A few Apple bytes for families

Some of Apple’s just-announced news is good for families thinking about laptops for a new school year – now just one basic Macbook at $999 and a new Macbook Pro with much longer battery life for just $200 more, CNET reports. Apple also unveiled its new Snow Leopard operating system, to which Leopard users can upgrade for $29, the Washington Post reports, adding that “the company said it will use less disk space and run faster” than Leopard. Then there were the announcement about new iPhone hardware and software, including the new iPhone 3G S, which looks a like the current 3G but which Apple says performs “a variety of tasks 2-3 times as fast as the current model. It includes a new 3-megapixel camera that can record video in addition to still images, a voice-control feature that lets you place calls and control music playback by speaking commands to the phone, a digital compass and built-in support for Apple’s Nike+ running-tracking system,” according to the Post. The new 3.0 iPhone software Apple’s releasing next week for the first time includes age-level parental controls for the phone’s App Store, the New York Times reported recently. “All iPhone applications will be rated in one of four age categories: 4+, 9+, 12+, or 17+…. I assume,” the Times’s Saul Hansell writes, “the new system will allow Apple to accept more applications that it now rejects, on the theory that parents will be able to limit children from getting applications that can give them access to raunchy or violent material.” So new controls spell added responsibilities for parents of iPhone users.

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