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In brief: America Online (AOL) has launched its Certified Mail system, and is accepting payment for delivering incoming email.... Apple Computer is hoping to reach an agreement with Apple Corps that would enable it to sell the Beatles' music via its iTunes Music Store.... Contour Design is offering protection to new iPod nano owners by giving away its iSee nano cases with the purchase of a new iPod nano.... Andy Hertzfeld has recorded a lecture on the Mac's early history, as well as his book.... Bosch Power Tools and Accessories today unveiled an iPod dock ($50) designed to work with its Power Box Advanced jobsite radio/CD/iPod player and power center ($180, shown at right with iPod).... ZAP today unveiled a new series of lithium battery packs ($50-60) designed specifically to work with Apple's iPod.
FM Nexus today released Inspector 1.1, updating the software that provides comprehensive analysis of FileMaker installations. Inspector is designed to quickly and thoroughly analyze the metadata of FileMaker installations, clarifying the structure, elements, relationships, and other crucial detailed information while highlighting problems in troubled areas. Inspector supports Unicode, and the latest version also supports high Ascii. Providing detailed information for deletion decisions, Inspector displays the references and dependencies used by any element -- such as a field or layout -- with green arrows and green dots. Users can search within any calculation for any element, field, text, function, custom function, plug-in function, table occurrence, or literal string. Inspector 1.1 is available via the FileMaker Europe Webstore for $400, and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Apple has done away with its "Made for iPod" accessories licensing program and adopted a flat fee system instead. The Cupertino-based company formerly collected a percentage of revenue from all products that connected to an Apple 17-pin iPod connector, charging 1.5 percent at first but raising the cut up to 10 percent for companies such as Bose as the iPod grew in popularity, according to Smart House Magazine. The new system charges a flat $4-per-unit fee, which will favor manufacturers of high-end iPod accessories and appease Bose, which complained about the higher rates when Apple announced the change last year.
Bosch Power Tools and Accessories today unveiled its Power Box Dock Accessory for iPod, an iPod dock designed to work with its Power Box Advanced jobsite radio/CD/iPod player and power center. Designed specifically for Apple's iPod, the new dock plugs directly into the Power Box's 12-volt auxiliary outlet and 3.5-millimeter input jack to play music or charge the iPod without extra wires or plugs. The dock completely encases any one of five iPod models, utilizing proprietary adaptors to accommodate for the various sizes available on the market today. The Dock accessory is priced at $50, while the Power Box Advanced ships for $180.
At least one vendor in South America is illegally selling generic clones called "PowerPC G6 Macintosh" and "Apple G6 Macintosh-Clone" systems using Apple's name. The rogue machines contain a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 processor and come bundled with loads of OSx86-compatible software, according to The Inquirer. Shipping pre-loaded with system software called "Mac OSX-86 Apple MacOS X Tiger 10.4.3," the clones are being manufactured in China as well as South America. Members from the OSx86 Project discovered the illegal computers, according to the report, which are selling for $500.
Apple Computer is hoping to reach an agreement with Apple Corps that would enable it to sell the Beatles' music via its iTunes Music Store. "We certainly will do everything we can to get them on iTunes," vice president of iTunes Eddie Cue said. "The Beatles aren't available in any digital format today but they are going to be one day. We certainly hope that happens on iTunes." Apple Corps, the Beatles' record label which is owned by former band members and their heirs, recently filed suit against Apple Computer for breaching a $26 million settlement in 1991. Apple Computer won the court battle, however, and is now seeking rights to sell digital versions of the Beatles' tracks on iTunes. Apple Corps is remastering the Beatles music, and in April announced plans to release the tracks in the form of digital downloads. The combination of the Beatles and iTunes could spur more music consumers to purchase digital tracks legally, according to Bloomberg.
One Mac developer has released ClamXav 1.0.3h, an update to the free open-source virus scanner for Mac OS X that runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The latest iteration of ClamXav, version 1.0.3h, offers a handful of new features, numerous bug fixes improving stability, and the newest ClamAV scanning engine. The application includes Danish, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Swedish localizations. ClamXav 1.0.3h requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is available for free as a digital download.
NewsGator Technologies has released NetNewsWire 2.1 for Mac, an RSS reader that allows users to customize the way feeds are organized and read. The updated version runs natively on Intel Macs as a Universal Binary and features synchronized reading with a Web browser, mobile, and other NewsGator RSS products. NetNewsWire 2.1 for Mac boasts improvements when saving to disk, as well as performing changes to a subscription list. Users can sort subscriptions by attention because NetNewsWire can tell which feeds are more important, according to NewsGator. The update also offers new emailing, printing, and posting options. A beta of the free lite version is available via download, while NetNewsWire 2.1 for Mac is priced at $30. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Lismore Software Systems today released Guest PC 1.9, an update to the emulation software for Mac OS X. Users can install Microsoft Windows, Linux, and other operating systems in Guest PC to reap the benefits of those systems right on a Mac desktop. Guest PC 1.9 increases compatibility and stability in Windows configurations, raising performance by up to 40 percent with better USB functionality. Drag-and-drop no longer stops working in full screen mode, occasional crashes on Guest PC exit no longer occur, and the update addresses incorrect USB recognition in some Linux distributions. Guest PC 1.9 is priced at $70, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. The upgrade is free to all registered users of Guest PC. [corrected]
ZAP today unveiled a new series of lithium battery packs designed specifically to work with Apple's iPod. ZAP's Portable Energy chargers and power packs are designed to work with iPod mini, iPod shuffle, iPod nano, and fifth-generation video iPods. The energy solution for the iPod shuffle can extend listening time by up to 60 hours, according to the company, and the lithium-ion battery system can be recharged up to 1000 times, offering up to four times the power of conventional batteries. Each ZAP Pack uses a smart microprocessor control system that can power a variety of mobile electronic devices including handheld PCs, digital cameras, cellular phones, audio, DVD, compact disk players, video cameras, laptops, and more. Several models also charge DC electronics from 4.0 to 19.0 volts through either a DC or USB port. The iZAP battery pack is priced at $50 for iPod nano, $60 for iPod mini, and $60 for iPod video. The D-14 Universal Charger can power iPod shuffle players, and is priced at $60.
Ars Technica has reviewed Aperture 1.1, the update to Apple's post-production photography software that originally failed to perform as expected for most of its target audience. Aperture 1.1's high-quality RAW processing is testament to Apple's ability to move quickly in areas where it has little experience, while its discount/refund assures users won't be expected to beta test at their own expense, according to Ars. "While I'm still left wanting on the filter quality side, Aperture 1.1.1 finally gets me excited about the prospect of doing complex imaging on the GPU via Core Image." Users no longer need to sacrifice quality to get true pixel accuracy, and while Aperture's filters could use some improvement, the job is small compared to what has already been accomplished in just a few months' time. "Aperture 1.1 is everything that Apple should have released for 1.0 and at $300, it's hard to say no now to this program."
CMS Products has released BounceBack 7.0, its backup and disaster recovery software for PowerPC and Intel CoreDuo Macs. BounceBack Professional 7.0 for Mac is designed to protect iPhoto, iTunes and iMovie HD collections as well as important documents in the event of a hard drive failure. The update features backup scheduling, an automatic launcher, and a "QuickRestore" feature that allows users to select specifically which files/folders/drive volumes to restore. The software maintains the ability to create a bootable backup copy of the system, applications and data to support disaster recovery by booting from an external drive. BounceBack also features the ability to create custom backup sets, view and restore previously saved versions of files (versioning), incremental backups, native file format backups, and synchronization of data. BounceBack 7.0 is priced at $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.0 to 10.3.
RadTech today announced three new rechargeable Bluetooth mice, paired with its new RadMouse driver software. New models include the BT100 optical 3-button scrolling mouse, BT300 optical 3-button scrolling mouse, and BT600 optical 5-button full-size mouse (shown at right). All three mice feature 800dpi for smooth tracking precision, and charge internally via a USB cable. Each new model operates within the 2.4-2.48GHz frequency range, and boasts data rates of more than 700KBps. The scroll wheel on all three mice doubles as a charge status indicator, and a power-saving sleep mode extends cell life while powered on. A recessed, top-mounted power switch allows the mice to be powered down for extended periods of nonuse and prevents accidental power up during transport. The BT100 and BT300 3-button mice are priced at $50, while the BT600 5-button mouse ships for $60.
Apple today announced an update to .Mac, its suite of web services that include email, photo/file sharing, online storage/backup, and more. The company is now offering an easier way for users to access iDisk public folders--via the Web. "We're pleased to announce a new simpler way to access iDisk Public folders with a browser. Simply entering the URL idisk.mac.com/membername-Public now produces a page that automatically includes download links for whatever's currently in membername's Public folder. All you need to do is give the URL for your iDisk Public folder to the friends and colleagues you share with. They'll see and be able to download whatever you put in there, whenever they visit the page." In addition, users can also now allow other users to upload files to their iDisk public folders. It also supports a password feature to restrict uploads. As with many of its products, Apple also provides a word of warning: "Finally, it goes without saying but we're going to say it again anyway: You can only legally share what you own and have the right to share."
DICE Electronics is now shipping its hard-wired DICE iPod interfaces, which help users connect dock connector-compatible iPods and selected Audi, Volkswagen, Honda and Mazda vehicles. The company says it also expects to ship interfaces for selected BMW, Toyota and GM vehicles later this month. "The DICE interface was designed to create a seamless interconnection between the iPod and the entertainment control of the vehicle," the company said. "While the DICE interface was designed to provide the ultimate experience for iPod vehicle integration, it also features an auxiliary jack making an external satellite radio or DVD player connection very easy." Users can use the controls on the iPod as well as buttons on the radio to navigate between playlists, albums or songs. It supports connection via an iPod dock cable (3ft cable included) or the DICE iPod cradle, which features a 2.5mm video out jack that can connect a (video) iPod to any external video source.
Sony this week announced it will begin supporting the AAC audio file format, which used by Apple and other vendors for audio file compression. The forthcoming support will not yet allow users to play iTunes music on their Sony devices as Apple's propietary FairPlay DRM technology is also used to protect songs, but the move is seen as a symbolic concession to Apple, according to one report. The company has moved from using its own proprietary ATRAC audio files to supporting a wide variety of file formats: "Sony long clung to its proprietary data compression technology, known as Atrac. It has since turned to an open-door policy, embracing such popular formats as MP3 and Microsoft Corp.'s WMA. Still, the electronics manufacturer's acceptance of Apple's AAC format, used for the immensely popular iPod digital music players, marks a particular about-face." Sony will release the AAC-compatible Sonic Stage CP free of charge via the internet on May 15 for use with its hard-disk-based Walkman A series products.
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View-Master VR device in Apple Store
Apple has started to sell a Google Cardboard-style VR headset modeled on a classic Mattel toy. Initially launched early last year, the View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack for $30 is designed to use an iPhone as a display, with a Preview Reel and lever system mimicking the toy's switching between images to take users between different VR apps and scenes. http://bit.ly/1RhJW8y
Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
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