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Unions, supporters plan iWon’t campaign against Verizon iPhone 5

  • September 30, 2011
  • Other

Several unions and lobbying groups plan to use the iPhone 5 launch to publicize a union contract dispute with Verizon Wireless. The Communications Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the AFL-CIO are being joined by MoveOn.org, US Action, and Jobs with Justice to formally announce the campaign on Monday. Dubbed “iWon’t,” the campaign will ask Americans to delay upgrading to the iPhone 5 on Verizon Wireless until the company agrees to a fair contract with its workers. The group plans to conduct online and grass roots outreach, advertising, and leafleting at hundreds of Verizon Wireless stores starting on Tuesday, October 4th, which it believes—probably incorrectly—will be the launch date of the iPhone 5.

This coalition also aims to expose what it refers to as the “Verizon Tax Loophole,” describing the methods that Verizon is using to avoid paying federal corporate income taxes, and plans to lobby the government to force companies such as Verizon to pay their fair share in federal taxes while respecting workers’ rights. The contract dispute reportedly involved 45,000 Verizon and Verizon Wireless workers, who seek to protect their health care coverage and employee benefits.

iLounge Weekly arriving Monday, giveaway reminder

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes Monday morning. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Also, if you haven’t yet entered our Griffin PowerDock Dual Giveaway, this is your last chance to do so. In our Giveaway of the Month for September, iLounge and Griffin Technology are giving away ten PowerDock Dual charging stations. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway ends tonight, September 30, 2011 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Apple releases iTunes 10.5 beta 9 to developers

Apple has released another update to its beta version of iTunes 10.5 for registered iOS developers. The update appears to be primarily targeted at developers testing the iTunes Match service, with iTunes 10.5 beta 7 also remaining available as a separate download for registered iOS developers. This latest release follows reports of iTunes Match data being reset earlier this week for developers testing the service. iTunes 10.5 beta 9 is available for download now for registered developers from the iOS Dev Center.

JBL releases On Tour iBT Bluetooth Speaker

JBL has released the On Tour iBT, a new battery powered one-piece speaker that incorporates Bluetooth wireless technology to stream audio wirelessly from the iPad, iPhone, iPod or other A2DP capable devices. Weighing just over one pound, the On Tour iBT is designed for portability and can be easily carried in a backpack or purse. The unit also includes a tabletop stand for an iPad in portrait or landscape mode allowing the iBT to function as an audio output for video playback. The On Tour iBT features four Odyssey full-range neodymium transducers with computer optimized digital signal processing equalization for detailed, 360-degree sound and supports both the A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth audio profiles. A built-in microphone also allows the unit to be used as a speakerphone for conference calls or video chats. The speaker is powered by four AA batteries or an external AC power source; when connected to a wall outlet the iBT can also charge an iPad, iPhone or iPod via a built-in USB connection. The JBL On Tour iBT sells for $150 and is available from JBL.com and other JBL retailers.

Apple TV to launch in 7 more European countries

MacRumors reports that Apple has informed European resellers that the Apple TV will be launching in seven new European countries as of next Tuesday, October 4th. The Apple TV is expected to launch in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

This follows reports of Apple expanding the iTunes Store in Europe, specifically bringing movie sales and rentals to additional European countries. The release of the Apple TV in those countries would be a logical progression of the availability of video content from the iTunes Store.

Harman Kardon releases MS 150 Speaker System

Harman Kardon has released the MS 150, a new high-performance shelf stereo system that provides an iPhone/iPod Dock, slot-loading CD player and FM radio tuner. The unit features integrated 30-watt bass-reflex speakers for room-filling sound and a subwoofer output for direct connection to a powered subwoofer. Three auxiliary audio inputs are available to allow devices to be connected, including one 3.5mm optical-digital input. The system also includes front and back 3.5mm headphone jacks for private listening and component and S-Video outputs for displaying photos and videos from a connected iPod or iPhone. An LCD display on top of the device shows RDS information from FM radio stations or iPod/iPhone track information. The MS 150 also includes an alarm and sleep timer feature, two preset equalization modes for table or wall placement and an infrared remote control. The Harman Kardon MS 150 has a suggested retail price of $690 and is available now in select retail stores.

NewMacGadgets releases iPad 2 Security Base

NewMacGadgets has introduced the iPad 2 Security Base, a security focused version of its popular iPad 2 Display Dock. Following the same general design as the original Display Dock, the Security Base adds additional features aimed at business and retail customers where security is a concern. Similar in design to displays used in Apple Stores, the base includes security brackets with Torx tamper-proof screws, mounting holes and 3M clear pressure sensitive adhesive for mounting to hard surfaces. The Security Base also allows removal of the iPad 2 with an included Torx t-10 bit. The base is constructed from 1.25” clear acrylic and slots are also provided for the charging cord and earphones. The iPad 2 Security Base is available now from NewMacGadgets.com for $90.

Click Wheel Games disappear from iTunes Store

Apple appears to have quietly removed Click Wheel iPod Games from the iTunes Store, prompting further speculation that the company is planning to discontinue the iPod classic. A link to the Click Wheel Games section previously appeared on the App Store drop down menu, however that option has recently vanished and attempts to search for or even link from existing Click Wheel iPod Games now returns a response that the item requested is “not currently available.”

Downloadable iPod games were introduced in the fall of 2006 when Apple released the enhanced fifth-generation iPod alongside a firmware update adding support to the prior year’s model. Game support was also added to the third-generation iPod nano when it was released the following year, although the 2007 release of the iPod classic and iPod nano controversially rendered all previous games incompatible, requiring users to repurchase the same titles for the new devices. The selection of games remained relatively limited since Apple never released an open SDK, instead hand-picking select developers to participate, and handling some of the coding on its own. During Apple’s Fall 2010 event, the company released the sixth-generation iPod nano with a revised touchscreen interface and no iPod game support; the company also conspicuously omitted any direct mention of the iPod classic at that event, leaving many to conclude that the older traditional iPods are no longer a priority for Apple. [via AppleInsider]

Griffin introduces MultiDock Business Docking System

Griffin Technology has announced the MultiDock, a station for charging, syncing and storing up to 10 iPads, iPhones or iPods. Designed for a business or classroom environment, MultiDock is capable of delivering full-rate charging to each of its 10 charge bays in a compact cabinet and offers plug-and-charge convenience for organizations that need to manage and store multiple iOS devices.    The MultiDock’s bays include a dock cable and are sized to accommodate iOS devices even in typical cases.

In addition to charging the MultiDock also provides the ability to synchronize with a single computer using an included USB cable; an optional laptop stand can be added to the top of the cabinet. LED indicators provide charging and syncing status for each connected device and users can link up to three MultiDocks to a single host computer via an included USB hub to provide up to 30 total charging and syncing slots. Charging bays provide full 10-watt charging for the iPad and automatically power off once charging is complete. MultiDock sells for an MSRP of $700 and is available for purchase from Griffin’s web site.

Scosche announces Realm Series Headphones

Scosche has announced its new Realm series high performance headphones and in-ear monitors. The new RH1056m (iLounge Rating: B+) over-ear headphones feature 40mm drivers, precision wound copper voice coils and rare earth neodymium magnets for extremely accurate musical production across multiple genres. Available in both black and white with chrome accents the collapsible headphones include viscoelastic memory foam that softens to form to the shape of the user’s ear. The RH1056m package includes two gold plated audio cables, thermoform case, travel pouch, gold-plated 3.5mm to 1/4” adapter, clothing clip, PC adapter and cleaning cloth. The RH1056m are priced at $230 MSRP.

The Realm IEM856m in-ear monitors (iLounge Rating: B) utilize a bi-hybrid motor structure with 10.7mm dynamic drivers and a 6.3mm balanced armature for powerful low frequencies and accurate high and mid frequencies. The monitors are also available in black and white and include soft ear cushions made from hypoallergenic silicone for comfortable listening during extended use. The IEM856m package includes a thermoform case, leather pouch, clothing clip, PC adapter and small, medium and large single and dual flanged ear cushions. The IEM856m ear monitors are priced at $250 MSRP. Both models are available from Scosche.com and other selected retail locations.

Next-generation iPhone to support 21Mbps HSPA+

A new report from Japanese Blog Macotakara notes a presentation from a China Unicom executive at Macworld Asia this week where it was indicated that the coming iPhone will include support for HSPA+ technology. Sometimes referred to as “4G” HSPA+ is actually an enhancement to existing 3G technologies that increase the maximum theoretical data throughput to 21Mbps from the standard HSPA speeds of 7.2 Mbps supported by the current iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 models. Japanese site PC Watch also captured a slide from the presentation showing a reference to the “iPhone 5” listed with HSPA+ support indicated.

While not the LTE device that many had hoped for, the increase to HSPA+ speeds theoretically provides a significant performance increase on supported carriers without the additional power consumption required by current LTE chipsets. It is also worth noting that while carriers have only just begun rolling out LTE, HSPA+ has already been in place on many networks for over a year, with AT&T rolling out the intermediary technology in mid-2010 and referring to it as “4G” in its marketing. The iPhone 3GS introduced a similar speed bump when it was released two years ago with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA technology; a moderate but noticeable upgrade from the original 3.6 Mbps speeds found in the iPhone 3G. [via MacRumors]

Plantronics releases app-enabled Marque M155 Headset

Plantronics has released the Marque M155, a new app-enabled Bluetooth headset designed specifically for iPhone and Android devices. Weighing in at just 7 grams, the M155 offers voice-guided pairing for the iPhone and integrated voice recognition for hands-free answering or rejecting of incoming calls. Stereo Bluetooth A2DP support is also included for listening to music, podcasts and other audio such as GPS directions.

The Marque M155 also integrates with Plantronics free MyHeadset app which provides users with quick pairing and setup features and sound quality testing. The app also includes access to Plantronics’ Vocalyst Voice and Text service that provides hands-free voice control for sending e-mail or text messages, posting updates to Facebook and Twitter or checking weather and news information. Vocalyst is a subscription-based service with a one-year subscription included with the purchase of the Marque. The Marque M155 is available in black or white for $60 and available for pre-order today at Amazon.com, Plantronics.com and select retailers and wireless carriers.

Apple launches iTunes Store in 12 remaining EU countries

Following a report yesterday that Apple was making plans to expand the iTunes Store in additional European Union countries, the company has now launched in all 12 of the remaining EU countries where the iTunes Store was previously not available. As of today, users can now download and purchase music via iTunes in Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. [via AppleInsider]

Gear4 launches Angry Birds speakers

Gear4 has announced pricing and availability for its new lineup of licensed speakers based on Rovio’s iconic mobile game Angry Birds. Three different models will be available, each based on a popular game character: Red Bird, Black Bird and the Helmet Pig. The Red Bird speaker will sell for $80 and allows playback via a 3.5mm audio cable for compatibility with any audio player and includes a stand. The Green Helmet Pig speaker is priced at $100 and includes an integrated Dock for the iPod and iPhone along with volume and bass controls and a remote control. The Black Bird speaker is optimized for the iPad providing an external Dock and iPad charging support and also includes a remote control and volume and bass controls. All three speakers are expected to be available later this fall in Apple Stores and can be pre-ordered online at Gear4.

Soundmatters releases foxLv2 Platinum Bluetooth Speaker

Soundmatters has announced the new foxLv2 Platinum Bluetooth speaker, a pocket-sized Hi-Fi speaker for audio purists. The latest in the company’s award-winning foxL series, the foxLv2 adds a trio of new performance features including advancements in Bluetooth streaming technology for CD quality music, new audiophile cabling and extended battery life. Sporting a new “platinum” finish, the foxLv2 includes support for the Blutooth CSR apt-X streaming protocols for wireless connectivity to Bluetooth equipped devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Mac or users can connecting to an audio source using the included 3.5mm Audioquest Evergreen cable; Bluetooth speakerphone capability is also included with a built-in noise cancelling microphone.

The foxLv2 speakers can be used either with an AC connection for increased wattage output or on the internal rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery for up to 10 hours of battery life using Bluetooth or 20 hours with a wired audio connection. The foxLv2 Platinum is priced at $229 and is expected to be available from Soundmatters and other retailers beginning in November.

Brookstone launches Rover App-Controlled Spy Tank

Brookstone has released the Rover App-Controlled Spy Tank for iOS devices. Controlled wirelessly from an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad using a free universal app, the Rover can explore within a range of to 200 feet streaming live video and sound back to the device. An infrared night vision mode is also available to allow users to navigate Rover in the dark. Users can control the Rover from the app using either on-screen directional arrows or using the accelerometer-based G-Drive mode and can capture still photos from the camera. The Rover Spy Tank runs on 6 included AA batteries and is available from Brookstone for $150.

Maxell Japan announces Air Voltage for iPad 2

Hitachi Maxell Japan and Murata have announced the Air Voltage, a new wireless induction charging stand and case for the iPad 2. The charging system works by placing the iPad in the “Energy Cover” case and then setting the case and iPad onto the “Energy Station” charger which doubles as a stand for the iPad. The iPad can be placed on the stand and charged in either portrait or landscape orientation and can be used while it is being charged. The Air Voltage system is designed to provide the necessary power required by the iPad 2 and charge the device in the same amount of time as the standard Apple charger—about 3 hours for a full charge. The case also provides a passthrough mini USB connector and cable that can be used for syncing with iTunes. The Air Voltage will be available in both white and black and the company plans to begin selling the unit in Japan on Nov 25th for $196. [via TechCrunch]

Amazon undercuts iPad 2 with $79-$199 Kindles

  • September 28, 2011
  • Other

Directly targeting Apple’s growing iPad ecosystem with even lower-priced alternatives, Amazon today launched a series of three completely new Kindle devices with prices ranging from $79 to $199. The most basic Kindle e-reader will now sell for $79, a drop from the company’s prior $114 price tag for its lowest-end unit, relying on modest screen saver-style ad support and a streamlined design to reduce the price tag. Amazon also announced a new $99 Kindle touch e-reader that employs an IR touch system in place of a physical keyboard, as well as a redesigned user interface that involves taps in place of buttons. The new unit is also reportedly slimmer, smaller and lighter than the current Kindle models. A 3G-enabled model will also be available for $149 with free global roaming.

Amazon also revealed the anticipated Kindle Fire Android-based tablet today at a price of $199. Designed to provide capabilities beyond those of traditional Kindle devices, Kindle Fire uses a custom version of the Android OS on a 7-inch IPS panel, featuring a dual-core CPU, Wi-Fi and a 14.6 ounce chassis. Although it lacks an embedded camera and microphone, or 3G connectivity, Kindle Fire is designed to be a simple touch-based video, music, book, and app-ready device leveraging all of Amazon’s digital stores and services. The device includes a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, and provides access to the Amazon Appstore, Kindle Books, Amazon Cloud Storage, and introduces WhiperSync bookmarking for movies and TV shows. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos used the introduction of Kindle Fire to jab at the iPad’s need for backups—wired or wireless—by noting that all of Kindle Fire’s media content will be stored in the cloud and re-obtainable as needed. The new Kindles will continue Amazon’s tradition of ultra-simple setup, arriving pre-customized to the recipient’s Amazon account so that previously-purchased content is ready to go right away.

Apple expanding iTunes content availability in Europe

Apple appears to be expanding the iTunes Store in Europe, with reports indicating plans to bring the Store to 10 new European Union countries and movie and iBookstore content becoming available for purchase and rent in the existing European iTunes Stores. A report from Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita indicates that Apple is preparing to launch the iTunes Music Store in ten new EU countries, possibly as soon as next month. The report specifies Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, but does not name the other countries although at this time there are only twelve EU member states where the iTunes Store is not available.

In a separate report, MacRumors notes that Apple now appears to be rolling out iTunes movie sales and rentals in existing European iTunes Stores, with readers reporting movies now available in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden and paid iBookstore content in Switzerland. Dedicated content sections have reportedly not yet appeared in these countries, however the content is available via the iTunes Store search function.

Madfinger Games releases Shadowgun

Madfinger Games has released Shadowgun, a third-person action shooter built on the Unity development platform. Shadowgun puts players in the role of John Slade, a professional bounty hunter in a futuristic world who must hunt down a rogue scientist infiltrating his fortress and battling an army of mutants and cyborgs. The game provides console quality graphics taking advantage of the capabilities of modern iOS devices with advanced lighting effects and detailed environments in an immersive storyline with multiple possible outcomes. In addition to military style tactical combat players must also solve hacking mini-games to progress and advance the plot. Shadowgun is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 and is available from the App Store for $8. The game requires an iPhone 3GS/4, iPod touch 3G/4G or iPad.

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