January 27, 2012

Pioneer Releases Two AirPlay-Equipped Audio Players For Audiophiles

Pioneer Releases Two AirPlay-Equipped Audio Players For Audiophiles

Pioneer Electronics has released two high-end audio players that come equipped with AirPlay functionality. This means that iTunes and iOS users can access music from a desktop computer or iOS device and stream it through their big speakers. Third-party apps like Pandora can also be used to stream music from an iOS device to Pioneer’s new players.

The N-30 ($ 500) and N-50 ($ 700) support AirPlay and DLNA wireless technologies. More manufacturers are starting to integrate AirPlay into their home theater and stereo systems. Expect to see much more from this trend in the near future.

Utilizing Pioneer’s audio heritage, we wanted to create a networked audio player that can handle a wide range of music formats, including high-resolution audio that enthusiasts and music lovers are now asking for,” said Chris Walker, director of AV marketing and product planning for the home entertainment division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.  “These new networked players enhance any digital music so even audiophiles, who love listening to every detail of their music, will find these networked audio players a must-add to their existing high end system.  Both models are the ideal complement to any existing home audio/video system that’s missing networked audio capabilities.”

Each player features a 2.5-inch LCD screen and integration with another streaming app called ControlApp. The upper model N-50 includes an armored chassis for noise resistance and gold RCA jacks for higher quality audio connections. There’s also several technical improvements in the audio technology of the N-50.

Both the N-30 and N-50 can be ordered from Pioneer’s website.

Cult of Mac

Find My Car Smarter uses Bluetooth Smart to locate your car

One time, I spent hours wandering the parking lot after a concert. I really wish I had marked the location of my car and not relied on my memory to navigate. Next time I find myself in that situation, I’m going to use Find My Car Smarter. It’s a Kickstarter project from FMC Smart which automatically marks your location every time you park your car.

The system uses a low-power Bluetooth Smart device (shown below), an iOS app and a Bluetooth 4.0 compatible phone like the iPhone 4S. The Bluetooth Smart device is a small USB dongle that fits in a standard car charger. It plugs into your car’s 12V accessory charging port and stays there. The iOS app, Find My Car Smarter, connects to the Bluetooth Smart device and runs in the background. The app stays connected to the dongle until you power down the device by turning off your car. If your car doesn’t power down the accessory port, then the app will disconnect when you walk away and get outside the dongle’s 10-foot range.

It’s this disconnection that triggers the app to mark your location. This all happens in the background automatically. You don’t have to open the app or remove the Bluetooth device. You just stop your car and walk away knowing that your location has been pinned. If you’re away on vacation and don’t need your car, you can turn off these background processes. This stops the app from automatically saving your car’s location, so you’ll have to remember to turn it back on when you get home.

When you’re ready to return home, just fire up the app, and it’ll show both your current location and your car’s location on a map. The app calculates how far away you are from your car, and how long its been parked in that place. It’ll even use your phone’s compass to help you walk in the right direction.

I tested out the system for a few weeks, and I highly recommend it to anyone who regularly parks in a large parking lot. It’s so convenient. You only have to set it up once and then you can forget about it. In practice, I found it to be accurate within 10-20 feet. The app brought me close enough to my car that I could easily find it with a quick scan.

The system is easy to use, accurate and reasonably priced. I also like the fact that it uses cutting edge technology like Bluetooth Smart. The only drawback I found was the size of the Bluetooth Smart dongle. It’s so small that it’s very easy to lose. If you keep stored in a USB car charger, you’ll do ok, but if you carry it around loose in your bag, there’s a good chance you will lose it.

The Find My Car Smarter system is available as a Kickstarter project. It’s reached its funding goal, and the first round of devices shipped this week. When the Kickstarter part of the project ends next week, the devices will be available for purchase from the company’s website. The basic package includes a Bluetooth Smart dongle and the iOS app for US$ 25. For an extra $ 5, you can add in a USB car charger if you don’t already have one.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Today At Cult Of Android: ASUS Transformer Prime In Stock At BestBuy.com, Galaxy Nexus Coming To Sprint, And More…

Today At Cult Of Android: ASUS Transformer Prime In Stock At BestBuy.com, Galaxy Nexus Coming To Sprint, And More…
What’s this? Android news on Cult of Mac?! Who the hell cares?! Maybe you don’t, maybe you do. Point is: these are a few of the popular topics going on in the Android world today. Maybe you’d like to know what the competition is up to, or perhaps your aunt received a Kindle Fire she needs to update. Regardless of the reason, having a resource such as Cult of Android allows you to learn more about what’s going on in the ecosystem powered by the world’s leading mobile OS.

Online Ad Outs Galaxy Nexus For Sprint – Ad Yanked, Sprint Not Commenting

Well what do we have here? It appears an online ad has gone out a bit prematurely (now yanked), and by the looks of it, has let the cat out of the bag regarding a possible Sprint version of the Galaxy Nexus. That’s right, your eyes do not deceive you. It looks like Sprint will be getting the Galaxy Nexus, and I’d bet it’s safe to say, it will be coming soon. The ad, which was spotted over on CNET, features what may have been Sprints biggest announcement of the year. More…

Corning Announces Plans To Unveil Gorilla Glass 2 At CES

How do you make Corning Gorilla Glass Stronger? Not sure, but we’re going to see how next week at CES. Corning has announced its plans to unveil its Gorilla Glass 2 product, which I’m now calling King Kong Glass. Corning hasn’t given any specifics (saving those for CES) about what is new in this glass sequel, but I’m sure it’s going to be good. Corning revolutionized damage-resistant cover glass for consumer electronic devices and has been featured in more than 30 major brands. The Gorilla glass in my OG DROID has been scratched, dropped, and abused over and over — and that’s just from my 3 year old. It’s withstood many of drops, and I have complete faith in whatever future products they release. More…

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Coming To Telus January 13

Good news for our brothers to the North. Samsung Mobile Canada sent out a tweet today, announcing the availability of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Rogers and Telus. According to the less than 180 characters announcement, both Rogers and Telus will be carrying the Galaxy Nexus starting January 13th. That’s just one week away, and I’m sure one week too long for many. More…

Clove Gives Us A Look At The White Galaxy Nexus, Looks Sort Of Like An Ice Cream Sandwich?

A white version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is set to start shipping out to UK retailers sometime this week, and while there had been a cute rendering of the device circling the web, it wasn’t the actual device. Now, thanks to Clove, we have a look at what the actual white Galaxy Nexus will look like, and I have to say, it sort of looks like an Ice Cream Sandwich to me. Coincidence? More…

Toshiba Plans To Show Off “World’s Thinnest And Lightest” Tablet At CES

Toshiba has plans to go thin this year at CES, and when I mean thin, I mean half as thin as their Toshiba Thrive Android tablet. Toshiba has announced its plans to show off the “World’s thinnest and lightest” tablet and claims the 10.1″ AT200 will only measure in at 7.7mm thick. The AT200 (aka Toshiba Excite) isn’t new to the blogoshpere and was announced back in September, with a December launch date. For whatever reason, Toshiba decided to delay the launch of their 558 gram razor thin tablet until CES, where they plan to show it off alongside their waterproof tablet and 7″ budget tablet. More…

More Evidence That The Samsung Galaxy Note Is Coming To AT&T

Samsung recently told us that the Galaxy Note would be coming to the U.S. sometime this year, but which carrier would be getting it remained a mystery. There were rumors of AT&T getting the Note and we now have some compelling evidence to suggest so. Apparently an accessory maker sent out some press emails outing the AT&T Galaxy Note, as they advertised being the first to carry accessories for the device. Of course that statement was soon retracted (and someone probably lost their job) but I’m now pretty confident the AT&T Galaxy Note exists. More…

ASUS Transformer Prime In Stock At BestBuy.com, Get It While You Can

The world’s first quad-core tablet has sure been hard to come by. Almost every stockpile offered has been depleted instantly, leaving feigning customers with wads of cash just waiting to be spent. Well, I’m happy to report that BestBuy.com now has the 32GB Gray ASUS Tranformer Prime in stock and ready to roll. The ASUS Transformer Prime is a true testament of a powerful device at a reasonable price. More…

Cult of Mac

China Unicom offers free iPhone 4S on contract

Want a free iPhone 4S? If you’re a customer of China Unicom, you’re in luck — the company announced today (one week from the first day of iPhone 4S availability in China and 21 other countries) that they’ll give users a free iPhone 4S for signing a multiyear service contract.

It gets better. The promotion offers the 32 GB iPhone 4S on a three-year contract for as little as 286 yuan (about US$ 45) per month, or customers can commit for only two years and get the 16 GB model for 386 yuan per month.

Several industry analysts think that the subsidy, which is designed to attract high-end subscribers who will also buy up expensive data plans, is a bad idea for China Unicom. Hong Kong-based analyst Steven Liu of Standard Chartered Bank noted in a Bloomberg article that “After subsidizing the iPhone, the operator will have less money for subsidizing other smartphone users that could be more profitable.”

China Unicom’s costs for 3G phone subsidies and related marketing expenses were nearly 6 billion yuan in the first half of 2011, almost four times the same period in 2010. The popular iPhone handsets are sure to hit the carrier’s subsidy costs even more, but customers don’t appear to want to purchase lower priced and less capable smartphones.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Dijit For iPad Is Your Socially-Powered TV Guide For The Living Room

Dijit For iPad Is Your Socially-Powered TV Guide For The Living Room

Today Dijit has launched its official iPad app for interacting with your TV. In a world where we’re constantly tweeting and checking Facebook from the couch, Dijit has attempted to intertwine our online lives with our favorite TV shows.

The app works with Griffin’s Beacon peripheral or the Roku box to turn your iPad into a universal remote with internet capabilities. Not only can you browse your TV guide and control what you’re watching, but Dijit’s app gives you quick access to Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, and your Netflix queue.

Dijit For iPad Is Your Socially-Powered TV Guide For The Living Room

Dijit gives you a perfectly customizable remote control interface, where you decide exactly which buttons appear when you want them to. No more squinting at 73 identically shaped buttons on your remote, just the ones you want and need. Using Dijit is incredibly simple. Add each device you want to control with just a few taps using our included device library. You can even create “activities” so you can push one click, and automatically turn on the TV, Blu-Ray player, and Stereo all at the same time.

In addition to the remote control, the Dijit Guide delivers a customized electronic program guide (EPG) for your personal TV channel lineup. Simply identify your cable/satellite provider, and Dijit will find all your listings. From there you can quickly prune your guide to just show the channels and shows you like to watch, and hide all the rest. Even better, you can connect to Facebook and get TV recommendations automatically from your friends. The Dijit Guide also includes Social TV features, such as YouTube, Twitter chat and social “check-ins” to your favorite shows.

You can download Dijit’s new iPad app for free in the App Store.

Cult of Mac

Daily Mac App: Fluid

Fluid lets you create an “app” out of a website. If you use one specific website all the time, this alone is very handy. For example, if you wanted a browser specifically for Gmail, you could make one using Fluid and set its own icon, download directory, and other settings. Or maybe you heard about Facebook tracking users even when they are “logged out” of Facebook and want to have a browser that you only use for Facebook.

Once you start making them, the uses for per-site browsers start appearing everywhere. I created one for my web hosting company’s “web panel” with links on the bookmark bar to domain registration, support links, mail settings, etc. I don’t need to see those links all the time, so I wouldn’t want to put them on my regular browser’s toolbar. But when I need to do something on my host, it keeps me from having to search all over their menus for the settings I use the most.

Is there a site that has a better iPad version than the regular version? Make a per-site browser for that site, and set the User Agent to the iPad from the menu. (Unlike Safari, that setting will stay even after the app is restarted.)

Fluid is free to use, but for $ 5 you get a few extra features:

  1. Separate cookie storage (usually cookies are shared with Safari).
  2. Minimize app to the menu bar instead of the dock
  3. Userscripts or Userstyles
  4. Lion Full Screen mode

Ok, honestly, #4 ought to be a default part of the app, but the others are really well worth the money. Do you use more than one Gmail account? With separate cookies, you can make separate browser-apps for each one, which makes it much easier. (Same goes for Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site.) Separate cookies for Facebook means that Facebook can’t track you whenever are doing when you aren’t using Facebook. Worried about Google invading your privacy? Create a Fluid.app for Google and keep its settings separate from your other sites too.

Do you like to listen to Internet radio? Make a browser that only appears in the menu-bar and you can easily control it without cluttering up your dock. Use Google Calendar? Create a browser for it, set the User Agent to “iPhone” and put it in your menu bar for quick reference.

Using Fluid.app Browsers With 1Password

Unfortunately, Fluid.app browsers do not integrate with 1Password. I’m hoping that might change in the future, but in the meantime, the good news is that you can still use your 1Password data using a feature called 1PasswordAnywhere. The short version is this

  • Locate your “1Password.agilekeychain” file
  • Control-click » Show Package Contents
  • Find 1Password.html file

(If your 1Password file is in Dropbox, the path will be ~/Dropbox/1Password/1Password.agilekeychain/1Password.html.)

Put the full, complete path into your Fluid browser. For example, mine is:

file:///Users/luomat/Dropbox/1Password/1Password.agilekeychain/1Password.html

(Be sure to change /Users/luomat/ to your path.)

That way you can open your 1Password file (read-only) in your Fluid browser. (Note: if you have restricted what sites your Fluid browser can access, you may need to loosen that to allow it to access that page.)

Closing Notes

The only other drawback is that Safari extensions don’t work with Fluid browsers. Also, you may have heard that Google Chrome has a similar feature called “Application Shortcuts.” Unfortunately, that feature is not available on Mac OS X, and Google has not said if or when it ever will be.

In a world where “web apps” are becoming more and more common, Fluid makes them easier to use than ever. You can use the majority of features for free, so go ahead and download Fluid and check it out. It requires 10.6 or later. Once you start using it, you’ll probably find even more uses for it. Some day I’ll explain my byzantine system of using Fluid and Choosy, but in the meantime, take it for a spin.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

It’s The Mac App Store’s Birthday!

It’s The Mac App Store’s Birthday!

Today marks the one year milestone for the Mac App Store. In 2011, Apple unveiled the Mac App Store on January 6th, 2011 with over 1,000 apps available at launch. Just like this year, CES was starting to ramp up. Apple stole the early thunder by announcing its app distribution system for OS X.

Steve Jobs told the world that, “We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps.” As it turns out, he was right.

The Mac App Store went live alongside OS X 10.6.6, and there was plenty of pre-release buzz surrounding high-profile apps like Twitter for Mac. Apple categorized and formatted the Mac App Store nearly identically to the iOS App Store, and user adoption skyrocketed.

Last month, Apple announced that the Mac App Store has served over 100 million downloads, and that figure didn’t even include Lion and re-download numbers. It was estimated that over 10,000 live apps existed in the store at that time.

It’s only taken Apple one year to propel the Mac App Store to the forefront of desktop software distribution. We can’t wait to see what this next year has in store.

Happy birthday, Mac App Store!

Cult of Mac

Daily Update for January 6, 2012

It’s the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You’ll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what’s happening in the Apple world.

You can listen to today’s Apple stories by clicking the inline player (requires Flash) or the non-Flash link below. To subscribe to the podcast for daily listening through iTunes, click here.

No Flash? Click here to listen.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Rumored March launch of high-res ‘iPad 3′ portrayed as ‘completely accurate’

By AppleInsider Staff

Published: 03:54 PM EST (12:54 PM PST)
Rumors of a March launch for Apple’s third-generation iPad with a high-resolution Retina Display have been deemed “completely accurate,” though a claim that Apple will launch an “iPad 4″ this October was written off as “completely made-up nonsense.”

John Gruber of Daring Fireball issued a response on Friday to a new report from DigiTimes that gained attention earlier in the day. That report from the Taiwan-based publication said that Apple will ship a third-generation iPad in March with a high-definition display.

“Wait a minute. What’s going on here?” Gruber responded sarcastically. “A DigiTimes report about Apple and the iPad that’s completely accurate? No completely made-up nonsense? Is something wrong with me?”

He then went on to quote the portion of the article that said an “iPad 4″ with “killer applications” will arrive in October. To that he responded, “OK, phew, what a relief.”

Though the post was tongue-in-cheek, Gruber seemingly does use it to confirm a March launch of the next iPad, consistent with the timeframe of the the iPad 2 launch in 2011. He has also said on previous occasions that he believes the next iPad will sport a high-resolution Retina Display. Gruber is well-connected and has a reliable track record on Apple predictions.

Separately, Gruber took a few guesses at what Apple might do in 2012 for Macworld. There he suggested that Apple’s Retina Display branding would only apply to new high-end models.

“I think Apple will continue selling the existing iPad 2 alongside the new ones, or introduce a new lower-end model that still sports today’s 1024-by 768-pixel screen, simply because I think the retina-display iPad will be a big expensive,” he said. “I think the new iPad models will use the same screen size as today’s — no 7-inch model.”

As for the next iPhone, Gruber believes it will be a completely redesigned model that will arrive in late 2012, like the iPhone 4S. He doesn’t expect that the new iPhone will have a larger display, but he does see Apple including an even better camera than is in the iPhone 4S.

AppleInsider

Expect To See A Truck Load of SSDs At CES Thanks To Apple [CES 2012]

Expect To See A Truck Load of SSDs At CES Thanks To Apple [CES 2012]

Expect To See A Truck Load of SSDs At CES Thanks To Apple [CES 2012]

For years we’ve heard a lot of hype about SSDs and how they’re going to change computing, but their progress has been slow, and the masses have been getting impatient. Well CES 2012 will be the start of SSDs officially entering into mainstream use thanks to Apple Inc. The best purchase I made in 2011 was when I replaced my MacBook Pro with the new 11” MacBook Air. Not only is the MacBook Air lighter than any laptop I’ve owned, it’s also powerful enough to do some really awesome things I’d never thought possible on a miniature computer (like playing graphic intensive games like Star Wars the Old Republic). Most of these technological marvels are all thanks to Apple’s inclusion on SSDs in the MacBook Air lineup. Of course, Apple didn’t invent the SSD, nor were they the first company to use them, but they’re responsible for bringing SSDs to the masses at an affordable price.

Why Are SSDs Awesome?

The proliferation of SSD’s in consumer machines are part of the growing trend in technology that is cleansing electronics of all moving parts. More than ever, companies are making electronics with the fewest moving parts possible. Think about the cellphone. Your cellphone five years ago might have included 20-30 moving parts, but now, your iPhone has only 5 parts that move ever so slightly. SSDs are part of this growing trend as they replace old mediums of storage. Hard Drives Disks (HDDs) contain spinning disks and movable read/write heads, which make them more vulnerable to failure. Contrasting the old technology of data storage mediums, SSD’s include no moving parts. Because there are no moving parts, SSD read/write speeds are a lot quicker than HDDs. They turn on quicker, which means your computer’s boot-up time is almost instantaneous. Another added plus for SSDs is that they’re drastically thinner than HDDs because they don’t have spinning disks, motors, and read/write heads, which also means they break less-often and have lower fail-rates. Utilizing SSDs provides computer users with a storage medium that is quicker than an HDD while also allowing devices to become thinner without sacrificing performance.

Who’s Making SSD’s?

The question at CES will actually be, “Who’s not making SSDs?”  The tech world is in agreement that SSDs are the future. Every company focused on digital storage is fighting to establish themselves as the preeminent dealer or manufacturer of SSDs because this is a market that is about to explode. Over the next few years, computer manufacturers will be replacing the use of hard drives in their machines with solid state drives. Apple has already set the trend for SSD use in laptops by creating the MacBook Air that only comes with an SSD. We’re already seeing a ripple effect of SDD use across the portable computer space, and soon it will hit desktops as well. You can currently add a 250GB SSD to an iMac, and I wouldn’t be suprised if Apple comes out with a new iMac this year that comes with an SSD as the default storage choice.

At CES you can be sure to expect SDD’s popping up in unexpected places, from some companies you wouldn’t normally associate with SSDs. For example, Monster Digital, the guys that make those ridiculously expensive Dr. Dre Headphones and HDMI cables, are set to launch a new line of “Ultra Speed SSDs.” Intel is starting to invest a lot of resources into SSDs, along with traditional hard drive makers like SeaGate and Western Digital.

Money Talks

For the first time in their existence, SSD’s are on the verge of becoming economically competitve with HDDs. Traditionally, SSDs have been monumentally more expensive than HDDs, so much so that few computer owners have purchased them in the last five years.  What’s the point of buying a $ 500 SSD with only 200GB of storage when you can buy 2TB of storage on a hard drive for $ 200? Rven if the hard drive is a bit slower, the value proposition of SSDs has been lacking for years, but that is quickly coming to an end, as companies like OWC are now offering SSDs at competitive prices.

Pointing back to Apple and the MacBook Air, Apple has been able to force the price of SSDs down. The MacBook Air comes with an SSD, yet the entire machine only costs $ 999. Forcing companies to compete with them at lower price points, Apple has helped nudge the price of SSDs down by making the best laptop on the market at a price even a college student can afford. Companies are scrambling trying to offer the same features that the SSD MacBook Airs have, at a competitive price. This is awesome news for consumers because we get better machines that are faster, lighter, have lower fail rates, and come at an affordable price. The original MacBook Air was a completely overpriced joke, but thanks to Apple’s persistence in pursuing SSDs, the price has been cut in half and performance measures have increased four-fold over the first-gen models.

Every computer company that wants to be relevant in 2012 is going to have to offer products that utilize solid state drives to increase performance while also decreasing the dimensions and weight of their machines. While we won’t be seeing any new Apple products at CES, we will be seeing a truck load of electronics using SSDs. Even if you’re a PC guy, a lot of thanks needs to be given to Apple for making that new Samsung ultra-book a reality.

Cult of Mac