A massive new online business is scheduled to launch on July 11: Apple's App Store - an online hub for third party iPhone and iPod Touch applications.
Beginning later this month, developers will begin to upload apps to the store accessible by iPhone users or to a new section of the iTunes Store, sharing revenue from app sales with Apple in a 70/30 split. These apps will be in addition to the 1,700-odd apps already developed for the iPhone's Safari web browser.
One of the games people are looking forward to playing is Super Monkey Ball. Sega's Ethan Einhorn showed off Super Monkey Ball on stage at the WWDC. According to Einhorn, after 8 weeks of development, the developers have created 110 stages.
The new 3G, GPS-enabled iPhone should open up a world of possibilities for clever developers in the realms of gaming, entertainment and enterprise applications.
In related news, the AOL Radio app for the iPhone won for Best Entertainment Application at the 2008 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), providing users free access to over 350 online radio stations (including 150 local CBS radio stations) and more than 200 AOL Radio channels.
Other WWDC iPhone App winners:
Best iPhone Game: Enigmo by Pangea Software
Best iPhone Social Networking App: Twitterrific by the Icon Factory
Best iPhone Productivity App: OmniFocus by the Omni Group
Best iPhone Healthcare & Fitness App: MIM from MIMVista
There's no doubt that an iPhone update is imminent. But while nearly everyone has agreed on that, nobody knows anything definite about the specifics... except that the new iPhone will be compatible with the Microsoft Exchange email services. There's a link on the main Apple.com iPhone page where you can apply to be a beta tester.
In regards to the iPhone, here's what we know today:
Apple.com lists the iPhone as “Currently Unavailable.” Stock is so low that you can't buy it. Usually a good sign that a new model is coming out soon.
Apple continues to make iPhone sales deals across the globe. Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Australia were all announced with the last few months.
The new iPhone will most likely be unveiled during Steve Jobs’ keynote speech at Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) on June 9th.
AT&T is prohibiting retail-store employees from taking vacations between June 15 and July 12, claiming that they’re expecting a “heavy selling period”. They implemented a similar policy last year for the iPhone launch.
AT&T executives have said numerous times that all of their smartphones (the iPhone is one of the) will support 3G networking soon.
The Apple Stores have been out of stock of the iPhone for weeks. And people are forming daily lines outside Apple stores that still have a few iPhones in stock.
And here' are some rumors about what Steve Jobs might announce at the WWDC on June 9th:
Rumor: The new 3G iPhone will be about 20% thinner.
Rumor: The new 3G iPhone will have built-in video chat that would allow you to video chat with other iPhones or even computers with webcams.
Rumor: The Apple TV is going to get an add-on USB camera that will turn the Apple TV into a video chat system (see item above). How would it work? A picture in picture effect would happen if you were watching a movie on your Apple TV when someone tried to “video call” you from an iPhone.
Rumor: Just like the iPods, the new iPhone will come in several colors including black [pic] and white [pic]. Several colored iPhone photos have already surfaced on the Interweb. There's no doubt that black would be an extremely popular iPhone color.
Rumor: The new iPhone will have built-in GPS (it's about time).
Rumor: Apple will also announce a new, wireless keyboard specifically for Apple TV, with multi touch capabilities. Basically it will be a super remote control.
Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, has confirmed that there is a 3G iPhone in the works and it should be ready by 2008. Jobs made the following statement at the "Mum is no longer the word" press conference at the Regent Street Apple store in London this week:
"You can expect a 3G iPhone later next year... We are working on the next iPhone already, the one after that and the one after that."
The news comes as a 2G EDGE-enabled iPhone will be available in the UK on November 9th. When asked why the current model didn't have 3G, Jobs blamed power issues saying that the 3G chipset would be too much of a drain on the unit's battery life which promises 8 hours of call time, but said that future models would have the technology.
This week Apple announced new iPods and lowered the iPhone price by $200. But what if you were one of the millions of people who bought an iPhone 2 months ago? You'd probably be a little pissed off right? Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, got so many emails from angry customers that he wrote an open letter on the Apple website today. The letter says that every customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T will receive a $100 Apple store credit.
It's a brilliant move by Apple. This rebate will placate the angry early iPhone adopters who are feeling cheated, still keep the money in Apple's pocket and generate lots of press (like this article).
Here's the open letter from Jobs:
To all iPhone customers:
I have received hundreds of emails from iPhone customers who are upset about Apple dropping the price of iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale. After reading every one of these emails, I have some observations and conclusions.
First, I am sure that we are making the correct decision to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399, and that now is the right time to do it. iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to 'go for it' this holiday season. iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, and now it will be affordable by even more customers. It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone 'tent'. We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season.
Second, being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.
Third, even though we are making the right decision to lower the price of iPhone, and even though the technology road is bumpy, we need to do a better job taking care of our early iPhone customers as we aggressively go after new ones with a lower price. Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these.
Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned.
We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.
Steve Jobs Apple CEO
Once again Apple has proven why they are so loved by their fan base. But, hey Steve, shouldn't it be a $200 store credit?
Apple unveiled its new line of iPods yesterday including a model with an iPhone-like touchscreen interface and Zune-like WiFi access. The "iPod Touch" sports a 3.5-inch widescreen and a Safari browser, creating a mobile YouTube delivery device that essentially replicates the iPhone browsing experience for non-AT&T subscribers. It's going to run $299 for an 8 GB model and $399 for a 16 GB version, scheduled to ship later this month. You can pre-order the new iPods from Apple.com.
The former Video iPod has been renamed the "iPod Classic" with a slimmer design and a bigger hard drive.
Although the new iPod Touch is very impressive with its Wi-Fi and touch-screen, the fact that it only has a 16GBs sucks big time. I like to keep my current iPod Video full of movies and TV shows that I ripped from DVD for my morning commute. The new smaller hard drive is a major sticking point for me. The reason the new iPods have smaller hard drives is because they are Flash memory based (no moving parts) and are able to withstand an occasional bump or drop better than traditional hard drives.
Apple is also teaming with Starbucks to allow customers to browse a new WiFi iTunes store for free inside of its coffee shops. Go near a Starbucks and an icon pops up. Click on it and you can buy Starbucks' current music selections.
Steve Jobs also announced he was phasing out the entry level iPhone and cutting the price of the upper-end model from $599 to $399.
Though it is not official, those in the "know" say Apple is just hours away from announcing a new Wi-Fi enabled iPod designed to receive digital radio along with an option to buy content from the iTunes Store. It is not known whether the same functions will be included in the iPhone.
Other rumors about the new Wi-Fi iPod line suggest the inclusion of a wide-screen touch-screen interface like the iPhone, larger storage capacity, Flash based hard drive and a new version of the iPod Nano that can handle video.
On a personal note, I'm ready for a wide-screen iPod. Watching wide-screen formatted movies that I've ripped off of DVD on the small iPod screen has been giving me a headache.
Since the iPod's release in 2001, the hand-held music player has gone from a fun toy to a cultural icon. But it may be time for a revamp. Last year Apple's iPod sales dipped for the first time since 2002.
UPDATE: YouTube has reworked their site in response to this article. If you get an error when trying to download a YouTube video, please try some of the plug-ins and scripts listed in step #3.
YouTube.com is a great resource. Not many sites allows users to freely upload, view, and share video clips like YouTube does. YouTube even lets users easily post videos on their blogs and personal web sites. But because anyone can upload a video clip on YouTube, copyright violations are rampant.
In an effort to prevent the widespread distribution of illegal copied video files, YouTube encodes its video files in the Macromedia Flash format, which prevents viewers from downloading files and making digital copies.
The iPhone may be Apple's first "official" phone, but apparently they toyed with the idea 25 years ago. Way back in 1983, designer Hartmut Esslinger, the same guy who made the Apple IIc computer, came up with this phone/tablet prototype.
Writing an electronic check with the 1983 iPhone.
The 1983 version of the iPhone obviously never made it into production, but it's still a cool concept. Although writing a physical electronic check seems a little silly now that we have online banking. The image is from fudder.de.
Apple's iPhone has enjoyed favorable reviews since its recent debut, but it got some criticism on Capitol Hill in Washington this week.
The phones, which cost between $500 and $600—are usable only on AT&T Inc.'s wireless network and will remain that way until 2012. Even though the phones become expensive paperweights if customers quit AT&T's wireless plan, the company will still charge a $175 early termination fee, said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of a House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet.
Markey described the phone as a "Hotel California service. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave—you're stuck with your iPhone and you can't take it anywhere."
Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia University and commentator on technology issues, described the cell phone industry as "spectrum- based oligopoly" where customers have given up their property rights.
"Imagine buying a television that stopped working if you decided to switch to satellite," Wu said. "Or a toaster that died if you switched from Potomac Power to ConEd."
Thinking about making applications for the iPhone? Apple released an iPhone developer guide to offer guidelines for creating widgets and applications that will integrate with the device's Safari browser, mail and mapping applications.
IM chat service Meebo, mini-blogging service Jaiku and gaming site WeeWar have already developed iPhone versions of their software.
The following guidelines will help developers prepare web content and design a website or web-based application for iPhone.
"The bottom line: some analysts claimed that the iPhone launch would be a failure if Apple failed to sell 100,000 iPhones during the first weekend. Based upon the limited data we have, we believe that number was exceeded in just the first two to three hours. Blackfriars’ prediction is that Apple will sell 500,000 iPhones this weekend, and based upon limited sales rates reported, that number now looks quite achievable. The only question is whether the demand and iPhone supply is great enough that they might push past the million unit mark this weekend."
Today Apple posted a page detailing the cost of the iPhone rate plans (US). And they aren't as bad as most people had thought. All plans have unlimited data (nice!) - $60 for 450 minutes, $80 for 900 minutes and $100 for 1350 minutes. Existing AT&T customers can add unlimited data for $20 - $40 with a varying number of text messages.
All iPhone service plans include Visual Voicemail and unlimited data — Internet and email — so you only have to decide how many minutes and SMS text messages you need. You’ll select your plan when you activate your iPhone using iTunes on your computer.
If you’re already an AT&T customer and want to keep your current voice plan, you can just add an iPhone Data Plan with unlimited data (email and web) and Visual Voicemail for just $20 per month.
After purchasing the remaining 40 percent of Cingular last year, AT&T has begun the process of rebranding some 1,800 Cingular stores. The telecom, which will be the sole carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., is undertaking the rebranding move just weeks before Apple's hotly anticipated smartphone hits the market.
"Our branding Email Marketing Software - Free Demo campaign is performing at and above projected levels, and customer response has been very positive," Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief operating officer, said.
The San Antonio-based phone giant is accelerating its rebranding efforts of one of the best-known brands in the market, and will make the orange "Jack" logo and Cingular name disappear from new devices being sold.
The decision to move to this phase of the branding campaign is based on research that indicates that consumer awareness of AT&T -- one of the best-known, most durable and iconic brands in the world -- is high and ahead of expectations, the company said.
Here's a YouTube video showing off a new Apple TV plug-in called "A Series of Tubes." The plug-in allows you to browse YouTube videos on your Apple TV. Sure, the Flash encoded YouTube videos look like crap on a HDTV. YouTube doesn't even look good when stretched out to its default 480 x 360, let alone 640 x 480 or HD. But YouTube does have thousands of clips and can provide endless hours of entertainment.
Not ready to start tinkering around with plug-ins for your Apple TV? You can still save videos off YouTube and convert them for your iPod/iTunes. Check out this tutorial: How to Copy Videos Off YouTube.
Want to make it big as a music video director/editor? The band Modest Mouse wants help making a video for their new song "Missed the Boat." With the help of Apple, Modest Mouse posted 12 high quality videos (each shot at a different angle) of them performing in front of a green screen.
The public is encouraged to download these video clips and edit them together into one final music video. Feel free to use your own footage and experiment the green screen.
Why is Apple generously providing massive amounts of bandwidth for people to download these giant high resolution video clips?
Last week Apple sent out an email (screenshot courtesy of TechCrunch.com) to video podcasters asking them to increase the quality of their productions and start formatting their videos for the big screen. Since the launch of the Apple TV (full review here) in March, Apple TVs have been selling like hotcakes and video podcast subscription numbers have skyrocketed.
Apple TV owners, who don't necessarily want to spend lots of money in the iTunes Store, are gobbling up video podcasts like never before. Even though there currently isn't any HD quality videos for sale in the iTunes Store, the Apple TV is capable of HD video playback. So several popular video podcasters, including The Washington Post, TWIT (MacBreak), Revision3 (Diggnation) and Vintage Tooncast, have decided to fill the void of HD content by distributing their podcasts in HD or hi res quality.
Why hasn't everyone started distributing their video podcasts in HD? Money. Not only does producing an HD podcasts require extra hard drive space (roughly 4 times more), special cameras and editing software, but just hosting these giant video files on the Internet can be enough to bankrupt your entire production. For example, the iPod Video version of MacBreak episode 63 is 21 MBs. The HD version is 93 MBs. To help alleviate increased HD production costs, many podcasters have reached out to HD television manufacturers like Samsung and Panasonic to get them to sponsor their new HD podcasts.
For video podcasters who are still producing content at 320x240 but want to do something to increase quality, there is an intermediary step before going HD. Podcasters can start by migrating their productions to 640x480, or even 640x360 (letterbox). This way their video files will still be compatible with portable media players like the Zune and iPod, but will also work on the Apple TV. If the material is carefully encoded, it will look as good or better than typical TV.
Crap. I was really looking forward to getting my Apple TV ($299) this month. I guess I'll have to wait a little bit longer.
This morning I got the following email from the Apple Online Store regarding my Apple TV pre-order. Apparently "wrapping up" took " a few weeks longer" than they expected... whatever that means.
To Our Valued Apple Customer:
Thank you for ordering the new Apple TV, an easy to use and fun way to wirelessly play all your favorite iTunes content from your Mac or PC on your widescreen TV.
Wrapping up Apple TV is taking a few weeks longer than we projected, and we now expect to begin shipments in mid-March, not in February as originally anticipated.
You may check the status of your order any time by visiting our online order status website at http://www.apple.com/orderstatus.
A shipment notification, with tracking information, will be emailed to you as soon as your order is shipped. There is no need to contact us unless you choose to change or cancel your order.
We appreciate your business and thank you for shopping at the Apple Store!
Sincerely, The Apple Store Team
As you can see, the "letter" from Apple is some of the most uninformative collection of words ever assembled. Apple doesn't even try to explain why shipments of the Apple TV are being delayed. Pete Mortensen from the Cult of Mac blog sarcastically summed up my disappointment pretty well: "Wow. That's a stunningly insightful piece of news. Anyone upset that your new toy isn't showing up Wednesday?"
When I do get my Apple TV (hopefully next month?), it should be an easy setup. Apple is promising true plug-and-play installation. Just connect Apple TV to your TV (even HDMI is built in) and start iTunes, which will automatically detect it. A few clicks on my remote and I should be in business.
If you were watching last night's American broadcast of the Oscars, then you might have noticed the first Apple iPhone ad. Apple reportedly paid $1.7 million to run the ad during the Oscars. The ad features 28 scenes from popular movies and TV shows with actors saying “hello” on a phone. The ad ends with an image of the iPhone and some text that says "Coming in June". You can see the ad here on YouTube.com.
According to Gizmodo, this phone will be in service with AT&T instead of Cingular.
If you went to Apple.com last week, then you might have seen an article written by Steve Jobs about DRM and the music industry called Thoughts on Music. In the article Job talks about the history of DRM (digital rights management) and how companies, including Apple, who sell music online have to change in order to survive.
In case you haven't read the article yet, the bottom line is Jobs doesn't like digital rights management and thinks it has been ineffective at stopping music piracy. The root of his argument is how music companies failed to come together and create an audio CD format with built in copy-protection.
Here's a quote from the article:
"Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player."
In contrast, the movie industry was able to set aside their differences and DVDs were invented with copy-protection built in. So since the music industry can't get their act together, what should happen now?
If Steve Jobs has his way, DRM would be abolished entirely:
"Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music."
So why would Jobs write this letter and why now? Recently there's been a lot of pressure coming from Europe, including consumer groups in Germany and France. The Europeans claim that Apple's iTunes Store violates consumer laws because iTunes songs can only be played on iPods. Since the iPod has about 80% of the portable media player market, the Europeans believe that Apple is stifling competition.
The other option would be for Apple to license their DRM technology, called FairPlay, to other companies. Licensing FairPlay could end up making Apple a lot more money in the long run, but Jobs doesn't want Apple's secrets behind the FairPlay technology leaked, copied or modified by hackers. He'd rather just do away with DRM altogether. That would be the easiest solution for everyone... especially the consumer.
I give Jobs a lot of credit. Who knows, years from now people may look back at this article as the Emancipation Proclamation for digital music.
If U.S. State Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) has his way, a new proposal would make it illegal to walk, jog or bike across the street in New York while using your iPod. Kruger wants to slap pedestrians with $100 fines for using electronic gadgets, like the iPod, while crossing the street. Last year, Australian Police issued a similar law that banned cyclists from using their iPods after a series of fatal accidents.
"This electronic gadgetry is reaching the point where it's becoming not only endemic but it's creating an atmosphere where we have a major public safety crisis at hand," said Kruger in a telephone interview with Reuters. Two men were killed in his Kruger's borough recently while listening to their iPods - one of which involved a 23-year-old who was killed in traffic while bystanders screamed "Watch out!" Kruger has named this safety issue iPod Oblivion, but the bill goes beyond just iPods. The bill seeks to ban all popular electric devices such as cell phones, Sony PSPs, Blackberries, etc.
"If you're so involved in your electronic device that you can't see or hear a car coming, this is indicative of a larger problem that requires some sort of enforcement beyond the application of common sense," Kruger said.
Is an iPod crosswalk ban a little too Big Brother? Many people online aren't taking the news of this bill too seriously. "I understand that they're working on another bill in New York." commented Digg.com user packernirvana. "A $200 penalty for those caught walking and chewing gum." Maybe everyone just needs to exercise a little common sense when using their iPod. How hard is it to lower the volume and look both ways before you cross the street? Didn't we all learn how to properly cross the street before we could tie our own shoelaces?
Thinking about upgrading to Microsoft's new operating system Vista? If you own an iPod, you might want to hold off on Vista... at least for now. Last week, Apple posted a warning on their website stating that customers using Windows Vista may experience compatibility issues with iTunes.
According to Apple, the latest version of iTunes (7.0.2) may work with Windows Vista on many typical PCs, but don't be surprised if it doesn't work and messes up your iPod in the process. Apple advices Windows users to wait and not install Vista until after the next release of iTunes. A new version of iTunes should be released sometime this or next month. If you've already upgraded to Vista and are having problems with iTunes, you might want to check out a utility called iTunes Repair Tool for Vista.
Apple has already identified several Vista compatibility issues with iTunes 7.0.2 and earlier. Here are some of the most common problems:
iTunes Store purchases may not play when upgrading to Windows Vista from Windows 2000 or XP
Cover Flow animation may be slower than expected
Contacts and calendars will not sync with iPod
iPod models with the “Enable Disk Use” option turned off may be unable to update or restore iPod software, and make changes to iPod settings
iPod models configured to Auto Sync and have the “Enable Disk Use” option turned off may require being ejected and reconnected to resync
Ejecting an iPod from the Windows System Tray using the “Safely Remove Hardware” feature may corrupt your iPod. To always safely eject an iPod, choose Eject iPod from the Controls menu within iTunes
If you really can't wait to install Vista, Apple suggests you consider the following precautions:
Users should deauthorize all iTunes Store accounts, enable Disk Use on all iPod models, uninstall iTunes and perform a clean install of Windows Vista (Highly recommended but not required).
They should then proceed to reinstall the latest version of iTunes, open iTunes and choose Authorize Computer from the Store menu in iTunes.
A customer who has upgraded to Windows Vista and is still experiencing issues playing iTunes Store purchases should download the iTunes Repair Tool from Apple.com
Adam Anderson, a spokesperson for Microsoft's Windows division, said the company did not believe iTunes users "should stop using Vista for these reasons." He also said that Microsoft has a dedicated team working with Apple on getting iTunes running smoothly on Vista, and it will keep at it "until they have the program running to the quality level they're shooting for... We are also committed to ensuring that all partners, including Apple, receive all the resources they need to ensure that their applications work with Windows Vista," he said.
Apple has sold more than 90 million iPods since the product was first announced in October 2001.
Have you walked past an Apple Store yet this month? If so, you might have noticed a 3D snowflake screen saver running in the display windows. The screen saver is called Snowfall and it was designed by Russell Warenboldt using the OS X Quartz Composer.
Here's a screenshot of Snowfall with a picture of my dog in the background. Snowfall is a beautiful screen saver. These pictures really don't do it justice. You'll just have to install Snowfall and see for yourself. Snowfall is free, but it requires....
Want a good laugh? This video clip from a local cable show has a rare demonstration of Apple's 1984 Lisa computer as well as some sexy 1980s hair styles. In the video, some guy named Alfred takes the $10,000 Lisa computer for a test drive. Yep the Lisa sold for $10,000. Pretty expensive for a clunky word processor. In case you are wondering, the Lisa would cost about $19,500 in 2006 dollars. Another funny thing about the video is the TV host. For some reason she talks like a robot. She's also wearing a pair of over-sized 1980s eye glasses that probably have more glass than an automobile windshield.
Warning: There is a very long 5 minute introduction before the Lisa demo clip. Alfred, the guy giving the demonstration in the video, is now a YouTube director and loves to suck up to his subscribers. He also apologizes for his 1984 haircut, suit and a recent nose surgery. But once the actual demonstration clip starts to play, you will probably enjoy it.