The wait for the big Zune refresh that a lot of us have been clamoring for is finally over. Today, the Zune HD launches, available from the Microsoft online store, Amazon, Best Buy, and others. Alongside that launch comes a much-improved Zune software and services package. That’s right, Zune 4.0 is here, and there’s lots to cover. Let’s dive in and take a look at all the major new features in Zune 4.0, as well as some of the smaller pieces of fit and finish that make this release shine, including the Zune Marketplace, Zune PC software, Zune on Xbox Live, and Zune.net.
From everything we’ve seen as it pertains to the Zune 4.0 software, this update is all about making music more enjoyable to listen to, easier to discover, and easier to manage. In addition, you get movies in the Zune Marketplace now (both rental and purchase,) Xbox Live integration, and a bunch of other features that make Zune 4.0 one of the best pieces of media management software that we’ve used to date.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Zune 4.0 is the Quickplay screen. Similar to the Quickplay area on the new Zune HD, the Zune desktop software gets similar treatment. Here you’ll be able to pin specific content to the area, get a look at new content you’ve recently added to your library, pull up recently played content, and also get direct access to your Smart DJ mixes. Smart DJ, you say? Yes, read on.
While not as exciting when the Apple Store online goes down, you should still be aware that Microsoft has taken all Zune services down in preparation for the launch of the Zune 4.0 software, and the release of the Zune HD tomorrow. We are guessing things will be functional again around midnight tonight. In fact, you may wanna stop by Gear Live around that time as well. Just sayin’.
Apple has just pushed out the first point update to Snow Leopard in Mac OS X 10.6.1. That was a pretty quick update, since Snow Leopard launched less than two weeks ago! Here are the changes you’ll find in this release:
- Improves compatibility with some Sierra Wireless 3G modems
- Addresses an issue in which some printer compatibility drivers might not appear properly in the Add Printer browser
- Addresses an issue that might cause DVD playback to stop unexpectedly
- Addresses an issue that might make it difficult to remove an item from the Dock
- Resolves an issue in which the Command-Option-T keyboard shortcut would sometimes bring up the special characters menu in applications such as Mail and TextEdit
- Addresses instances in which auto account setup in Mail might not work
- Resolves issues when sending mail with certain SMTP servers
- Addresses an issue in which Motion 4 could become unresponsive
- Includes an update to Adobe Flash Player plug-in version 10.0.32.18
You can grab OS X 10.6.1 now by running Software Update.
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Amidst all the other Apple news from today’s “It’s Only Rock and Roll” music event is the fact that iPhone OS 3.1 (or, technically, 3.1.1) is now available. With it comes things like support for Genius Mixes, pre-cut ringtone downloads at $1.29 a pop, app organization support in iTunes 9, and Genius recommendations for apps. There’s also a bunch of polish, bug fixes, and ease of use features as well. Just connect your iPhone or iPod touch and check for an update.
Mac owners, the time for upgrading is upon as, as Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is now available on a worldwide basis. If you didn’t know that there was a new operating system from Apple today, we wouldn’t blame you, because it’s kind of been released without much fanfare. You see, Snow Leopard is all about fine tuning, refining, and improving upon OS X 10.5 Leopard. It’s a makeover that, at first glance, seems underwhelming because the majority of the changes occur “under the hood” so to speak.
So, what can you expect? Well, if you’ve used an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 3GS, think of it in those terms. They are really pretty much the same product, but the 3GS is much snappier, and has a couple of new features that the 3G doesn’t have, namely a better camera and a compass. Comparing Snow Leopard to Leopard is similar - you get speed, things feel faster, and potential is unlocked for the future, because there are some cool things that third-parties can tap into now.
Not everything is under the hood, though. You will see a few UI tweaks, like Dock Expose, right-click dock menus, Finder icons, and the like. We will cover all of those in more detail, but again, that isn’t the focus here. If you are underwhelmed right now, read on, because there is a lot to be excited about. At the very least, though, understand that upgrading to Snow Leopard will cost you just $29. Now that we have your attention, let’s move on. We’ve got videos for you, after the break.
First thing we noticed after getting our hands on the latest Snow Leopard build 10a432? The new OS X install icon, which is usually indicative of how the disc is going to look. Goodbye purple galaxy goodness, hello big, snowy animal.
Progress on Apple‘s Snow Leopard is nearing completion, as the next version of Mac OS X is set for release sometime next month. To that effect, it is widely believed that today’s Developer Preview seed, build 10A432, is the 10.6 Golden Master. One big change from the last few Snow Leopard releases is that this build needs to be installed fresh from a bootable partition or DVD, no more of that Software Update stuff. The download is 6.1GB in size, and if that isn’t telling about the progress of Snow Leopard, we don’t know what is.
It’s almost here - can you feel it?
Apple has just unleashed the latest update to the Mac OS X Leopard operating system in the 10.5.8 update. If you are running Leopard, just fire up Software Update, and the 165MB package will be available for you to download. This will likely be the last 10.5.x update before Snow Leopard launches next month. We’ve got a rundown of all the fixes and security updates includes in 10.5.8 after the break, but you can look forward to a Safari update, MobileMe improvements, and more.
A few days ago we did a quick post of our Xbox 360 August Dashboard Update video, promising that we’d publish the actual video podcast version later. Well, here it is. In case you missed it, we give you a 35-minute full walkthrough of the upcoming Xbox 360 dashboard update, giving you a look at the new Netflix features, Avatar Marketplace, Games on Demand, Indie Games, and more. Go ahead and give it a look for all the goods. Definitely a nice, solid Xbox 360 update.
Hey iPhone developers, Apple has just released iPhone OS 3.1 beta 3 build 7C116a, and it’s available now in the iPhone Developer Portal now. The download is 307MB. iPhone SDK 3.1 beta 3 build 9M2808 is also available immediately, with different versions for Leopard and Snow Leopard. Get to downloaded, and let us know what you find!