Apple counts down to 10 billionth song download

Apple on Thursday began its "Countdown to 10 Billion Songs."

Apple is getting close enough to having 10 billion songs downloaded since opening in 2003, that it is beginning a countdown on iTunes. Official rules are available from Apple's Web site.

The winner of the countdown--the person that downloads the 10 billionth song--will win a $10,000 gift card. You can download any song from iTunes and be eligible for the prize, the company said.

Apple also posted a list of the most downloaded iTunes songs of all time. The top song right now is the Black … Read more

Report: Apple to test $1 TV downloads

A new report Wednesday evening says cheaper iTunes TV show downloads could be in the offing.

Apple will be offering U.S. TV shows for $1 each, according to the Financial Times. The offer will coincide with the release of the iPad--expected sometime in April--and is described by "people familiar with the discussions" as a "test" to see whether cheaper downloads will result in increased sales.

TV episodes are normally $1.99 for standard-definition and $2.99 for high-definition through iTunes. The Financial Times says that "some" television networks acceded to Apple's push … Read more

Opera readies mini browser for iPhone

Watch out Safari. There's a new browser looking for a spot on the iPhone.

Norway-based Opera announced Wednesday that it will unveil its new Opera Mini 5 browser for the iPhone at next week's 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The developer of the desktop Opera Web browser is touting Opera Mini as faster than Apple's Safari, thanks to its use of compression. Opera said it compresses pages by up to 90 percent before they're sent to the mobile device.

Opera Mini 5 will also offer such features as tabbed browsing, a password manager, and Speed … Read more

Microsoft on iTunes in 2003: 'We were smoked'

There has been a lot of commentary following last week's New York Times op-ed by Dick Brass, a former Microsoft executive who claims that the company is bogged down by process and infighting, and has hence lost its ability to innovate.

One of the most interesting follow-ups comes from Groklaw, which dug up some e-mails placed into the public record a few years ago during an antitrust case against Microsoft. (These materials have been a treasure trove of interesting and sometimes-embarrassing internal communications, including then-Windows chief Jim Allchin's 2004 admission that he would have bought a Mac over … Read more

Apple extends iTunes Web previews to apps

Just a few months after introducing its browser-based iTunes Preview pages for music, Apple has expanded the feature to include items from the App Store.

Now, when a user clicks an iTunes link for an iPhone or iPod Touch app, they're taken to a page with a similar layout to what they'd see when browsing the iTunes Store in Apple's iTunes software. But instead, it's in their browser. This allows users who don't have iTunes installed to see more information about an app without having the software installed. That said, preview pages attempt to launch … Read more

How to make the iPad a better music device

I was at Apple's iPad launch on Wednesday, and maybe it was just Steve Jobs' reality distortion field, but I don't quite understand why the haters are piling on. A lot of PC-centric commentators are dismissing the iPad as an overpriced gadget, wondering why it's lacking features that are standard on even the cheapest notebook computers, like Flash support, multitasking, USB inputs to connect peripherals, and video outputs (HDMI would be nice). These are legitimate complaints--for a notebook replacement. But the iPad isn't a notebook replacement, and I don't think users will carry it with … Read more

White House unveils iPhone app

If you can't catch the president's next speech on TV, no problem--you can watch it on your iPhone.

The White House has hit the iTunes market with its very own app designed to keep all good U.S. citizens updated on the latest goings-on of government. In addition to offering news, blogs, photos, and videos, the app can tap into a live news feed, letting you watch such events as the president's annual State of the Union speech set for next Wednesday.

Washington is also promising more for the portable market. A mobile version of the WhiteHouse.… Read more

Nutsie brings iTunes to Android via the cloud

Version 3.0 of Nutsie, a mobile application soon coming to Android phones, is more than an anagram for iTunes.

As I watched Melodeo engineering Vice President Bob Wise demonstrate the new Nutsie on a Motorola Droid at the company's Seattle office on Monday, I had to wonder why Google doesn't have its own Nutsie-like app.

The basic idea behind the current version of Nutsie is simple: you have a bunch of songs stored in iTunes on your computer that you'd like on your phone, but you don't want to buy an Apple iPhone (perhaps because of AT&T). … Read more

Dragon iPhone app tweaked, search tool released

Nuance, which makes Dragon voice-to-text software, is forging ahead in the iPhone app market.

Over the weekend, the company updated its Dragon voice dictation app for the Apple iPhone and unveiled a new Dragon Search app to let you find info via voice.

The 1.2 version of the free Dragon Dictation app--which was initially released last month--now supports the iPod Touch 2G and 3G. Touch users can plug in an external microphone and dictate up to 20 seconds of speech that is converted to text.

Besides adding support for the iPod Touch, Nuance resolved an issue that had created … Read more

App builds iPhone playlists based on your mood

Creating personalized playlists for your iPhone is great if you're a control freak with plenty of time, but I've increasingly come to rely on the Genius function introduced with iTunes 8. But Genius requires you to build playlists around a single "seed" song, and is often weak on variety--it almost always picks two or three other songs from the same album as your seed song, and its other choices tend to run to the same era and genre.

Moodagent, a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch released in December, offers a more innovative take … Read more