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Archive for August, 2009

Apple and China Unicom Reach 3-Year Deal to Bring iPhone to China

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

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As anticipated — and anticipated again and againChina Unicom has finally announced that the iPhone is coming to China:

On 28 August, the Company and Apple reached a three-year agreement for the Company to sell iPhone in China. The initial launch is expected to be in the fourth calendar quarter of 2009. This will provide users with brand new communication and information experience.

Now all that’s left is to find out if it will have, you know, WiFi, an App Store, etc…

(via Engadget)

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Apple Forces Removal of ‘Free Memory’ Functionality From iPhone Applications

August 28, 2009 1 comment

In another seemingly controversial App Store approval decision, Apple has forced iPhone developers to remove functionality that allows users to “free memory” on demand.

While third parties are limited from developing background applications for the iPhone, Apple allows their applications such as the iPod, Safari, and Mail applications to continue to run. After prolonged use, these background applications may take up most of the memory (RAM) on the iPhone that can create interface sluggishness and prevent some memory-intensive applications from loading. Applications such as iStat for iPhone (App Store link) have until now enabled users to free this memory with the click of a button.

When asked for comment, Bjango gave the following account of Apple’s request:Apple simply called us and demanded we remove the “free memory” feature. They wouldn’t give a reason as to why it had to be removed. We basically had a choice between removing it or having the app deleted by apple if we didn’t. Neither were great solutions but we talked with as many of our users as we could and more of them wanted updates then the free memory feature so thats the route we took.
Bjango explains that the “free memory” feature accomplishes its task by allocating memory until the iPhone OS detects critically low memory levels and terminates the other background processes.

Free Memory’s developer suggests that users wishing to avoid a complete device restart force quit Mail, Safari, and iPod if necessary by holding down the sleep-wake button until the red slider appears and then holding the home button until the application quits.

Apple’s App Store approval process has recently come under scrutiny from the press and even the FCC. Apple has not returned our request for comment.

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Convertbot 1.4 for iPhone Rejected by App Store Because Same “Time” Icon

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment
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Convertbot [$0.99 – iTunes link] has seen their latest update, version 1.4 for iPhone (and iPod touch), rejected by at least 2 of Apple’s 40+ App Store reviewers because the icon they’re using for “Time” (the same icon they’ve been using since 1.0, mind you) is nigh-identical to Apple’s built in “Recent” icon, and that was enough to raise that troublesome “user confusion” flag at iTunes HQ.

They’re going to try and find a different yet equally minimalist icon, and we’re going to start counting down to a letter from either Phil Schiller or the FCC

Sigh.

[Via Daring Fireball]

Microsoft Offers Bing SDK to iPhone Developers

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

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Microsoft has posted the Bing iPhone and Mac OS X SDK for developers to utilize, according to a post on the Bing Community Blog.

The Bing iPhone and Mac SDK is available for download on CodePlex, open source under the Microsoft Public License (MS-PL).

The SDK provides:
* The ability to easily query Bing from within your Cocoa or Cocoa Touch application.
* Perform both synchronous and asynchronous queries.
* Search Bing for Web, Image, Video, News, and Phonebook results.

Read More

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Analysis: Mobile games aren’t worth $5.4 billion

August 28, 2009 1 comment

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Jeremy Laws at Cabana Mobile has an interesting little analysis up about mobile gaming that claims it may not be as big as it’s cracked up to be. Laws says there’s no way the mobile gaming market can hold up $5.4 billion, as was reported earlier this year by Juniper Research. Laws looks at the top 10 companies releasing mobile games (at retail — that will become important in a minute), and claims that even if those companies make up 70% of total mobile games, the total amount of mobile game sales only comes up near $1.7 billion, far short of the Juniper number.

So where’s the discrepancy? It’s almost certain to lie in the App Store, where Juniper says growth more than made up for the dropoff of sales in other areas, like Java-based games. Laws does list companies like EA Mobile and Gameloft, whose games are selling on the App Store, but almost all of Laws’ companies are old-school mobile developers, who created games for mobile phones before the App Store was ever open for business. Plus, his “retail” mention might mean the App Store isn’t included in his calculations at all — can you call the App Store “retail”? In fact, if any mobile games marketplace is going to make up over $3 billion in the mobile games market, it’s got to be the App Store, right?

So this means a couple of different things: one, the App Store very well could be remaking the face of mobile gaming, to the point where old-school numbers are just plain insufficient to compare to modern App Store sales. Second, if there is a bubble, it’ll likely be in the App Store: another recent report says that if you spend more than $40k on a 99 cent game, you’re losing money. Laws may be underestimating the long tail of the App Store — certainly no single developer has pulled in billions, but there are a lot of developers out there. Still, at the same time, $5.4 billion does seem high. And if games companies are convinced there’s gold in the App Store hills, that’s where the bubble will eventually burst.

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Official Method of Unlocking the iPhone

August 26, 2009 Leave a comment

iPhone Dev Team have released tools like RedSn0w and UltraSn0w, which make it very easy for users to jailbreak and unlock their iPhone.

But Olly Farshi of TheAppleBlog has described a method, which is less painful if you are not technically inclined but can be expensive. It’s legal and users don’t need to hack their iPhone to unlock it.

I’m sure many of you already know about it but this article is for those who didn’t know such a system exists.
Please note that this article is also not about the factory unlocked iPhones that are available in countries like Hong Kong, Italy etc, which come unlocked out of the box and can be used with any GSM carrier.
Olly Farshi describes how he managed to officially unlock his iPhone:

Quote:
“When upgrading to the iPhone 3GS, those same customers are given the option to pay off the remainder of their original 3G contract. Paying off the contract, and thus completing the two years prematurely, entitles the customer to have their iPhone 3G unlocked.
The helpful assistant at the Sonera store made a note of my IMEI number and then passed it onto his boss — after that there’s a special piece of software that only his boss is authorized to use. This mystical application submits the IMEI to Apple, which in turn authorizes the device for unlocking.
I was advised that when the iPhone 3G was next synced with iTunes, it would be unlocked. Minutes later, back at home, I connected the iPhone 3G to iTunes and received a new carrier settings update. After downloading and installing the update, Apple’s official iPhone unlock screen appeared.”
Screenshot that shows iPhone was unlocked in iTunes:

Click the image to open in full size.

It is important to note that Olly had to pay off the contract to officially unlock his iPhone, so this method can be expensive.
And Finland is not the only country where this is allowed (mostly due to regulations enforced by Telecom authorities in those countries).

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Sophie, TAB reader from France comments:
I have an Iphone 3G contract with orange. In France, it is possible to unlock any phone (including the iphone) after 6 months of contract, legally, with Itunes. We don’t have to wait until the end of the contract to get the unlocking code.

Reader Zoo from Sweden points out:
TeliaSonera in Sweden states on it’s website that they will unlock iPhone after 12 months for a fee of SEK 300 (~EUR 30). Telenor does the same for SEK 350:-. (no mention what happens if there is time left on the contract).

Ervin comments from Singapore:
Actually in Singapore, the laws states that all phones sold must be unlocked. So purchasing an iPhone, and then terminating the contract at an additional SGD850, you can have an unlocked phone, without a contract.

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You can checkout this Apple Knowledge Base article to find out the list of carriers that allow authorized unlocking for an additional fee (though as per the link, Olly’s carrier Sonera doesn’t support authorized unlocking).
Note: You should look for the tick under the column “Carrier offers authorized unlocking” to find out if the carrier in your country offers authorized unlocking. No tick under the column “Locked to Carrier” means that you can buy a factory unlocked iPhone from the carrier.
If you are interested, here is some more information on how it work

Quote:
“To unlock an iPhone you need the NCK which is a unique 15 digit key. Those keys for unlocking are sitting on Apples servers and send to the iPhone via iTunes while the iPhone is connected to the Mac/PC.
Each iPhone has a unique HWID, NORID, CHIPID, (id’s embedded in the iPhone hardware/chips and unique to each phone), the NCK is only working with the one iPhone where the above are matching. The NCK does not unlock any other iPhone.
Trying to bruteforce the NCK would take years even on high-end computers (NCK Brute Force – The iPhone Wiki).
Trying to guess the NCK is limited as well, After 5 or so unsuccessful attempts, the iPhone becomes permanently locked to the carrier – unless you’re feeling really, really lucky, I wouldn’t try it.
Apple has HWID, NORID, CHIPID… of all iPhones sold in countries, where the iPhone has to be sold unlocked. So once a phone of those is connected via iTunes, the apple servers check HWID, NORID, CHIPID and compare it to their database. If the matching iPhone is marked “factory unlocked” the Apple servers send the unique NCK for this iPhone.”

Some might argue that iPhone Dev Team’s method to unlock iPhone is very easy but this official method could be useful for users who are not technically inclined to hack their iPhone.

What do you guys think?

[via TheAppleBlog]

Do Other Countries Lose Out on Apps Because of AT&T Policies?

August 22, 2009 Leave a comment

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Mike Ash (via Marco.org) makes this point following the FCC responses today:

Ignoring the question of why it’s Apple’s job to prevent their customers from breaking AT&T’s terms of service, it’s interesting to note just how much this policy is centered on the United States. The iPhone is sold in dozens of different countries and works with dozens of different cellular carriers all over the world. You can be certain that each one of those carriers has different terms of service. Why is AT&T so privileged that their terms of service, and theirs alone, are the ones that Apple looks at when deciding whether to reject or accept any given app? It’s quite likely that people all over the world are missing out on great iPhone apps that their cellular carriers would permit them to use just because AT&T does not permit Americans to use them.

This by way of saying, for example, because AT&T prohibits SlingPlayer from running over 3G, users in Canada (on Rogers), the UK (on 02), Japan (on SoftBank), etc. are also prevented from using SlingPlayer of 3G.

Apple certainly makes only specific mention of AT&T in their consideration process. However, AT&T was the first iPhone carrier signed, so perhaps there’s something in that original deal that makes it so — or is it just that Apple is headquartered in the US?

Now, presuming those other, international carriers aren’t just sighing in relief that AT&T takes the hit on this so they don’t have to (anyone think Rogers, O2, SoftBank, et al. are dying to take the network hit that comes with an uber-popular, functionality surfacing device like the iPhone doing high-bandwidth tasks like streaming TV shows and movies?

There are certainly examples enough of region-specific apps (AT&T’s own apps are just in the US), and apps that are missing from just one regional app store (Skype is not in the Canadian App Store, reportedly due to a patent dispute).

As mentioned previously, Sling has submitted a 3G-enabled version of SlingPlayer for non-US App Stores (Canada, UK, Japan, etc.), so we’ll soon see.

via tipb