DAZ Productions has released Bryce 6.1, a new version of its 3D software for realistic imagery. The free update brings compatibility with Intel-based Macs as well as interface and control updates to the IBL lab, corrections to the included content, and many bug fixes, including fixes to the Bryce Lightning network render application. Last year, DAZ released Bryce 6 with Advanced Terrain Editing via customizable Image Based Brushes, and improved rendering through Image Based Lighting (IBL) with support for High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI). Bryce 6 also offers Character Animation Import capabilities and enables users to export full geometric meshes of any Boolean object into any of the industry's most popular 3D applications. According to the company update requires a full reinstall of the application. Bryce 6.1 is available for $50 (as part of a 50 percent discount promo) with upgrades priced at $40.
The Camino Project has released Camino 1.04, an update to its free web browser based on the same code-base as Firefox. The security update brings several critical security and stability issues, including those fixed in version 220.127.116.11 of the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine. In addition, the developers say that sheets will now close as expected on Intel-based Macs and that they have upgraded the bundled Java Embedding Plugin to version 0.9.6. The update also adds support for importing iCab 3 bookmarks, improves the handling of Internet Explorer .url shortcut files, and now will automatically make a backup copy of the bookmarks file when it launches if the file is not corrupt (as well as automatically restore bookmarks from a backup when it launches if they are unreadable). Earlier this month, a beta version of the next version, Camino 1.1 beta, was released for testing.
TiVo today ramped up competition with Apple by launching its Unbox on TiVo service, adding works from MGM Studios and Sony Pictures. Apple is planning to release its Apple TV set top box in the near future, hoping to snatch up a formidable portion of the market as it did with digital during the advent of the iPod. The new service launched with a promotional effort offering customers who sign up before May $15 in free downloads, according to Amazon. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer yesterday spoke about the Apple TV at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco, presenting his aspirations for the device and touting the Cupertino-based company's recent addition of Paramount and Lionsgate -- which brought the number of movies on the iTunes store to over 400. Apple's financial chief also cited the track record of the iTunes Store, hinting that Apple hopes for similar growth with its Apple TV device.
The PopCatcher MusicDock MD-601 redeems FM music stations, recording the music without commercials and DJ interruptions, which are sensed by the device and cut out automatically. The results are saved in MP3 format to a docked media player, such as an iPod, with each song being its own unique file. This may ironically be a problem for some users, since many FM stations repeat their tracks to catch more listeners. The 601 does however function with Internet broadcasts as well, which are less likely to produce duplicates. To order a Music Dock, users must contact PopCatcher directly. [via Crave]
Case-mate and Dr. Bott today unveiled the Clip for iPod nano 2G, a tough plastic holster designed to provide portability with easy access to remove the iPod for usage. The clip grips the slimmer shape of the second-generation iPod nano and clips onto nearly any apparel or carrying case. Measuring 3 x 1.75 x .75-inches, the clip is designed exclusively for Apple's newest iPod nano player. The Clip for iPod nano 2G is priced at $10, and is available in black from Dr. Bott resellers.
Vivox today released Precision Studio 1.5, extending the integrated voice communications software to Mac OS X 10.4 and adding several new features. The update brings voice recording capability, voice fonts, a customer administration portal, enhanced channel management, and improved user self-support tools. "This update was designed and built based on input from our customers, the developers of online games," said Monty Sharma, vice president of product marketing and management at Vivox. "It will allow developers to make voice more immersive, improve security and control, and enhance their players' in-world experiences. Our product development goal is to stay on the cutting edge of communications tools that power safer and more immersive games." Vivox is showcasing Precision Studio 1.5 at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) March 7-9 in Booth 959 in the West Hall of the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
Korea-based A1Display today said it now offers custom building for HDTV sets. Rather than insist on definite specifications for every model, the company invites buyers to visit its office and choose exact parts of the design. The outer shell, controlling mainboard, and TV tuners can be hand-picked and assembled by the company within an hour. An extra level of service is also promised, as the same engineers will make home visits to repair faulty systems. Every model offered today is a full, 1080p set with sizes ranging between 42 and 47 inches. The basic 42-inch screen is available either as a PC monitor with DVI and VGA input ($1,792), or as a TV with dual HDMI connectors ($2,097), while the 47-inch model ($2,635) shares the same features as the TV at a larger size. A1D says all sets are available today. [via AVING]
Newly launched in Hong Kong is the C268 phone by Samsung, distributed under its Anycall brand. The key to the clamshell is affordable simplicity, since all but the most universal features have been removed. It only operates on dual-band GSM, for instance, and the screen is limited to 65,000 colors. It does however have SMS messaging and an attractive interface, plus an abnormally long battery life -- Samsung estimates seven hours of talk-time and 390 hours (16 days) of standby. The C268 costs $790 Hong Kong dollars, or $99 US. [via Unwired View]
GameHouse today released Super Collapse! Puzzle Gallery, an original game of colored blocks that features more than 300 new puzzle challenges. Players are tasked with removing all the blocks from the screen in the fewest possible moves, and a new hint power-up can help when things get tough. The game is designed to provide a unique and colorful exercise for the brain by offering unlimited play, a wide array of puzzle patterns, and classic Collapse power-ups. Super Collapse! (SC) Puzzle Gallery is available for $20, runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Magellan this afternoon officially announced its Maestro range of GPS mapping units. The 4.3-inch handhelds are all the first navigators to have access to the American Automobile Association's TourBook, which adds hotels, repair sites, and other points of interest the group recommends for its members' trips. The flagship Maestro 4050 ($700) is also the first GPS system to support voice commands, Magellan says. Owners plot routes simply by speaking to the unit instead of operating its touchscreen, keeping their eyes on the road. Real-time traffic warnings are also an option through the company's TrafficKit subscription service. Bluetooth is standard for hands-free calls. The lower-cost 4040 drops voice commands and traffic to reach a more affordable $500 price, while the base 4000 model ($400) sheds Bluetooth. The 4050 will be ready by May, with the two less costly models shipping April 1st.
NewTek today released an open beta of LightWave, its 3D modeling, animation, and rendering package. The latest release adds native support for Intel-based Macs, and includes support for AppleScript. The software offers modeling, animation, dynamics, volumetric rendering, particle effects and a motion picture quality rendering engine with unlimited render nodes. The open beta download is available to all registered owners of LightWave 9, and is accessible through the NewTek online registration system. LightWave 9 is priced at $800, or $400 to upgrade from previous versions. The company also says it will release the final Universal Binary version for free to registered LightWave customers, once the update is completed.
Young startup TN Games used the GDC games expo today to introduce the ForceWear Vest. Force-feedback units located at eight points throughout the clothing create up to ten pounds of pressure in different rhythms depending on the type of hit inflicted to the player. Anything from a solid punch to gunfire can be simulated, reducing the need for visual damage cues in first-person games. Virtual G-force effects can also be generated for driving or flight simulators. Three different styles of the vest will be sold, with a black tactical scheme, camouflage, and a flame-adorned racing model available to suit the wearer's tastes in gameplay. ForceWear should debut first on the PC in November.
Creative Manager Pro 8.4.05 ($370/mo.) is a project management application aimed at middle- to large-sized "creative" corporations, such as advertising agencies. Among other features, users can assign staff, track leads, and send proofs to current clients. Due by the end of March, the latest update will allow CMP owners to send meeting requests to iCal or Microsoft Outlook users, who will be able to open the requests within their native applications. [Download - Size Unknown] Xfolders 1.5 (free) is a file manager that integrates with Finder while expanding on it at the same time. Users can drag-and-drop files between lists, or take advantage of the built-in terminal and image browser components. The browser is the only new addition; the update otherwise limits itself to bug fixes. Xfolders is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.4, though the app may function with 10.3.9. [Download - 1.6MB] SyncTogether 1.0.1 ($50) synchronizes information on up to three Macs per user, matching iCal events, Safari bookmarks, and Address Book contacts. The program also supports third-party software such as Yojimbo and Transmit. Version 1.0.1 makes it easier to cancel sync, and improves remote category handling when new ones are synchronized. It also fixes problems with illegal characters in group names. Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later is required. [Download - 16.1MB] Classik Studio Reverb 1.1 ($400) adds virtual reverb units to a computer, in four different styles: Plate, Hall, Room and Inverse. Up to four macros can be assigned per unit. The v1.1 update makes the program a Universal Binary, and can now be downloaded without a USB iKey or dongle. The software has also been made compatible with Pro Tools 7 and VST 2.4 hosts like Cubase 4. [Download - Size Unknown] SketchFighter 4000 Alpha 1.0.1 ($20) is an unusual top-down shooter whose visuals resemble notepad sketches; users can also draw their own levels for new challenges. The v1.0.1 patch adds a shortcut to toggle fullscreen mode, and provides user-defined turning and acceleration sensitivity. Some bugs have been quashed as well, such as conflict with "secure keyboard entry" modes in other programs. [Download - 16.3MB] Audiocorder 5.0.0 ($20) starts and stops audio recordings automatically, using either volume detection or pre-programmed schedules. Tracks are saved in AIFF format with adjustable quality settings, though users can also play MP3 and WAV files if the need arises. Version 5.0.0 has been made into a Universal Binary; earlier downloads are available for Mac OS 9 and 68K-era computers. [Download - 430KB]
Archos has just announced the 204 (Spanish PDF) as a replacement for the last of its Gmini players. Opting for the added storage of a 20GB hard drive instead of the more popular flash, the 204 is still small at just under three inches high. It also makes use of a 1.8-inch OLED color screen ready for JPEG photo viewing. Playback of MP3, WAV, and WMA songs (including WMA 10 subscriptions) makes up the device's audio format support. Battery life is a substantial 20 hours despite the rotating storage inside. The new player is due to appear in Europe soon for $235; although most of Archos' lineup (including the new 704 Wi-Fi) is available in North America, the company says that the 204 will remain in Europe for the foreseeable future. [via PMP Today]
Apple is offering refurbished Mac mini systems for as little as $649 alongside discounted iBooks priced as low as $719. The company's reconditioned Mac mini systems include the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $649; as well as the 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $699. The Cupertino-based company's current iBook offerings include the 14-inch 1.42GHz G4 model with 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive for $999; and the 12-inch 1.2GHz G4 with 256MB of memory and a 30GB hard drive for $719. Apple is also offering refurbished AirPort Extreme Base Stations for $129 following the introduction of its new 802.11n AirPort devices. The Apple Store Canada is also offering its refurbished 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini for CAD$789 with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive. [click here for Apple Store Canada]
Delkin today released a swath of new card adapters aimed at frequent photographers. Topping the announcements are CardBus and ExpressCard 54 adapters designed for the new Ultra DMA CompactFlash standard. Each transfers data from the new flash memory as quickly as possible, peaking at 40MB per second and 33MB per second respectively. Both work in Windows PCs and will ship in April for $60, with the CardBus adapter also supporting PowerBooks using Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later.
Nokia's N77 phone has been approved by the FCC, a recent filing shows. The successful test is curious due to the phone's use of DVB-H, a digital mobile TV standard generally only used in Europe -- raising the possibility that an Americanized version of the candybar handset may appear in the US in the future. However, the phone as tested by the FCC currently uses the same tri-band GSM and UMTS Internet as the original, ruling out an imediate release. The N77 would also require the establishment of a new mobile TV network, as the only currently operating cellphone TV network in the US (Verizon's V CAST TV) uses the competing MediaFLO standard. View a sampling of the FCC photos after the break.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs left as much as $2.7 billion on the table by trading his options grants earlier this decade. Fortune Magazine reports that Jobs accepted a colossal stock option grant in 2000 that the publication calculated to be worth $872 million at the time, but the executive considered the stock "penniless" and eventually traded it in along with another large options grant for a sizable sum of restricted shares. Those restricted shares today are said to be worth around $848 million, but the stock options Jobs gave up to acquire his current shares would today total more than $3.6 billion. Interestingly, Fortune published a cover story in 2001 following Jobs first massive grant that spurred a response from Cupertino's headquarters. In a letter to Fortune's editor Jobs offered to sell his stock options to the magazine for "half" of what it claimed they were worth, or $436 million, saying that the stock was actually "worth zero." Fortune declined the offer due to insufficient capital, but now says "we should have hocked the office furniture, broken our kids' piggy banks, and taken the deal."
Carpoint has announced the XRoad V7, a combination GPS unit and personal media player. The highlight though is likely to be its presentation, since it uses a highly graphical interface presented on a seven-inch, 16:9 touchscreen, capable of resolutions up to 800x480. It also boasts considerable hardware inside, such as a 500MHz AMD processor and 128MB of DDR2 RAM. Supported media formats will include MPEG-4, WMV and DivX/XviD video, as well as FM radio, DMB TV, and unspecified music files. Videos can be shrunk to the corner while GPS navigation is in use. The V7 is shipping to Korea for the equivalent of $630. [via GPS Gazette]
Creative today chose Japan as the venue for introducing two new speakers designed for the iPod. The PlayDock i500 (shown) is an equivalent to the previously announced PlayDock i and serves as a luggable all-in-one stereo with video output and a USB port for synchronizing with a PC. Two 12W satellites and a 24W subwoofer provide up to 16 hours of music on battery power. A newer addition is the TravelSound i, a conversion of the Zen-oriented mini stereo with the same AV and USB connections as the i500 but uses only two 4W satellites for sound, lifting battery life to 25 hours. The PlayDock and TravelSound will sell in Japan later this month for $256 and $153 respectively and work with fourth-generation iPods or newer as well as every iPod mini or nano. [via Impress]
In brief: The Washington Times has reviewed Apple's 24-inch iMac, Kodak unveiled its EasyShare G610 photo printer dock, and All Forces released a tutorial on email security. Iconkits.com has re-launched its website while releasing four new stock icon collections, and MacSpeech released a ScriptPak for Toast 8. In a rave review of Apple's 24-inch iMac, The Washington Times dubs the largest consumer-oriented desktop system "nearly perfect." "It's taken 25 years or thereabouts from the arrival of my first computer, a Sanyo MBC-1000, but I believe my search for the 'perfect' desktop one is over," the reviewer wrote as he praised the "massive" 24-inch liquid crystal display. The review model featured 2GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive CD/DVD burner. The sound quality of the iMac's built-in speakers is deemed "astonishingly good," and despite its "hefty" price the reviewer insists that "frankly, you get what you pay for."
Everki has released the Fling Light Sling Pack, designed to carry 13-inch MacBooks. The laptop sits in a cushioned "nest" within the backpack, but is surrounded by numerous compartments, such an accessory space, pen, key and media player pockets, and a mesh stash on the outside flap. The Fling is made primarily of nylon and comes in three different secondary colors: white, blue and flax (brown). It is on sale now for $40-50 from retailers such as eBags.
Made by HoMedics, the iSoundSpa clock offers three ways to be woken up: an iPod dock, a beeping tone, or one of six nature tracks, such as "rain," "night" or "sunrise." The current time can also be projected on the ceiling in blue. All nano and full-sized iPods are supported through adapters, while iPod shuffles can be plugged in through a stereo jack. CD and other digital audio players can of course use the same jack. iPods are charged as they sit in the dock. HoMedics has begun selling the iSoundSpa for $80 from the official website.
AT&T may already have put in place service discounts for the iPhone, according to a receipt from one new subscriber to the cell service. Upon switching to the American carrier, Derek Punsalan noticed that although he had ordered a BlackBerry Pearl to go with his plan, his receipt for the purchase also mentioned the unreleased Apple phone, suggesting that it would receive a $150 discount when paired with a two-year service plan.
Leaked presentation slides have revealed the Samsung Q2, a successor to the Q1 ultra-mobile PC, which was said to be the world's first. Many of the specifications should remain the same, such as 1GB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive and a seven-inch touchscreen, but it will be substantially upgraded in some ways. Among these are a switch to an Intel CPU and Vista Home Premium, as well as increased resolution, now at 1024x600. A split QWERTY keyboard has been designed, and there are two cameras, one for stills (1.3 megapixels) and another for videoconferencing (0.3 megapixels). An unexpected development is the support of HSDPA and WiBro, which will allow roaming broadband in both Korea and the United States. More standard wireless options will include Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11b/g. [via Engadget]
Apple is increasing its use of NAND flash technology in its future product development plans, and is designing a new subnotebook that uses NAND flash memory as its primary storage, according to American Technology Research senior analyst Shaw Wu. "Our sources indicate that Apple would like to introduce the [subnotebook] in 2H07 to further capitalize on its strong MacBook growth, but timing will be dependent on NAND vendors' ability to drive down pricing further, making it econmically attractive for Apple," Wu wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. Despite aggressive price reductions in NAND flash over the past few years, analysis indicates that mobile hard drive storage still offers a price advantage of 7-8 times over NAND flash. Wu speculates that NAND flash in notebook PCs will likely be limited to the high-end ultra-portable market through 2007. The analyst also believes Apple is migrating the rest of its iPod line to NAND flash from hard drives, but says that fairly low price points and strong demand for high storage capacities will likely prevent this from occurring until late 2007-2008.
Camshare has released Camfrog 1.3 for Mac, an application enabling Mac users to participate in large multi-user video conferences. The software works with Microsoft Windows as well, enabling Mac users to join video conferences with more than 1,000 users communicating from Windows systems as well as other Macs. Camfrog works behind firewalls, routers, and wireless networks with a live webcam user photo directory to ease the process of meeting new people. Users with broadband internet connections -- such as DSL or cable internet -- can set up and host a video chat room via a free download, and a separate download supports video conferencing from websites. Camfrog 1.3 for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and is available for free.
Fabrix today introduced its new 2007 collection of iPod sleeves with new colors and fabrics. The refreshed cases boast improved internal pading, and each sleeve comes with a nylon loop enabling users to attach keyrings or hooks for easy carrying. The snug-fit iPod sleeves are designed to protect the portable player from light bumps and scratches while stowed in bags or pockets. Fabrix is offering its new sleeves in various sizes to fit each iPod model as well as the forthcoming iPhone, and offers customization services for PDAs or mobile phones.Fabrix Sleeves are priced at $20.
Updated with photos At today's ongoing Game Developers' Conference, Sony's Phil Harrison announced an initiative to draw gamers back to the company through social interaction. At the forefront is PlayStation Home, which mimics the Mii Channel of the Nintendo Wii in that PS3 owners can meet each other online in a 3D environment; unlike the Wii, however, Home users will be able to buy items such as clothing, apartments and decorations. Moreover, trophies and other objects won in PS3 games will have a 3D representation in Home, and a program called LittleBigPlanet will allow users to create their own games with material found on the network. Neither Home nor LittleBigPlanet have been given formal release dates. [via MarketWatch]
Zenum today previewed the Organum. Hoping to compete in the music player field through sheer style, the Swiss firm's player is exceptionally thin and hides controls on the sides. Its features are slightly broader than its obvious parallel in Apple's iPod nano: while MP3/WAV/WMA music and BMP/JPEG photo support are expected in most players, the Organum includes a hidden microphone for voice recording and a larger 1.8-inch LCD. Zenum anticipates releasing the finished player with 2GB of flash storage by the end of this year. The firm may also use next week's CeBIT expo in Germany to finalize the Opus Operis, its full-keyboard designer smartphone. The company had originally intended a November launch but pushed the device to a spring launch following unexplained delays. [via Unwired View]
Apple is aiming to expand its retail presence in the U.S. as well as abroad, with plans to open 35-40 stores in 2007 with more than 10 of those planned overseas. Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer yesterday spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco expressed his happiness with the financial performance of the company's retail stores. "We're going to continue to open stores at a measured and controlled pace," Oppenheimer said. "We expect to open 35 to 40 this year, with a little over 10 coming outside the United States." The executive said Apple invested in its retail stores last year and that he wants to continue that trend to make them a great place for customers. Oppenheimer pointed to roughly 20 Apple stores outside the U.S. as he highlighted the company's international efforts. "About 10 of those [international Apple stores] we've opened in the last year. So we're beginning to increase our international stores openings," Oppenheimer said.
To support its camera launches, Kodak today has released the EasyShare G610 photo printer dock. The updated model prints high-quality 4x6 inch photos within a minute, says Kodak, and creates that are both waterproof and laminated to survive a person's entire lifespan. The dock prints directly from any EasyShare camera and charges those models with lithium-ion batteries. It ships in April for $130. The firm has also released a new line of NiMH Digital Camera Batteries for those cameras that use disposables. The AA- and AAA-sized rechargeables will keep their power for as much as four times longer than others, according to Kodak, and last roughly 300,000 shots. Kodak expects to release packs that include 1-hour and slower value rechargers for $30 and $16 respectively, with AA and AAA battery packs shipping for $14 and $9. All four should be ready by July.
Kodak on Wednesday contributed its share to the PMA imaging expo, launching a quartet of EasyShare cameras, writes Electronista. The Z712 IS (pictured) leads the introductions as the company's new fixed-lens flagship: the 7.1-megapixel camera features both 12x optical zoom and image stabilization to help in focusing shots. It also has the shortest shutter lag of any camera at its level, Kodak boasts, taking only 0.26 seconds to move from pressing the button to being ready for the next shot. The camera will ship in April for $300.
TiVo today announced that its Unbox on TiVo service had become available, fulfilling a promise made just a month earlier. New with the release are the addition of two new studios to the service: movies from MGM Studios and Sony Pictures will be available alongside those announced originally. New subscribers will also get $15 in free downloads if they sign up before May, Amazon says. The newly launched service lets customers of Amazon's online video store download purchased copies of movies and TV shows directly to a Series 2 or Series 3 TiVo at no extra charge, including the ability to remotely queue movies through the Web.
Chronos today announced the forthcoming release of iScrapbook, an application that enables users to design and print scrapbooks in a new way. Simple one-step tools let users quickly draw shapes, add graphics, and arrange as well as align and rotate objects. The software includes designer special effects, and offers more than 30 shapes with "smart controls" to aid in custom design creation. iScrapbook includes built-in rulers, project grid lines, snap-to-grid functionality, real-time alignment guides, and full zoom capability. Special effects include image cropping, and photo effects -- such as Sepia, shadows, transparency, and linear as well as circular gradients. The software ships with more than 100 smart-masks for use on both shapes and images to create fades and soft edges or to add texture. iScrapbook is slated for release next month, and is available for pre-order for $30 until the official release, after which the application price will jump to $50. iScrapbook requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Kodak on Wednesday contributed its share to the PMA imaging expo by launching a quartet of EasyShare cameras. The Z712 IS (pictured) leads the introductions as the company's new fixed-lens flagship: the 7.1-megapixel camera features both 12X optical zoom and image stabilization to help in focusing shots. It also has the shortest shutter lag of any camera at its level, Kodak boasts, taking only 0.26 seconds to move from pressing the button to being ready for the next shot. The camera will ship in April for $300.
Samsung this morning started shipping the SpinPoint MH80, the world's first readily available hybrid hard disk. The notebook drive includes either 128MB or 256MB of flash memory that automatically caches important system information to speed access and cut load times. The time to boot or resume a system is cut in half, the company claims. The drive also drops power consumption on Windows Vista PCs by 70 to 90 percent by using the ReadyBoost feature of the OS to store frequently-accessed files, giving notebooks roughly an extra 30 minutes of battery life. The MH80 will be available in 80GB, 120GB, and 160GB models that are already shipping to notebook PC designers. Upgrade versions sold individually should also be available in retail stores soon.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer today spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco, discussing the Apple TV and its role in the future of digital video. Oppenheimer said that DRM-free media would be benefit customers and promised more video content to help build Apple's ecosystem. We have a portion of the transcript with his answers to some questions about Apple TV, the company's set-top box that will ship later this month.
Now AAPL Stock: 140.64 ( -0.28 )
Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE