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Updated: 21 hours 42 min ago

Cord cutting: A beginner's guide

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 20:27
How to cut the cord: All the devices, services, and knowledge you need to ditch cable and save money.

Apple releases HomePod 13.2.1 update

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 18:52

Apple on Wednesday released the HomePod 13.2.1 software update, a few days after the company’s 13.2 update caused problems on the HomePod, resulting in some devices being non-functional.

If you installed 13.2 after it was released last Monday, the HomePod could be bricked if you reset the HomePod or removed it from the Home app. Apple withdrew the 13.2 update hours after initial reports appeared of bricked HomePods.

If you have a HomePod that isn’t working due to the 13.2 update—all the HomePod does is display a spinning white light on the Touch surface—you will not be able to install the 13.2.1 update. You will need to contact Apple Support and bring your HomePod into the Apple Store for service.

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Apple Card: New 24-month plan has no interest on new iPhone purchases

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 17:58

Among the TV shows, magazines, and games services unveiled at Apple’s “Show time” event was a surprise entry into a category that couldn’t be further outside Apple’s wheelhouse: a credit card. Dubbed Apple Card, it’s not a traditional plastic credit card that gives you points on things you buy. Rather, it’s a whole new way to shop online and offline. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Updated 10/30/19: Added the announcement of a special 24-month interest-free installment plan when buying a new iPhone.

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Apple Q4 2019 earnings: iPhone revenue dips nearly 10%, but wearables come to the rescue

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 17:00

With the all-important holiday quarter looming and the launch of the Apple TV+ video-streaming service on tap for Friday, Apple on Wednesday firmly declared that it’s weathering the iPhone downturn just fine.

For its final fiscal quarter of 2019, Apple posted revenue of $64 billion, an increase of 2 percent from the year-ago quarter and representing the upper end of its guidance, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.03, blowing away estimates.

The quarter ended September 28, so it includes a couple of weeks of iPhone 11 sales. Even so, iPhone sales were down roughly $3 billion, or nearly 10 percent over the same quarter last year. The same goes Macs sales, which were down about 5 percent. Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out that the iPhone 11 is off to a “very good start” and noted that the revenue loss represented an uptick over the 15 percent loss it saw earlier in the year. Additionally, Apple said the iPhone active installed base grew to all-time highs in all geographical segments, suggesting people aren’t switching, but rather holding onto their older phones longer.

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Best password managers: Reviews of the top products

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 12:16
The best password is one you probably can't easily remember—that's why a password manager is so crucial to your online security. We review LastPass, Dashlane, Keeper, 1Password, and others to find the best one for managing passwords.

Sonos offers a sweet trade-up deal for owners of its aging speakers and amps

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 11:57
Sonos has launched a trade-up program that offers 30 percent off its new multi-room audio products when you recycle an old one.

Beats Solo Pro review: Noise cancelling makes all the difference

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 07:00

I personally don’t prefer on-ear headphones. If it’s portability I’m after, I’ll go for a pair of true wireless earbuds, or if I want the best sound quality for extended listening, I’ll use over-the-ear cans.

On-ear headphones certainly have their place, though. They tend to be more affordable than their larger over-the-ear counterparts, they’re smaller and easier to stuff in a bag, and often lighter and easier to wear for long periods. The success of the Beats Solo series has made it clear: on-ear headphones have lots of fans.

With the Beats Solo Pro, Apple’s headphone brand has taken the very successful design of the Beats Solo 3 and tweaked it in some meaningful ways, while also adding a stellar active noice cancellation mode. The result is a fantastic, if pricey, pair of on-ear noise cancelling headphones. They don’t break new ground, but they’re probably the best on-ear wireless headphones for anyone with an iPhone.

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Legrand Smart Tru-Universal review: DIY controllers from a manufacturer that more typically caters to custom installers

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 06:00
These smart dimmers and smart plugs are HomeKit compatible, but you can control any of them with Alexa and Google Assistant, too.

Philips Smart Wi-Fi LED review: You don’t need a bridge to operate this line of smart bulbs

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 06:00
The bulbs are fine, but the Wiz Connected app isn’t nearly as polished as its Philips Hue stablemate.

macOS Catalina: How to keep your internet radio favorites playing in the Music app

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 06:00

Internet radio was a wonderful idea decades ago when radio stations first tentatively entered the online world and offered often quite low-bandwidth streaming versions of their broadcasts. It also provided a way for those without a radio transmitter to set up an online station with which they could reach people with words, original music, and recorded songs.

Apple included an Internet Radio option in iTunes for nearly two decades. A directory of streaming options, broadcast and otherwise, it persisted until macOS 10.15 Catalina. The new Music app omits the Internet Radio directory, although it can still play online streams—and import playlists that contain streaming URLs from previous versions of iTunes.

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Apple releases macOS 10.15.1 Catalina update

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 13:30

Apple on Tuesday released an update to macOS Catalina, its operating system for the Macintosh. Version 10.15.1 comes after the company released the macOS Catalina Supplemental Update earlier this month.

If you just put in your order for Apple’s new AirPods Pro, you’ll want to install this update, which will allow you to use the AirPods Pro with your Mac.

Apple also includes a couple of Siri updates. You can now grant Apple permission to store your Siri and Dictation interactions, and you also can delete your Siri and Dictation history.

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Apple warns HomePod users of potentially fatal iOS 13.2 flaw

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 10:00

When Apple released the iOS 13.2 update to HomePod alongside the new AirPods Pro Monday, people likely rushed to install it. However, just hours after its release, Apple pulled the update and is now warning that HomePods running it are in danger of becoming pretty paperweights.

In an updated support document, Apple is urging that anyone using a HomePod with the newest iOS 13.2 update does not reset their device or attempt to remove it from the Home app. That means if you have the update on your HomePod and things aren’t working as they should, you shouldn’t try to troubleshoot until a new update rolls out.

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How to play ambient sounds on your HomePod

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 08:00

It only took two years, but you can now use your HomePod to play ambient sounds from nature if you want to relax or you’re seeking some background white noise for working or sleeping. Currently, we know of seven available tracks, but we’ll update this guide as we learn more.

Editor's note: Apple has pulled the iOS 13.2 update for HomePod, which this function requires. We will update this how-to appropriately when Apple reissues the update.

First off, though, make sure your iPhone and HomePod are both running iOS 13.2. To update your HomePod, open the Home app, press the little house icon in the upper left-hand corner, and then press Software Update under Speakers & TVs. If your software isn’t up to date, you should see a prompt to download the latest patch immediately. For more detailed information, check our our dedicated how-to.

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To badly go: Samsung’s not-so-great fall

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 07:00

Disclaimer before reading this column: Apple is not perfect!

There. Got that out of the way.

Some people seem to think this furry critic of malformed musings believes Apple can do no wrong. Let The Macalope assure you that he knows Apple can do wrong. He is typing this on a 2016 MacBook Pro, after all. You don’t have to look further than the cognitive dissonance between Tim Cook’s Twitter bio and Apple’s removal of an app helping protestors in Hong Kong not get tear gassed to know Apple doesn’t have it all figured out. But if you want to, take a look at the early reviews of the Apple TV+ shows. They’re not great, Bob!

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HDMI ARC and HDMI eARC explained: The evolution of the Audio Return Channel

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 06:00
The Enhanced Audio Return channel delivers higher-quality movie soundtracks and music, too—and you won't need a new cable. What's not to like?

Samsung CJ791 QLED review: Thunderbolt meets curvy, ultra wide-screen display with quantum dots

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 06:00

Apple makes some darn fine displays, but the company doesn’t offer an ultra-wide model. If you want extra horizontal screen space for productivity or gaming, or just a panoramic viewing experience, you need something like Samsung’s $800, curved, ultra-wide CJ791. Quantum dots make colors super-accurate, and it has enough ports to functions nicely as docking station. 

Design and features

With a resolution of 3440 by 1440 spread over 34-inches of width and approximately 14.5-inches of height (21:9 ratio), the CJ791 doesn’t offer quite the pixel density of most Apple displays, but it’s close enough that you likely won’t care. Put another way, it’s not quite Retina—you can see the pixels if you sit too close, but it didn’t take long to get over than and appreciate the extra width.

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HomePod update adds multi-user support, ambient sounds, Handoff, and sleep timers

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 15:08

Apple released iOS 13.2 today. HomePod uses a sort of customized version of iOS, and is updated through the Home app on an associated iPhone. So HomePod updates are often associated with iOS updates, and the HomePod update that comes with iOS 13.2 is particularly impactful. 

Editor's note: Apple has pulled the iOS 13.2 update for HomePod. We will update this article when Apple reissues the update.

This update brings several of the features that Apple has long promised for its smart speaker, and which its competitors have enjoyed for years. The official release notes lists them quite concisely:

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iOS 13.2 has been released with Deep Fusion, Siri privacy controls, new Emoji, and more

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 13:26

After an awkward iOS 13 and 13.1 release schedule, punctuated by two rapid-fire bugfix releases (iOS 13.1.1 and 13.1.2), Apple is ready to move on to iOS 13.2. 

The big new feature in 13.2 is the Deep Fusion computational photography upgrade for the camera in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. During its big September event to debut the phones, Apple promised this update is coming “this fall” and showed off its prowess in mid-to-low light with what can only be described as a “hipster in a Cosby sweater.”

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Best VPN services: Reviews and buying advice

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 13:00
Surfing the web through a virtual private network (VPN) can keep your identity and data safe and secure online. We show you what to look for in a VPN and help you pick the best one for your needs.

Best VPN services: Reviews and buying advice for Mac users

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 13:00

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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