Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rumor: iPhone 4G on Verizon in Late Q2

Today on the AllThingsD.com website, Apple hysteria continues with YAAiR (Yet Another Apple iPhone Rumor). Today's rumor is that Apple will bring a CDMA iPhone to Verizon Wireless for late Q2 or early Q3.
"iPhone OS 4.0. And the iPhone 4G–on Verizon.

That’s the word from Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek, who believes there’s “a good chance” we’ll hear about all three come next Wednesday.

The phone will be carried on Verizon and hence will operate on the CDMA network,” he asserts, adding, “however, it will also support European GSM and HSPA standards. An updated 4GS version that will support LTE is anticipated to arrive in June 2011.”

You're guess is as good as mine as to whether or not Apple will announce that the iPhone is coming to Big Red this summer or not, however, I suspect that Apple wants to:

1. Make more money selling the iPhone to more customers here in the US. Ending AT&T's exclusivity is a clear cut way to make that happen and Apple has already allowed exclusive carrier contracts come to an end in other countries.

2. AT&T is getting battered in the reputation department for having a really crappy network, regardless of whether or not iPhone users are to blame. In the minds of wireless customers, Verizon has a reputation of running a good wireless network.

[Via AllThingsD.com...]

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Rumor: iPhone OS 4 only for iPhone 3G, 3GS

BoyGeniusReport.com has some new details on what could end up being in the final version of iPhone OS 4.0, widely rumored to be either introduced or launched next week during Apple's media event along side the fanboy insanity that could be the launch of the iTablet.

According to BGR, the following could end up on a fruit themed smartphones near you very shortly:

  • There will be multi-touch gestures OS-wide. (Would make sense for that as the rumored OS for the iTablet is close if not the same as the iPhone)

  • “A few new ways” to run applications in the background — multitasking.

  • Many graphical and UI changes to make navigating through the OS easier and more efficient. We haven’t had this broken down, but we can only hope for improved notifications, a refreshed homescreen, etc.

  • The update will supposedly be available for only the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but will “put them ahead in the smartphone market because it will make them more like full-fledged computers” more than any other phone to date. Everyone is “really excited.”

  • The last piece of information is the most vague, but apparently there will be some brand new syncing ability for the contacts and calendar applications.
If the iTablet does end up running iPhone OS, and I think that makes the most sense and allows Apple and their third-party developers to leverage the existing iTunes ecosystem, the changes coming in iPhone OS 4 make a lot of sense and are probably right on.

The bad news is that that, if true, the rumor suggests that folks using the original first generation 2G iPhone will be shutout from future OS updates. Also missing from the rumor is the fate of the current pool of iPod touch owners. If the iPhone 3G and 3GS are eligible for the upgrade, it follows that the most current iPod touch would be also.

Man, I'm suddenly not all that excited about losing access to new software updates on my first generation iPod touch and iPhone. We'll have to wait and see what happens next week.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Confirmed: Apple Event January 27th

Apple has confirmed that they will hold a media press event on January 27th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. In the emails sent out to the media, Apple invites people to "Come see our latest creation."

Let the wild speculation begin. Ops! Too late! So what does Apple have in store for us? Well, the leading rumor is that Apple fill finally introduce their new tablet. At this point, we all know that Apple is doing a tablet. The only question people have is what amazing things will it do?

Other rumors flying around the Internet today suggest that Apple will bring out iPhone OS 4.0, but not a new iPhone or iPod touch, and possibly talk about or release a new version of iLife 2010 (and if there is an iLife upgrade, rest assured that there will be an iWork upgrade sooner than later).

Even if we only get half of what is rumored to be shown off next week, it will still be a great event!

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A History of Tablet Computing

Most smartphone fans started out life using devices referred to a "personal digital assistants", or PDAs. Over the last 10 years, the most iconic PDA was the "PalmPilot." Apple has reignited a second mobile computing renaissance first with the iPod, then iTunes, and most recently, the iPhone and the iPod touch. While we wait for Apple to unveil their next mobile computing platform, rumored to a new tablet computer, AppleInsider has published a very good historical accounting of mobile computing.
"A variety of vendors have tried to deliver tablet-like products over the past two decades, but none have been a standout success. This has the tech world watching with bated breath to see if Apple can apply its aura of desirability to the tablet segment in the same way that it has managed to do in desktops, notebooks, MP3 players and smartphones."

Read the full AppleInsider article...

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Custom Ringtones for the iPhone

Someone saw me with my iPhone recently and asked how to go about converting an .mp3 file they already had in iTunes into a ringtone they could use on their iPhone. Since I haven't activated my iPhone's phone service, I never checked out how to make a ringtone. Sure you can buy them from the iTunes store, but it seems silly to spend extra money for a 15 second song clip after having already purchased the full song.

Turns out that the folks at Art of the iPhone have a good tutorial on how to convert a non-copy protected song in your iTunes library into an iPhone ringtone.

Head over to ArtOfTheiPhone.com for more details.

[Via ArtOfTheiPhone.com...]

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rumor: Next Gen iPhone Due Up in April

File this under the WAG rumor department, but new rumors about Apple's next generation iPhone and iPhone OS 4 are making the rounds on the Internet.
"The Korea Times claimed Tuesday that sources at KT said the new phone would have an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen, would feature video chat functionality, and a removable battery is "highly likely." The report also said the new iPhone would include dual-core processors, more powerful graphics capabilities, and a superior camera."

I can see Apple breaking out their design kung-fu to bring us new OLED screens and even a forward facing camera for video conferencing, but a removable battery? Apple? Come on. Apple is dropping removable batteries from their MacBook and MacBook Pro note books. Can you really see Apple switching to a removable battery on the iPhone? I'm less sure about the addition of a dual core processor on the iPhone. Sure, the extra horsepower could be used in next generation 3D games, but I'm concerned with how a dual core processor will impact the battery.

Read the full article over AppleInsider.com.

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Documents to Go with Exchange Attachments Updated

DataViz has updated Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. This is a free upgrade to current owners of the Exchange attachments edition of Documents To Go.
"[W]e are happy to announce that a new version (3.0) of our “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” for iPhone/iPod touch is available in the App Store. Documents To Go is now the only mobile Office application for iPhone with support for viewing and editing of all three Office formats (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). And we have no plans to stop there! In the next several months we will be adding some really exciting new features to the product, so be sure to stay tuned."

What’s new in version 3.0

* Edit & create PowerPoint presentations:
o Edit/add bullets and text in Outline view and see changes immediately in Slide view
o Edit/add speaker notes
o Sort, add, duplicate and delete slides
o Promote/demote bullets
o And more!

* Added support for Gmail attachments
o Edit/view attachments using Docs To Go

* Product name change
o From “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” to “Documents To Go Premium”

Pricing and Availability

“Documents To Go Premium” is available now for $14.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at: www.dataviz.com/itunes. All customers who purchased a previous version of “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” will receive a free update to version 3.0. For more information: www.dataviz.com/GetiPhone

DataViz is also working on finishing a free update to the base edition of the “Documents To Go” product ($9.99) with an in-app purchasing option for customers to upgrade to the features of the “Premium” version. The time frame for the upgrade for the base edition was not specified.

For more information, please visit the DataViz website.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

I was looking up the features of Apple's QuickTime Pro for Windows (yes, this is work related) and I noticed a small ad in the QuickTime Player window for Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, a game for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Clearly a tie-in to the movie now playing in theaters, skimming through some of the screen shots in the iTunes App Store you get the impression that this is a cool game to play. Best of all, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries is only $0.99 meaning that if the game isn't what you expected, you're out less than the cost of a gourmet coffee!

I'm definitely going to check this game out over the weekend. For more information about Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, check out the iTunes Store.

[Updated article with pictures from the game.]

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

iPhone Adventures

On Monday I picked up a used first generation 8GB Apple iPhone. (Thank you Shirley!) The phone is in good working condition. What I didn't know, is that that you must activate the iPhone before you can use it; even if you plan on using it, essentially, as an iPod touch.

So what did I learn with my adventures activating my iPhone? First of all, there is no problem with you walking into an AT&T store an signing up for a new service plan with the original G2 GMS iPhone. Secondly, you can use a pre-paid AT&T GoPhone SIM card in your iPhone. To use a pre-paid card, you will need to purchase and activate the pre-paid SIM card in a phone and then move it into the iPhone once it is setup and then activate the iPhone in iTunes as an existing customer. The CellFanatic blog has a good run down of how to do this.

But what if you are like me and don't want to have to deal with another monthly cell phone bill and just use the iPhone as a glorified iPod touch (with a camera), then you may want to go with the slightly shady jail breaking route. My SIM card was disabled because I hadn't used it in 6 months or more and I wasn't planning on throwing $15-30 away on a new one just to activate the iPhone. I used the Blackra1n jail breaking utility to by pass the activation process and make the phone available in iTunes. I did end up putting my "dead" AT&T SIM card into the iPhone to keep it from constantly reminding me that there was no card inserted.

The good news is that everything, minus the Phone and Messages applications, are working normally. If I change my mind, and want to activate the voice and SMS text messaging features, all I need to do is to put in a new, activated 3G AT&T SIM card and I'm ready to rock 'n roll.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Citrix Receiver Updated for iPhone, iPod touch

Citrix has released an update to Citrix Receiver for the iPhone and iPod touch. As you can see, there is literally a boat load of enhancements and fixes in the new release.

The things that I think users will like, include the seamless handling of Citrix accounts, the new user interface, and the ability to change session resolution.

You can read more about Citrix Receiver for iPhone OS on the Citrix website. You can download Citrix Receiver 2.0 for iPhone OS from the Apple iTunes App Store. [iTunes link]

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Time: Year End Numbers

I ran across some interesting numbers in the December 28/January 4 issue of Time magazine. In the Year in Briefing: Numbers section (page 35) there are two stats listed that I think you will find interesting. They are:

  • 200 million people joined Facebook in 2009.
  • 13,505 email messages received, on average, per person in 2009.

Wow! Those are both some amazing statistics. And to think, we couldn't have done it without our smartphones!

Don't have "time" to slow down and read the print publication? No problem, you can download the Time Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch. [iTunes link]

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

PC Magazine: Palm Pre Most Innovative New Platform of 2009

It must be that time of year again...where everyone feels compelled to pick Top 10 lists for everything. Following up on Time's declaration that the Motorola Droid is the top dog for their Top 10 Gadgets of 2009 list, PC Magazine has come up with their own list of top picks.

This year, PC Magazine has selected the Palm Pre as the Most Innovative New Platform of the year, writing:
"Palm has returned with the coolest handheld device we've seen in a long time. The Palm Pre has the same exhilarating sense of possibility as the iPhone—and it's even worth switching to Sprint for. The Pre is the start of something genuinely new: Palm's webOS, an innovative operating system that's benefited a lot by what the company has learned from Apple's smartphone successes."
The iPhone 3GS did take the top spot for Best Consumer Smartphone.

You can check out PC Magazine's top smartphone picks on the PC Magazine website.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time: Droid Bests iPhone 3GS for Gadget of the Year

Ok, I really wasn't expecting the iPhone 3GS to get knocked off it's perch by a publication, especially by the likes of Time Magazine.

Apple fan site AppleInsider is reporting that Time has named the Google Android powered Motorola Droid the top gadget of 2009, beating the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre.
"The Droid is a hefty beast, a metal behemoth without the gloss and finish of the iPhone, but you don't miss it," the magazine said. "The Droid's touchscreen is phenomenally sharp and vivid, it has an actual physical (not great, but good enough) keyboard, and best of all, the Droid is on Verizon's best-of-breed 3G network. It's Android's first credible challenge to the iPhone."

Not to worry iPhone fans, the 3GS ranked number four on the list. The Palm Pre didn't even make Time's list.

You can read Time's full Top 10 Gadgets of 2009 list on Time.com.

Related Posts:

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Astraware Releases Police Range for iPhone/iPod touch

Astraware, the gaming branch of Handmark, has released Police Range for the iPhone/iPod touch.
"Put your skill and accuracy to the test as you train on the shooting range to become a crack police marksman. Compete against your friends or others worldwide to post the best scores on the online high score table and show off your shooting skills!"

Police Range offers two modes of play: Target Practice and Crime Alley. Use the Target Practice mode to improve your accuracy and reaction times on the shooting range. And when you are up to the task of taking out the trash, and change over to Crime Alley to take out targets of potential perps lurking in windows and doorways. Just be sure not to accidentally shoot any civilians.

Police Range is available now for $0.99 from the iTunes App Store (iTunes link). For more information, or to watch a YouTube video of Police Range in action, visit the Astraware website.

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Documents To Go for iPhone/iPod touch 2.1 Update Released


DataViz Documents To Go for iPhone and iPod touch has been updated to version 2.1 and is now available for download from the iTunes App Store.

The 2.1 update is the result of customer feedback and adds a number of refinements to the PDF To Go application, which includes the following enhancements:


  • "Go to" page
  • Maintaining last viewed location
  • Opening password-protected PDFs
  • Thumbnail, Fit To Screen, Fit To Width & Actual Size views
  • Full screen view with floating navigation controls
  • Tap zooming
  • File opening speed improvements

“Documents To Go” (iTunes link) and “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” (iTunes link) are available for $9.99 and $14.99 respectively from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at: www.dataviz.com/itunes. All customers who purchased a previous version of Documents To Go for iPhone/iPod touch will receive a free update to version 2.1.

“Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” has the same functionality as “Documents To Go” and includes a Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync client for sending and receiving Exchange email WITH attachments.

For more information, visit the DataViz website.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook for webOS Released, Updated for iPhone

This has turned out to be a Facebook-tastic weekend! Earlier today, Facebook 1.0.0 for Palm webOS was released for the Pre and Pixi smartphones.

The new Facebook client, written by Palm, became available from Palm's App Catalog today and requires that Pre and Pixi customers upgrade their phones to webOS 1.3.1 or later before it can be installed. The Palm webOS 1.3.1 update was made available to Pre customers on Sprint and Bell Canada yesterday; and should be available in the next few days for customers who purchase the new Palm Pixi smartphone starting tomorrow.

And Apple iPhone and iPod touch customers also got a little Facebook love this week with a minor bump to Facebook version 3.03 which includes bug fixes and adds Japanese and Chinese localizations. The update is available via iTunes App Store (iTunes link) from a Mac or PC. If you have the app installed on your iPhone or iPod touch, you can download and install the update over the air (OTA) using the App Store application on your device.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

SplashID 5.1 for iPhone OS Review

SplashData’s SplashID is an application that enabled you to securely record usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information in an encrypted database. SplashID works on the iPhone and iPod touch (OS 2.1 required, OS 3.0 is supported).

SplashID can be used as a standalone application on your iPhone or iPod touch (collectively referred to as an iPhone from here). You will, however, find SplashID becomes much more effective when you also purchase the desktop version of SplashID for Mac OS X or Windows machines.

SplashID on Your iPhone

When you launch SplashID on your iPhone for the first time, the Quick Start Guide is run. I really like this approach because it gives new users to a good overview of the application and what it can do without making the user read the 16 page user guide (unless they really want to). Sample records provided by SplashData help reinforce the concepts presented in the quick start guide. After spending a few minutes playing with the sample records for a few minutes, most people will probably delete them.

The List View screen, the default view for SplashID, has a pair of toolbars that you will want to familiarize yourself with it. Along the top of the screen, SplashData gives you a toolbar to manage your data: Search, filter by categories, and filter by record category. Along the bottom of the screen, are buttons for configuring SplashID, locking the application, and synchronizing the your iPhone with your computer over a Wi-Fi network.

I found that when I entered a small amount of records into SplashID, flicking my way down the list of records was OK. Later on, as I continued to use SplashID and add more records, I found that searching was a lot faster at finding my data.

When you tap on a record in List View, the data for that record will be displayed on the Record Info screen. By default, SplashID will display the data for your record with the contents of the Password field blocked out with star icons. SplashID also allows you to selectively turn on field content blocking, referred to as masking, for each of the other record detail fields. You would use this feature if you wanted to block out not only the contents of the Password field, but also the contents of the Username or any other field in the record. Tap a masked field to view it contents; tap the field again to mask it again.

Along side field masking in the Record Info screen, SplashID also allows you to apply your own custom field labels and password generation - a really nice feature if you work with a system the requires you to frequently generate secure passwords.

If you chose to purchase a copy of the SplashID desktop application, you will gain the ability to sync your iPhone with your PC. To synchronize your iPhone with SplashID on your computer, you must connect the machine to the same Wi-Fi network that your iPhone is connected to. Then you will be able to start up SlashID on the computer and the iPhone, pair them up, and then perform the sync. The pairing process only takes a few minutes to setup and the data synchronization is zippy. (There is no option to sync your iPhone to your computer with the iPhone data cable.)

Pricing and Availability

SplashID 5.1 for iPhone and iPod touch is available now for $9.99 from the Apple iTunes App Store. SplashID Desktop 5.1, $19.95, is available for direct purchase from the SplashData online store.

In addition to the iPhone edition of SplashID, SplashData also has versions available for BlackBerry, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Android smartphones. A version of SplashID is planned for Palm webOS with a free beta version available from the Palm App Catalog. There is also a corporate and government edition of SplashID available. For more information, visit the SplashData website.

[Photo courtesy of MobileAppleMe.net...]

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.1.2 for iPhone, iPod touch

On Thursday afternoon, Apple released iPhone OS 3.1.2 for all editions of the iPhone and iPod touch handsets. This free update addresses the following three issues:

  • Resolves sporadic issue that may cause iPhone to not wake from sleep
  • Resolves intermittent issue that may interrupt cellular network services until restart
  • Fixes bug that could cause occasional crash during video streaming

The update is available now and must be downloaded and installed via iTunes.

[Via AppleInsider…]

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Astraware Solitaire Halloween Makeover for iPhone, iPod touch






Astraware, the Handmark Game Studio, has released version 1.25 of Astraware Solitaire, also known as 12 Solitaire Games, for the iPhone and iPod touch.

In this latest edition, Astraware helps get in the holiday "spirit" by including a range of spooky Halloween card backs and game backgrounds.

Astraware Solitaire costs $0.99 (iTunes link) for new customers and existing customers can upgrade to the latest release for free.

To learn more about Astraware Solitaire, please visit the Astraware/Handmark website.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Documents To Go for iPhone/iPod touch Updated

DataViz has updated Documents To Go for iPhone/iPod touch to version 2.0.

The big enhancement for version 2.0 is the ability to create and edit Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Documents To Go version 2.0 supports the creation and editing of Excel 2007/2008 spreadsheets and can read files going all the way back to Excel 97. (Yes, Excel 97, as in released in 1997!) Version 2.0 also includes typing speed improvements over the previous editions.

Documents To Go (with and without Microsoft Exchange attachment support) is a free upgrade for existing Documents To Go customers. Don't already have Documents To Go? You can purchase Documents To Go (iTunes link) for $9.99 or Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments (iTunes link) for $14.99. Documents To Go v2.0 requires that you have iPhone OS 3.0 or iPhone OS for iPod touch installed on your device.

For more information about Documents To Go for iPhone OS, visit the DataViz website.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Correctly Install MMS on iPhone 3G, 3GS

A number of people have contacted me to let me know that the MMS update is not installing on their iPhone 3G or 3GS.

After installing the MMS update on your iPhone, you must reboot your phone to complete the installation process! Apple has posted the directions for correctly installing the MMS update on your iPhone 3G and 3GS on the web. The last stop of the process reads:

"After iPhone restarts, verify MMS is active by creating a new text message. You should see the camera icon to the left of the text field:"





So how about it, US iPhone 3G and 3GS users, have you been able to successfully install and send an MMS message? Let us know by clicking the Comments link below.

Thanks to Gary R. for the tip!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

MMS Going Live on iPhone 3G, 3GS Today

The good news: iPhone 3G and 3GS owners will finally get access to MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, today.

The bad news: To load the software update on your iPhone, you will need to download the update via iTunes and sync your iPhone to your computer.

The really bad news: As we reported last month, original iPhone owners will be left out in the cold! (Sorry Shirley!)

EngadgetMobile's Chris Ziegler writes:
"We've just heard from AT&T that new carrier settings for the iPhone 3G and 3GS will be available "late morning" Pacific Time (which would be early afternoon Eastern) this Friday, September 25, which will finally enable MMS support. Owners will have to tether up to iTunes to grab those settings, so fish out your cable (as if you don't have it permanently attached to your machine already) and make sure you've got some solid time in front of the computer[...]."

[Via EngadgetMobile.com...]

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Friday, September 4, 2009

AT&T Tries to Reach Out to iPhone Owners

As a follow up to yesterday's story that AT&T will finally bring MMS support to the iPhone as an update from Apple which will be made available from their iTunes software, AT&T has posted a video on YouTube to try and reassure their iPhone customers that the company is working hard to address the complaints that people have been leveling against the company.

Of the video, AppleInsider.com writes:
"Standing in front of a picture of the iPhone, the AT&T spokesman says, "we're proud that we've enabled the smartphone revolution." At the end of the segment, he adds the assurance, "we have heard you, we are on it, and we will use this hard won experience to lead the industry into the future."




[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Astraware Solitaire Updated for iPhone, iPod touch

Handmark's game division, Astraware, has released a new update to Astraware Solitaire for the iPhone and iPod touch.

The maintenance update includes some stylistic enhancements and bug fixes; including:
  • New shiny card backs and backgrounds
  • Swishing sound when card piles are moved around
  • Four bug fixes
  • Graphical tweaks
The Astraware Solitaire for iPhone and iPod touch update is free to previous owners of the game and can be downloaded from the desktop or directly on your device. You can learn more about Solitaire for the iPhone and iPod touch on the Astraware website.

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Consumer Reports: Palm Pre vs. Apple iPhone




The September 2009 edition of the Consumer Reports magazine has a 1/3 page "mini review" of the Palm Pre as it compares against the Apple iPhone 3G S. There is even a video review of the two phones on the Consumer Reports website.

As readers of this blog know, the iPhone and the Palm Pre have a lot in common and the decision as to which one is right for you will end up coming down to personal style and preference. I like the ease of use of the iPhone, however, the primary use for my smartphone is email, and for that I want a physical keyboard and so the Pre wins.

The article in Consumer Reports is short, you can read it while in the check out line, you'll want to pick this issue up at your favorite newsstand because the issue also contains a good review of portable GPS units and reviews of the best drugs for allergies, colds, and the flu - a must for anyone who has kids heading back to school.

For more details, check out the Consumer Reports website.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

MMS Coming to iPhone 3G, 3GS - 9/25/09

It's official! AppleInsider.com is reporting that AT&T will be bringing MMS - multimedia messaging - to the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS on September 25, 2009.

"It was important to give our customers a positive experience from day one," AT&T said. "We support more iPhone customers than any other carrier in the world so we took the time necessary to make sure our network is ready to handle what we expect will be a record volume of MMS traffic. We truly appreciate our customers’ patience and hope they'll understand our desire to get it right from the start."

According to AppleInsider.com, the new feature will come in the form of iTunes downloadable update for 3G and 3GS owners. Unfortunately, owners of the original iPhone will be left out in the cold as they will be locked out from getting the update. I guess that is a subtle hint from AT&T that you need to upgrade.

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Briefly Noted: DataViz DTG, Astraware Solitaire Updated

I noticed earlier today that DataViz Documents To Go for iPhone OS was updated to version 1.2 and Handmark Astraware Solitaire was updated to version 1.15, also for iPhone OS.

DataViz Documents To Go

The minor updates baked into the latest maintenance release of Documents To Go for iPhone OS 2.2 and later include:
  • Change font type and size
  • First line indenting
  • Shake undo/redo (requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later)
The update screen, found in the App Store application on my iPod touch, in the Update tab, also indicates that the next planned update will, drum roll please, include Excel spreadsheet editing!

The update has a date of 5/25/09, however, I've yet to see the update before, and is free to all owners of Documents To Go for iPhone and iPod touch.


Astraware Solitaire


The updates to Astraware Solitaire for the iPhone and iPod touch include the following minor changes:
  • Support for landscape rotation
  • New backgrounds
  • Various minor bug fixes
Solitaire has a date of 8/14/09 and is a free update for existing customers.

You can update both application either from iTunes on your Mac or PC, or directly from your iPhone or iPod touch using the App Store application.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Astraware Casino Comes to iPhone, iPod touch

Handmark(R) today announced the release of Astraware Casino - a fun, easy-to-use pack of 11 of the most popular casino games from around the world - on the App Store. Astraware Casino is the first new game release from Handmark to use the iTunes Library Integration feature of iPhone OS 3.0. Users with iPhone OS 3.0 compatible devices can select My iPod Music from the game’s Options menu and choose individual songs from their collection to create the perfect casino-themed playlist!

Handmark will be incorporating iTunes Library integration into a range of their existing and forthcoming iPhone and iPod touch games, allowing players to create their own soundtrack for each game. Updates to existing titles with this great new feature will be rolled out over the summer.

"We are excited to be able to use these new APIs to enhance our games offerings," said Cassidy Lackey, vice president of Handmark Studios. "It's great to be able to design your own playlist to accompany Astraware Casino - there's nothing like a bit of relaxing lounge music when you're enjoying a game of Poker!"

Astraware Casino includes all the usual games you'd expect to find in casinos - Texas Hold 'Em No Limit and Limit Poker, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Slots, as well as some more specialist games like Baccarat, 3 Card Poker, Video Derby, and Keno. Astraware Casino gives players $1,000 virtual dollars to begin playing with and also includes a fun trophy system - the Souvenir Suitcase - with awards given for a range of achievements in the game.

Astraware Casino is available at the introductory price of $0.99 for a limited time from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at the iTunes App Store.

You can read my review of Astraware Casino here. In addition to the iPhone/iPod touch edition of Astraware Casino, there is also versions available for the Palm Centro and Windows Mobile-powered Palm Treo smartphones. For more details on other editions of Astraware Casino, please visit the Astraware website.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Read "Comics" on Your iPhone, iPod touch

Iconology Inc., at the San Diego Comic Con, has launch of its Comics by comiXology app on the iTunes App Store. The Comics by comiXology App is a digital comic store, library and reader for iPhone and iPod touch that is launching with over 100 titles available from twenty popular comic publishers and many independent comic writers.

"The stunning display and innovative multi-touch user interface of iPhone and iPod touch have finally made comics appealing in a digital format," said David Steinberger, CEO of Iconology, Inc. "By combining great comics with iPhone OS 3.0's In-App Purchasing and location awareness features we are creating a revolution in the way comics are sold and read which could only happen with iPhone and iPod touch."

Comics by comiXology heralds an entirely new comic book publishing and connected commerce model. Comic book enthusiasts can now not only read their comics in a format designed to preserve the comic book experience on an iPhone or iPod touch, but also locate and connect with local retailers to purchase the printed version of the titles. Through relationships with comic book retailers, Comics by comiXology will increase both digital and print sales of comics and deliver a powerful mobile marketing tool for comic book publishers and retailers.

Comics by comiXology offers a "guided view" that keeps the entire page of a comic intact, unlike other solutions where the page is cut into individual pictures the user browses like a photo application. Comics by comiXology is a reader app that contains all a user's comics and offers its own digital comics store that supports multiple publishers.

Among the twenty publishers that have already signed up to deliver their titles through Comics by comiXology are many well-known industry icons including:

* AdHouse Books
* Arcana Comics
* Asylum Press
* Bluewater Comics
* Com.X
* Creative Impulse Entertainment
* Digital Webbing
* eigoMANGA
* First Salvo
* Image Comics
* Markosia
* Moonstone
* Red 5
* Th3rd World Studios
* Zenescope

Additionally, popular comics writer Robert Kirkman has agreed to deliver his titles exclusively through Comics by comiXology making it the only place to get "Walking Dead" and "Invincible" for iPhone and iPod touch.

The Comics by comiXology App is now available, including over 30 free comics, for $0.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Astraware Releases Phaze Lite

Astraware, the Handmark games unit, today released Phaze "Lite". Phaze, a unique game available only on the iPhone and iPod touch, is an exciting new futuristic racing game that offers players an exhilarating race experience as they select their ship and race around rollercoaster-like tracks with stomach-flipping twists and turns, and velocity-increasing boost pads, while collecting powerups and avoiding their competitors' weapons!

The Lite version, available now, includes one race craft, one location and two difficulty levels so players get a chance to try out Phaze for FREE! If they enjoy the game, the full version additionally includes Championship mode, a total of four difficulty levels, 15 more locations (with 64 tracks across all difficulties), and a total of 10 race craft (some are unlockable).

You can download Phaze from the Apple iTunes App Store.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

SplashData File Magic 2.0 Review

Have you ever felt constrained by the types of data you can sync to your iPhone or iPod touch? Apple’s iPhone 3.0 software can read Microsoft Office files and Adobe Acrobat documents that have been sent as email attachments, but there is no easy way to get commonly used documents on to your device. Wouldn’t it be cool if all it took to sync documents with your iPhone was to simply drag and drop the files into a window? If that seems like something you want, then you need SplashData’s File Magic!



File Magic is a two-piece solution. File Magic, the desktop application, is a drag-and-drop file transfer tool. The desktop application looks for the File Magic application on your iPhone and then establishes a Wi-Fi link between the two. With File Magic it easy to quickly load documents on your iPhone so you don’t have to waste anymore time emailing documents to yourself. In addition to Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat files that I have already mentioned, File Magic also supports: plain text files (.txt), web pages (.htm, .html), non-DRM music files (.mp3, .aac, .wav), images (.jpg, .gif, .png, .tif) and MPEG-4 videos (.m4v).



File Magic is easy to learn. After playing with the software for a few minutes I felt that I had a handle on all of the features. To help you get up and running quickly, SplashData has included a Quick Start Guide that is accessible right from the mobile application. If you want to see what File Magic is capable of before you purchase the software, or if you are the inquisitive type and want some additional information, SplashData also has a user’s guide available on their website. For most people, the on device guide will be all they will need to read.

There are two ways to get documents into your iPhone. The first is to synchronize File Magic running on your iPhone with your computer. The computer and the iPhone or iPod touch must both be on the same Wi-Fi network for this to work. You can also send or receive files directly into or out of your device when the person you want to share your document with is on the same Wi-Fi network and has a copy of File Magic installed. Since SplashData has their own application for managing the files you load on your device, you can send a document from the SplashData data store to anyone else by attaching the document to an email message and sending it to any valid email address.

File Magic makes the document transfer process so easy, that you have to wonder why Apple didn’t include this feature in their software from the get go.

There are two things that I did find annoying about the installation and use of File Magic. The ah-hoc networking between the iPhone and desktop application uses a networking service called Bonjour. If you are using a Mac, Bonjour is all ready installed on your computer. PC users, on the other hand, will have to install it. The thing that I didn’t like was that the File Magic installer couldn’t figure out if Bonjour was already installed on my Windows Vista PC. (SplashData does tell you how to manually check to see if Bonjour is already installed.) The other thing that I found annoying was in the photo browser; you can’t use the iPhone OS gestures to flick to the next or previous photos. To move forward and backward in the deck of photos that have been loaded into File Magic you must use the left and right arrow navigation buttons at the top right of the screen. Both of these issues can be addressed as software updates and shouldn’t cause any serious problems in the long run.

All-in-all, I thought that File Magic is the must have application for those people who like to take their important documents with them. The software is easy to use and the document transfer between the desktop computer and an iPhone or iPod touch worked without any issues during my testing.

File Magic will work with any iPhone or iPod touch that has iPhone OS 2.1 or later installed. The desktop application works with Mac OS X 10.4.11 and later, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. You can purchase File Magic for iPhone and iPod touch for $4.99 from the Apple iTunes App Store. For more information, or to download the free desktop application, please visit the SplashData website.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mobile Apps 360: FlightControl













Mobile Apps 360 takes a look at great mobile software for your iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile smartphones that will help keep your favorite mobile gear fresh with new software.

FlightControl is an original, super addictive game from FireMint, that puts you in the critical role of an air traffic controller. It is up to you to safely land airplanes, jets, jumbo jets, and helicopters. You can learn how to play this action/strategy game in minutes and will have you coming back for more.

You control the aircraft on the screen by tapping them, and then dragging it to the run way. Sure, it sounds easy, until you start playing. The game starts off slow, but before long, you will find yourself trying to manage a sky full of plans and helicopters. You will need to keep an eye on both planes that are coming in for a landing and new aircraft arriving into your air space, one mid-air collision will end your game!

FlightControl features three different locations for you to play: a land locked air field, an airport in Hawaii with island and water runways, and a military aircraft carrier.

Game play is super addictive. I lost an hour immediately following the installation of this game on my iPod touch. The graphics, background music, and sound effects are well done. If your iPhone 3G, 3GS or second generation iPod touch has iPhone OS 3.0 or later installed, you can go head-to-head with your friend and you can also post your high scores to the FilghtControl leader board which has a cool Google Maps and Twitter integration so you can see who else is playing near you. Original iPhone and iPod touch owners can still play, however, they won't be able to use the multi-player feature.

FlightControl is normally $2.99, but is on sale for a limited time for $0.99. For more details, checkout the FlightControl website, or head over to the iTunes App Store if you're ready to buy.

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Happy Independence Day!














The 4th of July marks the birth of the United States, and Smartphone Fanatics wishes all of our readers a Happy Independence day!

To help celebrate the day, our friends at Astraware, Handmark's games division, has once again posted their free Handmark Fireworks application!

Handmark Fireworks features a selection of patriotic backgrounds including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Stars and Stripes, and offers a choice of stirring tunes including the Star Spangled Banner and Stars and Stripes Forever!

Handmark Fireworks is available for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry smartphones and for iPhone and iPod touch. (Sorry BlackBerry owners - this time round you'll have to hum your own marches! This edition of Fireworks for BlackBerry does not include music.)

What better way to celebrate 4th of July than with some Fireworks? Download your copy today - it's available for a limited time only!

Download your free copy of Fireworks by using one of the links below:

Apple iPhone and iPod touch
BlackBerry Smartphones (non-touchscreen, touch screen)
Windows Mobile Professional (touchscreen)
Windows Mobile Smartphone (non-touchscreen)

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

iPhone OS 3.0, webOS 1.0.3 and New Apps

I'm a fan of both Apple and Palm. That is why I'm using a MacBook to write this blog and record my 1SRC Pre|Switcher podcasts. My phone of choice is the Palm Pre smart(er)phone.

This weekend looks like it is going to be a busy one. Just in the last few days, I've gotten my hands on new software for both my Apple iPod touch and my Palm Pre.

On Wednesday, Apple released the iPhone OS 3.0 update for existing iPhone and iPod touch devices. I also received copies of DataViz Documents To Go and SplashData File Magic. I'll have reviews of iPhone OS 3.0 and both both applications soon.

Palm Pre customers will also want to download and install the webOS 1.0.3 update to their phones using the Updates application. If you also use MotionApps Classic on your Pre to run all of your old Palm OS applications, you should read the Classic FAQ before performing the upgrade.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

SplashTravel Comes to iPhone/iPod touch

SplashData has recently released its popular SplashTravel suite to the App Store, but with all of the travel utilities combined under one icon. Until now, the suite has been available for Palm's Treo and Centro smartphones.

SplashTravel for iPhone and iPod touch offers:
  • Trip Organizer for Air, Hotel & Car reservations
  • Flight Tracker with gate, plane, and status info
  • Unit & Currency Converter
  • Tip Calculator
  • World Clock
  • Time Calculator
  • Packing List
  • Expense Report tool
  • lists of country codes, clothing size charts, etc.

Beyond the existing travel applications included in the suite, SplashData also added the powerful Trip Organizer and Home screen features to bring it all together in a cohesive user interface. I really like the idea of the trip organizer because when I travel for work, I always seem to forget something: black socks, a brown belt, toothpaste. I may have to book a trip to Florida just so I can test SplashTravel out!

For more details, visit the SplashData website or jump right over to the Apple App Store.

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Palm Responds to iTunes Third-Party Support Note

Yesterday, John Paczkowski of the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blog, reported that Palm has issued their own statement about the Pre's ability to use the webOS Media Sync feature to sync with Apple's iTunes jukebox software.
“Palm’s media sync works with the current version of iTunes,” Palm spokesperson Lynn Fox told me. “If Apple chooses to disable media sync in a future version of iTunes, it will be a direct blow to their users who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience. However, people will have options. They can stay with the iTunes version that works to sync their music on their Pre, they can transfer the music via USB, and there are other third-party applications we could consider.”

I really hope this doesn't turn into a battle of wills. Once the technology is put out there, the hacker community is going to find ways around whatever road block that Apple tries to throw up to defend the walled garden that is iTunes.

In my opinion, it is clear that Apple will end up fighting a cold war with Palm or the hacker developer community similar to the one that pits Apple against the hacks that have been jailbreaking iPhones since 2007.

The long and short of it, if Apple's iTunes users and iTunes Store customers want to sync media to the Pre smartphone, someone is going to cook up a way to do it. So why not just let Palm's customers sync up with iTunes.

Besides, Apple doesn't think that the Palm Pre is a real threat to iPhones sales. Or do they?

[Via AllThingsD.com...]

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Monday, June 15, 2009

More Details on Documents To Go for iPhone

As expected, DataViz issued their official press release for Documents To Go for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Documents To Go brings iPhone and iPod touch users the culmination of over 10 years of DataViz experience providing mobile professionals a robust and easy-to-use mobile Office suite for “anytime, anywhere” access to their important documents. Users can view, edit and create Microsoft Word files, including Word 2007, and utilize a desktop application to provide 2-way file synchronization. A version with support for attachments is also available for Microsoft Exchange e-mail users who need to send, receive and edit attachments on their iPhones.

“There has been an overwhelming interest in Documents To Go and we’re very excited to expand our product line to include the revolutionary iPhone and iPod touch," said Dick Fontana, DataViz co-founder & CEO. “We started our company in 1984 around Apple and the Macintosh, so it’s personally gratifying to see everything come full circle with an App Store application as we celebrate our twenty-fifth year in business.”

The feature highlights for this initial release of Documents To Go includes:
  • View, Edit & Create Microsoft Word Files
  • Synchronize Files With Desktop Application over Wi-Fi for Mac and PC users
  • Receive, Edit & Send Microsoft Exchange Attachments
Pricing & Availability

Documents To Go and Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments are available for a special limited-time price of $4.99 and $9.99 respectively from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

All customers who purchase version 1.0 will receive a free update which will include support for editing and creating Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, when available. Supported devices include any iPhone or iPod touch model running iPhone Software Update 2.2 or above. The Documents To Go Desktop software is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X 10.4.10 and above. For more information: www.dataviz.com/GetiPhone.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Documents To Go for iPhone/iPod touch Released

I received word from my contact at DataViz that Documents To Go for the iPhone and iPod touch has gone live at the Apple App Store! Documents To Go has been my must have application for many years on my old Palm OS devices and now the award winning office suite is coming to the iPhone and iPod touch.

There are two editions of Documents To Go for iPhone and iPod touch: Documents To Go and Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments. Both editions provide the following features:
  • Create, edit, and view Microsoft Word documents (including Word 2007 and 2008)
  • View and synchronize Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, Apple iWork '08 files
  • View web pages and most common graphics files
  • Mac and PC desktop 2-way Wi-Fi synchronization application
Customers who chose to purchase Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments will have access to the following features:
  • Exchange attachments are downloaded and processed by Documents To Go
  • Exchange attachments can be viewed or modified
  • Reply or forward to an existing email with the supported attachment types
  • Create new email messages and attache files for immediate transmission
Also included in this edition of Documents To Go is the InTact Technology that ensures that your document's original formatting remains the same regardless of where it is worked on. Another cool feature is DataViz's built-in support for cut, copy and paste without the need for iPhone OS 3.0 installed.

I have also been told that Documents To Go is iPhone OS 3.0 compatible so if you buy Documents To Go before you upgrade to iPhone OS 3.0, you can do so worry free.

Documents To Go and Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments are both available now from the App Store and are being sold at a special two week introductory rate of $4.99 and $9.99.

Both versions of Documents To Go require an iPhone or iPod touch with OS 2.2 or later.

I'll have more details about both versions of Documents To Go after the official DataViz press release is issued and I've had a chance to take Documents To Go out for a test drive.

For more details, visit the DataViz website.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Toy Kite Releases iSamurai for iPhone/iPod touch

Toy Kite Software has announced the launch of iSamurai, a two-player Wi-Fi sword fighting game for iPhone and iPod Touch. Developed specifically to take advantage of the iPhone's accelerometers and networking capabilities, iSamurai is an interactive sword-fighting game, where the two players slash, thrust, and block each other with their iPhones.

Depending on the physical movements of the two players, slashes and thrusts are interpreted by both devices and immediately registered as successful or blocked. When a player swings and the opponent blocks by holding up another iPhone, the ring of steel on steel is heard from both devices. An unsuccessful block results in the defender's iPhone emitting one of a number of cries to indicate a hit. Toy Kite has posted videos on its web site (as well as on YouTube) demonstrating the game in action. A training "Dojo" is offered so players can practice the different iSamurai moves.
"With iSamurai, we have been able to implement a two-player sword fighting game that uses the iPhone's accelerometers to determine when a player attacks with his or her iPhone or uses it to block an opponent's attack," said Robert Hogg, CEO and founder of Toy Kite Software. "The iPhones communicate with each other over Wi-Fi in real time, and if a slash is not instantly countered with the correct block, a hit is scored. With iSamurai, we take the game out of the iPhone's screen and into the real world - players actually sword fight with their iPhones."
iSamurai includes a single-player mode with four levels of difficulty. Four unique characters: peasant, apprentice, warrior and samurai, yell out different attacks, and the player must quickly defend against them and launch offensive attacks by swinging the iPhone. To get players started, iSamurai offers a tutorial featuring animations of the different attacks. The game also includes quotes from The Art of War by Sun Tzu and from The Book of Five Rings by samurai Miyamoto Musashi.
"As robotics engineers, we were excited about the iPhone's ability to sense motion," said Arin Morfopoulos, Director of Development at Toy Kite Software. "Using that capability and inter-phone communication over Wi-Fi, we created a game where two iPhones are instantly aware of each other's motions and respond with the sounds of battle."
iSamurai requires an iPhone or iPod touch with system software 2.2.1 or later.

iSamurai: Two-Player Sword Fight for iPhone is only $2.99 (USD) and is available now exclusively through Apple's iTunes Store. For a limited time, iSamurai will be on sale for $.99 (USD). iSamurai 1.0 uses a Wi-Fi connection for two-player mode. iSamurai 2.0 will be a free upgrade for Apple's upcoming iPhone software 3.0, allowing two players to compete anywhere using blue-tooth communication between their iPhones.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Snapshot of iPhone 3G S

Smartphone Fanatics reader Rick C has sent in his first impressions of the new Apple iPhone 3G S after having watched the Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote address that took place in California this past Monday.

One advantage of doing late shift support is that you get to listen to play by play of Apple WWDC and watch the live blogging. I am only focusing on the last 20 minutes of the presentation as this is Smartphone Fanatics after all.

The new iPhone is evolutionary not revolutionary. It has a faster processor, which I assume is why it’s the 3G "S". It also includes a 3 mega pixel auto focus camera, video capture, a voice control interface, and a compass. All this and allegedly longer better battery life. And the multitasking! Oh wait, still no multitasking. The iPhone 3G S will be available June 19th.

I have to say there are some impressive hardware features. The pricing is pretty sweet too, $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB. The existing 3G is going for $99.00. Not so sweet is that these are contract prices with AT&T. The same AT&T that is not supporting the MMS or tethering features out of the box that were also announced today. I am skeptical of the battery life promises, the 3g talk time is 5 hours and I suspect the numbers are based on all the other features being disabled. The 3G S is the same size as the rest of the iPhone line and while all the phone candy is cool, what is the power price? Having a lot of great features is wonderful till you are stranded in the middle of nowhere with a drained iPhone and no way to swap the battery.

Two other things you want to look out for, first the stability of the 3.0 software. I say that because two of the demos failed on stage at WWDC during the keynote. I would assume that Apple would have trotted out the most bulletproof apps for the keynote, so I wonder a bit. Second is the cost per user. Not a word was spoken about any pricing discounts with AT&T. When, and if, AT&T decides to support MMS and tethering for the iPhone how much is it going to cost the user over the life of a contract? That $199.00 iPhone can get pretty expensive over the life of a 2 year contract compared to Sprint.

At this point I would wait and see first how the Palm Pre does in the real world according to Alan, and second how the iPhone fares in real world testing as well.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Palm Pre First Impressions

What a day June 6, 2009 has been! Today is the day that the totally new Palm Pre smartphone began shipping. The Pre is truly an amazing phone and it’s heart and soul is Palm webOS.

The Good

I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last. Throw everything you know about Palm the company, Palm OS, and the the old non-Windows Mobile Treo smartphones out the window. This is not your father’s Palm, Inc. There is an entirely new management team at Palm and it comes shining through with the Pre and Palm webOS.

The Pre is smaller than the Treo 750/755p, though the most recent Windows Mobile phone from Palm, the Treo Pro, is thinner and taller. The Pre feels great in your hand. I found it much easier to hold than my Apple iPod touch. When compared with my recently deactivated BlackBerry Curve 8330, the Pre is almost the same size when the keyboard is closed. (When the Pre keyboard is open, the Pre is about an inch to an inch and half taller than the Curve 8330.)

I was completely and totally blown away by the phenomenal screen on the Pre. When I picked up the demo unit this morning at the Sprint store I thought that it was one of those plastic display shells...until the Quick Launch bar moved! Even now, some 12 hours later, I’m still amazed by how bright and vivid the screen is! My Saturdays are often filled with lots of family activities and today I found myself outside for most of the afternoon. Direct sun light shouldn’t be a problem for most people. During a t-ball game, I was able to work with my recently imported Google contacts, read email, and review some Word document attachments. All in all, the screen is just fantastic and is every bit as good as the screen found on the iPhone and iPod touch.

The Pre, like some of it’s distant cousins the Tungsten T, T2, and T3, has a slider that reveals a full, hardware, Qwerty keyboard. The keys are very similar to those used on the Treo Pro and Centro smartphones. I found the keys on the Pre to be about equal size across the BlackBerry Curve 8330, Treo 750/755p, and the Treo Pro. I like the Pre’s keyboard because the keys are big enough for me to type on and they jelly-like keys keep your fingers or nails from sliding off the key caps. Some of the early reviews warned of a problem pressing the keys on the outside of the keyboard because of the ridge around the keyboard. I can see why some people have written that about the Pre. After typing out text messages, emails, and updating my address book, I can say that I’m not going to have a big problem with it. Results will vary, obviously. As for the sliders itself, I’m OK with it for now. The jury is going to be out on the slider easily for 6-12 months. The slider is firm and snaps open and closed. But the thirty or so times I opened and closed the slider is no indication on how it will work over the long haul of daily usage. For now, I’m satisfied with the slider and this is coming from someone who is not a fan of sliders.

The 3.0MP camera and speaker phone work well, however, I only played with them for a few minutes. Since I find myself spending at least a quarter of my work week in meetings, I’m glad to see that Palm has kept the ringer switch that has been so popular on the Treo and Centro on the Pre. Folks who like to use their phones as media players should also be happy to learn that the Pre uses a standard 3.5mm headphone jack which is located at the top of the device.

Palm webOS looks great! The graphical elements embody the user interface that Palm OS fans have been demanding for years. The fonts used in Palm webOS are stunning! The fonts are as crisp as you would expect on the printed page. Palm’s web browser is just as good as Safari on the iPhone/iPod touch.

People who have used the iPhone and iPod touch will be able to use the gestures built into Palm webOS with a minimal learning curve. The gestures that you are familiar with in Safari for the most part work the same way in webOS. Transitions from portrait to landscape mode is fluid and responds well.

Palm has paid tribute to Palm OS in webOS. One such way is the inclusion of the Quick Launch bar that I mentioned briefly already. People familiar with Palm’s older Palm OS handhelds and Treo smartphones will quickly realize that the the Quick Launch bar is the digital version of the old hardware keys. Since the Pre only has the center button on the face of the device, Palm felt it was important to customers to have a speedy way to access their most used applications. Like the old hardware buttons, the digital buttons are also customizable by dragging icons out of and into the Quick Launch bar. You are limited to four buttons; the fifth button, the Launcher button, can not be changed out.

There are lots of other cool features in webOS that I haven’t yet really played with including the Backup application, Bluetooth devices, Media Sync with iTunes support, and Palm Desktop data migration. (There is a one-time, one-way migration option for Palm Desktop and Outlook users to push data into their Pre phones. Stay tuned for more on that later on.)

The Not So Good

The Pre is Palm’s most eagerly awaited smartphone. But it is not without things that I find really annoying. First up is the case itself. This is probably the worst Palm phone of all time (at least of all the Palm devices that I’ve owned or used; and that is over 30) for collecting finger prints and other smudges. You will want to find a nice soft cloth to keep at home or in your office so you can clean down the phone’s display area. I’m going to seriously consider getting a screen protector for the Pre when they become available from third-party accessory makers.

The door on the microUSB port used to charge and connect the Pre to your computer as a USB mass storage device is really hard to get open the first few times. Once you do get it open, you will have a hard time getting the door to lay perfectly flush with the right edge of the phone. Pre comes with 8GB of on-board memory, After loading some data and a few apps from Palm’s App Catalog, I have 7.2GB of usable storage space left. There are no memory expansion slots on the Pre. I would have liked to seen the Pre ship either with more built-in memory, say 16GB, or have a microSDHC card slot. Now that we know that Pre will sync with iTunes in a similar manner as the iPhone or iPod, 8GB seems a bit cramped. I can easily fill up my iPod touch’s 16GB of storage space when I’m traveling for work with music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and applications. I think that for the demanding Palm user, 8GB of non-expandable memory is going to be a problem. To get around this, Pre owners should consider streaming their music or videos if possible. (This is an area of the Pre that I haven’t really delved into yet; syncing with iTunes and streaming media to the Pre.)

In Conclusion

To sum up the Pre, I think many Palm fans are going to be happy with it. Yes, Palm webOS is completely different from Palm OS 5 and the Palm Desktop and HotSync Manager software no longer work. I think that once you migrate your data to the Pre, those applications won’t be missed except to the die hard Palm Desktop users.

The Pre’s hardware is organic and modern. It looks and feels great in your hand. Personally, I would have liked it if Palm continued to use the soft touch paint that was used on the Treo 750/755p and the “enhanced” Sprint Centros. I liked the “gripability” of the soft touch paint and it would have helped cut down on the collection of fingerprints and smudges along the side and back of the device.

All-in-all, I think you will be happy with the Pre. If you have never used a smartphone before, you will definitely want to take advantage of Sprint’s in-store training on the device. Seriously, new Palm customers should take the 15 minute class. It is free and well worth your time if you want to get the most out of your new phone.

The Pre is available now from Sprint retail locations and select authorized resellers, including Best Buy. With a new or extended 2-year service agreement with Sprint, the new Palm Pre sells for $299 with a $100 mail-in rebate.

For more information, visit the Palm website.

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