Apple Could Receive FASB Approval for Accounting Changes, Remove iPod Touch Upgrade Fees

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Date: Friday, September 18th, 2009, 04:34
Category: Finance, News

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If you’ve ever been irked at the small charges you’ve had to pay for an iPod touch software upgrade, this may be about to go by the wayside. According to Ars Technica, a rule governed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, that’s been heavily lobbied for by Apple and other electronics companies, may be enough to lift the charge that iPod touch owners have had to pay for updates of significant features to their devices. The rule focuses on “subscription accounting”, or devices that gain “significant new functionality” after their sale, like the iPhone, have to be reported over a series of years rather than all at the same time (presumably because the revenues associated with the product were the result of a series of updates, not just one lump sum).

In the case of the iPhone, subscription charges associated with them over two years round out the criteria. The iPod touch is different and because Apple doesn’t want to report the sales of those devices over a period of time, they’ve had to charge minimum fees for updates in the form of the US$10 and other fees that iPod touch owners have paid for the firmware updates. But if the new rule receives FASB approval, then Apple would be able to report sales of the iPod touch all together without having to worry about charging for updates, as well as the dual GAAP and non-GAAP reporting we’ve heard on their conference calls.

Such a chance could also help Apple’s stock price (seeing all of the iPhone’s sales at once would boost investor confidence), and it would help developers who are asking all users of both the iPhone and iPod touch to update right away, as they wouldn’t have to wait until users found the few bucks in question before downloading a large new update.

Skype 2.8.0.722 Released

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Date: Thursday, September 17th, 2009, 12:31
Category: Software

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On Monday, Skype released version 2.8.0.722 of its popular Voice over Internet Protocol communications program.
The new version, a 43.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Platform specific: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard – Call Phones and Send SMS window “Type number” text field is too dark.
- Chat window does not refresh properly when chatting with a user whose avatar file is corrupted.
- When creating a new contact request, the option to request to see the contact’s status but not let them see yours is disabled.
- In a contact request, the option to add a new contact to your Contact list is disabled when the user chooses not to let the contact see when they are online.
- In a contact request, new contacts are added to a user’s Contact list even when they uncheck the option to add them.
- When screen sharing in fullscreen mode, the user can’t click on Skype menu items at the top of the screen.
- Platform specific: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard – Layout issues in the video window when a video call is put on hold.
- The Hold button appears over the Call on Hold message.
- Skype sometimes crashes when plugging in or removing a webcam.
- Skype sometimes crashes soon after launching when an auto-config (PAC) file was used to connect to the internet.
- Skype sometimes crashes when shutting down.
- Platform specific: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
- Main window does not display properly when signing in as another user from the Account menu.

Skype 2.8.0.722 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to install and run.

iPhone 3GS Radiation Measurements Released

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Date: Thursday, September 17th, 2009, 05:10
Category: iPhone, News

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You spend a fair amount of time with it next to your head, so you might as well have the facts.

Per a report released by the Environmental Working Group, Apple’s iPhone 3GS handset ranks almost squarely in the middle of smartphones in terms of radiation output. The report notes that according to compiled data, the 3GS produces approximately 1.19W/kg of radiation. The figure is substantially lower than the worst-case examples, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the Kyocera Jax S1300, which each produce 1.55W/kg.

The 3GS still produces considerably more output than phones towards the bottom of the scale, such as the Samsung Impression and BlackBerry Storm, which are rated at 0.35 and 0.57W/kg respectively. It also emits more than the 0.97W/kg of the original iPhone, but less than the iPhone 3G, rated at 1.39W/kg. The three best-performing phones on the list, such as the Nokia 9300i, are no longer being sold.

In a new report, the EWG claims that people using cellphones for 10 years or more could develop “serious health problems.” Because of radiation, the report suggests, cellphone users have an “increased risk of developing brain and salivary gland tumors, neurological symptoms such as migraine and vertigo, and neurodevelopmental effects observed as behavioral problems in young children.”

The EWG is pushing for the US government to require displaying radiation levels at points of sale.

QuarkXPress 8.1.2 Update Released

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Date: Thursday, September 17th, 2009, 04:10
Category: Software

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Late Wednesday, software developer Quark released version 8.1.2 of its QuarkXPress design application. The 659 megabyte update, which can be downloaded here, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Improves PDF output capabilities and introduces features.

- Introduces a ‘Native Transparency’ mode for creating PDFs which can offer designers faster and more flexible PDF output support and provide greater control over their PDF workflow process.

- Renovates spell checking, adds the ability to paste text without formatting, and improves productivity with Scale functionality.

- Fine-tunes Usability and Item Styles.

- Can help prevent errors by reporting faux font styles such as bold or italic.

- Readies QuarkXPress for Snow Leopard and Windows 7 compatibility.

QuarkXPress 8.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 later to install and run and retails for US$799.00 for the full version.

Rumor: Apple to Release New iMacs, MacBooks for Holiday Season

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Date: Wednesday, September 16th, 2009, 04:10
Category: iMac, MacBook, Rumor

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A recently report from the Barron’s financial publication alleges that Apple will release new iMacs and MacBook notebooks within a matter of weeks to refresh its offerings before the holiday season.

The report, which surfaced from Wedge Partners, said that the new iMacs will sport a thinner design with smooth edges. However, the MacBook refresh is said to be “limited.”

The document also cited likely price cuts, as tHe company sees the lower prices as a competitive alternative to Windows 7 machines. Wedge Partners predicts that Apple will sell 3 million Macs in the holiday season, riding the wave of price cuts and new products.

While new hardware should come as no surprise, AppleInsider has previously heard word of new iMacs and MacBooks. Last month rumors surfaced that the new Imacs would have compelling new features, one of which was said to have long been on Mac users’ wish lists, and another that would appeal to the semi-professional audio/video crowd.

Other rumors have stated that Apple would retain and redesign its line of plastic MacBooks. With only one non-Pro offering in the lineup, Apple is allegedly redesigning the systems with a slimmer, lighter enclosure and restructured internal architecture. Analysts have long believed that cracking the sub-US$1,000 notebook market would be a huge boon for Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Wall Street Journal Web Site to Go to Subscriber Model for iPhone, Blackberry Users

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Date: Wednesday, September 16th, 2009, 03:13
Category: iPhone, News

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If you loved free Wall Street Journal content on your iPhone, you can thank Rupert Murdoch for this one.

Per Paid Content, News Corporation has announced that readers of the WSJ on the Blackberry and iPhone will be charged US$2 per week for the privilege of reading news through the respective apps. Online and print subscribers of the WSJ will only pay US$1 a week. No time limit has been set yet, but Murdoch says it will be within the next few months.

This could be bad news for Hulu users as well, as Murdoch has stated that News Corp is considering either a pay-per-view or subscription model for Hulu. “No final decision has been made,” Murdoch said via Webcast at an investor conference today. The Wall Street Journal itself reports that subscription offerings will roll out for media content before the end of the year, though it was made in a different context from the Hulu statement.

(On a personal note, if this helps what’s been a great paper make its bottom line, then sure. Otherwise, who wouldn’t love to see Rupert Murdoch chased down the gray Manhattan streets with frothing wolves at his heels?)

Cocktail 4.5.1 (Snow Leopard Edition) Released

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Date: Wednesday, September 16th, 2009, 03:07
Category: Software

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On Tuesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.4.1 of Cocktail (Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests.

The new version, a 2.0 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Addresses an issue in which Cocktail may not launch on 32-bit only Macs.
- Addresses an issue in which Cocktail was unable to search for corrupted preference files.
- Added Mac OS X 10.6.1 compatibility.
- Other minor improvements and bug fixes discovered in the previous version.

Cocktail 4.5.1 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to run.

Adobe Releases Camera Raw 5.5 Update

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Date: Tuesday, September 15th, 2009, 04:01
Category: Software

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Early Tuesday, software giant released version 5.5 of its Camera Raw plugin, a program which delivers access to “raw” image formats in professional and mid-range digital cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, Minolta, Nikon and Olympus.

Newly supported camera models include:
- Nikon D300s.
- Nikon D3000.
- Olympus E-P1.
- Panasonic DMC-FZ35.
- Panasonic DMC-GF1.
- Camera Raw 5.5 includes a correction to the demosaic algorithms for Bayer sensor cameras with unequal green response.

Users can visit Adobe’s Camera Raw web site for a complete list of supported cameras.

Camera Raw 5.5 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Adobe Releases Lightroom 2.5 Update

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Date: Tuesday, September 15th, 2009, 03:50
Category: Software

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On Thursday, Adobe released Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.5, the newest version of its professional-grade image editing program and Adobe’s first application to support 64-bit processing under Mac OS X 10.5.
The new version, a 67 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), adds the following fixes and changes:
- Additional camera support for several new camera models including the Nikon D3000 and Olympus E-P1.
- Includes several corrections for issues introduced by previous Lightroom 2 releases.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.5 retails for US$299 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.
If you’ve tried the new version, let us know what you think of it over in the comments or forums.

iFixIt Teardown Finds 802.11n Chip, Space for Video Camera on New iPod Touch

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Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 06:32
Category: iPod, iPod Touch

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You’ve gotta love iFixIt and their recent teardown of the new third generation iPod touch has revealed some interesting details pertaining to Apple’s newly-released third generation media player.

Per the report, the new iPod touch features an 802.11n chip as well as enough space to fit a video camera such as the one found in the new iPod nano. In addition, the space is in the center on the back of the device, where the camera was rumored to be located. However, there are no headers on the iPod’s board for a camera cable.

“It appears that Apple left in room for a camera in the top of the device,” the solutions provider said. “There is a 6mm x 6mm x 3mm space between the Broadcom chip and the wireless antenna. There isn’t enough depth for an iPhone-style autofocus still camera, but just enough room for the camera that Apple used in the 5th generation iPod nano.”

The new iPod nano features a video-only camera and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in an interview with The New York Times this week that the iPod touch was not given a camera because the company wanted to focus on promoting the hardware as a gaming machine, and keeping the low-end model’s price under US$200.

The teardown located a Broadcom BCM4329 chip inside the new third-generation device, the chip supporting the 802.11n protocol. The iPhone 3GS features a BCM4325 chip, which only supports 802.11 a/b/g. The new iPod touch does not support 802.11n Wi-Fi out of the box.

“This reminds us of last year when we broke the news that the 2nd generation touch had Bluetooth support in hardware,” they said. “Apple didn’t enable software support until 9 months later with iPhone OS 3.0.”

The new device also features a Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and and a FM receiver and transmitter. However, that does not necessarily mean that the iPod touch will be able to receive and send FM signals. The latest iPod nano, however, does have a built-in FM receiver.

“If they built in the antennas, and if Apple adds software support,” iFixit said, “you could theoretically stream music to your car stereo without any external hardware. But that’s a lot of ifs.”

“While we were all disappointed by Apple’s underwhelming iPod touch announcement, it is clear that there is more engineering effort under the surface of this device than meets the eye.”