Apple has announced that movies are now available on the iTunes Store in Japan. According to the release, over 1,000 films are now available to rent or buy in high definition and standard definition from a variety of international film studios including 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, and Japanese studios such as Asmik Ace Entertainment, Fuji TV, Kadakowa Pictures, Nikkatsu, Shochiku Company Limited and Toei Company Limited. Customers have up to 30 days to start watching their movie, and 48 hours to finish it once a movie has been started. iTunes HD movie purchases in Japan start at ¥2,000 for catalog titles and recent releases and ¥2,500 for new releases, while SD versions are priced at ¥1,000 for catalog titles, ¥1,500 for recent releases and ¥2,000 for new releases. iTunes HD Movie Rentals start at ¥300 for library title rentals and ¥500 for new releases, and SD versions start at ¥200 for library title rentals and ¥400 for new releases. In addition to the movie additions, the second-generation Apple TV is now available in Japan, and sells for ¥8,800, or roughly $107.
Beyond Japan, SetteB.IT reports that the iTunes Stores in Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have been updated and are ready for movie sales and rentals, although no official announcement regarding those countries has yet been made.
Dropbox has released an update to its file sharing application for iOS devices, adding support for the forthcoming iOS 4.2 and improving photo display support. Dropbox 1.3.1 adds persistent photo caching to improve performance when viewing photos from the online Dropbox, renders PNG and GIF files natively rather than using JPEG compression and provides higher-quality thumbnails on Retina Display devices. The update also fixes several bugs related to media player performance, downloading of favorites and less common Microsoft Office file extensions and re-enables the ability to upload photos from the entire Photo Library rather than only the Camera Roll/Saved Photos section. Dropbox 1.3.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
iHome has revealed more details regarding its upcoming iW1 AirPlay speaker system. According to the company’s website, the iW1 will feature a built-in rechargeable li-ion battery good for “hours” of audio playback, an included charging base for the unit, Bongiovi Acoustics DPS with specially tuned woofers, tweeters and a Class-D amplifier, support for local iPod or iPhone charging and playback via the USB port on the back, compatibility with the company’s iHome + apps, and a capacitive touch panel on the top for playback, volume, and other controls. Pricing and an exact release date have yet to be announced, although the company previously said the iW1 would be available this holiday season.
Apple has started to sell iBooks Gift Cards in its retail stores. Spotted by iLounge in a Washington, D.C.-area Apple Store, the cards feature a solid color gradient background with the iBooks icon centered on top. Based on an Apple Support Discussions thread from earlier in the year, it appears as though users were able to purchase standard iTunes Gift Cards for use in the iBookstore; the new cards remove any ambiguity customers may have had about whether or not an iTunes GC would be usable in the iBookstore, and will likely be popular add-ons to those purchasing iPads as a gift.
Bang & Olufsen has outed its new BeoSound 8 speaker system for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Sporting a modern design of two large circular speakers with conical backs connected by a central rectangular bar, the BeoSound 8 features an adjustable docking brace to support players ranging from the iPod nano to the iPad, the ability to be wall mounted, a manual room adaptation switch to adjust the sound according to whether the system is placed in a corner, against a wall, or standing freely, Adaptive Bass Linearisation for extra low end response, and an included remote control. Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound 8 speaker system for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad will be available in stores later this month and will sell for £895, or roughly $1,435.
Apple has announced a partnership with marketing firm The Dentsu Group to expand Apple’s iAd mobile advertising platform to Japan early next year. According to the announcement, Dentsu will handle the selling and creative execution of iAds in Japan, while Apple will host, target and deliver the iAds to its iOS users. In addition, Dentsu subsidiary cyber communications, inc. (cci) will provide one-stop services for iAd in Japan including creative production and media planning.
“After an incredibly successful launch in the US where we’ve already doubled the number of brands on the network, we’re excited to bring iAd to Japan,” said Andy Miller, Apple’s vice president of iAd. “Dentsu is one of the world’s most prestigious advertising agencies, making them an ideal partner for iAds in Japan.”
“We’re thrilled to be joining with Apple to introduce such a powerful new ad platform in Japan,” said Ryuichi Mori, Senior Executive Vice President, Dentsu Inc. “Mobile advertising is Japan’s fastest-growing platform and iAd’s rich media experience and engaged audience of iPhone and iPod touch users make it uniquely positioned to capture mobile’s full potential for advertisers and developers.”
Apple officially launched the iPad in Russia. According to a report from Tatar-inform, Apple’s tablet computer will be available from retailers M.Video, Bely Veter and re:Store, with prices ranging from 19,990 roubles for the 16GB Wi-Fi model to 32,990 roubles for the 64GB iPad 3G. The report claims that the iPad will initially be available in only four cities — Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Volgograd and Rostov-on-Don, with the first batch expected to be limited to 3 to 4 thousand devices. Apple is expected to supply Russian retailers with 40 to 50 thousand units before the end of the year. [via TUAW]
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone 3G or 3GS in front of the famous multi-colored bathing houses of Brighton Beach, in Melbourne, Australia. 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!
Zagg has unveiled its new Zaggmate case for the iPad. Made from aluminum, the Zaggmate snaps over the front of the iPad when not in use and features high-density interior padding as wel as an integrated hinge capable of supporting the iPad at 10 different angles in either portrait or landscape mode. A separate model, the Zaggmate with keyboard, will offer an embedded wireless Bluetooth keyboard on the interior, along with a stand and a USB port for charging. Zagg’s new Zaggmate and Zaggmate w/keyboard for iPad will be available soon and will sell for $70 and $100, respectively.
Apple has made a change to the way it screens iPods for liquid damage, according to a new report. Citing a screenshot supposedly showing an internal AppleCare document, Boy Genius Report states that employees checking a device for water damage must now look for signs of liquid intrusion beyond the headphone port liquid contact indicator (LCI), even if it is activated. Previously, activation of the headphone port LCI was enough for employees to claim that a device may have been damaged by water or some other liquid, rendering the warranty void. It is unclear whether Apple has made similar changes to its LCI policies for iPhones and iPads, and whether the move is a sign that Apple considers the headphone port indicators overly sensitive and thus unreliable.
Soundfreaq has debuted its new Sound Platform audio system for the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and other audio sources. The Sound Platform is a tabletop system featuring Kevlar-reinforced stereo speakers with an acoustically tuned dual-port chamber and UQ3 spacial enhancement audio processing that can be turned on and off via a dial on the front of the unit. Other features include an integrated iPod and iPhone Dock, Bluetooth audio playback capability, a front-mounted LCD display, a FM radio, an auxiliary input, and an included remote control that stores magnetically in a hidden compartment on the side. Soundfreaq’s new Sound Platform the iPod, iPhone, and iPad will be available in Target stores and online from the company’s website beginning November 29 and will sell for $199.
Verizon Wireless has started airing a new commercial promoting its iPad + Mi-Fi bundle. The spot, entitled “Breakaway,” shows a man sitting in a chair holding the iPad and turning on the Mi-Fi wireless hotspot before proceeding to open Safari on the iPad. As he browses, the ceiling, walls, and floor of the room break apart and fly away to show the man in the same chair sitting on a point overlooking the ocean. Notably, this is the first carrier-created advertisement for one of Apple’s iOS products to air in the U.S., as Apple has aired all prior iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad commercials itself. The new commercial is available for viewing from the above link or in embedded form below.
Griffin has released an update to iTalk Recorder Premium adding support for background recording and playback on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices. The new version also provides updated graphics for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch and adds a search bar to allow users to easily find recordings. Originally released in November 2008, iTalk Recorder became a top-selling voice recorder app for the iPhone and iPod touch but was supplanted by Apple’s Voice Memos app which offered background recording before third-party applications could multitask and integrated voice memo synchronization with iTunes. iTalk Recorder Premium is available from the App Store for $2. The free version has also been updated for iOS 4 with the search bar and Retina Display graphics but lacks the support for background audio.
Big Stone Phone has released an update to Twittelator for iPad adding improvements for the upcoming iOS 4.2 release. Twittelator for iPad is an enhanced Twitter client designed specifically for the iPad user interface that provides advanced features such as inline image support and posting to Facebook. Version 1.5 adds multitasking support and fast app switching and improves loading times on iOS 4.2. The update also introduces AirPrint support to allow users to print individual tweets or groups of tweets. Twittelator for iPad is available from the App Store for $5.
The Omni Group has released a major update to OmniGraffle, adding support for iOS 4.2 as well as several other new features. OmniGraffle 1.4 adds AirPrint and multitasking capabilities that will allow iOS 4.2 users to print documents directly from within the app and maintain application state and perform tasks in the background. Support has also been added for storing and retrieving files on MobileMe iDisk and other WebDAV services as well as exporting and e-mailing documents natively as PDFs and PNGs to online services or iTunes File Sharing. The new version also adds the ability to selectively view documents based on file type and change the sorting order and scrub through documents in the Document Browser view. Users can now create their own custom stencils from scratch and selectively show and hide stencils in the popover view. Stencils from Graffletopia that perform poorly or not at all on the iPad version of OmniGraffle are now filtered out and will not be displayed in search results. OmniGraffle 1.4 is available from the App Store for $50 and is a free update for current OmniGraffle for iPad users.
Apple has reportedly acquired Wi-Gear, a small San Francisco-based company known for its wireless Bluetooth audio products for the iPod and iPhone. Citing an unnamed source, 9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple purchased the iMuffs maker for an undisclosed sum. The company’s website now states that “Wi-Gear has ceased operations and is no longer in business. We will be unable to respond to any inquiries.” According to the report, Apple is planning to build its own stereo Bluetooth headphones using technology and expertise from Wi-Gear; Wi-Gear co-founder Michael Kim’s LinkedIn profile now lists him as an iOS Bluetooth Engineer at Apple, having joined the company two months ago.
Update: Wi-Gear CEO Mark Pundsack has denied the report that Apple purchased the company, saying it’s still available for sale, and ceased operations due to lack of funding.
Beejive has released an update to its BeejiveIM for iPad multi-platform instant messaging application adding some new features while also removing ICQ support. BeejiveIM version 3.5.2 adds message status indicators for sending messages, updates VoiceNotes support for Bluetooth and now uses WAV files to improve compatibility with other platforms. The update also removes support for the ICQ IM network due to contractual issues; Beejive indicated to iLounge that with the recent sale of the ICQ service to Russian Internet company Digital Sky Technologies it was informed that a formal agreement must be worked out with the new owner to continue supporting ICQ. The company is working on this and it hopes to return ICQ support to BeejiveIM as soon as possible; in the meantime users who rely on BeejiveIM for ICQ support may want to avoid updating to the latest version.
Urban Apps, developer of the highly acclaimed Ambiance noise generator, has released a new app, All Recalls that provides iPhone and iPod touch users with quick and easy access to product recall notices and information from five major U.S. Government Agencies. The application provides a combined list of product recall announcements from the Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Organization, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Users can view details and images for any recall notice, view recalls by product category and link to specific manufacturers and organizations. The application includes recall data as far back as 1969 complete with the original recall notices and users can bookmark recalls for later and share them on Facebook or Twitter from within the app. The application also provides HD images for Retina Display capable devices. The standard version of All Recalls is ad-supported and available from the App Store as a free download; a Pro upgrade is available via in-app purchase for $1 that removes advertising and adds the ability to search the Recall Database and receive realtime alerts for new recalls.
Joby has introduced its new Gorillamobile flexible tripod and case system for the iPhone 4. Selected for an International CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award in the Wireless Handsets Accessories category, the Gorillamobile for iPhone 4 consists of a snap-on bumper case with push-though button coverage, open access to all other ports and controls, and a rail on the side that slides on and off the tripod stand in portrait or landscape orientation. The tripod features flexible, wrappable legs, rubber grip rings, and a special head designed to work with the included bumper case; Joby also plans to launch a new photography app designed to work with the iPhone 4 prior to the holidays. Joby’s Gorillamobile for iPhone 4 is available now and sells for $40.
Hasbro plans to introduce its new My3D accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch tomorrow, according to an Associated Press report. The My3D is a new accessory that attaches to the iPhone or iPod touch and allows users to view 3D content. Users will slide their device into a slot in the My 3D, which resembles a pair of binoculars, and will view the device’s screen through the two eyepieces. According to the report, Apple helped guide the development of the accessory, and will host content for the accessory in the form of apps from the App Store. Hasbro’s My3D accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch is expected to launch next spring and will be priced at $30.