BlogMatrix today announced the release of Sparks! 2.0, which the developer says is “a one-stop solution for recording, sharing and listening to podcasts.” The new version offers several enhancements, allowing users to: record podcasts directly on their computer with only a microphone and one click; mix music with a podcast; record up to 8 tracks for a single podcast; automatically store their podcasts on the BlogMatrix server; and easily subscribe and listen to other podcasts. Sparks! 2.0 is now available for Windows, with a Mac version due April 5. Pricing starts at $5 per month.
Two of the new documents reveal further interesting details of the device. According to Apple, you can use the the Camera Connector to not only import photos, but to also transfer videos and audio (with a supported camera) to your iPod photo.
“Though you can’t view movie files on iPod photo, you can view it on your computer after you connect your iPod to your computer and transfer the file,” Apple says in one document. “If you select the file on your iPod, you will see the following message: ‘This media file cannot be viewed or played on iPod. Use QuickTime to open this file on your computer.’” The company says you will get the same message if you try to open an imported audio file.
Apple also says that the Camera Connector can import photos in the RAW image format, but that an iPod photo cannot display them. In addition, iPod photo software 1.1 enables you to use an iPod remote to control an iPod photo slideshow (previously, you could only use the Click Wheel).
The new support documents include:
How to use the iPod Camera Connector
iPod Camera Connector: Using the USB port
iPod Camera Connector: Supported Devices
iPod Camera Connector: Choosing a photo importing protocol on a camera
iPod photo: Understanding Browse Roll icons
iPod photo: Use Delete Roll to delete imported photos
iPod photo: Use your camera’s erase function to erase a media card completely
iPod photo: Update software to use iPod Remote for slideshows
iPod photo may seem to stop responding when importing movies
Anapod Explorer 8.7.2 from Red Chair Software is the latest version of the iPod utility for Windows. The update adds support for the iPod shuffle support. “Anapod’s familiar interface allows you to transfer music to and from the iPod shuffle using drag and drop and other methods and access data files,” the developer says. “This release also includes our Tunes2Go feature which allows you to quickly load up your shuffle for the road by randomly selecting tracks from PC folders or from playlists. Tunes2Go also lets you create new sets of ‘to-go’ songs and save them as playlists for later loading.”
iLounge is pleased to provide a downloadable QuickTime movie clip (.MOV format) of the new photo slideshow transition effects available to iPod photo owners. The transitions, which were added in today’s release of iPod Software Updater 2005-03-23 and its included iPod photo system software version 1.1, are as follows: Push Across, Push Down, Wipe Across, Wipe Down, and Wipe From Center. There’s also a Random effect, which chooses from the five transitions at random. All of the transitions are smooth, and as you can see in the video, look great.
Previously, the only transition available was Wipe Across, and the new transitions continue to add only two-dimensional effects to the iPod photo’s arsenal. Three-dimensional transitions such as Droplet, Mosaic, and Page Flip in Apple’s Mac OS X application iPhoto, are unlikely to appear on current generation iPod photo hardware. See our earlier news story for additional interesting details.
PodBrix has launched PodShirt, a new online store that will offer products using the Brixwear 1000 magnetic clasp system, which allows you to attach your iPod shuffle to the front of the shirt. The first item the site is selling is the iShirt, a black T-shirt in which your iPod shuffle makes up the “i” in the word iShirt. It sells for $28.99.
PodShirt says that “no modification is needed to your iPod shuffle,” and that you “simply place it over the clasp area of the shirt and it locks into place. The shuffle stays firmly attached even with vigorous activity. A quick pull easily removes it from the shirt”
Apple today quietly released iPod Updater 2005-03-23, which provides support for Apple’s new Camera Connector accessory. According to the release notes from the Mac OS X Software Update utility, the update includes iPod Software 1.1 for “iPods with color displays.” Interestingly, this is the first time that Apple has referred to “iPods with color displays” instead of “iPod photos.” Apple’s website does, however, say it is for “iPod photos.” The 28.9 MB download also offers updated slideshow transitions, which include: Push across, Push down, Wipe across, Wipe down, Wipe from center, random, and off.
Tekkeon has announced the myPower FM, an add-on for the company’s myPower rechargeable iPod battery/dock that adds the ability to transmit music to any radio. The myPower FM, which requires no extra software, snaps onto the bottom of the myPower and is also powered by the all-in-one device. It features a one-touch channel tuner to choose from seven FM frequencies (87.7, 87.9, 88.1, 88.3, 88.5, 88.7, 88.9) and will be available in April for $34.95.
The myPower provides 4G iPod and iPod photo users with an extra 32 hours of play time, 3G iPod users with up to 20 additional hours, and iPod mini users with up to 42 (6GB) or 28 (4GB) extra hours. The device also includes a FireWire port, USB 2.0 port, a line out port, and a 5V charging output.
High school student Austin Riedhammer created an iPod shuffle case out of a Penguin mints case and used a decoy CD player to get away with listening to music during study hall.
The Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) was officically released in the U.S. today. In addition to games, the device offers music, video and photo features.
Alyce Lomax of The Motley Fool says Apple’s iPod shuffle is “the musical equivalent of a gateway drug.”
Microsoft has posted six tips for buying a flash-based MP3 player that appear to specifically recommend against buying an iPod shuffle.
Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick says his iPod shuffle makes it “infinitely easier” for him to live in a world of music, and is listening to “about three times as much total music” as before.
Fiction author Scott Sigler today announced the release of EarthCore as “the world’s first Podcast-only novel.” Sigler said he will release an hour of audio each week, creating a format similar to weekly drama TV shows with continuing storylines. The free Podcast feed will run for 20 episodes.
“EarthCore is the first Podcast novel because it is not available in any other format. Listeners can’t buy the book and peek at the last page, they have to wait each week for a new episode,” Sigler says. “You can listen to them on your iPod or MP3 player, letting you enjoy the story while driving, at the gym, walking — anywhere you want to listen. Listeners don’t have to be in a specific place at a specific time. You listen whenever you want.”
Capdase has introduced a new iPod armband and a silicone protector for Apple’s iPod Remote.
The company’s Multi-Functional Carrier ($9.50) is a fully adjustable silicone armband that has a plastic cradle clip and a metal “wing” closure (similar to the bracelets from expensive watches, according to Capdase) to “ensure a comfortable fit for any size arms and to hold it secure during active activities.” It’s available in white or black for 20GB and 40GB 4G iPods and 40GB and 60GB iPod photos.
Capdase’s Soft Skin for the iPod Remote ($9.40) is made of durable silcone and “protects your beautiful Apple iPod Remote from scratches and elements while still enables full access to all the buttons and clip of the remote.” The iPod Remote skin comes in a 4-pack of white, pink, black and blue protectors.
Apple has kicked of a new iPod shuffle giveaway for college students. “College life is random. We’re giving chance a chance and giving away an iPod shuffle every week through September 30, 2005. The iPod shuffle lets you carry your favorite iTunes and your essential files with you all over campus. So whether you are rockin’ the night away or pulling an all nighter, we want to give your life a random soundtrack.”
In a seven-page Business 2.0 article [paid sub. required] on Apple’s possible plans for the future, Paul Sloan speculates that the company will continue its dominance in the digital media and consumer electronics businesses with a lineup of iPod-based products. The magazine has also posted renderings of these possible products, which include “PodWatch,” “iPod Wireless,” “vPod,” “iHome” and “iPhone.” The mock-ups were created by Robert Brunner, Apple’s chief designer from 1989 to 1996.
“Discussions with past and present company officials, Apple partners, and longtime acquaintances of Jobs, as well as clues in patent applications and other evidence, point to a gargantuan effort to leverage the iPod’s success by creating an entire line of breakout consumer electronics devices,” Sloan writes. “Dozens of gadgets — from an iPod phone to wireless iPods that talk to one another to the ultimate all-in-one home-cum-car media hub — appear to be on the drawing board or, in some cases, already in prototype.”
Sloan says a wireless iPod could use Bluetooth to sync with your computer, or use Wi-Fi to connect to the iTunes Music Store from a public network. He also mentions that the device could morph into a “super iPod” that would “wirelessly communicate with a car, providing an iPod-like interface on the dashboard that handles not only music but also addresses, calendar information, and even a navigational system.” An iPod/mobile phone combination device could be controlled “with the iPod’s scroll wheel, and the numbers could work with a slide-out keyboard or a simple touchpad system on the screen,” Sloan says.
“For the first time in more than a decade, Apple has a chance to become a commercially powerful company — not just a very cool place with a superstar CEO and brilliant designers, but a leader in new markets that are exponentially bigger than the very computer industry it pioneered,” he says. “The sizzle is in what Apple comes up with to turbocharge the iPod — or to create entirely new devices so irresistible that, iPod-like, they’ll blast open vast new markets.”
Other interesting details in the article were the fact that the iPod is selling at a rate of about 40 per minute, and that Microsoft recently hired a former Apple design executive to help the software giant be more like Apple.
Jeremy Horwitz, iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief, will be on tonight’s Your Mac Life radio show. He’ll be discussing the latest iPod accessories and what the future holds for the iPod. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. PT. An audio feed is available here, with a video feed for QuickTime 6 here. Host Shawn King will also be giving away an iPod shuffle to one lucky student listener tonight.
Nikkipod.com has announced the availability of its handmade designer cases for the iPod shuffle. The cases are made of water-resistant vinyl and come in seven different materials, including textured gator, ostrich and snakeskin varieties in an assortment of colors. The cases are lanyard compatible, and feature a velcro closure and built-in belt strap. They’re priced at $12 each or two for $20.
Mad Catz Interactive today announced that its iKit bundles for iPod and iPod mini are now shipping. The iKit bundle includes a RCA cable to connect an iPod to a home stereo, a car adapter with a 6-foot cord, and a horizontal carry case. The iKit is available for $39.99 online and at select retailers.
Apple’s support site briefly hosted documents early Wednesday morning that offered details on using an iPod photo with the company’s new iPod Camera Connector. The support documents, which are no longer available, provided information on photo importing formats, tips on using the USB port on the device and deleting pictures, and linked to a complete list of supported digital cameras (which is still available here).
Apple said that most cameras with USB connectivity can be used with the iPod Camera Connector, and must support either the PTP, Type 4 (Normal), or Mass Storage protocol.
“The iPod Camera Connector’s USB port can only be used to connect supported cameras and media readers. You cannot use it to connect other USB devices such as a keyboard, mouse, hub, or printer,” Apple stated in one document. “The iPod Camera Connector is a low power port and it cannot charge another iPod, iPod mini, or iPod shuffle. While an iPod photo with an attached iPod Camera Connector may recognize another iPod if you connect it, transferring photos from one iPod to another is not supported.”
The iPod Camera Connector, which was announced last month and went on sale Monday, allows users to transfer photos directly from a digital camera or media reader to an iPod photo.
Only a day after Apple blocked the original version of PyMusique, Jon Lech Johansen says that he has posted an updated version of his software that allows users to once again tap into the iTunes Music Store and buy songs without digital rights management (DRM) protection.
In a post on his blog entitled “So sue me,” Johansen writes: “The iTunes Music Store recently stopped supporting iTunes versions below 4.7 in an attempt to shut out 3rd party clients. I have reverse engineered the iTMS 4.7 crypto which will once again enable 3rd party clients to communicate with the iTMS.”
Vais Technlogy has introduced a new iPod adapter for Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The AVIC-100i allows you to connect a 3G/4G iPod or iPod mini directly to a Toyota/Lexus OEM audio system, providing the ability to listen and control your iPod through the vehicle’s head unit and audio steering wheel controls. Playlist, Song Title, Artist Name and Album name information can also be displayed. By connecting the AVIC-100i direclty to the Audio/Navigation system, you can keep all factory-installed components such as 6-disc CD changer or CD/DVD changer. The adapter, which works with 1998-2005 models with Navigation systems, is available for $609.99.
Pro-Fit International has announced the miMount for installing your iPod in your car. “miMount was created to fill a significant demand from iPod users. There is a need for a quality passive cradle and vehicle mounting solution. Keeping the iPod secure within the vehicle provides numerous safety benefits, not to mention easy access to all the iPod features and functions.”
The miMount fits 10, 15 and 20GB 3G and 4G iPods, and is available in three combinations with mounting solutions for your vehicle — miMount with UltiMount, miMount with Loboy and miMount with WindowMate. All three versions can be pre-ordered now for $22. The miMount is expected to ship next month.
TechRestore has launched a new iPod hard drive upgrade service for owners of full-size iPods with a faulty internal drive or who are looking to boost the capacity of their iPod. The TechRestore 24-Hour iPod upgrade program is a complete, door-to-door overnight service for customers in the continental U.S. Once a repair is scheduled, a “RestoreBox” is sent via overnight courier to the customer’s home or office, where their iPod is picked up and shipped overnight to TechRestore. Within 24-hours of receipt, the upgrade is completed and the iPod is sent back to the customer via overnight.
4G iPod owners can upgrade from a 20GB to 40GB hard drive for $179.99, or from a 40GB to a 60GB drive for $229.99. 3G iPod owners have several upgrade options. They can upgrade from 15GB to 20GB for $119.99, from 10GB to 20GB for $149.99, from 20GB to 40GB for $199.99, from 15GB to 40GB for $209.99, or from 10GB to 40GB for $219.99. Owners of 1G iPods can upgrade from 5GB to 10GB for $119.99, and 2G iPod users can go from 10GB to 20GB for $129.99. Prices include all overnight shipping charges, parts and installation.