SciTechBlog
April 19, 2010

Next-generation iPhone found in a bar, blog says

Posted: 03:11 PM ET

It looks like Apple employees should be keeping their top-secret, next-generation iPhones out of bars.

In a post simply titled "This is Apple's next iPhone," tech blog Gizmodo on Monday showed video of a phone they say is almost certainly a version of the smartphone due to be released this summer.

The phone was found in a bar in Redwood City, California, about 20 miles from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, according to the post by Gizmodo's Jason Chen with reporting help from several other staffers.

"We're as skeptical - if not more - than all of you. We get false tips all the time," the post read. "But after playing with it for about a week - the overall quality feels exactly like a finished final Apple phone - and disassembling this unit, there is so much evidence stacked in its favor, that there's very little possibility that it's a fake."

According to the post, the phone had been camouflaged to look like a currently available iPhone.

The Gizmodo post says the phone they found has the following features:

_ flash for its camera
_ a front-facing camera for video chatting
_ higher-resolution display
_ a metallic band wrapping around the outside, with metallic volume buttons
_ a flat back, with a glass-like clear panel and thinner body than the current iPhone
_ a bigger battery

Gizmodo obviously wasn't offering too many details about how they got their hands on the phone.

But in the post, Chen wrote that the person who found it was able to run Apple's new iPhone 4.0 operating system before that system was officially announced last week.

Apple remotely killed the phone's operating system before Gizmodo got their hands on it, he wrote.

The find was being widely considered the real deal in the tech world.

"At this point we’re pretty much certain it is this summer’s new model," wrote Wired magazine. "Somebody at Apple is in big trouble."

Tech blog Engadget posted photos Saturday from a tipster showing a phone similar to the one Gizmodo displayed.

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Filed under: iPhone • smartphones


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April 9, 2010

Twitter rolls out official BlackBerry app

Posted: 04:35 PM ET

Twitter rolled out its official app for the BlackBerry on Friday, adding a specialized version of the micro-blogging site to the most popular smartphone platform.

According to Twitter's official blog and the BlackBerry Web site, the Twitter app features include:

_ Real-time "push" notifications for direct messages on Twitter
_ Camera and photo integration
_ Notifications when you're Twitter user name is mentioned
_ Integration that links to Twitter when you get a text message or e-mail that includes someone's user name

"Working closely with [BlackBerry maker] RIM to deliver the official Twitter app has been a great experience and we are looking forward to bringing more and more Twitter innovation to BlackBerry," Twitter's blog post said.

The free Twitter app was made available Friday on BlackBerry's Web site.

Apple's iPhone and Google's Android phones seem to get all the buzz, but BlackBerry is still hands down the leader in the smartphone field. But do people think of them more as work tools than social-networking devices?

Will you be tweeting on your BlackBerry?

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Filed under: smartphones • Twitter


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March 30, 2010

Report: New iPhone to be on non-AT&T networks

Posted: 09:40 AM ET


Apple plans to release a new iPhone this year that could operate using Verizon, Sprint and some smaller carriers, according to a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday.

The move, if it happens, would be a big shift from the current iPhone, which only works in the U.S. with AT&T - a sore point for some users.

The paper cited "people briefed by the company." Spokespeople for Apple, Verizon and Vodaphone Group, an international carrier, refused to comment, according to the Journal.

An AT&T spokesman said there has been lots of incorrect speculation about an iPhone that runs CDMA, a wireless network used by Verizon, Sprint and others.

"We haven't seen one yet and only Apple knows when that might occur," the spokesman told the paper.

Apple did not immediately return a message from CNN.com Tuesday seeking comment.

Apple has had an exclusive relationship with AT&T in the United States since 2007.

The unnamed sources also told the Journal what's considered an open secret in tech circles - that Apple will separately release a new version of its current iPhone this summer. The new phone will be thinner and have a faster processor, two souces reportedly told the Journal.

Speculation that Apple would expand the iPhone to other wireless carriers has abounded for months. Many reports, citing Apple sources, have said such a move was coming.

But the Journal report sent Apple stock soaring Tuesday morning. The stock, which already closed at a record $232.39, jumped as much as 6.41 points (2.75 percent) in after-hours trading.

One source said the non-AT&T iPhones will begin production in September, while others said the schedule is still up in the air.

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Filed under: iPhone • smartphones


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March 24, 2010

Digg adds iPhone app, Android on the way

Posted: 04:12 PM ET

Fresh off an announcment that they'll be revamping their popular news-sharing site, Digg on Wednesday went live with a new iPhone app.

The free app is designed to give users a look at the most popular stories on the Web, as chosen by Digg's millions of monthly users.

It lets users browse lists of recent content, rate stories, search for specific topics and save stories to read later.

The app was available Wednesday afternoon in Apple's European store and was expected any time in the U.S., according to a Digg spokeswoman.

Digg will be releasing a similar app for the  Android platform soon and plans updates to the iPhone version based on user feedback, said the spokeswoman.

At the South by Southwest Interactive festival earlier this month, Digg CEO Jay Adelson announced an invitation-only beta of a new version of the site which creators say will be faster, more personalized and allow anyone, not just Digg users, to suggest stories to the site.

Founded in 2004, Digg and similar sites like Reddit [which already has an iPhone app] and Mixx have taken a hit as more people use sites like Facebook and Twitter to share links. But Adelson said Digg still has about 40 million monthly users.

What do you think? Is Digg an app worth picking up?

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Filed under: Digg • iPhone • online news • smartphones


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March 22, 2010

Geek Out!: What will we get from iPhone 4.0?

Posted: 02:15 PM ET
 
 
Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's Marquee and SciTech blogs.
 
 
The launch of the iPad is looming, but some of us are still more concerned about what's going to be new for its smaller-statured brother - the iPhone.

There will likely be an update to the phone’s operating system in conjunction with the release of the iPad.  The question is – what will we get?

There have been plenty of rumors that this update will be BIG.  Of course, "big" is a relative term and could really mean anything.

The hottest rumor is that the phone may actually be able to finally run more than one application at a time.

For Apple geeks, that would be bigger than big  - that would be huge -  and would bring our beloved iPhone in line with Palm’s Pre.

There are some other smaller features I would love to see come to my favorite technological addiction.  Some of these include:

_ Tethering/Hotspot creation:  The Palm Pre can do this – time for AT&T to allow the iPhone to do the same – i.e. create a wireless hotspot or allow the phone to be tethered to a laptop so you can surf anywhere.  I don’t even care if I have to pay for this feature – just don’t expect me to pay much. (An additional $15 -25 would be in line with what I'd expect).

_ Bluetooth remote profile:  The last update gave us Bluetooth streaming for wireless headphones and other audio devices.  But for some unknown reason Mr. Jobs neglected to include the profile that lets you change tracks.  Please enable this!

_ Custom sound sets: Friends with jailbroken phones (who will remain nameless) lord this over me all the time.  Why can’t I make my e-mail, SMS or other alerts sound like whatever I want?  Also, why can’t I choose just one email address (my work account for example) to beep/buzz when I get a new email?  Right now it’s all or nothing. 

Those are just a few of the things that bug me on this phone.  And as always, it’s not that the phone isn’t great - it’s that it could be so much better! 

What features do you want to see?  What isn’t there that drives you crazy?  And let's leave new hardware features for another post!

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Filed under: Geek Out! • iPad • iPhone • Palm Pre • smartphones • technology


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March 19, 2010

What does your phone home screen say about you?

Posted: 11:15 AM ET

After noticing that he had exactly 911 unread e-mails on his phone, a colleague of mine, Victor Hernandez, decided to share this moment of emergency info overload with his Twitter posse.

He posted a photo of his iPhone home screen online, and that photo was met with reactions he didn't expect.

People didn't care about how many unread e-mails he had.

They just wanted to see which apps he had on his home screen.

"Love seeing what is on the front screen of people's iPhones," one of his followers wrote, noting that she found it funny that Hernandez had prioritized the iSamJackson app. "Says so much about you."

Hernandez stumbled into a possible cultural trend: Phone home screens have become yet another marker of a person's identity. iPhone and Android phone users download an average of nine apps (mobile phone programs) per month, according to a February report by AdMob (PDF). But only 20 apps will fit on the iPhone's rigidly organized home screen, and people tend to put the apps they use most often, or think are the most important, on that starter screen. Maybe the way people arrange these home screens says something about their daily lives and preferences.

Apple, always quick to draw links between its gadgets and its users' personalities, has an entire Web page devoted the iPhone home screen and how to make use of it. So does Google's Android platform.

Hernandez and CNN iReport asked our readers to send in photos of their phone home screens. They were excited to find that no two submissions were alike. Many are quite similar, however, since the iPhone does come with a number of apps preset to run on the home screen, and most of the submissions iReport received were from iPhone owners.

Some home screen submissions highlighted games; others put news apps out front. Some "jailbroken" phones featured customized backgrounds.

Take a look at these photos and let us know what you think. Does a phone home screen really say something about who a person is, or is that corporate and contrived? If it is significant, what types of apps are most essential to you, and why? Does it matter that phone home screens are usually hidden to everyone except the phone's user?

Maybe that secrecy is part of the allure.

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Filed under: Android • Apps • iPhone • smartphones


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March 17, 2010

PayPal and Bump transfer money between phones

Posted: 03:10 PM ET

Everyone hates that confusing moment when the check arrives at a large dinner party. Some people want to pay with credit cards, some with cash - and some try to not pay at all. But a new iPhone application, launched on Tuesday, aims to make the whole bill-splitting process a little bit easier.

The app, “Send Money,” was created by PayPal, which allows members who sign up to send money to others in a secure way online. The first version of the Send Money app simply transferred money to anyone on a phone contact list. But the company this week announced a partnership with Bump Technologies to allow an iPhone user to simply tap phones with another iPhone user as a way to transfer funds.

More people are now transferring money online. PayPal mobile transactions have dramatically increased even just last year from $25 million in 2008 to $141 million in 2009. And Bump, which is less then a year old, has broken out as the primary technology company that transfers information wirelessly, with just a bump of two phones.

In order to support PayPal’s wide reach, Bump had to translate his service into 18 languages. “We could not be more excited,” Bump co-founder Jake Mintz said. “We think bumping money is an incredibly powerful interaction.”

So now when the check comes at dinner, the “Split Check” feature allows users to divide the check and quickly reimburse each other by bumping iPhones. Or if you owe someone else money it is now simpler than ever to now have them be reimbursed.

PayPal’s vice president of platform and emerging technology, Osama Bedier, says this new application also means people won't have to carry as much stuff around with them. “Today, you leave the house with three critical things: your phone, your wallet and your keys,” he said. “PayPal Send Money lets consumers access their wallets through their phones. Because with PayPal, the wallet lives in the cloud – the mobile phone is just one device customers can use to access it.”

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Filed under: Apps • Bump • PayPal • smartphones


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March 5, 2010

Sony to launch challengers to iPad, iPhone

Posted: 12:26 PM ET

Sources have told the Wall Street Journal that Sony is planning on making a challenger to Apple’s iPad that will have all the capabilities of a netbook, a Sony Reader and a PSP, the company's handheld gaming device.

At a Sony news conference in Tokyo, Sony’s CFO Nobuyuki Oneda didn’t provide any details but expressed the company’s desire to compete against Apple’s newest gadget, due in stores next month.

"That is a market we are also very interested in. We are confident we have the skills to create a [great] product," said Oneda. "Time-wise, we are a little behind the iPad but it's a space we would like to be an active player in.”

The WSJ also reported Sony is making a new smartphone - containing Sony Ericsson mobile technology and capable of playing PSP games - to compete against the iPhone. Both devices are expected to work with Sony Online Services, an online store due to launch in March and sell music, movies, books, and other downloadable applications for mobile products.

The iPad challenger and the new smartphone are expected to launch sometime in 2010, but no details about specs, price or design have been released.

Sony has tried to get into the phone/gaming gadget arena in the past. A patent was filed in 2006 for a device that looked like a PSP on one side and a smartphone on the other, but such a device has never hit the market.

Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones in the last three months of 2009. The company announced Friday that the iPad will be available April 3.

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Filed under: Apple • iPad • iPhone • smartphones • Sony


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March 3, 2010

Apple sues Google phone manufacturer

Posted: 01:42 PM ET
HTC CEO Peter Chou speaks at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
HTC CEO Peter Chou speaks at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Google phone manufacturer HTC, claiming many of the company's popular smartphones infringe on patents related to the iPhone.

Apple alleges HTC violates as many as 20 patents, including multi-touch support, screen rotation, and "unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image."

Ars Technica notes, "Apple is seeking treble damages for willful infringement, punitive damages, interest, and attorney's fees in addition to a permanent injunction barring HTC from making, using, importing and selling devices that infringe on Apple's patents."

Apple's press release includes a brief statement from CEO Steve Jobs:

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

The lawsuit does not specifically name Google as a defendant, but Apple's claims against HTC indirectly attack Google's Android operating system and its new Nexus One handset, which is produced by HTC.

In an email to TechCrunch a Google spokesman supports HTC, "We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it."

Fortune's Philip Elmer DeWitt gathers online reaction to the lawsuit in this post.

The full lawsuit can be read here (pdf).

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Filed under: Apple • iPhone • smartphones


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February 23, 2010

Apple bans most (but not all) sexy apps

Posted: 11:58 AM ET
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit app is still available in the app store.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit app is still available in the app store.

Apple has tightened its restrictions on sexy or suggestive apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and many of the most popular programs in the iTunes app store have been removed.

While speaking to the New York Times, Apple executive Phil Schiller explained, "It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see."

Several days ago the developer of the Wobble app posted the results of his discussion with Apple on his blog. The Wobble app, which adds a jelly-like wobble motion to any user supplied photo, was recently removed because advertisements suggested it could be used on photos of breasts.

I have spoken with Apple, and the following are the new rules:

1. No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)

2. No images of men in bikinis! (I didn’t ask about Ice Skating tights for men)

3. No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)

4. No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes – I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette in this pic)

5. No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned

6. Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble "overtly sexual!")

7. No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)

While most apps containing bikini-clad women are threatened, Phil Schiller defended the Sports Illustrated app to the Times. "The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format," he said.

As of this morning, a Playboy app was also still available, suggesting Apple may accept sexual content if the developer is associated with a strong brand.

Apple has struggled to keep the app store clean, but these new policies remove many of the store's most popular programs. Parents can enable the app store's parental controls and adults can simply choose not to download content they do not approve of.

In a blog post today, Fortune.com columnist Philip Elmer DeWitt linked the purge to next month's release of the iPad tablet computer, which will run iTunes apps and which Apple plans to market for home and school use.

How do you feel about Apple's decision? Should material that is so widely accepted be banned because it is objectionable to a relative few?

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Filed under: iPad • iPhone • iPod • mobile phones • smartphones


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Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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