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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.

Radio Shack's iPhone 4 Deal: $25

From now until December 11th, Radio Shack is slashing $50 off iPhone prices and unprecedented trade-in credits of up to $125 for a functional 3GS phone. Combined, that $199 16GB iPhone 4 you've been waiting patiently for will cost you a mere $25.

As part of The Shack's Trade & Save program, existing iPhone users can receive $75 for their 3G model or $125 for the 3GS model. As long as the phone is functional and screen isn't cracked, you should be able to receive the full amount.

Skitch finally leaves beta with New Features, Website

Skitch, the unique screenshot tool and sharing service, has finally left its extensive testing period that was giving Gmail some competition for the crown of “longest beta ever.” The app received a slew of new features and an interface overhaul for its 1.0 debut, as well as a paid option that unlocks some features and better integration with the Skitch.com Website.

Skitch, for those who haven't used it, is a tool for quickly snapping screenshots or photos with your Mac’s iSight camera, adding annotations with drawing and text tools, and sharing your creations on the Web either publicly or with private URLs. You can upload images to Skitch.com, MobileMe iDisk, Flickr, or your own FTP Webhost. It’s great for sharing interestingness with friends, odd behavior with tech support, or crafting your latest lolcat masterpiece.

Skitch 1.0 gained a number of new features since its latest beta (released in early November), though some of them can only be unlocked if you pay up for the new paid Skitch Plus plan.

Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak is a Silicon Valley Treasure

Steve Wozniak spent Thursday morning right where he belongs: at Mountain View's Computer History Museum.

If it weren't such a cruel notion, the museum should put him in a glass case and add him to its new, $19 million makeover, set to open next month. The Woz is a treasure, a genuine Silicon Valley article and a fascinating artifact in his own way. Which is how he does things -- in his own way.

Wozniak was at the museum to give reporters a tour of the remodeled museum and stir up enthusiasm for the debut exhibit, "Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing."

He started by saying that he wasn't a historian. And then, in the course of a morning, he proceeded to describe, better than any history book, the magical hold of technology.

Mophie Juice Pack Plus packs High Capacity Backup Battery

Sometimes your iPhone just needs a little boost in the energy department. Whether it’s an extra-long day or a forgot-to-charge-last-night pick-me-up, Mophie’s new Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 4 can extend your device’s battery power, all in a convenient package that slips on your phone.

As opposed to the company’s $80 Juice Pack Air, which features a 1500 mAh battery, the $100 Juice Pack Plus packs a high-capacity 2000 mAh battery inside its hardshell case, supplementing it with a protective, shock-proof rubberized band that encircles the iPhone’s edge—and it only adds an additional millimeter of thickness to your phone’s sleek profile.

An included USB cable lets you charge and sync your phone while it’s in the Juice Pack Plus and the case is constructed with a special acoustic chamber that Mophie says enhances the sound quality of the iPhone 4’s speaker.

While the current shipping version only comes in black, Mophie says additional color choices of cyan, magenta, and yellow are coming soon.

Realmac Software releases RapidWeaver 5

Realmac Software on Wednesday released RapidWeaver 5, a major upgrade to its visual and extensible Website creation and blogging app for the Mac.

RapidWeaver sits comfortably in the space between drag-and-drop Website creation, like Apple’s iWeb, and everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink suites like Adobe’s Dreamweaver. While it is based around themed Website templates and provides no direct access to your site’s code, you can customize many behavioral aspects of your sites, install a wide variety of officially supported add-ons and themes, and add things like reusable text snippets and Website traffic analytics.

In development for a year, RapidWeaver 5 gained a number of big new features, not the least of which is a dedicated new Site Resources manager. If you provide downloadable files like PDFs and ZIPs for your visitors, you can now manage them all from a new section in RapidWeaver’s sidebar. This means files are no longer segregated to individual pages, and RapidWeaver can keep track of changes you make on your Mac, such as renaming a file.

RapidWeaver 5 is available now with a free demo that requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later (it’s also been submitted to Apple for its upcoming Mac App Store). A single user license costs $79, and existing owners can upgrade for $39. If you just bought RapidWeaver 4 after November 1, you qualify for a free upgrade to version 5.

iPad gaining quickly on Kindle

Apple's iPad is gaining on Amazon's Kindle as a general-purpose e-reader, according to ChangeWave Research, more evidence of the irrepressible popularity of the Apple tablet.
The iPad's share among e-reader owners is up 16 points to 32 percent since August, roughly a mirror image of the Kindle, which has dropped 15 points to 47 percent, according to a ChangeWave Research survey of consumers highlighted in a research note released today.

"The e-Reader market has essentially become a two-horse race between the Amazon Kindle and the Apple iPad," ChangeWave said. The rest of the market is comprised primarily of the Sony Reader at 5 percent and the Barnes & Noble Nook at 4 percent.

Apple kills Super Fast MacBook Air SSD Replacement

Asian technology company PhotoFast announced one of the first replacement SSDs for Apple's new, slimmer MacBook Airs shortly after the ultraportable notebooks were announced in October. However, Apple has asked the company to stop all production of the upgrades, which used much faster controllers than those in Apple's official SSDs.

PhotoFast announced its own reverse-engineered replacement SSD modules just seven days after the new MacBook Airs dropped. The company touted the fact that its own design used SandForce controllers, known to be the fastest available. While the SSD in our own 11" MacBook Pro test unit consistently shoved bits around at a rate of just over 160MB/s, PhotoFast's replacement module was capable of rates beyond 200MB/s.

Apple sources its SSD modules from Toshiba, which announced it was making the drives widely available to OEMs earlier this month. It's possible that PhotoFast's module violates some agreement between Apple and Toshiba, or infringes on some IP used in the module's design, though the exact reason for the cease and desist request hasn't been revealed at this time.

Scammers can hide Fake URLs on the iPhone, says Researcher

Identity thieves can hide URLs on the iPhone's limited screen real estate, tricking users into thinking they're at a legitimate site, a security researcher said today. In a pair of blog posts, Nitesh Dhanjani demonstrated how criminals can easily hide the true URL of a site from users by building a malicious Web application.

In a proof-of-concept, Dhanjani showed how legitimate Web applications such as Bank of America's mobile banking application hide Safari's address bar after rendering the page. He speculated that developers use this practice to use as much as possible of the limited screen real estate on mobile devices like the iPhone.

Identity thieves and scammers could apply the same practice to conceal the actual URL of a fake site they've created and then duped users into visiting, Dhanjani said.

Acer CEO Plans to make the iPad look like a Newton

Two years. Three at the most.

That’s how long Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci figures it will take his company to overwhelm the iPad and commandeer Apple’s early lead in the tablet PC market.

“While iPad has gained successful sales performance and good market response, Apple is centered around the US market with a significant leading status, but its competitive strength may not play out in emerging and other markets, this is the opportunity for Acer,” Lanci told Digitimes recently. “Sales of iPad pushed forward very fast initially, but have slowed down in the past few weeks. … We hope our tablet PCs can reach a global market share of 10 percent to 20 percent initially, and become the market leader in 2-3 years.”

That seems an optimistic forecast given the company’s late start in the market.

Apple makes Big Land Purchase in Cupertino

At a time when Apple is adding new workers almost as fast as it sells new iPhones and iPads, the pioneering computer maker has made a 98-acre land purchase that will roughly double the size of its home base in Cupertino.

Apple's latest acquisition is the longtime Cupertino campus of rival tech giant Hewlett-Packard, the Mercury News learned Wednesday. HP announced over the summer that it planned to move out of that site, which it had occupied for decades, as it consolidates operations at its Palo Alto headquarters over the next two years.

Analysts said the deal is a positive indicator for both Apple and the Silicon Valley economy overall. And it's no surprise the company needs more room.

Ambrosia releases WireTap Anywhere 2.0

Ambrosia Software has announced the release of WireTap Anywhere 2.0, an upgrade to their audio routing and mixing software for Mac OS X. It costs $129, and upgrades are available for $69.

WireTap Anywhere helps you capture audio output from any app that produces audio, record it or process it using any other application that can record audio by creating “virtual input devices.” The software has enormous practical uses for anyone using their Mac for processing or recording audio: musicians, podcasters, audio engineers and hobbyists.

WireTap Anywhere requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

SlingPlayer Mobile arrives on iPad

We waited for years to see a SlingPlayer app arrive on iPhone, and we went hands-on and reviewed it once the placeshifting media company delivered. Now Sling Media is back with a separate version of its mobile app for the iPad.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad is exactly what you think: a new iOS app that lets Slingbox Solo and Pro-HD owners watch and control their home TV and DVR from an iPad. You can view live media from your cable or satellite subscriptions, or stream something from your DVR, Apple TV, or even compatible home security camera systems.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad is available now in the App Store for $30. Interestingly, it requires an iPad to be running iOS 4.2 or later.

Beatles sell 2 Million Songs in 1st Week on iTunes

One week ago, the entire Beatles catalog was made available on Apple’s online music store iTunes. Now, the numbers are in: according to Billboard, the Beatles sold more than 450,000 albums and more than 2 million individual songs in the first week on iTunes.

The best selling-album in the U.S. was Abbey Road while the best-selling song was Here Comes the Sun.

The impressive numbers come as no surprise as the Beatles took over the iTunes charts in the first day of availability, with 11 of their albums surging to the iTunes top 25 albums list.

Kiwi Twitter Client gets more Flexible, Powerful

Kiwi, the powerful-yet-minimal Twitter client from YourHead Software, has taken flight

New in Kiwi 2.0 is a tabbed interface, allowing greater flexibility if you manage multiple accounts or check in on other conversations or timelines often. Each account can have its own tab, and viewing a reply chain between multiple users will open a separate tab as well.

Like most modern Web browsers, you can also tear out tabs into their own separate windows (which can each have their own tabs), allowing Kiwi to adjust to your business and personal tweeting needs. You can keep one, tab-less window for your personal account, and a second with tabs for multiple business accounts, search keywords, and specific users to watch.

Plenty of other additions round out this upgrade, including new, more minimal themes; customizable keyboard shortcuts; and more.

18 iPhone, iPod and iPad Apps for Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and many of us will be spending a long weekend with our families. No doubt there will be some great times, and definitely some great food.

The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Here are a few apps to help you get the most from the holiday weekend. From cooking to finding your car when shopping, there’s a little something for everyone.

Apple's Black Friday Sale 2010

Apple posted an ad teasing forthcoming Black Friday sales on its website. inviting customers to "wrap it up" on November 26.

Apple did not specify what discounts would be available, but noted only that the "special one-day Apple shopping event" will take place "the day after Thanksgiving" when "you'll find dozens of great iPad, iPod, and Mac gifts for everyone on your list."

"Apple has traditionally offered modest discounts on Black Friday, leaving its authorized resellers to come up with steeper discounts, Apple Insider writes. "Last year, Apple offered $101 off MacBook Pros and iMacs, while resellers slashed prices by as much as $300."

What’s New for the iPad in iOS 4.2.1

For those of us with an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4, it has been torture to switch back and forth between one of those devices an an iPad with iOS 3.2, the version it shipped with. We miss fast-app switching, folders, background audio, the unified mailbox, and other features that seemed invaluable the minute they became available.

It has felt like a long wait for the iPad to get its due at last—so long that determining what’s new between iOS 3.x.x on the iPad and iOS 4.2.1 took some research. Here’s our list of the highlights.

Print from iPad, iPhone to any Printer using Printopia

AirPrint is one of the coolest new features of iOS 4.2 – with it, iOS devices can now print. Unfortunately, at least for now, AirPrint works only with a small handful of printers. At present, Apple lists 11 models manufactured by Hewlett-Packard (HP) as “AirPrint-enabled.”

AirPrint support for other printers is waiting in the wings, apparently, but if you have a printer that isn’t on the list, are you out of luck for now?

No, thanks to the efforts of Ecamm Network.

BusyCal 1.5 released

BusyCal 1.5 now includes the ability to sync with the new MobileMe Calendar and other CalDAV servers. BusyCal 1.5 is a free update and is recommended for all BusyCal users. BusyCal users can update by selecting Check for Updates from the BusyCal menu. New users can download a 30-day trial.

Existing customers can upgrade to 1.5 without losing functionality, but that there are considerations.

MobileMe isn’t totally Free, But "Find My iPhone/iPad" is

With iOS 4.2, Apple is making one part of MobileMe available for free: Find My iPhone/iPad. Users will be able to sign up for a free MobileMe account for the first time in order to use the service, which works on iOS devices in the form of an app. However, those users signing up for free accounts will not be able to use the other MobileMe services without paying the regular $99-a-year price.

Find My iPhone/iPad allows users to remotely find a missing or misplaced device by using location based services to locate it. You can send messages to it, tell it to make noises so you can find it in your home, remote lock it, or remote wipe it (if it is stolen).

Apple updates Numbers, Pages and Keynote iPad Apps for iOS 4.2

Apple on Monday released updated versions of Numbers, Pages and Keynote, bringing support for iOS 4.2 and a number of other improvements.

Numbers 1.3 added wireless printing with AirPrint using iOS 4.2; print preview to adjust how a sheet prints across multiple pages, including Auto Fit; PDF export takes advantage of pagination settings from print preview; support for iOS 4.2 multitasking among other changes.

Keynote 1.3 added an enhanced presenter display that shows the current slide, the next slide, or your notes when connected to an external display; the ability to import existing and add new presenter notes to slides; wireless printing with AirPrint using iOS 4.2; support for iOS 4.2 multitasking among other changes.

Pages 1.3 added wireless printing with AirPrint using iOS 4.2; support for iOS 4.2 multitasking; automatic pagination of tables that cross a page break; improved reliability when importing Pages ’09 and Microsoft Word documents among other changes.

All three apps are available for for download from the App Store.

Netflix offers $8 Streaming Only Option

Netflix has a new streaming-only option, the company announced today.

The video rental company will now offer customers a plan that includes the ability to view movies through its streaming service for $7.99 per month. It was quick to point out that its cheapest plan includes no DVD rentals.

In addition, Netflix has increased its streaming-plus-DVD-by-mail plans by $1 to $8 per month, depending on the option. Netflix's previous $8.99 plan, which offered streaming and one DVD out at a time is now $9.99. The company's two-DVD plan, plus streaming, is now $14.99, up from its previous $13.99 price tag.

‘Tis the Season for Deals on Office for Mac!

Love it or hate it – Holiday decorations are out in full force and you can already hear holiday jingles on the radio. That also means Black Friday deals are here! So if Office for Mac is on your list to give or receive, we wanted to give you a preview of this year’s Office for Mac Black Friday/Cyber Monday discount.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with any purchase of Office for Mac 2011 Home & Student you will receive an instant $20 off – making it just $99 for the 1-Pack. Here’s a look at the deals that run Thursday, November 25 through Monday, November 29:

Apple releases Safari 5.0.3, Safari 4.1.3

Apple on Thursday released Safari 5.0.3 for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.5, and Windows and Safari 4.1.3 for Mac OS X 10.4. The releases enhance features, fix bugs, and patch a number of security vulnerabilities in the company’s Web browser.

The updates brings several tweaks to the browser, including more accurate Top Hit results in the location bar and the Top Sites display, a fix for an issue that could cause Flash content to overlap Web page content, better pop-up blocking, improved stability for search and text input on Netflix and Facebook, and improved stability for both JavaScript-intensive extensions and VoiceOver.

More importantly, the updates also include more than 25 security fixes for WebKit, the software layout engine that underpins not only the desktop version of Safari, but the iOS version of Apple’s browser and other software like Google Chrome and the iTunes Store.

iPads arrive for Saskatchewan Cabinet

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall convenes the first cabinet meeting where ministers used iPads to store, carry, and read documents. The portable computer devices have been touted as a way to conserve paper and reduce courier costs.

Wall and his cabinet of 17 ministers were each issued an iPad. A handful of senior bureaucrats were also provided with one of the devices for a total cost to taxpayers of about $23,000.

It was earlier estimated that the annual savings could amount to about twice that initial outlay.

Griffin's Slap Wristband for iPod nano takes Us Back in Time

If you’re a child—or parent—of the late 1980s or early 1990s, you no doubt remember the once-ubiquitous slap bracelet. Now, Griffin Technology is giving you the opportunity to relive the slap-happy magic of this wondrous wristband with its just-announced Slap, a flexible wristband for the iPod nano.

The $25 Slap is a memory-metal wristband with a soft silicone skin. Like the slap bracelets of yesteryear, the Slap lies flat and rigid until you smack it on your—or someone else’s—wrist.

Griffin’s Website lists the Slap as “Coming Soon,” but gives no release date as of yet.

Hulu Plus goes Official, drops Price

Hulu’s Hulu Plus subscription service officially ended its trial phase on Tuesday, and brought with it a welcome price drop from US$9.99 down to $7.99 a month. Hulu Plus is a monthly subscription service for watching TV shows online via the iPhone, iPod touch and Sony PS3.

Along with the lower monthly subscription, Hulu is offering a one week free trial to try to draw more subscribers in, and is refunding the price difference to current subscribers that paid before the price drop was announced.

Pearson, Peachpit Books available on the Apple iBookstore

Pearson and Peachpit says that hundreds of their books for the home, office, and technical professional communities are now available on Apple’s iBookstore. Books from the iBookstore can be downloaded and read on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Pearson’s imprints including Addison-Wesley Professional and Prentice Hall Professional, Sams Publishing, IBM Press, Cisco Press, and Pearson IT Certification, publish a suite of learning materials and tools in the areas of IT certification, programming, operating systems/server, mobile and web development and software engineering. Que Publishing delivers practical advice on home, office and business computing.

Peachpit’s umbrella covers Adobe Press, New Riders, Apple Pro Training, and Apple Training titles. Peachpit’s iBookstore titles include books by bestselling authors such as Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Garr Reynolds, and many others.

The Beatles arrive on iTunes

Yesterday, the Beatles on iTunes seemed so far away—now it looks as though they’re here to stay. On Tuesday, Apple announced that the Fab Four’s entire catalog is now available for download from the iTunes Store. The complete box set of the group is available for $149, with many individual tracks selling for $1.29 apiece. Single albums cost $13 each, with double albums such as the Past Masters compilation going for $20.

Each of the 13 remastered albums also sports iTunes LP features, including a mini-documentary on the making of the album. The complete box set also features an exclusive: the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” film of the Beatles’s first U.S. concert. However, if you’re not ready to pony up the full cost of the complete discography, don’t worry: everybody will be able to stream the video from iTunes for free for the rest of 2010.

“We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in the company’s press release. “It has been a long and winding road to get here. Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes ten years ago.”