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Music in Apple Lossless format coming to iTunes Music Store?

An updated version of Apple’s music encoding software for record labels suggests that the iTunes Music Store could soon offer tracks in the Apple Lossless format. According to an AppleInsider report, a note accompanying the iTunes Producer 1.4 update released this week said the application “now encodes music in Apple Lossless format, which produces larger audio files and will increase upload time.” The Apple Lossless format, which the company says offers CD-quality sound in “about half the storage space,” has been supported in iTunes since version 4.5. iTunes Producer is provided to record labels for encoding and submitting their music for inclusion on the iTunes Music Store. Songs sold on iTunes are currently only available in the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format.

Speck debuts sneaker-inspired Canvas Sport cases

Speck Products has announced its new Canvas Sport line of iPod cases. Inspired by classic sneakers, the cases are made of canvas and rubber, and come in sizes to fit the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The $35 cases feature a belt-clip and a sewn-in clear plastic screen protector, and come in black, white or pink styles. “Even a trusty pair of sneakers can be inspiration for great product design at Speck Products,” said Speck. “The Canvas Sport cases for our favorite new gadgets are instant classics and are in a league of their own.”

Mix: iSpazz, CL Sound Machine, Steve Jobs, Coolgorilla

iSpazz is an iTunes plug-in for Mac OS X that contols the keyboard backlighting on MacBook Pros, allowing the keyboard to light up to the beats of the music playing.

The CL Sound Machine is a cabinet-style vinyl record player with iPod connectivity, CD player, and 12-bottle wine rack. The CL also has a gramophone-inspired speaker and an 8-inch subwoofer.

Tivoli unveils iYiYi audio system

Tivoli Audio has introduced the new iYiYi home speaker system. Available in black or white, the iYiYi features a built-in universal docking station for use with all dockable iPods, as well as a digital AM/FM radio, built-in alarm and digital clock. The system also sports two 3” full-range drivers, a remote control, auto-brightness blue backlit LCD display, rubberized knobs, Radio Data System (RDS) support, an auxiliary input, and stereo headphone output. Tivoli said the iYiYi—which apparently gets its name from the Yiddish phrase contextually translated as “what will they think of next?”—will be available this Fall for $300.

French lawmakers agree on compromise to iTunes law

French lawmakers agreed today to soften the draft copyright law that had threatened the future of the iPod and iTunes Music Store in France. “The compromise text, which is subject to a final vote in both houses before becoming law, still asserts that companies should share the data essential to such interoperability,” reports the Associated Press. “But in what could be a significant loophole, it allows compatibility restrictions on music and video downloads to be decided by the copyright holders—potentially allowing Apple and others to sidestep the information requirement by striking deals with record labels and artists.” In March, the French assembly backed proposals to force companies to share their copy-protection technologies with rivals who want to offer compatible players and services.

Heavy Metal Buckles offers iPod belt buckle cases

Heavy Metal Buckles has announced its first set of iPod belt buckle cases. The company is currently offering cases for the iPod nano and iPod mini—the nano case features a skull and crossbones pattern, while the mini case features a “tattoo” design. Both belt buckle cases are made from base metals, and feature clear screen protectors and openings for the click wheel, headphone jack and hold switch. They retail from $28-$35 and are available in stores such as Hot Topic, Anchor Blue, Tilly’s, Metropark, and Pac Sun.

TiVo Desktop update brings iPod video support

TiVo has released an updated version of its TiVo Desktop software that allows users to convert recorded shows for playback on fifth-generation iPods and other portable devices. TiVo Desktop 2.3 Plus works with the TiVoToGo service to convert and transfer shows onto devices that support MPEG-4 or H.264 video, including the iPod, Sony PSP, Palm Treo, and Nokia phones. The TiVo Desktop upgrade, which costs $25 and requires Windows 2000/XP, also adds scheduling of transfers from your TiVo to your PC. TiVo originally announced plans for iPod support in November of last year. [via Gizmodo]

Update: Pictures and initial thoughts on the TiVo Desktop 2.3 Plus have been posted to Backstage at iLounge.

Gartner: New iPods could cause NAND flash shortage

Strong sales of new iPods could cause a shortage of NAND flash memory in the second half of this year, according to a new report by Gartner. The market research firm expects Apple to introduce a new, high-end flash-based iPod with 10GB to 12GB of storage capacity and a price of about $250. Gartner said such an iPod, which it expects by the fourth quarter of this year, would contribute to the shortage. “The impact of an iPod with this storage capacity will have significant implications for the NAND flash market,” said Jon Erensen, an analyst at Gartner. “If a high-capacity NAND-based iPod is introduced, the severity of the allocation will intensify during the fourth quarter of this year, and our outlook of supply and demand for the first quarter of 2007 could become more severe than initially anticipated.”

BusinessWeek: Don’t expect movies on iTunes ‘any time soon’

Apple’s foray into full-length movie downloads is unlikely to happen any time soon, according to those familiar with the negotiations between Apple and the Hollywood studios. BusinessWeek reports: “Apple has hoped to get the store up and running within weeks, Hollywood sources say. But the deal isn’t yet done—and there’s a chance it won’t be any time soon. That’s because Apple and studios remain at loggerheads on a range of issues, from how much movie downloads should cost, to the degree of piracy protections they should carry.” BusinessWeek also quotes an unnamed source that says iTunes may not get movies until next year. “This will take months and months to figure it out,” said the source, who is reportedly involved in the talks. “It may even be a 2007 kind of thing.”

PodsPlus debuts Aluminum V2 case for 5G iPods

PodsPlus has announced the release of its Aluminum V2 case for fifth-generation iPods. Made from aircraft-grade anodized aluminum, the case features both screen and click wheel protection, a removable belt clip and neck strap. The Aluminum V2 case is available in black or silver with your choice of a black, blue, red, or white click wheel cover. The case sells for $30 and comes in sizes for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod models.

Mix: MyCokeMusic, iPod killing, Netflix, PumpedforSummer

Coca-Cola said that it will be closing its British digital music service MyCokeMusic.com on July 31, after losing market share to Apple’s iTunes Music Store. As of November 2005, iTunes held a 54% share of the British online music market. MyCokeMusic was in 4th place with a 6% share, behind Napster and Wippit.com.

AP reports: “A teenager who was part of a gang that fatally stabbed a 15-year-old boy over an iPod was convicted Tuesday of murder. Brooklyn prosecutor Charles Hynes said a jury deliberated for three hours before convicting Darren Samuel, 17, of robbery and second-degree murder in the July attack. He faces as many as 25 years in prison.”

iSkin unveils Claro case for 5G iPods

iSkin has provided iLounge with a sneak peek of its upcoming Claro case for fifth-generation iPods. The ultra-clear, polycarbonate hard case uses an anti-scratch ClaroCoat technology, and is doubled with iSkin’s Si (“silicone inside”) design, which is a soft inner layer, that fits inside the hard outer layer. iSkin said these inner layers, called Claro Slims, will be available in multi-color packs. The new iSkin Claro also features a belt clip with integrated kick-stand for handsfree viewing and listening. The case sells for $40.

Case-mate debuts Patriot iPod case line

Case-mate has introduced its new Patriot Line of cases for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. Available in stars and stripes or camouflage, the form-fit leather cases feature an inner plastic shell, a removable belt clip, screen and click wheel protectors, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. “No matter which style you choose, you’ll be supporting our troops while protecting your music,” explains Case-mate. “Whether it’s an iPod or nano case you take home, a portion of the proceeds from the Patriot Line goes directly to the United Service Organizations (USO) which serves military personnel serving around the world.”

Now sort iLounge reviews by rating, and more

By reader request, iLounge today debuted the first of several new features planned for our Reviews section: “Sort by ratings and categories.” Found at the top of our Sort by Category Reviews Index page, this new tool is the equivalent of the Report Cards published in our Free iPod Books and Buyers’ Guides, but updated in real time. The simple pull-down menu lets you immediately see the top-rated products in any category of iPods or accessories we have reviewed. With over 900 products now reviewed on the site, and over 1,300 in our larger accessories database, this our goal is to help you quickly sort out top-rated products from the not-so-good ones.

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Please note that the feature is approximately 90% complete, with several handfuls of products (including a number of lower-rated ones) still yet to be added. We intend to make sure that all of our reviews are searchable via the system by the end of the week. Enjoy!

Targus intros new iPod security locks

Targus has announced two new security locks for the iPod. Joining the company’s previously available Eyelet Security Lock for iPod ($20) are the Mobile Security Lock for iPod ($40; shown right) and Desktop Security Lock for iPod ($30). The iPod locks feature a keyless, user-settable three-digit combination, and are designed for use with any dock connector iPod (3G, 4G, 5G, nano, and mini). The Mobile Security Lock features a compact case that houses a retractable cable and combination lock. The Desktop Security Lock has a 6.5-foot galvanized black steel cable that secures the iPod to any stationary object.

Microsoft going ahead with iPod rival, but will impact partners

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is currently in talks with Hollywood studios about licensing movies and TV shows for use with a forthcoming Microsoft portable device. The company has reportedly told at least one studio that it may launch the iPod rival as early as the fourth quarter of this year. Analysts believe, however, that the device will have a bigger impact on Microsoft’s current partners. “We believe the biggest issue with Microsoft entering the portable hardware business is that it puts it in direct competition with its partners,” American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said in a research noted provided to iLounge. “While the focus is on Apple, we believe this move will likely have a much larger competitive impact on Creative Technology, Sony, Samsung, MTV Networks, and others.

Pacific Design announces NanoGo case

Pacific Design has announced the NanoGo, a new multipurpose case for the iPod nano. The $30 case features a carabiner clip, wristlet strap, integrated cord management, and a clear ID compartment and an additional area to store cash or credit cards. The NanoGo is made of leather-feel polyurethane (PU) material and comes in black with red detail and hot pink with white detail.

Free ABC.com shows outperform iTunes downloads

ABC has announced that its prime-time shows were viewed more than 11 million times on its website during the network’s free online pilot program. In one month, the ad-supported ABC.com TV show trial outperformed the results ABC parent company Disney has seen in its nine-month agreement with Apple. Disney said that since last October, it has sold more than 6 million downloads of shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost on the iTunes Music Store. The company said the test program will end on June 30th and will be relaunched in the Fall.

Apple begins audit of iPod factory conditions

Apple said today that it has begun a “thorough audit” of the Chinese iPod factory operated by Foxconn, which recently came under fire for poor working conditions. “Apple has begun a thorough audit of the manufacturing plant operated by Foxconn in Longhua, China,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. The audit will look at “employee working and living conditions, interviews of employees and managers, compliance with overtime and wage regulations, and other areas as necessary to insure adherence to Apple’s supplier code of conduct,” Dowling said. Foxconn denies any wrongdoing. “Foxconn’s employment practices are completely in accordance with the requirements of Shenzhen labor supervision departments and the Shenzhen Labor Supervision Bureau can come to our factory to carry out inspections,” Foxconn spokeswoman Miss He said.

Mix: MicroMemo, Advance Auto Parts, iPopMyBaby, 50 Cent

XtremeMac has added a white version of its MicroMemo audio recorder for fifth-generation iPods. “In response to consumer interest, we have decided to make MicroMemo available in white as well as black,” said the company. “The white units will ship approximately 4-6 weeks after the first black units begin shipping. Both the white and black versions are now available for pre-order via our website.”

Advance Auto Parts is now offering free iPod-compatible car repair “how-to” videos. The video clinics show viewers how to perform a variety of maintenance tasks, including replacing brake pads, changing oil or installing shocks and struts.

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