Apple Announces The New iPod Shuffle

3rd Generation iPod Shuffle

Thats right, Apple threw us a curve ball today and released the brand new iPod Shuffle.

The Shuffle still features the fantastic clip introduced with the previous generation iPod Shuffle. But, this new iteration has a new feature called “Voice Over” which will not only name the song and artist of the current song but it also will name playlists to you so you can switch between them without the need of a display. To activate the Voice Over function just press and hold the earbud button and your Shuffle will tell you the current track name and artist. To hear the name of your playlists hold the button until you hear small beep, your Shuffle will name your current playlist and then all of your playlists, to choose one click the button as it is being said.

3rd Gen iPod Shuffle Earbud Controls

The new Shuffle has the familiar volume up, volume down, play/pause, next, and previous functions on the earbud remote as many of you have gotten used to with your new iPod Nano, iPod Touch, iPod Classic (or iPhone, minus the volume control). With the Shuffle now supporting the earbud remote Apple was able to completely remove any buttons from the device itself, now the only controls that exist on the device are a switch that lets you choose between shuffle your songs, playing them in order, or turning the device off.

The Shuffle now comes in just black or silver anodized aluminum. It seems a little odd that Apple would yet again move away from the colored iPods, especially since they were talking up their iPod Nanos colors just a few months ago.

The only odd thing (which is only odd if you don’t understand how the Shuffle gets its voice over functionality from) is that the voice used in the Voice Over feature is different depending on what computer you are using. The actually text to speech is happening in iTunes and the audio files are transfered to your iPod Shuffle for you to use as you need them, this way your computer can do all the heavy lifting for the Shuffle (which I’m sure wouldn’t be able to actually do the voice synthesizing on its own). When using a computer running OS X Leopard you hear the new “Alex” voice, but with any other computer (it appears) that you will hear the old voice from OS X Tiger.

3rd Gen iPod Shuffle Black and Silver

The new iPod Shuffle comes in (as I said above) black and silver, it has 4GB of storage, and offers 10 hours of battery life. The brand new iPod Shuffle will cost you $79.

What baffles me about this announcement is the fact that it is happening now, which breaks Apples previous trend of releasing all new iPods in the Fall. Those of you who subscribe to many of the outrageous rumors that Apple seems to be the subject of might theorize that Apple has something big to announce this Fall and wants to get some of their iPod releases out of the way, but then again it is also possible that Apple wanted to release this last Fall but it wasn’t ready yet and instead just announced new color options for the previous Shuffle. I personally think that this is just one of the first examples of Apple releaseing a product when it is ready, not when Apple is ready to have a press event.

Apple – iPod shuffle – The first mp3 player that talks to you.

Categorized as Apple, iPod

Two Sources Claim Apple is Working on a Netbook

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is planning to launch a netbook computer with a touch screen monitor as early as the second half of this year, two people close to the situation told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

The mini laptop computers will likely have monitor screens that are between 9.7-inches and 10-inches, one person, who declined to be named, said.

Another person said other specifications and functions are still under evaluation.

I wonder if Apple finally figured out how to make a $500 computer that wasn’t a piece of junk?

UPDATE:Apple Plans To Launch Netbook With Touch Screen-Sources.

$200 iTunes Gift Cards Sell for $2.60 On Chinese Website

Counterfeit iTunes Gift Cards

Some clever hackers have been able to crack the algorithm Apple uses for their gift cards allowing them to create gift certificate generators. All the sellers are actually selling are the the code which are sent directly to the customer who then inputs it into their iTunes account, and some of these sellers are selling $200 gift cards for as low as $2.60.

According to the owner of one of the sellers the business started about 6 months ago, Apple hasn’t commented on the issue but I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed the algorithm for their gift cards rather quickly (especially since it has been receiving a lot of press over the past few days).

What confuses me about this is why anyone would purchase these counterfeit codes anyway when bittorrent is even cheaper and is less likely to be cracked down on. That is unless you are using the purchased code to buy apps in the App Store.

AppleInsider | Hackers crack Apple’s iTunes gift card algorithm.

March 24 Apple Event May Still Be On

World Of Apple and My Apple Guide previously broke that Apple would be holding a media event on March 24. Although the rumored announcements for the March 24 event have already happened (Mac Minis, Mac Pros, iMacs, etc.) it is possible that two rumors might have been a little mixed and a March 24 event might still be in the works. is sourcing an anonymous tip suggesting that the March 24 event would be used for Apple pro video applications.

I find it hard to believe that Apple would use a media event to announce new pro video applications but then again since Apple isn’t attending NAB anymore (the natural place for such an announcement) it may seem logical that the features in these apps would warrent a demo, at least to the type of media that would be interested in such applicaitons.

Wintek Supplying Touch Panels For Apple Netbook?

According to a Comercial Times report Wintek is supplying touch panels for an upcoming Apple netbook which should ship in 3Q 2009.

Wintek revealed that it is currently working with Apple to develop some new products, but it said it does not know what applications the new products are for.

There doesn’t seem to be any real indication that it is going to be a netbook other than what DigiTimes titles their article, so although it could be a netbook there isn’t any reason I have to believe that it isn’t for a tablet device.

Other than tablet form factor devices (iPod Touch and iPhone) Apple hasn’t shown any interest in touchscreen devices. The only other touch based devices that they have are the touchpads on their notebooks and I think Apple has realized that if you are going to be using a touchscreen you want it on a flat surface, not proped up like a monitor or notebook display.

I just can’t see myself reaching over my keyboard and mouse to touch the screen, that just isn’t how I use a computer and I don’t see any other computer maker coming up with any innovative way to change that.

Bottom line is, unless Apple comes up with a radically new way of doing touchscreen netbooks I don’t think Apple is going to release one.

Wintek to supply touch panels for Apple netbook, says paper.

Windows 7 Allows You to Completely Turn Off Most Major Features

Remove Windows 7 Features

A few days ago word got around that almost every major feature of Windows 7 can be completely turned off. That means the actual data for those features won’t be loaded by the operating system.

This is obviously made for security conscious customers but will be useful to a lot of Windows power users.

But one has to wonder how Microsoft is feeling about the reception of this news. Every news article I’ve found about this story essentially praises Microsoft for letting us remove features from our OS install. No one has even talked about the idea that this further cements the fact that Windows users aren’t happy with their operating system, if they were they would either not care about this news or be completely befuddled by Microsoft’s choice to add it.

I no longer own a computer that runs Windows and if it wasn’t for my girlfriend being stuck on an old PC I would never have to use one. You may think I’m a fanboy but the only feature I would remove from OS X (if I could) would be Spotlight, Quicksilver is easier to use, faster, and more powerful. But I probably couldn’t count on both hands the features I would like to remove from Windows.

Engineering Windows 7.

Netflix to Stream Episodes of South Park

I stopped by the studio to talk to Mr. Stone because he had some news: the two men and their partner Comedy Central had consummated a deal with Netflix to stream the first nine seasons of “South Park.”

I really hope Netflix ends up streaming new episodes as well. But, I’ve almost lost hope of Netflix getting any fresh content that I am at all interested in.

The Media Equation – Far-Sighted Moves by Creators of ‘South Park’ –

Asus Eee Keyboard Priced and Dated

Asus Eee Keyboard

The Eee Keyboard that was shown off at CES is finally getting some more solid (albeit not completely solid) details on release date and pricing.

The Eee Keyboard, which now features a silver on aluminum design will have a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 16GB or 32GB solid state disk.

A rep at CeBIT told CrunchGear that it would be priced between $400-$600 and should be released sometime in mid-2009.

Eee Keyboard priced and dated, somewhat.

Tap Tap Revenge 2

Tap Tap Revenge 2

Tap Tap Revenge 2 hit the App Store two nights ago, the application is the sequel to the wonderfully successful Tap Tap Revenge.

The sequel is very similar to the first version but there have been some improvements. The new game features over 150 free tracks to play with more tracks added every Thursday. The game has a whole new game engine which debuted with Tap Tap Dance, which makes for a much better 3D experience. Tapulous has also introduced “tap and hold” and “multi-tap” features in the higher levels.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 has 3 ways to play with your friends, Challenge mode lets you email your friends challenging them to beat your score, a progress meter lets them know how they did compared to you and Tapulous will let you know how they did. The two player split-screen mode which was so well done in the original is even better now, it has a brand new look and now has a progress meter. You can also use a vastly improved online play option.

The game also has career achievements but from what I have seen of the game there is no benefit from doing them except for the ability to show off how good you are at (or how much you play) the game.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 has some decent improvements over the original but I’m a little worried that it will end up being used the same way Tap Tap Revenge did, not at all. I haven’t played Tap Tap Revenge since about a week after I downloaded it, there just isn’t enough depth to the game. Maybe if you could unlock songs instead of being able to just download all of them it would be a little different. Or better yet if it featured a career mode similar to Guitar Rock Tour‘s. For fans of the original it is must have, otherwise it might not be that compelling.

Luckily the game is free so even if you don’t end up liking it you really only spent a little time and some hard drive space on it.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 – Free

Apple Updates Consumer Desktop Line And More

Here’s a quick run down of what Apple released yesterday:

Apple Keyboard
Compact design of the Apple wireless keyboard without the need for battery switching and with the benefit of two USB 2.0 ports

AirPort Extreme Base Station
Simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi broadcasts on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands so you have maximum range and full compatibility with all Wi-Fi devices. Guest networking broadcasts a second Wi-Fi network for guests to use the internet without having access to all of your network devices.

Time Capsule
Gained the same features as the AirPort Extreme.

MacBook Pro
Added 2.66GHz and 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo options.

Mac Pro
The entry level is now $300 cheaper, at $2,499. It also received brand new Nehalem processors, and obviously Mini DisplayPort.

Mac Mini
5 USB ports, Mini DisplayPort (exactly as the leaked picture suggested, take that doubters), Geforce 9400M graphics.

Entry level now has a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory, 320GB hard drive, Geforce 9400M graphics, for the same price of $1,199. 24″ iMac now starts at $1,499.

Apple Updates Consumer Desktop Line.

Zen Bound Review

Zen Bound 1

Zen Bound is a fantastic game from Secret Exit. The game is described as “a calm and meditative game of wrapping rope around wooden sculptures,” and that is exactly what it is.

The challenge in the game is to wrap the rope around the wooden sculpture so that a certain percentage of the sculpture is wrapped up. You can see what areas are wrapped based on the color change on the statue but you can also see your progress at the top of the screen.

There are three goals that you can reach for each statue, 70% completion, 85% completion, and 99% completion. Flowers blossom on a tree (where all of the various levels live), up to three flowers will blossom for each level (depending on which goal is reached). There are lanterns up the tree that light your way once enough flowers have blossomed. According to the in game help “once you reach the top of the tree, things will be different,” but I haven’t quite reached the top of the tree yet, I’m about 5 or so flowers away from doing so.

Now to wrap the rope around the statues Zen Bound uses a very simple control scheme, you just drag your finger around on the screen to spin the statue, if you want to rotate the statue just use two fingers and rotate it. You may also tilt your iPhone to change the angle of the rope.

The game is incredibly addicting and more difficult once you reach the higher levels, trying to fit the rope into tight corners gets complicated when the statue is split up into several different parts that all rotate together.

The music in the game which is an original score by “Ghost Monkey” and is available to all customers in 320kbit MP3.

The game has 51 levels with an additional 25 levels to come this month.

What is so memorizing about this game is how wonderfully simple it is, that isn’t too say it is easy because it can be hard, but the concept of the game is incredibly simple, anyone can pick up and enjoy this game very quickly.

Zen Bound is the kind of game that you can play for 5-10 minutes and then put down again, it doesn’t take long to complete a level but the replayability appears to be pretty high, it is well worth the $4.99.

Zen Bound – $4.99

Facebook’s Peter Thiel Confirms Twitter Purchase Attempt

In Facebook’s first public confirmation of the talks, Thiel said the parties disagreed over price and structure when they seriously considered a deal last fall. “It became pretty clear it wasn’t going to happen,” Thiel says from the mid-Manhattan office of his hedge fund Clarium Capital. “The deal would have to be done with Facebook stock. And then you have to figure out how much the stock is worth.”

Facebook’s Thiel Explains Failed Twitter Takeover – BusinessWeek.