Playing the music from your iTunes library (iPod) in your car has never really been easy. I started off using tape adapters, FM transmitters, Clarion head units, aux inputs and OEM car adapters. While the interface has continually improved, it’s never been as fast or easy as just using the iPod.
Apple’s new iPod Out feature provides 3rd party companies (i.e. aftermarket stereo makers and car manufacturers) with more access to how the iPod is controlled and interfaced. This allows things like album artwork, faster searching, and genius creation to be better incorporated into car stereos.
BMW was one of the first car manufactures to offer iPod integration and their new iDrive interface with iPod Out support looks awesome. Hopefully this same tech will make it’s way into more cars and they won’t charge an arm and a leg for the feature.
As Mac users, we often take for granted that the OS works with all Mac hardware.
Sometimes what can appear to be a hardware issue (the sound card not showing up in System Profiler) is in fact caused by an incompatible version of the OS.
The 13″ MacBook Pro sound card requires a slightly different OS driver that only comes with the OEM install disks (10.5) for this book. If you attempt to install another version of 10.5, the sound card will not show up and there will be no audio out through the speakers or headphone jack.
We saw this kind of issue previously when the PPC models starting including the scrolling trackpad. Only the OEM install disks could be used to install the OS in order to get the trackpad to work.
What can make this even more tricky is that if the wrong version of 10.5 is installed on a 13″ MBP, only a clean install with the right OEM disks will install the right sound drivers (Archive and Install & Software Update won’t work.)
If you need to re-install your OS, use the disks that came with your Mac first and then run Software Update. Installing 10.6 will also fix this issue.
iLike has released their Local Concerts app for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
This free app finds upcoming concerts and events in your area with links to the venue, maps and ticket info.
You can browse by shows or venues and there is a built in search feature.
While this app offers little filtering of results, it’s a quick and easy way to see what’s coming up and could be very useful when visiting other cities in the U.S. to see what’s going on that weekend.
A recommendation engine based on my iTunes library and filtering based on the type of show (rock, rap, comedy, etc.) would be useful future add-ons.
It’s also kind of fun to see who is still touring. I can’t believe Rod Stewart’s voice hasn’t given out on him yet!
After spending a couple months researching a multi-room Mac compatible audio solution, I finally settled on the Sonos system. I have an Apple TV (which I will still use for video), but the lack of support for synchronized audio and no amplification options left me wanting more. Here’s what you’ll need to get started-
1. A Sonos ZP90 to hook up to a receiver or self powered speakers, or a ZP120 to connect to non-amplified speakers. The difference between the 90 and the 120 is the built in amplification.
2. A music library that is always on. I picked a desktop iMac that I leave running most of the time. Since the Sonos has no internal hard drive, it will always stream from a source. It requires you to turn on SMB (Windows) file sharing on your machine. If you have a NAS where you keep all your music, it can connect to that as well. I found a hack that will allow the Sonos to connect straight to my Apple TV, I have yet to implement it.
3. Some type of device to control the system. Try the Sonos Controller 100, or use your iPod Touch or iPhone and the Sonos Controller iPhone App. I went down the iPhone app route, since I already own the phone.
Setup is a breeze. Simply tell Sonos which computer library to look at using the desktop app and you’re on your way. If you have a Pandora or Last.FM account, enter your login credentials and start playing from either service. The iPhone app is wonderfully laid out with a nice, functional interface. Once I add multiple zone players to the system, I can quickly link them together to play perfectly synced music between the devices.
One of the boxes will need to be hooked up to your ethernet network to create the Sonos Wireless Mesh network, if you don’t have ethernet nearby pick up the ZoneBridge for $99. It’s a pricey system, MSRP for the ZP120 is $499, ZP90 is $349, and the Sonos Controller 100 is $399.
First up is the iXoundWear White Cap for iPod Nano.
What it is: A baseball hat that holds you iPod Nano and headphone cables for hands free personal iPod action. Best of all it’s unisex and adjustable, so all your friends can take turns looking awesome.
Who it’s for: Active iPod Nano owners who want to keep their necks free of any headphone cables and enjoy blending technology with high fashion.
What it is: An indoor/outdoor electric grill with built-in speaker and iPod input. With 200 square inches of grilling surface and 10-watt speaker, this thing is ready to be the life of the party. Best part? A center channel for draining fat.
Who it’s for: Discerning audiophiles who like to watch the Food Network. Music lovers that like to tell their guests that the best way to eat healthy is to “drain away the fat.”
Excalibur 145 SoundMaster Satellite Floating Wireless Speakers with Universal Dock for iPod
What it is: A floating water-proof speaker for your pool. The base station connects to your iPod and wirelessly transmits the audio to the floating speaker. It also possibly has the longest product name is history.
Who it’s for: People who want their outdoor music speakers as close to them at all times. People who own more than one Roomba or Aibo.
TuneUp is a great little application that’s used as an add-on to iTunes. Anybody with a decent sized music library should own it. Here’s what it does-
1. Cleans up songs in your library that don’t have album names included. Most it will automatically fix for you. I have a large chunk of MP3′s ripped from my collection of obscure electronic vinyl, most of which it couldn’t find albums for.
2. Fixes missing cover art. I have an Apple TV in my living room that I play music from. Having blank albums show up on the screen all the time got a little annoying, TuneUp took care of that.
3. Access the Tuniverse. Shows links to videos, band bio, auctions on eBay and more. Also shows recommendations for other songs or albums that you might like, but gives links to Amazon for MP3 purchases.
4. Concerts. This by far is the single best feature of TuneUp. Get a list of all the concerts in your area based on the artists in your library. With over 10,000 songs in my library, it gives me a pretty extensive list of shows. A recommendation for an added feature would be similar or recommended concerts.
Overall TuneUp is a decent app. I’ve had some issues with crashing during tagging of large amounts of songs and albums, but other than that it’s been solid. Cost – $29.