Archives For Apple

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Kevin over at jkOnTheRun wonders why point upgrades on iTunes, such as Tuesday’s 7.0.2 build, require a total application reinstall rather than a patch. Now that’s a pretty good question, but one that doesn’t interest me so much. The questions that do interest me involve Apple’s new Software Update Utility which was released in conjunction with iTunes 7. Considering Apple only provides two pieces of software (QuickTime and iTunes) for Windows, both of which check for updates on their own, it seems like overkill to produce and distribute a distinct application updater… unless there are other products in the pipeline. How does iLife Windows Edition sound?

I’ve been theorizing for awhile that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 (and the forthcoming Sony Playstation 3) isn’t really about teens and video games. Obviously gaming is a core feature and responsible for getting these systems into many homes, despite the steep $400 price of admission. But that’s just a trojan horse — the real money and future of the Xbox 360 is as a digital media hub for the living room.

Over the last year, owners of both Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) and the 360 have been able to stream a variety of content such as music, photos, and even pay movie downloads from their computer to the TV via the 360. Yesterday Microsoft pushed out an Xbox software update that now allows media transfers directly from a typical XP computer, without the need of the specialized MCE OS.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg… Ultimately, Microsoft will want to simplify the process by taking a home computer out of the equation. Right now customers have the ability to directly download a variety of movie trailers and game demos which has served as a proof-of-concept, both as a technical demonstration and a demonstration of consumer acceptance: 70 million pieces of content downloaded.

The next obvious step is to monetize by renting movie downloads directly to the 360. In order to provide such a service, Microsoft needs both content deals and more Xbox storage. They already have a start on the content side in dealings with online video distributors Movielink and Akimbo. Additionally, they recently tested long-form content download of a Battlestar Galactica recap. On the hardware front, Microsoft plans to release an 100GB hard drive accessory for the Xbox 360 in Q1 ’07.

Which brings us to when will this play out… 2007 will be the year of Internet-based video-on-demand services. There are quite a few ongoing experiments in place, such as television network broadcasts and Apple’s iTunes dipping their toes into Disney movie downloads. I expect we’ll see more content owners in this playground as the new industry coalesces into something mainstream consumers, rather than the bleeding edge geek set, can utilize and appreciate. Microsoft’s Xbox 360, along with Apple’s forthcoming iTV media extender, will lead the charge.

Mac SlingPlayer Is Here!

Dave Zatz —  October 30, 2006
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I scheduled this post to run at 11:23PM EST… By the time it’s published, you should be able to download the public beta of the Mac SlingPlayer (and I should be sleeping). I haven’t seen a press release, in fact I don’t know if there will be one. But I can tell you I’ve seen the SlingPlayer in various forms over the last few months, including a hands-on demo of alpha software in California, participation in the beta group, and more hands-on time with a late beta at DigitalLife. It’s been amazing to watch as the Sling team constructed a Mac Windows Media Video (WMV) decoder and put this thing together. The software is free and supports all versions of the Slingbox, both the original model and the new higher resolution trio.

Being a beta, there are still some kinks to be worked out but overall the software is in great shape: Specifically, core audio and video streaming is beautiful. Sadly there appear to be some technical challenges and/or perhaps prioritization that limits support to Tiger for now… Hence the install screengrab above on Panther — that’s the best I can do with my eMac. Maybe it’s about time I pick up that MacBook!

UPDATE:

Never enough time…

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Over on the TCF a disgruntled Apple owner posted a note he received from TiVo when questioning the status of Mac TiVoToGo. I’m not sure TiVo initially gave this initiative the appropriate amount of attention, but I do appreciate what appears to be a frank response — despite calling Apple out (what’s a closed platform?) and despite not offering a target date for release.

My name is Jim Denney, I am in Vice President of Product Marketing for TiVo’s retail products. Tom Rogers forwarded your message to me. I wanted to thank you for your email and apologize for the delay in TiVoToGo for the Mac. I am sorry that you feel we have not paid attention to the Mac community. That is certainly not our intention. We are aware of our subscriber’s desire to get TiVoToGo on the Mac. Believe it or not, we are actively working on the project and have been for the past year in various forms. Unfortunately, developing on the Mac platform has been a little more difficult because of its closed nature. We are working through the issues we have encountered. They are not simple to solve given the needs that we balance in TiVoToGo. We don’t have a release date for the feature yet.

We have gotten ourselves in trouble in the past when we estimated it would be out by mid year this year, we obviously missed that date. In the interest of setting the right expectations this time we want to wait until the feature is actually ready. We are not ready to make that announcement yet. That is why our customer care representatives have been instructed to give the answer they gave you.

We can let you know when the feature is ready for launch. We are listening to you. Until it is ready, we appreciate your patience.

In other Mac development news, the Sling folks plan to release a public beta of OS X software on 10/31.

DVD Jon Is A Masochist

Dave Zatz —  October 25, 2006

DVD Jon, the guy who cracked DVD encryption, has set up shop in California as DoubleTwist Ventures. His goal is to pirate license technology enabling iTunes to play on non-iPods and non-iTunes DRM-ed tracks to play on iPods (how’s that working out, Real?). It would be nice if Apple’s copy protection scheme (aka FairPlay) was made available to other devices, however they’ve been reluctant to share… and probably won’t until a court orders them to do so. Until then, I expect they’ll go after Jon and anyone brash enough to integrate his work into players — it’s no accident his blog is titled So Sue Me. I don’t know how the Norwegian legal system compares to America, but I hope he’s got backers with deep pockets…

Fortune writes: Johansen has reverse-engineered FairPlay, the encryption technology Apple uses to make the iPod a closed system. Right now, thanks to FairPlay, the songs Apple sells at its iTunes store cannot easily be played on other devices, and copy-protected songs purchased from other sites will not play on the iPod. Johansen has written programs that get around those restrictions: one that would let other companies sell copy-protected songs that play on the iPod, and another that would let other devices play iTunes songs.

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Today the iPod is officially 5 years old. What really broke the seal on the portable MP3 (or is that AAC?) player market was Apple’s intuitive UI and minimalist controls. Despite the initial price premium, they sold a ton and created an industry (iTunes probably also saved the recording industry from itself).

I’ve owned a variety of iPods over the years, including a refurb 3G long since ebayed and a Shuffle collecting dust on den floor. I even had a video-capable iPod for a short while. For the most part, I prefer carrying fewer devices and have made concessions in order to watch video and listen to music through my Sprint 6700.

While my marathoning days are loooong gone (that’s Chicago above, 1998), I’d like to be more active. My 35th birthday is coming up in a few months, and my blood pressure and cholesterol are way too high (blogging doesn’t burn many calories)… It’d be nice if I can substantially reduce those numbers on my own without being medicated. After upgrading my Garmin Forerunner 201 to the 205 model a few months ago, I still had problems in (efficiently and consistently) locking onto the satellites near neighborhood highrises and in densely wooded areas along the Potomac. I also didn’t care for the way the redesigned model sat on my wrist. Off to ebay they went!

The Nike+ iPod digital pedometer has been on my radar for awhile now. I know there have been various complaints (it isn’t super accurate, the battery can’t be replaced), but it just looks like a fun gadget to have while working out. The web syncing also seems pretty cool. Not having to stand around for 10 minutes waiting for a satellite signal is priceless. So I picked up a Nano and the Nike+ kit.

Nike’s haven’t historically fit me that well (more of an Asics or New Balance guy) — I’m undecided if I’ll buy a pair or Velcro the pod onto sneaks I already own. Stay tuned…