On Twitter and SMS and Why it Shouldn’t Matter to iPhone Users

Author: Khate // Category: ,

iPhone 3.0 Mobile iChat

In case you haven’t read it already, our editor-in-chief, Dieter Bohn, has an outstanding article up at sibling-site WMExperts highlighting his top 5 reasons Twitter is better than SMS (and vice versa).

There’s a lot of intertube fuss about SMS lately, as a recent New York Times article once again shone the spotlight on the disgustingly dirty price gouging (and potential fixing) that goes on when it comes to SMS rates in North America. Basically, SMS (at 160 bytes/characters) is ridiculously cheap for the carriers to transmit, no matter what the scale, and yet the prices have doubled from $0.10 to $0.20 on many networks over the last few years. Voice, by contrast, involves much more data and is much more “expensive” in terms of infrastructure costs. North Americans will pay ludicrous sums of money for “cheap” SMS but not for “expensive” voice, so the carriers take advantage.

Dieter points out that the cost, community, compatibility, control, and context of Twitter give it a clear advantage of SMS, even as the discoverability, dilution of quality, dropping 20 characters, downtime, and potential delays in notification (outside the US) make it still far from perfect.

Flaws and all, Dieter is moving towards Twitter (@backlon) and away from SMS. Am I going to do the same? I already have (@reneritchie) and without really considering it. But here’s the thing — I have considered that not only should I not have to consider it, I don’t think any iPhone user should. (Or any @theiphoneblog follower either!)

I mentioned in my return to the iPhone 3G Round Robin final review that one of the things I’d like to see for the iPhone is a Mobile iChat app, but really taken to the next level. BlackBerry PIN messenger is what puts the “crack” in CrackBerry.com and an always on, multi-tasking Mobile iChat client would go a long way to putting some in the iPhone as well. Beyond that, however, Apple is famous for being the one company that really understands something truly significant for consumer end users:

The interface is the application.

There’s already an SMS client on the iPhone, and guess what? It already kind of looks like iChat. If Apple stuck a Mobile iChat client on as well, it could look functionally identical. So why, then, would Apple need to add that client? Some Twitter clients looks functionally very similar to iChat already as well. Why, then, would we need separate Twitter clients?

From a user-perspective, abstracting an application away from the pipes that feed it is a huge win. Take Mobile Mail for example, you can setup a Gmail, Exchange, MobileMe, or other email account, yet the app itself looks and functions the same regardless. Add one account, take another away, and the user experience doesn’t change. This means that, behind the scenes, you can pretty much muck around with the pipes, improve them, swap an old one out for a new one, drop a troublesome one for a reliable one, all with very low impact on the front end — maybe even no impact at all. It’s transparent to the end user.

Now imagine there was a presence client on the iPhone — I’ll stick with calling it Mobile iChat to keep it simple. You set up your SMS account, your Twitter, your AIM, MobileMe, Jabber, Google Chat… whatever and then you have one consistent UI that elegantly handles and presents your conversations to you. If one pipe disappears, like Pownce, you just delete that account or foward to another. If a new pipe shows up, like BlackBerry announces PIN-like messenger for the iPhone (breathe Kevin, breathe!) you just add it in.

There are, of course, a bunch of reasons why this isn’t likely to happen, and lots of people who prefer to keep their cookies all in separate jars anyway. My personal belief remains, however, that this is the future, and the iPhone is the device that’s going to bring us the closest and the fastest to that future.

Of course, there will always be a place for “better” dedicated client apps that provide unique, rich features focused on a single protocol, but who knows, with push email, maybe all inter-personal text communications could eventually fold into a single unified, consistent, experience. It would, at the very least, be nice to have as a hyper-productivity meets connectivity option. wouldn’t it?



Vaja Making the Case for iPhone Nano?

Author: Khate // Category:


Not to be outdone by the Apple media server rumors, the iPhone Nano rears its tiny mutant form again, this time on the website of case-maker Vaja. Does this add weight to the rumor, or simply volume? MacRumors rightly points out:

While it may be that Vaja is simply taking advantage of the hype surrounding the iPhone Nano, the rumors have been persistent over the past few weeks. While Apple does not give case manufacturers information about unreleased products, Apple must contract out to factories to manufacture their hardware. It is believed that it is through these contracts that case design specs are often leaked ahead of time. As we’ve said before, case manufacturers have a huge financial incentive to have cases ready in time for new product launches.
Macworld is only a week away (though even if the rumor is true (and we’re still not holding our breath) we may have to wait until Apple — and Steve Jobs — hold another special media event to know for sure.

Are you getting convinced yet? Or just tiring of the rumors?



Apple Media Server to Give iPhone Content Everywhere?

Author: Khate // Category:


Another countdown to Macworld, another rumor! This one says that Apple is developing a turbo-boosted version of Time Capsule that would offer HP Media Smart Server-like capabilities. Some of the more nifty, iPhone related features, according to 9to5Mac, could include:

The device will tie in MobileMe with an Apple built-in Dynamic DNS system. For instance, if your MobileMe account was “9to5mac”, your domain name would be “9to5mac.me.com”. This is how you’d reach your filesystem throughout the Internet. Your media would also reside here. [...] Sharing media with iPod Touch and iPhones both over the Internet and while at home. AppleTV as well.

Hey, if multiple drives and RAID-5 (RAID-6!) are in the cards, it might even be a viable Drobo alternative — something that’s already the darling of the Apple community…



I Love Katamari slowdowns now said fixed

Author: Khate // Category: , ,


I Love Katamari ($7.99, App Store) has just been updated to 1.0.1, fixing many of the technical issues that users were having with the game, specifically related to the size of the Katamari players steer through each level.

Previously, accumulating enough objects to roll a very large Katamari would send the frame rate plunging quickly downwards. As making the Katamari larger is absolutely essential to completing the game, this was rather problematic and frustrating for a great deal of players.

Luckily, the new 1.0.1 fix is said to take away those frame rate problems and also adds a graphic to the game which shows you the tilt of the device relative to what it expects, making it easier to gauge what angle is needed to roll the Katamari at a glance.


Final Fantasy's first iPhone outing is a mixed bag

Author: Khate // Category: ,

Square Enix on Monday night released Final Fantasy: Crystal Defenders ($7.99, App Store) and Final Fantasy: Crystal Defenders Lite (free, App Store), a tower defence game expressed using the world and characters from Final Fantasy Tactics A2, where you defend crystals using different units such as Black Mages.

A game developer with the resources of Square Enix, you would think, would be able to fairly easily produce a good, if not better game for the iPhone than smaller outfits. It seems that they've been able to produce an acceptable game, with the drawback that a pretty rubbish looking joystick takes up half of the screen.

To make things worse, this joystick controls a mouse cursor which is used to interact with the game itself, which possibly adds up to the ugliest and least intuitive control scheme for a touch screen ever devised. We should have sussed something was up from oddly shaped screenshots released two months ago.

Despite this, it seems that Square Enix's first foray into the app store has been saved by the game actually being quite entertaining, even if it is fiddly to control and fairly ugly. You can take a risk and buy it now, or wait to see if or when they integrate proper controls.

Nevertheless, it's curious to see that a lot of larger developers still manage to release sub-par products on the iPhone compared to independent developers with significantly smaller teams and development budgets.

Article by AppleInsider.


iMacworld iPhone app offers detailed Macworld Expo info

Author: Khate // Category: ,

iPhone and iPod touch users planning on attending Macworld Conference & Expo should take note of iMacworld, a new application that lets you get information about the show. It’s available for free download from the App Store.

iMacworld provides exhibitor information and product information, and also integrates a messaging service. It lets you browse exhibitor lists, looking at vendors by name, hall and aisle number. You can also check exhibited products by name, category and exhibitor.

The software checks the Web for new information about Macworld Expo exhibitors and events and saves the data locally, so you don’t need network or cell phone access to check.

IDG World Expo vice president Paul Kent recently posted to his Twitter account that a major upgrade will be offered this afternoon which will enable users to navigate using a show floor map. A conference guide will also be included.

iMacworld requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iPhone 2.0 software or later.

Macworld Expo takes place from January 5 to 9, 2009 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif.

IDG World Expo and Macworld are both owned by International Data Group (IDG).


Linux On the iPhone

Author: Khate // Category: , , , ,

Linux On the iPhone
I'm pleased to announce that the Linux 2.6 kernel has been ported to Apple's iPhone platform, with support for the first and second generation iPhones as well as the first generation iPod touch. This is a rough first draft of the port, and many drivers are still missing, but it's enough that a real alternative operating system is running on the iPhone.

What we have:

- Framebuffer driver
- Serial driver
- Serial over USB driver
- Interrupts, MMU, clock, etc.

What we have in openiboot (but hasn't been ported yet):

- Read-only support for the NAND

What we don't have (yet!):

- Write support for the NAND
- Wireless networking
- Touchscreen
- Sound
- Accelerometer
- Baseband support

The current userland we're using, in the interest of expedience, is a Busybox installation created with buildroot, but glibc works fine as well, and we're going to build a more permanent userland solution.

A demonstration video can be seen here: http://www.vimeo.com/2373142

Instructions here: http://www.iphone-dev.org/planetbeing/LINUX-README.txt

Download here: http://localhostr.com/files/b00133/iphonelinux-demo.tar.gz

Project lead: planetbeing

Contributors: CPICH, cmw, poorlad, ius, saurik

If you're experienced with hacking/porting Linux and especially if you're experienced with porting Android, I'd definitely like to hear from you. Come chill in the #iphonelinux channel on irc.osx86.hu. If you're not experienced, and still want to help, you can digg/slashdot this posting to heaven so our little project gets more visibility. Thanks. :)

Article by linuxoniphone.


Vietnamese phone shop unlocks iPhone 3G

Author: Khate // Category: ,

Tuan Anh Do shows off an unlocked iPhone 3G at one of his cell phone repair shops in Hanoi.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

Editor's note: CNET editor and Crave contributor Dong Ngo is spending the next month in his homeland of Vietnam, and plans to file occasional dispatches chronicling his impressions of how technology has permeated the culture there. Click here for more of Dong's stories from abroad.

HANOI, Vietnam--Every obstacle presents an opportunity. I saw this firsthand in Hanoi.

Tuan Anh's shop on Nguyen Du street.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

The obstacle in question: the iPhone 3G. Since its launch, it has proven a much tougher nut to crack than the original iPhone. Without a viable software-based unlock solution, the only way to make the phone work with any GSM carrier has been the use of a proxy SIM. Put this piece of very thin circuitboard in the iPhone 3G atop the carrier's SIM, and you can make calls and text on a new network.

(I did experience some problems using the proxy SIM, including short battery life, instability, and, most seriously, incompatibility with iTunes.)

Unfortunately, the recently released 2.2 software update, for now, has made the iPhone 3G impossible to unlock--unless you happen to be in Hanoi. Here, I met a man who takes the job quite seriously and gets it done the hard way, literally.

His name is Tuan Anh Do, and he's a 29-year-old businessman who owns five cell phone repair shops. A big part of his business is servicing the iPhone and iPhone 3G, and that often involves getting those devices unlocked at the hardware level.

One of his shops is on Nguyen Du street, a relatively small, quiet block in Hanoi. It's located in a typically narrow four-story house, with one floor serving as a reception area, and another holding the accounting department. The top floor is the workshop, where the magic happens.

Here I witnessed a brand new iPhone 3G getting its hardware unlocked and was really impressed. This is how it happened.

First, a technician opened up the phone and stripped it to the motherboard. In his skillful hands, the device seemed much easier to dismantle than I expected.

The technician then extracted the baseband chip, the component that controls the connection between the phone and the mobile network, from the motherboard. (This is a painstaking task as the chip is strongly glued to the phone's motherboard. A mistake during this process could brick the phone completely.)

A technician opens up a brand new iPhone 3G in one of Tuan Anh's Hanoi shops.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

The phone's motherboard with the baseband chip at the bottom and marked with a red X for viewing's sake.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

Once the chip was extracted, it was Tuan Anh's turn. He used a chip reader to read information into a file. He then used a Hex editor to remove the locking data from the file, and after that, the chip got reprogrammed with the newly altered file. Now it was no longer programmed to work with only a specific provider.

The chip then got reassembled into the motherboard, another painstaking process.

As a last step, the technician put the phone back together, and it looked like nothing had been done to it.

However, the phone is now unlocked and can be used with any carrier's SIM. It can also be synced with iTunes and used with the original carrier and it can perform all other functions without any problem. But it's not yet jailbroken, which Tuan Anh will do for free. He'll even add lots of applications and utilities at no additional cost.

The baseband chip (which I marked with a red X to make it more visible) has been extracted from the motherboard.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

Each such unlocking job takes about an hour to complete and costs 1.2 million dong (about $80), a small fortune over here. Tuan Anh said that so far, his business has unlocked hundreds of iPhone 3Gs and thousands of first-generation iPhones.

He also said that if an iPhone has been unlocked under the firmware version 2.1 or earlier, upgrading to version 2.2 will lock it again. This is because the 2.2 update is the first update that alters the baseband chip, a clear move by Apple to counter the software-based unlocking solution. In this case, Tuan Anh is willing to re-unlock it for a discount price of $50.

In case of mishaps, Tuan Anh said he would give clients a new phone. Considering that an iPhone 3G goes for somewhere between $800 and $1,000 in Hanoi, this is a bold statement, but so far, he has yet to brick a customer's iPhone. He did, however, lose two iPhone 3Gs while mastering the unlocking process in the phone's early days, a $2,800 investment at that time.

The chip gets glued back onto the motherboard.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

The demand for the iPhone and iPhone 3G in Vietnam is amazing. Prior to my trip here, a few friends asked me to bring one for them from the States. Some even offered to pay me extra. I didn't have time to take up any offers and obviously missed an opportunity to get my trip partially paid for. Still, I've seen a lot of people here with the iPhone. Tuan Anh said most iPhones 3G in Hanoi come from the States and Australia.

Tuan Anh's shops also take care of repairing other kinds of cell phones from any vendors, especially those without a support office in Hanoi. And the shops are faring well. When I was at the Nguyen Du street business, all of his technicians were busy working on different phones, two of them iPhones. The workshop's atmosphere was professional and quiet; I figure a job like this requires a lot of concentration.

The phone is now unlocked and working with a Vietnamese provider.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive)

It's striking to witness the amount of work these skillful workers get done, considering how modestly equipped the workshop is. The most sophisticated equipment I could see were a Pintex Oscilloscope and a couple of microscopes. The rest of the tools, such as solderers, tiny screwdrivers, tweezers, alcohol, and towels, are the sorts of things you could find at most hardware stores.

Tuan Anh now has about 30 employees, paying them $300 a month on average. That's a very good salary considering the average income of a Hanoian is just around $100 a month.

Asked why he decided to get into this business, Tuan Anh, who holds bachelor's degrees in history and journalism from Hanoi National University, traces it to a passion for computers and electronics, an interest he shares with many other Vietnamese.

He hopes that what he's been doing with the iPhones wouldn't be considered "illegal" in the States. Oddly enough, his dream is to become an Apple partner officially supporting the company's products in Vietnam.

But illegal or not, Apple's idiosyncratic policy has in a weird way given this bright man an opportunity to do more than just make a living. He's proven that we really can be the master of our tools, not vice versa.

Article by Cnet.


How to downgrade to iPhone OS 2.1

Author: Khate // Category: , ,


Dead iPhoneWho loves a good, panicky headline? Cnet, that’s who! Citing reports that problems with the iPhone 2.2 upgrade software “run rampant” (including deleted apps, loss of WiFi, and the inability to connect to iTunes following the update), they offer instructions on how to revert your device to version 2.1, along with a warning that “... they [sic] procedure may not work, and you may be forced to restore your iPhone with OS 2.2, potentially losing data in the process.“ Well, that certainly sounds helpful!

Of course, by “run rampant” they mean that “dozens, if not hundreds” of users are reporting problems. And they wait until the very end to include a message from a user who suggests using the Restore option in iTunes itself (which could also result in data loss). But for those of you who really just want to go back to good ol’ 2.1, here are the instructions, as offered by Cnet:

1. Download iPhone OS 2.1 IPSW: [iPhone (first generation) | iPhone 3G]
2. Turn off your iPhone by holding down the sleep/wake button.
3. After the phone is off and hold the sleep/wake and home buttons at the same time for 10 seconds.
4. Release the sleep/wake button; continue to hold down the home button until iTunes detects the iPhone in “recovery mode.” Your iPhone is now in DFU mode.
5. Hold down the option key on a Mac or alt key on a PC and click “Restore” in iTunes.
6. Locate the IPSW file and select it.



Phone 3G Ad, You Are Too Fast!!! BANNED Now

Author: Khate // Category: ,


If you are an iPhone users, you may know how fast can your iPhone go. Apple new advertisement for iPhone was complained by some viewer for mislead about the speed of the iPhone 3G. We can accept that the iPhone 3G is fast but the speed of the ad even fast which can make viewer think the real one is actually as fast as the ads.