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iPhone approved at the FCC

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: News

Not much to see yet, but we do have a few details.

Most RF emitting devices manufactured for sale in the US have to receive FCC approval. This approval is to ensure that devices live up to the manufacturer’s claims—devices must be independently certified to only communicate on specific frequencies, and not emit interference on others. In the case of the iPhone, we’re looking at a few sets of frequencies:

  • GSM: 824.2-848.8 (850), 1850.2-1909.8 (1900)

  • Bluetooth: 2402.0-2480.0

  • WiFi: 2412.0-2462.0

What I’m not clear on is the specs here—if you look above, it reads as if the iPhone is only a US dual-mode phone (operating on the 850 and 1900Mhz frequencies), and not a quad-band or world phone (operating on the 850 & 1900, and 900 & 1800Mhz frequencies). But this is probably just because in the US, 900 and 1800 are not used for mobile/cellular phone purposes, so maybe the FCC doesn’t require manufacturers to submit tests on the frequencies the device is capable of using, only the frequencies the manufacturer intends the device to use in the US. If you have more info on this, please leave a comment below. You can read all about GSM frequencies on Wikipedia, too.
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Finally, some good news to counter the unfortunate news on the Leopard-front, albeit on the 10.5 Server side of things. I guess beggars can’t be choosers, right?

If you’ve been keeping up with all the new (non-surprise) features of Leopard, you probably have heard about the new iCal Server. It’s an open-source, open-standards server that promises to help users publish, schedule, share, collaborate on events, instead of simply posting and subscribing to events through the iCal client today.

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At a press conference today in London, England, EMI and Apple announced that they will sell unDRMd music starting in May, 2007. Sorry for the scattered look of all of this, but I wanted to get it posted as fast as possible:

Quick notes:

Jobs: Need to take online music distribution to the next level:

* need to address interoperability

* audio quality: new versions of songs, higher quality 256kbps AAC $1.29 / track. easily upgrade entire library for $0.30/song; album = same price.

EMI: DRM music is going to be available to all retailers.

Jobs: Apple reaching out to other labels–hopes 1/2 of songs will be DRM free by the end of the year. The right thing for the customer in the future is to tare down the walls of interoperability.

Q: Is this more complicated for consumers?
Jobs: People are going to have a choice and set iTunes to pick one. We don’t want to take away anything–want to give consumers the choice. We think consumers are going to choose the higher quality.

Q: How will this impact the iPod/iTunes relationship?
Jobs:Always been able to play the mp3s. We compete on best music store.

Consumer groups:
Jobs: not offering anything here today that consumers can’t get already on a CD.

Are you giving green light to file sharers?
EMI: “need to trust consumers” this doesn’t diminish fight against piracy, key is to give consumers a compelling experience, trust them, educate them, grow sales rather than diminish them.

EMI: hopes that this will grow sales–the main point of doing it.

Jobs: EMI is pioneering something that I Think is going to be very popular.

Jobs: We’re not offering something different. All CDs are provided unprotected and in high quality. Protecting CDs–Sony tried that, it didn’t work out so well.

Q: Are other majors standing in the way of this?
Jobs: There are always leaders ad there are always followers. opportunity for everyone to win: customers win; music companies get more money by providing more value.

Video DRM free?
Jobs: Video is different. They don’t offer video DRM free today, so I wouldn’t hold them parallel right now.

Do you expect fall in iPod sales:
Jobs: No link broken. Always been able to rip and copy to iTunes and put on the player they want to. No real link. Success based on whether people think we have the best and easiest to use music store and music players. Not going to do anything different. Want to be the best music store and the music player.

What’s the point of DRM on cheaper tracks, why not remove it completely?
Jobs: For customers that are price sensitive, we don’t want to tell them that we’re taking something away from them.
EMI: not everyone cares about sound quality.

Will consumers feel cheated?
Jobs: music lovers have a choice, they can go whatever way they want to go. More choice. Life is a balance between total freedom and simplicity. Try to strike the maxims–we think we’ve done a good job of that.

How will it work with other music services?
EMI: we only set wholesale prices. We hope this will help to generate growth.

File size on iPods because of larger file size?
Storage sizes go up prices go down.

How can you justify 20% increase in price?
Jobs: exactly same price as yesterday. New product offers more features, higher sound quality; more flexibility, so higher price. Consumer gets to choose.

Official press announcement here:

AMIE Street

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: News, Reviews

We’ve reviewed iTunes Store alternatives on MacCast before, so I thought I’d take a look at a new and innovative music service that incentivizes indy music discovery while compensating artists—all without DRM.

Coming Out

Last Monday, all the world was aflutter about AMIE Street. It’s an online music service that does not wrap its music in DRM and employes a unique monetization model that encourages its users to find discover and recommend otherwise unknown music. The big deal on Monday was that AMIE Street signed a deal with “Canada’s leading privately owned record label and artist management company,” Nettwerk Music Group. One of the big name acts under Nettwerk’s label is (are?) the Barenaked Ladies. The big-name group instantly added credibility to the new site and traffic swarms ensued; AMIE Street quickly buckled under the server load, but recovered by the end of the day.
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CallWave Visual Voicemail Widget for your Mac

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: Reviews

One of the coolest apps that sets the iPhone apart from any other mobile phone is visual voicemail, which displays who left you a message and allows you to listen to each in any order. It’s a new way to answer your mobile phone voicemails, but now you can do the same on your Mac with the CallWave Visual Voicemail widget.

Setup on your Mac and Mobile Phone

CallWave has setup this free service to allow you to receive your mobile voicemail on your computer. Just download the Apple widget (Yahoo! Widget and a Vista Gadget users can play too) to your Mac, install it in the usual way. Then open your Dashboard and click on the CallWave Visual Voicemail widget to set it up.
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Toast 8 Titanium with TiVo Transfer

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: Reviews

Title: Toast 8 Titanium
Price: $79.99 [after $20 mail-in rebate]
Availability: Now
Publisher: Roxio

Recently we talked about the TiVoDecode Manager which enables Mac users to download television shows recorded on TiVo over the home network. Now Roxio with its latest version of its award winning CD and DVD burning software, Toast 8 Titanium, has decided to try its hand at it. The difference is Roxio is officially endorsed by TiVo to provide this TiVoToGo solution for the Mac.

For this review, I’m only going to focus on the TiVo Transfer side of Toast 8 Titanium, but will take a look at the rest of the application in a later post. If there are specific questions you might have about Toast 8 that I should address in later posts, please leave a comment below.
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iPhone Predictions: How did we do?

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: Random Thoughts

A previous post on the MacCast blog discussed some practical predictions on Apple’s iPhone, and the MacCast community commented on it. Some aspects we collectively got right, others not so much. Let’s take a look.

How Apple would create iPhone

  • Prediction: Not from bottom up.

  • Reality: from scratch.

I underestimated Apple’s dedication to this device. Yes, they created the iPod which is a data retrieval device. I thought because the iPhone was a different animal, one that both retrieves data, but creates it as well, that Apple wouldn’t spend the resources needed to build a mobile device. Boy, was I wrong. Severely wrong.
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Apple iPhone: a quick first look

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: News

Better than anyone could have imagined—all in one device. Let’s look at some of the details we know so far:

Here’s what we know regarding the phone capabilities:

  • Cingular is US Parter
  • GSM / EDGE
  • WiFi and Bluetooth
  • SMS conversations in iChat-like format
  • Visual voicemail—answering machine like technology where all the messages and their contact info are listed on the phone, and can be selected to playback out of order—not sequentially like traditional voicemail. Those who use VOIP will be familiar with this. Not sure yet, but there is probably some “special sauce” that allows the phone to communicate with the voicemail service.
  • Email: POP/IMAP/Push (Blackberry-like mail)—Free Yahoo! Accounts with every Apple iPhone
  • Full HTML Safari web browser
  • Runs a portable version of Mac OS X.

Other amazing iPhone notables:

  • Multi-touch screen with onscreen keyboard
  • iPhoto, iTunes, Contacts, Calendar, To-do lists, Widgets
  • Bluetooth Headset
  • 4GB and 8GB memory capacity
  • 5 hour battery life, 16h just playing music.

$499 for 4GB, 8GB for $599. Available in June 2007.

I’m sure Adam et al will have much more to say when they get back to posting. Stay Tuned!

Wired, on the Cult of Mac blog, posted a thoughtful article about the key part of the Apple Phone’s success—good mobile-phone-to-computer synchronization. It was a point made in a recent post by Engadget’s Ryan Block, and I’d say most people would agree with it.

But from that general and broad notion, I think Wired misses a lot of the progress Apple has already made with their existing applications. They also miss a large potential opportunity and downside of the introduction of an Apple Phone for Apple users.
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Dashcode Beta for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger

Written by: Alex Curtis

Categories: News

Apple has just released a beta of their widget making tool Dashcode. This is significant for a few reasons: 1. it’s rare that Apple issues a beta version of their software; 2. Dashcode will be made a part of the official release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Apple made it available to users of Mac OS X 10.4 “in order to get feedback from a broad range of users.”

The idea behind this application—making complex Java/XML/HTML programming simple—is what the Mac experience is all about. Developer tools made more approachable to the average consumer is something a lot of us would like to see. I know I’d love to put a pro-tool like WebObjects to use, but I’ve found the learning curve too steep. Maybe this is an indication of the direction Apple is taking for these kinds of apps.

I’ve never tried previous versions of Dashcode (and truthfully, I’m a fairly infrequent Dashboard/widget user), but I intend to give this one a try. Unfortunately, by downloading and installing it, Apple’s EULA is crystal clear that I can’t discuss anything about it, especially on a blog. Bummer! If there are others in the MacCast community who have used earlier versions of the software and aren’t covered by any legal restrictions, please post your comment below and share your impressions.

The Dashcode beta release will expire on July 15, 2007 (which hopefully also gives us a no-later-than date for Leopard’s release). You’ll need a free Apple Developer Connection login to download it.