2 Weeks Remaining until the 3G iPhone Launch

27 06 2008

Today, Friday June 27th, there is less than two weeks until the launch of Apple’s new 3G iPhone.

Things have been quiet here at theiLife.com for the past week- we have to apologize for that! Our writers have been busy doing various other things, from graduating to parties and vacations, the number of articles published this past week has been limited. Have no fear, things are returning to normal very soon. Particularly leading up to the launch of the 3G iPhone, where we will be teaming up with theDigitalLifestyle.tv to provide live video coverage and a liveblog from the line at the 5th Avenue Apple Store in New York City. We are still formulating our exact plans at this time, but when we have finalized them we will certainly let you know.

To 3G or not to 3G? That is the question.

26 06 2008

With over half of the time between the iPhone 3G product announcement and for sale date of July 11 behind us, I have made up my mind on whether I’ll be upgrading my original iPhone to an iPhone 3G. I actually made my decision almost immediately, then I changed it, then changed it again, and probably a few more times.

As usual, Steve Jobs and Apple made me want the latest and greatest, in this case the iPhone 3G. The product was long rumored, and it was practically a forgone conclusion that the announcement would come at WWDC. In typical fashion, Jobs introduced the product touting all of the great improvements and neglecting to mention any possible downsides.

There were a number of factors I considered:

  • The brand new factor: Since I have had my iPhone in September, I have never felt that there was another device out there that I would prefer to have. What a great feeling! Once the iPhone 3G is on the market, that may not be the case. But since it’s still an iPhone, it won’t be so bad.
  • 3G: One of most anticipated features of the iPhone 3G was of course the 3G capability. Sure that will make data transfer, downloading, using certain applications, and other functionalities faster, but at what sacrifice? Battery life? Apple says no, but that is yet to be seen for sure. Price? Yes, the data plan will cost $10 more per month. That’s easily covered by skipping other things if it is that important.

    The speed difference is not important to me. Sure, some things take longer to do than I’d like, but as more and more Web sites are optimized for mobile devices, and specifically the iPhone, that speed won’t be as important. I’m not a heavy mobile surfer, and I use the data more for e-mail than anything else.

  • GPS: GPS is very cool, I have to admit. Every time I use a unit, it boggles my mind that it knows exactly where I am. That accuracy is great, but it is also a little bit weird. GPS on the iPhone makes little sense for me since the times I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings, I already have a GPS unit in the (rental) car. No way am I going to substitute the handheld iPhone for a GPS unit and try to drive simultaneously.

    The buzz surrounding the built in GPS sure are the location aware features. Twitter can know exactly where I am, Facebook can know exactly where I am, the photos I take can be tagged with location, I can find people near me using my phone… who even knows what else will come out of this? There’s a cool factor there. There’s also a scary factor there. I don’t think I want or need the world to know exactly where I am at any or every moment. For those times I do want that added information transmitted, the original iPhone’s location finding will work just fine.

  • Price and capacity: It is inevitable that the price will go down and the capacity will go up on a device like this. I didn’t expect, however, that the price would go down to the level it has! That’s still at least $199 plus a new contract plus a higher monthly rate that I would be paying. Sure I could sell my current iPhone, but it’s not in perfect condition. I could work the warranty to get a new one, but I’m still at the mercy of what the market will offer for it.

    It’s pretty easy to predict, given Apple’s history and the history already of the iPhone, that there will be a higher capacity model within the next year and probably an even further updated phone in that time frame or one not too much longer than that.

  • Software: Software is the key piece. The iPhone 2.0 software is on its way, and its new features are going to be great for me. Specifically, the Exchange support will be awesome. The app store will be great too. Since the 2.0 software will be available to all iPhone owners, I’ll get it on my original iPhone. If Apple had limited 2.0 to the iPhone 3G, that would have been a big factor.

So, if you haven’t already figured it out, I am not going to upgrade. At least not yet. By all means, if you are not already an iPhone owner, you should get the iPhone 3G! If you are an iPhone owner, weigh your options, but keep in mind that there will be something bigger and better right around the corner and you aren’t lagging too far behind as it is.

iPhone owners: are you planning to upgrade?

200th Post!

20 06 2008

Since I missed my opportunity with the 100th post, I will take this occasion to reflect upon the development of theiLife.com.

I started theiLife.com on a whim back in October 2007. I was meaning to start a blog for some time, and during my senior year I finally had enough time to dedicate to the site. I always thought theiLife was going to be a more of a casual blog, where I would post maybe three or four times a week.

This changed one weekend when I called Sidney and asked if he would be interested in helping me code a dynamic video page for theiLife. Of course, he was willing to help out, so we created the videos section; where I uploaded my extensive collection of Apple Commercials. Suddenly I found myself on theiLife blogging more often.

In early December, when I first heard news that Apple was opening its latest flagship store in New York City, I invited Sidney to join me and help report for our theiLife. That weekend, after we posted all our content from the opening, the website got picked up by larger news sources. Finally we started driving real traffic, and from there things have been growing ever since.

It is amazing looking back over the past few months, on how much this website has changed my life, and what we have accomplished in such a little amount of time. I hope as the 200th post that we can all look forward to 200 in the near future. To all the readers and supporters, thank you! Remember, if you would like to contact myself or anyone on theiLife.com staff, check out our contact page.

Thoughts about the 3G iPhone

19 06 2008

Since the release of the 3G iPhone at WWDC last week, there are still many questions unanswered and speculation regarding the new iPhone.

This years WWDC keynote brought us the hotly anticipated 3G iPhone. Aggressively priced at $199, it is clear that Apple wants to take on the smartphone market and get iPhones in more hands this year. True to some rumors, the new iPhone is launching for $199 in 22 countries later next month. Thanks to subsidization by AT&T and the other official iPhone carriers in other countries, Apple was able to cut the price of the iPhone in half.

While this is ultimately a win-win situation for both AT&T and Apple, it could cause some consumers headaches. One of the greatest parts of the iPhone started with the privilege to activate at home through iTunes. This slick implementation of Apple’s existing software allowed for consumers to avoid the hassle of activating your phone in the store- and for Apple employees to quickly sell more iPhones, Macs or iPods.

Although it is still preliminary speculation at this point, it seems that because of the subsidization, In-Store activation is going to be required. This means that if you want to buy an iPhone, you must purchase the phone and activate in the store regardless if you’re in an AT&T store or an Apple Store. During busy times, such as the holiday season or during launch day, July 11th, this could mean many Apple Store employees being tied up with activating iPhones instead of helping other customers with Mac or iPod sales- which just leaves both sides aggravated.

It also means that the unlocked market is going to suffer. Because Apple gave consumers the liberty to purchase the hardware without any binding contract, many people took their iPhones onto other GSM networks such as T-Mobile. It is believed that over 500,000 iPhones have been unlocked and brought onto other networks around the world. This time around, because AT&T is paying for a portion of the iPhone hardware, requiring immediate, ins-store activation would make sense to further deter these people from bringing the iPhone to other networks.

However, some theorize that since Apple already requires a credit card for an iPhone purchase, they could charge AT&T’s subsidization amount back to their card if the phone wasn’t activated within a certain period of time. This could allow Apple to continue to activate phones through iTunes, but keep AT&T from loosing money.

Because there hasn’t been any official announcement, theoretically, we won’t know for certain until there is. The iPhone 3G is set to launch on July 11th. If you can’t wait, check out our new dashboard widget. Stay tuned for more information regarding the launch and launch coverage of the new 3G iPhone here at theiLife.com.

Mac Basics: an introduction to Growl

19 06 2008

Guest poster Dan Foy from Macsimum News gives us an overview of Growl. You can read his original post here on Macsiumum News!

You’re working on a project at work, and you hear the “bing” of Mail, telling you there’s a new e-mail. You are confronted with the question, “Do I stop what I’m doing and see if the e-mail is important, or do I take a chance and keep working on my project?”

What if you didn’t have to? What if a little box popped up on the side of your screen with a summary of the e-mail, giving you a short-term look at the e-mail so you can decide if it’s important or not?
Believe it or not, the software that does that is already here. And it’s free (donations are accepted).
It’s called Growl. Growl is a notification system for Mac OS X: it allows applications that support Growl to send you notifications (took the description right off their web site because I couldn’t have said it better myself).

I had heard of Growl, but didn’t see much use for it until I accidentally installed it. Yes, I accidentally installed Growl. I don’t even know what program installed it for me (which I don’t like, but I seem to recall an installer asking me if I wanted to install Growl, so I must have said “yes.”)
Anyway, all of a sudden, I started seeing notifications when my RSS reader, the open-source Vienna, downloaded new articles. Thought that was pretty handy. I could tell when there were new articles without bumping down to the bottom of the screen and making the dock appear (Vienna has a number notifier in its dock icon and I keep my dock hidden). Saves time.
So I started investigating and found Growl in my System Preferences (in the Other category at the bottom). After some exploration, I found that there is a plugin for Apple’s Mail program that allows Growl to notify you of new e-mail.

And there are a whole bunch of other programs that are either written to work with Growl, and for some others there are plugins.

But the one that really helps me is the Mail plugin. My day job is at a newspaper. I do page design for my home paper and tech support for several other papers. As part of that, I get an enormous amount of e-mail from the Associated Press. Most of if deals with their web-based video network, and for some reason, they can’t just send me the important stuff, they send me an email every time they post a new video.

I have them whisked off to a folder in Mail, but it “bing”s every time one of those e-mails come in and I don’t always have time to see whether or not it’s important. But I want to know immediately if someone is having a problem related to their deadlines.
Growl shows me who the email is from and allows me to more-easily ignore the AP stuff.
And that’s just one example. I also use Semulov, which unmounts volumes. Now when a volume unmounts, I see it in a Growl notification.
I’m sure you can come up with many other uses, but I just wanted to introduce you to this cool little program.

July 11th 3G iPhone Countdown Widget

18 06 2008

For those of us who are counting down every last second until the 3G iPhone launch, we have got a new Dashboard widget for you! This widget is styled after the new iPhone 3G, and comes in two colors- Black and White. More details of the coverage from the iPhone 3G launch coming soon, but for now- get yours today!

Download iPhone 3G Countdown Widget (Black) [332KB]
Download iPhone 3G Countdown Widget (White) [332KB]

Instant Messaging on OS X? Ditch iChat and update to Adium version 1.3!

17 06 2008

This article is a brief look into the latest version of the messaging program Adium.

If you aren’t already familiar with Adium, and you are running OS X- please download it now. Adium is basically the VLC of Instant Messaging applications- the swiss army knife that does it all, and with style. Completely Cocca based, licensed under a GNU General Public License, Adium is free and even highly customizable.

The Adium team, headed by Evan Schoenberg (Lead Developer) and Eric Richie (Project Manager) has been rapidly developing the latest version of Adium- version 1.3. Still in beta form, Adium 1.3 features a number of improvements over the current 1.2.5 build. Some of the best are highlighted below:

Complete redesign of the Contact Inspector (formerly the Get Info Window)

The contact inspector and integration with Address Book has been greatly improved in Adium 1.3.

Added Facebook Chat service to Adium

The new Facebook Chat protocol is now supported in Adium version 1.3.

Added a search field to the Standard Contact List window

Alike the new Contact search in the upcoming iPhone 2.0 firmware, Adium now supports searching your contacts, both online and off. Simply click in the Buddy List window and start typing- your results will be instantly filtered.

Major performance improvements, most notable when signing on multiple accounts simultaneously and when chatting while other applications are making heavy use of your hard drive.

Adium 1.3 has indeed been improved and most notably on older machines where system resources are tight.

If you would like to update to Adium 1.3 now, download Adium 1.2.5; and in Adium>Preferences>General check “Update to Beta Versions when Available”. This will allow you to run the latest betas of Adium, and the final release when it comes out.

Apple goes head to head with Sony and Nintendo with the iPhone 2.0 software

17 06 2008

There are few target audiences that Apple’s products fail to appeal to these days, but one market they have yet to tap is the growing legion of digital gaming fans. Since Microsoft’s buyout of Bungie Studios in 2000, there have been few games for Apple fans to look forward to, excluding the valiant efforts of dedicated Mac exclusive developer Pangaea and cross platform games from developer Blizzard Entertainment. Steve Jobs continues to remain seemingly uncooperative with the game industry, rejecting an offer from PC mega-developer Valve to port its Half-Life 2 series to OS X.

An early screenshot of Bungie\'s Halo project

But when Apple announced its ambitious touch screen iPhone device in early 2007, many gamers hoped that Apple would break into the mobile gaming market. The device seemed to be ideal for game design, featuring a large bright screen, input in the form of a touch screen and accelerometer, a 3D acceleration chip and the ability to download games from anywhere with cellular reception. Also, by entering the market four years after the release of the Nintendo DS and the PSP, the iPhone will have a substantial technical advantage over its competition. The PSP uses a 333 MHz CPU, the DS uses two co-processers, clocked at 67 and 33 MHz, where the iPhone utilizes a 620 MHz ARM chip. The iPhone has similar advantages in terms of RAM, storage and wireless capabilites. In fact, the only thing holding the Apple device back is its less than ideal input capabilites.

After repeatedly denying that they would allow 3rd party software development for an entire year, Apple confirmed that they would open the device up to developers, subsequently causing a flood of speculation into the prospects for gaming on the device. The first demonstrations of the iPhone’s gaming abilities were promising to say the very least. At Apple’s iPhone SDK announcement in March, Apple engineers demonstrated the capabilities of the platform with their internally developed game titled Touch Fighter, a Rouge Squadron/StarFox like flight combat sim. The game utilized the touch screen for aiming/shooting, the accelerometer for direction, and was fully 3D, even utilizing the OpenAL API to perform a limited 3D sound function. Mega-publisher EA, who had previously committed to develop more games for the Mac platform, demonstrated a mobile version of the first stage of its upcoming Spore franchise. And Sega showed off a build of Super Monkey Ball, making good use of the accelerometer, a control scheme that had gained much acclaim on the Nintendo Wii system. Apple and the other developers that had time with the SDK claimed that some of these applications, such as SMB had been developed in a period as short as just two weeks. The demonstration was a success; anticipation for iPhone games became frenzied.

During the past week at WWDC, iPhone gaming came back into the spotlight. Apple demonstrated numerous games, including additions from Pangaea Software in the form of two ports: the puzzle game Enigmo, and a port of its cult classic title Cro-Mag Rally. Moo Cow Music presented a suite of instrument simulations in an application called Band, featuring a virtual drum set, guitar, bass, keyboard and multi-function blues simulator. Band also allows for a number of recording features and the ability to combine tracks from multiple recordings, putting it several steps ahead of more casual games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

But the real test will come once developers start to push the iPhone 2.0 platform into the same arena as the DS and PSP game systems. Vying for the hardcore gamer market is not something that any mobile phone system has been successful in doing as of yet, despite the efforts of Nokia’s N-Gage platform. Enter Digital Legends Entertainment, formerly one of the few N-Gage exclusive developers. Their entry into the iPhone foray is the platform exclusive Kroll, a third person sidescroller title that bears some resemblance to God of War, to which the developer has compared Kroll to.

Kroll by Digital Legends

Resting the fate of the iPhone’s hardcore gaming potential on an untried N-Gage developer isn’t exactly fair however. To fill that niche steps in John Carmack of iD, who has promised that his studio will create an iPhone title. As of now, no commercial titles have been confirmed, but several videos have popped up of Doom 3/Doom Arena running on iPhone hardware. As if that wasn’t enough, a multi-player, networked version has also been demonstrated. There’s no question that the level of graphical prowess is rapidly approaching that of mainstream mobile game systems, but whether or not the iPhone can successfully emulate the gameplay of a dedicated gaming device remains to be seen.

Apple has a real chance to get gaming right this time around, let’s only hope they have what it takes. If you liked this article and would like to read more about iPhone gaming, check out our guide of upcoming iPhone games.

A comprehensive guide to iPhone firmware 2.0 Gaming (SDK)

16 06 2008

With 26 days until the launch of iPhone 2.0 , we have a whole extra month to check out what the future has in store. Below, we’ve compiled a guide to all of the games that are headed for the App Store.


Spore on the iPhone

SimCity and The Sims creator Will Wright’s next big thing, with a development cycle rivaling that of the construction of the Great Pyramids. The full game has been heralded as the second coming of gaming, featuring a heavy emphasize on user created content, and procedural generation. It has been announced for the PC, Mac (via a Cider port) and a variety of console platforms, notably the Nintendo DS. Both the iPhone and DS versions appear to be a faithful recreation of nothing but the first stage of the game, in which the player controls a microscopic version of his future creature, that build that foundation for the rest of the players evolution.
Demo at Apple SDK announcement
Additional info

SEGASuper Monkey Ball

Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone

A puzzle platformer that made its debut as an arcade game, it’s wild success made it a good choice as a launch title on the GameCube, Super Monkey Ball and its sequels have become a staple of the child focused console game market. The game has featured multiplayer since it’s release on the GameCube, the existence of a multiplayer feature for the iPhone version of the game, has as of yet, been unconfirmed. However, the control scheme is very similar to that of the Wii title, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, in which the Wiimote is held parallel to the ground and tilted in the direction the player wishes to move.
Keynote Demo
Interview with SEGA’s Ethan Einhorn
Additional info

PangaeaEnigmo and Cro-Mag Rally

Enigmo on the iPhone

Long time Mac exclusive developer Pangaea has added two of its most popular games to the foray. Enigmo is a puzzle game, in which players must manipulate the movement of an unknown liquid into a tank, using items such as bumpers, sliders, accelerators, and sponges. Cro-Mag Rally is a third person racing game, not unlike Mario Kart, in which players race through different periods in ancient history. The Mac version features networked multi-player, though this feature is unconfirmed for the iPhone build.
Additional Info

Developer Website

GameLoft – Multiple

GameLoft Titles for iPhone

GameLoft is rapidly becoming the EA of the mobile phone gaming market. Based out of France, the company has over 4,000 employees and posted a revenue of $140 million in 2007. Though the company mainly develops games for the Java, BREW and Symbian platforms, the company has announced plans to publish no fewer than 15 titles for the iPhone. The details posted so far suggest that GameLoft will stick to its strengths and develop mostly casual titles.
Brain Challenge
Chess and Backmaggon
Bubble Bash

Int13Crazy Cart 2

int13 Crazy Cart 2

Another French mobile developer, Int13 has created a slick cart racing title for the iPhone. Rather than use tilt controls for movement like most developers, Int13 has opted for a multitouch steering wheel. A step in the right direction if you ask us; until the accuracy of the iPhone accelerometer is proven, our guess would be that it’s going to be fairly unreliable for accurate controls.
Announcment at MacRumors
Video Demo on YouTube

iDDoom 3, Doom Arena

A homebrewed copy of Doom for Jailbroken iPhones

John Carmack of iD game was one of the first game developers to openly declare his frustration with Apple’s 3rd party apps quarantine, back in the summer of ’07. The announcement of the SDK however seems to have filled his heart with warm fuzzy joy, and has hinted that he may be working on a title for the iPhone. In a post on Slashdot (http: SLASH SLASH www.Slashdot DOT com… hehe) Carmack wrote “…The ability to distribute larger applications than the over-the-air limits and effectively market your title with more than a dozen character deck name, combined with the reasonable income split make this look like a very interesting market.”
Re:Mr. Carmack are you still around?
Quake 3 Arena ported to iPhone/iPod Touch

Digital Legends EntertainmentKroll

Kroll by Digital Legends

This N-Gage developer gained loads of positive press at WWDC last week with their demonstration of third person sidescroller Kroll. Following in the footsteps of Ready At Dawn’s God of War, this title promises to bring a hardcore gaming flare to a market that so far has seen mostly casual titles. Thank the gods Jobs decided to let these guys on stage rather than yet another “casual” title like say…

PopCap Games Bejeweled, Zuma and Peggle

Surprising many, Peggle’s release in February of last year yielded a firestorm of critical acclaim and mainstream success. The addictive arcade title lets players choose one of ten playable characters as they try to clear 55 stages of peg destroying madness. The game received several awards, and was named one of the Top 5 most addictive computer games of all time by MSNBC. In an Apple press release, PopCap CEO confirmed that his company was developing multiple titles for the iPhone, including Peggle
Peggle for iPhone confirmed
Apple press release


The arcade classic, pacman

Ah PacMan, where would we be without you? This arcade legend has defined the gaming industry for decades, and has been ported to almost every kind of electronic device ever made. It is fitting then, that Namco would jump at the chance to add yet another check on its list of platforms supported. Like PopCap, Namco pledged its support in Apple’s press release following its iPhone SDK announcement, confirming both PacMan and Galaga for the App Store.
Namco, PopCap, THQ Pledge iPhone Support

IG FunRe-Volt and BioShock

BioShock: 2007 Game of the Year

Nothing good can come of a developer most comfortable making crappy licensed games on the BREW platform, getting the rights to horribly rape publish the 2007 Game of the Year, BioShock. IG Fun has already revealed their plans to make a BREW version of the game, but revealed to Pocket Gamer that they had plans to develop an iPhone version. Though they have yet to show any footage of the game, the developer has demonstrated an internally developed game called Re-Volt on the iPhone that looks like an unintuitively controlled Unreal set game, with enemies that have animations uncomfortably similar to the spider Splicers from BioShock.
Latest on BioShock Mobile
Re-Volt first-person shooter for iPhone
IG Fun’s Official Website

This list was compiled through research on the internet. As we uncover more information, we will bring it to you. However, if you know of a developer or game we missed, or would like to tell us more about your game, please contact us!

WebKit Team Talks Safari 4

13 06 2008

The WebKit devs are at it again, announcing a flurry of information about a new JavaScript interpreter called SquirrelFish, and revealing a little over a week later that this would set the tone for development of WebKit 4 and Safari 4.

SquirrelFish is “a register-based, direct-threaded, high-level bytecode engine, with a sliding register window calling convention”, that promises vastly improved run times. The project is almost certainly the reason for the release of WebKit’s SunSpider JavaScript benchmarking tool late last year. So far, SquirrelFish promises speeds 1.6 times that of its predecessor.

Tuesday Apple provided a developer build of Safari 4 that will be in line with 10.6 Snow Leopards mission of improving speed and stability across the OS. In addition, the team has announced plans to allow for web applications to saved and executed offline, similar to Google’s Gears project and the third part application Fluid. In terms of expected features, the browser will likely improve upon its handling of CSS and DOM Level 3 standards, and possibly begin to incorporate features outlined in the draft for the new HTML spec.