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iPod FM transmitters to be legal before Christmas in UK

iPod FM transmitters are set to become legal in the UK before Christmas, according to Ofcom, the regulating body for the UK communications industries. “After years of campaigning, Ofcom has taken its most significant step yet to legalize the use and sale of FM transmitters for iPods in the UK,” reports Macworld UK. “The regulator today published draft regulations that will make use of these devices—which stream music from an iPod at a very low range using the FM frequency—legal in the UK. Ofcom explains that it proposes to permit the use of these FM transmitters on a ‘license-exempt basis’. Final changes will come into effect in December 2006.”

Apple details stock grant irregularities, consequences

Following an independent investigation into the company’s past stock option granting practices, Apple Computer today confirmed that grants made on 15 dates appeared to have been improperly pre-dated, skirting proper accounting principles and potentially violating Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. During periods of stock value appreciation, pre-dated grants enable recipients to collect compensation greater than what they were actually entitled to receive. According to the company, the grants in question were made between 1997 and January 2002, with no findings of misconduct by any member of Apple’s current management team. In “a few instances,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs was said to have been aware of the dates, but was neither aware of the accounting implications of the pre-dating nor the recipient of any benefits from the grants.

In a statement, Jobs apologized for the problems, calling them “completely out of character for Apple,” and promised “to ensure that this never happens again.” The company simultaneously announced that former Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson has resigned from the company’s Board of Directors, and noted that it was providing “all details” regarding the actions of “two former officers” to the SEC regarding their actions in connection with the grant problems.

iSkin teases 2G nano cases

imageFollowing up on the success of its previously released Duo case (iLounge rating: A) for iPod nano, iSkin has today launched a teaser page for a new case for the second-generation nano (shown), revealing what appears to be a clear plastic shell outside of a silicone rubber insert geared towards the color of the aluminum iPod inside. A company representative initially referred to the case - which bears a lot of similarities to the company’s Claro for 5G iPods - as a Duo, but has since said that the new product could have another name.

The company similarly teased a new case called SiLo for iPod nano, which promises to combine a leather exterior with a silicone inner layer, shown in four black-and-color combinations.

Soundflavor DJ spins iTunes

Soundflavor today released Soundflavor DJ, digital music software that helps iTunes users create playlists, rediscover the songs in their library, and discover new music based on songs that they already like. Soundflavor DJ is powered by the Music Recommendation Engine and song recommendations are based on more than six years of research that includes the analysis of hundreds of thousands of songs, spanning nearly every genre of music. Soundflavor DJ works as a companion to iTunes and is available for free to Windows XP users. A Mac version, as well as support for additional digital music software such as Windows Media Player, is planned.

Ultimate Ears launches triple-driver earphones

Ultimate Ears has released the triple.fi 10 Pro earphones (iLounge Rating: A-) featuring three individually balanced armature speakers per ear, customizable ear tips, noise isolation, flexible ear loops, low friction cable, sound attenuator, earphone cleaning tool and metallic travel case. The triple.fi 10 Pro comes in blue metallic, with a 2 year warranty and costs $399.

The first 1,000 Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro earphones will come in a Collector’s Edition kit and can be pre-ordered immediately for shipping in late October. Each collectors pair will come in an engraved mini-travel case marked with the limited edition number and also ships with a larger engraved metal case that can also hold an iPod. Each of the first 1,000 units will also come with a certificate of authenticity and a limited-edition poster, with accessories including a five-piece fit kit to adapt the earphones to different ear shapes, 1/4-inch adapter jack, cleaning tool and attenuator.

NotePods releases audio study aids for students

InterLingua Educational Publishing announced today the availability of its NotePods collection of audio downloads for iPods and MP3 players. Created to help students with their exams and term papers, NotePods sell for $1.99 each. In addition to the audio summaries, students can also download text versions of the summaries which can be read on their computers or iPods, and they can also download the full text version of many, but not all, of the books and plays, also for $1.99 each. Also, to help students focus their studies, a “Test Questions Blog” is being added to the NotePods website, so students can review typical exam questions prior to taking a test.

“NotePods are audio summaries of books and plays by Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen and other required authors that can be played on a student’s iPod, MP3 player or computer,” says Jack Bernstein, President of InterLingua Educational Publishing. “The NotePods are being written by university teachers and recorded by professional actors,” says Bernstein, “so they should be accurate, comprehensive, and easy to listen to.

Griffin Centerstage, Disko cases released

Griffin Technology has released two new iPod 5G video cases. The Centerstage case features a clear plastic shell, anodized aluminum flip lid that opens into an easel stand. Centerstage is available now in silver, blue, black, or hot pink aluminum flipstand and costs $24.99. The Disko features a polycarbonate case with LED lights which are motion controlled and turns on with movement. There are 3 light colors and 5 lighting sequences. Disko is available now in black or white and costs $29.99. See iLounge First Looks for more Disko photos.

Mix: Jobsnote, Creative Xmod, Q4 Results, Japanapster

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the 2007 Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, California. As always, the keynote is scheduled for the morning before the show floor opens to the public, on January 9, 2007.

Creative Labs has announced Xmod, its first audio accessory to be touted via press release as iPod-compatible. Xmod claims to enhance compressed digital music to higher-than-CD-quality audio with “virtual surround sound,” but is primarily geared towards PC and Mac users; it requires a power adapter to be connected when used with portable devices such as the iPod.

iLive launches Home Docking System for iPod

iLive has released the Home Docking System for iPod featuring a DVD/CD/CDR/CDRW/digital audio CD/JPEG CD player, iPod charger, digital AM/FM stereo radio, remote control, digital clock, stereo speakers, and a 4 preset equalizer. The audio/video ports include composite video output, stereo audio outputs, stereo headphone output and an auxiliary input. You can also charge, amplify and remotely control an iPod 5G, iPod photo, iPod, iPod mini, and iPod nano. An iPod shuffle can only be charged and amplified. The Home Docking System fits all iPod models, comes in black or white and is available now for $129.99.

DVD Jon reverse-engineers FairPlay DRM

Famous for creating DeCSS software to remove encryption on Macrovision protected DVDs, Jon Lech Johansen (aka DVD Jon) has reportedly reverse-engineered Apple’s FairPlay DRM (Digital Rights Management) software, and is licensing it to any company that wants it. Using the reverse-engineered code, a company can purchase a license and make their content (music or videos) play on Apple’s iTunes and iPod products. According to the report, Johansen set up a meeting with Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, who, not knowing that Jon would later decide offer the FairPlay license to companies, warned that while Apple was not a litigious company, other tech firms might not take kindly to whatever he might be up to. [via GigaOM]

Difusi releases new iPod cases

Difusi today released two new leather wallet cases for the iPod nano and iPod 5G video (30, 60 and 80GB). The videoWallet ($25) for iPod 5G features reinforced padding, snap-closure, full-body ClearGaurd protection film, cleaning cloth, and necklace lanyard. The nanoValet rev2 ($20) for iPod nano features a belt-loop, Caribiner clip, necklace lanyard and full-body ClearGaurd protection film.

Mix: iTunes videos, Inventec, iPhone, Podcasts

Apple may be up-sampling some QVGA videos on the iTunes Store to the new, larger 640x480 resolution instead of re-encoding from the original source. “You might be paying through the nose for a file that doubles the pixels and megabytes, but severely lessens the general quality of the picture,” reports Engadget.

Apple will reportedly use Inventec for the majority of its fifth-generation iPod orders rather than using both Inventec and Quanta Computer equally. In the fourth quarter, Inventec is scheduled to ship one million 5G iPods a month while Quanta is expected to ship 300,000-400,000 units a month.

Podcast Ready releases myPodder with iPod support

Podcast Ready, the company recently hit with a trademark notice from Apple, has released a new version of its podcast management software that adds support for iPods. myPodder 1.6 beta, available as a free download for Windows and Mac OS X, provides “complete podcast portability, unlike other podcast-enabling technologies that are available only on dedicated desktop computers,” according to the developer. “Users can plug a compatible device into any Internet-connected computer and instantly access myPodder to update, subscribe to and manage their favorite audio and video podcasts. Podcast Ready also provides a simple-to-use podcast directory and one-click podcast subscription.”

PodsPlus offers TopSkin case for 2G iPod nano

PodsPlus has announced a new version of its TopSkin silicone case for the second-generation iPod nano. Available in five colors to match the colors of the nano, the TopSkin ($12) features a play-through Click Wheel covering, a hard plastic screen protector, and a lanyard neck strap.

Report: Apple, Wal-Mart in talks over movie alliance

Apple is currently in discussions with Wal-Mart over an alliance that would allow the retail giant to profit from iTunes Store video downloads, according to a report by Variety. “A deal could take the form of a digital download ‘coupon’ that would allow consumers to buy movies, TV shows or music on iTunes with Apple paying the retail giant a percentage of the proceeds,” the industry magazine reports. “What’s in it for Apple? Since studios (except for Disney, of course) have so far turned a cold shoulder to iTunes because of Wal-Mart’s demands, the computer giant would then gain access to titles from every major.” Wal-Mart, which accounts for 40% of all U.S. DVD sales, reportedly warned Hollywood studios earlier this year that there would be consequences if they signed deals with Apple.

iSkin Claro case now available for 60GB/80GB iPods

iSkin today announced the release of a new version of its iSkin Claro case for 60GB/80GB fifth-generation iPods. The dual-layer case consists of a clear polycarbonate hard case and a silicone case acting as a soft inner layer. The Claro ($40) features anti-scratch ClaroCoat technology and a belt clip that doubles as a stand. The Claro’s silicone layers, called Claro slims, are also available in two multi-color packs ($20) with three different colors in each.

Apple, mobile firms agree on Britain music royalties

Apple and mobile operators have agreed on digital music royalty rates for song writers and music publishers in Britain to partly resolve a dispute. “Under terms of the deal, Apple and four mobile operators will pay 8 percent of gross revenue, excluding VAT, for all music sold digitally excluding ringtones,” reports Reuters. “A lower 6.5 percent rate was agreed for non-on-demand services such as streaming. The deal was announced in a joint statement by the trade group representing record labels, BPI, and MCPS-PRS Alliance, which fixes and collects royalties on behalf of the composers, song writers and music publishers.”

GizMac offers Titan Gear attachments for 2G iPod nano

GizMac has announced its Titan Gear attachments for second-generation iPod nanos. The Titan Gear package ($25) includes a carabiner clip, armband, belt clip and lanyard for the new nano. “Apple developed colorful and strong aluminum bodies for the second generation nano,” says the company. “So GizMac engineered a way to use our special attachments to securely and fashionably carry the new nano several different ways while showing it off at the same time.”

Marware Sportsuit Convertible for 2G iPod nano debuts

Marware has announced a new version of is Sportsuit Convertible armband case for the second-generation iPod nano. The new Sportsuit Convertible features Orca Skin neoprene outer construction, removable slip-on protective lid, clear plastic screen and Click Wheel protector, access to all controls and ports, Velcro closure, and low-profile belt clip. The Sportsuit Convertible for the second-generation iPod nano is priced at $30.

iTunes update hints at phone with video, photo support

The internal code of the iTunes 7.0.1 update released yesterday reportedly contains numerous mentions of a mobile phone that supports photo and video viewing—two features that Motorola’s current iTunes-enabled ROKR and SLVR lack. The code hints at either new iTunes-compatible phones from a company such as Motorola, or at the impending release of the long-rumored Apple “iPhone.” According to Gizmodo, text strings in the code include: “Are you sure you do not want to manually manage music and videos on your mobile phone?”; “The mobile phone is synced with another photo library or folder. Do you want to sync with your photo library and replace all existing photos and albums on this mobile phone with those from your photo library?” and “Are you sure you want to sync TV shows? All existing TV shows on the mobile phone will be replaced with TV shows from your iTunes library.”

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