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Icons, dialog show iTunes 4.9 ready for ‘iPod Phone’

imageIn further confirmation that iTunes 4.9 is ready for the long-awaited Motorola iTunes-compatible phones, which Engadget suggests will begin with the TransFlash-card capable Motorola E790, iLounge forum member “celebi23” has discovered several mobile phone icons and dialog strings in the application.

Following on the heels of an earlier discovery of an icon that resembles the popular Motorola RAZR phone, and reports that some current Motorola phones can already communicate with iTunes, Celebi23 uncovered a generic mobile phone icon that will appear in the source column of iTunes.

As previously reported, hidden files in iTunes 4.9 are riddled with references to an “iPod Phone.” Celibi23 verifies this information and provides details of preferences for such a phone, including options very similar to those of the iPod shuffle, crediting most of the dialog discoveries to Macshrine.com.

Users will apparently be able to use AutoFill with an iTunes-compatible phone, convert songs to a lower bit rate before loading them, display album artwork on the phone, and choose how many songs versus data to store. Additionally, iTunes will seemingly enable users to name their phones, transfer podcasts to them, and update their contacts. A reference to “iPodmobile” remains obscure.

Mix: Refurb shuffles, Teen murder, iPodResQ, Motorola E790

The online Apple Store is offering factory refurbished 512MB iPod shuffles for $79 and 1GB iPod shuffles for $99. The store also has deals on the discontinued 20GB iPod (black and white display) and the 30GB color display iPod.

A 15-year-old Brooklyn boy was fatally stabbed Saturday by two other teenagers in an iPod mugging, police said. “Rose and three friends were accosted by a group of young men Saturday evening in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn,” reports AP. “Members of the group demanded Rose’s iPod and stabbed him twice in the chest when he resisted. The group fled, taking Rose’s iPod and a backpack.”

iPodResQ has announced new discounts for its iPod repair programs. You can get $10 off the iPodResQ 24 Hour Nationwide iPod Repair Program with code “MEXICO”, and $10 off the iPodResQ 4G iPod Flat-Rate LCD Same-Day Replacement Service with code “MALL”.

Engadget has new photos of a Motorola E790 running iTunes. “It might just be an engineering or a production sample, and we can’t guarantee whether this will actually be the first iTunes phone or not,” the gadget site says.

Live 8 charitable music events now underway across world

Every three seconds, a child dies in Africa from starvation or disease: 30,000 die every day. The continued presence of AIDS and armed conflicts, combined with a tremendous debt burden and widespread illiteracy, have kept the people of the African continent from achieving their deserved equality on the world stage.

Twenty years have passed since the worldwide charitable music event known as Live Aid took place. Today, the world’s wealth is more concentrated than ever before, and those without resources still need help - this time, your signature, not your money.

This weekend, millions of people have gathered at music events around the world to convince world G8 leaders that the era of misery in Africa should end. Cancelling the debts of impoverished African nations - wiping the slate clean - will enable these countries to use their money to help their own people, rather than paying interest on debts they will never clear. Your signature on the petition below could help convince the G8 to erase African debts, and aid these countries on the road to self-dependence.

Philadelphia, Paris, Johannesburg, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow, London, Cornwall, and Barrie, Canada are all taking part in today’s events. Top artists including Coldplay, Razorlight, The Killers, The Dave Matthews Band and iconmany, many more are participating to raise awareness for this effort.

Update: The song, icon“Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, which opened the Live 8 event in London performed by Sir Paul McCartney and accompanied by U2 is now available to download from the iTunes Music Store. Also available is the live rendition of the Beatles track icon“The Long and Winding Road” also performed by McCartney. Both tracks cost $.99 and all proceeds go to Live 8.

[News]  [Sign the petition]  [Learn more
[Join the iLounge Live 8 Forums Discussion]

New iPort In-Wall (IW) series announced, dated

image Following the successful launch of iPort (iLounge rating: B+) last year, the recently-formed iPort division of Dana Innovations has announced iPort In-Wall (IW), a new series of five iPort docking stations for the iPod. According to the company, the new iPort models “feature a universal docking system (patent pending) with a self-adjusting base plate that automatically conforms to any size iPod,” and represent “a dramatic leap forward in install-ability and future upgradeability.”

As contrasted with the original $600 iPort, the new models vary in suggested retail price from $200 to $1100. The IW-1 ($200) charges an iPod and outputs unbalanced audio and video, with an included wall plate for audio only; a video wall plate is optional. IW-1 is the only new iPort without an upgradeable motherboard.

The IW-2 ($350) adds an integrated IR receiver, and is compatible with optional feature cards for balanced audio ($275), balanced video ($325), and RS232 communications ($225). iPort’s RS232 card enables the docked iPod to provide metadata such as artist, track, and playlist information for viewing on separate video displays. The remaining three models are bundles of the IW-2 with various feature cards: IW-3 ($600) bundles the IW-2 with the balanced audio card, while IW-4 ($800) bundles the IW-3 with RS232, and IW-5 includes the IW-4 and the balanced video module.

All of the new IW series products except for the IW-5 and separate feature cards are now shipping; the remaining products will be available later this month.

Mophie debuts Song Sling for iPod shuffle

imageMophie has announced the Song Sling, a new iPod shuffle case and lanyard combo with integrated retractable earbuds. The Song Sling is priced at $39.99 and will be initially available in three colors—gray, blue and pink. It’s expected to ship beginning next month.

“Song Sling takes the basic lanyard concept to the next level,” says Mophie. “Its patent-pending design features concealed audio connections and retractable earbuds for ‘pull and play’ functionality. Song Sling raises the bar when it comes to style and convenience on the portable music scene.”

Mix: Indie Podcasts, Woz, GarageBand, Lance Armstrong

Frank Barnako of MarketWatch notes that Podcasts produced by bloggers and independent web publishers are holding their own with those from commercial or public broadcasters. “By my count Friday morning, 47 of the [100] most subscribed or downloaded podcasts were produced by independents.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has “six iPods including the iPod Photo, the shuffle and the iPod minis,” he recently said in Digital Life magazine. “My favorite is the U2 iPod. Each iPod contains a different type of music.” [via Macworld UK]

Apple has put together a tutorial on how to use its GarageBand music software to create your own Podcast.

Throughout this year’s Tour de France, SIRIUS will offer behind-the-scenes reports from Lance Armstrong and will offer daily reports via a free Podcast. [via MDN]

Apple ‘clear winner’ in music download web traffic

Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster has used web traffic information from Alexa to estimate the market share of download stores in his “traffic report card.”

Not surprisingly, Apple.com received an “A” rating. “In our minds, Apple.com earned an A as a result of having the largest 3 month percentage change in web traffic rank, which was up 11% and a reach increase of 11%,” Munster said. “Clearly, not all visitors to Apple.com use iTunes, but we do believe Apple traffic is indicative of interest in Apple’s iPod and iTunes.”

Munster also gave Napster an “A,” noting that Napster.com is the only other audio download website with an increase in rank (7%) and had a 21% increase in reach. “Napster’s marketing appears to be having a positive impact on traffic,” the analyst said.

Others included in the survey were Audible.com (Grade: B) and Real.com (Grade: C), both of which experienced drops in average traffic for the 3 months ending 6/30 over the three month average ending 3/30.

“We believe that Apple.com is the clear winner in our second grade report on the audio download industry,” Munster concluded. “Apple has the highest web traffic rank (64) of the four and also has seen the most increase in web traffic rank and reach over the past 3 months.”

Sonic Impact offers i-Fusion portable speakers

imageSonic Impact has announced the release of the i-Fusion, a portable iPod speaker system mounted inside a zip-up hard carrying case. The product features a built-in iPod cradle and a rechargeable lithium ion battery that lasts approximately 15 hours. The device has aluminum cone speakers with neodymium drivers and “Maxxbass psycho-acoustic technology” with a ported cabinet to improve bass. The i-Fusion works with all iPods with Dock Connectors, measures 9 x 7 x 2.5 inches and weighs under 2.25 lbs. It will be available in August for $149.

HP now selling iPod shuffle

Hewlett-Packard announced on Friday that it has added the iPod shuffle to its lineup of HP-branded iPods. The “iPod shuffle from HP” is identical to Apple’s version and comes in both the 512MB ($99.99) and 1GB ($129.99) sizes. The HP iPod shuffle is available now online at hpshopping.com and will soon be at major retailers, including Radio Shack, Sears and Wal-Mart. HP now sells all current iPods except for the special edition U2 iPod.

Apple executive: Updated iPods still ‘4th generation’

Clarifying ambiguities over the actual “generation” or version number of the updated iPods released this Tuesday, a senior executive with Apple Computer confirmed to iLounge this evening that the new color-screened devices are still considered by the company to be “4th generation” (4G) iPods.

While the executive did not provide further naming details, Apple has been calling the new models “iPod with color display” in various support documents and software release notes. The company has publicly referred to the last two major iPod revisions, the iPod With Dock Connector (with a touch wheel and four touch-sensitive buttons) and the Click Wheel iPod, as “third-generation” and “fourth-generation” models, respectively. With Tuesday’s iPods still considered part of the fourth-generation family, one can now safely assume that Apple is saving the “fifth-generation” moniker for an all-new iPod yet to be revealed, perhaps conveniently at the same time as version 5.0 of iTunes.

Thanks to Apple for providing this clarification to iLounge and our readers. We’ve modestly updated our new iPod and U2 iPod reviews, accordingly, to reflect the “color 4G” name.

Griffin ships iVault aluminum iPod shuffle case

imageGriffin Technology is now shipping its iVault aluminum case for the iPod shuffle. The machined aluminum case, which came about through a collaboration with iLounger Greg Gutierrez (“helixipod”), completely encloses the iPod shuffle while allowing access to the control pad, earphone jack, LED light and slider switch. The iVault sells for $19.99 and comes in five anodized colors—silver, blue, red, green and purple—and ships with a USB cable to sync/charge your iPod shuffle without removing it from the case.

Read iLounge’s review of the iVault.

iTunes Podcast subscriptions top one million

imageApple announced on Thursday that iTunes users have subscribed to more than one million Podcasts in just the two days since it launched the new iTunes Podcast Directory.

“With the release of iTunes 4.9, listeners are voting with their ears,” said Adam Curry, co-founder of the PodShow Podcast Network. “Subscriptions have dramatically increased across our entire PodShow Podcast Network, and I predict over the coming months that iTunes will introduce tens of millions of new listeners to the world of Podcasting.”

“Podcasting is like cappuccino,” said August Trometer, developer of iPodderX. “Gourmet coffee was around for a long time, but it took Starbucks to put it on the map. Apple is like the Starbucks of Podcasting and advertisers will take us more seriously now.”

“iTunes has done what possibly no one else could have accomplished, propelled Podcasting into the mainstream,” said Will Lewis, management consultant for KCRW. “Our servers have been swamped with a stratospheric increase in traffic. In fact, downloads have increased tenfold as a result of the iTunes 4.9 launch.”

Mix: Podcasting FAQ, Chicago 12, iPod PowerBook, Prestopod

Apple has posted a helpful page of frequently asked questions on podcasting.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out that this week’s simplification of the iPod lineup brings an end to the use of Chicago 12 as the device’s font. “The color-display iPods use Myriad, the Minis use Espy Sans, and the Shuffles use, well, nothing.”

Apple has apparently filed a patent for a laptop with that uses an iPod mini for its touch pad.

Prestopod is a new podcasting service for radio stations that will “help community and independent radio stations reach a wider audience of music lovers, is designed to be simple, fast and cost-effective.”

Analyst: Family of iTunes phones due by Christmas

BusinessWeek reports that Apple and Motorola will roll out an entire range of iTunes-compatible mobile phones this year. Citing a recent research note by RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Sue, the magazine said the family of phones will range from low end to high end and will be available before Christmas. Sue said the first phone will be announced within a month and will be marketed by Cingular.

“All parties involved—Motorola, Cingular, and, perhaps most of all, Apple—have much to gain from the hookup,” says BusinessWeek. “The move could help them take the pole position in a promising new market—delivering digital music to cell phones, a device that has become the center of the digital lifestyle for millions of people around the world.”

The BusinessWeek report says that Cingular could get a short-term exclusive right to iTunes. “The carrier also will likely get a share of revenues from music downloads, which will, at least at first, be done the old way: Users will download a song onto their computers and then move it onto their iTunes phones. Eventually, should Cingular unveil a service for wireless downloads direct to a cell phone, it might get a larger share of the revenues or keep any premium charged for the on-the-go service.”

DLO offers mountable USB cable for iPod shuffle

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced the DLO USB Dock Cable, a mountable 4-Foot USB cable with a docking cap designed specifically for the iPod shuffle. The $19.99 product allows you to easily charge/sync your shuffle and mounts to any surface with included white Velcro tabs.

“The DLO USB Dock Cable frees up adjacent connectors that would otherwise be blocked by the extra-wide iPod shuffle,” says DLO. “It plugs into any free USB port with a standard size plug, and with its 4-foot length, offers a super-handy connection port, providing easy in-and-out access for the shuffle.”

Poll results: How big is your biggest iPod?

With over 5,000 votes from iLounge readers, our last poll has now closed. In response to the question, “How large is your biggest iPod?”, we saw some seriously interesting results.

The most popular “big” iPod size amongst responding readers is the 20GB iPod, with more than a quarter of our readers choosing that to hold their music libraries. In fact, nearly three-quarters of our responding readers have iPods of 20GB or greater capacity, while comparatively very few (3%) rely on iPod shuffles as their top iPods.

To view the complete results, check out our Polls page. And please vote on the newest poll, “how small is your smallest iPod?”, which is found in the left column under Ask iLounge.

Mix: NECC, $105 1GB shuffle, FeedBurner, Piper Jaffray

iPods and podcasting were popular attractions in Apple’s booth at the 2005 National Educational Computing Conference in Philadelphia this week.

Following a $20 price cut yesterday, Buy.com is offering the 1GB iPod shuffle for $124.99 with free shipping. A $10 off coupon and $10 mail-in rebate brings the price down to $104.99. [via DealNews]

RSS management company FeedBurner announced today that it will soon “provide the ability to enter additional podcast description data via our SmartCast service, which we will ensure gets delivered with the appropriate RSS extensions to iTunes, Odeo, and others.”

Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster said he sees yesterday’s announcement of updated iPods as “a mild positive for Apple’s MP3 player market share” and expects “more significant iPod related announcements in the Fall-05 timeframe.”

iLounge awards ‘A’ rating to new color iPods, first since May 2003

For only the third time in iLounge’s nearly four-year history, the Editors of iLounge have awarded a flat “A” rating to an iPod—the newly introduced color fourth-generation iPod (20/60GB). Previous iPods to receive this rating were Apple’s breakthrough third-generation iPod, reviewed in May 2003, and the second-generation iPod (Mac version), reviewed in August 2002.

From our reviews of the new iPods, which are now on the site:

“It would have been easy to pass on re-reviewing Apple’s newest 20GB iPods—after all, they’re little more than cheaper, lower-capacity versions of the 30GB iPod photo released only four months ago. That simple fact has elicited groans and tears from the most devoted iLounge readers, particularly those who purchased black-and-white-screened iPods only recently.

But to view the new iPods from the perspective of existing owners would clearly miss the significance of what Apple is now offering to new potential buyers: a color-screened, photo-capable 20GB digital music player with unparalleled ease of use and the best software package on the market, all at a lower suggested retail price than any major competitor. Similarly, its bigger 60GB brother and black-bodied U2 clone are more affordable than ever before, while continuing to possess all of the key features that made them stand out at their October 2004 introductions. Owners of black-and-white-screened iPods may complain, yet there’s little doubt that they’d quickly upgrade if given the right incentive.”

Marc Jacobs unveils designer iPod cases

imageWell-known fashion designer Marc Jacobs has released a new case for the iPod and iPod mini.

The “Marc Jacobs Collection Music Holder” comes in black, cherry and aquamarine (shown) calf leather, has a suede lining, and features a polished nickel belt/bag clip and a “Marc Jacobs” nameplate. It has openings for the screen, Click Wheel and top ports.

The designer case for fourth-generation iPods sells for $175, while the iPod mini version costs $150.

Forums: iTunes 4.9, iPod reshuffle, 5G’s unwanted, Audiophile?

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums: now that Apple has upgraded iTunes to 4.9, share your thoughts and experiences with other readers in the iTunes for Mac Forum and iTunes For Windows Forum.

With the news that the iPod lineup has been streamlined, there are many opinions on the wisdom and benefits of this move. You can register your feelings here.

While everyone is stating what they would like to see on the next generation iPod, one reader has asked a good question: “What Would You NOT Like To See on the 5G iPod?” Want Apple to keep the iPod ‘simple’? Speak up!

What is an audiophile? In this post one reader asks this very question, and will hopefully have his answer!

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