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Facebook adds video calling to Messenger app

5 hours ago | Posted in: software, iPhone apps

Facebook is making its Messenger app more competitive against Skype and FaceTime, by adding video calling one year after it introduced free voice calls. The standalone Messenger app can now start a video call with other users from within any conversation, by tapping the camera icon, and allows for video calling sessions to work between different mobile platforms, including Android and iOS.

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Apple releases second betas for OS X 10.10.4, iOS 8.4, Xcode 6.4

7 hours ago | Posted in: troubleshooting, software, developer, Apple

In addition to the company's fiscal second quarter results released on Monday, the second betas of OS X, iOS, and Xcode were all released as well. Although each is the second beta offered to developers, in the case of iOS and OS X the release is the first offered to pre-registered beta testers -- though as with the first beta, no release notes indicating focus areas or known issues were released. The OS X and iOS betas come one and two weeks, respectively, after the most recent release.

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Capital return program goosed; Apple will raise dividends 11 percent

8 hours ago | Posted in: Investor, Apple

On Monday, Apple announced major increases in dividends, as well as an increase in both the share buyback program and total capital return to investors. Apple will expand its buyback program to $140 billion, an increase of $50 billion over the current program. Dividends will increase starting with fiscal Q2, rising to 52 cents per share from 47 cents per share -- and the company has reiterated that there will be more dividend increases annually.

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Briefly: Instagram adds three filters, NBC Sports on Roku, Apple TV

10 hours ago | Posted in: software, digital imaging, iPhone apps

Instagram has updated both the iOS and Android versions of the photo app with more filters. Lark desaturates reds and adds more to blues and greens for landscapes, Reyes adds a dusty layer to the image, and Juno tints cool tones green while making warmer tones pop. The app also introduces the option of using emoji when writing hashtags for images.

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Apple breaks records for fiscal Q2 with strong iPhone, Mac sales

10 hours ago | Posted in: iPhone, Investor, computers, industry, Apple, iPad

Unexpected strength in Mac sales along with the previously-predicted strong staying power of the iPhone 6 line has helped Apple see record-breaking performance for a fiscal second quarter this year. The company sold more than 61.17 million iPhones, about 80 percent of the number sold during the holiday quarter, which is usually followed by a drop of about 40 percent. Macs sold 4.56 million units, another record for a fiscal Q2 and up 10 percent year-over-year.

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Apple enlists iTunes to solicit American Red Cross donations to Nepal

11 hours ago | Posted in: Apple

Following a major earthquake and series of aftershocks on Saturday in the small nation of Nepal, Apple has set up a special iTunes page for donations to the American Red Cross to aid in disaster relief. Visitors can donate in denominations ranging from $5 to $200, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the charity to help survivors and the families of the estimated 3,617 who have been reported as killed by the quake.

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Daily Deals: Chromecast, Tascam recorder, Samsung external drive

13 hours ago | Posted in: computers, gaming, peripherals, gadgets, software, upgrades/storage, accessories, Apple

Welcome to Daily Deals, the weekday post where the staff of MacNN and Electronista scour online retailers for discounts, sales, offers, and bundles for you, the discerning reader. Since it is the start of a week, the deals slate has been wiped clean for new items, with the additions including the Google Chromecast, a Tascam digital audio recorder, and a Samsung 4TB external storage drive.

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The MacNN Podcast, episode 12: Apple Watch Day, TW-Comcast, more

15 hours ago | Posted in: industry, gadgets, software, developer, Apple

If podcasts were eggs, The MacNN Podcast would be ready to deliver in a cardboard carton! We're up to episode 12, and we take a look at the top stories of the past week, including the retail debut -- such as it was -- of the Apple Watch, where a few select high-fashion stores did actually have stock to sell to walk-in customers. We also chat about the big industry news of the Time Warner-Comcast merger collapse, Randy Ubillos' retirement, and more.

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The Feature Thief, part one: Pages

17 hours ago | Posted in: troubleshooting, software, Apple

Welcome to The Feature Thief, a mini-series of columns where we take a look at some of Apple's rollercoaster of change when it comes to software -- from apps that got a makeover to a sex change, or even some that just got tossed out entirely. Each day this week, we'll take a fairly recent example of each of the three types of sometimes-painful change users have been subjected to when Apple gets a new idea, what to do about it, and where to look for alternatives if necessary.

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Pointers: unreadable attachments in iOS Mail (iOS)

18 hours ago | Posted in: troubleshooting, software

Perhaps you haven't personally come across one yet, but there are one or two iPhones in the world. Yet despite their ubiquity, there are still people who don't have them, and who do email you attachments that iOS can't fathom. We don't mean the times when they send you a document made in an iOS application you don't happen to have. Often, you will need to get that app -- but if they send you an Excel file, for instance, and you haven't got that, then iOS 8 offers to open it in Numbers. Your iPhone works hard, but still there are attachments that stymie it.

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Dropbox Notes collaborative document editing surfaces in beta

18 hours ago | Posted in: Graphics/Web Design

Dropbox has started to publicly test a new note-taking service that could be competition for other online productivity services, such as Evernote. A beta sign-up page for the new service advises it is called Dropbox Notes, with it revolving around allowing individuals and groups to collaboratively write and edit a document, all at the same time.

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Review: 12-inch MacBook with Retina display

19 hours ago | Posted in: computers, Apple

It is an exciting time for consumer technology, with gadgets and devices that once used to the stuff of dreams now coming to fruition. Currently, the focus and excitement is largely around mobile and wearable devices, but the stunning and groundbreaking Mac Pro (Late 2013) showed that Apple still has a keen interest in pushing the development and innovation of its computer product lines right to the edge of the design envelope. Although the new 12-inch MacBook with Retina display might look, at first glance, like a natural evolution of an Apple ultraportable MacBook, it packs a full suite of technical and design innovations that we feel make it the definitive statement of what's next in the state-of-the-art in notebook design. Read our full review for our analysis.

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Mac Game Review: Hero Generations 1.17

20 hours ago | Posted in: gaming

Click. Move. Click. Fight. Click. Eat. This is a familiar pattern if you are a fan of the rogue-like. But, what happens when your rogue-like isn't quite a rogue-like by accident or design? You just might get a game like Hero Generations from Heart Shaped Games, an original take on the formula that was Kickstarted back in April of 2014.

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Jay-Z defends Tidal's growth, claims over 770,000 subscribers

20 hours ago | Posted in: audio, iPhone apps, iPad apps

Rapper Shawn Carter, known as Jay-Z, has taken to Twitter to claim artist-owned music streaming service Tidal is doing fine. Defending against suggestions that the service isn't as popular as initially anticipated, Jay-Z claims the service has grown to over 770,000 subscribers in the month since the celebrity change of ownership, and that it won't be as big as other services for quite some time.

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Game Replay: Silent Hills canned, Steam mods, Telltale Marvel game

Sun April 26, 2015 | Posted in: gaming, software

The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look back at the more notable stories in the world of gaming from the last few days. Today's edition covers the potential cancellation of the next Silent Hill game, the launch of paid mods on Steam and the subsequent complaints, and a future Telltale game produced in collaboration with Marvel.

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Living With: a (non-Apple) smartwatch

Sun April 26, 2015 | Posted in: industry, peripherals, gadgets

Anyone who's been listening to The MacNN Podcast knows there's been some discussion among the staff about wearing smartwatches, and if they think it would be beneficial to do so. Some of us are dubious it would be a useful addition to our workflow, some are skeptical but hopeful an application of value will arise, and some have already ordered theirs and are waiting patiently. Recently, a friend of ours scored several refurbished MetaWatch Frames from Meh.com for what we're going to call "a really good price." So we bought one, in an effort to see if there was any point to wearing a smartwatch.

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Previous News

Review: Bracketron PowerFlex external battery

Sun April 26, 2015 | Posted in: gadgets, accessories

When we're traveling or just generally out and about, we've taken to bringing a tablet and Bluetooth keyboard with us, rather than a laptop or netbook. Power for both our tablet, phone, and any other chargeable devices is always an issue. Our personal motto is "ABC," or "Always Be Charging." When we're not in our car or near an outlet, if we're lower than 75 percent on something we plug it into an external battery. Really all anyone needs is power to nourish these digital brains, but extra features are generally useful. The Bracketron Power Flex Stand is a 10,400mAh battery with a built-in tablet stand and flashlight. It will not only support one's tablet or smartphone at a pleasant viewing angle, but will also charge two devices at the same time with dual USB ports. Is it a must-have? Check out our review to find out.

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Apple fiscal Q2 predictions abound, expect healthy quarter

Sun April 26, 2015 | Posted in: Investor, industry, Apple

Last month, Apple announced that its financials for fiscal Q2 2015 would be released on April 27. Just one day before the conference call, analysts are rushing to get their predictions out regarding what is very likely to be another monster quarter for Apple. The short version is that the iPhone will continue to drive the lion's share of revenue and grow sales from the year-ago quarter, while the downward pressure on earnings from the iPad will continue -- and nobody's really sure what's going to happen with the Apple Watch.

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Review: JBL Synchros Reflect in-ear headphones

Sun April 26, 2015 | Posted in: audio

All headphones are not created equally, especially when it comes to use during vigorous activities or workouts. Over-the-ear headphones are cumbersome and in the way, but in-ear versions can constantly pop out making them a hassle to constantly manage. So what is left for people that need entertainment during their workout routines? JBL offers a potential solution with the Synchros Reflect in-ear headphones. But are the Synchros Reflects something worthy of considering, or are they just another hindrance to deal with? Find out in our review.

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Hands On: Carrot Hunger 1.0.1 (iOS)

Sat April 25, 2015 | Posted in: iPhone apps, iPad apps

A sad by-product of being made of meat is that we must eat, but not too much. Enter Carrot Hunger, the talking calorie counter. Did you ever wish you could get nutrition advice from GLaDOS? Well you can't, but that's okay, because Carrot has three times the attitude, and actually cares about your health. No really you guys, she cares. She's just also a big proponent of tough love; and by "tough love" we mean massive amounts of sarcasm and dry wit.

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Collapse of Time Warner Cable, Comcast merger evolved over months

Sat April 25, 2015 | Posted in: industry

This past Friday, the Comcast Time Warner Cable (TWC) merger was officially canceled. A report by Bloomberg Business indicates the resistance by both the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been in play for quite a bit longer than just the week prior to when the deal was nixed.

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European Commission selects complainants for case against Google

Sat April 25, 2015 | Posted in: industry

The European Union's first antitrust case against Google -- where the advertising giant is accused of giving more prominence in search results to its own shopping comparison services than competitors -- will include 19 companies as complainants, giving them the ability to see and comment on the full list of charges leveled against Google. However, a number of the companies are not directly involved in online shopping, suggesting that the charges brought against Google could be more wide-ranging than previously suspected.

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Ive, Newson talk Apple Watch, modern craftsmanship at conference

Sat April 25, 2015 | Posted in: industry, gadgets, Apple

Apple SVP of Design Sir Jonathan Ive and fellow designer Marc Newson appeared at the first Conde Nast International Luxury Conference in Florence, Italy on Wednesday and gave an interview to International Vogue editor Suzy Menkes, during which they reiterated the standard speaking points on Apple's overall design philosophy and missing, but also discussed the Apple Watch in the context of the strata of the luxury market, and the meaning of craftsmanship in the 21st century.

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Hands On: SmartDown 1.0.4 (OS X)

Sat April 25, 2015 | Posted in: software

It's not as if you are stuck for applications to write in: whether you go for Microsoft Word or TextEdit, there are just about 40 different word processors for every man, woman and child on the planet. It's just that not many work in Markdown, which is a form of writing, a format, and a syntax that works well for the web. SmartDown is one of those, and it works very well.

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Hands On: Sorcery! 3 – The Seven Serpents 1.0.2 (iOS, Android)

Fri April 24, 2015 | Posted in: gaming, iPhone apps, iPad apps

The third installment of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! game series is now available from iTunes. It isn't necessary to play the first two chapters to enjoy the third; each leg of the journey is its own self-contained quest and story. However, for those willing to put in the time, a magic word is given at the end of each game to add input into the next. Friendships, items, curses, abilities, and knowledge transfer from one to the other, giving the whole experience a richer feel.

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Apple wins three-year Chinese patent case against Siri technology

Fri April 24, 2015 | Posted in: Apple

After two legal defeats, Apple has won its case on appeal in a lawsuit brought by Zhizhen Network Technology that dates back to 2012. The Beijing Higher People's Court has ruled that Apple did not violate any patents held by the Shanghai-based Zhizhen, and thus no infringement has occurred. Apple first attempted to have the Zhizhen patent, which covered only "a type of instant messaging chat bot system," invalidated, but later sued the government and the company when authorities ruled in favor of Zhizhen.

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    Apple 12-inch Retina MacBook

    It is an exciting time for consumer technology, with gadgets and devices that once used to the stuff of dreams now coming to fruition. ...

    JBL Synchros Reflect in-ear headphones

    All headphones are not created equally, especially when it comes to use during vigorous activities or workouts. Over-the-ear headphone ...

    Bracketron Power Flex external battery

    When we're traveling or just generally out and about, we've taken to bringing a tablet and Bluetooth keyboard with us, rather than a ...

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