In a surprise evening announcement, Motorola on Friday revealed that the firm's Mobile Devices chief Stu Reed has chosen to leave the company. The executive had spent just eight months in the role after being promoted from the company's supply business and is said to be departing immediately from his position, which primarily addresses the company's cellphone business. No reason has been given for Reed's departure, though the company notes that he has launched "key initiatives" that will form the basis for future plans. The company has also declined to name an immediate successor.
Disney has announced that it will begin offering classic TV shows over the internet via its website. The company already sells full-length feature films and modern hit TV shows through Apple's iTunes Store, but classic shows which still remain unnamed will debut directly on Disney.com, according to the New York Times. "In the near future, you'll see more of that product available on Disney.com, either for free or through some sort of subscription," said Roger Iger, CEO of Disney. "Providing physical goods on DVD is tougher and tougher these days because shelf space is limited."
Apple's surprise MacBook update in late February caught some purchasers off-guard, especially those who are not always in tune with Intel's latest movements. All the same, the overhaul of the 13-inch notebook may prove to be the definitive example of how far Apple has progressed in its portable design, with performance and battery life gains not always seen in the company's portables. However, this latest refresh also shows how far Apple has to go, especially in keeping its designs and graphics performance relevant in an increasingly cutthroat market. Click ahead for Electronista's full MacBook review.
Samsung and Adidas are teaming up to compete with Apple and Nike's Nike+iPod program, and have today introduced the miCoach workout tracking system. The miCoach system combines the miCoach phone with a heartrate monitor and stride sensor to provide accurate feedback about workout activities. Pricing was not announced, but the miCoach system will be available in Europe mid-March.
Cellular carriers are working hard to combat a new FCC regulation that would force all cellphone service providers with half a million subscribers or more to install 8-hour backup systems at almost every cell transmitter site across the U.S. The rule, which the FCC drafted after Hurricane Katrina knocked out hundreds of cell towers and sites along the Gulf Coast in 2005, is designed to strengthen the nation's communication system to help save lives during future disasters. Wireless carriers argue that the regulation was illegally drafted and that it would impose a huge economic and bureaucratic burden, according to the Associated Press.
Media player specialist MPIO has announced the V10, a forthcoming mid-range unit. A key attribute is its three-inch, 480x272 widescreen display, which enhances watching video in formats such as AVI, WMV, MP4, DivX and XviD. Supported audio formats are also wide, including AAC, OGG, WAV, WMA and MP3. Memory consists of 8GB of internal flash, which can be expanded through SD cards. No prices or release dates have been published. [via Generation MP3]
Apple yesterday unveiled its forthcoming iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) during a town-hall meeting on its campus in Cupertino, but developers who read the company's own iPhone Human Interface Guidelines say the SDK comes with several troubling restrictions. TechCrunch reports that VoIP services are "basically out of luck," and developers can only use published APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) according to Apple's rules. The most significant limitation, however, is the fact that third-party iPhone applications can never run in the background and will immediately quit when users 'leave' the application to perform another action -- such as making a call.
Alltel Wireless may already be next cellular carrier to adopt an unlimited monthly plan, an internal memo is said to reveal. The announcement claims that starting today, Alltel customers will be able to sign up for a "National Freedom Unlimited" plan, which offers unlimited voice minutes each month for $100. Unlike Sprint's plan, there is no inclusion of data options in the basic package. The plan is also restricted in that subscribers must pay $100 per line for it, as opposed to the normal $10 add-on fee.
Sony-Ericsson will release a version of the K850 in the US through AT&T, info provided from an FCC filing show. Already available for a month through Rogers in Canada, the K850 will come as the US-friendly K850a but should support the same tri-band 3G Internet access and quad-band GSM as its northern counterpart, giving it full-speed data on AT&T's network. Text in the user guide accompanying the FCC data references AT&T by name.
Qwest chief Ed Mueller has confirmed that his company is in talks with AT&T to port its cellular service to the larger carrier's network. The executive validates earlier reports and raises the possibility that his company would be willing to switch its handsets from Sprint's CDMA network to AT&T's GSM-based service. The talks join already-confirmed negotiations with Verizon and will see a decision made "soon," Mueller says.
Equinux today released iSale 5.1, the latest revision of its online auction software for Mac OS X. iSale 5.1 allows users to integrate video clips into auctions from all leading video websites, according to Equinux, including Apple's .Mac service. The update also increases security by supporting the PayPal Security Key for 2-factor-authentication. The Template Editor in iSale 5.1 includes a new item for integrating video clips in all of the 222 templates that ship with the software. iSale 5.1 is available for $60, and requires Mac OS X 10.5.
Sugar Games today unveiled Rainbow Web 2, the sequel to its color-matching puzzle game. Having freed the lands of the influence of the Sorcerer Spider, players must now rid the Royal Palace of its presence. In order to clear the Spider's webs from the castle, players must match letters and colors over 82 levels to break the Spider's spell. Rainbow Web 2 is available from Macgamestore.com for $20 as a digital download.
More information has this week been revealed on LG's KF240 and 310 fashion phones, previously hinted at through leaks. Both phones are said to be nearly identical sliders, measuring under 0.7 inches thick; each also has a 176x220 display, as well as features like stereo Bluetooth, MP3 playback, and a microSD expansion slot. Differences begin with camera technology, rated at 1.3 and two megapixels. The phones are also distinguished by slightly different control pads.
ShadesCases has begun shipping its Shades cases for Apple's iPod touch. The new cases keep the same thin look as the originals, measuring just .4mm thin and weighting 0.5-ounces. The cases feature built-in clear screen protection that allow users to operate the multi-touch screen interface, and come in 10 different colors ranging from black to silver. Shades cases for iPod touch are priced from $17, and are designed to show the iPod's unique design without adding bulk or hindering usage.
Microsoft may at last upgrade its mid-tier Xbox 360 beyond 20GB of storage, says a new rumor. Claiming to have accurately predicted the 16GB iPhone, the reporter touts sources who claim that Microsoft plans to replace the stock 20GB hard drive for the Xbox 360 Pro with a 60GB version. The upgraded console would come before the end of Microsoft's financial year, which ends at the start of June. Reasons for the upgrade are not given, though the advent of the Xbox Video Marketplace as well as the increasing size of demos and Xbox Live Arcade games are likely motivating factors.
HTC, creators of phones like the P3470 and the Touch, is joining Intel's push to create Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), according to sources from the Taiwanese cellphone industry. The HTC products are said to be scheduled for launch sometime in 2008, and will combine aspects of both phones and UMPCs, including voice functions. Exact features and specifications are otherwise unknown; the devices will use Intel's x86 architecture, though, and will thus also be able to run a wide range of applications.
Steve Ballmer recently sat down with Guy Kawasaki at the Mix 2008 conference in Las Vegas, where Kawasaki asked him about his feelings on Apple's iPhone developer announcements yesterday. According to CNET, Ballmer thinks that Silverlight on the iPhone would be interesting, but somewhat dismissed the idea. He says that there has been no official conversations with Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the matter, and Apple's business model of taking 30-percent of revenue is questionable.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved a new LG phone, codenamed the VX9700. The VX designation indicates that it is headed for Verizon Wireless, although few other details have been made public; rumors suggest that the phone may be variant of the Prada fashion phone, which in turn is similar to Verizon's existing Voyager, except that it uses a full-face touchscreen and omits a physical keyboard. One possibility is that the phone is related to the Vu, which is in fact connected to the Prada phone but is currently scheduled to appear on AT&T. A CDMA conversion would be needed for Verizon.
The latest unofficial news has Microsoft, Google and two other, unnamed media companies seriously interested in buying the community-based news site Digg. Though rumors about a sale have been around for nearly two years, a source close to the deal says the four companies are in serious talks with Digg, according to Fridayís report. It is believed Digg will sell for significantly less than the $300 million representative bank Allen & Co. had asked for in 2007.
Nokia this morning at last began selling the N95 8GB NAM, the North American model of its high-end smartphone. Like the NAM adaptation of the original N95, the 8GB handset adds specific support for 3G Internet access over HSDPA networks in the US through AT&T as well as Canadian providers Rogers and Fido. In addition to the faster download speed, the phone also carries over the larger 2.8-inch LCD, upgraded black trim, and 8GB of permanent storage that define the newer phone in Europe.
Divine Robot has released the first version of EasyListening, a music copying utility. The software is specifically aimed at simplifying the transfer of iTunes songs to Sony Ericsson phones, a process which normally involves either Windows programs or exploration inside a phone's folders. To use EasyListening, people can either drag either songs or playlists directly into the app, which will copy all necessary files to the right locations.
Guy Kawasaki recently sat down with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to talk about the Yahoo buyout offer, as well as the company's competition with Google and Apple. According to eWeek, Kawasaki wondered if Ballmer felt that Apple was like a little dog, biting at his heels that he had to kick away every day. Ballmer retorted that he did not, saying that both Apple and Microsoft do a "pretty good job", but ultimately, Microsoft has more of a "footprint" than Apple does.
Canadians who bought an HD DVD player now have a trade-in option for the obsolete format, Future Shop claims. A new deal from the retailer is offering any owner of an HD DVD player a $100 discount on the purchase of a hybrid player that can play both their existing titles as well as the surviving Blu-ray standard. This chiefly includes either the LG BH200 or its fellow Korean rival the Samsung BD-UP5000, the store notes. No distinction is made between the value of different HD DVD players.
Nova Design has released the Mac version of Cinematte, a Photoshop plug-in that generates masks and clipping paths based on blue- or green-screen technology. Users can set up batch processing through Actions, and output mattes, layer masks, transparencies and keyed foregrounds. A real-time preview lets users check results, and special coding works to prevent color spill or the alteration of foreground colors.
Cellphone TV provider MobiTV broadcasts its TV streams in the clear over the Internet, visitors have found at mobile site HowardForums. A text file normally accessed by phones from Sprint and other American cellular providers contains clearly visible Internet addresses that can be played from any device capable of playing streaming 3GPP video, including computers. The discovery essentially bypasses the subscription fees required for the TV service, which otherwise costs $20 per month on top of an existing Sprint subscription.
Apple's press event yesterday inspires greater confidence in the company's sales targets for 2008, say analysts with Piper Jaffray. The research group notes that it is particularly excited by the prospect of the SDK and the App Store, which, come June, should liberate iPhone users from the restrictions and speeds of current web-based applications. Piper describes the new iPhone as a "full-fledged mobile computing platform," and expects Apple to follow up with a "full family" of Internet-capable devices going into the future.
Yesterday's "iPhone Software Roadmap" event raised analysts' faith in AAPL stock, with Shaw Wu of American Technology Research reiterating a "buy" rating and a price target of $175. According to Wu, Apple had met and exceeded expectations with its "superior" implementation of ActiveSync. Apple's method eliminates separate server software, while also providing a direct connection to the server, rather than through a third-party network operations center.
T-Mobile's head company Deutsche Telekom may consider buying Sprint and shake up the industry as a result, according to an investment note by Merrill Lynch. The financial group claims that economic circumstances may pressure the German phone company into making a move for the American company. Chief among these is a recently introduced unlimited Sprint plan that offers both voice and data. By pushing the prices downward, Sprint may trigger a price war that T-Mobile USA cannot sustain, pushing Deutsche Telekom to acquire Sprint and prevent the carrier from dropping prices beyond where T-Mobile can compete.
(Updated with BBC commentary) The early indications of a beta iPlayer client for the iPhone have been confirmed. Beginning today, mobile visitors to the iPlayer website can now watch a limited number of BBC TV shows, such as Whistleblower. The video has been specially converted to cope with the limitations of Apple's Safari browser, which cannot play Flash; it is most likely then that episodes are being encoded in streaming QuickTime.
Pioneer on Friday morning said it would stop manufacturing its own plasma TV panels in an attempt to reverse mounting losses at the company. While the KURO maker intends to stay in the plasma TV industry, it hopes to create a "leaner" business focused primarily on design and will outsource production of the screens themselves to other firms. Current expectations have the company drawing on Panasonic as the source for Pioneer's displays.
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 ‚ā¨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