Redesign, software heralds major improvements
Recently, Electronista got its hands on the latest version of the Airport Express, which has undergone a recent redesign. While the previous version was widely considered a good deal (even at its retail price of $99) due to its ease of setup and unobtrusive design, the new version trades in the direct-plug approach for an Apple TV-type look and several important new features, backed up by a new version of Airport Utility.
Apple Airport Utility 6 looks like iOS version
Apple took a surprise step Monday by completely reworking its desktop AirPort app. AirPort Utility 6.0 (14.1MB) is reworked to look like its iOS counterpart and starts off with a visual topography for the user's network including the active status and whether or not updates are waiting. Any router on the network, and the Internet connection itself, gets a pop-over that shows both common settings as well as an option to edit settings for that device.
B and O BeoSound 5 Encore reaches US
Bang & Olufsen set out to have an upscale approach to networked media hubs Monday and unveiled the BeoSound 5 Encore. The device serves as both a central control and aggregator for media in the home, both taking in music from the local network as well as serving as a gateway for most any USB and line-in device, including external hard drives, iPods, and AirPlay through an AirPort Express. As many as eight of the 10.4-inch touchscreen devices can be linked together and share the same collection eve as they play music in different rooms.
New AirPort routers may share iOS foundations
An off-hand tip in a report late Thursday hinted that Apple's upcoming Time Capsules would borrow a cue from the current Apple TV. One source said that the new router, and possibly regular AirPort devices, would use either an A4 or an A5 chip and a heavily modified iOS foundation. The Ars Technica contact made no mention as to why, but it's presumed the backup option would require more computing power.
Apple stocks out of AirPort, Time Capsule
Multiple reports Wednesday night slipped word that Apple retail stores were running out of the company's wireless routers. A number of readers mention the AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule all being out of stock, often all at the same time. MacRumors had heard just of stockouts, but TUAW had heard that even one store with stock might have been asked to return unsold inventory, indicating that it was a discontinuation, not just a supply issue.
Sonos AirPlay and Android intro with test
Sonos on Tuesday rolled out two major supported updates at once. Audio devices like the ZonePlayer S5 can now pipe audio through AirPlay using an indirect route. Wiring up an AirPort Express to a Sonos device through Ethernet and the line-in jack will let any AirPlay audio go through a ZonePlayer as though it were another source on the network.
Apple TV 3.0 and price cut accomplish little
Most of Apple's networking peripherals sold only adequately during 2009, according to data from the NPD Group. The firm notes that Apple TV sales were up less than 10 percent in 2009, continuing a lethargic trend that emerged in 2008. The product has not been helped materially by the release of the Apple TV 3.0 firmware -- adding features like Internet radio -- or a price cut down to $229.
Apple Black Friday discounts active in US
Apple as promised has launched its Black Friday sale, currently ongoing in the US, Canada and Europe. The Friday-only discounts are highlighted by a $101 price cut for all iMac and MacBook Pro models regardless of size. The iPod touch also sees heavy discounts, bringing the 64GB model down to $358, the 32GB version to $268 and the 8GB model down to $178.
AirPort 5.4.2 fixes bugs
Apple today released an update to its software for its line of branded wireless routers, including the AirPort Express Base Station, the AirPort Extreme Base Station, and Time Capsule. AirPort Utility 5.4.2 includes general fixes and compatibility updates for the following applications: AirPort Utility and AirPort Base Station Agent, Apple said. It also also installs AirPort Disk Utility on Macs running Tiger. An updated version for Windows PCs is also available.
AirPort, Time Cap. 7.4.1
Apple has released a combined update for AirPort base stations and the Time Capsule, bringing all of the devices' firmware up to v7.4.1. Though mainly intended for new dual-band models, the firmware can also be applied to older hardware; in the latter case it enables remote administration, and remote access to attached USB drives through Back to My Mac, though not for an AirPort Express. Creating Time Machine backups on a Time Capsule has also been made more reliable.
Apple TV infringement suit
In Apple's latest legal battle, a wireless-entertainment company has sued the computer-maker for patent infringement, according to InformationWeek. EZ4Media submitted the filings to a Louisiana court, claiming that Apple TV, Airport Express, and even Mac computers infringe on a number of its patents. The company had originally purchased the patents from Universal Electronics (UEI) in March and alleges that three UEI employees left to work for Apple approximately a year before the launch of Apple TV.
iTunes 8 & AirPort Express
Apple's newly-released iTunes 8 may be causing problems for owners of AirPort Express routers, complaints on Apple forums suggest. Accounts mention the software displaying error codes when trying to use the AirTunes option, used to stream music wirelessly to remote speakers. Once an Express is connected to distant speakers, iTunes normally allows users to pick a particular set of audio outputs.
Airport Express, Time Cap
MacNN recently posted reviews for both the new Apple Airport Express and the 500GB Time Capsule. Through the course of testing, MacNN's own Wallace Wang found the Express to be a good value for home users, as it supports a wide range of wireless standards, provides printer and audio sharing, as well as compatibility with PCs. The addition of the Draft N standard to the device allows it to remain current with Airport cards in machines.
AP Express adds 802.11n
Confirming some earlier rumors, Apple has officially updated the AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n Wi-Fi. The technology is claimed to be as much as five times faster than the 802.11g used on the previous generation of AirPort, with twice the range. The update compliments 802.11n upgrades to other Apple products, including the AirPort Extreme router and its most recent Mac computers.
Airfoil 3 audio utility
Rogue Amoeba on Thursday released Airfoil 3, an update to its software utility for AirPort Express users. Airfoil allows users to send virtually audio to Apple's AirPort Express, from media players such as RealPlayer and QuickTime to audio websites (e.g., Pandora, Last.fm). Version 3 lets users transmit any audio to multiple AirPort Express units, providing "perfect" synchronization between units, the company claims. In addition, audio can now be played through local computer speakers -- in sync with remote playback. Version 3 also enables any Mac to be used as a "virtual AirPort Express" using the included (and free) Airfoil Speakers application. Airfoil Speakers allows any Mac to appear in Airfoil as a standard output, enabling audio to be synchronously transmitted to any Mac.