News

Amazon launches 69 Cent MP3 Store

Amazon.com, which is a distant No. 2 to Apple Inc. as a retailer of downloadable music, has upped the ante or, rather, lowered its prices to compete with iTunes.

The Seattle online company is now pricing select top-selling tunes for 69 cents, down from 89 cents previously. Many of the songs in Amazon's 69-cent store sell for $1.29 on iTunes, including Katy Perry's "E.T.", Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."

Amazon, which in March launched a cloud music locker service, has tried over the years to chip away at Apple's dominance in the digital music download business by pricing most of its songs below what they go for at iTunes. So far, however, Amazon's market share remains where it has been the last two years, around 10%, while Apple continues to have about 70% of the digital download music market, according to Russ Crupnick, digital music analyst at the NPD Group, which no longer publicly releases market share data.

New Mac Trojan Horse masquerades as Virus Scanner

By and large, Mac users have been able to escape the onslaught of malware that their Windows counterparts suffer from. But every once in a while, a piece of nastiness slips into the wild. The latest offender is a Trojan horse by the name of MAC Defender, which purports to be a virus-scanning application. In fact, it does little more than encourage users to give up their credit card information.

Identified by security firm Intego, MAC Defender spreads via search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning—that is, it uses commonly searched terms to get prominent placement in search engine results. So, users looking for legitimate protection against viruses on their Macs might be duped into downloading and installing MAC Defender instead.

As nefarious as MAC Defender might be, the level of concern over infection remains low: Users must be tricked into downloading and installing the program, as well as entering their administrator password

Adobe Lightroom adds Support for 13 more Cameras

Adobe announced the immediate availability of Lightroom 3.4 on Wednesday. The update for the pro-level photo management application for the Mac added Raw file support for 13 new digital cameras.

Along with Lightroom 3.4, Adobe also released Photoshop Camera Raw 6.4.

Apple releases the White iPhone 4

The white iPhone 4 has been promised by Apple for almost a year — today the announcement of its officially release arrived.

Apple said the white iPhone 4 would be available tomorrow at Apple’s retail stores, AT&T and Verizon Wireless stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. The white iPhone 4 will be available for $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model with a new two year agreement.

“The white iPhone 4 has finally arrived and it’s beautiful,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we’ve worked to get every detail right.”

Photosmith organizes Photos on iPad, syncs to Lightroom

Professional photographers who use Lightroom have one more excuse reason to swap an iPad for their MacBook while traveling. Squared Enterprises has released Photosmith, an iPad app for organizing your photos on the road before importing them into Lightroom.

Photosmith is a fairly full-featured photo organizer. Thanks to Apple’s Camera Connection Kit, it can import photos from most digital cameras, including many DSLRs. You can create collections, assign keywords, rate, label, and filter your photos. You can also set titles, captions, descriptions, and IPTC information, and you can even view EXIF data like ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop.

The top bullet point for many photographers, however, will be Photosmith’s compatibility with Lightroom, Adobe’s professional photo organizer and editor.

Apple accused in Suit of Tracking iPad, iPhone User Location

Apple Inc. was accused of invasion of privacy and computer fraud by two customers who claim in a lawsuit that the company is secretly recording movements of iPhone and iPad users.

Vikram Ajjampur, an iPhone user in Florida, and William Devito, a New York iPad customer, filed a suit April 22 in federal court in Tampa, Florida, seeking a judge’s order barring the alleged data collection.

“We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go,” Aaron Mayer, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said today in a telephone interview. “If you are a federal marshal you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one.”

Apple Reports Second Quarter Results

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2011 second quarter ended March 26, 2011. The Company posted record second quarter revenue of $24.67 billion and record second quarter net profit of $5.99 billion, or $6.40 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $13.50 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.07 billion, or $3.33 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 41.4 percent compared to 41.7 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 59 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs during the quarter, a 28 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 18.65 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 113 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 9.02 million iPods during the quarter, representing a 17 percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. The Company also sold 4.69 million iPads during the quarter.

“With quarterly revenue growth of 83 percent and profit growth of 95 percent, we’re firing on all cylinders,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year.”

TextExpander adds AppleScript Support

Smile Software announced the immediate availability of TextExpander 3.3 on Wednesday. The update for the abbreviation auto-expanding utility for Mac OS X added support using AppleScript to create and edit snippets and snippet groups.

Version 3.3 also added the ability to include backup, restore and logging options to the application toolbar, added the ability to include nested keypress macros in fill-in snippets, fixed several bugs, and more.

TextExpander 3.3 is priced at US$34.95 and is available for download at the Smile Software Website. The update is free for version 3.x users.

Amazon to launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.

Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer's annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.

Apple sues Samsung Electronics over 'Galaxy' Phone, Tab

Apple Inc. has filed suit against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. claiming the Korean electronics giant copied the look and feel of its popular iPhone smartphones and iPad tablet computers.

The lawsuit, filed on April 15 in the Northern District of California, alleged that Samsung's smartphones, such as the "Galaxy S 4G," "Epic 4G," "Nexus S" and its "Galaxy Tab" touchscreen tablet, violated Apple's intellectual property.

"Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," the lawsuit said.

Apple launches Apple Support Communities

Apple's support discussion forum has been a popular location for Mac users to interact with and get help from other Mac users. Last year, Apple announced that the forums would be evolving into a new social-based site called Apple Support Communities, but for the past seven months there has been no further information about the changes, until yesterday when new the Communities site went live.

The new support site is now very user-centric and has a different layout and feel to it, so if you have frequently used the Apple discussions you might initially be confused by the changes. However, the site's organization is still familiar.

Adobe patches latest Flash Zero Day Vulnerability

Adobe today patched a critical vulnerability in Flash Player that the company said criminals were already exploiting with malicious Microsoft Word and Excel documents.

On Monday, Adobe acknowledged the bug, said exploits were circulating, and promised to fix the flaw with an emergency update.

Today's update was Adobe's second rush patch in less than four weeks. The new version, Flash Player 10.2.159.1, is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris.

Adobe warns of New Critical Flash Security Flaw

Adobe issued a warning to Flash Player users that it has discovered another critical security flaw in its multimedia playback platform. The flaw impacts Flash Player for Mac, Windows, Linux Solaris and Android users and could potentially allow an attacker to gain control over the victim’s system.

According to Adobe Security Advisory ASPA11-02, the flaw impacts Flash Player 10.2.153.1 and earlier for Mac, Windows, Linux and Solaris users, version 10.2.154.25 for Google Chrome users, and 10.2.156.12 for Google Android OS users.

Adobe is working on a patch for the security flaw, but hasn’t said when the Flash Player update will be available. The patch for Acrobat and Adobe Reader users will be released as part of the company’s regularly scheduled quarterly security update set for June 14.

Eye-Fi Mobile X2 brings Camera, Smartphone Integration

On Tuesday, Eye-Fi released the latest model in its popular digital camera memory card line, the Eye-Fi Mobile X2.

Like earlier Eye-Fi cards, the Mobile X2 can send pictures to your computer or certain photo-sharing sites without the need for any cables. But the Mobile X2 also marks the addition of a powerful new feature, Direct Mode, which was first teased in January. Direct Mode allows users to connect their digital camera to their smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi, and then use an iOS or Android app to store the pictures, transfer them to other apps, or upload them wherever they like.

If you own one of Eye-Fi’s older X2 cards, don’t fret: You’ll reap the benefits of Direct Mode as well, thanks to a free update due later this week, alongside the release of the iOS and Android apps. In addition, Eye-Fi will be dropping the price of its X2 Pro card from $150 to $100.

Acorn 3 ships at $30 Introductory Price

A big whole number update for this popular Photoshop replacement, featuring Quickmask, magic erase, layer styles, rotating text and shapes, multi-stop + live gradients, gradients on shapes and text, stroked text, new filters and fonts, and more.

Acorn 3 is now available at the special introductory price of $30 (regularly $50). Acorn 3 is available from the Mac App Store or you can download a 14-day demo.

Apple announces Final Cut Pro X

On Tuesday, Apple previewed Final Cut Pro X, the newest version of the company's professional non-linear video editing software. The announcement came at the Final Cut Pro User Group Network Supermeet, being held in Las Vegas during the 2011 National Association of Broadcasters Show.

Apple says Final Cut Pro X has been rewritten from the ground up, with support for 64-bit, a user-interface redesign, and a whole host of new features. The software takes advantage of core Mac OS X features like Cocoa, Core Animation, Open CL, and Grand Central Dispatch to speed up and fine-tune performance.

In addition to a complete UI overhaul, Final Cut Pro X boasts a newly designed floating point linear color system, up-to-4K-resolution-independent playback, a magnetic timeline for keeping audio and video in sync, Compound Clips for easy video nesting, non-destructive color balancing, automatic audio cleanup, and Smart Collections for organizing clips.

Final Cut Pro X will be available this June from the Mac App Store for $299.

Apple Manufacturer Foxconn considers Brazil Plant

iPhone maker Foxconn Technology Group is considering investing $12 billion in Brazil, a move that could benefit clients such as Apple Inc looking to break into the world's No. 8 economy.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said on Tuesday her government is studying Foxconn's investment plan, the latest move by the manufacturer to expand its manufacturing operations beyond the booming southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Rising labour costs have forced many companies to set up operations in cheaper parts of China, but a Foxconn move into Brazil would help tech companies sidestep hefty import tariffs on products they sell in the South American country.

Steve Jobs Authorized Biography coming in 2012

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has finally agreed to participate in a book about his life.

Simon & Schuster announced Sunday that Walter Isaacson's "iSteve: The Book of Jobs" will be published in early 2012. Isaacson has been working on the long-rumored biography since 2009 and has interviewed Jobs, members of his family, colleagues at Apple and competitors.

Spokeswoman Tracey Guest of Simon & Schuster said no further details were available and that neither Jobs nor Isaacson would be commenting. Many Jobs biographies have been written, but not with his authorization.

Businessweek iPad Edition adds Pressure on Publishers

Most magazine publishers have declined to accept Apple's terms for selling subscriptions to their iPad editions, limiting themselves and their readers to more expensive issue-by-issue sales instead, but Bloomberg Businessweek has just joined the growing pocket of takers with an iPad edition that's available only by subscription.

Readers probably won't mind. Even though they can't buy an individual issue, a one-month subscription only costs $2.99, well below the $4.99 cover price for a single copy in print. Existing print subscribers receive access to the iPad edition at no extra charge. "Our interest is in building long-term relationships with subscribers," said Paul Bascobert, president of Bloomberg Businessweek and head of business operations for the Bloomberg Media Group.

Most magazines have rebuffed Apple's subscription system so far because it keeps subscribers' personal information from publishers, which dearly want it for marketing and other purposes, unless subscribers specifically authorize Apple to share it. But every big magazine that accepts Apple's subscription terms puts pressure on its competitors to do the same. Bloomberg Businessweek rival Fortune only sells its iPad edition one $4.99 issue at a time, for example, but now faces much lower-priced competitor for business readers.

Adobe debuts Creative Suite 5.5

In a radical departure from its traditional 18-month upgrade cycle, Adobe has announced Creative Suite 5.5, a new mid-cycle update of its major creative applications. Substantial upgrades to InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Premiere Pro, and After Effects accompany a new SDK for Photoshop CS5.

This signals a new strategy for Adobe, which at once lengthens the cycle of milestone releases from 18 months to 24 months, and introduces mid-cycle releases every 12 months for selected programs and suites. Which programs will be upgraded in the mid-cycle will vary depending on perceived customer need and the state of technical innovation.

The new versions of Adobe's creative programs, which will ship within 30 days, reflect the full-scale integration of tablet authoring into the creative workflow. This is in response to the transition away from paper-based publications to editorial and artistic content that is created and consumed on electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets. The proliferation of mobile apps, browser content, and digital magazines has inspired the company's accelerated concentration on HTML 5, video, mobile, and digital publishing tools.

With the new schedule comes a new pricing plan: Adobe’s new Subscription Editions program is designed to make its creative tools more affordable to the artists and designers who need them and to give new users—and those who need the software only for specific projects—more opportunities to work with the apps.

AT&T iPhone 4 Users Report over Twice as many Dropped Calls

The latest mobile phone user survey from market research firm ChangeWave reveals similar levels of overall satisfaction between iPhone 4 users on Verizon versus those on AT&T. However, Verizon iPhone 4 users seem to suffer from dropped calls far less often than their AT&T peers, supporting early anecdotal evidence from Verizon iPhone users.

"In terms of overall satisfaction the two iPhones are virtually indistinguishable," according to ChangeWave vice president of research Paul Carton. In March, 82 percent of Verizon iPhone 4 users reported being very satisfied with the device, while 80 percent of AT&T iPhone users reported the same. Only two percent reported any dissatisfaction with the device on either carrier.

That doesn't mean users on Verizon don't see at least one significant benefit: fewer dropped calls. Verizon iPhone 4 users reported a dropped call rate of 1.8 percent. AT&T iPhone 4 users, in contrast, had a dropped call rate of 4.8 percent—more than double that of Verizon iPhone 4 users.

That difference isn't limited to iPhones, though.

EyeTV for iOS 1.2.3 Released, introduces AirPlay Support

Today, Elgato released version 1.2.3 of its iOS EyeTV software. Now available for download from iTunes, the US$4.99 EyeTV app finally adds the highly-requested AirPlay support so many customers have been looking for.

EyeTV's iOS app works with your home computer, allowing you to view programs recorded by hardware connected to your Macintosh.

iPad 2 tops Consumer Reports Tablet Ratings

Consumer Reports on Tuesday said that Apple’s iPad topped its ratings of 10 tablets.

“So far, Apple is leading the tablet market in both quality and price, which is unusual for a company whose products are usually premium priced,” said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor at Consumer Reports. “However, it’s likely we’ll see more competitive pricing in tablets as other models begin to hit the market.”

The consumer watch-dog said the iPad’s closest competitor is the Motorola Xoom.

Pandora discloses Federal Grand Jury Apps Probe

Online music service Pandora Media Inc., which has filed papers for an anticipated initial public offering, disclosed Monday that it was served with a subpoena to produce documents for a federal grand jury probing information sharing by mobile applications.

"In early 2011, we were served with a subpoena to produce documents in connection with a federal grand jury, which we believe was convened to investigate the information sharing processes of certain popular applications that run on the Apple and Android mobile platforms," Pandora said.

WWDC 2011 Sells Out in under 12 Hours

If you were hoping to get a glimpse of the wild machinations and famous technology tracks of the Worldwide Developers Conference but hadn’t yet found the $1599 necessary to purchase a ticket, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until 2012: This year’s conference is sold out.

The 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference filled up within just 12 hours, perhaps due to its rumored double-focus on “the future of iOS and Mac OS,” as spoken by Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller in a press release early Monday morning. Earlier in the day, several Mac and iOS developers had joked about the conference selling out early on Twitter; by 4PM PST, the joke had become reality: The “Buy now” button featured so prominently on Apple’s WWDC Website had been replaced with a graphic proclaiming the conference’s “SOLD OUT” status.

While WWDC has been selling out before its opening day since 2008, this year’s speedy turnaround is particularly noteworthy: Apple’s conference last year in 2010 took eight days to fill to capacity, while it took a whole month for the 2009 event to sell out.

Amazon launches “Cloud Drive” Music Service

Amazon.com on Tuesday unveiled “Cloud Drive,” a new service that enables users to keep music available online. The service works in conjunction with a “Cloud Player” app that runs on Android devices; an app build using Adobe AIR is also available for the Mac.

Cloud Drive enables you to upload music you already own and music you purchase through Amazon.com’s MP3 store to Web-based storage, where you can access it from your Android device or computer. Users of the Cloud Drive service get 5GB of storage capacity for free; customers who purchase an MP3 album via Amazon.com can be upgraded to 20GB of free storage for one year; additional storage plans are available. New purchases are saved directly to Cloud Drive and don’t count against your storage quota, according to Amazon.

Files can be stored in unencrypted AAC or MP3 formats and retain their original bit rate. You have control over what content is uploaded to Cloud Drive – songs, albums, playlists.

International iPad 2 Pricing Chart. Hint: it’s Expensive

Italian blog Sette.it has posted up its now traditional chart of international iDevice prices. This one, of course, shows the cost of the iPad 2 around the world when it launches in 25 countries this Friday. Of those 25 countries, 18 so far have official pricing.

For you iPad-loving nerds over in the U.S, the tablet is an easy sell to your friends and family. “Sure, it starts at $500″ you can tell them. Elsewhere, it gets a little trickier. I would have to tell my mother and father that the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad costs £399, or $650. That’s double what they paid for their crappy PC.

The most expensive iPad is in Norway, topping out at €823 or $1,168 for the 64GB 3G model. The cheapest is in Australia, with the 16GB Wi-Fi model coming in at “just” €409, or $580. This compares to the real U.S price of €390, or $545.

Apple pulls Controversial 'Gay Cure' App

Five weeks after it launched on iTunes, a controversial iPhone application that claims to help gay individuals become heterosexual through "biblical teaching" has been removed by Apple from its app store.

More than 150,000 signatures were added to an online petition to remove the app created by Exodus International, a ministry that defines its mission as promoting "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."

An Apple spokesperson told the Huffington Post that Apple had removed the Exodus International app because it "[violated] our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people."

Steve Jobs wins Disney Re-Election despite Protest

Apple CEO Steve Jobs was re-elected to the Walt Disney board despite some opposition that complained about his frequent absences from its meetings.

The Apple Inc. CEO was elected at Disney's annual meeting, held in Salt Lake City, along with 12 other nominees. The AFL-CIO, with 3.8 million shares, voted against his re-election.

Jobs owns an estimated 7.29 percent of Disney's shares (NYSE:DIS), making him the company's biggest shareholder. Jobs has missed 75 percent of Disney's board meetings in 2010, the firm of Glass Lewis & Co. said in a report that recommended against returning him to the board.