Apple is among the US electronic companies with combined annual sales of $160 billion urging the government to approve four pending free trade agreement deals, claiming that they are crucial to continuing economic growth. In addition to Apple, Sony Corp, Intel Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Microsoft Corp are among those lobbying under the umbrella of the Consumer Electronics Association. Reuters reports that although Congress is expected to soon approve a free trade pact with Peru, many Democrats are strongly opposed to similar deals with Colombia and South Korea. "They criticize Colombia's record on human rights and say the auto provisions of the Korean pact would too heavily favor Seoul."
Apple hasn't been serious about gaming for the past several years and isn't serious about the industry now, according to Valve Software co-founder Gabe Newell. The executive who helped found one of the most successful entertainment software and technology company's explains how talks with Apple over the years always seem to peter out into nothing, and that at each meeting Apple produces a different group of people who appear to know nothing of the talks conducted during the last group from a year prior. "They [Apple] seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for [Apple] platforms."
Apple has released a battery update (version 1.3) for 15" MacBook Pros that the company says addresses battery performance issues with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Instructions state that your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source while running this update. Also, after the Battery Update has been installed, any additional batteries you put in your 15-inch MacBook Pro are automatically updated. Installation of Battery Update 1.3 requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later.
IK Multimedia has begun shipping SampleMoog, the first release of the new Sonik Instruments' range, and is a cooperation between IK Multimedia, Moog Music and Sonic Reality. SampleMoog includes the sounds of all the Moog synthesizers spanning the entire Moog history, in a virtual instrument powered by SampleTank and is available as a plug-in for popular DAWs and as a standalone application for Mac OS X. The Moog collection includes over 1,700 basses, leads, pads and effects' sounds from the very first Moog Modular systems to a variety of different Minimoogs to Taurus Bass Pedals, Polymoogs, Memorymoogs and more. There are over 600 multi-sampled sounds with over 1,000 preset patches totaling more than 4GB of samples in SampleMoog.
Widespread anecdotes, including those of MacNN's own staff, indicate that many owners of Apple's new aluminum iMacs are experiencing severe interface lockups. Multiple discussion threads in Apple's own support forums suggest that many iMacs are occasionally ceasing to accept input, despite programs and Mac OS X itself continuing to run in the background. Some users are reporting that cursors and some keyboard commands may remain functional, but that interaction is extremely limited. In all cases, the only firm solution has been a manual reboot.
Microsoft is hoping to distinguish the Zune MP3 Marketplace from other DRM-free stores by eliminating the digital watermarks that trace songs back to their individual buyers, according to the company. The Redmond-based firm will sell its unguarded MP3 files that should be the same for every user. This contrast sharply with Apple's iTunes Plus songs, which drop copy protection but add account data that could theoretically be used to track a pirated copy to its original source. Other stores selling MP3s, including the eMusic audiobook service, either use similar watermarks or less direct forms of fingerprinting to follow their paid downloads.
Prosoft Engineering and Bare Reef today announced that Prosoft has acquired myStock for an undisclosed sum, and said the purchase will aid Prosoft in its development of a stock portfolio monitoring application for Mac users. The new software, titled Stox, is slated for release under the new JoeSoft brand later this month. Under the new agreement, Prosoft will take on all future development and support for the product line and Stox will supersede all current and prior versions of myStock. The company also promises all current users of myStock "aggressive" upgrade pricing direct from JoeSoft's website.
Several top companies in the mobile hardware and software business today announced work on a new, Linux-based platform for ARM processors that would serve as the foundation for cellphones, media players, and other pocket devices. Chipmakers Marvell, Samsung, and Texas Instruments would be joined by software developers such as Mozilla to develop a common base that would use the open-source nature of Linux, the Gnome Mobile user interface, and Mozilla's Firefox browser to let hardware makers quickly add Internet and media features to handhelds.
Through its South Korean Cyon brand, LG is planning a near-future release of a new slider phone, the KH1600. The company has so far kept mum on its specifications -- the focus is on its WCDMA receiver, which will reputedly allow it to connect in over 120 countries. This claim may, by extension, suggest that it has HSDPA, and that it could come to North America in a different incarnation. In terms of design, close examination reveals a front-mounted video camera, as well as a metallic frame and large-buttoned keypads. The price is confirmed to be 300,000 won ($328). [via Akihabara News]
Garmin today updated its Garmin Mobile offerings with Mobile XT, a new software package for smartphones that provides navigation without the subscription fee that often comes attached to similar services. A preloaded microSD card comes with not just the program but a set of preloaded maps of North America and Europe. Any compatible phone can use its GPS hardware to plot driving routes and locate points of interest as though it were a dedicated Garmin device; users are even presented with the same opening screen as on a Nuvim the company boasts. The software also takes advantage of its inherent connection to the Internet and lets users share either their immediate location to any phone or the coordinates for a new route to a fellow XT user. Gas prices, weather, and other information is also updated live, Garmin adds.
In brief: The wireless Apple Bluetooth keyboard is shipping, REAL World registration has been opened, a GUITAR RIG 3 demo version is now available, the iPhone is featured in a new TV show, and the Boa.XM MacBook Pro case has debuted ... Purchasers of the Apple wireless bluetooth aluminum keyboard have received notifications that their units have shipped from the factory and will arrive shortly. Meanwhile, the Apple Store still shows a ship time of 1-2 weeks. The keyboard is priced at $80 and features an ultra-thin anodized aluminum enclosure with low-profile keys. It also has function keys for one-touch access to a variety of Mac features such as screen brightness, volume, eject, play/pause, fast-forward and rewind, Expose, and Dashboard.
Following a North American debut through Canada, Sony Ericsson's W580i (reviewed here) is at last coming to the United States through AT&T. As a Walkman phone, the 580i focuses heavily on music, featuring special playback software, an FM tuner and higher-quality earbuds; the battery can provide up to 20 hours of music playback, or nine hours of call-time. On its new network, the phone can identify songs through either Sony Ericsson's TrackID or AT&T's own Music ID service, and it will come preloaded with an AT&T music folder and a MEdiaNet web browser. The phone is expected to be available across the US this month, at a cost of $270 list or as low as $80 after a rebate and two-year contract.
US cell provider Verizon will soon let its subscribers change their plans without forcing them to pay more in the process, the company has revealed this week. A policy change set to take effect on October 7th will allow customers to scale their level of service up or down in mid-contract without signing a new agreement, allowing customers to bypass the extra monthly fees or else the early termination fee required to end a contract early. The change would bring Verizon's cellphone subscription policies on a similar level with those from Alltel, which already allows these changes, but would provide an improvement over incumbents such as AT&T.
Duracell on Wednesday released the Mobile Charger for travelers who regularly need to power USB-based handhelds regardless of where they might be. Said to be a step up from most chargers of its kind, the new device is the only one to offer three different power delivery methods. Loading NiMH rechargeable batteries will power iPods, cellphones, and other low-power devices in almost any location; as a unique alternative, owners can either plug the Mobile Charger into a wall plug as a substitute for the device's normal power source or into a car's 12-volt (cigarette) port to recharge from the car's battery. If used with Duracell's bundled pre-charged NiMH batteries, the charger is not only ready to work immediately but can be left alone for up to a year while retaining a charge, the battery maker claims.
ConceptDraw 7.4 ($300) vector drawing and diagramming software package. The new release is designed to work with Leopard and implements Quick Look allowing to preview ConceptDraw documents and find necessary charts and diagrams on a computer. It is due to ship October 16th, 2007. A new feature called Drawing Navigator has also been added. [Download - form] Path Finder 4.8 ($35) file browser. The new release has Leopard-esque interface redesign, taking cues from the upcoming release of Mac OS X 10.5. "Per-folder" view settings Path Finder 4.8 now has the ability to remember and store view options (e.g. column / icon / list view, sorting, font and color settings, etc.) on an individual / per-folder basis. [Download - 20MB] Dupin v1.0.1 ($15) assists with locating, sorting, filtering, and deleting duplicate tracks in iTunes. You can quickly find all sets of duplicate iTunes tracks based on your choice of criteria and select the "Keeper" tracks from among a number of duplicates automatically using a variety of versatile filtering options. The new release fixes an issue with displaying dates according to International preferences. [Download - 1.8MB] WebBook 2.2. ($70) provides a mechanism to share a single Mac OS X address book with a department or a company. With virtual no configuration, WebBook shares an Mac OS X address book by means of a simple web-browser user interface. Thus, any Mac OS X, Windows or Linux user uses a central address book. Version 2.2 adds a German localization. [Download - 5.8MB] Proper Fraction Pro 2.0 ($75) script to format fractions in Adobe InDesign. This major release adds new features such as automatic formatting of all fractions in a document or selection, apply OpenType fraction formatting or apply a thin stroke to the numerator and denominator for better looking fractions, custom kerning, a preferences window to edit settings, and more. There is also a free version of the script available for download that lacks all of the advanced features.
Record label Sony BMG's current stance on piracy would label even typical fair use practices as illegal, according to testimony from one of the company's legal experts in an anti-piracy lawsuit. Litigation head Jennifer Pariser remarked during the case that any instance of copying songs from one medium to another was considered stealing, regardless of whether the listener had already bought the music or a common understanding of fair use, which is not enshrined in law but has been established as a legal precedent.
WiebeTech today announced new additions to its RTX TrayFree storage enclosures, with new units offering up to eight drive bays. The company's RTX "TrayFree" technology allows users to insert bare 3.5-inch SATA hard drives without trays or screws. The company's RTX JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) enclosures are designed to act like floppy drives, enabling users to easily swap drives in and out at need. RAID units allow users to swap out an entire volume set in less than 60 seconds, according to WiebeTech, and iSCSI (SCSI over IP) combine SCSI protocols with an Ethernet connection to access drives at up to Gigabit speeds for transfer speeds of up to 100MB/sec. WiebeTech's RTX400 FireWire/JBOD enclosure ($1,100) features eight FireWire 800 ports -- two for each bay -- and four USB ports. The RTX600 iSCSI RAID system ($2,850) includes six bays with shock protection and supports RAID levels 0, 1+0, 3, 5, 6, and JBOD configurations.
Previously seen only in FCC filings made public in July, official photos and details have been released for Vertu's ultra-luxurious Ascent Ti phone. Its name derives from a titanium chassis, but the phone also has sapphire face layer and a cowhide back, the latter being available in black, red or brown. Performance features include quad-band GSM and unspecified 3G, along with a three-megapixel camera; the biggest addition however is "Vertu Fortress," the ability to sync notes, contacts and calendars with a server located in an English bunker.
CodeWeavers today released CrossOver Mac 6.2 and CrossOver Linux 6.2, delivering a significant speed increase for Outlook on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and adding support for the hit game title Team Fortress II out of the box. CrossOver Mac 6.2 users running Outlook on Mac OS X Leopard can expect a 50 percent speed increase on average over CrossOver Mac 6.1, according to the company, which has prepared a Web video comparing the experiences of those gamers using CrossOver vs. its competitors: VMWare and Parallels. "Frankly, this speed increase comes courtesy of Apple Computer, as we worked with them to identify and implement a fix in Leopard that helps our core compatibility technology -- Wine -- run to its full potential," said Jeremy White, CEO of CodeWeavers. Both versions of CrossOver are already shipping, according to CodeWeavers, with CrossOver Mac priced at $60 and CrossOver Linux Standard available for $40.
Canada's Research in Motion is rumored to be working on a new BlackBerry which would combine several advancements into the same phone. Most prominent among these is the addition of "true" 3G broadband, in the form of HSDPA, which typically supports speeds up to 3.6Mbps. By contrast, the recently-launched Pearl 8130 (pictured) is limited to speeds of 2.4Mbps and lower. The other major advancement is a switch to a 600MHz processor, which is substantially faster than the chips in most cellphones, which average between 200 and 400MHz. This should eliminate any interface lag.
Palm's first major mobile OS release in years has been pushed back even further, the company's chief Ed Colligan has revealed to the press. While it continues to base the new Centro and other smartphones on the Palm OS, the anticipated Linux-based version of the software is not set to launch with a shipping phone until late 2008 -- several months later than planned and the first significant change to the OS since 5.4. Palm OS 5 was originally released in 2002 but has received only minor feature upgrades since then to support new displays and other technology.
Stellar Information Systems has released the next incarnation of its data recovery software, Phoenix Macintosh v2.0. The program salvages data from damaged, deleted and corrupted volumes, and supports HFS file systems including HFS+, HFSX and HFS Wrapper. Features of the program include the ability to create disk images, and an Advanced Search function, which increases the odds of detecting data. Phoenix also sports a file recovery tool, which can restore over 50 file types such as movies and applications; by using Enhanced Photo Recovery, owners can retrieve RAW images from cameras by Canon, Nikon, Olympus and others.
Although Microsoft's announcement of the new Zunes targeted only November for their US debut, the devices now have an approximate release date, according to a listing by Amazon. The online retailer expects the Zune 80 as well as the flash-based Zune 4 and Zune 8 to be available by November 13th, almost exactly a year after the original launch. Pre-orders are already being accepted at Microsoft's asking prices ranging between $150 and $250. The Zune 30 is already available as it remains unchanged from the initial version aside from an expected software upgrade.
Fox has added Family Guy, Season 6 to Apple's iTunes Store, bringing the hit television series to loyal fans everywhere. The comedy cartoon follows an American family with an oaf husband, his loving wife who occasionally shows a neurotic side; 16-year-old Meg who often becomes the source of other family members' jokes; 13-year-old Chris who seems to follow his father's footsteps; 1-year-old Stewie, an exceptionally intelligent baby with an eye to take over the world; and Brian, the family dog who enjoys dry martinis and dumb blondes. Season six will feature guest voice appearances by Paris Hilton, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. As usual, individual episodes are priced at $1.99. The show airs Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. on FOX.
Aprelium Technologies has announced a new release of the Abyss Web Server, version 2.5. The new edition offers secure SSL/HTTPS connections as well as an integrated interface to manage, self-sign, and import SSL certificates. The server also supports CGI/FastCGI, ISAPI extensions, Server Side Includes (SSI), native ASP.NET (on Windows), custom error pages, URL rewriting, access control, aliases, custom directory listings, anti-leeching, and bandwidth throttling and can host and run PHP, Perl, Python, ASP, Ruby on Rails and ASP.NET Web applications which can be backed by databases such as MySQL, MS SQL Server, and Oracle. The tool also includes a feature that detects and dynamically bans suspicious visitors to help prevent DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. There are two flavors of the software, a free personal edition Abyss Web Server X1: it can only host a single site and is available for download. A professional edition called Abyss Web Server X2 that is priced at $60.
WestinTech, a company specializing in anti-theft software, has debuted its latest program, Verey. The package is specifically aimed at Mac desktop systems, and helps to safeguard them by sending out notifications when a system is stolen. Alerts are normally sent out via e-mail, but Twitter integration allows updates via SMS, instant messaging or the web. Inside an alert is important tracking information, such as the IP and MAC addresses, as well the serial number and nearby Wi-Fi networks. The program will also attempt to record video clips, using an iSight or another attached camera.
Samsung today announced it was shipping the US version of the 940UX, the company's first display to offer USB as an alternative to conventional video input. The 19-inch screen draws on both its own hardware as well as the CPU power of a host PC to drive the display without the use of an internal video card. Even a notebook can run up to six of the displays if its processing power is fast enough, according to Samsung's technical details. Both DVI and VGA connections let any computer or device use the 940UX without the performance overhead.
Helio has quietly dropped the Drift from its lineup and may be replacing it with one of Samsung's more popular phones in its Korean homeland, according to a combination of leaked data from the US government. Now back to three devices, Helio last month filed a new trademark for the word Mysto that would apply to a cellphone, indicating the future name for one of its handsets. While the name does not immediately apply to any known model, a recent FCC filing has revealed a Samsung-made device for Helio's network which will most likely bear the name upon its release in the West. Few clues have so far been revealed other than its support for Bluetooth and EV-DO Internet access.
Case specialist WaterField has announced two new cases, both designed for Apple's thin new wireless keyboard. The Keyboard Sleeve uses neoprene cushioning, and has a water-resistant shell, along with a rubberized base for better grip. Aside from the Short version for the wireless keyboard, people can also buy a Long version for the wired equivalent. The Keyboard Travel Case is designed solely for the wireless keyboard, meanwhile, but has space for other laptop accessories, namely a power supply, power cord, and a mouse. The case is further equipped with self-locking zippers, and a separated front pocket. Both new cases should ship next week, and will come in black, blue, brown, green, red or silver; the Sleeves are $37 and $39, while the Travel Case is $49.
Accessory maker Sonnet Technologies has released a new PCI Express adapter, the Tango Express 800. The card allows Mac and PC owners to connect several FireWire and USB devices to their computer at once, and specifically plays host to three FireWire 800 and three USB 2.0 ports, the latter being divided into one internal and two external connections. Several devices can be active simultaneously, and each one is hot-swappable. Mac users have the additional ability to use FireWire's target disk mode. Macs supported by the Express include the Mac Pro, Xserve, and dual-core PowerMac G5, running Mac OS X 1.4.10; PCs must be running Windows Vista or XP SP2. The adapter is selling for $130.
Verizon today launched its most concerted effort yet to respond to the iPhone and to improve its music phone lineup with four new devices. The carrier began with its most ambitious device ever, the LG Voyager. Also known as the VX10000, the handset is one of LG's first touchscreen phones to target the US and includes a more iPhone-like interface based on that of the Prada phone; users can place calls, play AAC/MP3/WMA music, and take 2-megapixel photos almost exclusively from the screen. However, the device is also one of the first LG touch models to offer a keyboard alternative: flipping open the device reveals a lengthwise QWERTY keyboard and a secondary screen for e-mail, text messaging, and games. It also supports V CAST TV for live digital TV viewing and stores as much as 8GB of media on a microSDHC card.
Apple may switch from a custom architecture for the iPhone to an Intel reference design once the technology falls into place, according to early reports from part makers. Although a teardown of the first run of the iPhone revealed that it uses an ARM-based processor and a custom mainboard, the company is said to be investigating a switch to Intel's future mobile Internet device (MID) architecture known as Moorestown. The new platform is based on a much cooler 45-nanometer manufacturing process than the chips in today's handheld PCs and would not only be ten times more power-efficient in active use than the first Intel handhelds but would consume ten times less power while idle -- which could allow for nearly all-day battery life, according to Intel.
As part of its sweeping changes to the Zune line, Microsoft today greatly expanded the social aspects of its media players. A new addition, called simply the Zune Social, aims to bring social networking to the digital media player space. Accessed from the Zune's rewritten media player software, the service lets fellow Zune owners share music across the Internet rather than just each other's WiFi networks; members can not only create profiles but view recent playlists and buy their tracks, send and receive recommendations, and show the biggest fans of a particular artist to find new friends. The service is currently in beta but will be available to any Zune user with the updated software, which launches this fall.
Microsoft on Wednesday released its promised update to the Zune, adding a completely new flash-based series as well as a major upgrade to its hard disk model. The entire range now becomes one of the first major media player lines to support media sync over WiFi and will receive music, photos, and videos over a local network. Microsoft's controversial restrictions on wireless sharing between Zunes have also been partially lightened, according to the company: while shared songs are still limited to three plays, users can keep shared songs for an unlimited amount of time. All players now also get podcast subscription support (including WiFi sharing), native support for H.264 and MPEG-4 video, and a from-scratch reinvention of the Zune media player software which more closely matches the Zune's own interface and provides quicker access to the store and new social networking features.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive, Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl