Everyone likes getting something for nothing, especially when there's no or relatively few catches. Freebie Friday is the post where the MacNN staff find stuff that you can get, and possibly make use of this weekend, without spending a single penny. The freebies this time include a bunch of free apps for your Mac, and from the App Store, a tactical top-down game based in space for you to download.
You've probably seen a lot about the program TextExpander over the past week or so on MacNN; there was the sudden move to a required subscription model, our Monday Pointers column about how to move the snippets one had in TextExpander over to Keyboard Maestro if you decided you didn't want to go subscription right now, and then Smile's equally-sudden reversal of some elements of their plan, and lowering the cost of other parts. This Pointers column will continue to praise TextExpander as the cream of the macro utility crop, but maybe we should step back, remind ourselves why macros are so addictive, and take a look at some more alternatives to weigh up what will likely work best for you.
While the San Bernardino "FBI vs Apple" case may have been dropped, the repercussions of both the FBI's initial aggression in the case, and its ultimate actions there, have had ripple effects; both on the national debate over encryption and privacy, as well as in other court cases where the agency -- along with the US Department of Justice -- continue to try and force Apple to disable or compromise its security. In a new filing arguing in favor of a Brooklyn court ruling that Apple was not obligated to crack its own iPhones, Apple points to the San Bernardino case in arguing that the agency has not "exhausted" all avenues, a key requirement of the All Writs Act the FBI is trying to use to force Apple to cooperate.
The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposal to open up cable services to any compatible set-top box instead of just those offered by cable companies has received backing from the Obama administration. The White House has released a statement supporting the FCC's "Unlock the Box" proposal, calling upon the FCC to press ahead with its plan, in order to increase competition and encourage innovation in the marketplace.
If you aren't already a TextExpander user, then what appeared to happen last week was that makers, Smile Software, switched to charging a subscription for the software, and everyone complained that it cost too much money. They did do that switch, and everyone did complain about the cost, but this was not really about one price point versus another. Perhaps if a different company had done it with lower prices, the debate would not have started when it did, but it was coming regardless. The debate is really about the whole issue of subscriptions, of software as a service (SAAS), and that is something we are going to see more and more of: we have to.
Featured in a short video at the last Apple Event, iPhone recycling robot Liam, designed by Apple engineers, may have already paid for itself. One of the highlights of the ninth Environmental Responsibility Report, issued on Friday, was that Apple's recycling program for its iPhones and other devices has recovered some 89 million pounds of materials -- including $40 million in gold, and over three million pounds worth of copper worth $6 million -- alongside quantities of silver, plastic, glass, tin, nickel, zinc, cobalt, steel, aluminium, and lead. The report comes on the heels of Earth Day campaigns that range from Apple's retail stores to its online App Store.
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the writing team of MacNN scours online retailers to find discounts, bargains, offers, and promotions for our readers to enjoy. The still-active deals list is accompanied today by new items, including a 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD for $161, a 24-inch Acer 1080p monitor almost half price at $85, and the JBL Synchros S700 over-ear headphones for $300.
The fourth-generation Apple TV has gained a new "splash screen" that greets viewers on power-up, showing off "What's New" with the device, including the promotion of a feature called "Live Tune-In," where user can simply say "Watch CBS" to be immediately taken to the CBS app to join the program in progress. Channels mentioned as being able to be watched live include CBS, Disney XD, and ESPN Live, while other channels that offer live content are not mentioned, but may be available depending on whether the user is subscribed to a cable service that supports the channel apps.
Apple gets a lot of criticism -- some of it well-deserved, much of it not -- from the least likely source: its customer and fan base. It's not that odd (except to outsiders) that Apple's harshest critics are often its most loyal customers; we live with this hardware and software -- we sometimes craft our livelihoods, hobbies, and even social lives out of these products. We know the strengths and weaknesses of it in real-world detail, rather than some made-up bit of broad codswallop from some other-platform troll. So moving beyond the nitpicks, we got to wondering -- what would the MacNN staff, many of which have followed the company since nearly its inception, actually fix if we had the chance to run Apple for a day?
Ricoh has launched two new ultra-short throw projectors for business. The Ricoh PJ WX4152NI and PJ WX4152N are both designed for meetings held in unconventional locations, like smaller meeting rooms, huddle rooms, or offsite training sessions.
Alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are showcasing some of the offers available from our own MacNN Deals store. Today's selections are all online services to help keep you and your data safe online, including access through a VPN, a way to securely manage your passwords, a cloud backup service, and even a way to make calls to other people with military-grade encryption.
Apple has teamed up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in an initiative dubbed 'Apps for Earth.' The new App Store promotion comes with Earth Day approaching on Friday, April 22, with a number of prominent apps participating in the fund raiser. The promotion is on now and is running through to April 24 with all the sales going to WWF. As has happened in the past with similar fund raising efforts run through the App Store, some of the apps have been updated with related thematic content.
Starting at some point overnight, the Chinese iTunes movie and iBook stores have been inaccessible. While Apple is not always prompt about updating status pages, the stores have been down for eight hours, and Apple reports that all systems are functioning normally, with a hiccup in iCloud services at about the same time that the stores went off line.
Apple and the FBI will continue to lobby for their respective positions on smartphone encryption before Congress next week, reports Reuters. The two combatants have been at loggerheads in a debate that spans both security and privacy concerns. The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will convene on April 19 to hear arguments from Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell and Amy Hess, executive assistant director for science and technology at the FBI.
Former Liverpool soccer star Raheem Sterling is said to be nearing an endorsement deal with Apple. According to The Sun, Sterling could earn around $354,000 a year if the deal goes through. Apparently Apple is interested in targeting the upcoming 2016 European Championships, one of the biggest soccer tournaments between soccer World Cups. The deal may, however, be dependent on Sterling, currently with Manchester City, recovering from a groin strain.
Getting into 3D printing is an expensive undertaking, with a decent printer sometimes costing thousands of dollars, but here's a reminder that there's at least one way to do it without breaking the bank. MacNN Deals is holding a giveaway which will provide one lucky entrant the Makerbot Replicator Mini 3D printer, but you only have until Monday night to enter if you want a chance of winning.
Apple is tasking Samsung with producing OLED displays for a future iPhone, after allegedly placing an order with the electronics giant. A report claims Samsung will be supplying iPhone-sized display panels, measuring five inches, which are destined for use in Apple's famed mobile device, with the deal said to be worth 3 trillion won ($2.6 billion) and involving the shipment of an estimated 100 million OLED displays to Apple each year.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE