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Marware intros more cases for iPod nano 4G, touch 2G

Marware has introduced its new Sportsuit Convertible cases for the fourth-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod touch, along with another Sport Grip case for the nano 4G. Made from Lycra and Orka-skin material, the new Sportsuit Convertible 3-in-1 case leverages Marware’s Multidapt system to function as an armband, belt clip case, or low profile sleeve. It features a clear vinyl protector for the iPod nano’s Click Wheel and screen or the iPod touch’s screen, comes with a Multidapt base, armband, belt clip, and key pocket, and is available for pre-order for the iPod nano 4G ($30) and iPod touch 2G ($35). Also new is the company’s Sport Grip for iPod nano 4G. This form-fitting silicone case features open access to the screen, Click Wheel, headphone jack, and hold switch, a built-in protective dock connector flap, and textured sides for added grip. It includes a clear film protector and cleaning cloth, and is available now for $15. Finally, Marware announced that it is now shipping its Glide case for the iPod touch 2G. The pocket-style leather case features a microfiber interior, a dual-purpose strap for easy removal of the touch, a Velcro closure for a more secure fit, and an included screen protector and cleaning cloth. It sells for $25.

Telcel offering contract-free iPhone 3G in Mexico

Mexican iPhone carrier Telcel has begun selling (Translated Link) the iPhone 3G without a contract. The 8GB iPhone 3G sells for MEX $7899 (roughly $700) while 16GB models go for MEX $9199 (~$816). Both models are being offered with a bonus of MEX $500 worth of air time and 30 days of unlimited internet usage. As with the majority of other carriers offering contract-free iPhones, it is believed that the units sold by TelCel will remain locked to that carrier’s network. [via Mundo Mac | Thanks, Alfredo]

iTunes Store coming to Russia in 2009?

Though Russia is currently an App Store-only country, Apple may be planning a full iTunes Store for 2009, according to a Billboard report. It states that none of Russia’s three iPhone carriers have yet signed an agreement with Apple to provide subscriber access to the Store when it does launch in Russia, but does claim that MegaFon is the closest of the three to a deal, based on a statement made by a company executive. The language of providing subscriber access is curious, as the iPhone-based iTunes Music Store has up until this point been limited to Wi-Fi access only, raising questions as to whether a Russian version would provide over-the-air cellular downloads, and of what sort of content. Vasily Kuzichev, business development director with MegaFon, has said that negotiations with Apple are “near completion” and that the iTunes Store could become available to MegaFon subscribers in early 2009. “The biggest problem at this point is that content in Russia is more expensive than in some other countries and the prices iTunes is considering for content in this country doesn’t [sic] satisfy copyright owners, who think they are too low,” Kuzichev said. [via Macworld UK]

NPD: iPhone 3G lures customers, boosts Apple’s smartphone share

According to a new report from The NPD Group, 30 percent of U.S. customers who purchased an iPhone 3G from its launch on July 11 through August switched mobile carriers to do so. By comparison, only 23 percent of consumers, on average, switched carriers between June and August. Of the iPhone customers that switched to AT&T, 47 percent switched from Verizon Wireless, 24 percent switched from T-Mobile, and 19 percent switched from Sprint. In addition, the report states that prior to the launch of the iPhone 3G (January through May 2008), iPhone sales accounted for 11 percent of the consumer market for smartphones, while after the launch of the iPhone 3G, Apple commanded 17 percent of the market. From June through August, the iPhone 3G was also the top-selling smartphone based on units sales to consumers, followed by the BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Pearl, and Palm Centro.

“The launch of the lower-priced iPhone 3G was a boon to overall consumer smartphone sales,” according to Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “While the original iPhone also helped win customers for AT&T, the faster network speeds of the iPhone 3G has proven more appealing to customers that already had access to a 3G network.”

iPhone Software 2.2 features emoji, Google Street View, more

Developers have found a number of features hidden in iPhone Software 2.2, which is currently in beta and was recently updated and seeded to developers. Although the release notes list only “compatibility testing” as the only change, according to Mac Rumors, developers have found some new features hidden in iPhone’s framework files. A number of hidden Japanese emoji icons were found, which if implemented will answer one of the most common complaints about the iPhone from Japanese users, support for Street View in the Google Maps application, and a new toggle in the iPhone’s keyboard settings to turn Auto-Correction on and off. Apple has yet to announce a firm release date for iPhone Software 2.2.

Fring becomes first official free VoIP app for iPhone, iPod touch

Fringland Ltd. has launched its new iPhone and iPod touch application fring, the first app with support for free Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony to become available on the App Store. The application offers support for both voice and text communications and a number of different services, including fring, Skype, MSN, Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo!, Twitter, and ICQ. Due to restrictions placed on VoIP apps by Apple, voice calls are available only when connected via Wi-Fi, while text-based messaging is available over both Wi-Fi and cellular data connections. Fring is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Mix: Rogers, Tagger, Photoboard, VisualHub

Rogers Wireless and Fido have announced new iPhone service plans for the Canadian market. The new $60 CAD monthly plan offers 250 weekday minutes, 1GB of data and 75 sent SMS messages, while the $75 CAD plan offers 400 weekday minutes, 2GB of data, and 100 sent text messages. Both plans include Visual Voicemail, unlimited access to Rogers Wireless and Fido hotspots, an additional weekday minute rate of $0.35 CAD, and a bonus of three months unlimited local calling and unlimited data.

Deadbeat Software has released The Tagger, its new MP3 and AAC tag editor for Mac OS X. According to the developer, The Tagger features support for batch editing of audio files and a wider range of ID3 tags than iTunes, search and retrieval of tags from Discogs, the ability to remove hidden personal data from iTunes Plus files, and more. The Tagger requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and sells for $29; a free 14-trial is also available.

Zest Prod has released Photoboard, a new photo viewer for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to technology seen in Microsoft’s Surface table, Photoboard lets users virtually manipulate multiple photos at once, using multi-touch gestures to move, rotate, and scale photos, and also features the ability to save a high-resolution screenshot of the board. Photoboard is now available on the App Store and sells for $1.

Techspansion, developer of the Mac-based video conversion software VisualHub, has announced that it is ceasing business operations. The company’s applications, VisualHub, AudialHub, and iSquint, have been discontinued, but the company has said it will leave its support forum and support email available for “a while longer” to take care of any remaining customer issues. [via TUAW]

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Apple releases iTunes 8.0.1

Apple has released iTunes 8.0.1, the first update to its digital media management application since the release of iTunes 8.0. According to the software’s release notes, iTunes 8.0.1 adds VoiceOver accessibility to iTunes 8 and iTunes U, improves stability and performance, and provides a number of bug fixes, including seamless playback of the current song when creating a Genius playlist, improved syncing of spoken menus to the fourth-generation iPod nano and checking for updates from the App Store, and fixes for an issue where HD TV episodes would be deleted while downloading. In our testing, the software also appears to have fixed an issue with some iTunes Store HDTV content where HD and SD episodes of certain programs were not properly linked, resulting in problems with both the syncing of content and keeping track of play counts. iTunes 8.0.1 is available now as a free download from or through Apple’s Software Update program.

Apple releases Apple TV Software 2.2

Apple has released Apple TV Software 2.2, the latest update to the company’s set-top box. New in software 2.2 is the ability to create Genius and on-the-go playlists, and the ability to purchase and download HD TV shows directly from the Apple TV. As with iPods and as noted in our screenshots, the Apple TV must be synced with a Genius-enabled iTunes library before the feature will work from the Apple TV. The update also brings other modest UI changes. Continue reading for a small screenshot gallery of the new software. Apple TV Software 2.2 is available now through the update feature in the General settings menu.

Copyright Royalty Board leaves download royalties unchanged

The Copyright Royalty Board has issued new guidelines which leave the royalty rate for digital downloads at 9.1 cents per song sold. As a panel of three federal judges that sets the royalty rates paid by record labels to music publishers and songwriters for the sale of CDs or digital downloads, the Board had been under pressure from the National Music Publishers Association to raise the rate to as high as 15 cents per song, a proposal that Apple had openly opposed.

“If iTS (iTunes Store) were forced to absorb any increase in the mechanical royalty rates, the result would be to significantly increase the likelihood of the store operating at a financial loss - which is no alternative at all,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services, told the Board in April 2007. “Apple has repeatedly made clear that it is in this business to make money, and would most likely not continue to operate iTS if it were no longer possible to do so profitably.” The threat was apparently not further substantiated over the last year and a half, in which Apple became the country’s largest music retailer, a fact which would have made a shutdown of the iTunes Store extremely unlikely. Additionally, the board for the first time set a royalty rate of 24 cents for ringtone sales, which were not covered under the group’s previous guidelines.

Mix: AAPL Q4, Handbrake, Nokia, Adobe Flash

Apple has announced that it will release the financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter on October 21. Of particular note in the release will be sales information for the iPhone 3G’s first quarter on the market. Alongside its earnings statement, Apple will hold a conference call to discuss the financial results which will begin at 2:00 p.m. PDT, October 21.

The developers of Handbrake, a popular open-source DVD to MPEG-4 converter, are offering a pre-release build of the latest version, 0.9.3, on the app’s website. The new version, which is offered as a “snapshot” build and will therefore likely still contain bugs and present other issues, adds the ability to convert many different formats of video — not just DVDs like prior versions — to MP4, MKV, AVI or OGM files. Handbrake 0.9.3 (pre-release) is available as a free download for Macs running OS X 10.5 or later, PCs running Windows 2000, XP, or Vista, and Linux.

Nokia president and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo praised Apple for its contribution to the wireless industry in a recent on-stage interview, saying the company had done the industry “a big favor.” “We have a new, credible competitor in this business. You know I need to take my hat off,” Kallasvuo said of how the iPhone has raised consumer expectations for mobile phones, adding, “Of course we need to be able to respond to any competitor and we will.” Prior to the iPhone’s original launch, Nokia board member Daniel Hesse claimed that the iPhone would “look pedestrian” compared to advanced mobiles available in Europe and Asia; the company later launched an advertising campaign knocking the iPhone’s then closed-system nature.

At a recent appearance, Adobe’s Senior Director of Engineering Paul Betlem confirmed that the company is actively developing a Flash Player for the iPhone. Betlem said that while the player was in development, the release of the software will depend on Apple, and whether the iPhone maker decides to let the player onto the platform. The iPhone’s lack of Flash has been a point of contention since the device’s launch in June 2007, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs saying that Adobe’s Flash Lite software was underpowered, while the full-powered player “performs too slow to be useful” on the iPhone.

PDO ships Sleek case for iPhone 3G, announces cases for iPod nano 4G, touch 2G

PDO has released its new Sleek Crystal Case for the iPhone 3G. Made from clear hard polycarbonate, the Sleek features press-thru rubber covers for the sleep/wake and volume buttons, rubber inserts for the headphone jack and dock connector, a two-piece, snap-on design, open access to the screen, ringer switch, speaker, microphone, home button, and camera, and an included film screen protector. It is available now for $25; for more information, see our First Look article. The company will also offer similar Sleek Crystal Cases for the second-generation iPod touch and fourth-generation iPod nano, which will be available later this month and will sell for $25 and $20, respectively.

imageIn addition, PDO has announced its TopSkin cases for the second-generation iPod touch and fourth-generation iPod nano. The form-fitting silicone cases will feature a micro-texture pattern for added grip; the iPod touch version will feature protective flaps for the headphone jack and dock connector along with play-thru covers for the home, sleep/wake, and volume buttons, an included screen protector and lanyard, and will sell for $20. The iPod nano version will offer cut-out access to the screen, Click Wheel, and bottom, and will sell for $15. Finally, the company has announced its new line of ProFilms protective film sets for the iPhone 3G, iPod touch 2G, iPod nano 4G, and iPod classic (120GB). Each set will include one set of films, application solution, and a squeegee application card, and will sell for $20. PDO’s new line of TopSkin cases for the iPod touch 2G and iPod nano 4G and its new line of ProFilms will be available later this month.

Apple drops part of iPhone developer NDA

Apple has announced that it will drop the portion of its non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software. A statement posted to the company’s iPhone developer website reads, “We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.”

It continues, “However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.” It is unclear exactly what Apple means by “unreleased software and features,” however, the NDA may continue to cover only pre-release Apple software, seeded to developers but not yet released to the public, while all features and nuances of publicly-available software would not be covered. Alternately, the NDA may continue to cover unreleased third-party software, which would create further issues for developers.

Griffin rolls out more cases for iPod nano 4G, touch 2G

Griffin has expanded its lineup of cases for the fourth-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod touch. The Elan Form with EasyDock is a two-piece, form-fitting hard shell polycarbonate case for the iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G featuring a leather outer surface and a slide-off bottom for easy docking. Both cases offer open access to all ports and controls; the nano 4G case features a built-in clear polycarbonate screen protector, while the touch model includes a static peel screen protector. Griffin’s Elan Form with EasyDock will sell for $30. The FlexScreen for iPod nano 4G is a hybrid case featuring a hard, scratch resistant polycarbonate face shield that is wrapped in an outer jacket of textured, frosted silicone. It offers open access to all ports and controls, includes a static peel protector for the Click Wheel, and will sell for $25.

imageLike its Reflect case for iPhone 3G, Griffin’s Reflect for iPod touch 2G is a form-fitting case featuring a mirrored chrome finish on the front and matte black rubberized back. The two-piece snap-together case offers open access to all ports and controls, includes a static peel screen protector and cleaning cloth, and will sell for $25. Finally, Griffin has announced that it will offer its iClear polycarbonate hard case for iPod nano 4G, iPod touch 2G and iPod classic in a package with a belt clip and armband. The case itself features open access to all ports and controls, a two-piece, snap-together design, and an included static-peel screen protector for the iPod touch; the removable belt clip included in the new package swivels to serve as a stand for hands-free viewing. iClear with Belt Clip and Armband will sell for $30. All four case models are expected to be available soon.

Photo of the Week: iPhone at Lake Tahoe

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone along the shores of Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe, California. 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!

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