Welcome to the first edition of bits & bytes. This weekend series will provide you with brief summary of the weeks tech products and happenings. We will gladly consider any products or suggestions to review via tech at gothamist dot com.

Timex Announces iControl device for your iPod/iPhone
Timex, famous for its Ironman line of watches, announced its first product aimed at the iPod/iPhone audience. The Timex iControl (retails for $125) communicates with an iPod (1st & 2nd gen nano, iPod 5th gen and iPhone) by a wireless transmitter. With dedicated buttons on the face of the device you can Play/Pause, switch forward or back in tracks, and control volume.

When we tested this watch, we found that it was very lightweight on our arm. Its mesh-like plastic band kept us from sweating under the band, something that happens when we wear watches with rubber wristbands. The iControl has very basic controls, lacking any visual features, like track information, on the face. However for cyclists or runners who keep their iPods in hard-to-reach places, this device works as a great remote. We can also see this being effective in high iPod theft environments such as the subways, since you can keep your iPod securely tucked away while advancing the music from your watch.

Nike+ updates Challenges
The first iPod sports device to gain popularity was last year's Nike+ system. The Nike+ system consists of a pedometer in your shoe that relays information to your iPod; when you get home after your run, the data is synced to the website where you can keep track of your overall progress, set goals and participate in the community. (However, unlike the iControl, the Nike+ system only works with the Nano.)

Last week, Nike+ updated the site with a redesign of their community challenges area. Teams or individuals can now create challenges, where one can set goals to run a certain amount or at certain speeds, for themselves as private or for the public community. You can then browse the challenges and join on and participate. You can also participate in discussions and track progress through it's interactive interface. Approximately 800 challenges are currently waiting. We were going to come up with a Gothamist Challenge - if you have any suggestions, let us know!

Between the iControl and the Nike+ system, the field of athletic devices for the iPod continues to grow. What we hope for now is a splitter system so we can plug both transmitters into the iPod at once, that's something we'd pay for.

Additional Bytes:

  • Mindy Bockstein of the New York State's Consumer Protection Board has issued a letter to Apple complaining about the iPhones battery and it's repair and return policies.
  • Buzz continues to swirl around the new Virgin America service. After a public PR campaign, it looks like they have finally gotten their government wings and hope to service JFK with flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles starting August 8th. As fans of Virgin Atlantic, we're looking forward to the launch. And with every seat having 110volt AC current, ethernet and USB ports, it has the chance to be every Geeks wet dream.
  • Bongo Wireless is providing free wireless for iPhone users in 13 airports across the country for the month of August. JFK Airport is one of them.
  • Valleywag reported on Google's continuing expansion in New York City. The rumor is that they're moving into the Chelsea Market across the street.
  • AT&T Video Share service is now working in test markets, including New York over their new UMTS HSDPA network.
  • Rumors of new toys Canon's EOS 40D, Blackberry's Pearl 2, the next Sidekick followup the Motorola Zante, and updates to Apple's iMac, Mac Mini and iPod this tuesday.
  • The Delorean Sports car made famous in the Back to the Future movies, are going back into limited production of 20 new cars a year.
  • In the world of the strange, a man had a vasectomy for iPhone.
  • Shark Week enthusiasts can now play director with Discovery Channels new flash based Shark Video Mixer. It's a fun waste of an hour. If you want to waste more time, there's the Sharkrunners Game where you can research sharks with your imaginary crew. The sharks are actually real though, with their locations provided in real time.
  • A cautionary tale that any one who has cut open a plastic bubble pack can relate to. A man stabbed himself with an xacto blade trying to get into his Sony headphones. In the same week however, praise was given for Sony's new easy open cases.