Category Archives: Cell Phones

iPhone 4 RELEASE

SAN FRANCISCO — The next iPhone comes out June 24 and will have a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life and thinner design.

CEO Steve Jobs opened Apple Inc.’s annual conference for software developers Monday by revealing the iPhone 4, which will cost $199 (16 GB version) or $299 (32 GB version) in the U.S. with a two-year AT&T contract, depending on the capacity. The iPhone 3GS, which debuted last year, will still be available, for $99.

The iPhone 4 is about three-eighths of an inch thick; the previous iPhone was nearly half an inch. Steve Jobs said the new iPhone would be “thinnest smartphone on the planet,” nearly a quarter thinner than the previous model.

The display on the new iPhone remains 3.5 inches diagonally, but Jobs said it can show four times as many pixels – the individual colored dots that make up an image – as the previous screen. He emphasized its “Retina Display” technology, which will enhance the iPhone’s screen resolution. “We think this is going to set the standard for displays for years to come,” Jobs said at WWDC. “It may be the most important single component of the hardware, and we’ve got something here now that’s like the best window on the planet. So that’s the Retina Display.” (quote via gdgt)

It is getting a camera on the front that could be used for videoconferencing, in addition to a five-megapixel camera and LED flash on the back. It can shoot high-definition video, catching up to some other smart phones, and includes a gyroscope that will unite the phone’s accelerometer, compass, proximity, and light sensors, according to a MacRumors tweet. Jobs explained Apple’s iPhones are “getting more and more intelligent about the world around them.”

The new phone will run the latest version of Apple’s mobile software, now called iOS4, which Apple unveiled in April to offer such new features as the ability to operate more than one program at a time. Older iPhones will be able to get iOS4 as a download June 21.

Follow link for more pictures ->

AT&T Kills Unlimited Data Plan For iPhones, iPads


NEW YORK — Just in time for the release of a new iPhone, AT&T will stop letting new customers sign up for its unlimited Internet data plan for smart phones and iPads and charge more for users who hog the most bandwidth.

AT&T hopes to ease congestion on its network, which has drawn complaints, particularly in big cities. But the approach could confuse customers unfamiliar with how much data it takes to watch a YouTube video or fire up a favorite app.

Current subscribers will be able to keep their $30-per-month unlimited plans, even if they renew their contracts. But starting Monday, new customers will have to choose one of two new data plans for all smart phones, including iPhones and BlackBerrys.

Subscribers who use little data – like those who may get dozens of e-mails a day but don’t watch much video – will pay slightly less every month than they do now, while heavy users will be dinged with higher bills.

The move takes effect in time for the expected unveiling of Apple’s new iPhone next week. Analysts said they expect other phone companies to follow. With no caps on consumption, data use could swamp wireless networks while revenue for the operators remains flat.

Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless carrier and AT&T’s chief rival, had no immediate comment on AT&T’s move. There has been much speculation about Verizon getting to sell its own version of the iPhone, but that prospect still appears distant.

One of the new AT&T plans will cost $25 per month and offer two gigabytes of data per month, which AT&T says will be enough for 98 percent of its smart phone customers. Additional gigabytes will cost $10 each.

A second plan will cost $15 per month for 200 megabytes of data, which AT&T says is enough for 65 percent of its smart phone customers. If they go over, they’ll pay another $15 for 200 more megabytes.

A gigabyte is enough for hundreds of e-mails and Web pages, but it’s quickly eaten up by Internet video and videoconferencing. The 200 megabytes offered under the $15 plan is enough for more than 1,000 e-mails, hundreds of Web pages and about 20 minutes of streaming video, AT&T says.

With the smaller plan and voice service, a smart phone could cost as little as $55 per month before taxes and add-on fees, down from $70 now. Ralph de la Vega, head of AT&T’s consumer business, said smart phones would become accessible to more people.

“Customers are getting a good deal, and if they can understand their usage, they can save some money,” de la Vega said in an interview.

Figuring out which plan to choose may not be easy, because many people have only a hazy notion of the size of a gigabyte and how many they use now. By contrast, a minute spent talking on the phone is easy to understand, and many people have learned roughly how many minutes they use every month.

The limits will apply only on AT&T’s cellular networks. Data usage over Wi-Fi networks, including AT&T’s public Wi-Fi “hot spots,” will not count toward the limits.

De la Vega noted that AT&T lets customers track their usage online. The iPhone also has a built-in usage tracking tool. And the carrier will also text subscribers to let them know they’re getting close to their limits.

Jason Prance, an iPhone 3G user in Atlanta, said his first reaction to the end of unlimited usage was to be “ticked off.”

“If you’re taking the ability to go unlimited away from people, you immediately get defensive,” he said.

But then he checked his data consumption on his iPhone for the first time and found he had never used more than 200 megabytes in a month. That surprised him, he said, because he sends and receives a lot of e-mail and watches online video now and then.

Now he figures he can save $30 per month by switching himself and his wife to the $15 plan.

For the iPad, the tablet computer Apple released a few months ago, the new $25-per-month plan will replace the $30 unlimited plan. IPad owners can keep the old unlimited plan as long as they keep paying $30 per month, AT&T said.

AT&T, based in Dallas, said the new plans shouldn’t materially affect its profits this year. Its stock rose 34 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $24.67 in Wednesday afternoon trading.

Customers have rebelled against the idea of data usage caps on broadband Internet at home, at least when limits are set low enough to make online video expensive. Time Warner Cable Inc. was forced to back away from trials of data caps last year after protests and threats of legislative action.

On wireless networks, where there’s less data capacity to go around, usage caps have been more common. Most wireless carriers, for instance, limit data cards for laptops to 5 gigabytes per month.

With competition for smart phone users intense, phone companies have been reluctant to impose data caps on those devices, although Sprint Nextel Corp. reserves the right to slow down or disconnect users who exceed 5 gigabytes per month.

Carriers have also started to lift limits on other use, selling plans with unlimited calling and text messaging. That’s not a big gamble because not many people have the time to talk on the phone for eight hours a day or spend every waking minute sending text messages. Smart phones, on the other hand, can draw a lot of data, depending on where and how they’re used.



AT&T’s data calculator, for consumption estimates:

TR10: Mobile 3-D

3-D on the go: Released in South Korea in March, Samsung’s W960 mobile phone comes with 3-D video content, generated by Dynamic Digital Depth, that can be viewed without special glasses. Dynamic Digital Depth expects that its software to convert 2-D games to 3-D on the fly will be built into phones within the next two years.  Credit: Bryan Christie Design

Smart phones will take 3-D mainstream.

By Annalee Newitz

(From MIT Technology Review) This article is part of an annual list of what we believe are the 10 most important emerging technologies. See the full list here.

The Samsung B710 phone looks like a typical smart phone, but something unexpected happens when the screen is moved from a vertical to a horizontal orientation: the image jumps from 2-D to 3-D. The technology that produces this perception of depth is the work of Julien Flack, CTO of Dynamic Digital Depth, who has spent more than a decade perfecting software that can convert 2-D content to 3-D in real time. It could help solve the biggest problem with 3-D: the need for special glasses that deliver a separate image to each eye.

Flack’s software synthesizes 3-D scenes from existing 2-D video by estimating the depth of objects using various cues; a band of sky at the top of a frame probably belongs in the far background, for example. It then creates pairs of slightly different images that the viewer’s brain combines to produce the sensation of depth.

The technology can be used with the much-hyped 3-D televisions announced in January (which require glasses), but its biggest impact will be as a way to create content for mobile devices with auto­stereoscopic 3-D displays, which work by directing light to deliver different versions of an image directly to each of a viewer’s eyes. The effect works best over a narrow range of viewing angles, so it is ill suited to television or cinema screens. But phones are generally used by one person at a time and are easily held at the optimum angle. That’s why mobile multimedia devices are likely to win the race to bring 3-D into the mainstream.

Powered by Flack’s software, Dynamic Digital Depth has become an early leader in mobile 3-D. The software was built into the B710, which Samsung released in South Korea in 2007, and Samsung has licensed 3-D content generated by Dynamic Digital Depth for its latest 3-D phone, the W960, released in March. Research firm DisplaySearch recently predicted that by 2018 there will be 71 million such devices worldwide.

The most exciting area for Flack right now is games. Hundreds of games actually simulate 3-D spaces internally to handle mechanics such as the path of a missile, and then convert those 3-D spaces into 2-D to display to the player. With his technology, he says, the 3-D geometry “available inside the game itself” can be made accessible to the display. DDD has already released software that converts games to 3-D on PCs and expects to have similar software running on mobile devices in the next year or two.

It’s applications like mobile games and video that will drive the widespread adoption of 3-D screens. And that, in turn, could lay the groundwork for a new generation of surprising interfaces and applications, just as large 2-D screens on mobile devices spawned developments such as touch-based interfaces and augmented reality.

2011 Ford Fiesta to include AppLink, voice-control Blackberry and Android apps

Ford SYNC with AppLink – Click the image for the high-res image gallery

by Damon Lavrinc

On our way to Stanford last week, we came across a murdered-out Toyota Prius with an “I♥OPEC” vanity plate. Prime Twitter fodder if we’ve ever seen it. Unfortunately, even with our smartphone streaming navigation directions and a podcast through the Ford Fusion’s SYNC system, we couldn’t safely tweet our find. Well, Ford’s about to rectify that issue with the introduction of AppLink, a downloadable upgrade to the SYNC infotainment system that allows drivers to control their smartphone apps through voice commands.

AppLink will be exclusive to the 2011 Ford Fiesta when it hits dealers later this year and, at launch, it will only work with Blackberry and Android-powered devices running SYNC software. When it does arrive, the first three supported apps are Stitcher, Pandora (bye-bye XM/Sirius) and Orangatame’s OpenBeak Twitter program. More apps are sure to be available in the following months and Ford has setup a developer channel on SYNCMyRide to get programmers going.

For those of you currently rolling in a SYNC-equipped Ford or Lincoln, AppLink will be available as a download sometime next year, and for all you Apple fanboys, fear not, iPhone integration is on the way. Make the jump for all the details and a brace of videos showing off the technology.

Follow link for Video demo ->

Designing apps for the iPad: It’s not just a big iPhone

Developers discover that Apple’s new device required some creative rethinking

By Dan Turner

Computerworld – User experience (UX) designers don’t just make pretty icons, though that certainly can be part of the job. Figuring out how people interact with data and interfaces means understanding ergonomics, psychology, computer science, cognitive science, graphic design and a number of other fields.

If you’ve ever been frustrated or confused when working with an application or a Web site, blame the UX designers. If the application seems like it “just works,” then you can thank them.

While it may not be obvious to most technology users, each new form factor — desktop, Web, mobile device — requires a whole new set of research, testing and design principles.

Apple’s recently released iPad is no exception; despite some snark that “it’s just a ginormous iPhone,” developers of iPad apps have found that the size does matter — and that’s in addition to the iPad’s unique multitouch functions and interface elements. A properly designed iPad app is not just a pixel-doubled iPhone app, nor is it a desktop app with the mouse replaced by a finger.

I spoke with UX designers and product managers at two companies — The Omni Group and Zinio LLC — to find out more about the challenges they faced developing for the iPad. In particular, I wanted to know more about whether it confounded their initial design plans, or whether they were surprised to find new possibilities for user functionality.

‘Room for content’

“First, we really found that it’s not just a larger iPhone,” said Ken Case, founder and CEO of The Omni Group. “There’s room for content, and interaction with gestures, that you couldn’t do on smaller real estate. It’s a larger iPhone the way a swimming pool is a larger bathtub.”

Initially, says Bill Van Hecke, Omni Group’s UX lead, the company thought it would need to use every pixel on the iPad’s 1024-by-768-pixel screen: “It was our first impulse to fill up the space, but we found in the design process that it was more important to see the content.” As a result, he said, the user interface on the iPad for two Omni apps, OmniGraffle ($49.99) and OmniGraphSketcher ($14.99), takes up the same percentage of screen real estate as the company’s iPhone apps.

For instance, initial interface designs for the apps included a sidebar that would show open documents and allow quick navigation among them — a feature not unusual on desktop interfaces. But on the iPad, that felt like wasted space — screen space was more valuable as free area for drawing.

“It was a good exercise in getting rid of our excess chrome [toolbar and window frames],” said Robin Stewart, lead developer for OmniGraphSketcher. “We think we ended up making this app more usable on the iPad than on a laptop.”


Developers of The Omni Group’s OmniGraphSketcher had to rethink user interface plans when designing for the iPad.

Article Continues ->

Kelley Blue Book launches free iPhone app and Seller’s Toolkit

(Click picture of gallery of images)

by Jonathon Ramsey

Although it will probably remain a stress-inducing experience, Kelley Blue Book has introduced a smartphone app and a Seller’s Toolkit to make buying a car slightly less stress-inducing. The app ties your iPhone directly into the KBB database, so you can pull up the appropriate KBB values on the fly when that one-owner steal looks more like it’s been stolen from five or six owners. It’ll also clue you in to dealer locations and provide 360-degree views and reviews of any car you have questions about. It’s a free download in the App Store.

On the other hand, if you’re a seller who’s trying to unload that one-owner steal, you’ll want to take advantage of Kelley Blue Book’s Seller’s Toolkit. AutoTrader won’t be happy to hear about it, but the KBB software helps you create a professional-looking listing for posting on Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, or in your e-mail or blog. Check a few boxes and you’ve got a digital window sticker, Facebook application, widget, dynamic images and a direct link to your selling page.

On top of that, all of the tools provide quick links to KBB for buyers to research your car. The window sticker comes with a QR code that calls up KBB’s LiveValue function, the LiveValue ID can respond via SMS, the widget is built to fit into WordPress and Blogger, Direct Link provides a shortened URL for Twitter, or a potential buyer can even make a voice call to KBB to get more information. Like we said, it might not make things less stressful, but it could make everyone more informed, and that’s got to be good for something.

Check out the galleries for screenshots of the new iPhone app (we loaded it and poked around) and of the KBB Seller’s Toolkit features.

Follow the Smart Phones

What’s hot: SpotRank generates “heat maps” showing the density of cell-phone users for a given time and place. This image shows the southwest corner of Manhattan’s Central Park on Monday, March 29, at 6 p.m..  Credit: Skyhook Wireless

Mining cell phone data could help target ads and rank local services.

By Christopher Mims

A service launched last week by Skyhook Wireless will make it possible for other businesses to predict, with new accuracy, which local bars will be hot at 8 p.m. on Monday night, or how many people will walk past a particular billboard poster at noon on Friday.

Skyhook Wireless’s pool of anonymized location data, gathered from cell phones that have used its services over the past 24 months, shows user behavior in every major city in North America, for every hour of every day of the week at a resolution of 100 meters. This is enabled by the 300 million check-ins received daily from every iPhone, iPad, Snow Leopard-powered laptop, as well as Dell devices and a growing number of Android-powered smart phones.

Several other companies are using similar technologies to map human activity across time and space–an activity first referred to as “reality mining.” However, no other company has made available a comparable amount of data to independent developers.

Skyhook Wireless’s new service, called SpotRank, is available to developers through an application programming interface (API) from its partner SimpleGEO–a cloud-based service for managing large quantities of geolocation data. The data resembles a heat map of population density in a given city at any point in time. The data can be strung into time sequences to show the changes in human activity as a city cycles through the workday, the commute home, and nightlife.

Internally, Skyhook Wireless has begun developing applications for SpotRank data–including new ways to inform buyers of outdoor advertising. “We can tell [advertisers] where the best spot in Manhattan is to put a sign on a side of a building,” says Skyhook CEO Ted Morgan.

“It’s very valuable data,” says David Fono, a developer at Atmosphere Industries who has begun working with the SpotRank API for games that play out across a city. “The level of data they have is staggering,” Fono says. “This is a pretty significant addition to the tool set. Just the fact that it’s a fairly reliable metric for human traffic in an area, I don’t know of anything else like that at the moment.”

There is growing interest among technology companies in mining the physical movements of users, but privacy promises to be a hot-button issue. “We are keen to do something similar [to SpotRank], but we want to make sure we maintain user privacy,” says Sharon Biggar, chief operating officer of U.K.-based Path Intelligence, which uses passive receivers to track the cell-phone traffic of shoppers and concertgoers as they visit public places. Path Intelligence can determine the location of a device to within a meter or two, and individuals can be tracked continuously as they move through an area, allowing engineers to tell business customers which stores in a mall tend to be visited together, for example. In contrast, SpotRank data only shows an aggregate number of people in any one area at any given time.

Article Continues ->

‘Surround vision’ takes viewers beyond TV screen

MIT’s surround vision in action.  (Credit: MIT Labs)

Surround sound? That’s old technology. How about surround vision?

The folks at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new system called surround vision that can let you follow objects outside of your regular TV screen by viewing them on smartphones and handheld Internet devices. Imagine you’re watching a movie on your regular TV, and a car drives off the screen. You could follow and view that car as it drives away by looking at and pointing your smartphone or tablet in its direction.

The person leading this promising new project is Santiago Alfaro, a graduate student at the lab. To kick-start his testing, Alfaro attached a magnetometer to an existing handheld device. A type of digital compass, magnetometers are already used in smartphones like the iPhone to detect the direction the device is pointing. He then created the necessary software to sync the magnetometer with other sensors on the device.

After outfitting the handheld with motion sensors, Alfaro shot video on campus from three different angles–center, left, and right. Watching the TV screen straight on played video from the center. But by pointing the handheld to the left or right, Alfaro was able to view the footage shot from both side angles.

As a further test of the technology, Alfaro took advantage of the alternate takes found on many DVDs. He created a demo that let him switch between the final footage and the alternate takes and angles by changing the direction of the handheld device.

Though the technology may sound like it needs further development, it’s designed to work with existing Internet-enabled portable gadgets, including smartphones and tablets. Since a lot of today’s handheld devices already have magnetometers, no modifications would be necessary. Further, TV stations wouldn’t have to change their broadcasts or equipment, according to Alfaro and his adviser, Media Lab research scientist Michael Bove.

“In the Media Lab, and even my group, there’s a combination of far-off-in-the-future stuff and very, very near-term stuff, and this is an example of the latter,” said Bove in a news release Friday. “This could be in your home next year if a network decided to do it.”

The MIT researchers plan to test surround vision on other users this spring and summer using content developed by Boston Public TV and other partners. They’re keen to try it out on sporting events and live TV shows since those broadcasts already shoot footage from different angles. Even crime shows like “CSI” could benefit from the surround vision, said Bove, by letting people view what the medical examiners see when they peer through a microscope.

Follow link for Video Demo ->

iPhone OS 4 unveiled, adds multitasking, shipping this summer

By Paul Miller

Just a bit more than a year after we first laid eyes on iPhone OS 3.0, Apple is back with the latest big revision of the OS that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. iPhone OS 4 is shipping this summer (iPad in the fall), and the developer preview will be out today. iPhone 3GS and new-gen iPod touch will get all the features, but some features won’t make it to the iPhone 3G, original iPhone, and older iPod touches. The biggest new feature is multitasking, which Apple says is going to be the “best” implementation in the smartphone space, though it’s obviously not the first. App switching is activated by double tapping the home button, which pulls up a “dock” of currently running apps, and Apple claims it can do this without hurting battery life or performance for the front app. Unfortunately, this multitasking won’t be available for devices older than the 3GS and new iPod touch. Multitasking is just one of seven different new “tentpole” features, including Game Center, enhanced Mail, and more…

Notable new features for users (“tentpoles” are in bold):

  • Multitasking.
  • Spell check (like on the iPad).
  • Bluetooth keyboard support (again, on the iPad).
  • User-defined wallpaper (a jailbreak favorite).
  • Tap to focus when recording video, just like with photos, and a 5x digital zoom for the camera.
  • Playlist creation and nested playlists.
  • App folders for sorting apps! You can even put an app folder in the dock.
  • Enhanced Mail! You can have a merged inbox view, switch between inboxes quickly, and sync to more than one Exchange account. There’s also threaded messaging (at last!) and in-app attachment viewing.
  • iBooks, just like on iPad, only smaller. You can wirelessly sync books between platforms, a la Kindle.
  • Enterprise features, including remote device management and wireless app distribution.
  • Game Center. It’s like Xbox Live, but for iPhone games. Includes achievements, leaderboards, and match making. It will be available as a “developer preview,” and out for consumers later this year.

Developers are getting plenty of new tricks too:

  • New SDK, available today.
  • 1,500 new APIs.
  • Background audio (think Pandora).
  • Background VoIP (think Skype).
  • Background location data, both with live GPS for backgrounded turn-by-turn, and cell tower-based for lower power draw.
  • Local notifications. Like push notifications, but sends a notification straight from the app without needing a push notification server, perfect for an alarm, for instance.
  • Fast app switching. Saves the state of an app and resumes it from where you left off, without dwelling in memory.
  • iAd. Apple says it’s for keeping “free apps free.” The ads keep you in the app, while also taking over the screen and adding interactivity — using HTML 5 for video — up to simple gaming in-ad. Apple will offer a 60 / 40 split on revenue, and users can even buy apps straight from an ad.
  • In-app SMS.
  • Map overlays.
  • Quick look for previewing documents.
  • Photo Library access.
  • Calendar access.
  • Full access to the camera.
  • Video playback and capture.
  • Date and address “data detectors.”
  • Automated testing and performance / power analysis (the same tools Apple uses).

AMBER Alert iPhone app

Posted by james

It’s not all that often that an iPhone app that was made especially to save lives comes along. That’s why it is refreshing to see the AMBER Alert app, created by developer Jonathan Zdziarski.

For those not familiar with it, AMBER alert is a child abduction alert bulletin in the United States and Canada, as well as other countries, issued by the authorities upon the suspected abduction of a child and kept in one centralized database.

amber alert iphone

AMBER Alert iPhone app is an official application for this missing children database. It provides a real-time feed of recent alerts, including victim photos and information, suspect photos and descriptions, vehicle photos and descriptions, and a reporting mechanism allowing you to report a sighting.

The iPhone’s GPS is used to include your current GPS position with your sighting report, allowing to create a geographical search radius based on the number and pattern of reports in a specific location. This provides for smarter policing and can help filter false positives. The information is forwarded to the appropriate state patrol barracks where it can be responded to in a much faster fashion than traditional phone call screening.

As you can see, this is a very useful iPhone app that can potentially help you save lives. It was already submitted into the AppStore by its creator and should appear there soon, so keep an eye out for it. And in the meantime you can visit its official website for more information.