Or how to use up all those iTunes gift cards you're going to get
Although we have mentioned some app bargains in our "beyond the last minute" gift guide this morning, the elves at MacNN and Electronista have been hunting up some additional discounts by shaking the App Store tree and seeing what falls out. We found a few more, so click through to save a bundle on some awesome app deals -- and don't forget to check back with us regularly for DealNN reports, Apple refurb store bargains, and our usual Friday Deals all year long!
Apps, e-cards and other instant-delivery options for the procrastinators
We're some 40 years overdue for flying cars, teleportation and printers that can output copies of our dreams, but there are a few methods by which the chronic procrastinators of this world can still swoop in with a last-minute gift for someone at Christmas they'll actually like. While Amazon has closed the doors to physical delivery of any products at this point -- even for Prime members - by the 25th, you still have perhaps a few hours left to send a Boxing Day present, or get in now to ensure a timely New Year's gift. Or you can read on for more suggestions.
Cash and gift cards still top want; Beats, iPhone, iPad, MacBooks top their categories
A new survey of college students contains lots of good news for Apple, with the company clearly the most-desired brand for holiday gifts in all the categories Apple competes in. Cash and gift cards are still king, followed by clothing, but electronics was the third most-popular category of gift, reaching second most-popular among males. The overall second-place finish of clothing was due to a strong preference compared to electronics by women rather than men. Apple and its new Beats brand, however, did well with everyone.
Apple modifies language on official roster
Several app and retail partners for Apple Pay will likely miss an initial 2014 deadline, a change on Apple's website suggests. The company has tweaked the headers for its lists of upcoming partners to read "Coming soon" instead of "Coming later this year." The retail businesses include ACME, Albertsons, Anthropologie, Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Walt Disney World; the last is mentioned only because it's slated to launch support tomorrow.
songs won't erase, trackpad troubles and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members are plagued with songs that won't erase from their iPods, trackpad problems and more. "I can't erase songs from my iPod touch" says one frustrated Mac Elite, who is also baffled as to why there are random U2 songs on there that he never downloaded. After doing an update on an iPad 2, one Mac Enthusiast found that the unit is stuck on "searching" for cellular service.
Macs for $999 or less
Currently at Apple's online store, find a variety of refurbished Mac models starting as low as $769. The refurbished 11.6-inch MacBook Air with a 1.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of PCIe-flash based storage is on sale right now for $769, after a $130 discount. A $170 discount drops the cost on the refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.5GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive down to $929.
Canon Pixma printers, MacBook Pros and more
At BuyDig.com this week, get a bundle from BuyDig.com that includes a Canon Pixma MG5620 wireless all-in-one printer and Adobe Lightroom on sale for $150. That's a savings of $80 off the list price of $230, and when coupon code EXCEL is used, it drops the final cost to $75. That's the lowest price we have seen on this combo by $115. This printer prints at 4800x1200 maximum color DPI resolution, scans at 1200x2400 resolution, features a 2.5-inch LCD, two-sided printing, Full HD movie prints, Google cloud printing, and more. This printer is backed by a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor from Canon.
Links worth to stock performance
Apple's Tim Cook has been chosen as CNN Money's CEO of the Year for 2014. The site explains this is because "Apple is the apple of Wall Street's eye again;" the company's shares are noted to be up 40 percent this year, and close to an all-time peak. CNN in turn links that stock performance to the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and "excitement" about the Apple Watch, due to ship early next year.
Will collect royalties from parties such as Cisco and Google
(Updated with correct purchase price, lawsuit settlements) A subsidiary of San Francisco-based RPX Corporation, RPX Clearinghouse, is buying patent assets held by the Apple-led Rockstar Consortium, according to an announcement. Rockstar was formed by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony in 2011 in order to buy some 6,000 patents in the wake of Nortel's bankruptcy. Although roughly 2,000 of the patents have already been separately distributed, RPX has entered into a deal in which it will receive license payments from a syndicate of over 30 companies, such as Cisco and Google. "The RPX Clearinghouse syndicate includes a broad range of software and media providers, semi-conductor manufacturers, wireless carriers and wireline network operators, Multiple System Operators (MSOs), and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)," the announcement reads.
'Let peace begin with me' offered as a resonant theme to current turmoil
A new post from Apple Retail Senior Vice President (SVP) Dame Angela Ahrendts on her LinkedIn blog offers a simple holiday message and song with a theme of peace, saying her message for the season was simply "let peace begin with me." Ahrendts said she was inspired by a recent re-hearing of a song she used to play on piano, a rendition of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" by B.J. Thomas. The song, originally written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955, offers an inspirational message of unity.
'Floppy Cloud' likely to get pulled, junior reviewer fired for missing illegal content
Once again, a rogue developer has attempted -- and succeeded, albeit temporarily -- in sneaking an app onto the iOS App Store that actually contains an emulator for a classic game system, forbidden under App Store rules. This time, it is Floppy Cloud ($2), which has taken the novel approach of pretending to be a file management app rather than the more-obvious Flappy Bird copycat. The app works exactly as described, but if users add a NES or SNES ROM file to the cloud-based management, the file will play in a full emulator.
Vulnerability found in Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite
Apple has released what it calls a "critical" patch for OS X, dubbed the NTP Security Update. The code is currently being pushed to users via the Mac App Store, and solves vulnerabilities within the Network Time Protocol. The update is available for Mountain Lion (10.8.x), Mavericks (10.9), and Yosemite (10.10). While no known attack exploits the now-patched vulnerabilities, the discovery appears to be serious enough to merit immediate attention.
Claims strict training, safety measures
Apple supplier Pegatron has issued a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, promising to investigate and fix labor abuses uncovered through a recently-aired BBC documentary. The company states that worker safety is its top priority, and that it runs strict training for both regular workers and management. It also notes the use of external inspectors in audits -- presumably referring to the teams used by Apple -- and says that it offers many ways for workers to submit feedback. During 2014, the company has allegedly resolved 94 percent of complaints within three days.
Early marketing focuses on 'Best of 2014' content
Apple has expanded its presence in social media, with a new Tumblr blog dedicated to iTunes. At the moment, the site focuses mainly on Apple's Best of 2014 content, in categories including movies, music, TV, and books. The company has had very little presence on Tumblr so far; it launched a page dedicated to the iPhone 5c in March, but has otherwise ignored the site.
Cheapest iPhone 6 costs equivalent of $988
Apple's Russian online store is back online, following an almost week-long downtime. The store was taken down to review and change prices -- and accordingly, many products are now substantially more expensive. A 16GB iPhone 6 is now 53,990 rubles, or about $988, far higher than the 34,990 rubles ($643) it sold for previously. A Retina iMac starts at 189,990 rubles, or $3,467. The same system is $2,499 in the US.
One of Apple's first announced partners arrives late
Walt Disney World in Florida will start accepting Apple Pay at bars, kiosks, stores, and other locations beginning on December 24, Disney has announced. The move comes as a part of the company's MyMagic+ program, which is supporting more wireless payment options -- such as Google Wallet and special credit cards -- as NFC and RFID infrastructure expands. While a wide variety of outlets will support Apple Pay, places that use portable payment terminals (such as table service restaurants) will have to wait.
Follows third developer beta
Over the weekend, Apple published a new public beta version of OS X 10.10.2 to pre-registered Yosemite testers. The code is identified as build 14C81h, and follows the third developer beta of the update, which was build 14C81f. For that, Apple asked developers to concentrate testing on areas such as Mail, VoiceOver, and Wi-Fi connections.
Illustration software that's easy to use
You take your life in your hands when you ask us to draw something. Look at the screenshots here, and tell us you can't tell that we're really writers with clipart. While it's obvious we don't spend all day coloring in fantastic illustrations, we do very often need to sketch out rough images -- and that's where Artboard shines. It is a fully-fledged illustration application of sufficient calibre that a full-time artist could work in it full-time -- but it is particularly suited to those of us who occasionally need a powerful tool, and don't want to dole out the cash for a monthly subscription to a software giant.
Whole Foods, McDonald's, Walgreens seeing biggest jump in usage
A study by research firm ITG suggest that Apple Pay -- introduced in October -- is already accounting for one percent of all digital payments - for comparison purposes, the three-plus-year-old Google Wallet system holds about four percent of digital payments. The firm also noted that those using Apple Pay increased spending using mobile payments, and tended to use the technology frequently -- resulting in a jump in sales at top merchants that accepted Apple Pay, such as Walgreens, Whole Foods and McDonald's.
Quickly and simply convert videos between formats
Before we get into this, Video Converter Pro is currently free for a limited time, so go get it on the Mac App Store now. If you read this one minute too late and the price has gone back up, get it anyway because it is more than worth the usual asking price of $15. Or rather, it is if you need to convert videos, because that's what this just does, without fuss.
Clean-feeling mail client lessens the stress of correspondence
Staying on top of emails, especially when there are multiple accounts involved, is unpleasant. Of the many mail clients out there (such as Mail, included with OS X), each tries to offer users its own spin on staying ahead of the curve. Airmail 2.0, released earlier this year, provides a client designed for Yosemite, supporting iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, and more. We got a hold of Airmail 2.0 (which we will simply refer to as "Airmail" going forward) to take a look for ourselves, and see if this email client stands out from the crowd.
Specific character unidentified
Actress Kate Winslet is currently in negotiations for "the female lead" in Universal's upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, Variety reports. Winslet is best known for movies like Titanic, The Reader, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's not clear what the role will be, but top female characters in the film are thought to include Jobs' daughter Lisa, Jobs' wife Laurene Powell Jobs, and Katie Cotton, Apple's former PR head.
temp sensors, old iMacs and Yosemite chats
This week in the MacNN Forums, members discuss temperature sensor issues, hard drive compatibility and more. After a temperature sensor blew on the logic board of a Xserve that is run by "Waragainstsleep," he turned to the forums hoping someone would have some advice on how to repair this, so he doesn't have to replace the whole board. Today, a Dedicated MacNNer was looking for help with moving addresses from Leopard to Yosemite.
refurbished Mac Pros starting at $2,549
This week, Apple's online store has a selection of refurbished MacBook Pro models on sale for as low as $2,549. The refurbished 2013 Mac Pro with a 3.7GHz Intel quad-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics has been cut by $450 to $2,549. Priced at $3,219 is the refurbished Mac Pro with a 3.5GHz Intel six-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
Mac minis, SSDs and more
Right now at B&H.com, snap up a great deal on a Mac mini, which has seen a $80 discount -- from $999 down to $919. That discount makes this the best price we have seen on this configuration by about $20. It features a 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB Fusion Drive. It is backed by Apple's standard one-year warranty on parts and labor.
Bing iOS apps receive updates
Microsoft's Bing search engine has updated its iOS apps, Bing for iPad and Bing Search for both iPhone and iPad. Bing's apps include daily homepage images that can be downloaded, the ability to earn rewards for specific searches, syncing for bookmarks, and more. Bing for iPad v2.3 features a new Today View, translation browser exension, and bug fixes. Bing Search v5.3 offers a fully redesigned homescreen, quick access to trending stories, weather and other interested, and simplified movement between pages. Both apps, which are available on iTunes, are free to download.
Apps now almost double 2013 prices
Apple is increasing the prices of both apps and in-app purchases at the Russian App Store, according to a new memo issued to developers. An app that would normally be $1 in the US, for example, is now 62 rubles. That indicates that apps have almost doubled in cost in Russia during 2014, though the increase is largely due to recent currency pressures.
Williams tells Apple staff that company is improving labor conditions
In a new email memo to the company's UK workforce, Apple's Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams claims that he and CEO Tim Cook were "deeply offended" by a BBC Panorama documentary exposing labor abuses in the company's supply chain. Specifically, Williams and Cook are said to have been "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain, or mislead our customers in any way;" Williams charges that "Panorama's report implied that Apple isn't improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."
Get Flash applications and videos onto your iPad -- if you must
Perhaps you don't know it yet, but you are already in one of the two camps over how Apple refuses to allow Flash to work on iPads. If you doubt this because you haven't even heard of the issue, then you're in the half of the population that has simply never noticed the problem. If you do know it and you're reading this because you know it, then you are getting this problem a lot -- and you have been searching forever for a solution. Photon Flash Player for iPad is a solution. It's a web browser, like Safari, but it comes with the ability to play Flash -- and you pay for that, in how its other functionality is weaker.
The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, and Retina 5K iMac ship times all drop
In the past month, shipping times have been variable for some of Apple's most in-demand products. However, ship dates for the two new iPhone models, the 6 and 6 Plus -- along with the recently-introduced Retina 5K iMac -- have dropped just ahead of the final push of gift-buying for the holiday season. Both online ship times and same-day in-store pickup schedules have improved.
Clear out duplicates and manage your huge photo library better
Apple's professional photo manager, Aperture, had its advantages over its biggest rival, Adobe Lightroom -- and it is a shame the former been dropped (to be replaced with a new app, Photos for Mac, early next year). One thing Aperture was really good at was adding photos - so much so that we tended to do it over and over. Just not intentionally. One thing it was bad at, by contrast, was helping you find duplicates -- so a big photo library quickly became an unmanageably enormous one. Snapselect intends to fix this for users of Aperture, Lightroom, iPhoto -- and anyone who has tried to handle photos without using any of those programs.
Apple CEO looks to influence Southern politics
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.
Ethics of Pegatron factories, Indonesian tin supply questioned
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.
New Xcode 6.2 beta also available
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 (the US standard) but accepting data from devices using mmol/L (used in most of the rest of the world) as well. In the new software, users can toggle between mg/dL or mmol/L.
Apple targeting 'Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa'
[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, the Middle East, India, and Africa," and that the London group will collaborate with "issuers, payment networks and merchants across Europe."
Apple allows Drafts app to retain Notification Center widget
Drafts 4, a note-taking app for iOS, has received an update bringing back its Notification Center widget, which 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.
Could raise costs in some regions
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.
CEO announces company's promotions have raised over $100 million since 2006
In a memo to all employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced that the recent (Product) RED campaign, which ran through app upgrade purchases, in-store items and online accessories during the run-up to World AIDS Day on December 1 raised over $20 million, which will be seeded to the Global Fund. The group fights HIV/AIDS, malaria and other health threats largely in Africa and other impoverished areas. Cook said that the promotion has thus pushed Apple's total contribution to over $100 million since 2006.
Open and save documents faster with a utility that remembers where you go
If Apple has its way, then one day we will never save another document -- and we will never think about where it went. It will just be there when we want to open it again. That's nice. Until then, we open and save documents nearly as often as we check Facebook. Which makes it a shame that OS X rather fights us. You can open a document from this folder on that network drive and you can then save it on that folder on this USB stick, but it is a pain. Not much of a pain, let's not get carried away here, but try doing it twice and see how you feel. That's where Default Folder X comes in.
Judge agreed video was witness testimony rather than evidence
As a postscript to Apple's unanimous win in a lawsuit brought by audio software company Real, Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers on Wednesday turned down media requests to make public a videotaped deposition from Steve Jobs, in one of his final filmed appearances, that was presented during the trial. Jobs, who was quite ill at the time and just months from his resignation from Apple and later death, was videotaped answering questions about the case. Yesterday, a jury exonerated the iPhone maker from charges it had conspired to lock out competitors.
AutoFill, HTML5 video, notifications among testing areas
Apple is distributing three new Safari betas to OS X developers. Yosemite users are getting v8.0.3; v7.1.3 is available for Mavericks, while v6.2.3 is the equivalent for Mountain Lion. Some testing focus areas include AutoFill, web notifications, website and extension compatibility, HTML5 video playback on "popular video sites," and debugging sites via Web Inspector. Apple is also concerned with bookmark editing, and the read/unread state of Reading List items.
Updates to existing apps must switch by June
Apple has issued a new notice to developers, reminding them of two important deadlines concerning 64-bit support in iOS apps. As was previously announced, those submitting new titles to the App Store must implement 64-bit support -- and use the iOS 8 SDK -- by February 1. Additionally, the company now says that updates to existing titles must meet the same standards as of June 1.
Some material already in hands of Competition Bureau
The Federal Court of Canada has agreed to order Apple's Canadian division to turn over documents to the Competition Bureau, Reuters reports. Apple has already handed over some requested documents, but may not be handing over as much as the Bureau wants or needs. The Chief Justice for the court, Paul Crampton, is due to sign the order later today.
Christmas, like winter, is coming. Be prepared!
It's not too late, but its getting close. In fact, it's so close that any helping hand might be welcome to help pick presents for the Apple-centric device lover in your life. Good news! We see every conceivable gadget all year -- use our knowledge to benefit you! This week, Electronista and MacNN have suggestions for the best gift options for the Apple fan in your life.
Manage all your videos in one speedy and convenient place
We all have more videos than iTunes Store ones, we all have more videos than we can ever remember getting. They're from our digital cameras, they're from our iPhones, they're Vimeo files we wish we could remember how to download again. However we got them, we have them now, we can't find them very easily and they are all clogging up our hard drives. Plus, we have to to somehow remember that this movie will play in iTunes but that one needs the extra VLC video player. Cinematica 2 does a smart job of solving this by giving you one place to see everything it possibly can.
Overall smartphone market shows growth, but top two leaders lose share
According to new quarterly figures from industry analysts Gartner, enormous growth by Apple's iPhone has eroded worldwide mobile phone share -- including both smartphones and feature phones -- from top seller Samsung and second-place Nokia, with Apple potentially taking the second spot from Nokia after this quarter's expected record-breaking iPhone sales are announced. For the most recent quarter, Apple was within one percentage point of matching Nokia in a market seeing strong overall growth.
Quick movie editor makes it easy to send video to social media
Try as you might, you're not going to revolutionize how video is edited: whatever application you're using, the process has been roughly the same since we ditched celluloid and razor blades. Equally, you're not likely to easily replace Apple's iMovie for ease of use, nor Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X for high-end professionals. Movavi Video Editor, an editor for Windows that has just made the jump to OS X, definitely aims at being very simple to use -- but it's also intended for the ever-growing number of us who just want to quickly get video out to people.
win a PowerSkin PowerStand!
Until Wednesday, December 17 at 11:59PM ET, PowerSkin has a buy-one-get-one free offer on their popular PowerStand battery charger. To help get the word out, they have teamed up with MacNN to give away one of these portable battery chargers to one of our readers. Read on to learn more about this battery charger, and other special offers from PowerSkin.
Local economy hit by falling oil prices, political concerns
Apple is temporarily shutting down its Russian online Apple store while it reviews pricing, according to company spokesman Alan Hely. The value of the country's currency, the ruble, dropped 19 percent today, despite attempts to stall a months-long decline using an interest rate increase. Apple's reaction is unusually sharp, given that the company normally just adjusts prices on-the-fly in foreign stores if there's a significant currency fluctuation. In November, it hiked the Russian cost of the iPhone 6 by 25 percent.
13-inch MBP unresponsive
This week in the MacNN Forums Moderator "Thorzdad" and fellow forum-members have been trying to determine why a 13-inch MacBook Pro has suddenly gone unresponsive. It won't boot, light up or make any sounds after failing to recharge two nights ago. With the holidays fast approaching, the debate continues about which phone is a better choice, the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6+ in a thread started shortly after the phone was released.