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iPhone 4 Prototype Sellers Sentenced: Probation And $250 Fine

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:14 PM PDT


We don’t want to turn into TCMZ or anything here, but since this was such an inflammatory story to begin with and we followed up on the criminal charges a couple months ago, it seemed worthwhile to put a cap on the whole “stolen iPhone 4″ saga.

If you’ll remember, Jason Chen (editor at Gizmodo at the time) was sheltered from prosecution by journalism protection laws. But the pair of guys who sold the phone to them, Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, weren’t so lucky. They were charged with misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property.

They were spared anything more than media overexposure and a slap on the wrist, though, after they entered a no contest plea in court. San Mateo county DA Richard Wagstaffe told CNET:

We asked for some jail time. The judge considered that Wallower had served in the armed forces and Hogan was enrolled in San Jose State, and neither had any criminal record, and decided that jail time wasn’t required. Someone from my office called Apple’s general counsel. This is a fairly routine theft case. This was a couple of youthful people who should have known better.

The two will pay $250 each in restitution to Apple, do 40 hours of community service, and will have a year of probation. Having escaped the grasp of the law myself for a similar reason (i.e. general harmlessness and lack of a record), I can empathize.

That pretty much exhausts the iPhone 4 story, and I have to say I’m glad to see it go. Nothing good came of it, but at least now we can say that nothing too bad did either. Now let us never speak of it again.

The iPhone 4S: Faster, More Capable, And You Can Talk To It

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:00 PM PDT


What does the “S” stand for?

When I ask Apple this, they’re vague in their response. They note that some people say it stands for “Special” or “Super”. Others say it’s for “Speed” — much like the iPhone 3GS, the successor to the iPhone 3G. Or maybe it’s “Storage” (this is the first iPhone with 64 GB option — and with iCloud storage). Or “Sprint” (this is the first iPhone to run on that network in the U.S.) Or perhaps it’s for “Speech” or “Siri”. Either of these last two would get my vote. The point is, the “S” can stand for any number of things depending on who is using the device. Here’s all I know for certain: this is the best iPhone yet.

Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of talk in the blogosphere following the unveiling of the iPhone 4S last week. Some pundits seemed underwhelmed by what was unveiled on stage. “Where’s the iPhone 5?,” many wondered. Arguing over names is silly — Apple could have easily called this device the “iPhone 5″. But I assume they chose not to for the same reason that some actually felt underwhelmed: the iPhone 4S looks exactly like the iPhone 4. Fair or not, if a device looks the same, many will assume it is largely the same.

But that would be selling the iPhone 4S well short. While it does look the same as the iPhone 4, the 4S contains innards that are a significant upgrade over the previous model. The two biggest changes are the faster chip — the A5 over the A4 — and the much-improved camera. Combine those with the new iOS 5 software, and you have what will definitely be a worthwhile upgrade for many users. And when you throw in the amazing new voice-driven “intelligent assistant” Siri, it becomes a no-brainer, in my mind. These are the aspects I’m going to focus on.

The A5

First of all, the iPhone 4S blows away the iPhone 4 when it comes to speed. For the past week, I’ve been testing all of my most-used apps and the differences range from solid to awesome. At first glance, the speed difference may seem subtle. But over time, it adds up and becomes apparent. I would switch back to my iPhone 4 and get frustrated by the lag.

Apps that used to take a longer time to perform a task — applying a filter in Camera+, for example — now work much faster. More generally, every app seems to load quite a bit faster. The best way to see this is to load the Settings app that is built into iOS. On the iPhone 4, it can take up to 3 seconds to load. On the iPhone 4S, it loads in less than a second. And the 4S is faster at switching between apps when multi-tasking.

Better still is the performance boost that games get. Apple showcased Infinity Blade 2 during their demo last week, but the improvements to even less graphic-intensive games is impressive. Apple says that graphics can render up to seven times quicker thanks to the A5.

The Camera

The camera is an even bigger deal to me. As I’ve been following for some time, and Apple noted last week, the iPhone has become the most popular camera in the world if you go by the images uploaded to Flickr. And it’s not even close. This new camera in the iPhone 4S goes above and beyond. And it’s going to push that lead even further.

If the point-and-shoot market wasn’t in trouble before, it will be now.

Much will be made about the upgrade from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels with the iPhone 4S. But the bigger difference is the engineering behind the new camera. Apple notes with pride that their engineers were able to completely re-architect this tiny camera to produce images that are on par with the nicest point-and-shoots available. They credit five “precision elements” to record incoming light (versus four in the already excellent iPhone 4 camera) and the inclusion of a larger f/2.4 aperture to bring in more light.

I was actually in London last week when I got the 4S. For the trip, I brought my Canon S95, a $400 point-and-shoot which is generally considered to be one of the best. I barely used it. While it still bests the iPhone 4S in low-light settings, for all most other environments, it’s hard to tell the difference. Yes, the S95 is still better, but it’s no longer so much better than it can trump a device that I always have in my pocket with me anyway. Yep, point-and-shoots are screwed. (In case that wasn’t already abundantly clear.)

Also great is that the iPhone 4S camera can shoot 1080p video for the first time. The iPhone 4 is limited to 720p. The 4S also features video stabilization, to ensure your home videos won’t make viewers want to vomit. Testing this out, it seems to work pretty well.

Below, a video taken with the 4S (be sure to switch the embed to 1080p):

Below, an image taken with the 4S (more at the bottom of the post):

iOS 5 & iCloud

Considering that Apple has been talking about iOS 5 for several months now, and developers have been testing it out and showing it off for almost that long, I’m not going to focus on it too much. I too have been using a developer build of iOS 5 for months, and it is without question a worthwhile upgrade. If you have an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, you absolutely need to download it immediately (starting when it’s available tomorrow). With the iPhone 4S, all the new features simply run faster and a little bit more smoothly.

The best addition to iOS 5 is the revamped Notifications system. Yes, it’s a bit like the system that Android and webOS have had for a while, but once again, Apple took their time to make sure they did this right. Gone are the annoying blue pop-ups that would get lost when another notification came in. Now you have a full-on notification center to keep track of everything you miss when you’re away from your phone or simply not in the mood to check it. Again, having used it for a few months now, I’m spoiled. There is no way I could go back to the old system.

Other key new features of iOS 5 including Twitter integration (which we talked about more in-depth here), the new iMessage (SMS killer), Reminders (an Apple-built to-do list), and a faster version of the Safari web browser.

But the biggest change of iOS 5 may be that you can now setup and manage your iOS device without having to use a PC or a Mac at all. When you boot up a new device, a short tutorial walks you through how to enable the services you wish to use, and activate your phone. It’s quick and painless.

You can also now use iCloud to back up your phone and for the don’t-call-it-syncing of your data. iTunes in the Cloud and Photo Stream are great additions for people who simply do not want to manage content through the iTunes desktop software. Apple comes closer to an “it just works” system than anything I’ve seen previously. Regular people will be able to use this.


All of that sounds great. And these things would be enough to get millions of people to buy an iPhone 4S without any questions asked. But the true killer feature of the device is Siri.

Yes, others have done voice controls before — even Apple has had them baked into iOS for a few years. But most, including Apple’s previous attempt, have been awful. Others, like Google’s voice services built into Android, are decent. Siri is great.

In the coming weeks and months, we’re going to hear: “both fill-in-the-blank-Android-phone and the iPhone 4S have voice control functionality”. But that’s like saying both Citizen Kane and BioDome are films. True on paper. Decidedly less true when you have to actually experience them.

You really have to use it yourself to see just how great Siri actually is. Using it for the past week, I’ve done everything from getting directions, to sending emails, to sending text messages, to looking up information on WolframAlpha, to getting restaurant recommendations on Yelp, to taking notes, to setting reminders, to setting calendar appointments, to setting alarms, to searching the web. The amount of times Siri hasn’t been able to understand and execute my request is astonishingly low. I’ll say something that I’m sure Siri won’t be able to understand, and it gets it.

Also awesome: when I first tried out the service in London, Siri was set to UK English. It didn’t understand a word I was saying. The Apple reps couldn’t figure out what was going on. But a quick change of the settings had it working perfectly. Siri understands accents as well.

A number of folks have written that while Siri looks good, it seems like a feature that gives good demo but won’t actually get used. I disagree. I think this is a feature that will sell the device. And I think all of Apple’s rivals will have to act quickly to counter it. We’ve all seen the science fiction television shows and films where people talk to their computers like human beings and the computer understands them. That future is now.

Further, I do believe Siri has a real shot at disrupting the stranglehold Google has on mobile search. No one is going to beat Google at their own game, but with Siri, Apple has a way to change the game. Right now, just Yelp and Wolfram Alpha are partners. But this is just a first release of Siri — it’s actually in “beta”. Just imagine what will happen when Apple partners with other services to expand Siri further. And imagine when they have an API that any developer can use. This really could alter the mobile landscape.

To activate Siri, you simply hold down the home button for a couple seconds (similar to the old voice controls). Or there’s a setting you can turn on so that when you bring your iPhone 4S up to your ear, it will activate Siri. Obviously, if you’re on a call, it knows not to do this.

The one downside of Siri: because it uses server-side software to decipher what you’re saying (likely using Nuance-licensed technology), you have to be connected to the Internet in order for Siri to work. But that shouldn’t be an issue in most circumstances.

Before you ask: no, Siri will not be available as part of the iOS 5 upgrade for other devices. It will be an iPhone 4S-only feature. Apple is vague as to why this is, but they do say that part of it has to do with processing power. I also asked about the possibility of Siri coming to the iPad 2 (which has the same A5 chip) — I was told that for now, Siri will be iPhone 4S only.


Those are the key elements on the iPhone 4S, in my mind. Each of them makes the iPhone 4S a worthy purchase in their own right. But it’s Siri that really puts it over the top.

As for upgrades, it’s a tougher call. If you already have an iPhone 4 and still have time left on your two-year contract, it will be a pricey decision to upgrade to an iPhone 4S — especially since you’ll get the iOS 5 features (again, minus Siri) as an upgrade for free. If either speed or the camera are of the utmost importance to you, you should upgrade. If not, go to an Apple Store and see for yourself just how cool Siri is and then decide.

If you’ve had an iPhone 3GS and have been waiting a couple years for the next iPhone to come out, now’s the time to upgrade. If you’re worried just because this is not called the “iPhone 5″ , you’re being foolish.

If you’ve never owned an iPhone before and the 4S will be your first one, you’ll love it. I suspect that millions of Verizon and Sprint customers in the U.S. are going to be in this bucket.

As a bonus: the one issue I’ve had with my Verizon iPhone 4 is that it’s basically useless in much of the rest of the world (which uses GSM, not CDMA). But the iPhone 4S is both GSM and CDMA compatible. Even if you’re a Verizon (or Sprint) customer, you can take it overseas and use it there (for an undoubtedly large carrier fee).

As for battery life, the 4S seems solid. That’s impressive given the faster processor. I would get about 7 hours in heavy usage over mainly 3G on any given day. If I was only on WiFi, more. Apple’s own specs do note that standby battery time has decreased a bit, but it’s not something I noticed enough to make note of.

Leading up to last week’s event, like everyone else, I kept reading the rumors about a new iPhone with a larger screen and completely different form factor. Quite frankly, I was hoping they were wrong. (For the record, I stated that I heard the screen size rumor was wrong weeks ago.) The iPhone 4′s design is the pinnacle of smartphone design in my opinion. I simply could not imagine how they could alter it to make it better. Even making it thinner would mean that it wouldn’t fit as nicely in your hands for taking pictures. Android fanboys are going to love that statement.

I’m happy that Apple decided not to change the form factor even though they had to know there would be some backlash from a certain segment of the population (read: idiots). Instead, Apple focused on the other thing they do best: refining already great products to make them better. The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.

Company: Apple
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: October 12, 1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod (offered with...

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Video: Meet ecoATM, The Reverse Vending Machine That Takes Your Phone & Spits Out Cash

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 05:38 PM PDT


I’m down in sunny San Diego for the CTIA wireless conference — which, thanks to some last minute announcement cancellations, is about as exciting as listening to Ben Stein narrate grass growing.

On the upside, the absence of back-to-back press conferences (or really, any press conferences) has allowed me some time to actually roam the show floor for the first time in a long while. Turns out, there’s some pretty cool stuff hiding in there.

Take this one, for example: Called the ecoATM, it’s essentially a reverse vending machine for phone sales — or, put another way, it’s the concept of Gazelle (or any other online cell phone/gadget buyback service) made into a kiosk. Insert old phone, get money back.

How it works:

  • The soon-to-be-seller finds a real-world kiosk (likely in a mall, grocery store, or other location with heavy foot traffic.)
  • They place their phone into the machine, while the machine assures them that it will not damage the phone nor read/copy any personal data from the device
  • The machine visually identifies the phone as best it can from a database of around 4,000 devices.
  • The machine then uses some fancy AI and visual recognition trickery to scope the device for damage, and offers up a device-compatible cable connection which allows it to analyze whether or not the device boots.
  • Based on the type of phone and the shape it’s in, ecoATM makes an offer.
  • Users can then cash out (or cancel the transaction and get their phone back at any time), with the option to donate any percentage of the sale to any one of many charities.

We originally spotted the ecoATM a few months back, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen one in action and been able to get it on video. They’ve since rolled around to 23 test locations in the Souther California area, with Northern California locations planned for the near future (Valley Fair in San Jose was named as one upcoming location. Greg Trivia Fact #87: That’s where I met my better half nearly 10 years ago.)

Fittingly, ecoATM tells me that their primary investor is Coinstar — which, if you’re unfamiliar, is a company that takes all that change rattling around in your pockets and converts it into gift cards for major retailers by way of a similar kiosk setup. Oh, and they own Redbox, the rather popular DVD kiosk service. Yeah, these guys dig kiosks.

Check out the demo video below. Pardon the audible roar of the conference center in the background — it was a bit of an impromptu shoot. (Notice that the prototype shown in the video is different than the one pictured above; the one in the video is the more recent build)

Near-Final Motorola Spyder And Xoom 2 Photos Leaked

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:55 PM PDT


Motorola was being mighty cryptic with their teaser video yesterday, but some newly leaked photos may shine a light on what they’ve got in store for us come next week. Engadget managed to get their hands on some more shots of the new Motorola Spyder and Xoom tablet, and they almost look ready to ship.

The Spyder (also known as the Droid RAZR and Droid HD) now sports some Verizon branding and a funky carbon fiber-esque finish around the back. Engadget’s tipsters mentioned that the pictured device was running at 1.5GHz, but that the finished product would indeed have a 1.2GHz processor.

Also on deck is the smaller, reportedly IR-friendly version of the Xoom 2. The body still keeps those slightly curved edges, but Motorola seems to have gone for a different backplate than the more robust metal one seen in earlier photos. If prior reports hold true, then the new line of Xoom tabs come in at around 9mm thick, which would definitely fit the “thinner” criteria that Motorola played up in their teaser video.

They may not be the most tantalizing photos in the world, but they show off products that look very close to release. With Motorola’s event one week away, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either (or both!) of these things take the stage.

The T-Mobile Amaze 4G Review: A Nice Camera In A Big Phone

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:58 AM PDT


Short Version: Shutterbugs will love this well-built and powerful Android phone, but folks looking for thin and light may want to look elsewhere.


  • 8 megapixel camera
  • 4G Support
  • Android 2.3
  • 16 GB on board memory/MicroSD card support
  • $259 with contract


  • Great camera
  • Fast processor
  • Great interface


  • Big and heavy
  • Some issues with low-light shots
  • Casing and screen take fingerprints and dirt


The Phone

The Amaze 4G is by all rights a bog-standard Gingerbread phone with a very specific purpose. It was built to take great pictures and little else although it does run on T-Mobile’s “4G” network with theoretical speeds of 42 Mbps on HSPA+. I saw 1161 kbps down and 1238 kbps up in a known 4G area in Brooklyn, which isn’t exactly hitting 4G speeds but where I am it’s pretty fast. Speed results naturally vary based on tower position and location.

The phone is running a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 Processor with Gingerbread 2.3.4 on board. HTC has added Sense 3.0, a UI improvement to the standard Android experience that adds detailed widgets and improved icon menus to the experience. Going from Sense to a phone running stock Android is fairly jarring and its one of the best aspects of this phone.

Otherwise, we’re talking about a big and bulky beast. The phone weighs 6 ounces and it feels like it weighs more. The rear panels are made of matte plastic and metal and the case is sturdy, though a bit sensitive to dirt and fingerprints. Battery life is good – about 48 hours of use on one charge, 24 hours with a day of heavy use. It has 16GB of storage space on board and supports MicroSD cards for expansion.

The Amaze as a few other bells and whistles including SRS simulated surround sound and an FM radio. However, the real draw here is the camera.

The Camera

The camera is the centerpiece of this phone. It has an 8-megapixel sensor and can shoot 1080p video. It supports a number of interesting shooting modes including SmartShot, a multiple exposure method of grabbing the best shot, and ClearShot HDR, an “HDR” mode that allows for clear shooting in low and odd light. There is also BurstShot, a 5 frame sports mode that grabs action, and a panoramic SweepShot. Finally, there is Perfect Pics for crowds of subjects. It has smile and blink sensing so you can grab the right photo of the whole family.

There is also a terrible “portrait” mode that adds a blurred vignette around the subject. Stay away. The camera also has a manual mode for handling white balance, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and exposure. It adds a bit of control to the image that some folks may enjoy.

Most are reporting zero shutter lag although I did find some issues with image handling after the shot. You can take a great photo quickly, but it takes a few seconds of processing to modify and store it, at least in some of the more imaging intensive modes.

The camera has F/2.2 wide angle optics (bright for a camera phone) and a backside illuminated sensor for greater light sensitivity. The camera is, in short, fantastic in most light. I took some excellent shots on a trip to the beach last weekend including a sunset shot of the beach in the late afternoon. It starts to break down near dusk night and HDR mode allowed for some clever fixes. Once the sun goes down, however, it’s another story.

Unfortunately, in the end, Amaze needs lots of light to produce great shots. Evening shots, even in night mode, are often blurry and fuzzy even in HDR mode. The flash is adequate but definitely washes out the subjects and, provided you’re shooting a still object like a sunset. Consider this:


If you’re taking photos of your friends in a big, fancy nightclub in the dark, the dual flash LEDs can do quite a job. Want something a little less emphatically lit? You might be out of luck.

In full sunlight, however, the camera is as good or better than most point and shoots I’ve used. The front-facing camera works well, although not as well as the rear sensor. The phone supports video messaging through Qik and Skype.

The Bottom Line
I’m a big fan of the Amaze’s impressive camera but I came away wondering if the size and weight of this behemoth won’t bog folks down. It’s a massive phone with a big, hefty screen and it definitely has all of the tools necessary to be a great phone. However, compared to thinner and lighter phones like the Galaxy S II, this is a boat anchor.

If you’re an avid photographer, however, and you don’t want to lug around a point and shoot, this phone will definitely do the trick. Whereas previous Android iterations depended on gimmicks (the 3D phone, the huge screen phone), this one excels at picture taking in a way that will impress friends and family. This isn’t a camera for “in a pinch” situations. This is a standalone camera replacement.

Is the Amaze 4G worth the $249 price tag? Potentially, although I’d be hard-pressed to recommend it as a “phone” and not as a cameraphone. Sure it has all the right pieces in all the right places but it’s a bit too big, even in an era of huge phones. If you like the camera features, this is the phone for you. If you’re looking for a more well-rounded – and thinner – package, perhaps the Amaze will not amaze.

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WildTangent Rolls Out Android Game Rentals For T-Mobile Customers

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:31 AM PDT


It’s no surprise that WildTangent and T-Mobile have been working on a way to let Android customers rent apps on the cheap, and today we get to see the fruits of their labor. WildTangent has announced that their Android app has already gone online and is ready to rent to games to the magenta-clad masses.

At time of writing, WildTangent’s game catalog currently offers users access to nearly 40 games from fan-favorite timewasters like Burn The Rope and Doodle Jump to licensed fare like Guitar Hero and Call Of Duty. For better or worse their game selection also includes 10 different slot machine games, so I suppose that’s a win for all you gambling addicts out there.

All transactions are conducted using WildTangent’s proprietary WildCoins currency, with game rentals starting as low as the virtual equivalent of $.25. The rental period lasts 24 hours, which should be plenty of time for even the pickiest of gamers to decide if Fruit Ninja is a worthwhile addition to their collection.

You won’t find the WildTangent application in the Android Market as one may expect. It’s essentially a parallel app store specifically for games, so cheap app lovers will have to go through T-Mobile to get access. Current customers can download the app straight from the T-Mobile Mall, or text ‘GetWild’ to 6255.

Want To Be Ready for iOS 5 Tomorrow? Get iTunes 10.5 Now

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:29 AM PDT


If you’re not already running on the developer build of iOS 5 (whether you’re an actual developer, or a cough-cough-yeah-for-sure-I’m-totally-a-”developer”-shut-up-and-give-me-iOS-5), tomorrow’s the big day. After roughly 4 months of Beta builds, iOS 5 is finally launching to everybody.

Before you can dive in, though, you’ll need iTunes 10.5 — anything less just won’t do the trick. Looking to ensure that their servers don’t eat it too hard with tomorrow’s launch, Apple has opted to make the iTunes bit of the equation available this morning.

It’s been a while since 10.5 began rolling out in Beta capacity, so here’s a quick recap of the big new features:

  • iTunes Match: For $25 a year, iTunes Match will give you legal digital access to any songs you own (be it through legal means or not). Match won’t actually launch until late October, but support is built into 10.5.
  • Patches a number of Windows-specific security issues
  • WiFi syncing support (when paired with iOS 5)
  • Purchase history (for books, apps, etc) through iCloud

If you’ve got a beta build of iTunes 10.5 already up and running, you’ll need to reinstall manually to move to the final release (the Beta considers itself “Up to date”, though it’s set to expire in around 3 days.) Otherwise, you can update iTunes through the usual means, or by downloading it manually here.

Company: Apple
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: October 12, 1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod (offered with...

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Grooveshark Signs Deals With DashGo & NuGroove Records

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:38 AM PDT

Image (1) grooveshark.jpg for post 161910

Streaming music service Grooveshark is today announcing it has signed new licensing deals with worldwide distribution network DashGo and indie label NuGroove Records. DashGo is the larger deal, representing 115 labels, more than 4,5000 banks and over 50,000 tracks. NuGroove, meanwhile, is a small label with just over two dozen signed artists.

DashGo’s top labels include Delicious Vinyl and Time Records, and its top bands are Coconut Records and Rock Mafia. NuGroove is more jazz-focused, with acts like Michael Lington and Bob Baldwin.

Grooveshark now has a library of over 15 million songs and sees over 35 million unique visitors monthly. However, its questionably legal service has resulted in its app getting rejected by Apple and even banned by the Android Market in the past. It’s now available as an app for jailbroken iPhones and via the mobile Web at

Full mobile access is available for $9/month, which is an increasingly hard sell when for just a buck more you can get still large, but legal, catalogs from MOG (12M), Rdio (12M) or Rhapsody (13M), for example.

That said, Grooveshark’s fans love the selection, the app’s design and offline access the service provides via its apps and websites. And considering its issues, growing to 35 million uniques per month is rather impressive.

Company: Grooveshark
Launch Date: January 3, 2006
Funding: $1M

Grooveshark is a web-based music application built for anyone on the internet to listen to music on-demand at no charge. Users have the ability to listen to single songs from over 15 million songs, save playlists, and embed both on other websites, blogs, and social media profiles via the Grooveshark Widget. Grooveshark offers users the option to access their Grooveshark accounts remotely with mobile applications for Android, jailbroken iOS, BlackBerry, and HP Palm WebOS devices. Grooveshark also allows artists and record...

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BlackBerry Internet Outage Strikes Again While Investors Get Antsy

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:16 AM PDT


Oh boy. As if yesterday’s BIS outage wasn’t bad enough for RIM, it looks like whatever solution they managed to cook up isn’t quite doing the trick. Reports of yet another outage have begun to make the rounds, and users in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are once again unable to browse the web, send emails, or fire off BBM messages.

RIM has acknowledged the issue via their official BlackBerryHelp Twitter account by saying that “some areas have messaging delays and impaired browsing.” Their tweet doesn’t make it sound too bad, but representatives from T-Mobile UK, Vodafone Egypt, Bahraini carrier Batelco, and Kenyan operator Safaricom have all confirmed that their customers are being affected.

While RIM scrambles for a fix, they may also be facing some issues a bit closer to home. Activist investor Jaguar Financial has been calling on RIM to enact some drastic changes for about a month now, but Reuters reports that the company has managed to gain the support of other BlackBerry shareholders. As it stands, Jaguar claims to have the backing of enough investors to account for 8% of RIM’s total stock.

Jaguar Chief Exec Vic Alboini has mentioned that with the support of those shareholders, Jaguar will be able to demand a shareholder meeting to gain more traction for their vision for RIM. And what exactly is that vision? Jaguar wants RIM to undergo a “value maximization” process that could involve selling RIM’s patents, or even the entire company. What’s more, Jaguar is calling for a shake-up in RIM management that would begin with ousting co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.

At this point, it’s beyond crucial for RIM to get their affairs in order, because things are starting to look grim. It certainly wouldn’t be impossible for RIM to turn things around, but these days their road just seems to be getting rougher and rougher. Is Growing Like Crazy, Debuts Android And iOS Apps

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:17 AM PDT

fabmobile, which started out as Fabulis, a social networking site for gay men, has not only recently changed its name but also started from scratch with an entirely new business centered around online flash sales of design items. After raising a $1 million seed round, and another $8 million in Series A funding, back in July, the company has seen absolutely stunning growth after the pivot.

The startup’s CEO, Jason Goldberg, says the site now boasts over 750,000 members, of which 40,000 signed up over the course of last weekend alone. And with 18% of its traffic (and 12% of its revenue) currently coming from mobile devices, the time was ripe for to launch some apps.

Today, the company is doing just that, debuting applications for Android, iPhone and iPad. is already generating about $100,000 in sales on a daily basis, and Goldberg expects this number to shoot up quickly after the launch of the mobile apps, which are evidently free of charge.

The app enables users to receive daily notifications when new sales go live, browse and purchase items, and share products on Twitter and Facebook, among other features.

Screenshots galore:

Company: Fab
Funding: $11.3M features daily design inspirations and sales at up to 70% off retail. was started by Jason Goldberg, who founded SocialMedian and Jobster, with design industry veteran Bradford Shellhammer, contributor to Dwell and formerly of Blu Dot and Design Within Reach in New York, NY, along with Deepa and Nishith Shah in Pune, India and Veerle Pieters in Deinze, Belgium.'s headquarters are in New York, NY. The website offers daily design inspirations and sales of up to...

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AT&T Adds Five New Android Phones To Their Lineup

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:11 AM PDT


If you thought that AT&T’s Android lineup was a bit lacking, then today’s announcement just may change your mind. AT&T has pulled back the curtains on a fleet of five new Android-powered smartphones that should hit wireless retailers just in time for all that holiday commotion.

The new Samsung Captivate Glide may bear a resemblance to its distant cousins the Stratosphere and the Epic 4G, but the similarities are purely cosmetic. While this Gingerbread handset packs a similar 4-inch Super AMOLED display, it also has a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor under the hood and 1GB of RAM to help keep things running smoothly.

As you can tell, it also sports a comfortable-looking four row keyboard, but perhaps less obvious are the HSPA+ radio, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.3-megapixel frontfacer.

Motorola’s Atrix 2 actually seems like a mixed bag as far as upgrades go. It rocks a sleeker body than its predecessor, not to mention an new HSPA+ radio so users can finally push the limits of AT&T’s Faux-G network.

An unnamed 1GHz dual-core processor is calling the shots, which is a bit odd considering how proud they were of the original’s Tegra 2 chipset, and the display has been bumped up to 4.3 inches without a similar bump in resolution. That bit of stretching means that the Atrix 2 is working with a slightly lower pixel density than the original model, which may be a disappointment for current Atrix fans. It indeed runs Gingerbread, and an 8-megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video rounds out the package.

These two are the new heavyweight additions to AT&T’s portfolio, but let’s not forget the company’s new mid-and-low-range options.

Pantech joins the fray here with their Gingerbread-powered Pocket. It follows some of the design language used in some of Pantech’s other phones, which is my polite way of saying that it’s awfully squarish.

It’s got a 4-inch SVGA display, a 2GB microSD card, and a 5 megapixel rear camera. The Pocket lives up to its namesake by squeezing everything into a slim frame that’s only 11.3mm thick, so even the skinny jeans fans among you shouldn’t have too much trouble toting this thing around.

The Samsung DoubleTime gains the dubious distinction of being the only phone here to be stuck with Android 2.2/FroYo. Really? Even the ZTE gets Gingerbread?

In any case, the DoubleTime’s big gimmicks are its flip-open design and the internal and external touchscreens mounted on either side of the top half. It rocks a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, comes with a 2 GB microSD card, and will only be available in white with pink trim.

The AT&T Avail, made by ZTE, is the company’s second prepaid Android device. It’s pretty blase as far as smartphones go: it features a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and a 5 megapixel camera. That’s it. It seems like even AT&T is having trouble getting excited over this thing but in fairness, it’s probably meant to sell at a low off-contract price.

Xyologic Releases Hundreds Of Reports Detailing Worldwide Mobile App Trends

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:58 AM PDT


App search company Xyologic is today releasing a total of 220 app download reports, featuring detailed data on Android, iOS and Windows Phone trends across 29 countries worldwide. The reports track statistics like the number of downloads per platform/per country, growth rates, country rankings, number of paid vs. free apps published, app revenue and details regarding app publishers’ individual rankings.

Unlike app store rankings, Xyologic’s reports use raw download numbers to rank apps, as opposed to complex algorithms often meant to boost app discoverability. Ranking by downloads per month also means that some of the most popular apps will be lower on the list because the majority of their install base already has the app on their phones. That’s why Facebook clocks in as the #18 free app on iPhone in the U.S., for example, while game maker Zynga comes in at #15.

As an example of some of the trends these reports can help spot, Xyologic doled out some interesting tidbits of information, like how Apple saw 1.45 billion app downloads globally in the month of August versus 0.64 billion app downloads on Android. If Android’s current growth rate continues, it’s on track to catch up with Apple in June 2012, says Xyologic, at which point each platform will reach 3.2 billion downloads. (See chart).

In select countries, Android is already beating iOS in monthly app downloads, including in the Czech Republic, Poland and Portugal. However, the mobile market in these countries is not fully developed.

Xyologic also forecasts that Android will catch up to iOS in terms of total app downloads by May 2013 and number of apps by August 2012, if current trends continue. (See below charts).

Digging into the reports for the U.S., you can find details as to the top 100 app publishers per platform, including number of apps (free and paid), downloads per month (free and paid) and estimated revenue. Reports are broken down into categories, with separate reports for top apps, new apps and an in-app purchase economy report. These are provided for each platform (iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone) where available, for 29 countries.

Frankly, there’s a lot of data to digest here, so much that even Xyologic claims that it expects its partners and community to discover even more than it could on its own. That, in part, is why the company decided to make these app reports available for free and will continue to do so on a monthly basis. Yes, 220 reports, 4 platforms, every month, for free. Not bad.

If you work in the  mobile industry, this treasure trove of reports is definitely worth a look. You can access them all from here.

BOLT Mobile Browser Exits Beta, Launches Version 3.0

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:44 AM PDT


Today, the BOLT Mobile Browser for Android is exiting its private beta period and becoming commercially available. The new version, BOLT 3.0, continues to offer the increased speeds and social features the browser has become known for, including the integrated Web apps and built-in Facebook integration.

For those unaware, BOLT is a popular WebKit-based alternative browser which runs on Android phones and tablets. It’s known to be fast because of the way it compresses webpages to reduce data transfer speeds. Using a client/server architecture, BOLT claims speeds that are consistently 25-50% faster than its competitors. It also supports the playback of HTML5 and Flash videos (even if your particular device doesn’t support Flash), and it takes advantage of adaptive streaming technology to make that playback even quicker.

The browser has a social element, too, with included Web apps for services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Wikipedia as well as something it calls the “Social Tab.” This feature lets BOLT users connect to Facebook so that information like websites, YouTube videos and status updates can be shared from the BOLT interface directly with the social network.

There are dozens of other features in BOLT, like support for RSS feeds, support for JavaScript, support for Facebook apps and games, pinch-to-zoom, copy/paste, keyboard shortcuts, desktop-style browsing and more. In the two years since its debut, BOLT has served over 6.5 billion pages and 244 million videos, the company says, and now claims “tens of millions” of users. The Android Market, however, shows just over 700,000 installs.

The new version of BOLT is available in the Android Market here.

Best Buy To Offer Full Fleet Of iPhone Models

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:13 AM PDT

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 9.08.44 AM

Best Buy today announced that it will be offering the iPhone 4S, with in-store pre-orders available now and availability beginning October 14.

Just like at Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and Apple, the iPhone 4S will cost $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model, and $399 for the 64GB model. All three carriers offering the 4S will be represented.

If the 4S seems a bit to pricey at the moment, Best Buy is also offering the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, which have been marked down considerably. The iPhone 4 comes in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB flavors and is available for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint starting at just $99 on-contract.

The 3GS, meanwhile, can be had for free with a signature on the dotted line.


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After 10 Million Total Mobile Downloads, TripAdvisor Launches 20 City Guide Apps On Android

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 06:04 AM PDT

Tripadviser Hong Kong

When it comes to travel apps, it helps to have a brand name like TripAdvisor. The top travel advice website also boasts some of the most popular travel apps across most mobile platforms. Its mobile apps have been downloaded 10 million times, with the bulk of those on the iPhone and iPad (it also supports apps for Android, Nokia, Windows Phone, and even Palm). Its iPhone app is currently the No. 4 travel app in iTunes. And if you include the mobile web, which is about half of its mobile users, TripAdvsor is well above 10 million unique mobile users per month.

Today, TripAdviser is launching 20 new City Guide apps for Android. These are standalone apps, which don’t require a connection to the network. They include maps, restaurants, hotels, and attractions (with ratings and reviews), as well as walking tours. The app was created by the EveryTrail team, which joined via an acquisition in February.

EveryTrail specialized in walking tours, and that is a big part of these apps. It even includes a compass which points you in the direction of your next destination. The 20 cities include London, Paris, New York City, Hong Kong, Rome, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

TripAdvisor is in the process of getting spun off from Expedia. Mobile will be a big part of its growth going forward.

Company: TripAdvisor
Launch Date: January 2, 2000

TripAdvisor is a free travel guide and research website that offers reviews and information TripAdvisor operates sister sites in other countries (the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Ireland, Japan and India). Apart from the obligatory reviews of hotels and other attractions, TripAdvisor has some nifty features. Users can quickly and easily post their vacation videos and travel marketers can showcase their properties by featuring their videos on TripAdvisor for free. They also offer a personalization tools allowing users to save...

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Bobsled’s Web-Based Calling Lets You Connect With Nearly Everyone

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 05:31 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-10-11 at 8.23.54 AM

Remember Bobsled, a service by T-Mobile that inexplicably let you make calls to your Facebook friends? Well it’s back and now it’s browser-based, allowing anyone with an iOS or Android phone or a browser to make calls for free. The service works in the U.S. and allows you to make free calls in North America and Puerto Rico. You can also call folks internationally using the same Facebook interface.

The service is free and you can access it and download apps at You can make web to mobile/landline calls from anywhere in the world, so this is a great way to skirt long distance fees.

In the end, this is T-Mobile’s way of making sure that data remains king. With manufacturers replacing voice calls and SMSes with their own proprietary systems – namely Google Voice and iMessage – carriers are wondering how to stay relevant. By buying and supporting these systems, they may be able to get a trickle of payments from satisfied users. It’s also an attempt to neuter the ever-popular Skype apps that also cannibalize voice and video calls.

As we’ve all learned from the dotcom days, if you build it, give it away for free, and wait for them to overwhelm your vastly overbuilt resources, they will probably maybe come. Here’s hoping.