Art of the iPhone

Review: Otterbox Defender Case for iPhone 3G & 3GS

The Otterbox Defender case ($20) for the iPhone 3G/3GS offers the most protection we’ve seen in an iPhone case yet. It surrounds your iPhone with a fortress of hard plastic, soft silicone, and screen protectors, leaving almost no gap unprotected. But protection requires sacrifice, and for the Defender, that sacrifice is convenience. While gaining superb protection from smashes and scractches, you’ll lose dockability, quick access to the iPhone’s ports, and the iPhone’s slim profile.

The Defender's inner hard shell and outer soft shell.

We wish we could say there was one iPhone case that offered it all: complete protection, minimal profile, lightweight, full access, and slick design. Instead, there are just well-made cases designed toward a purpose like fashion, slim profiles, or protection. The Otterbox Defender is designed for consumers who abuse their iPhones.

For protection, the case is composed of two parts: a hard plastic interior and a soft, shock-absorbing exterior. The hard plastic interior snaps together around the iPhone with clasps that lock the two pieces together. Over that goes a soft silicone rubber skin. Together the pieces offer excellent shock absorption for accidental drops.

Rubber tabs protect the iPhone's various ports.

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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:

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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.”

Basics: How to Give an iPhone Contact Their Own Specific Ringtone

The iPhone comes with a default ringtone that plays anytime a call comes in. You may know you can easily change that ringtone in the iPhone’s settings, but did you know you can also give each person in your iPhone contacts list their own special ringtone? Below are step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

1. Go to your iPhone’s contacts list:

2. Tap a contact:

3. Tap Ringtone if you see a Ringtone field, otherwise tap Edit in the top right corner, then scroll down until you see Ringtone and tap it:

4. Scroll through the list of ringtones and tap one to select it (the ringtone will play when you select it):

And that’s it. You’ve changed the ringtone. A checkmark will appear next to the ringtone to let you know it’s the assigned ringtone, and the name of the ringtone will appear underneath the contact’s name.

Notes and questions:

What ringtones can I use?

You can use any of the iPhone’s default ringtones, ringtones you buy through iTunes, or even ringtones that you make yourself.

How do I make my own ringtone?

You can make your own ringtone using your own songs and iTunes. Check out our step-by-step instructions for how to do this.

Be sure to check out more of our iPhone Basics.

Early iPad Testers Must Black Out Their Windows, Tie Device Down

According to BusinessWeek, a select few developers have received iPads early for testing, but they must follow strict rules from Apple and send pictures proving they’re complying:

Would-be testers of the tablet-style computer, due to be released Apr. 3, must promise to keep it isolated in a room with blacked-out windows, according to four people familiar with the more than 10-page pact that bars partners from disclosing information about the iPad.

To ensure that it can’t be removed, the iPad must also remain tethered to a fixed object, said the people, who asked not to be named because their plans for the iPad have not been made public. Apple (AAPL) won’t send out an iPad until potential partners send photographic evidence that they’ve complied.

Almost sounds like they require a torture chamber. Anyone seen a dungeon at the New York Times?

iPhone App Review Sites Demand Cash for Reviews

Need some good PR for your fresh iPhone app? If you’re willing to open your wallet and cross the line of good ethics, some iPhone app review sites will let you pay up for a review. takes a look at the seedy underground of iPhone app reviews: also seeks payment for expedited reviews. Lore Sjöberg,’s Alt Text columnist, said he submitted his iPhone app The Cyborg Name Decoder to for review, and in response the site offered to expedite a review of his app for $150. The letter included a promise to contact Sjöberg “prior to publishing a review that scores lower than 5/10.”

Just for the record, Art of the iPhone doesn’t accept more than promo codes for app reviews, although we’ve had substantial cash offers from developers. Just a tip: make an awesome app and it will be reviewed by someone.

Link: “Pay to Play: Some iPhone App Sites Demand Money for Reviews:

How To Dry Out a Wet iPhone Quickly With Rice

Via Seattle Weekly:

Guys, last night I did that thing where I dropped my phone in the toilet, and it wouldn’t even turn on afterwards. I was at Video Isle whining about how I was going to have to buy a completely new iPhone, and there was a man there who just happened to work for AT&T. I asked him if I should try to blow-dry my phone, and he said:

SAVIOR FROM AT&T: Turn it off completely, put it in a bag of rice, and leave it there for a couple hours. The rice will absorb the moisture.

ME: *Blank stare*

S.F.A.T.&T.: Just do it.

So, I went home, got out a bag of rice, and stuck my phone in there. I took it out about an hour later, tried to turn it on, and the screen kind of lamely flickered at me. But at least it was turning on, so I stuck it back in there. A couple hours later, before I was about to go to sleep, I took it out and turned it on…AND IT TOTALLY WORKED.

Good tip, as water damage voids the iPhone’s warranty.

Review: Case-Mate ‘I Make My Case’ iPhone Case

Case-Mate recently launched a nifty new site called ‘I Make My Case’ that allows you to design your own iPhone case. The interactive website includes art from 10 designers and artists, including the likes of Chuck Anderson, Hannah Stouffer, Anthony Yankovic, and Shadow Chen. The premise of the site is simple—you start with a blank case, add a background color, and experiment with different graphics until you’re satisfied with the design. The design-your-own cases are available for the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

The website is very easy to use, even if it is a bit slow to load at first. I selected the artist Shadow Chen and got to work. The site displays a plain white iPhone case with a subtle Case-Mate logo at the bottom. There are eight background colors to choose from, along with a variety of loops, swirls, and other designs to play with. The undo button comes in very handy if you make a mistake.

All told, it didn’t take more than a few minutes to create a design I was happy with. You can save multiple designs and share them via Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr. Check-out was fast and easy, and since the cases are a bit on the pricey side ($39.99 each), I was glad to see that shipping is free. The case was sent via USPS First Class Mail, and it arrived approximately 10 days after I ordered it.

The Case-Mate case comes in a snazzy white box, which is much better packaging than most iPhone cases. It also comes with a soft cleaning cloth and a screen protector.

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Steve Jobs’ Animosity Toward Google Is Real and Personal (NYTimes)

An article today by the New York Times delves deeper into the recent fallout between Apple and Google, with the article painting most of the dispute’s animosity as coming from Steve Jobs.

At the heart of their dispute is a sense of betrayal: Mr. Jobs believes that Google violated the alliance between the companies by producing cellphones that physically, technologically and spiritually resembled the iPhone. In short, he feels that his former friends at Google picked his pocket.”

Early versions of Google’s Android operating system had more in common with Windows Mobile and RIM phones than the iPhone, as seen in the photo of an early prototype from December 2007, shown below:

But as Google slowly morphed the Android platform to more closely resemble the iPhone, Steve Jobs began to openly confront Google’s executives over the matter.

Many of those meetings turned confrontational, according to people familiar with the discussions, with Mr. Jobs often accusing Google of stealing iPhone features. Google executives said that Android’s features were based on longstanding ideas already circulating in the industry and that some Android prototypes predated the iPhone.

At one particularly heated meeting in 2008 on Google’s campus, Mr. Jobs angrily told Google executives that if they deployed a version of multitouch — the popular iPhone feature that allows users to control their devices with flicks of their fingers — he would sue. Two people briefed on the meeting described it as “fierce” and “heated.”

The dispute has recently culminated in an Apple lawsuit against HTC, maker of many Android phones including Google’s Nexus One, for infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture, and hardware. In a press release accompanying the lawsuit, Steve Jobs drew a proverbial line in the sand:

We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it.”

Apparently, Jobs’ vitriol has recently extended into Apple’s corporate culture, with current employees noting a rise in anti-Google sentiment.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my life,” one Apple employee says. “I’m in so many meetings where so many potshots are taken. It feels weird.”

Link: New York Times “A Battle for the Future Is Getting Personal”