In Brief: The Malaysian government has a newly stated preference for open-source software under its new technology procurement program; Google has purchased the iPhoto-like, but Windows-only Picasa desktop software that allows users to transfer photos from your digital camera, organize photos, edit/print/share photos, create slideshows, and order prints. Analysts at Caris & Company have initiated coverage of Apple stock with an "average" rating and a target price of $33; George Washington University this fall will offer free music to incoming students part of an agreement with Napster, while Virginia Tech will offer iTunes software to its students to allow them to legally purchase music.
There's no question that Macworld Conference & Expo's return to Boston was muted by Apple's absence, a smaller showfloor, and a sharp downturn in attendance. Predictions from pundits had spelled disaster for Expo before the virgin doors of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center even swung open Monday. Yet when the curtains came down Thursday and the carpets rolled up, the consensus among attendees and exhibitors was largely positive.
UK gamemaker Feral today announced that Enemy Engaged is now available for preorder and said that the game would ship in 3-4 weeks. Enemy Engaged is the sequel to the 1998 Apache Havoc by Razorworks: "With Enemy Engaged you're in for the ultimate helicopter flight and combat experience. We're talking seriously realistic 3D simulation here, with animated pilots, state of the art cockpit and landscape design and truly dynamic campaigns." Gamers can choose either the US Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 "Comanche" or the twin-rotored Russian Kamov KA-52 Hokum B "Alligator" and either choose to be the pilot or co-pilot--with the computer or another player playing the second role. The $45 game, available for preorder now, runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Apple was the No. 5 PC vendor in the US market in the second quarter with a 3.7% market share behind Dell (32.9%), HP (19.3%), Gateway (5.6%), and IBM (5.6%). IDC research said that Apple sold 495,00 Macs, representing a growth of 9.3% from the same quarter in 2003. Shipments include those to distribution channels or end users. Gateway showed the strongest growth of nearly 60% in the US market, shipping more than 750,000 units. Overall, the US market grew 10.9%; however Apple was not among the 5 vendors in worldwide shipments. As noted earlier, that market grew by 15.5% with strong demand in Europe as well as better than expected results in Canada and Latin America.
Topics of discussion on the MacNN forums today include: a poll on the reliability of Apple's product ship dates; improvements after replacing a PowerBook G4's battery; comparing the 15" PowerBook to the 17" model; a member's positive experience with Mac OS X 10.3.1; ongoing discussion of OmniWeb 5 for Mac OS X.
Daystar Technology has released the XLR8 InterView 3.0 USB video capture device. Interview 3.0 supports 352x240/352x288 video capture at 29.97/25 fps from NTSC/PAL devices, features S-Video, RCA composite video, and stereo audio input, and now includes QuickTime 6.5 and MPEG-4 support, VideoImpression capture and editing software as well as Windows XP compatibility. Other new features include multiple device support on a single system, expanded third-party application support, fully Mac OS X native drivers, and improved video quality. InterView 3.0 sells for $90.
Tech news: Microsoft has acquired new Lookout search technology that focuses on email and desktop search, possibly as a competitor to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger's search technology; Dell raised its second-quarter financial guidance on Friday, saying it expects to post a profit of 31 cents per share on $11.7 billion in revenues; Microsoft has been awarded almost $4 million in damages from a California man for trademark infringement, false advertising and cybersquatting, after he initiated a spam e-mail campaign; The recording industry has "blacklisted" Internet file-sharing services and is preventing other companies from doing business with them.
Photomatix 2.0 is an application that extends the dynamic range of digital photographs or scanned films. It accomplishes this through the use of exposure blending -- combining overexposed and underexposed versions of the same image to blend them into one -- and tone mapping, which takes a High Dynamic Range image and processes it to compress its tonal range while preserving local contrast. Photomatix 2.0 is $100; a free trial is available.
In Brief: Tech Superpowers has posted the winners of its Macworld Edit on the Fly competition in which entrants had 90 minutes to edit their footage in the company's Lexus IS 300, which was custom-fitted with a plethora of HD editing gear. MacJams has published a report that encompasses everything GarageBand-related that took place and was demonstrated at Macworld. Upcoming events at Apple retail stores include The Polyphonic Spree performing on Monday, July 19th at the San Francisco store and Roger Ebert speaking this coming Wednesday about film making and the Mac at the Chicago store. [updated]
Kano has introduced the X-Spand desktop-storage tower system, available in two- or four-bay versions that can house up to 1TB of disk space. The X-Spand features FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 connectivity; the company says that it features FireWire 800 transfer rates up to 50% faster than first-generation FireWire 800 drives. It ships with Dantz Retrospect Express automatic backup software and is available in the following configurations: 2 bay, 160GB ($455), 240GB ($500), 500GB ($800); and 4 bay, 320GB ($835), 480GB ($950), 1TB ($1,545). PCI FireWire 800 host adapters start at $70.
Microsoft is betting that the subscription model for online music purchases, and new players it plans to roll out that support subscription downloads, will trump a la carte music stores. The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required) notes that proponents of Microsoft's model point out that for just $10 or $20 a month, subscribers will be able to fill up their entire digital player with music, as opposed to the $10,000 or so it would take in iTunes Music Store purchases to fill the 40GB iPod. Microsoft's approach was reportedly a tough sell to record labels at first, but the company pointed out that the average music listener spend $4.66 on music each month, and that subscription services will accordingly generate more money with their monthly fees. When a subscriber stops paying for the service, they lose access to all the music they have downloaded.
You Synchronize 2.1 ($50) brings iDisk support to the backup and synchronization software. Enhanced support for synchronizing files to remote and removable volumes has also been added, as well as miscellaneous bug fixes. Beholder 1.5 (free) is an application for quickly searching images on the Web through services such as Google. The software can also be used to scan local images and iPhoto libraries and uses the company's PrismZoom technology to created zoomed previews. Capacity 0.2 (free) is a small utility that displays battery status information for PowerBooks and iBooks, including total actual capacity. The software was inspired by this forum thread. OnMyCommandCM 1.6 (free) is a contextual menu CLI and AppleScript executor. The command can take a clicked object as a parameter so you may perform an action on file, folder or text. Version 1.6 allows users to create CommandDroplets, small applications that execute OMC commands, as well as direct Applescript support and more. QuickTunes 1.0.0 is a small application that puts the name of the currently playing iTunes song in the menu bar and also allows users to rate the track and control basic iTunes functionality.
The European online music service OD2 said it will add nearly one million new tracks to become the biggest internet music service in the world, noting that its sales increased by 28% week-on-week following the Euro iTunes launch and by 22% the week that Napster launched its European operations, according to a BBC report: "The service, which was bought by US service Loudeye earlier this year, will boost its catalogue from 350,000 tracks to more than 1.3 million. This would make it larger than Apple's iTunes or Napster, both of which have more than 700,000 songs. The OD2 catalogue increase is expected to take place later this year."
Apple's stock rose almost 12 percent--from $3.49 to $33.07--after it announced that its third-quarter profits tripled on surging demand for the iPod portable music player and higher sales of Macintosh computers, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, analyst Steven Fortuna of Prudential Financial reiterated his "neutral weight" rating on Apple, but raised his target price for Apple stock from $25 to $27. He said that Apple's stock is "fully valued at present," according NewRatings. Meanwhile, Needham & Co reiterate its "buy" rating on Apple, raising the target price from $33 to $36. Apple says it expects to post $0.16 or $0.17 EPS in the September quarter (including a $0.01 restructuring charge), which was slightly ahead of analyst expectations.
Tech News: eBay will allow some customers to buy and sell digital music files as part of a pilot program that allows a number of "preapproved" music buyers to sell music in its new "Digital Downloads" category for the next 180 days; AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo are teaming up to link their separate instant messaging services for use in the workplace; Worldwide PC shipments showed a more than 13% growth in the second quarter--with Dell, HP, and IBM among the top 3 vendors, respectively-- although a slight decline in demand may occur in the second half of the year; AT&T Wireless will launch a high-speed "3G" Internet service for mobile phones this year with the roll-out in San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix and Detroit expected next week.
In Brief: The USB Software Debug Kit for Mac OS X 10.3.4 as well as a recent update to the G5 Power Mac Developer note (including a list of new features) are available from Apple's developer website; MacZealots has created a tutorial on how to set-up, configure, and use CVS with Xcode on Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther"; and dincTYPE continues to offer new free fonts, including Thirteen, Sugaree and ROOM 100 (with three fonts: Naked Lunch, Coral Sea, and Dee Dee--all of which were inspired by the Chelsea Hotel); Apple's music suite--including the iPod and iTunes Music Store--is "emerging as a Trojan horse that's beginning to fuel a migration of Windows users to the Mac platform," according to Needham analyst Charles Wolf.
Apple KB roundup: Smart Playlists can be used to make regular backups of your music in iTunes (after making a complete backup); Apple notes that Raster (ink jet) printer drivers are included with Mac OS X 10.3, providing a list of included drivers (as well as a list of Postscript printer PPDs); Long Internet URLs in a message may not work in Mac OS X 10.3's Mail application; and Keyframes are not pasted when you choose 'Paste Attributes' in Final Cut Pro HD.
CSi today announced two new additions to its family of products, Concepts 3D and Concepts 2D. Similar to Concepts Unlimited, the new products target professional design communities who "need fast, flexible, and intuitive tools for turning ideas into precise CAD models. Concepts 3D provides affordable precision modeling while Concepts 2D uniquely provides a means to automatically create 2D drawings from 3D data such as native SAT, ProE, and CATIA files."
Waves in Motion has released Events 4.0 for FileMaker Pro 7.0, an update to its application to easily automate routine database activities: "Rebuilt from the ground up for FileMaker 7.0, Events 4.0 is faster and incredibly easy to use. Events 4.0 allows you to build triggers to run from just about any FileMaker action. In addition, all actions can now result in email being sent directly without the need for an email client application or additional plug-in." Developers can also trigger scripts, send emails, or create reoccuring events when exiting a field, manipulating records, and/or entering a layout. A single-user version is $130.
Apple has delayed shipments of AirPort Express to customers in the UK and other parts of Europe, according to a note sent to customers on Thursday. AirPort Express, which began shipping in the US earlier this week, was expected to ship "on or before July 15", according readers who placed early orders with the online Apple Store. Apple's email indicated a new ship date of "on or before July 30th," saying simply that it was unable to meet the previously estimated ship date. Apple also recently posted several articles on the device, including: flashing LED status light and problems joining a network, automatic password changes by the AirPort Express Assistant, and Windows XP requires WZC. One reader also offered a few "first impressions" of the device.
Empress Software today announced Empress Embedded Database V8.62 for Mac OS X, a database solution that is available as in single-user, multi-user and server systems; it offers a full-featured, "zero-maintenance" database management system for personal, Web, enterprise and embedded application development. The small-footprint database engine has open API's for C, C++, SQL, ODBC, JDBC, Perl and Tcl/tk. "From scientists to engineers, web designers to system builders, development and deployment of applications is swift and simple, plus no system tuning or DBA is required." Empress pricing starts at $165.
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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