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Mix: NBC streaming, EyeTV 3.0.2, .Mac push e-mail

  • May 8, 2008

NBC has begun offering full-length streaming episodes of popular shows “The Office” and “30 Rock” to the iPhone and iPod touch in Quicktime format from NBC.com. The move is unusual in that the network has yet to reach an agreement with Apple to resume selling its TV programming on the iTunes Store in the US, following its removal last December. To view the episodes, visit NBC.com on an iPhone or iPod touch and click “Full Episodes” under “Video.”

Elgato has released EyeTV 3.0.2, the latest update to its television playback and recording software for Mac. Notable improvements in the new version include support for digital television H.264 broadcasts in both standard and HDTV resolutions, support for the exporting of ATSC/NTSC Closed Captions for use on iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV, and other improvements. The update is available now through the Update feature in EyeTV.

Support for .Mac push email has been discovered in the latest build of iPhone software 2.0, according to a TUAW report. Screenshots accompanying the report show a new “Fetch New Data” button in the iPhone’s Settings menu, which enables users to choose between “Fetch” or “Push” delivery for each mail account.

Apple patent points to Wii-like 3D media controller

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A new Apple patent filing published this week outlines a “3D remote control system” that would include Wii remote-like sensing capabilities and could possibly be used as a new type of controller for Apple TV-based games. The application, originally filed in November of 2006, describes “a remote control having a relative motion sensor, wherein the relative motion sensor outputs data indicative of a change in a position of the remote control; at least one predetermined light source; a photodetector that detects light from the at least one predetermined light source and outputs data indicative of the detected light; and at least one controller configured to determine an absolute position of the remote control based on the data output by the relative motion sensor and the photodetector, wherein the absolute position is determined with respect to a reference location.” The patent also says the remote can “zoom into and out of an image or a portion thereof based on the absolute position of the remote control in the third axis,” which could be used with the Apple TV’s photo browsing functionality.

The patent also directly references a “console” that can communicate with the remote using a cable “and/or one or more wireless communication protocols” and “can perform some or all of the processing described for [the] controller.” The console described in the patent can also have “one or more connectors to which accessories can be coupled. Accessories can include cables and/or game cartridges, portable memory devices (e.g., memory cards, external hard drives, etc.), adapters for interfacing with another electronic device (e.g., computers, camcorders, cameras, media players, etc.), or combinations thereof.” As with all patent filings, this does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]

Swisscom to offer 3G iPhone this summer?

Citing a source within Swisscom, a new report (Translated link) from French-language Le Martin Online indicates the company has reached an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in Switzerland later this summer. With over five million subscribers, Swisscom is the country’s largest mobile carrier; a prior report indicated there are already over 34,000 active iPhones operating in Switzerland.

AT&T lists Wi-Fi access with iPhone plans

Following the brief appearance of “Free AT&T Wi-Fi for iPhone” pages at some AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots, the US iPhone carrier has officially listed Wi-Fi access as being included with iPhone rate plans. The company’s iPhone web site now states “Plans start at $59.99 and include Visual Voicemail, Unlimited Data (email and web), 200 SMS text messages and access to AT&T’s more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, including Starbucks* all for use in the U.S. *Wi-Fi available at U.S. company operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hotspot.” An AT&T representative had previously declined to comment on the appearance of the free Wi-Fi pages, but it now appears an official announcement on the service is imminent. [via Mac Rumors]

Update: Following the publication of this news, AT&T removed all mention of the Wi-Fi service from the iPhone site.

Gear4 launches DUO iPod speaker system

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Gear4 will launch its new DUO iPod 2.1 Speaker System tomorrow in the United Kingdom. A novel design by iPod speaker standards, DUO is a home stereo system that splits into two pieces: a table-mounted bass unit and a detachable front panel with retractable iPod dock that can serve as a standalone portable speaker system. The system provides the user with uninterrupted music when docking or undocking. When docked, the drivers housed in the satellite speaker join with a 20W subwoofer in the bass unit to provide more full sound, and the main unit also charges the satellite speaker’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Other features include an integrated fold-out stand for the satellite speakers, direct charging of the satellite speakers via AC cable when away from the bass unit, a remote control, and 38W of total speaker output. The Gear4 DUO 2.1 iPod Speaker System will be available in the UK tomorrow for £150/200€ and will launch in the US and other regions later this year.

Microsoft, SanDisk planning video piracy filters for NBC [updated]

Following NBC Universal’s abrupt removal from the iTunes Store, which followed a breakdown in discussions between the television network and Apple regarding pricing and piracy, competitors Microsoft and SanDisk have been working to develop anti-piracy technology to remedy one of the network’s concerns. Both companies are selling NBC video content at prices similar to Apple’s pricing for the iTunes Store.

According to a New York Times report, NBC Universal digital distribution president J.B. Perrette claimed that Microsoft is developing a “copyright cop” to be installed in Zune devices, that will supposedly be capable of removing pirated videos rather than playing them. While the system is “still in development and its exact form has not been set,” NBC plans to create “filtering technology that allows for playback of legitimately purchased content versus non-legitimately purchased content,” and “is also working with Internet service providers like AT&T to put similar filters right into the network.” Microsoft confirmed in the report that it is exploring anti-piracy measures with NBC, but would not divulge additional details; the Times notes that the Zune’s lagging market position relative to the iPod will make it difficult for Microsoft to add consumer-unfriendly features.

Updated: Contrary to the NY Times report, Microsoft’s official Zune blog claims that the company has “no plans to add content blocking features in Zune,” and suggested that NBC was “expressing hopes.” Thanks, Justin.

América Móvil to carry iPhone in Latin America

América Móvil, the largest mobile network operator in Latin America with more than 150 million subscribers, has said it will sell the iPhone across the region later this year, according to a Reuters report. Subsidiaries of Móvil include Telcel in Mexico, Claro in Brazil, Chile, and other nations, Comcel Colombia in Columbia, and Porta in Ecuador. This news follows a string of international iPhone announcements, which have Vodafone offering the handset in ten different countries and TIM offering the phone alongside Vodafone in Italy, marking the first non-exclusive iPhone country carrier. [via Fortune]

AFT intros iCarta+ iPod dock and bath tissue holder

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Atech Flash Technology has introduced the iCarta+ Stereo Dock for iPod with Bath Tissue Holder, a revised version of its 2006 iCarta system. Unlike the prior model, which relied on a power supply and power cable that might not have been convenient in some bathrooms, iCarta+ features a built-in rechargeable battery which provides up to 8 hours of playtime. Like its predecessor, the iCarta+ also offers users a choice of inputs, including a USB port for the first-generation iPod shuffle, a line-in jack, and the integrated iPod dock, and features an integrated toilet paper holder that can be folded in for use as a portable stereo. Currently being offered for $70 in a charming Mother’s Day promotion, the AFT iCarta+ is available now and normally sells for $90.

France Telecom in talks for more iPhone deals

France Telecom, the parent company of French iPhone carrier Orange, is in talks with Apple to sell the handset in other countries. France Telecom CFO Gervais Pellissier said the company is negotiations regarding “more than just two countries” when asked whether the company was hoping to secure iPhone deals for Spain and Poland. “It’s in discussion…we’ll see what the results are,” he said. Pellissier also said France Telecom was pleased with the success of its deal with Apple thus far, and that he expects the 3G iPhone to boost sales in France, where the company has exclusive rights for another two and a half years.

Photo of the Week: iPod in Palawan, Philippines

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows an iPod classic enjoying the beaches of Palawan, Philippines. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

Apple posts iPhone SDK Beta release 5

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Apple has posted the fifth beta version of its iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK). According to Apple’s notes, the new release “fixes bugs and adds support for the latest iPhone OS.” The updated SDK, which is available as a free download for registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center, is a 1.08GB download, and is listed as build 9M2173a, beta 5. Complete release notes are available here.

Mix: NLU Products, Universal on iTunes UK, Payless, Proporta Dock

  • May 6, 2008

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BodyGuardz maker NLU Products has launched a new customer appreciation program called Advantage. The program, which will be open to all customers, will offer free lifetime replacements, a 30-day money back guarantee, special offers, and a referral program. “We are dedicated to ensuring that every device our customers own, and even those that they purchase in the future, is properly protected,” said Kirk Feller, President of NLU Products. “Our new Advantage Program rewards our customers for their business and gives them a real incentive to come back to us whenever they need outstanding protection for their electronics.”

Despite the public spat between NBC Universal and Apple, TV shows from the studio have been added to the U.K. iTunes Store. Programs now available include “Heroes,” “House,” “Eureka,” “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” and “The Incredible Hulk.” Episodes from current shows cost £1.89 each, while episodes of older shows such as “Hulk” sell for £1.19 each. Interestingly, TV programming from NBC Universal was also added to iTunes rival Zune Marketplace today.

Payless Car Rental has launched a new website optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch. Features of the new site include rental booking, a “Call to Book” button to connect users to Payless’ call center, and links to each rental location’s contact information and maps. “Payless saw the need to create a slimmed-down version of its new website for the iPhone and iPod Touch community,” said Jeff Lin, Project Leader of Payless’ web marketing strategy team. “Payless’ iPhone interface adds convenience and loads up faster than a full website would on an iPhone or iPod Touch. By pointing their iPhone or iPod Touch to PaylessCarRental.com, iPhone and iPod Touch users can book a car in just three easy steps.”

Proporta has introduced its new Universal iPod Dock (pictured). The round Dock includes inserts for the 80GB and 160GB iPod classic, third-generation iPod nano, iPod touch, and iPhone, and serves as a charger when used with the standard Apple iPod USB cable. The Proporta Universal iPod Dock will be available in black or white at the end of May, and sells for $22.

NYT: August target for European 3G iPhone launch

Apple plans to begin selling the upcoming 3G iPhone in some European countries by or before August, according to a New York Times report. Citing a person close to the situation, the article starts with an August target date for the release, then states that Apple wants to start selling the 3G version of the iPhone in Europe before August, when many Europeans take their summer holidays. The use of both “by” and “before” in the article makes it unclear whether Apple plans to have the 3G iPhone on the market in Europe by the beginning of August, or plans to launch the handset earlier. An Apple spokesperson contacted for the report confirmed the now-official iPhone sales arrangements with Vodafone and TIM in Italy, but declined to comment on whether Vodafone had received exclusivity in other countries, leaving the door open for more multi-carrier arrangements. Earlier today, Vodafone announced that it would offer the iPhone in ten countries by the end of 2008.

H2O Audio debuts iSH2 Waterproof Headset for iPod shuffle

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H2O Audio has introduced its new iSH2 Waterproof Headset for the second-generation iPod shuffle. The iSH2 is the first integrated waterproof headset and case for the 2nd-gen shuffle, and was developed with the assistance of world record holder and Olympic multi-medalist swimmer, Natalie Coughlin. The case works up to 10 feet underwater, is designed to be worn on any swim goggles or with the included sportband, and offers full control of the shuffle’s circular control pad. “For years runners have benefited by adding music to their workouts and H2O Audio has now made it possible for swimmers to use that same energy and motivation to push their performance to the utmost,” said Natalie Coughlin, Olympic Athlete and H2O Audio Product Advisor. “I have been using the iSH2 since its inception and am excited to see this offered in Apple Stores now so people everywhere can enhance their sport experience and performance.” The H2O Audio Natalie Coughlin Signature Series iSH2 sells for $80, and for the month of May will be available exclusively at Apple Stores and on-line from h2oaudio.com.

TIM confirms Italian iPhone sales as first non-exclusive country carrier

As previously noted, Italian cellular provider Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) has confirmed in a press release that it will offer the iPhone in Italy later this year—a significant announcement given that TIM will become the first non-exclusive iPhone country carrier, as Vodafone will also offer the iPhone in Italy by the end of the year. The press release reads simply, “Telecom Italia announced today it has signed a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Italy later this year.” Reports suggesting TIM as the iPhone’s carrier in Italy date back to the release of iPhone Software Version 1.1.2, in which a file named “TIM_Italy.plist” appeared. It was followed by a similarly-named carrier bundle which appeared in software 1.1.3. The Apple, TIM, and Vodafone deals may pave the way for more multi-carrier deals in other foreign markets.

Vodafone to offer iPhone in ten countries

Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile-phone company, has announced that it’s signed an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone in 10 of its markets starting later in 2008. Vodafone will offer the phone in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, and Turkey. In a separate announcement, Telecom Italia also said it will sell the iPhone in Italy by the end of the year, making it the first country to be officially announced with no carrier exclusivity agreement in place, a change from Apple’s past iPhone business model. “This is definitely a sign Apple is capitulating,” Will Draper, an analyst at Execution, said. “The initial model was that Apple would give the iPhone to a network on an exclusive basis, but in Europe, where you have the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson selling sophisticated 3G devices, the iPhone simply isn’t seen as such a premium product.” The ten countries named in the announcement represent a total population of more than 1.4 billion people.

AppleCare for Apple TV now available [updated]

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Apple is offering its AppleCare Protection Plan for the Apple TV. The $50 protection plan extends the set-top box’s one-year hardware warranty to two years, and also similarly extends telephone technical support. According to Apple, the plan also extends coverage to iTunes, an AirPort Express or AirPort Extreme Base Station, and Time Capsule. The AppleCare Protection Plan for Apple TV is available now to all Apple TV owners who purchased their unit within the last year.

Kensington rolls out Mini Battery Pack for iPhone, iPod

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Kensington has introduced its new Mini Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod. The Mini is a small, Dock-connecting accessory that can power and charge an iPhone or iPod, offering extended play times of up to 30 hours for music, six hours for video, and three hours of talk time. The small black body of the Mini houses a high-capacity, rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery pack and a LED battery meter. The device also includes a retractable USB charging cable for recharging the battery pack. The Kensington Mini Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod is available now and sells for $50.

Handwriting recognition interface discovered in iPhone Software 2.0

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The latest beta version of iPhone Software Version 2.0 includes a new handwriting recognition interface for the Chinese language. According to reports, build 5A258f of the 2.0 software adds several new Chinese input methods to the international keyboard settings menu, including handwriting recognition. “Unfortunately, handwriting recognition is only available in Chinese (Traditional and Simplified) and doesn’t support English,” said Kenneth, the iPhone user who discovered the new input options. Screenshots of the new interface (Translated link) show it functioning in both portrait and landscape modes, allowing the user to draw a symbol on the screen with his/her finger. The user then selects the correct character from a column of possible character matches that appears to the right of the input area. Apple has previously said it plans to release iPhone Software 2.0 in late June.

3G iPhone coming soon to T-Mobile Austria?

T-Mobile has said it will soon be offering the 3G iPhone, according to Austrian newspaper Der Standard. T-Mobile reportedly made the announcement at a press conference in Vienna, saying that the phone would soon be available and adding that Austria will be a test market for the new handset, making it one of the first countries to receive the new phone. Pricing for the 3G iPhone is said to be more “flexible” than current offerings. Although no other reports of the press conference have yet been discovered online, fscklog.com did receive a reply on the matter from T-Mobile Austria, which said (translated): “Yes, we plan to bring the iPhone with UMTS-support to market, but can’t and are not allowed to say when yet.” Apple launched the iPhone in Austria in March.

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