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Samsung to launch Samsung Pay mobile payments system in challenge to Google, Apple

Sun, 2015-03-01 11:31

The world’s biggest maker of Android phones launched a major challenge to Google Wallet on Sunday, saying it will soon launch a rival phone-based payment system.

Samsung Pay will appear first in the summer in the U.S.—later in other markets—and will allow consumers to make tap-and-go payments with a smartphone. It is being introduced as Google is moving to strengthen its position in the mobile payments market to better compete with Apple Pay.

The system will first be available on the Galaxy S6, Samsung’s flagship smartphone that was launched on Sunday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It will rely on the contactless NFC payment infrastructure already used by competitors including Google Wallet and Apple Pay.

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The Week in iPad Cases: Rugged protection from Roocase and Kensington, and more

Sat, 2015-02-28 08:00
Rugged protection from Roocase and Kensington, and more

This week’s roundup of new iPad cases includes cases with bright colors for when you feel like trying out a different look—plus pouches, keyboards, and germ-repellent options to switch things up.


The BlackBelt 2nd Degree (iPad Air 2; $50) is a rugged case that surrounds your iPad with a thin layer of rubber that keeps it safe from drops and bumps.

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Take my advice: Do not take this guy's advice

Sat, 2015-02-28 05:00

We live in a society where people are able to freely speak their minds. That's good! Nay, great, even. As a result, there is no level of wrongness that can legally bar someone from talking about a topic. Take, for example, investing in Apple's stock.

Investment advice guy Charles Sizemore is back with more investment advice. You do not, however, have to take it.

"The Apple Watch Will Be a Flop: Here’s Why Apple Doesn’t Care" (tip o' the antlers to @JonyIveParody)

Amusingly, the DoNotLink code for that piece is "dunb" which is only one letter off.

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White House privacy proposal aims to give you control over your data

Fri, 2015-02-27 15:48

U.S. businesses that collect personal data would be required to describe their privacy and security practices and give consumers control over their personal information under a proposed privacy bill of rights released Friday by President Barack Obama’s administration.

The proposal would also require companies and nonprofit groups to collect and retain only the personal data they need to operate.

However, the proposal allows industry groups to submit their own codes of conduct to the Federal Trade Commission and shields companies that follow those codes from FTC enforcement actions.

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The Week in iOS Apps: Vine and YouTube launch apps for kids

Fri, 2015-02-27 13:30
Vine and YouTube launch apps for kids

This week’s roundup includes two new video apps for children, plus a couple of new offerings more suited to adults. And if you’re somewhere in between, that’s OK! We’ve got stuff for you too.

After Dark

The free After Dark app is, uh, for adults only, prepared to captalize on the whole “50 Shades of Grey” craze. “After Dark offers an adult reading experience curated for fans of romance and erotica, with thousands of free eBooks for all passions and persuasions.” Not the sort of thing we’d feature, but it’s getting lots of mainstream media notice. Us? We’re just downloading it … for a friend.

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Apple Watch will start your car one day, Tim Cook says

Fri, 2015-02-27 09:33

While we count down the days until the Apple Watch is (presumably) revealed at Apple’s “Spring forward” event March 9, more details about the much-anticipated wearable continue to dribble out. For instance, the smartwatch was designed to be able to replace your car keys—though it’s unlikely that functionality will be turned on at launch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told The Telegraph that when it ships, Apple Watch will let you filter messages, give you credits for meeting exercise goals, and accompany you in the shower. Cook also said the battery life will last all day and will take less time to charge than the iPhone using the new MagSafe-style wireless inductive charger. It’s unclear exactly how long the battery will last—recent reports indicate Apple is aiming for 19 hours of combined active and passive usage—or how long it will take to charge, but we’ll find out soon.

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The FCC's net neutrality rules: 5 things you need to know

Fri, 2015-02-27 09:18
The FCC voted in favor of net neutrality on Thursday, but what does it all mean?

Swiss luxury watchmakers reveal the horological smartwatch, a direct response to gadgety wearable crap

Fri, 2015-02-27 08:24

The Apple Watch may emerge in a cloud of narcotic pixie dust on March 9, but the Swiss watch industry has some fancy new tricks of its own. At a chi-chi Thursday launch event, a trio of unbearably urbane manufacturers revealed MMT (Manufacture Modules Technologies), a platform that will power what the Swiss call “horological smartwatches”—beautiful, analog-display timepieces loaded with the same activity-tracking features offered by the Jawbone UP.

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VLC update adds in-app extensions, resume playback, Android TV support, more

Fri, 2015-02-27 07:00

Everybody’s favorite open source video player just got even better. The VideoLAN Organization is releasing the stable version of VLC 2.2.0 on Friday, packed with a few goodies ahead of the VLC 3.0.0 release scheduled for later this year. 

The new VLC for Windows, Mac, and Linux rocks a Firefox-style in-app extensions “store,” resume playback, in-app subtitle downloads, and early support for interactive Blu-ray menus.

Friday’s VLC release isn’t just for the desktop either. For the first time, VideoLAN released major upgrades to all its platforms at once, and even added a few new ones including Android TV, Windows Phone, and Windows RT.

VideoLan hopes to coordinate future release major releases across all its platforms, but organization president Jean-Baptiste Kempf says he isn’t promising anything just yet since coordinating major releases for all VLC platforms is a monumental task.

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Ericsson seeks US sales ban of Apple iPhone, iPad in patent lawsuit barrage

Fri, 2015-02-27 06:58

Some Apple products may be banned from sale in the U.S. if Ericsson gets its way after filing a barrage of patent lawsuits.

The Swedish telecommunications equipment vendor filed nine lawsuits against Apple on Thursday, seven in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and two in the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging infringement of a total of 41 of its patents, it said Friday.

Apple is no stranger to the courts when it comes to patent disputes. Previous cases have often focused on the “look and feel” of its products, turning on the curvature of a phone’s corners, or how it indicates that it can’t perform an action when someone swipes the screen. Many of the patents Ericsson says Apple is infringing, though, cut right to the heart of smartphone and tablet functionality: their ability to connect to 2G, 3G or 4G mobile networks to make calls or exchange data.

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You Should Play: Alto's Adventure finds serenity in side-scrolling snow shredding

Fri, 2015-02-27 05:00

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.

Trying to round up runaway llamas while evading crazed mountain elders sounds like a tremendously frantic and probably frustrating experience, yet playing Alto’s Adventure feels totally Zen.

Alto’s Adventure is like a much more relaxing version of the Great Llama Chase of 2015.

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Why Pebble Time, not Android Wear, is Apple Watch's biggest competition

Fri, 2015-02-27 04:55

If you had told me last December that in the first part of 2015, a smartwatch would make headlines across the world, shatter sales records, and create a constant stream of refreshes, hashtags and bad puns, I would have naturally assumed you were talking about Apple Watch. For the past five months we’ve been anxiously awaiting the “early 2015” debut of Apple’s first wearable, an entry so important it’s basically put its Android Wear competitors on ice as buyers wait to see what Apple Watch can really do.

But while we need to wait at least another 30 days (well, maybe less) to strap one on our wrists, Pebble—humble Pebble—went ahead and one-upped Apple, LG, and anyone else planning to show off a new smartwatch at next week’s Mobile World Congress. It’s a bold, brilliant move that shifts the focus back to itself (at least until a week from Monday, anyway), and positions Pebble as a viable option in the increasingly homogenous smartwatch landscape.

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Social discovery app Vurb keeps your favorite apps in one place

Fri, 2015-02-27 00:21

It’s Friday night—time for you and your buddies to hammer out your plans for the evening. You know the drill: you start with a group text, then you launch Yelp to find a restaurant or bar nearby. Oh, there will be eight of you? Better make a reservation; switch to Open Table. Joe suggests you catch a movie first, so now you launch Fandango. And the app-switching cycle continues until your plan is finalized. 

Vurb offers what Lo refers to as “contextual search,” which pairs your search with relevent apps and services for you to connect with. 

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Twitter adds more reporting tools to curb abuse and improve safety

Thu, 2015-02-26 16:45

Twitter has added new reporting tools to help it fight abuse and protect users on its site.

The company took some steps in this direction late last year, when it made it easier to report harassment in tweets. Now it’s making it easier to report other behaviors including impersonation, self-harm and the sharing of private or confidential information. The changes will begin rolling out Thursday and should reach all users in the coming weeks.

As a result of the changes it made already, Twitter now reviews five times as many user reports as it did previously, the company said, and it has tripled the number of people who handle such reports at the company. It has also reduced its response time to a fraction of what it once was, the company says.

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The Week in iPhone Cases: Bring out the battery cases!

Thu, 2015-02-26 16:30
Bring out the battery cases!

This week’s roundup of new iPhone cases brings you new battery cases from Otterbox, Unu, and BuQu, plus some interesting multi-purpose cases and a way to mount your iPhone in the car—without an actual mount!


The PowerArmour (iPhone 6; $80) sports a lightweight, unibody design that makes installation and removal a snap—a big plus for a battery case. Its design remains protective enough that it will prevent damage against bumps and falls.

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Review: LastPass for Mac protects your passwords but needs polish

Thu, 2015-02-26 12:39

The gold standard for password vaults on the Mac is 1Password. Now in its fifth major release, 1Password has matured along with its userbase. One of its most stalwart longtime competitors, LastPass, has had an iOS version, but OS X customers have had to work through browser plug-ins or its website, putting it at a disadvantage.

The release of the free LastPass for Mac puts the two popular secrets-protection packages head to head. And LastPass comes out reasonably well in aspects of the comparison: the two apps carve out different spaces, which will vary in importance by users’ specific security preferences and access needs. But in most respects, LastPass feels unfinished and clunky—a work in progress that works, but needs more work. The Mac version is free. A $12-per-year subscription adds mobile app synchronization, hardware-based and biometric two-factor login support, and a family-based secure password sharing option.

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Net neutrality passes FCC, will apply to mobile too

Thu, 2015-02-26 12:14

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve new net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a regulated public utility, over the objections of the commission’s Republican members and large broadband providers.

The commission voted 3-2 Thursday to approve net neutrality rules that prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic and from offering paid traffic prioritization services. The commission’s vote on the new rules prompted loud applause from the audience at the FCC meeting.

The new regulations will almost certainly face a court challenge from broadband providers, and a court case could drag out for years. Verizon Communications, AT&T and Comcast have all opposed reclassification of broadband.

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Spring forward: Apple will take the wraps off Apple Watch at March 9 event

Thu, 2015-02-26 10:31

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 8. The following day, Apple is inviting us to “spring forward” at a “special event” in San Francisco. Hmm…could Apple be showing off a device that has something to do with setting the clock? Macworld will be in the audience to bring you the details at 10 a.m. Pacific.

As is standard for Apple, the invite gave no details other than time, date, and location (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a larger venue than Town Hall in Cupertino, where Apple held its last event). But given the tag line and the timing, it’s a given that the company is finally launching Apple Watch after months of build-up.

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Nickelodeon's 'Noggin' streaming service is just for preschoolers

Thu, 2015-02-26 09:22

Nickelodeon is taking its first foray into subscription video streaming, though it's not the far-reaching service we expected.

Instead, the new “Noggin” service will be aimed strictly at preschoolers, with ad-free shows like Blue’s Clues, Little Bear, and Kai-lan. It'll also include music videos, educational videos, games, and activities.

The service will launch on March 5 for $5.99 per month, and will only be available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Nick says it's talking to TV providers about offering the service as a “premium compliment” for subscribers, but there's no word on bringing the service to smart TVs or streaming set-top boxes.

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Get Office, Dropbox, and your photos to work together on your iPad

Thu, 2015-02-26 08:31
Word, Excel, and PowerPoint now support Dropbox on an iPad or iPhone. Unless, of course, you want to insert photos. Here's the workaround.