Early Friday morning, the Japanese web site of Apple Computer briefly hosted pages depicting an previously unannounced iPod peripheral called “iPotty” (JPY 104,970, approx. $1000), a beige-and-white electric toilet seat featuring an integrated iPod dock on its right side. Presumably intended only for the domestic Japanese marketplace, iPotty promises to deliver music playback and an “optional scent eliminator” to drown out embarrassing bathroom sounds and smells. Availability is listed at 1-3 weeks, indicating an imminent release.
The pages, which are no longer available online, described an Apple partnership with Japanese toilet seat manufacturer Toto, maker of Japan’s popular Apricot-badged electric toilet seats. Apricot and other Toto seats include heating elements, bidets, motion sensors for automatic lid opening and closing, and in some cases remote controls and deodorizing systems. According to the pages, iPotty will feature an optional remote control to provide easy access to the system’s bidet and other functionality.
Click Read More for a screenshot of the original Japanese main page, as well as a Babelfish-translated English version.
Griffin Technology is now shipping the AirClick Remote, its new wireless remote control solution for the iPod. The AirClick Remote allows users to control their iPod from up to 60 ft. away. Because it uses RF technology (as opposed to IR) users do not have to be in the line of sight for the device to work. The remote has five buttons (play/pause, next track, previous track, volume up, and volume down), a hold switch, and belt clip.
Each AirClick package ships with a remote, a receiver that mounts to the iPod or iPod mini, and a remote cradle and straps for attaching it to a car steering wheel or elsewhere. The AirClick, which is priced at $39.99, works with all Dock Connector iPods, including the iPod mini and the iPod photo.
Read iLounge’s exclusive review of the AirClick here.
Mercedes-Benz is testing iPod-compatible Audio Books at the New York Auto Show, which is taking place at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City until April 2. The Audio Books are designed to educate potential Mercedes buyers about a car’s features by providing digital “walk-around” audio narrations with an iPod. Consumers at the show can download the Audio Books to their own iPod for $2.95, or use loaner iPods for free. Mercedes-Benz said downloads of the Audio Books will also be available on the iTunes Music Store. The car maker has developed Audio Books — that cover everything from the engine to trunk — for the M-Class, CLS, SLK, and SLR McLaren. All proceeds from the Audio Book sales during the show will be donated to Automotive High School in Brooklyn, New York.
iLounge is proud to announce that in only the first four days since its release, the new issue of our Buyers’ Guide (Spring/Summer 2005) has already been downloaded more than 100,000 times directly from iLounge’s servers. This number does not include any of the downloads that have taken place through the numerous mirrored download servers available, or downloads made through file-sharing networks. iLounge has encouraged sharing of the Buyers’ Guide through such networks in an effort to promote responsible and legal use of these technologies.
The magazine-format digital Buyers’ Guide includes over 100 pages of iPod culture, products, and expert advice from iLounge. You’ll find tons of previews and reviews, a Beginners’ Guide to the iPod, sneak peeks at upcoming accessories (including Griffin’s iTripLCD), a first look at the new iLounge web site design, and much more. Downloads are now available in two formats: one for single-page viewing and easy home printing, and another for widescreen magazine-style viewing in double-page spreads. Both versions are completely free for iLounge users, and are available here.
The first Buyers’ Guide, which was released in November of last year, has been downloaded approximately 350,000 times so far, and contains its own collection of feature articles, reviews, and contest entries from iLounge readers. It remains available for free download at this link.
Pacific Rim Technologies has announced that its 4gShield case for fourth-generation iPods is shipping with a free iSkin Wheel Cap for a limited time. The form-fitting iSkin product protects the iPod Click Wheel and allows for easy non-restrictive scrolling. The aluminum 4gShield case, which sells for $34.99, provides full access to controls and connector ports, and protects your screen with a plastic window. The free Wheel Cap promotion is valid until April 30, 2005.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says that Apple’s product availability is improving based on the shorter estimated ship times on the company’s online store, particularly for both versions of the iPod shuffle and Mac mini. In a research note provided to iLounge, Munster says that over the last several weeks, the ship time on every Apple product — from desktops to iPods — either remained the same or was reduced except for the special edition U2 iPod. The 512MB and 1GB iPod shuffle models are now ready to ship on the same business day from 1-3 days and 5-7 days, respectively.
Munster also noted that in a recent check of Amazon.com’s Top Seller list for MP3 players, 8 of the top 10 were versions of the iPod. “This is the first time we have examined the iPod’s popularity on Amazon.com, but we believe it shows that Apple continues to be the dominant producer of portable MP3 players,” he says.
Hewlett-Packard is showing a renewed interest in the iPod, announcing the first computer with a built-in docking area for the device and saying that it will soon offer a branded version of the iPod photo.
HP said it is planning to add a spot for the iPod in its new Media Center m7000 desktop PC. The computer “doesn’t have a dock itself, but rather features a molded piece of plastic that fits around Apple’s own dock to allow the device to gracefully dock atop the PC,” according to CNET News.com’s Ina Fried.
Siobhan O’Connor, HP’s vice president of consumer brand and marketing, said that the company will be releasing new HP-branded iPods in the coming weeks, including an HP version of the iPod photo as former CEO Carly Fiorina said in January. “Expect us to have, like we did with the original products, a very similar lineup to what Apple has,” O’Connor said.
HP has recently been criticized for not taking full advantage of its partnership with Apple. Goldman Sachs said HP needs to make “substantial changes” in its relationship with Apple and that “HP’s iPod sales are likely to decline markedly over the next few quarters unless HP is able to bring out new iPod models in a more timely manner.” The firm says HP could drop from 7% of Apple’s iPod shipments in the December quarter to 2% in the March quarter.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced the Cool Caps Replacement Caps & Lanyards for the iPod shuffle. The Cool Caps, which replace the standard Apple USB caps, come in a 5-Pack of colored caps, lanyards, and lanyard clips. The lanyard on each of the Cool Caps is adjustable and removable, allowing users to “change the length of the lanyard, mix and match colors from different caps or remove the lanyard altogether and use the caps alone.” The $29.99 Cool Caps 5-Pack includes caps and lanyards in shades of green, blue, white, purple and orange.
Check out iLounge’s review of the Cool Caps here.
Reports of New York subway robberies are up about 20 percent through mid-March — a spike police officials blame on the iPod.
One blogger has posted directions to build an iPod battery pack inside an Atari 2600 game cartridge.
Lists and Diagrams has posted a printable template for creating an iPod stand out of cardboard.
After domain name registry Nominet ruled that he must give iTunes.co.uk to Apple, Benjamin Cohen now says he plans to take his legal battle to the High Court.
LuxPro has introduced a slightly updated version of its iPod shuffle clone, the Super shuffle. Sporting a redesigned control pad and adding two new colors, the “Super Tangent” still remains nearly indistinguishable from the Apple music player.
Like the iPod shuffle and its LuxPro predecessor, the Super Tangent uses flash memory, offers the USB 2.0 connectivity and charging, has backside slider switches, and is available in 512MB and 1GB sizes. The Super Tangent is also the same length, width and weight, but is a tad thicker due to its FM tuner and voice recorder. It works with both Windows and Mac OS X, and offers MP3, WAV, and WMA support.
After the iPod clone was shown earlier this month at the CeBIT conference, Apple lawyers reportedly spoke with LuxPro and got the company to remove the music player from its booth — but only for one day. LuxPro brought it back out on Saturday for weekend visitors. Some have said that the Super shuffle was just a “clever PR maneuver” and was never intended to be released.
Griffin Technology and designer Greg Gutierrez today announced the iVault aluminum case for the iPod shuffle. Gutierrez (aka “Helixipod”), who first showed the case on the iLounge forums, has partnered with Griffin to sell and distribute the case in the US.
“Machined entirely out of aluminum, the iVault safely encloses your iPod shuffle, while still allowing total access to the control wheel, audio jack, on switch, USB port, and LED. The front and back halves of the case are joined together by 4 small screws, so your iPod shuffle is guaranteed to be secure. Lightweight yet strong, the iVault and the iPod shuffle together weigh less than 1.5 ounces.”
The iVault comes in four colors — silver, blue, red and purple — and will ship with a USB cable to sync/charge your iPod shuffle without removing it from the case. The iVault is scheduled to be available in May for $29.99.
The Hilton Family of Hotels has introduced its new Hilton Family Alarm Clock, which will be installed at its hotels nationwide this spring. The custom-designed clock features an easy-to-set alarm, four pre-set music selection buttons, and allows guests to plug in an iPod or other music device to listen to their tunes without headphones.
To celebrate the rollout of the new clock, Hilton has put together a large Apple giveaway and created the Hilton Family Virtual Clock — a software replica version of the in-room clock that can be used as a desktop alarm. The downloadable clock also helps users play the Hilton Family Timing Is Everything Sweepstakes by sounding an alarm at the beginning of each of the four phases of the giveaway.
Prizes include: 100 winners of a $10 iTunes gift certificate (Phase 1), 100 winners of a Hilton Family Alarm Clock (Phase 2), 250 winners of an iPod mini (Phase 3), and 10 winners of a Two Night Stay at a participating Hilton Family hotel (Phase 4). The grand prize is a 4-night stay at a participating Hilton hotel, a clock, an iPod mini and a $10 iTunes gift certificate.
The giveaway starts today and ends July 7, 2005.
The University of Arizona chapters of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority have announced the iPose 2005 Modeling Competition. Photos of 10 fraternity and 10 sorority members posing with an iPod shuffle have been posted on the contest’s website, and the public is urged to vote for their favorite models. The winning models will receive a 20GB iPod. The second place male and female models receive an iPod shuffle, and the third places will receive $50 iTunes gift certificate. For every vote cast by visitors to the website, the organizations are each donating 10 cents to the Save the Children Tsunami Relief Fund. Voting closes on April 7 at 8:00 p.m.
EarphoneSolutions.com is offering iLounge readers $20 off the new UM2 Dual Driver in-ear earphones with coupon code UM2IPODLOUNGE. “Built to the highest professional standards, the UM2 features dual balanced armatures and a passive crossover. Great highs and impressive low-end response make this universal fit earpiece the first choice for many touring pros the world over. The UM2 can provide up to 25 dB of onstage noise reduction and comes with a durable stereo ‘Y’ cord, deluxe carrying case, wax loop and four pairs of compressible Comply Canal foam tips.”
Apple came in at No. 14 on this year’s BusinessWeek 50 list of the top-performing companies of the S&P 500.
iSkin is offering past customers an iSkin eVo2 for 40GB iPods for 50% off the retail price. You also receive an iSkin Wheel Cap, an Audible.com one month membership and an iSkin accessory pouch.
Forty-five iPods were stolen last week at the Apple Store in Wellington, Florida. No other details were available.
Get your daughter down to the mall — Limited Too stores across the U.S. are giving away 300 iPod shuffles through May 1, 2005.
PodBuddies has announced a new line of iPod-themed handmade figurines. The first piece in the PodBuddies collection is “PodBoy ver. 1.0,” which is designed to hold and display an iPod shuffle. PodBoy is made of oven-baked polymer clay and will be hand numbered and signed on the bottom by the artist “Ivy.” PodBoy will be limited to 100 pieces and is priced at $15. PodBuddies said their next figurine would be a take on the iPod silhouette commercials.
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.