Category: News

AT&T Raises Early Termination Fee to Deter iPhone Users from Switching to Verizon?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T Wireless plans to raise the early termination fee for smartphone contracts from $175 to $325 starting June 1, 2010. The change will apply only to new contracts signed after that date. Via WSJ:

AT&T Inc. (T) plans to raise the fee it charges customers trying to get out of their smartphone wireless contracts early, a move that comes amid expectations that the carrier will lose exclusivity on the iPhone over the next year.

The Dallas telecommunications provider will raise its early termination fees to $325 from $175 on contracts signed for smartphones, as well as cellular-connected netbooks.

The change could be interpreted as a preemptive move by AT&T to deter iPhone customers from switching to Verizon once the device becomes available on that network. A recent flurry of rumors indicates that a Verizon iPhone could arrive as early as this fall.

The cost for Verizon switchers who buy a 4G iPhone on AT&T this summer may be more than just the $325 early termination fee. They will also likely have to purchase an entirely new 4G iPhone. The Wall Street Journal and others have reported that Verizon will get its own separate model of iPhone for their CDMA network (AT&T has a GSM network).

It may not be what Apple wants you to do, but if you’re interested in buying a 4G iPhone this summer but rather have it on Verizon, it may be best to wait a until the fall.

*Update* A reader notes that Verizon increased their early termination fee to $350 in the winter, which may indicate AT&T’s increase is just keeping pace and not further evidence of a Verizon iPhone.

Finder of iPhone 4G Prototype Identified, Says He Regrets “Mistake” has identified the person who found the prototype fourth-gen iPhone as Brian J. Hogan of Redwood City, California. Wired discovered Mr. Hogan’s identity by following clues on social networking sites, then confirmed it with a source closely “involved in the iPhone find.”

According to his lawyer, Jeffrey Bornstein of K&L Gates, Hogan was at the Gourmet Haus Stadt with friends when someone at the restaurant handed him the prototype iPhone and asked if it belonged to him. The person then left. Hogan asked around for the phone’s owner, but no one claimed it. Hogan then left the Haus Stadt with the phone.

According to his lawyer, Hogan’s only efforts to return the phone came when a friend offered to call Apple Care on his behalf. It’s unclear if that call was actually made, although secondhand retellings have said it was.

Mr. Hogan has been interviewed by police but has not yet been charged with a crime.

A statement released by his lawyer says that Hogan now regrets his actions after finding the phone, but clarifies that he did not sell the phone to Gizmodo, but rather granted them temporary access for $5,000:

He regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone. Even though he did obtain some compensation from Gizmodo, Brian thought that it was so that they could review the phone.”

In addition to questioning Hogan, authorities have also pursued a search warrant against Gizmodo journalist Jason Chen, raiding his home and gathering evidence. No charges have been brought in the case so far.

Review: MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter App for iPhone (Best iPhone Dieting App)

MyFitnessPal (free) is a free calorie counter that makes it easy to find and track the exact amount of calories of the food you eat. But there’s more to the app than just that. The app helps you lose weight by showing a suggested daily calorie rate for a pace of weight loss of your choosing. The app then subtracts the calories you record as well as any you burn from exercise. And it makes the whole process quick and easy. For a free app, MyFitnessPal offers some powerful features, and is the best iPhone dieting app we’ve come across.

While keeping a calorie journal up-to-date on a daily basis can be difficult in the long-term, the conveinence of carrying around the journal in your pocket or purse makes things quite a bit easier. Even if you can’t keep up the calorie journal for too long, using MyFitnessPal is worth it simply to clarify the total calories of all the food you eat in a single day, as you may be surprised how calories can really build up.

There is one important thing to note about the app: it requires an Internet connection (a recent updated add offline functionality)—there is no offline mode. Essentially, it is an extension of the MyFitnessPal website, which the app saves your data to. The first time you launch the app, you’ll be asked to create an account as well as set up your dieting goals. For example, if you want to slowly lose weight, you can set a desired weight loss rate of 0.5 pounds/week, or if you want to move faster, 2.0 pounds/week. Then the app takes over and tells you how many calories you can consume (or have left to consume) in order to be on pace to lose weight.

When you want to add calories consumed to your daily total, simply choose the meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack) and search for the foods you had. If it’s something you’ve eaten recently before, you can save time by selecting from a drop-down history of recent foods. You can also save entire meals in case you have them more than once in a week (something I do a lot).

The app really does speed up the calorie tracking process, as searching for a string of keywords like “Subway turkey honey oat american cheese” brings up that exact Subway sandwich complete with calorie count. Even when it doesn’t have the exact food, you can piece the calorie count together by searching for the ingredients. For example, I like to put olive oil on sourdough toast. So I search first for sourdough then olive oil, and together I get the correct calorie count.

There are also nice fine-tuning tools for getting the correct calorie count from different sized portions, in case a restaurant gives you a larger or smaller amount than normal.

If you can’t find the food you’re eating by searching the database, you can add it using the app, you’ll just have to know the calorie count and portion size.

Add food to the database.

Every time you open the app, it will immediately display how many calories left you have left to consume that day. As you record calories or burn them through exercise, the calories you have left to consume that day will change. You can move backward or forward in time too, in case you want to fill in entries from a few days ago or add what you have planned for dinner tomorrow.

Yes, the app tracks calories from exercise too. Entering physical activities into the app works much like food. You choose from either strength or cardiovascular categories, then do a search for your activity (jogging, spinning, lifting, etc). The calories burned from the activity will be added to calorie allowance. It’s nice to see the 500 calories from that hamburger disappear after your 40-minute jog.

The app also helps mark your weight-loss progress via some basic graphs. Simply record weight over a period of time, and a small chart can display your progress. Nothing too fancy, but it’s quick and easy.

The app is missing a few features that could drastically improve it. I’d like to be able to directly add calories without searching for a food. It’s also not the best at showing you your progress. The weight tracking is nice, but I’d like to see calorie totals for the week and months, along with other charts and graphs.


MyFitnessPal has some pretty powerful features for a free app. Even if not used for the long-term, it can at least help educate you on the calorie count of the foods you are eating. The mobility of the iPhone enhances the usefulness of the app as well. The only thing holding the app back is the need for a constant Internet connection.

Overall, the app helped me recognize exactly how many calories I was consuming (who knew two pieces of toast could have so many calories?) and, perhaps more importantly, how many I shouldn’t consume, and it helped me lose a few pounds the past few weeks (and going). We can highly recommend the app for simple calorie tracking and establishing and clarifying dieting goals on a daily basis. And best of all, it’s free!

The Dude Who Lost a Prototype iPhone 4G

He works (worked?) at Apple as a software engineer. He’s a talented amateur photographer. He looks like Seth Rogen. His pain at the bar? Beer.

You’ve got to feel sorry for Gray Powell, the guy who, according to Gizmodo, left a prototype iPhone 4G on a barstool at Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City, California, after partaking in some fine imported German beers. Gizmodo‘s tale of how they ended up with the iPhone is an interesting read (although they leave out the part where they pay big cash for it), so head on over there for the latest in this ever-expanding drama.

But looking at Powell, nice guy that he seems, we have doubts that Apple would give him a final production model to take out to bars. We’re siding with those who think that the phone will undergo some major visual tweaks before it ends up on Apple Store shelves, and Powell was given a rough working version for QA testing.

iPhone 4G Saga Continues: Gizmodo Buys “Stolen” Prototype?

All signs now point to the “iPhone 4G” prototype making the Apple rumor-site rounds as being a real Apple device. The phone, first unveiled to the world through photos published by Engadget on Saturday, has now fallen hand into the hands of rival Gizmodo, who purchased it from the person who “found it” in a bar in Redwood City, California. Gizmodo posted a review of the device today along with videos:

But the plot thickens thanks to a little backstory provided by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who has been known to have good Apple sources in the past. Perhaps Gruber’s most interesting comment is that “Apple considers this unit stolen, not lost.” Gruber also said that it’s been “an open secret to those of us in the racket that Gizmodo purchased this unit about a week ago.” (Did Engadget‘s photos force Gizmodo to reveal the device, lest they lose the story?)

Info from Gruber’s sources makes him believe that it is indeed a prototype iPhone, although he’s not certain whether the final production unit will look like this device. He pointed to an Apple patent for high-durability ceramic enclosures that have a glass-like appearance as further evidence the device is real, as the back of the prototype seems to be made of the material. Apple could be looking to improve the iPhone’s reception by switching to the ceramic material. (And more proof that they’re sticking with AT&T for a while?)

Previously, the only evidence pointing to the prototype being fake was provided by website Applesfera, who posted grainy pictures of the prototype from a reader who said it was a Japanese knock-off.

Image from Applesfera.

Applesfera then posted an update saying that reader admitted the photos were fake (translation via Google):

Final Update: One of our readers (Ivan Meneses) sent us photos of a possible Japanese clone of the iPhone, which apparently had the same shape of the device which we discussed here. We have pushed our reader Ivan Meneses (user “meneses_pro”) to send us more information about the pictures of the prototype that we sent, requesting a video, and ended up confessing that their pictures are fake. We are sorry to all the confusion, but we wanted to continue to the end to finally know if your photos were genuine. We therefore continue with the mystery of whether the photos from Engadget are the new iPhone 4G or not …

Applesfera did not state exactly how the pictures were faked, but a commenter on our site suspects the buttons at least were photoshopped on. We also noted that the screen shows only 4 rows of apps when normally there are 5:

Rumored iPhone 4G shows only 4 rows of apps. Normally there are 5.

Gizmodo‘s review of the device indicates several new hardware additions, including:

  • Front-facing video chat camera
  • Improved regular back-camera (the lens is quite noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS)
  • Camera flash
  • Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM (like the iPad)
  • Improved display. It’s unclear if it’s the 960×640 display thrown around before—it certainly looks like it, with the “Connect to iTunes” screen displaying much higher resolution than on a 3GS.
  • What looks to be a secondary mic for noise cancellation, at the top, next to the headphone jack
  • Split buttons for volume
  • Power, mute, and volume buttons are all metallic

Gizmodo was unable to activate the iPhone because Apple had remotely wiped it, erasing the firmware (there is no publicly known pirated version of the firmware available), but they could see the iPhone’s USB-cable graphic and noted that the screen’s resolution seems improved.

A few other items of note from Gizmodo’s review:

  • Xcode and iTunes recognized the device as an iPhone
  • It’s thinner than previous iPhones
  • Components are a tight fit inside and were designed specifically to fit into that casing
  • Components inside are labeled APPLE

Gizmodo was suspiciously silent about the type of chip inside. Is it Apple’s A4, like in the iPad? Or is it something else, perhaps contrary evidence?

Reaction to the design of the prototype has been mixed. My research on various popular Apple forums like MacRumors shows a mostly negative view, with many seeing it as a regression in design. One MacRumors poster asked, “Was Mr Ive on holiday when it was designed?” Gizmodo, however, doesn’t think the device is a departure at all, but rather “gets back to the simplicity of the iMac and the iPad.” Personally, I think they’re reaching. I think it looks like a Kodak V507 camera:

Review: OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone 3G and 3GS

The OtterBox Impact ($10) is a thick silicone rubber case for the iPhone 3G/3GS that offers extra padding around the impact points of the iPhone for protection during accidental drops. It’s also a case that tries to walk the fine line between protection and remaining pocketable, and in general, it succeeds in both tasks, although we did find fault with how the extra X-shaped padding makes the case feel a little awkward in the hand. Still, overall the Impact is a well-built, attractive case that we can recommend. Read on for the full review.

The Impact’s most distinguishing feature is the X-shaped padding on the back of the case that wraps around the corners of the iPhone and provides extra protection to the impact points. Shock absorption is one of the strengths of silicone rubber cases, and the Impact offers more of it than usual. The X-shaped rubber does have a minor side effect, however. It adds a little bit of wobble to the iPhone when resting in the palm of the hand, erasing most of the benefit toward increasing the iPhone’s gripability that silicone normally offers.

We suspect OtterBox went with the X-shape layer instead of making the entire case double-thick to keep the case slim, or at least slimmer than what it could be. They were successful in that the case is quite pocketable, but the extra rubber still adds several ounces to the weight to the iPhone and a good amount of bulk too.

Continue reading…

Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball iPhone App Now Available

Yahoo! has made available an official Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball 2010 iPhone app (free) in iTunes. The app is a barebones version of Yahoo’s Fantasy Baseball website, as it strips away alot of features. You can only edit your lineup and view stats, scores, and standings. That’s about it. No trade offers. No message boards. No free agent pickups. What the app does have is a lot slick animated transitions between screens. Still, the app is good for checking your team’s status while on the go or doing some emergency lineup changes.

Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball is a free download in the iTunes App Store.

Police Adding Their Own Speed Traps to Trapster iPhone App is a free social website and iPhone app (link) that helps fellow users avoid speed traps, red light cameras, etc, by sharing their locations via Google maps. Trapster is a well-reviewed service, but there’s recently been an interesting addition to their community: the police. The Travis County Sheriff’s office in Austin, Texas, is now entering its own speed trap locations into Trapster’s database along with dangerous intersections, traffic jams, and accidents.

Police point out that the purpose of speed limits, speed traps, and speeding tickets is for driving safety, and they’re hoping that by giving the public this information, it will help drivers comply with the laws and be better informed about dangerous areas.

The police are being given special access to the Trapster’s database so they can enter in their locations with a touch of a button. Official police locations will be identified with special badges (seen below). Trapster’s owner and creator Pete Tenereillo has been personally meeting with Austin police to get the system set up:

“We’re setting them up as moderators so they can enter information. Everything from red light cameras and laser enforcement points to dangerous intersections- road closures,” said Tenereillo.

It’s unclear if the police’s role as “moderators” means they can also remove information.

Trapster is hoping to get more police deparments to sign on board to the service. If interested, police can contact Trapster at

Fox News 7 in Austin, Texas recently covered the story:

The Trapster iPhone app is a free download from the iTunes App Store.

How to Give an iPhone App as a Gift Using iTunes

The latest version of iTunes has added the ability to give apps to friends and loved ones with a new feature called Gift This App. This feature should particularly come in handy with those paid apps you want someone to try out but couldn’t quite persuade them to pony up for.

How to Gift an App

1. To gift an app, you’ll need a iTunes account with a credit card attached.

2. Find an app you want to give and click on the arrow next to price. A drop-down menu will appear. Click Gift This App.

3. A form will appear that will, at the top, ask you whether you want to send the gift as an email, or if you want to print out a certificate and present it in person. For email, the recipient will receive a link they’ll click to download the app. For the printed-out certificate, the recipient will be given a redemption code they must enter into iTunes in order to receive the app. Choose one of the options, then fill out the fields in the form:

4. If given via email, the recipient will receive the gift via an email that looks like this:

Continue reading…

Steve Jobs on His Health: “I’m feeling fine. I almost died. It’s been a pretty good last few months.” (Video)

Steve Jobs appeared at the unveiling of draft organ-donation legislation in California Friday where the Apple CEO was instrumental in getting state lawmakers to create SB 1395, a law which, if passed, will require Californians applying for or renewing driver’s licenses to answer whether they’d like to donate their organs in case of death. According the Mercury News, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke at the event and thanked Steve Jobs for his efforts:

Steve Jobs’ was very instrumental in getting us here today,” said the governor. “Steve Jobs told my wife about his transplant and she talked to me. Then we had great phone conversations back and forth. … He knew that others don’t have a plane waiting for them to get to a transplant.”

Jobs said, “There were not enough livers in California to go around. I was advised by my Stanford doctors to enroll on a list at a Memphis hospital, because it was more favorable to get a liver there.

“I was fortunate,” he said because he had the ability to fly cross country in the four-hour window needed to transplant a healthy organ. “Last year, 400 other Californians died waiting. I could have died.”

He called current system “an obscure process” with “no one asking the simple question: Will you donate your organs?”

Of his current health, the whippet-thin Jobs told other transplant survivors who attended the Friday news conference, “I’m feeling fine. I almost died. It’s been a pretty good last few months.”