In brief: MacNN has recently reviewed Rage Software's WebCrusher web-optimization tool and found it to be well documented and simple to use. Meanwhile, MacHeist has announced that the 2008 Mac Giving Tree is now up and running and visitors can get free Mac applications as a special Christmas present. Synium Software has also announced that it will offer a special 50 percent discount to customers making purchases on the 24th or 25th of December.
Mozilla developers have announced the second alpha of the Fennec browser for mobile devices. "While we focused much of the previous alpha on getting the user experience how we wanted," said Stuart Parmenter, manager of engineering. "Weíve spent much of the time since focused on improving performance." The update offers improved performance while panning, zooming, loading pages or starting the program. Touchscreen support has been added and the team has progressed compatibility with Windows Mobile and Symbian.
Snapture Labs has recently introduced its prototype SnaptureFlash hardware add-on for the original iPhone, letting the popular cell phone light up a dark scene for capturing photos. Snapture has traditionally offered software for the iPhone designed to enhance the device's photo-capturing capabilities and the SnaptureFlash is the company's first foray into manufacturing hardware. The piece doubles as a case, and includes an LED light in addition to the Xenon flash bulb to light up video scenes Ė a feat made capable by Snapture software.
Easy Piano ($1) is a virtual piano for the iPhone and iPod touch that includes recording capabilities. The application features a 14 key piano, 8 white keys and 6 black, meaning users have access to one full octave at a time. The keys are animated to appear pressed when click on and each features a high quality sound that is independent to each key meaning chords can be built by pressing multiple keys.
Genius recently announced that it will bring two new products to add to its lineup of devices that includes speakers, headphones, digital photo frames and more. The first of the new products is a wireless stereo speaker system (actual product not pictured) that works on the 2.4GHz frequency to transmit signals from a satellite speaker that doubles as a receiver to its simpler twin and a subwoofer. Range is said to be 100 feet and while other information is not known, there is a 3.5mm audio jack that lets users connect the system to their personal multimedia players, PCs or any other source with the ubiquitous connector.
AMD's RV740 GPU chip based on the 40nm manufacturing process is now reportedly finished its design cycle and is ready to be sent out to manufacturing plants, according to a Wednesday report. AMD will begin mass producing the RV740 at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which also makes chips for other companies, by the end of the first quarter of 2009. Around the same time, competitor NVIDIA is also due to complete its tape-out of the 40nm GT212 GPU, with mass production also due to begin in the second quarter.
iStation, a brand of products owned by Korea's Digital Cube, has recently unveiled its latest portable media player in the form of the T3. The handheld device sports a 4.3-inch, 480x272 touchscreen that dominates its interface and will be offered in four versions, with 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or 32GB of internal memory. All variations will have an SDHC memory card expansion slot.
Korea's LG recently showed off an upcoming flip phone meant for fashion-conscious ladies. The HSDPA handset gives users the option to set one of 18 emoticons on the 1.1-inch external display. The internal screen is 2.4 inches in size with a 240x320 resolution. Photos captured by the 3-megapixel camera are stored on the internal 512MB of memory, along with music supported by basic media player functionality.
Nokia is apparently set to introduce a new candybar handset, the 6208 Classic, which would be the Finnish company's first product that combines a touchscreen with a conventional alphanumeric keypad and is believed to run on a modified Symbian S40 interface to support the touchscreen functionality or a newly developed OS. In contrast, the company's N97 touchscreen smartphone use the newer Symbian S60 OS. The handset is believed to be slated for China, where touchscreens make entering the plethora of writing characters.
Averatec's Korean home brand Trigem on Wednesday introduced the LLUON B2, the company's first large-sized all-in-one computer. In contrast to the earlier, Atom-based A1, the new model is targeted more closely at the high end occupied by the iMac or XPS One 24 and carries a 26-inch, 1920x1200 display in an upscale black design. The system uses its extra room to carry a 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad desktop processor versus the mobile chips of some challengers.
A number of iPhone app developers have voiced frustration with Apple over letters that read "unexpected additional time for review." While a few apps have been approved or denied in less than 24 hours, reports suggest that others are put into a lengthy review process that can take months. Perry Hart, creator of AutoMangle, described the system as "inadequate and down right amateur." He submitted a new app, ZombieMangle, in hopes of releasing the game before the holidays, but instead received the vague letter with no further details.
Turtle Beach has recently released a pair of headphones for computers and most available gaming consoles, including the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, though use with the latter requires an additional adapter. The Ear Force PX1 PS3 headphones use a 16-foot cable and an Audio Advantage Amiga USB sound card to make them usable with the PS3. The adapter also allows the Ear Force PX1s to be used as a USB-powered headset for a computer, while an optical connection lets users hook it up to their home theater system or compatible HDTV as well.
Sites using the term "netbook" to refer to the recent wave of mini notebooks are starting to receive cease and desist letters over its alleged infringement of a trademark for a Psion device with a similar name, say site owners reporting their problems to jkOnTheRun. The largely defunct PDA maker has claimed that various enthusiast pages are inadvertently using the name of its discontinued netBook and netBook Pro devices and is asking the sites to phase out use of the term by the end of March. Psion doesn't say what the consequences will be but warns that continued use will "damage" its trademarks.
Readdle has posted a v1.2 update to ReaddleDocs, its file management app for iPhones and iPod touches. The software lets people copy files to a handheld from numerous sources, such as Mac, Windows and Linux systems, and WebDAV-enabled online backup services such as MobileMe's iDisk. Users also have access to a built-in web browser, along with a document viewer.
Verismo Networks on Tuesday announced the release of its VN100SD device which allows users to watch YouTube videos and other online video content directly on their TVs without having to connect to a computer first. The PoD connects to TVs like a DVD player would, requiring a wired Internet connection via its Ethernet port, before offering an easy interface with YouTube.
ASUS has chosen Christmas Eve to upgrade its AIR Internet radios with a new, range-topping model. The AIR3 is both larger and more powerful than the original at 36W total but centers around a new iPod dock that lets the stereo charge and play any music from any dockable iPod up to and including the iPod touch. It also carries RCA and S-video output that support video from most or all iPods that can display movies and photos. An aux-in jack catches sound from both the iPod shuffle and any non-Apple player.
Cynical Peak Software has released two new programs in its Scorecard series, used to track golf scores and statistics. Scorecard 1.5 is an update to its core Mac program, which points out trends in some 30 different statistics for the sake of highlighting handicaps and anti-handicaps. Users enter round and course information themselves, which is then analyzed as a whole or in part. Results can be printed or exported for web publishing, and the app now supports basing figures on all tees for a course.
A leak of a 45W power adapter on Wednesday has revealed key details of Dell's Adamo notebook ahead of its official debut. Since changed to anonymize the description, the entry has previously described the power brick as designed specifically for the "Adamo Thirteen," confirming that at least one Adamo model will carry a 13-inch display and that the future system won't use any processor more demanding than the low-voltage Core 2 Duo chips used in Apple's MacBook Air, Lenovo's ThinkPad X301 or similar systems.
Peachpit Press has published AppleScript 1-2-3, a new guidebook for users and developers. The book is said to take readers step-by-step through the coding of AppleScripts, which can be used to automate many of the tasks a person normally performs on a Mac. 1-2-3 is particularly aimed at beginners, as it requires no previous programming experience, but is still said to offer information useful for experts.
Axiotron, developer of the Modbook tablet conversion, has announced plans to debut new software at January's Macworld Expo. The company will be showing off Quickscript, special handwriting recognition code developed with the help of Vision Objects. Whereas the Modbook's touch functions have traditionally been aimed at illustrators, photographers and graphic designers, Quickscript should enable more general functions by substituting for typing.
Lafayette, Louisiana yesterday revealed that it will soon become one of the first significant US cities to deploy a municipality-run fiber optic Internet connection. Lafayette Utilities System plans to launch the service with a combination of Internet, phone and TV services and will offer them either as part of bundles or as individual options. Internet service tops out as high as 50Mbps both downstream and upstream and will offer more bandwidth still for connections between users on the same network, doubling to 100Mbps.
iPod Converter 2.1 ($30) is a tool for converting video files to the mp4 format for use on an iPod. The software can covert most common video files including AVI, WMV, MOV, MPG, ASF, and DivX. Within iPod converter users can crop video area, the bit rate, frame rate and video resolution. The 2.1 update has enhanced support for AppleScript and Automator actions. [Download - 10.3MB]
Smith Micro is shipping Manga Studio Debut 4 and Manga Studio EX 4, its updated comic and manga art software for Windows and Mac OS X systems. The programs are designed to create casual- or professional-level artwork; Debut 4 features a beginnerís assistant, more screen tones and patterns, additional preset page templates and a color palette. For EX 4, the update includes added 3D objects, increased export formats, a story editor, mesh transformation and a professional filter set. Both apps offer advanced text input that allows text to be entered directly on a page, as well as an increased number of word balloons.
RightSprite has released Animoto Videos for the iPhone and iPod touch, an app that enables the creation of music videos using pictures and audio files. Users select anywhere from eight to 16 pictures, arrange them in a preferred order, and pick from a collection of songs in the program's library. Once a user had made desired choices, Animoto creates a slideshow video that can be stored or shared with other people.
The Blackberry Curve 8900 will be released on February 18th, 2009, alongside the Samsung Memoir handset with an 8MP camera, according to a Tuesday report. While this is not an official announcement from Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) and the source has not been revealed, the date is one week later than an earlier, allegedely leaked launch date of February 11th and narrows down a projected timeframe.
Research in Motion has posted an initial release, dubbed the Preview Version, of BlackBerry Media Sync for Mac. The software is used to sync iTunes libraries with RIM's BlackBerry phones, which may otherwise require third-party apps to load music from a Mac. Much as with regular iPod and iPhone syncing, Media Sync allows users to transfer select playlists to a BlackBerry, or else a randomly-chosen assortment of songs.
Research in Motion today filed a lawsuit against Motorola accusing the latter of blocking employees laid off or otherwise quitting from being hired by the BlackBerry maker. The complaint is the result of fallout between the two following an agreement struck this year to avoid poaching employees and charges Motorola with trying to artificially extend the agreement past a claimed August end date by refusing to let any ex-employees join RIM afterwards.
There is no conspiratorial effort being made to steal Apple's intellectual property, Psystar claims in federal court documents. Apple has accused Psystar of violating the license for Mac OS X Leopard by installing the software on third-party hardware; expanding on this, however, Apple has accused Psystar of having the help of 10 other people or companies, which it has been unable to name. "The true names or capacities, whether individual, corporate or otherwise, of these persons are unknown to Apple," a statement reads. "Consequently they are referred to herein as John Does 1 through 10."
Intel is deliberately countering pressure to open up Atom pricing and let PC makers use NVIDIA's Ion platform, according to reports of Intel's stance. The American chipmaker has responded to NVIDIA's attempts to rally support among PC makers for Ion by sending a new notice insisting that it will only sell Atom chips bundled with Intel-designed chipsets, blocking NVIDIA or other competitors from offering their own solution.
TransGaming has released Puzzle Quest Chapter 1: Battle of Gruulkar, now available for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game is the first of three parts in a port of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, originally released for the PC and consoles. With the first chapter, players can expect over 20 hours of gameplay as they battle evil lords to save the land of Etheria.
The initial leak of the extra-thin Adamo notebook was at least partly helped out by Dell, company spokesman Bob Kaufman tells the New York Times. The official notes that the teaser art that accompanied the original rumor on UptownLife was contributed by Dell as an ad and was meant to "wake up" the PC industry and "create some buzz" around the portable, which is widely expected to show at CES next month.
Sony on Christmas Eve stoked anticipation for CES with a new teaser for a new system on its Japanese website. Calling it only the "VAIO New Mobile," the site shows a wrapped computer that has the width of a netbook but a considerably shallower design, resembling almost identically the dimensions of the PCG-1P that has surfaced at the FCC in the US but without revealing additional details. The system is known to carry Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the option of 3G Internet access and is believed to be Sony's promised netbook equivalent.
Snapture Labs has announced SnaptureFlash, a xenon-bulb flash attachment for the iPhone. The device integrates with the Snapture app to allow automatic low-light detection and flash trigger. Both a xenon bulb and 0.3W white LED are built into a polycarbonate case that attaches to the back of the phone without obstructing the camera. A 320V 13μF capacitor is claimed to provide illumination 100 times brighter than conventional LED modules, while offering over 1000 captures in one charge.
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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
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
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl