Oct 07

Valued my ass...When I upgraded from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS, I’d had the handset for less than a year (September 2008 – June 2009), and AT&T allowed the upgrade at the subsidized price: $199 for the 16GB version.  Same story a year later when the iPhone 4 went up for pre-order; $199 with another 12 months left on my contract.  Bravo, AT&T.

So, when Apple announced the iPhone 4S this week, I didn’t even consider this time might be different.  Nothing had changed with my service and, rather than being 9 months or 12, it had been 15 months since the iPhone 4 upgrade.  I thoughtlessly expected smooth sailing.  That ain’t what I got.

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Jul 02

Everything's FINE Apple’s first response regarding iPhone 4’s signal issue (now known as the Death Grip) was hasty and dismissive – and it hacked off a lot of people.  After a few days at the PR drawing board, the company’s second response, issued this morning, shows more polish: it’s cool, collected… and calculating.

According to Apple, the cause of the iPhone 4 signal problem isn’t its antenna design at all. But there is a problem. And the cause, by golly, is “both simple and surprising”:

“Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.”

According to the statement, this error isn’t even new; it’s been with us since the original iPhone. 

The letter goes on to promise a free software update for all 3G-capable iPhones “within a few weeks” that will include a “corrected formula,” getting rid of the fake bars we’ve been seeing for three years and solving the whole damn mess. 

Except… wait?  Isn’t my iPhone 4 dropping from five bars to no signal when I hold it in my left hand?  If Apple is right and this is all a big mathematical misunderstanding, when I see five bars on my iPhone, I’m really getting a signal which would correctly show me three or four with the new formula.  So, my phone isn’t going from five bars to no signal when it’s in my hand – it’s going from only three or four bars to no signal! 

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May 14

App Store News A couple of weeks ago, the simply-named Wi-Fi Sync app hit the web, promising wireless syncing between the iPhone and iTunes on a Mac or PC. The video showing the app in action grabbed a lot of attention, and for good reason; wireless syncing between the iPhone / iPod touch and iTunes has been on the iPhone OS want list for years.

Well, today there’s bad news, more bad news and some good news on the Wi-Fi Sync front. 

First, the bad news: Apple has – wait for it – rejected Wi-Fi Sync from the App Store.  Yeah, I know… you’re flabbergasted.  Why has the app been rejected?  If you believe developer Greg Hughes (and I do), no good reason for the rejection was given other than to say that it “encroach[es] upon the boundaries of what they can and cannot allow on their store.” This vague, secretive, seat-of-the-pants approval/rejection scheme makes me want to pull my hair out (and I’m not a software developer). 

Okay, so now for the good news, which is really more good-ish. 

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Jun 09

When Apple announced the iPhone 3G S yesterday, we imagine most current iPhone and iPhone 3G users responded like Pavlov’s dogs.  If that’s true for you and you want to upgrade from your current iPhone you can… but it’ll cost you.

If you’re currently on the backend of a two-year contract, you may qualify for the subsidized iPhone 3G S pricing: $199 for the 16GB version and $299 for the 32GB.  But if you’ve got a ways to go on that AT&T contract, that new iPhone is gonna set you back.

If you’re willing to renew your current AT&T contract, you’ll have to shell out double for the 3rd Gen iPhone: $399 or $499 plus tax (16GB, 32GB).  You’ll also have to pay $36 in fees.  Don’t want to renew?  Well, then you’ll pay triple: $599 or $699 plus taxes and fees.

To see just how much an upgrade will cost you, have a strong drink or two and then visit this page at the Apple web site.

We realize that AT&T is subsidizing these phones and that they can’t give them away, but would an upgrade that caused a little less indigestion really be so difficult?

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Jul 24

Some have speculated that AT&T is keeping iPhone 3G supplies low (many AT&T stores are still sold out) in order to tweak the tech-lust for Apple’s newest creation.  Not so says a recent AT&T statement, which reads in part:

AT&T handles direct fulfillment on a first-come, first-served basis, giving everyone an opportunity for stress-free shopping. As we receive new inventory from Apple, we are shipping it out immediately to fill customers’ orders. We hope to begin re-stocking our stores as soon as we can, but first priority goes to those customers who purchased through direct fulfillment.”

If you’ve ordered an iPhone 3G through AT&T via “Direct Fulfillment” you can check the status of your order here.

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