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iLive rolls out iPod, iPhone sound systems

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iLive has introduced several new sound systems for the iPod and iPhone. The iS809B and iS819B are wireless speaker systems for iPod. Both units’ speakers operate over the 2.4 GHz frequency, with RF remotes for control flexibility, and the ability to operate on either AC or battery power. The main control units feature an integrated iPod dock, clock, line input, and in the iS819B, an AM/FM radio. The iLive iS809B and iS819B wireless speaker systems for iPod will sell for $130 and $150, respectively.

The company’s new “Works with iPhone” certified offerings include the iSP209B, a small portable speaker unit, the iSP389B, a combined tabletop clock and speaker, and the iSP809B, a HD radio and speaker system with iTunes tagging. All three of the systems offer alarm clocks and included remote controls; the iSP209B is programmable to wake to the iPod, while the iSP809B has dual alarms. iLive’s iSP209B, iSP389B, and iSP809B iPhone-compatible systems will sell for $80, $100, and $150, respectively. Finally, the iCP689B is a new clock radio for iPod, offering IntelliSet automatic time setting, an AM/FM radio with 20 station presets, dual alarms, and an included remote control. It will sell for $100; all of iLive’s new speaker systems are expected to ship this spring.

YouTube offering iPod-ready video downloads

YouTube has begun to offer a click to download option on select videos. The downloaded mp4 videos are encoded in the iTunes-friendly H.264 format, and are sized with a maximum width of 480 pixels to maintain compatibility with most portable media players, such as the iPod and iPhone. The feature mirrors a prior download feature offered on Google Video, which had not been brought over to YouTube. Currently, the most obvious source of downloadable videos appears to be President-Elect Barack Obama’s Change.gov channel. It is unknown whether YouTube plans a more expansive rollout of the download option.

Sign up for iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter

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This week’s edition of iLounge’s weekly newsletter, iPodweek, will be available later today. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best iPod news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and iPod accessory discount offers from various companies and retailers. There is still plenty of time to sign up for this week’s edition, if you haven’t done so already — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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App Store: 500 million downloads, 15,000 apps

Apple has announced via an image on the homepage of apple.com that the App Store has now seen more than 500 million downloads since its launch on July 11, 2008. In addition, the image reveals that there are now more than 15,000 applications available from the online store. Although the image states that “iPhone users have downloaded an incredible 500 million” apps, it is assumed that this number encompasses both iPhone and iPod touch users, and that downloads also includes post-purchase updates. On December 5, Apple announced the store had passed the 300 million download milestone, meaning that users have downloaded at least 200 million apps in the five weeks since, compared to the six weeks it took the store to go from 200 million to 300 million downloads.

Nintendo’s Duck Hunt hits App Store

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iPhone developer Lucas Manfield has released Duck Hunt, a $1 port of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System game. Unlike the original, which used the NES Zapper gun controller, this iPhone and iPod touch port uses an on-screen joystick and single “A” button for control, both taken from Nintendo controller designs. The developer notes that upcoming versions will also include sound, the dog from the original, and the clay shooting mode, also found in the 1984 release. Although the game has been approved by Apple, it likely infringes on Nintendo copyrights, making it highly possible that the game will be pulled from the App Store. We are awaiting comment from Nintendo regarding the title.

EA Mobile delays Need for Speed for iPhone

EA Mobile has revealed that its Need for Speed Underground racing game for iPhone and iPod touch, originally slated for release in 2008 and more recently pushed back until early this year, is now set for a March release. Adam Sussman, EA Mobile’s vice president of publishing in the Americas and Asia, told IGN, “EA Mobile is excited about the Need for Speed Undercover iPhone and iPod touch game we have in development. Currently, we are fine tuning and polishing the game so that when it launches it is the best, most engaging racing game iPhone users have yet to experience. We appreciate the anticipation around the arrival of this game. As we approach a confirmed ship date, we will alert the community so stay tuned for more information in the coming months.”

Mix: Jobs’ health, Chipotle, Nike Training app

  • January 15, 2009

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is suffering not from a reoccurrence of cancer but from a condition that is preventing his body from absorbing food, according to a New York Times report. Citing two people familiar with Jobs’ current medical treatment, the report states that doctors have also advised him to cut down on stress, which may be making the condition worse. Yesterday afternoon, Apple posted an email from Jobs in which he announced his intentions to take a six-month leave of absence from the company; this announcement came only a week after a similar open letter from Jobs blaming his weight loss on a “hormonal imbalance.”

Following the release and then prompt recall of Chipotle’s Mobile Ordering application for iPhone and iPod touch, Sequence, the company that built the app for the burrito chain, has explained its disappearance. According to TechCrunch, the app was pulled after a few hours because of unexpected demand that was overloading the company’s servers. Users were experiencing connection difficulties with enough frequency that the team decided it would rather pull the application until it could offer a more enjoyable and reliable experience. Sequence is hoping to have it back on the App Store in two weeks, along with some minor interface improvements.

Nike has released its Nike Training Club application for iPhone and the second-generation iPod touch. The new application provides a link to nikewomen.com, with the ability to customize workouts and invite friends for competition. It also provides access to dynamic training videos focusing on cardio, core, strength, balance, and flexibility, along with training schedules. Nike Training Club is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs taking leave of absence

CNBC is reporting that Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence from the company due to health reasons. Earlier this month, Apple published an open letter from Jobs, in which he blamed his recent weight loss on a “hormone imbalance.” He said it would take several months to regain the weight, and reassured investors and followers alike that he would remain Apple’s CEO during his recovery. The story is developing; we will update this story as more details emerge.

Update: Apple has released a copy of Jobs’ internal email sent out to Apple employees announcing the decision. The full text appears below.

“Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve”

Apple announcement poll ends, iLounge coverage poll begins

With over 1,800 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll, “How should Apple announce big products now that it’s ditching Macworld Expo?” has ended. Voters were given choices including continuing with small press events and the developer-focused WWDC, offering small press events with live broadcasts to Apple retail stores, hosting simultaneous events at Apple retail stores with product specialists to announce and explain new products, return to offering live video streams of press events that can be watched anywhere, exhibiting at non-Macworld trade shows, and a “who cares” option.

More than one-third of all voters (36%) said they’d like to see Apple go back to offering live video streams of press events that can be watched virtually anywhere there’s an internet connection, while more than a quarter of voters (26%) said it should continue its current strategy of hosting small press events, along with the developer-heavy WWDC. Somewhat surprisingly, 19% of readers said they didn’t care about Apple special events, followed by 9% that suggested the company offer small press events with live broadcasts to Apple retail stores. 7% said Apple should hold simultaneous events at Apple retail stores, sending product specialists to announce and explain new products, while only 3% said the company should exhibit at non-Macworld trade shows. Thanks for all your votes!

Our new poll focuses on the future of iLounge’s accessory coverage. We want to know whether you’d like us to bother to cover obviously junky accessories, sent for review by question-mark companies, or focus all of our attention on the good stuff. Our latest poll, “Should iLounge bother to cover junky, half-baked accessories, like this one?” lets you answer that question. You can find the poll in the left column of our front page. Vote today!

DanceDanceRevolution S Lite now available for iPhone

Konami has released its DanceDanceRevolution S Lite rhythm game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the popular arcade dancing series and meant as a preview for the upcoming full version of DanceDanceRevolution S, the Lite version lets users tap on the screen to the rhythm of the song, with upcoming arrows rising from the bottom of the screen. DanceDanceRevolution S Lite is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Third-party browsing apps appear on App Store

In a shift away from its prior policy of barring third-party web browsing applications on the basis that they duplicated existing functionality, Apple has allowed a small group of third-party browsing apps to appear in the App Store. Amongst the new apps are Edge Browser (Free), which clears up screen real estate by removing the address and navigation bars, Incognito ($2), which lets users browse without leaving a history of any kind, WebMate:Tabbed Browser ($1), which stores all clicked links in a queue, letting the user read them one-by-one as they’re ready, and Shaking Web ($2), a browser with a vibration-reduction like algorithm designed for use while moving.

With at least one submission date going back to October, it appears that Apple had a special list of such applications for possible future release; these standalone applications all appear to be based upon Apple’s own Safari browser, which has also been incorporated in various ways into other, more complex applications to eliminate the need to switch between an app an a separate browser for certain features. It is unclear what these standalone browser releases mean for full-scale browsers such as Firefox and Opera, which were previously thought to be blocked by the iPhone SDK agreement. [via Mac Rumors]

Photo of the Week: iPhone 3G in Australia

This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G inside a bucket, lying on the sands of Dee Why beach in New South Wales, Australia. Interestingly, the photo notes that while the bucket provides some limited protection from the sand, it also serves to amplify the sound coming from the iPhone’s speakers. 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!

Slacker releases Radio app for iPhone, iPod touch

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U.S.-based interactive Internet radio service Slacker has released its new Slacker Radio application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to services provided by Pandora Radio and Last.fm, Slacker gives users access to over 100 stations pre-programmed by radio professionals, along with the ability to pick stations based on genre, artist, or to create new stations based on a specific band or artist, which also contain music from similar artists as recommendations. In addition, the app allows users to view artist bios as well as album art and reviews. Slacker Radio is available as a free download from the App Store.

Mix: iPhone chips, Appy Entertainment, HAVA, Conchords

  • January 13, 2009

Chinese-language paper the Economic Daily News is reporting that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) are likely to land chip orders from Apple for an upcoming iPhone, possibly the rumored iPhone nano. According to the report, the orders may come in March, while the launch of the handset itself is said to be scheduled for June at the earliest.

Long-time console gaming veterans Chris Ulm, Farzad Varahramyan, Emmanuel Valdez, Rick Olaffson, and Paul O’Connor, all past founding members of High Moon Studios, have teamed up to create Appy Entertainment, a new iPhone gaming company. Along with Executive Producer Steve Sargent and Lead Programmer Marc-Antoine Argenton, the Appy team’s resume includes games such as Ready 2 Rumble, the Oddworld series, and The Bourne Conspiracy. The company has yet to announce its first game, but encourages interested parties to visit its blog.

Monsoon Multimedia has announced its HAVA Player for the iPhone. The HAVA Player will allow users to view and control their home television and services directly from the device, using an on-screen remote and place-shifting technology. In addition, the company has added the ability for users to export their HAVA DVR recordings to iTunes to take recorded content with them. Monsoon’s export to iTunes feature will be available as a free direct download in Q1, while the HAVA Player for iPhone will also be free and is expected to be available in Q2 of 2009.

Billboard is reporting that fans of the Flight of the Conchords will be able to download music from each episode of their HBO show’s second season on iTunes. Unlike the first season, which saw its music released as an album well after the season ended, users will be able to download the new tracks directly from iTunes the day after each episode airs. The band’s debut EP won a Grammy for best comedy album; their self-titled full-length effort, which featured music from the show’s first season, is currently up for a Grammy in the same category.

Mix: AAPL Q1, LG, Arcade Bowling, Chipotle

  • January 12, 2009

Apple plans to release its first quarter financial results on Wednesday, January 21. As it has done in the past, the company also plans to conduct a conference call to discuss its first quarter results; the call will begin at 2:00 p.m. PST and will be available as an audio webcast.

LG Display has signed a deal to supply Apple with LCD panels for the next five years. The company did not disclose the total size of the deal, but said in a filing to the Korea Exchange that it would receive a $500 million advance from Apple this month. “Although LG Display already had a relationship with Apple, the deal’s duration and the size of the advance show that the two companies are involved in a long-term, strategic alliance,” said Son Young-jun, a spokesman for LG Display. It is unknown whether any of the displays are planned for use in Apple’s portable media devices.

Skyworks has released Arcade Bowling, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the popular arcade game Skeeball, users flick to send “laser” balls down the alley and up the ramp toward the scoring holes. Once in the air, users can also influence the ball’s flight in midair using the accelerometer. The game also features two sound tracks, 3D graphics, and two game modes—Classic and Progressive. Arcade Bowling is available now from the App Store and sells for $2.

National burrito restaurant chain Chipotle has released Chipotle Mobile Ordering, its new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app allows users to order food directly from these devices, offering access to the full menu of options, including sauces and extras, saving favorite orders for later, and paying with a credit card from the application. It also offers a Chipotle location finder. Chipotle Mobile Ordering is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Sony unveils iPod, iPhone music systems

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Sony has introduced several new music systems for the iPod, as well as an iPod- and iPhone-compatible clock radio. The CMT-LX20i is a compact stereo system featuring a vertical design, a top-mounted slot-loading single disc CD player with MP3 playback, an auxiliary input, ID3 tag display, an AM/FM radio with 30 presets, an integrated iPod dock, a remote control, and a clock/alarm feature. The Sony CMT-LX20i will be available in March for $100.

imageAlso coming in March is the MHC-EC99i mini HiFi system. Featuring an integrated iPod dock and dedicated iPod button, the EC99i also offers a single disc CD with MP3 playback, an audio-in jack, an AM/FM tuner with 30 station presets, clock, alarm and sleep timer functions, and two front speakers and a dedicated subwoofer, all powered by a 530 watt amplifier. Sony’s MHC-EC99i will sell for $200.

imageTwo new Muteki systems, the LBT-ZX66i and LBT-ZX99i, will also see a March release. The LBT-ZX66i offers with 560 watts of power driving two separate three-way bass reflex speakers, each of which include 7-inch dual hybrid subwoofers and a 1-inch horn tweeter. Other features include an integrated iPod dock, a five-disc CD changer, Game Sync Mixing, a remote control with iPod menu control, and a large display. It will sell for $450. The LBT-ZX99i, by comparison, offers 720 watts of power, driving four separate two-way bass reflex speakers, each outfitted with a 9-inch subwoofer and two 2-inch tweeters. It will sell for $650.

Finally, the ICF-C7iP is a clock radio featuring a built-in sliding iPod and iPhone dock. It features a large LCD, a remote with iPod menu control, a 5V power supply with charging support for both the iPod and iPhone, and dual alarms with a choice of everyday, weekday or weekend settings. Sony’s ICF-C7iP will be available in April and will sell for $70.

Sites offer ‘cracked’ iPhone apps

iPhone and iPod touch game piracy has started to rear its ugly head, as an increasing number of videos on YouTube now offer “cracked” iPhone and iPod touch applications—paid software that has been modified for free, generally illegal distribution—promoting sites that allow users to download and install thousands of hacked apps for free. The applications can be used on devices running software version 2.0, 2.1, or 2.2 and do not require users to jailbreak their devices; iTunes 7.7.0 is required to actually synchronize the cracked apps.

Philips/DLO shows iPod speakers, FM transmitter

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Philips and DLO were showing off two new, previously revealed speaker systems at Macworld Expo this week, along with an updated version of the TransDock Micro. The Philips SBD8100 iPod Speaker with Rotating Dock is a table-top system featuring a unique motorized rotating dock designed for use with the iPhone or iPod touch. The dock’s rotation can be changed via the included remote control; the SBD8100 also offers the ability to run off battery or wall power. It will sell for $150 and is expected to ship in June.

imageThe SBD7000 Rotating Speaker Dock for iPhone and iPod is a circular-shaped stereo sound system featuring a design that lets users roll the speaker to change dock orientation from vertical to horizontal. When rotated, speaker output is automatically switched to ensure proper sound. Other features include the ability to run off battery or wall power, a blue and white changing backlight, and a bi-directional flipstand for convenient video viewing. Slated for a March release, it will sell for $120.

Finally, the DLO TransDock micro for iPhone is a new version of the company’s TransDock micro combination auto charger and FM transmitter. Aside from iPhone compatibility, the new unit offers the IntelliTune feature to automatically search for and find open FM frequencies, and four programmable FM presets. Also slated for a March release, it will sell for $70.

Palm introduces iPhone competitor Pre

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Palm today introduced its latest handset, named the Pre. Featuring a 3.1-inch, 480x320 touchscreen, a dedicated gesture area below the display, a vertical slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and more, the device is aimed at the same market as the iPhone. Other technical features include high-speed wireless (EV-DO Rev. A or HSDPA, depending on the model and carrier), GPS, Wi-Fi, a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB connector, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP, 8GB of internal storage, an accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensors, a removable rechargeable battery, and an optional wireless charger. Pre is exclusive at launch to Sprint.

The device runs Palm’s new WebKit-based operating system, webOS. Designed for next-generation, touch-friendly devices, it offers many iPhone OS-like features, such as a full web browser, Exchange email support in addition to POP and IMAP, IM, MMS, and SMS messaging, and Palm Synergy, a new feature that aims to consolidate information like calendars, chats, and contacts from various sources in one place. Slated for release in the first half of 2009, no price has yet been set for the Pre. Initial impressions suggest that the phone is a large step forward for the company, which hired former Apple senior vice president Jon Rubenstein to develop its next-generation software and hardware in October 2007. Former Apple employees have reportedly joined Palm in significant numbers to aid Rubinstein in Pre’s development.

Memorex rolls out speakers for iPod, iPhone

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Memorex has introduced a trio of new speaker systems for the iPod, two of which feature iPhone compatibility. The Mi9490P Hi-Fi CD Sound System for iPhone and iPod is a one-piece table-top unit featuring an integrated dock, slot-loading CD player, LCD with song and artist information display, equalizer, digital FM radio, and full function remote. Available in black only, it will sell for $140. The Mi4290P Dual Alarm Clock Radio for iPhone/iPod offers 10 Watts of total power, dual alarms, a digital FM radio, a reversed segment LCD display, an included remote, and an auxiliary line-in jack. It will sell for $80 and be available in either black or white. Finally, the Mi2290 Travel Speaker System for iPod is a white foldable, adjustable unit that comes with a custom fit neoprene travel sleeve. Features include an integrated dock, two 1.5-inch neodymium speakers, a backlit LCD display, an auxiliary input, and AC or battery power with up to 10 hours of playback time. It will sell for $60; all three systems are expected to ship in the first quarter of 2009.

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