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Thursday, March 12, 2009, 04:55 pm PT (07:55 pm ET)

iPhone 3.0 MMS, tethering rumored; Sirius XM iPhone app enroute

Apple's just confirmed iPhone 3.0 firmware is already rumored to add MMS picture messaging and data tethering. Also, Sirius XM has said it plans to give its radio subscribers an iPhone app, and Maine is negotiating a major deal to lease 100,000 MacBooks for its schools.

Possible iPhone 3.0 features leaked

While Apple has only just said it will introduce iPhone 3.0 at a special event next week, rumors have already surfaced of what the major refresh of the mobile OS will bring.

Well-known technology insider Boy Genius said he has been told of two new features so far. Notably, iPhones would get Multimedia Messaging Service support, or MMS. The standard is used to send photos and videos in a form similar to text-only SMS and has long been popular for trading content between phones for several years. Apple is one of the few phone manufacturers to leave out MMS.

iPhones would also purportedly get data tethering, or the ability to serve as the Internet connection for a computer, for both a direct USB connection as well as over Bluetooth. The update would put iPhones on a par with the data options for most smartphones.

Both claims haven't received additional support and should, for now, be seen as potentially inaccurate. However, AT&T has already said that tethering would come soon to iPhones.

Sirius XM building iPhone radio app

Hoping to diversify where and how users get its satellite radio stations, Sirius XM on Thursday mentioned in a financial results conference call that it will have an iPhone app ready sometime during the spring.

The software would let the iPhone and iPod touch stream Sirius or XM stations over the devices' respective Internet connections. Existing subscribers could keep listening to programming away from their normal satellite radios, while new customers could subscribe without having to link it to a dedicated radio, according to Sirius XM chief Mel Karmazin.

Unlike most existing Internet radio apps for the iPhone, the app would likely require the same $13 monthly subscription as needed for Sirius XM's conventional radios or for online-only listening.

The company has been struggling to add subscribers in recent months and has been particularly hard-hit in the automotive industry, where plunging car sales mean fewer satellite radios being sold.

Maine may grow MacBook school program

Even though the economic crisis has been tightening educational budgets, Apple is nearing a coup that would see it deliver 100,000 MacBooks to Maine high school students.

The northeastern state's Education Department declared on Wednesday that it was talking with Apple to expand the range of its current agreement — which began in 2006 — to more than double the current tally of about 47,000 MacBooks as part of a four-year leasing deal.

As with the original program, the goal would be to close the gap between rich and poor students by ensuring that every student has access to the same computing resources. A 2007 study showed that the writing skills of students had increased after the portables were introduced to classes.

And to deflect likely criticisms regarding wasteful spending, state Governor John Baldacci has stressed that the MacBooks won't add to any existing spending deficit.