New downtime shorter than previous
Apple's iMessage and FaceTime services experienced another outage earlier today, according to the company's system status page. The outage is listed as having affected "some users" between 10:45AM and 12:07PM Eastern time. As of this writing, all of Apple's online services are once again operating normally.
AT&T, Verizon users affected, no estimated time of repair
[Updated with recovery information] Apple is reporting that "some users" are affected by an outage affecting both iMessage and FaceTime communications. Users on the Apple Support forums are claiming that both services and display a "waiting for verification" message in lieu of sending the message or syncing a FaceTime call between participants.
Apple must pay additional $330K per day until case details settled
A US District Court has upheld an earlier judgment which awarded VirnetX over $368 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, Seeking Alpha reports. Apple has been denied a request for a new trial, and must now moreover pay VirnetX $330,211 per day until royalties and other details are settled. The two parties have 45 days to come to their own royalty agreement before Judge Leonard Davis intervenes.
Puts video calls on iPhone 4S, supporting iPads
(Updated with Free Press intention to file a Net Neutrality complaint for unlimited data plan omission) Following up on a silent rollout, AT&T has formally announced plans to enable FaceTime calls with any tiered data plan. The carrier previously lifted a policy restricting FaceTime to Mobile Share plans, but still required a device with a tiered plan and LTE, blocking out the iPhone 4S. "We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks," reads a blog post by AT&T's senior VP for voice and data, Mark Collins.
Christmas-centric spot shows off family videoconferencing
On Friday, Apple launched a new TV ad promoting both the iPad and iPad mini by cleverly showing both products as they might be used in a FaceTime video conference, with a man's granddaughter playing the ukelele and singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas," a wistful 1943 hit for Bing Crosby written by Walter Kent and Kim Gannon (based on a poem by Buck Ram). The grandfather's iPad shows the young lady, while her iPad mini shows her grandfather's reaction.
People with iPhone 4S or unlimited plans now reporting access
In spite of earlier statements by the carrier, AT&T appears to be extending cellular FaceTime to all compatible devices on its network, note forum posters at MacRumors. It had been announced that while cellular FaceTime would no longer be restricted to Mobile Share plans, the option would still require a tiered data plan and a device with LTE. By definition that would block the iPhone 4S and/or anyone on a grandfathered unlimited plan; anything earlier than the 4S is unsupported because of Apple's own restrictions in iOS 6.
iTunes Match still broken for some users
Apple's iTunes Match storage and streaming service is currently down for at least some users, says AppleInsider. Trying to play content hosted on Match only results in tracks sticking at the "0:00" mark. The trouble notably follows outages of iMessage and FaceTime, which hit users of Macs and iOS devices on Sunday.
Still restricted to tiered-plan, LTE-equipped devices
AT&T has changed its mind and will allow FaceTime calls over cellular without a Mobile Share plan, according to an announcement. The option will still be relatively restricted however, limited to LTE-equipped devices on tiered data plans. This excludes people with grandfathered unlimited data, as well as owners of any Apple hardware older than the third-generation iPad; exceptions are being made for people on special plans for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Cellular FaceTime should open up within the next eight to 10 weeks.
Action awaiting formal filing
The Federal Communications Commission will investigate if a formal complaint is filed against AT&T over its FaceTime restrictions, according to chairman Julius Genachowski. He tells The Verge that if an effort to resolve the problem earlier "doesn't lead to a resolution and a complaint is filed, we [the FCC] will exercise our responsibilities and we will act." AT&T has come under fire for limiting cellular FaceTime calls, a feature built into iOS 6, to costly Mobile Share subscriptions.
Also upgrades Game Center, FaceTime, Messages
Apple has posted OS X 10.8.2, a major update for Mountain Lion. The main addition is Facebook integration, which was originally expected at the launch of the OS. The feature allows not only quick sharing of links and photos, but also the ability to receive Facebook alerts in the Notification Center. More hooks extend into Game Center, where people can "Like" games, and use Facebook as a source for friend recommendations. Scores can now be shared to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages; friends can be challenged to beat scores and achievements.
Restrictions may break FCC 'Open Internet' policies
Three organizations have announced their intent to file a complaint with the FCC over AT&T's FaceTime policies, which restrict cellular FaceTime to Mobile Share plans, reports say. Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute are all participating, arguing that AT&T's "decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn't need is a clear violation of the FCC's Open Internet rules." The groups add that while the policies hurt all of AT&T's customers, the deaf and people with foreign relatives are dealt an extra blow.
Counters ATT push for more expensive plans
(Updated with news of device support) Sprint and Verizon are repeating earlier statements that unlike AT&T, their subscribers will be able to use FaceTime over cellular without upgrading plans. AT&T is forcing users to move to more expensive shared data plans if they want 3G/4G FaceTime, in spite of similar apps being unrestricted. The difference may be that FaceTime is integrated into iOS, making it more easy to access and thus more likely to consume bandwidth.
Cricket becomes first US prepaid carrier to announce iPhone 5
Cricket has announced that it will start selling the iPhone 5 on September 28th. That makes it the first US prepaid carrier to say it will get the phone, although it will get the hardware a full week after national post-paid iPhone carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Cricket hasn't provided any other information, but will likely use the same pricing scheme it did for the iPhone 4S, charging $500 for a 16GB phone plus a $55 monthly fee for unlimited service. There is no word yet on when other US prepaids, namely Virgin Mobile, will get the 5.
Major upgrades over iPhone 4S
Apple today announced the iPhone 5. The device is said to be built entirely out of glass and aluminum, and is 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S at 7.6mm. One of its signature features though is a larger display, measuring 4 inches with a resolution of 1136x640. To accommodate the change Apple is updating all of its apps; any third-party apps that haven't been updated will display in the center of the screen. The display also uses a full sRGB color gamut, and should have 44 percent more color saturation.
Claims limitations don't violate net neutrality rules
AT&T has posted an official response to complaints about the carrier's new FaceTime policy, which restricts 3G use of the app to people with a Mobile Share plan. Wi-Fi use is still unhindered. "The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones," an AT&T blogger claims.
FCC talking with AT&T about limiting FaceTime to certain plans
One of the new features in Apple's iOS6 release due this fall is an enhancement to the FaceTime video call feature, allowing it to function on any cellular network. Friday, AT&T announced that the privilege only extends to users on its new "Mobile Share" programs, and not for users grandfathered on the unlimited or tiered data plans. Public Knowledge, a nonprofit Internet law group, believes that preventing other customers from using FaceTime violates net neutrality rules by blocking a service that competes with its own.
FaceTime over Wi-Fi still available
AT&T announced today that only customers paying for one of its Mobile Share plans will be able to use Apple's FaceTime feature over a cellular connection. The carrier touts FaceTime as "an added benefit" of its new data plans, and users with individual or family plans will have to rely on Wi-Fi connections in order to make use of the video call feature. Previously, the carrier had indicated that AT&T might charge customers extra if they wanted to use the feature over 3G.
AT&T could face net neutrality charges for 3G FaceTime fees
In the wake of the discovery of a dialog box implying AT&T will charge for FaceTime over 3G above and beyond existing wireless fees, Sprint has gone on record opposing the move. Sprint remains "committed to our unlimited data, and that means not charging for data consumption based on the application." When queried earlier this week, AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson said that it was "too early" to address FaceTime fees, and AT&T was working closely with Apple on the developer build of iOS 6. Verizon's statement was even more terse, saying only that "the timing of any pricing conversations related to future versions of iOS is premature.”
In-development feature stability being worked on
Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was asked about the report that AT&T might charge customers extra if they want to use FaceTime over 3G. The feature was announced during Tim Cook's Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote speech, to a muted carrier response.
Screen suggests users dial 611 to add service for FaceTime
Cell provider AT&T has seemingly made the decision to charge users for using Apple's FaceTime technology on its wireless network. An error page similar to the tethering dialog appears when AT&T customers attempt to engage the FaceTime over cellular network feature when running the latest iOS 6 beta. The same error message does not occur when trying to activate the feature on a Verizon iPhone.
Hardware said to resemble oversized Thunderbolt Display
A "well-placed" source has seen a prototype of Apple's upcoming TV set, claims Cult of Mac. Visually the hardware is said to resemble Apple's current Thunderbolt Display, but with a size "much larger" than 27 inches. The centerpiece is actually an iSight camera, which will allegedly support Siri voice commands and FaceTime video calls.
Braven speakers support FaceTime, iChat, Skype
Braven, which used to be called Spar, has just introduced a new Bluetooth speaker range that aims to differentiate itself from the others out there thanks to a couple of uncommon features. All three can be daisy-chained to provide stereo or surround sound, and they can also be used to charge phones or other portable devices through their USB ports. The wireless range is Bluetooth's typical 33 feet, and the auxiliary port also allows connecting other sources.
OS prepped for fifth-generation iPhone
Strings in the iOS 5.1 firmware make reference to 4G phone calling, and using FaceTime over 4G, notes Cydia developer Krishna Sagar. One message in the code reads, "Enabling 4G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 4G?" Others refer to enabling and disabling 4G on FaceTime calls, as well as regular voice ones.
Carriers likely to blame
Apple is continuing to limit FaceTime calls to Wi-Fi connections, even on 4G-equipped iPads, The Verge notes. Attempting a FaceTime call on 4G brings up the same error message Apple has used with 3G iPhones and iPads. "Connect to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime," a pop-up warns.
Microsoft-Skype deal near wrapped up in US
Microsoft's buyout of Skype could be formally completed in the US this week, multiple tips indicated Tuesday. They explained to AllThingsD that it was "likely" the deal would be done in the next few days. The agreement already has American and European approval and is likely just waiting on formalities.
Details encryption measures
FaceTime and iOS as a whole should be compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) security rules, an Apple spokesperson suggests. The standard is important in the US healthcare industry as in order for devices to qualify for government funding, they must ensure that only authorized people will be able to access Electronic Protected Health Information, or EPHI. Encryption is effectively mandatory.
Carriers may now have special iOS 5 builds
An as yet unverified rumor Tuesday has the "most prominent" iPhone carriers getting special late-beta releases of iOS 5 for testing. These supposedly differ from beta 7 in having 3G-capable FaceTime, which 9to5 understands is a "high priority" for testing. As with tethering and other carrier-dependent features, though, it might not be enabled when iOS 5 arrives.
Microsoft says Mango has front camera support
Ending exploration and other speculation, Microsoft during a Tech Ed New Zealand session Thursday confirmed that Windows Phone 7 Mango has front camera support. While it had been suspected given digs into the SDK and very early reference hardware, it will now be available to any device that has the option. Microsoft's buyout of Skype will also pay off quickly as the WP7 app will support the front camera for video chat, the company said.
No ratifications in progress
Despite promises by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, FaceTime has yet to become an open standard, observers note. During Jobs' 2010 WWDC keynote, the executive said Apple would be "going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow," with the explicit intent of making FaceTime an "open industry standard." No third-party hardware or software with the feature has yet been announced, and even now no organizations are known to be ratifying the platform.
Verizon may hold up FaceTime on 3G
Verizon may be obstructing the adoption of FaceTime on 3G based on attempts to force more users into its capped data plans. Although the FaceTime experience on 3G is said to be working well, Apple and the carrier are believed in a dispute over which Verizon users are allowed to get access. Apple is said by 9to5 to want everyone to have access, but Verizon supposedly wants only those on limited tiers to get the video calling feature away from Wi-Fi.
iPhone 4 AirPlay and FaceTime ads pop up
Apple tonight ran two new TV ads for the iPhone 4 (below), both of which focus on features that are genuinely rare on rival platforms. "AirPlay" shows its namesake wireless audio and video streaming to speakers as well as photos and videos. "FaceTime" demos two-way video calling between two iPhones, with a Mac, and with an iPad.
Skype says iPad app is real
Following a brief leak, Skype design VP Rick Osterloh has confirmed the development of a Skype app for the iPad. The long-awaited app is expected to get nearly all of the features of the desktop version and even some trace similarities to Skype 5 on the desktop. TUAW was told iPad 2 owners should get full video chat support, while everyone with Apple's tablet will get voice and text.
Logitech intros HD Webcam C615
Logitech has delivered a new HD Webcam that folds and swivels. The HD Webcam C615 fold-and-go webcam is designed to give users the option to move the device from room to room or to take it on the road. It shoots video for web chats in 720p and is compatible with Skype, FaceTime, Logitech Vid HD, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. For regular video capture, it can shoot in full 1080p. It also incorporates built-in autofocus and can swivel a full 360-degrees.
iPhone 5 hits AP testing stage
New details reportedly emerging Monday have the next iPhone at the very last stage before production. The new design is supposedly at the AP stage, the very last stage at which the hardware is production-ready and good enough for both Apple and carrier executives to use as secret day-to-day models. The 9to5Mac tip lined up with talk of production starting in July followed by a release in September.
Chronic shows Nuance in iOS 5 and MBA update
(Update 2: Back to School too?) A pair of leaks Saturday night by well-known source Chronic pointed to both features buried inside iOS 5 as well as hints that the upcoming MacBook Air refresh could happen next week. Internal, Apple-only builds of iOS 5 have settings for "Nuance Dictation" and "Nuance Long Endpoint," suggesting that the rumored Nuance voice recognition support thought to be coming at WWDC was just buried, not scrapped. The approach is still mostly mysterious but is expected to use Apple's acquisition of Siri to produce complex voice commands beyond what Voice Control did in 2009.
Would likely be carrier-toggled
The iOS 5 version of FaceTime will finally allow video calls over 3G, rumors suggest. Sources indicate that the functionality is simply turned off in developer builds, and that an error message urges people to "Turn on cellular data or use Wi-Fi to use FaceTime." It's believed that support will ultimately be dependent on carriers, who can already block things like tethering.
Microsoft believed overpaying for Skype by 4.5b
Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase of Skype may have been the result of it being fooled into paying more. Multiple tips claimed Tuesday that Google was bidding but had stopped at $4 billion, less than half what Microsoft paid. TechCrunch was told that Facebook had never been in competition and, while not intentional, ended up convincing Microsoft it had to bid more to stay in the running.
AOL AV leaks in beta for video chat
AOL was spotted last night running a beta test of a new, very simple video chat system. AV by AIM is designed to work entirely without a login and lets users join in solely by sharing a link, not a contact list. It works with as many as four participants at once and has a text chat component that flows over the video feed.
iMac updates fix graphics, Thunderbolt
Apple last night posted four important updates for 2011 iMacs and various MacBook Pro models. The most critical is Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for iMac (early 2011) 1.0, a 382.56MB file that targets numerous problems. The patch should for instance improve graphics stability, and the performance of both 3D rendering and FaceTime. Some bugs eliminated include ones with Back to My Mac, the Mac App Store and transferring files to SMB servers.
Feature compares to FaceTime and Android tablets
After reaffirming plans to add video chat functionality to the BlackBerry PlayBook, RIM quickly released an update that brings the feature to its tablets. Electronista tried out the new utility, which can be used with either of the tablet's cameras. We have taken a closer look at how the feature compares with equivalent options on the iPad and Android-based tablets.
BlackBerry PlayBook gets video chat and Facebook
RIM as part of its BlackBerry World intro detailed plans for two major apps to help round out the feature set for the BlackBerry PlayBook. The tablet is now finally getting an official Video Chat app that will let owners make two way calls between other PlayBook owners on Wi-Fi. Calls can handle both front and back cameras and, like FaceTime, can take incoming calls without having the app running.
Android 2.3.4 confirmed with video chat
Google on Thursday helped Android catch up in a key area with confirmation of the rumored Android 2.3.4 update. The update gives Android phones official video chat for the first time and uses the same Google Talk solution as on Android 3.0 tablets. Video chats work over cellular as well as Wi-Fi and let users talk both to tablets as well as to Gmail and other Google Talk-ready pages.
Verizon iPhone update news still MIA
The iOS 4.3.2 update will, at a minimum, address a pair of critical problems that have arisen since v4.3 and v4.3.1, an Apple source informs. The first is with FaceTime, which has been suffering from freezes and out-of-place images suddenly appearing. The second relates to Verizon iPad 2s, which may have trouble connecting to the carrier's 3G network.
Unclear if problem is app or iOS issue
Numerous reports have been appearing on Apple's support forums and other places that FaceTime is affected by a bug that causes the program to freeze, particularly when trying to switch between front and back cameras. Users are left with a still image on both ends of the call. It's unclear at the moment whether this is strictly a bug in the iPad 2 version of FaceTime or a systemic iOS issue.
Vodafone Egypt confirms FaceTime no longer blocked
Vodafone Egypt confirmed on Sunday that it had brought FaceTime to local iPhone 4 users for the first time as of Saturday. The liberation of the country from Mubarak's regime had removed the restrictions previously imposed upon it and would give it the same access as in other countries. Most users should have it soon, if not already, through a carrier update delivered through iTunes.
Company also brings Photo Booth and FaceTime
Apple has previewed new iPad versions of several iOS apps, including iLife titles iMovie and GarageBand, along with several apps that take advantage of the dual-camera configuration of the iPad 2. FaceTime for iPad will provide the same basic functionality as the iPhone edition, enabling video calls with easy switching between the primary and front-facing camera sensors. Photo Booth is geared for self portraits and snapshots, which can be tweaked with a variety of unique effects.
Ships March 11th in US, 25th elsewhere
Apple today introduced the iPad 2, its second-generation tablet. The device uses a new dual-core processor called the A5, said to be twice as fast as the A4. Graphics processing is said to be nine times faster, and the device has both front- and rear-facing cameras. The device is a third thinner than the original iPad at 8.8mm versus 13.4mm, which Apple notes is also thinner than the iPhone 4. This contributes to a smaller weight at 1.3 pounds versus 1.5.
Can be set to automatically record all calls
IMCapture, a software call recorder already available for Skype and Yahoo Messenger, has announced its latest version, aimed specifically at FaceTime for Mac. Users who receive or initiate calls using FaceTime for Mac (now final, $1 in the App Store) can record the call for later conversion to standard video formats or for reviewing details of calls.
May be trying to avoid complicated finances
The unexpected 99-cent pricetag for FaceTime at the Mac App Store is a result of accounting regulations, Apple explains. US accounting rules sometimes require companies to charge for updates if they provide a significant feature left out of original products. An alternative solution can be to restate past earnings, something Apple would likely prefer to avoid.
iOS 4.3 said finished
An Apple tipster claimed on Thursday that iOS 4.3 had reached the gold master stage. The final build is believed to be 8F190. BGR didn't glean release timing but speculated that it could show next week, just in time for Apple's iPad 2 event.