Battlefront today released a multiplayer demo of DropTeam, its real-time tactical strategy game that takes place in humanity's distant future. The game features a massive combat system that allows users to deploy and manage highly scalable battles on varying planets. Game developers attempt to remove the "simplifications" found in many other sci-fi games such as "hit points," short range weapons, and a limited field of view. The demo is restricted to multiplayer games and a single scenario. DropTeam requires a Geforce4 or Radeon 9600 graphics card card or better with 64MB of video memory and Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later.
In brief: The G5 Drive Bracket Team today announced its 4th of July Independence Day sale, offering G5 Drive Brackets for $40.... Spike TV's premiere episode of Blade: The Series is available for free on Apple's iTunes Music Store until July 11th.... SubRosaSoft today announced a computer forensics solutions briefing in association with Apple to be held Thursday, July 20th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. PST at the Apple Briefing Center in Santa Monica, CA.... Apple recently completed its Digital Photography Event in the Middle East, showing its support in the region with attendance estimated to be several hundred people.... Ellen Feiss, the star of Apple's "Switch" ad campaign roughly four years ago is starring in a short French film entitled "Bed & Breakfast."
A recent survey performed by Ipsos revealed that one in five Americans over the age of 12 own an MP3 player, and that one in 20 own more than one player. The numbers are further reinforced by a reported 15 percent increase in sales since last year and a doubling of sales since 2003. Music download services see 25 percent of purchased tracks from online services. Roughly 44 percent rip CDs, 6 percent borrow CDs, and 19 percent admit to using file-sharing programs. Of those surveyed between the ages of 12 and 24, most use their MP3 players for video content as well, with a growing 25 percent of the total market expressing interest in viewing video content on their players. However, 46 percent would prefer FM radio over video, while 39 percent would prefer satellite radio. The Vice President of Ispos stated, "We are reaching a turning point in which consumers are truly recognizing the value of anytime, anywhere multimedia content on-the-go."
The Free Software Foundation's recent plea to U2 lead singer Bono was a futile attempt to recruit backing in its fight against Digital Rights Management (DRM), according to one columnist. In his latest column, Motley Fool contributor Anders Bylund describes the faults and overall 'foolishness' of the Free Software Foundation's campaign against DRM technologies and Bono. By reaching out to a prominent figure in iPod marketing, the plan to bring the popular singer on board to fight DRM legislation left the columnist wondering why Bono would abandon world hunger issues to address DRM concerns. Bylund states he would be "flabbergasted" if Bono even issued an official response.
Apple has added two new MacBook configurations to its retail line consumer-oriented laptops, expanding its available MacBook models to a total of five. The company is offering a new 2.0GHz white MacBook with 1GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive, doubling the memory of the initially offered model and adding 20GB of storage space, according to AppleInsider. The new white MacBook is priced at $1,449, a $150 increase for the expanded memory and storage. Apple is also offering the "MacBook Ultimate," a 2.0GHz black MacBook featuring 1GB of memory, retaining its 80GB hard drive for $1,599. Both of the new MacBook offerings include Apple's SuperDrive combination DVD/CD burner. The new MacBook models are currently being sold exclusively at Apple retail stores. [updated]
Intellisys today released Intellisys Project Desktop, an intuitive visual tool designed to manage business or home projects. Users can organize involved tasks, assign budgets, estimate costs, and create schedules. The software offers reports as well as Gantt charts to provide a precise view of project status, and can display an earned value analysis. Users can communicate reports as well as diagrams as PDF files, and the software supports drag-and-drop operation alongside automatic incremental scheduling. Intellisys Project Desktop also supports dependencies, constraints, and critical path analysis. Intellisys Project Desktop is priced at $160 for a one-year license, or $300 for a perpetual license (system requirements were unavailable).
Walt Disney has said it amended its director-compensation policy to accommodate Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, who requested not to be paid for serving on Disney's board, according to the Wall Street Journal. Jobs joined the board after Disney acquired Pixar Animation Studios in May for $7.4 billion. The executives' decision to refuse payment as a Disney board member is in line with his history of declining pay at companies he leads; Jobs currently receives $1 per year for his role as CEO at Apple. The Cupertino-based company on Thursday launched an internal investigation on irregularities related to stock options between 1997 and 2001, which included one potentially problematic grant to Steve Jobs himself. The company's stock fell as much as 4 percent following the announcement of the investigation, and Merill Lynch analyzed the probe the following day.
Five of the world's top 500 supercomputers are based on Apple's Xserve technology, according to a new report. The twenty-seventh listing of the semi-annual Top 500 of the world's fastest supercomputers shows that Apple's aging Xserve line is still strong, but slipping a bit. The list was released just ahead of speculation that Apple is prepping an update to its Xserve line that would bring Intel's new Xeon "Woodcrest" processors to the line of professional servers. Macworld UK reports that each of the five Xserve-based systems have fallen slightly in the rankings with ground-breaking Apple clusters such as Colsa's Mach 5, down 6 spots from 15th position in last November's list to No. 21. In addition, Virginia Tech's System X, now in 28th place, is down from No. 20 six months ago and No. 14 last June, according to the report.
In brief: MacNN has released the latest podcast, detailing a PowerBook dropped in four Brenthaven bags, and is holding a contest where users can submit a favorite broken laptop / bad laptop bag story for a chance to win a Brenthaven bag of choice.... A government site for Montgomery County, Maryland, is providing information about affordable housing, but requires Windows Media Player (WMP) 9 to play the file, leaving Mac users out in the cold.... Users on a Danish forum are reporting that an apparent defect is plaguing iBook owners, where letters on some notebooks are beginning to disappear after one month.... Quark has released its second public beta of QuarkXPress 7, a Universal Binary version that runs natively on Intel and PowerPC-based Macs.... Loyds TSB in a promotional effort is offering new students a free iPod shuffle when they open an account with the bank, hoping to lure new customers with Apple's low-end portable music player.
Rosborough Tech has released MacSudoku 3.0, marking a major update to the puzzle game. MacSudoku 3.0 features varying puzzle sizes -- between 4 by 4 and 16 by 16, as well as a customizable interface that allows users to set custom fonts and color coding. The game adds worksheet printing alongside an improved pencil-mark entry system. Rosborough Tech today also announced that it is looking for volunteers to help translate MacSudoku into languages beyond English and Dutch. An upgrade to version 3 from version 2.x is priced at $7, and new licenses are available for $15. MacSudoku 3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Apple could be looking at a very strong year for its notebook sales, as the company prepares to report its June quarter sales numbers on July 19th. A new report indicates that sales of Apple's Intel Core Duo-based MacBook laptops have been stronger than expected, bolstering the top line for Taiwan-based Asustek Computer. Digitimes reports that the manufacturer sold about 120,000 units in June, up from about 100,000 units when the company started shipping the new computers in April, an increase of almost 20 percent. The report says that shipments will continue to increase in the second half as the notebook's competitive pricing for the MacBook is expected to stimulate demaind, which could yield a 39 percent increase in unit shipments over last year. Earlier this year, Apple and HP were expected to benefit as a larger proportion of laptops sales were expected via retail channels to end-users. Apple has also been strengthening its consumer retail presence by expanding its presence at Best Buy.
INtex Publishing today released Cassa vX, a solution for managing accounting books and household finances. The software can import account statements from Bank X, MagGiro, or from online banking sessions in ASCII or Excel formats. Cassa vX utilizes manual statements of income as well as expenses, offering standard bookings for rent, salaries, and insurance fees. Users can classify entries in individual categories, and the application supports automatic monthly or quarterly entries. Cassa vX offers notes, receipts, and sound comments in addition to predefined search functionality for income as well as expenses. The software also includes an integrated formula calculator, and can print reports as well as account statements. Cassa vX is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Black Cat Systems today released Elmer 6.0, a tool designed to help users study for amateur radio exams by preparing practice exams that are graded upon completion. The software shares test results along with problem questions with tested users, and includes questions from the same pool used for real exams to help users prepare for the Technician exam, General exam, or Extra-class exam. Each section of the prepared exam includes the same number of questions as the real amateur exam, and Elmer includes the new RF Exposure questions along with relevant diagrams. Elmer is priced at $25, and requires Mac OS 8.6-9.2 or Mac OS X.
QuickerTek today launched a new MacBook Pro handle for Apple's 15-inch laptop computers. The handle features an anodized finish, to match Apple's styling, and a non-slip grip for added comfort and control. The handle also has slotted mounting holes to "quick and easy" installation. With a functionality to tilt the computer and grip onto a smooth surface, the handle adds more "ergonomic" features than easy carrying. QuickerTek is now shipping the laptop accessory for $50.
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