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Roxio to launch iPod/iTunes software suite

imageRoxio this week will announce the Boom Box, a software bundle comprised of five Mac OS X applications designed to “reveal the iPod’s full power and potential.” The $49.95 suite includes Roxio’s CD Spin Doctor and the latest versions of four third-party software titles—MusicMagic Mixer, iPodderX, Audio Hijack and iSpeak It—to help users rediscover their music collection and to go beyond it with podcasts and Internet radio broadcasts.

CD Spin Doctor, which is available as part of Roxio’s Toast CD burning software, helps users digitize their LPs and tapes. It includes options for automatically detecting tracks, removing unwanted noise and enhancing sound quality.

MusicMagic Mixer from Predixis is an innovative application that creates “perfect playlists” by analyzing acoustic elements of each song in a user’s music library. The software is said to be able to match your mood with complementary playlists.

Roge Amoeba’s Audio Hijack is a powerful tool that lets users capture and save audio from nearly any application in real-time. Audio Hijack also offers scheduling options to record Internet radio shows and other broadcasts.

iPodderX from Thunderstone Media is the most popular podcast client for Mac OS X. The software lets users easily subscribe to podcasts and have them automatically downloaded to iTunes and synced to an iPod. The latest version, iPodderX 3.0, offers new media aggregation features.

ZappTek’s iSpeak It enables users to convert text-based documents such as web pages into spoken word audio files (MP3 or AAC) using the built-in text-to-speech capabilities of Mac OS X.

The Boom Box will be available from Roxio’s online store on Thursday and will be in retail stores on June 22. The package will come with a $10 rebate for iPod owners as well as coupons and offers from Wiley Books, and Belkin.

Apple threatens company over usage of ‘iPed’ name

imageThought Out, the company behind the iPed line of iPod stands, has been hit with a cease and desist notice from Apple regarding the use of the iPed product name. The accessory maker said Apple lawyers sent the letter on Monday, stating that the iPed name could confuse consumers, and weakens Apple’s brand strength.

“Thought Out’s position on this matter is currently neutral with no wishes to construe Apple or any consumer of either product brand,” the company told iLounge. “We simply created a well received product for the iPod consumer. The name iPed was derived from the word i-Ped-estal (with a definition posted on our website - and now the home page). Thought Out’s actions have not been decided for Apple’s request.”

Thought Out currently offers the iPed (iLounge rating: B-), the iPed 2 (iLounge rating: A-), and the iPed shuffle (iLounge rating: B+).

Sonnet adds car cradle to PodFreq

imageSonnet Technologies announced today that its PodFreq, PodFreq black, and PodFreq photo FM transmitters now include a custom-designed car cradle at no additional cost. Current PodFreq owners can purchase the car cradle for $14.95.

“This holder is designed for a secure, rattle-free fit and attaches to a vehicle mount (sold separately) with included hardware to create a parking space for PodFreq while you drive,” the company says. “The cradle features a soft liner that protects the back of PodFreq, and uses the standard AMPS/NEC mounting hole pattern (commonly used for cell phone mounts) that makes it compatible with a wide variety of vehicle mounts.”

Report: iTunes Music Store coming to Japan in August

Apple will launch a version of its iTunes Music Store in Japan this August, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday. The Nihon Keizai business daily said that major Japanese record labels, including Columbia Music Entertainment, Avex Group Holdings and Toshiba-EMI, have agreed to provide songs for the service, but that Sony Music Entertainment has yet to agree on contract terms with Apple. The paper said Japanese users will be able to download songs for around 150 yen ($1.40).

New hand-made iPod shuffle sleeves available

imageJocelyn Vilter of Charter Oak Rags let us know about her new line of hand-made iPod shuffle sleeves. She offers a variety of designs, including several jacquards, prints and solids. Each lightweight case features a detachable beaded lanyard. The iPod shuffle sleeves from Charter Oak Rags are priced at $10 each.

Meanwhile, Mercury Software Japan has introduced the iTabi shuffle, a new iPod Shuffle case made from embroidered gold fabric (kinran) traditionally used for making the kimono sash (obi) in Japan. “Like the ‘tabi’ or the traditional Japanese sock worn with kimono, iTabi protects your iPod while ‘on the road’ (another meaning of tabi).” The iTabi shuffle sells for $19.98.

WWDC: Jobs gives update on iPod, shows podcasting features

imageIn addition to announcing a transition to Intel processors for Macs, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered an update on iPod and iTunes sales, as well as a look at the upcoming podcast support in iTunes during his keynote speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.

Jobs said that 16 million iPods have been sold as of the end of March, accounting for 76% market share of all music players. He said more than 430 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store so far, and that it commands 82% of legal digital music sales.

The Apple chief next discussed the previously announced podcasting features of iTunes 4.9. Jobs called podcasting “iPod plus broadcasting,” “TiVo for radio” and “Wayne’s World for Radio.” He said that anyone can make it and get a worldwide audience, and said Apple sees it as the hottest thing going in radio right now.

Jobs said you can easily subscribe to the podcasts and have them automatically synced to your iPod. “We’re going to make this even easier,” he said. “We’re going to build it right into iTunes and iPod.” Jobs then went into a quick demo in which podcasts were shown in the source list of iTunes, and there was a podcast directory directly in the application. He quickly went to Adam Curry’s “The Daily Source Code” and then to KCRW public radio. Subscribing was as easy as clicking one button.

Finally, Jobs said that Apple plans to do its own podcast for iTunes Music Store releases every Tuesday, and revealed that artwork will be supported for each podcast.

Update: We’ve now posted our photo gallery from the WWDC keynote.

Windows: CopyPod 7 released

CopyPod 7 from WindSolutions is the latest version of the Windows application that allows you to backup, copy, and transfer music from your iPod to your PC. The new version includes fully automated iTunes importing, including Playlists, Ratings, Play Counts and Date Last Played. The software also adds an incremental backup function to update iTunes or a selected folder. CopyPod 7 sells for $19.90.

Merrill Lynch: It’s still the music at Apple

Following a meeting with Apple management in California, Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said that despite all of the news recently surrounding the company, Apple doesn’t want to get distracted from its music products.

However, Milunovich said Apple continues to downplay bringing video support to the iPod. “Movies take too long to download for now, are not watched over and over, and that unlike music there are many ways to acquire movies,” he said Apple pointed out. “Still, we think video capability (especially for music videos) could be added to the iPod.”

The analyst said that audio books and podcasting should contribute to iPod’s popularity, but that the Apple executives were not optimistic that satellite radio would take off.

Milunovich also said that Apple is not against a subscription service like those offered by its rivals, but the company still thinks most users want to own their music instead of “renting” it. “We think Apple could introduce a subscription service in the next year, which could be less profitable than selling songs initially though possibly more profitable long term if sub rates rise,” he said.

Milunovich said that Apple doesn’t expect iTunes to make much money. “Although moderately profitable, the company doesn’t seem optimistic that songs will be a major profit contributor,” the analyst said.

DLO Flexible Dock for iPod shuffle announced

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters has introduced the DLO Flexible Dock for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The $19.99 accessory is a 7-inch adjustable USB dock that lets you connect your shuffle to any computer. The company said it’s a perfect solution for those with recessed or tightly spaced USB ports, and that the gooseneck cable displays the shuffle for easy access.

“The DLO Flexible Dock frees up adjacent connectors that would otherwise be blocked by the extra-wide iPod shuffle,” DLO says. “It plugs into any free USB port with a standard size plug, then bends out of the way and offers a super-handy connection port, providing easy in-and-out access for the shuffle. It also prominently displays the shuffle right next to a person’s computer or screen.”

Forums: Brushed steel, iPod as lunch, Lego stands, top songs

A quick look at the iLounge Discussion Forums reveals a 5-star thread that has never been far from the top of the hot topics listing: the Brushed Steel iPod Tutorial. Clearly a popular iPod modification from its stats: 41 pages, 604 replies, and over 140,000 views.

One reader tells us about the loss of his iPod during an act of chivalry whilst helping a young lady with a horse. The moral of this sad iPod tale? Some animals will eat anything…

Need a quick project? Some readers have demonstrated their ability to turn plastic interlocking bricks into something useful. It can be viewed in the thread on Lego Stands. Post your results!

Finding yourself returning repeatedly to the same song on your iPod? Got a favorite tune? Read what other members are replaying again and again and add your favorite “Must Listen To Song.”

Mix: iPod heist, PodBrix, Wrigley’s, Earbud girl

LAPD detectives are investigating a multi-million dollar heist involving 12,000 stolen iPods.

PodBrix and have launched a limited edition photo series. Customers now have the option of being “iPodified” along with the PodBrix 1000 character.

One iPod fan has turned a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum into an iPod shuffle case. [via Engadget]

PodBuddies has introduced Earbud Girl 1.0, a new figurine that features a holder for your earbuds. It’s priced at $15.99.

Speck Hand Skin designed for jogging with your iPod

imageSpeck Products has introduced the Hand Skin, a new iPod case that was designed to help you keep a grip on your iPod while running, walking or doing other activities. The rubberized case features an adjustable and removable hand strap that “fits comfortably yet snug, so your iPod won’t slip or fall—even if you lose your grip.” It also offers removable screen and Click Wheel protectors, and fits all 4G iPods models (including iPod photos). The Hand Skin case is available in black/grey and blue/grey for $34.94.

Apple announces iPod recycling program

imageFollowing months of pressure from environmental activists, Apple today announced a free iPod recycling program with an added incentive. The company said that beginning today, “customers can bring iPods they no longer want to any of Apple’s 100 retail stores in the US for free environmentally friendly disposal, and those who drop off an iPod, iPod mini or iPod photo will receive a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new iPod that day.” Apple said that iPods received for recycling in the US are “processed domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas.”

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition has been pressuring Apple since late last year to do more with its environmental practices, claiming that the company doesn’t do enough to ensure that its products are disposed of properly. The group focused largely on the iPod and its hard-to-replace battery. Protests were staged outside Apple’s headquarters in January and during this year’s Macworld Expo a few days later. The group also picketed at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting in April.

The Toxics Coalition described the iPod as “a time-bomb for our health and environment because of the toxic metals that will either go into incinerators or landfills.” Apple has acknowledged the device does contain “a small amount of lead,” which the company says it is working to phase out. “To call the iPod an environmental time bomb is just inexcusable,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the shareholders meeting.

Mix: President’s Medal, AAPL, CD-quality, Thunderbird

The Royal Academy of Engineering will award its coveted silver President’s Medal to Apple design guru Jonathan Ive for “his outstanding achievements in engineering design and in particular in the design of the iPod, which represents the very best of human interface engineering.”

Shares of Apple dropped nearly 5% early Friday after saying Thursday that it had settled an iPod class-action lawsuit that could cost the company as much as $100 million.

In an article looking at CD-quality downloads, BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows reports: “If the digital music revolution is to reach its full potential—an all-digital future, perhaps, in which CDs racks are no longer needed—analysts say the industry will have to hit a far better-sounding note.”

Developers of the Mozilla Foundation’s Thunderbird have added podcasting features to the open-source e-mail client.

iPodStyles, Sumajin offer Shuffle Loop case

imageiPodStyles said it has teamed up with Sumajin to offer the Shuffle Loop, a new silicone case for the iPod shuffle. According to the companies, the Shuffle Loop was designed to protect the device with thicker silicone materials at the corners. The case is available in six colors—black, blue, clear, green, orange and pink—and can be purchased with a matching Smartwrap ($4.99) and earphone sponges ($1.30) to “complete the look.” The Shuffle Loop is priced at $8.

Forums: Weather tunes, beach wear, Audible books, repair

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums, as we move into the summer with its mix of good and bad weather, forum readers have asked the question: what are your 5 favorite sunny weather bands and what are your 5 favorite depressing rainy weather bands?

If you’re planning for a summer in the sun, you might want a beach friendly case to keep the sand and water at bay. See what others suggest for keeping your iPod safe in the harsh environment of the beach. And don’t forget to check iLounge’s official Case Reviews, too.

What better way to spend your time in the sun than enjoying the company of… a book? Here are some Audible book recommendations from other ‘loungers if you’re looking for a change from music…

Has the unthinkable happened and your iPod’s been damaged? As Apple’s warranty does not cover accidental damage, you can find help in the Service, Warranty, and Repair Q&A Forum.

Pacific Rim debuts glow in the dark iPod shuffle case

imagePacific Rim Technologies has announced the immediate availability of a new glow in the dark version of its Gel Shield silicone case for the iPod shuffle. The glow in the dark Gel Shield is available for $9.99.

Also available from Pacific Rim are the original Gel Shield cases, which come in five colors—Lime, Charcoal, Juicy Pink, Sky Blue and White. They sell for $7.99 or in a 3-pack for $14.99.

Artwizz HangPhones integrate lanyard, earphones

imageUK-based Disruptive Technology Channels, owner of the PodGear brand, today announced a new brand of Artwizz iPod accessories. The first offering from the company is a new set of earphones called HangPods that feature an integrated neck strap allowing iPod owners to hang their iPod around their neck for hands-free usage while simplfying cord tangles at the same time.

The Artwizz HangPods are available in black or white for £14.99. They can also be purchased with the iSee mini (clear plastic iPod mini case with lanyard eyelet) for £29.99, or with the iSleeve (silicone iPod case with lanyard eyelet) for £19.99.

The iPod Clone Wars: mini, shuffle knock-offs at Computex

imageIf you’ve been reading iLounge recently, you’re probably familiar with Luxpro’s line of iPod shuffle knock-offs. What you may not know is that there are numerous companies copying every model of the iPod and even iPod accessories. At this week’s Computex trade show in Taipei, an iLounge reader snapped several photos and collected specs on a number of these clones.

The most brazen iPod copy seen at the show was an iPod mini look-alike from a Taiwan consumer electronics OEM supplier. Said to cost only US$50, the “i-Pocket” is roughly the same size as Apple’s iPod mini, but includes no internal storage—instead it has a memory card slot. It supports SD/MMC/MS cards for music storage, and acts as a card reader for SD/MMC/MS/MS Duo/MS Pro formats. The player also offers voice recording, an FM radio and recorder, a color OLED display (128 x 64), USB 2.0, and supports MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, WMV, ASF file formats. It is available in gold, red, blue and black.

Continue reading for a full report (with photos) on iPod shuffle and iPod accessory clones, as well as new products.

Apple to offer $50 credit in iPod battery settlement

iPod owners who complained of battery problems will get $50 vouchers and extended service warranties, according to the terms of a tentative class-action lawsuit settlement. Lawyers representing consumers said that the settlement could affect as many as two million people who purchased first, second and third-generation iPods through May 2004. Eight consumers filed the suit against Apple in 2003 claiming the iPod failed to live up to claims that its battery would last the product’s lifetime and play music for up to 10 hours.

“People who fill out a claim form are entitled to receive $50 redeemable toward the purchase of any Apple products or services except iTunes downloads or iTunes gift certificates,” reports AP. “They can redeem the voucher within 18 months of final settlement approval at any bricks-and-mortar Apple Store or online. Consumers who had battery troubles can also get their battery or iPod replaced through the lawsuit. Apple currently replaces or repairs defective products that are returned within one year but the class-action settlement extends the warranty to two years, plaintiffs’ lawyers said.”

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