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Apple touch-screen patent
Yet another another touch-screen patent from Apple has surfaced, pointing to the possibility of a touch-enabled device from Apple. The patent appears to expand on Apple's Gestural User Interface that was described in patents which surfaced earlier this year. The new patent describes a handheld device which can sense the proximity of a hand or other object to the screen and perform actions in advance of contact. Such actions described could include a virtual "scroll wheel", keypad, or button elements. The patent mentions both traditional iPod system song management, as well as what appear to be an iTunes window and such window elements.
MS takes on iPod, iTunes
Microsoft today confirmed that it will launch an iPod competitor branded as "Zune." The offering will include portable media players as well as an online service, similar to Apple's iTunes Music Store. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chris Stephenson -- Microsoft's general manager of marketing for MSN Entertainment Business -- said that Microsoft sees "great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together." Stephenson said the first musical device will contain a hard drive as well as Wi-Fi connectivity, and that the company is looking at seven or eight different wireless scenarios, which range from enabling users to view as well as sample music from other Zune devices in the same hotspot to purchasing and downloading music directly to the device.
UniSudoku 1.5 released
David Ross Software today released UniSudoku 1.5, introducing symmetrical puzzle generation as well as French and German Localization to the Sudoku game for Mac OS X. "Enjoy the best aspects of the pencil and paper puzzle with all the advantages of playing on your computer including unlimited puzzle generation," says developer David Ross. "Enjoy four levels of puzzle difficulty or enter your favorite puzzles from the newspaper, books and the Internet directly into UniSudoku. Every puzzle has a unique and satisfying solution. On your way to that solution highlight all instances of a specific digit to find solvable squares, easily enter "pencil marks" with an intuitive interface and rotate the board when you're stuck." UniSudoku is priced at $15, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Default Folder X, Metro
MMColor 1.5 ($35) is a utility allowing FileMaker users to add color elements via container fields that are set to a desired color. Version 1.4 adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, a switch to PNG image format to allow transparency as well as custom image sizes, and a new color picking utility. MMColor requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and File Maker 7.x or 8.x.
[Download - 3.4MB]
SyncBridge 1.0b (free) is a networked multi-user iCal synchronization tool that enables users to share and edit calendars with family and friends. SyncBridge uses the Sync Services API found in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger to sync calendars with the SyncBridge central server. Users must sign up with the SyncBridge network to use the service, which is currently free, but the company plans to charge for use after the first month. SyncBridge 1.0b requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later. [Download - Form]
Default Folder X 3.0.1 ($15) is a plug-in for any OS X native application that adds a side toolbar for any save dialog; allowing users to access favorite locations and several other commands. This release fixes bugs with carbon applications that would crash if large folders were accessed on multiple processor PowerPC Macs, improved window dragging, and added enhanced support for spotlight. Version 3.0.1 is free to only 3.0 owners and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 5.0MB]
iTunes Catalog 2.1 ($25) creates interactive Web catalogues of an iTunes music library that allows other users to view, browse, and listen to the catalog. Version 2.1 adds improved FTP support, enhanced publishing control, and a new mimicked iTunes interface. iTunes Catalog is a Universal Binary offering native support for Intel-based Macs, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 2.4MB]
Metro Newspaper Downloader 1.9 (free) is an automator action that automatically downloads and opens the free Metro newspaper of cities and countries. The latest iteration of the software includes workflows for 70 Metro newspapers around the world, as well as new FTP locations to pick the newspapers from. Metro Newspaper Downloader 1.9 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 812KB]
Picture Framer 1.0 ($0-5) is a widget to display pictures in Apple's dashboard. Users can select photos from iPhoto, PhotoBooth, or any other source to display in any of the 10 frames included. The deluxe version offers slideshow functionality for all frames included. System requirements were not available. [Download - 3.1MB]
Merom, Conroe ship early
Following lower-than-expected earnings, Intel this week quietly began shipping its next-generation Core 2 Duo processors ahead of schedule. The new 64-bit dual-core chips for mobile and desktop systems -- formerly code-named Merom and Conroe -- were previously slated for late July and August (respectively). Earlier this week, a report from overseas suggested that Merom would be announced alongside Conroe, but still ship in August. In an official statement this week, Intel said it will formally announce Conroe on July 27. The chip maker is expected to ship 2.0GHz, 2.1GHz, and 2.33GHz variants of Merom with 4MB of L2 cache for performance gains of 20 percent over the previous-generation "Yonah" -- which is currently used in Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro systems. Along with the performance increases and pure 64-bit architecture, the new laptop chips will be more power efficient, boasting the same power consumption at equivalent speeds. Industry watchers speculate that Apple will likely upgrade its high-end MacBook Pros to the new architecture before the holiday season.
Fashion Fable released
Creatrix Games has released Fashion Fable, a match-three style game challenging players to line up three of the same items in a row to make them disappear. The plot centers on the turmoil which fashion designer "Asha" experiences when her clothing designs turn into several "mischievous" imps who run away. Asha must hunt down the imps and find out how to turn them back into her clothing, so that she can reopen her store. Each imp that players collect will prove to be a burden or exceptionally useful, each providing a variety of gameplay experiences with unique imp abilities. Players can spend earned money on over 120 clothing items for Asha to wear for a custom look, and the game offers 60 levels of challenges. Fashion Fable is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
LanTest goes Universal
Helios Software today announced that its Helios LanTest and Helios File System Test applications are available as Universal Binaries, offering native support for Intel Macs as well as 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks. Helios LanTest includes built-in testing configurations for Ethernet/DSL, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, enabling users to test a local network's throughput as well as its performance. LanTest rapidly creates, opens, and deletes files; performs read/write throughput tests; checks file locking performance; examines print and spooling performance; and tests single- as well as multi-user server connections. Helios File System Test enables Mac users to verify whether a utilized file server is compatible with Mac OS X, and includes 11 different tests suited to examine network connections. The software checks Apple Filing Protocol (AFP), Windows SMB protocol (SMB/CIFS), Network File System (NFS), and iDisk HTTP-based protocol (WebDAV).
Free Avery label software
Avery has released Avery Mac Label Expert, its free label creation software designed to handle the tedious task of creating and formatting text for printing to sticky labels. The software features a new user interface, templates for all Avery printable products, and support for both printer as well as Mac fonts, according to Macworld. Avery Mac Label Expert guides users through a series of steps to format and print onto all Avery printable address or ID labels, business cards, dividers, and CD as well as DVD labels. Avery Mac Label Expert requires Mac OS 9.x or Mac OS X 10.0, and is available for free.
Refurb iPods, Power Macs
Apple is selling refurbished iPod shuffles in 512MB ($49) and 1GB ($79) capacities; black and white iPod nanos in 2GB ($169) and 4GB ($219) capacities; black and white fifth-generation iPods with video in 30GB ($259) and 60GB ($339) capacities; iPods with color displays in 20GB ($199), 40GB ($279), and 60GB ($279) capacities; iPods with clickwheels in 20GB ($169) and 40GB ($199) capacities; and silver, blue, pink, or green iPod minis available in 4GB ($139-149) as well as 6GB ($199) capacities. The company is also offering refurbished G5 Dual 2.3GHz Power Macs with 512MB of memory and a 250GB hard drive for $2,149; as well as G5 Quad 2.5GHz Power Macs featuring two dual-core processors, 512MB of memory, and a 250GB hard drive for $2,799.
Griffin iPod cases
Griffin Technology today introduced four new iPod cases: Trio, Vizor, Tempo, and iClear with prices ranging for $20 to $30. The Trio ($25) is available in six colors and is designed for the iPod nano; it includes three difference style options. Users are given the choice to leave the Nano's clickwheel and screen uncovered or make use of the extra protection covers, which are included. The Vizor ($25) is designed specifically for the iPod video (5th generation) and is available in a variety of colors. It features a flip cover that secures the iPod when closed and a belt clip as a carrying alternative.
Podcasts span 6% of Web
Over 6 percent of U.S. adults have downloaded podcasts in the past 30 days, according to a report released by Nielsen Analytics. More than 1,700 participants were surveyed on their podcasting usage in a first quarter 2006 study, revealing that about 6 percent of respondents described themselves as regular podcast downloaders -- more than 75 percent of whom were male. Findings also showed that approximately 38 percent of active podcast downloaders say they are listening to radio less often. "The incredible popularity of podcasting is the latest demonstration of consumers' willingness to take control of their media experiences," said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics.
DRM-free music from Yahoo!
Yahoo! is continuing to hope that labels will heed its call for DRM-free music, as it releases its first set of tracks in the MP3 format--without any DRM attached-- allowing users to purchase a personalized version of the new Jessica Simpson song "A Public Affair" from Yahoo! Music's Web Site for $1.99. While the price for the track, available for a large variety of personal names, is higher than the $0.99 charged by iTunes, the music is available in a format that can be played on any player, according to the company: "Dear digital consumer, even if you're not into Jessica Simpson, and you're not excited about spending $2 for a song, let me tell you, this is a bigger deal than you might think." Yahoo! has been publicly lobbying to convince record labels that they should be selling MP3s, saying that DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label, or consumer--and noting that DRM-free music is sold everyday on CDs. [corrected]
Unity picked by Freeverse
Freeverse has announced plans to develop at least two future games on the Mac-based Unity game engine. The Unity game engine is developed by OverTheEdge Entertainment for Mac-based game development. One reason Freeverse highlighted for this switch is cross-platform publishing. This engine publishes games to Mac and Windows via a standalone application, web plugin, or Mac OS X Widget. Given these options, Freeverse believes, "No alternatives to Unity exist on the market today." The unannounced titles include a sequel to a current Freeverse title, alongside a brand new development. Both are expected to be released next year. "Unity focuses on providing cutting-edge technologies and making them outrageously simple to use," Freeverse said. "The flexible and powerful tools combined with an intuitive interface and plentiful documentation set a totally new standard for game development."
OmniWeb 5.5b1 released
The Omni Group has released OmniWeb 5.5 beta 1, a new Universal version of its alternative browser that is now based on the same rendering engine as Safari--Apple's Webkit. Based on a slightly customized version of WebKit, the company says the update brings greatly improved website compatibility, speed and stability. It also brings support for saving pages in the WebArchive format via the "Save As..." panel, a new global and site preference for user-defined style sheets, the ability to emulate Safari when visiting websites, a new Unified Toolbar, and more. Omniweb 5.5b1 is available as a beta download; the full version is $30 and requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later.
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