July 16, 2010 Apple Press Conference

New iOS 4.1 Signal Bars

Apple is just about ready to put an official spin all this iPhone4 antenna hoopla. Hit the jump for our live blog aggregation of what’s going down in Cupertino, CA. Enjoy!

12:58 PM: Oh hai kids! Our invitation to this little shindig in Cupertino must have gotten lost in the mail! Fear not, we’re going to aggregate all the live coverage we can get our hands on to keep you in the loop. Sit back, get your hand away from the lower left side of your iPhone 4, and enjoy!

1:02 PM: Rumor recap (things people are saying will happen): free bumpers for all, full recall of first batch of iPhones, “there is no spoon” we’ll send another software update, stop giving your iPhone 4 “the bad touch.”

1:05 PM: Ars Technica — Now playing the iPhone Antenna Song… I am not lying. It’s basically a big slam on the media. This is very odd.

1:06 PM: Engadget — Steve Jobs takes the stage.

1:07 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We’re not perfect. Phones aren’t perfect either… But we want to make all of our users happy. We’re going to talk about how we’re going to do that today… but before we get into that I want to talk about theproblems and the data we’ve got so that we can make sure we make all our suers happy.”

1:08 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “iPhone 4 is best product we ever made. Sold over 3M in 3 weeks…Judged the #1 smartphone in a variety of publications.”

1:09 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We started getting some reports of people having issues with the antenna system..People were touching this spot here.”

1:10 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We’ve been working… we want to sahre what we’ve learned.”

1:11 PM: GDGT — Jobs: ““Antennagate’ — it doesn’t seem like a good idea if you touch your phone in a certain way and the bars go down. But one of the first things we learned: it’s certainly not unique to the iPhone.”

1:11 PM: Ars Techncia — Showing a shot of the blakckberry and the bars shrinking because of the way you grip it.

1:12 PM: GDGT — We did our own testing — let me show you an example of some other smartphones. First, BB Bold 9700, perhaps the most popular business smartphone.” Video showing the bars — they drop from four or five to one. “Pretty much identical to the videos on the web about the iPhone 4.”

1:13 PM: Jobs is doing this song and dance with the death grip on the HTC DROID Eris and the Samsung Omnia 2.

1:14 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We could’ve gone on and on… most smartphones behave the exact same way.”

1:14 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren’t perfect.”

1:15 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “It’s a challenge for the whole industry, and we’re all doing the best we can, “but every phone has weak spots.”

1:15 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We went to a lot of trouble to put this beautiful line in the stainless steel to say here’s where you touch it everybody… and we had incorrect bars, so when it did drop the drop looked far more catastrophic…but we screwed up on our algorithm. Our choice is to put the correct algorithm in which we’ve just done.”

1:17 PM: Engadget — Jobs: “You’ll still see a drop… we haven’t figured out a way around the laws of physics yet.”

1:18 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “So, what have we learned? Smarphones have weak spots…not unique to iPhone 4… they all have weak spots.”

1:19 PM: Engadget — Jobs: “We knew that you could see bars drop on the phone when you hold it in a certain way, it’s a fact, phones aren’t perfect. But people are reporting better reception with this antenna than they’ve ever seen before.”

1:20 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “One-half of 1% have called AppleCare for this. AT&T return rates: iPhone 3GS 6%, iPhone 4   1.7%.”

1:22 PM: I wonder why they don’t do the return rates for the Apple Stores?

1:23 PM: GDGT — Jobs: “One more data point. AT&T has given us the early call drop rate just a couple days ago. They log call drops, it helps them improve their network. AT&T won’t give out the absolute call drop data for competitive reasons, but they’ll let us release the delta. But how do the call drops on iPhone 4 compare to 3GS a year ago per 100 calls? The iPhone 4 drops less than ONE call per hundred than the 3GS. Less than one.”

1:26 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs is saying that only 20% of iPhone users are buying a case at the Apple store, whereas 80% of 3GS users got a case.

1:27 PM: Ars Techncia — So he thinks that may be the source of the increased iPhone 4 call drops vs. iPhone 3GS.

1:28 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs has gotten over 5K emails from uers telling him that the iPHone 4 wokrs perfectly.

1:28 PM: I want to know how many he’s gotten saying it doesn’t work perfectly.

1:29 PM: Engadget — Jobs: “Now when we look at this data, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem, but that problem is affecting a very small number of users.”

1:30 PM: GDGT — Jobs: “Yesterday we released iOS 4.0.1 that fixes some of these bugs with our algorithm. We recommend every iPhone owner update to it.”

1:30 PM: Engadget — Jobs: “A free case for every iPhone 4 buyer. If you got one, we’ll give you a refund.”

1:31 PM: Ars Techncia — Jobs: “But we can’t make enough bumpers, so we’ll source some other cases and give users a choice. Starts next week.”

1:32 PM: GDGT — Jobs: ““And, if you’re still not happy even after getting a case, you can bring your iPhone 4 back undamaged for a full refund. We are going to take care of everyone.”

1:33 PM: GDGT — Jobs: “So, I’ve got some other updates. We’re tracking some problems with the proximity sensor, we’ll have that in the next update. White iPhone: lot of people are waiting for it, and they’ll start shipping at the end of July in limited quantities.”

1:33 PM: GDGT — Jobs: “On July 30th we’re going to bring the iPhone to 17 more countries — these are the same we announced before.”

1:34 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We love our users. We try very hard to surprise and delight them. We work our asses off, and we have a blast doing it.”

1:35 PM: Sounds like Steve is wrapping things up. What do you think? Is a free bumper case and a demo of other smartphones doing a similar thing sufficient?

1:36 PM: GDGT — Jobs: “So we do all this because we love our users. And when we fall short — which we do sometimes — we try harder. We pick ourselves up, we figure out what’s wrong, and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying our users, and that makes it all worth it.”

1:37 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs: “We think we’ve gotten to the heart of the problem, and the heart is that smartphones have weak spots. And so for those small number of customers that are having problems, we’re going to give them cases, and for those that are still unhappy we’re going to give them a full refund.”

1:38 PM: Tim Cook and Bob Mansfield are now on stage for Q&A.

1:39 PM: Ars Technica — Q: Steve how’s your health? A: Doing fine…interrupted my vacation in Hawaii for this.

1:40 PM: GDGT –Q: Any changes for future antenna designs in iPhone? A: We’re still working on this — we’re happy with the design. … we’re getting a lot of reports from customers that it’s way better than the 3GS. I don’t know what our next antenna design will be — maybe our wizards in the antenna lab will come up with something better. But looking at the data, we don’t think we have a problem.

1:42 PM: Ars Technica — Q: Your demo shows a vise grip on the phone to make the bars drop, but online we’ve seen that youc an touch with a single finger? A: Your body is a pretty effective signal absorber, on any phone when you make contact with that phone, its performance is less than its free space performance.

1:43 PM: Ars Technica — Q: Were you told about the concerns about the design early? A: The Bloomberg article “is a total crock.” We’ve charged Bloomberg to come up with evidence that this is true but they can’t.

1:46 PM: GDGT – Q: Your investors seem to want you to make an apology of some sort — would you be willing to do that? A: [Long pause] To our customers who are affected by the issue, we are deeply sorry, and we are going to give you a free case or a full refund. We want investors who invest in Apple for the long haul, because they believe in us. To those investors who bought the stock and are down by $5, I have no apology. If we hit a bump in the road, it’s like having kids.

1:50 PM: GDGT – Q: Do Apple customers have to choose between form and function? A: No. The Retina Display in the iPhone 4 is being widely hailed as the best display ever created. … We try to have our cake and eat it too, we try to have great design and great performance. If you look at our products, that’s what we deliver.

1:51 PM: Engadget – Q: Will there be refunds for AT&T contracts? A: I believe so, yes.

1:52 PM: GDGT – Q: Is there anything you could have said in the launch keynote to lower expectations? A: I’ve thought about that a LOT. We didn’t fully understand if there were problems at that point. We might have set the expectation that smartphones have weak spots… but the fact is, most smartphones seem to have the same characteristic as the iPhone 4. If you grip them in a certain way they lose signal strength dramatically, especially in a low signal strength area. And one of the things we’ve learned is that as a leader in the smartphone world now, we need to educate. So what we need was data. And now we’ve got some and we’re sharing it now.

1:54 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs says no refund for third-party cases.

1:55 PM: GDGT – Q: After September 30th, is it because after then you expect people to buy a free case? A: It’s so we can reevaluate this in September, I have no idea what solutions may come up.

1:58 PM: Ars Technica — “John Gruber asks if anyone (on stage) carried an iPhone 4 with a bumper. They (the Apple executives on stage) all pulled their phones out and none had cases on their iPhone 4s.” The crowd lolz.

2:00 PM: GDGT – Q: What have you learned here? A: There are some things we know that we did learn here. One thing is how much we love our customers and how we are going to take care of them. We were stunned and upset and embarrassed by the Consumer Reports stuff, and the reason we didn’t say more is because we didn’t know enough. If we’d have done this event a week and a half ago, we wouldn’t have had half the data we have today.

2:04 PM: GDGT — Jobs: “I guess it’s just human nature, when you see someone get successful you just want to tear it down. I see it happening with Google. Google is a great company. Look at everything they’ve created. Would you prefer we’re Korean companies? Do you not like the fact that we’re an American company leading the world right here? Of course we’re human, of course we’ll make mistakes. But sometimes I feel that in search of eyeballs for these web sites, people don’t care about what they leave in their wake.” Jobs continues, “I look at this and think wow. Apple has been around 30 years. Haven’t we earned the credibility and trust that we’re going to take care of our users? … we weren’t just innocents in this. But the reaction has been so overblown… we could actually use your help here.”

2:09 PM: Ars Techncia – Q: someone asking about return rates at apple stores and how that compares to 3GS. A: It’s been extremely small… almost unmeasurable.

2:11 PM: GDGT – Q: Did you consider a recall? Steve: When you love your customers, nothing is off the table. But we want to be data driven. We send engineers to people’s homes with test equipment and take logs… Bob: For the record, we told them we were coming. Steve: And we didn’t bash down any doors! [Laughs.]

2:12 PM: GDGT – Q (Josh, Engadget): NY Times says this might have a software fix, is this something that can be helped with software? Steve: We just spent the last hour going through how the iPhone 4 drops only 1 more call per hundred than the 3GS. … Go talk to the Times, because you guys talk to yourselves a lot, and they’re just making this stuff up.

2:15 PM: GDGT – Forstall jumped up on stage: “That statement is patently false. Can we continue to tune the way the baseband interacts with the network? Yes, and we do this all the time. But that statement is untrue.” Steve: “One many statements lately that fall into that category.”

2:18 PM: GDGT – Q from Markoff: I’ve used my iPhone on a heavily congested cell in SF. I’d like to know if the handset has any role in congestion management. Does the stack play no role in congestion? Steve: I’ll let Scott answer, but I have something that’s a higher-order bit. When AT&T wants to add a cell tower in Texas, it may only take 3 weeks. But in SF, on average, it takes 3 years. No one wants a cell tower in their back yard, but everyone wants perfect reception.

2:22 PM: Engadget – Q: You released a software update for the iPhone about two years ago which improved the signal. You say now you’ve got a long-standing bug that doesn’t show the right bar data. Can you square those two things? Steve: Well let me say something about Apple. We didn’t want to get into any business where we didn’t own or control the primary tech, because if you don’t the people who do own it will beat you. Our big insight about 8 years ago, was that it was going to shift from big displays or optical pickup heads, or radios being the most important component, we thought it was going to be software. And we’re pretty good at making software, we showed that in the iPod… other people are good at it too, like Palm, but we brought great software to the smartphone space. We’ve been able to create and distribute major updates to this software since the iPhone was released, and we’ve made the product better and better for free. Everyone is copying us now, but we were the first ones to do it. To answer your question, the formula we use the calculate bars has been off since the beginning, and the new update fixes that for the iPhone 4, 3G, and 3GS… I don’t know if I understand the other part of your question?

2:25 PM: Ars Technica — Jobs just said that he thinks people posting his emails on the web are a little rude. Yeah, who the hell would do…oh, wait…

Well it looks like the fun is now over. There you have it. Free bumpers for all iPhone 4 owners until September 30th, a refund for those who already bough bumpers, a software update to further tweak issues, and a full refund within 30-days of purchase…and the media sucks.  Have a great day everyone!

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