In brief: There's now a way to constantly monitor Apple Store status, N.E.D. tutorial-video 2.0 has been released, a new mail service has debuted for the iPhone, and Chronos is offering leap year specials ... pingdom as developed a banner and code combination that will show the current status of the Apple store -- usually a harbinger of product announcements. The creators say "As the whole Mac community knows, when Apple Store goes down for maintenance, there is a good chance that Apple is about to release something new or update an existing product. To spare you the trouble of constantly keeping an eye on the Apple Store, we here at Pingdom have set up monitoring of the US Apple Store status, and also created a small banner that will show its current status."
Apple's online store is offering reconditioned iMacs at especially low prices for a limited time. The company's 20-inch 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac is priced at $999, and comes with 1GB of memory as well as a 250GB hard drive. The 20-inch 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac is priced at $1,249, and offers 1GB of memory alongside a 320GB hard drive. Apple is also offering refurbished 24-inch Intel Core 2 Duo iMacs with 2.4GHz and 2.8GHz processors for $1,499 and $1,899, respectively. The faster 2.8GHz model ships with 2GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive, while the 2.4GHz iMac offers 1GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive.
Griffin Technology today began shipping its Reflect and Courier carrying cases for Apple's iPhone. The Reflect for iPhone features a sleek metallic finish that covers the perimeter of the multi-touch display. The hard polycarbonate shell protects the iPhone from bumps and scratches, while a matte black rubberized case back seals the device inside. The Courier is redesigned with a slimmer look, providing practical transportation and protection for an iPhone. Griffin's Reflect for iPhone is priced at $25, while the Courier is available for $35.
Shuffleart has unveiled the first photos of its Koobniks - AirMail cover for Apple's MacBook Air (site not updated). The cover resembles a shipping envelope, but prominently display the Apple logo on the lid of the portable device. Koobniks - AirMail cover also works with Apple's MacBook, 15-inch MacBook Pro, both the 12 and 15-inch PowerBook G4, and the iBook G4 12 and 14-inch. [photos]
Default Folder X 4.0.2 ($15) makes it easier for you to manage files by adding features and correcting flaws in the file dialogs of all Mac OS X applications. Default Folder X 4.0.2 corrects problems that occur when using Mac OS 10.5.2, Microsoft Office 2008, and Fetch Softworks' Fetch file transfer application. It also fixes a problem with its preview window failing to appear in Mac OS 10.4 and adds an additional option in its Finder-click feature. [Download - 8.4MB] Sound Byte 3.4.6 ($40) turns your Mac into a" cart machine" for playing sound recordings, such as music and special effects. The latest version of Sound Byte includes these changes: adds an option to allow carts to be played backwards; click restarts playback now works with hot-key presses as well; fixed Apple IR Remote support for Leopard. [Download - 4MB] iToner 1.0.6 ($15) iToner lets you easily transfer your own MP3 or AAC audio files to your iPhone, and enjoy them as custom ringtones. iToner 1.0.6 features the following improvements and changes: support for iPhone OS 1.1.3; support for .mp3, .mp4, .wav, and .aif files; intelligent audio processing for added ringtones; French, German, and Italian localizations; and more. [Download - 7.2MB] Mactracker 5.0.1 (donationware) database of Mac models. The latest Apple hardware has been added and "My Models" has been expanded to include Apple TV, Displays, iPhone, iPod, and Wi-Fi Base Stations. Additional specifications items range from "Coprocessor" for Classic Macintosh to "Floppy Drive" port information for Classic Macintosh and PowerBook models. This release also fixes an issue with receiving Apple Events. [Download - 21MB]
Two Detroit-based pension funds sued Yahoo and its board today, the latest event in the escalating Microsoft-Yahoo buyout drama. Yahoo – who shocked investors by rejecting a $44.6 billion bid from Microsoft – frustrated the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, and General Retirement System organizations to the point where they are threatening litigation, because it is holding out on Microsoft's astounding offer, according to Reuters.
Excel Software has released QuickLicense 2.2, an update to the Mac and Windows license protection software that adds drag-and-drop software protection. "A software vendor can now drag and drop an application onto the AddLicense desktop icon to wrap it with any license configured from QuickLicense," the company said. "A protected application is generated in seconds using the original application icon and no programming required." QuickLicense is priced at $500 for a single user on Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows, or $800 for both platforms.
Zygoat Creative Technical Services today released Doggiebox 1.4, an update to the company's percussion sequencing software for Mac OS X. The update improves performance as well as compatibility, running natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The latest release fixes stuttering playback issues under Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and reverses the behavior of the 'Insert Bars' functions for better usability. Doggiebox 1.4 is priced at $40, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Hewlett-Packard introduced the tx2000 in January as a second attempt at the concept of a Tablet PC for the home, where cost often prevents many notebook manufacturers from offering touchscreens. In its first try, HP was criticized for offering a system slower than most of its more conventional notebooks as well as for using a relatively limited, passive touchscreen that required deliberate input from a stylus. With an active screen and a speed boost in the new model, HP hopes to solve two problems at once. Electronista finds out how well this has been accomplished with its HP tx2000 full review.
DriveSavers unveiled an iPhone recovery service at Macworld Expo in January, offering users the opportunity to save essential data from a malfunctioning iPhone that was not backed up. The service is able to recover pictures and critical data, once all other possible recovery alternatives have been exhausted. DriveSavers advertises a five to seven day turnaround for the recovery service, and costs anywhere from $500 to $1400, depending on the quality of the recovery.
Famous camera and lens maker Leica has officially jettisoned its CEO, according to company officials. The removal of Steven K. Lee is described as a sudden move, authorized by the company's supervisory board. He will be temporarily succeeded by owner and chairman Andreas Kaufman, who will work in tandem with the board's treasurer and financial controller until February 28th. Lee's tenure only began in November of 2006.
Despite Apple's optimistic target of 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008, some analysts are skeptical, and others say the device may not be as profitable for the company as originally thought. According to MarketWatch, Apple faces an additional challenge in that as many as one million iPhones are unaccounted for on partner networks, and are assumed to be unlocked. These "missing" iPhones could ultimately contribute to almost $1.3 billion in lost subscription revenue over two years, should Apple meet the goal of 10 million sold.
Not willing to wait until the official shutdown of production in March, Japanese retail shops are already pulling all their HD DVD drives and movies off of shelves, according to reports. Although less than a week after Toshiba's withdrawal of the HD DVD standard, several high-profile shops such as Edion and Yodobashi Camera have already halted selling either the players or the movies. Most are reportedly in discussions with Toshiba to send back unsold players and, in the case of Edion, are planning exchange programs where customers can potentially receive a Blu-ray player as a free or low-cost exchange for a now-obsolete HD DVD player.
A new batch of routers is enroute for Sprint's WiMAX network, reports say. The routers were designed exclusively for Sprint's Xohm service by ZyXEL, and are now said to be shipping out of the latter's home country of Taiwan. The initial number of routers will be limited, say sources for DigiTimes, as Xohm is still very much in a trial period. It is currently available in Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, with broader release only being scheduled for April.
Samsung may double the capacity of its Flash SSD solid-state drives twice by the end of 2008, flash memory marketing chief Michael Yang says. The Korean company has already announced a 128GB version that it now expects to ship in the third quarter (a slight delay from its earlier first-half prediction) but now says it may roll out a drive that would top 250GB, roughly quadrupling the 64GB of storage found in SSDs for computers such as the MacBook Air or the imminent Lenovo ThinkPad X300.
A software developer has successfully ported Stunt Playground to Mac. The fully 3D stunt driving game features realistic physics that are fully integrated into both the driving and the editor. Users can arrange various props and jumps as desired, and can save as well as load creations for later. Players can record instant replays of up to 15 seconds in length while driving and play the clips later from any angle. Stunt Playground is available for free, as is the game's source code.
Internet service providers in the UK may have no choice but to impose anti-piracy scans on their networks if they cannot agree to a solution voluntarily, the country's government said today. A strategy document released by British officials warns that the companies must agree with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as well as other music and movie producer associations to develop an anti-piracy agreement that will curb illegal sharing at the carrier level rather than targeting individual users. Without a private agreement, the government may have to impose its own rules mandating such a change in April 2009 to protect the UK's creative industry, the government claims.
Having recently created its first unlimited data plan, Rogers Wireless may soon be revising its standard data plans as well, a leak indicates. Of particular note is the rumored set of BlackBerry plans; in these the combined Voice & E-mail packages are gone, replaced with data-specific plans that add BlackBerry BIS/BES e-mail to a regular voice option. Costs range between $15 a month for 10MB of transfers, to $65 a month for 200 to 500MB. Any overage is said to be $0.05 per megabyte; each plan requires a three-year contract.
Fruux, a cross between social networking and .Mac's sync service, is currently in beta testing and looking for people to help test the service. Fruux synchronizes address book, bookmark, and calendar files with each computer someone owns, and also gives the user the ability to synchronize contact information with others. This allows users to stay in contact with friends, business partners, and family, even if the contact information changes.
Macgamestore.com and HiddenObjects.com today announced the release of The Count of Monte Cristo for the Mac. The hidden object game is based on the famous novel by ALexander Dumas, taking place in the 19th century. Players choose between eight characters to investigate, discovering more than 1,000 hidden objects. The Count of Monte Cristo features 20 scenes as well as 15 puzzles, and is priced at $20. The game requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
High-end electronics maker Onkyo is the latest party to end support for HD DVD, a new announcement reveals. Although some limited production for the format is expected by other companies, in the wake of Toshiba's abandonment Onkyo says it has reconsidered, and will thus end all production for HD DVD in a short space of time. "As Onkyo manufactures HD DVD players with core parts supplied by Toshiba," the announcement states, "it will be difficult for Onkyo to continue its further development and production of HD DVD players."
Electronics giant Samsung has filed a patent application for an unusual new cellphone display, records show. Instead of relying on a conventional LCD or even OLED panel, the Samsung display actually relies on projection, something that has fallen out of favor in other realms. The key however is that optical projectors have become small enough to fit in cellphones, and Samsung has developed a new refractive plate which scatters light evenly across the display surface.
Japanese engineers from the Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad judge the MacBook Air as being wasted space inside its otherwise efficiently designed chassis. According to TechOn the engineers claim the ultra-portable uses entirely too many screws to secure various pieces, counting over 30 to secure the keyboard, for example. The engineers say that they could produce the same computer with fewer screws, and a resulting lower cost.
A new wireless technology has been developed that should serve as an extremely fast replacement for technologies such as Bluetooth and ultra-wideband (UWB), says Australian research group NICTA. Nicknamed GiFi, the process would use a chip (not pictured) that transmits at an extremely high 60GHz frequency versus the 5GHz used for the fastest forms of Wi-Fi. The sheer density of the signal would allow a chip to send as much as five gigabits per second. While the spectrum would limit the device to the same 33-foot range as Bluetooth or UWB, it could theoretically transfer an HD movie to a cellphone in seconds, the researchers claim.
Ambrosia Software today unveiled iToner 1.0.6, an update to its custom iPhone ringtone software, adding support for various sound formats, language localizations, and intelligent audio processing. iToner can now use MP3-, MP4-, WAV-, and AIFF-formatted files to create ringtones, and is localized for French, German, and Italian customers. Ambrosia is seling iToner 1.0.6 through its website for $15, while a 30-day demo is also available.
MotiMotion has released Prospects 1.0, a new personal finance application. One of its key features is said to be "ViewPoints," which track three different categories of information when viewing an account with transactions. These panels can be positioned at the side or bottom of the window, and contain sliders, which let users quickly change the timeframe being examined.
LG has quietly rolled out a new upgrade to its R-series notebook line through the R300. Effectively a replacement for the E300, the 13.3-inch system is said to strike a balance between performance and relative portability. The notebook is one of LG's first to be based around Intel's 45 nanometer Penryn technology and packs a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo that runs cooler than previous models. The system is also unusually quick for its class with 3GB of memory as standard and an unnamed, dedicated NVIDIA GeForce mobile video chipset providing faster 3D graphics.
iPodHackers.net today announced the completion of a Bluetooth-enabled fifth generation iPod with video, allowing it to function with streaming Bluetooth audio devices. The hack requires the use of soldering, so enthusiast Fstedie recommends that users be comfortable taking such an action. He also recommends performing a Compact Flash modification or using a thicker backing, giving the user extra space inside the slender unit to pull off the hack.
The construction of an Apple Store at the Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas may be in doubt, a new report suggests. The outlet would supposedly be opened in the casino's Forum Shops section, next to an aquarium and an Xpress clothing store; while an earlier photo clearly showed the text "Apple Coming Summer 2008" on a facade, a new image shows no such signs. Moreover, a visitor claims that behind the facade are the traces of another clothing store, whether a new, existing or previous one. No evidence of construction is said to be present.
LG has voluntarily stopped selling one of its unnamed laptop models after reports of a battery meltdown in one example. The malfunction occurred in the companyís own South Korea on Thursday while the laptop was being used by a graduate student, according to LG spokesperson Jik Soo Kim. The manufacturer of the battery, LG Chem, is investigating the causes but has not yet returned a verdict.
Apple's FileVault is among the encryption technologies that may expose its secrets in RAM, suggests a paper produced at Princeton University. Through several experiments, computer scientists with Princeton discovered that many computers leave encryption data in RAM during two vulnerable states: powering down, and rebooting. While accessing data after power-down requires super-cooling the RAM and transferring it to another machine for examination, the reboot phase may be more easily exploitable.
Intel recently announced that it has acquired Offset Studios, the game development company behind the rather impressive Project Offset, a fantasy first person shooter created by a team of three. Announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Project Offset features graphics and gameplay akin to games that a major studio would produce. Announced a little over two years ago, it has been said by the studio that they would be looking into a Mac client.
Details have surfaced about the final specs and pricing of Intel's first small form factor Montevina platform processors for notebooks that point to the first likely upgrade for the MacBook Air as well as for future ultraportables, say notebook builders. The slip confirms earlier claims and points to two low voltage processors that are now known to be the most likely candidates for the upgrade. The 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo SL9300 and the 1.86GHz SL9400 will be close in clock speed to the existing 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz processors but should still boost performance while reducing the power draw.
Apple's Time Capsule backup drive, initially announced at Macworld last month, is behind in shipments but will officially hit store shelves on Sunday, February 24th. Although Apple's online store only lists the device as shipping in "February," a Best Buy circular for next week lists the 500GB and 1TB Time Capsules as shipping on February 24th. "Most" Best Buy outlets will have three or four Capsules in stock, the tip says. [updated]
Although NVIDIA has only introduced one of its next-generation video cards this month in the form of the GeForce 9600 GT, virtually the entire lineup is likely to be replaced by the start of the summer, says a reported roadmap leak. Video card manufacturers claim to corroborate rumors that NVIDIA's top-end card, the dual-chip GeForce 9800 GX2, will ship on March 11th; by the end of that same month or in early April, however, the company should also release the GeForce 9800 GTX and 9800 GT, which will come with single chips but are expected to run at higher individual clock speeds.
Now AAPL Stock: 100.35 ( -0.06 )
Trade-up program expands in Europe
Smartphone users in France, Italy, and Spain will have until at least August of this year to trade in old iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android models at Apple Stores, and put the reward towards a new iPhone -- thanks to an expansion of Apple's trade-in program into those countries. The money given for the trade-in must be applied towards a new iPhone on a two-year payment plane, and traders must qualify under a credit check as part of the program. Interested customers can apply for the trade-in at their nearest Apple Store. http://bit.ly/1qPsldD
NBCUniversal adds Bravo, Syfy, E! to Apple TV
NBCUniversal has launched three new apps channels for Apple TV users. Bravo Now, Syfy Now and E! Now brings users access full seasons of current and past episodes of most of NBCUniversal's catalog. The Bravo Now app includes shows like "The Real Housewives of New York Cit," "Below Deck Mediterranean," comedy "Odd Mom Out" and "Top Chef." The Syfy Now app offers up shows like "The Magicians," thriller "12 Monkeys" and the reality show "Face Off." The E! Now app serves up shows like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," "Botched," "#RichKids of Beverly Hills," Caitlyn Jenner's "I Am Cait," and "WAGS." While some content is free, most content requires users to authenticate via their cable satellite or telco TV provider. http://bit.ly/20K4Pea
Apple rolls out Arabic version of Apple.com
Apple has rolled out a new version of its Apple.com website for Arabic language users in the United Arab Emirates. The site utilizes a right-to-left reading format where it has been updated, although the upgrade is still in progress with a number of page links still in the original English language left-to-right format. Of particular note is that the site debuts an all-new custom Arabic font created by the Tarek Atrissi Design agency, giving it a highly contemporary look and feel. The new support for Arabic on its host website follows the introduction of full support for right-to-left languages in iOS 9, and the addition of Arabic support to Siri late last year. http://apple.co/20JHGIM
Adobe previews Photoshop content-aware crop
Adobe has previewed a new 'content-aware crop' feature from the next version of its Photoshop CC. The new feature is similar to its 'content-aware fill' from the current version of Photoshop CC, and potentially saves users time when cropping photos in a way that might otherwise leave blank white space in the frame. Adobe's 'content-aware' tech automatically assesses the blank space and seamlessly fills the blank space with the nearest related content in the space when a photo is expanded or rotated without the need to manually clone that part of the image. The feature allows users to move a horizon by adding more sky or ground, change the aspect ratio by adding content around the edges of the image and fill in the corners of an image when rotated during a crop. Adobe says the feature is coming soon and will be automatically available to Creative Cloud subscribers. http://adobe.ly/20JDFEu
Markzware updates Q2ID for QuarkXPress 12 files
Graphic design file conversion tool maker Markzware has launched a new version of its Q2ID tool. The InDesign plugin enables users to open QuarkXPress files within a new InDesign (INDD) document, without rebuilding the QXP document from scratch -- the new version includes support for QuarkXPress 12 files. Q2ID Subscription members can download the new version as part of their annual plan. A single-user can purchase the plugin for $200, with other licensing options available. http://bit.ly/1Z4dS9t
PopChar X 7.5 arrives
Ergonis Software has released PopChar X 7.5, an improved version of the company's tool for finding and inserting special characters and exploring fonts. PopChar X 7.5 adds support for combined emojis in the Apple Color Emoji font, enhances the "Font Info" view, and adds many further enhancements that improve overall speed and stability. PopChar X 7.5 retails for â‚¬30 ($34), and is free for anyone who owns a license for PopChar X 7 or purchased a license for PopChar X 6 on or after March 1, 2014 [4.5MB]
Safari Technology Preview release 5 arrives