Microsoft tonight mirrored its approach last year with the Halo Zune by introducing a special, game-themed edition of the Zune 120GB tied into another of the company's Xbox 360 games. The Gears of War 2 edition takes the current, glossy black player and adds a Gears logo to the back while pre-loading the hardware with the game's soundtrack, special videos and an artwork collection that includes backgrounds for the Zune itself. The hardware is otherwise functionally equivalent to the reference Wi-Fi music player.
Griffin Technology has announced the expansion of its case collection for the iPod touch 2G and iPod nano 4G. The new offerings include the Elan Form, FlexScreen, Reflect, and iClear. The Elan Form is available for both new devices and features a shell of leather bonded to polycarbonate. A screen protector is included, and EasyDock design elements allow the iPod to dock without removing the case.
Zengobi has announced an updated version of its note taking, mind mapping, brainstorming, and task management software, Curio 5.1. The latest release includes support for project encryption, Apple Remote, and Multi-Touch. The Spread PDF speed is claimed to have been improved, and new print headers and footers have been added.
Digital Legends Entertainment today announced the availability of Kroll, a 3D fighting game for the iPhone or iPod touch. The game claims inspiration from 80's games combined with modern graphics. Gamers must overcome mythic enemies and creatures to find the secret of the Kroll legend. The battles occur in environments that include mountainsides, underground molten magma mines, and a floating prison above a volcano.
Creaceed has released its speech-recognition software, Vocalia, for the iPhone. It allows users to access contacts for calling or emailing, without having to navigate through the iPhone Contacts app. With Vocalia active, users speak the name they wish to call up, and the software selects a list of contacts that match or closely match the spoken name. The user can then select the name they need and call or email the contact. The software also supports vocal shortcuts like "my best friend" and can split last and first names, allowing a search for "Joe" or "Smith."
Apple is making inroads in the portable laptop sector, so much so that even Microsoft-focused bloggers are noting that MacBooks are gaining ground on Windows laptops. eWeek Microsoft Watch blogger Joe Wilcox says that while 'Windows laptops are losing luster, Mac laptops are making surprising gains.' Mac laptops have moved to a 20-percent market share (for June/July brick-and-mortar sales), with a near 65-percent market share in measured dollars.
ProClip on Tuesday unveiled the ProClip Vehicle Mount for the iPhone 3G that offers users a dockable mounting bracket for the device, with pass through connectors for stereo, charging, or dock connector cables. Secured onto a vehicle's console or dashboard through non-destructive means, the mount tilts and swivels, securing the iPhone in a custom holder designed and manufactured by Brodit AB, a Swedish firm. ProClip is selling the mount for $100.
Macally has unveiled three new power products for iPods and iPhones: the PowerLink, PowerPal, and JBoxMini. PowerLink connects to the 30-pin dock connector and provides additional power, claimed to add an hour of talk time to an iPhone with a completely drained battery. The device also offers 2GB flash storage and can be charged while syncing the phone or player with a computer using an included USB extension cable.
Apple is taking a hard stance on proposed increases to online music royalties, one which could threaten the very future of the iTunes Store, Fortune reports. The Copyright Royalty Board -- a panel of three judges which oversees licenses issued under federal copyright -- is scheduled to make a ruling on Thursday, on the subject of a proposal by the National Music Publishers' Association. Following last year's end of a 1997 agreement covering music royalties, the NMPA proposed an increase on the amount collected from each individual track sold online, from 9 to 15 cents.
Audi of America has announced the latest version of its iPhone game, Audi A4 Driving Challenge 2.0. The new release adds unlockable cars including the A4 3.2L V6 and R8 sports car. The app also features improved graphics and game play. Users control the vehicle steering with the iPhone accelerometer, tilting the screen to turn left or right. The brake and accelerator are represented with buttons on the touch screen.
Sprint today quietly revealed plans to pull the PC component of its Music Store service. Members visiting the store's portal are now being told that they can no longer download protected Windows Media copies of songs to their computers after October 14th and that the music will only be available for cellphones after this point. Users can backup content from the phones to a computer but won't have the rights to play it, the company explains.
An image of a print advertisement proof meant for the Japanese market has leaked on Tuesday, believed to offer an ambiguous first look at what many believe to be the upcoming Nikon format, thus far dubbed MX. The ad, while controversial and raising authenticity concerns, features a Japanese word that translates roughly to “big,” which is also in line with what is known about Nikon’s rumored MX mounts. The ad shows a larger-diameter lens mount with a different lock-ring and connections set up than current DSLRs from Nikon, or what some hypothesize to be a smaller body matched to the company's FX sensor.
At the CEATEC show kicking off today in Japan, TDK announced it has achieved a new milestone in surface recording density for hard disk drives thanks to its prototype TMR head. The company achieved the world’s highest surface recording density at 803GB/inch2, which could result in a typical single 1.8-inch double-sided disk having the capacity of 260GB. The TMR head is the same one as introduced in 2007, although TDK engineers have increased its magnetoresistance ratio by more than 80 percent while keeping its bond resistance low.
The UK‘s biggest mobile phone provider, Vodafone, has confirmed it will carry the upcoming BlackBerry Storm smartphone from RIM by launching an online competition to win the handset. Those who wish to enter the contest are required to register and leave their contact information to get updates on the phone. The Storm will feature a large 3.5-inch, 480x360 touchscreen with a haptic interface, built-in GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera, among other features.
As promised when the merger between Sirius and XM satellite radio was finalized at the end of July, Tuesday’s reports have some Sirius satellite radio subscribers beginning to see XM programming on their existing radios, with at least one report of an XM subscriber already receiving Best of Sirius programming on his XM radio. Others, while seeing XM headings on their Sirius receivers, cannot yet listen to content.
A feature inherent to the iPhone's graphical interface may pose a threat to users' privacy, reports claim. A data forensics expert, Jonathan Zdziarski, notes that iPhones can automatically capture a screenshot of every recent action performed by a person, such as checking e-mail or visiting a website. The images are said to be necessary only on a cosmetic basis, used to create the illusion of a window shrinking and disappearing when the Home button is tapped.
Current deals at DealNN include a range of products from wireless routers to external hard drives. First off is the refurbished Netgear Wireless-G router priced at $16.97 at TigerDirect.com. OnSale.com has the AirPort Express base station with Air Tunes for $59, a price cut of $70 off the original price. The Cavalry 1TB external hard drive has been reduced to $139.99 from $239 at Buy.com, and today (9/30/08) is the last day to take advantage of a $50 mail in rebate offer that drops the price down to $89.99. The refurbished 2.0GHz Mac Mini is available at the Apple store for $679. The Sony speaker dock for iPod and clock radio is available at Electronics-Expo.com for $80.
At the CEATEC show in Japan which kicked off on Tuesday, JVC showed off its first Full HD video camcorder that relies solely on an SDHC memory card as its storage medium instead of a built-in hard disk drive and memory card slot, like previous Everio camcorders. While the cameras were officially concepts, they looked production-ready, although JVC did not reveal any specs and even the megapixel count was conspicuously absent from the body of the camcorders.
Samsung Mobile on Tuesday announced it is now offering the Samsung u430 clamshell phone, which features a 1.9-inch, 128x160 main display. The dual-band CDMA phone has a VGA camera capable of capturing images at 640x480 resolution. The camera also includes a 5- or 10-second timer and a Night Shot function that lets it take photos in low-light environments.
Dell on Tuesday released no less than five new mid- to high-end printers to add to its range, including the nearly identical all-in-one V505 and V505w, the photo all-in-one P703w and the 5330dn and 2335dn laser printers. The main difference between the V505w and V505 is the former’s inclusion of a Wi-Fi module that allows for wireless connections to a user’s network. Apart from this distinction, the two share the same exterior look and are capable of printing, scanning, faxing and copying documents.
AT&T has announced that it is set to launch the iPhone 3G in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on October 17th. Customers in the territories will have the benefit of pricing that matches stateside terms, specifically the $200 price for an 8GB model, and the $300 charge for 16GB. Apple and AT&T could face extra competition shortly after the launch, due to T-Mobile's acquisition of SunCom Wireless in both the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands markets. T-Mobile will begin offering Google's G1 phone on October 22, although it is unknown if the initial launch will include the Caribbean.
Adobe today at the Flash on the Beach expo said the company is actively developing a port of its Flash animation plugin for the iPhone and iPod touch, potentially bringing the phone's web features up to par with certain rivals. Senior Director of Engineering Paul Betlem noted in a presentation at the event that the Flash group was developing a port but that Apple's mobile operating system is a "closed platform" and so is out of Adobe's control; it's at Apple's discretion if and when the port becomes available, Betlem says.
Several major studios plan to sue RealNetworks for what they believe is inherent copyright infringement in the company's RealDVD ripping software, according to a tip sent to the AP. Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner are all said to believe that the software is deliberately bypassing the CSS encryption on DVD movies and so violating their copyrights. They also plan a temporary injunction on just-begun sales of the app, the unnamed source indicates.
With Adobe Creative Suite 4 launching next month, Boris FX says it will offer free updates to compatible plug-ins for Boris Continuum customers. The full list includes Boris Continuum Complete 5 AE, Final Effects Complete 5 AE, Boris RED 4.x, Boris FX 9.x, Boris Graffiti 5.x, Boris Blue 2.5, or any Boris Continuum Unit. The company specializes in 3D compositing and vector graphic products for broadcast, post-production, film and multimedia markets.
Aspyr Media has released a downloadable version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, found exclusively at GameAgent.com, the company's new online store. It will also ship to retail outlets this week. The first-person shooter follows new, fictional story lines with multiple plot twists, and the game's special effects stress photorealism, using new depth-of-field and shading effects.
Microsoft intends to hold to its policy of charging royalties for Windows Mobile, says company CEO Steve Ballmer. The operating system is facing increasing competition, most notably from Nokia's newly royalty-free Symbian platform, and Google's open-source Android platform, used on phones like the upcoming T-Mobile G1. "We are doing well," Ballmer tells Reuters, "we believe in the value of what we are doing." Microsoft receives approximately $8 to $15 for each Windows Mobile-based phone sold.
Dell today took a new approach to selling PCs on Tuesday by announcing a movie pre-load service for some of its PCs. Starting with Iron Man, the Inspiron 1525 notebook and XPS 420/630 can optionally carry a strictly digital copy of a movie along with special features, such as the bonus mini-feature included with the inaugural title. The company doesn't provide specific technical details but explains that the movie can be shared primarily through Windows Media Extender devices such as the Xbox 360 and can't be burned to DVD.
Adobe is denying reports of a security vulnerability in its Flash Media Server 3 software. The company cites a Reuters story from earlier in the month, which claimed that while commands sent to play media were encrypted, the actual media was left unprotected in order to improve download speeds. This was in fact said to enable piracy at video sites such as Amazon's, and Reuters cited its own recording tests as proof.
Broadcom on Tuesday said it would start integrating Wi-Fi support into its GPS navigation chips, letting cellphones and other devices equipped with the hardware use the local network for positioning. The technique draws on a license from Skyhook that uses known Wi-Fi points to triangulate a rough map location when GPS is unreliable or completely unavailable and should both generate a GPS lock faster in urban areas as well as fill in when indoors or in tunnels where the GPS signal is blocked.
Analyst Steven Soranno of Credit Suisse has joined other firms in devaluing Apple stock, reports say. Soranno comments that while Apple has a solid base with good products, the company cannot help but be affected by the overall economy, which is plagued by failing banks and limited credit. In spite of Credit posting a $200 target last month, Soranno says he is now lowering this figure to $160, though the stock is still qualified as a "buy" for investors.
Nintendo is in the midst of developing a pedometer add-on for its consoles, if a European trade document translates to a finished product. The largely mysterious device is described only as a "pedometer" and has just a bare minimum of connections and controls, suggesting a role as an add-on to add data from walking and running to DS handhelds for use with exercise programs and games. One strip on the side also hints at a potential wireless link.
AOL has released the first public beta of a new AIM for Mac client, the first major update since February of 2004. In the new software, users have access to AIM Expressions, allowing them to customize their AIM sounds, wallpaper, emoticon set and Buddy Icon. AOL is also looking to implement some of the more popular features from other versions of AIM, such as file transfers, tabbed conversations, AIM Groups, and AIM Blast.
Sony's eventual replacement for the PlayStation 3 may simply rely on a continuation of Cell technology rather than a whole new architecture, according to info obtained by Impress. Where the PS2 and PS3 both represented major changes in architecture, the PS4 will reportedly focus on driving down costs both for actual buyers and for Sony itself, which is said to consider yet another complete change in processor design too expensive when it has to compete against Nintendo's less expensive Wii and has alredy invested heavily into developing Cell with IBM and Toshiba.
After a long delay, IBM says it has released a new web application for the iPhone and iPod touch, Lotus Domino eMail. The function is tied to the Lotus iNotes software bundled with Lotus Domino Web Access 8.0.2, and provides access to Lotus e-mail, contacts and calendars. E-mail browsing allows the collapsing or expansion of details, and the viewing of attachment files, such as graphics.
Last week, a blurry photo and some specs on LG’s second, more affordable camera phone, the KC780 were published, and more photos were unveiled today. LG claims the handset will be the thinnest on the market with an 8-megapixel camera, The included photos show the phone next to the flagship LG Renoir (KC910) handset, which also sports an 8-megapixel camera, and the two are nearly the same thickness. The KC780’s back is scalloped, bulging out around the camera, suggesting that the phone will be thinner overall than the Renoir. Thus far, the thinnest 8MP pixel shooter is the Samsung M8800 Pixon, at just over half an inch thick.
Dell brought the newer, rounded designs of its larger displays to the entry level on Tuesday by introducing the 19-inch S1909WX and the 17-inch S1709W. In contrast to the 16:9 ratio S2409W, the new LCDs use a more traditional 16:10, 1440x900 resolution but share design traits of their larger sibling, including a cleanly designed back and a detachable stand that lets owners use a VESA mount for display arms or walls.
Pushing the edge of a September deadline, Facebook has released v2.0 of its self-named iPhone/iPod touch application. The software makes a number of significant changes, most notably to the News Feed, which now displays everything from the desktop edition of the site. In previous versions of the app, only status updates and mobile photo updates were shown.
Western Digital today leapt into more serious home and SoHo network-attached storage with the appearance of its ShareSpace line. The four-bay system is designed to be simple, with a built-in iTunes server for sharing content over the network and pre-supplied backup software, but is also more powerful than the company's normal home drives. All ShareSpace boxes can run in either a RAID stripe for sheer space or a mirror for simple redundancy; a top-end model with all four bays full can also run in RAID 5 for a combination of backup and striping that makes the most of the available storage.
Super Talent on Tuesday gave notebook owners a potential break by launching the MasterDrive LX lineup, its lowest-cost solid-state drive lineup yet. The 2.5-inch SATA II disks use a relatively low-cost form of multi-level cell (MLC) storage to provide performance faster than many notebook drives without driving up the cost or affecting their longevity. All LX drives claim a peak reading speed of 100MB per second and write back at 40MB per second while lasting for a claimed average of one million hours (114 years) between failures.
AMD early Tuesday took its Radeon HD 4000-series chipsets into ultra budget territory with two video cards that promise better performance than their prices would suggest. The Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 have just 80 stream (effects) processors versus as much as 800 for the Radeon 4800 series but are still capable of full DirectX 10.1 and current OpenGL 2.x effects, rendering them some of the least expensive cards capable of their more advanced visuals. The new chipsets are also some of the only ones of their type to have 7.1-channel audio pass-through over HDMI and the option of DisplayPort.
Toolsfactory software has announced the release of a new GPS enabled activity tracking software for the Mac, rubiTrack. The software allows users to display and organize their runs, bike rides, walks, or other outdoor activities so that they may be analyzed. Version 1.0 reads tracks for GPS enabled fitness devices like the Garmin Forerunner, then stores the tracks as both GPX and TCX files. The activities are then accessible though different activity groups which are automatically categorized by activity type, location, route, date, distance and workout duration.
Microsoft is reportedly shipping the Jasper-based XBOX 360 consoles, Jasper being a 65nm-process chip that the company hopes will reduce hardware failures indicated by the so-called "red ring of death." Microsoft went through a tough time in recent years with the XBOX 360, having to replace a vast amount of consoles due to an overheating issue likely related to the former 90nm-process chips. The recalls ended up costing Microsoft over $1 billion.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
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,Â Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard DiskÂ Drive,Â 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