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Mix: AAPL, Canada, Jacuzzi, Unlock

Apple will report its fourth quarter earnings later today, and will host a webcast discussing fourth quarter financial results at 2:00 p.m. PDT / 5:00 p.m. EDT.

The Copyright Board of Canada has approved a new tax on music downloads from iTunes and other online retailers. Retroactive to 1996, the tax means Apple will have to pay 3.1 cents for each music file they sell, or 1.5 cents per track for complete albums, to SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada).

Jacuzzi has introduced its new J-480 hot tub with the AquaSound Audio System option. The AquaSound equips the tub with an iPod dock, along with waterproof micro-speakers, CD player, AM/FM radio, powered subwoofer, and remote control.

According to a spokeswoman for Orange, the iPhone will be offered in France in both locked and unlocked versions. While the locked version will sell for €399 as previously reported, the unlocked version will cost more.

Blue Raven rolls out new iPod accessories

Blue Raven Technology has introduced a three new iPod accessories, including a voice recorder, FM transmitter, and a home theater dock. The iPod Audio Recorder plugs into the iPod’s Dock Connector, is powered by the iPod, and features a built-in mono microphone that works with the iPod’s “Voice Memo” function, a stereo line-in jack to record from a different audio source, and a blue recording LED. It is available now and sells for $52.

imageThe Blue Raven iPod Wireless FM Transmitter uses the iPod’s LCD to display station information and features a 100 foot transmission distance, advanced power management technology to minimize battery drain, station presets, and an included car charger. It sells for $50. Finally, the iPod Home Theatre Dock features audio/video out, the ability to charge the iPod while docked, and an included remote control. The Dock also includes a USB cable for syncing/charging and AV cables, and is available now for $80.

Tunewear now shipping Icewear for iPhone

Tunewear has announced that its Icewear for iPhone silicone case is now shipping from its company store. The Icewear for iPhone is made from high-density silicone, and features Tunewear’s patented rib technology for a more secure grip. Other features include embossed edges around the screen to prevent scratching, packed-in Tunefilm clear protective film for additional screen protection, and complete access to the iPhone’s headphone jack, Dock Connector, camera lens, and buttons. Tunewear Icewear for iPhone is available now and sells for $30.

WeatherBug announces web app for iPhone and iPod touch

WeatherBug has announced a new web application optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch and allows users to access streaming neighborhood-level weather conditions and video weathercasts. The application also provides international weather information, detailed views of the 7 day forecast, radar, and camera images from WeatherBug’s proprietary network of tracking stations. Additionally, the WeatherBug Web app allows users to set a variety of locations for multiple cities and scroll through current conditions, forecasts, radar and live camera images for each one. “The launch of our Web app means we have given iPhone and iPod touch users a great new way to access WeatherBug information while on the go,” said Chris Brozenick, vice president of WeatherBug mobile. “With the ability to access live, local streaming weather and videos the WeatherBug Web app is a first-of- its-kind and a breakthrough service for consumer and professional users.” The application can be accessed by visiting on an iPhone or iPod touch.

iPodweek on its way, still time to sign up

It’s Friday, which means that iLounge’s weekly newsletter, iPodweek, will be available later this afternoon. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best iPod news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and iPod accessory discount offers from various companies. You still have time to sign up for this week’s edition, if you haven’t done so already — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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PDO intros aluminum cases for iPod classic, nano 3G

PDO has introduced its Aluminum V2 for iPod classic and Aluminum N3 for iPod nano (with video) cases, along with screen protectors for the new iPod line. Adapted from the fifth-generation iPod model, the Aluminum V2 for the iPod classic is made of aircraft grade aluminum, and features both screen and Click Wheel protection, neoprene interior lining, and cut-outs for access to the Dock Connector, headphone jack, and hold switch. It is available for pre-order in two sizes and four color combinations: black case with black, blue, or red Click Wheel cover, or silver case with black Click Wheel cover. The Aluminum V2 for iPod classic sells for $30 and is expected to ship by the end of October. 
imageThe Aluminum N3 for iPod nano (with video) is similarly made and costs $25. It is also available for pre-order in black or silver and is expected to ship by the end of October. Finally, PDO Screen Protectors for the iPod nano (with video), iPod classic, and iPod touch are now available. Protectors for the iPod nano and iPod classic include pieces that cover the screen, Click Wheel, and chrome rear surface, while the screen protector for iPod touch covers the entire front face and chrome rear. Each package contains two sets of protectors and sells for $9. In addition, PDO is offering free shipping on all orders until October 21.

Analyst: iPhone AT&T’s top selling device, #4 in US sales

Researchers for Strategy Analytics claim that the iPhone could become the best-selling handset in the US within the next six months. In addition, the handset has already become the best selling device for AT&T, according to reports. “The iPhone has become AT&T’s top selling device, commanding some 13 per cent of AT&T’s overall handset sales, and the fourth top selling handset in the US market,” said Barry Gilbert, vice president of the Strategy Analytics BuyerTRAX programs. “Although the iPhone hasn’t had an expansionary impact in the market, the iPhone has quickly assumed a leading market share position and raised the ante for smart devices. The sales trajectory we are observing with the iPhone could make it the top selling device in the US over the next 1-2 quarters.” The current best-selling handset, the Motorola RAZR V3, has seen its lead diminished recently, according to Strategy Analytics.

iPod classic update causing disk-spinning bug?

A number of iPod classic owners are reporting an issue where their units’ hard disk spins endlessly after applying the 1.0.2 update. The problem was first discovered by a group of users complaining of poor battery life, which is a result of the disk spinning and draining the battery in an abnormally quick fashion. Although the exact cause of the bug is still unknown, some users have found that turning off the device’s Cover Flow feature fixes the problem. Apple has yet to comment on this issue. [via Engadget]

One week left in 2008 Buyers’ Guide Contests, enter now for shot at $3795 in prizes

Competition in the 2008 iLounge Buyers’ Guide Contests is heating up, with some excellent submissions already turned in. In case you missed it, we’re running two separate contests for our upcoming 2008 Buyer’s Guide — the Holiday iPod Photo Contest, and the iPhone nano Concept Contest. Thanks to the contests’ sponsors, Ultimate Ears and Geneva Lab, we have $3795 worth of goodies ready for the winners. Keep reading for more details and a look at some entries we’ve already received.

iFrogz now accepting pre-orders for iPod touch Wrapz

iFrogz is now taking pre-orders for its iPod touch Wrapz silicone case. The case is made with 100 percent polished silicone, treated with a proprietary anti-dust coating to repel lint and dust. Features include bumpers on each corner for added drop protection and full access to the headphone jack, Dock Connector, power button, and touch screen. iFrogz iPod touch Wrapz sell for $20 and are available for pre-order in black, blue, red, or gunmetal; the case will begin shipping October 25. [Thanks, Troy]

ChangeWave reports high iPhone satisfaction numbers

According to the latest ChangeWave survey, completed October 2, 82 percent of iPhone owners report being “very satisfied” with their purchase, up five points from the group’s previous July survey. This places Apple well above all other cellular manufacturers in this regard; the only other company with a satisfaction rating above 50 percent is Research-in-Motion. In addition, Apple also placed tops in the future purchases category, with 16 percent of respondents who plan to purchase a cell phone in the next six months saying they plan to buy an iPhone.

iToner 1.0.3 offers compatibility with 1.1.1 iPhones

Ambrosia Software has released iToner 1.0.3, the latest update of its custom iPhone ringtone manager. iToner allows iPhone owners to use any MP3 or AAC audio files they like as ringtones, bypassing Apple’s restrictions. iToner 1.0.3 adds compatibility with iPhones running software version 1.1.1. iToner is available as a 30-day free trial download; a full license costs $15. iToner requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later.

Apple posts three new iPhone ads

Apple has posted three new iPhone ads, continuing the theme of iPhone users against black backdrops that debuted in three new ads that appeared last week. In “Delay”, aviation profession Bryce explains how his iPhone allowed him to check the weather from the plane, reducing a three hour delay to only 30 minutes. “The Winger” features ballet dancer Kristin, who uses her iPhone to update her blog, Finally, in “My Show”, Ken, an off-broadway theater producer, uses his iPhone to communicate with the show’s director and keep tabs on what critics and fans are saying online. All three ads are available for viewing on Apple’s website.

XtremeMac unveils Tango Studio Audio System for iPod

XtremeMac has unveiled its Tango Studio Audio System for iPod, a new compact desktop stereo with a built-in FM radio. The Tango Studio also features two 3-inch loudspeakers powered by an integrated stereo amplifier, a blue LED display, cloth grill, a retractable Universal Dock, auxiliary input, and a full-function remote control. The XtremeMac Tango Studio Audio System for iPod is available for pre-order now and sells for $80; it is expected to ship “in the coming weeks.”

iPhone SDK coming ‘in February’

In an update posted to Apple’s web site today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has confirmed that the company does plan on releasing a Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch, and that it will be “in developers’ hands in February.” Jobs goes on to explain the delayed release of the SDK, saying: “It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc…. We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.” Currently, the only way to run third-party native applications on the iPhone and iPod touch is through the unauthorized jailbreaking of the devices.

OtterBox debuts OtterBox for iPhone

Otterbox has introduced its OtterBox for iPhone, the company’s first “semi-rugged” iPod case. The OtterBox for iPhone combines a hard polycarbonate shell with a patented polycarbonate membrane to protect the device’s screen while allowing for complete usability, and an outer silicone skin to add protection from drops and bumps. The resulting case is water-resistant, and features three Donaldson Acoustic Vents for the front speaker, bottom speaker and microphone, access to sync/Charge and headphone jacks through a silicone plug, and access to the home, sleep/wake and volume buttons via silicone pass-through buttons. The OtterBox for iPhone includes a holster style swivel belt clip and is available for pre-order now at a price of $50; it is expected to ship on or before October 19.

iPhones shipping with sound icons on silent switch?

A photo posted by flickr user Jeff Croft shows that his iPhone has a sound icon on its ring/silent switch. According to an email Croft sent to Mac blogger John Gruber, the iPhone was purchased on June 29 in Lawrence, Kansas, so the icon is not a recent addition. Several other iPhone owners have commented on the photo, claiming their early-run units have sound icons as well, including one owner who provided a comparison shot of his iPhone, which has the icon, and his wife’s, which does not. This discovery follows several reports of iPhone users believing they have “broken” units, only to discover their lack of sound is due to the ring/silent switch being moved. Does your iPhone have a sound icon on the ring/silent switch? Let us know in the comments.

Apple: iTunes Plus now offers over two million tracks

Apple has announced that it has expanded its iTunes Plus offerings to over two million tracks, making the iTunes Plus catalog the “largest DRM-free catalog in the world”. Apple revealed the expansion, which includes artists from Sub Pop, Nettwerk, Beggars Group, IODA, The Orchard, and more, in a press release announcing new $0.99 pricing for all iTunes Plus tracks. “iTunes Plus has been incredibly popular with our customers and now we’re making it available at an even more affordable price,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We’re adding over two million tracks from key independent labels in addition to EMI’s digital catalog and look forward to even more labels and artists making their music available on iTunes Plus.”

Mix: Nike+, Leopard, AT&T, touch dock

A number of iPod nano (with video) owners are reporting problems with music playback when using the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. Apple has yet to acknowledge the problem, however, a workaround for the issue has been found.

A page on Apple’s website describing new features found in its Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard software has revealed note syncing of some sort between the iPhone and the new version of Mail. The page states, “Your notes folder acts like an email mailbox, so you can retrieve notes from any Mac or PC or access them from your iPhone.” Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard will be released on October 26.

It has come to light that Apple is limiting support options for iPhone owners who do not have active contract agreements with AT&T. From TUAW: “If a customer discontinues their AT&T service before the 90 days of complimentary support, they are still provided with support, and then covered by the 1 year hardware warranty, during which, if they call for support, have a pay-per-incident charge.”

An iPod touch owner has posted step-by-step instructions on how to create an iPod touch Dock from the device’s box lid. Tools required include double- and single-sided tape, a downloadable hole template, X-Acto knife, scissors, a pencil, and a ruler.

Apple to drop all iTunes Plus tracks to $0.99

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has told the The Wall Street Journal that Apple plans to reduce its pricing on all DRM-free iTunes Plus downloads by $.30 either later today or tomorrow. This move would make all iTunes Plus tracks $0.99, down from the previous price of $1.29 per song, and in line with the pricing of rival offerings from Amazon MP3 and Wal-Mart. Speaking about the DRM-free tracks, Jobs said “It’s been very popular with our customers, and we’re making it even more affordable.” Earlier this week, iTunes Plus tracks from independent labels began appearing on the iTunes Store at the reduced $0.99 price.

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