In brief: We have a review of the Boynq sabre iPod stereo speaker, MacForce will hold an Aperture 2.0 meeting, new MacBook Air, Mac Pro performance comparisons are available, and MediaCentral has expanded its entertainment channels ... We have posted a review of the Boynq sabre iPod stereo speaker . The sabre is a lightweight iPod stereo speaker that weighs only 1.63 pounds, so itís very portable, but does not have a battery compartment. It looks a bit like an unrolled tube of paper, with the dock sitting on the front flap. Six dock inserts accommodate all iPods with a Dock port. Four buttons also grace the front. The Power button lights up brightly when the unit is on. The other three buttons control the volume, treble, and bass. The little dot that marks the position of the knob is very difficult to see unless youíre very close to the unit.
Textco BioSoftware today released an enhanced beta version of Gene Construction Kit (GCK 3.0), its DNA plasmid mapping software. The update features new modules for PCR Analysis, Automated Shotgun Cloning, and integrated Web Searching for performing biological related queries across numerous internet data repositories -- including KEGG, EntrezGene, PDB, PFAM, and more. Users interested in trying out Gene Construction Kit must fill out a beta test form. The beta release requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Live Interior 1.5 ($80) lets users design house, office, apartment, and other interiors with realistic 3D walk-throughs. Live Interior 3D 1.5 update adds lamp creating functionality. Now you can compose and edit various lamps using Light Source Editor, insert and adjust different types of light sources in any objects including imported ones. [Download - 49.4MB] MBS REALbasic plug-ins 8.1 ($270) a collection of several plug-in parts which extend the REALbasic development environment with over 900 classes and 2 controls featuring over 17000 documented functions. This release adds: new ThreadMBS class for crossplatform preemptive threads in REALbasic; MutexMBS class to work with the ThreadMBS class; IKImageEditPanelMBS class to use the image edit panel from Apple. [Download - 80.4MB] PasswordWallet 4.3.3 ($10) password management application. PasswordWallet for iPhone gives you access to your passwords on your iPhone: ninternet connection or hacks required. †And it's all secured with 448-bit BlowFish. Version 4.3.3 adds localizations for French and Japanese.†Also included is the "Synchronize Files" Automator Action that is Leopard compatible; smoothed import from Splash ID; explicit Read Only warnings if your data is read from a read-only disk or permissions are askew; other improvements. [Download - 2.4MB] KeyCue 4.1 ($30) keyboard shortcut cheat sheet. This release adds two high-contrast large-font themes to make KeyCue even more helpful for visually impaired users. The new version also offers an automatic update checking system, which ensures timely access to updates for future versions. KeyCue 4.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or newer and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). [Download - 922KB] Power Manager 3.7.1 ($30) helps schools, businesses, and homes save energy by automating their Macs. Power Manager 3.7.2 includes an improved Quick Schedule interface, tweaked icons for Mac OS X 10.5's menu bar gradient, and a bug fix for rescheduled events. It also fixes a critical bug that could cause events to be skipped. This bug potentially occurred when delaying or altering an event. [Download - 1.7MB]
Mark/Space today released The Missing Sync for iPhone 1.0.1 alongside an updated version of SyncTogether. The Missing Sync for iPhone allows users to quickly load and archive data on an iPhone. The software supports syncing calendar, contacts, photos, and more from another cellular handset to an iPhone while allowing usrs to archive SMS messages as well as call logs and notes. The Missing Sync for iPhone 1.0.1 is priced at $40, with crossgrades available for $25. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later.
Apple today unveiled a firmware fix for MacBook and MacBook Pro owners, remedying some long-standing keyboard issues. The update says it addresses a problem where the computer would ignore the first key pressed after a period of inactivity, also addressing "some other issues", according to the supplied literature. Some users were having similar issues, but related to typing in a text field, regardless of whether or not the computer had been sitting idle.
T-Mobile has announced an unlimited cellular plan to compete with similar offerings by AT&T and Verizon, both of which have already unveiled similar plans. The $100 monthly plan brings T-Mobile up to speed by offering its customers unlimited calling in the US, including roaming and long distance. Unlike the rival plans, the newest addition also includes text messaging without requiring an extension. T-Mobile offers the plan to customers for most of its phones as of Thursday.
Mark/Space today released SyncTogether 1.0.2, an update to the software that synchronizes various types of data with multiple Macs. The latest release brings compatibility for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, allowing users of Apple's latest operating system to take advantage of SyncTogether's features. A single SyncTogether license supports three macs, requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later, and is priced at $50.
Nokia may finally tip its hand as to its first WiMAX-enabled tablet, according to a sighting in a Best Buy ad by members of the Internet Tablet Talk community. Superficially a variant on the existing N810 Internet tablet, the device (labeled at once the N810 and N830) uses the black and metal trim style seen on phones such as the N96. While additional information is scarce, the finish and model number are unique among the N800 series and may point to the promised WiMAX tablet for the launch of Sprint's Xohm service.
The concept of a Google-developed phone, generally dismissed once the company revealed its Android platform, may in fact be very real, according to tech columnist Robert Cringley. The writer cites an unidentified source, who says that two so-called "gPhones" are being created with help by Samsung. Both should feature Wi-Fi, with the first expected to ship in September, and the second coming sometime after Christmas.
Best known for his DeCSS routine that bypassed DVD encryption, Jon Lech Johansen and his startup company doubleTwist today launched a new utility they hope will all but eliminate the restrictions that normally block transferring music and videos between devices. Just referred to as doubleTwist Desktop, the app is designed to share and sync media regardless of the format and uses intelligent converters to produce more universal formats out of sometimes proprietary files.
Representatives at Sony Europe have announced a new series of Walkman media players, the NWZ-A820s (not pictured). Each is equipped with a 2.4-inch QVGA screen, capable of displaying video at up to 30fps; for more comfortable viewing, orientation on images can be switched between left, right or vertical. Supported video types include MPEG-4 and H.264/AVC, although photos are limited to the JPEG format.
Aspyr is shipping the long-awaited sequel to Neverwinter Nights next week, a massive role-playing game based on the Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. Players can completely configure their game experience, choosing from a variety of alignments, friends, and enemies, As well as classes and races. Starting as a fledgling peasant, players fight their way to become the hero of the realms. Neverwinter Nights 2 will be available for $50.
(Update 2 with iPhone and BlackBerry/Windows Mobile rates) Quickly following a similar move by Verizon, cellular carrier AT&T today said it would introduce an unlimited plan of its own. The $100 monthly agreement allows subscribers to call anywhere within the US without the long distance or roaming charges that normally come with service, regardless of the length of the call. Data and MMS/SMS messaging services are not included but can be added to the plan at either $15 for data or $20 for texting.
Universal Pictures today was quick to seize on Toshiba's end to HD DVD by announcing that it would stop producing movies in the now-obsolete format. The news confirms earlier hints and reveals that the movie studio will switch its entire schedule to Blu-ray for HD releases, including both new titles, back catalog releases, as well as movies that were previously available at the higher resolution only on HD DVD. The move is necessary as the format for HD video has "finally become clear," says Universal's digital production chief Craig Kornblau.
NLU Products today unveiled the BodyGuardz protection kit for the MacBook Air, constructed from transparent plastic film, which the company says is the same material that protects cars from stone chips. The kit includes a top, bottom, trackpad, and wrist rest protectors, with each piece also available separately. A cleaning/application solution and squeegee card are also bundled with the kit. NLU is selling the kit for $50, while the separate pieces are available for $15 to $25.
HP's inaugural UMPC has already been photographed and received its first early details, according to a leak from Engadget. Resembling a compact notebook rather than the handhelds normally associated with the concept, the Compaq-branded UMPC 2133 will run an 8.9-inch, 1366x768 widescreen display and a nearly full-size keyboard that runs edge to edge. Also defying the normal limits of such computers, a full ExpressCard/54 slot should provide expansion for networking, storage, and other peripherals. Storage is built-in and should include the option of a solid-state drive.
Gameloft may have unintentionally let slip about the first downloadable iPhone game during CEO Michel Guillemot's keynote at the GDC Mobile conference. According to UK-based Pocket Gamer, the device was seen in several slides during the keynote presentation, featuring what the publication thinks is a game based on Sega's NiGHTS, or alternately an enhanced version of Pop Superstar. While the news is unofficial, Gameloft is a likely choice as a launch partner for iPhone games, due to the company's success with games on the iPod.
Linkin Park and Apple are putting together a "secret" concert in New York City, according to band member Mike Shinoda. He writes on his blog that the band had recently won its second German Echo award, and is preparing to play a sold-out show in Madison Square Gardens, before briefly mentioning the "secret" project. According to AppleInsider, this could potentially coincide with a highly rumored Apple event, but is unlikely, since Apple has not sent out invitations.
Microsoft is indeed planning to pursue a "proxy war" against Yahoo management, according to reports. The New York Times cites anonymous sources close to the matter, who claim that if Yahoo does not concede to Microsoft's $44.6 billion takeover bid, it will use its influence on Yahoo shareholders to elect a Microsoft-friendly board of directors. This could be a vastly cheaper alternative to raising the value of the bid: while it would jump $1.4 billion for each dollar added to the share price, orchestrating a coup at Yahoo could cost just $20-30 million, factoring in a proxy solicitor and the cost of mailings to each shareholder.
Dell has begun selling the UltraSharp 2408WFP, its newest LCD monitor. The screen is a companion to the 3008WFP, and is only the second model from Dell to support DisplayPort technology. DisplayPort is a simpler kind of video input that should eventually replace DVI and VGA, and possibly HDMI in some cases, due to an absence of licensing fees. The 2408 in fact supports all of the above connections, as well as component, S-Video and composite inputs.
Despite today's unveiling of the Xsan 2 file system, Apple quietly discontinued the Xserve RAID platform, with any references to the hard drive system absent from the online store. The only mention of enterprise-level RAID hard drive products is that of the Promise VTrak system, for which Apple is also selling a number of service parts as well. The VTrak RAID systems range from 4.8TB to 16TB, and are configured with either SATA or SAS drives.
Sony will spend roughly $203.5 million on developing technology to build medium to large Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panels for use in TVs and monitors, the company announced today. While Sony already has an OLED TV on the market that exemplifies the ultra-thin design of OLEDs at 3mm (0.12in) thick, the XEL-1, its display measures just 11 inches across and is priced out of most hands at about $2,500 in the US.
Following today's announcement of the end of the HD DVD format, a German site is reporting that movie studios Paramount and Universal are already pledging to switch to the Blu-ray format for future HD releases. Both companies were once staunch supporters of HD DVD, the latter after a controversial $150 million payout which brought it on-side. Sony has also used money to influence format adoption, but Paramount claimed that its decision was based solely on merit.
Macgamestore.com today unveiled Encore's Wheel of Fortune Deluxe as a digital download, previously only offered in boxed format. As with the game show, users spin the wheel, earning the right to pick consonants or buy vowels, to solve over 2000 word puzzles created by the show's staff. Players can choose from three game modes: Road Trip, Group Pay, and Puzzle of the Day. Wheel of Fortune Deluxe is available from Macgamestore.com for $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 and a G4, or later.
US phone sales over the course of 2007 grew substantially and saw the iPhone register a significant percentage all by itself, according to new data from The NPD Group. With roughly 146 million phones trading hands over the period, Apple's shipment of about 3.7 million iPhones during the year equates to approximately 2.5 percent of the entire market, or sixth place. The top rankings remain largely unchanged from last year and see Motorola leading sales with about 32 percent of sales, down slightly from 33 percent the year before; Samsung gained signicantly, moving up to second place with a jump from 14 to 17 percent of US share. LG dipped to third place with a flat 16 percent of the market, while Nokia and Sanyo held on to fourth and fifth places respectively with 10 and 4 percent share each.
DTP Tools has released the second edition of Page Control, its plug-in for InDesign CS, CS2 and CS3. The original software allowed users to fit multiple page sizes into the same document; v2.0 greatly expands on this, by for instance letting users arrange documents into vertical spreads, essential for "flip-up" documents like calendars. Pages can further be individually rotated, allowing for combinations of portrait and landscape layouts.
Skorpiostech today unveiled Changes 1.0, an application designed to perform directory comparison and file differencing functions. Changes allows coders to ensure synchronicity between files and folders, designed to replace Apple's FileMerge utility. Changes features a CLI utility, a TextMate bundle, BBEdit and Text Wrangler menu scripts, Xcode integration, and F-Script support. Skorpiostech is selling Changes for $40 from its website, and requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
TotalView has announced the release of Workbench Manager 1.1, a new tool control system for Mac OS X, Linux and Unix. The software is primarily used to manage the company's Debugger and MemoryScape software, integrating it into a comprehensive workflow for the development and debugging process; everything is controlled from a single graphical dashboard. Users are not limited to TotalView tools however, as they can choose to incorporate any third-party program that serves a similar purpose.
Verizon today added the Samsung U550 clamshell to its roster of mid-range phones. The flip phone boasts external touch controls for navigating music (including tracks from Verizon's V CAST Music store) and is capable of both V CAST streaming video over its 3G link as well as capture through the phone's built-in 1.3-megapixel camera, including in the dark through a special Night Shot mode.
Verizon today fired a salvo at AT&T with the introduction of its Unlimited Calling Plans. Validating an earlier leak, the carrier's service guarantees an unlimited amount of calling within the US regardless of the time of day or whether the destination is a landline or mobile. Extra plans also supply unlimited SMS (text) and MMS (media) messaging within the country as well as unfettered access to some of Verizon's data services, such as its Mobile Web 2.0 portal, V CAST Internet video, and VZ Navigator for assisted GPS mapping.
Apple has formally launched Xsan 2, a major revision of its storage area network (SAN) file system. Among the changes is a new set of administration tools, easing the burden of setup and management. Users can for instance pre-set volume workloads for various file types, ranging in size from raw HD video down to small pieces of data center information. Accompanying this is MultiSAN, a component which lets users access multiple Xsan volumes from a single workstation or server.
QuickerTek today unveiled the Dualy Extreme, a range extender for the Airport Extreme Base Station, which can help the device broadcast up to five times the standard wireless range. The Dualy Extreme features twin 3dBi antennas, coupled with either two 500mW receivers or two 1W receivers. When upgraded, the Base Station uses the full 2.4GHz range with high-speed MIMO capability. The Dualy Extreme is available starting from $350 for the user-installed, 500mW kit, with the 1W kit selling for $500.
Adobe has announced Director 11, the next version of its comprehensive development platform. The program lets developers build games, animations, simulations and more, and publish them to the web as well as the desktop and/or CDs and DVDs. Users can incorporate elements such as Flash files, physics rendering and 3D graphics, and expand with third-party add-ons.
Ricoh this morning used the relative lull in the weeks after the PMA photo show to introduce two new Caplio models. The 10-megapixel R8 serves as one of the firm's new top-end models and bridges some of the gap between point-and-shoot and semi-pro cameras through its lens: the wide-angle glass not only has a 28-200mm focus range that helps compose more difficult shots but also zooms out by a 7.1X factor for long distance images.
A lack of orders from Apple is triggering a price drop in the NAND flash memory used by many companies for storage, say claims from memory manufacturers. While requests for memory from device makers have gone up since the very start of the year, a glut of supply outpacing demand for iPhones and iPods has sent prices downward as memory producers seek to clear stock: an 8 gigabit (1GB) MLC chip sells for less than $3, while even a 16 gigabit (2GB) chip is very nearly at the $5 level, according to the claims. These larger chips are said to be under the highest amount of price pressure as electronics firms demand more capacity.
AT&T this morning became the first North American GSM carrier to pick up the Centro, Palm's first non-Treo Palm smartphone in years. Already available through Sprint in CDMA form, the AT&T model switches to a unique white color scheme but switches to slower EDGE technology for data instead of EVDO. The phone nonetheless makes use of its Internet access with support for AT&T's music services and access to streaming versions of a collection of XM Satellite Radio channels. AT&T's push-to-talk feature is also available.
Apple today introduced a 2GB iPod shuffle while quietly slashing the price of the 1GB model to $49, dropping the price of the device while simultaneously offering more capacities. Both sizes are available in all colors; the 1GB model should be available immediately through the online Apple Store, while the 2GB model ships later this month. The change makes for "the most affordable iPod ever," according to Apple senior iPod marketing VP Greg Joswiak.
Apple has developed a system that will allow users to define their own gesture-based commands in Mac OS X, according to a recent patent filing. Co-invented by Wayne Westerman, who helped found the FingerWorks company largely credited with pioneering multitouch displays, the patent would let users enter a control panel which adds both basic and advanced levels of multitouch control to the existing trackpad options. In an advanced mode, the software would be capable of recognizing different finger patterns, or chords, and assigning different actions depending on the swiping motion associated with those cords.
Ending a longstanding format war, Toshiba on Tuesday formally announced that it would halt production of HD DVD devices and discs, all but rendering the format obsolete. In a confirmation of Japanese reports, the company plans to wind down hardware production by March for both stand-alone movie players and PC drives. Development of notebook HD DVD drives, such as for the company's own Qosmio line, will depend largely on demand. Writable HD DVD media will also continue to exist past March to cater to owners who need the format for burning video or computer data.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
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