While we won’t be seeing the heavily redesigned iTunes 11 until October, Apple has unveiled a new update ready for its roster of new devices, not to mention the incoming iOS 6. The refresh will work with the fresh-off-the-production-line iPod Nano and Shuffle hardware — but that’s the extent of what’s new in the 165MB download. You can grab it at the source below.
At long last, the iPhone 5. We just got our hands on Apple’s latest smartphone following its unveiling in San Francisco, and suffice it to say, it’s a beautiful thing. Some might say we’ve been waiting for this moment since October 4th of last year, but another crowd may say that the real next-gen iPhone has been on the burner for much longer. Indeed, this is the first iPhone since June of 2010 to showcase an entirely new design, but it’s obvious that Apple’s not going to deviate far when it comes to aesthetics.
Apple followers will aptly recall Steve Jobs’ quote in July of 2010 — you know, that one about “no one” wanting a big phone, with current CEO Tim Cook seated just feet from Steve as the phrase was uttered. Now, however, Apple’s inching ever closer to that very realm, with an elongated 4-inch display that enables new apps to take advantage of more pixels (1,136 x 640), while legacy apps can still operate within a familiar space. The phone itself doesn’t feel too much different than the iPhone 4 and 4S; yes, it’s a bit taller, but by keeping the width the same, you’ll utilize a very familiar grasp to hold it.
In typical Apple fashion, even the finest details have been worked over tirelessly. The metal feels downright elegant to the touch, and the same line we’ve said time and time again applies here: there’s no doubting the premium fit and finish when you clutch one of these things. Yeah, the headphone port’s now on the bottom, but avid Galaxy Nexus iPod touch users shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting.
The mobile Google Drive app just keeps getting better and better. Are we ready to ditch the desktop web app for its iOS and Android package? Hardly, but with ever decimal point upgrade the disparity between the two keeps getting smaller. The latest round of updates finally delivers document editing to your iPad and iPhone, including the ability to format text and see live changes made by your collaborators. You can also now view presentations, including speaker notes. The Android version also got a few nice tweaks today, most notable being the ability to see and reply to comments on docs. Google is also promising that real-time updates will be coming to spreadsheets very soon — which should excite on-the-go number crunchers. Check out the video after the break.
There’s a stack of different plugs, cables and connectors aimed at piping sound into your iPad, but when studio-stalwart Focusrite makes one, we pay attention. The iTrack Solo is a two channel interface compatible with the iPad, as well as your Mac or PC, offering mobile recording all the way up to 24-bit / 96kHz. The onboard preamp is the same as used in the brand’s flagship Liquid Saffire 56 interface, and there’s phantom power for microphones. As well as the mic-in there’s a quarter-inch input for guitars etc., as well as a chunky volume control for monitoring. Front “halo” indicators change from green to red if your recording levels go too high, and the aluminum casing should prevent it from getting damaged at the bottom of any gig bag. Once you’ve created a masterpiece in Garageband (or other recording app), you can use the line-level phono outputs to run it through your sound system of choice. Sound like something you can get down to? You’ll be able to get your hands on the iTrack Solo starting next month, and it’ll set you back $160 at your local dealer — in the meantime, you can jam on the PR after the break.
Blue Microphones Mikey Digital portable microphone for iOS devices hits shelves, offers mobile tracking for $100
The second of Blue Microphone’s CES trio has broken cover. Mikey Digital, a mobile recording peripheral for the iPad and iPhone is now available at select retailers. If you’re in need of a refresher, the retooled version of the original Mikey tracking unit connects to you Apple smartphone or tablet via the dock connector. The mic houses the same two condenser capsules found on the more robust Snowball and Yeti USB mics while sporting built-in sensitivity control and CD-quality analog / digital conversion. A 3.5mm audio jack is included for monitoring or either stereo line-in or mic-in — if you’re looking to tack on a few more gadgets when recording with the 230-degree rotating kit. USB pass-thru allows for charging while in the midst of a session and a LED clipping indicator keeps tabs on volume levels to ensure the best results. If all of that sounds too good to pass up, the Mikey Digital will hit your wallet for $99.99 just as soon at you can enter your shipping info.
According to Reuters, Tim Cook and Larry Page have been having behind the scenes chats over the last week or so, most notably about the ongoing patent proxy war between the two companies. According to sources, the Apple and Google CEOs spoke last week over the phone and are planning a meeting where, hopefully, they can hash out some of their differences. Discussions are also apparently taking place at lower levels, which could indicate this is a concerted effort to put to rest the tiresome battles over intellectual property. Unfortunately, details about what exactly the two talked about, and how broad those conversations were are unknown. But, it’s definitely a good sign that the two sides are talking. Perhaps the relatively new corporate heads can avoid going completely “thermonuclear,” as Cook’s predecessor infamously threatened.
Update: All Things D has gotten confirmation from its own sources, and points out that Google is “wearing several hats here,” including one as the owner of Motorola Mobility, which is currently suing Apple. However, we’re still holding out hope that the licensing deal struck between those two companies is a sign of better days to come.
We haven’t seen weather stations garner the same level of clever mobile integration as other pieces of household gear — like, say, thermostats. Netatmo wants its newly available Urban Weather Station to inject a similar dose of life into a category that some of us still associate with the thermometer by the window. The aluminum tube design certainly gives a fresh look to the WiFi-linked indoor and outdoor sensors, but the real trick is the matching iOS (and eventually Android) app. It’s for more than just gauging the wisdom of biking to work: the free app tracks historical trends and shares them with fellow users in a network that Netatmo hopes will provide a better understanding of wider-scale and longer-term trends. The sensors go beyond just obvious air quality, humidity, pressure and temperature conditions as well, flagging noise levels and warning if the CO2 levels are high enough to warrant airing out the house. The $179 price for the Urban Weather Station isn’t trivial, but neither is knowing just how well you can cope with your environment.
There’s no visual overhaul as it just did yesterday with Facebook Messages, but Facebook has now announced an update for its iOS app that promises some fairly big improvements of its own. According to the company, the app was “rebuilt from the ground up,” and is now twice as fast as the previous version. That includes a faster opening of the app itself, smoother and faster scrolling, and photos that are said to load “instantly” — changes that are largely due to a switch from the old HTML5 code to iOS’ native programming language. Unfortunately, we’re not able to test those claims ourselves just yet, but Facebook says that the update (version 5.0) will be available later today.
Update: The app is now available to download from the App Store, and it does indeed appear to be quite a bit speedier.
First ooVoo opened up four-way video chats on Facebook, and now the video calling service is doing the same for its Android and iOS apps. The company just updates both applications so that you can view up to four video streams at once, though you can carry on text chats with as many as 12 people. That’s true of both platforms, though the Android version is admittedly getting a few more changes. The newest version of the app brings deeper integration with Google services, plugging into the native Android address book to show missed calls, as well as a list of which friends are available to chat. To that end, Android users get not just the app, but also a widget that displays these tidbits at a glance. Rounding out the list of improvements, the updates introduce push notifications as well as the ability to text chat in the middle of a video call.
If your company doesn’t have a camera with WiFi sharing somewhere in your lineup, many will say you’re not even in the photography game. Fujifilm is definitely playing: welcome the FinePix F800EXR, its first camera with wireless sharing as part and parcel of the experience. Its centerpiece is a free Photo Receiver app for Android and iOS devices that will catch as many 30 images at a time from an ad hoc WiFi camera link. The matching (if unceremoniously named) Camera Application can return the gesture by geotagging shots as well as finding existing photos on the map. Fujifilm will even pre-Instagram the photos through six new on-camera filters for those who can’t stand posting images online without at least some Lomo or tilt-shift effects thrown in.
As for the actual camera part of the camera, Fujifilm is keeping afloat in the competitive waters with a 16-megapixel, CMOS-based EXR sensor that can widen the dynamic range or lower the noise if sheer resolution isn’t all that vital. An equally noteworthy 20x (25-500mm equivalent) lens out in front will zoom in a lot closer than any phone camera — well, most of them. We’re otherwise looking at the technology we’d expect in a point-and-shoot of this class, such as full-resolution burst shooting at up to eight frames per second, 1080p video and a RAW mode for image quality sticklers. Stores should have the F800EXR in August for about $350, or about as much as the Galaxy Nexus that just might serve as its companion.
The last time we heard about Next Issue, the all-you-can-read magazine store was launching on Android, with an iOS version said to be coming “soon.” Three months later, the startup’s made good on its promise: the storefront is now up and running on iOS, with an iPad app going live in the App Store today. If you’re not familiar with the way Next Issue works, it’s angling to be the Netflix of digital magazines, with a monthly subscription getting you unfettered access to a library of 39 titles. In brief, the fees break down to $10 per month for all the monthly and bi-weekly mags, and $15 if you want all that plus access to tabloids and other weeklies. One last thing: the free app is just the magazine reader; you’ll need to download the apps through Next Issue’s browser-based store.
Now, if you’re wondering what sorts of magazines will be represented in that list of 40-some-odd titles, know that every bigwig in magazine publishing is on board: Conde Nast, Time, Hearst, Meredith and News Corp. That means the The New Yorker is on board, as are Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated and Popular Mechanics. In an interview, a company rep told us that Next Issue Media plans to double the catalog by year’s end, as well as ink deals with additional publishers. The biggest caveat, it seems, is that content providers have the prerogative to make a title available on one platform but not the other, so don’t count on the iOS and Android apps offering identical selections. Feeling a bit tentative? The company is offering new customers a 30-day free trial, and we’ve also got not one, but four (yes, four) demo videos after the break.
Facebook App Center goes globetrotting with 7 new countries, blankets all of the English-speaking world
Facebook’s App Center is having its passport stamped quite a lot lately. Just days after the HTML5 app portal set foot in the UK, it’s making the leap to seven more countries. Brazil, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey will all get a crack at using web apps both on the desktop as well as in the Android and iOS native clients. The new group is coming onboard in the next few weeks. In the meantime, countries where English makes a frequent appearance — Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the US — now supply the App Center for every single user. To help speed along the virtual customs claims, Facebook is trotting out a translation tool to get developers on the right track. It shouldn’t be long before App Center is a mainstay of the entire Facebook world, even though we may end up cursing the company after hour three of a Jetpack Joyride marathon.
Today’s Google I/O keynote was, as expected, all about the Chrome. Easily one of the biggest among the company’s laundry list of announcements surrounding the browser-turned-operating-system has to be its arrival on iOS, bringing the functionality that an ever-growing number of users have come to know and love to the iPhone and iPad. The list includes, perhaps most notably, its cross-device syncing, ensuring that you can pick up where you left off on the desktop version of the program, taking your pages and tabs with you on the go. So, is Google’s fancy mobile browser enough to get us off mobile Safari altogether? Check out some impressions of the iPhone version of the app after the break.
Virtually every corner of the Google universe is being touched at Google I/O, and that now includes Google Drive. A version 2 update to the Drive SDK gives Android and iOS developers the option of building the cloud storage into their mobile apps, whether it’s downloads, uploads or on-the-spot edits. The programming interface has likewise been expanded as a whole to handle everyday file duties, such as conversions, copying and revision handling. Web-only users are taken care of with support for embedded shares and opening Google documents in any given software that will take the exportable formats. The updated Drive SDK is ready to go, with a flood of apps either coming or already here — if you want to hop on the bandwagon, just take a peek at the source link.
We’ve had some indication that podcasts would be receiving an app of their own with iOS 6, but it looks like we won’t have to wait that long after all. Apple has just released a new standalone app dubbed simply “Podcasts,” which is available for iOS devices running version 5.1 or later. It expectedly offers a variety of ways to browse and discover podcasts among the thousands available (including a new Top Stations feature that groups select podcasts by category), as well as the ability to either stream episodes or download them for offline use. The app is also optimized for the iPad in addition to the iPhone, and it’s thankfully able to sync podcasts with iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC (just be sure to upgrade to iTunes 10.6.3 first). No charge for this one, either.
The wait between iOS 6′s unveiling and its planned fall release just got a little bit shorter, as Apple has just pushed out beta 2. If you’re in the developer crowd that can try it out, don’t expect any revelations: the primarily focus is on the bug fixes that nudge the software closer to a final release. As in past years, multiple additional betas are expected between now and the time the iOS 6 is ready to come to the general public, so there’s likely still lots of room left for Apple to polish the release to a shine. Those paid up on their developer accounts can grab the update through the usual means and see just how much luster has been added since WWDC.
Today Amazon has launched a new Cloud Player application for iOS devices. Enabling users to stream, download, and manage their music in the cloud.The new Cloud Player app also eliminates the need for users to download files before playing them.
Providing full access to users Cloud Player music libraries, as well as seamlessly adding playlists currently on iPhone or iPod touch devices, and can be access from your PC or Mac and allows you to upload your music collection from iTunes or your other folders.
The service provides users with 5GB of free storage, to upload audio media to. Steve Boom, Vice President of Digital Music for Amazon explains:
“Customers tell us that they want access to all of their music, wherever they are, and on all of the devices they use,”-“By bringing Cloud Player to iPhone and iPod touch, we now have the most widely compatible cloud playback solution available, giving our customers the ability to buy once and enjoy their music everywhere.”
The new Amazon Cloud Player application is now available to download from the iTunes App store for free.