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CVS throws in with Rite Aid, blocks Apple Pay and Google Wallet

5 hours ago | Posted in: industry, security, iPhone apps, Apple

CVS has ceased accepting Near-Field Communication (NFC) payments from Apple Pay and Google Wallet at its stores, US-wide. The pharmacy issued the instructions to stores earlier this week, with shutdowns continuing through the weekend. CVS has mirrored Rite Aid, which shut down its terminals earlier this week. Both CVS and Rite Aid are about to join the nascent and poorly-regarded MCX CurrentC NFC and barcode payment solution, and the move is widely seen as an effort to squeeze out both Google's and Apple's payment solutions.

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Twitpic archives acquired by Twitter, data saved temporarily

6 hours ago | Posted in: industry, networking

With time ticking down before the permanent shutdown of Twitpic, the company has announced that it has agreed to an acquisition offer by Twitter itself. The arrangement keeps the domain and photo archive accumulated by the service intact, and this keeps "the photos and links alive for the time being" according to a blog post announcing the deal. The service is not completely rescued, however, as the service is still shutting down ultimately, and in "read-only mode" for now.

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Google CEO Larry Page hands over most Google products to Sundar Pichai

6 hours ago | Posted in: industry

Google CEO Larry Page sent a memo to Google staffers yesterday, reorganizing the upper echelons of management, and stepping back somewhat from his daily duties. In the memo, Page transfers a number of divisions that previously reported directly to him over to Android chief Sundar Pichai. Pichai is currently responsible for Android, Chrome, and Google Apps. Now under his purview are research, maps, Google+, search, ad products, and company infrastructure. Page will continue to run access, energy, Nest, Calico, Google X, legal, finance, and corporate development.

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Hands On: Boom (OS X)

6 hours ago | Posted in: software, audio, Apple

The speakers included with Mac laptop and desktop systems and portable devices typically suffice for basic audio needs. For more power behind your sound, Global Delight offers its audio app Boom, a volume-optimizer for OS X. Boom's central functionality is that it can create "boosted" media files and playlists, so that audio is easier to hear when listening on a device's speaker such as iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. On an OS X system, Boom optionally includes a volume booster and equalizer for additional sound control. Priced at $7, does Boom effectively achieve its aims?

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Yosemite adoption outpacing last year's Mavericks, now at 12.8 percent

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: software, Apple

Users are getting used to the idea of upgrading to the latest OS X versions very quickly after release, a new study from ad agency and trend analyst Chitika shows. The latest major OS X upgrade, 10.10 Yosemite, has already achieved a 12.8 percent share of all Internet-connected Macs -- slightly ahead of where last year's release, Mavericks, was at the same point, six days after release. However, both Mavericks and Yosemite have enjoyed adoption rates more than twice as high as the last paid upgrade, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in 2012.

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Memo shows Rite-Aid's disabling of Apple Pay, NFC systems deliberate

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: industry, troubleshooting, Apple

Following reader complaints of Rite-Aid stores no longer accepting Apple Pay or Google Wallet payments (following a brief period where both worked properly) and a "cone of silence" from PR representatives, leaked documents have revealed that the reversal by Rite-Aid on accepting NFC-based payments was deliberate, and that it may never accept Apple Pay, since it is planning to go with a rival mobile payments platform -- sometime next year.

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Sprint adds 12-month option to 'iPhone for Life' leasing plan

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, mobile phones, Apple

Sprint is making changes to its iPhone for Life rental plan, just over a month after launch. The carrier is adjusting the plan to allow customers the ability to lease an iPhone and upgrade it after 12 months, though the existing 24-month period between upgrades will continue to be offered to users at a lower cost compared to the new plan option.

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Apple submits revised plans for Phase 2 of new Cupertino campus

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: Apple

Apple has a submitted revised plans for the second phase of its Campus 2 project in Cupertino, California. Next to the main "spaceship" complex, the company is looking to build three research and development-related buildings on opposite sides of North Tantau Avenue. It already has approval for the construction, but the updated plans reveal specific details.

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Friday Deals: iOS Grand Theft Auto, 240GB SSD, 1TB external, more

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: computers, gaming, software, upgrades/storage

Its time for Friday Deals! Every Friday, we round up the best deals for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As usual, all prices are verified at the time of publication, but may not be valid if you're reading this after the weekend, so check before buying. Check back frequently over the weekend, we like to add stuff!

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AT&T locking Apple SIMs in new iPad models, buyers complain

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: networking, iPad

The new Apple SIM in the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 is being locked to AT&T if data subscribers choose that carrier, according to complaints. The problem is confirmed by a new Apple support document, which says that when buyers "choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to [that] network only."

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Forums: Yosemite is a big win (or fail depending on who you ask)

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: iPod, iPhone, computers, Apple, iPad

With just a little over one week on the Mac App Store under its belt, OS X 10.10 Yosemite has been one of the hottest topics in the MacNN forums, with discussion topics ranging from claimed "unfixed bugs" and battery life issues to beefs with Dark Mode and tips for those who are just upgrading for the first time. Today, one Dedicated MacNNer was looking for help determining the cause of what appears to be USB power failure.

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Apple deals: Mac desktops from $419

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: computers, Apple

Right now at Apple's online store, take advantage of price cuts on a wide range of Mac desktops. The lowest-priced item on that list is the refurbished Mac mini with a 2.5GHz dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, now $419. Right now, refurbished 27-inch iMac models start as low as $1,399 for a configuration with a 2.9GHz Intel quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive.

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DealNN: Mac mini from $494, 256 SSD for $135 and more

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: computers, upgrades/storage, Apple

MacMall.com has already begun dropping prices on brand-new Mac mini configurations. The entry-level Mac mini with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, Intel HD Graphics 5000 and Mac OS X Yosemite has seen a $5 price cut from $499 down to $494, making this the best price we have seen by the same price margin. As always, this Mac mini is backed by Apple's one-year limited warranty on parts and labor, with an optional AppleCare extended warranty available.

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WSJ says iTunes Stores sales down 13-14 percent in 2014

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: industry, Apple

Sales at Apple's iTunes Store have fallen between 13 and 14 percent in 2014 so far, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. That represents a steepening decline, coming in the wake of a 2.1 percent dip in 2013. The trend is believed to be connected to the music industry's overall swing away from downloads, and towards streaming subscription services like Pandora and Spotify.

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Giveaway: Tomb Raider

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: computers, gaming, software

For nearly two decades, the Tomb Raider franchise has been keeping adventure-seekers entertained for countless hours all around the world. Since the release of the first game in 1996, there have been a number of sequels to the game, a series of box office motion pictures, novels, and even theme park rides. The most recent chapter in the Lara Croft saga was released last year, and recently the staff here at Electronista got a chance to dig in to the action to see if it lives up to our expectations. We also secured five redemption codes to give away to our readers.

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Hands On: Tomb Raider (OS X, Windows)

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: gaming

Last year, Square Enix published a new take on a fan favorite character that made a debut on the PlayStation back in 1996. Under the development of Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider was rebooted to reintroduce the origins of Lara Croft. Rather than rely on some of the typical tropes associated with the character, the development team added a depth and human touch that was welcome in the series. Earlier this year, the game was ported to OS X by Feral Interactive, giving Mac owners a chance to experience Croft's new story.

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Editorial: In defense of the new $499 Mac mini

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: computers, gaming, Apple

After its release, we came out pretty strongly against Apple's new $499 Mac mini. We thought it to be underpowered, and despite some minor improvements, generally a step backwards. Time has passed, tempers have cooled a bit, and we've given it a second thought. While we're not saying that its a must-buy, there are some good use cases for it, and in some instances it trumps the 2012 model.

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Deezer acquires Stitcher, will keep iOS, Android apps alive

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: Investor, audio

Paris-based streaming music service Deezer has acquired Stitcher, the company has announced. The purchase, for an undisclosed amount, will allow Deezer to take control of the personalized Internet talk radio service, which currently provides access to eight out of the top ten US terrestrial radio programs to users, as well as a collection of around 35,000 radio programs and podcasts.

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Amazon Rewards Visa card gets added to Apple Pay

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, Apple

The Amazon Rewards Visa card has now been added to Apple Pay, some owners have noticed. The card wasn't initially compatible with Apple Pay when the service was launched earlier this week. Support for the card is notable because of its popularity, owing to users getting three percent back on Amazon purchases, two percent at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores, and one percent on all other purchases.

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Apps: Skitch, BusyCal, ExanDriver

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in apps

    22.7MB

    Skitch 2.7.3 (free)

    Skitch is a tool for taking and sharing screenshots. After capturing an image with the software, users can perform basic editing and share the file via e-mail or automatic website uploads. Support for OS X Yosemite is included with this update.

    10.8MB

    BusyCal 2.6.3 ($50)

    BusyCal is a desktop calendar app that allows users to share calendars among family, friends, and workgroups. The latest release adds Retina graphics for a number of elements, including the source list, as well as support for sending e-mails via AirMail 2. A timezone bug that affected invites generated by Outlook and lotus Notes has also been fixed.

    14.4MB

    ExpanDrive 4.1.8 ($50)

    ExpanDrive builds cloud storage into any application by allowing the online storage account to act like a USB drive plugged into the Mac. Support for OS X Yosemite’s Dark Mode has been added with this release. Due to popular demand the developers have also reintroduced support for OS X 10.6, as well as fixed a problem with Dropbox folder creation.

    81.7MB

    Delicious Library 3.3.2 ($25)

    Delicious Library is a cataloging tool that allows users to create a database of all their belongings. Items can be entered manually or via the built-in bar code scanner. The v3.3.2 update resolves a crash that could occur on older MacBook Airs with HD-3000 graphics. In addition, a few menu item labels have also been fixed.

    88.3MB

    Art Text 2.4.8 ($20)

    Art Text is a tool for creating textual graphics, headings, logos, ices, and buttons. The software includes multi-layer support for creating complex graphics, as well as 600 built-in vector icons and shapes to use. Version 2.4.8 includes a new Share option for posting graphics to Facebook and Twitter, or attaching them to an e-mail. A problem that resulted in the windows positioning themselves incorrectly when starting the app has also been addressed.

 

BBEdit 11 gets improvements to Clipping, syntax highlights, more

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: software, developer

Bare Bones has upgraded its popular text and code editor, BBEdit, to version 11. The Mac software has a long list of new features, fixes, and minor improvements. Some changes include better syntax highlighting, a revised Find Differences interface, and a new text extraction function. The Clipping system, meanwhile, has been upgraded to support snippets that can be used in one or many languages.

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Bringing Apple Pay to China a high priority, says Cook

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: security, Apple

For Apple, getting Apple Pay working in China is a major priority, CEO Tim Cook tells China's state-run Xinhua news agency. "China is a really key market for us," he says. "Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list." He adds, however, that the company still has to learn the steps needed to bring Apple Pay to China, and has yet to meet with local banks, merchants, and carriers.

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Samsung's Knox Android security suite under fire from new researcher

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: security, mobile phones

Reports have begun to circulate about a pervasive flaw in Samsung's Knox security software for Android phones. The technology, which is the foundation of Android 5.0 Lollipop's enhanced protections, has come under fire by a lone, previously-unknown researcher, who calls the effort merely "security by obscurity."

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Review: Sound Blaster Roar Bluetooth speaker

Fri October 24, 2014 | Posted in: gadgets, audio

There could very well be a new king of the hill for Bluetooth speakers, with Sound Blaster's recent entry into the marketplace. Bringing a heap of features for music enjoyment to a powerful speaker, the company introduced the Roar earlier this year. With the crowded market for Bluetooth speakers, is it possible that a company like Sound Blaster could release a device that topples some of the big names in audio? Find out in our review.

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Former Apple execs Johnson, McDougal form new retail startup, Enjoy

Thu October 23, 2014 | Posted in: computers, industry, peripherals, gadgets, accessories

Former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson, along with his former Apple colleague Jerry McDougal and former Apple creative director Tom Suiter have teamed up in a new retail-oriented startup endeavor called Enjoy, promising to help consumers spend more wisely instead of just aiming for the cheapest price. The company, which launches next year, will help consumers make smarter choices on buying, such as educating shoppers on the finer points of a camera to promote the best overall value.

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Briefly: Pocket Informant 4.5, Nike hints at future Apple projects

Thu October 23, 2014 | Posted in: enterprise, iPhone apps, Apple, iPad apps

Web Information Solutions has updated its iOS app Pocket Informant, a combined scheduling and task list manager compatible with built-in calendar data, Google, Toodledo, Evernote or Informant Sync. Free to download, by upgrading to its premium version ($15) users can sync with other calendars, utilize Rich Text Notes and Contact Management features, Task Smart Filters and more. Pocket Informant v4.5.1 integrates iOS 8 components like the Today Widget, TouchID Support, Alarm Actions, and the ability to create tasks and notes from Safari and the Notes app. Users can now log in to Google, Toodledo, or Informant Sync through the app using 1Password, and can now sync with Toodledo's latest API. Various fixes have been additionally included since the major update was launched. Pocket Informant requires iOS 7.1 or later.

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AAPL hits all-time high, may close week at record levels

Thu October 23, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, Investor, Apple, iPad

Apple's stock on Thursday hit a new all-time closing high, reaching $104.83 per share at the closing bell. While many are waiting to see if the company can close the week at that level or higher, others -- including activist investor Carl Icahn and CEO Tim Cook -- believe the stock remains undervalued. AAPL also set a new intra-day high of $105.05 during trading, and is up slightly from its close at this writing in after-hours trading. Stronger-than-expected iPhone numbers and the coming holiday season has helped fuel the rise.

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