Faber Acoustical has completed its support for Intel-based Macs with the release of SignalScope and SignalScope Pro as Universal Binaries. SignalScope Pro is a dual-display, dual-channel real-time analyzer based on the SignalScope RTA. The Pro version adds a new octave and 1/3-octave spectrum analyzer, featuring digital Butterworth bandpass filtering, "A" and "C" frequency weighting, and the ability to view any two analyzer displays simultaneously. SignalScope is priced at $60, while SignalScope Pro costs $100. Registered SignalScope users can upgrade to the Pro version for $60.
Otter Products today announced that it has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with H2O Audio, enabling Otter Products to offer H2O Audio's patented waterproof headphones via its online store. H2O Audio's waterproof headphones feature high-fidelity speakers in a flexible, durable, and fully waterproof headset. H2O Audio headphones are compatible with the entire OtterBox for iPod case line. OtterBox enclosures feature a waterproof, impact-resistant design with an interactive clear plastic membrane allowing users to access the clickwheel directly through the case. H20 Audio headphones are priced at $40. The OtterBox for iPod (iPod video case shown at right) is designed to safeguard Apple's entire line of iPods, and are priced between $20 and $50.
In brief: U.S. customers reportedly began receiving 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops from Apple on Monday, marking the latest round of Intel Mac shipments to reach the hands of users.... Pixar shareholders voted to approve the acquisition of the animation company by Walt Disney last Friday, signaling the completion of Disney's takeover of Pixar.... Microsoft co-founder and current chairman Bill Gates -- who is currently worth an estimated 50 billion -- has said he does not want to be the world's richest man.... Griffin Technology today debuted the PowerDuo charger bundle ($40, shown at right) for iPod, combining the PowerJolt auto charger with the PowerBlock AC charger, a USB Dock Connector cable, and a 48-inch USB Type A to mini-B cable.... The developer of the Thoth newsreader application is apparently considering releasing a new version after two years of inactivity on the project.
SQLiteManager 2.0 ($40) updates the "next generation" GUI database manager for SQLite databases, allowing users to work with SQLite 2.x, 3.x, in memory databases, and REALSQL Server databases. The update also supports insert, delete, and update records while supporting arbitrary SQL commands. [Download - 6.1MB] PopChar X 3.0b5 ($30) is a new public beta version of the forthcoming PopChar 3. PopChar 3 is a tool for inserting special characters into the text of any application that natively supports Intel Macs as a Universal Binary. The update includes more than 25 new features consisting of a quick search for special characters, a more flexible user interface, optimized character selection, and more. [Download - 902KB] WouldjaDraw 1.1 ($30) is a Universal Binary drawing application featuring tools, palettes, and a clear intuitive interface. Version 1.1 1 adds arrows, free rotation, shape flipping, distribution, and offset duplication. The update also offers enhanced export options. [Download - 2.4MB] InstantGallery 1.1 ($15) adds a number of requested features to the Web gallery creation software, and includes French, Polish, and Swedish localizations. InstantGallery is designed to be the easiest, most intuitive way to build galleries of pictures with drag-and-drop support. The update includes finer control of watermarking, adds extra navigation links, and more. [Download - 1MB] Neat Image 4.1 ($60) is a filter designed to reduce visible noise and grain in photographic images produced by digital cameras and scanners. Especially useful for low-light (indoors, night, astro) and high-speed (sport, action) photography, the software efficiently reduces multiple types of noise. Version 4.1 improves support for Pentax cameras in general, and fixes a bug related to profiles for some Pentax cameras. [Download - 270KB] MyLife ($25) stores important pieces of information, enabling users to easily locate the data at a later time. The software utilizes categories, integrates links and references, and associates documents such as pictures, PDF files, scanned images, or papers with each item in the database. [Download - 4.6MB]
Sony has announced a licensing agreement with Kaga Electronics which will bring "LocationFree" with mobile products to Mac users. Kaga Electronics will be developing the software for Mac OS X, and will connect users with Sony's "LocationFree Base Station." "LocationFree" can transmit content to PCs, the PlayStation Portable (PSP), or a dedicated LCD monitor after connecting the "LocationFree Base Station" to a TV antenna and/or DVD recorder. The plan proposes a new way to enjoy TV, such as watching programs or video content via a wireless connection via the internet. "As telecommunications infrastructure advances, Sony will increase licensing of LocationFree software in order to expand the number of compatible products. This will create a life style where TV and video content can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere."
IK Multimedia today released a fully functioning demo of AmpliTube 2, the successor to the company's original amp modeling and effects software. The demo requires the iKey or any other Syncrosoft USB dongle, and works with exactly the same features as the full version of AmpliTube 2. The AmpliTube 2 demo -- which works for 30 starts and 10 days -- offers a full trial of the over 80 modeled amps, cabinets, stomps, and rack effects that are included in AmpliTube 2. AmpliTube 2 supports most plug-in platforms in both Windows XP and Mac OS X including VST, RTAS, and AU. A TDM version for Pro Tools systems is also under development, according to IK Multimedia. The full version of AmpliTube 2 is priced at $400, and cross-grades are available for $250.
A new report suggests that U.S. Mac users receive the best tech support compared to other free technical support systems. The Consumer Reports National Research Center found that only 55 percent of consumers who contacted technical support had their problem solved, drawing from surveys of 20,000 users with computer problems in the US, according to Macworld UK. Users said that most manufacturers provided "dismal" free tech support, with the exception of Apple's support for desktops/laptops and IBM's support for laptops. "Apple's support for desktops and laptops and IBM (Lenovo) for laptops. Apple solved 76 percent of survey respondents' problems, and IBM (Lenovo) solved 64 percent." Compaq was rated the worst free tech support, solving only 38 percent of desktop problems for respondents, while 15 percent of users with problems didn't even bother to contact the manufacturer's support due to negative previous experiences.
Native Instruments today released KORE v1.01, its universal sound platform that works in combination with a sequencer. KORE has been specifically developed to increase the efficiency, flexibility and ease of working with software instruments and effects in the studio and onstage. KORE is an integrated system consisting of a host software for VST and Audio Units plug-ins, and a tightly integrated hardware controller that includes a professional USB 2.0 audio/MIDI interface. It can be used both as a standalone instrument host as well as a plug-in within any Audio Units-, VST- and RTAS- compatible sequencer program. Using a sophisticated bi-directional integration of the controller with the KORE software, all major functions of the system can be controlled without the need to touch or even see the computer that runs the software.
Apple's senior vice president, general counsel and secretary Nancy Heinen has left the company. Heinen is the third Apple exec to leave the company since late March, when software CTO Avie Tevanian and senior vice president of Apple's iPod division Jon Rubinstein departed. Heinen, like Tevanian and Rubinstein, joined Apple in September of 1997 following the company's acquisition of NeXT Software, according to AppleInsider. Heinen served as the primary legal officer for Apple, and was responsible for overseeing all legal matters. Though the terms of her departure remain unclear, the exec sold more than $7.5 million in Apple shares which she acquired under the 2003 Employee Stock Plan. An Apple representative confirmed that Heinen left the company, but could not clarify the terms of her departure, according to the report. Heinen's replacement has yet to be named.
Griffin Technology today debuted the PowerDuo charger bundle for iPod, combining the PowerJolt auto charger, PowerBlock AC charger, a USB Dock Connector cable, and a 48-inch USB Type A to mini-B cable. PowerJolt charges the iPod during use or in standby mode, and allows users to listen to the device while driving to arrive with a fully charged iPod. The accessory plugs into any available 12V port or cigarette lighter socket, and a convenient status LED indicates whether PowerJolt is ready for charging. The device protects the iPod with a replaceable fuse, negating the need to worry about overcharging or power surges. The Griffin PowerDuo charger bundle is available for $40.
WiebeTech has released the fourth generation of its DriveDock series, offering a new color and the latest high performance FireWire bridges. The Docks feature Oxford Semiconductor bridges: 922, 911+ or 924, and dual FireWire ports that allow daisy-chaining, alongside a USB port. Multiple power options are available via a +12V adapter (included) or a standard disk drive 4-pin Molex power source. LED indicators signify whether FireWire or USB are attached, when the +12V input jack or disk drive power input jack are active, and when +5V/+12V out is operational. The DriveDock v4 Series is built from aluminum for durability, and users seeking additional security can attach a mounting plate to protect the drive's circuitry. WiebeTech is offering four versions consisting of the ComboDock v4 ($170, shown at right), the FireWire DriveDock v4 ($150), the Notebook DriveDock v4 ($150), and the SATADock v4 ($230).
GridIron Software today announced GridIron Nucleo Pro, a productivity enhancement tool that optimizes the workflow for visual effects artists working in After Effects on multi-processor and multi-core computers. The Adobe After Effects plug-in introduces the concept of rendering and working at that same time, while maximizing the full use of all available CPU resources. Nucleo Pro features constant speculative background preview and render, commit-to-disk rendering for specific layers, background render queue to render multiple projects or compositions, and project data management. Nucleo Pro will begin shipping in summer 2006, and is available for pre-order for $300. Users who pre-order Nucleo Pro before June 30th of 2006 will receive a complimentary copy of Nucleo, according to GridIron.
Xchange Network today announced that its powerful collaboration application, XC Connect, enables dynamic data sharing for iCal and Address Book users. Providing complete collaboration functionality across multiple operating systems, XC Connect allows Mac OS X users to create, modify, and share iCal and Address Book records with other Mac or PC users in an interactive, real-time environment. "With the recent release of our 'Universal-Binary' compliant solution for both PowerPC and the new Intel-based Macs, Xchange Network now offers the only solution that enables users to share iCal and Address Book data, not only between Mac users, but also with PC users running Microsoft Outlook," stated Rhonda Lewandowski, CEO of Xchange Network.
Aspyr Media today released a free update to Quake 4, bringing performance enhancements to Mac users with Intel Core Duo processors and addressing issues found in both multiplayer and single player modes. Quake 4 1.2 also includes several new multiplayer maps, and Intel Core Duo owners should experience a performance jump of 15-30 percent, according to Aspyr. The update provides a fixed, pure server system along with widescreen and aspect ratio support. Server IP information with non-dedicated servers now works properly. Quake 4 is available for $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. The free update is available as a digital download from MacGameFiles.com.
Intel today will introduce a single brand name for its next generation notebook and desktop chips. Formally dubbed Merom and Conroe (respectively), the new chips, built around the company's Core architecture, will likely be used in Apple's professional line of laptops and other desktops by the end of the year. The Conroe and Merom chips will both be called "Core 2 Duo" when they launch-- 'Conroe' for desktops in July and 'Merom' for laptops in August. According to Intel, the new line of chips will be faster and use less energy than previous processors, such as the Pentium 4. The 'Core 2 Duo' brand will supersede the Pentium D brand for desktops and will be used for future chip designs, according to the company. Late last month, Intel announced its new vPro brand, due in the third quarter, that targets businesses and IT customers and features a 64-bit microarchitecture. The company also said that Woodcrest, a high-end desktop chip, targeted at high-performance gaming, will be available in June, the company said. [corrected: Woodcrest is not Intel Core 2 XE]
In brief: One MacNN reader has posted pictures of the Apple Eaton Center store grand opening, offering a glimpse of the company's newest retail location.... Roxio is holding a Toast user survey, enabling anyone who completes it to enter a drawing to win an EyeTV.... Tellme Networks today announced that Avadis "Avie" Tevanian, former software CTO of Apple Computer, has joined its Board of Directors.... iGame Radio tonight will broadcast live from the Seattle Mac store with the hordes of gamers playing on the latest Intel Macs, hoping to find out whether it is more fun to game on Intel Macs or G5 systems.... SmileOnMyMac announced that it has acquired Textpander, the customizable typing timesaver tool, from developer Peter Maurer.
Apple has announced that it will open two new retail stores this week. The company will open its fourth retail store in Pennsylvania and its thirty-second store in California. Apple Store Suburban Square will open at 61 St. James Place in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, while Apple Store Simi Valley will open at 1555 Simi Town Center Way in Simi Valley, California. Both stores will hold their grand opening on May 13th and will offer the traditional Grand Opening Sweepstakes to win a Digital Lifestyle Collection valued at $2229 and free t-shirts to the first 1000 people. Apple is also rumored to be opening its flagship store in Manhanttan next week, the fifth anniversary of the company's first retail store opening. The 25,000 square-foot store in New York this spring, which will be housed in the underground retail plaza of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue at the edge of Central Park. Apple is expected open 40 new retail stores this year--most of which will be in the US.
Demand for Apple's MacBook Pro and Intel-based Mac minis is still solid, according to UBS Investment Research. The firm believes the new 17-inch MacBook Pro and upcoming Intel-based MacBooks -- which could be announced tomorrow -- should lend support to its estimates for five percent year over year unit growth for Macs in the June quarter. UBS also touches on the digital music market and Apple's potential plans for the near future, following its monthly checks. "Our checks indicate Apple continues to dominate the MP3 market but demand continues to experience seasonality backing our estimate for units being down slightly quarter over quarter for the June quarter." The iPod-maker might initiate some planned price cuts ahead of new products in September, and UBS expects some activities around a major New York store opening later this month. [updated]
Maxon today released a second free update for Cinema 4D. Release 9.6 brings more than 40 improvements over R9.5,including improved OpenGL display speed, better compositing functionalities and a new Content Browser. "Macintosh users will immediately notice a much faster OpenGL editor preview, with increases in speeds of up to 50 percent on newer systems. In some instances, an increase of up to 150 percent can be achieved," according to the company. The company also said that Mac users will benefit from improved OS X font handling with more precise display, a new selection dialog and additional font types. Maxon also said tha Multipass now supports eyeon Fusion software and a new External Compositing Tag, whic makes it easy to track objects from Cinema 4D in 3D space within After Effects as well as QuickTime support for H.264, MPEG2 and MPEG4 codecs. Cinema 4D R9.6 is free for owners of R9.5.
Samsung has admitted to stealing Apple's intellectual property. The company on Sunday said that it has updated and revised the icons used in its latest handset model "Skin," which used work from both Apple and Microsoft, according to The Korea Times: "The electronics giant admitted plagiarizing designs of the handsetís graphic user interface. Many graphic designers and other Internet users on various Web communities [...] over the last two weeks have accused the firm of stealing the designs. The new handset, which began selling here in late April, has an identical graphic icon with Appleís iMac PC which is composed of a ruled notepad and a pen lying on it. Samsung also copied other icons from Microsoft, such as a pile of three yellow sticky notes, and blue and green, round-shaped men that represent MSN Messenger."
Apple Computer has won the right to use the Apple logo and brand in conjuncion with iTunes. The Cupertino-based company prevailed in a lawsuit against a suit filed by Apple Corps, the Beatles' music company. Apple Corps had alleged that Apple Computer had broke a 1991 agreement by using the Apple logo and brand in association with its popular music-related products, the iPod and iTunes, according to Macworld UK: "The British company, still owned by former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with the widow of John Lennon and the estate of George Harrison, wanted to win an injunction to prevent Apple Computer using the Apple logo in connection with its iPod and iTunes products. The judge didn't agree. Mann this morning said that the association between the logo use and the download service is a "proper one", and that the logo was clearly used in relation to the service, not to the music." Apple Corps said it would appeal the decision, while Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he hopes to work something out rather than continue the battle.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive,¬†Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk¬†Drive,¬†GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl