In this edition of the Digital Zone, we talked about:
- The iPad 2 Press Invites Go Out
- Apple exploring 6-inch iPad/iPod touch for Fall 2011?
- New York Times: There won’t be an iPhone nano
- Apple looking to offer higher quality 24-bit music on iTunes
- Facebook stalking
- Amazon offers free online movies to Prime members
- Anaheim School District Takes a Big Brother Approach to Truancy
- Vietnam bans online gaming after 10pm
- Printing on the go with HP and FedEx
- Blockbuster to sell itself for $290 million
It’s official: The iPad 2 launch will be March 2. Apple is issuing press invites to a special media event on March 2 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The event starts at 10:00 am.
SuperApple.cz claims that even though Apple has been reluctant about releasing a smaller iPad, they’re still working on two models with screen sizes close to 6 inches. The report claims that Apple is working on a 5.7-inch model and another model just below 6 inches. They claim that this information comes from two separate sources so the minimal size difference might really not be a difference at all. A report from China in late 2010 also claimed that Apple was still working on a smaller iPad and they said it looks like an iPhone.
According to the New York Times, Apple is not creating an iPhone nano. The “value iPhone” which will likely just be the current iPhone 4. Apple is also considering changing internal components of the device to bring costs down “although the innards of the phone, including memory size or camera quality, could change to offer a less expensive model, the size of the device would not vary,” the report said. Another person quoted in the New York Time with knowledge of Apple’s plans said that the company was actively building a more versatile version of its MobileMe service. The current version of MobileMe, which costs $100 a year. The new version of MobileMe is expected to be free and would allow users to synch their files without using a cable.
Apple is said to be in talks with record labels to improve the quality of song downloads available from the iTunes Music Store, making them available in a 24-bit high-fidelity format. Apple’s current downloads are in a 16 bit format. Studio recordings are usually captured as 24-bit audio, but before the tracks are pressed to CD or made available to iTunes, they’re downgraded to 16 bit. Most music players and computers don’t support 24 bit audio.
Breakup Notifier sends you an email whenever your selected targets change their relationship status. All you have to do is go to BreakupNotifier.com and choose the friends you want to follow. The app now crawls Facebook every ten minutes to check the relationship status of people you are following.
Online shoppers subscribing to Amazon.com’s premium membership are getting a new entertainment feature that will allow them to watch movies over the Internet, just as they can through Netflix’s service. Amazon’s Prime membership charges $79 annually for free two-day shipping and low-cost next-day shipping. Starting today Prime service subscribers can also watch roughly 5,700 movies and television shows through Amazon’s on-demand video service at no additional charge. Most of the movies and TV shows that Prime members can stream for free are at least several years old. Amazon has a broader catalog of about 90,000 movies and television shows that people can either rent or buy, often on the same day they become available for sale on DVD. That means Amazon customers who want to watch more recent movies and TV shows will have to pay extra to rent or buy those titles.
According to The Orange County Register, the Anaheim Union High School District is the first in California to take part in a six-week pilot program targeting students that frequently ditch school. The program targets seventh and eighth graders with four or more unexcused absences. The students are given a handheld GPS device that looks like an old-school cell phone. In addition to a “don’t be late to school” automated phone call, students are required to enter in a tracking code five times each day. This is required when the students leave for school, arrive at school, at lunch time, at the end of the school day and again at 8:00 p.m. Students are also contacted by an adult “coach” three times a week to see how they are doing and talk about getting to class on time. In an interview with The OC Register, a regional director of the firm helping implement the pilot program said that the reason the devices aren’t being physically attached to students is because “[they] don’t want to criminalize the kids or have them wear any bracelet or something around their ankle that would stigmatize them.”
In Vietnam, all ISPs in the country have been contacted by the Ministry of Information and Communication telling them to switch off internet access to online games between the hours of 10pm and 8am every day. Such limits have to be in place by March 3. Any ISP deciding to disregard the request will have their service terminated, so it’s a mandatory rule everyone will have to follow.
BlackBerry owners can download the ePrint app from the BlackBerry App World which enables wireless printing from the smartphone to printers in the FedEx store. HP ePrint handles email attachments in Microsoft Word, Powerpoint or Adobe PDF format. Simply open the email with the desired attachment (no need to open the attachment), select Print from the Menu options, find the desired FedEx location and you’re done. FedEx will email you a retrieval code that you enter in the machine at the selected FedEx store and your printing is done while you wait. The app is free but the printing service is not.
Blockbuster has announced that it plans to auction itself off post-bankruptcy with an uncommon trick to guarantee a minimum price. The company is using a “stalking horse” bid from an investment fund coalition, Cobalt Video Holdco, to set a minimum bid of $290 million. The deal would see companies already investing in Blockbuster buy it out if there were no takers but would get a better deal from a third party. CEO Jim Keyes made clear that he hoped for an outsider to make the purchase. He singled out the company’s still well-known brand name, its rights to 125,000 movies for rental, movie distribution, and the “millions of loyal customers” it still had. He hinted it might appeal to a would-be Netflix rival. In the US, iTunes is the largest video source online.