Dead Zone Doldrums Test Skills of iPhone Customers

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, iPhone, Technology

Owners of iPhones know that their love for Steve Jobs’s touch-screen marvel comes at a price. The iPhone’s cellular coverage, provided exclusively by AT&T Wireless (NYSE: T – News), is notoriously spotty. In some parts of New York and San Francisco, it’s impossible to connect.
If you go for a dim sum lunch at Yank Sing restaurant on the edge of the financial district in San Francisco, you are likely to miss calls from the office. Some owners can’t use their iPhones in their own homes. Even AT&T Park, the city’s waterfront stadium, can be a dead zone.
The iPhone service is affected by several factors. First, AT&T’s 3G network doesn’t cover as much ground as Verizon (NYSE: VZ – News), America’s largest carrier. Second, urban areas packed with tall buildings are bad for wireless signals. Skyscrapers can block radio waves, or they can bounce them around to create what’s called multipath interference, where signals from different directions collide and cancel each other out.
But the iPhone’s worst enemy is the iPhone itself. So many Americans use them in the same places and at the same time that they are competing with one another for use of the network. “A hundred cellphones demanding bandwidth per cell site may not be out of the question in congested downtown areas,” said Tim Pozar, a wireless engineer who installs custom repeater systems to improve cellphone coverage at offices in the San Francisco area. IPhone owners have proved to be heavy consumers of network capacity.
What to do? There is no single magic bullet to improve iPhone service. You can spend hours trying to persuade AT&T to let you out of your contract. The time you spend doing that will cost more than the contract termination fee.
Knowing a few tricks might get you a connection. If your touch screen says “No Service,” the easiest fix is to hold the phone completely vertical, rather than slanted across your cheek. The iPhone’s antenna is meant to reach furthest if it is held straight up and down. If that doesn’t work, move. Indoors, walk to a window. Outdoors, cross the street.
For the newer 3G-capable iPhones, turning off the 3G in favor of AT&T’s older Edge network is sometimes effective. Go to the iPhone’s Settings icon. Tap General, then Network. Slide the Enable 3G toggle from On to Off. But you can’t talk and browse the Web at the same time on Edge.
Another alternative is to use a Wi-Fi hot spot to make calls. Skype, the popular Internet phone service, will make and take calls as long as you leave the app running and signed in. (Until an iPhone can multitask, that means you have to have the Skype app on all the time.) Calls with other Skype users are free, but calls to and from phones cost about two cents a minute. The app is available in the iPhone App Store.
Skype call quality varied in our tests from clear to sputtery, with a delay from one half-second to three or four seconds. Also, the app works only over Wi-Fi, so you will need to juggle between Skype and AT&T, depending on where you are.
Or, for $15 a month, you can subscribe to the Line2 app that mimics Apple’s phone in look and feel, but switches calls to a Wi-Fi network whenever the iPhone connects to one.
Line2 can start a call on AT&T’s 3G network and then transfer to Wi-Fi, whereas Apple won’t allow Skype to handle calls via AT&T. If left running, it will also receive inbound calls over Wi-Fi. (If Apple were to add a Wi-Fi option to the built-in Phone app, this wouldn’t be a problem.)
But for reliable service, there is no substitute for hardware that increases range. That is why AT&T has begun offering home 3G base stations that look like Wi-Fi routers, but send and receive 3G radio signals instead. These microcells, as AT&T calls them, connect to the Internet and offer wireless coverage of up to 40 feet in any direction. They work with any 3G AT&T phone, but not with Apple’s older non-3G model of iPhone.
The catch is that you will have to pay AT&T for the boost. There are two payment plans: If you buy the microcell for $150, AT&T will charge your voice calls made using the device against the minutes on your monthly wireless plan. Or you can sign up for unlimited calling for a $20 a month fee, and get the microcell free.
Many people consider it outrageous that AT&T isn’t handing out microcells to solve what they see as a problem that AT&T created. But you do get your own personal cellphone tower without needing the approval of your neighborhood’s opposition watchdog group.
AT&T’s microcell is built by Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO – News), a company with a reputation for solid network gear. Setup isn’t exactly plug-and-play, but it doesn’t require you to be a technician. You log in to attwireless.com — you’ll need to create an account if you haven’t already — and open a URL clearly labeled on a sticker that covers the microcell’s cable ports. Enter the microcell’s serial number and the 10-digit phone numbers of the iPhones you want it to serve. Then, as the instructions warn, you must wait up to 90 minutes while the microcell configures itself.
Call quality over the microcell was almost shockingly clear, ungarbled and free of the underwater sound that plagues many cellphone calls. You also might be less likely to experience the common many-second delays between your saying something and the other party’s hearing it. Cellular experts warn that delays and stuttering calls are still possible because these are caused by Internet traffic jams rather than the microcell.
If you make a call from inside the house and then walk outside, you can expect the microcell to reliably hand off the call to a local tower. Calls made outside, though, don’t transfer to the microcell when you get home. The only annoyance you may find with the AT&T unit is that whenever it is rebooted, as home networks sometimes are, it may take about 20 minutes to come back online.
AT&T’s solution will work for homes and small offices. But the company is clear that you can’t take it with you. It may not connect if plugged in somewhere else. So how to solve the restaurant dead-zone problem?
Mr. Pozar says the best fix is for the location to install its own repeater. For $1,000 to $5,000 in parts and labor, a hot dim sum spot could route calls through an outside antenna that connects to an inside amplifier.
That’s not cheap. But instead of a Free Wi-Fi sign, what better way to attract big spenders than one that says iPhone Hot Spot?

Developer Demonstrates Wireless Syncing of iPhone and iPod Touch to iTunes

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Applications, Developer, iPhone

Engadget points to a YouTube video posted by a developer apparently showing an iPhone application called Wi-Fi Sync that will enable users to wirelessly sync their iPhones and iPod touches with their computers via a local Wi-Fi network.

As the name implies, the app promises a complete sync of your iPhone or iPod touch with iTunes without having to tether and looks pretty straightforward (and occasionally useful) based on the video demonstration found after the break.
According to comments from the developer, he believes that the application fully complies with Apple’s developer rules and will be submitting it for inclusion in the App Store later this week.
The application requires a separate syncing application to be installed on the user’s computer. The video shows a Mac OS X version of the application in action, and the developer promises that a Windows version is under development.

iPad 3G to Ship By May 7th

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, iPad

Apple has updated their online store to reveal that the 3G version of the iPad will begin shipping by May 7th. Apple launched the Wi-Fi version of the iPad on April 3th in the U.S. The company has reported that they have sold over 500,000 iPads since that time and have subsequently delayed the international iPad launch until the end of May.
The May 7th date appears to be for new iPad 3G orders as those who have pre-ordered the 3G model were promised delivery by late April. Several readers who pre-ordered the 3G iPads note that their order statuses still indicate a “late April” delivery.
Update: Apple has also sent out emails to those who pre-ordered 3G models, reassuring them that their orders will ship in late April.
Thank you for your recent order of the magical and revolutionary iPad 3G.
We would like to confirm that your order will be shipped in late April as communicated at the time you placed your order. You will receive a confirmation notice when your order has shipped.
You can get up-to-date information about your order, including shipping status and tracking number, at http://www.apple.com/orderstatus

iPhone 4G to Have Glass/Ceramic Back, User Removable Battery?

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, iPhone

Seems more people are becoming convinced that the iPhone 4G images leaked by Engadget over the weekend are indeed legitimate. In fact, the report that the pictured product is actually a Japanese counterfeit has been retracted and was itself a false claim.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber now believes the images are real and that the next generation iPhone looks like the images depicted. Gruber also adds a detail that he has heard that the new iPhones will have a “fancy glass” back.
Multiple sources familiar with the next iPhone have confirmed to me that the back is made out of some sort of fancy glass — and looks pretty much exactly what’s pictured at Engadget. That’s not the only reason I believe Engadget’s unit is legit, but it?s one.
He points to a 2006 Apple patent application which describes the use of Zirconia as a durable and radio-transparent material that might be used.
A portable computing device capable of wireless communications, the portable computing device comprising: an enclosure that surrounds and protects the internal operational components of the portable computing device, the enclosure including a structural wall formed from a ceramic material that permits wireless communications through.
Now, if you do believe that these images do represent the next generation iPhone, one interesting detail noted by an Engadget commenter is that it appears to allow for a user removable battery.

Want In Apple’s App Store? Just Win a Pulitzer Prize

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer

If you want to get past Apple’s unpredictable App Store censors, it’s simple: Just go win a Pulitzer Prize, and/or inspire an online revolution.
That seems to be the message being sent by Cupertino this week in a very public iPhone app rejection fiasco. Word broke on Thursday that Apple had rejected a cartoon app created by Mark Fiore, a cartoonist who recently made history by becoming the first online-only journalist to win a Pulitzer. Fiore received the award for animations he’d published at the Web site of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Fiore’s iPhone app, however, was reportedly shot down by Apple because it “ridicule[d] public figures” — you know, as most satirical political cartoons tend to do. But the story didn’t end there: The general silliness of a ban on political satire, coupled with Fiore’s high-profile honor for that same genre of work, led to a public outcry over Apple’s actions.
And that public outcry has seemingly now led to Apple rethinking its ban.
Apple’s Pulitzer Rejection Reversal
Fiore, according to an interview published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, received a call from Apple shortly after his story started receiving widespread attention online. The Apple representative, Fiore says, suggested he resubmit his app.
“I feel kind of guilty,” Fiore tells The Journal. “I’m getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer.”
To be fair to Fiore, it’s probably more directly the public attention than the Pulitzer itself that caught Apple’s eye. But the honor, no doubt, illustrated the validity of satirical work in the eyes of the real world — the eyes, that is, outside of Apple’s carefully guarded walls.
Apple’s App Store and Political Cartoons
This wasn’t Apple’s first clash with politically charged App Store content. The Cupertino team put the kibosh on an app featuring the work of Mad Magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond last fall. Richmond’s app, entitled “Bobble Rep,” featured bobblehead-like caricatures of U.S. senators and representatives. Apple eventually reconsidered its rejection following a similar wave of online outrage.
Other authors have faced struggles, too, ranging from a guy who made a caricature-driven election game to a developer who created a cartoony countdown clock for the end of the Bush administration. But with the advent of the iPad and its focus on redefining the way we receive information, the concept of content-based censorship — particularly when the guidelines are so murky and inconsistent — is more troubling than ever.
“Suddenly Apple’s control freak approach threatens the development of the very technology it is supposed to be innovating, by placing restrictions and outright rejections upon the content that would be consumed via [its] devices,” Richmond writes on his blog. “Apps for publications and newspaper content won’t be very useful if [the iPad] only lets us see stuff that Apple and Steve Jobs thinks we should see.”
For now, it appears satire and politics will remain a wishy-washy, gray area within Apple’s app world. Not to fret, though: Bodily functions are still A-OK.

ABC iPad App Launch Seen as Successful Entry for Television Streaming

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPad, Technology

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at ABC’s application for the iPad ten days after the device’s launch, revealing that users have streamed at least part of 650,000 television episodes in what the network deems a very successful launch.
The network said that in the 10 days since the iPad’s debut, its TV-show watching app has been downloaded 205,000 times, giving the Walt Disney Co. unit a presence on nearly half the 450,000 devices that Apple says it has sold. Moreover, users have watched at least part of 650,000 television episodes using the app, generating “several million” ad impressions, according to an ABC spokesman, although the precise number is still being calculated.
The report notes that ABC has been offering on the iPad the same traditional 30-second ads from a host of advertisers that are seen by television audiences. By fall, however, ABC plans to roll out special interactive ads for users of its iPad application. Additional plans involve allowing local affiliates to offer targeted advertising to users based on their location.
Also provided in the report is an interesting look at the development of ABC’s iPad application, which was undertaken by a team of twelve ABC engineers. Development is reported as having occurred “in the five weeks between the Jan. 27 announcement of the iPad and its commercial release on Saturday” despite that fact that that time interval was over nine weeks in length. And somewhat surprisingly given Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ position as the largest individual shareholder of ABC parent company Disney, ABC’s engineers were not provided with a pre-release iPad for development purposes and had to rely on the simulator included in Apple’s development tools for the platform in order to build the application.
Application developers have been able to ride along with strong sales of the iPad, with Apple today announcing that strong U.S. sales of over 500,000 already have forced the company to push back international launch by one month to late May as it struggles to keep up with demand.

‘Surprisingly strong’ demand delays iPad abroad

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, iPad

Bad news for overseas techies dying to get their hands on Apple’s “magical” new tablet: looks like you’ll have to wait an extra month for your iPad.
Apple released a statement early Wednesday citing “surprisingly strong U.S. demand” as the reason for the delay, which will push the iPad’s international debut back until the “end of May.” Apple says it’ll start taking international iPad pre-orders and reveal pricing details May 10.
In its announcement Wednesday, Apple claims it’s “delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week” of U.S. sales and that “demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks.” Apple also notes that it’s already received “a large number of pre-orders” for the 3G-embedded version of the iPad, still due by “late April.”
Now, it’s not clear what Apple means by “delivered” — it could mean sold or merely shipped — but Steve Jobs did say at Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 event last Thursday that 450,000 iPads had already been sold up to that point, so 500,000 iPads sold in its first week sounds plausible.
But not everyone is taking Apple’s excuse for the delay at face value. Larry Dignan at ZDNet sees “a few missing elements” in Apple’s statement Wednesday, including the fact that “Apple’s store isn’t out of stock” (it’s currently showing a shipping time of five to seven days) “and iPads appear available.” Are we talking “a conscious decision by Apple to make sure it can satisfy U.S. demand first,” Dignan wonders, or “a case of manufactured shortage?”
And Gizmodo asks, “Is a pile of 500,000 iPads really more than Apple expected to sell by this point?”
Well, whether it’s a conspiracy or not, the fact remains that international gadget hounds will have to wait a few weeks longer for their iPads.
Full release follows:
Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad™. We have also taken a large number of pre-orders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April.
Faced with this surprisingly strong US demand, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the international launch of iPad by one month, until the end of May. We will announce international pricing and begin taking online pre-orders on Monday, May 10. We know that many international customers waiting to buy an iPad will be disappointed by this news, but we hope they will be pleased to learn the reason—the iPad is a runaway success in the US thus far.

Apple Bites the Hand That Feeds it with New App Rules

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Adobe, App Development, App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPad, iPhone, iPhone OS, iPod Touch, Technology

Apple has not been shy about publicizing its culture war with Adobe over the use of Flash on the iPhone or iPad platforms. Yesterday, Apple took the battle to a new level, though, by changing the legalese for the App Store to prohibit any apps not built solely on Apple’s proprietary Objective-C programming language.
Apple has not been shy about publicizing its culture war with Adobe over the use of Flash on the iPhone or iPad platforms. Yesterday, Apple took the battle to a new level, though, by changing the legalese for the App Store to prohibit any apps not built solely on Apple’s proprietary Objective-C programming language.
The new iPhone Developer Program License Agreement includes the following text: “3.3.1–Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”
This is essentially checkmate in the chess match between Apple and Adobe (ADBE). However, checkmate comes at the end of a well-played match as a result of superior strategy and tactics. Apple’s move is more equivalent to throwing a tantrum, taking your chess board, and going home.
I understand this strategy. I see it on a regular basis in games between my young children and their friends. All of the kids can be playing with a ball and having fun, but if the other kids won’t play the game that the owner of the ball wants to play, or if the owner of the ball is not winning, that child will simply storm off and take the ball home with them.
It is effective, but there are no real winners. And, I am not sure how well the immature toddler tantrum translates as a business strategy. Ultimately, Apple’s decision to slam the door on alternate development platforms limits the potential capabilities of iPhone and iPad apps, and increases the effort developers need to invest in order to provide the same app across multiple platforms.
By banning Adobe, Apple may be biting the hand that feeds it, though. Apple and Adobe have had a symbiotic relationship that has been mutually beneficial. The Mac computer has always been perceived as a superior platform for graphic arts and design, and Adobe has provided the fuel to drive that engine with products like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Adobe is set to release CS5–its flagship Creative Suite product–next week. One of the key features of the new software is Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone compiler that enables developers to create an application in Flash, then package it for use on the iPhone–circumventing Apple’s lack of Flash support.
While restricting development to the Objective-C programming language effectively blocks Adobe’s flanking maneuver, and arguably helps Apple maintain the stability and consistency of apps with a minimum of effort, it also hinders what developers can achieve.
Facebook’s Joe Hewitt stated via Twitter “I’m upset because frankly I think Objective-C is mediocre and was excited about using other languages to make iPhone development fun again.”
Setting those considerations aside, Apple’s war with Adobe puts developers in a tough spot as well. Apple has managed to establish itself as the de facto App Store–meaning that it is virtually a requirement to at least create an app for the iPhone and iPad, but it is not the only platform.
Developers want tools that allow them to develop an app once, and repackage or redistribute it across multiple platforms such as Android, Windows Mobile, WebOS, PC, etc. Flash is fairly ubiquitous, so developers could create an app in Flash that would work across most platforms, then use the Flash-to-iPhone compiler to port it to the iPhone and voila!
Unfortunately, those compiled apps won’t ever see the Apple App Store because they violate the new rules. So, developers will have to create one app for the iPhone and iPad, and then develop the same app all over again for other platforms.
The move by Apple seems petty. There may be some benefit to Apple, but Adobe, app developers, and ultimately iPhone and iPad users all suffer as a consequence.

Sketch Nation Shooter iPhone App Lets You Draw Your Own Games

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Do you remember the OS X game SketchFighter, the shooter made from pencil drawings? Sketch Nation Shooter is certainly very similar, letting you draw your own levels, players, and even enemies. You pretty much design the game yourself!
It’s 99 cents / 59p, and from what I can tell sounds worth every cent. Or penny. It’s compatible with iPhones, iPod Touches and the iPad, and if you’re not feeling too creative then you can download other players’ attempts too. The game is apparently available on Facebook too, meaning you can send your lovingly hand-crafted game to Facebook players as well.
[iTunes Link]

Opera Mini Approved for Inclusion in App Store – Now Available

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPhone, iPod Touch

Opera today announced that its Opera Mini browser has been approved for inclusion in Apple’s App Store. Opera Mini is available on the App Store.
Opera Mini, with more than 50 million users worldwide, enables fast mobile Web browsing by compressing data by up to 90 percent before sending content to the device, resulting in significantly improved page loading. Users of the app will notice an uptake in speed, especially on slower networks such as the 2G Edge network. Surfing the Web with the Opera Mini App on iPhone and iPod touch will also help users save money because of its data compression capabilities. This will hold especially true while the user is incurring roaming charges.
Opera submitted its browser to Apple late last month and started a count-up timer to keep track of how long it had been in Apple’s hands for review. Some observers had wondered whether the browser would be accepted by Apple, as it directly competes with the mobile Safari browser application included with the iPhone and iPod touch.
Opera Mini is now available [iTunes link] in the App Store.

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