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

Apple's App Store tops 3 billion downloads

Apple's App Store hit another milestone Tuesday, topping 3 billion downloads.

The store, which launched in July 2008 with just 500 applications, now offers more than 100,000 free and paid apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Apple didn't break down how many of the downloaded apps were paid and how many were free, but the App Store does provide lists of its most popular apps in those categories.

The App Store reached the 1 billion download mark in April and the 2 billion mark in November.

The success of the App Store has forced other mobile … Read more

App store downloads shine on Christmas

Apple found a nice Christmas gift under its tree this year.

App Store downloads for the iPod Touch were 1,000 percent higher on Friday, Christmas Day, than the average of the three previous Fridays in December, according to a report released Monday by research firm Flurry.

Downloads for the newest generation, the iPod Touch 3G, soared more than 900 percent on Christmas, noted Flurry's "2009 Holiday Report: Christmas Growth." But the 1,000 percent leap in iPod Touch downloads overall may have been triggered by a flood of iTunes gift cards, believes Flurry.

The rising popularity … Read more

The five biggest digital audio duds of 2009

Yesterday, I compiled my list of the five most welcome products for digital audio that came out in 2009. Today, I'm following it up with my list of the year's five biggest digital audio duds.

Zookz. The breathless pitch got me interested: a mysterious online service was getting ready to compete against subscription-based download service eMusic. But where eMusic limits users to a set number of downloads, this mystery service would offer unlimited music and movie downloads. How could this be? Wouldn't users just download all the material they wanted then cancel their subscriptions? How could content … Read more

Apple's push into subscription TV--a tough sell

Apple is in talks with CBS and Disney to offer television programming using a subscription model, The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday but suggested that the venture could face a pretty steep uphill battle.

There's an understatement.

Apple has been incredibly successful with iTunes. It's almost become bad business to not play ball with Apple. But at this point, things are also very different. Consider the following:

• Hollywood has become more tech savvy.

• iTunes largely still uses a pay-per-view model.

• Limited subscriptions offer limited value.

• It's the content, not the network.

• … Read more

The five most welcome digital audio products of 2009

The economy took its toll on digital audio in 2009, with CD sales continuing to decline (even as vinyl makes a resurgence), digital start-ups going bankrupt or disappearing after takeovers, and labels expressing dissatisfaction with would-be digital saviors like MySpace Music. Even so, there was actually quite a lot to cheer this year. The following five products aren't necessarily the best, but to me, they did the most to move the state of digital audio forward in 2009.

Windows 7. Microsoft appears to have recovered from Vista with a new OS that runs efficiently, looks good, and satisfies users. … Read more

iTunes U breaks 100 million downloads

The education-specific channel of its iTunes Store, launched in 2007, has reached a new milestone, recording more than 100 million downloads, Apple told CNET on Friday.

According to Apple, one of the most popular areas of iTunes U has been that of the United Kingdom-based Open University (iTunes link), whose learning categories include Arts and Humanities, Business and Management, Childhood and Youth, Health and Social Care, Law, Psychology, and Science. The academic institution says it caters to at least 150,000 undergraduate and 30,000 postgraduate students, more than 25,000 of whom live outside the U.K.

More than … Read more