Free iPhone 4 Cases to Solve Reception Issues

Chances are that you have heard about the iPhone 4‘s notorious antenna problems. Basically, users can reduce signal reception and drop calls by holding the iPhone in a certain fashion (popularly termed as the death grip). Apple is officially denying that there is any problem, but the explanation offered by them is suspicious to say the least.

As it turns out, the death grip has a simply solution – use a case. This prevents the insulating wedge on the phone’s left hand side from getting bridged by the user’s hand. Unfortunately, Apple’s official bumper cases cost $29. I don’t need to say this, but being forced to shell out another thirty bucks just to make calls with a premium smartphone simply sucks.

The good news is that Mobile Fun is currently giving away free iPhone 4 cases, which they claim will solve death grip related reception issues. The Mobile Fun case wraps around your iPhone and its non-conducting silicone material prevents death grip problems from occurring.

Free-iPhone-4-Case

If you live in the UK, here is how you can take advantage of this offer:
1. Add this iPhone 4 Case to your basket.
2. Enter the Promo Code DEATHGRIP
3. Proceed to checkout. You will still have to pay for shipping, but the case itself would be free.

This is a limited time offer and is valid until 30th July 2010 or the stock runs out. So hurry up and grab your free iPhone 4 case now. If you are not happy with this free case, Mobile Fun has plenty of other iPhone 4 cases, but they will cost you.

Update: After distributing almost 5,000 cases, MobileFun has closed their promotion as Apple has officially decided to issue free bumper cases to iPhone 4 owners.

New Low-End Android Phone from Motorola for Verizon Leaked [Pictures]

Motorola promised us loads of Android phones this year and they are certainly making good on their promise. Engadget has managed to get their hands on some leaked pictures of a yet unnamed Motorola phone for Verizon.

Motorolla-WX445-front

The leaked handset goes by the model number Motorola WX445 and is a low-end Android phone. It runs on Android 2.1 and has a Blur-esque user interface. The touchscreen is between 2.5” and 3” and the battery is an 1170mAh one. It also has a flash-less camera.

Motorolla-WX445-back

Going by the feature set, this handset will probably be marketed as a value for money Android phone, which can act as a Motorola Devour alternative.

Indian Foreign Ministry Now Has an Official Twitter Account

The Indian government isn’t exactly known for being social. Shashi Tharoor ran into trouble for his tweets on more than one occasion. However, it appears that the Indian government is finally warming up to the idea of leveraging social networks. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) now has an official presence on Twitter.

India-Ministry-of-External-Affairs-Twitter-Account

According to the Economic Times, the public diplomacy division of the MEA is planning to reach audiences around the globe through a series of initiatives to harness the power of social networks. A new interactive portal, which is currently under development, will encourage conversations by tapping into both Twitter and Facebook.

India’s foreign ministry is not keen to publicise the Twitter account yet and termed it as a “work in progress”. In spite of this, the official Twitter account has already amassed more than a thousand followers. Obviously the number will increase as the word gets around.

Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola Sued by NTP

Never heard of NTP before? Well, that’s probably because there is no good reason to be aware of them, other than their obsession with litigations. NTP was founded by late Thomas Campana Jr., who amassed more than 50 patents for his contributions towards wireless email.

NTP first came into prominence when it sued Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of Blackberry handsets. That lawsuit ultimately fetched it a $612 million settlement in 2006. Now, NTP is gunning for Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola.

NTP is claiming that the aforementioned companies violate eight patents pertaining to wireless push email technology. Donald E. Stout, NTP’s co-founder, said, “Use of NTP’s intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees. Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property.”

NTP is obviously looking for a big payout. However, it has chosen to take on the giants in the mobile space. The legal battle is going to be an arduous and long drawn out one. Don’t expect a settlement or a verdict anytime soon.

Opera Mini 5.1 Released: Optimized For 3000 Phones

Opera Mini 5 was a significant update to the world’s most popular mobile browser, which made it a whole lot more awesome. Unfortunately for some users, Opera Mini 5 didn’t work on the absolute low-end handsets that Opera Mini 4 handled with aplomb.

Opera Mini 5.1, the first significant update to Opera Mini 5, is optimized to run on phones with low memory. The updated build features a refined skin with improved tab handling and introduces overall performance improvements.

Opera-Mini-5-1

While this update is not critical for smartphone users, it is a highly recommended update for everyone using Opera Mini on low-end handsets (especially those who have been encountering out of memory issues).

The goal with Opera Mini is to make the Web available to anyone, anywhere, regardless of where they come from or the handset they have,said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. More than 61 million people on over 3000 devices have chosen to surf the Web with Opera Mini for fast and easy Internet access at a considerably lower cost.

You can find out more about Opera Mini 5 from our previous articles. Opera Mini can be downloaded from m.opera.com and opera.com/mobile/download/. Desktop wallpapers celebrating the new release are also available from the Opera Design Blog.

Apple’s Solution to Proximity Sensor Woes: Close the Window and Clean Your Ear!

Apple-iPhone All the hoopla surrounding the iPhone 4 antenna issues have drawn attention away from another problem numerous iPhone 4 users have been facing – the unpredictable proximity sensor. When TUAW‘s Aron Trimble experienced problems with his proximity sensor he decided to seek help from the Apple Store’s Genius Bar.

The designated genius at the Apple Store brushed aside Trimble’s complaint and suggested that he should simply try closing the window. According to the Apple employee, the proximity sensor in the iPhone 4 can be triggered by the extra ambient light bouncing around the caller’s ear.

So, now you have a phone that requires you to develop a special grip to make calls, clean your ears and stay in a dark environment! Steve Jobs’ you’re holding it wrong remark was callous. But, this definitely takes the cake.

Nokia Goes After Eldar Murtazin: Contacts Russian Authorities

Remember the explosive and exclusive review of Nokia N-8 by Mobile-review.com? The famed gadget blogger Eldar Murtazin had managed to get his hands on a pre-production unit even before the handset was officially announced. His review created quite a splash as it was republished all over the web (including on Techie Buzz). Soon after, Nokia officially announced the phone, perhaps to quell the tide of negative publicity.

Nokia-N8

Nokia also published a blog post titled “One of our children is missing“. The Finnish mobile giant made it clear that it is determined to protect its intellectual property and get the handset back. At the same time, Nokia took a potshot at Apple and promised to retain its culture of openness. Unfortunately, it appears that the relationship between Nokia and Murtazin has taken a turn for the worse.

TechCrunch is reporting that Nokia contacted the Russian authorities after Murtazin failed to respond to repeated requests to return the stolen N8 handset. Here is the statement issued by Nokia:

To be perfectly clear, we are defending our intellectual property by asking for the return of all unauthorised property in Mr. Murtazin’s possession.

This is not about attacking bloggers or people who give critical reviews of our products. So as we don’t confuse the issue, while this individual does operate a blog, he is also very public about being a consultant’ to other international mobile manufacturers. He has confirmed he is in possession of unauthorised Nokia prototypes and other intellectual property, and we have asked for their return. Whether Mr. Murtazin’s actions were as a blogger, or whether he is acting in the capacity of a consultant in order to provide information to his clients is an open question.

We’re not able to comment on what would or would not happen if the unauthorised property were returned. It would be inappropriate to speculate on future actions at this stage. However, you can be sure that we are prepared to take all appropriate and legal measures to protect our intellectual property. We believe every individual or organization has the right to protect itself.

For his part Eldar Murtazin claims that none of Nokia’s communications reached him. He also goes on to state that his numerous attempts to contact representatives of Nokia have been futile.

While Nokia is legally entitled to protect its intellectual property, its latest actions don’t go well with the “Good Boy” image the giant has managed to build and retain over the years. Nokia wants the Russian authorities to determine the appropriate course of action. Let’s hope that the situation doesn’t get ugly like it did in the Gizmodo vs. Apple incident.

YouTube Movie in the Works, And You Can Be a Part of It

Everyone wants to be in a movie. Now, thanks to YouTube you can! YouTube wants capture a day, as seen through the eyes of people around the globe. The popular online video hosting site owned by Google is asking folks from all walks of life to submit videos capturing both the mundane and the extraordinary.

Kevin Macdonald, the Oscar-winning director of The Last King of Scotland will cull the user submitted videos and create a feature documentary film, which will be produced by Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator. The documentary will be called Life in a Day and will premier at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

YouTube-Life-in-a-Day-Movie

If you want to be a part of this unique global cinematic experiment, all you need to do is shoot a portion of your day on July 24 and upload it to the Life in a Day Youtube channel. Twenty selected contributors will get the opportunity to attend the film’s premiere.

Sara Pollack, entertainment marketing manager for YouTube, told The Globe and Mail that YouTube will be distributing hundreds of cameras in developing countries so that even people who don’t usually tape themselves can participate.

Participation instructions and guidelines are available at youtube.com/lifeinaday.

(Hat tip: @labnol)

Apple Bans Rogue Developer: Confirms iTunes Fraud

Apple Apple has finally stepped in to put an end to the increasing incidents of fraudulent purchases in the iTunes App Store. Last week, we reported that someone called Thuat Nguyen was purchasing his own applications using hacked iTunes accounts. In fact, apps developed by Nguyen managed to claim 42 of the top 50 spots in the App Store rankings for the Books category.

Apple has now banned Thuat Nguyen and issued the following statement to Engadget:

The developer Thuat Nguyen and his apps were removed from the App Store for violating the developer Program License Agreement, including fraudulent purchase patterns.

Developers do not receive any iTunes confidential customer data when an app is downloaded.

If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes we recommend that you contact your financial institution and inquire about canceling the card and issuing a chargeback for any unauthorized transactions. We also recommend that you change your iTunes account password immediately. For more information on best practices for password security visit http://www.apple.com/support/itunes.

According to Clayton Morris, about four hundred iTunes accounts were compromised. Apple’s statement indicates that the hacking resulted out of callousness on the part of the user and not due some inherent vulnerability in iTunes. Nevertheless, Apple will be beefing up its security measures to make it harder for hacked accounts to be exploited.

More Gmail Problems: Never Stops Loading For Some Users

GmailLast month, we reported that Gmail was being unbearably slow for a small subset of users. The problem came to our notice after Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of Duck Duck Go, complained about Gmail’s sluggishness.

It seems that Gmail problems are raring their ugly head once again. One of our commenters pointed out that Gmail has been practically inaccessible to some users for the past three days. According to this thread on Google’s official support forum, Gmail perpetually displays the “loading” prompt and fails to open any mail. Here is a typical description of the problem offered by changk05:

Also for me started after July 4th weekend. The problem remains despite 4 different computers with different versions of IE, and a mac as well. Installing Chrome did not work. Can’t open messages. Can’t forward messages from list view. Can’t get into settings. Please fix.

Although most of the affected users started encountering these problems after the 4rth July weekend, some users have been experiencing difficulties for more than a week. Let’s hope that Google will fix the issue for everyone, and having a famous blog is not a per-requisite for getting support from Google.

Update: Google has finally responded to the mounting complaints. Here is the response offered by a Google employee:

I am sorry that you are all experiencing this issue. We are working very hard to solve the problem, and I will update you as soon as I can.

While some of the workarounds do not work for everyone, they are worthwhile troubleshooting steps. If you have not yet tried any of the following workarounds, I suggest giving them a try.

1. Clear your cache and cookies (you can find instructions on how to do this in the referenced article)
2. Use the basic HTML version of Gmail by clicking on the link at the bottom of Gmail
3. Use another browser.
If these do not help fix your problem, you can try some of the other suggestions in this thread. In the meantime, please know that we are continuing to work towards solving this issue.

We have also posted this problem on our Known Issues page, where you can report that you are experiencing the issue.