OmniWeb 5.5b2 ($30) is a Web browser designed specifically for Macs built using an improved version of Apple's Safari rendering engine (a.k.a., WebKit). This second release of version 5.5 beta adds better support for tabbed browsing, enhanced Gmail compatibility, improved link features, more international localizations included, and several minor bug fixes. Mac OS X 10.4 or later is required. [Download - 16.4MB] SimpleMovieX 3.0b ($25) is a easy-to-use movie editor that allows users to clip, add to, and add effects to video clips. This beta release of version 3.0 features new 'native' support for AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 as well as a new chapter splicing tool, support for larger files, batch exporting, audio waveform and synchronization, and support for Google Video files. SimpleMovieX requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 1.7MB] Graph Paper Maker 1.1 ($20) allows users to create custom sheets of graph paper to print and use featuring independent X and Y axes with both linear and log scaling, several standard or user-defined custom paper sizes, and PDF export. Version 1.1 adds independent X- and Y-axis scaling, enhanced printing accuracy, and independent horizontal and vertical margins. Mac OS X 10.2 or later is required. [Download - 1.4MB] Accessorizer 1.1 ($25) is a Cocoa application and suite of services to make Objective C accessor declaration and implementation methods from variable declarations. The update adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, the ability to set accessor defaults based on type, enhanced table support, new code generation tools, and added core data support. Accessorizer requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.2MB] Pukka 1.3 ($5) is a posting client for 'del.icio.us" accounts offering compatibility with RSS feed applications such as NetNewsWire and NewsFire. Version 1.3 adds support for AppleScript, enhanced private bookmarking, and users can now use keystrokes for certain actions. Pukka requires one or more 'del.icio.us' account(s) along with Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 380KB] 24U Plug-In AutoInstaller 2.2 (free) automates management of plug-ins in multi-user FileMaker Pro solutions. The new version provides users with full support for clean single-user, multi-user, and read-only environments. Also new is support for renewable plug-ins, improved stability, and several bug fixes. FileMaker Pro 5.5 or later is requires to run AutoInstaller. [Download - 4.1MB]
A new technology dubbed "ReadyDrive" featuring NAND flash memory designed to complement standard hard drive technology could decrease access time, reduce power consumption, and limit the incidence of hard disk failures due to sudden impacts. Computerworld reports that laptops will be the first systems to incorporate ReadyDrive, though the technology will likely extend to desktop systems, and even servers. ReadyDrive can cache portions of the operating system, resulting in faster boot up times. "I would expect to see a 30 percent boot time savings," said Ruston Panabaker, an architect for Microsoft's Windows hardware innovation group.
Canon has released a new series of scanners featuring a new powerful film and PDF capabilities. The new scanners are the CanoScan 8600F and 4400F along side the LiDE 600F and 70. The new consumer devices are targeted to help digitalize old photo collections, photo negative, files, and more with both consumer and amateur applications. The CanoScan 8600F, 4400F, and LiDE 600F feature a maximum photo scan resolution of 4800 x 9600 dpi. Both CanoScan additions (8600F and 4400F) both feature a built-in Film Adapter Unit that is designed to make scanning 35mm negatives or mounted slides easier including medium format negative compatibility exclusive to the CanoScan 8600F. All of this new series feature "EZ Buttons" to allow one press scanning to a PDF format that can be optimized for email with a single click and offer USB 2.0 connectivity. The CanoScan 8600F ($180) and 4400F ($100) will be available soon as well as the LiDE 600F ($150) and LiDE 70 ($80).
Apple, Dell, and Google are among the latest companies to join the Khronos Group, a body committed to developing open-standards for the authoring and acceleration of dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms, including mobile phones and workstations. The group announced that eight new companies (Acrodea, Apple, DAZ3D, Dell, Google, Gremedy, Codeplay, and S3 Graphics) have joined the more than one hundred existing members and that the OpenGL Archtecture Review Board has voted to bring control of the OpenGL standard under Khronos. A new OpenGL Working Group, drawing from the Khronos membership, will control and evolve the standard for cross-platform 3D graphics; the full transfer of the OpenGL specification to Khronos is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2006 with full support for the OpenGL API and its evolution to continue uninterrupted during this transition, according to the group.
Autodesk today launched Maya 8, the newest version of its Academy Award-winning 3D modeling, animation and rendering solution. Maya has been used to create 3D imagery for feature films, interactive games, broadcast graphics and industrial design. Expected to be showcased at Siggraph 2006 (booth no. 1796) this week, version 8 offers 64-bit support (Windows and Linux only), multithreading and algorithmic optimizations to load and use massive datasets more efficiently. The company also said that key areas of the software -- including skinning, draw tessellation, and subdivided polygon proxy meshes -- have been multi-threaded to scale with the number of processors or cores available. Other new features include the ability to override viewports with a user-defined renderer, an optimized mental ray 3.5 core, support for high dynamic range (HDR) and floating-point images, and more.
Audible today announced that it will extend its exclusive deal with Apple for another three years, boasting more than 16,000 audiobooks, paid podcasts, radio programs, and instructional language offerings via the iTunes Music Store. The initial agreement was due to expire in September of 2007, but the extension announced today makes Audible the exclusive supplier of afore mentioned content until September of 2010, according to TheStreet.com. "Audible's audiobooks have been extremely popular with iTunes customers and consistent best-sellers," said Eddy Cue, vice president of iTunes.
Apple shares rose 2.2 percent today to $67 following an upgrade on the stock by Bank of America analyst Keith Bachman. The upgrade was prompted by high demand for Apple notebooks, as well as the expected launch of a new iPod nano later in the year, according to MacNewsWorld. Bank of America upgraded Apple to 'buy' from 'neutral,' raising its price target from $68 to $79 on beliefs that iPod earnings could boost profits by 8 cents to 12 cents per share. The firm noted, however, that it is not taking into account the possible launch of the rumored iPhone.
Rumors surrounding Apple's suspected forthcoming products have spurred another round of fake ads on YouTube, this time depicting the company's suspected "iPhone." One ad shows a young woman wandering through an apparent art gallery, with one picture transforming into an iPod interface offering phone calls, email, music, movies, and image viewing capability accompanied by a series of dancing silhouettes, according to Macworld UK. The Cupertino-based company was said to be searching for an iPhone supplier in March, and reportedly partnered with Softbank to launch the new phone in Japan some time this year. Columnist Walt Mossberg supported the iPhone rumors in early May, and analyst firm Merill Lynch upgraded Apple's stock in earlier this month to reflect suspicions of the upcoming handset.
37Signals has released Backpack Calendar, a Web-based calendar for its Backpack tool that manages to-do's, notes, and ideas. The calendar is designed to be familiar to Apple iCal users, supporting sharing of Backpack Calendars as well as subscription to other calendars via the iCalendar format. The Backpack Calendar works well with Safari, according to 37Signals, and incorporates drag-and-drop events for most features. The tool supports multiple calendars, multi-day events, and email/SMS reminders. Backpack is priced from $5-14 per month, requiring Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 6.
Verizon Wireless is planning to launch a new music-enabled cell phone dubbed "Chocolate" in August, and is cancelling its monthly fee of $15 for its V Cast music download service, which will increase competition with Apple's iTunes Music Store. Vast charged both a $15 monthly fee as well as $1.99 per song fee, which is double the cost of tracks on iTunes. The new phone will feature an iPod-like clickwheel that includes a memory card capable of storing up to 1,000 songs, according to the Associated Press. The new handset is manufactured by LG Electronics, and includes software that supports MP3 playback as well as the ability to play songs purchased from Verizon's own V Cast Music Store. Verizon debuted its V Cast service in early January, which analysts said would place increasing pressure on Apple's iTunes service as competitors target its shortcomings. [updated]
Aspyr Media has released a free update to Civilization IV, improving performance on certain Macs (G5s in particular) that exhibited excessive CPU usage in the original release. The game should no longer run dual CPU's to 100 percent capacity, according to the company, and some missing sounds should play correctly while others may remain inaudible after updating. The update also offers improved support for the "globe" view at lower quality settings, and fixes bugs caused by installing "Big Blue Marble" mod. Aspyr reports that some Intel Mac users may experience kernel panics when running a version of Mac OS X prior to 10.4.7, although users still experiencing the issue can turn off FSAA options and/or run the game in a window as a workaround. Civilization IV is available for $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Objective Development today released Sharity 3.2, an update to its SMB file system for Unix. The new release brings enhanced stability and performance, as well as an improved command line interface. Sharity mounts shares exported by Windows, Samba, and other SMB/CIFS servers in the file system of Unix computers. The application implements Resource Browsing similar to the Windows Network Neighborhood (Netbios Workgroups and Active Directory), NTLM, NTLMv2 as well as Kerberos authentication, Microsoft's Distributed File System (DFS), manipulation of Access Control Lists (ACLs). Sharity 3 is priced at $30 for a private license or $200 for commercial usage, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Forums roundup: Members continue to speculate about an update to MacBook Pros and when it will be released.... One user is reporting an error with their MacBook screen causing it to predominately display pink -- with one user posting a color profile that fixed probem. Users question the readiness of Mac OS X to handle the proposed 8-cores of a Covertown or Kentsfield based Mac and whether Mac OS X Leopard will solve the poor multi-processor support.... One users takes the forum back about five years to dig up the initial iPod reaction after its introduction.... Another MacBook users reports that the computer ramdomly shuts down -- even after it was "repaired."
Aspyr Media, Inc. has released an update to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005, fixing support for Mac OS X 10.3.x. The update also repairs hiding as well as application switching functionality while in full-screen mode, copies courses with custom logos, and enhances course listings. The game challenges players to take on the man who has changed golf forever, Tiger Woods. "Tee off against legends including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan after building a name on the Tour." New Tiger proofing course alteration technology allows players to modify course dynamics and call out PGA TOUR rivals by adding lengthier Tiger Tees, tighter fairways, undulations to greens, deeper bunkers, higher rough, and more. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 is priced at $30, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.8 or later.
Rogue Ameoba has released Audio Hijack Pro 2.7, an update to its audio recording solution. The latest iteration of Audio Hijack Pro offers single-click recording for audio chat applications; lyric and note recording; improved audio previewing; enhanced support for RadioShark AM/FM radio; the ability to send files to an audio editor from within Audio Hijack; additional preset recording options; and several minor bug fixes. The software allows users to record Skype, iChat, Quicktime, and other audio applications. Audio Hijack Pro also allows users to record conversations over iChat, Skype, Gizmo, and other audio chat applications. This update is free to all Audio Hijack Pro 2.x users, and costs $10 for Audio Hijack 1.x users. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is priced at $32 for new users.
Big Fish Games has released Virtual Villagers, a new game that allows users to manage a tribal village. The goal of the game is to help teach a new group of villagers how to survive and help them grow. Ultimately as the village grows the needs of house, food, technology, health, and more surface. Players help villagers expand and prosper while exploring the island on which they are isolated. Virtual Villagers is a real-time simulation game that is programmed with several surprises, hundreds of customizable villagers, multiple tribes, the ability to raise unique new tribes, obstacles to overcome, an original sound track, and the ability to shape the destiny of the village however the player wants. Mac OS X 10.2 or later running on a 500MHz or faster PowerPC processor is required. The title costs $20. [Download - 21.5MB]
Seefile Software today will unveil a software update that supports video and Web animation file formats in addition to the photo and print formats already supported. Expected to launch at the Siggraph 2006 Conference in Boston (booth #2629), the company said that the update adds video as well as Flash support, numerous new features, and is being offered at a reduced price. "Seefile has already allowed photographers, printers and graphic designers to simply save files to folders on their hard disk for clients to view and comment on. Now the same capabilities are available to web designers, animators, videographers and filmmakers." Seefile 2.5 is priced at $400, or $550 bundled with Mac hardware.
Sound Byte 3.0 ($25) is software designed to turn a Mac into a "cart machine," providing access to small recorded bytes with one mouse click. The update improves performance, adding alphabetically listed carts, lockable playback volumes, and additional effects. Sound Byte 3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 1.5MB] GarageSale 2.4 ($25) is a eBay-compatible auction utility allowing users to create and manage auctions without the need to navigate the eBay website. Version 2.4 adds the ability to use the eBay message system within the application, send emails via Entourage, offers improved gallery support, and enhances support for design templates. The application requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 8.9MB] SeaMonkey 1.0.3 (free) is a Mozilla open-source project providing a Web browser, an email/newsgroup client, IRC chat, and HTML editing capability. The update fixes security vulnerabilities, improves overall stability, offers better bookmark bar support, includes new update notification, and fixes a major bug related to the URL bar. SeaMonkey requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later. [Download - 22MB] ClawMenu 2.6 ($25) allows users to create custom menus to access items such as folders, addresses, iTunes, bookmarks, RSS feeds, and recent clipboard items. The update allows users to preview RSS text, includes enhanced iTunes support, improves the pasteboard menu, and offers better support for display modes. ClawMenu 2.6 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - Tiger, Panther] AliasKeys 1.1 ($15) allows users to assign keystrokes to open files, folders, or other Finder items. The update adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, offers better support for Finder, improves date formats for text insertion, and fixes several minor bugs. The software requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.2MB]
Apple has acknowledged that some MacBook Pro batteries sold from February 2006 through May 2006 under perform, and has launched a worldwide battery exchange program. "We recently discovered that some 15-inch MacBook Pro batteries supplied to Apple do not meet our high standards for battery performance," Apple wrote. "To give our users the best experience possible, we will replace these batteries for customers free of charge." Apple says that the affected batteries do not pose a safety risk. Affected batteries display the model number 'A1175,' along with a 12-digit serial number that ends with 'U7SA,' 'U7SB' or 'U7SC.' Model and serial numbers are located on the bottom of the battery, which are only visible when the battery is removed from the MacBook Pro.
After much success with the iPod ad campaign to push the digital music player as hip and cool, some question the quality of the new Mac-centric "Get a Mac" ad campaign. In a recent OSWeekly.com report, columnist Brandon Watts says the ads are rather low-budget compared to previous Apple efforts. The ads have already been easily parodied and mocked by internet-based Windows enthusiasts--using supplies as simple as a white backdrop and video camera. However, Watts believes that the critical belief that these advertisements are too harsh to Microsoft and come off as rude and condescending is simply not true. "Companies always try to point out the advantages that they have over the competition, but instead of going the traditional route, Apple used two distinct individuals to portray the differences between Windows and OS X," wrote Watts in his recent column. The advertising battle will heat up later this year as Microsoft gears up for the launch of its new campaign for the release of the much-delayed Windows Vista featuring comedian Demetri Martin.
Micromat Software has updated TechTool Deluxe, its diagnostics tool available as part of AppleCare Protection Plan package. TechTool Deluxe offers directory rebuilding, volume repair, drive mechanism check, USB diagnostic, Memory test, Video RAM examination, and a CPU analysis. The consumer version, TechTool Pro, features all the abilities of the "Deluxe" version bundled Apple's AppleCare package, but also adds several more features including Video geometry screens, FireWire testing, secure file removal, file integrity checking, and FPU diagnostics. The update adds support for native operation on Intel-based Macs (Universal Binary), a new method to check volume structure on the start-up disk, failure dialogs, new directory scans, rezero unit tests, and updated localizations. Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and TechTool 3.0.x are required. [Updater - 4.5MB]
Bank of America equity research upgraded Apple to 'buy' from 'neutral." In addition, the frim raised its price target to $79 from $68, citing strong demand for MacBooks and iPod digital music players. MarketWatch reports that Bank of America's research arm told clients that Apple generate enough additional unit sales in the second half of the year, it believes that iPod earnings could increase profits by 8 cents to 12 cents per share. Bank of America, however, noted that it is not taking into account the impact of an Apple-based mobile phone, which it expects to be introduced in 2007. Earlier in July Merrill Lynch upgraded Apple, following Apple's tacit acknowledgement that it was working on solution to counter the recent success of Sony's walkman phone. Well-known colunits Walter Mossberg has publicly said that Apple has been working on an Apple-branded iPhone, while reports have surfaced indicating that the company has been searching for mobile phone parts suppliers.
QuickerTek has launched a new addition to its series of handles for Mac notebooks with a new version for the 17" MacBook Pro. Much like the recently released handle for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, the new 17-inch handle boasts an aluminum finish and black plastics to compliment the MacBook Pro's case. Designed for carrying the MacBook Pro, the handle is padded with a non-slip grip that adds comfort and control while carrying the MacBook Pro. The handle also features the ability to act as a tilt control when on a flat surface -- adding both a non-slip grip and height adjustment to the notebook. The handle is available for both versions of the MacBook Pro for about $50.
In brief: MacNN has posted a review of Monitor Audio's i-deck, high performance iPod audio system which features high sound quality, a RF remote, and a unique design style.... Apple has agreed to replace the power adapter of a PowerBook users, the adapter defected causing "flame and sparks" could have burned down his house.... A enthusiastic MightyMouse user has created a hack which will improve the battery life of the wireless Mightymouse [warning, could void warranty].... Loigtech has released a minor upgrade to i's Harmony Remote adding Universal support for native operation on Intel-based Macs.... LaCie has a new promotional offer to enter the code-phrase "BRICKHOUSE" when placing an order on Lacie's online or direct sales stores.