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EMI considers MP3 format
Apple this week set off a controversial debate with CEO Steve Jobs' open letter on axing music copyright protections, but it may be paying off. According to the The Wall Street Journal, EMI Group PLC has been holding talks with several online retailers about the possibility of selling its entire digital music catalog in the unprotected MP3 format--a music compression format without the digital right management protections for which Apple's chief and others have been arguing.
LinkOptimizer, Solve Elec
LinkOptimizer 2.1 for Adobe InDesign ($100) enhances the utility designed to automatically reduce the size of images linked to Adobe InDesign documents. The latest revision processes rotated links to optimize an additional group of images that were previously ignored, and calculates the estimated saved space via a total space counter to present the total space saved since LinkOptimizer was first used.
[Download - 948KB]
Solve Elec 2.0 (free) is an educational electricity and electronics software for circuit analysis and resolution. Solve Elec 2.0 features circuit drawing, computation of literal formulas for any current intensity/voltage/potential defined in the circuit via a calculus engine, and verification of equations related to the circuit. The application also draws graphs, defines quantities by their formulas, and includes integrated help. [Download - 7.3MB]
MacSOUP 2.8 ($20) brings native compatibility for Intel-based Macs to the offline reader for Usenet newsgroups and internet email. MacSOUP 2.8 fixes a long-standing bug that could cause some menu items to become permanently disabled until the application quit, and fixes several other minor bugs. [Download - 1.7MB]
24U SimpleDialog Plug-In 3.0 ($50, $30 for upgrade) allows users to improve dialogs with custom pictures, and introduces new field types to the dialog-showing plug-in. Version 3.0 supports static text and separators to improve readability, a multi-line text area field, and enables dialogs to take icons from a container field of any size. Users can also validate text fields with calculations and create a custom message box to display upon unsuccessful validation. [Download - 4.2MB]
DotMatrix (free) is webcam software enabling users to dress up snapshots with 150 different designs. The application enables users to refresh Web designs to retrieve the latest designs from the internet, and the update runs in the background without interrupting current tasks. Users can adjust color, contrast, black level, and brightness controls to taste. [Download - 2.8MB]
FCC filing for Zune phone?
Briefly: SanDisk has offered its own take on the DRM controversy started by Jobs' open letter on music DRM, saying that its line of Sansa media players offer consumer playback choice through compatibility with several music services; echoing the concerns of music execs, SanDisk chief Eli Harari said that "The answer is to protect the interests of everyone involved," Harari wrote, "not to chastise rights holders for trying to safeguard the entertainment they create and support.".... iHome recently has had a new iPod speaker system approved by the FCC: the iH85 iHome2Go includes a clamp that mounts the speaker to a bicycle, from which it can be controlled by puck-like remote (pictured) with play, pause, volume and track skip command, while the remote fastens to a bicycle's handlebar.
The Suit by Case-mate
Case-mate and Dr. Bott today announced its new sleek leather suit for Apple's laptops: The Suit by Case-mate is a form-fit leather wrap for any MacBook and now the MacBook Pro. The luxurious leather cases hug each laptop while it's in use or in transit, all the while offering the utmost in security and protection. Made using resilient Italian Pebblestone leather, each Suit is outfitted with an impact-resistant plastic shell. The unique leather cases are strong, stylish, and feel great to the touch. They are available for 15-inch MacBook Pro in Phantom Black, Sienna Red & Alpine White ($160) and also for $150 for the 13-inch MacBook in the same three colors (as well as four other color combinations).
Apple apps, Vista support
Apple technical support has confirmed that numerous Apple Windows applications are incompatible with Vista alongside iTunes. Apple earlier this week warned PC users to delay upgrading to Vista until updates are released, and a technical support document released today describes a range of additional Windows applications designed by Apple that don't support Vista, according to Macworld.co.uk. Unsupported Windows applications include AirPort, AppleWorks, Apple Software Update, Bonjour, the iDisk utility, the iPod shuffle reset utility, the standalone iPod updater for iTunes 6, and QuickTime. Apple has yet to offer a timeframe for Vista compatibility, and Microsoft said it has a team working with developers like Apple to establish support for its latest operating system.
The 'Megapixel Myth'
Many people are buying cameras that claim to be better than they are, writes David Pogue in his latest column for the New York Times. Companies such as Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm often make their megapixel ratings the foremost advertising point, but Pogue notes that in reality, the resolution provided by high megapixels is useless if the light isn't captured properly. Lens quality can often be a much more important factor, as can sensor design and (naturally) the skill of the photographer. Ironically, high-megapixel sensors can sometimes harm image quality by introducing heat, which creates more noise at elevated ISO settings.
FCC Zune Phone Hint
Microsoft has filed for approval of a wireless device that may point to the all but confirmed Zune phone, according to an FCC approval request found by MarketWatch. The listing refers to an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) device to be used for "consumer broadband access and networking." As OFDM is typically only used for wideband wireless signals -- including large-scale WiMAX networks, digital video broadcasts, and select Wi-Fi formats -- the technology has already raised eyebrows among technology analysts who suspect that Microsoft is already completing parts of a new Zune player that would also have VoIP functions.
Warner stands by DRM
Warner Music Group has rejected the concept of abandoning digital rights management (DRM) as suggested by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his recent open letter. The Financial Times reports that Warner chief Edgar Bronfman refuted Jobs' open letter advocating the end of DRM, attacking Jobs' statement as "completely without logic or merit" as part of the music company's latest quarterly earnings conference call. Bronfman reasserted the idea that DRM is necessary to the survival of his label's business, comparing it to the protections already in place for DVDs and computer software. Warner made the statement as the company simultaneously coped with an especially harsh decline in its financial results, reporting revenues last quarter that fell a whopping 74 percent compared to the same period a year ago, with even online-only downloads experiencing a slower than expected growth.
Goldman Sachs on Apple
Goldman Sachs today removed Apple from its conviction buy list based on fears of "negative speculation" leading up to the company's iPhone launch in June. Analyst David Bailey did, however, reiterate a buy rating and a 12-month price target of $110 on Apple shares, saying the stock should be bought "on dips" during the anticipation period leading up to iPhone's launch, according to MarketWatch. Many questions surround Apple's entry into the cellular handset market, but the introduction of the iPhone has already spurred at least one look-alike competitor from Samsung, signaling that Apple's pending launch has caught the attention of major mobile manufacturers.
APIOTEK USB VoIP phone
APIOTEK's entry into the realm of VoIP phones is highlighted by an atypical design, similar to a projector or television remote. The USB SkyPhone is also just 0.3 inches thick, and has a reflective metal back similar to an iPod. Weight is an equally modern 2.4 ounces. Supported talk applications include Skype, MSN, and Yahoo! Messenger; additionally, Windows computers (98 and up) can record voice. Macs do not support recording, but need only run Mac OS 8.6 or later. The connection for the phone is a USB 2.0 port that is backwards-compatible with USB 1.1. USB Geek is selling the SkyPhone for $39.
Xbox Exec on Apple TV
A Microsoft executive's departure may point towards expanded features for Apple TV, according to an interview conducted by Wired. Speaking with the online edition of the magazine, former Xbox Live Arcade manager Greg Cane said that he had chosen to leave Microsoft in favor of Bejeweled creator PopCap Games for the opportunity to expand the developer's games list to other platforms -- including the recently launched Apple TV, Cane claims.
It will be about "customizing [the catalog] for different platforms," he said, "customizing the user interface and display for Zune, ipod [sic], Apple TV, Nintendo DS, PSP."
ASUS/Lamborghini VX2 specs
Though ASUS premiered the Lamborghini VX2 laptop at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, only now has the company shared final performance specifications. The computer will actually ship with Windows Vista Ultimate, and will use a Core 2 Duo T7400 processor, with the video card tapped to be a GeForce Go 7700 with 512MB of RAM. System memory will come in the form of 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 160GB SATA hard drive. Drives for external media will include an 8-in-1 card reader and a DVD S-multi Lightscribe. Other features include Bluetooth 2.0, Intel Wireless-N, and a 1.3-megapixel camera. The most unusual feature is the fingerprint scanner, a device normally reserved for more business-oriented machines. The VX2 was supposed to have been on sale by today, but it remains absent from the official ASUS product pages.
Warner Music Slams Jobs
Warner Music Group has flatly rejected the idea that it should consider dropping DRM, according to the Financial Times. As part of the company's latest quarterly earnings conference call, Warner chief Edgar Bronfman refuted Apple exec Steve Jobs' open letter advocating the end of DRM, attacking Jobs' statement as "completely without logic or merit." Bronfman reasserted the idea that DRM was necessary to the survival of his label's business and compared it to the protections already in place for DVDs and computer programs.
The disagreement was made at the same time as Warner coped with an especially harsh decline in its fortunes. The company's revenues last quarter fell a staggering 74 percent compared to the same period a year ago, with even online-only downloads experiencing a slower than expected growth.
Omniscout Portable Pro
Omniscout has just launched the Portable and Portable Pro, two trackers geared towards drivers who want to protect against thieves or otherwise keep track of their vehicles. Both make use of a special hybrid of GPS and GSM-based phone data to notify the owner of trouble: while the former tracks movement, the latter automatically relays information to the owner. The GPS receiver itself is also intelligent, says Omniscout. Although the technique remains undescribed, the trackers each have an adaptive GPS system that can obtain a position even when indoors or otherwise blocked from a clear link with the navigation satellites.
The Pro separates itself from the base model by using the two-way phone link to its advantage. A driver can set flags for specific conditions that trigger an alert, such as excess speed or wandering outside of a specific radius. A dual-use car and USB charger is also packed in with the premium version. The pair of cellphone-sized receivers are already shipping to motorcycle dealers with prices starting at $499.
Scion iPod integration
Scion today announced that its entire 2008 lineup will come with standard iPod connectivity. The 160-watt maximum output Pioneer AM/FM/CD audio system features a head unit with iPod control that integrates track, artist, and album information from the iPod into a one-line display on the head unit's screen. "Connectivity is achieved by simply plugging the iPod into a port via a connector cable, providing outstanding sound quality through the car's stereo system and constant power to the iPod. Music is controlled through the head unit and steering wheel audio controls. A standard mini-jack port also allows users to listen to their portable music collection through the tC's Pioneer speakers." The Scion tC also comes with standard rear head unit outputs that allow for external amps to boost power to the front and rear speakers, and subwoofers.
RIAA on Jobs' letter
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) chairman and chief executive Mitch Bainwol has rejected Apple CEO Steve Jobs' plea to remove the requirement of digital rights management (DRM) from digital music, suggesting instead that the Cupertino-based company instead open up its FairPlay DRM to competitors. Bainwol argues that the move would allow more consumers to make use of the iTunes Store to play tracks on portable players other than the iPod. "We have no doubt that a technology company as sophisticated and smart as Apple could work with the music community to make that happen," the chairman said. Apple in unlikely to act upon Bainwol's suggestion, however, as Jobs hinted in his letter that disseminating FairPlay to other companies is a dangerous game that would seriously increase the odds that the standard would be hacked, according to the Associated Press.
SanDisk on Jobs
SanDisk chief Eli Harari has just released his own letter commenting on the state of digital music. Responding to Apple head Steve Jobs' own Thoughts on Music letter, Harari largely defended the music industry's insistence on copy protection by claiming that its Sansa music players already pleased both music labels and listeners, offering a choice of multiple stores as well as supporting unprotected music. He particularly accused Jobs of encouraging piracy by focusing only on music buyers.
"The answer is to protect the interests of everyone involved," Harari wrote, "not to chastise rights holders for trying to safeguard the entertainment they create and support."
The Sansa jukebox creator also absolved device manufacturers of responsibility for their choice of DRM, saying that only the labels themselves had the right to decide how their music is distributed. Harari further contended that a "walled garden" -- a thinly-veiled reference to Apple's iTunes approach -- was at best a short-term fix, ultimately pleasing no one. "It's time to tear down the walls," he said.
CLC, Apple join forces
In brief: CLC bio is collaborating with Apple to deliver the best desktop-based bioinformaatics solutions in the market, and has announced its acceptance as an official Apple Proprietary Solution Provider.... A member of the AdWords Editor team announced that AdWords Editor is available for Mac users, and that the Mac version allows users to navigate AdWords quickly while making bulk changes to keywords as well as ad text.... The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) has announced the winners of the second annual Photoshop User Awards; winners were selected from more than 700 entries after several rounds of judging and deliberations.... Photoshop World Conference & Expo is returning to Boston on April 4-6th with a full day of training on the newly released Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software.
iHome iPod bicycle speaker
Prolific accessory maker iHome has had a new iPod speaker approved by the FCC, the iH85 iHome2Go speaker system. A clamp mounts the speaker to a bicycle, from which it can be controlled by puck-like remote (pictured) with play, pause, volume and track skip commands. The remote fastens to a bicycle's handlebar, and three different inserts allow the speaker to be used with fourth- and fifth-generation full-size iPods, as well as iPod minis and nanos. Pricing and release information has yet to be announced. [Via Mobile Whack]
TidyUp!; Quicken for Mac
TidyUp! 1.2.3 ($30) cleans up duplicate files on a hard drive, enabling users to search for items by criteria with tag information in MP3 and AAC tracks. Version 1.2.3 fixes several bugs primarily related to bad reporting when coping with the "location" and "kind is not" options. The update also fixes a crash bug related to AAC files.
[Download - 4.5MB]
Quicken for Mac R6 ($60) is a patch for the well-known personal finance management program. The update fixes bugs that caused unexpected quitting, implementing updates to tax rates and the banking security certificate. The latest release remedies many financial inaccuracies as well. [Download - 7.9MB]
iBiz 3.1 ($50) is a time-billing and invoicing application that features integration with AppleScript, Automator, Address Book, iCal, and Spotlight. The upgrade supports more complex tax arrangements such as compounding or the application of tax on a per-event or per-project basis. The server version is more reliable and allows users to add new clients they're inactive. [Download - 10.5MB]
Troi File Plug-In 3.6 ($75) makes it easier to access files and information from the rest of a computer with FileMaker Pro (versions 7 through 8.5). Changes include fixes to TrFile operations, and the elimination of a bug that caused a "disk full" error when copying to a remote volume. Users can also apply IPTC metadata to previously untagged JPEG files. [Download - 2.4MB]
BBAutoComplete 1.5 (free) adds its own brand of word auto-completion to various programs such as BBEdit, Microsoft Word, Script Debugger, and Tex-Edit Plus. Typing a word and pressing a key cycles through possible choices, and the update brings Microsoft Word support with Mac OS X 1.5 beta compatibility. BBAutoComplete requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 1MB]
RAGE ButtonDesign 1.5 ($20) designs website button templates, complete with mouse-over and mouse-down effects. The software includes more than 75 pre-made templates, and version 1.5 runs natively on PowerPC as well as Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. RAGE ButtonDesign 1.5 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 6.6MB]
CBS Mobile Debuts
CBS this morning launched a new effort to link its TV shows to the mobile world. Called CBS Mobile, the initiative lets frequent viewers keep track of favorite shows and news through video. While the company's highlight is Dave TV, a $5 per month service that downloads video highlights of the previous night's David Letterman show, options also exist for downloading entertainment, news, and sports video alerts as they surface. CBC also claims a unique approach to customizing the phone dubbed "live wallpaper:" instead of simply offering a stock set of backgrounds, a set of images from the most recent episode of a show appears just hours after the show airs.
All aspects of CBS Mobile are active today and should work with most phones from larger US carriers. Entertainment news costs $4 per month, the network says, but news and sports are free outside of normal text rates. The move parallels the company's earlier expansions into web-based TV and TiVo downloads.
Papers Public Preview 2
Mek & Tosj have released the second public preview of their new application titled "Papers." The software is designed to revolutionize the way scientists deal with scientific papers, supporting searches for papers using PubMed and directly retrieving as well as archiving PDF documents. Users can read and study documents all from within Papers, and the latest release offers a completely revamped interface for importing as well as matching scientific articles. The update also adds support for direct import and export of data from bibliography programs such as Endnote, Bookends, Bibdesk, Sente, and others through a plug-in architecture. Papers offers full Spotlight integration, improved Smartgroup functionality, and dozens of bug fixes. Papers is available for an introductory price of $25, and Papers Public Preview 2 is available for download. Papers requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Brando USB Panda Webcam
Brando today introduced its friendly-looking USB Panda Webcam. As suggested by its name, a camera is nestled inside the plush figure of the iconic Chinese animal. The body is soft enough to be easily picked up and handled, Brando writes, which makes it an ideal choice for kids. Its lens is also manually adjustable for a 50mm to infinity focus range and comes with onboard automatic exposure as well as white balance correction.
Video capture performance is modest, with full-speed recording taking place at 320x240 while running at a half rate of 15 frames per second at a much larger 640x480. The Panda Webcam works as a USB camera for almost any video chat software and exports from Brando for $24.
Intellinav GPS Unit
Intellinav has just released the IN-PND-350 GPS receiver. Technically a standard 3.5-inch touchscreen mapping unit, the 350 is unusual in its class for adding automatic text-to-speech voice navigation. Street names and other details are read aloud in any one of six different languages. Intellinav's system also covers a slightly larger region than many other American units, covering both Canada and the US on its preloaded 1GB SD card alongside Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
The company notes that the receiver is suited to both in-car and handheld use, coming with both a windshield mounting kit and an internal battery that lasts for up to 5 hours on a charge. It ships today from Newegg and other online shops for $350. [via NaviGadget]
GizMac XRackPro2 to ship
GizMac is planning to ship a new model of its XRackPro2 server cabinet within the next few weeks, according to the company. Designed to combat the noise common to server rooms, the new 6U size will join the existing 4U, 12U and 25U models, which are all said to cut fan and disk noise down by as much as 75-80 percent. The 6U is compatible with all major brand configurations such as Apple, Linux, SGI, Sun, Unix, and Windows. The device boasts a depth of 32 inches, which should allow most rack-mounted hardware to fit. GizMac is targeting the new server rack for a late February release at a price of $750.
iLuv debuts onTime TV
iLuv today announced the onTime TV for Mac, one of the few receivers to bring Japan's 1Seg digital broadcast TV to Apple's computers with its own 6.7-inch antenna for boosting reception indoors. The Mac-friendly tuner supports the same electronic program guides as its Windows counterpart for scheduling show recording, but includes a number of specific touches for its distinct audience, according to iLuv. The device captures audio and video in AAC and H.264 formats respectively for easy transport to iTunes, and viewers can navigate channels through the Apple Remote on a Front Row-equipped Mac. The special edition of the onTime TV requires either a 1.6GHz G5 or 1.66GHz Core Duo Mac using Mac OS X Tiger or better, and is planned for a late February launch at $122, according to New Launches.
Apple continuation patents
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published five continuation patents for Apple Inc., including patents for Spotlight and iPod. The five patents are titled "Methods and systems for managing permissions data and/or indexes," "Searching for commands and other elements of a user interface," "Method of synchronizing three or more electronic devices and a computer system for implementing that method," "Method and apparatus for generating object-oriented world wide web pages," and "Host Configured for Interoperation with Coupled Portable Media Player Device." The patents cover a broad range of technologies, from indexing and searching data to synchronizing three or more electronic devices. Two new patent applications also surfaced today alongside a European trademark application.
iLuv onTime TV for Mac
iLuv today announced the onTime TV for Mac. The receiver is one of the few to bring Japan's 1Seg digital broadcast TV to Apple's computers and comes with its own 6.7-inch antenna for boosting reception indoors. The Mac-friendly tuner supports the same electronic program guides as its Windows counterpart for scheduling show recording, but includes a number of specific touches for its distinct audience, iLuv adds. Audio and video are captured in AAC and H.264 respectively for easy transport to iTunes; viewers also have the choice of navigating channels through the Apple Remote on a Front Row-equipped Mac.
The special edition of the onTime TV requires either a 1.6GHz G5 or 1.66GHz Core Duo Mac using Mac OS X Tiger or better and is planned for a late February launch at the equivalent of $122. [via New Launches]
Apple patent filings
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published two of Apple's patent applications titled "Method and apparatus for organizing information in a computer system" and "Securing and controlling access to digital data." The former relates to user interfaces for computer systems and to methods as well as apparatuses for implementing user interfaces for organizing information in a computer system. The latter relates to the iPod's lock screen security feature. The European Trademark Office today also published Apple's latest trademark, titled "Core Animation" under application number 005669585. "Core Animation" is Apple's fourth published trademark related to Mac OS X Leopard this week, as filings surfaced yesterday on Xray as well as Spaces and Final Touch.
120GB Xbox 360 in April?
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the long-rumored update to the Xbox 360 will ship by April. According to GamersReports, an "inside source" has informed them that Microsoft wants the Australian chain Myer to prepare for a 360 with 120GB hard drive and an HDMI port. A new piece of information is that the color of the upgrade should be black, which (if true) would conflict with the current all-white accessories.
The timing of the upgrade would not be coincidental. Sony's Playstation 3 will finally release in Australia on March 23rd, and Microsoft may be worried that the greater storage and HD capabilities of the PS3 will lure customers away. It may also be a necessary step for Xbox Live users, since Microsoft's Video Marketplace can rapidly fill the existing 20GB 360 hard drive. The price of the new console is expected to be $749 AU ($583 US).
Samsung takes on iPhone
Samsung today unveiled the Ultra Smart F700, which it claims is one of the world's most advanced smartphones. The device closely resembles the minimalist design of Apple's iPhone, and is targeted at the "recent trend" in touchscreens. The phone features a 2.8-inch 440x240 screen to control calling, internet access, and music functions. Samsung's Ultra Smart F700 also includes VibeTonz, a vibration system introduced in the recent W559 that simulates tactile feedback to touchscreen presses. A single navigation button near the bottom of the phone resembles the single button on Apple's iPhone, while rounded corners and a rectangular shape give the Ultra Smart F700 an iPhone-like appearance. The device includes a slide-out keyboard to accommodate typing and Web browsing, according to Electronista.
Archos 704 in FCC Leak
Media jukebox designer Archos has had its latest device leaked to the public, according to an FCC filing. The currently unannounced device is larger still than the company's earlier 604 Wi-Fi with a 5-inch LCD and is described by the testing group as a "mobile DVR," indicating a likely ability to record live video. No TV tuner appears to be part of the design, however. Wireless support for 802.11b/g is certain and should allow the 704 to browse the Web as well as stream media to and from a local network.
Few other features were revealed in the leak, but the device is known to have a notebook-class hard drive for storage as well as flash memory and fast DDR2 memory for caching. A launch date was not provided; however, Archos' confidentiality request for the 704 Wi-Fi expires in 15 days and will likely be followed soon afterwards by a formal announcement. [via DailyTech]
Jobs letter for iPhone?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs' open letter to the world declaring Apple's support for DRM-free music may be a gambit to force content providers to re-negotiate their contracts to support downloading music and video directly to the iPhone, according to one Fortune blogger. Apple's licensing agreements with record labels are very restrictive, but that was the best deal Jobs could get at the time when digital music was still an anomaly in the public eye. Jobs issued his letter following several reports detailing increasing pressure overseas, as numerous European countries band together in an effort to open up Apple's iPod/iTunes ecosystem in a plea for fairness on behalf of customers.
Nokia Search and Maps
Nokia today revealed that its Mobile Search tool would now turn inwards, searching the content of the phone itself as well as the Internet. Much as with the search tools built into Mac OS X and Windows Vista, the updated software automatically indexes the entire data on the phone -- allowing searches for metadata including song information, contacts, and keywords that appeared in earlier SMS text messages. The technology works with virtually every N-series phone as well as the E6x, E70, and 3250 models and should be a free download as of today.
Hagiwara ExpressCard drive
Hagiwara's US branch on Wednesday began shipping its distinctive ExpressCard/34 Flash Memory Drive, says Electronista. The drive, which had been revealed in Japan in December, is targeted specifically at the MacBook Pro and other notebooks that can use the extra speed of the ExpressCard format. In US form, Hagiwara claims the drive can read as quickly as 32MB per second, and write at 22MB/s. While the cards require no drivers and work with any Mac or Windows OS that supports ExpressCard/34 or /54 slots, Vista owners can use the card as a ReadyBoost cache for improving the responsiveness of systems with low RAM or slower hard drives. The card ships today in capacities ranging between 1GB ($67) and 8GB ($440).
Samsung Ultra Smart F700
Samsung on Thursday unveiled what it says is one of the world's most advanced smartphones. Closely resembling the minimalist design of the iPhone, the Ultra Smart F700 is conspicuously targeted at "the recent trend" in touchscreens, according to the Korean company. A 2.8-inch, 440x240 screen is used to control calling, Internet, and music functions. It further includes VibeTonz, a vibration system introduced in the recent W559 that simulates tactile feedback to touchscreen presses. A further resemblance to its American counterpart is a singular navigation button. In contrast to Apple's device, however, the F700 also contains a slide-out physical keyboard for messaging and heavy-duty browsing.
More details and photos after the jump.
Windows Mobile 6
Microsoft this morning made an early announcement for the 3GSM expo by announcing Windows Mobile 6, the latest version of its OS for cellphones. Divided into three editions -- Classic for PDAs, Standard for intermediate smartphones, and Professional for more advanced communicators -- the new software represents a much tighter integration with the Internet. Key to the upgrade is integration with Windows Live, Microsoft says: Mail, Messenger, Search, and Spaces are all built-in. A new feature called Direct Push is also integrated and sends not only live e-mail but also calendars and contacts.
Crucially, however, the phone OS includes a number of features that hope to remedy weaknesses Apple claims to have addressed with its iPhone. Optimizations with the Device Center in Windows Vista now let Mobile 6 automatically sync music, photos, and other media without requiring separate software.
MS inspired by OS X Tiger
Newly released documents reveal that Microsoft executives were awed by Apple's future operating system features, saying that the it may not be able to achieve Apple's innovation levels and acknowledging future, similar Windows Vista features would be directly compared with Mac OS X. Confirming earlier reports that Vista development was inspired by Tiger, Techweb reports that internal Microsoft email messages from 2004 reveal that company evangelists and executives were awed by Apple's Spotlight desktop search and acknowledged that what they did in Windows Vista would be directly compared with Mac OS X. The messages, the report claims, were filed as evidence in an Iowa state court trying a Microsoft antitrust case and contained message from several company evangelists and executives, including Jim Allchin, the head of Windows development efforts at the time.
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