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Category: ExtraBITS

Josh Centers No comments

Reeder RSS App Temporarily Free for Mac and iOS

Developer Silvio Rizzi has made his popular RSS client Reeder 3 available for free until he releases an upcoming paid update.

Adam Engst 2 comments

Architects of the Modern Internet Express Regret

Has the Internet become the victim of unintended consequences? In interviews with New York Magazine, people who played key roles in the development of the modern Internet express regret for what they did and concern for where we're going.

Josh Centers 1 comment

Apple Introduces (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Apple is rolling out special (PRODUCT)RED versions of the iPhone 8, as well as an iPhone X folio, with part of the proceeds going toward fighting HIV and AIDS.

Adam Engst 25 comments

New Mac Pro Slated for 2019; May Be Modular

A year after Apple admitted to missteps with the Mac Pro in a meeting with prominent industry journalists, Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch has returned to Apple to follow up on the company’s progress.

Adam Engst 2 comments

Should You Delete Your Facebook Page?

Mark Jeftovic, the outspoken CEO of DNS provider easyDNS, has weighed in on the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal with opinions that are simultaneously harsh and realistic. He starts by equating social media platforms to “The Spew,” a 1994 short story by Neal Stephenson in Wired, and lays out multiple condemnations of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. But then Jeftovic returns to the real question at hand: Should you delete your Facebook page? He recommends keeping business Facebook pages but not relying on them, and he says he’ll keep a personal Facebook page while assuming that anything he posts is completely public and will be used for targeting. But he votes against the mobile Facebook apps, which try their hardest to harvest your contact data.

Adam Engst 1 comment

Apple Reveals Spring 2018 Collection of Apple Watch Bands

Apple has announced a new collection of Apple Watch bands, which will be available later this month. On the slate are new sport bands ($49), woven nylon bands ($49), sport loops ($49), and classic buckles ($149) in spring colors. Apple has also created new bundles, including the space gray aluminum Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) with the Black Sport Loop and the space gray aluminum Apple Watch Nike+ (GPS + Cellular) with the Midnight Fog Nike Sport Loop. The Nike Sport Loop band ($49), which will now be sold separately, will come in new colors, and the Hermès Single Tour Rallye ($439) and Double Tour ($489) bands now display contrasting paint details.

Josh Centers 2 comments

Why Blocking Broadcom’s Acquisition of Qualcomm Might Be a Good Thing

President Trump has nixed Singapore-based Broadcom’s purchase of American chipmaker Qualcomm on national security and protectionist grounds, although Broadcom had promised to relocate to the United States. Analyst Ben Thompson explains why he thinks this was the right move. In short, Broadcom had made it clear that it planned to focus on Qualcomm’s past patents instead of producing new technology with the company’s resources. This would have reduced competition with Chinese companies in future mobile developments — 6G and beyond — and thus potentially left the United States at a technological disadvantage.

Josh Centers 3 comments

AirPods Tip: Save Your Serial Number

If you lose one of your AirPods, Apple is happy to replace it for $69. And if you lose your charging case, Apple will replace it (again for $69), but only if you can provide your serial number, something for which Apple reportedly isn’t always helpful. So it’s a good idea to make sure you can find that serial number, which may be on your receipt from the Apple Store. For online orders, you may have to log in, view the order, and then choose Print Invoice to find the serial number. Or, find the number now — on the AirPods packaging, under the case lid in the indentation for the left AirPod, or in Settings > General > About > AirPods in iOS — and save it in a secure vault like 1Password or even just in an entry in the Notes app.

Adam Engst 1 comment

Apple Promotes HomePod with a Stunning Short Film from Spike Jonze

Apple tapped Oscar-winning director Spike Jonze to produce a four-minute short film — it’s an ad, but so far from the usual dreck that passes for advertising that the term barely applies — to promote the HomePod. Adweek provides some additional background on the piece, which features the English musician and dancer FKA twigs and is a tour de force of choreography, set design, and digital effects. Go watch it.

Josh Centers No comments

How PDF Became One of the World’s Most Important File Formats

The Adobe-created PDF file format isn’t particularly sexy these days, but Ernie Smith of Tedium suggests that it has become one of the world’s most important file formats thanks to its role in providing digital versions of paper documents. Smith documents how most people didn’t understand the point of PDF until the U.S. Internal Revenue Service adopted it in the early 1990s in an effort to cut down on mailing about 110 million tax forms every year. By 2001, the IRS had gone all-in on PDF for tax forms, saving millions of dollars in printing and distribution costs.

Josh Centers No comments

Mario Can Guide You in Google Maps This Week

To celebrate MAR10 Day (on March 10th, natch), Google and Nintendo added a “Mario mode” to the latest version of Google Maps for iOS and Android. To try it out, search for a destination and tap the Directions button, but instead of tapping Start, tap the question mark block in the lower-right corner and then tap Let’s-A-Go! when prompted. Google Maps changes your navigation marker to Mario in a go-kart. Mario mode will be available only through 17 March 2018, so check it out soon.

Josh Centers 2 comments

Why Google Fiber Failed to Fix Broadband

In 2010, Google shook the tech world by announcing that it would get into the ISP business with Google Fiber, deploying gigabit fiber-optic Internet connections in what would become nine metro areas around the United States. Now Google has put the ambitious project on an indefinite “pause” and is even pulling out of Boston. You can likely guess the reasons why Google Fiber has struggled: local politics and the difficulty of installing real-world infrastructure. Despite its challenges, Google Fiber has had a positive effect on the Internet market in the United States by generating discussion about broadband competition. Plus, in markets with Google Fiber, broadband prices have dropped and service speeds have improved radically.

Josh Centers 1 comment

Alexa Is Laughing at Us

Users of devices with Amazon’s voice assistant are reporting that Alexa is laughing at them randomly, sometimes as an inappropriate response to a query or even with no prompting whatsoever. Amazon says that the issue is caused by Alexa mistakenly hearing the phrase “Alexa, laugh,” and that it’s changing the phrase to “Alexa, can you laugh?” and also changing the response from simple laughter to “Sure, I can laugh.”

Josh Centers No comments

Apple Watch Series 3 Now Tracks Skiing and Snowboarding

The Apple Watch Series 3 can now track skiing and snowboarding via third-party apps. Apps that include the new support include Snoww, Slopes, Squaw Alpine, Snocru, and Ski Tracks, which can record total vertical descent, horizontal distance, number of runs, average and maximum speeds, total time spent, and calories burned. The metrics take advantage of the Apple Watch Series 3’s built-in GPS and altimeter, which is why earlier models don’t gain similar capabilities.

Josh Centers No comments

Apple to Open Medical Clinics for Employees

Apple will soon begin opening medical clinics for its employees and their families. With the service, called AC Wellness, Apple is moving in the same direction as a new joint project of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan, which also hopes to use technology to improve patient care and reduce costs. These moves are an indictment of the state of the U.S. healthcare system — the tech companies are saying, “We can do it better and cheaper” — but the question is if the lessons they learn can be applied more broadly.