Archives For Apple

iphone-apps

The big distraction news this week is obviously the 3G iPhone launch. And one ZNF reader suggested I owe everyone an explanation as to why I’m not upgrading. It’s simple really – most of the features I’m looking for are found in the 2.0 software update. The main hardware improvements over my model include higher data connectivity speeds and integrated GPS functionality. While 3G is compelling, without SlingPlayer availability or a tethering option, it’s not enough to move me. Also, while the GPS functionality is a nice enhancement, triangulating my location via cell towers and WiFi access points (Skyhook) has never failed to orient me when on foot in New York City or San Francisco.

Overall, I’ve been relatively pleased with the first generation iPhone. It provides an elegant, fun, and sexy interface. And Apple has created the best mobile web browsing experience, by far. It’s also pretty good as a phone and video player. As an email power user, I’ve been slightly frustrated – deleting multiple messages has been tedious (past tense), it takes four taps to switch Inboxes, no contact search (past tense), and Apple still doesn’t provide cut & paste. I also find myself typing fewer and shorter emails due to the virtual keyboard, but that’s worked out fine. As an iPod, I find I prefer my (former) second generation iPod Nano.

Which brings us to the launch of the App Store. On my previously jailbroken device, I streamed audio from iRadio and MobileScrobbler… that I traded in today for free music streaming Pandora (above left) and AOL Radio (above right) applications. Both are lookin’ good and I’m now on the market for at least one iPhone speaker dock, perhaps two. Apple’s also provided a free virtual remote control app for iTunes and AppleTV, which I’ll try out at some point. Though, the multimedia app selection is still a bit light… We should see some promising new software within the next 6 months or so now that the flood gates have been opened.

Bonus coverage – Honda designed the perfect iPhone case:

iphone-car

Two postscripts… 1) While the iPhone is my primary handset, I’m holding onto my Nokia N95 and Treo 750. 2) Simultaniously clicking the top and bottom physical iPhone buttons takes a screengrab.

old-ipod-iphone-thumb.jpg

Apple products are the gifts that keep on giving. Right before the July 4th holiday, AppleInsider reported on how first-gen iPhone buyers can still operate their handsets as iPod Touch devices – Wi-Fi and all – if they decide to buy the new 3G iPhone. This met with some derision on the AppleInsider forum as an iPhone costs more than an iPod Touch, but the realists in the group pointed out that for year-old technology, it’s not such a bad deal.

In the meantime, the story got me thinking about the options for old iPhones and iPods. What to do when you’re ready to move on to the next-gen product?

  1. Sell your old iPhone or iPod on eBay. It’s an obvious choice, but one that many may be too lazy to take advantage of. For those folks, try an iSOLD It store. Drop off your old product, let them sell it for you on eBay, and reap a portion of the profits. Dave likes this method.
  2. Pass it down to a child or up to a parent. Again this is an obvious choice, but you can turn it into a true gift by loading your old gadget with personalized music for the recipient. Think mix tape without the romantic connotations.
  3. Keep a travel version. Like to work out on the road? Keep an iPod or iPhone-cum-iPod-Touch topped up with workout tunes in your travel bag. You’ll have no excuse to avoid that run around the hotel grounds.
  4. Raffle off for a local community group. Got a kid’s extracurricular club that’s looking for prizes to raffle? What could be better than that old iPod Mini?
  5. If your old iPod or iPhone is totally trashed, there’s always the recycling option. Apple has its own recycling program, and it’s completely free, including shipping. No better way to end-of-life an Apple music player.

Rogers has announced its (and its subsidiary Fido’s) long awaited Canadian 3G iPhone data plan pricing. Unlike AT&T and other carriers around the world, Rogers is not offering an unlimited data plan option. Rather it is tying rather stingy tiered data plans to tiered voice plans at considerably higher prices than charged in Europe and the United States (see here). Here’s the details:

  • Minimum 3 Year Contract (AT&T requires only a 2 year contract)
  • $199 for 8GB 3G iPhone; $299 for 16GB (same as U.S.)
  • No Unlimited Data Plan. Rogers offers the following mixed monthly voice/data plans:
    • $60 – 400 MB Data – 75 outgoing SMS – 150 minutes*
    • $75 – 750 MB Data – 100 outgoing SMS – 300 minutes
    • $100 – 1 GB Data – 200 outgoing SMS – 600 minutes
    • $115 – 2 GB Data – 300 outgoing SMS – 800 minutes
  • $6.95 monthly system access charge on top of data plans. (AT&T does not charge a monthly access plan but does charge a one time $36 activation fee)
  • 3G iPhoneAll Rogers plans include unlimited:
  • ‘Subsidized Only’ There is no option to purchase the phone at full value to avoid the 3 year minimum contract (something prohibited in some European countries and under review by the U.S. FCC)

*Minutes are weekday minutes. Rates do note include $15 or $20 a month for options such as Caller ID, more text messages and call forwarding.

Read the rest of this entry at The Daleisphere »

Boxee: XBMC Reloaded

Dave Zatz —  June 15, 2008 — 4 Comments

boxee-click-on-album

While the XBMC desktop port continues, a new player (Boxee) is stepping in to create a (free) unified front-end that layers social networking features on top of traditional media extender functionality. For those unfamiliar with XBMC, I’ll go ahead and quote myself:

when you’ve completed the upgrade, the classic Xbox is more capable, useful, and affordable than most most media extenders out there – including the 360. All sorts of multimedia can be streamed across your home network, played back from the local hard drive, or via the optical drive. Hooks into YouTube and Apple’s movie trailers are included, plus all sorts of other widgets are available.

Of course, that description was specific to the original XBMC running on classic Xbox hardware (XBMC = Xbox Media Center) – but the experience is being translated into a (multiplatform) computer app. While XBMC development has been doing OK on it’s own, it’s still remains largely the province of geeks. To go mainstream, we’ve got to get past compiling code and installing Python scripts. By bringing leadership equivalent to the Mozilla Corporation to bear on this problem, Boxee should be able to speed and enhance development.

boxee-install

Boxee’s currently self funded and the team is comprised of about ten people, including a former Sling Media colleague. I was provided an advance look at a pre-alpha build and found the visual interface both pleasing and speedy, with some innovative new methods of media interaction (think: friends) for this category.

As far as challenges, Boxee’s will be no different – the space is getting crowded and the market for computer-based media centers is finite. According to NewTeeVee, they may ultimately look for hardware partners. My short term suggestion: Let me replace the AppleTV experience. Apple’s hardware is pretty solid and priced right at $229 but, while not quite a wall-garden, software functionality is limited. I assume the XBMC MPEG-2 codec is unlicensed and, as a commercial venture, Boxee will be on the hook for royalties (if they provide playback).

Hit Boxee.tv to request an invite for alpha testing (Mac & Linux), which begins Monday.

As we approach the release of D-Link’s DSM-300 DivX Connected media extender, I (and several of my blogosphere buddies) have been offered an advance look at the set-top box. Like a Windows Media Center or Sage TV extender, the DSM-300 primarily relies on Windows-based software to serve up your digital media (and I’m told a Mac equivalent is in the works). Thus far, I’ve only unboxed and configured the unit – joining my wireless network was painless (device maxes out with 802.11g) and the enclosure is attractive. I’m also pleased to see they didn’t skimp on accessories… The unit ships with an HDMI cable. While I don’t need one, many will – and it’s a consumer friendly touch. Assuming things remain on track, we can expect general availability within about a month priced similarly to the UK (99 British pounds = ~$200?). I’ll have more to say at some point, though Brent will probably beat me to a formal review.