Digital video content, such as the expanded agreement announced early Tuesday between Disney and Apple for more iTunes content, brings more money to content producers than the 50-50 split record labels get for downloading a 99-cent song, according to Nielsen data quoted by MediaDailyNews. Citing the growing number of distribution deals for video content, the report says that the economics of on-demand deals are closer to the DVD business, shortening the time customers must wait for on-demand video content and accelerating the return for content producers: "There is no evidence that program downloading has led to any loss of viewership for those shows that run on Walt Disney's broadcast or cable channels. In fact, ratings have risen somewhat on ABC since the time of the deal." Apple reportedly gives up around $1.36 per episode to Walt Disney for right to distribute the company's content via its iTunes Music Store, while newer deals for more extensive likely even more lucrative--perhaps as much as a 70-30 split in favor of the content owner from the $1.99 per episode price for commercial-free programming.
iPod users everywhere may soon enjoy theater-like surround sound from simple stereo headphones, following today's announcement of the new MP3 file format. Utilizing MP3 SX (MP3 Stereo eXtended) technology that allows enhancing MP3 stereo files for multi-channel playback, "MP3 Surround" presents the feeling of envelopment by using the ambience sounds already present in the stereo source. The new format enables high-quality surround sound at bit rates comparable to those currently used to encode stereo MP3 material, and is backwards compatible to stereo MP3; a legacy MP3 device plays back MP3 Surround as high quality stereo.
Following this morning's announcement of Starz' new Vongo digital video service for PDA, a new message on the service's website says that the complays on bringing the new digital video service to Mac users. The message on the Vongo website reads that "our system had detected that you do not meet the platform requirements. Vongo is currently PC-based, but will soon be Mac compatible (really)." Earlier today, we noted the launch of Starz new digital movie service for PDA and other Windows-based systems. The company promised to offer a subscription-based system that allowed users to download content for $10 per month from its channels to up to three Windows devices as well as access to its a live streaming feed of the Starz TV channel and early release films for $4 per episode.
Meridian 3.0 ($20) improves the menu bar clock by adding alarms, time zones, timers, stopwatches, and chimes. The application can display the time in any city, post reminders when it's time for an important event, track parking meters, time tests at school, and more. Alarms feature custom sounds, iTunes music, and on-screen messages. Timers count down to zero and notify users via a message, a sound, or an iTunes playlist. [Download - 2.1MB] Tidy Up! 1.0.8 ($30) search for duplicate files and packages by owner application, content, type, creator, extension, date modified, date created, name, label, visibility, and more. The application also searches by tag, duration, and bit-rate of MP3 and AAC audio files. Tidy Up! can search the content of the iTunes and iPod dababases, and synchronize deletions with iTunes. [Download - 2.8MB] Torrent Station 1.0 ($20) is a new BitTorrent client built exclusively for Mac OS X. The application offers the ability to queue based on priority, individual bandwidth limits, global bandwidth limits, and folders. Torrent Station supports drag-and-drop, automatic seeding at a defined share ratio, and more. The software requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.5MB] RAW Developer 1.4.3 ($100) is a RAW image conversion application optimized specifically for Mac OS X, designed to give advanced photographers complete control over every aspect of a digital camera's output. The software supports files from over 100 digital camera models, and offers non-destructive image processing with previews. Further features include batch conversion, sharpening and noise reduction algorithms, image adjustment options, and more. [Download - 1.7MB] SharedPlan Pro Project Management 2.2.2 ($200) updates the project management software to improve compatibility between the personal and pro editions. SharedPlan Pro Project Management features Microsoft Project import, subproject import and export, network diagram and gantt chart editors, and more. The software offers support for RSS and iCal publication, as well as automatic updates.
Apple has added new content to iTunes from ESPN and ABC Sports, ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television, ABC Family, ABC News, Buena Vista Television, Disney Channel, and SOAPnet, as well as content produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. ESPN and ABC Sports are the first to offer sports programming via the iTunes Music Store, bringing fans a host of sports content with condensed versions of all four BCS Bowl Games from ABC Sports, as well as condensed versions of yesterday's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Nokia Sugar Bowl available today. Later this month, ESPN will make additional content available. Pricing is set at the standard $1.99 per episode, and all of the new content joins the other Disney ABC programming currently available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store.
MacPractice today released version 1.8 of its MD software for physicians, DDS software for dentists, and DC software for chiropractors. The healthcare practice management software applications designed specifically for Mac OS X adds new scheduling features, including the ability to associate as many as four colors with an appointment to indicate status, type, alert, and more. The update adds new managers to facilitate the posting of bulk insurance payments, a major challenge for healthcare providers. MacPractice has added a Claim Generator to print batches of paper claims and create batches of eclaims for those procedures for which claims were not created as procedures were posted. MacPractice MD pricing starts at $2,000, while MacPractice DDS and DC start at $1,500 for a single user license. MacPractice software requires MySQL (system requirements were unavailable).
Small Tree Communications has reached an OEM agreement with Fujitsu for its 10GbE CX-4 switches, enabling Small Tree to offer the first complete 10GbE CX-4 bundle solution for Mac users. The integrated solution includes a 12 port Fujitsu switch, Intel 10GbE CX-4 Network Interface Cards, Small Tree 10GbE drivers, and BlazeFS file sharing system software. "Customers appreciate reliable technology capable of handling complex applications, and together with Small Tree Communications, those customers can deploy 10Gb Ethernet as a high performance, scalable technology to interconnect servers and storage systems," said Lorne Wilson, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Fujitsu Computer Products of America. Small Tree prefers to say that the price varies widely based upon configuration. However, it is $2,700 per port for a 12 port bundle solution.
The Flux today announced the opening of the Flux iPod Film Festival, an online film festival and competition of content formatted for the iPod. Visitors to the website can download films for playback on computers or video iPods, then vote for a favorite video. Prizes will be awarded in three categories: best indie/student short, best amateur/family clip, and best music video. Submissions must be less than ten minutes and properly formatted for the iPod. R Cubed Productions will offer conversion services to properly format films for iPod playback for a small fee. The festival submission deadline is January 25th.
South Park recently began running out of storage space, and has since turned to Apple for its storage needs. The cartoon studio in may installed three Apple Xserve RAID arrays to replace its digital linear tape (DLT) library and direct-attached disk storage. J.J. Franzen, technology supervisor at South Park Studios said he chose Apple hardware based on a "gut" feeling that its technology would be good, and so far he has not been disappointed, according to a report from ComputerWorld. Franzen said he now expects to add two more Xserve RAID arrays for a total of 15TB of storage, and place his disk storage behind a couple of switches from Cisco Systems to make managing his storage easier.
Script Software today announced an open invitation to all musicians and music publishers to begin adding synchronized lyrics to every song they create, using iStar Composer. The software embeds synchronized lyrics into any song, which can display sequentially in iTunes as well as on iPod displays. Star Composer can be used to edit and display lyrics, opera, plays, musicals, karaoke, and more. "It won't be long before downloadable music will be judged not just on the song's quality but also on what is included, such as synchronized lyrics or other multimedia," said Julian Miller, CEO of Script Software. iStar Composer is $30, and requires Mac OS X 10.4, as well as QuickTime 7.0.3.
In brief: DVD Proceedings from the Macintosh Astronomy Workshop are now available on 5 DVDs ($75) containing nearly 10 hours of video.... O'Reilly has released "Zero Configuration Networking," a new book about open-source Bonjour technology.... An online petition has been launched to integrate BitTorrent technology into iTunes, to encourage more podcasts as well as more iTunes adopters.... Hubbell Automation has lowered the prices of its "Mini mount seconds," ($20) as each unit may have a slight blemish.... LoadPod has expanded its iPod movie loading service to include video iPod users in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas.
Belkin today debuted its new CableFree USB Hub, which it says does not require a cable to connect to the computer. This Hub allows people to place their laptop anywhere in the room while still maintaining wireless access to their USB devices, such as printers, scanners, hard drives, and MP3 players. The CableFree USB Hub, which leverages Freescale Semiconductor's Ultra-Wideband (UWB) radio technology, will be on display at the 2006 International CES Show in Las Vegas. Beginning in early spring 2006, Belkin will offer a four-port hub that will enable immediate high-speed wireless connectivity for any USB device without requiring software or drivers. The CableFree USB Hub gives desktop computer users the freedom to place their USB devices anywhere in the room without running long cables. Pricing was not announced.
Motorola's next-generation ROKR E2 cell phone will not include Apple's iTunes software and the company is set to take on Apple's iTunes Music Store with its own download digital radio service, according to a new report from Reuters: The company today revealed details of its plans for iRadio, a subscription music service that will go on sale this year. Both the service and the phone will be sold through various mobile operators. According to the report, Motorola's iRadio service will first run on the Rokr E2 cell phone, which, unlike the first Rokr phone, will not include Apple's iTunes music software. Motorola aims to sell the service and phone via mobile operators. The iRadio service, will include 435 commercial-free radio channels. The company said that iRadio will let users download channels on the computer and transfer them to play on their phones or on car or home stereos, like satellite radio.
On the heels of several landmark video distribution deals on iTunes, Starz Entertainment Group today said it would launch a movie download service that allows consumers to view full-length studio films, concerts and TV shows on portable devices powered by Microsoft, locking out Mac and most iTunes users. Starz' Vongo, available for a monthly subscription of $10, will eventually include more than 1,000 movies, short films and other programs, which will be available at the same time they are offered on the Starz premium movie cable channel (about five to six months after they are released on DVD). According to the AP, the service will allow users to download as many films as they want each month to up to three devices, including Windows-based computers and portable devices running Microsoft's Portable Media Center software. The company will also offer a smaller number of early release films for pay-per-view fee of $4 as well as a live, streaming video feed of the Starz TV channel.
Apple has released a new Bluetooth firmware upgrade for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger users. The Bluetooth Firmware Update 1.2 improves Bluetooth performance and reliability issues, according to the documentation: "When the update package is downloaded, the Bluetooth Firmware Updater application will be launched. Follow the on screen directions to update your Bluetooth Firmware." The Bluetooth Firmware Updater supports D-Link USB Adapters and Apple internal Bluetooth modules on the following CPUs: iMac G4 (Gooseneck), 12" Titanium PowerBook 15" Titanium PowerBook, iMac G5, and Mac Mini. The 1.5MB update is available via the Web.
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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