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Huawei TalkBand B2 doubles as a Bluetooth earpiece

03/01, 11:40am

The B2 brings an upscale design and new features

Huawei has introduced a new fitness tracker, the TalkBand B2, that made its debut alongside the company's new smartwatch at Mobile World Congress. Serving as a successor to the TalkBand B1, the B2 edition again doubles as a fitness wristband and a Bluetooth earpiece.

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Briefly: Google Play Music expansion, Netflix adds more kids content

02/25, 10:17pm

Google Play Music expands track storage to 50,000 songs

Google Play Music has received an upgrade to its music storage component, allowing customers to keep more songs on its servers for streaming to computers and mobile devices. The music locker has increased its upper limit of 20,000 tracks to 50,000, double that of the paid iTunes Match service. Despite vastly increasing its storage capacity, the digital locker is still a completely free service.

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Daily Deals: MSI gaming notebook, 512GB Crucial SSD, Classic rock

02/25, 2:53pm

MacNN and Electronista deals for February 25, 2015

Welcome to Daily Deals, the weekday post where we scour the Internet for offers, discounts, and deals on computer hardware, gadgets, games, and other items for you, the glorious MacNN and Electronista reader. A recap follows a selection of new deals, including an MSI GP Series gaming notebook, a 512GB Crucial SSD, and a sale of classic rock on iTunes.

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Plug-in maker Camel Audio reportedly bought by Apple

02/24, 1:23pm

Products no longer available for purchase, but support remains intact

Camel Audio, best known for its audio production plug-ins such as the Alchemy synth, appears to have been acquired by Apple. The company appointed Apple Europe lawyer, Heather Joy Morrison, as its director in early January, and the company's official address changed to Apple's UK address. The next day, the company shuttered operations and announced on January 8 that its products were no longer available, though a support contact form remains in place.

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Hands On: Rainy Mood (iOS)

02/23, 11:33pm

Sound generator promises to help block out unwanted noise

Sometimes it's hard to stay calm in a world of constant noise. We hear it in our morning commutes, we hear it in the office place, we hear it as we're out running errands. If you're looking for a way to get away from the noise, but you aren't looking to invest in a pair of expensive noise-cancelling headphones, you've got a few options. Sure, playing music helps, but that can often be every bit as distracting as environmental noises. If you're looking for a way to tune out distractions, we recommend you take a look at Rainy Mood by Plain Theory, a high-quality, calming sound generator.

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Hands On: Loopy HD (iOS)

02/20, 7:34pm

Music-making app offers easy-to-learn gesture controls

A "looper" is a tool used by musicians that takes short recordings and plays them over and over in a loop, obviously, allowing the musician to layer them and create harmonies and background tracks on the fly. Loopy HD is one such tool, and it's pretty easy to use, as evidenced by Jimmy Fallon's penchant for using it with musical guests every couple of months.

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Daily Deals: LG ultra QHD display, networking combo, HD four-pack

02/20, 11:47am

Daily MacNN and Electronista deals for February 20, 2015

Welcome to Daily Deals, the weekday post where we find the best online deals on hardware and software for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Aside from a recap of still-active deals, the new deals added today include a 802.11n router and switch combo, a SSD and RAM deal, plus a ultra QHD display.

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B&O Play launches Beolit 15 premium Bluetooth speaker

02/20, 10:30am

Aluminum-clad speaker pushes 250W, battery lasts up to 24 hours

Yesterday, B&O Play by Bang & Olufsen unveiled the Beolit 15 -- a portable Bluetooth speaker with "True360 omni-directional sound, up to 24 hours of continuous playtime from a single battery charge, the Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound, and premium quality materials such as anodized aluminum and full grain leather," according to the company.

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Apple tops customer loyalty charts in Brand Keys survey

02/19, 1:01pm

Beats headphones, iOS devices, MacBook all leaders in their respective categories

A new survey measuring customer loyalty and engagement has picked several categories of Apple products as the best in their field, at least in the minds of consumers. Beats headphones were the top most-liked headphone brand, the combined MacBook lines took best laptop, and the iPhone and iPad unsurprisingly won best smartphone and tablet, respectively. The Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index measures how well a product meets -- or exceeds -- consumer expectations.

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Apps: iTunes for Windows, Kayak, NBC, The Sims 4, Yelp, Snapchat

02/18, 5:41pm

Wide variety of app updates bring instant hotel rooms, streaming video, bug fixes, more

A number of apps for both iOS and OS X have received notable updates lately, ranging from the official NBC app gaining live streaking to Kayak adding a service that allows same-day discounted hotel rooms. Apple has updated iTunes 12.1 specifically for Windows users, while Snapchat now lets users play music while snapchatting. Yelp has added translations of reviews to its own app, and The Sims 4 has debuted on the Mac.

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Daily Deals: Mac mini, Qnap NAS, Audio-Technica headphones

02/18, 1:13pm

MacNN and Electronista deals for February 18, 2015

Welcome to Daily Deals, where we search for low-cost gadgets and tech for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As usual, we are recapping still-active deals from earlier this week, but on top of those, look out for a cut-price Mac mini, $75 off a two-bay SOHO NAS server from Qnap, and some Audio-Technica studio headphones at almost half price.

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Google Play Music becomes universal iOS app, adds Material Design

02/17, 6:37pm

User interface update makes Google Play Music for iOS look like Android app

Google has made a few major changes to its Google Play Music app for iOS, following a three-month update gap, turning it from an iPhone-only app into a universal app that works on the iPad. At the same time, the music app has received a graphical overhaul, with the "Material Design" influence of Android Lollipop being used in the iOS version, making it seem almost identical to what Android users see on their devices.

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Hands On: Kitsound Pocket Hive Bluetooth Speaker

02/17, 8:36am

Make a loud noise for this small speaker

The Kitsound Pocket Hive Bluetooth Speaker has a hive-like hexagonal design -- the UK makers of the device cannot seem to resist making every bee pun you can think of in their documentation, and on their website. Yet they seem to have missed one very apposite British phrase: this Pocket Hive speaker is the bee's knees.

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Daily Deals: 29-inch LG monitor, Asus gaming notebook, Destiny

02/16, 1:58pm

MacNN and Electronista deals for February 16, 2015

Welcome to today's Daily Deals, the regular post where we find the best offers and discounts for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Since it's a Monday, almost all the deals from last week have been swept away, with new deals on the list including an UltraWide 29-inch display from LG, an Asus gaming notebook, and half-price Destiny.

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MacNN Podcast: Apple Pay, great apps, huge iPhones, Tesla, and more

02/16, 9:45am

The MacNN Podcast for February 16, 2015

The MacNN Podcast hits its second episode and engages on a wide variety of topics! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, reviewer William Gallagher, and news writer Malcolm Owen as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.

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Apple hires prominent DJ Zane Lowe from BBC Radio 1

02/15, 1:18pm

UK-based music tastemaker heading to United States for Apple job

Apple will soon be getting more help with its musical ambitions, as it has reportedly hired BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. The New Zealand-born radio personality, known in the United Kingdom as a tastemaker and helped launch the musical careers of stars including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, will be quitting the station next month before moving to the United States to work with Apple.

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Cook, Iovine meet with music label exec phalanx at Grammys

02/14, 11:05am

Summer relaunch of Beats expected, perhaps at a lower price point

At this week's Grammy Awards pre-parties, Apple CEO Tim Cook, iTunes Vice President Robert Kondrk, and Beats co-founder and Apple employee Jimmy Iovine held court, meeting with dozens of music label executives. All meetings were held under nondisclosure agreements, but reports circulating after the party claim that a re-launch of the Beats music service under the Apple banner is expected to happen in the spring possibly, with a deadline of a summer launch.

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Daily Deals: Buzzi Smart Plug, Lenovo Y50, Pioneer AV Receiver

02/13, 10:40am

MacNN and Electronista deals for February 13, 2015

Welcome to the Friday edition of Daily Deals, the post where we point out reductions and promotions on gadgets, software, and other tech for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. This time, we are recapping all the still-active deals from the rest of the week, and adding new deals including a cheap way to get into home automation, the Lenovo Y50 notebook, and a $200 promo code for a 7.2 channel 4K-ready receiver.

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Hands On: ChordMate v3.0.4 (iOS)

02/12, 4:06pm

Musical helper strikes the right note

If you ask any veteran musician for their advice on how to get started with an instrument, they are likely to have a list of tips and tools they wish existed when they began to play. When we first saw Harmonic Sense's ChordMate for iOS, we could see the potential it had to become one of these prestigious tools in our arsenal. On paper, ChordMate is certainly a tool that could benefit guitar players of all levels, but in practice, would the $10 app work out to meet all of its claims?

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Briefly: Target Ticket closes, UK music album chart counts streams

02/12, 12:28pm

Streaming video service Target Ticket shuttering next month

Target is shutting down its video streaming service next month. Target Ticket has already stopped providing rentals, though existing rentals will be viewable until the service shuts down completely on March 7, according to its support pages. The retailer has already made arrangements for its customers to watch movies through CinemaNow from the same account when Ticket closes, with any UltraViolet purchases viewable through other supported video services automatically.

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Hands On: ControlAir (OS X)

02/10, 7:46am

Fun and promising music controller, but it's not quite there yet

If you have a minute, go get the free ControlAir app just for the fun of seeing it work. It's a way of controlling the music your Mac plays, and doing so by gestures rather than pressing any buttons. Given that it is meant for people who are working at their Macs, it doesn't seem a gigantic saving, waving your finger in the air instead of using it to press down on the keyboard's Skip button. Except pushing buttons was never this entertaining.

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Daily Deals: Kingston HyperX RAM, Ultimate Ears, Steel Series

02/09, 11:47am

MacNN and Electronista deals for February 9, 2015

Welcome to today's Daily Deals, where we find the best discounts and offers available online for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Today, the slate has been wiped clean of older deals, with the new additions including an effectively-free RAM and McAfee bundle, a $130 Ultimate Ears Bluetooth speaker, a nice price break on SSD storage, and $96 off the list price of some Steel Series gaming headphones -- with plenty more where those came from!

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MacNN Podcast: Net Neutrality, Radio Shack, Silk Road, Typo, and more

02/07, 10:52am

The MacNN podcast for February 7, 2015

This week heralds the return of the long dormant MacNN podcast! Join this week's hosts, MacNN editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.

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Daily Deals: SMS Audio Street, Sony 40-inch TV, Blue Snowball mic

02/06, 3:10pm

MacNN and Electronista daily deals for February 6, 2015

Welcome to today's Daily Deals, the post where we search the Internet for deals and discounted offers for you, the MacNN and Electronista reader. All listed deals are correct at the time of posting, but could change at a later time, so remember to check before completing your order. We will also be adding more deals as we find them throughout the day, so check back later for more money-saving offers. If you know of a deal that we have missed, please email us, and it may appear on the list.

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Limited edition Sonos Play:1 Blue commemorates Blue Note Records

02/04, 11:20am

Boutique streamer identical to Sonos Play:1, boasts custom paint job

In order to "commemorate 75 years and counting of Blue Note Records," speaker company Sonos has debuted the Sonos Play:1 Blue Note Limited Edition wireless streaming speaker. The speaker, identical to the original Sonos Play:1, will be available online only in limited quantities, and for a short time.

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Daily Deals: Canon laser printer, Kindle Fire, Bluetooth speaker

02/03, 1:08pm

MacNN and Electronista deals for February 3, 2015

Welcome to Daily Deals, our new regular series where we search online retailers for offers and discounts for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Today's deals include a multifunction laser printer from Canon, discounted Kindle Fire tablets, clearance PCs at Staples, and a recap of still-active deals you should take another look at before they disappear.

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Apple airs re-imagined 'Song' ad for Lunar New Year

02/03, 12:41pm

Asian version of US ad plays to Chinese market, gift-giving season

Apple has created a new version of its holiday ad "The Song" for the Chinese market in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations, which commence later this month. The wholly-reimagined ad is prominently featured on the company's China website, and is the first such ad made directly for China. Senior VP of Retail Dame Angela Ahrendts has made China a priority over the next two years as it emerges as Apple's third-largest market.

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Pointers: iTunes Family Sharing (OS X, iOS)

02/02, 3:50pm

Everything you need to know about communal e-living

It didn't take long after the first release of iTunes for some enterprising writers to produce books on how to use it. They were enterprising, and the books sold, but surely most people bought them out of curiosity: how can you stretch talking about iTunes for an entire book? If you managed to make "click on the iTunes icon to open it" last for an entire chapter, what would the rest of the book cover? Back in the day, iTunes was a very smart and very simple piece of software for letting you play music.

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Briefly: Amazon Echo improves music options, Dixons Carphone carrier

02/02, 7:42am

Amazon adds iTunes, Spotify, Pandora music options to Echo

An update to the Amazon Echo has added more options for music playback. Recode reports the Internet-connected speaker now offers voice control for Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora, when the Echo is paired with a device that has the required apps installed. Improved responsiveness, question accuracy, and more voice commands have also been touted for the device, which has yet to have a wider release outside of its invitation-only testing.

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Friday Deals: 60-inch LG TV, Silicon Power SSDs, PlayStation TV [u]

01/31, 8:19pm

MacNN and Electronista Deals for January 30 2015

[Updated with more deals on Saturday] It's the end of the working week, and that means it is just two days until a major sporting event involving football. It's also the time we publish Friday Deals, the post where we collect together deals and offers from around the Internet for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Just as always, deals may change or end in the future, but are correct at the time of posting, so check beforehand, and come back over the weekend as more deals will be posted later.

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Whistle into phone, make a song with Casio's Chordana Composer for iOS

01/31, 3:58pm

Two-bar melody input by user will generate entire music piece, sans lyrics

Casio Computer has announced the release of Chordana Composer, an iPhone app that automatically composes a musical piece, based on a two-bar melody created by the user. The user records singing or whistling for two musical bars, and the app automatically composes an entire piece of music based on that melody.

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Hands On: Samson Go Mic Direct

01/31, 10:52am

Portable mic allows users high quality sound on the go

Laptop sound, especially on el-cheapo computers, is generally terrible. Compounding this, the diminutive microphone installed is about the same quality. Fortunately, we all have USB -- and thus Samson has introduced the Go Mic Direct to supplant the built-in microphone. At two by two inches, with no boom, how does the compact package stack up, and is it a worthwhile addition to your on-the-go tech bag?

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Acemile debuts wireless Bluetooth surround sound with Theatre Box

01/31, 10:35am

Mobile battery-powered speaker has four full drivers, one bass driver

Consumer electronics manufacturer Acemile has introduced the Theatre Box, a portable wireless speaker that delivers a 360-degree surround sound audio experience to everyone in the room, no matter the orientation to the speaker. The company claims that the speaker fills a 2,000-square-foot room, using four two-inch full range drivers, and one three-inch active bass driver.

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Jay Z looks to join streaming music industry by acquiring Aspiro

01/30, 9:57am

Parent company of Tidal, WiMP agrees to $56M acquisition by rapper

Rapper Jay Z is moving into the streaming music business, by attempting to acquire the parent company of two services. A press release and local media reports claim management of Swedish company Aspiro AB has agreed to the takeover by Jay Z's own companies, with the acquisition deal said to be worth approximately 464 million krona ($56 million).

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Apple updates iTunes to version 12.1, adds Notification widget

01/29, 8:26pm

Widget allows at-a-glance song info, opportunity to purchase through iTunes Radio

On Thursday, Apple released iTunes 12.1, a minor update for Yosemite users only that brings only one new feature, along with a general improvement in syncing performance with iOS devices. The big change is that the program now includes a widget that can be optionally added to the Mac's Notification Center. This will allow users to control and get info on a playing song at a glance, whether the user is listening to their own library or to iTunes Radio.

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Sony Music Unlimited replaced by partnership with Spotify

01/28, 10:27pm

Sony's answer to iTunes will close in February

The official PlayStation blog on Wednesday posted an announcement letting PlayStation users know about a new partnership with Spotify. The service includes existing playlists for those who already have Spotify accounts. The post also, however, contained the news that Sony's own Music Unlimited service will be discontinued in late March.

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Apple introduces 'Free on iTunes' section at iTunes Store

01/26, 9:13am

Appears to replace defunct Single of the Week

Apple has launched a new area on the iTunes Store in the US, simply dubbed "Free on iTunes." rel='nofollow' The section highlights free song and TV downloads. Some musical examples include singles from Waters, Sharon Van Etten, The Babies, and Penguin Prison. TV content includes episodes from Backstrom, 12 Monkeys, The Musketeers, and other shows.

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Briefly: Blue Hummingbird launches, Yamaha AG03, AG06 mixers revealed

01/23, 9:03pm

Blue reveals Hummingbird microphone at NAMM

Blue unveiled its Hummingbird Class A small-diaphragm microphone at NAMM. Based on the Blue B1's cardioid capsule, the Hummingbird has a head that rotates 180 degrees, measures just 70mm (6.7 inches) tall, and offers a signal-to-noise ratio of 85.5dB-A and a maximum sound pressure level of 130dB. Shipping later this spring, the Hummingbird will cost $300.

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Avid launches free, limited version of music software Pro Tools

01/23, 10:18am

Gateway OS X and Windows product expandable with in-app purchases

Avid today unveiled Pro Tools First, a free version of the company's Pro Tools software suite that offers many of the same music creation capabilities used by top artists and recording studios worldwide. Built upon the Avid MediaCentral Platform, Pro Tools First is is intended as a gateway to the full package, and usable by beginners and experienced music producers alike.

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Hands On: Opinion podcasting app (iOS)

01/22, 11:30pm

Good entry-level app that makes the basics easy and fast

It's harder to make podcasts than you might imagine. No, strike that: it's easy to make bad podcasts, to make the kind of audio that makes grown NPR and BBC radio producers sob and listeners disappear. What's harder is to make anything worth listening to, and that's chiefly a mix of your talent and your technology. The new Opinion Podcast Recorder & Editor app won't make a scrap of difference to your talent -- except that it will let you concentrate on getting better, because it sets out to make the technical side of podcasts simple. It aims to be the one place you record your podcast, edit it, and then distribute it.

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Hands On: Djay Pro (OS X)

01/22, 5:44pm

DJ tool adds Spotify, better MIDI support

Thanks to numerous technological advances over the past 40 years, the tools -- and skills -- needed to cut and mix music together in a live environment has been drastically reduced. What used to require multiple record decks, crossfaders, and not to mention a large library of vinyl records, has been reduced down to a single piece of software that can run on a laptop. Algoriddim, a company that has become well known for its iOS DJ apps, recently released a new Pro version of its desktop app Djay. Built specifically for OS X, Djay Pro takes full advantage of 64-bit processing, multi-core track analysis, and Retina displays, but does it do so in a way that is accessible to anyone? We have spent the last few weeks digging around the app to find out.

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IK Multimedia rolls out universal iRig Mic Studio condenser microphone

01/22, 3:12pm

New mic comes with connectors for nearly every digital application

Music hardware and software developer IK Multimedia today announced the iRig Mic Studio, its ultra-portable large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Android. The iRig Mic Studio packs a one-inch diameter condenser capsule into an ultra-compact enclosure that can be used to make professional recordings anywhere.

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MOTU deploys 112D rack-mounted Thunderbolt digital audio interface

01/22, 11:57am

Cross-platform mixer brings 24 channels ADAT, 64 channels MADI to one unit

Today, MOTU debuted the 112D, a Thunderbolt-equipped digital audio interface, router, format converter and mixer. The seventh in a series of new, high-end audio interfaces from MOTU, the 112D serves as the flagship digital interface of the new line, offering 24 channels of AES/EBU, 24 channels of ADAT optical and 64 channels of MADI (AES10) for a total of 112 simultaneous digital I/O channels, all in a single rack space.

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Hands On: Audio Hijack 3 (OS X)

01/21, 7:50pm

Major update for already-superb audio recording app

When Audio Hijack 3 was announced, one of us actually squealed in delight. It wouldn't be right of us to mock him, but you can. In fairness, many people who had heard of the software -- and certainly every one who had used it -- was pleased too. For this is one of those applications that isn't just a regular part of your toolbox, it's one that reminds you every time why it is just so much handier working on a Mac than a PC.

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Logic Pro X gets major update; drum features overhauled

01/21, 7:00pm

Mail Drop, Air Drop supported in latest update; many features improved

On Wednesday, Apple released a major update to its flagship digital audio workstation program, Logic Pro X. Not unlike the fictional band Spinal Tap, the main focus in the new version 10.1 is a significant change in Drummers, bringing 10 new options covering more styles, particularly for dance and electronic music. In addition to the extra styles, the sound quality has been upgraded, controls have been re-worked, and the Drum Machine Designer plug-in has been revamped.

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Briefly: Dropbox drops Leopard, Audio Hijack 3 released

01/20, 10:43pm

Cloud storage firm ends support for 10.5, earlier on May 18

Users who are still using OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard) are probably used to it by now, but yet another company has announced it is dropping support for the 10- and seven-year-old (respectively) operating systems. Dropbox, the well-known cloud storage firm that offers browser-based and native-app cloud storage for a wide variety of platforms, is informing users who access the service on the obsolete OS versions that support for them will end on May 18.

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Friday Deals: Dell XPS, Nikon D5200, Samsung SSDs [Update]

01/17, 7:43pm

MacNN and Electronista Deals for January 16, 2015

[Updated with more great deals!] The second full week of 2015 is almost over, and so it's time for the Friday Deals post, where we find great offers on hardware, gadgets, and software for you, the ever-discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As usual, the prices are correct at the time of writing, but the offer may change at a later time, so check before purchasing. Also, remember to come back over the weekend, as we will be adding more deals for you to enjoy.

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Twitch offers free music library to streamers, adds music category

01/15, 9:41pm

Library of over 500 tracks available to Twitch game streamers

Twitch is providing music to users of its game-focused video-streaming service, in order to allow its broadcasters to avoid potential copyright problems. The extra help to game streamers comes as the Amazon-owned service attempts to diversify into different areas, by launching an experimental "Music" category for musicians to stream them playing or creating music.

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Hands On: Keith McMillen Instruments K-Board

01/15, 4:16pm

Portable MIDI keyboard with a twist

Thanks to software like GarageBand, creating personalized music has never been easier. The included bank of loops provides a great starting ground for putting together ideas -- however, this can only take a budding musician so far. In order to get the full potential out of any software with a large library of sound samples, some form of external input device is necessary. While options in this field vary greatly, the best place to start is usually with a basic MIDI keyboard. Keith McMillen Instruments' latest product, the K-Board, is a budget-friendly option that looks to introduce a number of features not generally found on keyboards. Is the device simple enough for anyone to use? We have spent the last couple of weeks banging away on the supposedly "unbreakable" keyboard to find out.

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Spotify hits 15M subscribers, majority of streams on mobile devices

01/12, 1:11pm

Over 60M active users of Spotify, most connect accounts to Facebook

Spotify is continuing to enjoy rising user numbers, with the popular music streaming service announcing it has reached a total of 15 million subscribers. At the same time, reports claim that the majority of Spotify streams stem from mobile listeners, with 52 percent of listening taking place on smartphones and tablets rather than desktops.

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