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AP launches iPhone news portal

The Associated Press and more than 100 of its member newspapers have launched the Mobile News Network, a new web-based news portal for the iPhone, iPod touch, and other mobile devices. The portal offers local news from participating member newspapers and national and international news from AP, as well as sports and entertainment coverage, all organized by ZIP code. Announced in April, the service now has 107 newspapers participating, up from 18 at the time of the announcement. Member papers include The Miami Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “We are excited to offer the first comprehensive mobile news web app and to have been selected by Apple as a Staff Pick. With a new generation of mobile devices on the market, like the iPhone, the time is right for AP to introduce a product that brings together our members’ local news brands with AP’s unrivaled coverage of international and national events,” said Jane Seagrave, AP’s senior vice president of global product development. To access the Mobile News Network, simply visit from an iPhone or iPod touch.

Power Support Japan intros new iPod nano cases

Power Support Japan has introduced several new accessories for the iPod nano (with video). The Crystal Jacket Set (Translated link) is a hard plastic case, offering two-piece snap-together construction, access to all ports and controls, a place to attach the included strap, and included film protectors. It sells for the equivalent of $19. The Silicone Jacket Set for iPod nano comes in both rounded and square versions, and in clear or black, or clear mint or black colors. The silicone cases offer full access to all ports and controls, a complete set of protective film for the screen, Click Wheel, and rear of the nano, and a protective cover for the Dock Connector. The rounded versions also include a stand/clip attachment, while the square models include a simple holder, which uses double-sided tape to attach to surfaces like a car dashboard. Both the square and rounded models of the Silicone Jacket Set for iPod nano sell for the equivalent of $19.

imageFinally, the Mirror Crystal Jacket Set is a mirror-finished hard plastic case available with either a silver or gold finish. The two-piece snap-together cases offer built-in screen protection, access to all ports and controls, and holes for strap attachment. The cases also include a Dock Connector protector, protective film, a clip/stand accessory, and an extra clear front cover. The Power Support Mirror Crystal Jacket Set for iPod nano (with video) sells for the equivalent of $19.

Apple opens iPhone Developer Program internationally

Apple has begun sending out acceptance letters to some international developers informing them of their acceptance into the iPhone Developer Program. According to a TUAW report, UK-based developers must pay a £59 fee to join the program, while U.S.-based developers are charged $99. The fees in other parts of the world are still unknown. The for-pay iPhone Development Program gives developers access to beta builds of iPhone software, the ability to test code directly on an iPhone or iPod touch, includes the generation of a digital certificate that will identify the company when its applications are published, and the ability to sell your applications through the App Store.

Apple updates iPod classic software to 1.1.2 [updated]

Apple has released iPod classic Software Version 1.1.2, the latest update to the full-size iPod’s firmware. According to the release notes provided by Apple, the release simply contains bug fixes, and does not appear to add any new features or cause any other significant changes. iPod classic Software Version 1.1.2 is available now through the Update feature in iTunes.

Update: Apple has also released Software Version 1.1.2 for the iPod nano (with video), which, like the iPod classic update, appears to be a bug fix release. It is also available now through the Update feature in iTunes.

Apple taking loss on new release movie sales?

Apple may be selling new release titles on the iTunes Store for less than wholesale price, according to a Wall Street Journal report. A person familiar with the matter says Apple is paying the studios a wholesale price of close to $16, while offering those titles on the Store for $14.99 each. Earlier this week, Apple announced that it would begin offering new release films from all of the major studios for purchase on the iTunes Store on the same day as the DVD release, and has since enabled Apple TV users to purchase videos directly from the device. “This is a game changer,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “For all the studios to offer all their movies [on the same date] as DVD, with the most influential marketing company in the digital space, is a very exciting development.”

Apple releases iPod Reset Utility 1.0.4 for Windows

Apple has released iPod Reset Utility 1.0.4 for Windows, the latest version of its iPod shuffle utility. The software can be used to restore both first- and second-generation iPod shuffle models back to factory settings when iTunes is unable to do so. Apple notes that the restore process completely erases all music and data on the iPod, and installs the latest iPod software on the device. iPod Reset Utility 1.0.4 for Windows is available now as a free 4.9MB download and requires Windows 2000 with SP4 or Windows XP with SP2.

First 3G iPhone pics appear online? [updated: No.]

French-language iPhone blog has published two photos (Translated link) that purport to show an upcoming version of the iPhone. Concurring with information some overseas developers have been circulating, the photos depict a nearly all-black device, with what appears to be a 3.5-inch screen and home button on the front, and an Apple logo and iPhone markings on the back. The device’s rear appears to be plastic, with a smaller, thinner metallic front bezel, different, more Blackbery-like curves, and other details differentiating the new model from the current-generation iPhone. Additional new features remain unclear from the images, and as always, their authenticity should be viewed as questionable until Apple makes an official announcement.

Update: A reader points out that the device’s curves are identical to the LG Vu, strongly suggesting that the images are Photoshopped fakes.

Griffin unveils FlexGrip, FlexScreen cases

Griffin Technology has introduced its FlexGrip case for the iPod touch and iPod nano (with video), and its FlexScreen case for the nano. The FlexGrip is a two-tone silicone case with a smooth front and a textured, nubby rear surface for added grip. FlexGrip also includes a full-face screen protector (touch) or screen and Click Wheel protectors (nano). FlexScreen is a two-piece case comprised of a clear silicone case featuring the same textured back as the FlexGrip and a clear hard polycarbonate face shield. Both the FlexGrip and FlexScreen offer full access to the touch’s or nano’s Dock Connector, headphone jack, and hold switch (nano). In addition to the cases, Griffin has also introduced its Screen Care Kit for iPod touch, which includes five static peel screen protectors and lint-free cleaning cloth. The Griffin FlexGrip for iPod touch and iPod nano, FlexScreen for iPod nano, and Screen Care Kit for iPod touch are all available now and sell for $15 each. For more information on the FlexGrip or FlexScreen, check out our full-length review.

Apple enables movie purchasing on Apple TV

Following this morning’s announcement that new movies from all the major studios will be made available for purchase on the iTunes Store on the same day as their DVD release, Apple has quietly updated the Apple TV’s movie browsing and renting system to allow for the purchase of movies directly from the device. In addition to the ability to purchase films, a “Top Sellers” category, showing the current most popular movie purchases, has been added to the top of the “Top Movies” menu. Apple has previously shown the ability to make live updates to the Apple TV’s iTunes Store sub-menus without the need for a full system update.

ShadesCases debuts Shades for iPhone

ShadesCases has introduced its new Shades for iPhone. Like the company’s iPod cases, Shades for iPhone are made from 100% Polyurethane, measure only .4mm thick, and offer built-in clear screen protection, while allowing for full usability of the iPhone’s touch screen. Shades for iPhone are available now in 11 different colors, and sell for $17 each; the company is currently offering a “Buy two get the second half-off” promotion on the cases as well.

iLounge launches Design the Next iPhone, Win the Next iPhone Contest

Design The Next iPhone Contest

Think you’ve got what it takes to design the next iPhone? iLounge is pleased to announce the Design the Next iPhone, Win the Next iPhone Contest. To enter the contest, simply submit a brand-new artistic rendition (minimum 1600px wide) of what you think the next iPhone should look like. iLounge’s editors will pick six top concepts from the pool of valid entries, three of which will receive Apple’s next-generation iPhone (!!), while three runners-up will each receive a $100 iTunes Store Gift Card.

Submissions start today and run through May 25, with winners to be announced in The Free iPod + iPhone Book 4, on June 1. Get started, and good luck! For more information or for official rules, please visit the official contest page.

New movies coming to iTunes same day as DVD release

Apple has announced that new movie releases from all the major and some premier independent studios will now be made available for purchase on the iTunes Store on the same day as their DVD release. Both new releases and catalog titles will be made available, from 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios. New releases will continued to be priced at $14.99, while most catalog titles will still sell for $9.99.

“We’re thrilled to bring iTunes Store customers new films for purchase day-and-date with the DVD release,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We think movie fans will love being able to buy their favorites from major and independent studios.”

New releases available for purchase on the iTunes Store this week, concurrent with their DVD release, include “American Gangster” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Other popular titles now available for purchase include “Juno,” “Cloverfield,” “I Am Legend,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

OtterBox rolls out pink ‘Strength’ cases for iPhone, iPod nano

OtterBox has announced its new limited edition pink “Strength” Defender series cases for the iPhone and iPod nano (with video). Otherwise identical to the normal Defender series, 10% of the purchase price of each pink Strength case will be donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade to support access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer, with a focus on the medically underserved. The OtterBox Defender Strength Case for iPhone will sell for $50, while the Defender Strength for iPod nano will sell for $30. Both will be available soon.

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