So far, 2007 has been slow. Today, it’s speeding up. iLounge is proud to announce the release of The Free iPod Book 3.0, the third edition of our popular guide to All Things iPod and iTunes. Some big news: The iPhone’s in here. Take a world exclusive look at the entire first wave of iPhone accessories - car, case, and charging add-ons from Belkin, dreamGear, Griffin, Marware, Power Support, V-Moda and XtremeMac. Click on the headline for more details, on the links to get your copy of the Book, or here to tell a friend!
To save to disk, right-click and save.
Apple has re-branded the area of its online store reserved for refurbished products and closeouts. Formerly known as “Special Deals,” the area now bears the moniker Apple Outlet. A new image on the store promoting the outlet claims “Big savings. Limited-time offers. Certified refurbished.” The new Apple Outlet is currently offering several deals on iPods, such as refurbished second-generation iPod shuffles for $50, refurb second-generation 4GB iPod nanos for $150, and refurbished fifth-generation 30GB iPods for $200.
If you entered and were about to win iLounge’s iPod Fashion Contest, your iPhone or iTunes cash prize might be at risk. Please check your email box (and junk mail filter) for an urgent message from iLounge (sent several days ago), particularly if you entered using a Hotmail account. If you received a message from us and we haven’t heard back from you by 5:00PM PT this evening, we may have to select an alternate winner. Thanks and good luck!
A video that appeared on Metacafe shows someone using the electromagnetic radiation emitted from a cell phone during a call to “control” an iPod’s Click Wheel.
Charlie Sorrel from the Wired Gadget Lab has written an article showing how to make an iPod nano case from a bicycle tire inner-tube.
BeInSync has announced that iTunes users can sync their entire Libraries across multiple computers over the internet using the company’s free BeInSync 3.0 software. The service can also sync users’ collections to an Amazon S3 account for secure backup.
A new Japanese robot called Miuro is able to dance to music supplied by an iPod, “which locks into the machine.” The 14” toy is only available in Japan and sells for approx. $900.
Standard & Poor’s has announced that Apple Inc. will join its S&P 100 index of large blue-chip companies, replacing biotech company MedImmune Inc. following the end of trading on Thursday. MedImmune is leaving the index due to its pending acquisition by AstraZeneca. “Shares of companies joining the S&P [indexes] often rise because many portfolio managers try to track the index, and are required to buy stocks that enter it,” reports Reuters. Introduced in 1983, the S&P 100 measures large cap company performance. Apple Inc. stock finished the trading day Wednesday at an all-time closing high of $118.77 per share.
Following today’s two Apple TV announcements, iLounge talked with Apple Vice President of Worldwide Mac Hardware Marketing David Moody, who provided details regarding both the YouTube application for Apple TV, and the new 160GB version of the media player.
YouTube: According to Moody, the YouTube update will take place in stages, beginning with the free software update for Apple TV owners in mid-June. At launch, “thousands of videos designed for Apple TV” will be available, with additional thousands added weekly until the entire YouTube library becomes accessible to Apple TV users this fall. When asked what “designed for Apple TV” meant, Moody said that YouTube will soon be encoding videos in the H.264 streaming-efficient compression format preferred by Apple TV, and that all new videos submitted to YouTube as of the mid-June launch of the AppleTV update will be playable by the device. From then until fall, YouTube will be encoding its entire back-catalog in H.264 format, adding videos in chunks until everything is accessible to Apple TV users. Direct links and the on-screen keyboard-based search engine mentioned in our previous update will bring you to current and old videos alike.
160GB Apple TV: Though it will be available tomorrow only as a build-to-order option from the online Apple Store, Moody said that the 160GB Apple TV will soon be available in retail Apple Store locations as well; no specific date was provided. Pricing through both online and retail stores will be $399, as noted in the Apple press release.
When asked about Steve Jobs’ reference to Apple TV as a “hobby” for the company rather than a full-fledged business, Moody noted that “we view this a lot like we do the early days of the iPod,” where the company is identifying the device’s strengths and adding features people will enjoy. Two of those strengths are that it’s “connected to the Internet” and is an “extendable software platform,” with the ability to expand to include features such as the YouTube plug-in. Faced with the question of whether Apple will soon be catering to users’ requests that the device make better use of their high-definition TVs, Moody said only that there was nothing to announce at this time.
Immediately after Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ demonstration of an Apple TV running YouTube videos at the All Things Digital Conference in Carlsbad, California, Apple formally announced the partnership via press release, along with an updated 160GB hard disk-ready version of Apple TV for a price of $399. The 160GB version of Apple TV will store up to 200 hours of video, 36,000 songs, 25,000 photos, or a combination thereof, promising four times the capacity of the original Apple TV at a $100 premium.
According to Apple, the 160GB Apple TV will be available as a “build-to-order option” from the Apple Store tomorrow, while the YouTube feature for Apple TV will be available as a free software update in mid-June. YouTube will initially offer thousands of its top videos through Apple TV, with the full catalog becoming available “this fall.” Users will be able to log into their YouTube accounts through Apple TV to view and save their favorite videos.
During an interview conducted by the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg at the All Things Digital Conference in Carlsbad, California, Apple CEO Steve Jobs discussed the status of Apple’s “three businesses and a hobby,” namely Macs, music, phones, and Apple TV. According to a transcript provided by Engadget, Jobs referred to Apple TV as a “hobby” based on the failure of any company to crack the in-home media player market—yet. In response, Mossberg noted that something new related to Apple TV will be shown today.
iPhone, iPod, and iTunes: Pressed by Mossberg for further information on new iPhone features or an update to the full-sized iPod, Jobs demurred, stating only that “[w]e’re working on the best iPods that we’ve ever worked on… and they’re awesome.” He did note, however, that Apple intends to put AT&T’s 3G network to use with “phones,” not specifically noting which future products would be 3G-capable. In response to a question from Mossberg regarding putting a miniature version of the iTunes Store on the iPhone for wireless downloading, Jobs said that “[w]e certainly have nothing to announce today.” He committed to allowing open third-party development of applications for iPhone once there is a way to guarantee the platform’s security.
Asked to estimate the number of copies of iTunes that are out there, and presented by Mossberg with the number “300 million,” Jobs replied “or more,” most on Windows computers, and noted that the scale of Apple’s successes has surprised him. “I never thought we’d ship 100 million iPods. No, never.”
Apple TV: On stage, Jobs demonstrated an Apple TV, discussing streaming and downloading of movie content from the Internet. He suggested that current movies were “pretty good quality,” and said that in the future, Apple might be selling high-definition videos as well. For now, however, Apple’s interested in pulling other content from the Internet, such as YouTube videos. The YouTube viewer will be available as a “free software upgrade available in a few weeks.”
Screenshots of the YouTube viewer depict “YouTube” as an option between “TV Shows” and “Music” from Apple TV’s main menu, with the choice of Featured, Most Viewed, Most Recent, and Top Rated videos via menu options, plus your History of viewed videos, and an on-screen Search feature, complete with an on-screen alphanumeric keyboard. Standard YouTube “related videos” appear as links when you’ve finished watching the original video you selected.
SendStation has begun shipping its PocketDock AV adapter for iPod. The compact accessory provides connections for USB, line-out audio, and both composite and S-video, allowing users to sync and charge their iPods, as well as attach the device to stereos and TVs. The adapter includes a 4-in-1 cable for USB and AV connections, which is meant to reduce cable clutter. The SendStation PocketDock AV sells for $37.
Speaking at an investor conference in New York, AT&T Chief Operating Officer Randall Stephenson claimed that expectations for Apple’s iPhone were “too low,” and that the device would be “a game changer” for the cellular industry. Mentioning the more than one million customers who have showed interest in the device, Stephenson claimed “The iPhone is going to be a game changer. I don’t know what your expectations are for the iPhone, but I would tell you they’re probably too low at this point.” Stephenson will replace Edward Whitacre Jr. as CEO of AT&T on June 3.
Following last night’s release of iTunes 7.2 with support for DRM-free music downloads, the iTunes Store is now in the process of adding those tracks, dubbed “iTunes Plus” songs. A banner from the iTunes Store’s main page directs users to a list of albums available in the 256Kbps AAC format, including catalog releases by Paul McCartney, Coldplay, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Gorillaz and Norah Jones. The list appears to be actively under construction at press time.
Album prices for iTunes Plus start at $9.99, but can go higher, as Coldplay’s X & Y lists for $11.99, and Gorillaz’ Demon Days lists for $12.99. Individual songs can be purchased for $1.29, with a new + icon indicating that the songs are iTunes Plus rather than prior 99-cent iTunes downloads. Upon first selecting the iTunes Plus banner, iTunes presents you with the option to always display the iTunes Plus version of an album or music video by default, or rather to show the lower-quality, DRM-laden version instead.
Some of the spotlighted albums on iTunes appear not yet to have been completely transitioned from iTunes to iTunes Plus format. For instance, the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head shows an iTunes Plus album purchase option, but does not include iTunes Plus song downloads, directing you instead to the older 99-cent tracks. It’s unclear at the moment whether this will be remedied with subsequent iTunes Store catalog updates, or whether some artists will only allow their music to be purchased without DRM when in album form.
Updated: Additional iTunes Plus tracks are in the process of being added to the iTunes Store this morning, fixing the “albums but no songs” issue above. Also, iLounge editors and readers are being presented with an Upgrade My Library option to enhance their existing collections of qualifying purchased iTunes Store music at a cost of 30 cents per track (US). Currently limited by participating labels, only those purchased tracks with iTunes Plus versions can be upgraded to the new and improved format.
Maroon 5’s second album, “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,” set a new record for first week iTunes Store sales, selling more than 101,000 copies through the service, including more than 50,000 pre-orders. “This is an exciting milestone for iTunes with over 100,000 copies of ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long’ sold during its first week,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “iTunes is thrilled to be the largest retailer in the US for this hugely anticipated album from Maroon 5.” The band’s debut album, “Songs About Jane,” has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
Apple has announced the launch of iTunes U, a new dedicated area of the iTunes Store offering free content from top US colleges and universities, including Stanford, UC Berkley, Duke, and MIT. The content includes course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights, and campus tours. “iTunes U makes it easy for anyone to access amazing educational material from many of the country’s most respected colleges and universities,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “Education is a lifelong pursuit and we’re pleased to give everyone the ability to download lectures, speeches and other academic content for free.” Stanford Provost John Etchemendy added, “From its earliest days, Stanford has sought to serve the public by sharing the knowledge generated by our faculty and students. Our partnership with Apple and iTunes U provides a creative and innovative way to engage millions of people with our teaching, learning and research and share the experience of intellectual exploration and discovery that defines our university.”
In advance of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ appearance at the D: All Things Digital Conference tomorrow in Carlsbad, California, Apple has released iTunes 7.2, an upgrade to its free digital media management software. Version 7.2 adds one feature—previously-announced support for the downloading of DRM-free songs, now dubbed “iTunes Plus,” which as noted by Apple in iTunes Help “have no usage restrictions and feature higher-quality recording.” Initially spearheaded by the music label EMI, but also backed by independent labels, the songs sell for $1.29 each and use 256Kbps AAC encoding for superior sound quality than standard iTunes Store music downloads.
As of press time, iTunes Plus songs are not yet available for download in the iTunes Store. However, according to Apple, “[t]he first time you buy an iTunes Plus song, you specify whether to make all future purchases iTunes Plus versions (when available). ... If you already have iTunes Store purchases that are now available as iTunes Plus downloads, you may upgrade your existing purchases.” Both features, and changes thereto, can be accessed through your account at the iTunes Store.
Two potential iPhone rivals will be introduced weeks ahead of the device on Wednesday, according to reports. Palm said today that company founder Jeff Hawkins will announce “a new category of mobile device” at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital Conference tomorrow. Meanwhile, Gizmodo is reporting that Microsoft will introduce a new device at midnight tonight. In an advance look at the announcement, the gadget blog quotes a Microsoft email as saying the product is “something totally new coming out of the [Microsoft] Entertainment and Devices division, and it’s going to change the way people interact with technology.” The email also stated that “you really have to see it to believe it.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will take part in a rare joint interview at the D conference on Wednesday. A Microsoft device announcement would seemingly be aimed at giving Gates a talking point to counter the iPhone discussion during the meeting.
Update: Microsoft’s announcement is a tabletop touch-sensitive technology dubbed Microsoft Surface. Reportedly five years in the making, the advanced software allows users to use their fingers to manipulate photos and files, much like the iPhone’s multi-touch interface. The computers will initially be targeted at businesses, hotels and other retail establishments.
Update #2: Palm’s new product is the Foleo, a new mobile device being marketed as a companion to the company’s Treo smartphone. The device sports a 10-inch display, full-size keyboard, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a 5-hour battery life. The Palm Foleo will be available later this year for $500.
Apple has confirmed that a number of recently released audiobooks being sold on the iTunes Store will not properly play on iPods. The defective audiobooks — which include top sellers such as “The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss and “The Assault on Reason” by Al Gore — will reportedly play in iTunes, but refuse to play on any iPod, as evidenced by purchaser comments on the iTunes Store. Apple is now suggesting that iPod owners hold off on purchasing any new audiobooks from iTunes. After customers contact iTunes support, Apple is also reversing charges for purchased defective audiobooks.
“I apologize for this recent error with audiobooks,” an iTunes support representative said in an email to an affected iLounger. “Our engineers are aware that many audiobook files have recently been affected with this error and are working on a fix for this slight problem. I would advise to please refrain from purchasing any audiobook for at least a week while our engineering team works to implement a correction for this situation. The iTunes Store takes the quality of our audiobooks seriously and will investigate the issue with this one, but I can’t say when or if the issue will be resolved. Please try again in a few weeks.”
iSkin has announced the immediate availability of its Cerulean line of Bluetooth wireless audio accessories for iPod. The product line includes the Cerulean TX Bluetooth transmitter, the Cerulean RX, an iPod Dock Connector-equipped Bluetooth receiver meant for use with speakers that feature a built-in iPod Dock, and the Cerulean F1, a combo stereo Bluetooth earphone and mobile headset. The Cerulean TX+RX and Cerulean F1 are shipping now, and sell for $150 and $130 respectively.
Mac developer Alan Quartermain has released the BackRow Developers’ Kit, a software development kit for Apple TV plugins. The kit includes headers for the BackRow, iPhotoAccess, and QuartzComposer frameworks, a project template for Xcode — Apple’s development environment — and a BackRow test application. Currently, plugins created for the set-top box will only work with modified Apple TVs. The BackRow Developers’ Kit is available now as a free download.
AT&T’s president of national distribution, Glenn Laurie, has revealed in an interview that the wireless provider will be recommending an “unlimited” plan for iPhone customers. When asked about the handset’s full-featured browser, Laurie replied: “I think it will be great for us, and here’s why. One of the things with this device — people are going to be asked to have an unlimited package — people are going to have to have a package with us to browse.” Laurie refused to answer a question about possible subsidizing of the device, but did mention some new features, stating “There are other things — you have the widgets, some of the Google applications that are coming — there are just so many things here that the price will not be an issue.”
This week’s look at the iLounge Discussion Forums looks at some of the most popular discussions taking place on the site.
Everyone loves free stuff. In our Audiobooks Forum, readers have spent a lot of time looking for free audio books, maintaining a huge thread since 2005 to help people find what’s online. A separate discussion, Audible Book Recommendations - Post Yours Here, has since 2003 tracked reader advice on the best audiobooks available from Audible (and the iTunes Store). Read the list, or add your suggestions there.
In our growing iPhone Forum, readers outside the United States have been trying to figure out how to join the iPhone community before their countries’ official, and as yet unknown official launch dates. In Buying iPhone Abroad, international customers are discussing the wisdom of buying the U.S. phone given its contract and EDGE support; will forthcoming European and Asian versions be better?
Our second most popular forum is, interestingly, The Lounge - a place where readers can discuss anything not related to the iPod. As just one example of the helpful suggestions in there, one reader’s request for help “Making Computer Faster” has resulted in useful tips on optimizing an older Dell computer. Will something in there help you, too?
Finally, one of our quietest forums is Feedback & Suggestions, which gives readers the chance to ask questions or offer suggestions for improving the site. As we continue to work on a major update to iLounge, we’re interested in hearing your thoughts; post them in the forum and we’ll take them into consideration.