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Updated: 27 min 22 sec ago

Apple's Tim Cook leads different

Thu, 2015-03-26 17:46
Tim Cook reveals to Fortune that he plans to give away his wealth.(fortune.com)

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Apple asks court to throw out lawsuit over storage on iPhones, iPads

Thu, 2015-03-26 15:35

Apple has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of misleading customers about the amount of storage available in mobile devices that come with iOS 8.

Apple filed a motion for dismissal Wednesday at the district court in San Jose, California, saying the plaintiffs failed to back up their arguments. It wants the case dismissed with prejudice, which would prevent the plaintiffs from suing Apple again for the same thing. Judge Edward Davila will now have to rule on the motion.

In the suit, filed last December, Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara charged that Apple misled consumers about how much of the storage on iPhones and iPads was taken up by the OS. For example, they said a 16GB iPhone 6 really had just 13GB of capacity available.

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Oculus's chief scientist: VR will succeed because your vision sucks

Thu, 2015-03-26 14:25

Virtual reality has been just beyond our grasp for decades. The parts to build VR headsets were too expensive, the technology too rudimentary to convince anyone that what they were seeing was real.

Virtual reality has become more accessible and less expensive, thanks to Oculus. Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR headset is now on sale for $200, and Oculus Rift is expected to finally hit store shelves this year for somewhere in the $200-$400 range. But the technology has also improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to Oculus’s exploitation of your terible vision.

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How Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp coexist under Facebook

Thu, 2015-03-26 12:00

Facebook’s $22 billion acquisition of popular messaging app WhatsApp last year raised some eyebrows. Facebook already has a popular messaging app, the in-house Facebook Messenger, not to mention a popular photo-sharing app, Instagram. Why did it need to bring yet another app into the fold? Wouldn’t the three apps end up cannibalizing each other?

But as WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram continue to grow, with monthly active user numbers swelling to 700 million, 600 million, and 300 million respectively, Facebook has proved that naysayers know nothing about what people want from the apps they use every day. Product chiefs of WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram took the stage at Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference in San Francisco on Thursday to dispel any myths about rivalry between the three apps—and hinted deeper cooperation (or integration) could one day come.

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Private I: Trust and verify for network certificate roots

Thu, 2015-03-26 09:21

In a post on March 23, Google’s security team explained that it had discovered that someone was delivering digital certificates to users for Google domains that weren’t authorized by Google. A quick investigation discovered that a Chinese certificate authority (CA), CNNIC, had improperly given a reseller enough power to create verifiable certificates for any domain in the world.

With a verifiable certificate, any seemingly secured web connection can be intercepted by a party that can insert a tap into a network point between the browser and the server. It’s bad.

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The Week in iPhone Cases: Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors take a crack at designing cases

Thu, 2015-03-26 08:00
Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors take a crack at designing cases

This week’s roundup of new iPhone cases brings you stunning designs from the runway, plus ultra-protective cases from OtterBox and Lifeproof.

Diane von Furstenberg

If you're looking for some travel-inspired fashion, the Hologram (iPhone 6; $48) features a simple hologram airplane pattern that changes to reveal a warm hidden message. 

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Twitter launches Periscope, a Meerkat-like live video streaming app

Thu, 2015-03-26 07:49

Live video streaming app Meerkat took Twitter by storm during SXSW earlier in March, and now Twitter has released its response. On Thursday, Twitter introduced Periscope, its own live video streaming app that will compete directly with Meerkat.

Twitter's plan for live streaming actually began long before we'd even heard of Meerkat. Periscope was first an independent startup. Then in January there were rumblings about Twitter acquiring the app. Finally, about two weeks ago—the day after SXSW wrapped up, not-so-coincidentally—Twitter confirmed it acquired Periscope.

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Cameramakers missed the Wi-Fi bandwagon on the road to obsolescence

Thu, 2015-03-26 06:31

The day of the standalone digital camera has passed for all but professional photographers and those who aren’t paid for their work but have particular needs a phone’s built-in camera can’t meet. Smartphones won by making photos easy to share online.

This isn’t discounting the fact that a smartphone became the camera you always had with you, requiring one fewer gadget and its accompanying batteries and cables when traveling. Early smartphone cameras were of often terrible quality but convenient—now they’re both terrific and convenient. And I’ve talked to many professional photographers for whom a smartphone isn’t a replacement for their DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, lenses, and flashes, but a supplement—a choice that they can reach for, and sometimes reach for first.

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Choosing the right launcher for your Mac

Thu, 2015-03-26 04:49

If you’re still manually digging around in folders looking for apps to launch and documents to open, it’s time to stop. You can save tremendous amounts of time and energy by using a launcher utility instead, which can open apps and files, as well as perform calculations, search the Web, run scripts, and do all sorts of other laborsaving tricks. 

In this roundup, we put four all-purpose, keyboard-based launchers to the test: Running with Crayons’ Alfred (free, but £17/$26 for the highly recommended Powerpack option), Many Tricks’ Butler ($20), Objective Development’s LaunchBar ($29), and the Quicksilver Project’s open-source Quicksilver (free).

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How Facebook Messenger will help you discover new apps

Thu, 2015-03-26 04:45

Finding new apps is easy. Remembering to use them more than once? Not gonna happen.

Facebook found a new way to point you toward new, must-have apps with app install ads in News Feed. The ads are a hit, accounting for a large chunk of Facebook’s ad revenue each quarter. Facebook has made so much money from app install ads that other social networks like Twitter and Pinterest have followed suit. But getting people to open those apps after installing them instead of relegating them to the last page, where apps go to die, is a challenge.

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The anti-Beatitudes: Calling Apple a religion

Thu, 2015-03-26 04:30

Put on your special underwear and get ready to cut a goat! No, not because our Apple religion calls us to those practices but because arguing Apple is a religion just drives a Macalope to do some crazy stuff.

This haranguing of the Apple masses is brought to us by Emma-Kate Symons writing at Quartz about ”The canonization of St. Steve of Cupertino” (tip o’ the antlers to Rajesh)

Warning: The first five rows will get sprayed in the face with a firehose full of hackneyed religious references! Aaaand all the rest of the rows, too.

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Accell’s PowerGenius review: The outlets rotate so that none get blocked

Thu, 2015-03-26 04:00

In an ideal world, every power adapter would be an in-line brick with its plug on the end of a pigtail. Until we realize that world, Accell’s PowerGenius surge protector might be the next best thing.

It seems like no matter how the outlets on the typical outlet strip are oriented, you always wind up with one or more adapters blocking an adjacent plug and rendering it useless. Not this one. Each of the PowerGenius’s six outlets rotates 180 degrees so that no matter how large of a wall wart you plug into it, the next outlet won’t be blocked. In addition to its six outlets, the strip has two USB charging ports that can deliver 5 volts and 2.4 amps directly to a USB device—no adapter needed.

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Killing the cable bundle won't destroy television

Thu, 2015-03-26 04:00

The cable apologists have been out in full force these last few weeks, which is as good a sign as any that the bloated TV bundle is in trouble.

Their latest line of defense goes beyond the bogus claim that cord-cutting won’t save you money. (I debunked that one a couple weeks ago.) Now they’re saying that a mass defection from cable will ruin television as we know it. Don’t you dare demand a la carte options, they say, because getting your wish would be the death of shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad

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Facebook's Video API lets brands push more and more video into your News Feed

Thu, 2015-03-26 04:00

Coming soon to a News Feed near you: More videos from brands and content creators, instead of your friends. Facebook rolled out an update to its Video API on Wednesday, and went over the details during a session at the company’s F8 Developer Conference. The goal of these new features is to help creators better reach their audiences—which could be you. 

The bulk of these API updates have to do with control over viewership. Those who work with Facebook’s Video API can now restrict the audience of the video by age, gender, and location—for example, limited videos to people living on the East Coast to eliminate TV spoilers, or pushing a video out to users who are at least 18 years old. Also new is the ability to publish a video directly to a Page without distributing it in News Feed, and the ability to batch-upload a bunch of videos at once without having them all get pushed to News Feed at once—you can schedule videos, set a video to be featured on a Page, and program a video playlist. 

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How Messenger chats factor into what you see in Facebook's News Feed

Wed, 2015-03-25 16:44

Haven't seen many posts from some friends lately on Facebook? Perhaps you need to reach out directly to them.

How often you chat with someone using Facebook's Messenger app is a signal the company uses to determine how to place posts in your feed. If you haven't chatted with someone in a while on Messenger, and then you start chatting again, posts from that person might appear higher in your news feed.

That was one piece of information shared by Facebook engineers during a session Wednesday during the company's F8 conference in San Francisco.

The algorithm Facebook uses to rank posts in people's news feeds is a complicated one, and it’s always in flux, but the session, titled “How News Feed Works,” shed light on it.

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Podcast: The Apple TV is a rumor to watch

Wed, 2015-03-25 14:15

Both Glenn and Susie use their Apple TVs every single day. So we're excited about the prospect of a hardware refresh—which, let's face it, is long overdue, especially if Apple TV is destined to be a HomeKit hub, and to get advanced features like Siri. We've got some ideas for the rumored Apple streaming TV service too.

Later, we turn to the topic of what Nintendo's move into mobile gaming means for Nintendo fans, as well as people who haven't bought a Nintendo product in years. And it seems like iOS 8.3 will be out very soon, so we recap what we're expecting there, and the iOS 8 bugs that still, well, bug us.

Show notes Sponsors

No sponsors this week, so enjoy a commercial-free episode! (If you’d like to sponsor the Macworld Podcast, get in touch with Midroll.)

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Facebook turns Messenger into a shopping platform and app store

Wed, 2015-03-25 13:46

Facebook’s mission of connecting the world is really about connecting everyone to Facebook, even when you’re not actually using the network. At the company’s annual F8 conference for app developers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced new tools that will bring the apps you use, the news articles you read, and even your clothing purchases directly into Facebook.

Messenger as a platform

A key piece of Facebook’s efforts is Messenger, the stand-alone messaging app that now has more than 600 million monthly active users. The company’s new Messenger Platform lets you install and use third-party apps directly inside Messenger. When a text, photo, video, or sticker just won’t do, you can now bring apps like Giphy, JibJab, Ditty, and Magisto Shot into Messenger to send song clips, GIFs, and other media to friends. The experience as demoed at F8 was a seamless one: Install the app, select something, then tap to send. That tap will take you right back into your Messenger conversation.

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Review: Fantastical 2 ups the ante for events in OS X

Wed, 2015-03-25 11:03

As Apple’s calendar app for iOS and Mac OS X moved across recent releases from inconsistent, inadequate, and irritating to more or less just fine, the market for replacements grew and matured. Fantastical for iOS, now in its second release, filled a gap there by not just presented a clean list and offering strong support for different calendar systems, but also its natural-language processing. Type in a semblance of an event, and Fantastical would parse it and place it for you without fuss.

Fantastical’s makers, Flexibits, brought a kind of snippet of Fantastical to OS X in its first version: a drop-down day view closely reminiscent of the iOS version. With the release today of version 2, Fantastical on the Mac is now a full-fledged replacement for Apple’s Calendar and a strong competitor to similar products. The previous version now appears as the Mini-Window, an optional system menu bar pop-down that gives a capsule view.

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The Week in iOS Accessories: Alternative energy for your iPhone

Wed, 2015-03-25 06:00
Alternative energy!

We’ve got two iPhone accessories this week that power up the phone through alternative means—one through hand-cranking, the other through solar. Also: A bunch of new Apple Watch gadgets to enjoy.

Calypso Crystal

The $69 CalypsoPad is a kind of slightly plush viewing stand for your iPhone 6; it’s made of soft Italian leather and embedded with magnets to hold your phone in place at a gentle viewing angle—and it also holds your charging cord in place for easy access to power.

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When it comes to Apple products, how thin is too thin?

Wed, 2015-03-25 04:23

One of the characters in Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash uses knives with edges a single atom thick, so sharp they can cut through anything. I think about those knives every time Apple announced a newer, thinner MacBook or iPad or iPhone.

Each new generation of Apple product strives to be thinner and lighter than the product that it’s replacing. It isn’t always possible, but it’s clearly a goal that drives Apple’s product design decisions.

And look where it’s taken us. Introduced in 1991, the PowerBook 170 weighed 6.8 pounds and was 2.25 inches thick. Ten years later the Titanium PowerBook G4 was a staggering “one inch thin” and weighed 5.3 pounds. Nine years later the MacBook Air was .68 inches at its thickest point and weighed 2.4 pounds. And the new MacBook is .52 inches at its thickest point and weighs 2.03 pounds.

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