A look at some of the big stories in mobile today: hours before we start to hear the real news, some spoofed speculations on what we might see at the WWDC this week from Apple; (NSDQ: AAPL) another developer enables carrier billing for apps; Foursquare beefs up its feature phone strategy; Loopt expands its Groupon deal service; LightSquared bumps into a GPS issue.
— WWDC: As crowds begin to line up to get into the WWDC in San Francisco, some enterprising people have speculated on what might come up in the next iteration of the iOS operating system used on Apple’s wireless products. Federico Bianco, a graphic designer based in Rome, has created a slick slideshow of “new” features — hosted on Apple’s iWork cloud in beta, naturally — that look plausible enough, and even useful (Apple, take note). They include widgets for popular apps that let users monitor activity on their homescreen (pictured here), and a lockscreen with calendar and other features. Another, more humorous take is from someone posting as iOSmagic on YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG). He calls himself Simon and is giving us a slightly more literal take on what “magical” features the new operating system might mean for the iPad. Video embedded below:
— Carrier billing: The messaging, billing and interconnection specialist Mach says that it has enabled carrier billing for apps across all four major mobile operators in Germany, covering some 80 million mobile subscribers in total. The deal is a first for the German market, in that apps developers and app stores can enable billing services, both to purchase apps and for in-app subscriptions, without needing to strike a separate deal with the operators themselves. The app stores that host many of these apps, though, will still play a part: some stores, such as Apple’s, require that apps utilise its own billing services.
— Foursquare: The social check-in service, which initially took off as a smartphone app embraced by early adopter power users, looks like it is trying ever more to broaden its appeal (much like another social service, Facebook, has done). As part of that, today it released an updated version of its app for Series 40 Nokia (NYSE: NOK) feature phone devices. New enhancements include better GPS services, the ability to send friend requests, the ability to view venue details and a better UI.
— Loopt: Another enhancement for a competing check-in service. Loopt is now offering users its Groupon local deal service in one more market, San Francisco, just in time for the huge influx of mobile power users due to visit the city for the WWDC. Groupon Now, as the service is called, was initially rolled out last month in Chicago (the first and only city where Groupon was offering it).
— LightSquared: The 4G network startup, which reportedly has inked a 15-year, $20 billion network sharing deal with Sprint (NYSE: S), is coming under some scrutiny before it even gets off the ground. Early tests on its LTE network are showing that it interferes with GPS signals, and the WSJ reports that this could hold up FCC approval and a subsequent commercial launch of its services.