The iPhone 5 is expected in mid-October, as Apple sends master builds of iOS 5 to carriers, while Google loaded up on IBM’s patents to fight its patent wars.
IPhone 5 rumours Heat Up
Apple plans to send the master build of iOS 5 to carriers for approval on September 23. The company asked carriers to approve the OS by October 5, which may lead to the platform’s release a few days later.
If iOS 5 does hits in early October, it will add credibility to Stephane Richard’s new proclamation. The CEO of France Telecom said he was told the iPhone 5 will arrive on October 15, though he declined to name his source.
Google Loads Up on Patents
Google bought 1,023 patents from IBM, to shore up support for its beleaguered Android OS. Google and IBM did not comment on the financial terms of the deal.
Google may not buy InterDigital’s patents. Samsung, Ericsson, Intel and HTC are all reviewing InterDigital’s data as they consider offers for the company’s intellectual property.
Google, which showed initial interest, instead bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.
Apple, meanwhile, filed motions to stay two of its patent lawsuits against Motorola. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company argued Google’s purchase of Motorola results in a “fundamental loss” of rights for the phone manufacturer, since the pending merger gave Google ownership of its 17,000 mobile patents.
Google simultaneously addressed European customer’s privacy concerns. The company will let them eliminate their home wireless routers from Google’s location data registry. Google had used the routers to locate Android phones in the absence of strong GPS or cell tower signals.
Google also faced new pressure from competitors. Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL joined together to sell lower-priced ads on each other’s sites, in an attack on Google’s online advertising dominance.
Google, however, may soon release a new feature for these competitors to answer. The company unveiled a program that organizes flight information and fares. It offers users the ability to search airfares by typing “flights” and their destination in the search bar.
Google intends the service to compete with other travel sits such as Expedia, Kayak and Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Next Android Version Dubbed “Jelly Bean”
Google said it is working on an update to the Android platform called Jelly Bean, which may contain the “game-changing stuff” that it initially planned for Ice Cream Sandwich.
Google did not confirm the Jelly Bean name, but it does fall in line with the company’s habit of naming Android updates after sweet treats.
Jelly Bean is still a long ways off, but customers will be able to buy devices running current Android software at GameStop this holiday season. GameStop said it has not decided which tablets to offer, but revealed it plans to sell them for several months.
Google announced a partnership with Intel, which may finally help the chip maker get a foothold in mobile devices. The two companies showed off a prototype Android tablet that uses Intel’s new Medfield Atom chip.
The demo tablet on display has “the full blessing and backing of Intel and Google,” according to Mike Bell, co-general manager of Intel’s phone division.
AT&T to Launch LTE Network, Debuts Mango Phones
AT&T announced it will launch its high-speed LTE service in five cities. Customers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will get the network first as part of AT&T’s plan to up the number of customers with LTE access to 70 million.
The Dallas, Texas-based carrier also announced it’s offering three new Windows Mango-based phones. The HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S and Samsung Focus Flash are expected to launch before the end of the year.
Prices remain a mystery, but AT&T’s commitment to carry three different Windows Phones may help Microsoft as it attempts to gain a foothold in the mobile market.
While the new Windows-based phones may not appeal to prepaid customers, AT&T’s new plan option will likely please them. The company offered a new $25 a month prepaid option, giving customers 250 minutes of nationwide voice minutes and unlimited text messages. Users who want to surf the web with their phones can add a separate data plan.
RIM Loses Another Executive, Forced to Pay Royalties
Vandermay, who was instrumental to the BlackBerry’s success with business customers, is the latest in a string of high-profile departures.
RIM also settled its patent suit with Dolby Laboratories. Dolby said RIM will pay it in undisclosed “standard terms” to sell patent infringement lawsuits filed in June in the U.S. and Germany.
The royalty payment to Dolby is another blow to the struggling handset maker. But RIM continues to insist its new QNX-based phones will be its saving grace.
Despite investors’ concerns after profits fell by nearly half to $419 million in the second quarter, the BlackBerry maker said it believes QNX will spur business.
However, pressure from shareholders may force RIM to release its QNX platform before it can equip the platform with BES support. Without BES the RIM’s first QNX phone, the BlackBerry Colt, will be nearly useless for corporate and enterprise customers, who won’t be able to get native e-mail on the device.
Samsung Passes on MeeGo, Tangles With Apple
Samsung said it couldn’t buy MeeGo from Intel because the platform is open-source. Samsung may have been a suitor after the OS failed to attract interest from smartphone or tablet developers. But Samsung says it is interested in broadening its Bada project and likely want its platform to be exclusive.
Meanwhile, the South Korean electronics giant pursued Apple in another patent lawsuit. Samsung sued Apple in France, accusing its rival of technology rather than design infringement. The company claimed Apple’s iPhone and iPads infringed on three patents relating to Samsung’s Universal Mobile Telecommunications System.
In the U.K. however, Apple sued Samsung, defending itself from a suit Samsung filed in June. No other details are known about the countersuit, but Apple’s filing brings the total number of international lawsuits between the two companies to 20.
HTC Looks Into Software
HTC said it considered buying an operating system but “will not do it on impulse.” The company did not indicate whether it was interested in HP’s abandoned WebOS or Intel’s MeeGo platforms.
The Taiwan-based company’s interest in software followed reports Android makers may turn to a different OS after Google acquired Motorola, which may pit it against other Android manufacturers.
Meanwhile HTC’s president announced his take on Apple’s iPhone. The head of HTC’s U.S. division Martin Fichter said the iPhone doesn’t appeal to young smartphone buyers because their dads have one. He said he based his opinion on a recent observation he made of his college-aged daughter and her friends, who own Samsung and HTC devices rather than iPhones.
LightSquared Grilled by FCC, Promises Fix
The FCC requested more tests on LightSquared’s proposed mobile broadband network, fearing the company’s signals could cripple existing military, aviation, weather and commercial GPS systems. The FCC’s request came after LightSquared executive Jeffery Carlisle defended his company in front of Congress.
Carlisle faced members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, who warned LightSquared would wreak havoc on countless GPS systems, causing floods, hurricanes, volcanoes and even aeroplane and train crashes.
But LightSquared said it has a solution to address concerns about its 4G network. The company’s CEO Sanjib Ahuja did not specify what the fix involves, but predicted it will satisfy the FCC’s demands.
Verizon Rolls Out Unlimited Prepaid Plan
Verizon began offering an unlimited prepaid plan for $50 a month. The plan gives users unlimited calling, text messages and Internet data, but only on select feature phones.
Verizon stores offer the new prepaid option, as well as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target. The plan is available for several devices from Samsung, LG and Pantech.
Microsoft Unveils Windows 8
Microsoft unveiled its Windows 8 platform. The new operating system boasts a touch-screen interface with a traditional mouse and keyboard.
Microsoft is also expected to integrate Windows 8 with Windows Live so users can access photos stores on SkyDrive, Facebook and Flickr. The platform is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s strong hardware and software integration.
FTC Pulls Zit Removal Apps, People Take Refuge from Phone Radiation
The FTC pulled AcnePwner and AcneApp from Apple’s App Store, saying the apps falsely claimed to cure skin blemishes with blue and red light emitted from users’ iPhones.
AcneApp’s developers, dermatologist Dr. Gregory Pearson and developer Koby Brown, agreed to settle with the FTC for $14,294, while AcnePwner’s creator Andrew Finkle was ordered to pay $1,700.
Meanwhile, dozens of people who claim cells phones and towers affect their health are retreating to Green Bank, W. Va., a remote mountain town. The town is part of the U.S. Radio Quiet Zone, which bans wireless signals across 13,000 square miles.
Apple Bans Another App, Does Fine Without Jobs
Apple pulled the controversial app “Jew or Not Jew” out of its App Store in France. The app, a database of celebrities and their nationalities, asked users to guess which actors were Jewish. Apple banned the app after French anti-racism group SOS Racisme threatened to sue the company.
Apple’s decision on controversial mobile apps may affect customer’s views of the company, but former CEO Steve Job’s departure has not had the same effect. Just four per cent of people surveyed said they are less likely to purchase an Apple product after Jobs’ resignation.
The company looks to continue its success when it launches iMessage with iOS 5 this fall. New strings of code found in iChat for OS X Lion show evidence Apple may integrate the program with its new mobile app. The feature would allow users to have a conversation on their phone and pick it up later on their computers.
Angry Birds Becomes World’s Fastest-Growing Brand
Angry Birds’ performance over the past two years just made it the fastest-growing brand in the world. The fad began with Rovio’s highly addictive video games and expanded to stuffed plush toys, clothes and even plans for a movie and TV series.
The brand’s popularity is an international phenomenon. The Window of the World theme park in China features an Angry Birds themed section, with attractions like a giant slingshot, letting visitors shoot plush birds at green pig balloons hidden in toy brick castles.
Smartphone Innovations Hit Military, Obama Authorizes Spectrum Auctions
British contractor BAE Systems developed a wearable antenna that weaves into soldier’s uniforms and transmits voice signals and videos back to base and to other soldiers in the field. Troop had been using radio whip antennas, which were more conspicuous, tough to carry and less effective.
Another advancement in military technology, the Scout Observer from Coolfire Solutions, turns the iPhone 4 into a satellite communications terminal. The six-pound dock could replace the military’s standard 160-pound SATCOM terminal.
New technology improves operations in the field, but it continues to make cyber-terrorism a real threat. U.S. and Australian defence and diplomatic chiefs discussed adding a cyber-warfare clause to the ANZUS alliance, essentially defining cyber-terrorism as an act of war.
Their agreement marks the first international cyber-defence partnership outside of NATO.
Meanwhile President Obama put forth the American Jobs Act, part of which would authorise the auction of unused TV broadcast spectrum, using revenue-sharing and other incentives to enlist broadcaster’s participation.
The plan also set aside spectrum, known as the D-block, for public safety agencies to create their own nationwide wireless broadband networks for first responders and other emergency personnel.
President Obama also faced pressure from Democrats, which may shift the spectrum balance. In a letter to the president, a congressmen said the AT&T merger is important and should be approved because it will create nearly 100,000 jobs and provide wireless Internet service to most of the U.S.
Amazon May Offer Netflix-Like Service for E-Books
Amazon had preliminary discussions with publishers about launching a “Netflix-like” digital book membership service. Under the service, customers would pay an annual fee in return for access to a library of content.
South Carolina Student Censured Over Tweets
South Carolina student body president Ross Kressel, 21, who posted tweets allegedly bashing women, homosexuals and African-Americans, was censured by his peers. Students gave him a “no-confidence” vote, allowing him to keep his post and its attendant $10,000 yearly scholarship but withdrawing their support.
Luckily for Kressel, he didn’t send out those tweets while attending the New York Jets opening week matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Jets linebacker Bart Scott urged fans to put down their mobile devices at the game and cheer for the team to create a real home field advantage. Scott was concerned fans would be less passionate about the game and more focused on social media, leading to a silent stadium.
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