Apple has added the ability to donate to the Red Cross Japan earthquake and pacific tsunami relief fund directly through iTunes. Donations are set in pre-defined amounts of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $200, and will be deducted from your existing iTunes account. 100% of you donation will go to the Red Cross.
It’s extremely simple and fast. Just click the link below to launch iTunes, and then click the amount you wish to give. I encourage everyone to donate. If you don’t want to donate through iTunes, I encourage you to give through the Red Cross site directly, or though another organization.
Earlier today Apple announced that they’re removing Digital Rights Management (DRM) from music bought through the iTunes music store. They also announced that you could upgrade your previously purchased music from the old standard (128 kbps protected file) to the new format (256 kbps DRM Free) for $0.30 per song on individual tracks or 30% of the current album price on full albums, but it’s not immediately apparent on how you go about doing that.
It’s actually very easy… simply open iTunes and select the iTunes Store in the sidebar (on the left). On the store home page, look in the upper right, under QUICK LINKS, for “Upgrade my Library”. Clicking that will take you to a summary page of what it would cost to upgrade everything you’ve bought. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged unless you click the “Buy” button on that summery screen.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any way of upgrading individual tracks or albums… it’s either everything you’ve bought, or nothing. Also, since the entire catalogue offered through iTunes hasn’t been upgraded to the new format yet, not everything will be available. In my own tests, only about half of what I’ve bought is available for upgrade. Apple should have everything updated by the end of March, 2009.
Personally, I’m bummed about the all or nothing approach Apple has taken. I really don’t want to upgrade everything I’ve bought.
UPDATE (1/07/2009): Macworld has posted much more information about this.
If you haven’t already read this at a hundred other Mac sites, here’s what Apple announced today at Macworld:
17″ Aluminum Unibody Macbook Pro
Starting at $2799, the new 17″ Macbook pro will ship in late January. The good news is this thing can take up to 8GB of RAM. The bad news is, rumors were true… the battery is no longer a user-replacable part. That just sucks. Although, Apple is saying that this new and improved battery will last 8 hours on a single charge and can be recharged 1000 times (5 times the industry standard). Apple is also saying this new model is the slimmest and lightest 17″ notebook available.
It should also be noted that while the 17″ version uses the same Glossy display now used in its 15″ cousin, Apple is offering a $50 upgrade to an “antiglare display”. I thought they use to call this “matte”, so I’m not sure if this is the same option as previous models. Also, the new native resolution is 1920×1200, up from 1680×1050. In the previous 17″ model, it was a $100 upgrade to the higher resolution display. When I was shopping for my current 17″ Macbook Pro, I actually thought 1920 was a little too much for 17 inches.
iPhoto now has face-recognition and geotagging built-in. It can also link with Facebook and Flickr. It actually looks pretty cool. Too bad I’m not really using iPhoto anymore. I’ve started moving everything into Adobe Lightroom.
iMovie has several new features bringing it back a little closer to iMovie ’06, instead of the radically different iMovie ’08.
There’s new versions of Garage Band, iWeb and iDVD as well. iLife ’09 will ship at the end of January. Read all about it on Apple’s site.
I like iWork, but there’s nothing terrible exciting to talk about… seems like mostly basic improvements and refinements. iWork ’09 ships today.
Apple is starting iWork.com. Currently in beta, this will be a site for sharing and collaboration. It’s free while in beta, but Apple will charge for it in its final release.
DRM Free Music, Price Changes, and Purchase via 3G
Apple is moving away from $0.99 songs. Instead, there will now be a tiered structure of $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29 per song. Starting today they will offer 8 million songs as DRM free. The entire catalogue will be DRM free by the end of the quarter. You can also now buy music on you iPhone over the 3G or Edge networks, instead of wi-fi only.
I didn’t think there was going to be any huge announcements today, but I am a little disappointed at what was announced. There were a few things that I would have bet money on:
New Mac Mini
New Apple TV
iPhone 2.3 software update (with ToDos!)
32GB iPhone and 64GB iPod Touch
Oh well, I guess we’ll have things to look forward to in 2009. I’ll be heading over to the Expo after Lunch. I’ll write about any must-haves that I find.
We’re only a couple of days from the Macworld 2008 keynote so I thought it was about time to post my predictions. After all, what’s Macworld without predictions?
As we all know by now, the banners that went up over at Moscone Center read, “There’s something in the air”. Like most people, the first thing I asked myself when I saw this was, what’s in the air?
Now, this might sound kind of crazy, but the first thing that jumped into my mind was, “Spring is in the air” (ya, I know, it’s still Winter). And, what happens in spring… people get out and do things. In other words, they become more mobile. Follow me so far? I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but that banner could mean that this keynote will be all about mobility. I do have one other interpretation that I’ll cover later in the post.
Banner interpretations aside, here’s my predictions…
Ultra-portable Macbook (mini?)
Like everyone else, I’m pretty confident that Apple will be releasing a sub-notebook computer. Laptops account for most of Apple’s computer sales, and I think they’ll be doing everything they can to continue that trend. It’s also entirely possible that this new machine will have an optional docking station, suggested by the patent recently awarded to Apple.
Many people seem to think that this new Macbook Mini will be 13 inches wide, but ultra thin. I personally think that’s just too big. I’m betting that it will be somewhere between 8 and 10 inches wide. I would doubt it would be bigger unless Apple plans on discontinuing the Macbook.
Originally I wasn’t convinced that Apple would be doing anything to the Macbook. But, I was reading a prediction on another site (I can’t remember which one) that talked about the Macbook being incased in Aluminum. That actually makes total sense. After all, Apple seems to be purging white plastic from their lineup. The iMac recently went through this transformation, as did the iPod, iPod shuffle, and iPod nano. I think it’s entirely possible that Apple will apply this new look to the Macbook as well. I would also like to see them give the Macbook the new backlit LED displays, like the ones being used in the 15″ Macbook Pros, but I’m not sure if that will happen. Another point in favor of this prediction is aluminum cases are better on the environment than molded plastic, and Apple has been trying to become more environmentally responsible.
On a quick side note, I think it’s a bit ironic that Apple still uses the iconic white iPod in it’s advertising, even though Apple no longer sells a white iPod.
I think we’ll be seeing new Macbook Pros as well, mostly because the current design has been around for quite some time now. I think one of the biggest changes will be in the keyboard. Apple has made their Macbook and standalone keyboard use very similar keys and there’s no reason for them not to transition the Macbook Pro to this same style as well. I also think there’s an outside chance that Apple will introduce a new 20″ model.
iTunes Movie Rentals
I think most people are in agreement that this will happen. As with TV shows and movies for purchase it will be a handful of studios to start, adding more later.
Native iPhone applications! This is a no-brainer. Apple announced back in October that an iPhone / iPod Touch SDK (Software Development Kit) would be available in February 2008. I’m sure Steve will demo a few of the new apps created by 3rd party developers who were hand picked to get a preview release of the new SDK.
iPhone software update adding lots of new features, including access to the new iTunes movie rental service.
16GB iPhone. I personally think they’ve had 16GB iPhones sitting in boxes since the day they announced the price drop and elimination of the 4GB model. At the last minute they decided not to introduce the 16GB model, as they knew they would be crucified (more than they were) for putting out a new model just 2 months after product introduction.
No 3G. I don’t think Apple will introduce a 3G iPhone until later this year, at the earliest.
I think we’ll see a major upgrade to the Apple TV. Or, it may get dropped all together. My other interpretation of the banners hanging at Moscone relate to this, so I’ll address it later in this post. If the Apple TV does get upgraded, I’m not sure if it will reach a true DVR status, but it will definitely be able to interact directly with the iTunes store (and new rental service) without requiring a computer or iTunes (but it will still pull from those if available).
Not much to say about this. Mostly bug fixes and slight enhancements. But, I think it will finally allow Time Machine backups to Airport attached storage (probably with a software update for the Airport base station as well).
I don’t think they’ll be anything radically different, but they will incorporate a built-in iSight. I think it’s also possible that Apple will begin offering an option for the glossy display, since according to Steve Jobs, everybody loves those. I would like to see them get the new backlit LED technology, but everything I’ve heard says that’s still too expensive for larger screens.
One more thing…
So, I mentioned that I had another interpretation for, “There’s something in the air”. TV is in the air… as in the broadcast signal. My breakout prediction is that Apple drops the Apple TV in favor of, well… an Apple TV… I mean a real TV. The kind you watch.
Before you call me crazy, consider one thing… by February 17th, 2009 all US TV stations will cease to broadcast analog TV signals in favor of digital TV (DTV). 2008 and 2009 are going to be huge years for TV sales. Apple, along with most computer makers, have been tryng for years to get from your office into your living room. It makes a lot of sense for Apple to capitalize on this surge in TV sales to break into the market. The current version of the Apple TV was just a stepping stone… a way to test the market. Now they’re ready to bring out the real thing.
It goes without saying that the new Apple TV will have full access to the iTunes store, and its new movie rental service, in addition to broadcast television.
Think this sounds crazy? Netflix, the king of online DVD rentals, would disagree. They are basically trying to do the same thing. They’re in talks with TV manufactures to incorporate their movie on demand service directly into TVs.
Now, Apple could follow the Netflix model and try to get TV manufacturers to connect to iTunes, but we all know how Apple likes to control the hardware too, so I personally think it makes total sense for them to make their own TV.
Well, those are my predictions. We’ll see on Tuesday what really comes out. Unfortunately I have a meeting Tuesday morning, so won’t know until later that morning how close I was.