Citing the iPod's success, The New York Times says that Apple's next product could "shake up" the consumer market for digital hub devices: "More recently, Mr. Jobs has been highly critical of attempts to add video and gaming features to hand-held devices that compete with the iPod. The success of the iPod, he argues, rests on the idea that it allows users to do other things while listening to music on a portable device built to do nothing other than produce excellent sound. If Mr. Jobs can reinvent the home-computer-as-entertainment-and-information-hub the way he led the creation of a seamless way of delivering digital music, analysts say, he could shake up the plans of all the other more powerful corporate interests trying to figure out what consumers want."
Small Tree has announced broadened system support for its multi-port Gigabit Ethernet product line. The company is expanding the availability of its "Dual Connect" and "Quad Connect" Multiport Gigabit Ethernet adapters to include the G4 Power Mac and Xserve. This expands the list of supported platforms from the Apple Power Mac G5 and Xserve G5, which were available when the cards were first introduced at MacWorld in January.
Apple's PowerBook G4 trade-in program ends this Friday, March 26th. The deal offers customers the option to trade in their PowerBook G4 laptops for credit toward the purchase of a new 15-inch or 17-inch notebook. The program was announced late last year, and provides a $700 credit for all qualifying units. Those wishing to take advantage of the offer must call AppleCare directly at 800-275-2273.
FCW has published commentary on Apple's move to 64-bit processing, "raw processing power hasn't always been Apple Computer Inc.'s claim to fame, but the company's latest crop of 64-bit desktop computers might prompt an image makeover." Todd Benjamin, Apple product manager for the Power Mac G5, said "The 64-bit G5 processor lets you use way more main memory and to do certain types of computations that aren't feasible with a 32-bit chip."
Apple today released iPhoto 4.01, an update to its photo import/organization application that includes "many organizational and stability enhancements. Performance has also been increased throughout the application, giving you faster importing, smoother image viewing and easier Rendezvous photo sharing. This version of iPhoto also features improved thumbnail images in your photo library. To take advantage of this, your thumbnails must be upgraded, which may take a while, depending on the number of photos in your library." iPhoto 4 is available as part of the $50 iLife '04 suite.
Afternoon tech news: The DVD Forum has chosen AAC for the DVD-ROM zone of DVD-Audio discs based on the quality of the audio and the music industry's perception of the audio format; Ten organizations submitted applications to sponsor new Internet domains (including ".mobi" for mobile services and ".xxx" for adult content), which could be approved later this year; microchips are being used to deter theft of beehives in California's Central Valley; and a California man has been charged with extortion, after allegedly making demands for $100,000 from Google in exchange for not publicly releasing software that would generate fake advertising hits.
Konkeptoine today announced its NX Shading System for Electric Image's Universe Animator, which introduces the concept of working with Slots within a shader in Universe Animator: "By combining up to four different Slots a user can layer from a choice of 31 different noise algorithms to form a surface description of incredible variety and character. This way surfaces can be generated that range in looks from a rusted and corroded metal to highly believable water, tree barks, etc." It includes a library of noises (which can be combined via a several compositing modes) and offers real-time previews. It is compatible with Universe Animator 4/5 and upcoming Version 6. It is now available for Mac OS X for $200 ($50 off) through April 12th.
Equinux today announced that its VPN Tracker solution for creating secure connections is compatible with Novell BorderManager 3.8 ($35 per user), allowing employees working from remote locations on Macs to access files, email applications and databases over the Internet. Novell BorderManager includes firewall and VPN technologies to safeguard networks from potential internal and external threats. VPN Tracker provides secure networking, by encrypting all insecure Internet, company or AirPort connections for Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3. Personal ($90) and Professional ($200) editions are available.
Sony last week launched two new LCDs: the new 17-inch (SDM-S74) and 19-inch (SDM-S94) displays will include both digital and analog inputs, allowing users to connect multiple computers to a single display. Sony will also offer a new cabinet color scheme, which will include both black and silver bezels. The displays feature the company's ErgoStand design to adjust the displays, an internal power supply. The black-finished LCDs will be available in April for $520 and $750, respectively, while the silver bezel version is due in May.
NEC-Mitsubishi today launched the NEC MultiSync LCD2060NX 20-inch LCD. The $1,200 display offers a brightness of 250 cd/m2, a 0.255 mm pixel pitch, 600:1 typical contrast ratio, 170-degree viewing angles, and 1600x1200 maximum resolution as well as Rapid Response technology for full-motion video display with typical response times of 25ms or less to virtually eliminate ghosting or blurring. It will ship later this month in both black and white. Sharp also introduced its LL-T15G4 ($400), a sleek 15" XGA LCD monitor (1024x768) with a brightness of 260-nits, a contrast ratio of 350:1, both digital and analog inputs, built-in stereo speakers, several viewing modes, color management functions, and a black or ivory bezel.
Sony has landed a $30 million marketing deal with McDonald's to promote its forthcoming download service, after Sony's last-minute pitch cut Apple out of the picture: "One person familiar with the McDonald's deal said the fast-food company would probably give away more than 100 million Sony Connect songs in the U.S. McDonald's had been in talks to launch a similar marketing effort with Apple, but switched plans after a last-minute pitch from Sony, sources said." Also, Sony "has already announced a deal with United Airlines in which travelers, once the Connect service starts, will be able to trade in frequent flier miles for free songs," according to The Chicago Tribune. [free registration required]
IPSecuritas 2.0 (free) can easily setup IPSec VPN connections to another host or network over the Internet, while securing your data by encryption and authentication. Version 2.0 features X.509 certificates support, a tunnel status indicator, ESP transport mode, autostart, dynamic DNS settings, routing checks, and other features. It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [1.7MB] Power Card 1.5 updates the project management application written for Mac OS X. The $60 application features an intuitive "task card" based interface for creating/organizing to-do's and other tasks. It is fully integrated the Mac OS X Address Book and offers Rendezvous support. [1.0MB] iTuner 2.0 (free) is a small application that controls iTunes with functions for fast-forward, rewind, ratings, pick playlist as well as add to "favorites," set EQ of the current track or the entire playlist (manually or by genre), remove dead track, export your playlist, and more. [274KB] LogPile 1.3 adds support for Library logs and the deletion of system logs. It also provides an improved and threaded Find feature, and allows users to define a unique display font for each log category and a default save directory. The utility can be used to view and analyze Mac OS X's system and application logs. [1.2MB] Painter's Picker 2.0b1 ($14) is an extension to the Mac OS X color picker panel that adds the ability to choose related colors (complementary colors, analogous colors, and more) and provides more precise controls for choosing saturation, hue angle, and brightness. Version 2.0 features new color schemes, a Web safe color space, and more. [294KB] Ram Disk Creator 1.0b is a tool to create Ram Disks: "This feature was available in Mac OS 9...A ram disk offers the possibility to have the fastest disk your Mac could ever have. Therefore it's the best solution for applications which require frequent disk accesses." The developer also notes that it can conserve power--especially useful for laptop users. [453KB] KisMAC 0.09a is a free stumbler application for Mac OS X, that puts your card into the "monitor mode" to help search for Wi-Fi signals. It supports third party PCMCIA cards with Orinico and PrismII chipsets, as well as Cisco Aironet cards. It offers netstumbler import, improved speed for word attacks, native GPSd support, and many bug fixes. [3.7MB]
Native Instruments has released REAKTOR 4.1, a free update that adds dozens of new features to the modular sound design studio. REAKTOR 4.1 includes savable screensets for managing individual window arrangements; a batch converter for analyzing audio files and converting REAKTOR 3 instruments; a new Total Recall system for saving all settings with a song; improvements to automation, sample mapping, morph functions and graphic modules; and performance optimizations. REAKTOR 4 sells for $560.
A new Vail District High School in Arizona is considering replacing textbooks with iBooks in an effort to better cater to state curriculum and test mandates, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The school's 350 students and 50 teachers would each be equipped with an iBook, which the district would purchase at the reduced price of $600 a piece. The Vail District is one of four or five districts in the state expected to receive funding for laptop programs.
New York City's love affair with the iPod is extending to perhaps the most natural of places: personal ads. A Wired News article examines the growing number of personal on New York's craigslist classified ads everything from ideal partners having iPods to those looking to give or receive an iPod in exchange for certain favors. Similar searches on craigslist in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or London don't return nearly as many results as New York City.
The Fraunhofer Institute, the group that initially developed the MP3 format, says it has figured out how to create surround-sound capable MP3 files (German) that are only a little bit larger in size than stereo MP3 files. The BBC reports that surround-sound MP3 files will require a compatible player to tap into the extra channels of the audio, although older players will also be able to read the files as stereo MP3s. Fraunhofer expects the technology to be available by July.
Ascending Technologies is offering free system evaluations to current FileMaker Pro 5 and 6 users who are considering upgrading to version 7. FileMaker Pro 7 employs a very different database structure from its predecessors and migrating to the new system can carry with it some issues and pitfalls. The free evaluations are being provided for a limited time only.
Thornton Academy, a private high school in Maine, plans to equip all of its 1,000+ students with iBooks, according to the Portland Press Herald News. Currently, all seventh and eighth grade students in the state's public schools have iBooks; the success of that program is what prompted Thornton to pursue a similar initiative. The deal is expected to cost $3 million to start and $900,000 a year to maintain. The school is currently in talks with Apple to determine whether to lease or buy the iBooks.
Intel plans to revamp the naming convention of its processors and will stop using clock speed as the primary means of distinguishing performance, The Wall Street Journal reports [paid subscription required]. The new numbering scheme will be more akin to what is found in the automobile industry, employing a variety of factors to assign a number to a chip, including architecture, frequency, speed, built-in memory, and forthcoming technologies. What was previously a Pentium M 2GHz could be known as a Pentium M 755, the article notes.
Topics of discussion on the MacNN forums today include: comparing the dual-1.25GHz Power Mac G4 to the single-1.6GHz PowerMac G5; Apple's recent lowering of refurbished PowerBook G4 pricing; discussion of iBook and competing consumer laptop pricing; comparing the sound quality output of the iPod to other devices' output quality; possible causes of complete system freeze under Mac OS X; continued discussion of members' favorite shareware applications; expected shipping dates for the full version of Unreal Tournament 2004.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE