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Briefly: Always-on voice search on Chrom OS, Amazon 4K video in UK

12/19, 9:22pm

Dev channel for Chrome OS includes always-on voice search option

Google is bringing the always-on "Ok Google" voice command to Chromebooks. Spotted in the Dev Channel version of the operating system by Francois Beaufort, the function lets users perform a search verbally at any time, in a similar manner to some Android smartphones. It is unknown if or when the feature will reach non-developer users.

Hands On: Video Converter Pro - All (OS X)

12/19, 7:26pm

Quickly and simply convert videos between formats

Before we get into this, Video Converter Pro is currently free for a limited time, so go get it on the Mac App Store now. If you read this one minute too late and the price has gone back up, get it anyway because it is more than worth the usual asking price of $15. Or rather, it is if you need to convert videos, because that's what this just does, without fuss.

Hands On: Airmail 2 (OS X)

12/19, 5:31pm

Clean-feeling mail client lessens the stress of correspondence

Staying on top of emails, especially when there are multiple accounts involved, is unpleasant. Of the many mail clients out there (such as Mail, included with OS X), each tries to offer users its own spin on staying ahead of the curve. Airmail 2.0, released earlier this year, provides a client designed for Yosemite, supporting iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP 3, and more. We got a hold of Airmail 2.0 (which we will simply refer to as "Airmail" going forward) to take a look for ourselves, and see if this email client stands out from the crowd.

Kate Winslet could take 'lead' role in Jobs biopic

12/19, 4:22pm

Specific character unidentified

Actress Kate Winslet is currently in negotiations for "the female lead" in Universal's upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, Variety reports. Winslet is best known for movies like Titanic, The Reader, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's not clear what the role will be, but top female characters in the film are rumored to include Jobs' daughter Lisa, and Katie Cotton, Apple's former PR head.

DirecTV users get access to Fox Now, FX Now, Nat Geo app content

12/19, 3:39pm

Platforms include iOS, Apple TV, Android, Windows

DirecTV has announced a partnership with Fox Networks, giving subscribers access to all the content in the Fox Now, FXNow, and Nat Geo TV apps on multiple platforms. This includes iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Windows devices. In effect the change means that the apps have simply added DirecTV as a service authentication option, joining other TV providers.

Forums: temp sensors, old iMacs and Yosemite chats

12/19, 3:37pm

temp sensors, old iMacs and Yosemite chats

This week in the MacNN Forums, members discuss temperature sensor issues, hard drive compatibility and more. After a temperature sensor blew on the logic board of a Xserve that is run by "Waragainstsleep" he turned to the forums hoping someone would have some advice on how to repair this so he doesn't have to replace the whole board. Today Dedicated MacNNer was looking for help with moving addresses from Leopard to Yosemite.

Apple deals: refurbished Mac Pros starting at $2,549

12/19, 3:35pm

refurbished Mac Pros starting at $2,549

This week, Apple's online store has a selection of refurbished MacBook Pro models on sale for as low as $2,549. The refurbished 2013 Mac Pro with a 3.7GHz Intel quad-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics has been cut by $450 to $2,549. Priced at $3,219 is the refurbished Mac Pro with a 3.5GHz Intel six-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.

DealNN: Mac minis, SSDs and more

12/19, 3:34pm

Mac minis, SSDs and more

Right now at B&H.com, snap up a great deal on a Mac mini, which has seen a $80 discount -- from $999 down to $919. That discount makes this the best price we have seen on this configuration by about $20. It features a 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB Fusion Drive. It is backed by Apple's standard one-year warranty on parts and labor.

Briefly: Bing's app updates, Wozniak gets permanent Australian status

12/19, 2:49pm

Bing iOS apps receive updates

Microsoft's Bing search engine has updated its iOS apps, Bing for iPad and Bing Search for both iPhone and iPad. Bing's apps include daily homepage images that can be downloaded, the ability to earn rewards for specific searches, syncing for bookmarks, and more. Bing for iPad v2.3 features a new Today View, translation browser exension, and bug fixes. Bing Search v5.3 offers a fully redesigned homescreen, quick access to trending stories, weather and other interested, and simplified movement between pages. Both apps, which are available on iTunes, are free to download.

T-Mobile settles FTC 'cramming' lawsuit, agrees to pay $90M

12/19, 2:29pm

Refunds to T-Mobile customers affected by cramming charges incoming

T-Mobile has settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over complaints the carrier allowed third-party companies to place unauthorized charges to customer bills. As part of the "cramming" settlement, T-Mobile has agreed to pay out at least $90 million in fines and refunds, as well as altering its third-party billing practices.

Apple hikes prices at Russian App Store

12/19, 2:25pm

Apps now almost double 2013 prices

Apple is increasing the prices of both apps and in-app purchases at the Russian App Store, according to a new memo issued to developers. An app that would normally be $1 in the US, for example, is now 62 rubles. That indicates that apps have almost doubled in cost in Russia during 2014, though the increase is largely due to recent currency pressures.

FBI: North Korea responsible for Sony Pictures hack, leaks [u]

12/19, 1:21pm

Statement from FBI notes similarities between Sony Pictures hack and other intrusions by North Korea

[Updated with comments from President Barack Obama] North Korea is responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now announced. The statement about the agency's investigation into the intrusion of the movie studio's computer network, and subsequent leaks, comes at the same time as messages supposedly coming from the hackers wanting Sony to do more than halt the release of "The Interview" movie.

Hands On: Zen Bound 2 (iOS)

12/19, 1:06pm

Relax with unique down-tempo puzzle game Zen Bound 2

Games are supposed to be fun -- there's no denying that. Most games played have some sort of objective, be it shooting bad guys, racing against a clock, or beating other players at obtaining an objective. But some of the best games are the ones that are designed to be fun with no pressure, no competition, and no clocks. One such game, that utilizes a touch screen as more than a keyboard, is Zen Bound 2, by developer Secret Exit.

CalDigit reveals $200 Thunderbolt Station 2

12/19, 12:41pm

Device cheaper than rival Thunderbolt docks

CalDigit has launched the Thunderbolt Station 2, a new Thunderbolt 2 dock. Like some alternatives, the dock includes two Thunderbolt 2 ports, three powered USB 3.0 ports, and connections for HDMI, Ethernet, and audio input/output. Two eSATA 6G ports are also present, supporting storage formats not normally enabled by a Thunderbolt dock.

Friday Deals: Ultra HD monitor, game console bundles, Steam Sale

12/19, 12:15pm

MacNN and Electronista Deals for December 19, 2014

There is less than a week until Christmas, and depending on where you live, approximately four days available for deliveries of presents. If there are more presents to get before the big day, you're likely to be spending a lot on quicker deliveries, so why not even out the cost by getting some great Friday Deals? Every Friday afternoon, we search for bargains on hardware, peripherals, gadgets, and software for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Prices are right at the time of writing, but double-check before purchasing, as prices could change. Also, be sure to return to this post over the weekend, as more deals will be added as time goes on.

Apple's Cook, Williams 'deeply offended' by BBC supply chain expose

12/19, 10:48am

Williams tells Apple staff that company is improving labor conditions

In a new email memo to the company's UK workforce, Apple's Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams claims that he and CEO Tim Cook were "deeply offended" by a BBC Panorama documentary exposing labor abuses in the company's supply chain. Specifically, Williams and Cook are said to have been "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain, or mislead our customers in any way;" Williams charges that "Panorama's report implied that Apple isn't improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."

Watch ABC app for Apple TV gets full episodes for non-subscribers

12/19, 9:18am

New content delayed without verified cable subscription

Users of the Watch ABC app on the Apple TV set-top box can now watch full episodes a week after they air without a subscription, ABC has announced. Previously the app was like most network-based offerings on Apple TV, limiting that content to people who could authenticate a cable subscription. Watching the latest episodes as soon as they're uploaded (next-day) still requires authentication, as does the live feed available in select cities.

Samsung shutting down ChatOn cross-platform messaging service in 2015

12/19, 7:12am

ChatOn closing for majority of users from February 1, US users sometime in first quarter

Samsung is shutting down its ChatOn messaging service in the next few months, the manufacturer has announced. The cross-platform messaging service will go dark on February 1 for the majority of users around the world, though apparently users in the United States could have access to the service for a little while longer than everyone else.

Hands On: Photon Flash Player for iPad (iOS)

12/19, 7:08am

Get Flash applications and videos onto your iPad -- if you must

Perhaps you don't know it yet, but you are already in one of the two camps over how Apple refuses to allow Flash to work on iPads. If you doubt this because you haven't even heard of the issue, then you're in the half of the population that has simply never noticed the problem. If you do know it and you're reading this because you know it, then you are getting this problem a lot -- and you have been searching forever for a solution. Photon Flash Player for iPad is a solution. It's a web browser, like Safari, but it comes with the ability to play Flash -- and you pay for that, in how its other functionality is weaker.

Uber agrees with Portland council to suspend service for three months

12/19, 6:04am

Portland creates task force to hammer out private for-hire regulatory framework

Uber is putting a stop to its app-based taxi service in Portland, just two weeks after it launched. The Wall Street Journal reports the company made an agreement with the city to put a hold on the service for a three-month period, while the two parties negotiate and create a regulatory framework that allows ridesharing services to coexist with existing cab companies and other transportation options.

Google posts response to leaked Sony 'Project Goliath' emails

12/19, 4:41am

Six movie studios, including Sony, provided $500,000 per year for the MPAA's campaign against Google

In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.

Hottest Apple products see improved supply for final Xmas push

12/19, 4:13am

The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, and Retina 5K iMac ship times all drop

In the past month, shipping times have been variable for some of Apple's most in-demand products. However, ship dates for the two new iPhone models, the 6 and 6 Plus -- along with the recently-introduced Retina 5K iMac -- have dropped just ahead of the final push of gift-buying for the holiday season. Both online ship times and same-day in-store pickup schedules have improved.

Misfortune Cookie exploit endangers 12 million routers

12/19, 3:06am

Newly-discovered bug introduced in 2002, affects most unpatched devices

Researchers from Check Point Software Technologies released information on Thursday about an exploit they are calling "Misfortune Cookie." This bug was introduced into "RomPager" software, which is commonly embedded into residential gateway devices such as routers, beginning in 2002. A conservatively-estimated 12 million un-patched devices, connected to the Internet in 189 countries, are at risk.

Hands On: Snapselect photo management app (OS X)

12/19, 2:03am

Clear out duplicates and manage your huge photo library better

Apple's professional photo manager, Aperture, had its advantages over its biggest rival, Adobe Lightroom -- and it is a shame the former been dropped (to be replaced with a new app, Photos for Mac, early next year). One thing Aperture was really good at was adding photos - so much so that we tended to do it over and over. Just not intentionally. One thing it was bad at, by contrast, was helping you find duplicates -- so a big photo library quickly became an unmanageably enormous one. Snapselect intends to fix this for users of Aperture, Lightroom, iPhoto -- and anyone who has tried to handle photos without using any of those programs.

Analysis: Title II regulation, with forbearance, the best path forward

12/19, 12:18am

Double-talk from industry supports notion that some regulation would benefit consumers

Since President Barack Obama voiced his support for reclassification of ISPs as utilities, there has been much debate back and forth, and back again on the topic of "Title II" regulation of carriers. Would it be the dystopian nightmare anti-government zealots and the carriers proclaim, or would it provide a golden utopia of progress for consumers and American businesses alike?

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