Modbook announces $4k 15-inch pen-based OS X tablet built w/ new Retina MacBooks

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Following up the last Modbook Pro tablet the company is currently selling made from a converted mid-2012 MacBook Pro, today Modbook is back with the announcement of a 15-inch ModBook tablet that uses the new Retina MacBooks Apple just refreshed this week as its guts. For those of you unfamiliar with the company, it first started making OS X based tablets by converting Apple laptops and adding pen input capabilities as far back as 2007.  Read more

Square announces new EMV chip reader for more secure mobile credit and debit card payments

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Today, Square announced a new version of its popular mobile payment system that will support EMV chipped credit cards. EMV is a joint effort from MasterCard and Visa to help improve security credit and debit card transactions and is set to become a standard in the US by October 2015. In addition to EMV-equipped credit cards, the new version of Square’s payment system will still feature support for legacy magnetic strips, so customers will still have the option to swipe and sign.

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Apple profiled for renewable energy in sapphire factory, says supply-chain is now the focus

After showing more journalists around its solar-powered North Carolina data center (where it is building a third solar farm), Apple says that its new focus for renewable energy is its supply chain. The Guardian reports that the sapphire factory in Arizona forms part of this initiative.

The company is also moving to install solar and geothermal power at a plant in Mesa, Arizona that has been manufacturing sapphire glass. Apple would not directly comment on the Arizona factory but the state’s governor, Jan Brewer, has publicly praised the company’s decision to relocate there and to use solar and geothermal in manufacturing.

Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives Lisa Jackson said that the company is conscious that its supply chain cannot claim the same green credentials as Apple itself …  Read more

FreedomPop brings its free voice, text & data plans to tablets including a $319 iPad mini

 

FreedomPop, the carrier offering free and cheap data plans on Sprint’s network, today announced that it’s bringing its free voice, data, and text plans to tablet users starting with the iPad mini and Samsung Tab 3. Since LTE iPads only support data over their cellular connection, the carrier provides iPad users with Apple headsets with mics for making calls and an app that routes calls/texts through its own VoIP platform.

While there are competitors like Skype that enable VoIP calling on iPads already, FreedomPop has a couple things going for it. The company’s CEO Stephen Stokols notes that “unlike some apps, we actually provision a new unique phone number and enable voice mail, number porting, etc, on it” …  Read more

Apple support page also listed as yet unseen ‘mid-2014 iMac 27′

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The same Bootcamp support page that either reveals an upcoming Mac mini refresh or a misprint also listed an iMac 27-inch mid-2014′ model before the page was updated – spotted by French site Consomac.

The model was listed above the 21.5-inch mid-2014 iMac released last month. That model was a low-end one, with a 1.4GHz dual-core i5 processor and 500GB hard drive. That might suggest a new entry-level 27-inch iMac is on the way – though Apple doesn’t generally offer a low-spec version of the larger iMac …  Read more

Mid-2014 Mac mini listed on Apple Support page, but no 2014 Mac mini in sight

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Apple seems to have inadvertently referenced a new model of Mac mini on an Apple Support page. The page was last modified yesterday, presumably to include information on the new MacBook Pro’s but instead lists “Mac mini (Mid 2014)” as a supported machine. There is a possibility that this is simply a human error on Apple’s part, of course, confusing the MacBook Pro and the Mac mini updates. There haven’t really been rumors of a new Mac mini being in the works, but due to the relative unimportance of the product in the Mac lineup, it is not of the question for it to have slid under the radar.

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Skype says free group video calling coming in the future to more platforms

Earlier this month, Microsoft-owned Skype rolled out a group video calling feature to Windows tablets. The free video calling allows for calls with up to ten people, and integrates with Skype on the desktop, which has supported group video calling since April.

Today, Skype tells us that the group video calling feature will be coming to all of its mobile platforms in the future, which likely includes iOS and Android:

We’re excited about Skype group video calling and are working to bring it to more of our platforms. In the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost

Unfortunately, the company could not yet provide a more specific rollout timeframe. Skype has been rapidly releasing new products over the past several months, with a major redesign of the Skype iPhone app arriving a couple of months ago.

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Apple & Samsung lose share to smaller Chinese OEMs in Q2 smartphone shipment numbers

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Following releasing its second quarter data for tablet shipments worldwide, IDC today released its Q2 2014 report for smartphone shipments during the three month period that ended in June. The numbers line up with Apple’s fiscal Q3 earnings call that took place earlier this month where the company reported iPhone sales of 35.1 million units for the quarter. With 295.3 million units shipped total during Q2, and consumers anticipating a new iPhone this fall, IDC notes that both Samsung and Apple lost share to the smaller Chinese manufacturers: Read more

Apple confirms acquisition of Swell as website and app shut down

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Apple’s acquisition of talk-radio service Swell appears to now be a done deal: the start-up’s App Store app and website shut down this morning. The website now provides the following message:

Thank you for using Swell over the past year. We wanted to let you know that the Swell service is no longer available. We’ve been inspired by the opportunity to create quality products that positively impact users’ lives, and we are grateful to all our listeners. Thank you everyone for your support!

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Review: uNu’s UltraPak portable batteries can be recharged up to 8X faster than the competition (Video)

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In my opinion, the worst part about having a portable battery pack to charge up your devices is making sure it actually has juice. I have a few battery packs around the house, but whenever I go to use them, they’re always dead. Sure, that’s my fault, but most of them take quite a while to charge. Thankfully, uNu has come up with a better solution…

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Apple TV updated with FOX NOW, CNBC channels

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Apple has rolled out some new channel additions to the Apple TV set-top box this morning. Both FOX NOW and CNBC have joined the Apple TV lineup. Both channels appear to require a cable subscription to unlock the content within. However, some episodes and clips are available without providing subscription credentials.

The CNBC channel supports viewing live broadcasts from the business-focused station as well as viewing previously aired shows and content. The FOX NOW channel features popular shows from the network like American Idol, Glee, Family Guy, The Following, and more. Read more