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The Federal Trade Commission has initiated an investigation surrounding ties between board members at Apple and Google, according to the New York Times. Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson hold positions as simultaneous board members of both companies. Unnamed sources familiar with the matter claim Apple and Google have been notified by the commission that an antitrust inquiry has begun.
Following a leak on Monday, a new report confirms that Amazon.com unveil a new larger-screen version of its Kindle e-book reader with an improved web-browser later this week at an abruptly announced press conference for May 6th, while Engadget has posted new alleged photos and specs of the new device, claiming that it has an 9.7-inch display -- compared with the current 6-inch screen -- along with a built-in PDF reader the ability to add annotations in addition to notes and highlights.
A recent Consumer Reports issue compared a variety of computer systems, giving high ranks to Apple in several categories. MacBooks received top honors in the 13-inch category, the 14-inch to 16-inch range and the 17-inch lineup. The 15-inch MacBook Pro established the highest score, with 75 out of 100, while the Toshiba Satellite was given a score of 64. Dell and HP devices also established a number of the higher ranks.
EyeTwig has released a beta version of its first program for Mac, iTracker. The program enables users to move the mouse cursor with head gestures, essentially rendering the mouse unnecessary. Facial recognition technology tracks the movement of the user's face through the iSight camera built into most Macs. The program translates facial movement into cursor movements, allowing users to control the the cursor by looking where they want it to go. To click using iTracker, users hold their head in one place.
Apple may be ready to loosen rules regarding objectionable content with the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0. The company recently rejected Newspapers, an app developed by Makayama, for containing objectionable content, according to iLounge. The app provides access to a variety of content from other publishers such as the New York Times and Frankfurter Algemeine.
In brief: Native Instruments has announced a new deal that will be offered until the end of June. Any purchase of the controller-equipped version of Kore 2 will entitle the customer to a free download of the KORE Electronic Experience. The package offers six different soundpacks including Best of ABSYNTH, Deep Transformations and Synthetic Drums Reloaded. Meanwhile, The Final Cut Pro User Group has announced a new SuperMeet to be held in London, England following the success of the recent 8th Annual NAB FCPUG SuperMeet. The events provide attendees the opportunity to both learn about the latest technologies utilized in postproduction and broadcasting, and to meet with other enthusiasts and professionals.
Dekorra has released EazyDraw 3.1, an update to its flagship program for generating vector images. The software is fully compatible with the new MacBook glass trackpads and recognizes gestures to manipulate graphics and change the size of viewing windows. The latest version also introduces several new tools including a "Clear Color" tool for removing background image colors, and a "Corner Tool" used for creating various edge styles. Additionally, EazyDraw 3.1 fixes bugs from previous versions, such as image size accuracy and drag-and-drop problems.
IK Multimedia has released two software updates, AmpliTube Fender 1.0.1 and AmpliTube X-Gear 1.3.1. AmpliTube Fender offers a selection of 45 classic and modern Fender guitar and bass amps, cabinets, stompboxes, and rack effects. Amplitube X-Gear allows users to customize their own guitar sounds, with access to 195 amps and effects from all current AmpliTube software. Both programs have fixed small glitches, such as pedal displays and reverb values, along with memory and CPU optimizations.
TechRestore has announced a new upgrade service that replaces the display on white and black 13-inch MacBooks with a matte-finish screen. Instead of applying an anti-glare cover, the service completely replaces the gloss-finish screen with a matte variant. All specifications are claimed to match the original, including color depth, resolution and viewing angle. The original plastic case and front bezel are reused.
RSS DreamFeeder 2.5 ($50) is a Dreamweaver extension that can help users create and edit RSS feeds. The tool allows users of Adobe's Dreamweaver to publish RSS feeds without having to retype any of the content and without the need for prior XML or RSS knowledge. Version 2.5 is now compatible with with CS4 and features improved RSS and ATOM generation. The update has also added an automated entry removal feature that automatically removes a feed entry if the source is removed. [Download - 3.2MB]
Today's featured DealNN deals include cameras, routers, iMacs and more. Most noteworthy today is the refurbished 20-inch 2.0GHz iMac from Apple's online store. It is regularly priced at $1099, but has been reduced by $300 to $799. This iMac has a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, with 1GB of memory and a 250GB hard drive. Features include AirPort Extreme wireless, Bluetooth, iSight webcam, microphone and 8x SuperDrive.
Samsung recently announced some specs of what looks like the 8-series plasma HDTV first shown at CES. The 50-inch 850 PAVV is just 1.14 inches (29mm) thick and houses the tuner. Samsung says it's also 40 percent more energy efficient and, at about 57lbs, 20 percent lighter than the corresponding previous-generation model.
Global Delight has released Voila 2.0, an update to its application for capturing and sharing screenshots. The software offers a revamped user interface, with options to toggle a lock on annotations, zoom the image view on the canvas or move layers. A new image organizer contains all of the snapped images in a central library. The images can also be configured as customized or rule-based collections, with the ability to add tags and comments to each file for quicker searches.
Lenovo today inadvertently confirmed plans to rework its 10-inch S10 netbook through a user guide (PDF) for the new model. Currently known as the IdeaPad S10-2, it would have a friendlier design with rounded corners and a new display hinge but, importantly, would come with a 3G modem and a user-accessible SIM card slot behind the battery. In exchange, the ExpressCard/34 slot would be removed.
DLO has announced the immediate availability of the Jam Jacket Game, a silicone case for the second-generation iPod touch. The case is designed specifically for gaming, and adds both grip as well as protection. The Game also features a removable wrist strap, and a clear surface shield, protecting the screen from bumps and scratches. Openings allow access to all necessary controls, as well as the dock connector. The case is currently selling for $20.
Following the success of its PC version, Inglobe has released a Mac AR-media plugin for Google SketchUp. The ARplug-in allows users to study and analyze their SketchUp designs in "augmented reality," by creating a virtual model of a design in the real physical space around them. This is done by simply printing a code onto a piece of paper, and utilizing a webcam. The plugin creates a virtual model that moves with the camera so it can be seen from all angles.
RunCore recently announced it will soon begin shipping its RunCore Pro IV 2.5-inch solid state drives. The SATA II disks are unusual in their bundling a drive case, allowing users to backup their existing data or otherwise use the disks externally before removing their traditional hard drive. The SATA case can then be used together with the old hard drive as an external storage device.
A leaked series of images reveals the line-up of handsets T-Mobile will soon carry and some specifics regarding them, such as official names and color choices. Chief among the revelations is that the successor to the original Android phone, the HTC-built T-Mobile G1, will most likely be called the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G, and not the previously expected G2. The phone is already known in the UK under its regular HTC name, Magic. While pricing and ship dates for the handset are still unknown, what appears to be the inventory screen does reveal the device will be offered in black, white and merlot hues.
AT&T is about to expand its netbook tie-ins to include the 10-inch Acer Aspire One, according to a leaked memo. A source passing on the note to BGR says that at least Costco will be selling a version of the portable with 3G ready to be used with AT&T's network. Other details are unclear, but the systems are likely to have some of their cost subsidized and also to sell at AT&T stores.
Barton Springs has released Grackl, a new instant messaging application for the iPhone. The app aims to combine social networking and personal messaging, with functions that allow the creation and control of groups, and the management of group members. The application supports images within conversations, and also includes an automatic archiving feature that allows users to look at previous conversations.
MSI late last week confirmed its plans for larger X-Slim notebooks through a quiet release at a Japanese event. In addition to the 13.4-inch X340, the company also says its larger 14- and 15.6-inch versions will be labeled the X400 and X600, each of which arrives in the "near future." Their specifications are still unknown but should include other variants of Intel's CULV ultraportable processors and display resolutions of 1366x768 or higher.
Basset Software has released an update to its flagship application, Debtinator. The program is designed to help reduce wasteful spending in order to pay down debt. Debtinator 3.0 includes a new transaction ledger, enabling users to track all financial activities. The program also introduces a payment planning feature that generates up to 21 different debt repayment strategies. Schedules can be adjusted if payments are missed.
The Mac and Linux editions of Quake Live are rapidly approaching release, claims id Software's Marty Stratton. The game is a web-based version of id's first-person shooter, Quake III Arena, playable through browser software instead of a separate executable. At the moment however, Live can only be accessed as a beta through the Windows versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Confirming his company's technology path, Research in Motion co-chief Jim Balsillie on Monday told those at the company's Capital Markets Day keynote that more touchscreen phones in the vein of the BlackBerry Storm are in development. While not willing to enter into specifics, the executive says there are "next-generation devices" in the pipeline and that Storm-like devices would be needed to push deeper into the mainstream, where touchscreens are more popular than in the keyboard-centric work market.
Samsung today said it would start shipping a new wave of its phase change RAM (PRAM) in June. The technology now comes in a 512MB chip and combines the advantages of both NAND and NOR flash memory: it has the random access speed of NOR memory but can keep data permanently like NAND, letting it serve as storage. Samsung estimates that it can process data as much as 30 times faster than a combination using typical RAM and storage.
Cincinnati Bell Wireless on Monday announced it is the first US carrier to offer the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic smartphone in the US. Before today, those who wanted the handset in the country had to pay $400 for an unlocked but also unsubsidized device. Otherwise, the smartphone includes its stock 3.2-inch, 360x640 touchscreen, a web browser with Adobe Flash support, an integrated GPS sensor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0.
A date has been set for Microsoft to defend itself against European antitrust charges, Reuters reports. Between June 3rd and the 5th, representatives for Microsoft are expected to testify in a closed hearing before the European Commission, elaborating on the outlines of a written response submitted on April 28th. The company was originally ordered to reply by March 12th, but was granted two extensions, first to April 21st and then the 28th.
2 Minute Mysteries - The Bank Robber (free) is the beginning of a ten part series of interactive mystery games for the iPhone and iPod touch. Players take on the role of a detective who's goal is to solve various crimes around the city. Each episode is brief, as the name implies, and vary in location, theme and suspects, although all revolve around the same fictional detectives. In this episode players find an infamous bank robber in his hotel dead and must figure out if it was a suicide or not.
Developer Aptonic says it is preparing Dropzone, a new utility for Mac OS X. The app extends the functions of the Dock, allowing users to drag objects to a single icon in order to accomplish one of several tasks. Users can for instance choose to install software, or move a file to the Downloads folder. Various files can be attached to e-mail or sent to an FTP server, while images specifically can be uploaded to Flickr or Skitch.
Samsung is likely preparing to bring the Android-based i7500 to T-Mobile USA later this year, a roadmap slipped out today shows. The calendar shows TmoToday a device nicknamed the Houdini shipping sometime in the fall as well as a small image of its visual design, which appears reminiscent of the i7500's candybar touchscreen that was just announced last week. Its pricing, as well as a large portion of the roadmap, remain blacked out and likely tentative.
AT&T today began shipping its promised Nokia E71x to its stores. The Symbian S60 smartphone is a close cousin of the reference version already reviewed here but adds AT&T Navigator, Quickoffice for on-phone editing of Microsoft Office files, and can access AT&T's music and video download and streaming services. The carrier also sees it as an advanced messaging device for those who want e-mail, IM and SMS on a real smartphone platform.
app4mac has released a beta version of a new online backup application, Twin 1.0. The program is compatible with several formats, including FTP, Amazon S3, MobileMe and others. It also offers 256-bit AES encryption, and backup to external drives should a computer be offline.
NAVIGON today said it would quit its GPS device business in North America but may offer its software on the iPhone and other platforms in return. The company doesn't tell GPS Business News how quickly it expects to leave but says the decision stems from too-stiff competition at the low end of the GPS business. Where its business had been comfortable as long as large rivals like Garmin and TomTom kept their navigator prices higher, the push down to as low as $99 (for a TomTom ONE) has left NAVIGON with little way to differentiate itself.
DirecTV this morning said it would merge with the eventual spinoff of Liberty Entertainment from Liberty Media. The deal is meant to simplify Liberty Media's own structure but puts the satellite TV provider together with TV channels themselves, including the Game Show Network and 3 local sports stations. Executives at DirecTV will keep their positions, though the move will still have Liberty Media founder John Malone and trusts have about a 24 percent stake in the new venture.
As promised in early April, Cyan Worlds has launched an iPhone version of Myst, its signature adventure game. The title is sized at 727MB, making it one of the largest downloads available through the App Store. The original Mac version from 1993 was in fact smaller, having been released on a single 650MB CD-ROM.
PC builder MSI on Monday announced the upcoming release of a pair of gaming-oriented notebook PCs, the 15.4-inch GX623 and GX633. The GX623 uses an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and ATI's Radeon HD 4670 3D graphics processor with 512MB of video RAM, while the GX633 runs on AMD's Turion X2 dual-core CPU paired with NVIDIA's GeForce GT 130M with its own 512MB of video RAM. Either uses MSI's power management feature that switches between five modes suitable for different tasks by pressing a button.
AT&T on Monday revealed that it will finally pick up the BlackBerry Curve 8900 in early summer. The smartphone is a major update to the outgoing 8300 series with a much sharper 480x360 display as well as a 3.2-megapixel camera, the latest BlackBerry OS and both GPS as well as Wi-Fi in a single device. AT&T's version will have support for its AT&T Navigator mapping service as well as streaming music through XM Radio Mobile and phone searches through a Yellow Pages app.
BlackBerries nearly dominated iPhones in US smartphone sales for the start of 2009, the NPD Group said today in a new study. The market researchers note that the top-selling phone line from the quarter ended in March was the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series, which edged out the iPhone 3G at second place. Of the top 5 phones, 3 were BlackBerries and included the touchscreen Storm in third place and the non-flip Pearl in fourth. The lone Android phone in the US, T-Mobile's G1, occupied the fifth spot.
Apple has rejected an update to a pre-existing iPhone app, according to the lead of the industrial band Nine Inch Nails. In a video (see below), Trent Reznor describes the app as a companion to the NIN website, making it simpler to access hosted music, photos, videos and forums. But the NIN Access 1.0.3 update has been tossed out as a result of what Apple is calling "objectionable content," in the form of The Downward Spiral.
A new, upcoming 11.6-inch Eee PC netbook from ASUS, due to be released later in May, is estimated to account for nearly a third of all PC sales from the company, ASUS president Jerry Shen said on Monday. According to a report, ASUS expects half of all sales to come from its 10-inch Eee PC model range in 2009. Shen added that ASUS is also planning on launching 14-inch models later this year.
RIM this morning said it had launched a new push API (application programming interface) for third-party BlackBerry apps using Java. Previously only available through the enterprise server, the feature will let software get real-time alerts for news, games and other information without having to keep the program active. It can use either the cellular network or Wi-Fi and lets apps jump directly to the newest information when they open.
Amazon today quickly followed up on rumors of a larger Kindle reader today by announcing a press event for Wednesday the 6th at 10:30AM. The online retailer doesn't say what the event will include but is consistent reports of a new device being ready as early as this week and is holding it at Pace University, the original location for the New York Times' head offices and a likely indication of a deal with the newspaper for a new Kindle device.
Sprint today reported a first quarter that showed the company's losses at once expanding and stabilizing. The company's net losses grew from $505 million a year ago to $594 million in early 2009, a steep 18 percent drop. It also reported continued, but softened, subscriber losses from quarter to quarter as it dropped 182,000 total users, falling to 49.1 million customers. The number was helped by a large influx of customers drawn to Sprint's $50 unlimited plan on Boost Mobile but masks a sharp drop in users in its core business, where 531,000 CDMA users and 719,000 iDEN push-to-talk users left the service.
Amazon could be on the verge of launching a large-screen Kindle that would be key to saving large newspapers, a possibly last-minute leak has said on Monday. The online retailer is purported by the New York Times to be introducing a larger e-book reader ideally sized for magazines, newspapers and other large-format text. Its suitability is such that the Times itself is rumored to be a key part of the introduction, though a newspaper spokeswoman declines to comment despite the Times being the origin of the rumor itself.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.27 ( -0.72 )
HBO Now has 800,000 subscribers
The CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler has confirmed that the online streaming HBO service, HBO Now, has 800,000 subscribers. When criticized for the seemingly low number, Plepler noted that the still nascent service was bound to Apple exclusivity during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Plepler declared during the Time Warner quarterly earnings conference call marketing for the online-only offering would be enhanced in 2016. While HBO Now's critics are slamming the low numbers, the service must also compete against itself on cable, in addition to Netflix and other streaming services. http://on.recode.net/1QWoLHe
Unsafe IoT called threat to humanity
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told two different Senate committees yesterday that the Internet of Things posed a clear and present danger, and could be weaponized by governments. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper declared that insecure IoT "will bring new security vulnerabilities" and "will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited" by those wishing to perpetrate violence or eavesdrop on the populace of the world. http://bit.ly/23Xvcky
Apple public betas for iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4
Following Monday's release of betas for the iOS and OS X, Apple has unveiled public betas for both operating systems. The iOS 9.3 beta includes all of the previously reported enhancements for education customers, along with Wi-Fi calling for Verizon iPhone owners, and a carrier update for T-Mobile users. The OS X 10.11.4 third beta includes enhancements to Twitter URL opening, Live Photo viewing and sharing, and Evernote note importation into Notes.
Google given NHTSA SDS waivers
In contrast to the California Department of Motor Vehicle's approach, the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that it is declaring the software in autonomous cars is the legal driver of a so-equipped vehicle. In a letter to Google, the NHTSA says that it "will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants." Other matters, such as legally-required rear-view mirrors for occupied vehicles has yet to be determined. However, regulations specifying the "driver" need no longer be interpreted as meaning a person behind the wheel, as the agency writes that self-driving cars "will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years" http://1.usa.gov/1QrAGtR
Dropshare 4 for Mac now available
Dropshare 4 for Mac has shipped, introducing support for uploading files and screenshots to Amazon S3 API-compliant services, like DreamObjects and OpenStack. The update also introduces a new popup design, an in-app editor for custom landing pages, an improved upload history window, and security improvements when using SSH connections. The paid upgrade costs $25, though it is free for customers who bought the previous version this year and half-price for those who acquired version 3 of the app last year. http://bit.ly/1XixV3q
Google starting phase-out of Flash ads
Search engine and advertising giant Google will shortly no longer accept Adobe Flash-created ads for its AdWords network. Starting June 30, ads in the once-ubiquitous format will no longer be accepted. Additionally, after January 2, 2017, the network will no longer serve Flash-based advertisements, and the network will be completely HTML 5 based. http://bit.ly/1PNx1uc
Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko