The marketing campaign for Apple's fourth revision of iChat may push the visual effects and presentations, but it will be the organizational features and extra feature support that win over Mac users wanting to leap to Mac OS X Leopard. That said, a few technical issues and a slightly awkward interface for some elements prevent the instant messaging software from becoming a perfect replacement. Our third segment explains in further detail.
Apple late Thursday posted iMac Software Update v1.3 for Leopard (21.6MB) and v1.2 for Tiger (13.3MB). The fix applies exclusively to 2.0GHz, 2.4GHz, and 2.8GHz aluminum iMacs and is officially said only to apply "important issue fixes" for the affected systems. Previous updates for the new iMacs have primarily focused on video drivers relating to random video freezing that Apple had promised it would fix in an impending update. The company also posted MacBook Pro Software Update 1.2 update, which it says improves graphics stability and is recommended for all MacBook Pro (Mid 2007, 2.4/2.2GHz) computers running Mac OS 10.4 Tiger. It is a 14.4MB download.
Quark has announced that early tests reveal compatibility for QuarkXPress 7.3 with Leopard. There is one exception, however: the Flash export in Quark Interactive Designer. Quark spokesperson Sarah Rector told MacNN "We chose to focus on optimizing the latest version of QuarkXPress because it offers our customers the greatest value, features and benefits. We plan on releasing a QuarkXPress 7 update with fully tested Leopard support within the next few weeks." Quark says the new release will be a free update for existing QuarkXPress 7 users and will be available to download from the Quark Web site. Of important note is that QuarkXPress 6.5 is not compatible with Leopard.
TypeIt4Me 3.2 ($27) the original text expander software for Mac OS. Apart from fixing a number of bugs and sporting a re-designed Settings tab, this release adds a number of new features, including: sorting by date created, modified and last used; sorting by number of times an abbreviation has been expanded; automatic replacement of " (double quotes) with "smart" quotes; easier creation of Applescript clippings and more. [Download - 2MB] RAGE MapDesign 1.2 ($20) provides a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) user interface that allows web developers to visually add hot spots to a single image file which links to multiple web pages. This release adds easy integration with popular web authoring packages including Rapidweaver. [Download - 9.6MB] DragThing 5.9.1 ($30) alternative dock application. It allows multiple docks, each customized to suit your exact needs. This version adds support for the Spaces feature on Leopard, and includes an option to specify that certain docks should appear in every space. It also includes a new dock theme, "No Glass", that matches the appearance of the side variant of the Leopard Dock. [Download - 8.1MB] iStat menus 1.2 (donationware) system statistics monitoring tool. This release includes processes monitoring, enhanced date & time (completely customizable format and "blaqua" skin option), enhanced network bandwidth monitoring (bandwidth graphs for each interface), better temperature and fan support, disk performance monitor (monitor disk performance over time), plus some Leopard only features.. [Download - 2.6MB] VelaClock Deluxe 2.1.1 ($16) a world clock widget with a highly configurable user interface. Users can quickly display the time of sunrise, sunset, or twilight, duration of daylight, moonrise, moonset, phase of moon, time zone information and more. The new release is fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and features updated Daylight Saving Time rules for Brazil, Egypt, Gaza and Iran. [Download - 1.6MB]
Pricing is the highest hurdle for Apple's iPhone amongst most consumers today, according to one study. Market research service provider GMI conducted a study measuring the features that most compel customers to purchase an iPhone, and gaged which iPhone features consumers dislike. The survey found that $100 iPhones would attract a colossal 88 percent of consumers to the device, and that a $200 iPhone would see an adoption rate of 68 percent. "We found that price was the biggest factor keeping people from buying an iPhone with the Apple-AT&T alliance a close second," researchers said. "We found that only 8 percent of consumers would by a $500 iPhone, but if the price dropped to $100 88 percent say they would buy the phone."
Apple has filed a new patent that describes a method for delivering different digital media content depending on where the user is located. The system would use GPS technology to determine a physical location, but could also understand a virtual or assigned location. So, for instance, a user in the United States could be shown an album listing in English, while a user in Mexico could see the same album listing in Spanish, based on automatic GPS sensing. Per the patent description, data can include media content data that effectively specifies, describes, identifies, includes, or references particular media content (e.g., a song, a list of songs, a directory) to be presented at a particular physical location, region, area, space, etc.
California-based manufacturer Sena released a new line of leather cases for the new iPod classic, Touch and Nano, alongside a set of cases for the iPhone. The cases are made from "fine-quality" European leather, and come in a variety of different styles and colors, starting at $20. Sena formed in 1999, initially offering cases for PDAs and cell phones, the company now manufactures cases for the full line-up of Apple's iPod media players, including the iPhone Ė which flew off the shelves when the device launched in late June.
Camera maker DXG has released the DXG-110, a compact model whose main attraction is intended to be price. The company is selling the 110 for $170, which is claimed to make it the first 10-megapixel camera to breach the $200 price barrier. The camera is in many other respects standard, with 3x zoom, 32MB of internal memory and an SD slot for main storage. ISO sensitivity extends up to 1600, and 30fps video can be recorded at VGA resolution. The rear LCD measures 2.5 inches; power is supplied by two AA batteries. DXG says it is now selling the 110 at retail and online, but no product page existed as of press time.
A number of consumer groups and legal scholars have united to petition the FCC over Comcast's bandwidth policies, the Associated Press reports. The news organization recently uncovered that Comcast has been sabotaging BitTorrent traffic, slowing it down or preventing it from functioning at all. Consumers Union, Media Access Project, the Consumer Federation of America and professors from Yale, Harvard and Stanford's law schools have come forward, asking the FCC to label Comcast in violation of government policy; two more groups, Free Press and Public Knowledge, are asking for a $195,000 fine per affected subscriber.
In the months leading up to the launch of Office 2008 for Mac OS X, Microsoft is launching a new promotion dubbed the "Suite Deal!" in which users can save up to $500 by purchasing qualifying Office 2004 for Mac products and receive a copy of Office 2008 for Mac Special Edition for the cost of shipping and handling ($7). The new promo ups the ante over its previously announced 'technology guarantee' by offering a free upgrade to the Special Edition version of the fully-native Mac Office 2008, which includes the Office 2008 applications as well as Microsoft Expression Media digital asset management system. Users who buy Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition, Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher Edition, or Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition Upgrade will receive Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition as a complimentary upgrade. Consumers in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico are eligible to cash in on this Super Suite Deal. The promotion is good through January 14, 2008,.
FileMaker today released FileMaker Pro 9.0v2 and FileMaker Pro 9.0v2 Advanced, enhancing its database software with improved support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. The update no longer crashes when creating files if hte file system language and region do not match, and returns the correct version on Mac OS X operating systems ending with double digit revision numbers like 10.4.10. The database consistency check initiated on launch will no longer incorrectly report that a database is damaged for some databases that users can open and use without any problems, and the update addresses issues that caused the application to crash when a page range was specified when printing. FileMaker Pro 9.0v2 and FileMaker Pro 9.0v2 Advanced are available as downloadable updates to registered users of version 9.0.
Carphone Warehouse, Europe's biggest independent mobile phone retailer, claims it is expecting to sell up to 10,000 iPhones when the device goes on sale in Great Britain next week. The iPhone will be sold through O2 UK and be made available through retail outlets like Carphone Warehouse (alongside Apple retail outlets and the online Apple store) starting November 9th at 6PM local time. Darren Gardner, head of wireless UK at Carphone Warehouse, told Reuters that with around 800 stores across the country "We will hope to represent a big share of what is sold." The device will be available for £269 without any rebates or subsidy and will be offered with three separate plans: £35, £45 and £55 per month.
Verizon today formalized the launch of the BlackBerry Pearl 8130, the company's first Pearl model. The design holds close to the reference model with a 2-megapixel camera, 3G data access through EVDO, and an externally accessible microSDHC card slot that holds up to 8GB of music, videos, and other data. The candybar phone's signature GPS is intact and can be used with Verizon's VZ Navigator GPS service to find routes using NavTeq-supplied maps. New software on the phone lets it stream video over the web using 3GPP from sites such as YouTube's mobile website.
(Confirmed, see update below) MySpace could upset the balance of the social networking sphere by joining OpenSocial, claims a report from Silicon Alley Insider. The Bay Area publication claims that MySpace would join the Google-run initiative as early as today and would modify some of its code to work with the platform, allowing programmers to write a single web app that could run on the major network without neglecting several smaller but still influential social networks, including LinkedIn.
The expected launch of the Samsung F700 touchscreen phone with Verizon may reduce the device's functionality by the time it reaches American shores, according to purported internal sources in contact with Phone Arena. The new information corroborates earlier reports which suggested Verizon would use the handset as a response to the iPhone, but indicates both a new name and a reduced feature set: the Americanized version would be called the U940 and shed the 3-megapixel camera in favor of a 2-megapixel model. As before, the U940 would need to adopt CDMA phone network support and EVDO access to function on the new network.
Apple's iPhone has been selected as TIME's Invention of the Year, the magazine has announced. Five reasons are cited: on a superficial level, the iPhone is said to be extremely attractive, taking account of design touches that many technology companies do not consider, but which make a device more interesting to paying customers as well as easier to use. Secondly, the phone's touchscreen interface is said to be the first to genuinely combine a touchscreen with natural motions, such as flicking through album covers or "stretching" photos.
ModMyiFone.com, formerly ModMyiPhone.com, this week announced a change in its name and website URL, due to legal pressure from Apple. Although the summary posted in its forums indicate that Apple does not believe ModMyiFone.com is intentionally trying to confuse anyone by using the term iPhone in its name, Apple is still requiring the site to comply with its demands so that customers are not under the impression that ModMyiFone.com is affiliated with the electronics manufacturer.
As a part of its incoming 905i series, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo is introducing a new Sony Ericsson phone, the Cyber-shot SO905iCS. The phone's primary feature is a 5.1-megapixel camera, which is also equipped with flash and 3x optical zoom, allowing it to serve as a genuine replacement for a separate compact. The phone is well-equipped in other areas too however, such as through built-in GPS functions, and access to FOMA 3G broadband. Its 2.7-inch screen is capable of 480x640 resolution, and the battery should last over 21 days on standby mode (without other use).
Apple has begun offering its RAID controller cards as a separate upgrade for its Mac Pro high-end desktop systems. Mac OS X already allows users to stripe two, three, or four hard drives in a RAID 0 array for increased performance with a large storage capacity. The operating system also supports RAID 1 mirroring for protecting critical data against drive failure, while the new Mac Pro RAID card supports hardware RAID levels 0, 1, 5, and 0+1. The new card features 256MB of RAID cache, a 72-hour cache protecting battery, and sequential read performance of up to 304MB/sec in RAID 0 or up to 199MB/sec in RAID 5 without the need for any external drive enclosures. Apple's new Mac Pro RAID card is available via the online store as a configuration option for new Mac Pro purchases, adding $1,000 to the price of potential Mac Pro purchases.
Accessory designer Mad Catz today announced that it would be updating its AirDrives earbuds for the iPhone. The change will bring an in-line microphone as well as a button that automatically switches between music and an inbound call, allowing a user to answer without pausing the music in software. The upgraded listening devices will maintain the unique design that the company claims eliminates much of the quality of in-canal earbuds while allowing enough background noise to walk safely around busy streets.
Apple has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a "data-driven" page layout application. The filing notes that writing custom pages in languages like XML can often take time, even if using templates, since these still require building the code, and knowing enough to fix it if the template is somehow broken. Apple's technology instead suggests a way of producing pages based on previously created ones, pulling out structural objects and "relationships" from them, while still allowing users to edit the new pages in a graphical interface.
InFocus on Thursday sent word of the Work Big IN15. The firm's latest DLP projector is made specifically for travelers and is designed for a relatively easy fit in a bag alongside a notebook with a case under 1.7 inches tall and a 3.9-pound weight. In spite of this size, the unit is roughly a quarter brighter than its IN12 predecessor and puts out a full 2,500 lumens of brightness, allowing it to display an image even in some brighter rooms. Native resolution tops out at XGA (1024x768) but will scale 1280x1024 images from computers and HD video up to 720p or 1080i.
Wal-Mart will temporarily achieve the lowest price ever for an HD-capable movie player when it launches a new promo this Friday, according to the company's holiday ad. The retailer expects to sell the Toshiba HD-A2 for just $99 when the deal begins, undercutting the company's already discounted $200 price for the HD DVD player. The move is known to be an attempt to clear stock for third-generation players and will mean limited stock of the movie reader at each store that can host the sale, Wal-Mart says. Some stores have already run out and are not expected to honor the deal, though a map of these stores is unavailable.
Elgato has released an update for EyeTV, its TV streaming, recording and encoding software. Version 2.5.1 should download automatically when the proram is next launched, and is meant to take advantage of Leopard's new features. EyeTV recordings can now be properly browsed in Cover Flow, and can also be played directly from Finder, using Quick Look. When using iChat, recordings can be inserted into video conversations, with voice commentary on top if desired. Lastly, EyeTV windows for both live TV and recordings can be set to "float" between Spaces, avoiding interruptions. EyeTV costs $56 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 along with a compatible tuning peripheral.
Second-largest American cellular carrier Verizon today announced a new structure for its data services that could provide the company's phones with better data services ahead of the LG Voyager and other Internet-centric, but non-smartphone, devices aimed at Apple's iPhone. The provider has eliminated the minimum $5 charge for its Mobile Web access on Nationwide plans; any device with a 1XRTT or EVDO Internet connection can now use some services without incurring extra data charges, such as the V CAST music store or VZ Navigator assisted GPS mapping. Costs are also potentially lower for users who only occasionally use data, Verizon says: users of the most basic plans are charged $2 per megabyte and can pay that minimum amount for browsing, e-mail, or downloading common add-ons like ringtones.
An unintended side-effect of the iPhone may be higher prices for smartphones in general, analysts suggest. Richard Windsor of Nomura Securities argues that the iPhone has an unusually high-end feature set, lack of 3G notwithstanding; it is for instance capable of desktop-like graphics, where many phones have primitive menus. Were other carriers to add dedicated graphics chips from companies such as AMD and Nvidia, this alone could add $10 to a smartphone's raw costs, for which shoppers would be charged several times that amount.
AT&T today launched the Moto Q Global, its own adaptation of Motorola's Q 9h smartphone. The Global is the first Q at AT&T that can download at 3G speeds on AT&T's HSPA network, theoretically peaking at 3.6Mbps. It also brings native GPS, a 2-megapixel camera, and microSDHC card support up to 32GB. New to any Moto Q model is the concept of a My Q Pak, according to both AT&T and Motorola. Rather than offer programs individually, a Q Pak offers a bundle of programs linked by their theme, such as the Fun Seeker pack with five games (including Bejeweled) or the Road Warrior collection that helps track flight times or stocks. Buying a Moto Q Global grants free use of one of the bundles for up to a year.
Operating outside of its normal upgrade schedule, Apple today quietly upgraded the performance of its MacBooks and added new performance options for its MacBook Pro models. The former, 13-inch systems are now based on the Intel Santa Rosa platform used by the recent MacBook Pro and run on a faster 800MHz system bus in addition to using faster GMA X3100 integrated graphics, which add improved hardware 3D acceleration compared to the GMA 950 used in previous models. The improved bus speed has led to a slight increase in processor speed from 2.16GHz to 2.2GHz for the mid-range $1,299 and high-end $1,499 models.
Sonnet Technologies this week announced a new product in its Carapace family Ė The Carapace keyboard cover for the new wired aluminum Apple keyboards. The cover is made from clear silicone, and is custom-molded to fit each key on US and international keyboards. The company advertises that, unlike other silicone keyboard covers, the Carapace features a special coating that gives it a natural feel, and provides anti-static features so as to not attract dust. The Carapace for the wired aluminum keyboards is currently shipping, available for $25.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
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
XCOM 2 ships on Steam for Mac, Windows
Feral Interactive today announced that the highly anticipated turn-based strategy game XCOM 2 is out now for OS X and Windows, and is available to buy through Steam and through the Mac App Store shortly. The sequel to the popular XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 is available as a standalone base game and as the XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition. The XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition comprises the base game, the Reinforcement Pack and the XCOM 2 digital soundtrack. Versions start at $60. http://bit.ly/1KuEFsX