Spirit – New Jailbreak for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad

The new Spirit jailbreak is out. Wow, this takes about 20 seconds to do. It’s far easier than earlier jailbreaks and now it works on iPads, both WiFi and 3G.

What is jailbreaking and why should you do it, you ask? Then you probably shouldn’t. It can easily destroy everything. But one thing that it offers is background apps, a feature that will arrive in a few months in iPhone OS 4.

Note to iPad users: many apps do NOT work and will make your iPad’s desktop look like a giant iPhone. Backgrounder seems to work. Kirikae does not. See this spreadsheet of working/non-working jailbroken apps for the iPad.

Windows Phone 7

Surprisingly, Microsoft Announces Cool Phone

While Apple’s iPhone is the leader in smartphones, there is competition from Google’s Android phones, RIM’s Blackberries, and Palm’s Pre. This week’s announcement of Windows Phone 7 Series at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona should put Microsoft back in the competition.

While Microsoft has made phone software for over 13 years, the phones were never popular outside of business. The phones looked like slimmed down versions of Windows and were clunky. With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is using the acclaimed user interface from their Zune music players and completely revamping the phones.

Expect to see phones running Windows Phone 7 around November 2010.

Note the first line of this video demo/promo. It says “A different kind of phone…” Reminds me a little of another company with small market share that asked people to “Think Different.”

For more videos, see Microsoft’s YouTube page on Windows Phone 7.

AT&T and Sprint Mobile Signals Coming to DC Metro

According to The Washington Business Journal, AT&T  (meaning iPhones) and Sprint are now starting cell phone service in some DC Metro stations and will expand that coverage over the coming months.

Expanded Metro cell phone service starts Oct. 19

More cell phones will be working at some of the region’s busiest Metro stations starting Oct. 16, under an expanded wireless program first announced in May.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile began installing hardware at 20 select Metro stations over the weekend and will spend the next two months completing the initial installation.

Until now, Verizon Wireless has been the only carrier that worked in Metro stations under an agreement with Verizon Wireless’ predecessor, Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, in 1993.

Sprint phones that roam to the Verizon network will also currently work.

The first stations to get the new multicarrier wireless network are: Ballston, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Center SW, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Friendship Heights, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, L’Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Smithsonian and Union Station.

The carriers will install service in Metro’s remaining 27 stations by the end of 2010, although wireless phones won’t work in Metro tunnels until 2012.

The four carriers will operate and maintain the network, and are also building a second, separate wireless network for Metro’s use, including future plans for The Metro Channel, which will provide information, news and advertising on monitors in Metro stations and on trains.

Metro says the wireless contract will generate $25 million during its initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during five, two-year renewals.

Line for Apple Store in Arlington Selling iPhone 3GS

Because Apple and AT&T allowed people to pre-order for delivery, the line for the new iPhone 3GS at 7am today at the Clarendon Apple store in Arlington, Virginia, was about 10% of what we saw for the original iPhone and 3G.

In many ways, this was a less significant upgrade than the upgrade to the 3G. Key selling points of the 3GS include: faster speed (network and phone), video recording, better battery life, compass, and higher quality camera.

Several other upgrades are available to the previous iPhone through the recently released iPhone 3.0 OS. The new software includes cut and paste, photo messaging (available later when AT&T enables it), universal search, and a voice memo app.

I’ll probably buy the 3GS in several months when I qualify for the cheaper upgrade price.

iPhone 3GS line in front of Apple Store in Clarendon Arlington Virginia

Augmented Reality Coming To Cell Phones

The concept of augmented reality is one of those cool techie ideas that has been around for a while. We see it in science fiction (Terminator cam), military headsets, and virtual reality helmets and glasses for some software demos. A new augmented reality aimed at regular consumers is displayed in this video of an application for the Google Android phone.

This is made possible because some new phones such as the iPhone 3GS not only have a built-in GPS and accelerometer, but also have a compass. This allows the phone to know where it is and what direction it is pointing.

This app is rolling out first in the Netherlands, but more of these types of apps will be arriving soon.