NCsoft has launched an open beta of its City of Heroes and City of Villains for the Mac. The game allows players to design and create either a superhero or villain, to explore the two available environments, Paragon City and Rogue Isles. Users can do battle with a variety of giant monsters, creatures, and other players inside player-versus-player zones. In villain mayhem missions, users can destroy any objects around them. Each server provides twelve possible character slots.
OpenZone has announced PlusOffice for the Mac, a program that offers the same functionality as the OpenOffice.org web-based applications. Features offered include a spreadsheet, text, and mathematical-formula editor, as well as a graphic program and multimedia presentation application. Users also have access to a data base creator and editor program. PlusOffice allows the import and export of PDF files, and the possibility to view or edit documents in MS Office formats such as doc, xls, and ppt.
GarageGames, a software provider for independent game developers, has released v1.8 of its Torque Game Engine Advanced. Features include Mac OS X compatibility for its Torque Game Builder used for 2D games, and Torque Game Engine for 3D games. An OpenGL graphics implementation has also been added. Other features offered are advanced material systems, real-time editors, shaders, developer code resources, and Torques top-tier networking.
Other World Computing (OWC) has released new upgrade options for the Axiotron Modbook Mac-tablet. The available components include memory modules, hard drives and optical SuperDrives. Users can choose to have their orders outfitted with 6GB of RAM and single or dual hard-drive configurations, with capacities of up to 750GB when combining a 500GB HDD in the primary drive bay and 250GB HDD in the secondary bay. Customers can forgo the two-drive option and instead add a SuperDrive that features 8x DVD-R burn speeds and support for Dual-Layer discs.
Tech Unlimited has released the latest update to its construction software, PlanSwift 8.5. The program allows users to calculate square footage, upload any scanned plans into the program, or import files from various third-party applications. PlanSwift can now transfer plans to an iPhone or iPod touch, e-mail the documents using contacts from MS Outlook, or create customized drop-down lists for properties. Several other user interface and functionality enhancements have also been added.
Toshiba late Wednesday said it has set a record for flash storage with the first-ever 2.5-inch 512GB solid-state drive. It makes use of the company's newest 43 nanometer assembly process and particularly dense multi-level cell storage to double the 256GB record only just set earlier this year. The capacity boost also comes alongside faster performance; Toshiba sees peak read speeds of 240MB per second and write speeds of 200MB per second. Longevity is also a focus with a mean time between failures of one million hours (114 years), though the cells themselves will typically wear out sooner.
Game-producer Konami has announced versions of Silent Hill, DanceDanceRevolution and Metal Gear Solid for the iPhone and iPod touch platforms. The first-person shooter Silent Hill The Escape allows gamers to control character movement by sliding a finger across the touchscreen, while the accelerometer provides input for aiming weapons at enemies. DanceDanceRevolution S Lite features 3D characters with the dance moves controlled by virtual buttons on the touchscreen.
Psystar has submitted a response to Apple's recently expanded list of claims. After a successful filing to have the court reject the clone-maker's initial counterclaims of monopolistic business practices, Apple added several DMCA-violation allegations to the suit. The basic defense against the DMCA accusations argues that the technological copyright-protection measures employed in Mac OS X are being used to monopolize the manufacture of Mac OS compatible hardware systems.
Philips has recently announced the upcoming release of a new flagship universal remote for home theater systems, the Prestigo SRT9320, which features both a 2.8-inch color touchscreen and physical buttons as the interface method. The remote is able to control as many as 20 separate devices and Philips promises users will not need a PC to program it.
While the Palm Treo Pro is not, as expected, being offered for purchase by wireless provider AT&T, existing owners of the smartphone can now be certified to work on the provider's 3G network, Palm announced on Monday. The Treo Pro is among the first handsets to receive this 3G network certification via AT&T's business user-oriented Specialty Vertical Device program. Alternatively, those who want a Treo Pro that operates on AT&T's 3G network can purchase such a device through AT&T's Business Alliance Channels, including CDW, Insight, CNM Wireless and VOX Mobile.
Samsung will soon be offering the SCH-W690 clamshell handset via one of South Korea's wireless providers, SK Telecom. The handset's most distinguishing feature is its 2.6-inch AMOLED display with 240x320 resolution and 262K colors, as AMOLED technology is still relatively rare in handsets. It offers better color contrast and video playback quality than conventional LCD screens. The smaller 1.5-inch external screen is an OLED display with 128x128 resolution and 65K colors.
Wireless provider O2 Germany has introduced the O2 Xda Guide smartphone on Wednesday, which will replaced the company's current Xda Orbit 2. The 2.8-inch 320x240 touchscreen device features a design exclusive to O2 and is running on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. The smartphone supports GSM, GPRS and EDGE data networks as well as UMTS, HSDPA and HSUPA. O2 is bundling the handset with a 1GB microSD card that contains TomTom Navigator 7 software along with map information for Germany, Austria and Switzerland to work in conjunction with its GPS sensor.
In brief: Several companies are now offering some last-minute discounts. DRO is offering a 20 percent discount on all goods; Spekal has reduced the price of its iPanda and iPig speakers, and MacUpdate has brought an additional app into its holiday bundle. AT&T, meanwhile, is now offering refurbished models of the iPhone 3G online.
ZVOX on Wednesday announced the release of its Z-Base 550 home theater surround sound system, with all amplifiers, speakers and subwoofer as well as all sound processing hardware incorporated into one cabinet that doubles as the base for free-standing flat-panel TVs. The three-inch tall box contains five 2-inch speakers and a 5.25-inch subwoofer that reportedly deliver virtual surround sound thanks to ZVOX' PhaseCue software. Total system power is fixed at 60W, and users get an auto on and off circuit. The sole connection is a pair of analog stereo inputs.
Gaming accessory maker Nyko and Nintendo have announced on Wednesday that they have settled a lawsuit regarding an alleged infringement on Nintendo's patent and intellectual property regarding its Nunchuk controller for the Wii gaming console. Nyko's own, wireless version of the Nintendo Nunchuk controller, called the Kama, prompted Nintendo to take legal action against the smaller company back in June. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, though Nyko will continue to sell the Kama.
Taiwanese PC maker Clevo on Tuesday announced a number of new notebook PCs it will display at the CeBIT show at the start of March. The company will also launch its first netbook entry, the 7-inch convertible tablet TN70M, equipped with a 1024x600 touchscreen. The device will use an Intel Atom Z-series chip along with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS functionality. Tipping the scales at just over 2lbs, users will also get an ExpressCard slot and six hours of battery life with Wi-Fi web browsing. The netbook will have a passive cooling design and not use noisy and power-sapping fans.
Memento Xmas (free) creates and sends Christmas cards right from an iPhone or iPod touch. Users pick one of the built-in templates, add a picture and their own greeting words, and then mail the card off. Four different styles are available, tested for compatibility with Mail, Thunderbird, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and MobileMe.
AMD, IBM and Toshiba jointly announced on Wednesday that they have developed a foundation for what should lead to 22 nanometer RAM technology. The three have developed static RAM cells that measure just 0.128 micrometers across by using the same high-k, metal gate technology used in newer processors to cut back on electricity leaks and other problems that prevent circuity from getting smaller. Using fin-like field effect transistors, the new format is less than half as large as previous RAM cells based on the same basic transistor technology.
e-on software has released an open beta of Vue 7 Pioneer, an application for creating 3D landscapes. Starting with an empty screen, users can grow trees, add terrain or water, make alterations to the atmosphere, and tweak colors or materials before animating the environment. Objects can also be either created or loaded into the software, and modeled to preference.
Market tracker Dow Jones has launched Dow Jones: Sales Triggers, a new iPhone app that provides alerts on business-related news. The app uses predefined news categories for its triggers; alerts can be raised, for instance, by management changes, such as a CEO, CFO or other major player leaving or joining a company. Mergers, acquisitions and new investments can also be triggers.
Fast on the heels of Apple's announcement that it will pull out of the Macworld 2010 expo, and that CEO Steve Jobs will not keynote the Macworld 2009 event, comes news that Reed Exhibitions has canceled 2009's Apple Expo Paris. Apple itself has had diminishing participation in the show for a number of years; Jobs scrapped a 2005 keynote, though he and Apple attended the show as his first appearance after cancer surgery. He has not visited the show in any capacity since 2006.
Samsung today rolled out the YP-P3 in its home country. The new iPod touch rival switches from plastic to aluminum on the outside but is notable most for internal changes borrowed from its cellphones; the new model provides haptic (vibration) feedback for interface presses and has a TouchWiz-like interface that lets users place widgets for memos, clocks and other short info on the home screen. New dedicated controls also give users more control over tracks without opening the main interface.
Bolstering its NAND flash memory lineup, Numonyx on Wednesday revealed that it has developed some of its first 32 gigabit (4GB) chips. The storage comes as the result of a newer, smaller 41 nanometer manufacturing process and lets the company double the amount of storage it can offer. Embedded MMC memory and other storage formats can use stacks of up to eight chips to make a single 32GB package, while microSDHC can hold up to 8GB.
iLuv announced on Wednesday that it will show off its wall-mountable i9500 audio system at the CES show in January. The system will feature a dock for Apple devices and has the ability to playback MP3 and WMA files burned onto as many as four CDs in addition to regular CD audio. Connected iPods and iPhones will be charged and can be controlled through the system itself. Other source options include connected SD cards or properly formatted USB external storage.
Early benchmarks have been produced for NVIDIA's upcoming GTX 295 video card, a Chinese website claims. Although the card is expected to officially debut in January, IT168 says it has already managed to find figures pitting the GTX 295 against AMD's similar Radeon HD4870 X2. The 295 is depicted as universally faster, as much as 100 percent in games like Dead Space. In some cases the improvement is marginal; Far Cry 2, for example, is said to be only 15 percent faster.
ShutterBug 2.5 ($40) is a website creation tool with the ability to publish web albums, photo journals, and create online stores. The software includes a set of themes and templates that give users the ability to create a custom look with little to no HTML knowledge. The most recent release includes a PayPal Shopping Cart feature that allows one to add a shopping cart to their site without the technical know how behind the coding. The release also includes: Random Order and Loop slideshow options, better handling of text zoom in the browser, Before/After slideshows and image rollovers along with a few other bug fixes. [Download - 3.2MB]
Ergonis Software has released Typinator 3.3, adding predefined snippets and set-specific options to its auto-typing software. The predefined sets include subscript and superscript characters, and arrive with auto-correction dictionaries for both US and British English. The sets include 10 predefined abbreviation sets, covering three languages, HTML coding, FileMaker development and more. Set-specific options include prefixes and suffixes for abbreviations, separate expansion sounds, and notes for each set. Version 3.3 also adds increased compatibility with Adobe's Acrobat and various other improvements and fixes.
Okoro Media Systems today signaled itself as one of the first home theater PC builders to use Intel's Core i7 platform for its systems. The TH550 as well as the GX100 and GX300 all use the new quad-core processors combined with faster video cards to produce systems that can both share content across multiple zones, including HD, and also play games on the same level as larger desktop PCs. Every model has dual analog and dual QAM digital tuners that let it pick up as many as four separate wired TV feeds; a separate over-the-air TV tuner catches free broadcasts.
Investors have no reason to panic over Apple's decision to substitute Phil Schiller for Steve Jobs at Macworld 2009, and abandon the expo entirely in 2010, say analysts with Needham & Co. and Kaufman Bros.. The former notes that the substitution is bound to raise questions over Jobs' health, given a gaunt appearance in recent months, and largely discredited rumors of cancer recurrence. Needham claims, however, that its sources suggest Jobs is cancer-free, and that the real reasons for its Macworld policies are strictly business-related.
Sierra Wireless on Wednesday released a pair of HSPA mobile broadband network ExpressCard modems, the AirCard 501 and 502. Either has the potential to download data at up to 7.2Mbps and upload at 5.76Mbps and sport internal antennas with no moving parts, which extend just over an inch from a notebook. The AirCard 502 is designed for use in the European market, as it operates on the 900MHz, 1,900MHz and 2,100MHz UMTS bands, while the AirCard 501 supports North America with 850MHz, 1,900MHz and 2,100MHz bands.
NVIDIA today let slip details of its proposed platform for netbooks and nettops through Ubergizmo. Nicknamed Ion, the platform combines both an Intel Atom and a GeForce 9400M on a Pico-ITX mainboard. The design lets NVIDIA reduce the number of main chips for such a system from Intel's three to two by merging the graphics, interface and memory controllers into a single chip and creates a reference design that measures just 3.9in by 2.9in even with expansion ports.
A leaked internal memo describes Walmart's plans for an iPhone launch later this month, a report alleges. The memo appears to validate signs that the phone will launch on December 28th, specifically at 9AM. It goes on to make mention of an earlier pilot program, however, in which some 488 stores will be given five iPhones each, to be sold only to Walmart employees; eligible workers are being picked via raffle.
Motorola is planning to launch four phones for Verizon next year that will include at least three touchscreen devices, a leak of prototype renderings from BGR reveals. Two of these, codenamed the Calgary and Flash, will represent major changes in design for the phone producer and both appear partly influenced by the full touchscreen design of the iPhone. The Flash is the most directly comparable and would be controlled almost exclusively by its display; the Calgary would have a Sidekick-style slider which moves the display outwards to reveal a keyboard.
Apple must at least temporarily allow carriers other than Orange to sell the iPhone in France, the country's competition regulator has ordered. The ruling stems from a complaint filed in September by Bouygues Telecom, accusing Apple and Orange of hurting competition. The regulator has so far agreed, calling the deal a "serious and immediate threat" to competition in the cellular world, as well as something that could lead to increased costs for people switching carriers.
NVIDIA on Thursday was reported as having visited Taiwan computer makers as part of a campaign to pressure Intel into allowing support for the GeForce 9400M and similar chipsets with the Atom processor. The chipset designer is said to be negotiating deals that would have the local firms themselves ask Intel to remove an insistence that Atom run only on its own platform and thus let NVIDIA move in, potentially leading to much faster graphics for netbooks and nettops.
Sprint today claimed to be the first US carrier to offer a device with both 3G and 4G Internet access. The USB Modem U300 gives access to Sprint's recently launched WiMAX network for full 4G access but also carries support for the broader, original-spec EVDO network. The option lets users connect between 2Mbps and 4Mbps in the current 4G coverage area but still get roughly 600Kbps to 1.4Mbps elsewhere.
PENTAX imaging has announced a limited edition white version of the K2000 camera with a double zoom kit. The camera continues to use a 10.2 megapixel sensor and a 2.7-inch wide-view LCD monitor, and is still tailored towards newcomers: a custom image mode containing six preset options and a full auto picture mode potentially take full control of the scene rather than pushing the user into manual control. Other touches include ten different scene modes, a help button, and a dust alert function for the sensor.
LogMeIn has announced LogMeIn Ignition, an application for the iPhone/iPod touch that enables users to access and control computers remotely. By running the software on any Windows or Mac OS computers, users log into the application from an iPhone or iPod touch, choose which PC to connect to, and can work with any programs or files on that computer. Owners also have the ability to blank the screen of the remote PC, lock the keyboard, or change screen resolution. It is available from the App Store for $30.
Now AAPL Stock: 91.89 ( -1.51 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R