Apple iTunes 8 Released


via DVICE by Charlie White on 9/9/08


Apple announced a new version of iTunes media playing and shopping software today, taking it up from version to version 8. Headlining the new release is a new sidebar Apple calls “Genius,” a software routine that’s also in the company’s latest music players that can automatically make a playlist by watching what songs you listen to most. It lets you pick a song, and then it builds a list of similar tunes. Its intelligence is enhanced if you choose to send data about your listening habits to Apple’s mother ship, where that’s compared to the preferences of scads of other users. What about your privacy? Steve Jobs says it’ll all be kept confidential.

Sounds great, but it’s not anything new. You can get a similar routine from free web-based music service Pandora Radio, with the main difference being that you don’t have to buy or steal any tunes to use it. The field of apps containing similar features might become less crowded, though, if Pandora is sunk by record company honchos and their accomplices.

Those of us addicted to HD video will like the fact that Apple has finally added HD capability to iTunes (just in time for NBC to add a slew of HD shows back into the iTunes store). So now you don’t have to have an Apple TV to buy, rent and watch HD content from Apple. Standard-def shows that are normally $1.99 will be $2.99 in HD. The iTunes 8.0 software will be available for free download today.

Your first look at BeeJive for iPhone: consider every other IM app dead and buried

via Boy Genius Report by The Boy Genius on 8/27/08

If you haven’t dabbled in the goodness that is BeeJive (formally JiveTalk), you are really missing out. Creators of the best IM program for the BlackBerry devices (this isn’t up for debate, ok?), we were ecstatic when we found out they were making an official iPhone application. Let’s start it off by saying MobileChat, Palringo, and yes, even AIM’s official application, sit down. You are done. Finished. Even in its beta state, it’s going to take a whole lot to knock BeeJive off the podium. It’s the most stable IM application we’ve ever used on the iPhone, it supports every single IM service under the sun, and does so in an awesome and clean user interface. Let’s not forget functionality, though. What good is an IM app that never works? We’re pleased to report that BeeJive handles connections with ease. You can specify your timeout time in the settings, and the application will continue to receive messages when the app is closed. As soon as you launch it, your missed messages are there. They even went as far as to include background notification support, so as soon as Apple flips that switch, notification sounds and badges will be pushed to you instantly. Again, this is a beta version, but even now, it’s the best IM application to use. Ok, you’re sold. When can you get it and how much? We’re not able to provide you with a release date or pricing at the moment, but it shouldn’t be too long before you can get your hands on BeeJive’s IM application for the iPhone. Want to check it out? Hit up the gallery for some shots!

Click on over to our BeeJive iPhone application gallery!

Apple tells Windows iTunes users not to install Vista

apple's itunes on vista warningApple has been warning Windows users of iTunes to wait until the next upgrade before installing Microsoft’s new Vista Operating System. Apple has come across a number of compatibility issues that may cause issues between the iTunes player, iPod, and Vista. Problems that might occur include not being able to play music or videos purchased from the iTunes store, issues with syncing content and calendars, and sluggish runtimes.

Geesh! This makes me want to run out and grab Vista. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited that Microsoft launched Vista after all these years, but we all knew there would be issues. This little tidbit from Apple just makes me want to wait a little while longer before running the install since I don’t think I would be able to live without a properly functioning iTunes player.

Apple has said that it might not affect all Windows users, but there are some serious concerns that it is not going to recommend the install. Look out for a new iTunes update though. Apple is planning to release a version that will correct any compatibility issues.

Below is Apple’s iTunes, version 7.0.2 and earlier, on Vista compatibility issue list:

  • iTunes Store purchases may not play when upgrading to Windows Vista from Windows 2000 or XP.
  • iPod models with the “Enable Disk Use” option turned off may be unable to update or restore iPod software, and make changes to iPod settings.
  • iPod models configured to Auto Sync and have the “Enable Disk Use” option turned off may require being ejected and reconnected to resync.
  • Ejecting an iPod from the Windows System Tray using the “Safely Remove Hardware” feature may corrupt your iPod. To always safely eject an iPod, choose Eject iPod from the Controls menu within iTunes.
  • Cover Flow animation may be slower than expected.
  • Contacts and calendars will not sync with iPod.

Apple has come up with a list or steps for Windows iTunes users to do that are still planning on upgrading to Vista, accessible here.

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Apple TV deletes DMA deficiencies

When Apple first released details about what is now called Apple TV, I wrote that it would create a DVR dilemma for the Cupertino company, one that it decided by bypassing DVR functionality (at least for now). The result will be a product that avoids many setup foibles and complexities of digital video recorders while allowing use of the increasingly versatile streamlined Apple Remote. There are three main reasons why Apple’s digital media adapter will trump its predecessors, but it may not yet be enough to catapult digital content into the living room the way the iPod did into our pockets.

First from a technology perspective, Apple TV is one of the first digital media adapters to support the draft 802.11n standard. If the PCs from which it is obtaining media also have this fast a connection, Apple TV should be able to obtain digital content much faster than previous products. 802.11n should certainly be fast enough for standard-definition compressed video and reliable enough to carry movie trailers from Apple’s Web site without stuttering.

However, as good as 802.11n is, few if any unlicensed wireless technologies are completely immune to interference and range limitations, which is why the inclusion of a hard drive is a great boon for this device class. As I wrote when I looked at Brookstone’s hard disk-based SongCube last fall, there are many advantages to using a “sync and store” scenario for digital content devices on a home network. These address the reliability and performance of local storage while eliminating the need to manually update a device with the latest content. Managing this cache, however, can require a bit of configuration; Apple will need to make some tradeoffs here.

The second advantage Apple TV will have over other digital media adapters is commercial video content, or at least easy access to it. Because Apple has become the leading seller of Hollywood TV shows (followed by the recently launched Xbox Live video service), consumers can queue up TV shows or movie purchases and have them delivered to the big screen. Apple is clearly hoping to jump-start a virtuous circle here, in which the availability of a clear path to the television spurs demand for digital content, which spurs demand for AppleTV units.

It’s a more direct relationship than Apple has enjoyed with the iPod, which didn’t rely on the iTunes store for its meteoric rise. The Walkman provided a clear model for the success of the iPod. There is no such precedent for Apple TV and consumers have yet to express the collective need to move PC-based content into their living rooms. In fact, in some ways the Apple TV model reverses that of the iPod, and is one in which digital content purchases will have more weight in spurring device sales than vice versa.

Third, AppleTV will enjoy distribution in Apple’s phenomenally successful retail stores. Previous DMAs have proved flummoxing to retailers that wrestle with whether to put them in the networking or AV departments. Demonstrating AppleTV effectively may not be simple even for Apple, but its retail stores’ simpler focus and knack for attracting those interested in the digital lifestyle should help AppleTV’s entry in the fledgling category.

Unlike the iPod (but like the iPhone), Apple TV will be cross-platform from its first day on the market, continuing Apple’s embrace of the tremendous base of Windows users. But there will be other requirements that the first iPod didn’t have — broadband and a home network, the latter of which exists in about a third or fewer American households. In suck homes, AppleTV will test whether the challenge to bridge the PC and TV has been due to lack of design, lack of content, lack of appropriate shelf space or, in Apple’s worst case, lack of interest.

FairGame: Un-DRM your iTunes music with iMovie

FairGameWe’ve known for awhile that functionality built into iMovie could strip the DRM from music purchased from the iTunes Music Store, but the process wasn’t exactly point-and-click. Now, thanks to the wonder of AppleScript, that process has been streamlined, and you’re only a few clicks away from listening to your whole music collection on your non-Apple device. FairGame is a free Mac app from Seidai Software that will convert the songs you select in iTunes to an open format. It’s not lightning-quick–about 40 seconds for every minute of music–but it’s free and gets the job done.

[Via Boing Boing]

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Motorola ROKR E6 Passes FCC, Linux Fanboys Throw Awkward High Fives


The Motorola ROKR E6, or E690 as the engineers call it, was just approved by the FCC, much to Linux fans’ delight. It will follow up older ROKR phones, possibly with iTunes capabilities, and will run Motorola’s Linux OS.

The phone will have a touchscreen instead of a keypad, and will be loaded with a 2-megapixel camera, FM transmitter, and stereo Bluetooth capabilities. The iTunes integration seems like a long shot, seeing as this runs Linux. But, it does have GSM capabilities, which means it may be in your Cingular-stained hands someday soon. If you’re looking for a break from the “me too” pretty, but low functionality thin phones, this may be the one for you.

FCC Filing [FCC via Crunchgear]