Am I Getting Closer To An iPhone?

iPhone 3.0 OS

I managed to remain reasonably disconnected over the weekend thanks to the multitude of other things happening in the real world but did get to catch up with the announcement of the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS. I can usually be found with three mobiles on my person at any one time, plus my iPod Touch, and an O2 broadband dongle not far behind either. My primary handset (N95) is due an upgrade in the next few weeks and I’m starting to wonder am I getting closer to picking up an iPhone.

The N95 is a workhorse of a phone, for me in particular. The 8 gig internal memory is chock full of photos and videos thanks to the 5MP camera within. Every few months I clear 2-3 thousand text messages. Every now and again I fire off a QIK video. But it’s the browsing that lets me down. I’m just not fond (outside of QIK) of using data applications on the N95 which, for the most part, surrounds the likes of Twibble (for twitter) and the mobile browser. Where possible (read: in a wifi area) I’ll switch to the iPod and pull my mail, tweets and everything else there.

The ideal situation is to pick up an iPhone and have it unlocked, jailbroken, call it what you like. It would need to juggle a few sim cards but out and about act as the holder for my O2 data sim, in the process saving me from hitting three different sims with three different data charges.

So with a new spotlight, the ability to copy and paste without a third-party app, 3G tethering for using the iPhone as a modem, a landscape keyboard, added Bluetooth A2DP support, MMS (welcome to the party, Apple), push notification for IM apps and a whole lot more.

Of course, I’m not surprised to see Apple charging $9.95 for iPod Touch users to get the OS (hell, they charged us for the MacBook Pro firmware upgrade for wireless N) but when the OS lands, I’m guessing I’ll be another step closer to picking up an iPhone.

Check out details of the iPhone 3.0 SDK here.

iTunes To Go DRM Free?

DRM sign, Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan.JPG
Creative Commons License photo credit: gruntzooki

It looks like iTunes is possibly going (completely) DRM-free? Great news for music lovers but whether or not it actually materialises is another thing. There are plenty of alternatives in the marketplace for DRM-free music downloads but according to this BBC article, it looks like Apple (who already sell DRM-free tracks from the EMI label) are about to sign off on a deal with the rest of the big four including Sony, Warner and Universal which would see all DRM copyright restrictions lifted from the iTunes store.

It might also bring about a change in pricing on the iTunes store – more for recent tracks, less for older tracks, but Apple’s pricing is a whole other kettle of fish.

We all knew it was going to come around eventually, right?

Update: TUAW has the details on price changes for 2009.

Tracking The Apple WWDC

A quick spy on TechCrunch this morning shows that Twitter have partnered with Summize to provide tracking of the Apple WWDC running in San Francisco until this Friday.

If you’re interested, you can follow the Summize output for ‘WWDC’ by clicking here or get the all encompassing feed of ‘WWDC, Apple, iPhone and Steve Jobs’ by clicking here.

The Australian Macintosh Community has live coverage available on MacTalk Australia while you can also track Macworld’s coverage here.

Though the event was sold out well in advance, Apple will be publishing sessions videos from across the week for purchase via iTunes. You can of course check the official Apple Developer Connection site for more on the WWDC.

New MacBook Pro Rolls In

MacBook Pro 15″ ModelThe Apple store is getting a bundle of new products and price cuts of late – the arrival of the 32gb iPod Touch, the price cuts to the iPod Shuffle (1 gig model now available for €45 online) and the arrival of the MacBook Air. Now it’s the turn of the new MacBook and MacBook Pro models.

I’ve been a MacBook Pro user since December 2006 (seems like a lifetime ago now) and of all the laptops I’ve owned and used over the years I have to say it’s the best piece of computing kit I ever put money into. That said, if I was in the market for a new laptop, then the new MacBook (or Pro) models would be my first port of call.

In the Irish Apple Store you’ll find the MacBook starting from €999 while the MacBook Pro starts from €1799. Though if you want my advice, buy foreign… it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.

The 15 inch MacBook Pro model (of which I’m using) now comes with 200gb HD space as standard, processor upped to 2.4GHz (I’m on 2.16) and NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics with 128MB SDRAM.

Move up to the next model (2.5GHz 15 inch) and you’ve got yourself an extra 50gb HD space and your graphics card gets bumped up to 256mb (extra 400 euro). The real sweetness is in the new 17 inch model, busting out a screen resolution of 1680 x 1050, 250gb HD, LED backlit screen option and graphics bumped up to 512mb on order.

The MacBooks too have some nice new additions, again with processor, HD and graphics all getting a boost.

Each model ships with 2GB RAM as standard and multi-touch (via MacBook Air) has also been added.

Check here for MacBooks
and here for MacBook Pros on the Irish Apple store.

iPod Video to iPod Touch (How To)

iPod Video to iPod Touch (How To)Back in October, I had published a post on how to hack your ipod video to make it look like an ipod classic.

Well, given that there’s been a new firmware release from the same group that published the Classic firmware I figured I may get to testing the new iPod Touch interface for the iPod video.

Don’t go getting excited – it’s not going to turn your iPod video into a touchscreen interface, but it will give you a rather impressive new interface for your iPod video.

Note that I had previously been using an early release of the iPod classic firmware, iTunes clearing that on me last night to install Apple’s 1.2.3 release for the 5G iPod, which I’ve overwritten with the new iPod Touch firmware release (built on 1.2.1).

Update: Almost 12 months on, I’ve stopped using my own video iPod and haven’t attempted this upgrade since I first made the post, I’m now happily using an actual iPod Touch. Note that as with any software or firmware upgrades or installs, you also accept responsibility for your actions and following the steps. I can’t and won’t guarantee that it will work for you as it’s been a while since I attempted it myself. I don’t accept iPods via mail to change firmware and I don’t accept responsibility for your own iPod when you’re making changes.

Remember, if you get stuck, you can do the iPod reset as outlined in the older post.

Prepping For The Install

As with the previous hack, you’ll need to get yourself a copy of of the latest version of iPodWizard. You’ll also need access to a windows machine (XP / Vista), the correct firmware version for your iPod (5G firmware | 5.5G firmware) and an iPod cable.

How To Update Your iPod Video Firmware

  • Before plugging in your iPod access the main menu settings by going to Settings > Main Menu when you turn your iPod on. Make sure the only menus switched on are ‘Music’, ‘Photos’, ‘Videos’ and ‘Extras’, everything else can be switched off. This will ensure there are no broken links or errors in navigating your iPod from the main screen.
  • Connect iPod to PC (iPod Wizard is windows based). If iTunes opens on connecting, you’ll need to close it and make sure that nothing else is accessing your iPod at the time. If connected properly, you will see the ‘Do Not Disconnect’ warning on your iPod screen.
  • Browse (via My Computer) to your downloaded firmware and if zipped, unzip it to a new folder. I named my folder 5G iPod Touch Hack.
  • In iPod Wizard, set your edit mode (top left corner) to ‘Firmware File’.
  • Click the ‘Open Firmware’ button and navigate to your ‘5G iPod Touch Hack’ folder and open the ‘TouchHack2.0’ file (Windows displays the default icon if no filetype associated, it has a .bin extension). Once loaded, the firmware’s version name will appear beside the ‘open firmware button’.
  • Click ‘Write To iPod’ to start copying the firmware onto your iPod. This doesn’t have any impact on your music collection, everything remains intact. The write process can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Once written, press ‘Eject’ in iPod Wizard. You should hear the Windows sound (if your speakers are on) for the removable drive disconnecting. DON’T unplug your iPod. Your iPod will restart and begin loading the new firmware for the first time.
  • When your iPod has fully restarted, press ‘Eject’ again in iPod Wizard. This will disconnect your iPod from your PC at which time you can remove the cable and start exploring your new interface.

Before & After Images

iPod Touch Hack - Click for more images

A full range of images can be found here on Flickr.

The firmware update was released by DrivenDesign.

iPod Hack – iPod Video becomes iPod Classic (How To)

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Update: Updated on February 29th 2008 with latest versions of firmware (1.2.2 version at time of press). See main site here.

After picking up on a new firmware release for the iPod Video (both 5G and 5.5g), I’ve gone and replaced the original firmware on my iPod to that resembling the iPod Classic. (via)

The ‘Before’ images…

Original iPod interface Original interface (menu)

What you’ll need…

  • Latest version of iPod Wizard
  • Access to a Windows machine (no Mac version at present)
  • Firmware for your video iPod (5G Version or 5.5G Version). I’m on the 5G version, no search feature and it’s the 60GB model. If you’re on the slim 30gb / 80gb model and/or have the search feature then it’s likely you’re a 5.5G model but be sure! See my warning note below.
  • iPod cable

How to modify the iPod’s firmware…

  • Connect iPod to PC (iPod Wizard is windows based). If iTunes opens on connecting, you’ll need to close it and make sure that nothing else is accessing your iPod at the time. If connected properly, you will see the ‘Do Not Disconnect’ warning on your iPod screen.
  • Open up your copy of iPod Wizard (it doesn’t require installation, but does need to be unzipped to a folder).
  • Browse (via My Computer) to your downloaded firmware and if zipped, unzip it to a new folder. Unzipping should create a folder called ‘Classic Firmware for 5G v1.0’ (depending on what firmware version you downloaded).
  • In iPod Wizard, set your edit mode (top left corner) to ‘Firmware File’.
  • Click the ‘Open Firmware’ button and navigate to your ‘Classic Firmware…’ folder and open the ‘Classic Firmware…’ file (Windows displays the default icon if no filetype associated). Once loaded, the firmware’s version name will appear beside the ‘open firmware button’.
  • In the ‘Firmware Information’ box, press ‘Write To iPod’ (top left). The writing process may take 2-3 minutes.
  • When finished, you need to eject your iPod safely from your computer – whether via the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon in your system tray of via My Computer (right click on your iPod and press ‘Eject’. Ejecting the iPod will restart the iPod automatically, booting with the new firmware.

The ‘After’ images…

Now playing (track view)Now playing
iPod Interface (Video now playing)iPod Comparison

See full photoset here

Feedback

I hadn’t seen the interface on the iPod classic before today but really like the split screen approach. I don’t feel anything is lost by adding the firmware. Navigating through the menu system is quick, though the slide from left to right could be a lot smoother (or instant). The new fonts are bigger, smoother, clearer though the fonts in the title bar look a fraction distorted (menus are fine).

I also realised through the new interface that I really need to update my album artwork across the majority of recent additions to my iPod. Also, it’s worth going through the iPodWizard forums if you’re up for a bit of hacking!

Warning (a.k.a How Not To Update Your iPod)

Adding this firmware does not erase the contents on your iPod. BUT – make sure you’re using the correct firmware version for your iPod. The wrong firmware on your iPod will leave it in the infinite loop mode (as I did with Aidan’s). To get around this you need to restore your iPod to it’s original settings, effectively wiping whatever music is on your iPod. Resyncing with your library will restore your music.

To restore your iPod you must hold the middle button (centre of wheel) and ‘Play’ at the same time, forcing the iPod into Disk Mode (like safe mode for all the world). Reconnect your iPod to your computer and pop open iTunes, the iTunes software automatically recognising the iPod needs to be restored. The restoration process takes 1-2 minutes.