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Updated: 1 hour 52 min ago

The Week in iPad Cases: Backpacks from Spigen and iSkin, an OtterBox screen protector, and more

4 hours 9 min ago
Backpacks, screen protectors, and sleeves

This week’s roundup of new iPad cases is chock full of options, from carry-all backpacks to simple yet effective sleeves.


The Icon Sleeve (iPad Air; $60) offers lightweight, durable protection in a slim package that won't weigh your iPad down.

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Improve your game of Go (or just keep playing) with this collection of apps

6 hours 9 min ago

I’ve been playing Go, a grid-based strategy game that dates back thousands of years, for more than three decades, and it’s a game I enjoy a great deal. Unlike chess, which is often an all-or-nothing game of attack and defense, Go is about slowly-evolving strategies to surround the largest territory on the board. Each player, black and white, alternates placing stones on a board with a 19-by-19 grid. Building up territory, where the opposing player cannot get a foothold, each player attempts to enlarge his or her territory, and thwart advances and invasions by the opponent.

It’s easy to learn the rules of Go; it’s hard to become really good at the game. This is a game that computers can’t yet defeat: the best programs can only defeat professional players with a handicap (Go has a handicap system where the weaker player gets to place from two to nine stones on the board at the start of the game).

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Apple's missing out on X: Where X is whatever isn't shipping yet

7 hours 9 min ago

The world of technology moves quickly and to stay ahead, one must constantly ride the waves of whatever’s coming next. This is why Apple is always behind and perpetually chastised for failing to deliver tomorrow’s technology today.

Wait, what?

“Right Now, Apple Risks Missing Out On The Next Big Thing In Technology” (tip o’ the antlers to @mylestaylor)

What is that big thing? The big thing that is coming oh-so-soon to a Radio Shack near you?


The initial reactions to the HoloLens have been overwhelmingly positive.

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Twitter's Vine Kids app is amusing for grownups too

Fri, 2015-01-30 13:30

Twitter’s Vine video service has released a cute new app for kids, but let’s get real: This is a gateway drug.

Vine Kids, released Friday on iOS, is marketed by Vine as a fun way for young children to watch Vine videos. Six-second, looped Vine videos have gained a huge following, especially among teenagers.

These Vine Kid videos are quite fun. Scanning through I found creative animations and artwork, and tons of pets engaging in humorous behavior. Tons. There was a cat playing with an iPad and then doing a back-flip. In another, a cat descended from the ceiling on a string to grab a hamburger from the ground, like Tom Cruise in the film Mission: Impossible. In another, an army of cute Pokemon characters gathered on a pier.

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The Week in iOS Apps: Outlook lands on iOS, TurboTax reminds you about tax season, and more

Fri, 2015-01-30 11:30
Be more productive!

This week's roundup contains new and better ways to organize your email, your calendar, and even your flight schedule. Don't worry: There's a game or two in there as well.

Adobe PaintCan

The folks at Adobe want you to know that this experimental app for iPad is not just for placing a paint-effect overlay on your photographs—rather, it lets you paint using photographs as a base. The developers explain: “PaintCan helps you paint, with smart brushes that configure themselves based on the image you are painting on.” Take pictures of your real world and make them a little more colorful. 

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Facebook edges into Foursquare territory with place tips on iOS

Fri, 2015-01-30 11:28

Foursquare transformed itself last year into a hyper-local concierge always running in the background of your phone—and your life. Now Facebook is taking a cue from the recommendation app with a new location-based place tips feature for iOS.

Facebook will soon start showing you tips about places at the top of your News Feed. Unlike Foursquare, Facebook won’t show you tips about places in the neighborhood, just the spot you’re at. The new feature won’t clog up your feed—the option to view tips appears in an unintrusive bar at the top, and you have to tap through to see more information.

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How to play 'Louie Louie' on your Mac

Fri, 2015-01-30 10:35

If you’re of an age—somewhere between 2 and 81—you’re familiar with The Kingsmen’s seminal frat-rock hit, “Louie Louie.” And if you’ve ever aspired to stand in front of crowds of the inebriated, making a load of racket, it’s one of the very first songs you attempted to play.

This lesson is not for you. Rather, it’s for those who’ve been denied the pleasure of banging out this three-chord marvel. Equipped with only a Mac and copy of GarageBand 10, all this can be yours. Here’s how to start rockin’.

Drums first

Launch GarageBand and from the project chooser window select Empty Project and click Choose. The GarageBand window will appear and display a single track called Classic Electric Piano. Select that track and press the Delete key.

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iTunes 12.1 adds widget, changes Info window

Fri, 2015-01-30 10:34

Apple has released iTunes 12.1, an update that adds an optional Notification widget, improves syncing with iOS devices, and tweaks the look of the app’s Info windows.

The iTunes Notification widget.

To add the Notification widget in OS X, open Notification Center, scroll to the bottom, and click the Edit button. To the right you’ll see an iTunes entry. Click the Plus (+) button next to it to add the widget.

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How to trim a bloated Keynote presentation

Fri, 2015-01-30 10:00

Reader Eric Cantrell suffers from overstuffed Keynote presentations. He writes:

I routinely create Keynote presentations for work and when I insert images and movies, the resulting files are so huge that I can’t send them via email. Is there some way that I can trim them down?

I can offer a couple of suggestions.

First, examine the file format and resolution of your movies and images. If you’re using standard QuickTime .mov files and large resolutions (1080p, for example) you should instead encode your movies in H.264 at a lower resolution. Likewise, if you can get away with JPEG images rather than PNG or TIFF, you’ll save some space.

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Turn your whistling into song with the tap of an app

Fri, 2015-01-30 07:07

If you fancy yourself a Mozart of the shower, Casio has an app that will write entire compositions based on what you whistle or sing.

Chordana Composer (pictured above) is a simple iOS app that can take snatches of melody and expand on them according to user preferences.

While the songs aren’t exactly works of musical genius, the app is another example of how computers can emulate human creativity.

Designed for iPhone and iPad, Chordana Composer has a basic user interface with an abbreviated keyboard and simple editing tools. Users can input a melody by whistling, tapping the on-screen keyboard or manually entering the notes on a staff.

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You Should Play: Twist objects into shadow puppets with puzzler Shadowmatic

Fri, 2015-01-30 06:00

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.

It’s always awesome to see a breathtaking, unique, and thoroughly innovative puzzle game pop up on the App Store, and this week we’re particularly impressed with Triada Studio Games’ light-and-shadow-play perspective game, Shadowmatic. For a mere $3, Shadowmatic takes you through a non-linear progression of increasingly difficult perspective puzzles—think shadow puppets meets Monument Valley.

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Ask the iTunes Guy: Naming live sets, syncing old-style iPods with iTunes Match

Fri, 2015-01-30 06:00

Apple may have sold gazillions of iPhones in the latest quarter, but the questions about iTunes are still coming strong. This week, I look at three interesting questions. How can you label live recordings by date and set? How can you sync from iTunes Match to a non-iOS iPod? And what are those mystery columns that show up in the iTunes library?

Live sets

Q: I have a live recording of a band’s entire run from one venue. This is a multiple disc set. I would like to break the shows down by date and then set, but all iTunes offers is “Disc 1,” “Disc 2,” and so on. I can re-tag the files so that each set or night is a disc, but they will still be labeled with this “Disc 1” scheme. Is there a way I can present the discs as they are actually named—“Night One-First Set” and “Night One-Second Set”—in Albums view, rather than the way iTunes names them now?

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Facebook and Twitter battle to be your Super Bowl second screen

Fri, 2015-01-30 04:45

When you kick back on your couch this Sunday to watch the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks duke it out in the Super Bowl, you’ll be prepared with the must-haves: Wings, beer, and your phone or tablet. Even if you’re surrounded by friends, the game commentary on social media is often more entertaining than their chatter—or the game itself.

Many of us use both Twitter and Facebook during major events, but the networks would prefer you pick a side, because your attention translates into ad dollars for both networks. So Twitter and Facebook are putting on their game faces: Whose team are you on?

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Get ready for Super Bowl Sunday with these killer apps

Fri, 2015-01-30 04:30

Rarely is watching the Super Bowl a solitary experience—usually, you and your buddies are crammed into someone's living room, huddled around the snack table and shouting at the TV with every play. 

So, if the party gets a little too hectic, you might need some apps to help you refocus on the game. These apps will enhance your Super Bowl viewing experience, helping you keep up with the action and providing a distraction during the ridiculously long halftime show (you know, if Katy Perry isn't your thing).

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How to watch the 2015 Super Bowl on your iPhone, iPad and Apple TV

Fri, 2015-01-30 04:09

If you're looking to watch Super Bowl XLIX online this Sunday, NBC has you covered.

Just like other networks that have offered a free live stream of the Super Bowl in previous years, in 2015 NBC will make the game available through its NBC Sports website and mobile app. Still, getting it onto the device of your choosing could be tricky, so read on for the best ways to watch the Super Bowl without a cable subscription.

On your Mac

This one’s easy: Just head to the NBC Sports Live Extra Website to watch the game for free. There's no need to sign in or jump through any other hoops, and you can tune in as early as noon on February 1 to get your fill of pre-game coverage before the 6:30 p.m. EST kick-off. The live stream even includes the halftime show, which wasn't the case the last time NBC streamed the Super Bowl in 2012.

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It's no Twitter, but Plague is an infectious social network

Thu, 2015-01-29 16:51

We’re used to social networks where we follow people and view what they post: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others depend on each user connecting with others in order for content to be shared. Plague doesn’t work like that at all, but it can be addictive despite its limitations.

Plague is a new paradigm for sharing information. Through its free iOS and Android apps, users post cards, containing text (140 characters), photos, and/or videos, and “infect” other users who are nearby. These users, in turn, decide whether they want to spread the cards to other users near them: swiping up shares a card, and swiping down ignores it. Each user has an “infection index,” which increases as they participate, and which determines how many people their shares will infect.

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Apple now neck-and-neck with Samsung after monster quarter

Thu, 2015-01-29 16:12

The huge popularity of the new iPhone 6 pushed Apple and Samsung closer than ever at the top of the market for smartphones, according to two companies that closely track shipments of the devices.

Earlier this week, Apple said it sold 74.5 million iPhones in the last three months of 2014 and on Thursday Samsung said it sold 95 million phones. That means Samsung remains the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, but its numbers include both smartphones and feature phones.

Samsung doesn’t break out its smartphone shipments, but Strategy Analytics said Friday that it estimates Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones in the quarter—leading to a tie in the smartphone market. Another industry analytics firm, IDC, said it estimates Samsung shipped 75.1 million smartphones, giving it a slim lead over Apple.

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1Password's update highlights the difference between two-step and two-factor verification

Thu, 2015-01-29 15:09

An update to 1Password brings time-based one-time passwords (TOTP for short) to its iOS app. A one-time password is typically used as a second element in two-factor authentication (2FA), a subject I’ve written about many times in this column. But, as noted in a sensible and honest post by AgileBits, 1Password’s developer, a second factor isn’t always a second factor.

A TOTP requires a seed code that, when transformed through an algorithm that includes the precise current time, produces a number that’s converted into a short code, typically six digits long. In order to use a TOTP at a site that offers it, you walk through its enrollment process, which involves scanning a two-dimensional QR Code and generating one-time backup or recovery keys. The QR Code graphically represents the seed that both you and the site retain. (Some sites offer the seed as a code you can tap in as well.)

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The new Outlook mobile app aims to be your all-in-one mail and calendar suite

Thu, 2015-01-29 13:56

Microsoft Outlook app for iOS and Android is here, dropping in the final puzzle piece to the company’s “Office everywhere” vision.

They’re in the App Store and Google Play now, though the Android version is technically a “preview” build. Microsoft says once it gets enough feedback and makes the necessary tweaks it will deem it a final version, just as it did Thursday with Office for Android.

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How to design your own great-looking business cards

Thu, 2015-01-29 13:51

Few design projects are as nerve-wracking—and important—as designing your own business card. Just like the clothes you wear, your business card tells the recipient if you’re professional, artistic, or a big ol’ ball of cheese. Aside from the aesthetic message, you’ve also got to pack a ton of info into a tiny-teeny space and keep it readable. To put your best business card forward, try following these essential design tips.

Pick a printer

The first step in designing your own business cards is to pick a printer. There are online resources aplenty, including VistaPrint, Overnight Prints, Moo, and Zazzle. If you’re a reseller, try 4over. Most of these services have web-based design widgets, though you can upload your own designs, too.

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