iPhone 4.1 iOS Update Features

September 8th, 2010

Apple has released the latest operating system update for the iPhone today. Here is a run down of all the new features:

AT&T Sad Puppy Coverage

July 18th, 2010

The voice coverage for AT&T is awful. I often have “No Service” around my house. I decided to see what the predicted coverage was on their official coverage map. I’m in their “best” zone. Sigh.

I was inspired to create the following “AT&T Sad Puppy Coverage” image.

ATT sad puppy coverage

Apple’s iPhone 4 has an interesting antenna problem. However, if you hate AT&T, it may be a blessing in disquise.

Multiple people are reporting that when held a certain way the phone loses cell reception. Anandtech’s research establishes that this is a real phenomena.

Apple states that it’s more of a visible perception problem. They believe the current display visually magnifies what is actually only a small effect that is common to all cellular phones. What is true and what is Apple propoganda is not yet obvious. What is interesting is in Apple’s press release about the issue:

As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

Why is this interesting? Bloomberg is now reporting that Verizon will offer the iPhone in January.

So now you early iPhone 4 adopters have a get-out-of-AT&T for free card…

Return your iPhone now. Let your old AT&T contract expire. Buy the new Verizon AT&T in January.

The iPhone may still have an antenna problem, but at least you will not be limited by AT&T’s poor service.

Field Test Mode on iPhone 4

June 25th, 2010

All the prior verisons of the iPhone had a diagnostic mode used for testing the cellular connection and such.

The previous code was the following: *3001#12345#*

When you try to dial this number, nothing happens. The phone doesn’t drop into Field Test Mode or respond.

Where is the Field Test Mode on iPhone 4?

Interesting enough, if you call the number without the asterisk you do get a response.

If you call *3001#12345# you wil get the following message:

USSD Test response. Hi!

iphone 4 test mode

iOS4 will install and run on 3G quite well. However, with the older hardware several new features had to be disabled.

Here are a list of disabled features in iOS4 for 3G:

1. Background/Wallpaper Images – In iOS4 the icons are rendered with shadows to help them standout from the background. This additional processing slows down the 3G hardware. Old jailbreak options for changing the background/wallpaper images do not render this shadow and therefore are more friendly to older hardware. By jailbreaking iOS4 enabling this feature is possible but the device is less snappy.

2. Multitasking – One of the reasons that Apple has waited so long to release multitasking is that it is an obvious resource strain. The 3G hardware is pushed too hard by multitasking and is therefore disabled. Once again this is possible through jailbreak but your device performance and battery life is be highly effected.

3. Bluetooth – The old 3G hardware only supported Bluetooth 2.0. With the 3GS hardware, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR was included. The more efficient pairing mechanisms and power use of 2.1 allowed it to be mobile-friendly enough to be enabled in the 3GS and iPhone 4 hardware.

4. Hardware Encryption – This hardware feature supposedly provides additional data protection to sensitive data such as emails. This hardware was not available in the 3G device and thus is disabled.

Updated: Activation servers are back up and working. Upgrade at will.

With people across the country slamming the iTunes servers, new iPhone users and upgrading users are commonly seeing the following error:

iphone 9838

“We could not complete your iTunes Store request. An unknown error occurred (-9838)”

Alternatively you may receive this error as well:

“iPhone activations are unavailable at this time”

Sadly, this may render your phone unusable!

Calls to Apple support suggests that this a problem with their servers. This is similar to Apple’s activation problems during the first rollout. Just do not upgrade or activate your phone at this time. The iPhone must reconnect to activate initially or to reactivate after the software upgrade.

For those who are currently getting the 9838 error. Keep trying. Once you get punched through the server, your activation should complete. Closing any application that may be in the activation/upgrade chain may help as well. Therefore, if you are trying to activate/upgrade, have all applications closed except iTunes.

With the information that is currently available, the second version of the iPhone will not be cheaper. Yes, you pay less on day one. However, the planned rate increases will cost users more over the price of the contract.

Without a plan, iPhone Version 1.0 was about $400.
Without a plan, iPhone Version 2.0 will be about $200.
Day one savings of about $200.

Data plan for iPhone Version 1.0 was about $20 with some text messaging.
Data plan for iPhone Version 2.0 will be $30 probably without text messaging.
$10 per month over the mandated two years yields an extra $240 dollars. With SMS will probably at least cost $5 more a month.

Over a two year plan, the new iPhone version will cost users at least $40 more than the old iPhone.

For somebody buying an iPhone for the first time, it may not be a killer cost. $40 more to get GPS and 3G speeds is not bad. However, many users will not fall into 3G coverage even if they have a 3G capable device.

I am not saying that the new iPhone is not worth it. I am certainly impressed with my original version. The press, however, should not just swallow Apple’s PR that the new iPhone version is ultimately cheaper.

(Oh, and it would be a mistake to think that one could buy one and unlock it without signing up for an AT&T account. Devices will not be sold without activation anymore.)

This probably will not last long, but it is fun for now. Much like our hacking the wii servers with firefox post, user agents are providing fun once again.

Starbucks and AT&T wifi recently opened up free access to the iPhone. By changing the user agent the browser, anybody can make their browser look like the iPhone to the servers. A couple of easy switches away and it is access for everybody.

Here is how to do it in Safari. Switching user agents in firefox is almost as easy. This documents the iPhone user agent information.

1. Open Safari while connected to a AT&T wifi
2. Enter the Preferences, select the Advanced tab, and then select Show the Develop menu in the menu bar
3. From the Develop menu select User Agent
4. Select the iPhone User-Agent
5. The page will reload and ask for a geniune iPhone number. Everybody has a friend with an iPhone, right?
6. Welcome to free internet from Starbucks

I did a quick demonstration of this at my local Starbucks. Forgive the stammering but I didn’t want to take a bunch of cuts sitting outside the coffee house. Screenflow is adding some pauses and slurring too… Nice, but buggish program.

High resolution pod cast available here. YouTube video available below.

tease for youtube free wifi starbucks video

Many people have assumed that once the official SDK was released that jailbreaking would die. I believe that the jailbreak process is something that will be linked to the iPhone for eternity. As long as Apple limits absolute and complete control, the jailbreak community will continue to flourish.

Let me take a step back for those less geek-inclined. Programs can be developed for the iPhone through two different methods. The official SDK that is being released by Apple will eventually allow programs to be released to users through iTunes. These applications can be purchased much like users purchase iTunes music or videos. Prior to the release of the official SDK, unofficial methods that were not approved by Apple were used to develop software for the iPhone. In order to use these applications, the user is required to “hack” or to jailbreak the phone. So now, two different, incompatible styles exist for iPhone application development — the official SDK and jailbreak methods.

Where is all the code being developed with the official iPhone SDK? As far as I can tell, there is only one SDK app, other than the examples, that can be found in the wild. Tons of jailbreak code and examples can be found. One of the reasons behind this is that the official SDK will allow programmers to make cash from their applications. Once money is added into the equation, suddenly people are less willing to show source code to the public.

One would assume that the promise of coding for dollars would make jailbreak methods die a quick death. However, it has not. Why? Here are the reasons that jailbreaking will be around forever.

    1. Official SDK has coding limitations. The SDK will never allow full access to the iPhone’s complete capabilities. Cellular VoIP, background processes, wireless synchronization — these are just a few of the multiple limitations in the official SDK which are being explored (or exploited) with jailbreak code.

    2. Users are passionate about hacking and unlocking their mobile devices. I think seamonkey420 hacks or mods a mobile device about once a week. Like tattoos, clothing, or jewelry, cellular devices are now part of a person’s style. Making the phone unique or using it in a locale where it is not supposed to work is part of the mobile hacking drive.

    3. Until the iPhone is carrier independent, jailbreaking will be required. Lots of countries do not have an iPhone carrier. Unlocking the phone is tied directly to jailbreaking. People will pay good money to be able to use their phone with whatever cellular service they want. As long as jailbreaking is tied to cellular independence, it will continue to exist.

    4.People will want apps that Apple will not allow. Free music, free “pictures,” and streaming technologies are all examples of applications that Apple will be unlikely to ever allow. AT&T (or whoever the iPhone carrier of choice is) cannot allow bandwidth to be drained from the system.

    5.Apple may limit or repress application distribution. Applications with encryption may not be exported out of the United States in certain circumstances. Apple may require that apps have extensive testing prior to release. Such a process may prevent hobbyist programmers from joining the game. Apple could even require that applications not be distributed for free. The way Apple handles the iPhone application distribution could really change how excited developers are to use the official system.

I am sure there are other reasons that the process of jailbreaking will continue to exist. I do believe that the official SDK will gain traction. If iTunes allows small programmers to make money the way it has allowed small musicians to compete in the music marketplace, it will be successful.

Although Apple has little desire to make the official SDK compatible with the unofficial methods, the converse is unlikely to stay true. The unofficial methods will eventually develop and absorb SDK compatibility. That way if an app developed with the official SDK is denied access to the public through iTunes, it can still be released through alternative, jailbreak installers. If there are two ways to code something, most programmers will choose the official methods to keep their options open for later release.

Although Apple is finally opening up the iPhone platform to application development, the unofficial jailbreaking methods are not going to disappear. The terms “iPhone” and “jailbreak” will be forever linked in history.

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The Ten Internet Trends of 2007

December 17th, 2007

When we look back on 2007 in a few years, these ten topics and companies will be the milestones that will be referenced and debated:

  • 1. Google Pushes Its Power
  • 2. Aggregators Polluted by the Mobs
  • 3. Mobile Web. Why?
  • 4. User-Submitted Profits
  • 5. Apple Leaps
  • 6. Microsoft Tumbles
  • 7. DRM. Die. Die. Die.
  • 8. Main Stream Media Invasion
  • 9. Politics’ Internet Fruitfulless
  • 10. Social Network Assimilation

1. Google

Google is currently the most powerful technology company in the world. With dominance in search and advertising, profits and stock prices have been impressive.

This year will be remembered as the point that google starting flexing its power to change people’s actions on the internet. Matt Cutts confirmed that google would punish people buying and selling links to influence search engine placement.

Google decreased the clickable adsense area which decreased some publishers’ income by well over 50%.

Google has openly started attacking social networks such as Facebook by joining the smaller networks through the OpenSocial API and by socializing Google services such as Google Reader. This dilutes the power that any one social networking system has. Google’s purchase of Jaiku is a direct competitor to IM candy Twitter. Google’s Android dilutes the potential power of a cellular network as well.

Wikipedia and squidoo will soon be feeling the google crunch next. Collaborative content is one of the most amazing products being created and delivered on the internet. Google’s Knol wants to compete here as well. Like many others, TechCrunch is worried about the conflict of interest:

Google says that Knol pages will be indexed into their search engine but will have no special ranking. That’s a little bit untrue, since they’ll be hosted by Google and will have the advantage of Google’s hefty PageRank to lift them in search results. And since no one will be auditing Google to ensure that Knol pages are treated just like everyone else, there are bound to be claims of conflict of interest.

This first started by competing with Microsoft through online services. Is Google’s strategy to dilute any potential collection of power?

2. Web 2.0 Aggregators

Digg and Reddit have moved away from tech. Sad.

Mob Rule. Tyranny of the Majority. Ochlocracy. Whatever you call it, these sites are the weak, fluffy versions of what they used to be. As the less-geek have moved in, the content of these aggregators have followed. Even the creators cannot control the sites anymore.

Unless you have a large social connection within these sites, you have no chance of getting an article viewed… (unless you pay for it.) Socializing is more important than quality.

Although I view both of these sites on a daily basis, they are frequently gamed, overcome with political manipulation, often filled with spamish links, and are utterly unrealiable as news sources.

What’s the alternative? You can always read what the A-List boys’s club is echoing about on techmeme. Or you can watch the main stream news… which is frequently gamed, overcome with manipulation… You get the idea.

3. Mobile Web

The mobile web is growing and growing. However, unless you are selling ringtones, nobody has figured how to make money from it. Even mobile web experts are puzzled on the exact nature of making money through mobile devices.

Plus, does there have to be a special “mobile web” anymore? The iPhone displays regular web content through a cell interface. Instead of manipulating content to look pretty on tiny browsers, manipulate the cell web browser to view existing content well on the cellular interface. When was the last time you remember visiting a mobi site?

4. User-Submitted Profits

Everybody is making money on the back on the users.

NewsVine, Squidoo, Wikipedia, Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Facebook. If you really think about it, none of these companies would work without the public building content for them. You are building content for them. Congratulations! When do you expect your check?

Even blogs and forums get boost from comments and discussions created within their communities. (Please comment, please, please, please…)

How long will people continue to sow content in the sites of others for free?

5. Apple

I personally believe that this was an amazing year for Apple. Apple stocks are certainly booming.

The iPhone has changed the cellular landscape that parallels how the iPod changed the portable musical player market. Apple’s commericals are painfully clever in their attacks against Microsoft. Leopard’s problems have been far less damaging than Vista’s which has helped as well. Overall, more and more people are considering moving to Apple’s platform.

Apple has shown areas of weakness, however. The AppleTV push has really died for the general public. With an anorexic iTunes movie selection, the AppleTV has little appeal to the nongeek. iTunes itself is having growing pains with content providers. NBC/Universal have decided to play hardball with TV shows and music. It’s difficult to know how it is going to play out. Apple is understandingly becoming weaker and weaker for DRM as well.

Being less ambitious than Vista has played well for Leopard. However, the new OS X is still causing growing pains for a lot of people. Feeling the vapor, we are still wondering where the much promised ZFS is?

6. Microsoft

As a one time Microsoft zealot, I am pained to see what has happened to Microsoft this year. Vista is failing because it has taken users too many steps as once. We all had to throw away most of our old hardware when XP rolled out. Most of us accepted this because the pre-XP experience was so unstable. XP was the successful promise of easy usage and stability. I wanted to install XP for my parents because I knew it would make things easier for them.

Today the market is different. Things worked pretty well before Vista. People do not want to sacrifice most of their hardware to get things working correctly. Plus, now we have 32-bit versus 64-bit discussion and “ultimate” products that add little except confusion.

Away from the OS, Microsoft’s search engines and ad networks are stagnant, and Microsoft certainly seems to be trying to kill html email usability. From my experience at FOWD, Sean Siebel is not an impressive “User Experience Evangelist.” At least Scoble tried.

Microsoft has made a few positive steps this year. The Microsoft Home Server is a new idea for a new market. If done well, it could be an essential box in every household. IE7 is a large improvement over IE6. Microsoft is investing in Facebook. Even the second Zune release (and the free software upgrade to the first version) is finally generating a little positive Microsoft buzz. Silverlight and Surface are sexy and innovative.

7. DRM

Could 2007 be the year that DRM finally starts to die?

Die. Die. Die.

Shawn Fanning’s original idea of drm-free Napster could exist in several different forms over the next few years. iTunes Plus and Amazon’s DRM free shows that the big guys are creeping into this direction. Steve Jobs thinks this way, too.

Radiohead’s In Rainbows “pay us what you want” experiment is exciting. Saul Williams and Trent Reznor are doing something similar.

Give them the music for free and sell them on the other stuff. It’s coming.

8. Main Stream Media

How about give them the content for free, too?

The New York Times is finally free. Online circulation is having to make up for the dying dead trees distribution:

Nationwide, average daily paid newspaper circulation declined 2.6 percent in the six months that ended Sept. 30, compared with the previous year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an independent organization that monitors the industry. Sunday circulation dropped 3.5 percent nationwide during the same period.

As the main stream media looks to supplement eyeball views with online content, their articles are appearing more and more in news aggregators. How long until we figure out that some of digg’s top users are on the payrolls of popular newspapers or public relations companies?

As advertising dollars move from TV and newspaper to the internet, the main stream media is following. How much this will drown out the current boom on citizen journalism is unclear.

9. Internet and Politics

Howad Dean’s success and subsequent failure seemed to grow from within communities within the internet. Was online activism a good idea too early? Will the traditionally nonvoting, young, internet crowd actually play any role in the upcoming elections? These are the questions that campaigns are asking .

Campaigns are on MySpace, FaceBook, and YouTube. You can not read digg or reddit without reading about Ron Paul or Kucinich. Of course, strike911 received active buzz throughout the internet without getting support from the general public or receiving any real main stream press.

This campaign cycle should be a great test to see if online voting and protesting will cause any offline results.

10. Social Networks

Online social networks have continued to grow throughout 2007. The large players like MySpace and Facebook are ubiquitous. How they are changing our interactions with our personal worlds are staggering. The influence and entertainment role of TV is being largely supplanted by these social networks. For many, offline social interactions are first initiated and planned online. Small niches of personalities and beliefs can find like-minded partners.

The success of YouTube and Flickr is obviously dependent on their social interactions. Digg and reddit are driven by social interactions. Dating networks are thriving.

As more of our social lives are played out online, more of our personal information is accessible online as well. More of our personal actions and characteristics are targeted by advertisers. More of our actions can be collected and used against us. Will an insurance company be able to find out that you are a member of a tobacco social group or a Huntington’s disease facebook group? The ultimate balance between profit and privacy will be difficult.

11. Memes?

Oh wait.. I left out lolcats. I am not sure if that’s a trend or a plague, but 2007 is certainly the a year of it. Or maybe it’s not a trend, maybe it is a meme. Who knows anymore…

Conclusion:
As I reread my article, my overall feeling is that our experience on the internet is becoming more complex. The name “google” no longer gives most people warm and fuzzy feelings. Digg and reddit are often manipulated more than main stream media. Facebook is looking to trade privacy for profits.

The idea of a “do no evil” company is more likely an untruth than an oxymoron. Previously, we thought it was possible on the internet. No more.

Of course, I would not want to do without Facebook, Digg, Reddit, or Google. We all benefit from the battles between Apple and Microsoft. Companies need to make money to survive. The balance is tough.

The real world continues to invades our idealist internet utopia. “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” but I would rather be here than anywhere else.