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Apple releases iTunes 4.8 with video support [updated]

Apple has quietly released iTunes 4.8 for both Mac OS X and Windows. According to the brief release notes, version 4.8 includes “new Music Store features and support for transferring contacts and calendars from your computer to your iPod (requires Mac OS X version 10.4 on your computer).”

This update will presumably bring support for at least some of the previously mentioned new international iTunes Music Stores, including Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norwary, and Denmark. In fact, French iPod enthusiast site iPodGeneration is reporting that Apple will be holding a press conference tomorrow at Zurich to introduce the service in Switzerland.

iTunes 4.8 also adds new video features, including the ability to drag and drop movie clips from your computer into the iTunes Library for easy cataloging and organization. Clips appear with a new movie camera icon in your library; however, categories such as “album” and “composer” continue to be used for these files, and no new “videos” or “movies” genre has been added to accommodate them.

There is also a new “show video full screen” button that lets you easily watch full-screen movies that have been organized in your iTunes Library, as well as options to view movies in a separate smaller window, or within the main iTunes pane. When you “get info” on videos, they appear with a preview picture that can be resized to your liking. The video functionality does not appear to allow users to transfer videos to currently available iPods.

As stated in the release notes, users of Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger can now manage their contacts and calendar information right in iTunes instead of using iSync. Windows users will still need the help of a third-party utility to transfer contacts and calendars to their iPod. (See screenshots of the new video and contact/calendar features by clicking read more.)

Update: iTunes 4.8 also patches a security hole in the software. “The MPEG4 file parsing code in iTunes versions prior to 4.8 contains a buffer overflow vulnerability. Parsing a maliciously-crafted MPEG4 file could cause iTunes to terminate or potentially execute arbitrary code,” Apple says. “iTunes 4.8 addresses this issue by improving the validation checks used when loading MPEG4 files.”

Update #2: Several iLoungers report that Apple has made a select number of music videos available for download as bonuses to single or album purchases at the iTunes Music Store. For instance, those who buy Morcheeba’s The Antidote will get the video for the band’s “Wonders Never Cease” for free with the album. There does not currently appear to be any videos available for individual purchase.

Forums: Photos, Stickers, shuffles, Soundcheck, and More

What’s on tap this week in the iLounge Discussion Forums? Our members continue to post great photos in the long-running “show us what you look like!!” thread, which now runs for 60 pages (and almost 900 replies). Miffed that you didn’t get any Apple stickers with your iPod? Just wait until you find out what some people did with theirs. And if you’re still trying to justify buying an iPod shuffle, read how some iLoungers have recently randomized their lives.

Of course, our readers continue to offer helpful advice on all sorts of iPod topics. Here’s the answer to a basic problem - preventing iTunes from deleting the iPod’s library. What about the iPod’s mysterious Soundcheck function? Here’s how it can be used to give a uniform listening level across all songs. And if you’d like to use the iPod as a home jukebox, but aren’t sure which speakers do it justice, here are some readers’ suggestions, as well as ours.

PocketParty turns iPod shuffle into tiny boombox

imagePodGear’s new PocketParty Shuffle is a new speaker system that turns an iPod shuffle into “the world’s tiniest ghetto blaster.” The iPod shuffle simply plugs into the top of the PocketParty via the headphone port. The device has two speakers and a status light on one side. It’s not clear if you’ll be able to control the iPod shuffle’s playback options with the PocketParty controls.

“Designed exclusively for the iPod shuffle, and taking design cues from the world’s most iconic flash MP3 player, the PocketParty can even be worn around the neck like the iPod itself,” the company says. It offers 1 watt of stereo output and up to 10 hours of battery life from a single AA battery. PodGear representatives said the PocketParty Shuffle will sell for £24.99 and should be ready within a month.

Mix: Coolness, Vending machine, New Zealand, Hearing loss

Ken Belson of The New York Times asks if the iPod can keep its cool factor as the device becomes more mainstream.

A Boing Boing reader spotted a vending machine that sells iPod minis and iPod shuffles at the Atlanta Airport.

The iPod shortages in New Zealand will soon be remedied, according to Apple division general manager Steve Ford. “Over the next seven to 10 days we’ll kill off all the shortages we’ve been having,” he says.

Audiologists believe “tens of thousands of young people are causing serious damage to themselves, and are likely to suffer tinnitus and loss of hearing in later life” because of iPods and other audio players.

PodBuddies offers new iPod shuffle figurines

imagePodBuddies has announced a new figurine/iPod shuffle holder. “Introducing Silhouette Boy 1.0 and Silhouette Girl 1.0. Both of the pieces are a take on the popular commercial and also serve as iPod shuffle holders. Each piece is individuall numbered and signed by Ivy and will be a limited run of only 100 pieces. The piece comes on a base that will allow your shuffle to fit on nicely and not slip off.” The figurines will sell for $18.99 each.

Cringely: Apple to license iPod clones, move to iTMS

In an interesting article for PBS, tech pundit Robert X. Cringely says the iTunes Music Store is Apple’s future — not the iPod. He says Apple will license out the iPod technology at the right time to become a software-only company when it comes to digital music.

“Ultimately, what Apple wants to do is make its money through iTunes, where the profit margins are better in the long term and the system is easily scalable,” Cringely says. “It was necessary to create the iPod platform to make this happen. But downward price pressures will eventually hurt iPod profit margins and affect Apple’s stock price, so the trick is to know when to switch the business from being a mix of hardware and software to one that is software-only. That switch, which I believe to be inevitable, will happen shortly after Apple begins to license iPod clones.”

“As Apple’s profit drops on each iPod it makes, eventually the per-CPU figure will approach what Apple might receive from licensees,” he says. “At that moment it makes more sense for Apple to license clones than it does to make more iPods. Licensing clones at the right time would lead to huge clone sales, effectively killing any significant iTunes competitor. And in the long run, iTunes is where the money is.”

Cringely also notes that (previously mentioned) unused icons in the version of iTunes included with Mac OS X v10.4 hint that new audio format support and a video iPod are just around the corner. “And 10.4 gives us a peek at another evolution of iTunes, which is the inevitable expansion of the system to carry additional audio file formats,” he says. “Looking at the unused iTunes icons that shipped with your new version of 10.4, you’ll notice icons for currently-not-supported ogg vorbis and Windows Media Audio (wma), as well as several others including a variety of video formats, too.”

New ‘skater’ iPod commercial airs

imageApple debuted a new iPod and iTunes television commercial during tonight’s Saturday Night Live on NBC. It featured the new single “Feel Good Inc” by the Gorillaz. Like the previous ads, the spot features silhouetted iPod-toting dancers in front of colorful backgrounds — only this time they’re all on roller skates. This is the first new iPod commercial since January’s iPod shuffle ad, and the first for full-size iPods since October’s ad featuring U2. Apple has yet to post the new commercial. Update: The ad is now available on Apple’s website.

LuxPro adds tiny screen to iPod shuffle clone

imageAfter slightly tweaking and renaming its original iPod shuffle clone, LuxPro has now added two new versions of its “Super Tangent

Bruce Willis an iPod and iTunes fanatic

To say that Hollywood actor Bruce Willis loves his iPod would be an understatement. On his official website, he says that “iTunes has re-energized the singles market, iPod has revolutionized how you can enjoy music and I for one am a convert.”

“The Internet has turned me on to amazing music that I might otherwise have never heard of,” he says. “As a Mac enthusiast I have taken the iTunes playlist concept to a new level. My friends will turn me on to a new (or old) musical influence and before you know it I’ve purchased the whole catalog and downloaded it to one my trusty little iPods, played it in all of my classic cars through the cassette players (what a re-invention of the cassette/car radio) although now they offer special attachments for the USB cable. Whether on the set or in the car an iPod is always near.”

Griffin unveils TuneCaps for iPod shuffle

imageGriffin Technology today announced TuneCaps, three new carrying options for the iPod shuffle. The TuneCaps package — which is priced at $14.99 and scheduled to begin shipping later this month — includes a wrist strap iPod shuffle cap, a belt clip cap, and a keyring attachment.

“Slip on TuneCaps’ Wrist Strap cap for fingertip convenience. Replace the shuffle’s cap with TuneCaps’ handy pocket clip and secure it to your pocket (or belt or necktie or whatever). Slip on TuneCaps’ keyring attachment and take your tunes with you while you drive.”

Mix: LifeDrive, Jesus’ iPod, Rhapsody, Automator

PalmOne’s unannounced new LifeDrive has showed up on The “multimedia-centric handheld” has a built-in 4GB Microdrive, 320 x 480 color LCD, WiFi, and Bluetooth. “Combined with organizer features, the music-playing handheld could compete with Apple’s $199 4GB iPod mini,” says CNET

Mark Morford of the San Francisco Gate has written a follow-up to his “What’s on Jesus’ iPod?” article with reader suggestions of Ministry, Moby, Metallica and many more. See what iLoungers think would be on his iPod in our forums.

PC World’s Edward N. Albro says RealNetworks’ new music service doesn’t work as advertised. “Despite trying with two IRiver H10 MP3 players, two Rhapsody accounts, and two PCs, and getting suggestions from Real engineers, I was never able to transfer any Rhapsody track I hadn’t bought outright onto a portable player,” he says. “For me, at any rate, Rhapsody To Go just didn’t work.”

Engadget has posted a how-to on using Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger’s new Automator application to load your iPod with audio generated from text-based websites.

Blog contest’s final hours: you still have a shot!

iLounge readers with blogs still have the opportunity to enter the iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2005 Bloggers’ Contest, with three great prizes. One grand prize winner will score a pair of Shure E5c earphones ($499 value), while two second place winners will get their own pairs of Etymotic ER-6i earphones ($149 value, each). Don’t miss your chance - check out the official rules from this link right now!

New OtterBox waterproof case for 4G iPods unveiled

imageOtter Products has introduced a redesigned waterproof case for 4G iPods and iPod photos. The OtterBox protective case features a waterproof membrane that lets you control your iPod through the case while keeping your iPod “safe at the beach, pool, river, lake, gym or just walking in the rain.” It also offers a hard screen cover, external headphone jack, and a belt clip with integrated earphone cable management.

The OtterBox is available in two sizes — one for the 20GB iPod and one for 30/40/60GB iPods. They’re both priced at $49.95.

DLO Action Jacket for iPod shuffle now available

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced that it’s now shipping the DLO Action Jacket for iPod shuffle (iLounge Rating: A-). The compact neoprene case features a built-in belt clip with 180-degree rotation and a workout armband that “fits any arm size — from toothpick to python.” It also offers a clear viny protector that completely covers the iPod shuffle controls. The DLO Action Jacket for iPod shuffle is available online now for $24.99.

PodGear ships Shuffle Station

imageUK-based PodGear today announced the immediate availability of the Shuffle Station, its new portable speaker system and charging dock for the iPod shuffle. Announced in March, the Shuffle Station can be powered by four AAA batteries or from an included AC adapter. It offers line-in and line-out ports, and folds flat for traveling.

“With a MSRP of just £34.99, the Shuffle Station has every feature a shuffle owner might need while away from their computer and is only £15 more expensive than the Apple AC USB charger, making it an extremely attractive package,” notes PodGear.

MP3Band-It armband for iPod shuffle announced

imageThe MP3Band-It is a lightweight armband for active use with Apple’s iPod shuffle. “The adjustable armband is made of comfortable elastic and velcro to fit most arm sizes, providing hands-free flexibility while you move and exercise,” says the company behind the product.

The MP3Band-It is available in a 1.5-inch wide size for $18.99, and a 1-inch wide size for the same price. Both are available in black or white.

Mix: SF Mayor, Edible iPods, Pacific Rim, Oasis

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s iPod has music by Andrea Bocelli, Sade, Jerry Garcia, Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette, AC/DC, Prince, and John Mayer, among many others.

The winner of Mike Davidson’s edible iPod shuffle contest has been announced. It was made from a banana and spaghetti. He has posted a slideshow of all entrants, including Spam, sushi, and Altoids.

Pacific Rim Technologies has announced a sale on its 4gShield Case for 4G iPods ($19.99; regularly $34.99) and on the Gel Shield for the iPod Shuffle ($14.99 in packs of 3; regularly $24.99).

The German iTunes Music Store inadvertently sold the upcoming new album from Oasis on Tuesday. The album, Don’t Believe The Truth, will be released on May 30.

Record company delays Australian iTMS launch

An agreement with one major record company is reportedly holding up the launch of the Australian iTunes Music Store, which was expected to debut last week alongside four new European stores.

“A source said yesterday Apple had planned to launch an Australian version of its popular online music store last Thursday, as widely touted, but the launch was thwarted by one unnamed major record company that refused to sign an agreement in time,” reports The Courier-Mail.

“The hurdle reportedly forced Apple to cancel radio advertisements ordered for the date, and it is expected to delay iTunes’s launch by days, or possibly weeks, as song and album prices and payments are negotiated with the holdout label,” the paper added.

Mac: Spodlight 1.0 released

Kainjow, developer of the popular Pod2Go software, has announced the release of Spodlight 1.0, a new utility for Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger” that allows you to use Apple’s new Spotlight feature to search for music on your iPod. Spotlight does not search through invisible files and folders by default, but Spodlight forces it to index every file on your iPod. “Simply run the app, index your iPod, and then you can use Spotlight normally to find music on your iPod,” explains the developer.

iPod photo interference issue traced, explained

imageThird-party iPod developer Engineered Audio, maker of the RemoteRemote 2 RF remote control system, has provided to iLounge an excellent explanation of the radio frequency (RF) interference issue affecting certain iPod photo hardware. The company’s findings follow up on iLounge’s exclusive March 31, 2005 report, “Yes, the new iPod photo -is- different,” in which we detailed an interference issue that prevents current RF-based remote controls from fully working with “first-generation” (pre-February 2005) 40/60GB iPod photos. As a result of the interference, the RF remotes work at only one-sixth to one-twelveth of their performance ranges with all other iPods.

“The current crop of RF remote controls for the iPod operate at or near 433.92 Mhz,” explains Engineered Audio. “The reasons for this frequency choice are not particularly relevant, except to say that this particular frequency is usable (or certifiable) in the US and in Europe. Further, most of the receivers for these remote control systems are simple super-heterodyne or super-regenerative. And without very careful filtering at the antenna, both types may suffer a degradation in performance when there is a nearby noise source.

“In this case the iPod photo is generating an undesirable RF noise source at 432.00 Mhz (see plot 1). Some might consider the difference between the two frequencies to be enough to not cause interference, however, this is simply not the case. Most of these simple receivers have a fairly wide bandwidth with relatively high gain, and so are easily swamped by an interferer that is within a few megahertz of desired signal. What’s inside the iPod that is generating this signal we can only guess at (perhaps an harmonic of the primary clock for the processor…) At any rate, it would appear that Apple has since modified the iPod photo to either reduce or eliminate this particular signal.” A spectrum analysis photo (“Plot 1”) and additional details are available by clicking on Read More below. We thank Engineered Audio for explaining the interference, and all iPod RF remote manufacturers for being forthright with consumers about the incompatibility.

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