News

Eye-Fi Update will Share Photos from Camera to Phone

Eye-Fi’s claim to fame so far has been its Wi-Fi-enabled SD cards that let digital cameras interact with a variety of Web services like Flickr and Facebook, as well as wirelessly transferring your photos to your Mac. On Tuesday, the company announced that it will soon add smartphones and tablets into the mix.

Eye-Fi, which dubs these upcoming features “Direct Mode,” says the capability will arrive later in 2011 as a free update to its SD cards and iPhone app. Instead of uploading your photos to social media sites or the company’s recently released Eye-Fi View service, Direct Mode will let you send your photos from your digital camera to your iPhone or iPod touch. The company’s announcement also cites “tablet” a couple of times, suggesting that the update might bring its iPhone app to the iPad as well.

Direct Mode works by allowing an Eye-Fi card to turn into a Wi-Fi access point. This allows your iOS device to connect to the Eye-Fi card—even if there are no other Wi-Fi networks around—to download photos.

HandBrake Update adds New Presets, goes Intel Only

DVD-lovers, start your engines! On Monday, the developers of the free, open-source video transcoder HandBrake released an update that’s small in number change but large in feature additions.

HandBrake 0.9.5 adds presets for the iPhone 4, the iPad, and the second-generation Apple TV; allows editing of queued jobs; includes support for SSA subtitles; can now find the VLC media player (required for HandBrake to convert encrypted DVDs) in the user’s Application folder; supports the Blu-ray disc structure (but doesn’t decrypt Blu-ray discs); and more.

HandBrake 0.9.5 comes in 32-bit and 64-bit varieties for OS X 10.5 and 10.6 on Intel Macs, but PPC support has been dropped as of this version. You’ll also want the latest version of VLC media player, and make sure to grab the 64-bit or Universal version if you’re going to run HandBrake on a 64-bit-capable Mac.

Skype adds Video Calling to iPhone App

If you happen to see people making strange faces at their iPhones in the next few days, blame Skype.

The Internet telephone service introduced video chatting on Thursday for iPhone users who want to not just hear the people they call, but also see them. The new feature comes in the latest version of Skype’s iPhone app, available in Apple’s App Store.

Users can make free Skype-to-Skype video calls over AT&T’s 3G network and on Wi-Fi. Android phones are not yet compatible.

“We think it’s really important because it will make it easier for people to share moments,” said Rick Osterloh, vice president of products for Skype.

Kindle Book Lending now Available

Several weeks ago Amazon said that Kindle book lending would arrive by the "end of the year," and true to its word, it's now here.

On its site Amazon says that, "Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle -- Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable -- it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period."

Amazon has detailed instructions for how to lend out your Kindle books, but it seems pretty simple -- you simply go to the "Manage your Kindle" section under "your account" to loan out an eligible title to anyone you want (you just need an email address).

AirPlay Hack streams Non-iTunes Video Between Mac, Apple TV

Apple’s AirPlay streaming feature enables the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad to stream video and audio to the Apple TV 2. But why stop there?

Wired.com’s friend Erica Sadun has been hard at work hacking away at AirPlay to expand its powers. About a week ago she released AirPlayer, a Mac app to stream video from the the Apple TV to the Mac. And just recently she released AirFlick to do the reverse: stream video from the Mac to the Apple TV. No jailbreaking required.

If you own a Mac and the new Apple TV, you need the AirFlick hack, because it makes AirPlay way more useful.

GadgetTrak Device Tracking comes to iPhone, iPad

GadgetTrak announced the immediate availability of its GadgetTrak app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad on Tuesday. The app lets users remotely track the location of their iOS device, and keep tabs on the locations of other GadgetTrak-enabled devices.

The GadgetTrak app actively logs your iOS device’s location once it’s launched and sends detailed information about where you are to the GadgetTrak servers when your location changes significantly. Service subscribers can track registered device locations via a Web browser or with the Track.me interface in the GadgetTrak app.

NavFree launches Free US iPhone Navigation App with Offline Map Data

There's no shortage of iPhone navigation apps out there, but we can't say we've seen too many that come with 1.6GB of offline map data -- especially for free. That's the hook for NavFree USA, which just went live in the App Store -- sure, it also has some interesting social features like crowdsourced map updates and navigating to friends, and you can buy add-ons like traffic and speed camera info, but we think most people will use the free turn-by-turn and call it a day.

Apple’s Mac OS X Downloads Site to change with Mac App Store Release

Apple plans to launch the Mac App Store on January 6, 2011. When it does, Apple has revealed that it will stop offering download links on its Mac OS X Downloads page.

In an e-mail sent to registered Apple developers, Okamoto said, “Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site. Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store.”

So it’s no mystery as to why Apple would want to redirect Web site traffic – and its own internal resources – into the Mac App Store instead, which will serve the same purpose. But it’s incorrect to assume that all of the developers whose works are now featured on the Mac OS X Downloads page will be willing or able to get their products into the Mac App Store instead.

Apple TV to hit 1 Million Unit Sales this Week

Who said the Apple TV was just a hobby? Apple announced today that unit sales of its tiny set-top box are expected to reach 1 million by the end of this week.

The Apple TV, which launched in September, is one-quarter the size of its predecessor, and allows users to rent and stream television shows and movies from iTunes on their televisions. The set-top box also features access to Netflix, podcasts, and Flickr. Users can stream music content from their computers, and use AirPlay to send multimedia content from their iOS-based devices to the Apple TV. It retails for $99. But that success didn't come overnight. Quite the contrary--Apple TV's trek to get to this point has been one for the ages.

With the company expecting to have sold 1 million units of the new Apple TV by the end of the week, it certainly seems that way. It also seems that Apple is throwing down the gauntlet in the living room against the countless competitors it faces. But Apple didn't limit its chest-thumping to the set-top box market. The company also announced today that iTunes customers are "renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day."

New Version of Flipboard adds Google Reader, Facebook Groups, More

Popular magazine-style reading app, Flipboard, has announced major changes to its iPad application, bringing with it support for Flickr, Facebook Groups, and Google Reader. The new version also includes improved Twitter and social networking integration. Named iPad App of the Year, Flipboard has gone above and beyond with this update. It's no surprise why Sports Illustrated partnered with the company to deliver Swimsuit edition content to Flipboard users.

The latest version of Flipboard lets you read and sync to your Google Reader account. All RSS feeds are displayed in magazine-style layout with the ability to jump to your starred items, shared items, folders, and individual subscriptions. Flickr integration is also an excellent addition to Flipboard. The iPad's large display lends itself to images and the new Flickr feature lets you view your favorite photos, your photostream, your contact's photos, and interesting photos of the day.

Your Apps are Watching You

Few devices know more personal details about people than the smartphones in their pockets: phone numbers, current location, often the owner's real name—even a unique ID number that can never be changed or turned off. These phones don't keep secrets. They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

An examination of 101 popular smartphone "apps"—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies without users' awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone's location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.

The findings reveal the intrusive effort by online-tracking companies to gather personal data about people in order to flesh out detailed dossiers on them.

Take Control of iPad Basics

Whether you've already used an iPad or you're starting from a blank slate, Take Control editor-in-chief Tonya Engst helps you fill in the blank spots in your basic iPad know-how. For those of you who haven't yet made the leap, she gives a practical guide for deciding which iPad and accessories to buy, after which she helps you understand the iPad's buttons and ports, learn multi-touch gestures, download apps, sync data and media, find and back up your stuff, and avoid newbie mistakes. The ebook concludes by showing you how to impress your friends with a great iPad demo (you know they want it!).

Amazon Can't Dent iTunes

Mega e-tailer Amazon.com has been selling digital downloads of songs and albums since 2007, but has not made a huge dent in Apple's iTunes reign as MP3 king. But that could be changing. WSJ's Geoffrey Fowler joins Dan Gallagher to discuss.

Such steep discounts are a cornerstone of Amazon's strategy to gain traction in a market in which iTunes remains the dominant player. At the same time, a debate has arisen among music labels about whether such discounts risk undermining the value of their products.

Despite its cut-throat pricing, Amazon has made little headway against Apple, which closely ties its iTunes software to its iPods and other gadgets.

Navigon updates MyRegion with New Features and now a Universal App

Navigon today released version 1.70 of the MyRegion versions of our top rated GPS app. The North America, USA version and Canada version updates will follow shortly.

There are price reductions on all the Navigon apps until January 6. The North America Mobile Navigator, normally $59.99 is now $44.99. The USA-only version is discounted $15.00 to $34.99, as is the Canada only version. The MyRegion apps, covering East, Central or Western U.S. have been discounted $5.00 to $24.99. No date has been offered as to when the Canada, North America and U.S. apps will get this update, but it should be soon.

Airfoil 4 brings Web Video Support, More

Fans of Rogue Amoeba’s audio-streaming software Airfoil, rejoice: version 4 is out now and better than ever.

First released in 2005 as a way to send audio from any application to an AirPort Express, Airfoil has grown to support audio streaming to the Apple TV, iOS devices, and other computers within your local network. The latest version, released Thursday morning, brings an interface redesign, improved audio reception, and major updates to both of Airfoil’s companion applications: Airfoil Speakers and Airfoil Video Player.

Airfoil Speakers has gained remote connection and control, meaning you can set up and control the audio right from receiving Mac, without ever touching the computer that’s broadcasting it. Airfoil 4 is available as a free trial for users running Mac OS X 10.6 or later. A single license for new users is $25; while those running previous versions of Airfoil can upgrade for $10 via Rogue Amoeba’s online store.

Dropbox hits 1.0

We’re super excited to announce the new hotness that we’ve been cooking up for the past few months: Dropbox 1.0!

In addition to hundreds (yep, hundreds) of bug fixes, vastly reduced resource usage (think of it as the Prius model of Dropbox), Dropbox 1.0 (“Rainbow Shell”) also offers support for extended attributes, selective sync, and a shiny new installation wizard. Those are just the CliffsNotes though — here’s the true story behind Dropbox 1.0.

U.S. Unveils charges against Five in Insider Trading Sweep

Federal prosecutors unveiled charges against five people related to alleged insider trading on Thursday, in a sweep stemming from a broad three-year investigation that has shaken the financial world.

The charges are the first major development in the continuing probe of insider trading on Wall Street, in which hedge funds and mutual funds have been raided and subpoenaed by federal investigators in recent weeks. More arrests are expected in the months ahead.

The charges announced Thursday involve four consultants and an employee for Primary Global Research LLC, a Mountain View, Calif., "expert-network" firm, in connection with the alleged tipping of confidential information.

Apple’s Mac App Store to open on January 6

Apple announced that the Mac App Store will open for business on Thursday, January 6. By bringing the revolutionary App Store experience to Mac OS X, the Mac App Store makes discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever. The Mac App Store will be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.

“The App Store revolutionized mobile apps,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can’t wait to get started on January 6.”

The Mac App Store lets you browse new and noteworthy apps, find out what’s hot, view staff favorites, search categories and read customer ratings and reviews. Like on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, you can purchase, download and install apps in just one click and start using them immediately. Purchased apps can run on all of your personal Macs and updates are delivered directly through the Mac App Store so it’s easy to keep all of your apps up to date. The Mac App Store is available to Mac OS X Snow Leopard users as a free download through Software Update.

Indie Mac Gift Pack bundles Six Apps, No Middleman

Mac software bundles haven't quite reached literal dime-a-dozen status, but that’s not for lack of trying. As the holiday season hits full swing, it seems like there are more sale offers than ever before. But the new Indie Mac Gift Pack has a unique conceit that sets it apart: the app contains six apps from six independent software developers, who all share directly and evenly in the profits—with no middleman involved.

The six apps in question are Delicious Monster’s Delicious Library 2, Flying Meat’s Acorn 2, Red Sweater’s MarsEdit 3, Rogue Amoeba’s Radioshift, Acacia Tree’s SousChef, and Felt Tip’s Sound Studio 4. Combined, those apps would set you back $272, but the Indie Mac Gift Pack makes them all available for just one low easy payment of $60.

The Gift Pack, which was the brainchild of Delicious Monster’s Chief Executive Monster Wil Shipley, aims to differentiate itself from other Mac software bundles in a variety of ways.

Don't go to Brazil for a Deal on an iPad

On the night of Dec. 2, almost 500 gadget-crazy Brazilians in São Paulo lined up outside electronics retailer FNAC's big store in Morumbi Shopping complex south of the city. They waited until midnight to buy the Apple iPad, which finally went on sale in Brazil months after its international launch. First in line was Joao Teofilo Ribeiro, who was so excited he brought his entire family to wait with him.

They weren't looking for a bargain. The iPad lists at FNAC and other Brazilian stores for $985, almost twice as much as in the U.S. and one of the highest official prices for an iPad anywhere, according to Macworld Brazil, a Brazilian newsletter run by U.S.-based International Data Group.

The iPad is one example of the many price distortions caused by Brazil's elaborate industrial policy.

Bam! Pow! Plasq releases Comic Life 2

Plasq on Thursday released Comic Life 2, giving you new ways to immortalize your vacation or spark your next Internet meme using Whizbang and introspective thought bubbles. Comic Life 2 is more or less the Pages of creating comics on the Mac, albeit with a quirkier interface design. You can lay out panels on your own or start with one of the built-in layouts, drag over photos from iPhoto, sprinkle in some dialog, and share your gripping story with friends and the world.

This big upgrade adds plenty of new perks, such as complete templates featuring backgrounds as well as visual color and type themes. You can customize the included templates or create your own, and support for styles lets you change one object and quickly apply your alterations to other similar objects. Uniform image filtering lets you apply the same customizations and filters to all the photos you use, and advanced balloon tail controls let your content and balloons coexist peacefully.

Comic Life 2 is available now as a free demo that requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger or later. Single licenses cost $30 and family five-pack licenses are $45, while upgrades for previous owners are on a limited sale for $10 and $20, respectively.

Costco confirms It will Stop selling Apple Products

During Costco's fiscal first-quarter earnings call today, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti confirmed that the company is in the process of phasing out Apple products from its shelves.

The news, which was reported by The Seattle Times, confirms a 2-month-old rumor from iLounge that noted the process as already under way. iLounge's source had attributed the move to the wholesale retailer getting shut out of acquiring stock of products like the iPad, which competitors like Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, and Target had gotten access to some six months after its launch.

The Seattle Times says the split is mutual, and notes that unlike some of the deals made with other large-scale Apple resellers, Costco was never allowed to sell Apple's products through its own online store.

iTunes Store now offers 90 Second Song Previews

As Macworld reported it would last month, Apple has now updated the iTunes Store with 90-second-previews for songs longer than two and a half minutes. That’s right: you can now warm up your coffee or tea in the microwave in less time than it takes for you to preview a song.

While we’re sure Apple had hoped to roll out the new, longer music previews back in September, apparently the National Music Publishers Association and Broadcast Music insisted upon further negotiations for Apple to obtain the necessary licenses for the extended samples.

Right now, the 90-second previews are available only in the U.S. version of the store.

Apple announces Top iPhone, iPad Apps of 2010

Apple on Thursday released its list of top iPhone and iPad apps of 2010. There are some well-known names on the list, and a few surprises too.

The main winners in the App Store this year were Hipstamatic, which won for iPhone App of the Year. Plants vs. Zombies came away with the iPhone Game of the Year and Flipboard won for iPad App of the Year. Osmos for iPad took the top spot for iPad Game of the Year.

Apple displaces Samsung on Home Turf with iPhone

The iPhone, available in Korea only through KT Corp. as opposed to all of the nation’s three wireless carriers for Samsung and LG, has sold about 1.6 million units since it went on sale in the country in November 2009. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

For more than a decade, Kim Jung Yeon only bought phones from Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., passing on best sellers made by non-Korean companies such as Motorola Inc.’s Razr. Her loyalty ended with Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

“The iPhone has a cool design and I love the feel and grip of the phone,” said the 37-year-old Web designer in Seoul, who bought the device last year, and enjoys using applications about food recipes. “I don’t see any reason why I should return to LG or Samsung phones again if I buy another smartphone.”

Samsung and LG, the world’s two-largest handset makers after Nokia Oyj, can no longer count on home-field advantage as they play catch up in the fastest-growing segment of the $163 billion global industry.

iPadLock protects Your iPad from Thieves

Travelers with iPads have a bit of a dilemma. There's no way to lock the iPad to a heavy piece of furniture to keep it from walking off when you leave the room and somebody else decides to pick it up.

Maclocks.com has a new way to resolve the problem. They've just introduced the iPadLock, which is a combination of a special case and a traditional laptop cable lock. The case is made of very hard plastic and holds the iPad. On the side is a standard security slot into which a cable lock can be introduced. The result? It's easy to lock down your iPad. According to Maclocks, once the lock and the case are joined together, thieves can't remove the case without damaging the iPad.

Apple, Google asked to Pay Up for Network Upgrades as Data Clog Bandwidth

Bloomberg columnist Matthew Lynn talks about his latest opinion piece on the European Union's investigation into Google Inc. for allegedly discriminating against competing services in its search results. He speaks with Andrea Catherwood on Bloomberg Television's "The Pulse." (Source: Bloomberg)

Google Inc., Apple Inc., and Facebook Inc. need to pitch in to help pay for the billions of dollars of network investments needed for their bandwidth-hogging services, European phone operators say.

As mobile and Web companies add videos, music and games, operators including France Telecom SA, Telecom Italia SpA and Vodafone Group Plc want a new deal that would require content providers like Apple and Google to pay fees linked to usage.

“Service providers are flooding networks with no incentive” to cut costs, France Telecom Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard said last month. “It’s necessary to put in place a system of payments by service providers as a function of their use.”

Lightroom, Camera Raw updates Support Additional Cameras

Adobe announced the immediate availability of Lightroom 3.3 and Camera Raw 3.3 on Tuesday. The updates added support for 15 new digital cameras along with profiles for over 60 new camera lenses.

Lightroom 3.3 also fixed several issues with editing tools, compatibility issues with social networking photo albums, photo importing from the iPhone 4, Nikon D3 ISO value importing, and more.

AT&T rated Worst by Consumer Reports

Remember when Consumer Reports couldn't recommend the iPhone 4? Well, now Consumer Reports has released the results of a satisfaction survey which shows that according to over 50,000 of their readers, AT&T is the lowest-scoring cell-phone carrier in the United States.

In fact, AT&T scored a "Worse" rating in every single category of the survey save for texting. In that category they received a half-black dot ranking, or one lowly step above "Worse". AT&T was the only telecom provider on the survey to see a significant drop in overall customer satisfaction, while both Verizon and Sprint saw "Average" to "Better" rankings.

26th Annual Editors’ Choice Awards

2010 was a big year for the Mac. The beginning of the year was all about the iPad—followed by the iPhone. But the buzz and success of those two products trickled down to the Mac. Later in the year, we saw upgrades to the Mac lineup, as well as solid signs from Apple that the Mac hasn’t been forgotten. With record sales of Macs posted by Apple, it’s a very good time to make products for the Mac.

With hundreds and hundreds of products that are released every year, we look for the ones that truly stand out, the products that offer the best quality, innovation, and value. After a year (we restricted ourselves to products released between November 1, 2009 and November 1, 2010), we put together a list of the top products, and we spend several weeks discussing the merits of each and every product.

Eventually, we came up with the list you see here, the best 24 products of 2010.