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Updated: 6 days 13 hours ago

Google may build ad-blocking into Chrome

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 07:39

Google makes a lot of money from online advertisements. In what appears to be a surprising move at first glance, the company is likely to introduce an ad blocking feature that could be turned on by default in desktop and mobile versions of its Chrome browser, according to a news report.

The move by Google is seen as more defensive rather than a change of heart by the company on the issue of ad blockers, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the company’s plans.

By bundling its own ad blocker as a feature in Chrome, the most popular browser according to Net Market Share, the company appears to be expecting users to use the default blocker rather than the blockers that have proliferated on the market. It will then allow only certain acceptable ads to be shown, according to the Journal, which said that the feature could be announced within weeks.

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Facebook wants people to type from their brain and hear with their skin

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 07:37

Facebook revealed Wednesday that it is working on technology to let people type straight from their brains at 100 words per minute.

A team of over 60 scientists, engineers and others at its secretive Building 8 research lab are working in the area Facebook describes as silent speech communications. Another project is directed at allowing people to hear with their skin, for which the company is building the necessary hardware and software.

“So what if you could type directly from your brain?” Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering and Building 8, asked Wednesday at F8, Facebook’s annual two-day developer conference.

For Facebook, the question seems to be far from speculative. “Over the next 2 years, we will be building systems that demonstrate the capability to type at 100 wpm by decoding neural activity devoted to speech,” Dugan wrote in a Facebook post. The executive has previously headed an advanced technology and projects group at Google and was earlier director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “It sounds impossible but it is closer than you may realize,” she said.

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Facebook will let you play songs from Spotify and Apple Music inside Messenger

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 15:57

Facebook Messenger is getting into the music-sharing game, thanks to Spotify and Apple Music.

Facebook has announced that Spotify and Apple Music will both be integrated into Messenger, allowing users to share playable links to songs, albums, and playlists directly in-app. This integration is part of Facebook’s new Chat Extensions for its Messenger Platform, first unveiled at the F8 developer conference.

According to Spotify, users will be able to search the catalog from the Messenger app, which will also surface their recently played music. Once a song link in shared, recipients will be able to play a 30-second clip. They will have to go to the main Spotify app to listen to the full song.

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Meet the new Wunderlist: Microsoft's To-Do task manager takes over

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 14:17

It’s been almost two years since Microsoft bought the cross-platform task master Wunderlist, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it. Unlike Sunrise and Accompli, which were shuttered and combined into Outlook mobile, Wunderlist has mostly been left alone. But now Microsoft is finally ready to show off what it’s been working on.

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The Week in iOS Accessories and Cases: A new camera for Apple HomeKit

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 13:00
Captivating camera

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

This week’s roundup includes a new HomeKit-compatible camera that lets you see the whole room—even in the dark. Read on!

D-Link

Image by Apple

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The original StarCraft and its beloved Brood War expansion are now free

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 08:19

A few weeks ago Blizzard announced the upcoming summertime release of StarCraft: Remastered, giving a facelift to the classic RTS and its beloved Brood War expansion. Alongside that announcement came other interesting news though: The original (not remastered) versions of both StarCraft and Brood War would be made free sometime in April, alongside a new 1.18 patch.

That time has come. Blizzard dropped the 1.18 patch late on Tuesday, adding in a borderless windowed mode, tweaking some back-end code, correcting some long-standing bugs, improving compatibility with Windows 10, and more.

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The cord-cutter's guide to watching the NBA playoffs

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 19:06
How to watch all the hardwood heroics without paying for a cable subscription.

Logitech Pop programmable buttons get HomeKit support

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 16:11

I have some HomeKit lights and smart plugs in my house, but I have to put them in low-traffic areas because I am the only member of my family who’s both willing and able to use an iPhone or an Apple Watch to turn on a lamp. Everyone else insists on using their hands. So old fashioned.

Logitech to the rescue. The company announced Monday it was adding HomeKit support to a new version of the Pop, a small button you can program to act as a light switch or trigger a HomeKit scene. If I place a Pop button next to every lamp I have plugged into a smart switch, my family can press that to turn the light on or off. As it stands today, if they use the lamp’s own control to turn it off, that lamp stays off, and HomeKit can’t turn it back on, which effectively breaks any HomeKit scene that includes that lamp, until I realize and toggle the lamp’s control back on.

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Facebook Spaces wants you to hang out with your friends in VR

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 15:10

Facebook is making it possible to hang out with your friends in virtual reality using Spaces, a new app the company launched Tuesday for the Oculus Rift. The app will allow people to join a shared, immersive video call, represented by a personalized avatar.

Using Spaces, people can hang out around a virtual reality table, share three-dimensional drawings and use the Rift’s built-in microphone to chat with one another. Users can also surround themselves and their friends with 360-degree photos and videos from Facebook’s library of content.

People who don’t have a Rift headset can also be included in a Spaces hangout by using Facebook’s Messenger video calling functionality. Users will be able to view a Space from their smartphone, and have their video call shown inside the virtual reality environment.

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GarageBand, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are now free for Mac and iOS

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 14:58

As first spotted by MacRumors, Apple on Tuesday updated GarageBand, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers for Mac and iOS, so that those apps are now free. Before today, those apps were free to users who bought a new Mac, iPhone, or iPad, and the free download was a one-time event. Now the apps are free all the time.

Before Tuesday, the iOS versions of Keynote, Pages, and Numbers were $10 each, while the Mac versions were $20 each. On iOS, GarageBand and iMovie were $5 each, while on the Mac, GarageBand was $5 and iMovie was $15. You can save a considerable amount of coin if you’ve put off buying any of these apps.

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Facebook aims to crush Snapchat with augmented reality

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 14:33

Facebook's efforts to embed camera functionality in all the apps it runs isn’t just a push to crush Snapchat. The company will be using those cameras as a way to create a developer platform for augmented reality, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed Tuesday.

Developers and artists can work on building augmented reality camera lenses with AR Studio, a new development environment that Facebook released in closed beta. The environment offers users tools to make it easier to create augmented reality scenes like masks and other overlays that react to the scene around them.

Starting Tuesday, artists can also design custom frames for the Facebook camera that will overlay images over a photo or video, much like Snapchat's current platform for its lenses.

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Google expands Earth with new VR tours, but Daydream support nowhere to be seen

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 12:25

While Maps is far and away the most popular tool for traversing the globe, Google hasn’t forgotten about its other project, Earth. And just in time for Earth Day, Google is giving it a major upgrade.

In an event at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City today, Google took the wraps off the new Earth project for Android and Chrome. The fruits of nearly two years of labor, the new app’s marquee feature, called Voyager, enhances the way you explore the planet, adding tours guided by “some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists, and nonprofits.”

For example, you can now take a journey though through jungles with BBC Earth or learn about chimpanzees in Gombe National Park from Jane Goodall. Google says there are “more than 50 immersive stories in Voyager, and more added weekly.” Google has also added a fun new “I’m feeling lucky” button into Google Earth, which will take you to a random locale chosen from some 20,000 curated places. Once you’ve landed, a Knowledge Card will teach you history and facts about it. Additionally, you’ll now be also to share you favorite places with friends by sending a Postcard.

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Uber Central lets businesses hail a car for you

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 11:08

Uber wants businesses to do away with shuttle buses for customers, and has launched a new service aimed at making it easier for companies to hail cars on other people’s behalf. Called Uber Central, the software lets users request cars even for people who don’t have accounts with the ride-hailing company.

Here’s how it works: company employees who have access to the Uber Central console input a customer’s name and phone number, along with their pickup and drop-off address. After that, they can request a ride from Uber’s menu of services, or save the data as a draft for easier use later.

The Uber Central dashboard, which is available worldwide, also lets employees track the status of rides. It’s built on top of Uber for Business, a version of the ride-hailing platform that has been built for use by companies rather than individuals.

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Find My iPhone helps nab a thief at Coachella with 100 phones in his backpack

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 16:05

The biggest bummer at a festival like Coachella should be a spilled beer or a long bathroom line, not having your iPhone stolen by a highly ambitious but also bumbling criminal. Awful person Reinaldo De Jesus Henao found himself in handcuffs on Easter Sunday, arrested with more than 100 smartphones in his backpack, nabbed with the help of Find My iPhone.

According to reports by KMIR and Consequence of Sound, victims noticed their phones missing and quickly used Find My iPhone on their friends’ phones to actually locate 36-year-old Henao still at the festival. The victims followed the suspect and alerted security, who was able to hold him until police arrived.

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The Internet Archive brings Apple's classic Macintosh to your browser

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 09:49

We've seen the Internet Archive publish classic software collections for MS-Dos, Amiga, Apple II, Windows 3.1, and classic arcade games. Now, the online museum is moving on to the Macintosh.

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The Week in Apple News and Rumors: Apple Podcasts, using the Apple Watch to fight diabetes, working at an iPhone factory, and more

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 06:00
Apple headlines for the week ending Apr. 14, 2017

Image by Apple

Plenty of important news and juicy rumors from the past week. Check out the Apple-related headlines in this week’s slideshow. Just click on the link to get more information.

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Apple received a permit to test self-driving cars in California

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 15:50

It seems like Apple has not yet hit the brakes on its self-driving car.

As of Friday, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles now lists Apple as one of the companies with a permit to legally test self-driving cars in the state. This means that Apple’s self-driving initiative, codenamed Project Titan, is back on track.

California requires all companies with autonomous vehicles to register before hitting the road. Other tech companies like Google and Uber, alongside car manufacturers like Tesla and BMW, have also received permits to test their self-driving technology on public roads. Uber’s permit was recently secured in March, but the company had been conducting rogue trials for a while.

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The Week in iOS Apps: Is The Best Photo App the best photo app?

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 14:30
A bold name, and a bold claim

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

This week’s roundup includes a photo app with the most audacious app name ever. Plus: Scooby Doo, where are you?

The Best Photo App

Image by Best Photo App

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A Good Snowman is Hard to Build charmingly lives up to its billing

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 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.

We’ve all been inundated with the query since Frozen came out a few years back, but yes: in fact, I do want to build a snowman. And there’s an iPhone and iPad game that lets me do it all year ‘round without the need for heavy gloves and a coat.

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build debuted early in 2015 on Mac, launching with an inventive promotion that tied the daily price to the current temperature in London. The iOS version didn’t launch with the same amusing sales hook, but at least this relatively short and sweet indie puzzler feels right at home on touch devices. And if you ever get the urge to roll around some digital powder, it’s right there in your pocket.

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Apple said to be targeting a stake in Toshiba's memory chip business

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 23:53

Apple is the latest company to be linked with a possible bid for an investment in Toshiba’s sizable computer memory business, which is up for sale.

The company is prepared to make a direct investment of several billion dollars in Toshiba Memory for a stake of “several tens” of percent, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported in its lunchtime news. 

The report said Apple is also considering a joint bid with Foxconn Technology, which manufactures the iPhone. Toshiba is a major supplier of components for the iPhone.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

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