Wizzard Media has launched a new podcatching web application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new app acts as a podcatcher for any show with a RSS feed, and offers an email-like inbox for keeping track of subscribed shows. In addition, the app can import your subscription lists from iTunes, can export an OPML feed of your subscription list, and will soon offer the ability to subscribe to dynamic OPML feeds. The new Wizzard podcatching application can be accessed by visiting iphone.wizzard.tv from an iPhone or iPod touch.
Nakahara Informatics has announced its iGet Mobile 1.0 remote access software. iGet Mobile is a Mac-only application that allows users to securely access their Mac’s documents and files from an iPhone, iPod touch, Windows PC, or other non-Mac device. It provides a lightweight web interface to the Mac, with special features geared toward users of the iPhone and iPod touch, and can also perform on-the-fly document conversions to allow unsupported file types to be viewed on the iPhone and iPod touch. “Since the very first day that the iPhone was released, we’ve been asked when we’ll have a version of iGet that works with it,” said CEO Christopher Martin. “People don’t necessarily want to take their laptops with them as much as before, and yet they still want to be able to connect back to their Macs and access their documents, maybe for business reasons, or maybe just to find something to read while waiting at the dentist’s office.” iGet Mobile 1.0 is now available, and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later. Regularly priced at $39, the software is currently available for the special introductory price of $29.
iLounge is pleased to announce the Shure In-Your-Ear Giveaway. Shure is giving away 10 pairs of its SE110 Earphones ($120 retail value), which feature a Balanced MicroSpeaker for more vivid and detailed sound, assorted sleeves, and a modular cable, and come with a carrying case and nozzle cleaning tool, as well as a 2-year limited warranty. To enter, simply fill out and submit the entry form. The contest ends on Nov. 30 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time; for official rules and more info, visit the official contest page. Good luck!
Roth Audio has announced its ALFiE iPod speaker system, which contains an Apple authentication chip to activate the video-out features of the latest iPod models. Beyond that, the ALFiE features a slot-loading optical drive with support DVD, DVD-R, DVD+R, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3 playback, an integrated iPod Dock, AM/FM radio with digital tuning and dual alarms, touch sensitive controls, a fully functional remote control, a 2.1 amplifier and speaker combination with two front firing speakers and a down-firing subwoofer and a total combined power of 40 watts, auxiliary-in, and composite, S-Video, and Component video outputs. The Roth Audio ALFiE will be available in December; pricing has yet to be determined. Continue reading for a larger front view and rear view of the system.
Update: It has been confirmed that the unit will be priced at $999.
Contour Design has introduced its new iSee nano V3 for the iPod nano (with video) and iSee Touch for iPod touch. Both snap-together cases come with two backs: a simple, smooth back that makes for a slimmer profile, and a belt clip-compatible back, featuring a new clip attachment. The new belt clip can be mounted in four positions or replaced with a plug to close the attachment point. In addition, hinged Dock Connector protectors open partially for access to the headphone jack only, or fully for additional access to the Dock Connector and hold switch. Other features include a play-through Click Wheel protector on the iSee nano V3 and a silicone hold switch cover for the iSee Touch. “As the iPod nano has gotten sleeker and smaller, it becomes even more important for a case to look great and offer complete protection,” said Mike Jackle. “And while the glass screen of the iPod Touch doesn’t need scratch protection, we made sure to protect everything else and still leave the controls accessible.” Contour Design’s iSee nano V3 and iSee Touch are both available now, and sell for $25 and $30, respectively.
Fastmac has expanded its “Just Say No To Crack” iPod rehab service to include Apple’s iPod nano (with video) and iPod classic. The program offers repair and replacement of scratched or cracked iPod LCD screens, either as a Do It Yourself (DIY) kit with tools and instructional videos, or via a same-day mail order service provided by Fastmac directly. The service uses only Apple original parts to guarantee quality as well as fit and compatibility. DIY kits for the iPod nano and iPod classic are priced at $50 and $60, respectively, while the 24-hour installation service is available for an additional $40.
In a recent interview with GameDaily, John Carmack, founder of id Software and creator of games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, criticized Apple’s strategy when it comes to gaming on the iPod and iPhone. Responding to the question of whether or not he plans to release any games for the iPhone or iPod, Carmack said, “Steve Jobs and I have not been seeing really eye to eye on a lot of important issues. We were in a fairly heated argument at the last WWDC [Worldwide Developers Conf.] and we’ve had a few follow-ups. I have an iPhone right now and it’s a platform I would enjoy developing for but Apple is not taking progressive steps in regards to [gaming].”
Switching focus to the iPod, he continued, “When they finally allowed games to be put on the iPod… in many ways it’s one of the worst environments to develop games for. You have to work on an emulator… just all these horrible decisions. I expressed my fears directly to Steve Jobs that some of these mistakes might be carried over to the iPhone, so they’re at least aware of all of them, but they’re not giving any spectacular signs that it’s going to be a big deal for them in the next year.” Although a port of Doom is available for the iPodlinux platform, id Software has yet to release any games for the iPod.
PDO has announced the release of its TopSkin silicone case for iPod classic. The TopSkin offers comprehensive protection, covering everything but the classic’s screen. A flap covers the Dock Connector and headphone jack when not in use, while the hold switch is covered in a play-through design. Other features include a “microtexture” pattern on the case’s sides for added grip, a slim-profile ratcheting belt clip, and an included wrist strap and screen protector. The TopSkin for iPod classic is available now for both 80GB and 160GB models in four colors, and sells for $20.
Griffin Technology has announced new colors for its TuneBuds in-ear earphones. The newly-colored models, available in red, light blue, light green, blue, silver, and pink, offer “amazingly comfortable fit, but also enhanced audio isolation from outside distractions,” says Griffin. The colors were chosen to match second- and third-generation iPod nanos. The new Griffin TuneBuds Colors include three differently-sized sets of silicone ear cushions, and are available now for $20.
Independent filmmaker Scott Dacko recently used an Apple TV to power the New York premiere of his film The Insurgents. “As far as I know, we’re the first people to have ever done this,” Dacko said. “And it looked great.” The theater hosting the premiere, Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn, didn’t have a tape deck to play his film from — instead, The Register explains, it traditionally screens movies from film. Faced with the possibility of paying up to $1000 for a week’s rental of a tape-based setup, Dacko instead used Apple’s Final Cut Pro to output his film in the iTunes-friendly H.264 video format, and purchased an Apple TV for $299 to power a projector the theater had on hand. “That’s less than half what I’d pay someone just to put my movie on an HDCam tape,” he said. Dacko plans to continue using the device to screen his films, simply toting it from venue to venue. “I wish I had thought of this before,” Dacko said. “I could just create multiple versions of my movie on Apple TV - in every possible aspect ratio and format. All the theater would have to do is plug it in.”
Pacific Design and Gamila have partnered to create the Indie Artists Collection, a new line of cases featuring the artwork of Paul Friedrich and David Eichenberger. Along with accessories for the Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, and others, the line also includes three new cases for the iPod nano (with video). All three cases sport art by Paul Friedrich, and feature a flip-case design with magnetic closure, poly-cotton velvet lining, a built-in Lexan screen protector, and offer access to the nano’s headphone jack, hold switch, and Dock Connector. In addition, similar cases are also available for first- and second-generation iPod nanos. Pacific Design Indie Artists iPod Nano 3G Flip Cases are available now and sell for $20.
VibeVault has introduced its Black VibeVault for iPod nano (with video). The VibeVault is a two-piece anodized aluminum case held together by six screws. It features a slim design, Type II anodizing, a clear polycarbonate “face shield,” and offers full access to the nano’s Click Wheel, hold switch, headphone jack, and Dock Connector. The VibeVault for iPod nano (with video) is available in black and sells for $35.
RealNetworks has introduced the latest version of its RealPlayer software, which includes the ability to download and record non-DRM protected videos from “thousands of sites” for playback online or offline. As part of the RealPlayer Plus package, users will be able to transfer these downloaded videos to the iPod nano (with video), iPod classic, and fifth-generation iPod. “Now consumers can use the one-click download functionality to view Web video offline on their PC or transfer video to popular portable media devices like the iPod,” said Harold Zeitz, senior vice president of media software and services at Real. “RealPlayer is one of the most popular applications around the world, and by the end of the month our customers from North America to China will have this one-click video download functionality and the ability to watch videos on the go with their iPods in their own native languages.” Real promises continued development on the player, and plans to add video transfer support for the iPhone and iPod touch in early 2008. RealPlayer is available now as a free download from realplayer.com; the upgrade to RealPlayer Plus, which includes support for iPod video transfers, is available for the one-time cost of $40.
A new study by User Centric, a Chicago-based usability consulting firm, claims that iPhone users make more typos than those using phones with full keyboards or phones with numeric keypads. Despite the extremely small sample size of only 20 users to a group, the researchers found that iPhone users entered text as quickly as their counterparts, but made significantly more errors — 5.6 per message, compared to 2.1 and 2.4 for full keyboard and numeric keypad users, respectively. The study also found that iPhone text input doesn’t improve with experience, by asking users in other groups to use the iPhone, and comparing their results against those of people who had owned the phone for at least a month. The report does not mention whether the texts sent in the study contained internet shorthand, such as “lol” or “rofl,” or whether the messages were in traditional English, which might favor the iPhone’s ability to try and recognize the words the user is attempting to type.
Cambridge SoundWorks has introduced its i765 stereo speaker system. The i765 is an all-in-one system, offering an integrated iPod Dock, a built-in DVD/CD player with support for MP3 and WMA files, AM/FM tuner with 16 FM and 8 AM presets, dual alarms, and an integrated LCD text display that automatically adjusts to ambient lighting. 2.1-channel sound comes from two high-performance drivers and a built-in powered subwoofer; other features include composite and S-Video outputs, and a full-featured wireless remote with iPod navigation control. “We drew inspiration for the SoundWorks i765 from our great-sounding Cambridge SoundWorks radios,” said Rob Mainiero, general manager of Cambridge SoundWorks. “Then we added in an integrated iPod dock and a DVD/CD player with video-out capability, creating a compact music system with all the features of a top-of-the line digital entertainment system.” The Soundworks i765 Speaker System is available now and sells for $500.
Following yesterday’s comments from China Mobile’s CEO on bringing the iPhone to China, Reuters reports that China Unicom has also expressed interest in carrying the handset. “Right now, we don’t have any plans to introduce Apple’s iPhones in China,” Unicom Executive Director Li Zhengmao told reporters on Wednesday. “But of course, we’re always willing to discuss a good business opportunity if it presents itself,” he said. “As for whether we’ll talk about iPhones with Apple, you’ll have to ask Apple.”
Apple has taken a more proactive approach in Europe than in the U.S. regarding the iPhone, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The article points to agreements with Wi-Fi hot-spot providers as an example, saying Apple made these deals in part to appease critics who bemoaned the device’s slow EDGE data connection. “They certainly have learned their lesson, and are being more proactive,” said Chris Fletcher, a mobility research director with AMR Research.
In his review of the new Zune players, Walt Mossberg said that while the devices are an improvement over their predecessors, they’re still not as good as Apple’s current iPod lineup. “Microsoft has greatly improved the Zune hardware and software this time,” he said. “But it seems to be competing with Apple’s last efforts, not its newest ones.”
To celebrate its Quartz case receiving runner-up for Case of the Year for iPod classic in our latest Buyers’ Guide, Pacific Rim Technologies is running a one-week promotion, beginning today, offering the case for $15, discounted from its normal price of $25. The promotion ends Nov. 21.
OtterBox has announced its Defender and Armor lines of cases for the iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano (with video) and iPhone. The Defender series, which includes the previously announced OtterBox for iPhone, offers semi-rugged cases described as “skin on steroids.” The cases feature hi-impact polycarbonate shells that snap together to safeguard the device and completely interactive, scratch-resistant, polycarbonate membranes to protect screens and Click Wheels. A silicone skin wraps over the case to provide additional protection from drops, bumps and shock. OtterBox Defender Series cases are available for the iPod touch ($30), iPod nano ($30), iPod classic ($30), and iPhone ($50).
OtterBox Armor series cases are “fully rugged” and are designed to protect against rain, dust, dirt, drops and other mishaps. The cases feature a polycarbonate shell and impact-absorbing rubber inside the case to cradle the device, and a scratch-resistant, hi-impact polycarbonate membrane covering for the Click Wheel or screen that offers full control and protection. The OtterBox Armor series is available for the iPod touch ($50), iPod classic ($50), iPod nano ($40), and iPhone ($70). Cases will become available individually over the next few weeks; the entire Defender and Armor line is available for pre-order now from OtterBox’s website.
Speaking at the GMSA Mobile Asia Congress, Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. praised Apple’s efforts to build a seamless music and media purchasing experience through iTunes, as he warned mobile operators against making mistakes that have his own company facing hard times. “We used to fool ourselves,” he said. “We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won.”
Although previously critical of Apple and some of its policies, particularly Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ stance on DRM, Bronfman used Apple as an example of how to cater to consumers’ wants and desires. “For years now, Warner Music has been offering a choice to consumers at Apple’s iTunes store the option to purchase something more than just single tracks, which constitute the mainstay of that store’s sales,” he explained. “By packaging a full album into a bundle of music with ringtones, videos and other combinations and variation we found products that consumers demonstrably valued and were willing to purchase at premium prices. And guess what? We’ve sold tons of them. And with Apple’s co-operation to make discovering, accessing and purchasing these products even more seamless and intuitive, we’ll be offering many, many more of these products going forward.”
Speaking about Apple’s mobile efforts, Bronfman continued, “You need to look no further than Apple’s iPhone to see how fast brilliantly written software presented on a beautifully designed device with a spectacular user interface will throw all the accepted notions about pricing, billing platforms and brand loyalty right out the window. And let me remind you, the genesis of the iPhone is the iPod and iTunes - a music device and music service that consumers love.”
Alpine Electronics has introduced its eX-10 Advanced iPod Controller with Bluetooth. First appearing in our 2008 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide, the eX-10 is a dash-top solution for iPod playback and Bluetooth connectivity that works with the vehicle’s factory system. It consists of a no-installation display unit that sits on top of the dash, a remote control and a power module that plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter. Sound from the eX-10, which offers full iPod control, a 2.4-inch display, album art support, and A2DP and AVRCP support for Bluetooth stereo audio devices, is output via the built-in FM transmitter, or through the unit’s line output jack. The eX-10 can also control a Bluetooth-enabled phone or device, allowing for a hands-free conversation to be played through the car’s speakers.
“The demand for iPod and Bluetooth in the car is skyrocketing, and consumers previously have not been able to integrate these technologies into their existing sound systems through one product. With Alpine’s new eX-10, consumers can easily add both iPod music playback and Bluetooth hands-free operation for cell phones into their vehicles with one simple, add-on solution,” said Stephen Witt, vice president of marketing, Alpine Electronics. The Alpine eX10 Advanced iPod Controller with Bluetooth will be available in late November and will sell for $200.
Apple has released its iPod software version 1.2.2 for fifth-generation iPods. According to Apple, the update simply contains “bug fixes.” It has yet to be seen if the update makes any apparent changes in functionality. iPod software version 1.2.2 is available now via the Update feature in iTunes.