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Hands On: Star Drift (iOS)

3 hours ago | Posted in: gaming, iPhone apps, iPad apps

Star Drift by Squarehead Studios is a side-scrolling spaceship shooter. The player taps the screen to maneuver up and down while picking up temporary buffs, blowing up baddies, and avoiding obstacles. The color choices and soundtrack evoke a late 80's aesthetic, with its bright glowing colors against a black background and cool synth riffs.

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Briefly: Tinder adds paid option, Sonos Controller update

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

Tinder has launched a paid subscription option for its localized dating app called Tinder Plus, adding two more features to the service as well as providing unlimited "likes." Passport allows paid users to select other locations to search for people in those areas, while Rewind allows for the correction of the last swipe action performed, potentially allowing for the user to reverse an accidental left swipe in the iOS and Android app. Recode notes that the cost of Tinder Plus varies with age, costing US users under the age of 30 $10 per month, while older users must pay $20, with a representative claiming that the service is appeasing the "budget constrained" younger user.

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How 'appflows' reveal the true power of the iPad Air 2

6 hours ago | Posted in: enterprise, iPad, iPad apps

We recently had the opportunity to attend an Apple Australia "iPad Air 2 in Small Business" showcase. The session focused on several apps being used by small businesses on the iPad Air 2 to enable them to undertake tasks themselves, where they might otherwise outsource at considerable expense. It also looked at real-world case studies, where the same apps had been used to excellent effect. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the session was the way that Apple demonstrated how a series of different apps could be used together to powerful effect. As we discussed with Apple, what we were really exploring could best be called app workflows, or "appflows," if one is looking for a catch phrase.

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Follow-ups: Apple working on A123 settlement; Apple Pay adds banks

7 hours ago | Posted in: Investor, industry, Apple

After our recent story two weeks ago about litigation being brought against Apple for poaching battery engineers and scientists from A123 Systems (an automotive and vertical-market energy research firm), Apple has informed the judge in the case that it is seeking a settlement and is in talks with the company. Apple had recruited former A123 Chief Technical Office Mujeeb Ijaz, who then helped Apple poach several of his former colleagues from A123.

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Strong security of Apple Pay exposes weakness in banking system

9 hours ago | Posted in: industry, security, troubleshooting, Apple

The security built into Apple Pay is so resistant to tampering, reports the UK newpaper The Guardian, that criminals are focusing more than ever on traditional bank weaknesses surrounding common fraud and identity theft techniques, exploiting the lax identity requirements some banks employ for users who are adding credit cards to Passbook, which stores the data so that Apple Pay can later utilize it. So far, the fraud has racked up millions of dollars from stolen credit cards added to Apple Pay.

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Hands On: Snowflake 1.0 (OS X)

12 hours ago | Posted in: software, audio

It used to be so much fun, tuning in to radio stations from around the world. Shortwave radios -- who has those any more? Sitting in central Paris, just about able to pick up BBC Radio 4 from the UK -- it's just no thrill now that you can listen to any station, anywhere in the world, on a whim. Snowflake, a new app born from the ashes of radio recorder Snowtape, makes it even less of a thrill: it is an extremely easy-to-use radio app that streams music from around the world right to your Mac.

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Apple Watch takes top design industry honors ahead of launch

14 hours ago | Posted in: industry, gadgets, Apple

Apple's forthcoming Apple Watch -- expected to be formally unveiled at a press conference on March 9 -- is already an "award-winning" product that the jury called "a delightful product offering a holistic user experience" and deemed it "already an icon." Picked from among over 3,200 products vying for world-class recognition from International Forum Design, the Apple Watch took home one of only 47 Gold awards, and one of only two given to telecommunication products.

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Hands On: Digits 2.2.1 (iOS)

15 hours ago | Posted in: iPhone apps, iPad apps

It's getting so that calculators are becoming the new weather app: we have one already on our iPhones, but still people keep bringing out more of them. Also, there's not really a giant range of things you can do in a weather app, and it's even less with calculators. So apps like Digits really have to work hard to stand out.

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Apple Safari, Chrome, Android browsers subject to major HTTPS flaw

16 hours ago | Posted in: security, iPhone apps

Researchers have discovered a critical flaw in the backbone of HTTPS-protected traffic, and it is an exploit that has potentially existed for decades. The flaw exists in approximately 36 percent of websites that use HTTPS, and miscreants are able to intercept and modify data passing between a vulnerable browser and a susceptible site. At the moment, OS X and iOS Safari and Chrome are vulnerable to the attack, as are virtually all Android devices ever produced, plus all browsers on Linux.

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Unity 5 game development tool exits beta with graphical improvements

17 hours ago | Posted in: gaming, developer

Unity Technologies has finally brought the fifth version of the company's game engine out of beta as a general release, the company announced at the Game Developer Conference. Originally debuted in March last year and existing in beta for a number of months, Unity 5 offers a number of upgrades over earlier versions, including the ability to render better-looking and more complex scenes with an improved lighting system.

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Briefly: SXSW app to use iBeacons, Apple promotes security team

17 hours ago | Posted in: security, audio, iPhone apps, Apple, iPad apps

The official SXSW music fest app for iOS and Android, SXSW Go, will tie into a network of 1,000 iBeacons placed around the festival's various venues to help users connect to friends, ensure they are at the right location, and let them know what events are scheduled at the venue they are in now, among other helpful information. Non-attendees can also use the app to view video feeds from various events.

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Hands On: Astropad (OS X, iOS)

17 hours ago | Posted in: software, Apple, iPad, iPad apps

Professional creation apps often feature built-in support for drawing tablets, though many users never get the chance to take advantage of this, due to the high cost of these input accessories. Astro-HQ, a new company formed by two former Apple engineers, is looking to solve this issue with the release of Astropad, a new tool that turns nearly any iPad into a sketch board for any OS X app. Consisting of a free iOS app and a $50 desktop companion, Astropad looks to be a great option for a graphics artist on a tight budget.

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Briefly: Coriolis iDefrag 5, TLA Systems PCalc 4.2

19 hours ago | Posted in: troubleshooting, software, upgrades/storage

Coriolis Systems has unveiled its latest version of utility tool iDefrag. Now on version 5, the new software has a revamped user interface to accommodate Yosemite, boasts easier-to-understand statistics about fragmented drives, better handling of bad drive blocks, new documentation, and enhanced support for Retina displays. The new version is priced at $40, with an upgrade from previous versions available for $20 through the company's web store.

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Gartner confirms Apple now top smartphone seller globally

19 hours ago | Posted in: iPhone, industry, mobile phones, Apple

While significantly disagreeing on the shipment or sales numbers of its rivals, analysis firms IDC and Gartner have agreed that Apple surpassed all expectations in a number of areas with its record-shattering calendar Q4 performance, with Gartner awarding Apple the crown of top smartphone seller in the world. An earlier report by IDC had Apple barely missing the top spot, claiming that Samsung shipped 75.1 million units, despite a sharp drop in profits and revenue.

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Google investors worry that Apple will not renew iOS search deal

21 hours ago | Posted in: Investor, industry, Apple

Being the default search engine option in iOS is such an important position that losing it could cost Google around 10 percent of its gross annual revenue, according to a new analysis by investment bank UBS. The advertising giant is at risk to lose upwards of $8 billion if it should lose the default search engine position, a real possibility with the deal between Google and Apple coming up for renewal. Investors are worried that Apple will refuse to renew the arrangement.

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Forums: clean installs, contact access and more

21 hours ago | Posted in: iPhone, computers, troubleshooting, software, Apple

Yesterday in the MacNN forums, one Fresh-Faced Recruit was asking other members how they might go about doing a clean install of the OS on a 2010 MacBook Pro that they don't have a system install disc for. A discussion about giving Apps access to contacts was started by Mac Elite "jeff k" earlier this week, after he asked about a specific app that was requesting such access.

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Apple deals: Macs from $419

21 hours ago | Posted in: computers, Apple

Today at Apple's online store, find big savings on refurbished Macs with prices as low as $419. The refurbished Mac mini with a 1.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive has been discounted by $80, to $419. A $130 discount is available on the refurbished 11.6-inch MacBook Air with a 1.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, now $769.

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Daily Deals: Linksys routers, Sennheiser headphones, Dell 4K monitor

21 hours ago | Posted in: computers, gaming, gadgets, software, networking

Welcome to Daily Deals, the weekday post when the staff of MacNN and Electronista search for discounts and deals on hardware, software, games, gadgets, and other tech for you, our discerning readers. Today, we have a pair of Linksys routers, Sennheiser headphones, and a 27-inch Dell 4K monitor, alongside our recap of yesterday's still-active deals.

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Nikon Coolpix P900 camera boasts 83x optical zoom with 16MP sensor

21 hours ago | Posted in: digital imaging, iPhone apps

Alongside the new Nikon D7200 DSLR shown at the Mobile World Congress yesterday, the imaging company announced the Coolpix P900, a point-and-shoot camera with a 83x optical zoom. The 16MP shooter also includes built-in GPS, and the Nikon Snapbridge technology, allowing users to pair the camera with an iOS or Android device over NFC or Wi-Fi for image sharing and camera control.

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PayPal acquires Paydiant, adds NFC to Here card reader

22 hours ago | Posted in: industry

PayPal has made two announcements relating to mobile payments at Mobile World Congress, including an acquisition. The company has purchased Paydiant, a startup that provides mobile wallet services to retailers and banks for payments, loyalty cards, and coupons. At the same time, PayPal advises it will be making an updated version of its Here Chip and PIN reader, this time one that works with NFC.

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House Judiciary Committee writes FCC; threatens anti-Title II law

Tue March 3, 2015 | Posted in: industry

The Republican-run US House Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler, claiming that the new net neutrality ruling is the "most oppressive and backward regulatory option possible," despite a failure to cite any specific evidence of harm. The committee is claiming it will instigate a Congressional Review Act to refute the net neutrality regulations as voted on by the FCC, and also to strip the FCC of its ability to impose Title II regulation on US Internet Service Providers.

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Pebble adds Time Steel to Kickstarter, introduces smartstraps

Tue March 3, 2015 | Posted in: gadgets, developer

Pebble has given backers of its wildly-successful Pebble Time Kickstarter a difficult decision, by adding an alternative device to purchase. Similar to the Pebble Steel compared to the original, the Pebble Time Steel is a metal-clad version of the smartwatch, containing the majority of internal components as the updated wearable device, but with a few slight changes to match the more mature design.

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Judge Koh accepts $415M Silicon Valley employee poaching settlement

Tue March 3, 2015 | Posted in: industry, Apple

Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California offered little opinion on a revised settlement, which would end the Silicon Valley worker poaching class-action suit. The $415 million counter-offer is $90 million more than the older deal, and exceeds what the judge asked for to approve the deal. Focusing dissent on what attorneys and a objector asked for individually, Judge Koh has set the next hearing for July 9, which should end the case once and for all.

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Burg 31 smart watch includes kid-tracking GPS, phone features

Tue March 3, 2015 | Posted in:

Burg announced today the new Burg 31, the first standalone phone and safety smartwatch for kids and senior citizens. The new smartwatch has a Miyota watch movement with traditional analog hands, a GPS tracker, and is a standalone phone to make and receive calls and texts without a tethered smartphone.

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Review: Brother HL-L8250CDN Color Laser Printer

Tue March 3, 2015 | Posted in: peripherals, digital imaging

When it comes to selecting a printer, it's not exactly something most people put a lot of thought into. Printers are often touted as fragile, fickle devices that break at the drop of the hat - and in our personal experience, most home printers are this way. But what if someone owns a business and is looking to replace their small, slow printer with something a little more substantial? That's the moment the market suddenly becomes quite a bit more intimidating. We're here to help, though, as we offer up our thoughts on the Brother HL-L8250CDN Color Laser Printer, a laser printer that promises to change your opinion about printers as a whole. Did it change ours? Check our review to find out.

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Living With: Evernote 6.0.6

Tue March 3, 2015 | Posted in: software, iPhone apps, iPad apps

It's one year since I was given a premium subscription to Evernote for OS X as a present, it's probably three years since I started using the service and its generous free version. Naturally, when you've used something for a while you get familiar with it and you know it's good and bad points. However, the kind of long-term test that Living With entails feels especially vital with Evernote. At first it feels like a handy note-taking app or convenient syncing service but if that is enough for you to carry on using it, there suddenly comes a moment when it changes. At some point Evernote becomes a ubiquitous part of your working life.

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