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New USB thumb drive-sized device can take over computers

12/18, 7:06pm

A new USB microcontroller -- roughly the size of a small thumb drive -- has been demonstrated as a proof-of-concept device that leverages a serious and unfixable vulnerability in USB easily take over and install malware on any unlocked computer. Though it requires physical access or tricking the user into inserting the controller into a USB port, the device has worrying implications for any computer left unattended for more than a minute -- the time it takes for the device to gain admin access, change network settings, install a backdoor and remove any obvious sign of intrusion.

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Cook makes 'generous' donation to LGBT campaign Project One America

12/18, 4:53pm

Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a "generous personal financial investment" in Project One America, an LGBT rights effort run by the Human Rights Campaign, according to an announcement. Project One is concentrated on securing marriage and nondiscrimination rights for LGBT people in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. HRC says it's interested in "tearing down misperceptions and providing concrete protections for those who need it most." The organization also lauds Cook for being the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, calling it a "clear and powerful message" about it being acceptable to be gay.

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Hands On: Habits Pro (iOS)

12/18, 3:49pm

They say it takes 21 days to make a good habit or break a bad one, which seems simple enough. Logically, most people should be able to clear the three week hurdle with little effort. However, most of us can get a little absent-minded, especially when we get busy. That's why Habits Pro, by Track & Share Apps, exists -- to help people stay on task in their quest for self-improvement.

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Apple rejects conclusions of BBC expose showing supply chain abuses

12/18, 3:03pm

Ahead of the airing of a Panorama documentary on the subject, the BBC has published a web piece revealing the outcomes of its investigation into Apple's supply chain. The network went undercover and charges that promises to protect the rights of workers were "routinely broken." In particular the BBC found violations of standards for work hours, ID cards, dormitories, meetings, and underage labor at Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.

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Third iOS 8.2 beta brings back blood glucose tracking

12/18, 2:47pm

Apple has begun seeding a third beta of iOS 8.2 to developers. Significantly the code restores blood glucose tracking in the Health app, which was temporarily disabled earlier this year due to confusion caused by the app displaying data in mg/dL but accepting data from devices using mmol/L as well. In the new software, users can toggle between mg/dL or mmol/L.

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Jimmy Fallon gives out iPad Air 2 to Tonight Show studio audience

12/18, 1:06pm

On Wednesday's episode of the Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon gave away an iPad Air 2 to every member of the studio audience. The segment (below) was part of a week-long series of giveaways. It wasn't identified which models people were getting, although NBC may have opted to give people 16GB Wi-Fi versions, given the costs involved. Even at that bottom tier, the tablet costs $499.

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Jawbone delays shipping Up3 fitness tracker until early 2015

12/18, 12:24pm

Jawbone will be missing out on the bump in revenues from holiday sales of its new flagship product entirely, it has been reported. The Up3, launched at the start of November and originally set to ship before the end of the year, will instead be delayed to early next year, thanks to delays caused by a number of manufacturing issues.

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Amazon Prime Now offers one-hour deliveries in Manhattan

12/18, 11:34am

After experimenting with same-day deliveries in a number of cities, Amazon is now increasing the speed of delivery for some customers with the launch of Prime Now. The new service, launching in Manhattan today, will let Prime subscribers place orders for thousands of essential items, and receive the delivery on their doorstep in an hour or less.

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djay Pro for Mac brings four decks, Spotify, high-level processing

12/18, 11:33am

Algoriddim has launched djay Pro, a new Mac edition of its typically iOS-based DJ software. In its new incarnation the app supports up to four simultaneous decks, rather than two, and can draw music not just from a local iTunes library but from Spotify, thanks to a partnership with the streaming music service. It also exploits Retina displays and multi-core 64-bit processors; on a 12-core Mac Pro, the app can handle up to 24 processing threads at once for track analysis.

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Job listing points to global Apple Pay growth, starting in Europe [u]

12/18, 10:22am

(Updated with Chinese job listing) A new job listing indicates that Apple is actively working on expanding Apple Pay worldwide, beginning with Europe. The company is seeking an Apple Pay intern who will work with a London-based team. The listing states that Apple Pay is "set to expand across Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa," and that the London group will collaborate with "issuers, payment networks and merchants across Europe."

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Briefly: Drafts regains widget, Continuity Activation Tool update

12/18, 10:12am

Drafts 4, a note-taking app for iOS, has received an update, bringing back its Notification Center widget that was axed by Apple earlier this month. The widget allows users quick access to simple tools for opening up the app and create a new note. Drafts v4.0.6 also includes a "New from selection" option, found within the document creation options, as well as URL action steps now having "URL encode tag output" option. Improvements to background refresh and sync handling are also present in the update. Drafts 4 is priced at $5, and requires iOS 8.0 or later.

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Hands On: Moxie 2 (iOS)

12/18, 9:25am

Word games have been around for a very long time. Most people grew up playing Scrabble or Boggle, and many have moved on to similar games like Words with Friends. The one thing most word games have in common is that they require, at minimum, two players. But now there's Moxie 2, by Blue Ox Technologies Ltd, a intuitive single-player word game.

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Apple to charge VAT per-country at European App Stores

12/18, 9:13am

Apple has sent an email to iOS developers, notifying them of a change to the way it handles VAT (value-added taxes) at European App Stores. Currently the company charges a single VAT rate across the European Union; soon, though, it plans to charge on a per-country basis. The change is due to take effect on January 1.

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UK carriers agree to £5B investment to improve mobile phone networks

12/18, 8:52am

A suggestion by the British government has prompted carriers to improve their mobile networks. EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three have all agreed to collectively invest at least £5 billion ($7.8 billion) into a program to improve their mobile networks across the United Kingdom, in order to avoid being forced to implement a proposed "National Roaming" scheme.

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Hands On: Mazec – Handwriting Input Method (iOS)

12/18, 7:44am

People must really dislike Apple's on-screen keyboard for iPhones and iPads, because the instant we could try alternatives, we got alternatives. Some seem different for the sake of being different. Some, like TextExpander's one, add useful new features -- yet take away some of the usability. But then you get the odd keyboard like Mazec, which tries to offer a true alternative. Rather than typing, you scribble with a stylus -- if you've got one, and haven't lost it -- or with your finger.

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