New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‘holy war,’ and behind-the-scenes strategy

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A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.

A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.

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Review: mik Sound Case cranks up the volume on your iPhone

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The mik Sound Case is a new type of phone case available for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5s. It amplifies the phone’s speaker by an additional 15 to 20 decibels and improves the clarity and quality of the sound. By blocking the speaker, the case forces the sound to travel through a hollow space and out an opening on the back of the phone. Thankfully, the lightweight case doesn’t add any additional weight to the phone.

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FreedomPop expanding free wireless plan to all Sprint smartphones, iPhones included

FreedomPopFreedomPop, the wireless service provider offering free and cheap no-contract plans on Sprint’s network, today announced it’s now allowing customers to bring their old Sprint phones to activate on its $0/month wireless plans. We’ve confirmed with the company that will also soon include iPhones.

The company has been around since 2011 with various hotspot products and recently launched its first smartphone direct to customers alongside the world’s first completely free mobile service. A guaranteed 500 MBs of data, 500 text messages, and 200 anytime voice minutes for free each month would sound enticing to anyone, but previously customers would have to pay $99 for an almost two-year old HTC Evo Design to get it. Despite that, FreedomPop says it “immediately sold out” of stock when it launched last month.

That’s about to change today as FreedomPop will now let Sprint customers bring their own device to activate on its free and cheap plans. Although there is no mention of it in the carrier’s press release and some are reporting iPhones aren’t supported, we’ve confirmed FreedomPop will support the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as 20 other Sprint devices initially. Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s CEO, tells us it will be another few weeks before the iPhone is compatible, and eventually all Sprint smartphones will be supported. Around 600 devices, including iPhones, will be supported by the end of the month.  Read more

Why iPhone longevity means iOS carrier activation share doesn’t resemble sales

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There was a lot of confusion yesterday when Verizon’s results were discussed, with more than one commentator confusing activations and sales. For the record, what Verizon announced was that 51 percent of its activations were iPhone, not 51 percent of its phone sales.

If you doubt the importance of this distinction, I have one word for you: T-Mobile. As of 11th April, the carrier had two million iPhone activations. Its iPhone sales as of the same date? Zero: T-Mobile didn’t start selling iPhones until the following day.

The difference between the two numbers is particularly dramatic with high-end handsets like the iPhone …  Read more

Opinion: As Siri makes it out of beta, is it time to give it another chance?

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Poor old Siri doesn’t seem to get much love from many users. When I recently mentioned it as the reason I upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the 4S, quite a few disparaging comments were made about the service. Our finding this weekend that Apple now considers Siri good enough to lose the beta tag caused Gizmodo to wonder who actually uses it.

I thought its reclassification as a fully-fledged iOS feature would be a good time to persuade those who’ve abandoned the assistant to give Siri another chance …  Read more

Get the most money for your iPhone before trade-in values plummet ahead of Sept. 10 event

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Update: Gazelle has announced an extended 50-day price lock window. That will give you until October 15th to send your iPhone in, but you’ll have to lock in your price before Apple’s September 10th event to take advantage.

With the unveiling of a next-generation iPhone expected on September 10th, it’s once again time to start thinking about trade-in options for your current device. While iPhones typically hold their resale value much better than competing devices, previous iPhone models historically experience a big drop in trade-in value in the 3-4 weeks leading up to an iPhone announcement. That’s highlighted in the chart above showing average decline in selling prices for previous gen iPhones leading up to the iPhone 5 launch.

With reliable reports of the next-gen iPhone coming early next month (no word on if that means the rumored iPhone 5S, 5C, or both), now is the time to get the most for your iPhone if you plan on upgrading when Apple’s new device finally becomes available. Apple is testing its own trade-in program that should launch in the coming months, but until then we’ve put together a chart showing where to get the most out of your device today: Read more

Hacked AT&T carrier update claims to enable HD voice (wideband audio) on iPhone ahead of official rollout

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AT&T already announced plans to turn on HD Voice, aka, wideband audio support, later this year through a carrier update for iPhone users in the US. Today, iTweakiOS announced an update for one of its hacked carrier profiles that it claims will allow AT&T users to access HD Voice, as well as the recently announced CMAS government and Amber alert update, ahead of a full roll out of the feature later this year.

This hack fixes the reported issue of unstable HSPA+ speeds/signal and iPad users having trouble updating and losing all signal. This hack enables, along with the previous enabled features, HD Voice for all iPhone models running on AT&T so users can now use the UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ network for HD qaulity calling on their 4S and 5. This hack also enables Release 7 HSDPA speeds for the iPhone 4S, giving it a new maximum theoretical downlink of 21Mbps, which AT&T does indeed support. Signal improvements from the previous release have not changed and are still present in this release along with unthrottled LTE and HSPA+.

Apple has actually supported the feature since the iPhone 5 launched last fall, but only around 20 international carriers currently support the feature. Unfortunately, the HD Voice feature, even with the hack, won’t yet work for all users, as AT&T is still currently in the process of rolling out support: Read more

Will the Plastic iPhone knock the iPhone 4S out of this year’s free iPhone pattern?

Credit: Ferry Passchier

Credit: Ferry Passchier

We’ve seen a pretty consistent pattern when a new iPhone is released: the previous model gets significantly cheaper, and the model before that tends to be widely available on free-with-contract deals. We’ve already seen the process beginning in anticipation of the 5S, with AT&T cutting the on-contract price of the iPhone 5 to $99 and 4S to $49, with Walmart going a little further with a $39 deal for the 4S.

But with the prospect of the long-awaited low-cost (or lower-cost!) iPhone being released at the same time as the 5S, might we expect to see the plastic iPhone being offered as the freebie in the iPhone 4S’s place … ?  Read more

U.S. Cellular announces plans to carry Apple products later this year

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U.S. Cellular, the Chicago-based carrier serving around 5.8 million customers in 126 markets, will likely start offering the iPhone later this year, possibly in addition to other iOS devices. The carrier announced today in its first quarter results that it will soon begin carrying Apple products, but didn’t provide any further information regarding when or what specific products it might launch:

“We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including our announcement today that we will begin offering Apple products later this year. By further strengthening our device portfolio, we’ll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve. Our smartphone penetration is currently 43 percent of core market customers and growing quickly. We believe there will be strong, ongoing demand for smartphones and data products and services from our customers, and we have significant room for growth in this area.

You might remember a couple years back U.S. Cellular claimed it said no to the iPhone 4S with CEO Mary Dillon at the time saying Apple’s “terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint.” Later, CEO of the cellular provider’s parent company TDS hinted that the carrier would wait until Apple unveiled an LTE capable device, which was of course before the unveiling of Apple’s LTE iPhone 5.

After it decided not to carry the iPhone 4S, it soon after launched its Wonderphone ad campaign that were seen by many as mocking the iPhone.

U.S. Celluar today reported service revenues for the first quarter of $996.3 million and noted that it plans to roll out its 4G LTE service to 87 percent of its subscribers this year. The carrier also said it plans to close its $480 million deal to sell its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and other markets to Sprint in the second quarter of 2013.  Read more

iOS 6.1.1 build 10B145 being rushed to address 3G performance and enterprise concerns, some carrier testing completed

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Following reports about some carriers in Europe issuing warnings not to upgrade to iOS 6.1 due to issues with 3G performance, it seems a fix is already in the works. The issue was not just with 3G through carriers such as Vodafone and three in Austria, many users in Apple’s own forums complained of similar problems, degraded battery life, and more. Users have also had problems with Exchange support, causing AOL corporate to temporarily disable the ability to manage mobile meetings from iOS devices running iOS 6.1.

Today, a report from German language blog iFun claimed that carriers have already completed testing a 6.1.1 update to address the bugs and a 23MB update carrying build number 10B145 should be available over-the-air soon:

After ifun.de this information is already in version 6.1.1 of the night on Monday as “Testing Complete” and should be offered the iPhone community with little flow as a wireless update. Sources which are applicable in the past on the issue dates of iOS 6.0.2 and iOS 6.1 as well as the eradication of the “SMS spoofing problem” have informed, indicate the large 23MB update with UMTS-compatible.

Apple’s first beta release for 6.1.1 was released last week with build number 10B311.