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Mix: Toys R Us, Google, iPod + Hearing Loss, iSpeak

Toys R Us is set to begin offering select iPod shuffle, iPod nano, and iPod touch models in its stores nationwide for “the first time ever” on October 19. Marketnews.ca notes that although the iPods are not yet listed on either Toys R Us’ U.S. or Canadian websites, the players have been available through its U.K. affiliate for more than a year. According to the company, it will also offer a variety of accessories “that kids need to complement their iPods, including iHome items, iTunes gift cards, as well as products like carrying cases and car adapters for use on-the-go.” Toys R Us says it will support the iPod rollout through a comprehensive marketing campaign consisting of print promotion, in-store signage and a special “iPod boutique” area in stores.

Google is reportedly readying new iPhone-specific advertising options to let companies target these users directly. Adweek reports that in various meetings with agencies, Google has presented an option to show different ads in response to searches made from iPhones. This would allow advertisers to provide iPhone-specific click actions, such as calling an airline to make reservations, or highlight a company’s iPhone-optimized web site. Google has yet to publicly confirm the feature.

A new study on MP3 usage from the EU’s Scientific Committee on emerging health risks suggests that as little as one hour of iPod/headphone use a day for five years might make as many as one out of every ten listeners deaf. While MP3 players in Europe are limited to 100 decibels, the scientists found that anything above 89 decibels listened to with regularity has an effect that is louder than the limits imposed on factories. “Decision makers and opinion formers are finally waking up to the hearing loss time bomb threatening many young MP3 users,” said Emma Harrison, head of campaigns at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People. “We want to see the Government and industry taking decisive action to save the hearing of future generations.”

Fonix Speech has introduced its new Fonix iSpeak application for the iPhone. iSpeak is a voice dialing application, which lets users place calls by speaking the name of a contact followed by their location (mobile, home, work, etc.). Fonix notes that due to the lack of Bluetooth access in the iPhone SDK, iSpeak does not currently support voice dialing from Bluetooth headsets. Fonix iSpeak is available now via the App Store and sells for $15.

Apple posts new iPhone 3G ad

Apple has posted its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 3G online. Titled “Game Changer,” the spot continues Apple’s recent trend of highlighting only a single application — in this case, MLB.com’s At Bat — showing off the app’s scores, live pitch updates, and video clip features. The new ad is now available for viewing on Apple’s website. [via TUAW]

KT, Apple sign WiMax wireless deal for iPods, MacBooks

Apple has signed a tentative deal with South Korean broadband service provider KT Corp. to provide third-generation communications access for upcoming products such as iPods and MacBook laptop computers, reports the Yonhap News Agency. According to the report, the deal calls for the use of WiBro, the Korean variant of the WiMAX standard, in upcoming products, suggesting that Apple will be adding further high-speed wireless connectivity to its next-generation portable devices. Further details, such as a possible rollout date, have yet to be revealed.

Noreve debuts Tradition cases for iPod nano 4G, touch 2G

Noreve has introduced its new Tradition Leather Cases for the fourth-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod touch. Made from handcrafted leather, both cases feature a flip-down integrated screen cover with snap closure, a padded design, open access to all ports and controls, and a removable swiveling metal belt clip. In addition, the iPod touch 2G model also offers one interior business or credit card slot. Noreve’s Tradition Leather Cases for the iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G are available now and sell for $40 and $50, respectively.

Mix: iPhone + Wal-Mart, iPod nano 4G bug, AT&T, T3 Awards

Wal-Mart will begin carrying the iPhone 3G on November 15th, according to a new report. The Boy Genius Report, citing anonymous sources, claims the handset will be available ahead of Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving which traditionally kicks-off the holiday shopping season), but does not provide any activation specifics or other details.

A new bug has been found in the current iPod nano 4G software. According to a thread on iLounge’s forums, the player will sometimes reverse the left and right audio channels when woken from its sleep mode, although the nano will often times correct the problem on its own after a subsequent power-down and reawakening.

AT&T will soon discontinue its $20/month “Unlimited” MediaNet data option for pay-as-you-go customers. Ars Techinca reports that users of the plan, which up until now has offered pre-paid iPhone customers up to 5GB of data transfer per month, are beginning to receive text messages from AT&T announcing the discontinuation, noting that 1MB and 5MB MediaNet packages will remain available.

British electronics magazine T3 recently announced the winners of its T3 Gadget Awards 2008, with Apple media products bringing home several awards. The 32GB iPod touch was named both Gadget of the Year and Best Music Gadget, while the iPhone brought home an award for Commuter Gadget of the Year.

Our weekly iPodweek summary is coming

iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter recapping the last seven days in iPod, iPhone, iTunes and Apple TV news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out later today. In addition to rounding up the week’s top stories, iPodweek also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive iPodweek, there’s still time to register and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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DLO intros TransDock Direct iPod mount and charger

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has introduced its new TransDock Direct combination vehicle mount and charger for iPod. The TransDock Direct plugs into an automobile’s 12V power outlet, using a flexible arm to position and support the rotating iPod dock and cradle. Features include an auxiliary output and included mini-jack cable for connecting to a vehicle’s aux-in jack, and a detachable 12V power socket to allow connection of other chargers and 12V accessories. The DLO TransDock Direct is available now and sells for $60.

AT&T now offering online iPhone pre-screening tool

Similar to the pre-purchase tool launched by Apple in September, AT&T is now offering an online iPhone pre-screening tool that allows customers to get pre-qualified for the iPhone 3G before they head to the store. The tool allows new customers to perform a credit check and determine number porting eligibility, while existing customers can check upgrade and/or add a line eligibility. The new AT&T online iPhone pre-purchase tool can be accessed by visiting att.com/iphone.

2008 Readers’ Choice voting underway, write-ins making noise

Announced earlier this week, voting for our 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards is underway. This quick 4-question poll lets you name your 2008 iPhone + iPod Application Developer of the Year, 2008 iPhone + iPod Game Developer of the Year, 2008 iPod + iPhone Accessory Developer of the Year, and favorite new Apple media player of the year. While voting is still early, write-in candidates are making substantial gains, currently capturing 18% of the vote in the iPod + iPhone Accessory category, and up to 15% of the vote in the Game and Application categories.

Cast your vote today. The survey ends on October 29, 2008, and winners will be announced in the 2009 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide on October 31, 2008. Thanks for your votes so far and best of luck to all of this year’s developers!

iSuppli: More than half of 2009 U.S. cars to offer iPod support

More than half of all the automobile models sold in the United States in 2009 will offer at least optional iPod support, according to a new iSuppli report. The report states that 39 percent of models sold in 2008 offer iPod integration; that number will jump to 58 percent next year, marking the first time an iPod option will be available in more than half of models. The report goes on to state that one-third of 2009 models will offer USB connectivity for other portable devices, up from 16 percent in 2008, and that Bluetooth will be at least an option on 82 percent of 2009 models, up from 55 percent availability in 2008.

“The automotive industry is at the point where in-vehicle technologies-or the lack of them-are influencing sales,” said Phil Magney, vice president of automotive research for iSuppli. “The charge toward greater technological integration has been led by car OEMs like Hyundai and Honda, which are making USB/iPod combination interfaces standard on many of their vehicles. It’s also been spurred by OEMs like Audi and Mercedes, which offer integrated Media Device Gateways that allow any device imaginable to integrate with a vehicle.”

ezGear unveils ezView Leather Case for iPhone 3G

ezGear has introduced its new ezView Leather Case for the iPhone 3G. Made from high quality leather, the case features a fold-aside front cover that doubles as a video stand thanks to an integrated Velcro band and two low-profile non-skid rubber feet to help prevent slippage. Other features include a slim profile, removable belt clip, credit/business card slots, and open access to all ports and controls. The ezGear ezView Leather Case for iPhone 3G is available now and sells for $35.

Apple launches iPhone Tech Talk World Tour

Apple has launched a series of new iPhone Tech Talk World Tour events to be held in cities around the globe between October 22nd and December 9th. Unlike previous Tech Talks held last year that focused on building and optimizing web applications for the iPhone OS, these new events focus on app development using the iPhone SDK. A promotional email sent out to registered iPhone developers reads, “Learn about the tools and technologies you’ll use to create great iPhone applications, then work with the experts to optimize your code, refine your user interface, and apply the knowledge you gain from the sessions.” Events are scheduled in more than 20 major cities worldwide, including Chicago, Paris, Stockholm, Delhi, and Sydney. Apple’s iPhone Tech Talk World Tour events are open to all registered iPhone developers; admission is free. To register, visit Apple’s Tech Talk web page.

Mix: Hudson, YouTube + iTunes, South Park

As a promotion for the upcoming Tokyo Game Show 2008, Hudson is now offering three of its iPhone and iPod touch games — Aqua Forest, Catch The Egg, and NeoSameGame — as free downloads from the App Store. The games normally sell for $8, $4, and $4, respectively; the promotion ends on October 12th. [via Touch Arcade]

YouTube has begun adding links to the iTunes Store from select music videos. The links can be found below the video and sharing features but above the comments, as seen on the official video for Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.” The official YouTube blog states, “Just as YouTube users can share, favorite, comment on, and respond to videos quickly and easily, now users can click-to-buy products—like songs, books, and movies—related to the content they’re watching on the site. We’re getting started by embedding iTunes and Amazon.com links on videos from companies like EMI Music…. This is just the beginning of building a broad, viable eCommerce platform for users and partners on YouTube.”

The team behind Comedy Central’s popular animated show South Park is working on an iPhone and iPod touch application for fans of the show, reports Boing Boing. According to the report, the new application will allow users to stream clips, download wallpapers, read news, browse the show’s complete episode index, and choose character likenesses to use as contact images on you iPhone or iPod touch. The upcoming South Park app has yet to receive a price or release date.

Economy poll ends, majority of readers cutting back

After receiving just over 3,000 votes, our latest iLounge Poll — “Have recent economic conditions made you change your holiday shopping plans?” — has ended. Users were given choices ranging from major or minor cutbacks to spending the same or larger amounts, with the final choice noting that the economy is not an issue in their area.

More than half of readers — 61 percent — said they planned to spend less on holiday shopping than they did last year, with 36 percent saying they were planning to spend a lot less, and 25 percent saying they were cutting spending by a modest amount. 26 percent said they plan to spend the same amount as they did last year, while only five percent said they planned on spending more, and seven percent said the economy was not an issue where they live. Thanks for your responses!

For the next three weeks, our iLounge Poll is the 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards, allowing readers to vote for the 2008 iPhone + iPod Application Developer of the Year, Game Developer of the Year, Accessory Developer of the Year, and the best new Apple media player. Voting for the Readers’ Choice Awards will be open until October 29, 2008. We look forward to your responses!

Teen survey shows strong results for iPhone, iPod, iTunes

Piper Jaffray has released the results of its 16th bi-annual Teen Survey, which asks a sampling of high school students about their interest and buying patterns in the realms of MP3 players, online music stores, and music-playing cellphones. When asked about the iPhone 8 percent of the 769 participants said they already owned one, with another 22 percent saying they planned on purchasing an iPhone in the next 6 months. Those responses are up from Jaffray’s April survey, in which only 6 percent of students said they had an iPhone, and only 9 percent said they planned on purchasing one in the next half-year.

When asked about MP3 players, 87 percent of students said they owned at least one, with 84 percent of those owning an iPod — down from 86 percent in the April survey. Perhaps more interesting is the question of planned purchases; only 34% of respondents said they plan on purchasing a MP3 player in the next 12 months, and while 79 percent of those said they planned on purchasing an iPod (down from 80% in April), another 15 percent said they were planning to purchase a Microsoft Zune, the highest response for that player since its initial release.

Finally, when asked about online music stores, only 40 percent of students said they purchased music online, while 60 percent said they uses P2P file sharing networks to get their music. Out of the 40 percent who do purchase music online, however, 93 percent said they use iTunes, up from 81 percent in the April survey and 79 percent from a year ago. Interestingly, while 18 percent of respondents said they would consider paying $0.99 per song to purchase music, more than twice that many (37 percent) said they would consider paying $15 a month for a subscription service. According to Piper, the average age of students participating in the survey was 16.2 years old, with 53 percent males and 47 percent females.

Photo of the week: iPhone 3G in Greece

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G outside the Parthenon at the Acropolis of Athens, Greece. 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!

Vote 2008’s top developers in iLounge’s Readers’ Choice Awards! (Updated)

We want your votes!

This has been a huge year for iPod + iPhone third-party development, and we’d like to hear who you think did the best overall job. Our 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards will honor three different categories of developers:

2008 iPhone + iPod Application Developer of the Year
2008 iPhone + iPod Game Developer of the Year
2008 iPod + iPhone Accessory Developer of the Year

And we’d also like your pick for the year’s best new Apple media player, including iPods, iPhone 3G, and more. Each of the four questions offers a Write-in Candidate option if you don’t see your top pick listed—yes, write-in votes will be counted!

Vote today. The survey ends on October 29, 2008, and winners will be announced in the 2009 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide on October 31, 2008. Thanks for your votes and best of luck to all of this year’s developers!

Update: Developers interested in linking to the voting page can now download link banners by clicking on the title of this story.

Vaja announces two Limited Edition iPhone 3G cases

Vaja has announced two new Limited Edition cases for the iPhone 3G. Both the White and Black n’ Orange Limited Edition cases feature a flip-down front cover and are covered in Floater leather, a grainy cowhide with a unique texture and finish. As the names suggest, the White Limited Edition comes with a white Floater leather outer and logo-embossed white leather interior, while the Black n’ Orange offers a black Floater exterior with logo-embossed orange leather lining. Both cases offer full-time access to the headphone jack, sleep/wake and volume buttons, and the ring/silent switch. Pricing for the upcoming Vaja White and Black n’ Orange Limited Edition cases has yet to be announced.

Mix: Pandora, Magneat, i.TV, iPhone SDK training

Speaking at the recent Digital Music Forum West event, Pandora founder Tim Westergren has revealed that the iPhone has helped Pandora double its growth rate. According to Westergren, the iPhone now accounts for 1.5 million of Pandora’s 17 million members, and has had a profound affect on new users signups, with the daily average of new users growing from 20,000 to over 40,000. “It has people thinking a little differently about what internet radio is,” Westergren said.

Magneat is a new magnetic headphone cable manager that attaches directly to the user’s clothes, enabling greater freedom of movement. The button-shaped accessory features a front piece with an area for winding cord and a small notch in the top for securing the outgoing cord, and a back piece that secures the front using two strong magnets. It should be noted that the magnets could cause issues with hard drive-based iPods or the iPhone 3G if placed in close proximity to one another. Magneat is available in white or black, and sells for $15.

i.TV has released its new movie and TV guide application for the iPhone and iPod touch. i.TV presents users with current TV and movie listing based on their current location and other customizable profile settings. Most TV program listings are accompanied by rich background information such as show synopses, ratings, cast listings, and reviews, from both traditional publications and from other i.TV users. In addition, it also provides direct viewing of movie trailers and TV show previews directly from the iPhone or iPod touch. i.TV is available now as a free download from the App Store.

The Pragmatic Studio has announced its new 4-day iPhone Development Studio training course, to be held in Denver, CO on November 10-13. In the workshop, developers will learn how to build full-featured iPhone applications from experienced iPhone developers and authors Daniel Steinberg and Bill Dudney. Registration for the iPhone Development Studio includes a continental breakfast and full lunch each day, a binder with all printed material, internet connectivity and power during the Studio, and more. Alumni of Pragmatic’s courses can register for $1,595; for others the price is $1,895 through October 20, and $2,195 from October 21 on.

Scosche rolls out slew of iPod, iPhone accessories

Scosche has introduced a number of new cases, charging accessories, and alarm clock systems for the iPhone and iPod touch. The passPORT is a new charging adapter for the iPhone 3G and latest iPod models, allowing them to charge via older Firewire charging accessories. It is available for pre-order now and is expected to begin shipping later this month for $30. The reCOIL is a car charger for iPod and iPhone featuring a retractable 4-foot cord that mounts flush with the charging bulb when not in use. It sells for $30. Also available now are the IALM and iALM3 alarm clocks for iPod. Selling for $70 and $60, respectively, the two units feature the ability to wake to an iPod or buzzer, snooze control, the ability to charge the iPod while docked, the ability to run off 6 AA batteries, and a multifunction backlit LED. The IALM also features a digital FM tuner and a more rectangular design with a recessed docking area on top, while the iALM3 features a 3.5mm auxiliary input, and a more angular design.

imageScosche has also introduced new cases for the iPhone 3G and fourth-generation iPod nano. The kickBACK is a hard clear polycarbonate case for the iPhone 3G that offers open access to all ports and controls along with two back panels, one smooth, and one with a built-in kickstand for watching video. It includes a laminate screen protector, a removal key and a cleaning cloth, and is available for pre-order now for $30. Also selling for $30 are tightGRIP silicone skins for iPhone 3G. Featuring open access to all ports and controls, the skins include a clear laminate screen protector and cleaning cloth. The soundKASE is a lightweight neoprene case with adjustable armband, featuring built-in screen protection, reflective accents, and a key slot. It offers compatibility with the first- and second-generation iPod touch, as well as the iPhone and iPhone 3G, and sells for $25. Finally, the skipodn clear sleeve for iPod nano is a multi-purpose case for the fourth-generation iPod nano, offering built-in screen and Click Wheel protection and an included belt clip and sport armband. It sells for $25.

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