Electronista

Friday, October 24

Review: Sound Blaster Roar Bluetooth speaker

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 ...

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Thursday, October 23

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

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 ...

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

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...

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

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 a...

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Facebook unleashes Rooms, brings communities back to chat rooms

Facebook's Creative Labs team is bringing a new, yet old way to socialize over the Internet to users through its application Rooms. The free iOS app lets users create custom chat rooms on a topic, without requiring any special log in or connection to a Facebook account. Instead, users can select whatever user name they like and chat in virtual anonymity....

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Giveaway: win one of five copies of RapidWeaver 6!

Earlier this week, we reported on a major update to Realmac's web publishing tool, RapidWeaver 6. It is now built exclusively for Mavericks and Yosemite, and has a dozen major new features. Immediately, our team was hard at work putting RapidWeaver 6 to the test, and yesterday our full hands-on review was published. We aren't quite done yet, though -- MacNN has five copies of this software to give away to our readers...

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Briefly: Christian Bale to play Steve Jobs, MagSafe 2 Snuglet

Christian Bale is set to play the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the forthcoming biopic film written by Aaron Sorkin. Previously considered for Leonardo DiCaprio, Aaron Sorkin said in Bloomberg interview that there wasn't a need for Bale to audition for the role due to being a good fit. The latest screenplay is comprised of three thirty minute scenes of backstage goings on prior to three keynote presentations....

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Jury-rigged Continuity Activation Tool puts tech on older Macs

A new user-created tool enables OS X Yosemite's Continuity function on Macs that are officially unsupported. Dubbed the Continuity Activation Tool, it checks for strict hardware compatibility -- namely the presence of Bluetooth 4.0 -- and disables an Apple blacklist that shuts off Continuity on some Mac models. It also whitelists Mac board-ids inside Yosemite's Wi-Fi code. Before making any changes, the tool creates ...

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Amazon posts massive quarterly loss, misses Wall Street predictions

Amazon.com today announced financial results for its third quarter that ended on September 30. Net sales increased 20 percent to $20.58 billion in the third quarter, compared with $17.09 billion in the third quarter of 2013. Despite the increase, Amazon's net loss was $437 million in the third quarter, or $0.95 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $41 million, or $0.09 per diluted share in the same time peri...

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TestFlight beta-testing opens up to general community

Following a soft rollout to internal testers a few weeks ago, Apple has fully opened its TestFlight beta-testing service. "You can now invite up to 1,000 testers to beta test your iOS apps by simply sending them an email invitation through iTunes Connect," the company says on its developer portal. "Once they accept your invitation, testers can install your beta app on their iOS devices, get updated builds, and provid...

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Pixelmator comes to iPad with touch controls, Photoshop support

Initially teased at Apple's iPad and iMac event last week, Pixelmator for the iPad has now been released. The app attempts to carry over many of the features of its desktop counterpart, including numerous brushes, effects, and adjustment options. Users can for instance control levels, curves, white balance, and hue and saturation. Individual sections of an image can be lightened, darkened, blurred, and repaired, or e...

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VisionTek unveils USB 3.0 Pocket SSD external drive

Accessory manufacturer VisionTek today announced the new VisionTek USB Pocket SSD line of thumb drive-sized SSDs. The USB 3.0 drive can be used with nearly any Windows, OS X, and Linux based system, with performance of up to 455MB/s read and 440MB/s write in a pocket-sized drive....

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Foxconn looking to build $5.7B factory to win iPhone display orders

Apple's chief assembly partner, Foxconn, is hoping to gain orders for iPhone displays by building a new factory in Zhengzhou, China, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The company is allegedly in talks with Zhengzhou's government about getting financial help for the factory, which could cost up to 35 billion yuan, or about $5.7 billion. One of the topics under discussion is how much money local government would ha...

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GT Advanced confirms split with Apple, will repay $439 million [u]

(Updated with Apple response, hints at future initiatives) GT has confirmed its split with Apple via a press release, offering further details on the terms. "GT will be released from all exclusivity obligations under its various agreements with Apple," the statement explains. "GT will retain ownership of all production, ancillary and inventory assets located in Mesa [Arizona] and Apple is provided with a mechanism fo...

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Apple to open 25 new Chinese stores in two years, says Cook

As part of his trip to China, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told local media that the company is planning to open 25 stores in Greater China during the next two years. "Greater" China includes not just mainland China but Hong Kong and Taiwan. So far there are no Apple Stores in Taiwan, but there are three in Hong Kong and a dozen on the mainland, most of those being split between Beijing and Shanghai....

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Wednesday, October 22

Briefly: Fantastical 2 update, Yahoo Mail adds new notification types

Flexibits has announced the release of two free updates for calendar app Fantastical 2, available as separate native versions for iPhone and iPad. The iPhone variation provides native display support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and includes an enhanced landscape view for iPhone 6 Plus. Both apps now require iOS 8, and feature new text-enabled event and reminder creation with Fantastical's new app extension. Inter...

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Apple to drop support of SSL 3.0 due to POODLE vulnerability

In a note to developers, Apple has announced that due to a serious security flaw in SSL version 3.0, the company will be dropping support for the protocol beginning Wednesday, October 29 for all of its push notifications, which are delivered through Apple's own servers. The company will switch to Transport Layer Security (TLS) for the service, and notes that developers will need to build in support for TLS in their a...

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Tim Cook posts photo from latest China visit

Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted a picture from his latest trip to China on Twitter, showing him sharing a laugh with a factory worker named Zhang Fan, who helps assemble the iPhone 6 at a factory in Zhengzhou. While Foxconn's factories manufacture equipment for a wide variety of technology firms including Google, Microsoft and others, Cook is the only CEO to routinely visit the facilities and personally investigate con...

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Twitter introduces Digits, a new way to log into applications

Twitter has started putting the pieces into place to distance users from password requirements with the announcement of Digits. The company unveiled the new platform at its first mobile developer conference in San Francisco today, as a part of its Fabric suite of development tools. Rather than relying on a username and password for every app, Digits uses a telephone number and text messages to confirm identities inst...

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Apple found not guilty of infringing on expired GPNE patents

Non-practicing entity GPNE, which had tried to sue Apple over alleged infringement of expired pager-related 3G wireless patents, has come away completely empty-handed after a jury exonerated Apple of all charges. The firm, which has attempted to sue or sued most other big-name tech firms over the same or similar patents, had sought $94 million in damages (which Apple had referred to as an "attempt to extort money" fr...

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AT&T reveals third quarter earnings, falls short of estimates

AT&T's quarterly results fell short of industry projections when the company announced $32.9 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2014. The resulting earnings per share (EPS) was $0.63, missing the projected $0.64 EPS on $33.25 billion in revenue. While the company may have missed projections, it announced that it picked up more than two million mobile and broadband customers....

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Teardown of iPad Air 2 by iFixit confirms 2GB RAM, smaller battery

A new teardown of the iPad Air 2 has confirmed much of what was speculated about the device, but has also revealed some minor surprises. The team at iFixit have rated the new iPad a "two" on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most repairable. The company says that while the new "fused" display is better visually, and sturdier when opening up the iPad, it will also increase the cost of repair for a cracked screen. The t...

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Google debuts Inbox as tool for managing email with automated bundling

Google has started to invite people to try out its new email service, one that has been in development for a number of years. Made by the same team behind Gmail, Inbox aims to help users manage their incoming e-mail by automatically grouping similar emails together and by picking out what it believes to be the more important incoming messages. ...

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Rare Apple I computer sold at auction for $905,000

On the same day that Apple's stock closed at the second-highest price it has achieved in 2014, a new record-high price for its first computer -- the original Apple I -- has also been set, by a considerable margin. While an incredibly rare still-functional Apple I model (thought to be one of just six in such pristine condition) along with a letter from Steve Jobs was sold in May 2013 for $671,400, the latest auction i...

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FCC freezes clock on merger reviews of Comcast/TWC, AT&T/DirecTV

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stopped its "180-day informal time clock" in the review of the merger proposals for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as AT&T and DirectTV. The reason for the stoppage involves the modified joint protective orders that the FCC created at the beginning of October, which content companies are now using to bar outside sources from reading confidential programming agre...

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OS X Yosemite nudges Chrome, Firefox users into trying Safari

People using Chrome or Firefox within OS X Yosemite are seeing push notifications asking them to try Safari, accounts say. The messages tout Safari as "fast, energy efficient, and with a beautiful new design," and even include "Later" and "Try Now" buttons. They appear to be triggered by launching Chrome or Firefox for the first time after the Yosemite upgrade....

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New iPad Air 2, Mini 3 available for Personal Pickup at Apple Stores

Shoppers at Apple's online store now have the option of selecting Personal Pickup as a delivery option for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. When preorders opened last Friday, the company required all orders to be shipped. Notably, some stores are listed as having iPads ready for pickup today, even though Apple Store workers are saying they won't have tablets on sale until later this week, or even next week. Shipped or...

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FBI director asks Congress to update law to circumvent encryption

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey isn't giving up his crusade to persuade the government and businesses that law enforcement should have access to encrypted phone data. Comey took his fight to Congress recently, asking that it update the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to cover newer technologies....

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Avast 2015 adds Home Network Security, SecureDNS

Avast Software has launched Avast 2015, an update of its multi-platform security suite. The main addition this year is a tool called Home Network Security, which scans a local network for potential vulnerabilities. These may include things like weak or default router passwords, unprotected IPv6 use, and already-compromised Internet connections. A related new feature is called SecureDNS, which offers encrypted traffic...

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Apple Pay bugs cause problems with card images, overcharging

Although the service appears to be working in general, some banks supporting Apple Pay are encountering some early technical problems. One issue is that in some cases, the correct card designs aren't being displayed in Passbook. Affected cards will show generic logos for their associated institutions, and possibly lack descriptions as well, which can make numbers the only way to distinguish between them when a person...

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Hands On: RapidWeaver 6 (OS X)

Just because you need a website, doesn't mean that the best option is to hire someone to create one out of whole cloth. The alternative is either learning HTML, CSS, and a host of other acronymic technologies, or seeking out all-in-one website design software that allows users to publish a website without requiring coding knowledge or a ton of design expertise. Realmac Software has announced the release of RapidWeave...

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Unity Technologies names ex-EA exec John Riccitiello as CEO

Cross-platform game development engine designers Unity Technologies has named a new chief executive. John Riccitiello, the prior chief of EA, is the new head of the company, with David Helgason stepping down. Helgason will continue with the company, and is planning on focusing on improving relationships with developers as well as "working with some insanely talented people here at Unity."...

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Ricoh unveils three laser printers with 23 page-per-minute output

Ricoh has launched a set of three monochrome laser printers in the United States. The SP 213SNw and SP 213SFNw multifunction printers and the SP 213Nw printer all offer print speeds of up to 23 pages per minute, a low 10-second wait for the first print, minimal warm-up times, and a number of different connectivity and networking options. ...

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Early reviews call Air 2, Mini 3 best iPads ever, but just iterative

Early reviews of the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3 are beginning to arrive, and are typically touting the tablets as Apple's best ever, but with some caveats. Re/code's Walt Mossberg for instance says they represent a "modest evolutionary improvement over last year's models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year." He suggests that the Air 2 may be worth buying for pe...

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Pangu team debuts early, developer-only iOS 8.1 jailbreak

The Pangu jailbreak team has developed a new hack for iOS 8 and 8.1 devices, reports and the team's website note. The initial release is said to be intended strictly for app developers, since it doesn't install Cydia or other services designed to make jailbreaking simple and practical. The public version is in fact waiting on those services being brought up to speed for iOS 8....

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Briefly: Sky+ mobile app update, UberXL launches in United Kingdom

British broadcaster Sky has updated its iOS and Android Sky+ apps to allow users to display their photographs from their mobile devices on the television through the Sky+ HD set-top box. The app also includes a new updated homepage, complete with a dedicated Sports section, and a Smart Series Link option that lets the Sky+ box record all current and future seasons of selected programs. ...

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Apple CEO meets with Chinese official to discuss iCloud hijacks

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China's Vice Premier Ma Kai in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss man-in-the-middle attacks against iCloud users, according to Reuters and China's state-run Xinhua news agency. Reuters notes that the Chinese government has so far denied allegations of involvement, which in particular tied the attacks to the state firewall used to censor Internet access in the country. As for the meeting, Xinh...

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Google Play Music updates Listen Now page, adds Songza playlists

Google Play Music has been updated for both Android and iOS, with a new look and extra features. While it has received a Material Design-influenced makeover, similar to the leaked Gmail update, the main change users will notice is the inclusion of activity and time-related playlists, something Google has introduced courtesy of its acquisition of Songza in July. ...

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Apple SEC filing reveals executive RSU bonuses, lobbying costs

In its latest SEC 10-Q filing, Apple has revealed certain company details -- including the fact that it still spends a small fraction of the money other tech firms do on Washington lobbying, and that it continues its practice of awarding its executives restricted stock units (RSUs) that could be worth millions if they stay with the company and it continues to do well. CFO Luca Maestri and Senior Vice President of Ret...

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