AT&T To Begin Unlocking Off-Contract iPhones

iPhone 4S

Today AT&T has released a statement stating that they will start unlocking iPhones starting this Sunday starting this Sunday (that is April 8, 2012). AT&T said that the unlocking service will only apply to off-contract iPhones and to members who have AT&T accounts in good standing. If you’ve terminated your AT&T contract or bought your iPhone off-contract, you are also eligible for this unlock. Here’s the full statement from the company:

“Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones. The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”

There are many reasons as to why AT&T may be doing this. The first being that Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, received an email from an iPhone 3GS user last week. The user was temporarily moving to Canada and wanted to take his AT&T locked iPhone with him, but couldn’t. Tim reportedly told AT&T to unlock the user’s phone, which they supposedly did.

The second reason may be that AT&T has been under fire recently for their outrageous international roaming rates, charging just under $200 for 800mb of international data. International users who own an unlocked AT&T iPhone will now be able to simply swap SIM cards when traveling abroad.

As for me, I will be bringing in two iPhone 4’s to AT&T to be unlocked next week. If I encounter any problems, Techie-Buzz readers will be the first to know!

[9to5mac]

HTC Bootloader Tool Updated To Add Support For Desire Z/G2, Incredible and More!

HTC had a pretty dismal 2011. First, the company started releasing phones with a locked down bootloader, which led to the company receiving heavy criticism and making an impact on its sales. Secondly, HTC literally spammed the market with Android phones that were hardly different from each other, and all of them failed to make a significant impact – sales wise.

Thankfully, HTC has realized their mistake and will be releasing fewer Android phones this year. For the first problem, HTC released a web-based bootloader-unlocking tool last year, which allows developers or advanced users to unlock the bootloader on their handset. Still, the official tool from HTC only supported a handful of their latest handsets, which was quite a major issue.

However, HTC has been updating their bootloader unlocking tool for the last couple of months and have added support for quite a few handsets including the Droid Incredible 2, Rezound and Flyer. Today, the company has again updated the bootloader-unlocking tool to add support for some of its older handsets that includes the original Droid Incredible, Desire Z, ChaCha, and the T-Mobile G2.

While an unlocked bootloader on these old handsets might not help the developers or modding community much, it is still good to see HTC adding support for older handsets.

ChevronWP7: Windows Phone Unlocker Now Live

ChevronWP7 Labs

ChevronWP7 Labs

The ChevronWP7 team launched the ChevronWP7 Labs site today. This site provides a tool which allows anybody to unlock their Windows Phone so they can load applications which are not in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

If you are not a Windows Phone registered developer, there is no (easy) way for you to sideloadan application. Sideloading is the act of bypassing the Windows Phone Marketplace to load applications on your device. Now enthusiasts and hobbyists can sideload applications like Screencapture v3 on their device without registering as an AppHub developer with Microsoft.

ChevronWP7 is the brainchild of Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng, who had earlier released a hack which enabled the same functionality via undocumented APIs. That hack was later pulled by the team, which they said, was based on Microsoft’s direction.

Despite that move, the team’s relationship with Microsoft remained positive. In fact, Microsoft developer relations team invited the ChevronWP7 team to Redmond to talk about the best way to support the enthusiast community without possibly breaking warranty and making the phone unusable. ChevronWP7 Labs is the result of the cooperation.

All you need is a Windows Live ID (for authentication purposes only), $9 and a Windows Phone device. After paying the fee, and downloading the tool, the phone is unlocked so you can deploy any application you want to on your device. If you get to a point where you have an app you would like to publish, it would have to be done with the AppHub, which requires a $99 USD/year fee. ChevronWP7 Labs even has a step on their site, which enables de-activation of the ChevronWP7 lock so you can developer-unlock the device.

Step 1: Paypal

Step 1: Paypal

Step 2: Unlock tool

Step 2: Unlock tool

This is a very good move (originally spearheaded by Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Developer Evangelism) by Microsoft to encourage and support enthusiasts in the Windows Phone community. With this tool, and the fact that it is inexpensive, jailbreakingis not necessary on the Windows Phone platform.

Congratulations to the ChevronWP7 team, and a big thank you for doing this, from an enthusiast!

Update: I had a quick chat with Chris Walsh on Twitter about ChevronWP7. Interestingly, they are going to have a place to list homebrew apps, and anyone who has an unlocked device will be able to sideload those apps, not just ChevronWP7-unlocked. More good news!

 

HTC EVO 3D Software Update Rolling Out Now; Bug-Fixes Galore!

Sprint and HTC are all set to release a software update for the HTC EVO 3D. The new software update aims at squashing bugs, and to improve the overall performance and stability of the phone.

Here is the full change-log of the update, thanks to Android Central -:

  • Fixes the device lockscreen stuck in “half-state”
  • Ability to transfer all contacts over Bluetooth
  • Fixed the date mis-match issue between contacts and Facebook when synced
  • Fixed the random GPS coordinates issue
  • The lock screen now displays three digit temperatures correctly
  • Fixed the Spiderman demo lockups
  • Allows more pre-loaded content to be uninstalled by the user
  • Spiderman, Watch and Qik have been updated to the latest version
Most importantly, post this software update, Sprint EVO 3D owners will be able to unlock the boot loaders on their handset, using the recently released web-based unlocking tool from HTC.
Sprint will start rolling out the software update (v2.08.651.2) from today via OTA. EVO 3D owners can also manually check for the update, by going to Settings->About Phone-> Software update, and selecting the ‘Check for updates’ option.

 

HTC’s Web-Based Bootloader Unlock Tool Goes Live

HTC Sensation owners in Europe, here is some good news for you. The promised web-based bootloader unlocking tool from HTC has just gone live.

At the moment, the web-based tool only supports the European version of Sensation running on software version 1.45.401.2 or greater. The 1.45 numbered software update was recently released by HTC in Europe, and bumps up the Android OS version to 2.3.4, along with squashing some bugs.

The bootloader unlock page mentions only 3 handsets from HTC, the EVO 3D, the Sensation 4G and the European version of the Sensation, whose bootloader can be unlocked. Of all the three handsets, the European version of Sensation is only one, which users can unlock the bootloader on right away.  Users will be able to unlock the bootloader on the other two handsets, post a software update, which should be rolled out sooner than later.

Users who are interested in unlocking the boot loader on their handset, should keep in mind that by doing so, they will void the warranty of their handset. Also, while HTC allows users to unlock the bootloader on their handset, it does not provide a way to lock it back.

Interested Sensation (EU) owners, should head over to HTC’s Developer website for more information.

Motorola Photon 4G Bootloader Unlocked!

In the last year or so, all the Android phones shipped by Motorola came with an encrypted boot loader. Motorola has been heavily criticized for shipping their phones with locked down bootloader. The company promised that they will ship phones with unlockable boot loaders sometime later this year. Sadly, the company has not made any visible progress on this front.

For the Photon 4G owners though, the good news is that the boot loader on their handset can now be unlocked. The awesomely talented developers over at XDA forums have managed to unlock the encrypted boot loader of the Photon 4G.  Interested Photon 4G owners, can head over to this thread over at XDA forums for more information on how to unlock the boot loader.

Photon 4G owners should keep in mind that if they unlock the boot loader of their handset, they will void the warranty of the handset. They should also make a backup of their data on the phone, since the phone will be wiped clean of all data during the unlocking process.

Since the Photon 4G shares similar internals to Verizon’s Droid 3 and the upcoming Droid Bionic, it may help developers to unlock the boot loader of those handsets as well.

 

HTC’s Unlocked Bootloader Promise Coming To Fruition In Canada First

Back in the beginning of June, HTC declared some of their high-end devices would be receiving updates to unlock the bootloaders, the first round to include the T-Mobile Sensation and the Sprint Evo 3D. Well, it would seem that Canada is getting the first device to ship with an unlocked bootloader. Rogers Wireless, a national carrier in Canada, will have an exclusive launch of the Evo 3D in the coming months alongside the LG Optimus 3D.

A Rogers spokesperson has commented on their support site, Rogers RedBoard, indicating that the Evo 3D will be available “this summer” and will have an unlocked bootloader.

The Evo 3D was announced by HTC back in June, recently became available through carriers and was billed as the first “glasses-free 3D smartphone”.

HTC indicated that August would be the initial transition date for devices to receive updates in order to allow for users to flash their own firmware images (ROMs) that aren’t cryptographically signed. While Google explicitly allows (and partially encourages) their “Nexus” line of devices to be easily unlocked, generally, this voids the warranty of a device and should be left as an option to experienced developers and power users. Custom ROMs are the bread and butter of Android when it comes to customization and developing; they allow for much more control as to what software comes pre-installed, supported languages, as well as many performance and security updates that are rolled into a single package. Having more devices that can receive timely updates means more users will be purchasing hardware and putting money directly in HTC’s pocket.

Whether the software update will be available to existing Evo 3D users before Rogers customers have it in their hands is unknown, but a small victory for Android developers is imminent.

Via MobileSyrup

Motorola Atrix 4G Bootloader Unlocked!

Motorola Atrix 4G owners, this is the day you all have been impatiently waiting for. Yesterday, we reported that Motorola might unlock the boot loader on the Atrix 4G with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread update.

However, the awesomely talented folks over at XDA have managed to beat Motorola, and have unlocked the boot loader on the Atrix 4G.

Motorola_Atrix_4G_Unlocked

The whole method to unlock the boot loader on the Atrix 4G can be found here. Do make a backup of your data, since the handset will be wiped clean of any data when the boot loader is unlocked. Sadly, there is a catch though. The method only works on AT&T branded and OLYFR branded version of the Atrix 4G.

Other branded version of handsets threw an error when users tried to unlock the boot loader. The phone did not brick itself, so there is no issue in trying.

The unlocked boot loader means we should start seeing custom kernels and true custom ROMs for the handset. In fact, ClockWorkMod Recovery is already available for unlocked Atrix 4G handsets. Here is the link to the appropriate thread over at XDA forums.

Best Mobile Apps Of The Week for iOS, Android and Symbian – #8

Welcome to the eight edition of Best Mobile Apps of the Week for iOS, Android and Symbian. First of all, I would like to apologize to our readers as I did not post the Best Mobile Apps for the last 2 weeks. I had to give my Android phone to the service center, and was using a dumbphone for nearly two weeks.

In this edition of Best Mobile Apps of the week, I will introduce our readers to an awesome eye-candy widget for your Android homescreen, a new unlock screen for you Symbian handset. For iOS owners, I will tell them about an app that will allow them to wake up their PC remotely!

Below are the Best Mobile Apps Of The Week For iOS, Android and Symbian :

Wake (iOS)

As the name suggests, Wake’ enables iOS users to remotely wake up their PC. The app uses WOL Wake On Lan feature which is found in nearly all PCs and Macs computers. Users need to make sure that the WOL’ feature is enabled on their PC. They can do so from the BIOS of their PC.

Wake_iOS

The app is designed to work with both iPhone and iPad. This app is an extremely useful one for users who want total control on their PC, when they are away from it. iOS owners can purchase Wake’ from the App Store for $0.99 from here.

Maze Lock (Symbian)

In the last edition of BMATW, I introduced our readers to Nokia Bubbles. The app allows users to unlock their phone in a fun and yet efficient manner. Today, I would like to introduce our readers to Maze Lock from ThinkChange.

Below is a video of Maze Lock in action :

 

Maze Lock for Symbian is similar to the pattern unlock option found in Android 2.1+ handsets. The app is configurable to quite an extent and allows users to change the lock screen background, the date and time display style etc. The app supports all the latest Symbian handsets from Nokia as well as the older S60v5 based ones like the X6 and 5800.

Symbian owners can download Maze Lock for free from the Ovi Store.

Honeycomb Clock (Android)

The tablet version of Android Honeycomb looks stellar! The whole Tron like theme and animations definitely look very cool! Well, Android handset owners are not going to get the next version of Android with all these eye-candies anytime soon. Until then, they can get the Honeycomb look on their phone by using a Honeycomb theme for ADW Launcher.

Honeycomb_Clock_widget

Along with this, they can download and use the Honeycomb Clock widget from the Android Market. This widget replicates the awesome looking clock widget as seen in Honeycomb OS. Unlike the clock widget in Android 3.0, Honeycomb clock comes in multiple color choices for people who don’t like the blue color.

A free as well as a paid version of this widget is available on the Android Market. Android handset owners can download the app from here.

Motorola Gets Questioned About Their Locked Down Bootloader

If you can remember when the Motorola Milestone launched, which was ages ago in the technology world, it came with chip technology called “e-Fuse”. For all intents and purposes, this was a blatant attempt by Motorola to stop hackers and developers from booting custom firmware on their devices and protecting their own intellectual property, such as MotoBLUR. Some of the reasons that people purchase Android devices, is solely because they have much more open access to the hardware than they would compared to an iPhone, Windows Phone 7 or webOS device. HTC seems to understand this and provides a way for users to unlock their devices albeit forgoing their warranty. Perhaps this is why Google chose HTC as their OEM for the Nexus One and it was a big hit with the community.

Today, a user posted a question to Motorola’s YouTube account asking about dock support for the up and coming Atrix 4G. The poster was met with a response – @tdcrooks if you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we’ll continue with our strategy that is working thanks. Moments after the AndroidCentral member posted it to their forums, Motorola removed all the comments off their page and started on damage control.

They posted up a Note on their Facebook page apologizing for the comment made by one of their employees. They are also claiming that there will be a work-around for their future devices in order to allow developers to use devices “as a development platform” but still giving them the ability to “protect our users’ interests”. Keeping in mind that because Texas Instruments has eFuse embedded in a lot of their chips, Motorola does have the power to re-program the “fuse” on the fly – this means that Motorola could ship out binaries to requesting developers, which would allow them to bypass the fuse and give them lower level access to the hardware.

There are many choices out there if you’re looking for an Android handset. If you disagree with the practices of Motorola, the best option would be to vote with your wallet.