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Apple screws the pooch again

Now that the Macworld hysteria has settled we can reflect upon Apple’s announcements this week with unbiased perspective. The purported “leaked keynote” turned out to be as counterfeit as Fake Steve Jobs, and more likely leaked by the real Steve Jobs to ferret out dissidents within the ranks at Apple. Either way, heads will surely roll over that folly. But before we talk about the pooch Apple is trying to mount up doggie style, let’s take a look at the latest revelations from Apple.

The MacBook Air, as it turns out, was not the Apple-Nike-Michael-Jordan basketball shoe mashup, but rather a new ultra-portable, super lightweight laptop so thin you could almost slice tomatoes with it. But at $1,800 for the baseline version, it’s a lot of cabbage to shell out for something that could blow away in a stiff breeze. Maybe they should include a neck laynard for it like the first generation Nanos had so you can wear it like a medal.

Then along came the news about movie rentals in iTunes. This sparked some debate about whether this is the “Netflix killer” even in light of Netflix’s move to give away unlimited video streaming to most of its subscribers. In our opinion, Netflix is easy prey for Apple since their streaming product is PC-only, offers no newer releases, no HD, and has a clunky distribution vehicle that appears primitive when compared to iTunes. In addition, Apple’s movie rental service works with Apple TV enabling integration with your living room, the holy grail of home computing that Microsoft has been hoping to own with the Xbox.

And then, of course, was the announcement of the new firmware update that includes some nifty new features for the iPhone and iPod touch. The home screen and springboard are both customizable now, you can send SMS messages to multiple recipients, and the Map app now displays your current location (surprisingly accurate thanks to cell tower triangulation).

Apple’s stock price indicates that investors were hoping for more iPhone news, but that didn’t bother us at all. No, it wasn’t the lack of iPhone love that got our goat, but rather the announcement about the apps for Mail, Map, Weather, Notes, and Stocks being included in new iPod touches. Existing touch owners will have to fork over $20 bucks to get these apps when the price of new iPod touches remains the same. Say what?

C’mon Apple, these dogs are your early adopters and best customers and your asking them to roll over so you can squeeze them for a few more Milk Bones. This move is reminiscent of the iPhone pricing fiasco last August when Apple decided to drop the price of new iPhones two months after they were released, a move which ticked off the early adopters that had already paid much more for their iPhones. Apple eventually made up for it with a rebate, but they should have considered it before making the announcement and causing anxiety with their most loyal followers. iPod touch owners are feeling the same way now and some have even started an online petition. Do these things actually work? Well, even if it doesn’t work, at least it might send Apple a very clear message. Please don’t screw the pooch. Give existing iPod touch owners the apps for no additional fee.

Friday Roundup for January 25th, 2008 – iPhone tips submitted by you

TGIF, and you know what that means… Touchip’s Friday Roundup of user-submitted tips for iPhones and iPod touches!

We hope you enjoy these as much as we do. And don’t forget to share your own tip with us, or post them directly to our iPhone and iPod touch forums.

This week, you wrote in to share some very useful typing shortcuts using the virtual keyboard. You taught us new ways of extending our battery life, how to make the external speaker louder, and how to download and read PDF files. We also really appreciated that tip for restoring music from our iPods back into iTunes after a computer crash wipes out our iTunes library. Here are this weeks tips submitted by you…

Submitted by Rajneel Gupta:

If you are desparate to increase the volume of your iPhone’s speaker, you can poke extra holes in the speaker cover using a needle.

Submitted by Jasper:

Hold down the HOME button when exiting applications instead of pressing it once. This will shut down that application completely when its not use, as opposed to just minimizing it. This stops that application using CPU cycles and sucking your battery dry in the background. Especially when you have many appz running. Also disable wifi when not in use, keep screen brightness below 60% and placing iPod into sleep mode while only listening to audio all help to increase battery life (press off button while using audio to but in sleep mode). Since I started manually killing applications when not in use my video/audio time has increase dramatically.

Submitted by Kaz:

To restore music from your iPod back into iTunes… Download ipodRIP to your computer. Plug in your ipod but be certain NOT to sync it with itunes. In IpodRip, click ‘restore all’ or similar and wait for your music to re-import to itunes. This will take a while, but it’s the easiest way. This software is available as a free 30 day demo for mac or a 10 use demo for PC.

Submitted by Sandeep Sharma:

While typing, keep holding any key on the keyboard for about 2 seconds and you see special characters associated with that particular character. This won’t work while typing URL’s though.

Submitted by Crushed Tilley Hat:

I have seen alot of different forums regarding unlocking the itouch to be able to download applications, in order to make the itouch/iphone more into a PDA. One of the concerns and one of mine as well is downloading and reading of PDF files. I have found that if I email the PDF file to myself and store them in lets say a mail folder called PDF files, then the email will read the PDF file. You can not book mark or go to chapters/search etc, but you can read it.

Another less agreeable way is to convert your PDF files to an image and download them to a photo directory. You can then read them as individual photographs.

Just a thought until the fine folks at Apple unlock the system so that we can make good use of the downloads available.

Submitted by D2k:

Stumbled across while putzing around the net. From the author of iPhone: The Missing Manual

McCallum’s Awesome iPhone Period-Typing Shortcut

THE most annoying thing, about typing on the iPhone:

The punctuation keys and alphabet keys appear in two different keyboard layouts.

Imagine how excruciating it is to type, for example, “a P.O. Box in the U.S.A.!” That’s 34 finger taps and 10 mode changes!

So here’s what you can do, all in one motion:

Touch the “.?123″ key, but don’t lift your finger as the punctuation layout appears.
Slide your finger a half inch onto the period or comma key, and release.
Incredibly, the ABC layout returns automatically. You’ve typed a period or a comma with one finger touch instead of three. In fact, you can type ANY of the punctuation symbols the same way.

This makes a HUGE difference in the usability of the keyboard.

iPhone tip – Fix broken video links on iPhone and iPod touch

We can’t count the times we’ve been surfing the web on our iPhone or iPod touch to come across a web page containing a broken video. These are usually caused by an embedded video in the web page that is formated in Flash video (.flv) which is not currently supported by the Apple devices. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions out there that can help remedy this and allow you to watch those videos after all.

The first, and easiest to use is iTransmogrigy. This works as a bookmarklet that enables you to view web embedded YouTube videos that you might find on blogs or other web sites outside of your native YouTube application on the iPhone. This doesn’t actually convert the video on the server, but rather looks for the compatible mpeg-4 version that YouTube generates for most, but not all, of its videos. Get the bookmarklet and all the details on the Transmogrify home page.

Another way to fix these broken videos is with Mux, currently in beta. Mux will actually convert the video on the server into a format of your choice, and many video formats are supported including mpeg-4. To use Mux, simply enter the url of the video, then select your output format. Since the server-side conversion process will take a little time, Mux will email you the link to the video when it is ready. You can also choose to have the link sent to you via SMS instead of email. Mux has a bookmarklet available as well, making it a bit easier to enter the data by saving you some tapping. You can find Mux at http://www.mux.am/.

The last solution, vTap (from Viveo), is one we’ve told you about before. Like Mux, vTap converts the video all on the server side. vTap will also send you a message when the video is ready (via SMS), but also gives you news items to read if you choose to wait for your video conversion to complete. The news is delivered via RSS abstracts that are customizable. One very nice feature of vTap is the option to listen to the audio only. This saves battery power if you want to listen to an audio heavy video file, such as a lecture, with your screen turned off. To use vTap, point your mobile Safari to http://vtap.com/iphone.html.

Watch movie trailers on your iPhone or iPod touch

For many developers it appears as though the iPhone is simply an excuse to sneak advertisements further within your sight pattern. This is directly in line with many of the more recent trends that are attempting to raise the pervasive nature of technology by blurring the lines of art or entertainment and advertising. This is not to say that all of these are bad, however.

Throughout the last several generations one of the only tolerable advertisements seems to be movie trailers. It is a common feature to see hordes of crowds hurrying to the theater far before the feature begins just so they can see the previews once the curtain gets pulled away. Now with the iPhone app, Trailers, we can get a little bit of that joy streaming behind our touch screen.

Converting Videos for the iPhone Using Compressor

For those who already have their hands into the self produced video revolution the use of technology can have a creative synergy. Many people are now finding professional video editing software less of a hurdle only for the elite studios, and Apple users have now begun to shell out the excessive dollars for the Final Cut Studio package. With this you can engage in a full filmmaking post-production, which then can help you put together a video for your daughter’s dance recital or a fully realized blockbuster movie event. The package itself gives you everything you need to see post-production all the way through, with Live Type to create colorful text boxes and DVD Studio Pro to author DVDs that would put most retailers to shame.

One of the most crucial elements of the Final Cut Studio workflow is Apple’s Compressor, which you can use to shrink and change format for videos. This can be done either when exporting your file from Final Cut Pro, or just a video of almost any type that must be compressed and converted. The software itself has a number of presets for different format, including DVD and the illustrious iPhone. This makes Compressor one of the easiest resources for iPhone video conversion, especially since many tech savvy homes already have the software in regular use. Converting video for iPhone use is especially easy with Compressor, and it only requires a quick step by step method.

Go ahead and open Compressor and go to File and Open. Now you can go to the video you are looking to convert and select it, opening it up in Compressor. The same process is true if you are exporting from Final Cut Pro. If this is the case you can just go to File and Export, then select Export Using Compressor. Both ways will bring up the video in the program where you then need to begin selecting your options. Compressor is composed of a few specific windows. The top long window is the project window where the specific video is listed. Directly below and on the left hand side are the options for compression. There are going to be several folders listed here, each with their own way of organizing and categorizing the options for video conversion that Compressor will give you. Go to the Settings Menu and then the Apple Devices icon. From here there will have a few choices, with two listed as iPod specific. They each have different final qualities, meaning that they have different file sizes. The larger one will have a better quality, while the other will be smaller. Make the choice as to which one you want and then click on it and drag it up to the project menu.

Once this is up there the window will list that it is going to export the selected video in the specified file type. For up to the task bar and select Target so that Compressor knows where to send your iPhone ready video. Once all of these have been set you can click Submit in the lower right hand corner of the project menu. Depending on the file size this can take several minutes or even a couple hours, but Compressor is relatively reliable for most situations. If you want to check on your progress you go to the History window which is directly below the project window to the right. Here you have tabs for today and days previous so you can look at the history of your Compressor jobs. Click on the Today option and you will be given a progress bar for the current job that is occurring. This is a way to keep up on what is happening while it is. The software is part of an expensive package, but for those who already have the resources this can be one of the best options for iPhone video conversion.

Awesome 12mail Video Messenger for iPhone, Works with Twitter and Facebook

Andy Warhol is perhaps most well known for uttering those infamous words, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Ironically, that only took Andy about 12 seconds to say. Nevertheless, his point was made. Humans were progressively losing their attention spans, consuming bite size chunks of media like news and video before spitting them out for the next person.

This effect is no more evident than in our current obsession with social networking, and more specifically, micro-blogging. Take a look at Twitter, that quirky, simpleton of a text messaging service that has taken the world by storm. Its genius can be found, not in its breadth of features, but rather in its lack thereof. For most people, the barriers to use Twitter were set purposely low by its creators. Tweeters can quickly concoct tasty morsels of text and pass them to their followers who devour and share the messages just as fast. It’s like man versus food in a global tapas bar gone mad.

The micro-blogging feeding frenzy has been fueled, in large part, by mobile users who tap out status updates as if tomorrow was the end of the Maya calendar. And with the growing support for video on mobile phones like the iPhone, it only makes sense that video will offer the next bountiful course served up at the social network feast. Twitter has already stated publicly that they will not get into video, but instead leave that up to third-parties. So then, who will dominate this emerging landscape for video micro-blogging? Our countdown stops at 12seconds.tv, the creators of 12mail video messenger, the very first cross-platform video messaging service for iPhone.