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The Week in Apple News: WWDC dates announced, Apple’s original TV shows, the future of Apple TV, and more

Sat, 02/18/2017 - 06:00
Apple headlines for the week ending Feb. 17, 2017

Image by Apple

Apple announced the dates for its Worldwide Developers Conference and the company also revealed a change in venue. If you’re not a developer, that’s OK, there are plenty of Apple-related headlines in this week’s roundup; check them out in this slideshow. Just click on the link to get more information.

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Watch Apple's new commercials for the iPad Pro featuring real people's tweets

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 16:37

For its new advertising campaign, Apple is answering Twitter questions about the iPad Pro.

On Friday, Apple released a new series of iPad Pro commercials that use real tweets to showcase the iPad Pro’s LTE capabilities, as well as tout the device’s virus-free experience. “It’s better than a computer,” reads one of the ads. 

Each of the 15-second ads uses a real tweet to address a feature of the iPad Pro. One tweet expresses fear over a “nasty” PC virus, while another questions whether Microsoft Word can be used on an iPad Pro.

But while the tweets and corresponding Twitter usernames appear to be real, Apple has replaced the real people behind the tweets with actors. According to The Verge, Apple reached out to the real Twitter users before their tweets were used in the campaign.

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The Week in iOS Apps: This dating app is for Haters

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 16:00

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

This week’s roundup includes a new dating app that matches potential mates on their mutual hatreds. Read on!


Image by Hater Inc.

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AT&T jumps on the unlimited data bandwagon with an expensive new plan

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 09:56

AT&T capped off this week’s carrier showdown by releasing its own unlimited data plan following announcements from Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

Prior to this announcement, AT&T only offered unlimited data plans to its DirecTV and U-verse subscribers. Before you get too excited, however, this plan is the most expensive of the bunch for a single line, and has a few drawbacks compared to the other plans.

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Fresh powder and frisky pups await in the charming Dog Sled Saga

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 09:00

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Video games make it possible for us to experience things that we never could—or would—do in real life. Now, commanding a dog sled is one of those things. Frankly, it’s not something that I’ve ever aspired to do, and the whole enterprise seems exhausting, immensely challenging, and unavoidably cold. But wrap it up in an adorable iPhone game and I’m there with my fuzzy pixel boots on. 

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Office for Mac gets Touch Bar support with Outlook integration coming soon

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 15:50

MacBook Pro users can now insert a hyperlink in their Word document using the Touch Bar.

On Thursday, Microsoft released Touch Bar support to all Office for Mac users. This gives the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps new contextual capabilities on the new MacBook Pro. Microsoft first announced Touch Bar support in October, and a preview was released to members of the Office Insider program earlier this month. MacBook Pro users can access these features by going to Help > Check for updates in any of their Office for Mac apps.

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Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 13:37

The Apple TV is a solid product, but it doesn’t do a whole lot more than rival streaming set-top boxes on the market. But there were big plans for the device, according to a new Bloomberg report. Some of those plans are still on the roadmap, like an upgraded device that can stream 4K content. Others, like a skinny bundle of TV networks that could replace a cable subscription, seem like a lost cause.

Apple just hired former Amazon Fire TV chief Timothy Twerdahl to take over Apple TV marketing, freeing former marketing head Pete Distad to make content deals for the device. This move is a promising one, indicating that Apple knows the TV needs some work.

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The Week in iOS Cases and Accessories: New smart scales are on the weigh

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 11:00
No-fail scales

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

This week’s roundup includes smart scales that take comprehensive measures of your health and sync that information to your iPhone. Read on!

B&O Play by Bang & Olufsen

Image by Beoplay

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Twitter starts putting abusive users in the corner by reducing their reach

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:59

Twitter recently introduced a new weapon to combat trolls on its network: the timeout.

Last week, the social network rolled out a new feature that tries to detect abusive behavior from user accounts, as first reported by BuzzFeed. When abuse is suspected, Twitter reduces the number of people who can see that person’s tweets for a pre-determined period of time. 

Ian Pau/PCWorld

A Twitter search result showing users reacting to temporary limits on their account.

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WWDC dates announced: Apple is moving its annual conference to San Jose in June

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 09:57

In a departure from the norm, Apple just announced the dates and location of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, the event will be at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center instead of San Francisco’s Moscone Center, though Apple is keeping its usual June time slot.

Apple unveiled the dates and venue change in a Thursday press release. The company typically holds off on revealing WWDC details until much closer to the event, but Apple execs wanted to give developers plenty of time to make travel arrangements, according to The Loop.

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D-Link’s Omna, the first Home-Kit security camera, is now on sale

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 17:40

The first HomeKit-compatible security camera is officially available to order through Apple.

D-Link’s $200 Omna 180 Cam HD, first announced at CES in January, has a list of specs comparable to competing products: a 180-degree wide-angle lens, night vision up to 16 feet, two-way audio, high-definition 1080p resolution, and a microSD slot so you can record video to play back later.

Those are pretty standard features for a securtiy camera, but where D-Link’s Omna shines is HomeKit integration. The camera can play an integral role in your iOS Home scenes, like turning on the lights in your home when the Omna detects movement. You can also control the camera using Siri, though it’s hard to imagine a situation where that would be useful. You can also watch a feed of outdoor activity on the Home app for Apple TV, which is another feature we can’t really imagine using that much.

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Yahoo warns users of account breaches related to recent attacks

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 13:48

Yahoo has begun warning individual users that their accounts with the service may have been compromised in a massive data breach it reported late last year.

The warning, in email messages sent from Yahoo CISO Bob Lord, tell users that a forged cookie may have been used to access their accounts in previous years.

The warning to Yahoo users come at the same time that news reports suggest that Verizon Communications, in negotiations to buy Yahoo, may be seeking a discount of US$250 million because of the data breaches.

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A privacy-focused browser developer just bought Ghostery

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 11:16

Cliqz, the German developer of the privacy-focused browser of the same name, has acquired the tracker-blocking browser extension Ghostery and its development team from its creator, Evidon.

Partly owned by Mozilla, Cliqz will combine Ghostery’s technology with similar functions in its browser, but plans to continue development of the extension for other browsers too, it said Wednesday.

The sale will resolve an apparent conflict of interest for Evidon, which on the one hand provided the Ghostery extension to enhance privacy, and on the other sold aggregate information to businesses regarding which trackers users blocked. It will still obtain that aggregate information from Cliqz, but one step removed.

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Caavo wants to cure streaming video headaches by unifying your set-top boxes

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 11:06

One of the greatest pains in the life of a cord cutter is you can’t get all the premium video services you want in a single box. For example, if you’re invested in the Apple TV ecosystem but also want to watch The Grand Tour with your Amazon Prime subscription, you're out of luck—Amazon’s video service is not on Apple TV.

A new start-up named Caavo thinks it has a solution for all your set-top box woes... and it’s another set-top box. Well, that’s a little unfair. It’s really a fancier, more intelligent video input switcher, but even that doesn’t quite capture what the $400—yes, $400—Caavo aims to do.

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Vertigo now lets Apple Music members share playlists with friends on Spotify

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 11:00

A new iOS app has broken down the barrier between Apple Music and Spotify to make music-sharing truly universal again.

On Wednesday, Vertigo announced that it’s now integrated with both Spotify and Apple Music to help people share music regardless of which premium subscription they have. When it launched just last month, Vertigo (iTunes) required a Spotify Premium membership so that users could find music, build playlists, and broadcast live-streaming listening sessions with friends and followers.

Now that Apple Music accounts can be linked as well, Vertigo’s become first iOS app to foster this type of cross-platform music-sharing. You can import your playlists from either Apple Music or Spotify Premium, find new music from the catalogue, and share songs in-app so that your friends can listen using their own subscription.

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Comcast's Xfinity Stream app will bring live TV, Xfinity X1 features to your mobile device

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 10:17

February is app month for Comcast. After introducing its Roku app earlier in the month, Comcast announced it will replace its Xfinity TV app on February 28. Xfinity Stream, the name of the new app, aims to give Comcast subscribers an Xfinity X1-like experience on Android and iOS.

That means features from your set-top box are coming to mobile, such as favorite channel filtering, a Spanish language guide, more than 50 music channels, rating recommendations from Common Sense Media, and parental controls. The new app offers more than 200 live TV channels for streaming outside the home, including CNN, Fox News, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, Disney Channel, and Nick Jr. The Stream app will also provide access to recorded programs on your DVR and the ability to program it remotely, as well as more than 40,000 video on demand titles.

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Apple’s iPhone seizes the smartphone sales crown from Samsung

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 07:37

Apple has overtaken Samsung Electronics in smartphone sales for the first time in two years—but don’t count on it staying ahead for long.

Samsung sold 76.8 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, giving it a market share of 17.8 percent, but it was just beaten by Apple, which sold 77 million iPhones for a 17.9 percent share, according to figures from Gartner.

The fourth quarter is usually a strong one for Apple, boosted by holiday sales of the new generation of iPhones it releases each September, said Anshul Gupta, a research director at Gartner.

For Samsung, though, 2016 ended particularly badly, dominated by the fiasco around the recall of its incendiary Galaxy Note7.

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Facebook debuts vertical video format and confirms forthcoming TV apps

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 16:29

Facebook wants be in your TV screen in 2017.

On Tuesday, the network launched new ways to watch videos on your iOS and Android device. You can now watch vertical videos in full-screen, autoplay videos with sound, and watch picture-in-picture while scrolling down your News Feed. In addition, Facebook confirmed the forthcoming launch of TV apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV.

Previously, all videos on Facebook’s News Feed autoplayed on silent, and you had to tap on the picture to hear sound. Now, Facebook is giving you the option to autoplay videos with sound that fades in and out as you scroll through the video on your feed.

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Russian cyberspies blamed for U.S. election hacks are now targeting Macs

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 13:45

Security researchers have discovered a macOS malware program that’s likely part of the arsenal used by the Russian cyberespionage group blamed for hacking into the U.S. Democratic National Committee last year.

The group, which is known in the security industry under different names, including Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm, and APT28, has been operating for almost a decade. It is believed to be the sole user and likely developer of a Trojan program called Sofacy or X-Agent.

X-Agent variants for Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS have been found in the wild in the past, but researchers from Bitdefender have now come across what appears to be the first macOS version of the Trojan.

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Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 13:23

This spring, Apple plans to release its first two original series, Planet of the Apps and full-length episodes of the popular Carpool Karaoke segment hosted by James Corden. It’s not exactly a bold move: Netflix, Amazon, and reportedly even Facebook are making original TV. But unlike Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook, Apple isn’t a content company. It’s a hardware one. But that’s about to change—at least if Apple has anything to say about it.

Services have been a consistent bright spot in Apple’s quarterly earnings reports, and Apple Music is lumped in with that category. The $10/month streaming music service has racked up 20 million paying subscribers in the year and a half since it launched. But Apple can’t rely on music exclusives, which have limited windows, to differentiate itself. So the company is turning to original video content.

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