in Hong Kong

 Both SmarTone/Vodafone and 3 are preparing to launch the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in Hong Kong. The carriers will be the first in Hong Kong to offer the iPhone directly, and while SmarTone has little information about its plans and pricing online, offering only a simple form to sign up for future updates, 3 has full plans and pricing available, but no firm release date listed. Pricing on 3 will run from HK $4,880 (roughly $630) for a 32GB iPhone 3GS on the cheapest plan—which offers 100MB of data and 400 basic minutes for HK $138 (~$18)—to free for an 8GB iPhone 3G or 16GB iPhone 3GS with the most expensive, HK $398 (~$51) monthly tariff. The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS were previously available unlocked directly from Apple online.

Turn Your iPhone Into A Wind Instrument With 'Ocarina'

As MacRumors reports, several days ago, iPhone developer Smule released a rather unique musical application called Ocarina [App Store]. Since its release, Ocarina has jumped to the 3rd most popular iPhone application in the App Store.

Ocarina basically turns the iPhone into a wind instrument.
    Both experts and beginners will be amazed by this innovative player. Ocarina is sensitive to your breath, touch and movements, making it even more versatile than the original. Unlike other musical applications, there are no pre-compiled riffs so musicians will find unlimited opportunities for self-expression. Advanced options allow you to choose between diatonic, minor and harmonic scales. Or channel your favorite video game adventurer with Smule's Zeldarian mode.
In addition to simply making music, location-based Ocarina includes an Earth browser that allows you to see (and hear) Ocarina tunes being played, in real time, all across the globe.

More information about real world, flute-like Ocarinas can be found at Wikipedia.

The Skinny On iPod "Father" Fadell's Exodus From Apple

We recently reported on the departure of Tony Fadell--the "father" of the iPod--from Apple Inc. At that point the how's and why's were rather vague. John Gruber of Daring Fireball sheds some light on this move by the man who made the iPod happen.

Gruber references Cringely's column regarding Fadell's replacement with Mark Papermaster.
    So here’s what’s going on with Tony Fadell. First, he was vulnerable as a charismatic leader in his own right who has been talked about in the press as a possible heir to Jobs. That alone meant he had to die, but it wasn’t enough to mean that he had to die just now. That decision required an external variable in the form of former IBM executive Mark Papermaster.
Gruber points out that Papermaster was not hired to take Fadell's exact position. Papermaster's position is a superset of that held by Fadell. Fadell was the "senior vice president of the iPod Division." Papermaster is "senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering."
    Apple today announced that Mark Papermaster is joining the Company as senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering, reporting to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Papermaster, who comes to Apple from IBM, will lead Apple’s iPod and iPhone hardware engineering teams.
You see, then new hot kid on Apple's block is the iPhone. (And I don't mean that in a pedophilic way.) Fadell had nothing to do with the iPhone or the iPod touch. The last product Fadell was involved with was the iPod nano.

Gruber tells it like this,
    The iPhone’s software is overseen by Scott Forstall (Senior Vice President, iPhone Software), and, at a technical level, Bertrand Serlet (Senior Vice President, Software Engineering). There is no such division between hardware and software with the traditional (pre-Touch) iPods. The story I’ve heard is that at the outset of Apple’s iPhone initiative, there was a heated debate within Apple as to what OS should be used. Forstall and Serlet pushed for using OS X. Fadell (and, according to one source, former Apple executive Steve Sakoman) pushed for using something else.1 Obviously, Forstall and Serlet won this debate, and, hyperbolic though it may sound, it may prove to be the single best early design decision in the entire history of the company. It seems hard to imagine the iPhone any other way now, but at the outset it was not a foregone conclusion that a stripped down and revamped version of OS X would work for a mobile phone.
Apple's new golden child is the iPhone, and Fadell is not a second-fiddle sort of guy. And so explains his departure from the company that he injected with an astounding amount of success (and cash).

TrailRunner 1.8 (v288) Released

Hikers, joggers, and active folk in general should have a look at Berbie's TrailRunner 1.8 (v288) for Mac OS X. TrailRunner is a route planning software for all kinds of long distance sports like running, biking, hiking, inline-skating, skiing and more. If you ever asked yourself how long your workout routes are and what route you should choose for this evening - then TrailRunner should be your training-partner.

TrailRunner features:
  • Import your last workout from the Nike + iPod Sport Kit.
  • Geographic display of your workout area.
  • Import and export GPX-Tracklists. Export KML files for GoogleEarth.
  • Plan routes interactively.
  • Collect routes.
  • Route description and direction signs at crossings.
  • Timed-checkpoints according to your pace.
  • Rate your favorite tracks.
  • Plan routes automatically with target distance and as many favorite tracks as possible.
  • Export route directions onto your iPod or cellphone as iPod-Notes or NanoMap-Photos.
  • Collect your workout data in a Diary.
  • Send to and exchange routes with friends and workout partners.
  • Import GPX-Tracklists from GPS-units.
TrailRunner requires Mac OS X v10.4 or better.

2G iPod Touch Notably Faster than the iPhone

Ever seem like an App Store game runs faster (or slower) on your friend's iPhone or iPod touch as compared to your own? We have seen mention of this phenomenon and it always puzzled us. Internally, as far as processor core and graphics chipset, it's all the same...right?

As it turns out, while all devices utilize basically the same hardware, there are differences that have a visible impact on games and apps that push the hardware between the various models of the iPhone and iPod touch.

Touch Arcade recently posted details of a dialog with veteran mobile developer Handheld Games Corp that reveals the second-generation iPod touch to have a distinct gaming advantage over the iPhone or previous iPod touch unit. According to CEO Thomas Fessler, the 2G iPod touch uses a v4.0 version of the ARM1176 core running at 532MHz while all other members of the iPhone / iPod touch family utilize a v1.0 unit running at 412MHz. This performance difference has a clear impact on iPhone developers and the techniques they must apply to games that push the hardware.
    Our first step to increase fps performance was to introduce hardware dependent levels of detail. Where we can easily display two 1500 polygon tennis players with 32 bones each on the iPod touch 2G and maintain fast and fluid game play, the original iPod touch just chokes, and in some instances so do the iPhones. To speed up the touch, we reduced the players to 800 polygons in farther away moments of gameplay, and are now using 1000 polygon models for close ups, bringing the original iPod touch game play performance level close to that of the iPhone 3G. We’ve taken this approach across the board with great results.
Fessler indicates that the 2G iPod touch is the fastest member of the family "by far," and that the overall breakdown in performance (from fastest to slowest) is as follows.
  1. iPod touch 2nd Generation
  2. iPhone 3G
  3. iPhone (original)
  4. iPod Touch 1st Generation
Fessler suspects that the GPU of the 2G iPod touch may also be tweaked, but there's no solid evidence of that at the moment. Fessler recommends that those interested in iPhone platform gaming avoid buying a used first-generation iPod touch.