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Updated: 6 hours 38 min ago

Zuckerberg, Facebook commit to building 'privacy focused platform,' dodging ads and fake news

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 15:19
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg outlined how a commitment to privacy will affect the future of Facebook apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, but generally ignored the broader problems facing the platform.

Best Fitbit: We help you choose the right one for your lifestyle

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 13:30

As one of the biggest names in fitness trackers, Fitbit is an easy pick for recording your daily steps or sleep patterns. Selecting the best Fitbit model for your needs, however, isn’t quite as simple.

The different Fitbit trackers have a lot of overlap in features, and so it’s not straightforward which one is the “best.” Moving up the scale in price doesn’t necessarily mean you get all the features of the cheaper trackers plus additional ones. (This quirk is particularly relevant if you need water resistance.)

That’s where we come in. We’ve boiled down the options into three simple picks that should match most people’s activity levels and styles.

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Sonos is shipping a second-generation Sonos One smart speaker

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 13:17
The Sonos One (Gen 2) features Bluetooth LE connectivity, a faster processor, and more memory.

Fitbit Versa Lite and Inspire HR hands-on: Affordability will look great on your wrist

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 12:23

Fitbit’s new lineup of watches and trackers isn’t meant to get you to replace your existing device with a new one. It’s meant for people who don’t have one yet.

In fact, if you already own a Fitbit, the new members of the lineup will look remarkably similar to the one on your wrist. There’s a new member of the Versa family, an updated fitness band with a monochrome display, and a new tracker for kids. But they all have one thing in common: they’re cheaper than ever.

The new devices couldn’t come at a better time. According to the company, Fitbit is still the number two smartwatch maker in the world behind Apple, but the gap is shrinking between it and its competitors. The company still posted growth in active users last year, but the rate was its slowest yet, just 10 percent over the prior year. The main reason, according to Fitbit, is price and complexity, and the new lineup addresses those two things head on.

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Apple’s management of its video service isn’t a plot twist, it’s business as usual

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 07:00

This week the New York Post published a report that fits into every narrative about Apple’s forthcoming video-streaming service: Apple, a skittish tech company that’s not used to having its fate determined by content produced by outsiders, has been heavy-handed in providing feedback to the people creating TV series for Apple’s new service.

I believe there’s got to be some truth in there, but this is a more complicated story than perhaps the Post is interested in telling. (Shocker.)

Producers give notes? Impossible!

The primary source of the Post story appears to be someone who had a bad experience with Apple and therefore has an axe to grind. (Producers who had lovely experiences with Apple are probably not going to call the New York Post about it. If they did, it’s unlikely that the Post would be interested in the story.)

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Cambridge Audio Alva TT turntable review: Spin all your favorite vinyl and stream it in high-res, too

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 06:00
This easy-to-use, high-performance turntable lets you stream your favorite records to any audio system with a Bluetooth receiver, including wireless headphones.

Low-hanging fruit: Five things Apple could (and should) fix immediately

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 06:00

As one of the world’s richest and most admired companies, we expect a lot from Apple. We expect big-thinking innovation and cutting-edge design. Perhaps it is because the company does so many things very well that it stings even more when it drops the ball on something simple.

Everyone seems to agree that Siri needs to improve, or that MacBooks should have a totally new and better keyboard. But those are big design and engineering efforts that are not going to happen overnight. Here are a few things Apple could do with minimal effort. Some could happen immediately, others might start with the introduction of the next product in its line, but none would require serious engineering efforts or investment.

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Best VPN services: Reviews and buying advice for Mac users

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 17:00

With the internet abuzz with privacy concerns and the potential changes coming to net neutrality, you’ve likely heard about virtual private networks, better known as VPNs. When used correctly, a VPN can greatly strengthen your online privacy, assist in keeping your personal information secure, and even spoof your location in the world—allowing you to access websites or services that would otherwise be off limits due to region-locking.

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This French company strips and repaints iPhones to sell them for less than Apple

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 16:25

The last thing I expected to see at MWC was an iPhone booth. After all, I was in the heart of Android country, with giant Samsung, Huawei, and Qualcomm banners looming over the bystanders like national flags. But as I weaved my way through the countries of Google, Xiaomi, and LG, I suddenly found myself smack dab in “enemy” territory in the Remade booth.

It was clear that Remade did not have ordinary iPhones. A Remade representative told me a little about the French company’s process. They buy busted iPhones in bulk from electronics recycling plants and proceed to disassemble them. Any broken parts are replaced, and all batteries are swapped out with new ones built to the same specifications as Apple’s. But it’s not just the inside of the iPhone that’s new—the outside of the phone looks a lot different, too.

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Best smart bulbs for your connected home

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 12:00
Today’s smart bulbs are brighter and easier to control than ever, but choosing the right one for your environment remains a challenge.

The new August View video doorbell doesn’t require existing doorbell wiring

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 09:00
August is also ditching the square form factor used in its earlier offerings.

Not getting the Band back together: The wearables market

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 07:00

It was the best of takes, it was the worst of takes.

Oh, sorry, that’s wrong. It was just the worst of takes.

Cue the time-travel effect as we go back all the way to 2015 to read that with its Band, “Microsoft outsmarts Apple Watch.” And here The Macalope is required by law to note that he is not making these quotes up.

No, really, actual law. The Not Gonna Fool Ya ‘Gain Act of 2005.

Anyway, here is what Matt Krantz wrote the month before the Apple Watch was released:

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Philips Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor review: A must-have accessory for Hue smart lighting owners

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 06:00
This easy-to-install smart home tool adds tremendous security and convenience features to Philips Hue smart bulbs and fixtures.

Best tax software 2019: TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer compared

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 17:00

A new year brings yet another season of wrestling with receipts to stay in Uncle Sam’s good graces. To determine the best software to aid that goal, we once again evaluated four major online tax prep applications: TurboTax, H&R BlockTaxAct, and TaxSlayer.

All of these web-based tax apps work equally as well on your phone as they do on your computer, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a Mac or a PC, a Pixel 3 or an iPhone XS. Regardless of device, you can start and complete your taxes with ease.

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The best video baby monitors: Keep eyes—and ears—on your bundle of joy

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 15:55
Today's baby monitors are more capable—and more complex—than ever. Here's how to find the right one, so you and your baby can get some sleep.

The new USB4 spec promises a lot: Thunderbolt 3 support, 40Gbps bandwidth, and less confusion

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 12:17
Meet USB4, which promises to simply the USB naming scheme and integrate the high-bandwidth Thunderbolt 3 specification.

How to get photos to appear in an Open dialog in macOS when they’re missing

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 08:00

The Media Browser in macOS’s Open dialog was a powerful addition many years ago. You may not even know it’s called that: it’s the area in the left-hand sidebar in any Open dialog below the Media label. For most people, it will show Music, Photos, and Movies. Clicking any of those items will access libraries created or managed by GarageBand, iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, Logic, Photos, Photo Booth, and others.

But Media Browser can be fickle. In May 2017, I wrote a column on how to disable the feature, because I’d tracked a system slowdown’s cause to the Media Browser’s underlying plug-ins—a problem some other users had seen at the time. Apple apparently fixed the problem or my Mac silently repaired itself, as Media Browser works fine for me now.

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The 5 iPhone and iPad games you need to play from February 2019

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 07:00
February’s best iOS games

Image by Nitrome

Mention the word February at random, and I’d say the minds of most folks drift to thoughts of love, relationships, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Sorry, but you won’t be getting anything like that from us. We can, however, give you a list of iPhone and iPad games we believe you’ll love as much as we do.

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Motorola Halo+ baby monitor review: This over-the-crib camera provides a bird's-eye view of your little one

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 06:00
This pricey smart camera system is packed with features to soothe babies and nervous new parents.

How to see your true cellular signal strength with the iPhone Field Test app

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 06:00

Sometimes you have two bars but can’t load any webpages. Sometimes you have four bars, but your friend with a different phone on the same network has only two. We’ve become reliant on signal bars to tell us how strong our cellular connection is, but in truth, the bars are bullshit.

Those signal bars are almost completely arbitrary. Yes, more bars should mean a stronger signal, but there is no standard scale. Every phone manufacturer gets to decide how much signal strength equals how many bars, and it often varies widely from model to model.

If you really want to know how strong your cell signal is, you need to look at a direct measurement of the signal strength, as measured in decibels (dB). Fortunately, there’s a hidden “Field Test” menu on your iPhone to do just that. It’s not particularly convenient, but it is interesting.

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