Apple has updated its .Mac suite of online tools, and PC Magazine has covered the pros and cons in a brief review, covering the yearly fees, increased storage capacity, a new "groups" service, the simplified backup tool, the complete removal of Virex antivirus software, and support for French and German languages. PC Magazine points to the new Groups addition, noting that "Apple has hit on something truly useful with Groups [...] each group includes a shared calendar (which members can subscribe to with iCal or software that supports the Webcal protocol, even on Windows PCs), plus space for messages, links, and files." In summary, ".Mac has always been good, but Apple has never committed the resources to make it great. More storage and top-notch backup and antivirus tools would seem essential. We'd also like to see Apple create a free plan for people who only want e-mail."
VideoSpace 1.0 (free) calculates the disk space required for a given duration, codec, frame rate and audio setting. The VideoSpace widget works in both directions calculating time to space or space to time as indicated by the direction of the arrow between the two input areas. [Download - 130KB] VelaClock 1.3 ($10) updates the widget, adding a bar that displays when the moon is visible for a selected city, increases the height of the light level bar, adds a checkbox to toggle between 12 and 24-hour time formats, adds help text to the back of the widget, and adds a few user-requested cities. [Download - 1.2MB] 24U Plug-In AutoInstaller 2.1 (free) simplifies automated installation, registration, and updates of FileMaker plug-ins from FileMaker Server by providing all necessary scripts, ready-to-use. New features include support for updating old-style plug-ins on Mac OS X, an update for FileMaker Pro 8 and FileMaker Server 8, and other minor fixes/improvements. [Download - 2.8MB] X2 Print Accounting checkBox 1.3 ($100 for client, $1000 for server) is a free update that provides many bug fixes and speed improvements, advanced batch control, and to the print accounting and document analysis solution for Mac OS X. [Download - 12MB] Wx 3.02 ($10) updates the internet weather station software that downloads and processes weather conditions, RADAR, and forecasts for the U.S. Version 3.02 offers 10 add-ons that include ski reports, marine observations, stream flow measurements, and tide tables. [Download - 504KB]
EDGE Tech today began shipping its EDGE dock and multi flash card reader for iPod, providing access to various formats of flash cards while also charging the iPod, playing music via external speakers, and syncing the device with a computer. Offered in "iPod white", the new EDGE dock works with iPod nano, iPod mini, iPod photo, and the original iPod. The device reads all popular flash card formats including xD Picture card, SD Memory cards, MultiMedia (MMC) cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo, SmartMedia cards, Type I/II CompactFlash cards, and IBM Microdrive. Connectivity is provided with a USB 2.0 interface for high-speed transfers. The EDGE dock and multi flash card reader is available for $50 before an (additional) mail-in rebate of $10 with a one-year warranty (external speakers are not included).
ezGear today began shipping its today the ezSkin nano cases for the iPod nano. Made of high quality silicon with an anti-dust coating to reduce dirt and provide a smooth surface, ezSkin nanos have an opening on the top for the hold switch and openings on the bottom provide access to the iPod dock connector and headphone jack. ezSkin nanos cover the iPod's clickwheel with a thin layer of silicon which keeps dirt and scratches out, but provides full touch sensitivity. Each ezSkin comes with a removable neck strap, an integrated removable belt clip, and a clear ezShade screen protector. ezSkins Nanos are available in five stylish colors: Sky Blue, Princess Pink, Lime Green, Onyx Black, and Frost White. The Onyx Case is opaque, while the other 4 cases are semi-transparent. They are available now from retail store and its online website for $25.
Toon Boom Animation this week announced that it has shipped Toon Boom Solo, its two-dimensional animation software designed to meet the needs of small size studios and independent animation filmmakers. Solo offers a simplified workflow to produce animation for film, video, television, web sites, games and mobile devices. The stand-alone animation software offers feature-rich capabilities to create animation for all styles and formats, within one single application and enables users to draw directly into the system, ink and paint, do their compositing, add special effects, lip sync and render in a complete integrated workflow. " Toon Boom Solo ($3,000) comes with a DVD case and CD, a security key (dongle), Keyboard Shortcuts and Installation and Getting Started Guide, tutorials as well as a two-volume user guide.
In brief: MacNN reviewed the Pacific Design Green Day iPod flip case, a "fanpod" case that fits any 4th generation iPod.... Bare Bones Software announced its special "Oktoberfest" pricing on cross-upgrade licenses for BBEdit.... iPodMods has begun offering new lifetime battery replacement service for iPod owners, supporting all 1st-through-4th generation iPod mini, iPod Shuffle and iPod photo models.... SanDisk has introduced the Sansa m200 series of digital music players, its flash-based player that offers from 512MB to 4GB storage capacities.... ezGear today began shipping its today the ezSkin nano cases (pictured at right) for the iPod nano.... Apple has donated 50 iPods to Gracemount High School in Scotland.
Apple has donated 50 iPods to Gracemount High School in Scotland, enabling pupils to look at ways that the devices can be used to teach languages, as well as other classes. Whizz-kids at the school have won a prestigious competition to develop the potential of the latest iPods as teaching aids. After a last-minute hitch threatened to put an end to the deal, local MP Nigel Griffiths stepped in to make sure the school received the iPods by persuading Direct Line to provide insurance coverage for the devices so that pupils can take them home to work on the new initiative, according to a report from Scotsman.com. The iPods will arrive at Gracemount High later this month, according to the report.
Apple is among the companies named in a patent infringement case brought forward by Compression Labs, Inc. Parent company Forgent's intellectual property program has generated more than $100 million in revenues primarily from licensing the '672 Patent to more than 40 different companies in Asia, Europe and the United States. The '672 Patent relates to digital image compression used in digital still image devices that compress, store, manipulate, print or transmit digital still images such as digital cameras, personal digital assistants, cellular telephones, printers, scanners, and certain software applications. Other major companies named in the filling are Creative Labs, Microsoft, Dell, TiVo, Sun, Toshiba, and Yahoo!
iPod owners spend an average of more than $150 on accessories, and the market has exploded to over $2 billion with companies such as Belkin, Speck Products, Kiwali, and many more fuelling the fire. One company even manufactures multi-colored baby jumpers featuring the iPod click wheel on the front, reporting sales of over 1,000 since it launched just a few weeks ago, according to a report from The Buffalo News. Harman International has also sold over half a million iPod accessories since the fall of 2004, according to the report. During the first quarter of this year roughly 500 iPod accessories were on the market, and Apple posted a record 6.2 million iPod shipments in its fiscal third quarter.
New projects at Dell, Toshiba and IBM among others focus on developing computers and gear that appeal for the sheer beauty of their design rather than just getting a job done, reports Chicago Tribune columnist James Coates. A few days ago Michael Dell went to New York's pricey Ritz Carlton hotel on Central Park South to announce a burnished metal-clad laptop dubbed XPS, which "emulates Apple's to-die-for tungsten-encased PowerBook." Coates also talks about how Jobs made design paramount at Apple, after being "rushed back from retirement [in 1997] to save the company from MBAs run amok." Many subsequent products -- including iMacs, PowerBooks, iBooks, iPods and now Nanos -- have "kept Apple front and center in a game in which its actual footprint is negligible while PCs own more than 90 percent of the market."
FirmTek today introduced its external SeriTek/2eEN4 serial ATA 4-bay enclosure, offering up to 3Gbps transfer rate with hot-swapping technology. Features include eSATA connectors, a whisper-quiet design, and an exclusive heat management system which lights LEDs and sounds a mute-able audible alarm when temperatures rise. The case consists of brushed and anodized extruded aluminum for rigidity and heat dissipation. Additionally, the SeriTek/2eEN4 offers a physical lock-and-key mechanism, a Kensington security slot to secure the chassis, a built-in server-class universal power supply, and support for host adapter, operating system, and software-based RAID or JBOD configurations. The SeriTek/2eEN4 Serial ATA enclosure is available for $500, and specially priced bundles with host adapters are also available.
Apple Computer along with approximately 40 other companies are still in hot water over a patent infringement case that progressed further yesterday, reconfirming a Markman hearing on claim construction for February 13th next year. Judge Jeremy D. Fogel passed the ruling along in favor of Forgent Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary, Compression Labs, holders of U.S. patent number 4,698,672, or the "'672 patent", which covers technologies used in JPEG image compression. The case names such IT giants as Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Toshiba, and many others. Forgent's intellectual property program has generated more than $100 million in revenues primarily from licensing the '672 patent to more than 40 different companies in Asia, Europe and the United States.
REAL Software today announced that REAL World 2006, the three-day REALbasic user conference will begin on February 27 at the Omni Austin Hotel downtown in Austin, Texas. The conference features a keynote presentation by REAL Software CEO Geoff Perlman; presentations by REAL Software technical staff and respected industry experts; over 30 sessions covering topics at all skill levels from introductory to in-depth discussions for advanced users; and social activities provided as a venue for attendees to get to know other REALbasic developers, build potential business relationships, and make friends. The schedule has been extended by half a day, based on feedback from past conference attendees. Conference passes are available at an early bird rate of $500 until December 31st, while regular pricing is $600 per person.
HighPoint Technologies on Wednesday released the RocketRAID 2224, a solution that connects up to 8 SATA II or I hard disk drives to a RAID. The RocketRAID 2224 offers a PCI-X@133Mhz bus architecture and 3Gbps transfer rates along with support for Native Command Queuing (NCQ). The RocketRAID 2224 supports advanced RAID features such as Online Capacity Expansion and Online RAID Level Migration (OCE/RLM) and provides advanced RAID levels (0, 1, 5, 10, and JBOD). Other capabilities of the RocketRAID 2224 include SAF-TE chassis management support, S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring and staggered drive spin up. The RocketRAID 2224 features 1 external Multi-Lane connector to combine four SATA ports into a single connection.
Softchaos today announced that Webstractor, its web content capturing and processing application is now available from the Apple online store, as well as several Apple retail outlets. To celebrate, the company has released "Yoink," an automatic web monitoring widget based on Webstractor. Yoink periodically checks the text content of a web page, and if significantly changed, captures the page. The adjustable thumbnail-size window displays a red indicator bar gauging the percentage of changed text. Webstractor captures multiple web pages, removes unwanted content, annotates, organizes, retrieves, and assembles the found materials into effective documents. Webstractor 1.5 adds a "radar" feature to monitor web pages for specified keywords and capture them when an appropriate change occurs. Webstractor ($80) requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Piper Jaffray said a survey of teens regarding buying patterns for digital audio players and online music indicated that Apple's iPod and iTunes had gained market share, rather than plateau or lose share as had been expected. "We believe the teen market is a critical demographic in digital music," said analyst Gene Munster. "Apple appears to be winning mindshare at an early age, which we expect will pay off as students become more significant consumers over the next decade." According to the MarketWatch report, the firm reiterated his outperform rating with a price target of $60.
LockLizard has released its secure PDF Viewer for Mac OS X. The Safeguard PDF Viewer enforces PDF controls, including document expiration and instant revocation as well as allows PDFs protected using Lizard Safeguard to be viewed on Mac OS X. Lizard Safeguard protects PDF documents by encrypting them with the AES 256-bit encryption algorithm. In addition, Digital Rights Management controls are embedded into the protected documents, preventing hacking or changing of the information contained in protected PDF files. Owners can prevent others from copying, distributing, printing or saving protected PDF documents--unless authorized to do so. The software also features user and document expiry controls as well as instant revocation, offering complete control of the protected content at all times. Lizard Safeguard, due for Mac OS X in December, starts at $2,500 for a yearly (hosted) subscription license. The secure PDF viewer for Mac OS X is available now for free.
iPodMods has begun offering new lifetime battery replacement service for iPod owners. The iPod Platinum Battery Program is available for all iPod owners--including the original iPod 1st generation, 2nd generation, 3rd generation, 4th generation, iPod mini, iPod Shuffle and iPod photo. "Once you purchase the iPod Platinum Battery, we'll replace your battery for as long as you own your iPod (once every 12 months)! Simply purchase the iPod Platinum Battery service and select an installation option (self installation or iPodMods professional installation). Once your iPod has been received, we will install a brand new battery within 48 hours with around 30 percent more power than a factory new battery." Customers can then send the battery back to the company for replacement every 12 months. The $100 service is non-transferable and is only valid for use by the original purchaser of the Service. The company charges charges an additional $10 for each battery replacement following the initial replacement.)
Waterfield today introduced its iPod nano Case, a protective case for the Apple's new MP3 player. "The slim iPod nano Case weighs next to nothing, and incorporates three layers of protection. The exterior is sturdy Indium nylon which comes in five eye-popping colors, the plastic middle layer provides protection against impact; and the interior layer of cushiony neoprene has a silky liner, making it smooth and easy to slide the iPod nano in and out of the case. An elastic band, cleverly sewn in the back, is for storing the ear buds." It is available for $22 in Blue, Celeste, Checkers, Lead, Taxi. In addition, the company announced that it has re-designed its existing small iPod Gear Pouch and added a padded compartment which hugs the slim iPod nano. The pouch is small enough to hold on the palm of your hand and can fit an iPod nano (with its WaterField case) ear buds, USB power adapter and either an arm band or a power supply, according to the company. The small iPod Gear Pouch ($29) can also still be used with iPod, iPod photo and iPod mini.
SanDisk today introduced the Sansa m200 series of digital music players. The flash-based device offers capacity ranging from 512MB to 4GB, placing it in direct competition with Apple's iPod nano (and, to a lesser degree, the iPod shuffle). All four models feature the same enclosure, with a small monochrome display for track selection. The 512MB model will sell for $80, while the top-of-the-line 4GB version is $200. The new players support music purchased from Rhapsody To Go , Napster To Go and Yahoo! Music Unlimited. The devices take advantage of the company's new 70-nanometer NAND/MLC 8-gigabit chip technology. The new m200 players can store hundreds of songs and play up to 19 continuous hours on a single AAA battery. The Sansa m200 series is available now in the United States and will be available in Europe by early November.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.4 ( -2.7 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R